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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Car Crash

Here is another letter to Cassi. I’m spending a good amount of my time reminiscing over bad times. Hell, at least I remember who I am.

31st May 2011


Dear Cassi,

In the way of getting through my files I came across a document from my second employment as a Security Guard. It was the very first written assignment they had placed me on with a company that sold its assets the following year and now is no more.

I remember that day well because I was in a car accident that day. They had promised me a post 27 miles from my home but promises are just words. They had said I’d spend a few weeks working at a sporting goods factory first, and that was a drive of about 60 miles.

When I complained the woman at the front desk had told me “You need to go where I need you” my needs never crossed her mind. Sadly, they had me and they knew it. I needed a job back then bad enough to have to put up with their flack.

I went straight from the office to train at the sporting goods factory. I had some trouble finding the place, and I tried to pull a U turn when I got hit from behind. Hit and run, the driver never stopped. The impact spun me around and slammed my face into the door post of my car. I had a cut on my right cheek and I was stunned.

The Guard who was to train me came running out and told me he had called the police. I stood waiting for a few minutes and the guard came back out. He wanted me to start training. “Sometimes the police don’t get here for half an hour,” he said but I insisted I had to stay with my car. “Sometimes they don’t come at all,” he said, but I wouldn’t budge. He left me standing there again. I didn’t want to train at that place to begin with.

In a few more minutes he came out again, and gave me his cell and said the office was on the line. It was the first time I used a hands free. They told me that I’d be going to the other post, the one that they had promised me at the beginning.

It appeared as if they had come to the idea that this could be their fault, and they didn’t want me to hold a grudge. My car wasn’t that bad off anyway, but I’d take the better post.

When the policeman finally got there he was pissed that He had to make a report. It was a felony because of the cut on my face he said. I was just happy to be going home.

I had medical for a few more days under my father and I got checked out. To add insult to injury my father didn’t even call me to see if I was okay.

I was about to turn 22 and I was still on the family car insurance. That all ended when they told me that I would lose my uninsured motorist coverage.

There was good and bad that day, but I got what I needed to make it through another day. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Stay safe,


Richard


Friday, May 27, 2011

May the Schwartz be with You


This was one of my dumber ideas, and I’m not surprised I didn’t get word back. The big thing I recall about this letter is that I mentioned it to a, hmmm, poor excuse for a human being who called himself my friend.

His reply is forever cut into my mind: “I don’t think you should … do it. I mean, you don’t really look like him.” This after no less than two people in one week told me that I reminded them of John Candy.


17th March 2007
Dear Mr. Brooks

Something happen the other day that made me think of you. I was sitting in the hallway at (a state college) when a girl turned to me and said, “You could play Barf.”

Thinking I had misheard her I said, “what?”

“You know, Barf, didn’t you ever watch SpaceBalls?”

I heard on the radio that you were thinking of making another SpaceBalls movie and I thought. “Well, send the man a letter, you have a better chance of getting a screen test then winning the Lottery and the Lottery ticket will cost more.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been compared to John Candy. Shortly after my mother’s passing I spent weekends with Dian, the executor of my mother’s estate, and her son Phil, this would make me ten or eleven. Almost immediately Phil’s friends adopted an unusual nickname for me. “Uncle Buck” They may have meant it as an insult, but I always took it as a compliment. I loved John’s work. I don’t know if I could play him but let me give you some reasons why you should give me a try.

1. I’m a nobody, we work cheap. 

2. People think I look like John Candy and that is very funny.

 3. I have experience and training as a stage actor.

4. I don’t have an agent for you to wrestle with.

At this point you may be saying, “Do I really want to make another SpaceBalls movie? Do I want Barf to be in that movie?”

First let me say, “of course you want to make another Space Balls movie! You knew that before you finished the first one!” Let’s talk about Barf. What’s your alternative? We’ll call him Can-Can Blinks. Cans are like jars right? He comes out in his long-eared, pastel skinned, stupid accented, annoying ness, the audience is visibly repulsed. A big fish eats him, we all cheer; enter Barf for a standing ovation. 

Okay, so I’m not all that funny, but it never hurts to ask right?


May the Schwartz be with you,


Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quit Screwing Around


Yet another letter I found in the bowels of my computer sent by email and never received a response.

Is this more evidence that a student is only a means to more funding or some dumbass kid expecting special treatment?

Given that at the time a degree would cost twenty thousand dollars at the school I feel I was paying for an answer.
27th January 2007

Dear (Department Chair for the Theatre Arts Department),

One of your staff told me to e-mail you because I’m focusing on lighting and sound. I have to say that my welcome as a transfer student who has a full time job has been less then warm and the teachers feel I should be chasing dreams.

