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A Conversation With Mary Louise Kelly

All things considered.

“I figured everybody’s got something where there’s multiple things that matter to you, that you love, that define you that come into conflict. We’ve all faced those decisions where you need to be in two places at once and you can’t. So I thought it would resonate in that way.”

And. That. It. Does. 

The evening was a love-laugh fest with Mary Louise Kelly.  Georgetown friends, including a few whose sons attend the same school, gathered to learn more about her recently published memoir, It. Goes. So. Fast. The Year of No Do-Overs.

It’s about balancing motherhood with a career she loves, and trying to hit pause to take it all in before it’s gone. And about the times she was gone and no one noticed. OMG, said her son, I can’t believe you’re going to publish this. "When I was in Georgia and he called and said can you move the car off the driveway. No, I can’t move the car. Why? I need the car. Did you actually not notice I haven’t been in Washington for 3 or 4 days?”

Mary Louise Kelly, Georgina Eva, Ada Polla, Constance Chatfield-Taylor, Jennifer Romm, Leslie Kamrad Howard, Leslie Maysak  Not pictured: Kelly Collis, Jennifer Close   Photo by Judith Beermann

On covering conflict in war zones, “I take really seriously the responsibility of asking good questions in a respectful way but it’s also my job to bear witness to what has happened and get the stories out. I’m amazed what total strangers will tell you. Even when it’s terrifying for them. Please record this, they say.”

On dealing at a young age with hearing loss, “I had published several shorter pieces during Covid and was amazed at the response. Finding new workarounds is particularly challenging in my line of work.”    

About a new mother before a secret mission to Ukraine with 24 hours notice, “How am I going to pump with no power and keep it chilled was her first thought? Brainstorming by female staff at the White House and NPR, “with a self-generating battery pump. That’s how.”

Photo by Judith Beermann

The author also discovered, surprisingly that at least half of the questions at her readings have come from men. “I think it’s because we’ve all had these conversations, so part of it is they’re not used to just sitting down and talking about these things.” 

Laughing as she shared that one of Alexander’s St. Albans young friends who asked her when her book was coming out, was eager to read it because “it’s gonna resonate.”

Mary Louise Kelly signing books  Photo by Judith Beermann

Her story resonates.  A tumultuous year eloquently, poignantly and humorously chronicled by a brilliant writer. Thank you, Mary Louise for a memorable evening.