Sunday, April 15

Dear Jim,

There’s sure been a lot of wind lately. I’ve been inside all day. At least it’s nice not to wear shoes.

Last night my neighbor and I went to dinner. We hadn’t been in at least two weeks.

Instead of going to the Chinese place like we used to, we went to a Mexican place over where I lived for eleven years. It was the first time in the thirty-eight years that I’ve lived here that I went. I used to pass it all the time no matter where I lived.

I liked the food and I enjoyed the company of my friend, but I did not like being in my old neighborhood. Living there was the most unhappy period of my life. It aged me.

My friend was telling me how much he loves the houses in that neighborhood. They are beautiful – built in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s with a ton of trees on the street. He hopes he wins the lottery so he can buy one. I hope so too. I wonder if I’d see him again.

Remember your house? I didn’t like it or your neighborhood. I know you didn’t like your neighborhood. Did you like the house? I loved my house but didn’t like the neighborhood. Too suburban.

The important thing for me isn’t whether I live in a house or an apartment, but whether or not there is a lot of light, a lot of windows, especially on the south. I’m becoming more and more light deprived. Part of it is fluorescent lights, but an increasing part is that aging eyes receive 40% less light than the eyes of a young person.

I’m going to get a new tablet before winter. It will not have bad lighting built in like the one I have now. I’m also going to get a tall lamp with healthy bulbs.

One of the things I read is that you need healthy light coming down on you like the sun, not up to you like a desk lamp. And I don’t know if you can do this in an apartment, but there are tubes that can be hooked up to a device outside that will bring natural light over your work area.

I’m supposed to go to the eye doctor this month, but I’m thinking of changing doctors. I love the office though. It feels great to be in.

You know how the media talks about how depressed old people are in rest homes? One of the reasons is the fluorescent lights. Another is the bad light from all the TV’s and the third is the inability of old eyes to absorb natural light like they used to.

A long time ago I looked up lighting in rest homes. There was a guy who designed rest homes so that the rooms receive a lot of natural light and, I assume, use light bulbs that make rooms feel good to be in.

I will not be able to afford to live in such a place. I won’t be able to afford to live in even a gloomy rest home. If I did live in one of those lousy places with fluorescent lights and TV’s on all day, I would lose my mind. Remember the movie about the insane asylum where at the end the Indian breaks the window to escape from the place? That’s what I think I would do in a rest home.

I remember one time that you said ”Television is the killer of the soul.” I say television is a weapon parents and the staff in rest homes use to kill the souls of children and old people.

If I won the lottery like my neighbor hopes he does, I wouldn’t buy a house. I would make arrangements to move into one of those well-lit rest homes as soon as I turned sixty-five or seventy, whatever age I thought I would begin to need assistance. It would be great to be an old man in a place that feels good to be in, basking in the peaceful glow of natural light, listening to birds instead of television.

What we do to old people is horrible. What we’ve done to dad is terrible. Dad is defeated.

I feel defeated too. I have to force myself to pray. That’s scary.

I’ve heard on religious radio stations that faith is something you sometimes have to work at. Sometimes you have to ask God to keep you in faith. You have to keep praying even when you’ve lost your faith because eventually you will regain it.

I think dad has lost a lot of his faith. He hardly prays. What means the world to him I think is when we hang up he says, ”Be careful. I love you. God bless you.” He may have lost hope for himself, but he hopes everything works out for me.

Sometimes when I don’t feel like saying a prayer for dad, I’ll ask God to let him right into heaven when he dies. He just can’t believe what’s happened to himself.

There’s that priest from Miami I think I told you about. He has a radio show for two hours every night. At the end of the show, after he’s done listening to the troubles of some people and bantering with others, it’s prayer time.

A listener will call. The priest says, ”Por su doloroso pasión.” The caller says, ”Ten misericordia de nosotros y el mundo entero.”

They say it ten times. What reverence and humbleness. Do you think it’s beautiful? It reminds me of dad.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko


Dear Jim,

I´m sitting at the Sacramento River listening to the freeway and watching the water. It´s overcast but not cold, so I will be able to stay out for at least three hours.

Every time I come down to watch the water there are slobs. It´s creepy. Between the homeless, the freeway, the ugly skyline behind me and just plain rude people, it usually is not enjoyable.

But once in a while I need to see the river, especially on cloudy days like today and when the river is high in winter. I like to watch logs float down after the rain. One time there were birds standing on a log pecking at it as it floated.

When I got here today there were two slobs with their pit bull sitting where I wanted to sit. I walked until I saw a nice spot to lean on the rail to watch the water.

Just as I got comfortable putting on my ski cap and head phones, three 20 year olds passed on their bicycles. As they rode by, one of the guys patted me on my (a woman just rode by with her husband and yelled, ¨Happy Thanksgiving!¨ I turned. We waved as we looked at each other. I said, ¨Happy Thanksgiving!¨ She made me feel good) butt where my wallet was. He said something that ended in ´ay´. I don´t know if he was saying have a nice day or perceived me to be gay.

My first thought was ¨That asshole.¨ My second thought was ¨My wallet!¨, but it was there. Then I took it out to put in my front pocket. The nerve of the bastard.

I don´t know what I would have done if they wanted to beat me up or hassle me for money. I tell myself to be careful. I say stay calm and breath deep. But something like that! If they had stopped I would not have known what to do, even if I had been breathing deep.

Something like this happened on light rail four years ago. I was sitting in an aisle seat wearing my sun hat when a black kid tapped my brim – he flicked his fingers up from underneath it. I almost got up to punch him, but the light rail company probably would have blamed me.

I´ve been gone from home an hour forty-five minutes and I still do not have to pee. I was peeing all day Tuesday and yesterday.

You know the song Yesterday by The Beatles? 3,000 singers recorded it. That´s amazing.

I´ve been reading a lot. I´m still reading biographies for children in Spanish. Tuesday I read about The Beatles. Yesterday I read about Neil Armstrong – the guy who walked on the moon.

It´s good for me to read about people whose field does not interest me – Walt Disney, Einstein, Steve Jobs, Neil Armstrong. It makes me face the fact that I hate these times while they thrived on them.

Jobs, Armstrong, Disney help me put my youth in perspective. I will never like movies, but I wish something could have happened in the eighties to get me interested in computers. How much more confident and happy I would be. How much more money I would have.

When I read about Armstrong, I was fascinated by the simple diagrams of the trip to the moon. They showed the orbits and the separation of the different parts of the rocket and the rejoining of them for the return to earth. When they got to the moon Armstrong had to use his training to search for a place to land because where they expected to land was not flat.

What do you think of this? Armstrong had a speech prepared to deliver to us when he landed on the moon. He was going to say, ¨A small step for a man, but a giant leap for all mankind.¨ However, his words got garbled and what was recorded was, ¨A small step for man, a giant leap for all mankind.¨

Reading about Armstrong got me interested in flying, so I ordered a short adult book about the Wright Brothers.

My butt´s getting sore. I´ll write you when I get to another spot.

My Coffee Shop

I walked most of the way from the river to here. Boy is Sacramento eerie. It´s one thing to have weird people at the river or in parks, but it´s another to have so many one and two story ugly piece of shit concrete office buildings across from a row of beautiful old houses, and then another thing to have a ton of sterile new condos and apartments that nobody who is already here can afford.

Downtown, Midtown – it is stifling, soul-killing, phony. Remember the saying Are we having fun yet? Well, Sacramento is trying desperately to be a big city and a cultural center. Are we world class yet? Do we have soul now?

Even with all our trees we are nothing. A movie came out about the time you died – Edward Scissorhands. At the beginning was a panorama of an unbelievably sterile suburb with unreal trees. It terrified me. That´s how I feel about Sacramento. It´s unbelievably sterile.

I´m terrified of being old here. The beautiful trees in this ugly town make my bitterness worse. What happened to America?

I was reading a travel book about Russia. There was a lot of history in it. One of the things the book said was that Russia looks upon itself as female – Mother Russia.

That got me thinking about America. I can´t imagine referring to America as the motherland or the fatherland. There is no deep unfathomable American soul that I want to go down to the river on a sultry night to revel in as the water of my ancestors passes.

Wouldn´t it be nice if America had a connection to the earth and a connection to the great beyond?

We´re nothin´.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko