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Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Lie Awake - Charlie Brown

Friday, December 28, 2012

Double Digit Tons

I recall this incident, and that I was bruised up the next day.

I haven’t any idea why I wrote this other than to keep it in memory. At the time I felt very alone and to be honest I still do, but I was worn to the ground then and looking for a reason to keep on going.

Even now it’s hard to think of one.

25th August, 2008

Last week I had one of those subtle reminders of why I go to (the state college), pay thousands of dollars, give up most to all of my free time, sleep time, and whatever else. This one took the form of steel and rubber owned by a company that’s official stance is “we kill so many people every year and most by big-rigs, try not to be one of them.” 
I was at work and had just cut the front security seal on a set of 28-foot trailers when the set pulled forward striking me on the shoulder and knocking me to the side.
If I had been a few inches to the left I would have been crushed by double digit tons of freight and equipment. If I had lost my footing I would have gained a face full of concrete or gotten caught by the back tires and been crippled or killed. 
“Why is this important to me?” is not the question.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let it be

18th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

The other day I came across and old black and white photograph of two people and a baby. They were sitting alongside a house in the middle of what looks like a farm. The couple was alien to me on first glance and I do not believe that I have seen this image before but after some thinking I believe the man to be Grandpa Leland and the woman Grandma Ann.
This would make the boy Alan the man who donated half my genetic material. I’m told that mother and Leland got on well, but that Leland had some bad times with his wife Ann. My paternal grandparents spent the last decade of Leland’s life having nothing to do with one another.

Back then people would shy about divorce. Ann had told me that in her day once you left home you never came back. Further, that her own father had seen the trouble her married life had come to and offered to let her come back home. This was a grand gesture that never came to pass.
I have never heard Leland’s side of this as he died when I was rather young. He was given some respect in death, more than Alan showed my mother, in that he was forgotten and rarely spoken of. Ann did speak ill of him but never when into specifics. She said he was a hard man to live with, but what she meant by it escapes me.
Still, let’s give credit where credit is due, Ann was a hard person to live with as far as I can tell. She told me that once they made a recording of her screaming at her children and played it back for her benefit. It was a badge of shame she still carries. There was enough love left for that old man for me to bear his name within my own.

When we speak ill of the dead we often speak ill of ourselves. This is not a rule but a bit to ponder over. The living can always try to make amends, but the dead are no so capable. The anger we hold for them is a cancer within yourself.

Leave the dead in the ground, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Moo, the Cow Cat

5th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

I do not recall if I have spoken to you of my favorite part of my trips to Yorba Linda. On this occasion I had been invited to a holiday dinner and having not seen the eaters for more than a month I grew lonesome for the company of their family cats. This home keeps a number of cats of which four are my normal companions. Their three dogs are likewise happy to afford my company. 

In this lot there is an animal called a Twist by cat fanciers, and she is black and white, large in body, social to the visiting folk, and vial to her fellow felines. Adorned with a cow bell round her neck and having a large belly that hangs down she does her name proud. They call her Moo the Cow Cat.
On arriving I took the mini-cow into my arms as I always do, but her claws sank deeper than normal into my skin. I reached round her to loosen her grip, and for the first time in my recollection she hissed at me.
I detached the ornery feline and put her down to have her drop down on her back and put a leg up to expos her belly. Apology accepted I gave her tummy a rub.       

Cats can be funny things, and I think this one took a moment to remember who I was, or perhaps she was just startled. I believe few are willing to lift the large cat. She is hard on clothing with her claws and being black and white she gets fur on everything.
I can forgive all of Moo’s short comings, because she knows how to apologize. Who could stay mad at a cat to begin with?

Stay safe, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marry Un-birthday

4th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

So here it is, the anniversary of my birth, and I spend it as I would any other day my washing machine isn’t working. With the down beat of dirty clothes I recall the worst birthday I ever had.
I do believe this happened back in two thousand six. It would be the last time I requested a birthday celebration. I had called one of the Yorba Linda crowd and informed them of the occasion. He invited me down for a day of video games, and that is as far as the event went. Truly, half rump is the tone of all their workings in that neck of the woods.
I came home from work that day and slept shortly then rose and drove down to an apartment where a Local Area Network had been setup. We played some variant of War Craft where no bass was built. When it was over I went home showered and returned to work. That was all, I later learned that only two, myself included, of the six or seven of us knew the occasion.
At work that night the real festivities begun and sleep deprivation set in. I began to hallucinate, seeing movement where there was none, and looking every which way in the grip of some irrational paranoia. I remember that I couldn’t sit down as sitting would bring on sleep so I stood. My feet grew sore and swollen from having spent too long in boots over the passing weeks and the cold cut into me through my work clothes.
I had never before or since felt so strongly the elements than on that day, and I have never again made plans for a birthday celebration. They have never turned out well but that one was the worst.

