We're just back from vacation. Friend after friend is talking about taking their daughters to college this weekend. Mine will not be going back for what should have been her senior year. Even if she had gone back, it wouldn't have been her graduating year. She has only taken 12 credit hours per semester for her entire academic tenure (for a grand total of 72) and has only passed half of them. Usually it's a feast-or-famine grade report, 2 A+ grades and 2 failures or incompletes. Which breaks my heart, because this kid is as bright as they come. I just don't know how things manage to go wrong with her every single year. The first year we blamed the plethora of daily bomb threats her university received. The second year we blamed on an unfortunate roommate matchup. Last year, we had nothing, except for dashed high hopes. So after much discussion and heartache we explained that we simply cannot keep throwing $30K a year at an education which is going nowhere. My daughter is staying home when so many are leaving. To her credit, she has found a job, a good one -- one that is still beneath her talents, in my opinion, and below what I think she is capable of contributing to society, but she is not sitting at home with her nose buried in the Internet, and that is a good thing. She has a civil service job, with a pension, and benefits, and the potential for advancement into something truly worthwhile someday, and she earned it entirely on her own. It gives her structure, and a feeling of some successful accomplishment even on the days spent entirely in the file room. So overall, I'm glad for her, but still a little sad sometimes.
My wife is already back at work. As I've noted here before, she's a physician with a specialty in Family Medicine; she's a primary care, first-line-of-defense doctor who does the most work for the least compensation. Even more so because she is a woman. She works entirely too hard. After a 10-12 hour day at her office, she comes home and, once supper is over, enters notes into charts on her laptop until bedtime. Between the new electronic medical records laws and the privacy laws here in our state of Pennsylvania, she must do this work unaided. So while she is working on one side of the sofa, my daughter is on the other side, unwinding after her day by burying her nose in the Internet (see above!) on her own laptop. I'm pretty much alone even when I'm in the same room, and I'm finding that it wears me down considerably. My own depression has been worsening and deepening lately, despite counseling and tweaking of the meds. Whether as a cause of the depression or as a result, my health has been really rotten lately. This despite just getting back from a week's vacation where I essentially did nothing. (See, the opening sentence of the previous paragraph was not a complete non sequitur. You should have trusted that I'd get back to it eventually.)
Last night what should have been an emotional boost instead became something of a letdown. After a chunk of the summer off, the church choir got back together for the first time in a while. It should have been a fun reunion with good friends seen all too seldom in the past weeks. Instead, for the first time our practice was held at our downtown church building, in a mildewed and vaguely smelly room, in a building I loathe, in a neighborhood in which I feel terribly and increasingly unsafe. (On a side note, I used to feel a little better about the neighborhood because I thought we were somewhat shielded by the good our church does. Then this past summer, a neighboring church was horribly vandalized -- its kitchen was damaged by a gang of teenagers, the very kitchen that feeds many in the neighborhood who are unable to find the means to feed themselves. It meant that the whole neighborhood went hungry for a day or two. So much for the veil of protection provided by a church that does good. So much for, if you will, the idea of Sanctuary.) While it was good to see friends, there was much talk of taking daughters to college (again, see above!) and new grandchildren, and other positive things which are not part of my life, nor are they likely to be any time soon. And I was not encouraged by our meeting with the new minister, who does not seem to be the kind of humanist Unitarian I was hoping we'd have. More like a mystical, spiritual maybe-former-hippie person who expresses herself in dance. Still, many in the room seemed to like her very much, and these are people I love deeply, so we'll see how things go.
I'm doing what I can to keep myself afloat, emotionally. As much as I loathe my daily routine sometimes ("It's Friday! Cut the grass as long as it ain't raining!") it gives me the same structure with a small sense of accomplishment that I hope for my daughter. I do think it's what she needs right now.
Me, I'm not so sure about.