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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Led Crown

4th November in 2010

Dear Cassi,

I just got the text about the poor fellow bumping his head so by the time you get this you will know if he is alright. What may appear minor to we of able body can be so pronounced among the fragile. Then, a head injury is never to be scoffed at. Best wishes to the man and speedy recovery.

On to a topic of less gravity, a thing happened to me over the weekend of some true bother. It was Halloween night and I had a strange feeling on the end of my left index finger. It was like a small burn though I had done no cooking. On my way to work it got no more pronounced but its persistence caused me to look more closely at the wound. On the end of my finger I could see a brown dot that looked like a splinter of wood had gone into my skin. I pressed at the injury until I had worked it free. What looked like a clear thorn with a brown end came out of my flesh. I think it was from an artichoke.

After removing this barb the pain became negligible for the space of two hours until it came back with more venom. I looked at my finger again to see a white spot to replace the brown. It was bigger and protruded from my skin like a callus or corn. I pressed this as I had pressed its predecessor, and from the spot came a bit of ivory white fluid. I milled the wound on and off for the night but found no more in it but clear blood plasma.

Sleep that morning had been the normal wrestles sort, but I had gotten something in the way of rest. On awaking I found the white spot again, but even with the new throbbing pain I could get nothing from the wound. With this new manifestation I found typing hard. The inflammation pulsed in my flesh making it my most dominant feeling. Eventually I sterilized a tack and punctured the wound.

This new hole in my flesh let free a spangle of red and white. I found no surprise in this, but the inflammation, likewise, found no exit in the hole and stayed with me for some days. Typing was still a pain. When the inflammation finally subsided I was left with a smart, deep hole in my finger. It should disappear soon even if it is annoying.

Well, not much to talk about really, but I think it's better to send letters regularly then whenever something important happens. Then I suppose I could have said this over the phone, but our time in that regard gets shorter and shorter it seems. The small moments of your lives tick away with regularity, and the odd events swim by us like little fish in a river. Our nature is as intangible as a breath in this sad world, and as we move to hold the seconds close we only seem to crush them.

So what is left to do? A moderation, a dichotomy, a splitting of our thoughts between holding dear the moment and passing the time? Can we cherish the present and plan for the future? Can we live for the moment and still be prepared for the next thing to come? Is the past a burn to heal or a lesson to live by? These are the questions that pop into my mind tonight. I wish I could lay down my troubled head and sleep away the worry, but the day demands action. Warily I lumber to meet it with the gloom of my thoughts like a led crown on my head.

Stay safe

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, March 30, 2012

Greedy Candymongers

1st of November in 2010

Dear Cassi,
First of the month and yesterday I did something I haven't done in years: give out Halloween candy. This is a practice I don't care for because of what the house looks like. As the kids came by I grew more and more self conscious. I hadn't combed my hair or showered since the night before. Worse off, the bushes hadn’t been cut just as Paul has long neglected the lawn. The front shrubbery was so bad off that the children had to walk around the bushes to get to the door.

I gave out candy for about an hour as I mopped up the kitchen some. My home is a place where garbage comes up like weeds and rot flourishes in every spot just out a view. I figure that if I spent two hours a day cleaning I'd probably just keep up with the mess Paul leaves let alone my own. I was a mess in a mess catering to a bunch of candy goobers.

The kids themselves were a lot cruder then I had thought they would be. Six-year-olds cursing like sailors in the dark of the warm California night. The first kids of the night were my neighbor Mickie’s children. The only thing about that was that his daughter had the smallest candy sack I had ever seen for Halloween. As she walked away she told her father that she needed a new sack because hers was half full. Then came the foul mouthed kids with pillow cases as candy sacks instead of pumpkins, and a few girls dressed too adult for Halloween trick or treating.

I was handing out candy to mothers and children alike. There was one kid, and he came by twice, who was using his backpack from school as a candy sack. Halloween appeared to be about greed in my neighbor hood instead of the fun it had been in my day. What happened to the holidays? I used to get into costumes because that was part of the fun, but these kids didn't do much more then put on a mask. One kid had a piece of paper that said "this is my costume," as if she had gotten up that morning and remembered it was Halloween. I don't think I saw a single handmade costume like the ones I had when I was a kid. I remember my mother making me a robot costume. I grant it was one of the least involved she had ever made, and it chafed the shoulders, but at least that was original.

Shortly after eight I turned the porch lights out. I left the house in darkness to discourage the more greedy candymongers. Some kids roamed the neighborhood even as late as after nine looking for houses with the lights still on hoping to get a few more pieces of candy for the year. I don't know if I can blame them because the candy has gotten smaller and smaller. If they could come up with a candy flavored breath spray in individual size I think they'd give those out for Halloween next year. That's why I gave out candy by the handful. At least I didn't feel bad about giving the kids a jolly rancher.

On the bright side, I finished the 'about the author' section for my novel, so now I just have to sit back and wait. I could spend the rest of my life working on a document that size, but now it's time for me to move on to another project. With so many demands on my time getting the job done right takes forever, but I've ironed out most of my problems so the next project should be accomplished in half the time.

I'm hoping to turn one of my novel into a movie script. It seems like it's just easier that way, because the primary editing can be done on the script in the space of four hours when the editing for a novel takes four months. Again, in my last novel I changed format, or word processor programs, three times. It was a debacle to remember, but not one to repeat. Like many things, the first novel is the hardest. As it was with my first comic and my first play I had to grow to get the job done. Now it's just time to put my back into it and push until it comes.

Stay safe, Cassi

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, March 29, 2012


29th of September, 2010

Dear Cassi,

Well, today was the first time someone referred to one of my comments on YouTube. They asked what their viewers were going to be for Halloween and I said "I'm going to be a fat security guard, because I'm a security guard, and I work that night." It's not a big thing, but it's the first time it happened to me. He did get my handle wrong "ice 9 rln o" as opposed to rln Zero, but you can’t have everything. I'm making the rounds if nothing else.

On the bad end, my webcomic is for some reason not updating. This is three steps away from more trouble than it’s worth. I know that I'll get it ironed out eventually, but this is taking a long time and there are many bumps along the way. I tried to get into my account to see if there was a problem and I couldn't, then I looked at the file names I had uploaded on my flash drive and found nothing wrong. This tells me that there is a problem on their end. I can't get upset over it, this is free, but I'm frustrated.

The worst case scenario is that I would need to move my webcomic to another site again. That's not fun, but I do have a few options. Having the comics cross sites will be one more pain in a jumbo box of minor aches. Nothing ever comes easy to me. I wrap my wounds, put on my business face, and get back into the fight. It really shouldn't be so much of a production to get this off the ground, but the bumps and jitters of modern crud production hem us into the fabric of problems.

In my relationships class we talked about arguments, and one of the things that jumped out at me was a random interjection. That's when you're arguing with someone and you yell something like "big bloody bookworms" to take the tension out of the argument. The idea is that once the progression of anger has been broken you and your partner are more able to deal with the problem. Funny that I used to do something like that when my sister, Amber, and her husband fought. I'd make cornbread, and they would stop fighting to eat it. It got to the point where I was making cornbread every day, but it was all I could do to get some sleep. I slept during the day as I do now, and they fought when I was sleeping. There was never a dull moment at the Neal house.

That hasn't changed much, Thursday morning Paul told me I had left the front door open and I could tell he wanted to blow his stack over it. As if he has never done that. This is a man I can't trust to put the dishes away without them having food stuck to them. He does stupid things left and right. Today I found that he had put the blender together wrong and it was stuck like that. I had to use a hammer to get it unstuck. Did I get mad at him for it? Nope, because getting mad doesn't unstick blenders.

Paul is the type of person who waits until both sides of the sink are full to do the dishes, then leaves one half full when he's done. He won't wash what doesn’t go in the dishwasher, and leaves the things that need the worst washing in the sink to get putrid. Every now and again, I get tired of dealing with it and go wash the sink myself. I always find slime and scum on the bottom, and then I bleach out the sink. The nasty never stops. I know I need to just do the dishes on my own, but I don't have the energy.

It's kind of like the dream I had before work. I was in a dark cavern under a blanket, and these things that looked like humans made of dripped off candle wax kept coming after me trying to eat my hands. It was a strange dream to say the least. I would swat at them, and like flies, they would whisk away only to come back. Finally I found a sharpened broom handle and that was some better defense against the ghouls. I fought them off until I woke up by falling out of bed. I sat there on the floor for a few minutes until I had collected myself then got up and went about my daily business. The dream was so much like reality I may as well have been awake.

Get well, Cassi

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Won’t She Leave Him?

Given the situation Joy faces throughout her story there are three factors at work driving her decisions. Those factors are her perceived worth, the outcome, and her alternatives. Each one changes over the course of her story, but they always come into play. The three factors are present in all relationship decisions people make whether they be love, friendship, or work related.
Joy’s perceived worth is what she expects or thinks she could get from a relationship. If she feels she deserves warmth, love, and affection then her perceived worth reflects that entirely. This is not to be confused with what she wants. We all may want a rich significant other who gives us everything, and is totally devoted to us without question, but how many of us can realistically obtain such a spouse? Worth is what a person believes they can get out of a relationship, or the quality of the partner they think they can get. It has no bases in reality, and unattractive, unintelligent, abusive person may think they deserve to be with the most attractive people on earth. The self worth of an individual is strictly their own opinion, and not always supported by the reality they live in.
The outcome should not be totally confused with what is really happening. Outcome is what Joy perceives her situation is presently. Let us say that Joy met a rich man who took every pain in making her life better, then  Joy found out the he got his money through selling drugs. Her perception of him changed. He was a drug pusher when they met, and he stayed one, but she didn’t know about it. Now she could be fine with that, or she could end the relationship, but whatever her action it will deal strictly with how she perceives him not what he really is. Someone may over or underestimate the reality of the situation. As with worth, outcome is the person’s perception of what is happening. The truth is always a little further out than any one person can look.
The last factor is Joy’s perceived alternatives. Again if Joy is in a relationship with a drug dealer and her alternative is that he will kill her if she leaves him she’s probably staying. If she is with a man that is cold or is unfeeling she will stay unless something better comes along. Again, what looks better may prove not to be, and her next man may be just as bad. The driving factors all stem from what Joy thinks not what is truth.  What she thinks and what is true may be the same thing, but that will have no outcome on her actions. Only perception drives her. This can be looked at in the same way as buying a car. Yes we do have relationships with are cars even if they are not alive. If the car is in the shop more than it is on the road, then buying a new one is a good alternative to high mechanic bills. On the other hand, a new car will mean new car payments and high insurance rates. The old car is the outcome and the new car is the alternative and weighing the options is something we all do. With cars we have many options and with relationships we normally only have few, but the decision making is the same.
When dealing with her marriage, Joy entered into a situation that she perceived was good. Then it changes, her husband becomes colder and colder, she believes she can do better, and tries to change by working on the relationship. When her husband remains cold and unresponsive being alone became a better alternative for Joy, so she got divorced. After that her divorce her perceived worth changed, and Joy felt that a live alone was what she could get. This may have had something to do with loss of income and having no energy to look for a new love interest. Regardless, the situation both lacked an alternative and Joy sported a low worth. Divorce has a negative effect on income and often can sour a person to new relationships. It was normal for Joy to take time in finding a new love interest.
At some point her perception changed. Joy felt that she deserved love in her life possibly after she had achieves some level of stability.  The presence of Kurt provided some alternative, and her situation changed. Kurt never met Joy’s expectations or her perceived worth, but he was better than the alternative of loneliness. This relationship was relatively stable so long as he didn’t worsen and no good alternative was present. This is not to say that Joy might have ended her relationship with Kurt if her perception changed, but that she satisfied with what she had so long as nothing better showed up. Their relationship had reached a delicate balance of being better than nothing, but not all that great.
Kurt showed a lot of the same problems Joy found in her ex-husband. This would lead many people to wonder why she stayed with him at all. These people have never dealt with a divorced couple. Stories of divorced couples remaining sexually active together for years after the marriage is over are common. Joy is driven by basic needs and even though Kurt is little more than a friend with privileges Joy’s needs are, to a degree, being met. It would in no way surprise the learned public if she had some sexual relationship with her ex-husband during her time with Kurt. Kurt fulfils an interdependent role in Joy’s life and not an intimate one.
The presence of Scott, Joy’s coworker, changes the game as now Joy has an alternative to Kurt and being alone. Joy’s self worth hasn’t changed, but what she can get has, and that toppled her unstable relationship. Her future with Scott is uncertain and all we do know is that it will change things. She may find Scott unworthy or a new love interest may come along. The only thing that we know is she thinks she has found something better.
Background: Joy and Kurt, two adults in their late twenties, live diagonally across from one another in the same apartment building.  Joy grew up in a warm, loving family where everyone did a lot for each other.  Her father was the football coach at a local high school, so Joy's family often talked about sports at the dinner table.  In childhood, Joy had frequently played with one or two best friends, often in her home or their's.  Even as a child, she had confided in her good friends.  She found it easy to become emotionally close to people.  As she grew up, Joy matured into a nurturant, cheerful person.  She was comfortable depending on others and having them depend on her.  When disagreements did arise in her close relationships, she was careful to avoid hurting the other person by being critical or accusing; instead, she tried to focus on the particular problem that had caused the disagreement and to reach a solution that was fair to everyone.  

