“What’s my pronoun, Andrea?” he said, for the third time that evening.

“Shit,” I said, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.  I knew I would mess this up like a million times, It’s hard for me.  It’s new for me.”

I had basically called him a girl 3 times.  My bad, my super super bad.

OK, let’s back up.  Maybe this will all make way more sense if I start from the beginning…

(it is worth noting here that in the last 8 sentences, I have re-started twice, deleted 2 swear words, and edited a part of every sentence, including, just now, the word, “edited.”)

I met Jeremy on Friday evening at a Townshends Tea Room on the 3900 block of Mississippi Ave, a super authentic pre-Portlandia hipster place in Portland that boasts awesome bars, the years best street fair, quirky boutiques (several of them re-sellers), sushi & fried chicken (in the same restaurant), and of course, a local bookstore that serves NOT coffee from a chain, NOR a table in front boasting the latest top authors who don’t even write their own material.  Ok, i’m digressing, sorry… just trying to set the stage here.

So we meet, and truth be told it’s for the second time.  That’s important, but for reasons that are my own, and since I’m the author of this here blog I can write whatever I damn want, that is out of scope, for the time being.

However this time, this second time, it’s just me and her.  Shit, HIM.  It’s just me and him.  See, I did it again, and this time I WON’T edit it because it’s real, it’s really what I typed from this point onwards I’m going to try not to edit.

Because NOT EDITING is exactly the point of where I’m going with this story, guys.

So we meet, we order Kombucha (with a side of ice), and I say something to him like this:

“OK, so from our last meeting, I became totally awed by your story, and I’m so honored you are open to letting me photograph you tonight.  I love words.  I wish I could write better, but I think I take pretty good photos.  So I want to hear about your journey, so that I can try to take photos of you tonight that will best capture you.”

(see, even that last paragraph I edited like 9 times)

So he started telling me his story.

It began with a road trip, 18,000 miles across the country and back, with little money in his pocket and a Hyundai wagon as his hotel.  After a few zig-zags South, he landed in Flagstaff, AZ where a whole bunch of shit happened that led him to this:

(I’m going to impersonate his inner-brain talking to itself right now)

“I love writing.  I’m going through some MASSIVE LIFE CHANGING moments right now.  I have a type-writer, and I’ve met enough inspirational people here in Flagstaff to say, ‘what the fuck, let’s try it’.”

So he pulls into Jerome, AZ (a city he sites as “lost in time”), whips out his olive-green Smith Corona Silent Super (circa 1958), named Lady Corona, and a sign that simply says…


Right, I thought, riiiiight.  I can totally NOT relate to the words coming out of your mouth, Jeremy (this was all in my head because who the fuck can whip out a poem in seconds whilst the “client” is staring at you as your fingers type words that cannot be corrected via a magic button called “delete”).


Jeremy LOVES writing.  And he’s damn good at it.  And if you give him a word, he’ll give you a poem.  And it won’t be on text or snapchat or instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Vine.  It will be on a piece of… wait for it…


His first word, by his first client, in Jerome, AZ, was “epiphany.”

His fingers started pounding the keys, his left index finger swiftly moving to the next line on paper.  There was no editor scowling over his shoulder.  There was no way to throw away the sentence he had just typed. And out came his first poem for his first person in Jerome, AZ.

And the rest is HIS story.

Where OUR intersection takes place, on the aforementioned “last Friday evening.”

I had to photograph him… it was something churning within me that made me super nervous for two reasons.  One, because I KNEW I would screw up his pronoun, and TWO, because I was not in my comfort zone – how would I capture the Typewriter Troubadour in a way that was cool, young, hip, current… and truthful.

So we went to his spot, next to the sushi/fried chicken place and in front of the bookstore, and he set up his 3 things:  A chair, a table, and his typewriter (not Lady Corona, a new vintage one yet to be named).

And I said to him, “Ok, I have a word. Will you write me a poem?”

“Yes,” he said, “What is your word?”

“Oscillation,” I said.

And he started typing.


And here is what he wrote, in less that 90 seconds, unhindered by the “editor in himself.”


So he couldn’t have known that my mom died on March 1st of this year.  And I gave him no clue into the fact that I have ups and downs so severe that at times I’m either riddled with excitement or cowering on the couch in heaving tears with sadness.

And there was NO reason he would know that if I had a magic genie in a bottle granting me one wish, it would be to “stand still in the moment.”

Yet he typed these words.

And I took over 300 photos of him that night. I gave my photographic editor a PTO day.  “Don’t think, AC, just shoot,” I said to myself, “just shoot.”

I’d like to say that maybe, just maybe, we found each other purposefully.

Why? because this guy has a gift.  And he wants to share it.

You give him a word, he’ll give you a poem. 

It’s that simple.

What an amazing holiday gift.  Or for your guests at a wedding reception.  Or your birthday party or anniversary or anything where a poem is the “takeaway” that is a one-of-one BESPOKE piece of art.

And I want to acknowledge that I kept saying the wrong pronoun because Jeremy is a trans male. He has, since his earliest recollection at age 8, identified as a male.  And his 3 month road trip brought him clarity in his journey to come out publicly.

And in that journey he became the Typewriter Troubadour.

I asked him, in our previous meeting, when he corrects people who call him a “her.”

“I choose my battles when I correct them,” he said. “Usually it’s people I think I will have long term contact with.”

Well, then.  I consider my 3 pronoun “corrections” by him an extraordinary gift.  I was a battle with whom he was willing to fight. What a humble honor.

With peace and openness and acceptance of who we were born to be,


jeremy4 jeremy5 jeremy6 jeremy7 jeremy13 jeremy19 jeremy20 jeremy23 jeremy24 jeremy25 jeremy26 jeremy27 jeremy30 jeremy33

Posted in pronouns, transgender, transgender male, typewriter troubadour | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer hats.

