A selfie taken in 2018 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 are All The Things I’ve Never Been:

• Never been a hoodlum or a tramp, but I’ve hopped a few freight trains outta Old Milwaukee, including to St. Paul to see a dying uncle.

• Never been a rock star, 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 a selfless person, but I’ve helped hundreds of poor families, mostly single moms and kids, and many Spanish speakers, to get warm food, keep a roof over their head, and/or overcome barriers.

• Never been an athlete, but I rode the bench on the Carleton Ultimate Team that finished third at the 1994 national ultimate frisbee tourney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

• Never been a traveler, but I took so many “chicken” buses during a six-month trip from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Bocas del Toro, Panama that I got a callous on my ass.

• Never been good with words, but I’ve had stories published in the Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Onion, Adbusters and Portland and Milwaukee’s favorite media.

• Never been a social scientist, but two departments at Carleton College awarded me distinction for 100 carefully-distilled-to-absolute-boredom pages I researched during six months in Costa Rica studying UPANacional, the nation’s largest sindicato campesino.

• Never been bilingual, but Spanish has been my second language since San José y Los Simpsons, and I still give an employee at my favorite Mexican restaurant shit about the “pedo” (fart) joke she assumed I wouldn’t get.

• Never been a disciplined Buddhist, but the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha have been my ray of hope in hard times, like when my brother Kyle committed suicide.

• 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, a.k.a. “fax boy.”

• Never been a risk taker, but there was a moment in La Libertad, El Salvador when I thought my goose was cooked, before a farmacista saved my life with a few pastillas.

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