   Joy was married at age 22 to a man with who she was very much in love and who she idealized early in the course of the marriage.  Over time, she found that he let her down in many little ways and no longer seemed to be the wonderful man she had married.  He was not very responsive to Joy’s efforts to work on their relationship.  He became even less responsive and increasingly withdrawn after their daughter was born.  Eventually, Joy’s dissatisfaction with the marriage reached the point where she found it necessary to seek a divorce.  Since becoming divorced two years ago, Joy's social life has been fairly limited.  She had always been an outgoing, attractive person who had enjoyed considerable social success.  Since her divorce, however, she had been busy with her career and had devoted her limited free time to her young daughter.  Last summer, she realized that she was lonely and began thinking about dating again.  When Kurt moved into her apartment building in October, she immediately thought he was handsome.  He also appeared sensible and responsible, and she admired the fact that he was well established in his career.   

   Although he didn't say much about his background, Kurt had grown up in a family where everyone was taught to control their emotions and take care of themselves.  As a child, he had played baseball and done other activities with the boys in his school.  Until puberty, most of his friends had been males.  In high school, people began attending dances and parties.  His friends began dating, and as he was finishing high school, Kurt began dating, too.  He felt he was too young for serious romantic involvements, though, and school was important to him.  In addition, women often seemed to want more emotional intimacy than he did.  After graduating from the university with a degree in business, he took a position in a large manufacturing firm.  His role is to ensure high levels of productivity from the company's employees.  Kurt believes that strong, task-oriented supervisory practices will achieve that goal.  He finds it difficult to trust others completely or to allow himself to depend upon them.  He has little interest in exploring the reasons why some of his workers aren’t productive, preferring just to warn them "Shape up or ship out."  When he gets into a disagreement with one of the employees, he can be dismissive, saying things like “You’re just lazy. That’s why you’re having trouble here.” Kurt is highly respected by the firm's senior management.    

   Given the location of their apartments, Joy and Kurt began running into each other regularly.  Joy was always friendly, inviting Kurt to drop by if he wished and offering to help him if he ever needed anything.  When his dentist told him he would need an impacted wisdom tooth removed, Kurt remembered that Joy had mentioned having her wisdom teeth removed.  He went over to her apartment to talk with her about it.  Just hearing about Joy's experiences having her teeth extracted made him feel better.  As time went on, Joy found ways to be nice to Kurt.  When she heard he was going on a business trip for a week, she offered to look after his plants and to pick up his newspapers for him.  He accepted, mentioning that his apartment was austere and sparsely furnished.  He wanted it to be attractive, but he never got around to decorating it and he didn’t feel very creative in this regard.  While he was away, Joy left him an attractive ceramic pot that went well with the color scheme of his apartment.  After Kurt returned, Joy helped him select a new lamp for his apartment.  By this time, the holidays were approaching.  Joy thought Kurt might enjoy some of her famous rum cake, so she took a few pieces over to him. 

   When Joy brought over the cake, Kurt realized that Joy had a lot going for her, that she seemed interested in him, and that she had repeatedly done nice things for him.  In his usual stoic fashion, he had just accepted the things she had done for him without saying much.  He remembered how she had complimented him several times, but he hadn't said much of anything flattering to her, even when she had been promoted at work.  He wondered if he should get her a present or say thank you in some way.  He didn't give gifts very often; it was hard for him to express positive emotions or even provide a perfunctory thank you.  But he became distracted by issues at work, and his half-hearted thoughts of getting something to show Joy his appreciation were soon forgotten.

   During this time, Joy and Kurt had developed a causal sexual relationship.  Although the sex was enjoyable for both of them, Joy wanted to know that their relationship meant something more than sex.  However, Kurt never gave any indication of commitment.  In fact, the main topic of conversation raised regularly by Kurt concerned whether or not Joy was interested in other people.  He seemed to doubt her faithfulness.

   The holidays came and went.  After a busy period of several weeks spent getting together with her family and friends, Joy finally had time to sit down to make up her New Year's goals and resolutions.  She took this time to reflect on her relationship with Kurt.  Somehow, her interest in Kurt didn't seem to be going anywhere.  Although he was a responsible person, he seemed a bit controlling and lacked the caring qualities she wanted in a close relationship.  She could be more direct, but she thought to herself, "Well, perhaps I should drop this."  Just before the holidays, one of her coworkers -- Scott -- asked her to get together for coffee.  He was a football enthusiast like herself, and he seemed to like her.  During the holiday party at work, he had been very flattering.  So as one of her objectives for January, Joy decided she should get to know Scott better.  As for Kurt, she didn't really need to confront him, but she knew she would have to find a way to explain why her interest had waned.   

