Our Little Angels and Demons Eating Disco Fries – stories and essays about where we’re going right and wrong —an excerpt

“So let’s say an angel and a demon head out to a diner for disco fries. Let me apologize ahead of time for the numerous New Jersey cliches and stereotypes that will probably make their way into this book. I’ve lived here all of my life – spending my childhood and adolescence in the southern part of the state and my adulthood in the northern part. So I am on the fence when it comes to the Taylor ham vs. pork roll division, another all-in-good-fun Jersey stumper I’ll explain later. But for now, let’s take a glimpse at our angel and demon diner date.

Angel: “You know, you should really make our person take a few moments and think about her choices before she acts. Her life is going to end up in the…place she uses to eliminate waste which she likes to call the…I choose not to repeat it.” Angel shoves a large forkful of gravy, cheese, and fries into her mouth, leaving remnants on her cheek and white button down.

Demon: “Lighten up there, Mrs. Rogers. She’s got to look after herself and do what she’s got to do. Let her be a screw up, builds character. You know, plenty of angels fall. Hell, look at me!” Demon’s face puckers as she bites down on the lemon from her iced tea glass then wipes her hands with the napkin on her lap.

Angel: “You make it sound like that’s a good thing, Mrs. Manson.”

Demon: “It is! Without me she’d never be able to destress, detach, detox, and most importantly she’d never get laid, get paid, and would give way too much of a fuck about everything.” She picks at small, soggy leftover pieces of French fry.

Angel: “Ugh, are you aware of how disgusting you allow yourself to get? If it wasn’t for me, she would be a complete loser with no compassion, no honor, no articulation, no-”

Demon: Matthew 7:1 my friend. Matthew 7:1. Or does that not apply anymore? From the looks of things, that might have died with Lennon.”

Matthew 7:1 refers to, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” It’s difficult for the average person to find validity in this verse. We judge and we are judged on a cellular level. It’s as unavoidable as a bad internet date or a lousy slice of mall pizza. But what if I said that maintaining disciplined judgement doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person? What if every time we passed judgement, which we all do consciously and subconsciously, we turned it into something productive and illuminating? We can’t make a decision about somebody’s character and then pour resin over it. But we can, and should, make that judgement more malleable. This is where intuition comes into play. Yes, our guts can screw us over in a myriad of ways. But as Albert Einstein once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Some of the world’s most brilliant minds didn’t find their places in the world by being rationale. If I had to pick a quote that would sum up this whole book, Einstein’s would be it.

It is our intuition that saves us from servitude and disillusionment. It is our intuition that saves us from deception as well as physical, mental, and emotional anguish. Unfortunately, our intuitions are often silenced, and we can blame society all we want. The truth is, we have no one to blame but ourselves because all of this is our creation. As Generation X continues to age and younger generations take the helm, we have to seriously reevaluate how we’re teaching our kids to function as somewhat stable, usually productive, and regularly tolerant human beings. It seems like the gavel drops before our kids ever get a chance to screw up. When they do screw up, through little fault of their own, recovery is either too much of a slippery slope or that slope isn’t slathered with enough butter…”

Something’s not right – the good and evil of big Pharma

So according to the pontificating of this right-wing conspiracy theorist I just listened to – who claimed to be the inventor of email 10 years after it was created and dated Fran Dresher for several years – to fight off any illness all we need is sunshine, vitamins, fruits & veggies, and meditation. This includes the Coronavirus. Oh, and you don’t need Prozac or any other antidepressant if you have a mental illness, and HIV is a pharma made-up virus that does not cause AIDS. In a nutshell, vaccines and various other medications are killing us, and pharma is fear mongering and making us believe we need these drugs. Yet again, we are slaves to big pharma, and we will continue to be once the COVID-19 vaccine is created. A lot of people think it will be mandated. Is the flu shot, HPV vaccine, or any other non-childhood related vaccine mandated? No, so take a chill pill. Pun intended.   

