Kelly Hills works as an editor and writer in the health professions. Her commentaries have appeared in The Guardian, Women’s Bioethics Blog, and Nature Medicine.
Kelly is an international woman of mystery with a bad habit of charging at large windmills and playing with napalm. Kelly has many long, professional sounding biosketches available to hand out to media professionals, conference and talk organizers. In these many longwinded documents, she’ll re-summarize her CV, make several wry quips about her cats, science fiction, or occasionally even spiders. She sounds very professional, and in a word, shiny. Kelly ran away to join the circus when she was 13, but a life of flexibility wasn’t for her. When she set the Bearded Lady’s hair on fire, she fled to academia, where her clumsiness would be viewed as a virtue.
Chances are, you’re here because you know me. Or you know enough about me from some other place – probably Twitter or the whisper net rumor mill – that you’re curious and looking for answers. Offhand, you’ll probably get more just asking me directly; I suggest an approach that involves either catching me late at night or when I haven’t slept for a few days, or bribery that involves a craft beer and/or good chocolate.
After a non-traditional education that ended in a mutual decision to part ways with high school after the third time I blew up the science lab, I found myself tripping in to a software career. Living in the Bay Area and having a pulse made that both possible and successful; I spent the next decade moving around the Left Coast and working for a succession of both small and large software companies. My area of specialty was networking, and bits of code I worked on are probably still floating around the operating system you’re using right now.
Unfortunately, the telemedicine company I was helping get off the ground in 2001 was adversely affected by the events of 11 September. After coming down from the shock, I took a look at my unemployment check and realized that if I was going to be averaging 95-hour work weeks, I wanted it to be something I loved. Determined to avoid blowing up science labs this time, no matter how bored I got, I went back to school as a “returning student” and fell in to an amazing program with teachers who, instead of trying to force me in to a single discipline, encouraged me to pursue interdisciplinary education. From there, I found my way in to the program on Comparative History of Ideas, as well as the Department of Medical History and Ethics, at the University of Washington, and I didn’t look back.
That forward momentum gave me a lot of great experiences: writing on a diverse yet oddly connected series of topics, like why we watch reality TV or the importance of pop culture to bioethics or why principlism needs to be ditched for an affect-centered ethic; the chance to teach; observations with the hospital clinical ethics committee.
Those great experiences helped me get into graduate school, in a program I was very excited about. And then the universe decided I’d had a good run, pulled me up short, and threw me into a story that wouldn’t be out of place as a Lifetime Movie of the Week. You can piece together what happened if you’re really curious (or, you know, ask), but the less dramatic and much sadder of the concurrent events is this: my mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer shortly after I moved across the country, and she passed away a little less than a year after her diagnosis. Because of my training and the fact that I write (and then write some more), I documented a lot of her illness and progression as narrative; you can use the category “Duct Tape and Prayers” to read through those eleven months. Bring tissue.
I’ve spent the last few years picking myself up and dusting myself off. These days, I work in journalism as an editor and writer at a medical speciality magazine, and am exploring options for freelance work. In my spare time, I am slowly plotting how to take over the world once more (a process made much easier with help from my international partner in crime). I live in a painfully trendy suburb of Philadelphia with my two cats, Toledo and Overlord Zeus, and swarms of fireflies in the summer, all of whom are named Kaylee.