2016 Holidays

Happy Holidays 2016!

2016 was a busy year, marked by many transitions. Spencer became a published composer, Maisie graduated from college and entered the working world, Liam graduated from high school and became a college freshman, and Loch and Eileen dabbled in the art of empty nesting, though Spencer has generously taken it upon himself to keep this from being too abrupt a change; he is still residing at home while trying to figure out how to make a living doing what he loves.

Even our family trips this year were tied to transitions. In February, Loch and Eileen headed to Massachusetts to attend the beautiful wedding of our nephew Braxton to the lovely Meghan Seaman, who happens to be a professional triple threat and as passionate as Maisie about musical theatre. Maisie got to meet Meghan in March, when we visited New York City to watch Maisie and her talented classmates perform for NY agents and casting directors in the Northwestern University Senior Showcase. In addition to catching up with the newlyweds, we toured the extremely moving 9/11 museum, attended a taping of The View, took in several Broadway shows, and enjoyed dinner with Ginny Anson, Eileen’s first boss from her days in publishing at HBJ in San Diego. And in December we transitioned into a family of four on a vacation to Disney World, which Maisie planned so brilliantly that we feel it could be her future profession. Spencer opted out, so we paid him to cat-sit Ollie, our formerly cuddly kitten, now transitioned into a strapping 12-pound adolescent who is handsome, smart, opinionated, fond of playing fetch, and currently dedicated to exploring the inner and upper depths of our Christmas tree.

Spencer plays his saxophone only at occasional gigs, having thrown himself headlong into his greater passion, which is composing complex, genre defying, instrumental music. Earlier this year he released his first album, Upward, which is featured on his web site spencerrosemusic.com and can be purchased on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, or streamed on Spotify. Another track from the CD, "Chilled":

He has been studying composition and piano with private tutors, ushered at the Ravinia Festival again this summer, and is currently hard at work on his second album. He plans to reapply to a grad school program in composition in January and then decide from there when and where to move out. His friends, who last year were all living at home while trying to figure out their lives and employment options, have now migrated to various Chicago neighborhoods and have real jobs—we suspect that it’s no coincidence this happened when they’re all about to turn 26 and be thrown off their parents’ health insurance! He made the finals in fantasy football again, gained 10 pounds, which now makes him underweight instead of drastically underweight, and enjoyed the mayhem surrounding the Cubs winning the World Series, though he is much more a football and basketball fan than a baseball fan.

Maisie had a busy year. She performed in Northwestern’s senior showcases in New York and in Chicago, concluding the latter with a rousing number from Wicked—you could hear an audible gasp in the room when she finished. (This is her complete audition, which includes two cuts: "Little Known Facts", and "No Good Deed".)

She wrapped up her career at Northwestern by performing in two mainstage shows: first, she played Lycus in a gender-bent version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in the winter. She then played Sheila Franklin in Hair this summer, which we saw 7 times, partly because we like her, and partly because we have come to really love the music in that show; it turns out to be Loch’s brother Gregg’s favorite musical, and we were glad that he could fly out and attend two performances. (This is "Easy To Be Hard", from Hair.)

In June, she and four fellow beltresses from the musical theatre program sang a stunning piece in five-part harmony at Northwestern’s School of Communication convocation, after which she received her degrees in psychology and theatre, graduating magna cum laude. (Here they are, singing "Some Other Time".)

Her next transition was to move into a new apartment on the north side of Chicago with one of her college roommates, Meghan McCandless; apparently they’ll be living there forever, because both girls were heard to proclaim that moving is stressful and they will never do it again. The trials of “adulting” have included facing clogged toilets, confused flour beetles, a ravenous mouse, and a Polish landlord who is very conscientious but impossible to understand. Maisie now works at an upscale spa and fitness studio with a flexible schedule that allows her to audition for performing opportunities. So far, she has been involved in multiple workshop performances of a show called Numbers Nerds, and the producer even flew her to NYC to perform it at a writing workshop for an audience of established Broadway writers. (The producer made this video of Maisie singing "Melissa's First Theorem" from Numbers Nerds.)

In a subsequent NYC trip over Thanksgiving weekend, she lucked into amazing tickets to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade where she and Meghan could be seen on NBC photobombing a Muppet in the opening number. This spring she will be understudying a role in a Theatre for Young Audiences show called Giggle, Giggle, Quack!, and will then join the cast of Hair at a suburban professional theater, understudying the role of – yes, you guessed it – Sheila Franklin, while appearing in the ensemble.

Liam graduated from high school in May and impressed us by getting into and receiving scholarship offers from the 3 colleges that he applied to. While an urban campus was not what he felt most comfortable with, he finally concluded that DePaul University had the best program for his interests, which are 3D modeling, animation, and game design. His classes are split between the DePaul campuses in Lincoln Park and downtown, but he quickly mastered hopping on the El train to get to class, and finished out the first quarter with all A’s and B’s without special help from DePaul’s academic support network. Here is a short project he created for one of his classes:

Having lucked into a single dorm room, he avoided the pitfalls of poor roommate pairings, but admits to spending too much time playing World of Warcraft alone in his room. He did join the anime club, and is very taken with the idea of traveling to Japan, being a hardcore fan of Nintendo gaming. We worried about how he would manage to navigate the gluten-free diet away from home, and while he succeeded, he succumbed to the Freshman 15 in the wrong direction by losing 25 pounds in 3 months. At least he now understands how useful belts can be, though Eileen was heard to grumble about needing to replace every pair of jeans he owned twice with successively slimmer versions.

Eileen had a frustrating year due to ongoing knee issues. 2015 was dominated by right knee pain that gradually got better, but early in 2016, her left knee, apparently starved for attention in 2015, acted up in its turn. The first steroid shot helped—the second didn’t—and by late October, she was in constant and often severe pain, a big concern given our upcoming Disney trip. Despite an inconclusive MRI and conflicting advice, she decided to go ahead with arthroscopic surgery four weeks before Disney. The surgeon found and repaired a “huge” tear in her meniscus, and she came home hours after surgery to watch the Cubs win game 7 of the World Series, which was so nerve-wrackingly distracting that she never got around to taking any prescription painkillers. While the surgery largely alleviated her pain, the endurance walking that a Disney trip requires was a bit too much, too soon. It was a great vacation, but a couple of afternoons she rested her feet and knees in a wheelchair (where she could be heard to hum The Circle of Life, in recognition of the irony of Maisie pushing her around, when Eileen spends a lot of time pushing her own mother around in a wheelchair at home). She’s now hoping to heal her knee at a sane pace, and recover enough to pursue her ultimate dream of opening a booth in a local antique mall in 2017--it’s time to stop accumulating cool stuff and start selling it! Managing parent care has also taken up a lot of Eileen’s time, Nell and Jim are still doing fairly well at their independent living facility, though Nell has had some memory issues, and both parents have developed vision problems due to glaucoma.

Loch works too much and displays a frightening amount of patient devotion towards the Chicago Bears. But he insists that he enjoys both, though fortunately his employer Conversant has a much better win-loss record than the Bears. He built our holiday web page again this year, and hopes that you liked it!