Run, Run

 

I wish I wasn’t so drunk when it happened.

 

Everyone looked at me panicking for an exit door.  I made it through the crowd and took off as fast as possible.  I didn’t know where I was running, but I had to get away.  I tried to catch my breath with loud, deep gasps of air.  My face was hurting pretty bad.  Why though?  I touched my cheek and felt warm swollen skin.  I could barely see out of my puffy eyes and the night didn’t help.  I crossed a street and made it to a tree line of a small patch of woods.  I stopped to gather myself. “What just happened?  Where was I?”

Only seconds had passed while I tried to catch my breath.  Two bright lights blinded me as a car pulled into the same parking lot where I was standing.  “Thank God!”  It was probably my friends!

Two shadows stepped out of the car.  I heard, “That’s him! That’s him!”  I realized it wasn’t my friends!  I turned and ran towards the woods.  I fell right away with weak legs.  I felt like a fucking damsel in distress.  I had zero fight, zero strength, and the worst part was I felt the weakness.  It was a fact like gravity.

I wasn’t getting away.  “Oh God, Oh no, no, no, no.”  I was on all fours crawling away in a panic.  Swing after swing hit me in the face.  Every spot I covered, another would get hit through the gap.  My face and ribs tenderized with each unchallenged blow.  My vision began to fade.  This was my lowest moment. The moment I had to yell out and beg.  “Please!  Stop!  Please!  I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  Please!  Please!”

 

My name is Sean Reed and college was a fucking roller coaster.

 


This book is based on a true story and research regarding college students drinking alcohol, and the ability to overcome negative consequences by creating a self-awareness for safer drinking.


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PART I: ELEPHANT IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM

Smart Drinking

 

Sitting at this desk, telling my story isn’t easy.  This glass of scotch whiskey warms the nerves a little.  I’m nervous, because I have to relive my darkest memories in order to relearn them.  Experiences like jail, talking about subjects like suicide and embarrassing memories are tough to tell.

My goal is to expose the opportunity to create a self-awareness of our own characteristics when we drink.

Everyone has something about them they wish wasn’t true.  It’s an awful feeling coming face to face with truths we don’t like about ourselves.  The embarrassing ones are the ones we hate, but it is a part of who we are.  When recognized, they can be used as strengths.

Thanks to my own personal journey, I now have many more positive memories involving alcohol by learning how to effectively avoid the negative ones.

 

We can avoid DUIs like STDs.

 

And by DUIs (driving under the influence) I mean negative consequences after drinking alcohol.  Think about it, getting too drunk is our own choice by drinking.  Which means all the horrendous stats in the world about drinking are repetitive actions and are avoidable with a little self-protection.  That’s right.  I compare smart drinking like safe sex.

A way exists to minimize the negative decisions and consequences.  It took years of piecing it all together to grasp I couldn’t drink to a certain degree like other people.  I realized I am different.

Abstinence and sobriety was never my cup of tea.  Sobriety and carefree drinking are not the only options.  I call it the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow strategy.

It’s looking at what you can control that makes the difference in whether or not you wake up in your bed, jail cell or hospital bed.  I want college students to have the opportunity to experience their lifestyles and enjoy the memories of them.  Our lives are too brief to be wasted with regret.  Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, especially in college.  I want people to not only have a good time, but wake up knowing a good time was made with some right decisions.

 

 

Real Talk

 

First, let’s be clear.  There is a such thing as too much drinking.  I’m not even talking about the health side.  Besides the fact you can literally die from both drinking too much in one night or heavy your whole life.  I’m talking about no matter who we are, there is a point if we drink enough alcohol we lose control of our night.  At some point we might as well be possessed, because our body control, emotional control and decision-making are all lost in the wind.

Think of yourself walking down a bridge with no rails on each side.  The width of the bridge is different for each person.  The road gets skinnier with each drink.  Some people’s roads start skinny as a sidewalk, others thin as a tight rope.  Imagine each drink makes balancing within the edges of the bridge more and more difficult.  The person with the road as wide as a house can handle many drinks before the potential of tumbling over the edge.  The person starting on a tight rope may not be able to have even one drink with fear of falling to their doom.  We are all different, which means we all react to alcohol differently down to the physical and mental levels.  What is too much will vary for each person.

The physical reactions when we are drunk are the obvious ones.  Understanding why and what mental reaction takes place when people are drunk is as easy as catching a fish in the water with your bare hands.

 

 

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

 

To do this we have to self evaluate our past drinking experiences.  Doing this, will create a self-awareness of who we are today.  Understanding who we are today will reveal what actions will minimalize bad consequences so we can keep tomorrow’s goals alive.

 

I’ll go first so you understand.  We’ll need to rewind time.

 

I use my real name, but I’ve changed the names of all the characters to protect their ……

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PART II: RISE OF THE STUDENT DRINKER

University Freshman

 

Starting college at The University of Akron was exciting.  My dad drove me to campus early one day so I could find out what building my classes were inside and where they were located.  I could see myself then, walking with my book bag through a crowd of college students outside in the sun like the brochure.  All that was missing in my daydream was a student in a wheelchair and group of friends with different nationalities, laughing at the same time.

