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Frankie Shaw ’00   Actress and Showrunner, SMILF

Frankie Shaw ’00
Actress and Showrunner, SMILF

Frankie Shaw was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy, and her show SMILF was nominated for Best Television Series Musical or Comedy. She created the Showtime comedy series, which is based on the 2015 short film of the same name which she wrote, directed and starred in and which won the Short Film Jury Prize for Fiction at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Her struggles to work as an actor and be a single mother are the loose inspiration for SMILF. She serves as the series’ showrunner and, true to her feminist roots, each episode is directed by a woman.

In the show, her character, Bridgette Bird, is a smart, scrappy, young single mom trying to navigate life in South Boston with an extremely unconventional family. She struggles to make ends meet, which leads her to impulsive and at times immature decisions. Above all, Bridgette wants to make a better life for her son. SMILF takes on motherhood, co-parenting, and female sexuality through a raw and unfiltered lens.

Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle ’55
Author, Aging with Wisdom

Drawing on her own experiences as well as stories and studies about aging from other cultures, Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle explores the ways readers can nourish their inner lives and spirit even as their bodies age and faculties diminish. She offers guidelines in seven areas for being attentive to the gifts that grow more valuable with age: spiritual orientation, practice of silence, practice of mindfulness, practice of stopping, finding the sacred in the commonplace, meditation, and the practice of gratitude. She also shares the stories of six “wayshowers,” individuals whose stories illustrate aging with compassion. Olivia’s book invites inspiring reflections on finding beauty in aging, facing death with dignity, and rejoicing in earthly blessings.

Samuel Harrington ’69, MD
Author, At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life

Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility or overconfidence in our health care system, results in the majority of elderly patients dying in institutions. Many undergo painful procedures instead of the more peaceful death they deserve. At Peace outlines active and passive steps that older patients and their health care proxies can take to ensure loved ones live their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice when further aggressive care is inappropriate.

Informed by more than 30 years of clinical practice along with Dr. Samuel Harrington’s own experience with the aging and deaths of his parents, he describes the terminal patterns of the six most common chronic diseases; how to recognize a terminal diagnosis even when the doctor is not clear about it; how to have the hard conversation about end-of-life wishes; how to minimize painful treatments; when to seek hospice care; and how to deal with dementia and other special issues.

Beka Sturges ’90
Landscape Architect, The Clark Art Institute

The December 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine featured a 26-page spread on a project Beka Sturges completed at the Clark Art Institute, an art museum and research center in Williamstown, Massachusetts. An award-winning building expansion led to an opportunity for a new landscape design for the museum’s 140-acre site. Beka, an associate principal of Reed Hilderbrand, served as project landscape architect and manager for the project. Beka leads the firm’s office in New Haven. Always working to achieve spatial power by shaping the land, she aims to demonstrate the cultural and environmental value of landscape. Since opening the office in New Haven, she has also led projects for Yale and Brown Universities. According to the article, Beka “has made a study of Japanese architecture and culture, [and] likens it to the ‘hide and reveal’ of traditional Japanese design, which is incorporated into the site design and architecture at the Clark.”

Linda Carrick Thomas ’79
Author, Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project’s Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio

At the height of the race to build an atomic bomb, an indoor tennis court in one of the Midwest’s most affluent residential neighborhoods became a secret Manhattan Project laboratory. Polonium in the Playhouse presents the intriguing story of how this most unlikely site in Dayton became one of the most classified portions of the Manhattan Project.

Weaving Manhattan Project history with the life and work of the scientist, industrial leader and singing showman Charles Allen Thomas, Polonium in the Playhouse offers a fascinating look at the vast and complicated program that changed world history and introduces the men and women who raced against time to build the initiator for the bomb.

Amy Kurzweil ’05
Illustrator, Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir

Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir, Amy Kurzweil’s debut, tells the stories of three unforgettable women. Amy weaves her own coming of age as a young Jewish artist into the narrative of her mother, a psychologist, and Bubbe, her grandmother, a World War II survivor who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a gentile. Captivated by Bubbe’s story, Amy turns to her sketchbooks, teaching herself to draw as a way to cope with what she discovers. Entwining the voices and histories of these three wise, hilarious, and very different women, Amy creates a portrait not only of what it means to be part of a family, but also of how each generation bears the imprint of the past.

A retelling of the inherited Holocaust narrative now two generations removed, Flying Couch uses Bubbe’s real testimony to investigate the legacy of trauma, the magic of family stories, and the meaning of home. With her playful, idiosyncratic sensibility, Amy traces the way our memories and our families shape who we become.

Kristina Wong

Kristina Wong performed her one-woman show, “Wong Street Journal,” a humorous account of armchair activism and a life-changing service trip to Uganda. Her visit to Milton was sponsored by the Hong Kong Distinguished Lecture Series. Ms. Wong’s most notable touring show, “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” examined the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian-American women through a fictionalized version of herself. She has been a commentator for American Public Media’s Marketplace, PBS, VICE, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post. She has appeared as a guest on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” and “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

“Just because I’m part of a marginalized group here in America, doesn’t mean I don’t represent the face of colonization and oppression in another part of the world. I was seeing through the wrong lens.”

HAVING FUN

How does fun figure in your life? Finding joy in the pursuit of an activity, or a craft or a skill, is valuable beyond its short-term pleasure. Play, even when it’s actually hard work, profoundly affects emotional balance, self-esteem, competency and drive. Play is a vital resource for successful people. In this issue, Milton Magazine brings stories about alumni ventures that have been labors of love. An observer might think their work looks like fun. Driven by a particular passion, these alumni end up pursuing creative work that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

We ask Milton students, as well, to describe how they find fun in their busy, committed lives.