Different and Proud

Some people are born knowing…and some people evolve into the discovery of their true selves. I believe I may be one of those who evolved. Although who knows, I may have always been like this. I may have been conditioned to think that things were supposed to be a certain way. Done in a certain order for them to be socially acceptable.

Fuck social acceptability. I think that’s an old concept anyway. I’m not talking about the very framework that makes the world work together, well for all intents and purposes anyway, given the world diplomacy climate today. I’m talking about some people thinking there is only one order, one way to live your life and trying to push those ideas on those who believe and do so differently.

It took many years of chipping away at these social constraints and conditioning to be able to put a label on the way I thought about a lot of things in regards to myself. And I made a pretty epic discovery: I am queer.

Shocking. I know.

Why do I choose to identify as ‘queer’? Because this evolvement has many facets for me, some of which I’m still discovering. It’s not only about sexual or gender preference or identity. I’m becoming more self-aware and more worldly aware. I believe that for me, these are intricately intertwined. Because who I am is directly related to how I see things, how I understand things, and how I absorb them. It affects how I communicate and how I treat others.

As far as ‘coming out’, personally, I’m still internally debating if I feel I need to do that. I believe the people in my life that know me well already know and those who don’t just don’t care to know. And that is ok. At some point, I’m sure I’ll tell my family. But I’m not too worried about doing it right now. I didn’t announce that I thought I was straight at one point, why should I make a formal announcement that I’m ‘different’?

We are all different from each other. I guess I fail to understand why people who are different are prosecuted or looked down upon. Who gets to decide someone is ‘different’? We are all humans, are we not?

I realize I’m being simplistic here, it’s not that I don’t understand how the world has worked in the past: There are groups of people all over with similar ideologies who want to decide who and what is acceptable and then try to enforce it and in the process prosecute those who are different. I get it. And, I’m not just talking about sexual or gender preference or identity here either. I’m talking about ‘differences’ in anything: race, religion, skin color, abilities, socio-economic status, education, the list goes on.

I’m just trying to do my small part to change the world. To me, ‘different’ is what makes the world go ‘round. Would you want to live on a planet where everyone is the same? No? Me neither.

Here is what I believe and do my best to live each day: Every single human has value.

Every single human has value whether their ‘differences’ are visible or not. And I try to spread that shit like fire because I think more people need to hear it and be more accepting of others. Myself included. Remember – constantly evolving?

Because really, the change I want to see in the world starts right here, with me.



I have never had a real best friend.

There, I said it.

When I was younger, I had many ‘best’ friends, in fact, they seemed to rotate on which grade I was in, and what our interests were at the time. But none of them really stuck. We moved on and formed new friendships with others, no hard feelings. However, in the case of the girl I thought was my best friend all through high school, she just cut me off once we got to college – even though we were roommates – and I never found out why. That one hurt.

These early experiences, along with some others as an adult really made me wary of trying to form close friendships. I wondered what the big deal was about BFF’s. At the same time, I was envious of people posting on social media about their BFF’s and all the fun activities they did together. I wished for a best friend, and I figured the problem was me. I was obviously the common denominator in all my failed friendships.

It’s difficult finding close friendships as adults. Most people seem to already be part of a friend group, and it’s hard to break that invisible, yet still very real, barrier. I tried mom groups, co-workers, Meetups, volunteering, book clubs, and special interest groups, all to no avail. I made a few casual acquaintances, but that was it. No one I could really talk to on a deeper level.

We, as humans, it seems, are indoctrinated/pressured/conditioned into believing we need BFF’s that know everything about us. That said, I don’t believe there is anything wrong whatsoever with close friendships of any kind. I personally felt the pressure to find a BFF, or even a groups of friends I could count on, and when I didn’t, felt there was something wrong with me. I thought maybe it went back to the way I was raised and all the ‘surface only’ relationships I have with my family. Maybe I didn’t know how to be a friend. I thought I just wasn’t good enough for anyone to really care about knowing the real me.

That was a lonely time, loaded with self doubt, low self esteem and self recriminations. Not a healthy way to be, and I needed to break that cycle.

Enter Ladies Rock Camp. I went on a whim and it really was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Ladies Rock Camp is a magical weekend filled with learning how to play an instrument, forming a band with strangers, writing a song, then performing that song on stage. Irreplaceable key elements of this camp are the high levels of female empowerment and ultra-supportive and strong women who run the camp. A side benefit? The chance to be a rockstar for a weekend.

I met some friends there that have now been my friends for years. These are exceptional women who are accepting, supportive, and amazing. They want to be my friend, they like me the way I am, and they care about me. I have never felt so understood and validated in my entire life!

I’ve learned a few important things about friends: for me, a group of extraordinary friends is better than having a BFF, and…there was nothing wrong with me at all.

I just hadn’t met the right people yet.