Some buildings were far apart, but it was part of the experience.  I found myself often lost walking to some building called Polsky Hall.  I ended up having to call my mom once I started crossing train tracks during my first Polsky Hall hunt.

The orientation leader walked us to EJ Thomas Hall, a giant music hall with a stage deserving of the two-balconies of red seats.  Sculptures and beautiful art were splashed everywhere.  The ceiling was a dome and painted like the sky at night.  We all stood on stage as the orientation leader said, “This is the stage you will walk across on graduation day.”  I stared out and imagined the crowd.  All I had after our tour was our dreadful, bazillion hour-long freshman orientation.  I’m exaggerating; it wasn’t that bad.  It was long as hell though.

When my dad and I checked out the campus on our own, it was a ghost town because classes hadn’t started yet.  The traffic was hell right out of the gates on the first day of classes.  I drove round and round, parking lot to parking lot trying to find an open spot to park with the expensive parking pass hanging from my rear view mirror.  It wasn’t a ghost town anymore.  It was like I was on an anthill, with people scattering all directions.  Was this the same campus?  I had to ask for directions to every class.  There I was, a college freshman student.  The struggle was real.

 

 

Costume Chaos

 

I always found myself having liquid courage when I was drunk.  I remember my first major drunk fight.

I lived with my dad, stepmom and my younger stepbrother during my freshman year of college.  My dad lived in Akron, which saved me from dorm cost.  I still had rules at my dad’s.  He was a pretty straight shooter when it came to rules.  His flat top haircut and mustache can be intimidating.  We bumped heads often.  He was pretty extreme on emotions, similar to myself.  I wonder who I get it from.

I somehow managed to throw a party at his house. Better yet, it was a Halloween party. This meant costumes covering the bare minimum for the girls.  Like most parties, a few people turned into too many people.  I suppose the fliers I made were a little excessive.  Oops.

The afro I wore with my disco costume was itchy.  Being way under six feet tall, I enjoyed the tall-heeled shoes.  I’ll admit it, I looked weird, but my giant red circle shades made me feel hidden.  By the end of the night I was drink, drank, drunk.  Long story short, a large fight kicked off in my front yard, and I was in the center.  It started in my dad’s garage when I kicked out a group of guys with no business being there.  I was drunk and at my house, so I felt powerful.  I was plain out rude because I didn’t like them.  We had drama when we were younger.  I knew they didn’t like me either.

I was getting a cut cleaned up on my knee by my dad afterwards.  I barely felt the big knot on the back of my head.  I was raging with adrenaline and talking tough like I just won American Ninja Warrior.  My dad was mad and annoyed.  He interrupted me in front of my friends and says, “You think you’re tough?  Do you think you’re some bad ass?  You think you’re a fighter?  You’re not a fighter until you’ve had your ass whooped and stomped.”  I didn’t feel tough anymore.  I hardly did much in regards to damage in the fight.  Little did I know then, I would become a fighter by his standards one day.

 

Costume Chaos – Insight

 

Drinking underage is bound to happen in many cases.  Put up some bumper bars once in awhile.  Make your party a little more exclusive to keep out unwanted guest.  I should have had someone else ask those guys to leave.  It was my dad’s house, not mine.  If you don’t own the house, you can’t fight there.  We need to swallow our pride and respect someone’s home.

 

 

Lone Wolf On Campus

 

I spent most of my first year of college in the school’s recreation center. The rec center was a huge facility of The University of Akron’s, with a gym, track, basketball courts, swimming pool, a café and locker rooms.  I liked working out.  It helped me still feel athletic after high school sports.  I went swimming whenever I wanted and played hours of pick up basketball games.  Our tuition included a pass to the university’s rec center, so I used it often.

Something was missing.  I wasn’t living the college experience I dreamed about.  I was living at home so I had rules.  I didn’t have a girlfriend.  I wasn’t really sure why I was going to college.  In high school, I went to school because I had to, or I would have gotten in trouble.  I went to school for sports and friends.  I went to school to go to college one day.  In college, I lived at home so I didn’t make friends from the dorms.  When you commute to college, you pretty much roam by yourself between classes.  For me I either went to the rec center or the library.  When I went to the library, it was either to study or sleep.  There were lots of sleeping in random couches and chairs around campus.  An opportunity came up to change things up for me.  Little did I know, it was going to flip my life upside down.

 

 

Transfer Student Syndrome

 

A few of my good friends were graduating the year after I did.  We were teammates on the football team.  I was younger in my grade.  I played a lot of sports with the grade below because kids sports were organized by age not grade.  My three friends Louis, Vince and Graham decided to go to a small college in southern Ohio, Marietta College.  MC is a little division III private college in a small city, in the middle of nowhere.  Smaller schools like this are much easier to recruit yourself for sports.  I convinced myself to go for it and try to play college football.  I had watched the movie Rudy enough to daydream about playing college football, even with my size.  There was a problem though.  Tuition was triple the cost of Akron’s.

