2017 Holidays

Happy Holidays 2017

It seems fitting to classify 2017 as a year of adventure because 80% of the family shook up our respective status quo’s with the addition of new and fulfilling ventures.

Spencer, who has been stuck in a rut for the last couple of years, applied again to his dream grad school program, Composition for the Screen at Columbia College Chicago, and learned in February that he was waitlisted. While waiting, he entered an 8-week intensive program for anxiety and OCD. He’d been hiding these debilitating conditions from the rest of us, but had little energy left over for anything else—hence the aforementioned rut. The program helped him a lot, and resulted in highly entertaining tales of his being forced to confront everything he normally avoids in the name of exposure therapy. By late August it was clear that grad school was not going to happen—until he was miraculously admitted 5 days before classes started! He had to scramble to get ready—to Apple-hater Loch’s chagrin, a new Macbook laptop with composing software had to be ordered—and it was too late to consider housing in Chicago, so he’s been commuting from home for the first semester. The program has been fabulous for him so far, challenging in all the right ways, and he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback for his original compositions. Each piece is written to go with a specific movie scene, this scene started with the character checking out the situation from a distance before moving into action, you can picture it as you listen:

This next piece got the highest possible accolade from the professor, when they listened to it in class his feedback was "Don't change a thing!" His parents agree that it might be the best thing that Spencer has done (at least so far!), it's 3 minutes long but not a moment is wasted:

His homework often involves watching classic movies (e.g. Citizen Kane, The Exorcist, My Man Godfrey, Rear Window), which has turned into a family affair that we are all enjoying and would never have otherwise embarked upon. We all agree that it feels really good for Spencer finally to be doing what it feels like he is meant to be doing. (It’s also quite mind-bending to realize that the child that we thought might not graduate college is now pursuing an advanced degree!)

Maisie auditioned far and wide all year and earned roles in seven different musicals, three of which ran simultaneously during one hectic interval this fall. Check out her year and more on her website at www.maisiezrose.com. She played small parts and big, one of which allowed her to earn an Equity Membership Candidate card that will grant her better access to future auditions—a milestone. A highlight of her performing schedule was playing the lead in Numbers Nerds, a show she’d started workshopping a year ago, in a properly mounted production at the New York Musical Festival—Loch and Eileen spent a few vacation days in New York City to take that in. She and the production were great, it was the second highest vote-getter at the festival, and with its success the producers were able to license the production, so you might be seeing it staged at a middle school or high school near you. This is the video promoting the licensed version (now named 57th National Mathlete Sum-It), you will see quite a bit of Maisie in it since they used footage from the NYC production:

We also got to enjoy a couple of outstanding Broadway shows while there, Dear Evan Hansen (a.k.a. “Dear Evan Hankie” because it’s so wrenching), and Come From Away, a remarkable and affecting take on 9/11. Maisie’s other shows this year were Squashed (she played the lead in this new work based on an award-winning YA novel about a girl who grows a prize-winning pumpkin); Giggle, Giggle, Quack!; Things to Ruin; Elephant & Piggie; Bonnie & Clyde; and Lysistrata Jones. Here is a short scene from the latter, with the caveat that since it was staged in a real gym, the sound quality does not do full justice to the performers:

She is developing a great reputation in the network of Chicago storefront theatre and it is clear that her type has really started to gel—she’s the one you want if you’re looking for a nerdy, sassy, smart girl who wears quirky glasses and can belt high. Speaking of belting high, this is "Almost There", her solo from Things to Ruin:

To allow openings in her schedule for all the crazy, unpredictable theater gigs, she supplements her sadly anemic theatre earnings with an interesting mixture of part-time jobs. She’s still working at the front desk of an upscale spa and exercise club in the Gold Coast, and has wrangled kids in a theater summer camp, signed on with a temp agency, and helped sell jewelry at a trade show. Her favorite semi-steady job has been Standardized Patient work at Northwestern University’s medical school—she acts out various ailments which nervous 2nd and 3rd year medical students have to diagnose, for a grade. She produced a demo tape for voiceover work which is currently out for consideration with agents:

Coming up, she will kick off the New Year with a concert (Broadway's Guide to a Happy New Year) in Medford, Oregon with her two best friends from college, Meghan and Myrna, accompanied by a 10 piece live band. Yes, her parent-groupies will be there!

