Friday, November 3

Dear Jim,

Today is mom´s death day. Like her death was a relief to her from living in a place she hated, today is an end for me of the family strife I am reminded of every October.

Poor mom. I think a lot about her. I broke her and dad´s heart. The sadness in her face will never leave me. Dad was disgusted with me, but there was no pain etched in his face and he never spoke to hurt me.

They had been so proud of me, then became so heartbroken. What happened to our son? How come he did not say anything? We thought everything was going well.

I would have loved to say something, but nobody would have understood. They would have mentioned a thousand horrible options. I would have said what I really need is … and they would have said but the reality is … so that´s why I never said anything.

What I needed were nice offices to work in and nice libraries to read in. I needed good lights in offices to make me feel good. I always felt sick and fought for my sanity in offices with bad lights.

I wonder what jail is like. There is no healthy light to come home to.

When I stopped gardening I wanted to work with people. That meant working in an office. After all my rebellion, I wanted to embrace the world, come out of my shell, get loose. But the fluorescent lights scared me. They made me really tense and I had to fight to stay sane. I was ready to blossom, to glory, to bring my manliness and pride into the world, but the lights defeated me.

You hated them too. That´s one of the reasons you hated your job. I think of how much better you would have sounded when you called on Saturday night if your office had a nice ambiance, if there was a great interplay of light. You wouldn´t have had a monotone.

After I started my current job, I was reviewed. My boss said I talked in a monotone. I was very aware that I did. But I could not help it. I hated the place even though it had a fair amount of windows.

It was nice to be able to see outside. It kept me from cracking. But what I needed was relaxing light and a great sense of light play so it would be exciting to look around.

It was dreadful. I sounded dreadful. I sounded like you on your Saturday calls.

The lights aren´t as bad now as in the 70´s, but they are still horrible. There isn´t the buzz and flicker that there was. The shadows in the office aren´t as dreary as they were. But the lights still overstimulate me. They are like a drug – a fight or flight drug.

I can´t leave the job. I don´t fight so much as succumb to the over stimulation. An architect told me a fluorescent light is ¨like a lightening bolt going into your brain.¨

That´s a great way to look at it. It´s how I feel – zapped.

There is another way to look at it. You know the controversy around football players and concussions? I always feel punchy at the end of my shift. A lot of times my temples hurt during work and at home because of the stress from work. I feel like I have been hit in the head too many times like a football player.

I´ve been saying for years, ¨My brain´s shot.¨ A lot of times it is difficult for me to speak because I am battling the stress from the lights.

I used to argue with a friend about the lights. I said companies are too cheap to put in good lights. I said companies don´t want their employees to feel good. He said companies aren´t trying to make their staff feel bad, the companies just do not want to spend money for good lights. He said it is not a conspiracy by business to make staff feel shitty.

I remember when I worked at a coffee shop. The lights were soothing in the public area, but in the staff area there were fluorescent lights.

I´ve been in government buildings where the lobby and the public auditorium next to it have wonderful soothing light. I could work there all day and never feel stressed, but upstairs where the offices are, the light is horrible like any office.

One time I worked in a restaurant. The fluorescent tube burned out in the kitchen. The boss brought in a lamp from home while he shopped for a new tube. I felt great.

I laughed. I smiled.

When he returned with the new tube, he left without taking his lamp. So we turned off the tube and turned on the lamp. When he got back he was furious. He yanked out the cord and turned on the overhead light. He refused my request to leave the fluorescent light off and the incandescent light on. What a fucking asshole. I´m glad he went out of business.

It´s been a great day. I´ve been sitting outside under the clouds for three hours, but it doesn´t look like it´s going to rain.

It rained the day of mom´s funeral, then it stopped when we went to the graveyard to bury mom on top of you. You loved graveyards, especially the one´s in Europe. I used to love them, but now that time is moving on, I´m not fascinated in one anymore.

Something happened at mom´s funeral. When Sis I spoke about mom at the service, she said that when mom was in boarding school in Berkeley, she used to look across the bay and cry with homesickness. I never knew that. Did you?

I wish I had known. I might have been less rude to mom when I was young, and I would have been nicer to her as I got older. You used to tell me to be nicer to mom.

That´s all for now.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko