CLASS OF 1981 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

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Greetings from Brooklyn! Like many of you, I have been working remotely from home as a financial professional. A friend joked, “Has my curve flattened?” Why, yes, it has. This was the quietest April 15 ever. While I love my commute, I don’t like having to console widows with young kids and have to help them figure out how to sell the business they suddenly inherited from their husbands but lack the license to operate. I’m sure you all have stories of loss from the pandemic. I truly hope, without much optimism, that by the time you read this, the world will be back to some kind of “normal.” One can hope. 

Speaking of hope, before the quarantine, I was at a meeting of the Emergency Committee For Rojava, recalling the first time I met Murray Bookchin, whose ideas inform the egalitarian, ecological, ecumenical, feminist, liberatory laboratory of participatory democracy that is Kurdish Rojava, the allies we notoriously betrayed, and that Turkey’s trying to ethnically cleanse.

I met him, Murray (“only the FBI calls me Mr. Bookchin”), the night before our ECOSFair: Conference on Social Ecology, May 1981, where he and Winona LaDuke would be two of our keynote speakers.

“Wait. What school did you say you went to?” I was asked, at that meeting, by a woman roughly my age.

“Wesleyan.”

“I thought so,” she said. “I thought I recognized you.”

“What year were you?” I asked.

“1981.”

“I co-write your class notes.”

And so, I became reacquainted with Erika Goldman-Giraudets. We do what we can, little as it may be, to help. As I write this in May, Turkey is shelling Rojava daily while disrupting their water supply.

In other news, Peter Gryska is enjoying “quarantinis” in Houston, keeping Texans in good spirits as the director of grocery at Spec’s Spirits, Wines and Finer Foods. “Caviar, peanuts, pâté, tonic, soda water, and margarita mix make the day go by quickly. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, really, we are clearing additional acreage for soybean planting and will rotate into winter wheat in the fall. Cattle prices have tanked with the pandemic, so we will be growing out the herd this year. Our native cattle herd has reached a milestone. It has been 100 years since new heifers have been introduced to the gene pool. Family is all well, and we wish all Wesleyan folks good health.”

Joan Herrington is excited to have had the opportunity to direct a show for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park this past winter. Created collaboratively with the award-winning Universes theatre ensemble, Americus exposes the harsh realities of what it means to be in America today. Joan had two new books published recently, How Playwrights Teach Playwriting 2 and When the Promise Was Broken, a collection of plays she edited based on the songs of Bruce Springsteen. She serves as chair of the department of theatre at Western Michigan University.

David P. Miller writes that “like most people, I have spent the vast majority of the past couple of months in my apartment. In 2018, I became a program director at NSF through an IPA from my university. My apartment in Alexandria is only a couple blocks from NSF, but I wonder if I will make it back to the NSF building before heading back to Norman in a year (or if I’ll be able to get back to my house in Norman—I had been making monthly trips, but those stopped in March). I work online, have happy hour, and otherwise socialize online. Things could be much worse. I’m employed, Cathryne is here, and between Amazon, Hello Fresh, and a little help from our friends, we have food and toilet paper. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy,”

Pete Congleton is now the director of planned giving for Hartford Hospital and is proud to announce the birth of his first grandson, Crew Fox Congleton, who was born on May 3, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Elisha Lawrence moved back to Manhattan Beach, Calif., where she raised her kids, after the last five years in San Francisco. “Loving every minute of being back here. I’m in my seventh year as AVP of Global Anti-Piracy for a large studio. Other news: I got married last May to a lovely guy who is a physician. My daughter is finishing her last year at Wesleyan, and my son has two years to go at Stanford. One thing about being an alumna who has a child at Wes is reliving moments of those wonderful years. I showed my daughter my favorite spot in Olin’s Reference Room, where I spent most of my four years studying. She loves studying there too! I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Wesleyan!”

David I. Block | david.I.block@gmail.com

Joanne Godin Audretsch | Berlinjo@aol.com

Ed.’s note: In the last issue, we misspelled Kerry Burnstein’s last name.