Sunday, August 13

Dear Jim,

It’s early. The sun isn’t up. I feel like sitting outside, but its cold so I’m in the kitchen with the window open.

Last night I didn’t eat much. I feel light. I’m trying to eat less at dinner, but I’m also trying to eat more each day.

I’ve gotten thin. In high school I weighed 173. Twenty – five years ago I weighed 155 -160. Now I weigh 135. Eight more pounds than you weighed all your life.

A lot of people say I’m too thin and look shitty. I think one of the reasons I’ve gotten thin is I’m trying to be like you. I’ve never been able to move on from your death so I cling to you by trying to look like you.

Like dad used to say, “Life is a vale of tears.”

Tuesday is the anniversary of when dad proposed to mom – the Feast of the Assumption. I didn’t know that until dad told me a few years ago. I call him every year to acknowledge it. I won’t be able to this year, so I will call him tomorrow. He appreciates it.

Poor dad. Some men from his retreat group were supposed to visit him on Friday. I called him that day at 4:30 and said, “How’d it go?” He said, “They didn’t come.”

He was really disappointed. I felt sad. He was excited that they were coming. He needed the company.

Dad tried to be stoic. He said something like – things don’t always go as you hope they will. When we hung up he said, “Call me tomorrow.” I said, “I will.”

I didn’t want to. I had to come home to call when I really need to stay out late on Saturdays. I said to myself, “Christ Dave, dad would do it for you. He’d visit you all the time if you were an invalid.”

Today is Sunday the 13th. Thirteen is considered an unlucky number, but somebody said to me that thirteen is a great number – the twelve apostles and Jesus. I thought that was profound. Maybe that’s too New Age for you.

I was attracted to the New Age for a long time because I knew something was very wrong with our society. Astrology, numerology, color, sound, vibration, and the voice spoke to me. They provided me with passion and soul the way blues did before my New Age stage.

But the New Age is mainly about prosperity – getting rich. Nobody in the New Age is saying walk everywhere you go and don’t spend a lot of money. Leaders of the New Age are as evangelical as television preachers, only New Agers don’t have the balls, the common sense, or the vision to believe in God, or the passion to kill or die for what they believe in, or the passion to inspire others to kill or die for their own beliefs.

Our society is dead Jim. I think of the vitality that has gone out of me. I think of how terrified people are of one another. Won’t look at one another.

The other day as I was going through articles I had cut out and poems I had cut out so that I could get rid of the ones that didn’t mean anything anymore. I threw a lot out. Some of them smelled.

There was one I wanted to keep but it was musty. I went online to see if it was there. It was, so I threw it out.

It was about the deadness of our society. I read it in 1998 when my friends were getting rid of old books.I don’t know when it was written, but I guess the guy was 25 when he wrote it.

He approaches our dead society by writing about jail. He says we grow up in cribs and high chairs and car seats. We sit in classrooms, work in offices, travel in cars. All our life we are confined.

He says we are afraid to say what we feel because speaking about what we feel is not socially acceptable. We fear what’s locked up inside us and we fear others because we don’t trust ourselves.

He says that because more and more people are in jail, we are now a prison society and we accept our prison society. He is right. There is no shame or embarrassment about going to jail. People love having security guards and security cameras everywhere because they are afraid.

That’s interesting. Criminals have no fear of going to jail or preying upon people. Law-abiding people are willing to be treated like criminals with cops everywhere and cameras everywhere, but nobody feels safer. I wish people would get courageous and say, “FTS. We are tired of being treated like criminals you are supposed to protect us from.”

But we Americans don’t have the pride or ego to do it. It outrages me when I think that the outstanding quality of Americans isn’t Yankee ingenuity, American know-how, the can do society or, as they used to say about San Francisco, the city that knows how. It’s fear. We are scared shitless.

So am I. I am incredibly stifled. There is no sense of freedom when I walk. Everyone is either afraid or in their little world. Houses have bars or burglar alarms or cameras. There are motion detectors and killer dogs. Businesses have cameras and there are cameras at major intersections.

When I look someone in the eye their eye seldom has a sparkle – usually a glare. If I smile at a woman or a kid, I have to worry about a dirty look or having the cops called on me. I am afraid to look people in the eye. That’s what America has come to .

Well Jim. When I was young I was described as a free spirit. Now I feel like a weirdo.

Pray for me.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Wednesday, July 26

Dear Jim,

It’s been a sluggish day but I got a lot done.

I just finished talking with dad. He tries to be sharp by responding to me with phrases like, “That’s a good idea,” “It’s good you did that,” “You never know how things will turn out.” But after I finish telling him what I did today, he says “Well what’s new?” After I tell him what’s new he asks, “What did you do today?”

He sounds good but he feels defeated. He’s in his walker all day.

He can’t believe “things would turn out this way,” but he says he’s had a good life – “A great wife. Great kids.”

