Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My best friend I've never met

Velvet self-portrait, Death Valley 2008

My best friend I've never met has a tumor, and she'll travel. Well Doug, that's not vague at all. OK, OK. Let's back up here for a second. First off, that's the name of her blog - "Have tumor, will travel." It's worth reading for tales of her adventures alone, like the time she made friends with a homeless Navy vet in San Francisco or the time she witnessed the apocalypse.

My best friend I've never met...where do I start. Well her name is Velvet. Yes, that's her real name and yes, we're moving on from here.

We've never met because Velvet lives pretty much as far away from Boston as you can get in this country without going to Hawaii. She dated a buddy of mine from umpire school for years and years and we "met" through him.

A few months back, after much, much, much persistence on my part (and her dad's (he takes pretty cool photos too, btw)), Velvet bought her first camera. Sadly, it's a Sony, not a Nikon, but hey everyone can't be perfect. (But if I win that $207 million Friday, she's getting a D3, like it or not). I think you'd never know it unless I told you (hey I'm all about dishing secrets here), but Velvet's only been shooting for a few months - I mean are you kidding me?

Since JUNE of 2008 alone, she has managed to more or less hit the Outdoor Photographer dream list of national parks, becoming the poster child for why a national parks annual pass is a good idea. Not to mention that one could most likely devote an entire career to shoot in any of these parks, but check out this list:

Crater Lake National Park
Death Valley National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Zion National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia National Park
Yosemite National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Petrified Forest National Park
Redwood National Park
Saguaro National Park

Jealous yet? Yeah. Exactly. Talk about taking your new hobby (and car) hobby to heart.

By this point you're probably wondering about the "have tumor" part. Well unfortunately not everything is not all sun and surfing in Southern Cali. A few months back Velvet was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor. She's doing ridiculously well (I mean, if I had a brain tumor I'd probably, well, I don't know, be curled up in a ball somewhere. I sure know I wouldn't be able to function anywhere nearly as well as she has).

I'm often asked about sources of inspiration, usually as it pertains to my photography. In this case it's just Velvet. If she can somehow manage to teach herself to shoot, walk abandoned dogs every week, make it to more national parks in six months than most get to in a lifetime and still manage a "regular" job. (I say "regular" because well, nothing about her is regular) with a brain tumor, it kinda takes any excuse the rest of us might have right out of the equation, doesn't it?

I will say there is one (selfish, I know, I know) thing I'm hoping for in 2009 - actually meeting this girl in PERSON. I don't think that's too much to ask.

For more Velvet - check out this kickin' video of her pet turtle, Yertle (how cool is that?), her Flickr stream or her blog.



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