When I Learned How To Drink

When I learned how to drink the first lessons I learned were what I could drink.  To avoid the sugars, to appreciate the burn, the fun was in the drunk, in the inhibition.  I learned how to dance, and how to sing.   Those people that judged you didn’t matter, and you were to enjoy life, as best as you could; and still, they didn’t matter.  I brought something new, they had never seen before; and the things I said were new, and they had never seen them before; when I drank.

The second thing I learned when I learned how to drink is what I could do.  The social iniquities were lost, and who I could be.  I found the humor and attention; the fame and infamy, so I stopped pretending to be who I wasn’t.  I spoke, I preached.  I said what was on my mind, and the drunks laughed, or scowled, or agreed or disagreed.  I poured what was in my mind out for consumption, bitter or sweet.

The third thing I learned, when I learned how to drink, was to allow adventure.  I learned to go, and live, and fuck the rest.  It was mine, and it was my experience for my story, all the stupid chances and immature risks .  My stories were eternal, and they were mine, and no one else could have them.

The fourth thing I learned when I learned how to drink was what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t draw, or paint, I couldn’t design or create, or sing, or dance; because the ability of my hands would not develop along with the creativity of my mind, so I put down the pen when I drank.  I didn’t draw, or write, or sing or dance or learn, because they’d see in, and that wasn’t why I drank. I didn’t want them to see in, I wanted to see out.

When I learned how to drink, the fifth thing I learned was to be quiet.  Things people told me, things I saw for sale, and that last drink.  They were unnecessary, and if I wanted to buy them or needed them so bad or should have expressed them, I would have done so while sober.  So I stopped opening my mouth, my wallet, my mind, and my expression; when I drank.

When I learned how to drink, the sixth thing that I learned was how to control myself.  To not let go, to not act like a child and not let those around you see the weakness in your drunken mind, the expression or the vulnerability.  To stop being someone I wasn’t and hold perfect control. So I stopped letting myself play up to who I was when I drank.

Lastly, when I learn how to drink, I will learn how to speak.  How to be as eloquent as I was before I took the first sip.  When the drinking has happened, and I’m keeping complete control, and not spending too much, and not drawing or writing to express myself, or trying to be the life of the party, then I’ll learn how to speak, and how to be me, even when I’m not in control anymore, to say the things I was thinking before.  How it was better to not have to apologize, and stay to yourself, when I learned how to drink.  Then, I will stay to myself, and not dance, and not sing, and not draw; because when I drink I wont be sure of me; so I’ll be the best me I can be, and if I don’t, but no one else is around, then I wont have to apologize anymore.

So, when I learn how to drink, I will be me; even when the “me” isn’t here anymore, when I drink.

Gun Control

Firefighters, responding to a house fire in Webster, New York state, were fired upon, ultimately killing two and injuring at least two others.  As houses were engulfed in flames, responding civil servants were clandestinely fired upon- forcing armored SWAT teams to evacuate citizens from surrounding homes.

These events come shortly after a shooting spree in Newtown, CT claimed the lives of 20 students.  Only five short years from the second deadliest school shooting in American history, that left 33 students and faculty of Virginia Tech dead and 23 injured.

Shootings have become front-page news for headline media sources across the globe; crossfire claiming youth, school massacres, movie theater assaults, car trunk snipers, and shopping mall sprees.  Quickly politicized as a tool of leverage to debate issues of gun control, claiming undeniably these tragedies simply could not have occurred were the weapons not available.  Supporters of firearms will take the counter offensive that the only defense from an armed assailant is a well-armed populace.  While it is true: without guns shootings like Blacksburg, VA, Aurora, CO, Newtown, CT and even Columbine may not have been possible; but the dye is cast.  Guns exist, and they cannot be taken back.

Stricter gun control may have stopped legal gun purchases such as the Aurora shooter, but ultimately only legal gun owners obey these laws.  Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country; made arena to the second worst school massacre in modern history.  Perpetrators of these crimes have a far less expensive, strenuous exercise acquiring the weapons to commit their crimes.  The argument turns to assault rifles; a question of caliber and rate of fire rather than the function of the tool.  Ultimately, however spree killers and school massacres are not a modern phenomenon.  School shootings date as far back as Greencastle, Pennsylvania in 1764- wherein four assailants attacked a school killing ten students and their schoolmaster.  Dozens of similar shootings litter the world’s history books.  Throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s there are records of mass murders taking place at campuses all over the planet, including the infamous (and deadliest) Bath school massacre of 1927 that claimed the lives of 38 people by dynamite, only one shot was fired, to detonate the explosives.

In addition, on the same day as the shooting in Newtown, a man in China attacked a primary school in China’s Henan province, armed with a knife.  23 were injured in the attack.  The point can be made that the victims were injured rather than killed as in Newtown, but that doesn’t mean attacks committed without the help of a gun do not bear fatalities.  In 2006, Bai Ningyang killed 12, and injured 5 kindergarten students by arson.  Corralling the students into a second floor classroom before dousing the entranceway and floor with gasoline and igniting it.  Israel 1992, Raed Muhammed al-Rifi murdered two and injured 19.  In July of 2008, Vince Li attacked, beheaded and ultimately cannibalized the body of Tim McLean on a Canadian Greyhound bus.  Terrorizing the passengers of the bus for several hours before capture from the RCP.  No guns were used; guns are not required for homicide.

So, an observation: throughout human history people have killed people.  We have burned, shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, gassed, hung, crucified and buried more souls than even modern media outlets could possibly report.

What has changed?  First and foremost, we have stunning levels of communication.  We live in a world where news is instantly available in computer simulation, video, photo, and print at the point of impact.  During a catastrophe, anyone with an Internet connection can not only know in forensic detail what has transpired, they can watch it unfold, in high definition.  We can see the stage as it plays out.  Gone are the days of the news reporting objectively once the facts have been determined; we have editorials feeding dozens of opinions, and observations actively, from press nests on scene.

We can also see the face of the perpetrator.  Images poached from social media sources-framed, replayed transposing a troubled mind into an archetypal, true-to-life comic book villain.  Motivations pontificated and televised before verification.  Meandering, self-observational diaries become manifestos, and the ramblings of a mind that desperately needs help finally gets attention, is studied, examined, and discussed.

Secondly: statistically, in the western world we live in a safer society than any of our predecessors.  We are better cared for, maintained, and protected than any democratic nation in history.  Conversely, insurance companies have had such a poor track record for maintaining mental health and addiction treatment, congress was forced to mandate against discrimination towards those seeking medical attention for mental health issues in 2008.  Health care premiums have increased 4-9% annually, greatly outpacing inflation.  Dental Insurance alone, on average, has not changed maximum annual payouts since implementation in 1960.

So, the best fed, clothed, and entertained nation in the world is suffering recessions, inflations, and record unemployment shifts while still surviving the medical allowance of a citizen from 1960 to pay for health coverage that costs on average 4% more year over year.  A monetary allocation built upon the medical knowledge of a civilization before the Internet, before modern studies, pharmacological research, and cross continental communication of medical communities.

When an author writes a bad book, we don’t consider outlawing pens; and its much easier to see an angst ridden teen in a black trench coat, armed with an AR-15 as the villain, than an insurance executive awarded multi-million dollar stock options annually for lowering operational costs.  Operational costs that translate to treating very sick people that desperately need help.

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