Marry un-birthday to you, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Return to the Night Shift

1st December 2011
Dear Cassi,

Returning to the night shift has been easier than I thought. I thought I would have to spend my shift standing up to get through the night. In truth the night shift was like an old friend I was coming back to not at all the wrestling match it had been. 
Part of it is the patrols. I think I pull two miles of walking every night and at least eight trips up the stairwells. I’m so out of shape that I can feel it in my heart when I take long walks. The heart has so much to do with the head that getting me up and moving about helps keep me awake.
I’ve worked at places where it breaks you down after a few months, but I don’t think there is enough walking on this post to do much to me physically.
The energy drinks are a part of my life but only on Mondays for the most part. That’s the one thing I have trouble with, because I can’t get to sleep during the day on the weekends. I’ve no idea why that would be, given that this way I only sleep six times a week. Then if you think about it I’m getting eight hours on the competition.
Another thing I do to stay up is chew gum. The action of chewing keeps me up. That doesn’t help a huge amount, just takes the edge off, still taking the edge off is enough.
Overall, I’m glad that I’m back on nights, but I’m happier that I’m back working. My unemployment came out to sixty percent of my old pay but is less than forty of my new pay and with the bills finally coming in I need stability.

Bundle up and keep warm,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Crying Child

Sent this letter to one of my professors two years ago and it is both uplifting and heart breaking.  
25th November of 2010

Hay Doc,

It's thanksgiving and I'm stuck at home, but it gives me time to shoot off and email I've been meaning to send. I thought you might get a kick out of knowing that I sent my essay to a friend of mine who had some trouble in the love department. By trouble I mean her husband ran off with every dime she had then she had to sue him to end the marriage. After that she got beaten by her boyfriend and so on. Sad how afoul follows you in life.

So I sent her my essay one and she got a sense of satisfaction out of it. She kept asking herself why she didn't leave either of those two men sooner and my essay gave her and answer. It's not the best answer that our studies this semester can give, but like a firefly in the darkness it gave her a friendly light.

I don't suppose you'd know how much the small things can mean to those of us who live our lives in the nether of the human experience. Well, let me tell you a story. When I was seventeen I was over at a friend's house when I heard a baby crying. As an act of instinct I picked up the child. He wasn't yet three days old but he had a set of lungs on him. I couldn't feel anything in the diaper so he hadn't soiled himself. It didn't appear as though he was hungry. Can't tell you how I knew that, but I did.

I stroked the boy's cheek with my index finger and blew air in his face only to have him stop crying for a moment then go on again. Rose, it was her house and I was a friend of her son, came in and said “you'll make a wonderful father some day.”

“I don't think so,” I told her. “I can't get him to stop crying.”

“No one can, Richard,” Rose told me. “That baby was born addicted to cocaine.”

Thing is that the essay to my friend is like my breath to the baby. It may have given her no more than a moment of peace in the deluge of suffering that is her life, but a moment can mean a lot. That's kind of the difficulty of clinical Psychology, it is impossible to take the patient out of the toxic environment, one can only aid them in finding peace within themselves.

I didn't want to mention this before you graded the paper so it wouldn't look like I was trying to get a better grade, but I felt you'd like to know.

Happy thanksgiving

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, November 5, 2012

Condoms vs. Sainsdurg

The curation of this essay was not easy given that it was written at the end of my freshman year of high school. I was suffering from depression and a sleep disorder when I wrote this so to understand it one needs to be drunk or go without sleep for a few days and I recommend neither.

To give you a description of the product it is a ‘stream of consciousness’ essay written in a ‘fake it till you make it’ style for an English class taught by a religious pervert who writes ‘obscene poetry’ about his students. I don’t think he needed condoms for birth control. He adopted. . . and may have had sex with boys on the side. My high school experience was very strange.

10th June 1995
Condoms vs. Sainsdurg

Friends and readers, the topic I bring before you is a strange one, but it is important regardless. On my desk this evening I found an article entitled "Condoms for Kids? Get Real." by Steven J Sainsburg. In his article he assumed that condoms are useless to teenagers. Let us explore the topic, and you can be the judge.
This man begins by describing one of his patients, apparently this girl has engaged in unprotected sex, not only that but the situation is anything but rare. I have no choice but to consider his meaning is that teenagers don't think to protect themselves against venereal disease, including HIV or unwonted pregnancy.

