L’Aude is a river that houses three main regions here down south, Salelles d’Aude being one of them along the canals in the South of France. The canals are one of Napoleon’s bright ideas for moving trade through the southern country. That big idea and expanding Paris boulevards and thoroughfares wide and far-reaching were revolutionary, practical and enduring.
Today, after last minute shopping in a quiet mall outside downtown Narbonne, some to-go sushi from the supermarché, and an espresso in the cafe by the mall exit, we ventured to a small hamlet close to Salelles called le Somail, one of the three divisions resting on the Aude. The sleepy port town boasts a tea house and ancient book store, the former closed for Christmas and the latter open for our roaming eyes and feet. Much of the tiny town is closed for winter.
The ancient musty chill air inside the book store reminded us of winters, many of them passed through, wind and rain soaking the stone walls of this tiny librairie tucked alongside the river of moored houseboats, cacophonous ducks and romping dogs–just before the stone bridge. The cool wind hurried our leisurely walk.
The town, abandoned by tourists and inhabitants alike, stood as contrast to bustling downtown Narbonne with its courtyard restaurants a-brew with ale and crepes, narrow boutique-lined lanes, stately cathedrale de Narbonne, and street music. We spent a fine-weather, blue-skied day sightseeing, shopping and eating crepes, croque monsieur, and macarons along the outside booths and stands of the market. Inside the farmer’s market, we crammed all five of us into a tiny tapas bistro of four long bar tables, where we ate duck and scallop brochettes, planchas drenched in olive oil and garlic, and grilled aubergine and courgettes, washed down with local white wine for us and orangeina for the kids.
We are gaining weight in kilos but will be losing it in pounds when we return, so it should be easy. Right?
According to the Yoga Alliance’s 2016 report on yoga in America, “36.7 million Americans or 15% of US adults practice yoga in the US.”
Of course, yoga is great for you. It promotes well-being through strength, flexibility, breathing and meditation. But is yoga good for everyone?
Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier (24)” streams at 29 percent volume while I write this. My go-to writing music, Baroque, floats wave-like above and below my consciousness, simultaneously soothing and awakening. It’s not…(read more here).
Not to denigrate anyone’s achievement on this first day past #nanowrimo2016, but what I accomplished most this month pumping out 50,000 plus words of mostly spewed inanity was escape from non-sense of the preceding weeks, months and years culminating in the moral depravity our nation titled an election. This “novel” I scrapped together with mindless word vomiting at times was an exercise in the refined art of escapism, full on head-in-sand, ostrich hiding out from a reality I’m still not willing to participate in quite yet. I may opt out completely.
And so, the largest achievement of last month for me was this meditation on and practice of tuning out while tuning up the word count. I plan to stay right here, in cyberspace, MIA to the rest of reality–which I now understand is a choice, reality, that is. You make yours and I’ll make mine, and never shall an objective truth detour us from our subjective truths. Truth is lies and lies are truth. And while I acknowledge that we have obeyed the objective truth gods for far too long, this anarchy of subjectivism is a backlash of unknown depths and destruction.
So, I say fuck it. I’m just going to write my own world and to hell with the rest. As you were.
I wrote this 250 word audition piece for a client and thought it topical, worth remembering, given the times.
Our Romanesque Fathers
The American Founders, well-versed in history, embraced ancient Rome, even taking Roman pen names like Washington’s Cincinnatus and Jefferson’s Cato. America’s symbol, the eagle, and the Capitol’s architecture are likewise borrowed from Rome. However, the Founders’ greatest influences are the lessons learned from the Roman Empire’s founding and demise. The U.S. Constitution was written with an eye toward both.
To Protect Against Tyranny
Like America, Rome emerged as a city state from war and tyranny. Its mythological creation from feuding Romulus and Remus, characterizes its founding, one geographically destined to emerge as powerful but warring with its strategic placement near seafaring passageways. The Punic War expansion both forged and destroyed the Empire.
Looking to Rome, the Founders inscribed Roman virtues–liberty and freedom–into America’s constitution, but wisely included safeguards to protect against a government subject to human weaknesses, like intoxicating power and greed. The U.S. Constitution conceived a Roman inspired tri-part government, a combined democracy, monarchy and aristocracy. Divided power among its branches ensured against tyranny, of which Rome served as warning.
