Posts with Category This Writer’s Life

It’s HUGE to Feel small

 

I laid on the bottom of the ocean and stared into space. 

The surface of the water was so still and flat that it ceased to exist. The light of the stars traveled unimpeded trillions of miles, through the Earth’s atmosphere and 20 feet of water. 

I held my breath, the sound of my heartbeat joining the primordial hum of the Atlantic. 

I pushed off the bottom. Underwater like in space one is weightless.

That night off the coast of Key West, I slowly kicked towards constellations, no difference between air and space. I swam into eons and lightyears, not an observer of the universe but part of it. 

I stood in my…

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Building on the work of other journalists

Yesterday I chatted with a documentarian in Scotland who is working on a film on where food comes from. We chatted for an hour about chocolate, bananas, and coffee.

I think journalism is like science in that community members build on each other’s work. I always take the time to help out a fellow journalist. I think it’s part of the responsibility of this work.

I had a chat with Elizabeth Cline very early on in her process of writing Overdressed. I even introduced her to my friend Dalton, who appeared in WHERE AM I WEARING. I also chatted with Marcus Stern who did a really great piece on child labor in coffee for The Weather Channel and Telemundo.

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A baboon in Ethiopia is named after me

Check out this note from a student who read WHERE AM I EATING a few years ago:

Hi Kelsey! Thanks for the invite for The Facing Project. Can’t wait to look into it more! You spoke to my sociology class with Máel Sheridan at Hamline university after we read your book in 2015. Funny story, and long story short: I’m a Peace Corps health volunteer in Ethiopia and was trying to explain in local language the idea behind your books as it relates to my community (where are all these goods coming from? How did they get here?). A couple weeks later the live-in guard at my health center appeared with a pet baboon. It was then named after you in honor of your books. “Kelsey” spelt differently in afran Oromo…

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On Prom Night I was a Lucky Immoral Idiot

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In high school I drove a black Firebird. It was a ‘93 Trans-Am, the first year for the curvaceous f-body, with a 275-horse-powered LT1 engine. The same engine the Corvette had. It wasmy dream car then and now. The license plate read: BATMBLE.

Batmobile. I’d be lying if it ended with the license plate. I had Batman floor mats. I had the soundtrack to the first Batman movie, the one with Michael Keaton, in the CD player. I loved blaring it on fall nights, leaves swirling where the Batmobile had been.

“You want to get nuts,” Bruce Wayne said to the Joker’s henchmen in the movie. “Come on let’s get nuts.”

I occasionally got nuts in the Batmobile….

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My son the tiger

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Raise your expectations to succeed.

“Aim for the moon and, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  – W. Clement Stone

Or, inversely, lower your expectations to feel like you succeeded.

“The secret of happiness is low expectations.” – Barry Schwartz

Expectations can be healthy or unrealistic.

My son Griffin is in Kindergarten. We didn’t expect autism and had never suspected it until our pediatrician raised the concern when Griff was only 18-months old. Then kindergarten seemed like light years away and an impossibility.

Would he talk? Would he learn? Would he listen?

He exceeded our expectations during kindergarten. Academically he performed on a fourth grade-level; that’s as high as the test would go….

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What the “elephant whisperer” teaches us about listening

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When Lawrence Anthony died, elephants he had rescued and released years ago, showed up to mourn at his graveside.

Here’s what his wife wrote:

“Tonight at Thula Thula, the whole herd arrived at the main house home to Lawrence and I. We had not seen them here for a very long time. Extraordinary proof of animal sensitivity and awareness that only a few humans can perceive. And Lawrence was one of them. Thank you for your wonderful messages. Lawrence’s legacy will be with us forever at Thula Thula.”

They stayed for two days and two nights and then left. Some share this story as proof that animals mourn. But anyone who has had animals knows this already. There is a bigger…

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I love republicans

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Speaking at NKU about Donald Trump, but not about Donald Trump

Two days after the November 2016 election, I spoke at Northern Kentucky University to a few hundred first year students. What would I tell them?

After the election, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that Trump won. Annie came down stairs in tears. We knew what it could mean for our health insurance that we buy from healthcare.gov. We’re heavy insurance users. Between paying our premium and hitting our deductible in February, we paid about $20,000 in 2017.

Could our son with autism be seen as a preexisting condition and denied insurance that pays for his therapy?

The election seemed to validate racism, sexual assault, and a lack of basic decency, kindness, and empathy.

I decided I…

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The Makers of Muncie’s MadJax

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I work in a factory in Muncie, Indiana. Not many people can say that these days.

In fact, many believe that Muncie’s best days–our factory days–are behind us. Our schools are going through budget and transportation issues and a third of our citizens live in poverty.  There’s a lack of hope that we can’t be more than our struggles. That we can’t thrive without factories.

I don’t work on a factory line, but I do make things. I create stories.

For the last ten years I’ve traveled around the world to meet the people who produce many of the things in our lives that we take for granted. I’ve worked alongside coffee farmers…

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A bird crapped on me from 33,000 feet, this is what it says about my life

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It felt like someone had chucked a marble, hitting me in the shoulder. It stung. But it also stunk because it wasn’t a marble; it was bird shit.

Now I’m no expert in physics, but given the velocity of the bird poop, the bird must’ve been somewhere in the stratosphere, which starts at 33,000′.

I was hobbling down Main Street from my breakfast date at the Downtown Farm Stand with Annie after our morning CrossFit work out. Since I’ve been traveling for my latest book, it has essentially been a month since I did a workout of much significance, hence the hobbling. It doesn’t hurt to sit or lie in one place and not move. But if Rick Grimes saw me walking down the…

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