One of my very good friends, Emma, saved an iceberg size chunk of my soul this week.

She didn’t know it, of course.  She’s just a visionary CEO who had this insanely amazing idea for her brand Wildfang to tell a story about badass young female athletes showing their “game face” as we head into the Women’s World Cup, and she asked me to be the photographic arm of her operation.

So I said yes.  I was nervous.  I’m not that photographer that sets up lights and filters and backdrops and tries to get the perfect aperture or shutter speed or anything.  I’ve never taken a course on photography, studied the art, or bought anything than a really really really nice camera (truth be told, my husband bought it for me as a gift because he’s awesome).  I don’t have a studio.  I use my bathroom or living room wall, or the wood and concrete that make up the external frame of our home.

I just believe I know what makes a great, unique photo. And I go, instinctively, from there.

Fast forward… the blog was published, and instantly picked up by the media.  Media I follow obsessively that was suddenly telling this story.  The feeling of that was akin to being drafted by the pro’s.  I think.  I’m not sure, because I’ve never actually been drafted onto a professional team, but I’d like to think it would produce a similar reaction of goosebumps, chills, and a “holy shit I cannot believe this is happening” factor.

And then it hit me hard.  Last night, as I was texting with my cohort, I realized my mom wasn’t here to see this… to witness my humble hobby turn into something just a bit more.  She would have been SO proud.  She’d have said something like, “way to go, honey.”  or “wow, I’m so proud of you.  Women athletes need all the exposure we can give them. Good for you.”  Because, you see, she was just the HUGEST supporter of young women athletes and made SO MUCH happen on their behalf in the past decade.

And then Trevor died Friday of brain cancer.  A young man I met twice, both times at the Huntsman Cancer Institute while there with my mom.  We bonded in our love for sneakers :).  I wrote about what he meant to me in our few brief connecting moments. I have befriended (via internet) his most amazing and powerfully strong and beautiful wife Chelsi and their two young children.

So i’ve just read Sheryl Sandberg’s post on Facebook.  I wasn’t planning on posting any sort of blog tonight.

And she wrote about plan B.  And I was so PROFOUNDLY thankful that someone had so beautifully articulated exactly how i’ve been feeling the last two months since my mother died of cancer, that I leapt off the couch and just started writing.

I needed to execute, immediately, a Plan B action, because I miss plan A so very much.

So I need your help.  If you are reading this, I really am asking you, unapologetically, to help.

Not me.  I want to pay this plan B forward, because it’s what mom would wish for me to do.

Here’s the backstory.  As I was sitting with her while she slept in her final days, I saw on social media a simple knit hat with the words “Cancer Sucks” on it.  I posted to the internets that I would love to have one, but I was angry, and I need the message to be much more aggressive.  I needed cancer to know where it stood with me.

And 2 days later, one was in the mail to me.  It said “F&CK CANCER.” It came from my aunt Laura. 

I would like to pay this plan B forward to my aunt Laura, my mother’s younger sister, who my momma loved deeply.  Laura has a great talent, yet does not have the network to spread the word about what she has done that has helped me cope with plan B.  Helping her helps her pay each bill, helps her make ends meet each week. Here is the link to her etsy site, whatnotsbylaura, and below are some of her hats.

So that is it for tonight.  That’s what my heart and my brain and my sympathetic nervous system needed to get out.

To Chelsi, I have so many words for you that are bottled inside… they are coming.

To Aunt Laura, you deserve the goosebumps I’ve felt the last couple days in having something you love to do be appreciated by others.  I hope this helps.

And finally, Emma… my friend, idol, and in my humble opinion the most talented female CEO on the planet, i’ve said it to you privately and i’ll say it again now… thank you deeply and profusely for giving me my happiest day since my saddest day.

Pay it forward, people. We’re all we’ve got.



IMG_1079 FullSizeRender[3]


Posted in cancer, photograpy, Sheryl Sandberg, Soccer, Wildfang, Women's World Cup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Art of Unwinding.

Fourteen years ago, I brought my 17 year old sister to a man who strapped her wrists and ankles to a table whilst she lay face down.

At the helm was a tall Chinese man practicing Qigong.  He had helped me and many of my other colleagues heal after sports injuries, and this particular hour with him was dedicated to my sister, in an effort to stretch her spine so he could realign it.  She had major back pain, and Western medicine just couldn’t seem to heal it. As he slowly cranked the wrench that slowly expanded her vertibrae, I questioned if it was the right choice.  By all accounts, it was a desperate measure.

What I remember with complete clarity is this… that it was not the stretching of the table that hurt her.  With each crank, he checked in with her, and she was fine.  Once he had her spine expanded, he used his hands to manipulate her spine into its correct position.  What hurt, what gave her pain and spasms and fear, was the UNWINDING.

The letting go.

The part where all future pain was over, but to get her spine back to its normal position would insanely hurt her. I don’t know why, but this is the story I continually come back to in my brain each time someone asks me, “how are you doing?”

My mom died on March 1st.  She was 70. And I miss her so much.

She called me on July 23rd.  We had just sat down to eat at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Nashville, TN, following a day of games at our daughter’s basketball tournament, and I thought her call was to remind me that it was my brothers birthday.

I had no idea she was calling to tell me she had lung cancer, especially given that she hadn’t smoked a day in her life.

From the moments following that call, I had no idea if I had 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 months, or 2 years, or 2 decades with her.  It didn’t matter.  I flew to see her the next day.

Turns out we had 7 months together. And I took advantage of every one of those days that I possibly could.

