A Small Tmesis Before Re-Entering the Fray

canstockphoto0492793The muddied waters of a chronic depression have surrounded me for months. My highs haven’t been very high, my lows not too low. A mental shoulder shrug answers when I check in with myself. Autumn is in the air and with it, a sense of relief. Finally a season to suit my mood. Melancholy is in vogue again and the suntanned Pollyanna of summer is out.

The weeks following a long Pacific coast vacation became jumbled with school starts and appointments and busy-ness. I was taken off guard even though I’d planned well in advance. Life dragged me along, a dead weight of wry gloom. It felt like surrender. This is me now, I thought, driving my kid to activities, making sure everyone has clean skivvies, wandering listlessly through grocery aisles. Struggling to communicate, make eye contact, be present.

A man came to the door and tried to talk to me about God on Sunday afternoon. For the first time ever, when someone asked of my faith, I called myself an atheist. I’ve gone with agnostic in the past, but I didn’t want him to think he had a way in. And I’m not adept at explaining secular humanism or my true philosophy that none of us knows anything, but it doesn’t really matter as long as we’re decent to each other.

canstockphoto3235320His proselytizing interrupted me while I was reading a book on reasoning, so I didn’t mind the discussion. He asked about what comforted me. I didn’t tell him about the fuzzy socks and coconut-scented lotion and burritos and piles and piles of books yet to be read. I pointed to my garden and muttered something about family. The fact that I was polite only encouraged him. The doorbell will ring again.

Menopause is enveloping me. Hormones infect my dreams with flying house centipedes and my husband leaving me in a souped-up red Prius. Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking optimistically that my life was only half over and started thinking, oh shit, my life is beyond half over. My heart starts pounding and I frantically think about what I still want to do and how, if I haven’t done it at this point, it might be too late.

My weight circuit training class started up again. Over the years, training in Taekwondo, taking spin and weight classes, many of my instructors have been affable men in their late 20s who looked like they might not be able to complete the routines they were teaching. It was a way to make a little dosh, but not a way of life for them. No harm in that, but what I had in discipline, I lacked in inspiration.

canstockphoto0464175My new instructor is a female competitive power lifter. My inability to move this morning attests to her training acumen. She is a tad gung-ho for a community ed class and the looks exchanged by my classmates suggest that there will be some drop outs. For me, this is a spark in the gloominess.

I think about this idea that people want to elect people to whom they can relate – someone they’d catch a game with or meet with at a coffee shop in yoga pants. I’d rather elect someone much better than myself, because whoever it is, they should appeal to my better nature. I want leaders, teachers and guides who raise me up through example – who are smarter and more adept than I. My circuit class instructor is much stronger and more athletic than I and in the end, I will be stronger and more athletic because of it.

Stephen Fry now cheers me daily. Several seasons of his radio program, English Delights, is out on audio book at my local library. Wordplay is my bliss. He introduced me to the term tmesis, which is when a word or phrase is split into two parts by intervening words or phrases. It’s heard mostly with informal speech, such as abso-friggin’-lutely.

I keep having these moments when I’m standing outside of my life. Even on vacation, with people I adore, I’d find myself detached and observing, thinking more than once, just give me a moment. Let me stand still. Let me be quiet. I can hear myself talking with people without being engaged. My life is broken into parts, by heavy realization and not much wisdom. canstockphoto1402910

Autumn usually has me planning new goals and I have energy to pull them off for a few months. This year is different. My goals remain the same in regard to writing and fitness and family, but now there’s something in the middle of it all. Listen. Slow down. Sink into it. No need to rush to the next bit.

27 Comments on “A Small Tmesis Before Re-Entering the Fray

  1. I’m glad you found Stephen Fry. Embarrassingly, I didn’t know him for him until we caught an in-depth profile on him one night in Wales, late December. I was enthralled by his story, the arc of it, who he is, and so on. I’d seen him in Black Adder but didn’t know who he was really. So, good to hear from you. Nice story here. Sorry we didn’t meet up in the PNW, perhaps another time I hope. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry’s for his curiosity of and playfulness with the English language.

      I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet as well, but enjoyed the trip. Went to Snoqualmie Falls, caught a Concert at the Mural and loved nights sitting at the International Fountain. Saw first city rats as well, which I thought were cool, but only because I don’t live there.

      Back home struggling to get my shit together. Glad to hear from you. Will be in touch via email. Let’s talk some writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s right, good all around. Glad you got to see some rats, not your typical tourist thing. Here’s to the dark.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’m an Autumn gal myself, and so so glad summer is finally ending! Let the cool air, and apple pie roll in and cure the summer-blues.

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    • Thanks! Summer is my least favorite season. I try to make the best of it until about late July and then it’s bugs, heat, too much sun, too many “events”. Autumn makes everything better – good sleeping weather, more time alone, baking and guilt-free reading.

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  3. Stephen Fry is great fun, isn’t he? I enjoyed his appearances on Top Gear and I enjoyed his show with Hugh Laurie. I envy the fact that you can feel autumn approaching where you are, Michelle. It sounds like you are on a good path.

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  4. I’m glad there are a few sparks of light above the dark water. It’s so easy to get pulled under, to let the dismal negative thoughts wrap around our ankles and drag us to the depths. And it’s such hard work to swim to the surface. But you keep doing it. It’s what you do.

    Fry has long been a champion for me because of his open advocacy as a fellow manic depressive, his wit and command of the language all part of what makes him my darling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Work it is indeed. Re-entry is exhausting, but as you say, it’s what I do. Each and every time. I have, though, for the first time in my life, taken to half hour naps during the day. What a difference making everything stop for a bit makes!

      Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams are a couple of my favorite Brits when it comes to language humor. I was sad when Adams died many years ago, but Fry has immortalized him in my mind with the audio books he did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Starting to read Fry’s “More Fool Me”. He’s the theme this month, I guess. A worthy one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I want leaders, teachers and guides who raise me up through example – who are smarter and more adept than I.”
    How very true! The picture of any politician in yoga pants is extremely disturbing. I have just finished reading ‘Cat’s Eye’ by Margaret Atwood and she commented on the same thing:
    “The world is being run by people my age, men my age, with falling-out hair and health worries, and it frightens me. When the leaders were older than me I could believe in their wisdom. I could believe they had transcended rage and malice and the need to be loved. Now I know better.”
    In the UK, Boris Johnson has been appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Not my idea of ‘a safe pair of hands’. Google him and look at the photos on the right, if you want to see what I mean. Not to mention the middle names of his children. One thing seems to have changed since Margaret Atwood wrote that book; the scariest politicians have more hair than necessary and the British Prime Minister is a woman (again).

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a great quote by Margaret Atwood and more applicable as time goes on. It’s funny when you reach a point in your life and realize that wisdom is not an automatic given with age. I’m finding that I have to make a deliberate choice as I age, cling vociferously to habit and thought processes or constantly question myself. I go with door 2, although on a bad day, door 1 has its moments.

      I’ve been paying attention to Johnson and his ilk (Erdogan, Trump, Duterte etc.). Same message under different mop heads, all resistance to a path of peace and decency. More ego, brute force and anti-intellectualism than any sort of governance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for keeping it real. There is so much in this blog I can relate too. Hang in there and keep moving forward.

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  8. It takes a lot of courage to write such a personal post for people to read. On numerous occassions I too have ranter down very personal thoughts of mine but they all sit in the drafts. It was poignant yet an optimistic read. Kudos to such an effective writing!

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    • Thank you. I’ve been writing personal essays here long enough that courage is not as necessary. I believe that while we might be unique combinations of story and character, there are experiences and moments that are universal and no shame in sharing them. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Well, you certainly haven’t lost your edge over the summer hiatus, Michelle. Good stuff. And best of all, “none of us knows anything, but it doesn’t really matter as long as we’re decent to each other.” Weird for a Lutheran pastor to agree, but that’s where I’m parked. Peace, John

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    • Thanks, John. The transition into fall feels a little disjointed and wonky, which makes my writing feel the same. I haven’t had a return visit from the man with Bible in hand. I’m not sure of his denomination, but it was a pleasant conversation. Some of my favorite people are Lutherans – I married one!

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      • Must say, I’m wary of people who keep a Bible in hand, as they use it to clobber more often than comfort. And, oh boy, you married a Lutheran? Ah well, as long as he’s not a fussy, constipated one–common ailments among the flock–I bet you’re okay. Peace, John

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