By Caitlin Kelly
For a change of pace, 20 questions…
What was the best year of your life and why?
At 25, I won a fellowship based in Paris that had 28 journalists from 19 countries, ages 25 to 35. People came from Bangladesh, Togo, New Zealand, Ireland, North America, Brazil, China, Japan. It was absolutely fantastic. We each did four 10-day solo reporting trips; I went to Amsterdam and London to write about squatting (taking over abandoned properties); went to small-town Sicily to write about Cruise missiles; went to Copenhagen to write about the Royal Danish Ballet and took an 8-day truck trip from Perpignan to Istanbul to write about the trucking industry. We also went on group trips to Munich and Siena and forged, en deux langues, deep friendships lasting to this day. My love for Paris and France runs very deep with gratitude for this life-changing experience.
A toss-up between 1983 when I saw my mother in a locked psychiatric ward in London; 1994 when my first husband walked out for good; 1998 when I dated a con man and 2018 with a (not bad) breast cancer diagnosis. At least I had time to recover from each before the next one hit.
Tea or coffee?
The best place you’ve ever visited (outside your home country?)
A three-way tie between Corsica, Thailand and Ireland. I cried when I left all of these.
Best book(s) you ever read?
Whew. Too many. I loved The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachmann and My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, Cutting For Stone. Random Family (non-fiction) is astounding, as is Skyfaring.
So so so many! Casablanca. All the Ocean’s movies. All the Bourne movies. Michael Clayton. Dr. Zhivago. The Devil Wears Prada. For documentaries, Capernaum is a powerful, unforgettable must-see.
A you a nervous flyer?
Regretfully, yes. I love to travel and am not good with turbulence.
I can whistle really loudly with two fingers, grind jib really fast at the start of a sailboat race, have an excellent color sense and almost always know — within 20-30 minutes, day or night — what time it is.
Activity you most dread?
Seeing a doctor. Too many visits for too many reasons.
Most look forward to?
Hmmmm. Landing/arriving somewhere distant at the start of a long vacation.
How do your weekend mornings typically start?
The New York Times and Financial Times, in print. Coffee. Probably toast and an omelette and fresh orange juice. More coffee!
Do (did) your parents approve of/support your career choice?
Absolutely. My father made films and my mother worked as a writer and magazine editor.
What do you most admire in others?
A passion for, and commitment to, social justice. Honesty tempered by kindness, tact and thoughtful timing. Deep loyalty to friends. Skills I lack — musical ability, gardening. A massive work ethic (not to be confused with workaholism.) I really enjoy people who are deeply curious and have an appreciation for beauty and elegance.
What do you most abhor?
Liars. Hypocrites. Rage-a-holics. Laziness. Self-righteousness. Whining!
What (if anything) do you most enjoy cooking?
I love making soup, roast chicken, a good salad and vinaigrette.
This is easy and so good!
Hmmmm. So many things! Rice pudding and flan. Strawberries. Oysters with mignonette sauce. Branzino. Baguette with brie.
Do you have a pet?
No. We keep discussing getting a dog but have not yet.
Is/was your family of origin a happy one?
No. Have mentioned this here many times.
What’s your favorite thing to wear (clothing, shoes, accessories)?
I’m mad for scarves of all kinds: linen, silk (two Hermès), cotton, cashmere, wool. It’s really my signature. Rings and earrings — Jose has given me some lovely ones. Also very fond of quality footwear, like the low black suede boots I bought in Canada last year.
What are your three best qualities?
Hmmmm. Loyal friend, hard worker, mentor.