The Fixer

I spend the majority of my time tucked behind computer screens, scrutinizing every comma, semicolon, and em dash, in an endless effort to peel back the layers of literary smokescreens in hopes of revealing an author’s genuine intent. After years of tapping squarely-lettered keys, I can resolutely stand behind one indisputable discovery. There is almost always more meaning in the mistakes.

It is my job to bend language by squeegeeing sentences to wipe away the dirty ambiguity born from a writer’s internal monologue. We are all guilty of celebrating the dizziness achieved from riding the carousel of private broken records. It’s not our fault. Revelations routinely sound sweeter when they’re produced between our own ears.

But consistently revising these misappropriated intentions makes me wonder how much real-world editing we do on a daily basis. How many conversations are buffered to limit impact? How often do we feign interest in the details of other people’s lives to pretend we still share a connection? What does truth look like…unabridged?

I am beyond lucky to live in this pretty plastic city, surrounded by a core group of friends who shun pretense and smoke-blowing so adamantly, we barely even notice the permeating artificiality waiting with disinterested fangs at every corner. We’ve miraculously been able to avoid the bite by floating above the nonsense and holding firmly to our East Coast roots while baking our skin in the California sun.

But on a macrocosmic level, the question remains. Are we editing ourselves so severely that even the notion of veracity will someday sit beside 1950s table manners in a dusty museum of relics?

Truth isn’t necessarily the most popular concept to hang a hat on these days, but its extinction will undoubtedly leave some craters no clever repartee can fill. We might be wise to lay the eraser down for a little while and speak from the heart. What’s the worst that could happen? Honesty?

Adolescence Interrupted


Grateful for the Example Set

Growing up with squinted eyes blinded by the light of a seemingly untouchable force of grounded pragmatism and consistency made for an interesting cocktail of security and rebellion. Organized order, punctuality, and checked boxes built a foundation of unwavering dependability. With only one captain on the ship, there were few available alternatives. But oats strain to be sewn, and rigid rules stand as giant impediments to any misguided notion of freedom.

While nonchalantly savoring the spoils born from a hard-working parent’s willingness to haul that load alone, I dismissed the concept of a career that fit snugly into a spreadsheet schedule and haphazardly charged into the sandstorm of artistic instability. Assuming that everything would simply “work out” has made for a marathon of quicksand sprinting and rugs that seem destined to be pulled just when I think my feet are stable.

My life was so regimented and routine, I couldn’t fathom my work following suit. I felt compelled to float on top of that salted sea of possibilities and available options, so a door could always remain open when the need to run or pivot presented itself. I made certain no relationship would sustain, no child would be born, and no personalized nameplate would ever adorn some mahogany office throne.

Well, I got exactly what I wanted. By eschewing balance and structure, I have floated inside an artistic bubble, arbitrarily drifting from one project to the next. Dreams imagined. Dreams crushed. Blueprints written. Blueprints erased. Never seeing past the three illuminated feet in front of you makes for a precarious stroll, and my walking stick is now saddled with an inconspicuous nub.

I cursorily studied a road map clearly created by the cartographer responsible, and I wish I had at least learned to split the difference between margins and maybes. I will never live up to that example set, but I am beyond grateful for the cataloged tray of nuts and bolts offered to build my engine.

Adolescence Interrupted

One Common Denominator


When you spend the majority of your life wondering why each attempt at progress ultimately lands at the feet of failure, it could be wise to start taking inventory of the repeating variables.

If every social situation feels strained. If the looping cycle of start, stop, and repeat has scarred you with burns of a broken skipping record. If it seems like the world is reading a different page. If the inconceivability of normalcy is shocking. If there’s a security in remaining a prisoner to your own thoughts because that’s the only space where safety lives…then the obstacle to happiness and fulfillment is you. Well, I am finally ready to raise my hand into the air and admit that I am the problem.

I am the metaphorical lawnmower, starting with a forceful pull, attacking the task at hand, and then sputtering out in a cloud of smoke and burned clippings. Loud and resolute, my job is unyielding. Opinions and criticism are casualties left in the wake of my obsessive focus, eyes fixed on the finish line. Optimistic for options, I am seduced by the notion of possibility. Then, the tower of cards inevitably crumbles. I curse the lack of horsepower and blame the grass for being damp. But I’m the one who decided to mow in the rain.

My preferences too rigid and my lifestyle too stubborn, I alienate to maintain a false notion of control. Then I expect an illusory support system to cradle my artistic ideals for the betterment of the big picture. But that’s not how people operate. It’s how robots are programmed.

Until I stare into that mirror long enough to see why the fly is flailing in the ointment, I will continue to ride that slingshot back to start.

But identifying the sharpness of the thorn is the first step in facilitating its removal.

