Flirting in the bakery
Please let me grow up
(C) Ted Kouretas 2018
Flirting in the bakery
Please let me grow up
(C) Ted Kouretas 2018
There’s nothing like Morrissey telling the writers of his day, including himself, that they write of things they know nothing of.
When he says,
You don’t know a thing about their lives
They live where you wouldn’t dare to drive
most of the writers in their penthouse Manhattan winter condo can ascertain that this is true. And they’re happy about it as they prepare to ride off to an art gallery opening. They are relieved about it as they prepare to ski in the Italian Alps. They feel fake for a moment, but think of Detroit as a ghetto with a lot of stories in it, and smile.
Charles Bukowski has influenced my writing more than anyone to ever exist on this planet. He was so real that there were subcategories of seamy realism he has been ordained the godfather of. Dirty Realism is the one he sticks out being the pioneer of. He speaks from the heart. He gies a step further and goes autobiographical on us to make the realism stronger.
Then there is Ernest Hemingway, the greatest ever short story writer. Like Bukowski, Hemingway is genius at explaining big central ideas in very simple terms. I pattern my short stories on Hemingway as I do my poetry after Bukowski.
Then I come across a societal conundrum. I decide to be real. But my reality doesn’t match the hapoenings of the day. I can’t write mystery novels. I tend to stick to the untold parts of everyday life. Like Bukowski, I trend towards dirty realism. It’s there. It exists. But even the ones who want to embrace it will have to keep that a secret. They’ll need to read it with a flashlight under their covers, so to speak.
I guess not all of us realize the difference between a cult following and lovers of an alternative point of view. The latter are not blindly fascinated by personality and -isms. They in fact expect truth from a difference voice. They want to know why some things happen.
In my new book of poetry, A Fine Line, I decided to attack the problem of anomie and sociopathy from within; from the point of view of a malinformed and disturbed nihilist who wants healing and truth. And this is a reality that I have observed and even lived. It is important to build empathy and understanding and to see how the apparent evildoers are often waiting for some reason to change to trickle in.
A Fine Line is a book written from the perspective of a nihilist looking to find order in the chaos. Looking in all of the predetermined places gets him nowhere.
John Sutter: Is this a work of fiction? I mean, there’s a lot of things going on here people would pay good money for.
Ted Kouretas: Nothing is totally fictitious. Fiction always exists within reality.
JS: But is the narrator you?
TK: It’s a troubled me. Yes. Or rather, perhaps.
JS: When did you write most of the poems on here?
TK: Almost all of them were written in Greece. I was in the big city. Athens is a multi-faceted place. You go from luxury to misery in a small block’s walk. I experienced both. Most of the poems are attempts at acceptance. They ard actually me trying to make sense of things.
JS: Do you make sense of things?
TK: I have now. But lest we forget these were my carefree hedonistic years. I had no borders. At the time, I was addicted to sensual desire. I needed to experience all my needs. This takes you to dangerous places.
JS: But there’s a lot of nostalgia in many poems.
TK: We always opine for the good old days. We think we’ve leadnsd from them when in fact we’ve become corrupted from them. It’s more like the demoralizing mediocre old days. A ship of fools with all decks on board.
JS: So do the old memories free you somewhat?
TK: Hopefully. They have in real life. Eventually. Duting the writings of the poems, there was so much addiction. There was so much pain. It was a way out.
JS: How do you feel about the disclaimer from the publisher?
TK: I’d be scared shitless and covering all my bases too. As you know, there is no truth these days other than the one preached by a select few. The walls are crumbling and our defense mechanisms are rendered useless. It’s a very sad state of affairs.
JS: I’m not sure I understand. Do you believe in fake news then?
TK: People think Donald Trump created the fake news mentality. Fact is, he was the only one unfiltered enough to actually state a big truth. Like him or not.
JS: What was your purpose in writing this book of poetry?
TK: Let’s be honest. I’m taking a chance here. My favourite musical artist, Morrissey, has gotten in trouble so many times for showing points of view. He gets called a racist by putting in the brain of a young man who admires the National Front. Of course being a neo-Nazi is inexcusable. But it helps to know why. Everything is a pattern.
JS: A pattern?
TK: Yes. Recruiters always go after the most susceptible. There are recruiters for the army, for menial labour, for prostitution, for drug dealing, for killing. The weak and disenfranchised are easy prey. Through learning about them, perhaps we can help curb the problem. To answer your initial question, my main purpose for this book is for the common folks to experience the joys and tribulations in the fine line between insanity and creativity. They should get into the brain of the nihilistic protagonist and see how his thoughts play a major role in his seclusion. This is what leads and maintains addiction.
JS: Any takeaway from this book?
TK: Never think you know anything.
Ted Kouretas describes himself as a postmodern iconoclast bent on showing taboo truths. With this book, he gives us a glimpse.
John Sutter is a PostDoc litarature fellow from the University of Alabama.
I got out of the metro that faced the Jamaica Hospital with homeless people on the benches in front of the metro exit. They looked at me curiously. I looked like a tourist. I crossed the Van Wyck expressway and made mynway into the small hotel.