I applied for a few different scholarships with some help and direction from the coach and admissions office.  I was granted a minority scholarship.  My mom is Hispanic, so I thought I would give it a shot.  It goes to show you; the answer is always no if you never ask.  The year flew by.  I was ready to live a childhood dream.

I spent all my time running and in the gym once I knew I was transferring.  My dad had a gym in the basement, so I worked out downstairs often.  I covered the wall with every Marietta letter I received in the mail.  I had one particularly tough day down there that does laps on my head like the Road Runner in Looney Tunes.

I wasn’t gaining much weight and strength like usual.  I started pushing myself even more, until one exercise was a little too much.  I was lifting dumbbells over my head and running almost out of energy for my workout.  On my last push over my head, my right shoulder made a noise like celery cracking.  The dumbbell released and cracked me right in the head.  I tried to move my head but failed.  The hit threw me to the ground.  Struggling to hold back my emotions, I laid on the basement floor and wept.  It wasn’t the pain making me cry on the basement floor, it was an overwhelming frustration.  I could feel the chains holding me down.   I just couldn’t see them.  My shoulder has popped out many times before.  I took it easy for a couple weeks and carried on with pushing myself in workouts.

Practice in college started a whole month before classes started for the fall semester.  The small campus was entirely empty for the first month. The only people I spent time with were my teammates.  It gave me the time to creep around the buildings on campus and feel out where everything was located.

The first day was exciting.  My dad packed his truck with all of my stuff going in my dorm.  I hadn’t met or talked to my roommate yet.  The only thing I knew about him was he was a sophomore on the football team.  We checked in for football first.  I had a wide wooden locker with my name across the top.  It was surreal.  Resting inside the locker was a folded up chair, shelves at the top and the bottom of my locker.  Each locker had a brand new pair of Nike cleats still in the box.  This was crazy.  It started to feel legit.  I could tell my dad was excited too, because he was just as hyper as I was.  We both looked up to all of the tall people around us.  All of the other incoming freshman players were much bigger.  Nothing new to me I thought.

Bringing boxes into my new dorm felt pretty cliché.  The white walls were cement.  The rooms had a musky smell, like a basement.  Having a roommate for the first time was different. I found out he was from New York.  He was built like a basketball player.  His name was Reggie.  Reggie was a pretty chill guy.  He didn’t stress much about the academic parts, or really even football much.

Our dorm had very small living space in our dorm rooms.  The rectangle room could only fit the basics.   We each had a bed, desk, and dressers.  We had the beds stacked to make room for a futon couch. We had a mini fridge with a microwave stacked on top.  Whatever stuff we couldn’t fit in our desks and dressers, we put in the top shelves above our skinny closets.

Since this was my second year of college, I didn’t have to stay in the freshman dorms.  Louis, Vince and Graham did though.  After I moved in and said my goodbyes, I went over to their dorm to check it out.  That’s when I met the guys across the hall.  I didn’t even have to ask, because their accents gave it away.  They were in a similar situation where they all knew each other from their hometown in Boston and played football too.

Kolby was the nice guy of the group.  Parker was the ladies’ man of the three, and Wyatt was the funny one.  Mostly because he was the wildest person I’ve ever met.  Wyatt is so crazy, once in a game he sprayed the opposite player with a water bottle after being tackled on the sideline.  Oh and he also squirt the ref too.  It was raining yellow flags from the zebra shirts.

Anyways, Wyatt started giving out nicknames on day one.  I had blonde and red chin hair, which inspired the name people still call me today.  He called me “Peaches”.  He gave the other guys nicknames too but only Graham’s stuck.  Since he was a big and tall guy, Wyatt renamed him “Frank”.  It was pretty funny so it stuck too.  Vince hadn’t shaved his mustache for a few days so Wyatt called him “Pedro” for his dark hair.  We already called Vince “Vinny”, so Pedro didn’t stick.  I can’t even remember what Louis’s nickname was, so it goes to show his didn’t stick either.

Playing football in college was way different than high school.  Every player excelled.  I was constantly in a fight and a chase to compete at practice.  Between games, practices, videos, meetings, lifting, and conditioning, my days were busy from 5am to 10pm.  Come Saturday night after a game, win or lose we partied.

Marietta is a small town on the Ohio River, which borders Ohio from West Virginia.

Being on my own for the first time was full of new experiences.  When I arrived in Marietta, I was able to act like an adult and party out in the open.  With no parents around, I didn’t have to worry about coming home drunk.

That’s the thing about college though, it is similar to drinking in high school, only with less rules.  You still hide it in a way, and have an anti-authority mentality.  I was under twenty-one years old and especially hid from authority like the Resident Assistants in the dorms.

 

Resident Assistants have to enforce rules in dorms like-

 

Only a certain amount of drinks in a room.  Fail.

 

No drinking games allowed.  Double Fail.

 

Don’t drink to the point of puking.  Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

 

Dorm tip #1:

Make friends with your RA.