I feel sorry for him. I want to hug him through the phone.

I called him earlier today but he was riding with one of the home’s owners while she ran errands. When I called him again they handed him the phone. I said, “I’ve had a boring day dad, but I hear you had an exciting one.” He laughed.

I was telling him I have new neighbors. Two young ladies moved into the apartment two white trash used to live in. It was nice to hear youthful voices. I wonder how we will perceive each other when our paths cross.

I need to be lighter. I would love to walk in the gate laughing with friends. Walk up the stairs laughing some more, then sit and have a great time eating dinner without the TV on.

A friend of mine called today. She lives with an older family member who always has the TV on. My friend said, “When my ____ dies, I’m going to get rid of the TV.” I calmly said, “I bet you don’t.” She laughed.

Everybody has a TV except me. You didn’t have one either.

I talked with a guy dad’s age who can still walk and is not losing his mind. He referred to the kids walking around staring at their smart phones as zombies. Remember dad called the TV an idiot box? Well, smart phones are even greater idiot boxes. You don’t have to wait until you get home to be an idiot.

The other day I was watching a black and white movie from Mexico made in 1952. It was in Spanish.

I like old movies because there is not a lot of scene changes. The camera holds still for a long time. I am not overwhelmed. Like one woman said, “Movies like that give you time to think about what the movie is about.”

This movie seemed to have very long scenes. Finally I decided to get my watch. The first scene I timed was over a minute. The camera zoomed out, but the scene didn’t change. I was astounded. It wasn’t a great script but it was filmed intelligently.

It’s too bad I don’t like movies. I did when I was young but around 30 I started to become overwhelmed by them. Too bad for me because there have been a lot of great movies. A former friend of mine said I was missing out on a lot. He said there were great movies in the eighties.

When I came to town I was at Sacto’s first coffee shop with a country bumpkin friend of mine and her sophisticated girlfriend and the girlfriend’s sophisticated boyfriend. We were talking about movies.

The woman said her favorite movie was Julia. Her boyfriend said his favorite was The Turning Point.

You liked them both. I did not see either.

When I told the group, “My favorite movie is The Magnificent Seven,” they laughed. It was a great movie. The good guys won, then rode unhappily into the desert.

I hate artists and sophisticated people. Thank you for never laughing at me.

You remember Bonnie and Clyde. I saw it on a Saturday afternoon with a bunch of friends when I was 12. We lusted over Faye Dunaway and were enthralled by the movie.

I don’t remember talking to you about it after I saw it. Anyway, when I was 18 they showed it on TV. All week I couldn’t wait to watch it on Saturday night. Then I started watching it at Sis I’s. I thought, “What bullshit!”

I was very disappointed. I remember wondering how all the dumb ass critics and intellectuals could think such horseshit was great. You agreed with me. You said in your diplomatic way that they were just a couple of punks glorified by Hollywood.

Around 2010 I came across a ‘Great Movie’ book at the library. There was a photograph of Dunaway sitting on the set talking with the idiot director. Dunaway looked like she was 15.

Remember that Catholic paper dad and mom used to receive from the archdiocese every week? We used to laugh when the paper said certain movies should’t be watched because of the sex and violence. The paper was right.

Before I go. We saw The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie together. I didn’t have a clue, but you loved it.

How come we didn’t see something we would both like?

I’m running out of poop Jim.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Monday, July 3

Dear Jim,

I talked with dad this afternoon. He is stifled. He was in love with one of the other residents, but she had to move. He won’t be able to see her again.

It shocked me when he told me. It’s incredible. 95 years old and he is in love.

It hurts to listen to him. He says, “This too will pass.” I told him, “Yeah. But it doesn’t make it hurt less.” He appreciated that.

Hearing dad talk about love makes me embarrassed that I haven’t been in love in so long. It scares me.

There was a woman here a few years ago I liked, but I thought she was married. I always saw a guy her age leave what I always thought was her apartment. When I talked with her a couple of days before she moved, I realized she was single. I said to myself, “Oh no!” She looked at me as if to say, “You dumb shit.”

I tell myself to count my blessings, but that doesn’t make me less lonely. However, it does keep me from complaining. I want to complain less as I get older.

That’s a great thing about dad. He doesn’t complain. I remember when I tried dating through newspapers in 1990. Several of the women had ads that said they didn’t want the strong silent type. I was offended because dad is the strong silent type, and I try to be.

Women think because a man doesn’t say much, he isn’t in touch with his feelings. Dad’s very much in touch with his feelings. He used to tell me, “Always be honest with yourself.” Did he say that to you?

Dad has always counted his blessings. He often talks about how much he loved mom and what a great marriage they had, and how lucky he was to have her.

We were lucky having dad, and seeing the great marriage he and mom had.

I know you agree.

Take care,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko