Good evening everyone.
I have successfully survived three family parties and bypassed three church masses. One day I’ll talk about my distaste for religion, especially for Catholicism someday, but today is not that day. I’m going to consider this Christmas a good one even though I still have one more party to get through. Do you know what really makes family parties more bearable?
I’m not a big drinker of any type of alcohol. From a young age I’ve had a lot of medical problems, some of which involved my liver and because of that my doctor told me that I shouldn’t binge drink or become an alcoholic, like…. more so then the average person. Add that to my intense fear of crossing my parents when I was a teenager and you’ve got yourself a hundred and forty-five pounds of lightweight. Before my twenty-first birthday I could count on my fingers how many time I drank and I can count on one hand how many times I actually got drunk in high school.
The first time I ever drank I was fifteen and it was at a New Year’s Eve party. A boy invited me to his older brother’s party and I had no idea the drinks I was being given were alcoholic until I couldn’t control the things I was saying, turns out I can be the life of a party. That was also the one and only night I ever made out with another dude. So awkward.
The second time I drank (and the first time I drank consciously) was seven and a half months later. I was working at a street fair and my co-worker lived up the street and brought long island iced teas, I sat around with her and my boss and got drunk and then sold pastries for whatever price sounded good anywhere from a hug to five dollars for a cream puff. A little girl paid me in a goldfish, I named him Gillberto.
Ok. Moving on.
My biggest problem while I’m living at home has nothing to do with my family or Christmas or anything like that. I, for some reason unknown to me, my family, my friends and probably even God, develop a severe and horrendous case of insomnia while I’m here.
I’ve been home for a little over a week and I am lucky to get three hours of sleep in the mornings. My brain is scrambled. Over the summer I thought my insomnia was caused by the medicine I had to take to keep the blood infection I had over the summer under control because the side effects were psychiatric. Even after I finished the drugs, I figured my body was in a cycle of staying up until four or five in the morning and sleeping in.
Over Thanksgiving I chalked up my inability to sleep to my body not being used to sleeping at home.
But this time…. it’s been over a week and I haven’t adjusted. I’ve even been drinking Nyquil at night to help with my cough (and hoping it would knock me out) and nothing… even if a full shot of liquid Nyquil, I still sat up in my bed.
I’ve tried counting backwards from one thousand (which is impossible to do when you have ADD by the way). I’ve tried listening to music. I cut back my Adderall intake. I stopped spending time in my room. I’ve tried taking walks before bed. I even bought a pack of cigarettes (I’m making a die-hard attempt to quit smoking while I’m home and I’ve been doing pretty good) and I started smoking one before I try to go to bed. I’ve tried reading, watching television, changing my sheets, laying in total darkness for hours.
Hopefully out of sheer exhaustion my body will give in tonight. If you know any helpful trick on how to fall asleep and/or stay asleep please share them with me.
So for Christmas my parents bought me some of the books I asked for. They even purchased most of them used, which I was really surprised about. My dad kept making me guess how much he paid for each book. I know it’s in bad taste to talk about the price of a gift with the person you bought the gift for but he was really excited about the money he saved so I engaged him.
“How much do you think I paid for this one?”
“I don’t know, two bucks?”
“A penny but shipping was three dollars.”
I got six books from my parents, I don’t think they spent more than thirty-dollars on all of them.
They gave me some classic titles like:
The next book happened to be the first one I unwrapped. My brother was sitting next to me and he asked me what the title of the book was so I showed it to him:
He didn’t ask me another question about my Christmas presents.
When I asked my father what he thought about the books I asked for all he could say was that I had a “very eclectic taste in literature.”
So here I am, overwhelmed with all types of diverse subject matter at my disposal and I have no idea where I should begin. That’s the problem with receiving a lot of different books all at once, how do you choose which to read first? So I decided one thing up front: I’m not going to read the book about parental suicide until I get back to school. I then took the rest of the books and I read the first few pages of each until I got to this one:
I know a lot about school shootings. I also know that it’s probably considered strange for someone to know a lot about school shootings. Think of it this way, someone has to know a lot about them. Some people need to clean public toilets, pick up your trash and bury the dead, they’re not your idea of a happy occupation but other people love what they do.
