Wednesday, May 23

Dear Jim,

Still more San Francisco weather. It was 58° at noon.

On Sunday afternoon I left the apartment at 3:00 pm to go down to the river. I wanted to take advantage of the cool weather.

When I got off the bus, I put my scarf on to walk the eight blocks to the water. Then at the river I stood in the sun for half an hour without getting warm. On the way back I walked all the way, alternating between my scarf and ski cap.

The river wasn’t exciting, but it was good to see it and to see the cottonwoods. The cottonwoods were either at the very beginning or very end of their letting go of their cotton puffs.

When I came to town I’d always see the cotton puffs in Spring, even though they grow mainly along the shores of the two rivers. The flood plain was so big, that in the old days cottonwoods grew along creeks and sloughs a mile from the rivers. There were two great ones, two huge ones, at Sutter’s Fort that they cut down several years after I got here.

Remember you loved the row of poplars below Sis I’s property? They were stately like you were. Cottonwoods are sensuous like I am.

You were devastated when the poplars were cut down. I was pissed off when they removed the cottonwoods at Sutter’s Fort. At least the cottonwoods were very old and in bad shape. It was a crime they cut down your poplars.

There’s another walk I took last weekend to take advantage of the cool weather. I walked to the end of the neighborhood park like I always do, but instead of turning back, I left the park, walked up the overpass over the railroad tracks, then down to City College. As I passed City College there was a sign that said something like This is a smoke free, tobacco free, vaping free campus.

I couldn’t believe it. What horseshit! Someone 19 years old can’t smoke or chew tobacco. The rule probably exists mainly to protect non-smokers from other students’ nasty habit.

But it’s also a preachy paternal rule. We know what’s best for you. We are looking out for you.

It amazes me. This is an example of zero tolerance. Why can’t there be a smoking section on a roof of one of the buildings for Our students who enjoy tobacco and need a nice safe place?

It amazes me even more that students are told that smoking is evil, but if a student gets AIDS from having too much gay sex, or has a baby without having money or a husband, none of the administrators will say a word of criticism.

No administator would ever propose putting a sign on campus that says Having sex with every asshole in town is very dangerous, or Don’t have a baby unless you have the money to support it and a husband to be its’ father.

Once in a while somebody reeks of cigarettes. I get nostalgic and think that that’s what everybody used to smell like.

These last two weeks have been different at work. I have gone to another office while ours is being repainted and recarpeted.

I could have taken the two weeks off, but I didn’t want that much time on my hands. It turned out to be a good decision because between the cool Bay Area weather and the unusually bad allergy season, I haven’t wanted to spend a lot of hours outdoors.

I wanted to go to another office so that I could put mine in better perspective. I’ve had fun in the office, but I wouldn’t want to work there all the time because the lights are almost as bad as the lights in the seventies. I know even more than before how much I don’t like my job and need to get out of it.

One day when I was there a woman who I haven’t seen in several years came in. We used to talk a lot.

She worked for the company you worked for some of the years you were there. I was going to ask her a few years ago if she remembered Jim Vaszko, but since she doesn’t know my last name I decided against it. I feel like I deceived her, but I don’t want her telling everybody what happened.

Today I talked with dad. We are in a slump. He is frustrated because he isn’t free. I am frustrated because my struggle is immense. So our conversations have been awkward.

I didn’t feel like calling him today, but I said don’t be a baby. After we hung up I thought that it isn’t a matter of relieving dad’s loneliness or me not being selfish. It isn’t ”How can you do that to dad?” – not calling him because I don’t know what to say.

It’s a matter of ”How can I do that to us,” not staying in touch with my father and keeping him in touch with me his son? How can I say oh fuck it when he’s all I got and he might not be here tomorrow?

One good thing about this temporary location for work is that I can walk there. It takes seven minutes.

On one of the afternoons coming home I saw the same woman walking her dog who I had seen in the morning. We laughed. I’m surprised she remembered me.

Neat neighborly things like that hardly ever happen. How about this for a sign on campus: Smiling is contagious. Take the risk?

That’s it for now Jim,