Friday, May 11

Dear Jim,

It’s very windy. No sitting outside today.

This weather reminds me of the Spring you were training for your bike trip to Seattle. Remember that? You’d go on long bike rides to get in shape. One Monday when you got back after a hot real windy weekend you said, ”When I got back across the Golden Gate Bridge, I knew I was ready.”

Your bike trip to Seattle and your first trip to Europe were your great adventures. Mine were living in Kansas then riding freight trains across the West. Sis II had her six month trip to Mexico and her year’s trip to Spain.

I need another adventure. Actually, I need two. They would get me out of my rut. One is to publish my writing, either by self-publishing a book or putting my work online. The other is to get great in Spanish.

Spanish is beautiful. It is sensuous. It would be great to get my mouth in shape so beautiful sounds roll off the front of my lips.

I would love to be part of something beautiful. Our times are ugly. Our nation is ugly. We have abused English and made it ugly. I want Spanish to free me, to make me laugh. And to feel proud that I have accomplished something great.

Publishing my writing would free me in a different way. I would be letting go of everything I’ve saved for twenty years trying to figure out what to do with it. I would be releasing a burden and be able to move on to who knows what in my writing and who knows what in my life, especially if I approach publishing in as businesslike a way as is possible for someone who hates money and commerce.

If I become as good in Spanish as Sis II, and make money from it, or if I make a lot of money from my writing, I would be free socially. I would strut. Be gregarious. I would no longer be one of the countless defeated American men. It’s scary how many of us there are.

The other night a female campaign worker for the woman who is running for city council called me. I told her I wasn’t voting for the incumbent. I said it would be nice if she knocked on my door like the incumbent did. Then I asked – what does the candidate think about rent control? The caller didn’t know.

I said that there are a lot of apartments on my street. She could get the vote of all these renters if she came by and said she was for rent control. The caller said that the candidate is running out of her home and has no paid staff. So she won’t be stopping by.

Today in the mail I received her glossy 8 x 11 inch flyer on thick paper. What a disappointment. She’s got the money for fancy campaign stuff, but she doesn’t have the time to knock on people’s doors.

I don’t think she realizes how badly a lot of people want to get rid of the incumbent. She could make the race exciting if she knocked on people’s doors. I might even campaign for her.

God I would laugh if she won. I would feel the victory is mine because I hate the incumbent so much.

I think the reason I just told you about my goals and how they would free me is because I’ve been reading about my personal problems. On Monday I stopped by the new thrift store where the old co-op was. I wanted to get shirts. So I bought two nice ones for $11.00.

After I tried them on I went to the very orderly book section. I wanted to browse the self-help section because there was something stirring inside.

I took five books off the shelf. The two I kept were a book on insomnia from I think the seventies. It really stank. And a book from 1998 about recovering from grief by completing the grieving process rather than trying to get over your grief or trying to put closure on the death or loss.

There were only 30 pages of the insomnia book that I wanted to read. When I was at the cashier I said to the woman about 50 that ”I love to be in this store. It makes me feel good.” She smiled and said ”That’s nice.” I think I amused her, especially wearing my Jungle Jim hat. Then I asked, ”Is there a garbage can outside?” She said yes.

So I went outside. Put my crap down. Took out the stinky old book. Tore out the 30 pages I wanted, then dropped the book in the can.

For two days I read as much of the books as I could. It was scary. The insomnia book told me I’m not sleeping well because I ‘m not living the life I want to live. I am not in control of my life. That is true.

I haven’t felt in control of my life for almost thirty years. That’s a long time to not sleep well. It was good for me to think about what went wrong and why I have not been able to correct it.

The grief book said that one doesn’t only grieve over a death or a divorce. One can grieve for anything – a loss of a job, a loss of health, a loss of happiness.

I had not been thinking in terms of grief, but I have been grieving a lot about you, how the family isn’t close, how much I hate my job and don’t know what to do, how much I hate the times we live in because everybody is afraid. I am so pissed off because I do not know what to do to resolve my pain, my grief.

I think everybody’s life is about grief. You and I have had a lot. Mine is mainly from not fitting in and not having a place in the world.

You’ve had more events that brought you grief: leaving the seminary because you felt you were not cut out to be a priest; attending a high school you hated because of its’ focus on sports and drinking, and because the literature you read there was not as challenging or inspiring as what you read at the seminary; succeeding academically at college but hating the drugs and the hippies; leaving Seattle because of strife at work; working at a well-paid soul killing career in San Francisco; never getting over the woman in your building who broke your heart; aching because there was no mystical Church to return to; buying the house in that shitty neighborhood when you could have bought a house in Mill Valley in the seventies.

You had a more difficult life than I have. You should have told people to fuck off more.

Remember the time we were sitting near the Rhododendron Dell? We were whining. You more than I. You said, ”You’ve handled your hard times socially better than I have. You’ve gotten involved in things.”

That was true, but I think my profanity helps me be less unhappy than you. There’s something gratifying about saying ”They’re a dumb bunch of bastards,” or ”Go fuck yourself asshole. I’ll kick your ass.”

Except for my profanity, I’m not a man of the times. I was saying fuck in every sentence before the rappers said it, the college girls said it, and the shock jocks said it.

I was a pioneer. But like a true pioneer, the people after me made all the money. I wonder if mom and dad would have been proud of me if I had made money from my foul mouth?

It’s good to face my problems. My biggest regret is having broke mom’s and dad’s heart. That means more to me than the times I’ve been fucked.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, October 6

Dear Jim,

It´s a gorgeous late afternoon in Sacto. I´m at my favorite coffee shop. I´m surprised it isn´t crowded.

This afternoon I talked with dad. He sounded strong but he wasn´t animated. It must be horrible living in a rest home.

Today´s the first of our four October birthdays. Too bad there is so much family strife. It
breaks dad´s heart. He wants there to be a reconciliation before he dies, but I told him it isn´t going to happen. I did not mention the birthday to him.

Poor dad. Mom too. Everything they dreamed about when they were young, and the close family they thought they were building when we were young, has been destroyed.

Sis II and I were talking about the family strife last year. She wondered whether there would have been less if you had not died. Then she said no, you would have taken the other side.

You would have tried though. You would have tried to keep dad and mom from being heartbroken. The three of us have tremendous respect for dad and mom. You revered them.

Mom and dad lived their religious beliefs. But it´s more than that. They had incredible love for each other. They showed us how to be in a relationship, how to treat a woman and a man.

You realized they were living their love of God and practicing their faith in God. Their faith was not bullshit. They weren´t looking for something to do by being active in the parish. They did not go to Mass for psychological healing but for spiritual healing. Your love of God, religion, The Church, and your trust in authority figures made you realize how beautiful they were.

One of the reasons I never married is because I knew I could not have a marriage like theirs. It´s something you and I would have had to talk about as I got into my forties. I didn´t want kids. Did you?

The thing I really like about my job is all the kids. They crack me up. I usually try to engage them. As women say, ¨They´re so cuuuute!¨

If I retire I will miss them. They keep me from being an old fart. It´s too bad I didn´t want kids. They are the greatest joy, especially if you are madly in love with your wife.

Luck has a lot to do with life. Dad and mom felt blessed with each other, with you, the girls, and me.

I think that´s why you revered them. They were blessed. They blessed us with their love.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko