Blog, Essays & Art

Keeping in Touch. 02/03/05

Writing letters to my Dad is always so difficult. I never know how he will react to even the blandest, "small talk" type of stuff I write.

I wrote about how Steve is into boats, and that we might take sailing lessons. My Dad writes back saying, "Since you are a fire sign, it might be very incompatible or even dangerous for you to be out on the ocean in a boat like that." I mention making a painting for him, maybe of boats and the lighthouse and some birds along the shore, and he writes back that he doesn't like boats at all, even to look at. He doesn't say, "Thank you for the offer of painting something for me, but boats aren't really my thing, perhaps a mountain sunset scene?" But he is never tactful like that, and I never can guess what he might react very oddly to or be disdainful of.

I try to connect with him, figure out what type of books he reads, what he does in his spare time, what he daydreams about. Direct questions he often ignores. I tell him all about those aspects of my life -- What I'd do if I won the lottery, what sort of books and hobbies are interesting me currently, what Steve and I do on the weekends. I keep hoping that he will respond in turn, and relate how he spent a Saturday recently, or what he's reading or what music he's listening to, or what he plans to do during the next year... but no.

I can't discuss politics with him, because he's far-right on the issues I’m left-leaning and some of his views are downright scary and depressing. I mention history, hiking, star-gazing, photography, philosophy, my career efforts, current world affairs... he does not seem interested in any of this.

So for 8 years now we've been corresponding by mail. Actual visits have happened only twice, and his phobia about speaking on the phone is even stronger than my own. He always expresses his gratitude on receiving my cards and letters, he says they bring sunshine into his life. Which is very odd to me, since he seems so uninterested in 99% of the stuff I write.

I try to talk about music but the few musical tastes we have in common are unpredictable. I'm still trying to figure out what makes him not like Greg Brown but he loves (some) Kenny Rogers songs, (some) Kingston Trio, most Joan Baez but he doesn't like Joni Mitchell. I used to send him mix tapes of what I'd thought was his favorite music but apparently I chose the wrong songs by his favorite artists, so I just give up on the whole music thing.

Art, and any of the aspects of the Graphic Design that I do for a living, is often incomprehensible to him. He wants me to explain the difference between a "scan" and a "print." And according to his last letter he now is under the impression that I do CAD computer-aided drafting?!? Completely unrelated. Wheee, I get to try and write about digital imaging and desktop publishing to someone who is so far removed from modern technology he doesn't own a telephone or TV or and hasn't used a computer since they came with punch-cards. Here we go again.

Ah, well, at least I can write another yet another letter about birdwatching, my brother, food, hmmm... perhaps astrology this time? From the most recent letter he is obviously interested in that.




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