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good Coffee

27th of September, 2010
Dear Cassi,

Well, I got my Tanzanian coffee. Its coffee grown on a volcano to insure that it lives in the best soil on earth, grown in the shade of other plants so that it does not damage the environment, and packed in a worker owned plant. Maybe I have too much of a thing for coffee, but it wasn't all that expensive. Less than Starbucks at seven dollars a 12 oz bag. It sounds funny to me to buy lavish coffee, but better coffee does the trick and bad coffee gives you acid gut.

Yesterday, I had a headache from lack of coffee. I could have avoided it by buying soda with my lunch but I'm sure I didn't need those six-hundred calories. On the one hand I should just go cold turkey on the whole coffee thing, and on the other I'd just need to get back on it when I work. If I ever get out of security I'll drink less coffee. Or I may just keep up the coffee and have some other reason to work at night. It depends on what I wind up doing.

The webcomic thing is still not where it needs to be even if I got the stuff for site two today. I still need to put up a banner and pong, those are images the site needs, and then promote my comics. It's a grueling process full of long hours, and sounds a lot like my early days in security. 'Keep working until you get it right,' is my new life slogan. God, this is just too much.

I watch the mail every day hoping for a letter from Tor Books knowing that I shouldn't even expect one until December. It's mind raking, and I should be focusing on getting other things done in my life. Focus on getting it done not what will happen if it does? We move through the humdrum of our little lives, and fight to find a bit of this world to feel safe in. Some of us never find one, some can't stand it when they do, and others never need to look.

Every time I deal with one problem another comes up, they stack like dishes in a sink, no matter what you need to deal with the ones on top before you get to the ones deep down. Still, it's the ones deep down that really stink.

Regardless, if it comes about that you need that old laptop after all let me know? It runs like crap, but the thing is sturdy as a rock. I haven't tested to see if the wifi plug in works with it or not, but you might be able to get online at your local MacDonalds. I gave my other old laptop to Ken and he will be using it until December 19th or later. I think I could get his other computer working if he let me look at it, but he is waiting for his son to come down.

Anyway, I'm sending along something different today. It's an essay for one of my classes. You might find it interesting. It's based on a story the teacher gave us that I have included at the end of the essay.
Have fun reading it

Richard Leland Neal
Essay will be posted on March 28th so keep check back in two days.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


22nd October of 2010
Dear Cassi,

Well, I haven't been writing as much because of how much I've had to get done this week. It's been a total hell getting the webcomic set up at a new site. I registered the second comic yesterday, and it too should be up in a week, but I have to do banner art for both comics now. On the one hand I've learned to expedite and on the other I've more to do. It never ends, does it?

Regardless, I have to make the comment that I was not aware my letters were private. Especially with the situation that you are talking to your doctor or counselor I think its okay for you to show them to people. Who I am and what I have been through are things I intend to document for posterity. I may be a man of little presence in the world, but I can tell you that I feel at a loss not knowing what my mother's life was like. Somewhere in my thinking I've wish there was a volume to tell her story. It would be easier for me to get through the world knowing the folly of my parents. Did my mother struggle with faith, or was she even religious? Did she practice Judaism as a link to the past, or as a way of life?

One day I may show these letters to my own children, if I have any, to tell them who I was. It's important to know. Often, I sift through the bits and pieces of the past in order to remember, and to let go. The house I live in feels more like my mother's crypt than it does a home, and I had even thought of one day excavating it like an archeologist putting every bit into a catalog. That idea has long been given up, and it was one of the stupider of mine. Such an act would have been paralyzing in complexity, and damned near impossible without a few grad students to use as slave labor. You must excuse me; I've grown cynical on the topic of higher education.

On another topic, I again say that if anyone who served with (your ex-husband) would like the share their story I'd love to hear it. They would make great research. I make it a point to listen to any veteran I come across. For one they often have a story to get off their chest, and for another I feel like a richer man for the knowing of their strife. Some of it may end up in my writing one day, but either way I just like to hear it.

In other news, I have my new workstation set up and now I can work from the drafting desk with all the resources I have on the computer. Swapping out the hard drive without a boot disk was a pain, and it took four hours. Then came another hour of working on the internet connection. The Lenovo software couldn't talk to my system hub, so I had to switch it back to a windows connection. It took that long because I had to do this through trial and error. The new rig is more efficient and versatile, but still only hampers my ability to draw slightly. I should be more productive now, and get most of my business put away by the end of the month. Hmmm, well, no, maybe by the end of next month, but these things take time.

Another thing that takes time is washing the dog. August has shampoo that needs to sit on his fur for ten to fifteen minutes. Well, last weekend I had Paul help me with washing the dog, and he was just irate over having to wait holding Gus. I have no delusion that there are folks who want to hold on to a wet dog. The thing smells bad, and it keeps shaking off the water. So I do understand his feeling, but Paul was overreacting. He said that "next time someone gives me a dog I'm going to kick their ass," as if people hand him dogs from time to time as a pleasantry. Dog's aren't like fruitcake, people don't go about re-gifting them every year hoping not to get them back again. I fear I'll be soon left to look after the dog on my own. The other day, Paul wanted me to walk August in my work uniform, of all things, and right after I had gotten off shift. Well, enough of my problems.

Stiff upper lip, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Old Webmaster

I still have never sent the email to my old webmaster described in this letter and yet he has not taken down the site I talk about and, so far as I know, still refuses to speak to me.
This was almost two years ago now and I still haven’t got everything resolved. Well, honestly, when we die we are lucky to be without loose ends.
15th of October in 2010
Dear Cassi,
It's becoming the standard that I write these letters just after speaking to you and in this case I hadn't but just opened the program and begun to type when you called. I have to put it to you again that you should feel no obligation in replying by mail. For one, it's a needless expense on your part, and in second respect, our friendship should not be a burden. I love to write, even with my difficulties with the written word, and I find the act soothing.
My life has been an angry and sad affair lacking in the dignity of the page and its letters. Even the paper on which I print this was meant for letters and resumes, but has sat in its wraps for some years. Paper and envelopes abound in my workroom making home for the dust that gathers. Putting these things to work is always better than forgetting them.
In an effort to clean my workroom I donated paint, brushes, paper and markers to an art group for the mentally ill. I don't know if they have much use for the things I gave them but I have seen Paul bring home a few pieces of art in the paper I sent them. Every now and again I look at the pads of watercolor paper and wonder if I should donate them as well. They will not use the watercolor paint because it's too difficult, but the paper would see some use. I haven't painted in two years so I don't think I'll start soon, but if I do I need some paper to work on and normal stalk paper just won’t do. The paint would soak into it and turn it to mush.
As I struggle to reinvent myself, a thing many people are forced to do in this economy, I don't think painting will be on my list of do-wells. I painted for class, I painted for myself, and honestly I painted more for class than I did for me. To me that is sad and silly, a misuse of materials when taken in context, my teachers were a drain on my personal economy when my expression is a growth industry.
In other news, I'm having some issues with the new comic site. I can't find it in comic genesis which is the host site, but sooner or later it will pop up. I've been talking with the site admins about it and they said it has to be up for me to be uploading. I ran a Google search on it, and found that it had been on the samples page, but all I found was a ghost of the description that I sent in. Google could find it, but I couldn't locate it on the page. It was some kind of glitch in the system that should be righted soon.
The old comic site is still running after all, which is as much a burden as it is a relief. I had thought that I wouldn't need to send (the old webmaster) and email informing him that he could take the site down if he had taken it down himself. Well, he has left it up so I'll be emailing him by year end to tell him that his site is no longer necessary. If nothing else, the old site is good advertising for the new comic site and if anyone actually has been checking in from time to time I can lead them to the new comics.
I've thought about what my parting words to (the old webmaster) should be. Should I tell him what happened or explain to him that he has been childish? The short answer is “no.” I've no wish to have him back in my life, and if he wanted the truth he would have asked. No, I think something along the lines of “I have a new comic site now, leave the old one up until you want to take it down.” What else is there to say?
Again, this experience has revealed who my friends are, and that has been immensely valuable information. To know that I am so short on friends is to know where I should be spending my time and energy. I need to look forward, and move on with my life.


Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mr. Bloated Kidney

So now I do use the names of those folks I refuse to call family given that fact that they will never read this blog. However, as I will respect the privacy of both the recipient of this letter and the bad boss mentioned I have elected to name this evil Mr. Bloated Kidney.
8Th of October in 2010
Hay (Old Supervisor),
Did I tell you about my boss, Mr. Bloated Kidney? He's a lazy man in his late forties who spent something in the range of twenty years at my post. Only thing is he was passed up for the Post Commander spot for a man named (J) who was old and more, how can I put it, nice.
Well, Jerry retires and Mr. Bloated Kidney took over and one of the first things this idiot did was make it against the orders to change the setting on the post chairs. How lazy can you get? He thought it was too much for him to reach back and set the chair every day. Can you believe it? So he put a post-it note on the work desk that said we couldn't change the setting on the chairs.
I was so pissed off that I refused to use the post chairs and started using one of the lobby chairs that sits right beyond the duty station. Well, the office got wind of this and they were ticked too and made him take the post-it down, but I still refuse to use the post chairs. You see, Mr. Bloated Kidney has this problem; he doesn't like to take a bath.
Every time I sit in that post chair I start to, stink and now that I use the lobby chairs I smell okay again. You and I both know that working the long hours can make a man get less fresh, but to get so funky that you can funk a chair permanently is just too much. Mr. Bloated Kidney wonders why I don't say much to him when he comes in to relieve me in the morning, but that's because he has no idea how a grown man should act.
I think that what we all need to do is get together and buy Mr. Bloated Kidney soap for Christmas to give him the idea that he might want to use some of it. We and the other guards I mean. Get it through his head that he should act right.
You'd never believe it but even the workers feel that way about Mr. Bloated Kidney. There's an old man who brings me rolls every now and again. They seem French, like croissants with hot dogs in them. He asked me the make sure that Mr. Bloated Kidney doesn’t see the wrappers because he isn't giving him some.
Stands to be that he gave some to Mr. Bloated Kidney at one time and it was after that that Mr. Bloated Kidney got nasty to him. Mr. Bloated Kidney’s that kind of dumb. He's nasty if you’re nice to him and he gets nice if you get nasty. Can never trust a man like that because when you let him slide he just gets back into trouble.
Hope work is better for you than it is for me

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Long Dog Walk

8th of October in 2010

Dear Cassi,
Funny thing, I came in the door from an extended dog walk at around eleven-forty the other night to find Paul awake. I asked him if he had walked Gus that morning because the big dog hadn't wanted to come back in the house even after the lengthy walk. I had been out with Gus for more than an hour. Gus has never been much for getting walked and when he's out with Paul he decides when the two of them are coming home. Paul takes getting walked by a Doberman with bad spirits, but so long as he insists on being the one walked and not the one doing the walking Gus will be inclined to walk him.
I have to say the Gus has accepted the idea that he is a dog when I walk him. He tends to stay at my heel now that he knows that I won't let him get ahead of me. It just goes to show you that the dog understands how things are and will get away with things if you let him. Blame can be put beyond the old dog because of how he has been treated all this time. When I wash him his coat his heavy with the dust of neglect, and the patches of raw black skin have crusted over with the fungus that has been eating at him from the time we got him. I can't recall how many times I've had to ask if Gus has had his itch spray of flea treatment, but needless to say the dog is poorly looked after.
Just before work I check on Gus if he is sleeping in the garage, invariably I find that no one has put a blanket over him. Often when I cover him up he makes a sound that I can only call the dog version of purring. It's the same sound he makes when I scratch his ears though Paul has concluded that it's an angry growl. My biological siblings have never been any good at understanding dogs.
Not that I can say his sister is any better. Once she came into the garage and saw Gus sitting on the blue towel I had put over him the night before and she said “aw, Augie's got a blanky!” As if she couldn’t understand that a big black dog with short fur needs to be covered. I'd like to see how she feels sleeping in the cold without a blanket. I grant we can't give him a blanket when he's outside because during the day he just tries to play with it. Yeah, Gus isn’t all that smart; really, I think it has something to do with the fact that he was kept without much in the way of human contact for the first seven months of his life. “Even the best dog will grow vicious if tied.” or so I'm told.
Gus wasn't vicious when we first got him, but he was hard to handle and had a tendency to nip at you. It was more an act of playing than anything else. He still nips at me when he gets impatient, but he doesn’t mean any harm. The last time he did that I was talking to Paul's friend who lives up the way about a quarter mile. This fellow is a small antsy man who can never stop blathering on about one thing or another. He is a good man and all, he makes his way to church every day, but he can talk and talk about the same thing, telling you the fact over and over, for hours on end.
Much like my meeting with Paul’s friend, dog walks have become something of an adventure in recent time. The other day I ran into a teacher's aide I had in kindergarten. I hadn't seen her for some twenty years or more and still she recognized me without question. I walked with her for maybe forty minutes and she asked me all about my life. I had no happy stories to tell her, but she listened and kept asking.
It comes to me now that I know nothing of the old woman other than that she work at my primary school and is terrified of dogs. What I would ask about her if given the chance I couldn't say. She must be a grandmother by now, if she wasn't at the time, I never knew her in the first place. It's a shame how you can have that relationship with someone and not know them. As people we pass into the darkness of each other’s lives so easily.