In the beginning, it was all about strategy.  The options.  The ways to kill the cells.  The 3 mile walks where we’d dream that she’d be the “miracle” the statistics would put in their record books.

In the middle, it was about mitigating, with medication and meditation, the cough that would haunt her day and night.  Her lungs trying to extricate a stubborn fucking tumor that wouldn’t move. It was about building an excel spreadsheet that would help us record her dozens of medications, including the needle that needed to be plunged into her abdomen day and night.

Between the middle and the end, it was a blur of pain management combined with far-off yet potential hope.

It was watching my stepfather bravely and delicately drain her lung of 400 milliliters of fluid that accumulated daily, inhibiting her lung function.

It was watching her body become a skeleton, the cancer cells eating everything she could force into her mouth.

It was her moments of giving us her puppy dog eyes just to have a sip of wine, even though it didn’t taste good to her.  It just reminded her of NORMAL.

In the end, it was all about comfort.  It was about pillow management.  It was about keeping her hydrated. It was about ice chips and chapstick.

But most of all, it was about saying everything that needed to be said.  And we did.  We said it all. At moments, we were forehead to forehead, tears spilling down our cheeks. Other times, we laughed at recalled memories.  And in moments where she was totally present, we checked off the items in her “red folder” about her wishes after death.

And in the end, she died with her eyes open, my hand on her heart, and we had our purest connection, right up to the moment she took her last breath on this Earth.

So now, i’m dealing with it all.  And so many people want to help.  Or ask if i’m ok.

And all I can say is this.

I’m on that table.  My body has been stretched beyond it’s boundaries for 7 months. And the unwinding is almost unbearable.  If I go too slowly, I’ll surely bottle up emotions that only years of therapy will help.  If too fast, I’ll explode, plain and simple.  I don’t want either.  My present self can’t believe that my past self endured these last seven months.  Yet I wouldn’t exchange those moments with mom for ANYTHING.

It is the only path I see forward.

Because she is everywhere.

My story is not unique, yet it is.  As my stepmother said to me on the day before mom’s funeral, “there are as many ways to grieve as there are humans on the planet.”

To everyone of you out there who is grieving someone you love fiercely with every beat of your heart…I’m WITH you.

I’m unwinding, and it’s ugly and sad and fierce, but in between each crank, I hold onto a pure, spoken love that mom and I have that will be with me until the end of time. And it makes it all bearable.


DD, Nan Elmira 70


Posted in grieving, healing, Lung Cancer, mothers death | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

what if.

Three weeks ago I met Trevor, a 31 year old young man who has brain cancer.

I met him because I saw him, looking super cool and young and outdoorsy, hooked up to an IV for an infusion at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  I remember him walking in with his buddy (who I now know as the amazing “Josh”), and thinking, “why the hell is this cool dude hooked up to an IV?” and I noticed on his computer screen that he was searching for NIKE running shoes and because I just so happen to work at the Swoosh, I walked over, knelt down beside his chair, and started a conversation.

“Yeah, we got some bad news the other day,” he said.

And I learned a tiny piece of his story in that moment.  He is an avid hiker, and was looking for a specific shoe we made that allowed him to have the right movement/sensation in his toes which had limited functionality.  I didn’t know why, I didn’t know the backstory.


We talked about the shoe he was looking for (Free 4.0 Flyknit for all you running nerds).  He and had hiked the tallest peak in Utah in them (Kings Peak, chalking in at 13,528 ft) with Josh.


Trevor sent this photo to me the day after we met.

We talked a bit more, and I recommended a trail running shoe that would give him a similar freedom of lightweight movement for his toes, yet provide much better traction for his hikes (Zoom Kiger).  “That’s what I was thinking! I was just looking at those!” he said.

I did not know, at that moment, the impact that this man would have in my life.

Wait, no, that’s not the truth.  The truth is some small part of me DID know.  I KNEW I needed to approach him, interrupt his sneaker hunting, and introduce myself.

What if I hadn’t?

Well, then I would have missed out on knowing a person that makes this world spin brighter. That I have learned is someone who draws in love. Who is living moment to moment.

I received an email from him the morning following our encounter, per my ask.  I needed his address and shoe size!

The more he and I became connected, the more he shared his story.  His brain tumor was, in his words, “misbehaving.”

“There are times I can’t lift my right arm at all to brush my teeth, open a door, hold my kids. It sucks,” he wrote.

And then… the most wonderful thing happened, his wife Chelsi hijacked his email and wrote me personally.  This beautiful woman with a very sick husband, two small children, and embarking upon a new job is holding the family down.  She is a superhero in her own right.

Trevor needs a miracle. Something stronger than Kryptonite and more powerful than medicine.

Something that shifts the very foundation of the human condition.

So bear with me here. Let’s just say that our collective human energy could shift this.

Let’s, for a moment, believe it.

And act on it.

Will you join me in Trevor’s fight?  The fight that so many of our loved ones with cancer are facing each and every day?

Will you believe in this moment, that our every day actions of LIVING IN THE PRESENT could actually give Trevor, his wife, and his children the gift of time, if only for moments of the purest happiness this earthy existence could entail?

Here’s how I am going to do it.  I am going to take a moment and recognize being present, on the “what IF.”

_What IF I had never met Trevor?  I would never know that my life IS, today, this moment, richer knowing how incredibly brave and strong he and his family are. With his and his wife’s permission, I would like at this point, to share this. It’s their story in it’s fullest. Please take a moment to read about them.

_What IF I worried less about if my kid would make the basketball team in high school next year and made sure that today, tonight, she truly loved the game of basketball and played ONLY for that reason? Not to make varsity, the starting lineup, a college scholarship, or the WNBA.  Just because she loved getting out on that court and playing.

