Dorothy O'Donnell


United States

I'm a freelance writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love telling just about any kind of story, but especially enjoy writing features related to the arts, travel, lifestyle and health. I've also penned a personal essay or two.


Travel & Lifestyle

PHOTOS: World Dog Surfing Championships in Pacifica

Outside Lands wasn't the only place to catch rockstar performances on Saturday. Just down the road in Pacifica, a large crowd gathered at Linda Mar Beach to watch some incredible - and adorable - four-legged athletes compete in the World Dog Surfing Championships.

The 2022 SF Pride Parade In Photos

Jubilant participants and spectators took over Market Street during yesterday's 52nd annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade. According to the San Francisco police, an estimated 500,000 people gathered for the festivities. The theme for this year's celebration was "Love Will Keep Us Together."

PHOTOS: North Beach Festival Returns After Two-Year Hiatus

Happy revelers welcomed the return of the North Beach Festival this past weekend. After a two-year hiatus, San Francisco's oldest street fair marked its sixty-sixth year by adding new attractions, such as performances by acrobats from Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story at Club Fugazi, a professional chalk artist competition, and a pet adoption booth.

Pipeline cannabis dispensary spreads good vibes in North Beach for 4/20

North Beach has plenty of places to get your drink on. But until recently, if you were seeking a mellower high from a cannabis dispensary, you were out of luck. That's changed since North Beach Pipeline opened earlier this year. The store joins Pipeline's first location in the Sunset District.

Relocated vintage clothing shop Vacation now open in North Beach

Leave those ho-hum, mass-produced garments on the rack and amp up your style game with a unique gem from Vacation, North Beach's new vintage clothing store. Well, new to North Beach, that is. Prior to opening here at the end of February, the meticulously curated shop called the Tenderloin home.

American West
Peak Performance: Summiting Shasta at 60 - American West

My 60th birthday. Typically, I celebrate milestone birthdays with some serious pampering. But I wanted to shake things up as I entered a new decade, one that felt especially significant. Old age was coming at me like an avalanche. How long would I be healthy enough to handle a demanding...

Los Angeles Times
Your weekend getaway for the holidays: San Francisco

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, San Francisco's always-jumping Union Square ups its game. A towering Christmas tree aglow with thousands of lights and ornaments rises from its center. Skaters whirl around an ice rink, grooving to holiday and pop music. Street performers entertain in and around the square.

Los Angeles Times
Pedal along the American River on a weekend trip to Sacramento

My cycling skills and my ancient 10-speed clunker were a little rusty when I headed to Sacramento's American River Parkway for a recent solo ride. Luckily, you don't have to be in Tour de France shape to pedal the mostly flat, 32-mile trail that starts in the Old Sacramento historic district and ends in Folsom.
Gaze at the holiday lights on a weekend escape to the Mission Inn in Riverside

Once famed for its citrus groves, Riverside today is best known for its Festival of Lights. About 500,000 visitors will flock to the holiday extravaganza, which runs through Jan. 6. The fun centers on the historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and spills into the adjacent Main Street Pedestrian Mall.
Savor live music on a weekend escape to Saratoga, Calif.

Wine lovers appreciate Saratoga's laid-back sipping experience. But I wasn't hunting for a great new Cabernet or Pinot Noir on a recent visit to this peaceful town in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

7x7 Bay Area
A Modern Guide to Mill Valley: Scenic Trails, Renowned Restaurants + Funky Shops

As you approach downtown Mill Valley, you can't help but notice the dramatic sight of Mount Tamalpais rising in the distance. Easy access to some of Tam's most scenic trails make Mill Valley a mecca for weekend warriors. But even if you're not the outdoorsy type, this laid-back, Southern Marin encla...

7x7 Bay Area
San Francisco's Best Boutique Inns

Want to experience a new neighborhood in SF? Stay in one of these cozy boutique hotels, then explore your surroundings. Inn at the Presidio, the Presidio (pictured above) Housed in a handsome brick colonial where bachelor army officers once bunked, the Inn at the Presidio is now a fortress of com...

7x7 Bay Area
Nurture Your Soul With a Zen Retreat in 2015

Make like a monk and unplug from your hectic, always-connected life with a Zen retreat this New Year. Learn how to meditate, fine-tune your yoga practice, or just spend quiet time communing with nature. Here are five great spots to immerse yourself in a day or weekend of reflection and relaxation so...