For Survival of a Nation
The Founders learned from Rome’s eroding largesse and excess to foster, preserve and protect their budding nation. They knew Imperialist Rome’s downfall lay in its expansion wars, leaving unemployment, migration, venality, religious intolerance–and ultimately, tyranny.
The American constitution, both reactionary and visionary, founded a nation upon ideals–which defines its exceptionalism–not merely on geography, ethnicity and history. Rome served as its map, just as the U.S. Constitution mapped the American nation forward.
By Liz for ICN
Fight or Flight
Six years and one week ago, I overheard my husband on his cell phone. He was speaking to a woman. It was Tuesday.
I could feel and hear the blood pulsing through my neck. It was the sound of intense fear.
I thought to myself, this is it, I was right, that nagging thought for a while that there was someone else was true, I was not crazy.
When he had hung up, I went into his office, asking angrily who that was. He had some crazy answer, and I knew in that moment that despite how smart he was, at this, I was smarter than him. I knew I would find out, and SOON. I maintained my outward cool while inside was a total fight or flight response. I decided to gather information before a flight.
The next morning while he was showering for work, I quietly turned on his cell phone to check the call history. It had been cleared.
As soon as I’d gotten the kids off to school, I found some old cell phone records with a number that kept reappearing – a partial story. It took me four hours that morning that morning to register our phone bill online, download the call history, google some of the repeating numbers, and identify the owner of the most frequently-called number. So I called it, and she said I had the wrong number. At lunchtime I called again and got her voicemail. Bingo. Her full name was on the outgoing message. Now I had the information I needed…but I still did not know if I was ready for a “fight” or for my flight.
I wanted then and there to throw him out, but we had kids, I did not want to divorce their father. We were a family. So there was to be no flight. At least not yet.
I waited till Saturday. That very morning, his affair partner had left him a cell phone message and I had listened to it. She was trying to be calm while things were tense, but she loved him and would wait until they could be together. I told him then that I knew about her, and he confessed, saying it was just a few times, it did not mean anything to him. But I had proof of months of calls and her declaration of love. I asked where they had sex; he gave me hotel names. I insisted he end it immediately, and even suggested how he could do it so as to keep her husband protected. I thought myself a better person for my compassion.
We went to couples counseling, and I kept saying I believed there were many women for many years, and he denied it all. I insisted on full transparency. It never came. Now there was no fight…he simply would not talk about it.
By now, poring over cell records and hotel bills, I was getting to be a first class Private Investigator which was making me crazy. I had been in fight-or- flight mode for over 5 weeks, anxious and barely eating or sleeping. I was paying with my mental health.
After a while, I began to feel I had lived a lie. Every family event and holiday over the past 6-7 years was marred by the knowledge that he’d called various women on all those dates. Nothing felt sacred anymore. The betrayal I felt was boundless. Every special moment was spoiled. I saw myself as damaged, duped, betrayed, angry, and resentful.
I focused on his choices, and all the times he could have chosen another path but did not. I focused self-righteously on all the good I had done for others when our own marriage was disappointing.
This constant feeling of fight-or-flight made me lose my compassion and objectivity. I become a person who tried to survive day by day. I was unaccustomed to being this self-centered, angry, suspicious, jealous, snooping, distrustful person, and I did not like this new me. I knew I had to find a way to the other side, to thrive again.
For two years I was a wreck, later telling people that I’d had a nervous breakdown. At his request, I told no one other than paid professionals. I isolated myself socially, did only what I had to do, and avoided people and places that would trigger what I deemed my PTSD. Since I knew many of his affair partners, and had to drive by many of the hotels in my daily rounds of work and kids, it was hard to avoid it all. I made myself crazier by compulsive snooping, and it never helped me a bit, never made me feel safer, never made the situation better, and just perpetuated a cycle of craziness for me.
Above all, I wanted to talk to other women who had been through this, but found none. If I had to do it all over again, I would have told a select few people because not having the support was so tough for me. Later, we separated, and I told a lot of people. They all judged him harshly. And I learned that once you give someone your story, you can never un-tell them…so be careful about whom you chose to hold your intimate history. I should have told only people whom I was sure would be there for me and not judgehim. Everyone has an opinion about she/he would do in this situation, but until I had been there, I realized there is no black and white answer…only lots and lots of gray.
