My last semester of college, after I’d finished student teaching and before I walked off with a bachelor’s in education, I decided I didn’t want to teach at all. I wanted to write. Someone I knew knew Kelley, who worked as a reporter for a Wisconsin newspaper, and that very kind person gave Kelley my phone number, which led to our meeting on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t know what networking was back then, but I guess that’s what we did—I, very badly, I should say. Kelley took me around the newsroom, let me sit in on a phone interview, gave me advice on breaking into the field and (here’s the worst part) took ME out for lunch.
(Let me offer this advice when you’re looking to network: Do not follow my bad example. If a very kind person in the industry you’re looking to enter does you a favor, don’t let her buy you lunch. You may, of course, be breaking bread with a wonderfully kind and gracious person like Kelley, and she may tell you it’s fine, but, really, someday you’ll realize how utterly classless that was, and you’ll regret it.)
That was the one and only time I ever saw Kelley in person, although, honestly, now that I’ve typed that, I realize how strange it sounds. We’ve been in touch all along. The first time I ever saw my name in print—I think it was an article about a book club, published in a tiny weekly paper that probably 15 people would read, I sent Kelley a copy, and she understood why it mattered.
When I had questions about dealing with editors, Kelley gave me feedback. When I felt the sting of rejection, she told me not to give up. And, you know, almost five years since our weekend lunch, she’s still giving to me, expecting nothing in return.
Around Thanksgiving, when she read here that I would be making the big meal by myself, she wanted to print out all her favorite holiday recipes and send them out to me. I mean, really. Doesn’t that make you want to name a parade after her or something? She sent me links and documents with recipes to try, one of which was her favorite banana bread. I printed it off immediately, stacking it with a group of other print-outs I wanted to create. But one week flowed into another, and here it is late January, and I’ve just now tried it.
The loaf’s all gone now, so let me just say this: if you don’t already love Kelley, this recipe might do the trick.