_What IF I worried less about if I had checked my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress accounts to make sure I was ALL caught up on the latest chatter of politics, Hollywood, accounts of dreamy vacations on tropical beaches (caught, of course, by the perfectly manicured toes photo on a sandy beach), and instead, picked up a book.  An actual book made of a substance called PAPER.  Where you “flip pages” and “earmark” where you stopped for the night before falling asleep (my current recommendation, “Breakfast With Buddha” by Roland Merullo)!

_What IF we worried less about the spread of Ebola or Cancer or Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and focused instead on not texting while driving.  On doing a radon test in our home to prevent NSCLC.  On eating well.  Today, we can do all of these and increase the odds of living longer.

What IF we all gave, today, $25 to charity instead of spending it on an item that further cluttered our homes.  Just pick one, any one.  I might recommend, if you are reading this, that you choose helping Trevor and his family. And you can do it here.

What IF, today, we left anger at the door.  We just let it go.  We forgave a person that has been under our skin.

What IF, for every one of us with a loved one suffering a life threatening illness, we breathed in their pain and breathed out healing air for them, connecting the universe with the power of our collective human energy.

Yeah, it may not work.

But what if it does?

To light, peace, and what IF.

And letting that be what IS.


A Postscript:

I would like to thank my friend and NIKE colleague Brett Holts for ordering Trevor and his very dear friend (and hiking buddy) Josh pairs of the Zoom Kiger. NIKE is a special place.


Trevor hanging with his pal and hiking buddy, Josh, in their new Zoom Kigers! Photo credit: Chelsi Linderman

Posted in cancer, chemotherapy effects, nike, Zoom Kiger | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

socks matter.

He took us up to his conference room, sat us down, and gave us a piece of advice.

“Now i’m not going to tell you how to parent your child,” he said, and then proceeded to tell us about an article written by two ex-coaches (now youth athlete advocates) who surveyed hundreds of college athletes, and when asked what their worst memories were as youth & high school athletes, their most common answer, by a landslide, was the car ride home.

About forty-five games later (between club and school teams), with our first season under our belt, I wanted to press pause and, more for myself than anything, capture my simple observations on being a “basketball mom.” With a camera.

1) Your kid doesn’t hear you when you yell at them from the stands.

I’ve done multiple studies on this.  My focus group?  KIDS IN MY CAR AFTER THE GAME.   Here’s how the conversation goes:

Me: Hey guys, so when all the parents are yelling coaching tips to you during the game, do you hear them?

Them: No.

Me:  No really, like when we see exactly what you should be doing on the court and we yell at you that you should be doing it, do you hear it?

Them: No.

Me:  OK, but let’s say that we were the best coaches on the planet, over there in the stands, and we yelled out that you should move your feet and get the rebounds and maybe even shoot, isn’t that of HUGE value to you?

Them: Are we at Red Robin yet?

2) Don’t be afraid of black & white.

Gym lighting sucks.  It’s not the gym’s fault.  It’s the fault of the so-called lighting experts of every gymnasium in the world (I was going to say universe, but i’m not sure if there are other gym’s out there yet) for not putting the photographer’s needs over those of the athlete when making light choices.

Lesson in this is be not afraid to default to black and white.  In most instances, it creates an even more powerful image.





3) I’m not particularly fond of coaches that never sit down and scream at their players the entire game.  

I don’t know… I mean i’ve never actually been a coach. But i’ve definitely been a youth/high school/college athlete, and I think I can speak first hand on this one as well.  I  love watching the coaches that trust their players to execute, and just sort of “dial in” the game as needed.  The athletes practice a lot, really hard, and I loved watching the coaches that let the players play.  Help ’em from time to time, sure.  But the crazy pacing on the sidelines (and sometimes on the court!) and the loud barking and the mad arm waving… seems a bit much for kids not even in high school yet.  I dunno.

4) Find moments when they are alone in their thoughts and point your camera in that direction.








Those moments just might give you a photo you’d miss if you were just shooting the game.

5) Yelling loudly at the ref for a bad call doesn’t actually help.

I’m no expert at human operating systems, but it’s been my observation over the course of all the games this season that, say, if a kid travelled, and the ref doesn’t call the travel, yelling TRAVEL!!! THAT’S A TRAAAAAVEL REF!  COME ON!!!! doesn’t change the call.  It’s not like he’s gonna stop the game, go, “you know, you’re right. That WAS a travel and I’m not even worthy to be reffing this game.”

6) Find your fools.

Don’t judge this word.  It’s an honor.  I am a fool.  It’s the archetype I am most proud of.  Fool’s dissipate tension.  Fool’s know when laughter is needed.  Every team has one, and every team needs one.  As Caroline Myss says, a fool “fearlessly reveals emotion. Helps people laugh at absurdity and hypocrisy.”






7) Socks matter.

Or wristbands. Or lucky underwear.

Point is, if it matters to her, it matters to me.


8) Love the huddle.

It’s in these moments, a timeout, when at first I stood up and stretched, ran for a drink of water, or even more pathetically checked my email.  Yet it’s in these moments where a strategy is going down. Or better yet, a simple tactic needs execution (I keep a journal of quotes that I encounter throughout my life, one of my favorites being, “Strategy is knowing what to do when there is SOMETHING to do, tactics is knowing what to do when there is NOTHING to do.”).

Anyway, capture them, they’re quite powerful.





9) You’re kid is still a kid.  Embrace the moments because they pass in a flash.







10) If you think that the conversation in the car on the way home doesn’t matter, IT DOES. (<- read that). 

You read that, right mom & dad?  Cousin, niece, and uncle?  Grandpa?

