In past years, the first paragraph of our “annual” missive generally included sorry efforts to dismiss our slothfulness with lame attempts at humor and snide references to current events. This year we’re told to keep to our routines or otherwise the “terrorists win.” We’re frankly having a tough time figuring out whether Osama’s aim was to stop us from writing our letter. After brief consideration, we are comforted by the likelihood that he cares even less about the Rosen Family Holiday Letter than all of you do.
Since you last heard from us two years ago, the members of our household have made some major transitions. To wit:
Danny (18) graduated high school in June and had, by all accounts, a wonderful senior year at Newton North. We actually didn’t see him enough to know for sure, between his practices with six different musical groups and rehearsals for one of the five plays in which he acted. We did see the performances and were within one or two nights of qualifying for a preferred parking space next to the Newton North Auditorium. Of particular note were his star turns as “Charlie” in The Foreigner, and “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was accepted to Vassar College in mid-December last year, a date fixed in our minds as it allowed him to get a jump on his classmates in beginning his senior slump. Nevertheless, he graduated with honors and won the Lasker Award for being sort of THE big music man on campus.
Danny has just finished his first semester at college and we are all pleased that he seems to have made the right choice. He has already been cast in a play (Fuddy Meers), has started a funk band with a bunch of friends, is taking oboe lessons, playing rugby, and apparently even going to classes and doing well. When asked what he liked best about college, he said “Freedom!!!.” When asked what he liked least, he said “Paying for stuff with my own money sucks.”
Alena (14), though deeply saddened by the bus tragedy last spring involving students from the adjacent middle school, was equally affected by the support and strength that she and her many friends were able to share with each other and the community at large. While it was a “growth experience” none of us would have chosen for our children, we are impressed by the maturity so many of the kids brought to bear and have continued to exhibit as they move on with their lives.
Alena is now a freshman at Newton North, and seems to have made the adjustment really well. She joined the swim team and was one of only three freshmen to letter this year. She is cast in an upcoming play and is a member of the Improv Club. This summer marked her last as a camper at Tanager Lodge, that strange place where people enjoy not having running water, electricity, or plumbing. There she made a gorgeous canoe paddle using only hand tools, hiked most of Adirondack Park, swam over 3 miles across the lake, and had her usual superlative summer. She is looking forward to a trip this February to Montreal and Quebec as one of the “guinea pigs” specially chosen by two of her middle school teachers who wished to try international travel with adolescent students. (The trip, initially planned for London and Paris, was reconfigured after the Newton School Department placed a moratorium on all travel abroad.)
Ann(dy) (>21) has undoubtedly made the biggest transition of all of us, going from umpteen part time jobs and projects to teaching very full time at, you guessed it, Newton North High School. She spent about 15 hours a week last year kibbitzing with various members of the science department in an effort to determine whether or not “it would be fun to teach high school.” No biology positions were going to be open in the 2001-2002 academic year, but NNHS was going to need 2 physics teachers. Undeterred, Ann(dy) interviewed with the department chair, who told her that he’d love to have her on staff, but he owed it to himself to find a real physics teacher, or at least someone who knew how to spell physics.
To make a long story short, early in August Ann(dy) was hired to teach four classes of physics. Just before school began, one of the biology teachers resigned, and Ann(dy) was asked to take over his classes. Having spent many hours immersed in physics texts en route to and from Montana, she was loath to dismiss her new discipline, so she is left teaching two physics and two biology classes. Given that a teaching knowledge of physics requires a tad more than two days of study, there is still work to be done—finding the time to do so between class preps, grading, parent conferences, grading, tutoring, committees, meetings, and oh yes, grading makes life interesting. Danny and Alena cleverly pointed out that if she assigned less homework and didn’t make kids write up their labs, their Mom would have a lot less work to do! And Glenn wonders why dinner isn’t made when he comes home. Nevertheless, though more exhausting than anything since raising toddlers, Ann(dy) finds that teaching high school really is fun!
For the time being, Glenn (< 80) is still employed in his habitual place. One big grant is up for renewal (hence the conditional nature of the first sentence), but he and his collaborators got a big grant to put something they call The Mouse Brain Library up on the web. It’s just as interesting as it sounds. For fun, Glenn discovered the CD burner and spent more time than he should making a 4 disk compilation CD, complete with liner notes and cover art, of every tape recorded concert of the band he played in while in college. The project was met with such critical acclaim that he immediately digitized recordings of his bar mitzvah and his grandfather the cantor’s rendition of a Friday night service. These collectors’ edition CDs are ignored by finer music stores everywhere.
At a time when most everyone we know is no more that two degrees of separation from the effects of September 11, we feel fortunate to have so many friends and family members with whom to correspond. Thank you all for keeping in touch.
We wish all of you a peaceful year.