Photography & Illustration

7x7 Bay Area
We Wanna Be Friends With SF Insta Sensation Julie Gebhardt

Leave it to a hairstylist to know beauty when she sees it. Years ago, Julie Gebhardt, a stylist at Ringolevio Salon in Pac Heights, took a portrait photography class with the idea of learning how to take better snapshots of her family. But the photo bug didn't really click until she got her hands on...

Underwater Photographer Dives Into Helping Cancer Survivors

Underwater Photographer Dives Into Helping Cancer Survivors Breast cancer survivor, Kim. Photo by Erena Shimoda. Ever since she was a little girl, Erena Shimoda fantasized about being a mermaid and calling the ocean her home. As an adult, she felt like her childhood dream had almost come true the first time she went scuba diving during a trip to Honduras 14 years ago.

2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Will Mosgrove

To say that Academy of Art University has been a major part of honorary doctorate recipient Will Mosgrove's life is an understatement. Mosgrove, who served as graduate director of the Academy's School of Photography from 2006 to 2015, also earned his B.F.A. from what was then Academy of Art College.

Photography Grad's Work Helps People Heal From Loss

Photography Grad's Work Helps People Heal From Loss An image from Susan Mah's Loss Project collection. Photo by Susan Mah. As a young girl, Susan Mah inherited a passion for photography from her father. "He was a fantastic photographer and my first mentor," said Mah, who delved deeper into the art form in a ninth grade photography class.

Academy Instructor's BART Caricatures Attract Fans

Academy Instructor's BART Caricatures Attract Fans A collection of Hamilton Cline's BART caricatures. Image courtesy of Hamilton Cline. Most people go to amusement parks for the thrilling rides and to escape reality. But for caricaturist and Academy of Art University instructor Hamilton Cline, they were where he learned the skills that would help him become a successful artist.

Advertising & Design

Fashion Panel Explores Inclusive Design

Fashion Panel Explores Inclusive Design (L-R) Assistant Director of Fashion Styling Flore Morton, four-time Special Olympic U. S. National Champion in gymnastics Chelsea Werner, her mother Lisa Werner, disability fashion stylist Stephanie Thomas and founder of Enlisted Design and co-founder of Urbio Bob Oyler. Photo by Bob Toy.

Skilled Stylists Help JEM Grad's Work Shine in Print

A necklace by Azita Mireshghi covers 1968's winter issue. Photo by Giuliano Bekor. "Jewelry creates an emotional reaction when you put it on," said Mireshghi, who graduated from Academy of Art University's School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) with an M.F.A. in 2016. "It makes you feel a certain way, whether it's pretty or powerful.

JEM Grad's Wearable Art Fuses Fantasy and Electronics

JEM Grad's Wearable Art Fuses Fantasy and Electronics The Gauntlet, a piece by alumnus Ryan Hsiang, is a forearm-length metal cuff studded with chunky blue and purple crystals made from resin. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hsiang.

Advertising Grad's Branded Content Racks up Awards

Stills from Joey Iamartino-Larson's "Glory and Reason." Images courtesy of Joey Iamartino-Larson. Skipping his Academy of Art University classes to spend four days at sea on a fishing boat paid off in a big way for recent School of Advertising graduate Joey Iamartino-Larson.

IND Online Student Designs Innovative Truck Topper

Like many great inventions, Brian Johnson's innovative truck topper stemmed from a problem. As a truck owner and outdoor enthusiast for 25 years, he was familiar with the challenges of attaching, removing and storing toppers-also known as camper shells-that already existed. Johnson developed Aegis, a modular truck cover system, for his thesis project while earning his M.F.A.

Awards Ceremony Honors 2018 IND Edwin T. Meyer Scholarship Winners

Awards Ceremony Honors 2018 IND Edwin T. Meyer Scholarship Winners IND student Kevin Chen was this year's recipient of the $10,000 Edwin T. Meyer Scholarship. Photo by Bob Toy. On the evening of April 12, a group of Academy of Art University faculty, students and guests gathered among the gleaming vintage cars at the school's automobile museum.

Modern Day 'Mad Man' Thrives on Mentoring Advertising Students

Modern Day 'Mad Man' Thrives on Mentoring Advertising Students In his more than two decades in advertising, Academy of Art University alumnus and instructor Terry Jones has built a portfolio of high-profile clients Mad Men's Don Draper would envy.

Real Estate & Business

HomeLight Blog
House Deed vs Title: How to Keep Their Meanings Straight

House deed vs. title: what's the difference between the two? The terms are often mistakenly interchanged or misunderstood in real estate. Perhaps the biggest myth is that the title to a home is an actual document stored in a drawer somewhere.

HomeLight Blog
How to Focus on the Right Fixes Before Selling Your House

You've lived with your home's quirks for years: the toilet handle that needs jiggling after every flush. The electrical outlets that haven't worked in a decade. That red accent wall in the living room that's more dated than dramatic. Now that you're selling your house, you see these imperfections through the eyes of potential buyers.

HomeLight Blog
12 Tips for Selling a House in an Undesirable Location

You need to sell your home, but it's admittedly not in the best location. Despite your custom french doors, chef's kitchen, or other coveted features, you can't change the fact that your property backs onto a busy highway or that you're close to a landfill.

HomeLight Blog
Can I Sell My House to a Family Member at Below Market Value?

Only about 8% of people sell their home to someone they already know, but you personally want the buyer of your home to be your son, daughter, grandchild, or another relative - and you wouldn't have it any other way! If your budget allows, you may even desire to give your loved one a discount on the home's price.

HomeLight Blog
Creative Real Estate Listing Descriptions: Which Words Sell?

Today's homebuyers can scroll through dozens of real estate listings on the web in a matter of minutes, which means you may only have one fleeting moment to get them to notice yours before they're onto the next. Those sweeping aerial drone images of your home's acreage and pics that show off your light-filled interior are sure to catch their eye.

HomeLight Blog
Finding Cash Home Buyers In NJ: A Seller's Guide

Cash home buyers in NJ are clamoring for homes throughout the state, especially in the wake of the pandemic. So now is a great time to request a cash offer on your Dutch Colonial in Montclair so you can downsize to a waterfront condo in Jersey City, or whatever your housing situation may be.

HomeLight Blog
Sell My House for Cash - Are Cash Home Buyers Legit?

On the surface, fast-cash companies in real estate may not have the most pristine reputation, but you're not crazy to consider selling your house for cash. As a rising number of companies provide cash offers for homes and improve experiences for sellers with advanced technology, the idea that you don't have to wait months to list and close on your house appeals to many stressed-out sellers.

HomeLight Blog
How to Sell Your House Fast With a Realtor's Expertise

You need to move ASAP and would prefer to sell your house fast with a Realtor®. But you're not sure where to begin your search for someone qualified. Plus, your house could use some TLC. The garage is overflowing, your bathroom hasn't been updated since the early 2000s, and your living room carpets aren't the freshest.

HomeLight Blog
How to Help a Loved One With Dementia Sell Their House

Learning that a parent or spouse has dementia can leave you reeling. Even if the symptoms are mild - Mom's been losing her purse more often and missed some appointments - you know the day is coming when she won't be able to manage her affairs or live on her own.

HomeLight Blog
My Tree Needs to Go: What's the Cost to Cut It Down?

When a cherished tree must go, it can feel like losing a family member. To pour salt in the wound of your tree loss, you can expect to receive a pretty steep bill for the luxury of removing a sick, dying, or otherwise dangerous tree from your property.

HomeLight Blog
How to Sell Your House Fast in Tacoma, a Rising Seattle Rival

The days when Tacoma's charms were eclipsed by Seattle, its sprawling cosmopolitan neighbor 34 miles north, are over. A growing number of homebuyers are discovering what locals like you already know - bigger isn't always better. And this puts you in position to sell your Tacoma house fast.

Film & Theater

Director Silas Howard Discusses New Film, 'A Kid Like Jake'

Director Silas Howard Discusses New Film, 'A Kid Like Jake' Jim Parsons as Greg Wheeler, and Leo James Davis as Jake Wheeler in Silas Howard's A KID LIKE JAKE. Photo by JON PACK. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.

'The Rider' Will Rein Audiences In

'The Rider' Will Rein Audiences In Brady Jandreau as Brady Blackburn. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Written and directed by Chloé Zhao, The Ride r is the moving story of Brady Blackburn, a young cowboy struggling to hold on to the only way of life he knows after suffering a serious head injury while competing in a rodeo.