Liam was disappointed to find that turning 19 is the least momentous of a young adult’s birthdays. Nonetheless he continues to mature before our very eyes, working his first job this summer as an usher at the Ravinia Festival (along with Spencer, which made us feel like the House of Usher for a few months). We dropped him off for his sophomore year at DePaul University on September 1st and heard barely a peep out of him until he came home at Thanksgiving. Here is a class project of his that made us chuckle (be warned, there are a couple of loud noises):

He has continued to be very active in his anime club at college; has been getting good grades in all his classes with no outside help; took a required and long-avoided religion class this quarter and actually enjoyed it; is apparently quite a whiz at writing college papers (a talent he concealed in high school); and has been scheming to visit Japan through a DePaul class, having found at least three possible ways to make this happen at some point in his DePaul career. He also continues to create 3D game characters, this is a favorite:

He has not lost as much weight as he did freshman year, so he seems to have figured out how to feed himself despite the challenges of eating gluten-free at college. Most surprisingly, for a kid who seems to want to spend all his spare time in front of a screen, he started volunteering twice a week at a cat shelter. Amusing to see Loch’s reaction to this: a mixture of pride, incomprehension, and mild revulsion.

Eileen kept extra busy with parent care. Her dad Jim turned 90 in February (it was a proud moment for Eileen when she found a good rhyme for “nonagenarian’ in his birthday poem), and though his mind is still sharp and his hearing is excellent, his vision has started to fail, so she’s pretty much taken over doing anything that involves driving. Her mom Nell, who turned 88 on Thanksgiving, seems a little worse but mostly the same—still can’t hear well and still has dementia that often causes her to forget the answer to the question she just asked, to sometimes request that we take her home because she forgets that she is home, and occasionally to forget that the “old man” next to her is in fact her husband. She was so incapacitated during an episode of back pain in September that she was admitted to hospice, which provided free equipment and special monitoring, and allowed her to insist on her preferred diet of lemonade, biscotti and cappuccino, and to refuse to leave the apartment for doctors’ appointments. To the surprise of no one except perhaps the admissions nurse, she just graduated out of hospice into palliative care, since, considering her multitude of health problems, she is shockingly healthy. Immersed in this parent care, Eileen somehow managed in September to realize a long-cherished dream to become an antiques dealer, leasing space at a local antique mall. The business is called Stuff and Nonsense Vintage Goods, (check it out on Instagram at @stuffandnonsense503) and it proved so successful that she expanded into a second space in November. Here's a peek at some of what she currently has for sale in her second booth:

She loves the picking and treasure hunting, never met a flea market or an estate sale she didn’t like, enjoys the research necessary to price things appropriately (hooray for the internet), enjoys shopping her own house in a never-too-early attempt to start downsizing, and is now among the hardcore contingent that waits outside the local Good Will before opening most mornings. Having waited to take the plunge for a long time, what she has learned this year is that sometimes you just have to make it the right time rather than waiting for it to seem so.

And then we come to the 20% who has not added a new venture, though being too busy earning the paychecks that allow the rest of the family the ability to do so is an excellent excuse. Loch has altogether too much going on at work, to the point where he’s thinking that he needs to make taking time off a higher priority in 2018. In his limited spare time, he continues to follow the Chicago Bears, which seems quixotic given their challenges, and gives our landscaper fits by dreaming mad dreams of carpeting the back lawn with purple crocuses (to continue the theme he already established on our front parkway):

He again created our multimedia holiday website, we hope you have enjoyed it!

“Now hear us exclaim as this long letter closes, Best Wishes to all from the five of us Roses!”