Hold yourself to the light

Richard Leland Neal 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cover Letter to a Children’s Book Publisher

I thought I had posted this but I guess not because I found it in my old letter bin.
20th April 2010
Dear (Children’s book publisher),
What you have here is a children's picture book that tells the story of two children planning their day. It shows children when to use the two words then and than.
I was very surprised to find that the average college student fails to use these words properly. My professors think this is a great idea because of how often they see the mistake. I think it may be advantageous to make a YouTube video of me reading this to advertise the book if you publish it. I'm sure I can get some of my teachers to send links to their students.
In addition this work has the approval of my friends the Hills who have four children. Miss. Hill even offered to go over her collection of children's books with me the next time I can set aside six or more hours. She also insisted on my informing her if the book was to be published so that she can request a copy.
Thank you for your time.

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Deal with Anger: the First Letter to Cassi

I believe this is the first letter I wrote to Cassi. Not dead sure, and I know I wrote some emails before this still this could be the first paper letter.
Saturday, 18th September 2010
Dear Cassi,

Paper letters are a real toss back, but the situation dictates them I guess. Though I have to say I think there is a greater level of, I don't know, thought in them. If nothing else, it proves that the writer cares enough to get off their rear and to the mail box, and that is more than many of the people in my life can do. I think there is something to be said for holding a piece of paper that was held by a friend a great distance away, and a letter, fragile in its physical manifestation, is more enduring to the heart.
I don't think I'm making my point well. As you know, words fail me. The English language for being our best mode of communication is a whisper at best for what we wish to say. I'm told that nearly a third of the message meant in the spoken word is lost in written form. What a small figure that is given how much of the message is lost from mind to mouth. In such a way we are made the prisoner of our sad human forms, locked up in ourselves, and forced to be alone. I can't imagine that makes a lot of sense to you, I think I'm just talking to myself. Well, let me move to another point.
It was a few weeks ago that I resolved to put away the past and, as you may have imagined, it was no easy task. The first thing I had to do was deal with my anger and anxiety, and that is a work I think is close to both of us. One would think that after all the searching of humanity dealing with these issues would be common place both in the doctor’s office and in the classroom. The doctors of our country are treaters not healers and the teacher’s talkers who dirty the word teacher by their use of it.
The eave of my resolution was a hot evening in the California summer and made hotter by the disrepair of that tomb I live in so that the air was oppressive. I was thinking of some injustice I have suffered, what it was is lost to me in the sea of those things, and my body was like a furnace of rage in its own right. My hand jerked as if to lash out at the thing that bothered me, and my heart pounded to make my body ready for the fight. I clenched my jaw and heard my teeth crack under the strain.
Then I stopped, I just let myself fall to the floor and sat still for a few minutes. I knew that getting like that would never help things. It was just making them worse. The anger that lived in me had become an interloper invading my life, a malicious invader stealing from me the ticking moments.
I knew better than to let this happen to me. Stress and anger weren't topics covered in my psychology classes, but the treatment of addiction and obsession were, and those feeble tools were all I had to lance the sore of my pain and let the puss run from this wound that is my life. It starts with the heart. The hammering of the heart puts the body into play and the body then drives the mind. With every remembrance the anger I felt grew like a tumor expanding, and forever hungry for more of me. Now when I become angry I breathe deep to slow the beating of my heart. It helps, you wouldn't think a thing as simple as that would, but it does. With that simple thing I could stop the reactions that made me so upset. I couldn't stop the anger but I had some amount of control.
Then came what I had learned from the research of B. F. Skinner and his systematic desensitization theory. It's good to stay calm, but to deal with the anger it is necessary to change how the body reacts during the remembrance. I had to think of the thing that made me angry and keep breathing deep staying calm and collected. It sounds counter to logic to think of the thing that bothers you and try to stay calm. Yet, I do find it helpful. If it becomes impossible to think of the thing that bothers you without getting angry then think of something related to that thing.
One of the things I had to do was think of my father, not what he did that angered me so but just of his face. I can't tell you how much I would like to have put a fist into that face, but I had to think of him and stay calm. After some time I could remember many of the things he did without growing angry. Well, that's one, now for many many more.

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roth’s Monologue

This is another of the files I found revolving around a playwriting class I took in 2007. However, this was not an assignment just something I opted to ask the class. They said 2 what do you think?

What we have here is two versions of the same monologue in response to the line  “Why not just light the fire and let these monsters burn?” Witch to you think is better all you need to do is respond with a 1 or a 2 and that will help me along.

Mr. Tiller, I passed a playground on the way here, sprawling with children, and I thought will one of these kids grow up without a father because of what I’m doing today?  Will their fragile ears hear the cries of anguish as I reduce men to dust?  How will I go home tonight have dinner with my family and lie beside my wife knowing what I have done?  I truly believe I’m destroying something evil but in doing so I will not become evil.  The good lord said “thou shall not kill” but today we are called to kill.  If you think that I’m proud of myself, if you think that I will look back on this day with reverence, you’re wrong.  I’m a butcher, a serial mass murderer, but I’m not a beast.  This isn’t right, but it is necessary.  So I’ll do it, but I can’t just burn men alive, it would make me no less evil then they are.

