Amy Krouse Rosenthal, our friend and colleague who passed away yesterday after battling cancer, leaves behind too many creative legacies to count, but I want to talk real quick about her parties. And a little scrap of paper.
Amy, if you were lucky enough to get invited to one, threw really cool parties*. The release party for Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life was held at a salvage shop and we got goodie bags on the way out. For her 50th birthday, she asked friends to meet her at a yellow umbrella exhibit at the Garfield Park Conservatory and gave everyone each 5 dollars to spend on something that made them happy. The Textbook book launch at "the Bean" in Millennium Park included a project wherein a group of people gathered together to create one overarching memoir, and there was also pizza, for anyone was around. And this summer she had a birthday with basically a taco truck and margarita bar in her house this awesome group Furious Styles (consisting of a DJ and a life drummer) performed in the Rosenthals' back yard.
And in 2008 she and her husband Jason threw Steve and me an engagement party. I had to confess I wasn't sure what to say when she suggested it--we weren't that crazy-close and I felt guilty that she was going to go to all that effort for us, but I was glad I wasn't too stupid to say no. The small dinner party had all sorts of Amy-isms, like serving E-Claires (get it?) for dessert and the revelation that Jason and her parents had family friends named Steve and Claire hence the kismet of our wedding. The longest-lasting legacy was that at 10:11 PM, an alarm went off -- Amy brought out this little scrap of paper saying that in the future, every night at 10:11 PM, we would think about our wedding, which was on October 11. Of course we don't do that because we are jerks but ever since the summer of 2008 I held onto that little scrap of paper. Right now it's clipped to our oven, a little stained and wrinkled. I took it with us when we moved into our current home, whose house number is 1011. I knew before I even saw it that it would probably be the one we bought.
That was Amy, thoughtful and fun and clever. We were lucky to be friends and collaborators with her and our hearts ache for her loving family that she left behind. I don't have a good way to end this post so below I'm just going to include some links to things Steve and I worked on with her. She will be missed, by many.
- "A is for Amy" -- An interview I did with her for Chicago Magazine about Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life
- The Zulkey.com AKR interview (in 2005)
- The "Beckoning of Lovely" films, which Steve directed
- The 2015 Zulkey.com 10th anniversary interview, wherein Amy let other people answer my questions
- "Ditch Your Book Club: This AI-Powered Memoir Wants To Chat With You" -- A piece I did about the technology behind Textbook for Fast Company
*There are some little details in this post I'm probably getting wrong due to my memory and current state of mind so if you read this and were at one of these things and remember things differently please forgive me.