It’s priceless advise our daughter’s coach gave to us parents before the season started, that very first day in his conference room, and I’ve since saved it in my pocket.

We DON’T ask. We give our kid her ride home. We blast music and sing.  And if she wants to bring up the game, then she guides the conversation.  If she doesn’t, the music stays on.

It’s her present, it’s her future.

It’s her game, not ours.

To relishing the game, to supporting our children within it.



Posted in basketball, Nike Basketball, parenting, photograhy tips, photography, sports parent, sports photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


I have two disclaimers heading into this post.

Disclaimer no. 1: This posting incorporates some of the worst photographs I have ever taken.

Disclaimer no. 2: There is some extremely violent & graphic language in a few of these photos. You have been warned.

This is a story I never thought I’d be writing, simply because I couldn’t have imagined I’d ever wander into Vancouver, B.C.’s Downtown East Side (DTES).

But with incredible foresight from the International Women’s Forum, I did.

The DTES is known as “Canada’s poorest postal code.”  It is home to about a third of Vancouver’s injection drug users, and we were in the thick of it.

Walking down the main “corridor” of the DTES, along Hastings Street, I could not have stood out more obviously had I had a giant panda bear on my head.  Decked out in a bright red Nike sweatshirt, bright multicolored Flyknit running shoes, face hidden behind Ray-ban aviators, and my high ponytail swinging,  I walked quickly amongst the crowds of zombie-like meth, heroine, and alcohol addicted people.  Men and women, some who appeared no older than 12, others no younger than their 80’s.  Though age, while walking along this street, seemed irrelevant.  The outward, visible effects their addictions had taken on them proved true the evil shadow side of the cliché “age is just a number.”

My heart was beating quickly, I believe due to to my “flght or flight” senses kicking in, and then it happened.

I made the choice to slow down.

I made the choice to look up.

I remember saying to myself, “you will never get this opportunity again.  Do not miss it.”

I decided to trust these people, the environment around me, and that if I allowed myself to be curious rather than afraid, these people just might feel that energy, and know that I was there to possibly learn something that somewhere, some how, might help their future.

Our first stop came rather quickly.  We ducked into an alcove of a building next to a door with a graphic of a huge hypodermic needle on it.

blog insight door

We were at Insite, a supervised intravenous drug injection site designed to be accessible to injection drug users.

It is North America’s first and ONLY legal supervised injection site.  The only one.

It operates on a “harm-reduction” model (a phrase I would come to hear many times throughout the afternoon in the DTES), which means it “strives to decrease the adverse health, social, and economic consequences [of dirty needle use] without requiring abstinence from drug use itself.”

As we talked with the Coordinator of Insite about their extraordinary program, I watched, through the glass door, as dozens of users walked through, picked up their wrapped, clean needles, and went into the back to self-inject under the supervision of medical personnel.  The woman working at the front desk did not ask for one bit of information, and more extraordinarily, looked at each of them, smiled, welcomed them, talked with them, and, with her eyes wide open, cast absolutely ZERO judgement upon them.

I took a few stealth, blurry photos, but under reflection and upon advisement, I have chosen not to post those. Their privacy and dignity comes first.  But I was able to take a couple shots of the signs they had posted.

blog insight od sign

blog warning

There is so much more about this program worth knowing, so instead of hearing my interpretation of what we learned in those 30 minutes, I humbly ask you to learn more here if you are interested.

So we walked on… passed the dealers, this time, selling items, both stolen and found, on their blankets along the Hastings Street sidewalk.  Looking down trying to arouse little suspicion, I saw Apple headphones, old baby shoes, watches, hair bows, used coffee filters (with the coffee grinds), and a man pulling raw meat out of a bag, selling it packaged in its grocery store plastic, hidden from public view.

We entered United We Can, “a charitable organization established to support environmental, social, and economic improvement in the inner city of Vancouver. The mandate is to create economic opportunities for people with multiple barriers living in the Downtown Eastside, through environmental initiatives. One of UWC’s key missions is improve working conditions for binners by ensuring they receive the full deposit on all their bottles and cans and have access to a working environment into which they are welcomed.”

The smell was crazy.

A strong combination of piss, beer, and weed.

And a rousing “HELLO GUESTS!” from a tall, toothless black man carrying two huge bags of garbage towards his binning station.

blog hi guy

our guy was the one in the striped sweater. i wish i had the photo of him greeting us, but i had not yet received permission to take photos.

“What are y’all doin’ here?” he asked, with a smile that extended cheek to cheek.

“This is a group of women leaders from around the world who have come to learn more about the DTES, sir,” said Ken, the retired police officer escorting us. I was totally taken aback by his honest answer.  This one thing has stuck with me… he could have said anything to this guy… “oh, just a group wandering through…” or “none of your business,.”

But instead he met this man’s question with honesty, detail, and respect.

I was able to take pictures inside this facility, here are a few of them:

the binners hard at work sorting recyclables from trash.

the binners hard at work sorting recyclables from trash.

these are the cans people choose not to see what's happening here?

these are the cans people choose not to recycle…you see what’s happening here?

I got photo-bombed by a binner!  yeah!!!

I got photo-bombed by a binner! yeah!!!

Next time you see someone sorting through trash to pull those cans, know that this place exists, and that there are others out there, and it is GOOD.

Then we walked a couple blocks and entered ARCO, a single residence occupant (SRO) hotel.

It is home to those that live on welfare, many of them addicts.  Some of them sex workers.  All of them expected to be responsible and respectful of everyone living in the unit.

At the entrance to the Arco,  I saw these:   (WARNING:  VERY GRAPHIC)

blog redlight

blog warning1

Yes, they’re blurry, but I had to take the photos, if only to remind myself that this was not an illusion.  This is a reality for these women.