Moving on, Mr. Sainsdurg condemns the condom as an unacceptable solution, the claim is that not only are they not used but they aren’t affective. To clarify a study he examined said that 14% of all condoms brake or leak due to poor handling by consumers. If they aren't 100% they aren't good enough for him. The only acceptable answer is abstinence until finding one who you will commit too or wed. This is the opinion of the article, but the question it brings is “is it proper to make condoms available for youths”. If we listen to the article no, but I have a different opinion.
Personally, I feel that if you can't stop a problem you can at least slow it down. There are two ways to do this, one is abstinence, but it is not appealing to the general public and will never be a useful solution. The other method is to make condoms available and give kids the sense to use them. I must confess that there is one more thing, and that is to change outside influence. TV, and other forms of entertainment, are the greatest influence of kids of all ages. Personally if I had a say in the matter entertainment would be completely reconstructed but that is too far off the subject. With all considered, it is stereotypes that provide the behavior that is not moral, a monkey see monkey do if you will. If the heroes of the children do it the children do it no matter what the cost. Oh, I have forgotten the one end to the problem: let it hit its hardest, when you see your friend die you will be a little more careful.    
The topic we have discussed is controversial, but so are all things in life and death. I we will say that my advice is ‘have a condom if your control you question, but for safety sake I tell you abstinence is the rule.’ It is not fun nor fast, nor witty, I can swift say it is not pretty, but death is best not a quickened curse. All silliness aside it is less a punishment to die then to sit idly by and observe the cold embrace. Do you wish to do that too your friends, to give them pane that never ends. Like stabbing wounds that will not heal, and a saddened thought terns there making blades. Moving on there is no such thing as safe sex, it is as good old Bill said it there are two guarantees in life death and taxes.
My apologies for the deepness of the last paragraph, I got carried away. My conciliation is that I can leave you with is the hope of your better Judgment.

Until the fullness of time

Richard Neal.

not pretty, but death is best not a quickened curse. All silliness aside it is less a punishment to die then to sit idly

Saturday, November 3, 2012


2nd November 2012
Dear folks at the Kevin and Bean show

This morning you talked about those of us who are asocial. I happen to be one of those folks with few friends and most of a very virtual nature so that if I decided to go out this weekend I’d likely do it alone. I can tell you that for me it started with child abuse. As a result of this I have always been depressed and untrusting of others.

I did have a small group of friends up until two thousand and nine, but I had a falling out with one of them who after nineteen years of friendship felt that it was too much to ask to get my name right. This led to him convincing most of our mutual friends to stop talking to me or lie to me. Now the folks I once spent most of my free time with have turned their back on me or are people I can’t trust.

Now I spend most of my free time alone, and I’m cool with that because only boring people get board.

Richard from Whittier

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Computer

16th May 2012
Dear Cassi,
It was on the 25th of April that I took home a new desktop computer. It had been a long time coming and the old unit was feeling its years. Still, I had wanted a rebuild rather than a full new unit but that’s what I have now.
A point that came up is that my computer was very large and still the new body is larger. This led to a frustrating fight to get the new unit into the old desk. It took me more than a week and at least a few hundred dollars with cords and equipment. Now the new unit stand and the desk with a vintage IBM body sitting under the second monitor. The first and large flat screen is suspended on an arm over the desk. One of my laptops sits and another arm to my right so that I have three screens running at once when I need them.
This is a rig for doing all the things I dream of, little sister, it’s the morning of a holiday when the air is clear and the birds are singing. This is possibility and dexterity in a black mesh frame.
However, I’ll most likely use it to play video games and watch movies. Well, I will get thousands of hours of fun out of it and that counts.

Reach for your potential, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, November 1, 2012


15th May 2012
Dear Cassi,
In that nature of my car problems I found an anger that wanted destruction. With this I turned to the boxes of paper records that have long plagued me and that have sat for as long as fifteen years. I turned to the paper shredder to disposed of this and found satisfaction in watching the pages turn to confetti in the teeth of the black and cream beast.
Some hours into my labor the shredder could take no more and jammed to tell me it was done working for the day. I turned to fire seeing that I was not a tenth of the way completed in my task.
I found a greater satisfaction in the burning embers of my mistakes in life and kept at this with three full boxes of paper that the fire choked on as hit burnt a history of no importance. Smoke stung in my eyes but somehow I loved the destruction of that old nature and new that with the smoke clear I could look ahead.
It was during this labor that I was called on by Falstaff’s father who was to go with me to have my car looked at and he was stunned by this action thinking in the fire there was some anger from me to his son for the damage to my vehicle.
I was angry and I found something productive to do with that anger. If all the anger we feel could be put to good use would this not be a better world?

Always find your light, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pay and Pay

14th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

I told you about my neighbor’s son hitting my car yesterday. Today I got the estimate and it isn’t pretty. It was the kind of not pretty that made my neighbor think he should report the problem to his insurance. I think I found someone selling the part for a hundred dollars so if I have I’ll just order it and have him give me the money.
It looked much worse than it was in the morning with the blur of sleep still in my eyes and no coffee to start my day. I didn’t want to look at, drive, or even think about the car at first. Pickles made comments about it after telling me and I asked him to let the subject drop for the morning.
There was nothing I could do about the whole thing so I figured it was best to put it out of my mind. Falstaff came over and apologized for his transgression and it was the first time we had a conversation in the last ten years.
It reminded me that we were good friends ones and I still have no true idea as to why that changed. I would have to say that we drifted apart, but truth be told I think we were just too different to hang out together.
There was a time in his life that he just kind of got lost and shut himself in and he never talked about why. His father gave me bits and pieces of the story here and their but Falstaff has just drifted through the last few years of his life with no idea what to do with himself. It’s said because he is a rather intelligent fellow and could do so much more.

Keep a sure heading, little sister

Richard Leland Neal