Bring me back…

When you are a 40-something special education teacher with depression and anxiety, you don’t get too many quiet moments to simply reflect and process. Occasionally, a seemingly obscure moment – whether it’s listening to a new or old song, watching a scene from an impactful movie, revisiting an episode of a classic sitcom, or a having a brief encounter with a stranger – this moment will come out of no where and remind you of what you once had, what you have now, and what you can still lose. This is especially true in this digital age where we allow our whole lives to be accessible. I had one of these moments this morning, and it hit me with its best shot. 

I woke up a half an hour before my alarm to go to the bathroom, and I cannot think of many things that are more infuriating, besides getting whipped with a Twizzler. So I figured it was not worth going back to sleep only to be ripped from my ten minutes of additional slumber. As I often do, I got back into bed and screwed around on my phone, trying desperately not to fall into a teasing sleep. I’ll often watch true crime videos on YouTube (why I do this in the dark when my anxiety-laced brain is incapable of any rational thought, I do not know), but sometimes I’ll listen to music and/or watch music videos. Several days before I received a notification about a brand new New Kids on the Block song and video, so I decided to check it out. 

Let me just pause by saying, without an ounce of shame, that I still love those handsome sons of bitches from Beantown. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was all about that scene – posters, magazines, books, buttons, a hat with the top cut off, I had a lot of stuff – my collection was nothing compared to all the girls who owned the dolls, bedsheets, shower curtains, trading cards, and marbles. Mom never let me go that crazy because as the wise woman she was, she knew the phase would pass. And it did. It just sort of happened. They disappeared. I disappeared into the 90’s world of flannel shirts, Doc Martens, dyed fire engine red hair, and grunge. 

It took about fourteen years for me to discover that they were back together, touring regularly, making new music, and establishing a following of young and old, male as well as female. Years ago, I worked with someone who told me about seeing the New Kids in concert, and I assumed it was a random reunion show and didn’t think much of it. Well, I certainly made an ass out of, just me. It’s not like they have an enormous following now that most of the boys are in their 50’s. But what they do have is almost like a secret society – chalk full of thirty and forty-something year old women – mothers, daughters, grandmothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers – all looking to preserve and embrace the shadows of a simpler time. These guys have also aged beautifully and are damn fun to watch too. The raging hormone factor certainly hasn’t gone away. But now the boys don’t have to worry about being overpowered by clouds of Aqua Net and the clutches of Lee Press On Nails.  

Going back to my morning, I popped in my ear buds, listened to the new song a couple of times, and was overcome with a bizarre fusion of joy, laughter, and pain – the joy and laughter for the crazy nostalgia the song triggered, and the anguish and tears for a time long passed. A time before unrealistic expectations, breakdowns, divorce, losing a parent, losing jobs, and losing sight of what really matters – fun, pure joy, family, friends, and nurturing your inner child. A time when life actually made sense for the most part. I found myself staring at the wall next to my bed, trying to figure out why a New Kids On the Block song was making me ball at 5 o’clock in the morning on a Thursday. I planned to write this in an attempt to figure out why, and I don’t have an answer. At least not a solid one. 

Do I have to seriously reevaluate my “now” to not be so profoundly affected by my “then”? Does this mean I would give up anything I have now in order to get one more day – one more day of Teen Beat magazines, bike rides in the mud, and Garbage Pail Kids? 

Would I give it all up for one more night at the roller skating rink or the mall? One more day shopping for high top sneakers, Baby Sitters Club books, and Trapper Keepers? Is there really nothing I wouldn’t let go of now for one more visit to Orange Julius with my Mom, or one more frolic at the town carnival with my grandmother? She won me a lot of New Kids posters playing those games back in the day. 

Maybe I would give up all of my “now” or maybe I wouldn’t. But one thing is for sure, I am honored and blessed to have lived in that time, and I am proud and thankful to be a 42 year old Blockhead. In general, I am eternally grateful for the throwbacks and the nostalgia that’s keeping me lifted when it seems like the Earth is going up in flames. May the blend of ecstatic and hellacious tears continue to put out many fires. So keep bringing it on boys.       

Forthcoming Oracle/Affirmation Deck!

So I did a thing. I made my own affirmation/oracle card deck using my own artwork and photography. I just wanted to get a sense of who would consider getting this deck for yourself or somebody else. This is my only copy right now, and if I had more made I would have to sell them at $25. It’s a 42 card deck, though not all are pictured here (keeping the rest a surprise 🙂) and a digital guidebook with accompanying stories and poems is forthcoming. Let me know what you all think. 😊❤️🤩🌎💨🌊🔥🌹

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…

The Others

Believing the voices of others

is like a fatal a accident on the side

of the interstate.

You promise yourself you won’t 

pause and look, but you do it anyway.

Feeling the stare of others on your skin

is an afternoon when you’re body is done with the ocean-

when you’re not sure whether you feel soft, salted,

and cleansed – or weighted, wrinkled, and burned.

Tasting the deception of others 

is like that one deceiving berry,

the one on the bottom that looks as brilliant as all the others,

but when you bite into it, the blandness fails

to satisfy your violent need for sweet half-truths.

touching the hand of another can be the last thing

you want to do if you don’t want to chance

remembering a name – and the only thing 

you want to do, if you want to forget your own for a while.