The man I took play writing from has a MFA in writing and makes his living as a lighting designer. When I told him that I intended to study sound he was unhappy that I would not follow play writing, but told me that he whished that he had dun the same. He noted that he had many job offers for sound but was unqualified to take them and he really could have used the money. MFA and having trouble supporting himself. It proves that going into debt to get your education is no longer a good idea.
   
I don’t know, are the grants I should be looking at? It seems all the transfer students were told that they can’t succeed at (This state college) and have work detracting from their studies. As true as that may be we all need to pay our bills, and student loans defeat the purpose of going to college in the first place.

The slogan for theatre at (junior college) was “Come Out and Play”.  My slogan is “quit screwing around.”


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Man With His Foot Pointed the Wrong Way


Here is another letter to Cassi for who this blog has been named. I’m sending it through the real mail so it will be up on the blog before she gets it, but she always told me she prefers paper letters anyway.
22nd May 2011
Dear Cassi,

A few weeks ago I walked out of class to see a man on his back with his foot pointed the wrong way. There were already two other students at the man’s side helping him, but you know it’s never been my inclination to walk away.

I approached the situation with little a thought and could see that the man had dislocated his ankle. No bones or jagged bits protruding. We waved over the parking authority and asked him to call in a medical Emergency.

The afflicted man was in shock, and the pain of the ordeal had yet to fall on him. As we waited for help he told us that he had been on his skateboard before his wheel had caught on a planter, and he had taken a tumble. He knew he shouldn’t have been riding in that part of the campus, but he had done so just the same.

Then the police arrived. It was a campus police woman who looked to be in her mid forties. I took most note of the yellow Taser she had in her belt. Funny that it was so brightly colored, but I suppose it would be catastrophic if they mistook it for a firearm.

The police woman looked at the wounded man then took to her radio to call for help. I admit he was stabile and his life was in only moderate danger. However, it comes to me that when you see a man with his foot pointed in the wrong direction that he’s not going anywhere without some form of medical aid.

As the ambulance approached the wounded man began to feel the pain of his injury. Twice he asked the police woman if help could come any faster, and twice we told him all that could be done had.  

It was a relief when the fire truck came and the other two students left to get to class, but I staid having no better place to be. As the medical folk worked I took it on myself to look after the wounded man’s breathing. Keeping him from hyperventilating was all I could do for him.

Fear of the most mundane things gripped him for a bit as he worried on how he would drive for the rest of the semester. I told him to focus on deep low breaths and just think about getting through the next moments.  When they got out the stretchers the firemen asked me to help get him onto it, and as they took him away he called out thanking me. The police woman thanked me and so did campus security. Words for actions are a poor pay, but nothing asked and nothing gained.

Stay safe,


Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dear Theatre Instructor at (State College),


This is a letter I sent to my theater teachers by email. It’s not the most telling of letters, but If I want to put these out on a regular basis I can’t be that picky.

5th January 2007

Dear Theatre Instructor at (State College),

My name is Richard Neal and if you are receiving this E-mail I’m trying to add your class. I’m a transfer student from (a junior college) and if you have any questions about me you might want to ask (the set construction teacher) who has been a teacher there for years and knows me reasonably well. I’ve taken theatre craft, Stagecraft, makeup, costuming and scene painting at (the junior college). I have written two full-length plays and I will be attending (the state college) for Lighting and Sound.

Q: You slacker, why didn’t you just add my class when everyone else did?

A: Good question! There was a small error with my registration, and the admissions department couldn’t remember If I had holds or not. It should be all cleared up now, and everything should be in order.

Q: So, what do you need from me?

A: I’m glad you asked. It would be nice if you could tell me what chance I stand of getting in your class. If the answer is ‘slim to none’ I need to plan accordingly, and if the answer is “yes” then any thing you can tell me about your class would be helpful. If you would like me to see you before the first class meeting E-mail me back with the hours you will be available.

Here comes the part you’re not going to like. I work full time and often have to work over time. This is not the end of the world for my education plans. I wrote my first two plays at work, but the time I have to study depends on freight volumes.

From what I understand a healthy human should go over information seven times to know it for the rest of their life. Seven times, a tall order even for a student without work to worry about. That is why I’m contacting you early. I know what I’m up against, and it is ugly.

I do realize that some of my teachers will have no sympathy for a man in my position. That point was made painfully clear in the fall of two-thousand and six at (the junior college) when I limped into a class room getting glares of annoyance rather than concern from my instructors. That is what the real world is like “We have a competitive program here,” (the supervisor of undergraduate studies) said to me, “But the world is competitive.” So, I’m not expecting all my teachers to reply, but let me thank you in advance if you do.