I don’t doubt the validity of the coronavirus being a huge immune system problem. That part of his argument I support fully. For the most part, many of us treat our bodies like crap with poor diets, minimal activity, and mountainous levels of stress and anxiety. But to suggest we do not need medical science to fight and cure diseases is yet another BS agenda conjured up by rich men with cereal box degrees and God complexes. 

Why was life expectancy so short and infant mortality so high in the 18th to early 20th centuries? Because we didn’t have vaccines and medicines! Why are painful and deadly diseases that were eradicated, such as polio, measles, rubella, and tetanus, making a comeback? Shhhh (whisper) Because a bunch of quacks using junk science determined vaccines were dangerous, and then they started their own Manson or Hitler-style yuppie brush fires. Not to mention that still, in 2020, there is still no definitive link between vaccines and autism, so shut the hell up Jenny McCarthy. I don’t want to see you crying when smallpox comes back. 

But what really got me after the WTF spiral I went on after I heard this clown say there is no such thing as HIV or AIDS, is the suggestion that medications for mental illnesses are unnecessary and downright poisonous. As someone who has witnessed and experienced the good and the bad side of psychological drugs, I will say this. No dosage gets you to sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns farting cotton candy. It is 100% holistic, and most depressed people do not rely solely on drugs. You have to be able to treat mental illness from the inside and the outside in order to survive. But for a lot of people, ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wart, and Vitamin D cannot and will not be what gets them down from that ledge, at least not exclusively. 

For countless mentally ill people, antidepressant medications are not optional. Personally, I do not trust that I would be the highly functional depressive that I am without that “I’m fine now” powder encased in those pretty little capsules. There are side effects here and there, and there may be some form of long term damage. But I guess that low probability is worth having a choice, every day, to keep betting or cash in my chips. All of my treatments, especially my friends Prozac and Wellbutrin, keep me gambling and for that I am eternally grateful. Big pharma is making a butt load of money off of me (or at least my insurance company), but as long as I’m able to get out of bed every day, I don’t give a f— where that money is going. 

When you’re looking at death straight in the face, or when you are faced with the possibility of catching a respiratory disease that still has plenty of time to become more deadly, you’d probably take that shot in the eyeball if you had to. 

In regard to the evils of big pharma, in which there are many, don’t get me wrong, I would be more concerned about cancer treatment. Stop taking even little sips of the Kool-Aid, people. You know the cure is out there and it’s been out there for years. But a lot of doctors, pharma, and the government will lose billions of dollars if cancer was no longer a long term health issue; therefore, you’ll continue to stand over the graves of young family and friends whose lives were less important than money. Shouldn’t that be a bigger concern than a friggin shot that may or may not keep you from getting the Rona? My head is spinning.

Edward Hopper - The Hotel Room
Maybe we need to enjoy how much quieter the world is right now, and maybe rethink our priorities.


The Bonfire – an excerpt from the in-progress continuation of my first book, Serotonin with a side of fries, please – Tara Lesko

…Still, trying to resume some semblance of normalcy was harder than finding enough change in my jeans’ pockets when I wasn’t expecting a toll. I was still determined to create this illusion that everything was status quo when in reality, my racing thoughts fed off every organ in my body like some unknown parasite – a mental tapeworm that started in the brain and worked it’s way down, colliding with whatever light traveled up from my ass chakra towards my skull.