The cute Indian girl at reception had a bit of an accent, between Brooklyn and Jersey, that was hard to classify. The whole staff were Indian. They were very polite. I was there early. It was only 11.30 and check in was at 2. The polite girl at reception managed to find me a room that had already been cleaned.
“Please make sure it’s clean and smoke-free, ” I said.
She told a younger guy to stay at reception and came down to see the room with me. Itbwas very clean. Everything worked fine.
“You’ve seen your share of crappy rooms, ” she half-asked. She was smiling. “It’s in the basement, but it’s fine.”
I agreed. I thanked her.
“By the way, it’s Friday. I just wanted to invite you to a party tonight. Here’s a coupon. Just mention my name,” she said, unbuttoning 2 buttons of her hotel shirt. It was the way it worked. It was a trap for people they thought would waste money.
“Do I look that desperate?” I asked.
She looked at me, surprised.
“Look, Rani,” I said, looking at her still-intact name tag, “I don’t waste money on things I can get for free. Can I get you for free?”
“Ok. It’s just a party,” Rani said. She buttoned up, smiled, and tried to look kempt. She looked like she’d just had sex. She probably felt worse.
“Thank you, Rani,” I said. I figured pretending nothing happened was good for my staybat the hotel. She smiled and felt better after I became ‘normal’ in my demeanour again. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I think I may show up.” This made her happy and she exited the room.
I wanted to fill the small fridge with a bit of food, like Greek yoghurt and such. The new Indian girl at reception pointed me to the direction of the big supermarket. I walked a big block and still no sign of it. I saw a guy lening against the wall eating the last of his sub.
“Where’s the big market, man?” I asked him.
“Name’s Reginald. It’s another street down. ”
“Hold up,” Reginald said as he approached me and gulped the last of his submarine sandwich. “You into black pussy? I know you’re a white guy, but some of you are secretly into that. ”
“I don’t discriminate on pussy,” I said.
“Here’s a ticket to a party,” he said.
I showed Reginald the ticket Rani had given me.
“Oh man. That’s a whole different thing,” Reginald said, laughing.
“Tell me, Reginald, what are these parties?”
“The one the hotel girl gave you is a place to buy bitches drinks and then maybe eventually bang one,” he said. “The one I gave you is an underground place. Lots of legit bitches who like white guys like you.”
“Reg, I’ll take your fucking deal. Just tell me it’ll be cool.”
Reg smiled. “You and a few other white guys will be there.”
“It’s too much trouble for me, man,” I said.
“Cool. But I’ll get you what I promised. Is 100 reasonable?”
“Yes,” I said. You need to be careful in these situations.
We walked to the market and he introduced me to Lola, newly arrived from Ghana. He looked at my indecisive manner.
“Forget about tonight, man. Get to know Lola better.”
Reginald left and Lola and I went shopping at the grocery store for later. She was a very attractive woman. About 22 or so. She spoke English and Portuguese.
Lola insisted on carrying the grocery bag for the 10-minute walk back to the hotel.
A few years ago, it would’ve been difficult to empathize with people who had to cut back on this and do that just in order to be able to function healthily. I never wanted to discipline my eating , sleep, and exercise patterns. Instead, I did my annual medical exams and took it from there. No exam had ever shown the slightest danger sign. It still hasn’t. Yet on a downward spiral I tend to go. I then lift myself up and do well for a while. But the problem is keeping the wellness intact. This remains extremely problematic because of the western world’s continues malignant approach to disease prevention. The system , rather, focuses on cures. All we have known may be untrue in terms of living a longer and healthier life, physically, mentally, and even spiritually.
I will focus on gut health; something I’ve been affected by.
There are an array of illnesses and diseases that are related to the gut. I have had a few of them. Let’s take a look at the diseases I’ve had throughout the years with my digestive tract.
I consider this the introduction to gut disease. It’s popularly known as indigestion. When you’re young and healthy enough, it just goes away. In my case, I got it at the end of a stressful time. This is quite common, seeing as your body protects itself at a time of stress by overworking your immune system. If the stress last too long, then the end of the stress lets your brain tell yoir body to let down its guard. This is when residual damage is done to your body because its defenses are low.
2. GERD (Gastro-Esophagal Reflux Disease)
This may also be called Acid Reflux Disease, although it’s not the same. For our purposes, I’ll stick to what I personally know.
I woke up one night when my throat was burning. It was as if acid had grown in it. The only cure seemed to be standing up for the rest of the night. When visiting the 3rd doctor at the same clinic, I was finally given something for it. The first 2 had told me to keep my stress level down and sleep with 3 pillows under my head. The good news is the problem was solved.
It went away after 14 days of medication. It has never come back since. But I have a feeling it helped the acid move elsewhere.
3. Allergic/Immunological Reactions
About 3 years ago, I started getting small reactions to foods. I figured it was allergies. I even had reactions where my genitals became inflamed. It was never painful, but they could be life-threatening if not taken care of. My stress level went through the roof as no doctor could do anything for me.
One Tuesday night, I wound up getting a fully inflamed lip in about 10 seconds. I couldn’t feel the left side of my head further than it getying pulled and shriveling at the same time. I rushed to the ER. After 12 hours, the doctor gave me a prescription for anti-allergens and anti-inflammatories and, most importantly, a referral to an allergist.
The allergist was very accomodating and concerned. He said it was definitely not an allergy. He gave me a full immunological test to do and said I may have this rare disease that he would take care of. In the end, all was negative. Nothing found. Again. He ended off our last appointment asking me “stressed much?” and left it at that. When I asked him for a referral to someone for stress, he said they don’t function that way in the health-care system and to check with my insurance if I was covered for therapy with a psychologist. “Just forgetting about it should be the best,” he said.
Talk about someone unable to help further. This was a defining moment in so many ways.
A few weeks later, I woke up at 2.23 in the morning with an excruciting pain on the lower left part of my intestines. It was a pain that would go away for 1 minute and come back for a few seconds. Again, the only cure was standing up.
I saw the same doctor I’d seen for my GERD. She is the best doctor I’ve ever seen. This made me relax. She saw that mynpain had subsided but was sure there was an infection in my gut. She blamed stress and a lack of fibre. She told me to go see a dietitian. In the meantime, she told me to eat very blandly. No fibre at all till the diverticulitishad fully gone away. She looked at me helplessly. She knew what I was thinking. And she knew she was helpless. I felt her almost was to reach out and hug me. Yes, things were that pathetic.
I booked an appointment with a dietitian for the next day at a private clinic. My insurance covered it. She was a nice-looking woman in her 30s who was more occupied with protocol than thought. She took out her Mayo clinic chart and also one from a local hospital I forget. There were instructions on how to build yourself up after the diverticulitis has ebbed. For a week, I ate boiled chicken, white bread, cheese, and lots of eggs. I lost 10 lbs. in 5 days. It was terrible. I felt weak. I revisited her after that week and we started my FODMAP training upon my request. Yes, I had to suggest it. Her face lit up. She told me to try some new foods and see if there are any triggers. I followed my calories per day and went back after a week and hadn’t gained any weight. She looked disappointed and forced a smile. She had failed. Obviously.
Thankfully, I got another attack and a CT Scan showed nothing wrong in any part of my gut. I saw a very good young male doctor at the private clinic. He was not covered by insurance. But fuck that. I needed help. He said that this was probably diverticulitis initially but thought it had gone away.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There are many diseases and illnesses of the bowel. IBS is the strangest one because it is an assumption when all else has been ruled out. No one thought a colonoscopy was necessary and 4 different doctors agreed upon my having IBS. This was a relief in that it is less dangerous than most of the other possibilities, but it is one of the most painful every time a flare-up occurs. Also, there is no set diet. Just trial and error and, very often, retrial.
Studies have shown that IBS is almost entirely a mental disorder. It is caused by overwhelming or continuous stress. It is also a precursor to more serious ailments if not dealt with.
I finally got a family doctor, a nice docile woman from eastern Europe. She is afraid to ask for too many blood tests. She is also afraid to give pills. She admits it’s stress and leaves it at that. Again, no safety net. I tell her which pill helps me the most but we try other, newer ones taht don’t fucking work. I tell her it’s difficult for me and she makes a small joke and smiles. Again, helpless. The Cipralex I’m taking worked at first but started waning off. I’d say it currently works at 30% its original effect. I keep asking for Rivotril, which proves to work for me time and time again. She abstains. Every single doctor, including my neurologist, abstains.
What is getting me upset is that there seems to be a fraternity that leaves no room for second opinions. No doctor has given me a good reason why one drug is better than the other, except that the Rivotril is addictive. This reason is ridiculous, as I’ll probably be taking the drug for the rest of my life. If not, it just takes a few days of being tied to your bed and you’re fine.
I’ll abruptly end it off with a simple takeaway. TRY AND PREVENT STRESS. That’s the best I can do for now.
Here’s a post from a survivor. It is a great example of ills that plague.
Be like the girl below.
I’m usually not one for non-fiction. And I’ve never read political fiction. It took a book by a man I admire to make me get curious. It also took the review above to make me pre-order from Amazon. And I was not disappointed. This is better than a riveting novel. I just couldn’t put it down.
The book is written for both the initiated and ghe laymen. And the truth of the corruption is as fulfilling to find out as it is disturbing.
It seems that even the highest-ranking servants of the people only serve the elite—the way democracy was serving them in the days of Ancient Greece, where we had sp much class struggle hidden.
We start thinking in paradigms throughout the book because Yanis serves us lots of them. He goes from historical and mythical parallels to the down and dirty truth while, all the while, serving as an impossible hero in a Greek tragedy. But, unlike Oedipus and his ilk, Varoufakis does nothing wrong.
What we learn is not pretty. In fact, what we learn is downright unjust. Kudos to Varoufakis for being true to himself in the book. Like his real-life persona, he gives us an unbiased view of the proceedings. He has the solutions. But greed for power manages to overcome any democracy.
Let the weak step forward. Let the ones destroying Greece and its people’s dignity get theirs. Yanis Varoufakis, to his credit, ostracises them in style.