I didn’t get a lot of news this time around, but I have a great “small world” story to share.
This summer, Amy Mortimer-Lotke and Eric Mortimer-Lotke’s son, Isaac, was in a meeting focused on pandemic issues in NYC. He introduced himself on the Zoom call, and got a quick private message from another participant. “Are you Amy and Eric’s son?” Isaac said yes, and texted his mom, “Do you know a guy named Muzzy?” Within minutes, Muzzy Rosenblatt had changed his background screen to show a picture he pulled off Facebook, featuring Amy and Muzzy eating pizza in a dorm room during sophomore year. Only during a pandemic, folks.
Johanna Van Hise Heart and Simon Heart are still enjoying life in Boulder, Colorado, and mostly surviving being parents of three teenagers. Their oldest daughter, Isabella, is a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz and their twins, Eli and Zoe, are juniors at Boulder High. Johanna is a nurse at UC Health in Boulder and Simon owns a property management business. Simon just published his first book The Right Start: Build Your Brand to Survive and Thrive in Corporate America. He says that it is a great gift for recent grads and young professionals, and he extends special thanks to Brad Karsh for providing a back cover testimonial.
Kim Sargent-Wishart completed certification as a teacher of Body-Mind Centering. BMC is an experiential approach to the study of anatomy, body systems and developmental movement. She also established the first BMC Somatic Movement Educator training program in Australia and began running courses just before the COVID-19 hold. During the pandemic, Kim has been experimenting with teaching movement and anatomy classes via Zoom from her home in a small town, which has the benefit of connecting with more people from around the world, including former classmates. She is starting work on new formats for sharing physical practices, somatic meditation, and creativity tools. Otherwise, she’s gardening, dancing in the kitchen, and hanging out with the family.
Paulina Bren has a new book launching in March 2021. The Barbizon is about New York’s famous women’s hotel and the women—including Sylvia Plath and Joan Didion—who passed through its doors from the 1920s to the 1990s. Paulina splits her time between New York and Poughkeepsie where she teaches in International Studies, Women’s Studies, and Media Studies at Vassar College.
Claire Conceision was interviewed as part of NPR’s September 2020 coverage of the first Chinese-language production of A Raisin in the Sun in Beijing. Claire is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on contemporary Chinese theater.
Gabrielle Mason reports a personal recovery from COVID-19. She was in a social work field placement with the Alzheimer’s Association when the shutdown started, and so she did the difficult job remotely, working with caregivers on the association’s helpline facilitating support groups via telephone. She encourages people to learn more about the services the organization provides. Gabrielle completed her social work master’s in May, and got her license soon after. Her son Zach’s selection of Vassar as a freshman allowed Gabrielle to reconnect with Clark hallmates Holly Campbell Ambler, whose daughter started last year, and departing dean Chris Roellke. She scrambled to organize the unorganizable: pack light in case kids need to come home, but ensure they’re ready for self-sufficiency in case of quarantine.
As I write this, the Wesleyan semester is underway with lots of COVID-19 restrictions. Thinking about the return to school sparks memories that scream our advancing age to me. It was not long ago that we were dancing to The Police, Thriller, and Flashdance in the Butterfield courtyard. We had to line up near Sci Li to get drop/add cards for the classes we wanted. We joined another line to secure SNET accounts, and we had to be home to use these phones. SNET always got my name wrong—one year I was Rebecca Zimblet and the next, Rebecca Bimbler. At least the phone worked. When the bill came, we marked which long-distance calls were ours. We walked down to Atticus to buy books and lugged them back to campus. Mostly, I remember the hope and anticipation of a new semester, and I wish all our students and educators embarking on the new year at Wesleyan—or anywhere else—great success.
I’ll pick up Gabrielle’s sign off, “Until soon, I hope, wishing everyone safe and well as can be, with resilience, care, and every bit of laughter and love to be found.”
Reflection doesn’t rely on a date. Let me know what memories “back to Wes” taps in you! Don’t wait for me to ask; if you’ve got news to share, please contact me as soon as you can.
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | firstname.lastname@example.org