Out of Step

For a few days now, the word “desfasada” has been walking around with me.  It is one of those words I just know in Spanish without ever thinking of an English equivalent.  “Desfasada” woke up with me, telling me I felt out of sorts, went to the gym with me, telling me I was creaky, accompanied me to work, reminding me I’m cranky, and pushed me towards bed, saying, “Shh, sleep, this clanging, chiming loudness will go away.”

Yesterday afternoon, I went to a multi-school jazz concert sponsored by the Virginia Military Institute.  This lovely event features jazz musicians from local middle schools, the high school, and VMI.  They call it “Jazz Farm”—I’m not sure why, but I imagine the flutes singing their early-morning birdsong, signaling to the trumpets to make the rooster call, and then waking up the whole farm of trombones (are you seeing horses?), a range of stacked-hair saxophones (the honking geese), electric guitars, a bass, and a piano (all plucking and clucking, like the hens), and telling them to get that big-ass farm party started.  I also imagine little piccolos and soprano saxes born with each new spring.

As I listened to the music and watched heads bopping, fingers tapping, and bodies swaying, my mind, jazz-loosened, starting translating “desfasada” into English: out of step, out of sync, out of style, out of “phase”, basically off.  Damn, prepositions are the English language’s biggest challenge, aren’t they?  All those semantic differences created by prepositions attached to just one little bitty verb, made periphrastic.  How to distinguish between and among these?: To take in; to take on; to take out; to take off; to take up; to take down; to take around; to take over—you get the picture.  The music and the community worked together to ease, for a few moments, deep sadness over the loss of young life.

In any case, “desfasada” unfolded before me as the many ways I have been feeling out of step, some due to external events, like great sadness in my neighborhood, the loss of more than several friends’ loved ones, and the ever-close Trump regime; and some due to internal events, like causing strife with a co-worker I greatly admire, feeling old, with outdated opinions, at every meeting I go to, and combatting chronic pain while still feeling real energy for life.

Nothing makes you feel more “desfasada” than joking to an 18-year-old student about how cantankerous you’ve become and having her ask you what “cantankerous” means.  Or receiving an e-mail from another student who asks you if you have made available a list of all the authors and works studied in the class and having to gently remind the student that we like to call that list a “syllabus.”  Out of step means wishing we didn’t always have a screen between us and longing for days with fewer apps and fewer ways to organize.

Today’s post in and of itself is desfasado—out of sync with the themes and length of most posts.  A little more time at the jazz farm should do the trick.

4 thoughts on “Out of Step”

  1. Thank you as always, Ellen, for a fresh take on the emotional journal of life! I love how your details and humor add perspective to dark times. I share your neighborhood’s sense of sorrow at loss of young life this past month. I’m sorry I missed that jazz concert. My son Caleb would have loved it!


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