The hope?

That the community is coming together to help each other.  To warn these women what cars to watch for, what markings on men to notice to help catch them.  Or to at the very least avoid being sexually abused by them.

Then this next to it.

blog rigs1

rigs, FYI, means needles.

and this, as another reminder, in case you didn’t see it in the entrance:

blog steps

And finally, at the front desk of the ARCO hotel, just in case a resident thought they had a valid excuse for entering the building:

blog rules

The rooms were tiny, but they were rooms.

The rooms were infested with bed bugs, but they were rooms.

The rooms were nowhere anyone reading this blog would ever spend even one night. They had no elevators, with zero access for anyone with physical disabilities,

But they were rooms.

And this, according to our escorts, “was one of the nicer SRO’s.”

this is Ken, the retired Police Officer who patrolled the DTES for decades, and gave us TREMENDOUS insight on the plight and hope for the DTES.

this is Ken, the retired Police Officer who patrolled the DTES for decades, and gave us TREMENDOUS insight on the plight and hope for the DTES. He is standing in one of the rooms at the ARCO we were able to see.

Our group finally made it to our final SRO, a recently renovated one that, based on what we had seen, made these rooms feel like the Four Seasons.

It is for women only, with 12 rooms dedicated to women with visitation rights to their children.

After visiting their harm reduction room,

blog harm reduction

blog needles

a safe place to dispose of used needles so they are not shared...

a safe place to dispose of used needles so they are not shared…

blog condoms

and food bank kitchen, we toured the kitchen, laundry area, and the beautiful rooms with luxuries these women have possibly never imagined… an elevator, a fully functional kitchen, a coffee maker, and very importantly, an object that you and I quite possibly take very much for granted: a mirror in the bathroom.

They grew their own food in their community garden, and even choose what to grow:

blog plants

blog plants2

They have cooking classes, and they self-injected with zero judgement, with treatment options available when and if they ever decided it was “time,” with a 16 step, non-religious based program (12 step offered as well) ready for them.

As the elevator doors opened for us to head down to the lobby of the building, a woman stood alone in the elevator.

She was hauntingly thin, had scabs along both arms and all over her cheeks (the bleeding ones covered with bandaids), track marks on her veins, sunken eyes, and thinning straight strawberry blonde hair.

“May we ride down the elevator with you?” asked the operations director of the hotel giving us the tour.

“uhhh, yea.” She said, hesitantly.

So 8 of us, in our NIKE gear, Christian Louboutain boots, Louis Vuitton bags, and Burberry jackets piled into this elevator with this woman, and rode down with a meth addict.

Yet I left full of hope.

Because I knew this woman would be safe, for the moment, from contracting or spreading needle infected diseases, would have food to keep her from going hungry, had a mattress that had been treated in bed bug ovens, and lived in a place where her dignity came first.

So maybe her next choice will be to try to clean herself up.  Or maybe not.  But the point is, she’s got a choice.

I don’t know what my “actions” will be after visiting the DTES.

But perhaps, just by writing this story, I already have taken the first one.

The learning for me was this… we need to UNDERSTAND those things that we question.  Or even those things we never knew existed.

We are all we have, people. Let’s be careful of what we judge when we are not educated about the topic before we do so.

And in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

“We must comfort the troubled, and trouble the comfortable.”

Trouble me.



Posted in B.C., Drug addiction, DTES, heroin addiction, homeless, hope, Insite, International Women's Forum, self injection, United We Can | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

In the wake of a duck.


If you are a duck connoisseur or if you hate Portland, I’ll probably offend you with this post.  You could instead read my cat porn blog, that way we avoid this whole potential conflict all together.

So this all started Saturday when a friend asked me to take some photos of Portland for an amazing 3 day wine tasting event this November that benefits the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation.  And for those of you who have given me any love over my blog writing years, you KNOW i hate cancer like a motherfucker, so naturally I said yes.

So in my head i’m all, “wow, cool… i am going to shoot the big reindeer sign and the bridges on the river and some weird people! I’ve got this Portland photo shoot NAILED!”

then this happened:


If you scrolled over this photo without reading the fine print on the poster, you have missed the BEST SIGN IN THE UNIVERSE.

and i’m like, “move over, reindeer sign, we’ve got new plans.” 

So i’d like to share with you, if you’re still with me and not over on my other blog watching my cat lick herself, my version of what I found interesting and meaningful on a 3 mile jaunt with my family around Portland on Saturday.


The church on Alder.

We started at Cheryl’s on 12th (important to be well fed before walking), and this was the view from our outside table.  It’s significant that i shot this, because I love this church. It is my proverbial True North, though not in a religious sense (c’mon guys, it’s ME, here), but in a “where the crap is that bridge that takes me over the river?” sense.  If it weren’t for this church, I would NEVER know which street is Alder, which is the main road I take to cross the bridge to Yoga, or to get me to my naturopath.

Both activities, as a Portlandian, you just DO.

So we began walking down near the Waterfront where we used to live, and ran into this guy.  He’s kind of famous.


Murphy the potential Police Horse that was found on Craigslist and had no chance in hell of making it as a Police Horse but he defied all odds and did.

I’m pretty sure “Police Horse” is the completely wrong term for those awesome horses that roam our streets.  All i know is that every Sunday morning i begin my day with coffee and The Oregonian, and i’ve followed the plight of this goddamn horse since the story began, and when we walked by him, I felt like a 12 year old seeing Liam or one of the other boys with perfect hair from One Direction… i’m a big fan of this horse.  Sadly, all he wanted was food and despite every attempt of me shoving his headshot in his face, he refused to sign my photo.  something, he said, about opposable thumbs.  Whatever, Murph. 


