When you meet your hero(ine)

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Too late now, but enjoying her letters; legendary journalist

 

By Caitlin Kelly

Inspired by this edition of The Moth, a story-telling radio series I’ve been listening to for many years,  my own moment…

It was the mid-80s and I had won, finally, my dream job, as a feature writer and reporter for The Globe & Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

There was then, and still isn’t really, no better journalism job in Canada to have — chasing a wide array of stories and knowing we enjoyed a smart, national audience. Every morning, walking up the rear parking ramp past the huge satellite dish that would shoot our words out later that day, made my pulse jump with anticipation and excitement. Before heading to work, we’d hear our own stories on the CBC —- rip and read radio, we called it.

No job since has ever matched it.

But I had originally dreamed of becoming a photojournalist, then as now a very difficult and insecure way to make a living. I shot for a while, selling images to the Globe and Toronto Star and the final edition of Time Canada.

Now I was a word person.

I heard that dozens of legendary photographers were soon arriving in Toronto, some of them to shoot for A Day in The Life Of Canada, one in a series of fantastic coffee-table books; (years later, my husband Jose Lopez, would become a photo editor on A Day in the Life of America.)

Jill Krementz would be one of them.

An idol of mine! There were then so very few women working in the field and she was also well known as someone who takes author photos; for a while, married to Kurt Vonnegut.

I asked my editors if I could shadow her for the day.

 

It became one of the most fun days of my life.

 

We went to the home of Arthur Erickson, one of Canada’s top architects. He invited us into his living room — and Krementz said: ‘Ignore her”, meaning me. She stood on a sofa and started shooting.

So that’s how a successful New York woman behaved! I took note, my long-held dream to one day work in New York City. (I did!)

Our entire day was filled with meeting some of Canada’s most amazing talents. On assignment, she shot writer Alice Munro — and en route we ran into (!?) producer Lorne Michaels, of Saturday Night Live.

We went to the National Ballet School (where I had taken classes) and at day’s end I spotted some teens all dressed up for prom heading into her hotel.

“What do you think?” I asked. She sprinted over, hardly winded after a long, grueling day.

Then — imagine! — we sat on her hotel bed as she unrolled all her film. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to meet her, talk to her, watch her work.

Wait for the ending…

We’re now Facebook friends.

Not sure how we found one another, except through New York’s creative circles, and I was surprised and delighted to see she reads my posts there and invited us to get together PP — post-pandemic.

 

Have you ever met someone whose work you so deeply admire?

 

10 thoughts on “When you meet your hero(ine)

  1. A few. I met RL Stine a few years ago, which was pretty cool. He signed a copy of one of his books and let me take a photo with him. I also met Elie Wiesel when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much of what he said during his speech. And there was a philanthropist living in my area named Gordon Zacks who met and did a number of wonderful things. I still have the book he signed for me, and have tried to live by the example he set.
    Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of friends who are also colleagues in the writing game. It’s always nice to sit down and converse about the craft with them.

    1. It’s a thrill, at best.

      I made the error (!) of meeting a then-very-popular female humor writer whose worked I REALLY loved — to write about her.

      She was rude and sullen. Sigh.

  2. what an amazing experience that you’ll never forget. some moments in time last forever. the only person i’ve met whose work i admired was author, david sedaris. i went to a book reading and after had a chance to speak with him for a few minutes, and i remember making him laugh by telling him a very brief family story. a huge moment for me.

  3. What an experience! That does sound like a fun day. 🙂

    I’m a Moth fan too — I’d love to go one of their live shows when everything gets back to normal. They’ve done a few shows in London. I have the first book of The Moth stories and just added the second (The Moth: Occasional Magic) to my to-read list.

    1. I listen to it almost every week — and 2 women I know have told their stories (although I haven’t heard them), Andrea Collier and Dorothy Parvaz. I’d hoped to attend a Moth event in NYC but the tickets were shockingly expensive.

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