David Levithan's Popular Novel 'Every Day' Comes to the Big Screen

Fortunately, producers Paul Trijbits and Christian Grass from the UK's FilmWave, along with Anthony Bregman and Peter Cron of Likely Story, were up for the challenge. Levithan insisted that different people portray A, rather than trying to have a single actor fill the role.

School of Acting Grad Embraces Variety and Taking Risks

School of Acting alumnus Sean Gunnell (right) in Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center's production of Cabaret. Photo courtesy of Sean Gunnell. Academy of Art University School of Acting alumnus Sean Gunnell hadn't been in a musical since he was a kid.

Characters Overcome Gender Oppression in ACT's Lively 'Cloud 9'

Characters Overcome Gender Oppression in ACT's Lively 'Cloud 9' (L-R) Valerie Compton, Mario Mazzetti, Garrick Sigl, Zoe Foulks and Zaya Kolia in Cloud 9. Photo by Bob Toy. Hide your feelings. Deny your sexuality. Know your place and follow the rules society deems right for your gender.

School of Acting's 'Six Degrees' Captivates Audiences at Sutter Theatre

(L-R) Jack Clendenen, Zaya Kolia, Renee Rogoff and Michael Houston (in chair). Photo by Bob Toy. Paul Poitier, the young black man at the center of playwright John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation, is a likable scam artist who dons different identities to get what he wants.

Special Class Introduces Chinese Students to Art Education's "Three C's"

Special Class Introduces Chinese Students to Art Education's "Three C's" School of Art Education's Marybeth Tereszkiewicz leads a day of fun and imagination-boosting creativity Academy of Art University's Art Education Director Marybeth Tereszkiewicz and Academy grad student Angie Chi during a special Saturday class held for a group of young students visiting from China.

2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Stephanie Thomas

Although her disability may not be obvious, Stephanie Thomas has always found shopping for stylish clothes that are easy to put on and take off a challenge. A congenital amputee, Thomas was born missing digits on her hands and feet.

2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: David Pfeil

For the past 20 years, David Oliver Pfeil has played a key role in Academy of Art University's commencement ceremonies. The former director of the School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPT) creates the engaging videos that celebrate the accomplishments of each distinguished alumni and honorary doctorate recipient.


Grown and Flown
How My Daughter and I Stay Close Though We are Miles Apart

On Monday nights, I have a standing date with my daughter. That's when the popular podcast Crime Junkie drops a new episode about some gruesome murder or troubling missing person case. We listen together, 325 miles apart. Our love affair with Crime Junkie began two years ago when we still resided under the same roof.

Dorothy O'Donnell: Too Old For the Hiking Group - KQED

When Dorothy O'Donnell tried to join a hiking group the email that followed was surprising at first, then it was infuriating. Recently, I joined a local Meet Up hiking group online. I did so because a friend wanted me to accompany her on one of their hikes.

Marin Independent Journal
'Visiting' her mother's childhood home in the age of COVID-19

I've been spending some of my COVID-19 quarantine in Britain, my mother's homeland. In my head, at least. I had plans for a real visit this summer. Clearly, that's not happening. So I've been traveling there from the comfort of my sofa via memories of childhood trips, faded photographs and my mother's memoir.

Bipolar at 5? | Parenting

I wasn't at my 5-year-old's school the day she started to rip off her clothes and twirl in the rain in front of the music room. But when her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Stapp, called to tell me about Sadie's latest episode of troubling behavior, I wasn't surprised. I'd witnessed plenty of similar incidents.

Brain, Child
Reluctant Sorority Sisters

By Dorothy O'Donnell I sat with three other moms on ugly green wedges of modular seating in the lobby of the Stanford Psychiatric Services building. It was a Tuesday evening and we were waiting for our daughters to finish their first session of group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for kids with bipolar disorder.

Full Grown People
The Break-Up - Full Grown People

It wasn't as if I hadn't been dumped before. Or ended my share of relationships that had disaster written all over them. But this particular break-up hit me harder than most, even though, technically, I wasn't the one being dumped. It happened at my eight-year-old's school on her first day of second grade, the hottest day of the summer.