Squinchy got his balls cut out today. I know, I know, we call it neutering, or getting fixed. We have nice words for lots of things that make me sad in my stomach. Collateral damage. Pre-emptive strikes. Passing away. Hydraulic Fracturing. Ethnic cleansing. If you think this is interesting, read George Orwell’s “Politics of the English Language.” It’s the most chilling essay on clear writing I know. That doesn’t sound as emphatic as I meant it to. But you see, word choice isn’t just for nerds. It riles us up over nothing. It civilizes barbaric acts.
But neutering is for the good of society, you might be thinking. I know, I know. I took Squinchy in for the operation. I even paid someone to do it. However, many barbaric things are done “for the good of society,” for instance, eugenics, and the War on Terror. And no, snipping my dog does not equal the war in Afghanistan. I’m just saying. There is something weird about something that calls for euphemisms and broad sociological justifications. There is something weird about taking a healthy creature and cutting out one of its organs. Especially when that creature would have had really cute babies.
I also want to say, if Squinchy had knocked some bitch up, I totally would have paid puppy support. But it’s too late now. The deed is done; c’est la vie. Squinchy will have to leave his mark on the world through some non-genetic means. Urine, squirrel intimidation, and platonic interspecies love, for instance.
I am sitting here with damp eyes and chapping cheeks, sad and sure: I am not going to do camp this summer. Feeling what I am feeling, now, without it making me doubt myself and without it becoming a headache, a tantrum, a random cruelty, a volcanic eruption, is a new confidence. I am not doing camp, and that’s what I want, and I am sad.
Immediately after I sent the email to all of my camp families, notes started pouring in. I already miss these kids. There are some seriously shining people who show up smiling and eager on all those groggy, foggy mornings and leave, filthy and still smiling, on those popsicle-sweet afternoons. I’ve watched some of them grow from bulges, to babies, to little siblings who wanted their short turn on the swing, to four year olds finally grown into their turn to be campers, to old hats. I’ve watched shy kindergarteners who only wanted to pretend to be unicorns become sapling seventh graders. And I’ve grown up, too. I was eighteen that first year, which is crazy. Camp put me through college and grad school and four years of hermetic novel-writing. I’ve come back from Stanford and Petrolia and Montana and Oakland and Spain and Seattle for camp. I have said no to so many other ways to spend a summer, that all those other things have become nearly invisible. Now, my summer is wide open. The whole idea of summer is wide open. I am excited and kind of terrified. And as you can tell, already nostalgic.
I have been so lucky to have work I enjoy and excel at, that pays me well, and makes something beautiful in the world. I hope my work can always be like this. And I hope all those kids continue to play outside and get dirty and invent things and run and eat wild berries and sing and hide in the ferns and to do their damnedest to be kind to people and gentle with animals and like themselves and to care about the world. And I hope that whatever comes in to fill the void of camp makes me feel excited and alive.
Oh geez, it’s been a while since I wrote. Which might not bother you. To quote my brother out of context, “I don’t care about your life, Becca. I care about my life.” (Yet he still reads my blog. Or he bullshits well.) In any case, I haven’t written. But I’ve been busy! I went to Chicago! I’ve been writing my novel! And, I’m learning French. You know why I’m learning French? I’m going to Paris in April. You know why I’m going to Paris? A total whim. I mean, I want to. Also, Squinchy clearly has a French soul.
Anyways, I’ve been listening to French language CD’s while I’ve been driving. (That’s the other thing I’ve been busy doing: driving. I’m more than making up for that quarter in grad school where I used one tank of gas.) The CD’s are really fun. Squinchy, having a French soul, has taken my speaking bad French to myself with great grace. But here’s the thing: I have always had a grudge against French, because I have no clue how to pronounce it. Spanish, that I can do — even if I don’t know what the words mean, I can read those Neruda poems from that book with the pink polkadot cover like nobody’s business. Watch out hearts. But as to pronouncing written French, I can’t even make an uneducated guess. Beyond not sounding French, it just sounds dumb. This is especially frustrating because I can usually catch the drift of the meaning, it being Latinate and all. I don’t have hissy fits over Russian and Urdu, but French, errgh.
Now, I am finally learning it. However, because I am learning from CD, which is all aural, I can say all these things, but I have NO IDEA how they’re spelled, except for a few words. It’s like there are two Frenches, which is actually kind of awesome. Let me give you an example: Bonjour! Como tally vou? tray bia! Jai compra a poole Francais. Esquoo vou voudrie boiee calcashose avec moi? Shay moi u shay vou. (I swear, half the CD is just date vocab. My place or your place? No wonder people like Paris.) Ou ay al hotel? Esque setti see? Jai veh dijonay mattnow. Jai voudre aussi boiee du le bierre al wheat uuur. Deco? Absulimopa!