Adolescence Interrupted

New Puzzle, New Pieces


Duck and jab. Bob and weave. I thought I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a life of creative exploration. Little did I know, I was simply training to be a prizefighter. This journey has been less about producing art and more about the ability to take a punch and remain standing.

So I refuse to fall. If every path were a straight line, there would be no satisfaction at the finish. If the attainment of goals was as simplistic as checking off boxes on a list, we’d all feel grossly overcompensated for the paltry energy output and stolen shortcuts. There is a sense of earned accomplishment when the road to success is littered with landmines. Unfortunately, those bombs have a sneaky knack for detonation.

Still, this recent realignment has painted my canvas with a fresh coat of hope. I have to remember that each time barriers were built to slow my progress, I looked back fondly on those obstacles as reminders that I veered off course. Thankfully, many of those failed intentions would have been disastrous, and the universe made sure I was forced to see outside the tunnel. It’s not our job to question why one door closes, but to look carefully for the next handle to turn.

This year will be loaded with constant steps toward the light of possibility. Lessons never cease to be learned, and those scrapes and bruises give us the time and space necessary to heal and plan.

Adolescence Interrupted

Digging Up the Past


Thoughts and feelings locked in our memory reserves generally lie dormant until they’re stirred. But there are certain emotions that tend to live closer to the surface, and I’m guilty of carrying sentimentality on my shoulders like a perpetual backpack filled with nostalgia.

It seemed this longing to revisit a very specific time in my life was unique, and I assumed most people probably looked back at their past with a certain degree of ambivalence. Adolescent experiences were either loathed or loved, and a primary focus was put on the present.

But I’ve never been able to scratch that particular itch. The roller coaster rush felt from swimming in uncharted waters for the first time has never been equaled. There are moments of happiness and periods of near-contentment, but it’s hard to escape the fact that the person who used to wear my skin was simply a better version of me. I’ve tried to express this notion to family and friends, but it normally falls on deaf ears. My ideas get reduced to wistfulness by those who can’t relate.

Thankfully, a beautiful, honest, and painfully raw film called “Blue Jay” fell on my radar.

I’ve long been a fan of Mark Duplass and the “Mumblecore” genre, but this vulnerable and grounded story painted a remarkable visual representation of that longing to recapture the enthusiastic joy born from the prospect of hope. To see the suppressed pain and spinning thoughts being processed during intimate exchanges brought tears to my eyes. Finally, someone understood.

An ever-present ache has attached itself to adulthood, and no accomplishment or personal sense of pride will ever measure up to the wide-eyed wonder of youth. Maybe I’m lucky to have had such intensely significant milestone markers as I navigated my rites of passage. But I can’t ignore the chasm they created.

See this film. Remember your early life and early love. It’s worth it.

Adolescence Interrupted

The Fallacy of Time Lost for True Friends


I have recently experienced the privilege of reconnecting with a friend I have known since my eyes could first process images. From the moment I was aware of other humans in my space, I was aware of him. Inseparable as twins, our minds seemed to work as one. The very definition of attachment, we donned diapers and danced to the sounds of blissful innocence.

We were a team built from constant exposure, shared space, and common ground. We walked through the world for the first time, investigating our surroundings with fresh eyes and clean slates. Like brothers, we spent endless hours lost in conversations far deeper than childhood superficiality should produce. It was a bond forged from the structure of the nest, warmth of the heart, and a particular sense of security that seems to disappear far too soon.

Then, an unforeseen incident positioned him back on my radar, light brightly blinking. A moment of dread followed disbelief, and feeling too far to help was like being shackled in the sand. My “brother” was suddenly walking down roads that were far too familiar. To think that someone so close could be so close to peril was alarming. I wanted to erase his pain, and picturing the panic circles spinning through his mind made things exponentially worse.

To hear that I was unconsciously giving him the support he needed when he required it most, is a gift without words.

There are times our paths are righted and our journeys realign. It is not our job to question the reasons but to embrace the adjusted course. If this moment of crisis is the catalyst to shake some sense back into our disconnected lives, I am grateful for the rattle.

Adolescence Interrupted

Twelve Years

12years212 years. 144 months. 624 weeks. 4,380 days.

105,120 hours. 6,307,200 minutes.

These are much more than numbers. With each rotation around the sun, I’m reminded of my station. Every year is a bookmark in a story I never want to finish. These tallies are visual representations of the time spent away from risk, pain, and peril. They are universal stamps of approval, affirming that I made the right decision to carry on with this crazy experiment called life.

It would have been easy to wave that white flag during the downpour. When every ounce of optimism was depleted, when every cell screamed at me to stop, and when the self-inflicted psychological torture far exceeded any physical pain, I could have stepped off the train. I didn’t have to subject my body and brain to an uncertain future on a path laden with land mines.

The impetus to fight instinct came from those hidden recesses we haven’t quite been able to classify. It’s grit and gumption mixed with tireless tenacity, and the sum total of those efforts is twelve years of health, hope, and possibility.