Six years and one week later, I am stronger and wiser. Perhaps I am not the same trusting person, but the new me is one I finally like and which took years to accomplish. I felt so bad about myself for so long; if I’d been kinder to myself, if I’d been able to release myself from that intense fight-or-flight mode, my recovery might have been faster. But I accept now that I did what I felt I had to do. Now I am a good, kind, compassionate, and wiser person. I wish I could add “trusting” to that list, but that is still a work in progress.
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Where do I begin? Are you for real? You know the clear sign of adulthood is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses, limitations and possibilities. Children believe they can do anything, fly to the moon with just their will and hands flapping, grow a cape and avenge their slights against school yard bullies. But adults know the difference between fantasy and reality. Not you.
Some say you know exactly what you’re doing. Others say you yourself have no idea what will come out of your mouth until you say it. My dear mother in law is like that–no editing filter from brain to mouth. It comes from a hyperactive attention deficit disorder, lack of impulse control and other causes. I’m no doctor. I’m just an observer. But she, at least, understands where she belongs, what makes her most effective as mother, friend, cook, caretaker and citizen. She knows her shortcomings and does not decide to become a surgeon or insist she can be one just because she believes her surgeons are not doing enough for her cancer and heart condition.
But you, ‘man’, own everything you do, say and believe, and expect others to do the same. You’re not a citizen of the world, just yours. The rest of us are all visitors to your world. They used to diagnose people like you as insane monomaniacal threats, curable only by electroshock therapy.
But that’s you. Somehow you have inserted yourself into every corner of the planet. The causes of your rise are plenty, but the time for analysis and disbelief are long past. Now the question is what will be done with you by the half of the nation that thinks, cares and clings to a worn, battered, torn and flaking democracy, but a democracy at last.
I am confident thoughtful people with conscience will do the right thing. Those lost in hope, dreams and fantasies, those longing for brutal fathers as a result of their own overriding fears, indomitable past or cultural patriarchal indoctrination will see themselves in you or not see you at all for the sake of something, something to help them bear the weight of the malaise and downright horror of their existence.
Whatever happens, madman (not to defame the ill) or pretender, I have hope that reason and goodness will prevail by the forceful intentions and actions of people who care, love and hope in humanity.
Perfect. I’ll do my ten-minute write here, a place I haven’t visited in a while. The last time I imbibed here–my usual IPA per the bartender’s suggestion–I wrote a piece that my editor thought worthy of publishing. Perhaps inspiration will visit again.
Swallowing quickly the two offered shot glass sampler selections, surprisingly I choose the Pale Ale. It’s smooth and hoppy, more like an IPA than the IPA the bartender had me try.
I have not been here–a place exactly five minutes walking distance from my house–because I drink beer here, always drink a happy hour beer here, and I have not wanted to anesthetize in beer-land for a couple months or so. But today feels like the day. There is nothing to hide from, just the spirit of the day I nod to in being here.
Tomorrow I will embark on a road trip up to the far up north, another soccer tournament. With three soccer 17-year olds and a commiserating partner in tow, I will head for Davis and watch the road blur by as I gaze out the window and ponder the big and small questions: What did Jack Kerouac do on the road when he wasn’t taking notes for his novel? How many almond trees are actually out there in endless rows? Will I have time to yoga? Will she play well? How did pioneers foot and horse all of this, leagues and leagues of open vistas, dirt, dust and brush?
My eyes welcome open spaces, too often closed in confined spaces of the classroom, bedroom, kitchen, grocery store and local restaurants for a bite. Change of scenery flips the creative thought channels. Floating. Not like a pc drags me through the cyber-sphere.
The ten minute timer went off, but so did my notification buzz for a text message. She got a haircut and lost ten pounds. She looks the same–memory mine.
Seated at the after thought extension of the bar, maybe the disabled low table, the woman next to me, leaving half her appetizer over, declares to the server, “Close out.” I ignored her while I wrote this but meant to pay her a few words of invitation to conversate. Too late, as ever. But I’m sure her life bends back way past this moment and my feeble speculations about her momentary needs, wants and reasons to be at this bar. Now I’ll just have to create her story without her.