By Caitlin Kelly
Another one gone.
It was a decade of some major triumphs and some really tough challenges…probably like yours as well!
Here are some of mine:
I began working as a retail sales associate in September 2007 for The North Face. I worked one day a week at $11/ hour, no commission. In the holidays, I worked three days a week to make more money, still no commission — even when selling a $400 ski jacket.
I wrote about it for The New York Times, which drew the attention of an agent who helped me polish a sample chapter about this experience. We sold the book to Portfolio on Sept. 11, 2009 and I was sitting at the counter of diner on Lexington Avenue when she called to give me the news.
Now, with a book deal in hand, I took much more detailed notes — not easy when you work under the watchful eyes of security cameras. I would scribble down dialogue or an event on a yellow layaway card and tuck it into the pocket of my uniform sleeve.
I quit that job on December 18, 2009, grateful by then to be earning $450 a month blogging for a website.
My left hip is in agony, with severe arthritis. It hurts to walk even a few steps. I even resort to using short crutches for three months to get some relief. A surgeon gives me steroids to reduce the inflammation — and they destroy the bone in my hip. Now I will need full hip replacement.
I turn in my book manuscript in the summer of 2010 and get “notes” from the editor, who says “I really like Chapters 11 and 12.” I panic, and think I can’t possibly fix all of it. But I do.
In April, my second book is published and, luckily, wins nice reviews from People, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and others.
I get married, for the second time, in a small wooden church on an island in the harbor of Toronto.
Hey, I’m a cover girl…in Arthritis Today! I’m given an outfit to wear (and keep!) and a whole photo crew jams into our small apartment. The photographer (of course!) who flies in from Atlanta to NY is the husband of a friend of mine.
The day after surgery…
Hip replacement gives me back my mobility.
Finally — our renovated kitchen! My design. Seven years later, still loving it.
My book is published in China!
I get a teaching position at Pratt Institute, a private college in Brooklyn. I have to be up at 6:00 a.m. to get there by 8:30 and wait 90 more minutes before my class to avoid the worst of rush hour traffic. I teach a blogging class and a freshman writing class. The pay, for an adjunct, is good — $4,500 per class, $18,000 for the calendar year.
Knowing we have a solid income to rely on, I spend a month in Paris and London, three of those weeks staying with friends.
In March, all expenses paid and a healthy fee for writing three stories, I fly to Nicaragua with a multi-media team from WaterAid. We work for a week in 90-degree heat and long days. It’s by far the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time, thanks to the high energy, skills and warmth of our team.
Not to mention the dugout canoe!
After 31 years as a photographer and photo editor — covering the White House for 8 years, two Olympics, Superbowls and more — my husband retires from The New York Times. He is not retired, but has chosen to take their buyout offer.
In June, we rent a cottage in Co. Donegal and visit friends in Dublin, taking a three-week break in Ireland.
New curtains for the dining room! The floral.
Thankful for decent savings, and celebrating a milestone birthday, I spend six weeks, mostly alone, in Europe visiting Paris-Berlin-Budapest-Zaghreb-Rovinj-Venice-London.
48 seconds a day for 20 days. The radiation machine
Just in time for my June birthday, I’m diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, but will not need chemo. The summer disappears in a blur of tests-anxiety-decent results, then surgery (and decent results), then infection, then radiation.
My husband gets a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.
I finally go to the Met Opera and am dazzled by its beauty.
We revisit my husbands’ hometown of Santa Fe, NM for an eight-day vacation, badly needed and totally restorative.
I get a magazine assignment that’s the most difficult-but-welcome of the past decade. I travel far and wide and spend three months on it, nervous as hell about the final product.
“First-rate” and “great work” are the editor’s reply.