A few weeks ago, a Parts Unknown episode brought me to tears. An emotional reaction isn’t all that surprising when it comes to a production led by Anthony Bourdain — be it curiosity, elation, and most understandably, envy. But those feelings weren’t what I was experiencing when I finished the episode on West Virginia. I was crying out of empathy.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see the world, and I was fortunate enough to be in a position where such a dream was not too distant. My father is Jamaican, and my mother is…


The majority of the disabled community wants you to just…stop.

An image of the California coast, with jagged rocks leading into the ocean and wild green plants and pink and yellow flowers at the edge.
An image of the California coast, with jagged rocks leading into the ocean and wild green plants and pink and yellow flowers at the edge.
Photo by Kelly Dawson

I’ve always loved advice columns. I remember reading the Dear Abby series in the local paper after my mom was finished, re-reading American Girl how-to books from cover to cover, and getting (questionable) tips from magazines as a teen. Advice is part of life. We all seek it out, whether we look for it in print or ask for it from friends and family. It’s nice to have a problem that feels solvable after reading or listening to words of experience.

A few years ago, I began writing about my…


Follow these steps to get a byline.

a sandwich, a bag of chips, a magazine, and sunglasses on a table
a sandwich, a bag of chips, a magazine, and sunglasses on a table
Might as well figure out where to pitch over lunch. Image: Kelly Dawson

Let’s start out by stating the obvious: Freelance writing is hard. Really, really hard. While outdated stereotypes perpetuate the idea that freelance writers are either Carrie Bradshaw or couch potatoes, the truth is often far from both.

As most Sex and the City fans have realized, there’s no way to get by in any city as fabulously as Carrie did on one scant freelance column — rent, shoes, or otherwise. And I’d argue that freelance writers work harder, longer hours than many staff writers in an office. …


It can be expensive to live life with a disability

Illustration by Christina Yoseph

Three old pairs of shoes cost $125.87 to be made “new” again. The total is routinely surprising, even though I’ve spent it many times, and I always try not to let the surprise show on my face. Instead, I carefully inspect the shoes my shoe guy holds up for me, noting the stains and scuffs, making jokes about how dirty they are. I tell him that I should clean them, and then I peer more closely at their soles. We laugh, acting out a familiar scene.

The three left shoes are slightly taller than the right ones. That’s because the…


Medals from the Special Olympics World Games. Photo by Salvador Ochoa.

The Special Olympics World Games LA2015 highlights athletes whose stories exemplify the diversity of the human experience. But that experience is shared by all, and we need more action to make it inclusive.

For the past eight months, I’ve been learning the stories at the heart of the Special Olympics World Games. These stories were told to me by excited athletes ready to compete, proud parents remembering the early days of training and coaches remarking on the hard work of their teams. This was all done through words: email chains, phone interviews, research anecdotes, archived tales. I recorded and read, wrote and edited. As the weeks went by and the Games grew closer, statistics around the athletes punctuated these narratives. 6,500 athletes. 2,000 coaches. 165 countries. As monumental as these stories and numbers…


Photo courtesy of Special Olympics U.S.A.

Going With The Wind While Striving For The Gold

Michael Crofton and John Kirkland will work hard for Team U.S.A. in the World Games, but they’re doing so with laid-back attitudes.

When Michael Crofton and John Kirkland compete in the Special Olympics World Games on July 30, there will be plenty of challenges on the horizon.

This will be their first World Games as a team, and their first time to Los Angeles. While they have sailed in the ocean, they’ve never sailed in the Pacific. And although they usually steer a catamaran on a lake in their home state of Georgia, the World Games requires the use of a boat with a single hull.

But they probably have a joke for all of that.

“We always want to do our…

Kelly Dawson

writer and editor based in L.A. | kellymdawson.com | @atthecrosswalk

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