Murphy’s colleagues (or whatever you call the horses with whom you work).

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again (ok, that’s not true, i’ve never actually said this, but it IS true…), i’ll pay whatever tax dollars it takes to keep these beauties on the streets of Portland.  Once we lose the horses, all we have is…cars. So we continued walking along the riverfront and it is… special. I kid you not, we ran smack into a couple of ducks having a SUPER intense flirting session:


a couple of ducks having a super intense flirting session

I’m not really sure the sex of these ducks.  My husband thought they were both female because they both had such cool markings, and  his theory goes, “the chick ducks are always beautiful, the boy ducks have no color.”

So then I was thinking how completely awesome this would be if these were two chick ducks flirting with each other (this is the part where, if you are a duck connoisseur, you are probably thinking i’m the dumbest human on the planet).  I mean, either way, either sex, same or different, these two ducks have chemistry.  And the one on the left is TOTALLY having duck sex with the one on the right tonight. (how ducks have sex i have NO clue, i’d love some help here).

So anyway after we left Sasha and Kris (we needed neutral names for them. I mean, we just didn’t know…), we kind of decided to look up and see what was happening on the river.  There were a lot of barges.


a barge. wait… this is a barge, right? is there better term for exactly what this is? I AM NOT UP ON MY BARGE KNOWLEDGE, PEOPLE!


a tugboat pushing (not tugging) a smaller barge in front of a bigger barge. it’s not fast action stuff, by any stretch.

So after the cool barges, I thought i should probably take a couple photos of the bridges, being all famous and stuff in Portland, but it just didn’t work for me.  So we went under the bridges, and i got a few cool shots, this one in particular i sort of loved:


and another one, which happens to be the one my friend has chosen for her wine event:


We kept walking, the ducks kept following, and finally we ended our jaunt along the riverside…


…and landed at the uber famous Saturday Market. Now every Portland guide will reference this, as it should.  There is a lot of really cool shit you can buy at the Saturday Market, not the least of which is some extraordinary additions to your wardrobe. More specifically:


one of eight hundred stands… c’mon, it’s Portland.


tie-dye is a wonderful option for cute kids. And the henna stand and dog butt are Saturday Market “must haves.”

oh, and the t-shirt stands are fabulous.


a great alternative solution to “my parents when to Portland and all they got me…”

So we finished our walk, full of totally cool cats, flirting ducks, mounted police horses (ok, i looked up the term on the internets by the time i got here), barges, bridges, and the finest wardrobe choices PDX had to offer.

Here are a few more I took:


we'll call him Louis.

we’ll call him Louis.


I think we should turn these negatives into positives. Yes, you are welcome to carry your skateboard instead of riding it, lest people judge you as hoodlums vs. athletes. Yes, you may carry your cigarettes in your pocket and THANK YOU for not lighting up and killing people with your second hand smoke!!!

I just liked this.

I just liked this.


The line at Voodoo donuts for a penis shaped something or rather or bacon covered awesomeness.

The line at Voodoo donuts for a penis shaped something or rather or bacon covered awesomeness.

ok, ok.  fuck it.  I had to do the sign.

ok, ok. fuck it. I had to do the sign.

Yet as I got home and looked through the hundreds of photos i took that day, my mind kept going back to one of them.

It was, yes, a duck.

And this duck was just swimming along, minding his own goddamn business, paddling along by himself.


i couldn’t scratch the image from my mind.  The ripples it was creating, i could imagine them hitting the shore, and in an immeasurable way eroding the shoreline, which in turn would lead to an entirely different Portland millions of years from now.

It’s ripple effect was real, yet it just didn’t know it.

But we do.

We create ripples every day.

By every action we make and inaction we choose not to.

And the downstream effect of both can have either beautiful or catastrophic consequences.

So i finished the walk thinking… What if, with every decision we made each day, we were acutely aware of the ripple it created.

wouldn’t that be something.

Peace, AC.

Posted in animal photography, beauty, Christian Louboutin, gross things to eat, overexposing, Portland Saturday Market, Portland Walking Tour, wedding, wedding dresses, Western Medicine, Wildfang, wine, wishes, Women's Ski Jumping | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hooded, too.









Gretchen Johnson (G-Money.)










ImageShay and her baby girl.






Andrea, Simon, Remco, and Jasper.


Liz and Jake.



Elle, Raven, and Shawn.






Michael, Henry, Parker.













Darin and May. Payton and Jackson.

Darin, May, Payton, and Jackson

On March 28th, 2012, one month after Trayvon Martin was killed, i asked my friends to join me in support for justice to Trayvon via a photo in our hoodies.

And we are here again today.

In that the jurors did not convict George Zimmerman of either second degree murder or manslaughter, there rests, with many of us, an unrest.  Therefore we are still standing, peacefully, with the family of Trayvon Martin.

It was my original intent to put words and captions with the people in these photos, but upon reflection, the decision that feels most right is to allow the reader to see them for themselves.  An ability to go deeper exists within those hyperlinked.

Know that these beautiful people, all of whom are still very much alive, love,

fast choo-choos, basketball, an extraordinary piece of art, dancing, skateboarding, design, being cancer free, raising children, photography, being in a band, marrying whomever they love, playing soccer, collecting bugs, speedgolf, gardening, running trails, playing a mean guitar, and storytelling.

And we all stand in support of the family of Trayvon,



Posted in beauty, controversy, Corradini Photo, embrace, Freedom, guns, Hoodie, hoodiesup, Hoody, photography, Sandy Bodecker, Trayvon Martin | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

While there are still rose petals.


