A selfie taken during a walk up Dog Mountain on Daddy Daughter Day.

Hi! My name is Thacher Schmid. I’m a freelance journalist and musician whose life is a tale of two cities: Portland and Milwaukee. In homage to the “talking blues” tradition of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, here is All The Things I’ve Never Been.

• Never been a tramp, but I’ve hopped a few freight trains outta Old Milwaukee, to St. Paul to see a dying uncle, and Chicago to hear the blues.

• Never been a musician, but I’ve held 2,500 writhing dancers on the tip of my fingers, violin bow, amplifier and electronics — and once played Hava Nagila for a chair-borne bride at a Jewish wedding so fast the challah caught fire.

• Never been good with words, but I know the difference between an em dash and an en dash, and that there is a place for a semicolon; I’ve spent enough time reporting, typing and reading that my shoes’ soles are paper thin, my wrists and fingers hurt, my fingers inky, my spine’s all twisted and my eyes can’t hardly see.

• Never been a selfless person, but I’ve helped hundreds of people and families experiencing poverty, single moms and kids and Spanish speakers to keep a roof over their head, overcome barriers, and find pathways to healing and opportunity.

• Never been an athlete, but I rode the bench on an ultimate frisbee team that finished third at the national ultimate frisbee tourney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

• Never been a manly man, but I was the first male to work in the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Washington, D.C. office—as a media intern, also known as a “fax boy.”

• Never been a traveler, but I took so many “chicken” buses during a six-month land trip from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Bocas del Toro, Panama that I got a callous on my butt and barely made it out of El Salvador and Nicaragua.

• Never been a social scientist, but two college professors with fancy titles liked the 100 pages I banged out for them during six months in Costa Rica tramping around following UPANacional, that nation’s largest sindicato campesino.

• Never been bilingual, but I learned a few verbos en Centroamérica and from Los Simpsons, and I still give an employee at my favorite Mexican restaurant shit about the “pedo” (fart) joke she thought I didn’t catch.

• Never been a disciplined Buddhist, but the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha have been my ray of hope—especially during hard times, like after my brother Kyle’s 2008 suicide.

• Never been rich or poor, but I’ve spent enough time with people in high and low places to know good people come in all shapes, shades, languages, genders, sexual orientations, sizes, ages, ability levels and income/wealth categories.

• Never been a protester, activist or advocate, nor thrown fake blood or pies, but I’ve beat a drum, told tough truths, bussed on out to Washington D.C. to yell a little, held some signs and talked some trash a few people might even consider to be the truth.