PS: If you have a Ladies Rock Camp in your area (and you probably do, they are everywhere!), I highly encourage you to check it out.

Punk Ass Scaredy Cat

Long ago, I loved singing. I thought I was quite good, not professional quality, surely, but passable. I was in my church choir, and regularly put on living room concerts with my sisters where we sang and did choreography to my parent’s record collection. At one point, I knew every lyric on Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, and The Golden Hits of Lesley Gore albums. I even had dreams of being a rock star and wanted to learn to play the guitar. Then my life drastically changed.

I was singing along with the radio in my bedroom one day. Surprisingly, I don’t even remember what song, but I was belting it out and having a great time doing it.

My mother came into my room and said, “Your voice is terrible.”  

What mother does that?

It was crushing. Not only to my self confidence, of which I had so little to begin with, but it crushed my very soul. It almost crushed my love of music.

She left and I turned off the radio and sobbed as quietly as possible into my pillow because I’d be damned if she would find out how her words hurt me.

Her criticism changed my life. I no longer wanted to sing in front of anyone. Ever again. I was still in choir, but kept my head down and mouthed the words. I still loved music, but never sang along to it anymore, unless it was in my room alone and very quietly. I would never sing in front of my friends, family, or significant others.

Fast forward thirty years. I love music more than ever, and even started a band with my friends. I play the bass guitar. I write punk songs. We perform in public, and I love it.

So, do I sing in my band?


One time our vocalist wasn’t able to make rehearsal, and my bandmate asked me to sing one of our covers, “She” by Green Day. It was the first time I had ever sang into a microphone. It was terrifying and traumatic and I could hardly hear myself. My bandmates thought my voice was just fine. I was paralyzed with fear and refused to do it again.


I sing in my car. Alone. I belt out the lyrics to my favorite songs putting on sold out car concerts all the time. But I doubt I will ever sing in public, not even a punk song.


Those four words my mother uttered so long ago scarred me for life. The worst part of it is, I would bet that she doesn’t remember saying them, and if she did, she would deny it. It kills me that I have hung on to those words for so long. And believe them yet to this day. But I don’t know how to rid myself of them. I don’t know how to heal the hurt either.

Here’s your take away: 

Words matter. How we say those words matter. Please choose yours carefully.


My Dad

My dad died last January after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was a pretty special person in my life, although, we were not particularly close. In my family, we are surface relationship people, not really delving into the dark depths of familial relationships. That is how it was with my dad, and most of my other relatives too, but that is another story altogether.

When my dad was still able to have a lucid conversation, we talked about casual things such as sports, movies, vacations and music. Not about deep topics that really matter in the scheme of things. If we tried to discuss government, politics, religion, or feelings, for example, it was difficult to keep it respectful as we had wildly opposing views. For whatever reason, we just didn’t have that curiosity back then as to what each other really thought or felt.

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s around the age of 45. Most of my best memories of him are only until about then, even though he was almost 66 when he died. After he was diagnosed, it literally consumed his life. Between the doctor’s appointments, medications, mobility issues, and a host of other things related to his disease, we didn’t get to just sit down and talk a lot after that. Sometimes I get sad thinking about that lost time. Over 20 years. Time when we could have been able to discuss topics that really matter, as I was mature enough, and patient enough to do so. Time to really get to know each other as adults, and maybe finally share our thoughts and feelings.

The reason he was so special to me, is that some of my best childhood memories involve him. Conversely, some of my most emotionally scarring memories involve my mother. My dad played softball, and taught me to play when I was four. We went to most of his games, and he was always the guy cheering on his teammates with the best phrases, “Go get ‘em guy!” One game, it started to rain, and we saw lightning looming on the horizon. The umpire didn’t want to call the game, but my dad and his team didn’t want to play in the dangerous lightning. My dad’s solution? In the nicest way possible, asking the umpire to hold a metal rake over his head while he was up to bat. That game got called a few minutes later.

My dad wrote me one letter in my life. He was not especially articulate or creative. He worked as a mechanical engineer his whole career, but that letter meant more to me than he ever knew. The letter was written on a yellow, lined legal pad with mechanical pencil, and his handwriting was precisely printed capital letters. Somehow he managed to fill both sides of that paper with anecdotes about what was transpiring at home and at his job while I was away at college. He even ended it with a drawing of a rocking chair and a joke about getting old. This was only about four years or so before he was diagnosed.

I miss my dad, and I’m grateful for the life lessons he taught me. He rarely raised his voice or got upset, so when he did, we knew it was serious. He was fair, unassuming, mild mannered, hilarious in his own way, and just a really nice guy who would frequently go out of his way to help others. Oh, he had his faults, and my mother never failed to point them out. Loudly. That may be why I was blind to his faults for the most part. He was my special dad. I knew he was the only person who loved me unconditionally, and that was all that really mattered.