The Columbine High School Massacre happened thirty-three days shy of my tenth birthday. I have a distinct memory of coming home from school that day, turning on the television and seeing the footage of the high school student climbing out of one of the library’s windows. I remember asking my mother why those boys would want to kill people. I mean, I hated school but I didn’t want to kill anyone over it.
And those thoughts of complexity and confusion stayed with me and became amplified my junior and senior year of high school when once again, school shootings were an epidemic.
The reason I absolutely cringe at the thought of school shootings are because while all of these shootings were taking place, The Catholic Church was handling another scandalous outbreak of pedophile priests. I was also coming out as a lesbian at this time and felt uncomfortable in church every Sunday knowing I was worshiping God in a place where people thought I was an abomination. This was also around the time when two separate friends confessed to me that they were living in war zones instead of homes, domestic violence erupting as frequently as every night and they were terrified to leave school when the last bell rang each day. I thought to myself, if you can’t be safe at church, and you can’t be safe at home then you need to be safe at school.
But near the end of my senior year alone, there had been seven school shootings and eleven deaths. I was shaken up by it and it showed in my writing. My most famous poem to this day is a performance piece called “The Mid-West Monster” and it’s about the confusion a student feels after one of his/her classmates commits suicide in front of his/her English class. The poem was loosely influenced by the song “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam.
And then April 16, 2007.
I walked into the library to start my two hours of free time in the middle of my day (lunch, study hall, and gym back to back [I was out of gym with a knee problem my senior year]) and the librarian, knowing about my fascination with school shootings, said she was surprised I was still in school and when I looked confused she realized I had no idea what had happened mere hours earlier… so she sat me down.
“Lauren, there was another school shooting.”
“Christ… Did anyone die?”
“Yes. It ended around ten, so there are no definite numbers yet.”
“What, like six, eight people?”
She shook he head.
I felt my heart sink.
“The last number I heard was in the thirties.”
When it came to dealing with sadness, grief and fear back in high school I only could show my emotions in one way, complete and utter rage. I got up from the chair I was sitting in and walked into our auditorium and sat down on the edge of the stage. I needed to calm down.
I felt like somehow, because of the poem I had written, I had caused this. This was my fault. It took me months before I was able to comfortably perform the piece again. I felt lost. I needed answers. I needed to know why these boys felt so invested in taking their misery out on other people.
The most common component that almost every shooting shares is that the killers kill themselves. No one had ever been able to directly ask a shooter why they decided to do it. To find the weapons and the ammunition, to repeatedly pull the trigger on their classmates.
I’ve studied the ins and outs of school shootings, I’ve watched every documentary, I’ve read every article, I’ve seen every YouTube clip I could get my hands on and still nothing ever added up.
When I got to college my interest took a back burner and I’d go as far as to say the bullying epidemic currently going on in the country is equated to the “new school shooting” in my mind. Kids still aren’t safe in schools and that’s my main concern in general.
And still, the question remains whether it’s in the form of suicide or homicide, Why?
Columbine by Dave Cullen is the first book I’ve ever seen about The Columbine Massacre.
I read the first thirty pages last night…
I mean, I read a lot of non-fiction. About seventy-five percent of all of the books I own are non-fiction and, quite frankly, I never read anything that engrossed me as quickly as this book. The only reason I stopped after thirty pages last night was because I also received Inception on DVD and I’ve wanted to re-watch it since I saw it over the summer. (Scott, if you’re reading this, my opinions on the movie haven’t changed after viewing it again five months later other than the fact that I find Ellen Page’s character really annoying. If you’re not reading this it’s no big deal because I’m going to post it on your Facebook wall)
This book has spent the first thirty pages talking about Columbine’s Prom that happened the Friday before the massacre. The portraits the author has painted of the killers and the victims are so lifelike and vivid, it’s astounding.
I can’t get enough of it.
Oh jeez, so much for a short entry. I want to keep reading. Expect a follow-up post soon.
See you all tomorrow.