What would that accomplish? I have more of a reason to hate these men then any of you. I have the whimpers of pain and the smell of smoke to drive my vengeance. For your photograph I have faces and names, the hands I held, the heart whose beating lolled my child hood self to sleep, reduced to ashes. Yet, what would my wrath accomplish? Tell me, Mr. Tiller, how many liters of blood must I spill to resurrect from their ashes a victim of the ovens? The baying of what brazen bull will deafen the echoes of grief that still wring in my ears across the decades. Were I to round up every one of the soldiers of Hitler, the Seizers, and the Pharos or even every thing to walk in human form that has drawn the blood of my people what suffering could I visit upon them to remove from the world of truth but one moment spent in misery. What I will do here today is necessary but do not confuse necessity with rightness. Do not confuse dexterity with joy or justice with jubilation. We are not monsters, Mr. Tiller, we simply cannot burn men alive.      

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dog's Eye

So, I stumbled on an old file folder with a few of these kinds of things in it written in mid 2007 as class assignment. I’d show you the responses but the school took them down.

In any case, I wrote this to be how my dog feels about this blanket.

It’s cold here in the dark, the cold that makes pain in my legs. I press my nose against my belly and wish for the summer. Summer with its worm breath and the scent of grass to lull me to sleep. Even on the darkest nights it’s not as dark as it is in here now. I have my nose to find my food and my water is never far away but I’m too cold to be hungry anyway. At least my bedding is fresh. It’s a small comfort during the cold time of the year, much like being in here, but at least I sleep on something warm, it’s better then freezing out side.
I hear the door handle turn and raise my head as the door slides open. It’s the big man in his dark night pelt. “Stay, August” he says as he flips on the lights and walks in. “That’s a good dog,” he lays a hand on my head and rubs the cold from my ears. I respond to him with a happy growl and lay my head back down.
My heart leaps as he billows out a big woolly blanket and settles it over me. Aaahhhh, warm at last, he scratches my head through the fabric and tucks it in around me. “Right then, sleep tight,” I listen to his foots steps as he walks off and closes the door.
I poke my nose out of the warmth to feel the cool of the night content in this world. Even the summer cannot be this sweet. I nod off to sleep wishing the morning would never come. I love it here. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vietnam Comments

Ran into this today and thought it was funny so read it and tell me what you think.

I believe I wrote it for a playwriting class but I may have just written it to write it and have it all in one place.

So my father always used to tell me that Vietnam was that best time of his life. He would say things like “You know when I was a mailman in Vietnam, we used to sit up on the roof tops, smoke dope, and watch the battles, and every now and again you’d look up at a rooftop and see sparks coming down. That was a commanding officer coming to check on his men and them dumping their dope. But you see, I was never on a rooftop, I was always on the ground, collecting their dope. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go smoke their dope. At the end of the war,” he continued without getting up, “I came to my unit and said ‘well boys, we’re going home, and we’re going to have an inspection. So, anything you don’t want them to find you just put in this box right here.’ One man had some pills; there was a good amount of heroin, and, of course, all kinds of dope. Then I sealed the box, sent it home, and we never had an inspection. I miss that war.”

It’s funny that my father tried very hard to get kicked out of the army during boot camp and failed miserably and then when over there to spent the war sleeping with prostitutes and doing drugs. I wonder if the war shaped him or just exaggerated existing characteristics. He did drugs in high school, drugs in college, and even more drugs when he was drafted.

If you knew the pain this man has caused me then you would understand why I’m nothing like him.    

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Addictive Behavior

March 02, 2012

Week 9: A. Interview someone with an addiction. This can be to drugs, alcohol, food, prescriptions, gambling, etc. Determine what occurred in their lives that made them vulnerable to this behavior. Use terms like psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, and epigenetic. Do you agree with their given diagnosis? How do you see their prognosis and why? 8 pages minimum.

Addictive Behavior
AR is a very fat and lethargic man being shorter than I and still rounder. He is a father of four, a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a retiree. Scars on his face and arms where the skin has simply died tell me that his nutrition is bad and his smell tells me that he has trouble bathing. AR has been confined to a wheelchair for the last five years after a car accident as a result of drinking.

Alcohol and drug use began for AR in high school. “I’d go down to my dad’s with some friends, drink beer, and watch (pornographic) reels.” He was referring to pornographic media on an eight millimeter projector that his father had owned. Apparently this was the thing to have at the time. He said his father had commented that it was good for him to know what sex looked like at that age. AR stated that this started when he was fourteen or fifteen.

We can see from this that a number of things in behaviorist theory come into play. Firstly, his father and mother were still married but not living together. They lived close enough to one another for him to gain common access to either parent. This must have caused anxiety and alcohol would have removed that anxiety. We would refer to this as negative reinforcement or the removal of a negative condition. ‘Drinking makes the pain go away.’ 

In terms of positive reinforcement when AR drank he felt good, spent time with his friends and father, watch pornography, and ate fatty foods. All these things would be positive reinforcement. Everything in his life pushes him towards becoming an addict.

At the time tobacco had fewer taboos about it and THC was a simpler drug. Much like sex these things have changed drastically over the last few decades in the public mentality. AR was a user of both of these substances in high school, but had more ready access to alcohol and so it was his drug of choice.

We may also note that drinking gained him approval from his father and friends. We can extrapolate that in Freudian terms this had an impact on the judgment of the Superego. The Id wants gratification by eating, drinking, and watching pornography. The Ego will only work against these things if it feels that there are consequences.  The Superego interprets the expectance of AR’s friends and family as Alcohol being good. Ego is then given pressure from both sides to drink. AR did mention that his father had taught him to drink slowly so as not to induce vomiting.

AR commented that he had once been to a party where he and two other men mad a pyramid out of empty beer cans. There were only the three men there at the time indicating that AR felt a party was friend and Alcohol. I asked if he had done anything else that night and he replied “what more do you need.” I question him on the volume of alcohol he drank that evening but he commented that he lost track.