Perspective is a funny thing. A life-or-death seesaw frames the simplest joys as monumental, celebratory occasions. Laughable moments of triumph—like walking unassisted in a hallway or finishing a full meal—demand a chorus of applause. Existence reverts to its most basic form. There is an appreciation for every waking second without pain.

The further we travel from that precarious road, the more comfortable we become taking everything for granted. Health becomes something expected, and pain takes its residence in layers of memory. Stress is assigned to daily worry, future projections, or mundane tasks on infinite checklists. The brain is designed to recover from previous trauma, so it feels easy to forget what is truly important…until we are reminded again.

I rode that boomerang for a long time. As difficult as things have been in this carnivorous city, and as much as my time is occupied by the weight of wonder, there is no comparison to the very real and immediate threat of losing everything.

So I am grateful for all twelve of those planetary revolutions, and I will continue my search for greater peace of mind inside that perspective.

Adolescence Interrupted

The Keys to the Kingdom Can’t Open All the Locks


Being born a white, middle class American male undoubtedly comes with a limitless bounty of benefits. The struggles that most modern human beings have to face on a daily basis make the insignificance of any routine discontent seem laughable. On a macroscopic scale, this dichotomy is even more ridiculous.

As Eddie Vedder so aptly chanted, “He won the lottery by being born. Big hand slapped a white male American.”

But the only reality we know is our own, and perception can be a wily thing. I look at the daggers I’ve dodged, the nearly-impossible summits I’ve reached, and the countless pitfalls I’ve leapt, and I wonder exactly what that lottery ticket looks like. As I find myself standing back at the starting line for the umpteenth time, I can only imagine what this fight would feel like wearing a different color skin, in a different city, or without the love and support of friends and family to provide emotional safety nets along the line.

Surviving in today’s world is like walking through an infinite corridor, following a flash of light somewhere in the distance. Unfortunately, without warning, random pieces of the floor can disappear beneath your feet and occasionally massive boulders chase behind you in some theme park-replicated Indiana Jones living nightmare. It’s a wonder any of us make it through life…alive.

Questions and concerns, worries and wonder. There’s a lot taking up valuable brain real estate. We have self-constructed familial and social circles, and we spin inside those centrifuges, hoping that the sediment will settle. But being dizzy is a big part of those passage rites, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic position.

We’re all just doing our best not to wobble and fall, one shaky and carefully-planted step at a time.

Adolescence Interrupted

Do Not Pass Go

stop1“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”  —Pablo Picasso

Well, I have found a familiar friend in the rubble of my recent implosion. That sidekick is resilience.

I have been challenged, stomped on, and set off course more times in this life than I can begin to count. But there is one constant, and that is my bionic ability to rebound and strategize. With eyes wide, I find a way to see beyond the flames to find some piece of solace and security on the other side.

Being a hopeful thinker is certainly helpful, but something starts in the gut and propels me past the chaos of the sandstorm and into placid pastures. I am more than grateful for this gift, and I can thank the ruthless brain surgeries for building my armor. Drilling a sense of possibility and perspective into a head that would rather obey instincts by cowering in the corner, adversity has ultimately become an asset.

Now, I can’t for a second say that I relish the consistent destruction of my plans, but I can take pride in the way those broken pieces are observed, analyzed, gathered, and disposed of in an almost-mechanical manner. I waste no time on tears when the next chapter is waiting to be written.

Flexibility and perseverance have become fine bedfellows, and I eagerly anticipate the day those red lights finally flash green.

Adolescence Interrupted

Turning Tables


Find me a streak of consistency and I’ll show you how quickly presumption becomes disbelief. As I’ve stated many times in this collection of musings, the only constant is change. When we feel like we’re clutching the frayed end of a rope with our last knuckle, that same line is used to pull us from the pit. Dark days are followed by sunny opportunities and the ever-evolving journey of human existence continues on its path, pushed only by a vague sense of purpose, happenstance, and luck. But hold on for that final loop because it just might be the ride that reveals what you needed to see.

A combination of opportunity and rewards from past behavior have united to alter the landscape of what I previously thought was a smooth passageway beneath the mountains, through the valley. I like my roads traversed—the brush beaten—to offer an unobstructed view and the absence of pitfalls. But without risk, there is no reward, and the flatline life, in all its predictability, neither challenges the mind nor nurtures the soul. So a lot of stress and a little shaking of the Yahtzee dice flipped my table on its top. I stepped to the edge of the unknown and jumped.

What the future has in store is heavy with potential and the hope of a portrait painted with fresh colors is no longer conjecture, but fact. I’ve saddled my steed and strapped in for the long haul. Through collaborative effort and a discerning view of the map at my feet, I’m finally able to grip the reigns of my future and steer.

Adolescence Interrupted

A collection of reflections from pedaling through life on a bicycle built for one