Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
Florida, United States
April 27
One woman's view of life and the universe. Follow @katriord on Twitter.


Kathy Riordan's Links

Poetry, if you like that sort of thing
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What I Can't Write About
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Articles on World War II
Some of my work on Iran
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JUNE 16, 2010 8:29AM

A Year on Open Salon

Rate: 49 Flag



I love liza Donnelly.  There, I've said it.

In the 80's I used to snip little Roz Chast cartoons out of the New Yorker and put them on my refrigerator, along with favorites by other cartoonists.  Never did I expect to be friends with a New Yorker cartoonist, but it was a friendship with liza Donnelly that originally brought me to Open Salon.


Initially, I came to view her cartoons, but when I found myself suddenly thrust into the middle of an emerging story in Iran, it seemed Open Salon was as good a place as any to write it.  I had blogs and writing projects on other sites, but none with the built-in audience that Salon provided.

My first post, June 16, 2009, ("When Reporting the News Becomes the News") was a cryptically written piece reflective of what I was seeing behind the scenes of #cnnfail, the phenomenon Twitter had branded the failure of mainstream media (and CNN particularly) to cover the post-election unrest in Iran.  It reflected what was for me the most compelling and interesting story to observe, how reporting news can be its own story, a theme that would continue from my perspective going forward.

That first post got exactly 3 rates and two comments.  My first official comment on Open Salon was from emma peel.



A few days later I unexpectedly found myself surrounded by a big story and wrote my experiences of June 20, 2009.  "Her Name Was Neda" was the first of many posts on the story of Neda Agha-Soltan and my first Editors Pick.  Back then I didn't even click on the cover and didn't have a clue what an Editors Pick was.  I was then, as I am now, preparing to go north to Wisconsin for the summer from Florida and caught up in a whirlwind of activity, and blogged those next several posts from hotel rooms.


As the summer progressed in the northwoods of Wisconsin, I expanded my blog to include some personal narrative, some poetry, and even photo essays from an ambitious 4,000-mile road trip to see a dying uncle out west ("Sagebrush and Funeral Potatoes").  Although I had early on written on the death of Princess Diana and how it intersected with my life, and did my first response to an Open Call at the death of Farrah Fawcett (Kerry Lauerman's call for "Farrah hair"), it was my story "Muffin" that first convinced a wider audience I could write about anything other than Iran or dead women, and got me a twirl in a tiara.

My first two favorites were cartouche and emma peel.  I saw their profile pics on liza Donnelly's page, read some of their writing and was blown away.  For a very long time, they were the only people I followed aside from liza Donnelly and Stephen McGuire.  I didn't initially realize that we were supposed to read and rate and comment on other blogs, but eventually, as the fog cleared, I discovered what a wealth of writing was on the site and interacted with fascinating people who had created it.


I have always from the first day written exactly what I wanted to write at the time I wanted to write it, whether poetry, personal narrative, humor, news or even breaking news.  Often I wrote the stories I wanted to read or those I thought might inform.   I clearly remember sitting at my kitchen counter late one night and catching a tweet from Jake Tapper that Bill Clinton was off to Korea to free the American journalists, and I posted it as quickly as I could.  Another time, a text from Steve Brusk at CNN let me know there a fire call had been intercepted in NYC that a helicopter had crashed with a small aircraft into the Hudson, and I immediately posted that.  There was at least one breaking news story that I had to pull twice, though few people know it, and the incarnation that exists now is its third, for reasons far more important than whether or not my story was read or made the cover.

I've had fun posts of the megaview Megan Fox variety, posts where I've cast the movie of my life, posted a history of bad hairdos and even the recipe for my ideal man.  When Francis Lam landed at Salon, I tiptoed into a few food posts for the fun of it and managed to get a kind word or two on my simple mole and my choucroute.

A family crisis in January landed my otherwise healthy 74-year-old mother in a hospital ICU fighting for her life, and within 24 hours I was on a plane from Florida to be with her for a difficult week that included the very daunting experience of discussing code status with family members.  Fortunately, she recovered, but the next three months were highly occupied with that ordeal, and my writing reflected it.

I've written some about my husband, a former World War II pilot who had his own health crisis five years ago when he spent eight months in the hospital at Mayo Clinic, our crazy life together since, the challenges he's faced, a few unexpected speedbumps this winter, and our wonderful therapy dog, our Havanese, Sweetie.  (The baby bird who sits much of the time on my shoulder occasionally also makes an appearance.)

I took a few late night flights with the Pirate Wimmen bossing the cabin boys around, tried most of the time to avoid meta but always got a good giggle from it, wrote about places I loved and favorite memories, from New Mexico skies to Paris, a colorful grandfather, a beloved father.  More recently, I expanded into doing interviews ranging from a James Dean author to a student protestor from Iran.

I've had posts in which I was highly invested that did nothing, and throwaway posts become enormously popular and get Editors Picks.  There isn't always rhyme, nor reason.  Throughout it all, I've stayed true to a mantra:

Write what you love


I've generally resisted the notion of writing a "this is my anniversary on Open Salon" post, and as I've read those of others, thought surely as nice as those were I had no need to do it.

But as this day arrives, I find I do.  I need to tell the people I've met here how much I've enjoyed reading their words and knowing their lives, from Buffy's tragic loss to Lea's happy ending, and everything in between.  The most gratifying interactions to me have been behind the scenes and unspoken.

To me, Open Salon is a Grand Bazaar, a big brightly colored tent with lots of little stalls underneath, each one given to do with what we will, attract passers-by, trade or sell our wares, and even put a hat out if we wish.  Occasionally the neighbors get rowdy, the utilities are fickle or unrest spills over into the crowd, but much of the time there are treasures aplenty and the digs are cushy, despite the occasional bird poop.


It's been a big, crazy year in this tent.   Some people have come and gone, lives have changed, but the tent's still standing, and 450-odd posts, give or take, I'm still here, rearranging, shaking off the dust. 

And I still love liza Donnelly.



"Fancy Dog," drawn for me by liza Donnelly on February 21, 2010, for a collaborative post we did together, "Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex and Silly Pet Names."


p.s. Cocktails are over here

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And what a year you have had. Lovely marking of the day. Glad you shared.
Kathy~ I love your year's recap. Your wealth of experience made me think you'd been here forever...I forget how OS-time is in a galaxy all its own. Love the Grand Bazaar tent metaphor--it's perfect! And your advice to write (or post) what you love is dead-on. (r)
Happy Anniversary Kathy, has it only been a year? I like the way you've summarized your year of writing on OS , it is a well-rounded picture indeed. Here's to many more stories, relationships, and years on OS!
a leisurely walk through the park, giving me the chance to click over and share some of your passions. i can't believe it's only a year. i'm really drawn to the tent metaphor.
I am always surprised when people say, "I've been here a year". It seems like you have always been here. Happy blogaversary.
Congrats! My OS anniversary is coming up this summer too! Glad to have "met" so many great people here.

Thank you for all the wonderful posts you've shared with all of us this past year. Keep 'em coming!
Your prolific output is incredible! I'm grateful to have you here to read....great breadth and style! Thanks and happy anniversary!
Since we share a sweetie I wish you a happy! (Although I sure can't keep up with you.)
So very glad I share a spot in this tent with you, Mrs. Riordan. You are one of the reasons I have enjoyed being here. You were so thoughtful and caring whenever I had a question. Thank you and happy one year!!
Okay, Amanda, that 'Mrs. Riordan' made me laugh.
Congratulations, Kathy - always looking for your articles here on Open Salon.
Congratulations on a year well spent!
I am so glad it was my doing that led you to Open Salon, although I wasn't aware that I was doing it at first. What a wealth of great writing and reporting from you! It has been fun watching your work expand over the last year....AND becoming friends. You are always very considerate in commenting on my posts, helping me with questions I am too frazzled to figure out myself, generally being supportive and kind.

I blushed at your opening line, you are so sweet. The feeling is mutual.
That is to say, I am glad you were led to Open Salon, and am proud it was me :)
Kathy, we salonists are so lucky to have you!
450 posts and about 440 EPs! Kathy, your description of Open Salon is right on the money, and you're one of the "treasures aplenty." Happy blogiversary, and the best to your mother and husband.
I would have thought you'd been here longer. Congratulations on blogging the entire way around the solar system and back again! Your work is a huge asset to OS. Best.
Only a year? It feels like you've been here forever! Nice celebration, Kathy.
Happy anniversary, Kathy! You first came to my attention when you made reference to your time in Northern Wisconsin, one of my favorite parts of the country. Since then, I've been amazed and impressed with your breadth of experience and subject matter. I'm glad to know you!
Hard to believe that I've been here a little longer than you, as it feels like you've always been here. Hope you stick around - you've got a lot of friends here!
happy blogiversary, kathy! it says something that i thought you'd been here much longer than a year, doesn't it?
Happy Blogiversary. Like so many others I would've guessed that you've been here much longer. You always seem to be in my Updates list. I tip my hat to all of your contributions to OS and to our in-depth DWTS discussions.
Thanks for all of your great posts! R
I can't believe it's been a year! Happy OS Anniversary! You are pure pleasure and have more energy than the Energizer bunny. Your posts are never predictable, always informative and so well written. So glad you are a part of OS.
Congratulations and many happy returns!!!
Happy anniversary, hon. Just like you learned from other people's writing I learn from yours. Thank you for that.
Oh you youngsters! Happy Anniversary to one of our hardest working and talented writers!...and thanks for all the links.
there are some I overlooked, and I look forward to catching up!
I really, really thought you'd been here much longer than I had . . . you rolled in like a pro, and I was still floundering around! Happy Blogiversary, Kathy!
I thought you had been here far longer than myself. But you have exactly 334 more EP/Covers than I have had. Congrats!
Raising my glass to Kathy Riordan! (Please join me.)

To one year on Open Salon. To staggeringly prolific and valuable body of work to show for it. To a generous heart and a goddess of the art of the written word.

To Kathy, may your ink run free, and your pen stay sharp and ever ready to scribe what you love.

Here, here !
What a year indeed. You are dead on to write what you love. We will continue to read what we love as well :)
Happy Blogiversary, dear Kathy! You have brought so much intelligence, love, and light here......xoxoxox
Gratified, everyone. Thanks for stopping by. I know you have a choice in air. . .er, writers. . .and I sincerely appreciate those who've been so supportive of my writing this past year.

Scanner. . .Cranky. . .don't kid a kidder.
Congrats Kathy - you are one blogger/writer I always love to read! Best to you in your journey north!
And a fine year it was. Lots of interesting posts and some genuine firsts. I don't know where you get the energy. I want to borrow some of it. Wishing you another successful year coming up.
Kathy, I'm so glad you decided to do this post, I loved your review of the year! What a great year, and what a contribution you have made. rrrr
Happy blogiversary, Kathy!

I think of you as the Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King of OS - - I have no idea how you're so incredibly prolific. Or for another comparison, I think of what Bob Geldof said years ago when asked when he'd be coming out with a new album: "It takes me some time. I'm not like Elvis Costello who can go to the loo and come back with 3 songs." I think of you who can go to the loo and come back with 3 posts, but perhaps it's more like you go to Twitter? In any case, I tip my hat to your productiveness!

I also really appreciated that you included this tidbit: "That first post got exactly 3 rates and two comments." I've often advised people who complain about not getting read on OS to go visit the earliest posts of the most-read, most popular posters here. If you do that, you find out they started out as you did, with almost no attention. They built their audiences post by post, just as you have.

Congrats on that -- I know it reflects a lot of diligent and thoughtful work!
Congrats, Kathy! I can't believe you have only been here one year. You were one of the first to welcome me here, so you have a special place in my heart. All of your posts amaze me, but I especially enjoy your personal reflections. And iPad art. (More?)
I am in awe of how brilliantly you knitted together all (presumably) the posts you published through your first year here with this narrative that also serves as a tribute to OS and the experiences it has given you. So damn beautifully tight. I look forward to the luxury of reading at least some of posts linked to here. Just brilliant, Kathy. Happy OS 1st Anniversary.
Congratulations! And how fortunate we are to have you here.
Kathy, keep writing what you love and we'll keep loving you for it! Congratulations on being here for a year! You've certainly made me feel as welcome as anyone and have taught me how to give back. Thanks for doing what you do!
I missed this yesterday. I love the way you described OS as a "Grand Bazaar." Happy Anniversary._r
You help make it a wonderful place, Kathy! Thank you for that.
I still have no idea what the hell a Tweet is!!!(other than what the birds say when I snatch them with my paws!!! Teeheehee!! ;D)

Happy Blogiversary!! A Year? Damn, I can't believe it, it seems just today you were PMing me going, "Get your furry ass over here!! I need a tink pick!!!" and I was like, "Wha?" Wait, it was just today!! :D

~~huge hugs~~

Rated and Tink Picked(cause your best advice to me was, ED PICKS DON'T MATTER, ALL THEY GIVE YOU IS SPAMMERS CALLING YOU A LEVI WHORE!! And I thank you for that!!!! ;D)
What a walk down memory lane, Kathy! It's amazing how quickly the time has passed and how much territory you covered. You are a strong presence here! Happy anniversary.
look at all those accomplishments. What a year it has been!
You charged in a year ago and we are all the luckier for it! Each time I read one of your stories I am thinking, "How does she come up with such varied topic so often?" It's because you do what you love.

Thanks for including me and my writing, you have been a wonderful supporter...and I've only been here a few months longer. I should finish my story about OS...and I will.

Great to know you and your writing.
Kathy, congratulations on your one year anniversary here on OS! It's been wonderful to get to know you and to read your many creative and informative posts over the past twelve months. Here's to many more happy years of your posting stories here at OS!
I'm sorry I missed your blogiversary! One whole year? I've enjoyed reading and I'm glad I'll have the opportunity to read more.
I'm playing catch-up Kathy. Happy BlogOSversary!
A belated Congratulations, Kathy. What a fascinating read! Keep up the great writing. *a toast to you! Cheers!*