Last night, I enjoyed a chicken street taco at my favorite Mexican restaurant. In the bar, there was a family of eight having dinner. All adults, but really quiet.

If you’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant when someone has a birthday, they are all pretty predictable. The staff shows up with the big Sombrero. They put it on the birthday person’s head and sing their version of Happy Birthday. This family would have nothing to do with such a thing.

Dessert was delivered to one of the girls, and then the check was handed to the man of the house. When the waitress was long gone back to the kitchen, the family whisper-sang Happy Birthday to the girl with dessert. There were only two other people in the bar other than me. At that moment, I was so tempted to do something, but I let the thought be enough to make me smile.

For a moment, when I lived in Las Vegas, I was a singing telegram. I was Scarlet O’Piglet.

Knowing that family has standards to not make noise or be seen, if Cari walked over there and ripped into the big birthday song, “WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHY I’M HERE…. ” the family would have melted into a puddle and died.

If you read this and think to yourself, “Brag much, Cari?” You are insecure, jealous, and judgemental. I am fearless. That is the only difference between us. I take chances that you will never take. Now, there is nothing I won’t try. You look at me as if I think I am better than you. In your head, I hear those words from decades ago, “Who do you think you are?” I am Cari Palmer. I am alive and living loud. You should try it. We are all special because we are alive, and we have choices.

Two years ago, I went with my buddy Michelle to Lincoln City to sing and have dinner. We went to a massive restaurant with just a handful of people inside. It was the most random night, but everything about it was magical.

I checked their menu on the website before we left and learned about the “smaller portion” meals. We both ordered the chicken fried steak dinner for around $10 each. It was the perfect sized meal, with no leftovers. We both cleaned our plates but weren’t dying from a gut bomb. It was perfect.

We chatted with two young men playing pool at the table behind us. Then we started singing.

Something about this night and the magic of the evening kept the magic flowing.

The host sang, Michelle sang, then I sang. It was a sleepy little place, but we were having fun.

I felt invincible. I felt so powerful, connected, and on fire. I sang Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” dancing as I sang, and I hit every note. Most people don’t lay it all out there in an empty restaurant when they sing karaoke. Who I am now, I put it out there hard and proud every chance I get. Why wouldn’t I?

This song sent one of the young pool-playing men over the edge. He sensed something about me, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. I was sassy, I was fun, I was fearless. He was so curious.

As I made my way back to our table, he said, with a puzzled look, “Who are you? Jessica Rabbit?”

As a matter of fact, that might be the best way to describe who I am.

Cari, from decades before, was a mouse. I have never liked attention, but I love to perform. I would do it whenever I had a chance to sing or dance. I love movement and music. I just didn’t allow myself to express out loud as I fearlessly do today.

The things I love to do, I wouldn’t do in front of others. When I wanted to move and dance, I would stay still because what is the point when you dance like a mouse? There were many things I knew I could do well, and I never wanted to “show off,” so I didn’t do much.

For over a decade, I threw incredible, themed karaoke New Year’s Eve parties. I did it as I became a mom, and I didn’t want to be out, so we stayed in and had a blast.

Again, I would love to grab the mic and whip out a few tunes just like everyone else, but I don’t want people to get quiet when I sing. I want the party to continue and be loud so it doesn’t become a “Cari Show.”

No one noticed that I always put my husband up first to sing. He would do some fun country song, and get the crowd riled up for a party. As the people had plenty to drink, I could easily blend my songs in with the loud party background noise.

Jessica Rabbit. That describes me. I don’t feel human at all, yet I sport this now tiny body and move it around just like everyone else. But it is what I know that makes me Jessica. I know we are not these bodies. I came here to live loud and fully be myself. I now sing and dance loudly any chance I get. I am accused of dirty dancing just because I know how to move my body. I don’t care what you think. I know you wish you were fearless enough to dance as I do, but what would your husband or your friends think? This is your problem.

I sing loud and proud. I became a soccer player in my forties and played until Covid. I auditioned for my first play on October 18, 2021. I am a downhill skier, cliff diver, and solemn water skier. I can twirl baton, walk on stilts, or hop on a pogo stick. I am a rock climber, backpacker, and a very happy camper (I love camping. Now, I feel like I live in a campground full time).

There is nothing I cannot do or won’t try if it excites me. After miraculously ending up on an 18-day white-water rafting adventure down the Grand Canyon with 14 complete strangers, I became a rafting guide for a season in Leavenworth, WA. Having kids in my raft scared me to death, but I wanted to try it, so I did it. I have been putting it out there my entire life.

For years, I would go on rides alone at the Puyallup Fair as I couldn’t talk any of my friends or family members to being punched out of the slingshot into the night sky. They have no idea what they are missing out on.

I have walked away from everything you find important and followed my curiosity. I now walk alone as a human, yet surrounded by so much loving energy, I am never alone. I laugh at jokes as offered (often) by my dead boyfriend. He is non-stop on fire.

Look at how I live and tell me how close your reality is to mine. I am the happiest woman on the planet. I found this space by shutting up, shutting off the outside world, and I merely went to my interior castle. There is where you find all the beauty.

Outside; noise, confusion, icky. Inside; peace, calm, clarity, direction.

For the life of me, I will never figure you people out. Fortunately, I can only model what life looks like from here.