Reply from the supervisor of undergraduate strides who taught “Art of The Theatre.” You will not that I reference talking to him in the letter

If you are a transfer from a jc, why haven't you been in to see me, so I can decide which of your classes will transfer. As undergraduate coordinator, I make all of those decisions. After that, we can talk about 200.

My reply to him on the 7th

I checked my transcripts today on line, and it said that I had 70 transferred units. Do you need a copy of my transcripts after I took scene painting? It doesn't look like I have any room left for more units but that is a question only you can answer. Also, what do I need to show people when I talk to a counselor about my Gen ed? Will they have everything or do I need copies of my transcripts from FJC and Rio?

Thanks for your help

His reply the same day.

Units may transfer to the university that do not transfer to our dept. If they transferred 70, I am assuming most of them are Gen Ed.

Reply from drafting teacher

Hello,

Come to my first class. I will try my best to fit you in but I won't know till I see who really shows up. Few might drop the class when they find out how much work this class requires.



Friday, May 20, 2011

On Resolutions

This isn’t a letter but it fit the right category in terms of what it is so think of it as a letter to myself. I don’t think I met any of my relations, but maybe whoever reads this might be bettered by it.

4th December 2006
On resolutions

So I have to ask a question: Why resolutions at the start of a new year? As today I complete my twenty-seventh year of life it occurred to me that I should set goals for the upcoming year. I could hold over another twenty-seven days until the New Year but why would I make such a distinction.

When my old car finally died I made a resolution not to go through fast food places with the next car. No ordering from the driver’s seat. No more leaving piles of trash in my car. It’s working out vary well. I’ve lost ten pounds.

So, as I set my car resolutions for when I got another car, I set my Richard resolutions for the start of another year of my life.

Okay so hear goes:

Resolution 1: No paper money at the snack machines. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be using them at all, but let’s be reasonable here. I’m at work, I can’t leave, so that’s one way of reducing the amount I spend. Given that the main source of my coin money came from fast food purchases and I now eat less fast food this should work marvelously. Not to forget that the second major source of coinage comes from using paper money at the snack machines.

Resolution 2: By my next birthday all equipment must be ready to use or cataloged and stored. Right now I have at least five printers and four computers that I either need to do something with or trash. I have piles of tools that I can’t get to when I need them and any number of other devices that just haven’t been hooked up.   

Resolution 3: No more loose paper work. File it or toss it. This is not to say that I will get rid of the piles and piles of bill stubs and other records, but the point is that I should generate no more piles of them.

Okay, so that’s it I have one year to accomplish these three things. I’m making the generality that resolutions should come when appropriate. When you set goals for school then set them at the start of a new semester. Set goals for a car when you buy it or smog it or what ever. Don’t weight for the New Year unless that has some reason to it.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cinnamon and Mustered


Finally an actual letter to Cassi! Not that anyone is going to read it.

17th of May 2011
Dear Cassi,

It’s been a bit since my last letter. Life has been … well, I can’t put it to words. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting my affairs in order like a man on his death bed and no matter how hard I work at it I don’t make much headway.

The pieces of my life are scattered about like jigsaw puzzle bits. Some are lost and some are broken, but I can tell there was once a whole. If only I could stalk the furnace of my being with the bits that will burn, and through so doing find the locomotion to get myself to some peace.

Something has been buzzing about in my brain for some time that feels relevant. I think it happen when I was three. I was making cinnamon toast, but I couldn’t read the spice boxes and couldn’t tell which was cinnamon.

I asked my brother and that had to be a bad idea because he gave me mustered.

“No, I don’t think that’s it,” I said and put the tin back. I couldn’t read but the stuff was the wrong color.

He waved his hand around in the cabinet and pulled the mustered out again. When I refused to put it on my toast this time he explained to me that he had made the mistake of putting mustered on his toast.

He felt that because he had a bad experience that I had to have that problem as well. I think that’s one of the things that I had to go through for a good amount of my life. People dump on others because they got dumped on. I comes to me that for some I should feel sorry and for some I should feel hate.

The truth is I think even I have taken my pain out on other people once or twice, normally by trolling on the internet, and I know I should never do that again.

I’m just rambling,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Poorly College Professors Act in the Modern Day



I recall sending this as an email to the department chair of the Theatre Arts department of my college and getting no reply. Complaints were met by deaf ears. Oh well, I said what I wanted to say.

I gave them the option to address things, and they refused proving that quality of education is not a priority.


7th April 2007

All right, I’m upset over the things that have happened to me this semester both in an out of school. I feel that if I don’t say something I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life. I now feel that I understand why I was not encouraged to come to (your college) for my degree.

There are a number of small problems that added up to a major pain: The people working in the scene lab behaved poorly, I don’t feel (the supervisor of undergraduate studies’) emotional problems are given the attention they need, and this business with giving freshmen their classes without option sounds like a bad joke.

At  (the junior college) they sat me down and explained to me that Theatre-Professional is more of an oxymoron then “feather of led, bright smoke, cold fire,”.  I didn’t expect teachers to take half an hour out of class time to explain to their students that it has been “scientifically proven” that we are the most “selfish generation in human history,” but I don’t expect apologies to be made or punishments given.

Yet, these things are mere annoyances to an issue I simply must voice. I will not be lectured in dedication by a teacher that has so little pride in their work as (the new drafting professor).  I will not take any classes with this teacher even if it will means changing the date of my graduation. I have composed a list of my reasons, but I don’t even require you to read it. As I said, I’m upset, I need to speak my peace, but you do not need to listen.

I’m sending you this mail so that I can sleep better not because I want to get people into trouble. After I send this I will consider the subject closed knowing that I have done everything in my power to better my department and preserve the quality of education for my fellow students. If you delete this mail without ever reading further I will not press the issue.

My complaints are as such:
The teacher

* Arrived habitually late to class.

* Made excuses for lateness.
“I have three full time jobs: my children, my work, and this.” Excuses are like bottoms, we all have them, and they all stink.   

* Failed to prepare class syllabus.
 Was surprised by some of the listed class materials.

* Failed to complete materials list.

* Attempted to teach materials best left to other classes.
In 279: Vector Works was to be taught at the end of the semester. That is a different class.

* Was unfamiliar with tools used in class.
            Complained about having to use T-square.

* Failed to plan lessons in advance.

* Laughed at students when they made mistakes.
“Look everyone, Ha, Ha, Ha, she just cut out the same shape over and over again and thought that it would magically fill in.” If you feel that this is appropriate conduct for a teacher I’m not willing to argue the point. You have more experience than I.

* Instructed grad student to look over student work.
            This led to mutually exclusive instruction.

* Left class after fifteen minutes of lecture.

* Left class unattended with out faculty member present. 
“I’m going home! You have to stay here!” Note that the classroom had a video camera and computer projector.  

I’m open to the idea that I’m being overly critical and we should never do anything when upset. However, stood I in your shoes, I would think very hard on how this teacher’s job may be saved. I don’t believe in punishing people for their misunderstandings only for willful misconduct. I have never encountered behavior like this in a teacher. I’m shocked and worried by the things I have seen.


Friday, May 6, 2011

ALD and other stuff


This is a letter sent by email to the department chair of the Theatre Arts department of my college. I recall that I received no reply. My success was never a goal of that department. They felt that the thousands of dollars I was paying wasn't reason enough for me to be looked after.

They were still willing to take my money, but at no point did they say that I didn’t belong or wasn’t good enough. The opportunities to practice my art simply never came my way.

By the time I dropped the Theatre major I had a good number of reasons to do so. I was angry and felt cheated. When I tried to talk to people within the department they treated me as if I was worthless and refused to hear a word I said.

You tell me, was it right for a state funded school to ignore this letter?


12th of May 2008
Subject: ALD and other stuff

Dear (Department Chair),

At this point, I’m not opposed to doing anything light related. I have two years left at (State College), but as I will be taking advanced sound next spring my last year will likely have more to do with that side of design.

I’m still shaky on the Vector Works stuff, but I’m improving.

I have presently planned a 15 unit semester involving three days a week without (2 unit lab class) so I can take two sections of it, but I only need one more to put towards my degree. I’m always angry when there are units that I’m paying for and not taking, but the situation is what it is.

I’d also like to know who I should talk to about what the department is looking for in terms of plays. Like I said, one of my full-length plays is a 25 character monster and might suit the needs of the department once I clean it a bit. I had planned to write three full-length pieces of theatre in playwriting last semester and only failed to do so because I was refused in-class readings. I did turn in more than one hundred pages of never before viewed work. I know I can write to the needs of the department. I can’t promise that the plays will be good, and I know the likelihood of the school putting them on is still very small, but if I don’t try then I have no one to blame but myself.

“Nothing left but trying cept’in lying down and dying” Charles Dickens 





Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Letter to a Soldier Stationed in Iraq



Well, here is a nuts and bolts account of my life back in 2007. Still, it’s not a letter to Cassi, but for the majority of May I’ll be looking up old files and posting them as I find them. As is plain, I do a good amount of editing these things. I have to admit, you’d never guess that the man I wrote this to was an abusive and insensitive husband, and later, nearly as bad of a friend.



21st of May 2007

Dear (soldier I know),

It’s been a little over a week from the last time I wrote you. There haven’t been any earth-shaking changes over here, but then are there ever? My boss told me that I couldn’t take the refrigerator from my last post to my new post so I set it up in my bedroom by the TV. Mostly I just keep the drinks I take to work in it, but it’s useful in that regard. I plugged the cable box back in and generally rearranged my entertainment center. That basically means that I can dry my boots on the cable box again, but at least I get dry boots out of the deal instead of crap gathering dust.

My computer was overheating every time I played Command & Conquer three, so I put a fan on it blowing air across the front vents. It cleared that up completely. The eventual plan is to have a three fan air system, one across the face, one behind the computer blowing air up and away from the computer, and one blowing air across the monitor’s vents. This should keep the computer room temperature.       

I’m settling into my new post nicely. It sucks and that is never going to change, but I have begun going to the gym after work. The first time I messed myself up reasonably. It felt like someone had put led in my legs for three days afterwords. Then I drank one of those (energy drinks), the orange one, and I felt better in less than an hour. I don’t know what it is they put in those things that gave me those results, but I can tell you I’ll be getting more of them. They come in three flavors and keep me going something fierce, especially on those hard days at the start of my week. We both know going to the gym will never do much for me, but at least I try.

Anyway, (Your wife) told me that you only get one day off every two weeks and what happened to your laptop has to suck for communication. I never got the whole story on that, fool, so you better tell me about it sometime.

It came to me that if I want to communicate we should do it the old way so I’m printing you out some envelopes and such and sending some stamps. I’m going to print ten envelopes with my address on them all ready for you and send ten more with nothing on them. I’m going to include a sheet of stamps and a copy of my latest one act. Use your head: write me letters on the back of the pages. A standard stamp can accommodate two ounces. I don’t know how many sheets that is, but it’s not bad. Not to mention I’m swimming in envelopes that I bought when the bloetoezzor was still in school.

I think you should spend the majority of your internet time with your wife, she needs you more, and your family so they don’t say your wife stole you from them. I think they felt the same way about me for some time there you know.

I also figured that you would have time to write letters more often than an e-mail, and this way it won’t cost you anything. Let’s face it, old friend, if we need to keep in touch that this is the best way.

The (Family of friends) might want to hear from you so I’ll bring your letters over to them. It will give me and excuse to say hello every now and again.

If you need to show me a larger file or need to back something up I’ll send you a USB drive. I have four of them and can afford to lose one, and I think they are light enough for standard postage.  

Anyway, man, let me know if there is anything I can do for you to make life easier.

Your friend,



Monday, May 2, 2011

Honesty is a Fool’s Fame

This is a letter that never got mailed and still would have had the same effect of losing me my job. Honesty is a fool’s fame, and this was straight from the heart.

I had honestly thought better of sending this letter and forgotten about it until I was asked to stay home one day so I didn’t get over time.

I was still a fool for saying anything about my feelings for the new guard company. It’s true that if they had listened they would have saved money in the long run. They cut their nose off to spite their face and so did I.

22nd of April, 2007
         
Mr. (Security Director),

I’m the security officer you met at (a truck terminal) last Monday. I noted in the new post orders procedures that bring security personnel into harm’s way. Moreover, the hiring standards of this new security company are unacceptable. They do not require a high school diploma.  

Had you stood in that guard house and spat in my face you would not have insulted me as much as you have by believing officers of such poor quality can do my job. These officers cost (the shipping company) hundred a day in driver overtime. That will rise to thousands when freight volumes increase.

Over the last two and a half years, I have received countless reports of inconsistent security procedures across the country. Some of these reports are as severe as guards not logging inbound loads at all. 

I have fought (the old shipping company) and now (the shipping company) for the last two and a half years to secure adequate condition for security officers at (my terminal). Sir, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That describes both my attitude toward you as a client and your attitude toward security companies.

What’s needed at every one of your terminals is a long relationship with security officers who are adequately paid. I cannot even begin to resolve your problems with security until I have a stable reliable crew of guards willing to do the job.

Let me inform you that your facility is the first I have worked for under (My security company) that paid its post supervisor less than sixteen dollars an hour. The industry average pay for security officers in the United States is thirteen dollars an hour.

I don’t believe you need this level of pay. However, security companies will give you what you pay for not what you need.