It is also important to note that at age fourteen through eighteen AR was entering the Genital stage of his Psychosexual Development. AR would have associated alcohol with sexuality and those two things would have a strong connection for the rest of his life. I did not ask, but AR like gratified himself when drunk strengthening his connection between sex and alcohol. It is entry possible that AR had a preexisting oral fixation which could now transfer.

In addition some time must be spent commenting that the father had a connection between sex, food, and Alcohol. This would lend to an oral or anal fixation as the more one eats the more one will have stimulation for the anus. AR’s disheveled appearance, dirty shirt, and noted hair may be a sign that he has trouble looking after himself or that he has an expulsive personality.

As it would have been rude to question AR on his own habits I asked him about his father. “I guess he had dirty shirts, I mean, my sister did his laundry until he died.” I can kind of guess that AR is one of a long line of expulsive personalities. It is possible that AR’s problems are a result of nature but nurture is the larger factor here.

I began to question AR about his alcohol abuse later in life. It was a surprise to me that he went to college before being drafted, but I have learned that many veterans fall into this category. He noted that drinking lost some of its appeal when he turned twenty one. “I liked it more when it was illegal,” he commented. This would also indicate that the Superego felt that breaking the law was a form of social expected practice. The Superego reacted to what his social group did and thus led him along these lines.  

“In college I had to back off a bit, well, you see, I went to this party and had this thing called a sneaky peach. I must have had a lot of them because I woke up the next morning like somebody knifed me.” This drink he explained tasted as if it had very little in it but packed a big kick after the fact.  AR are reported that after the sneaky peach party. He did not drink for six months.  This is consistent with punishment from behaviorist theory. AR got himself alcohol poisoning and paid for it rather dearly.

To place this under Freud Superego got a wakeup call and made an effort to persuade Ego to stay away for drinking. Biology is a very important part of any personality and the fact that the body has said ‘no more’ has an impact. Pain can be very motivating. Superego made a stronger case than Id until societal pressure began to weigh on Superego.

AR noted that he couldn’t be around his father when he was drinking because of the smell and he dreaded going out with friends who vomited from drinking because of the scent. What got him back in the habit was spending time with friends. “I went to a party and everyone asked where I had been. I told um I didn’t feel like partying much. Then someone put a beer in my hand. It was like I had run into all my old high school friends.” Society once again told Superego that it agreed with ego. He may be noted that there was a limit to his drinking at this time and that he “kept it down,” but that he did binge drink from time to time.

It may also be noted that drinking may have brought about negative conditions like bad grades. This would have meant that the removal of alcohol from AR’s life was given some negative reinforcements. The removal of the bad conditions like negative grades, little spending money, and so forth would have changed AR’s life greatly without societal pressure.

AR stated that he kept drinking moderately until he was drafted. “In the Army you drank what you could get your hands on.”  He noted that he drank the alcohols that he referred to as piss. It was at this point that he got into harder drugs and because “that’s what we all did.” AR took pills, smoked all kind of things, and snorted cocaine in the army and was under the influence as much as possible. All of these things he said he had ready access to at the time because the other solders had them.

I asked if he took any of that when he returned to the United States. “I smoked May in high school but I wouldn’t get the hard shit when I came back. I didn’t want to go to jail and didn’t know the people for that.” He kept drinking until the accident and said he never missed the hard drugs.

We can note here that Superego has been told by society that drugs are not acceptable but the alcohol is still part of life. It is likely that if AR still had friends who did hard drugs he would still be doing them or have died from them. The fact that he now has a social circle that prohibits drug use gives Superego all it needs to regulate the behavior.

“Where you a heavy drinker until the accident?” I asked.

“Na, I got piss drunk every now and then but I just like beer.”  He said that he had been drinking whisky that night because he was feeling low and he drank more than he thought he had.

He said that he was done drinking because of what had happened and that it was hard for him to get out of the chair to use the restroom. AR is not paralyzed but his legs a not strong enough to lift him.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Room Shuffle Steps on Feet

I do indeed recall this event and this time of my life and will tell you that I was a sheeple doing as I was told. The Professor of the class in question had become upset of his being shuffled from room to room and asked the class to address this problem with the powers that were.

No recollection resides in my head as to whether or not this was ever mailed or emailed. I hope I did not so embarrass myself by mailing this rubbish.   Then you could ask why I’m placing it on the internet so you can all laugh at me? Well, remembering what a fool I was helps me to not be so foolish in the future.

The ‘Jury Selections’ refer to an acting event where a scene or monolog is prepared to be critiqued. This is done to give the actor a clear understanding of how they can improve.

9th December 2005
Dear Bob,

Where I am sure you are aware of the events of this Sixth of December as they pertain to the acting 120 C course. As you know, the class was sent to more than four locations before finding one that was both unoccupied and suitable, in the loosest definition of the word, for our activities. We are your most advanced students and there was no place for us. 

That day we had planned to perform and get feedback on our jury selections for the following Thursday.  The hour we lost was extremely valuable class time. Lousing it meant that many of our selection groups did not have a chance to perform that day and those that did had to get what they could out of an instructor rushing to give all of his students equal attention.

To compound matters many of our 120 C students are involved with the High School Theatre Festival and could have likely used the hour we spent moving from class to class getting ready for the meeting that Friday. My partner for the next assignment could have used that time in getting a copy of our selection for me. I have lost two days of time to work on that selection because of this incident.

It may not be apparent that the acting C class is the most likely body of students to continue on in theatre and represent the college but we are. We look to the department for the values that will see us through life as professionals. So how are we to interpret this oversight? It is not as if it is unique, 120 C as been booted from space to space before, shared spaces with other classes, and even conducted class outdoors.

There must be some reason for this problem but problems are for those how do not wish to solve them. Perhaps fewer classes could be scheduled at the same time. Better communications within the department could yield a procedure for dealing with this occurrence. Yet another possibility would be to assign courses in commonly needed spaces to other rooms and allow them to reserve performance spaces as needed. No matter what the solution I’m very sure that a well educated group of people like your staff should have no difficulty in rectifying this situation.

Always at you service

Richard L. Neal