This is an actual fear–my daughter’s–although she managed just fine at her Trackers camp last week (whew!). Seriously, if you’re local: put your kid in these camps. She loves them and is signed up for another in August. She had a counselor who really got her, which if you have a difficult gifted kid, you know what this means (and the tears of gratitude you have to blink back). When we picked her up the first day and were told (in a nice way) they had brought mythology books but [pH] already knew all the myths, it was awesome. Later she said in confidence pH was her favorite and, well, my heart melted. (That pH slept like a log every night was a bonus.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.01.20 PMIn the lead-up to camp I took pH to a surplus store to get her a particular type of hat (a USMC Boonie hat, which I remembered as “a weird round camo hat my dad used to wear” which were always around when I was a kid) but somehow I walked directly to the right spot like a boss and didn’t have to ask–but pH was quickly distracted by machetes. (I had to explain what machetes were; she may use a Mora knife now, but baby steps.)  I had described surplus stores to her as “a sort of Cargo for boys” and with that kind of set-up, it guaranteed a visit to Cargo afterward. It is certainly my happy place, advertising signage aside. (Probably also because they know pH so well–and as one of the owners said, “We’ve watched her grow up!” We started going to there when she was 2, when they were walking distance from home in the no-longer affordable Pearl District, but then we moved and they moved, and now they are happily walking distance from OMSI.)

I had expected to get a lot of work done while pH was in camp, but no. In addition to other boring real-life stuff, the commute and parking, there is the pain thing and the depression thing.

The pain thing is frustrating because it’s invisible (unless I limp, I guess), and the depression thing is frustrating because it’s invisible (unless I cry, I guess) and I have no patience for either of them. I force myself to do PT and go on outings even though I know it’s going to hurt. (The attitude of the PT is basically, well, yeah, it hurts and keep it up! Which is not at all what PT was like for me before, and I’m starting to wonder if I should have opened with seeing the neurosurgeon.) I force myself to practice German and Welsh, to do the dishes and the laundry, and to read (Nero Wolfe to balance out the academic stuff) and to watch TV (with my feet up) in the hopes of distracting myself and relieving the pain that comes from walking or moving some random weird way or just because I slept in a bad position.

It was hard to get through pH’s birthday, since aside from a couple of friends, no family besides me or kH acknowledges pH on her birthday, not even the one brother to whom I speak. (I wouldn’t ordinarily have any expectations for him, since he’s a brother, but it still sucks.) Fortunately she had been activitied-out in the weeks leading up to her birthday–and it fell on a weekend. When asked if she wanted to go out to dinner, she said, “Is it okay if we just don’t go anywhere?” Ayep. Just fine with us. It involved American Dream pizza and a lot of Pokemon.

So, then. I am doing a little pro bono work. I am living in a bit of a bubble right now (see above: pain and depression). I bought that book about swearing like sailors, but (despite learning that “damned son of a bitch” was the worst thing you could say in the 18th-19th century) I still can’t stop laughing at this:

We will begin by looking at the significance of “damn,” especially for the nineteenth century. “Damn” was often used by itself, sometimes it appeared with other words, and occasionally it was strung along with the strongest of language as in “Damn son of a bitch.” We will then turn to “son of a bitch” and explore its literal meaning by talking about the place of dogs, and particularly bitches as a canine category, and then look at the inner meaning of the phrase by examining the gendered implications of the term.

PAUL A. GILJE, TO SWEAR LIKE A SAILOR: MARITIME CULTURE IN AMERICA, 1750-1850 (2016).

If you, too, find yourself wondering about going back to grad school (which I did think about quite a bit these past few weeks–lost opportunities, that sort of thing), I think this will cure you. It worked for me.