 

 

Dangers Of Late Night Munchies

 

One night I came home to my dorm drunk and had the munchies.  I went for some food stashed at the top shelf above my closet.  I slid my wooden desk chair across the floor.  Reaching high, I lost my balance and fell sideways towards my dresser.  I hit my front teeth on the edge.  I’m talking full force without any brakes because my hands were reaching up high for some easy mac.

“Ouch!”  The impact was solid.  My mouth throbbed with pain.  I was terrified to feel my teeth with my tongue.  I ran to the bathroom, found a mirror over the sink, grinned to show my front teeth, and had all of my teeth still!  Don’t ask me how.

I have no clue how my teeth didn’t break.  I thought for sure I was about to look like I belonged on the other side of the river in the hills of West-By-Golly-Virginia.

 

Dangers Of Late Night Munchies – Insight

 

I’m very thankful I did not chip any of my teeth.  Climbing and drinking apparently don’t mix well.  Depending on how drunk we are, our balance will be off, and falling is a strong possibility.  It may end with a laugh, but maybe not.  On the bright side, you don’t need all of your teeth to chew on macaroni noodles.

 

Dorm tip #2:

Keep your munchies within easy reach.

 

 

Punch For Payment

 

Parties down in Marietta College were predictable. The town had two main bars to party at when we went out.  The bars were practically across the street from each other, and only a few blocks walk from campus.

A senior on the football team shared a house with a few of his friends on the baseball team.  This was the party house.  After every game, everyone went to his house at night and then everyone would head out to the bars around midnight.

One night they threw a kegger party after…..

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PART III: THE DARK YEARS

First Arrest

 

I was only twenty years old still at the time.  Even though I was underage, I wasn’t restricted much at the bars.  Someone else would have to buy my drinks most of the time.  Being twenty years old and wasted in public weekly was risky business.  I finally got caught drinking underage.

It’s really all a blur to me actually.  I can see myself in bits and pieces.  I was arguing with a giant-sized bouncer and he yanked me up and dragged me outside.  I must have been tossed out for being a drunk asshole.  I doubt I was even completing sentences.  While this is going down, a cop pulled right in front of the bar.  Just great.

The cop saw how drunk I was and checked my ID.  Busted.  I’m pretty sure I was only getting a ticket, but was refusing to sign.  I tried to read the paper and he snagged it out of my hand.  I was cuffed and put in the back of the police car.

My emotions immediately changed.  I said I was sorry.  The cop was obviously annoyed because he was nothing but a dick back.  “Shut up back there!  You should have thought about that before!”  It was too late.  I was actually going to jail.  All I could do was watch streetlights pass one by one.  We pulled into a large garage the size of a fire station garage.

The garage door closed behind us after we pulled in and parked.  I had to be helped out of the car because my hands were still in cuffs.  They walked me up to a metal door, and I heard a loud buzz come from above my head.  It slammed shut behind like they expected me to try and run.  Each door opened after the same electrifying buzz.

It wasn’t like the movies.  I expected metal bars and giant key rings on hips of officers.  It was more of a main hub for a room.  The room was circular with holding cells all along the walls.  The walls were a dirty white, the doors were the same color, and some of the cells had small clear windows.  The smell was unique like the way a hospital smells.

Anxiety started to over power how drunk I was, which was not good.  Standing there holding a number and getting my picture taken from all angles felt the most cliché of everything.  Getting my fingerprints recorded felt the least cliché.  They were very thorough.  I mean they even recorded the side of my hand.  You have to push down hard too, or you’ll get bitched at in the process.  My hands were stained with black ink, even after I washed them.  They looked like I’d been working on a car engine all day.

After getting ordered around like a dog, they sat me down and started asking all sorts of questions.  “What is your address?” “Do you have any tattoos?” “Have you ever been incarcerated before?” Incarcerated?  I went from a college student at a bar to fucking incarcerated?  My chest went from a shake, to a full on quiver.  Being drunk, frightened, young, drunk, surprised, worried, and drunk gave little hope for any type of stable emotions.

Once I was stirred up and weeping in my hopeless chair, they hit me with the personality/ emotion questions.  “Are you happy with your life?” “Would you ever harm yourself?”  And so on.  I suppose somewhere in the middle, I seemed too depressed.  Fair fight I know.

They made me change into nothing but this padded apron thing.  It looked like a long bulletproof vest.  Apparently it was some material that couldn’t be torn and made into a noose for suicidal inmates.  I’ve never felt so belittled.

I slept on a cold steel bench with nothing but my anti-suicide dress.  I used a roll of paper towels as a pillow.  I hardly slept.  If it weren’t for the booze, I probably wouldn’t have even closed my eyes.  I was wide-awake early.  I watched out of the glass window from my bench.  I assume this is what puppies feel like at the pet store.  People walking by, and not acknowledging your sad puppy eyes.  They brought me in breakfast on a plastic tray with slop slapped on top.  I didn’t eat.

The worst part was waiting there with no one ever informing me what was going on.  I was trapped.  It’s no wonder people freak out.  I wanted to rip the metal mirror screwed into the wall and chip away at the white cement like the room was on fire.

I waited hours for an officer to tell me anything.  They let me change into the orange pants and shirt.  They walked me into a room of stools lined up in front of glass windows.  I had to take baby steps as they sat me down because my ankles were chained too.  The officer locked the chain into a metal loop on the ground under my stool.  I thought over and over, “This is fucking ridiculous.”

They made me wait for some person to question me about depression.  Well this was going to be simple.  Every single answer was happy, happy, and I was drunk.  Why the hell would I answer any different?  So they can put me in that damn bullet proof dress again and keep me here longer?  The talk lasted a whole two minutes and determined I was ok and not depressed.  Boom, nailed it.

They let me change back into my normal civilian clothes about an hour later.  They gave me a bag with my belongings like, phone and wallet.  All my cash was gone, awesome.  Buzzer after buzzer, I made it to the exit door.  The brightness was blinding at first because I had to adjust to the daylight.  I started walking to my dorm, which was about an hour walk.  The site of McDonald’s down the street made my stomach grumble.  I called a friend to come pick me up.  I started reading my citation in the car on the way back.  All of this for underage consumption.

I had court in a week.  I was a broke college kid, so I applied for a public defender.  They gave me a slap on the wrist and a second chance for this being my first time getting in trouble.  I had to complete some program, which included forty community service hours, meet with a case manager to talk about substance abuse, pay my fines, and I wasn’t allowed to get in trouble again for six months.  It was called the diversion program.  The judge told me if I didn’t complete these things, I would be sent to jail for up to thirty days.  It was my first time getting in trouble with the cops my whole life.  Six months of not getting in trouble should be cake.  Right?

 

First Arrest – Insight

 

If this were the only trouble I’d gotten myself into, then it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal to me.  I wish I had the personal knowledge and self-awareness to avoid getting in any more trouble with drinking.

Being underage still, I should have kept my cool at the bar.  You’d think laying low would be obvious.  The small town gave a feel of softer boundaries and rules.  Playing football, I should have put more focus on not getting in trouble with the team.  It was only division III, so that type of importance wasn’t stressed often.  I was bound for doom.  I drank a lot and fast.  I drank multiple places and didn’t stop or even slow down to recognize myself.  In other words, I blacked out.

 

Dorm tip #9:

Under the age, under the radar.

 

 

Sticks and Stones

 

I was never going to make it as a college football player.  I hustled to the max on everything I did, but never came up the best.  I’m athletic, but everyone was faster, or quicker, or way stronger, taller, bigger, you get the picture.  Seeing steroids in the shadows of the locker room was discouraging.  The more I didn’t succeed, the harder I tried.  My body started to take a toll.

I managed to pop my shoulders out of socket more than once.  I hyper extended my left knee.  I even fractured my ribs.  The pain was terrible but the memory is thrilling.  I scooped up a blocked field goal and ran half the football field down the sideline.  I was rocked out of bounds with a blow to my side.  What made the fracture worse, is I tried to stay in one more play.  I felt something like a twig snap inside my abdomen.  The doctor said the snap was probably the cartilage in my sternum.  I collapsed to the grass.  It was my first time getting pulled off a football field in a stretcher.  Heck it was the first time I’d been in a stretcher regardless.  The pain made it difficult for any movement.  I couldn’t breathe deep or fast for a few weeks.  I had to take baby steps like an old man without his walker.  I made it back to practice after a few weeks though.

I had a lingering pain in my lower back for the majority of the season.  At first, I worked with the athletic trainers every day.  The pain wouldn’t go away, so I received x-rays with a local doctor in Marietta first.  Those doctors found nothing wrong, and sent me to get MRI’s after my pain outlasted my treatments.  That doctor couldn’t find anything wrong either.  I was happy my back checked out with two doctors, so I kept up with football.  The pain in my back was one of many things hurting.  Coaches constantly preached, “Are you hurt, or are you injured?”  Something always hurts in football, so you just push through the pains and aches.  My back pains increased at times, but I still made it through the entire season.  It was tough, especially after the season ended.  The off-season training was even more exercising.  All three of my friends Louis, Vinny and Graham, quit the team.  You can imagine how the fun element of college football began to whither away.

 

 

Fight or Flight

 

It was getting close to the end of the school year.  In fact, it was the day before our football banquet.  My night was spent out at one of the only two bars…once again.  I can’t remember how the night started, but I know how it ended.

This event takes place on the dance floor.  I started dancing up on some girl, who seemed to be having fun too.  I noticed two guys mocking me back and forth out of the corner of my eye.  I felt like they didn’t like me dancing with a girl that had different skin color than I did.  I was drunk so I had no thought to reason.  I was quick to defend myself.  I mocked them back, technically making fun of myself, laughing back ignorantly.

To my surprise, a kind friend of these lovely young gentlemen came from the side and punched me in a matter of seconds.  He squeezed two hits in – a punch to the eye, and then he grabbed my head and kneed me in my face.  My nose turned into a bloody fountain.  I grabbed my face and scooted right to the bathroom.  I never had the slightest thought of wanting to fight back. I was all talk apparently.  It was like a page out of a science book in regards to flight or fight.  My brain was 100% in flight mode.  Someone on the team saw me and sent guys to check on me in the bathroom, and take me home safely.

The football banquet the next day was at lunchtime.  There I was, with two dull black eyes from getting popped in the face, not once, but twice.  You have to give it to the guy.  He had some nice moves.  Not too shabby jerk, not too shabby indeed.

Since I played defense on the team, our defensive coordinator handed me my award for participation and gave me a disappointing look.  He knew what dull black eyes the morning after a weekend night meant.  It meant I was punched in the damn face.  Defensive coaches love that stuff though.  If I were a 6’5” stack of meat, he would quietly appreciate the aggression.  Instead you had me, about a foot shorter.  The only thing written on my face was a bullseye target.

 

Fight or Flight – Insight

 

I shouldn’t have mocked those guys.  They were obviously upset with me dancing with their friend.  They attempted to degrade me so I returned the gesture.  I am partially glad I was afraid and not motivated to fight back.  I never saw them again.  If I would have fought back, what would have winning done for me?  What if I lost?  This is the reason fighting is not the right decision when drunk. I’m not sure what is more embarrassing, losing small or losing big.

I am thankful I had my friends to get me out of there safely.  I had one teammate in particular with a clear understanding.  He saw the situation, followed me into the bathroom, directed friends about what happened and to help me home.  I’m glad they weren’t motivated to go out looking for trouble.  It was only a few punches, and they weren’t worth it.  Maybe one sober friend with strong leadership abilities is a key to smart drinking.  But it still didn’t change the fact I was hit in the fucking face…twice.

 

Dorm tip #10:

Watch a Bruce Lee movie or two.

 

 

Summer of Bad News

 

After the school year ended, I came back home for the summer.  I was hitting the gym and working on my speed every day while living at my Dad’s for summer break.  One thing that kept holding me back was the pain in my lower back.  My dad had me take my x-rays and MRI’s to a doctor in Akron.

A nurse and a doctor did an initial observation and hung my MRI’s up…..

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PART IV: DRUNK GUYS FINISH LAST

DUI

 

The night I earned my DUI, I was cut short of a monstrous combo meal from McDonald’s.  I specifically remember this because when I shamefully retrieved my car the next day; it had a potent French fry smell that had been hot boxing in my sealed car all night and all morning.

I was in Marietta the day it happened because I drove down to Marietta to return some finalized papers to court from my first arrest.  I finished everything for the diversion program.  I was a few months shy from completion.

I visited my old friends from football, Kolby, Parker and Wyatt.  My Friday night had something in store.  It was after the season had ended. The guys only had basic meetings and workouts together.  Parker recently had knee surgery because of a torn ACL.  With a bum knee, he obviously didn’t have to lift weights with the team.  I stayed back and had some drinks in the dorm with him.  Time went on as more and more people joined us in cards and beers.  Now it was 3am and I was wasted.

Unfortunately, I had a sudden urge to sleep in my own bed, back home in Akron.  I decided to journey home.  Two hours north up the highway, drunk at 3am.  I know, genius right?

I hopped in my car and began my quest home, but not before a high priority stop.  I needed food.  To my luck, right before the highway entrance, brightly shined a red sign with golden arches.  If I remember correctly, I supersized my combo.

I turned onto the entrance ramp and began my acceleration.  I made it to the highway and was about three miles into my one-hundred and twenty-four-mile journey home via el automobile.  All of a sudden red and blue flashing lights reflected in every mirror on my car.  The inside of my car looked like a disco dance floor.

I pulled over, put my car in park, and trembled while I put my foot on the brake.  The officer was getting out of his car when I took my foot off of the break.  The car started rolling backwards.  The officer yelled out “whoa! Whoa! WHOA!”  What was it I thought?  I put my broken gear one click short before park…. in reverse….

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PART V: A NEW STYLE OF LIFE

Saved From Drowning

 

From day one, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.  She was short like me, had beautiful eyes and a bright smile.  She was always smiling.  I didn’t know it then, but she was going to change my life in more ways than one.

“Did you meet Allie yet?”  Tanner asked.  Tanner and I were both busboys at a local steak house.  Apparently Allie was the new hostess.  “Ya, we met at the party last weekend, remember?  She came with Liz.”  I answered.  “Oh y-’’ Tanner started to answer, but I quickly walked away from him, right towards the new hostess.

We all wore black uniforms, but I remember she had a royal blue t-shirt underneath her black polo.  I walked back to Tanner and he asked, “What was that about?”  “I asked her out.”  I answered.  Tanner replied, “Damn it!  I was going to ask for her number, she’s hot dude.  Well what did she say?”  I answered, “She said yes.  We are all going out Friday!”

Allie quickly became my best friend.  It was like we grew up together.  We both worked our way up in the restaurant.  We were in the same year for college.  I was finishing up my undergrad at UA and she was finishing her’s at the rival school, Kent State University.

After a few years of great memories with the steak house, the owners treated us unfairly.  Allie took the worst of the mistreatment.  Long story short, Allie wasn’t putting up with it so she left to serve at TGI Friday’s.  I turned all boyfriend protective and walked out on them for how they treated her.  I tagged along and scored a job at TGI Friday’s too.  My friend’s mom was a manager and hooked me up with an interview after Allie.

We didn’t know the policy for employees dating at TGI Friday’s so we didn’t tell anyone in our training classes.  We showed up twenty-five minutes late one morning for training.  The other trainees thought we hooked up after meeting in class.

It turned out it was no big deal we were dating so we were able to tell the truth.  I worked my way up to becoming a bartender, which ended up being one of my all time favorite jobs.  I made some major tips.  Alcohol played a major part in my life from personal stories to my primary means of income.  Talk about a love/hate relationship.  I’d go as far as saying it was the true beginning of my expertise in alcohol.

As a bartender I learned the effects of alcohol.  I observed from an outside point of view in social situations, personality differences, and financial differences.  I learned what drinks put people over the edge faster.  I learned the changes from zero drinks to ten drinks.  I saw daily patrons come in with shaky hands, and leave stumbling.  I saw affairs, laughing groups, cheering crowds, and crying individuals.  I saw people come to the bar from both funerals and weddings.  I saw people read a book with a glass of wine and scream at the TV during sports events.  I guess you can say I was a master at people watching.  Observing people at the bar showed me patterns, similarities and differences in people’s characteristics when they drank alcohol.

 

 

Apologized By A Stranger

 

The first time I was approached by someone who saw me get jumped wasn’t so bad.  I was out at a bar with Tanner and Quinn.  You remember Q don’t you?  He’s the one almost peed on by my old roommate Reggie.  Anyway, Q was DJ’ing up in the booth.  A stranger to me apparently knew Tanner.  Tanner was a bartender at a lot of the college bars.  He always knew someone everywhere we went.

This stranger finds a way to tell me he was there the night on the dance floor.  He talked to me like I was a broken stray dog who may snap at any moment.  He was apologetic about being there and not doing anything to help.

Tanner sat on the other side of him, showing me he was there for me like usual.  Q was staring right at us from the DJ booth, like he knew the guy too, and somewhere, over all of the loud speakers, could hear the conversation.

I didn’t hear whatever bullshit was coming out of his mouth.  I daydreamed about grabbing the back of his head and slamming his face down into the bar.  My daydream continued with me dragging him through a random line of drinks on the bar top just like a cheesy movie.

I shrugged it off like it happened a zillion years ago and let him buy me a drink.  I said thanks and offered the drink to the random girl next to me at the bar.  Screw that guy, he meant nothing to me.

 

Apologized By A Stranger – Insight

 

This night made me uncomfortable.  I didn’t drink too much after my brief encounter with the stranger.  I ended my night early.  If I were wasted, who knows what emotional state I’d been in?  Going off the deep end seemed too easy now.  I was always backpedaling in fear.  Who am I kidding?  I was a broken stray dog.  It’s tough to move forward.  It felt impossible sometimes.

Having someone actually apologize to me did feel good.  I lived like a victim for a long time.  The tides seemed to shift a hair in my direction with a pointless apology.  A speck of me was returned home.

I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Allie.  I knew she would understand what I was feeling.  It was nice of him to try and talk about it, but he didn’t have the slightest clue on the extent of damage it left me with.  I told her when I walked in the door.  She replied with, “Fuck that guy.”  I love her.

 

 

Devil In The Flesh

 

I wish things were as simple with the other stranger I met who helped jump me.  The worse part is how I kept running into ….

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PART VI: MY COLLEGE PLAYBOOK

Yesterday

 

The truth became obvious for me once I recognized the patterns of my most hated memories.  Something finally clicked.  I combed through my history with a million questions.  Can I not handle any alcohol?  Did I eat before?  How early before?  Did I drink water before I started drinking?  How much water did I drink?  Did I drink water in between any alcoholic drinks?  Did I drink beer?  Liquor?  Wine?  Shots?  Damn, how many shots?  Straight shots or was it those mixed sugary shots?  Did I drink energy drinks too?  Seriously, can I not handle alcohol?  What drinking games did I play?  How long did we pregame?  How drunk was I before the bars or the party?  Did I drive drunk?  Did I not have a ride home set up before going out?  Did I let my friends drive drunk?  How was my mood before drinking?  What time did I start?  What time did I end?  What were my consequences?  Good?  Bad?  What were my actions?  What could I have controlled if I did it all over again?  A healthy answer to any of these simple questions will make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your night.  A few good decisions before the drinking kicks off can truly give the right motion towards a night with positive outcomes.

 

 

Today

 

Once I dug up some of my past stories from drinking, I had a bucket of questions to ask myself moving forward.  Any question I ask myself today will help me best place my goals for tomorrow.

Do we have a ride set up?  Are we going to eat?  What time are we starting?  Even if I fail at something like take too many shots, other actions I take can share the wait of balance in not getting sloppy drunk.  If I took too many shots, but I drank two waters in between, and ate a cheeseburger beforehand, I will have a better chance to not go from zero to ten too fast to control.  Say I had a captain and coke before food too.  I could switch to beer at the end of the night.  Maybe a pass on one out of the next two shots offered my way.  This is a score towards winning control over how drunk I get and the speed I get there.  The trick is to find your own sweet spot.  The point you’re still comfortable with your self-control.

 

 

Tomorrow

 

Looking back at “yesterday” I learned a self-awareness of myself “today”.  By taking action today, I help influence a positive outcome for what I want out of “tomorrow”.  Plan on joining the Air Force or want to be any type of pilot?  Drinking and driving will ruin your plans.  A DUI will make obstacles the size of mountains.  Want to join the FBI or work in politics?  Disorderly conduct charges will throw up red flags on your job applications.  Polygraph tests given for government jobs are ….

 

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PART VII: FOCUS ON YOU

Self-Awareness

 

When I first started this book, I sought out to interview other people.  I wanted to question people in college, people who joined the military, people in fraternities and sororities and people who never went to college.  I knew I had an infinite amount of questions to answer for myself.  I wasn’t sure where to start, so I started with a glass of scotch.

I wrote a packet of interview questions.  I started broad with about seventy-five questions.  They began very general, like “Did you go to college?” and “Do you have any siblings?”  I decided to interview myself first and use the questions that jumped off of the page.  I was looking to learn anything new.  Once I started to learn about myself I couldn’t stop researching.  I filtered my opinions through science, religion and philosophy.

I became obsessed about who I was and why I am the way I am.  This is a general question for everyone with the wildest answers ranging from the genetics of our ancestors to self-powering thoughts and actions.  It was the very beginning of the toughest, most exhilarating journey of my life.  Certain questions helped me look at myself from an outside perspective.  I felt the findings to the questions….

 

Interview Questions

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Author’s Note~

God Experience

The idea to write this book woke me out of bed.  I thought I believed in God when I was younger.  I grew independent to my own ambitions.  I found God in my journey writing this book.  It feels like an awesome twist to a thrilling story.  God was there the entire time.  I didn’t realize it until my last edit for my last draft.  He was there in every story and every tear.  God woke me out of bed that night in 2010.  After the idea burned into my mind, there was just one thing left to do.  Now write.  If this book helps anyone out there, it wasn’t my idea or doing.  It was all His.  God blessed me with an outlet and a skill.  I believe He has something up his sleeve for you too.

 

For those of you seeking and wondering.  Keep seeking.  Keep wondering.  If God and Jesus exist, then you can find them.

 

For those of you who don’t, do you believe in power of thought, dimensions of the universe, or evolution?  Who’s to say they aren’t all true?  Belief in any or all creates a direct bridge to the possibility to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.  Test the puzzle of life.  What’s the worst that could happen if you simply don’t deny before seeking?  Anyway, I just wanted to share. 

 P.S.

I would enjoy any and all feedback and criticism in the comment fields!

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

-Sean Reed

Akron, Ohio

collegeundertheinfluence@gmail.com

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Table of Contents

Run, Run

PART I: ELEPHANT IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM

 

Smart Drinking

Real Talk

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Molded by Akron

Senioritis

Signs for the Wise

Senior Week

PART II: RISE OF THE STUDENT DRINKER

 

University Freshman

Costume Chaos

Lone Wolf on Campus

Transfer Student Syndrome

Dangers of the Late Night Munchies

Punch for Payment

Take Off My Jersey

Sittin’ n’ Pimpin’

Teddy Bear

Free Running

Riding on Flats

Signs for the Naïve

PART III: THE DARK YEARS

 

First Arrest

Sticks and Stones

Fight or Flight

Summer of Bad News

Letter With a Shotgun

Keep Going

Five Guys and a House

Best Hit of the Night

The Drunk Friend

Caught Trading Rooms

 

PART IV: DRUNK GUYS FINISH LAST

 

DUI

Arrest Number Two

Court by Myself

Conversations With Anxiety

Time in Jail

Bunks With Drunks

The Dependent One

Hiding in the Attic

My Brother’s Wedding

The Instigator

The Last Fight

Shirtless in the Woods

Unrecognizable

Free Soul Food

PART V: A NEW STYLE OF LIFE

 

Saved From Drowning

Apologized by a Stranger

Devil in the Flesh

New View

College Bar Cliché

Almost Made It

Arrest Numero Tres

The Last to Know

Graduation Day

New Year’s Eve

My Changing Perspective

 

PART VI: MY COLLEGE PLAYBOOK

 

Yesterday

Today

Tomorrow

Health

Mental

Physical

Freedom

Legal

Career

Relationships

Friendships

Family

Enemies

Turning Hardships Into Journeys

The Sweet Spot

The Most Boring Truth Ever

Fighting Fools

Spring Break

Panama City

Moments Change Everything

Poetic Purgatory

Second Chances

 

PART VII: FOCUS ON YOU

 

Self-Awareness

Interview Questions

Genetic Influence

Closing

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