Although I knew I was going to receive a lot of weird looks, I decided to bring a supply of Post-it notes and pens with me to the bonfire. Prior to this, I saw advertisements for stacks of cocktail napkin-size papers called flying wishes. These papers were meant for writing down dreams, desires, and everything that was best to let go. Once these things were written down, you were then expected to set them on fire, the rapidly burning paper supposedly posed little threat of setting a house ablaze. I never quite understood why anyone would want to set their dreams and wishes on fire. I mean, I get the symbolism of releasing these thoughts into the air and allowing nature to take its course with them – burn something solid, it turns into a gas, basic science. But perhaps the hidden pyro in me felt it made more sense, and it would be more fun, to torch the thoughts that needed to be destroyed leaving nothing to linger. It made no sense to spend money on paper to burn because someone decided to call it flying wish paper and stick it in a pretty package. Plus, I was flat broke at the time, so I settled on a stack of old Post-its to scribble negative dross then light up. I hoped that other bonfire participants would follow my example. February wasn’t too late to start a new year by letting shit go.

Surprisingly many did follow along with my impromptu ritual, or they were simply drunk or high enough to stare intensely at the slow burn of Post-its with “fuck it” written on them. Regardless, I made the most out of my own little release party. 

I can’t do my job. 

No more Add to Cart days.

I’m going to be an indefinite freeloader. 

All I want to do is sleep. 

There’s no Starbucks nearby. 

I won’t be able to feed my dog. 

I like cutting off my oxygen. 

Am I going to write anything else but this?

How am I going to get out of this? 

I failed another test.

Something along those lines. You get the point.

It got to a point where I forgot about the socialization around me and how I should probably involve myself. I eventually had to put the Post-Its away, pop open a can of piss water beer, and be normal. The remainder of the night went well. There were plenty of laughs and for a good hour or so, life seemed to right itself. John and I came home with sticky marshmallow fingers and campfire smoke embedded in the jeans we never wanted to wash. I got ready for bed, and John, being the vampire he is, looked for a background noise movie to play while he crafted. Then he received the text from my father – a brief message that would hurl my universe into a wood chipper that at least wasn’t turned on at that moment.

Mom was in the hospital. Her glucose was coma-level. There was something on her pancreas. I didn’t know where the hell the pancreas was or what it did. But I never imagined I would develop a violent hatred towards an internal organ no one really thinks or cares about…

Being Human

Being human, according to Hinduism, means we have energy wheels, chakras that start at our asses and end in our hopefully enlightened minds, light bursting through our skulls. All of these wheels need to turn with synchronicity in order for us to feel balanced or connected. But humans have been box-centered for so long. Everything is box-shaped – our technology, our desks and tables, the gifts we give and receive. Ladies, even our female parts are called boxes. So maybe our cores look more like long locomotives with square-shaped wheels, just like the train on the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s strength and purpose, we can push ourselves forward, and there will always be at least one person who will love us. But we’re round pegs trying to squeeze into square holes

Driving to the edge of water – part of 10 & 2 – poems about drive

He called me a fucking idiot that night,

And I didn’t start screaming like the day

I told my father I hated him after calling me brain dead

for locking him out of the house.

I vowed that anyone who insulted my intelligence

would be pierced with arrows tipped with a venomous glaze,

never forgiven,

and I didn’t want to forgive my father back then.

I wanted to forgive the man I was about to marry.

And I did.

But not before I drove to nowhere,

debating whether to stay at a hotel

or sit in a bar until anything with a pulse

agreed to take me to more nowheres.

I left my wallet at home.

Could have gone to a friends’ house

and let them see what I refused to look for.

Instead I ended up parking in front of an abandoned pool

on the opposite side of my complex.

Staring at the tufts of grass and weeds breaking through

the concrete, and the chipped, pale blue of the pool’s floor,

I saw a child run then fall and skin her knee.

I saw her dive as if she glided into a life

where algae only grows where you can’t see it,

The water is the right temperature

for the hot or cold of the day,

the concrete leaves your face unscathed

when you swim too far down with eyes closed.

Her eyes closed mine and I wondered

why I stopped diving the way I did.

Why now do I leap head first

into empty pools of shit I’ll never change?

Why do I swan

right into what compassionately turns me

into flayed skin and ashes?

I should have kept driving until I hit the beach,

let the weeds of my mind entwine

with clouds of seafoam freedom.