So pretty much i fucking hate inappropriate use of hashtags.

that’s the #winetalking, #sorry #parents, didn’t mean to #offend your dislike of your #daughter using #swearwords, especially #fuck.  But it’s really important to #sendthemessage that if we are to all #getalong, that the use of #hashtags simply can no longer be #abused (oh man, can’t wait to see where that last one leads us…).

it is a SEARCH ENGINE, people.

Anywho…(and this all makes sense at the end, i freaking hope),

So i’m on my run this weekend, and wanted to finish it off with a few sets of stair runs, at the most gorgeous location in PDX… the #summitstairs. They are a hidden set of 157 steps that will skyrocket your heart rate on the way up, and ensure you can’t walk from quad pain the next day from the way down.  Seriously.  If you doubt me…

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While there are still rose petals.

So pretty much i fucking hate inappropriate use of hashtags.

that’s the #winetalking, #sorry #parents, didn’t mean to #offend your dislike of your #daughter using #swearwords, especially #fuck.  But it’s really important to #sendthemessage that if we are to all #getalong, that the use of #hashtags simply can no longer be #abused (oh man, can’t wait to see where that last one leads us…).

it is a SEARCH ENGINE, people.

Anywho…(and this all makes sense at the end, i freaking hope),

So i’m on my run this weekend, and wanted to finish it off with a few sets of stair runs, at the most gorgeous location in PDX… the #summitstairs. They are a hidden set of 157 steps that will skyrocket your heart rate on the way up, and ensure you can’t walk from quad pain the next day from the way down.  Seriously.  If you doubt me, i challenge you, if you are not a stair officionado, to own up to 8 sets up and down.  then call me.

But the best part of these stairs is their stunning setting.  They are divided into 3 sets of hellish beauty, a tiny respite of a platform before the next set. It’s not a stadium, it’s not a park.  It’s a hidden gateway from the bottom of one street to the top of another that is so beautiful, i’ve actually photographed one of my favorite ever families there...

So Sunday, I ran about 5 miles and arrived at the stairs.

And the bottom of them, I looked up, and simply said to myself, “let’s just do 4 sets, fast as you can, then finish the run.”

What i didn’t expect was what was waiting for me.  On the top third, laying right on the concrete, next to the mossy walls, were these magnificent pink rose petals.  SO stark against the gray, it caused me to STOP.  right there. in that moment.

and the first thing that came to my mind, without even thinking, was, “AC… appreciate these while there are still rose petals.”

We’ve reached record high temperatures this summer.  Death Valley, 127 degrees. Las Vegas, 115 degrees. Phoenix, 119 degrees.

All around us.  More hurricanes, more tornadoes, more flooding.  Record setting heat, record setting glacial melt. We are hitting the extremes, and we go through our day complaining about it, watching reports on the news and thinking, “oh, those poor people.”

People, WE are the people.

Who can change this shit.

So i took a photo of those rose petals, because they simply took my breath away.

And then my dumb-ass social media mind went directly to “hmmm, wouldn’t that be a clever hashtag, #whiletherearestillrosepetals?”  I bet not a single soul has hash tagged that!


However all i could think about was how to engage in a global conversation around our grandchildren actually seeing rose petals in real-life vs. in a museum.  And social media seems to be our avenue.  Perhaps our only one?

So, I began listing it out, halfway between set 2 and 3:

Here are my individual contributions to saving the rose petals:

1) No more fucking plastic bags.  I’ve been on this one for over 3 years, and i can confidently say that we don’t EVER use them intentionally.  EVER.  If we forget our reusable bags, we hand carry our shit out.  When i see someone at the grocery store buying bottled water, then putting that bottled water in a plastic bag to carry to their car, I want to cause them suffering, my feelings are THAT strong.

2) Per above, no more fucking bottled water. I’ve been on this diligently for the same number of years, since i got a clue and saw a sailboat. We have these things, called “sinks,” and these other things, called “water bottles.”  And if we don’t have a sink, they’ve invented this new cool thing, called the “drinking fountain.”  Fill your goddamn water bottle.

3) I’ve gone vegetarian.  Cow farts are the #1 contributor to global warming.  It is proven. There are so many sources, it’s conclusive.  here is just a taste:

“With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills—but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. And this source is on the rise: global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating. About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, and while a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the hundreds of millions of livestock animals worldwide is enormous. An additional 15% of animal agricultural methane emissions are released from the massive “lagoons” used to store untreated farm animal waste, and already a target of environmentalists’ for their role as the number one source of water pollution in the U.S.

The conclusion is simple: arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products. Simply by going vegetarian (or, strictly speaking, vegan), , , we can eliminate one of the major sources of emissions of methane, the greenhouse gas responsible for almost half of the global warming impacting the planet today.”

4) I buy local, in season stuff.  Yeah, i’d love to make my morning juice with a pineapple, but not if it was imported from Hawaii 4 months ago on a ship that used 11 billion tons of fuel to get it to my kitchen so I could say, “wow… love the taste of pineapple with kale!”

5) no grass in our yard.  only native plants.

6) giving the stink-eye to every leaf blowing neighbor i see.  This is not as effective as I would like, but i get the sheer pleasure of looking at them as if they are the stupidest people on the planet, moving a leaf from HERE to THERE.

It’s not much, just a few simple things I do.  And holy hell I am far from perfect.  I still own a gas guzzling car.  I still run my AC in the record Portland heat.

But wow…

if we combined all the few simple things we could each do, every day, in choices we make…

perhaps our grandchildren will still see rose petals on their steps.

Which, really, is all that matters.


Thank you, as always, for allowing me the platform to vent, and your patience to get to this final word,




Posted in cow farts, environment, global warming, methane, plastic, rose petals, Uncategorized, vegitarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments