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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Missing Key

18th March 2012

Dear Cassi,

Two days ago I told you about the time my bike was damaged. Today I bring up the insult that went with the injury. Alan, my parent and guardian, decided we needed to find the key. He said that someone might find it and steel my bike. How this person was supposed to look at a U-lock key and say ‘I’ll try this on every bike until it opens one’ is beyond me.
So we went down to the hill and looked for the key and I tried everything to try to get him to give up the search. I told him the key had fallen down the sewer, and that it had broken, and any lie I could come up with. He knew I was full of it but if he had a drop of common sense we would have never gone out there in the first place.
He made me look in the grass and down the sewer way and so forth. We looked for an hour or two to no avail. In the end we drove home and he explained how he knew that I was lying as he had asked the same question and gotten different answers.
As I told you in the letter on the 15th the key had never left Fallstaff’s pocket. His mother found it in the wash. I’ve heard of folks looking for things in places where they knew they were and finding them after years. Still, how important is a U-lock key? I have no idea if another could have been crafted but the lock was only a few dollars. That was twenty years ago and the old man would spend hundreds on crap because he felt like it, and then it would sit on the floor in my house for weeks.
If would have been different if he had at last taken his crud home but no it was the act of buying he loved so much. Maybe he just wanted to screw up my afternoon the way buying a bike tire hand screwed up his.

Keep an eye on your keys, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Friday, June 29, 2012

Last Day of the Term

17th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today is my last day of grad school for this quarter and I feel as if it has been a long and difficult journey. My hair is long and knotted, my face is covered in stubble and scabs, and my body is a bloated mess.
The floor of my bedroom is presently covered in laundry and the first load of my towels is in the wash. My bed itself is a tangle of blankets on a mattress that has not seen sheets in three weeks. I’m hoping this was depression for which I am now in treatment. I hope this makes a new era in my life, the moment I got my crap together, the day I stopped being a slob.
Then how many times have I said that or again who doesn’t wish that the new day brings a better them? Even if today marks some turning point then the ground work was laid years before.
We all hope to rise above and I have seen to things which may help with that but still I wonder if it will ever happen. Will my labors give forth fruit or will they be Barron as they have been? I know I’m not alone in these questions but that makes the answers no easer to gain.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is there a Good Divorce?

This is a response to the New Your Times article:
The basic point I have to bring up here is that stability in a relationship, (working, marriage, or friendship) comes from believing you have what you deserve. Not having just believing.

Whether or not a marriage should be dissolved is something that should come on a situation by situation basis. Still, this looks to me more like an act of selfishness than anything else. Is it okay to be selfish? I need to know more about the child in this relationship first. Being married is about us, having children is about them, and so long as needs are being best served than actions are proper.   

The article here points more to what we call anecdotal evidence than hard numbers and should be looked at as a notion more than a suggestion. Some people develop cancer and it is a road to a better life others get a common cold and it kills them.

I would never advocate a person staying in an abusive relationship. However, I would never advocate someone get a divorce because their spouse doesn’t ‘listen to everything’ they say. The dynamic this person is looking for is dysfunctional doting and I would have to give her a thumbs down.
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Small Accomplishments

This is another grad school post. Just a Blurb and taken out of context but you can guess at my subject.

I recall a type of group therapy where at the start of group we were asked to “congratulate ourselves for doing something for our mental health.” This idea that group is a step in the right direction is an important step in many types of therapy.

For treating my own depression I have been trying to keep track of the small things I accomplish to note how well I am doing. I never get all the work done, but to know that I went so far is a mental exercise in hope.

Giving the client the feeling that they are helping themselves, doing what they need to, and being the active component in their recovery is the most important thing to accomplish in treatment. “Foster an internal locus of control” is one of my common statements to my coworkers. 
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Self Medication

True, Doc, I was always a big caffeine user myself. It would get to the point where I had to have a monster to feel normal and I would pick a good three day stretch that I would hold out to let it out of my system so that when I was back on the caffeine I would feel it again.

Then I started having pain in my kidneys and went to the doctor for it. I had just gotten medical at work so I was back on the SSRI for my depression. Well, the doctor said my kidneys pain was muscular but the SSRI made it look like orange soda when I went to the washroom and the pain got better.

The other major side effect was I slept all day and my eyes stung when I tried to read. I started sleeping almost every hour I wasn’t at work and trying to hit the caffeine to get my work done but this proved ineffective.

Now I put sleep first and I feel better, but I look at how far I am behind and just want to go back to sleep. The pain in my back is almost gone but the orange soda fountain in my pants is still open once or twice a day.

I discourage self medication whenever possible because I know that true medication is more effective. I stress coping techniques with my clients because I know how important they are and I use them myself.

To be honest I feel like I’m at the bottom of a well trying to crawl out and the caffeine hasn’t helped much. Knowing what this feels like has been a big help to my clients, but the limits of my own strength is a concern.
 Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Monday, June 25, 2012

Long before the Chicken

This is a response to a class post of some kind and I have some recollection of it having something to do with people being successful in life and contacting or spending time with family.

I have a bad relationship with my family. Save, clearly, for Cassi whom I have no blood relation with. The bond she and I have is having shared the same pain. It is not because I do not spend time with my family that I suffer in life but because of the reason I fail to spend time with family.

Yeah, I’m at a loss in this regard, Doc, as I haven’t lived with parents since the age of 10 when my mother passed. However, it has been more my understanding that stress to a family unit brings out what is there not changes things.

I can tell you that the clients with the worst mental problems are our best opportunities to test ourselves as clinicians and so the hard times are the best judge of family. The people who feel more life satisfaction are those with the families that would be there to help them if needed. If the family unit is unsupportive a person will have more problems in life as a natural result.

A parent that views children, or their own parents, as a burden will bring up children with more anxiety. These children will have difficulty in life and less satisfaction.

There is something to be said here for the chicken or egg enology, yes, but remember that in nature the egg came long before the chicken.
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life Handed Over

21st January 2012
Dear Cassi,

Folks who have had life handed to them are generally screw ups. Then, I guess you can see that as well as I by now. I cannot say if it is because they never learned to appreciate what they have or if it is because they simply cannot empathies with others.
As you will recall, that bloated thing that calls itself my female sibling had $30,000 handed to her to buy a home. Then she asked for another $30,000 and I believed still wanted more. This after four years of checks every month to pay for her college and living off me rent free.
I recall the day I disowned her. “You are not my sister,” I said. “You’re dead to me.” I would not speak to her for ten months after that even as we lived in the same home.
When I finally spoke to her again, and I grant that was a mistake, she asked “How do you think that made me feel?” I stand by it today that I will think of her as no blood of mine. After her transgressions who of right mind would not feel the same.
In intimate relationships I recall the Professor saying that we often treat our own blood worst of all because we feel as if they will never leave us. If only we would learn to walk away from toxic people. My mother always told me “Treat friends like family, and family like friends.” Mom didn’t talk to her family much. They were a fighting bunch and still are so she kept a healthy distance.
I once heard an actor say that the people he knew who had trust funds set up for them are the folks who spend the most time messing up their life. Never having to work for a living does that apparently.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Friday, June 22, 2012

George Washington’s Rules: Show Nothing

16th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today I commit to memory George Washington’s third rule of civil and decent behavior: “Show Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.” This is simple but experts have taken it to mean “embarrassing people is inconsiderate.” The direct meaning is as good a rule as the indirect.
If I had something like a rattle snake that I had milked of its venom I doubt it would be polite to show the reptile to the unwarned. This would “affright” them and be an embarrassment. Likewise, when I was a young man folks would walk around with dirty pictures and show them to the young boys to get a rise out of them. This too is rude.
Take it as note that showing folks things they have no wish to see or telling the things that well upset them in casual conversation is uncivil. It would be something else if a point was being made but rude for the sake of reaction.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fallstaff and I

15th March 2012
Dear Cassi,
A point one should understand about instructions is that they should be followed if they make sense. There was once a day that I had given instructions that were ignored and that cost dearly to the failed listener and I.
I think I was eleven or twelve and was riding bikes with a friend. I think I’ll call this fellow Fallstaff. Fallstaff and I had ridden a mile off and found a nice hill to climb. We hooked our bikes together with my U lock and he put the key in his pocket.
We made our way up the hill until we crawled through a dead tree and the branches broke. We didn’t get hurt but there were some insects living in the tree and that was all for the two of us. That and we were both so out of shape that making it up that hill just wasn’t going to happen.
We found our way back to the bikes and Fallstaff said he lost the key. ‘Turn out your pockets’ I said and he said ‘why?’.  This was a foolish question.
“Because you might have the key in there,” I explained.
“I don’t” he insisted.
“Come on, it’ll take you a second.” No matter what I said he simply refused to be sure that he didn’t have the key so we dragged our bikes home. This was a bad idea as the tread on the tires was never meant to take that kind of punishment.
We opened a hole in one bike tire and cut the second balled. The bikes were unusable until we got then fixed and my pride was hurt as I was told I should have asked for help at the nearest house. Fallstaff’s mother found the key in his pants the next day.

Take that extra second, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


20th January 2012
Dear Cassi,
I get the feeling you might have an understanding for a book I read once called ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’ by Mark Twain. There is a character in that book who they call a “whelp.” I had to look this word up and found that it meant the child of a carnivorous mammal or an unruly, disrespectful, or inappropriately bold human youth.
The whelp was noted for “touching people about their sore spots” or as I took this bringing up things that upset people. On top of this he was a thief, liar, and murderer. He was also a transvestite, but I never got how that played into the whole thing.
A big point was made about how he talked about things that bother people and reminded them of things that made them feel pain. The Whelp was the usurper and illegitimate child of his master, the product and destruction of a person who kept slaves and mistreated them. He then, as the master of the home, was no better to his slaves and even his own biological mother.
This book was a great controversy in its time from what I understand. Evil will breed evil I guess. However, the point is that those folks who bring you down are a destructive force in the world. You saw the folks, whelps every one, who always put me down, and I had to turn away from them to live my life.
Sitting folks down and talking to them never did much for me in this situation, but it might help with those cankers you may come across. Then, the people you can be honest with are so far and few that I wonder if I can count them on my fingers with a pair of socks over my hands.
In my case I had to turn away from the folks who put me down. I try not to let it bother me but still it does on occasion. I make a great effort to grow past that sort of thing and it helps.

Live strong, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Middle School Memoirs: Ms. Tumor

14th March 2012
Dear Cassi,
One of the teachers I had in middle school the students called Tumor. This was because her name rhymed with the word. She was one of the first three “Get to Know Your New School/Rob you of your summer vacation so your parents don’t have to deal with you,” class teachers I had. The other two I cannot recall.
I think the class was English as this teacher taught English, Theater, and Student Government. I have little faith in the need for a summer Student Government class, and I would recall if it were Theater. I did later have Theater with this teacher, but I’m rather sure it was English she was teaching over the summer.
I remember that I gave some presentation and she pulled me aside after class and asked if I had considered theater. As you know, I had been in one play by that point and had planned to go on. This was a real encouragement to me in a world where we should truly never encourage people to involve themselves in theater.
Every now and then a small action will change a life. I cannot say if this one had much of an impact but I took theater in middle school. I went on to take it in high school and college only to lose my taste for it after too many dollars spent and too much time wasted.
Now I struggle to salvage what I can from my theater days but it isn’t easy. So much time spent and so many skills learned that apply to nothing. Then, to try and fail is to live and learn.

Stay safe, little sister

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bad News from a Director

13th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today, or rather yesterday when I can into work, my director had a problem. That is to say that I and a coworker are now trying to enter a film contest and he is getting cold feet. The issue was that we needed a housing for the camera to add stability so I looked it up and ordered it in front of him so that he knew it was coming.
If we win this, I grant I think we will not, the prize is a half million dollars to make a film. This is a win to change a life, a game changer, a chance to shine, and he has other things to worry about. I can’t fault the man for having other project I just wish he’d prioritize.
Then, what he has going on could be a better deal than this contest. It sure has better odds of coming through. Still, I wish he communicated the situation so I could address the problems. In the end I want to make sure that there is nothing I could have done that has been left undone.
The director asked for a script and I had it for him the next day. I believe he’s skimmed it but he hasn’t given me notes. It could be that he feels the script is well in hand and that any alterations can be made when shooting.
All and all, he said that contest or no he still wishes to film this project so that we can get used to working with DSLR technology. As for me, you got bullets; you got night, then take a shot in the dark. Who knows, you might hit something.

Never miss a chance to shine

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hands Off

12th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

The other day someone made a fuss over my policy of never touching people’s belongings at work. This is a hard rule to follow given that I have to check bags and pockets as folks come in, but it is for my own protection.
The first point I need to make is that if I never touch the bag then I cannot be accused of removing its contents. Some of the bags have cash and valuables. These could come up missing and then I could be accused. If I never come in contact with the bag then I can never be accused.
Second, there could be something in that bag I have no wish to handle or that could be dangerous. Needles and razorblades can provide a hazard to the prying hand. The bag could have come in contact with body fluids. Sure, I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands commonly. Still, I have no wish to have E. coli or salmonella on my skin. The other day I had a cut on my hand and had failed to notice until I used hand sanitizer and felt the sting.

I can use gloves, sure, but they are not puncture proof. Why take a risk with my health and well being? I keep my hands off bags and ask folks to open them for me. I still find what I’m looking for if they have contraband.

As a Safety and Security Officer I make it a point to be professional about my job. I set an example for my coworkers and clients. This has never given me a leg up, but, as I say, good men die hard.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Middle School Memoirs: The Day I Met Turtle Nose

11th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

In psychology we often say that the abuser finds the abused. This is something of the case with your ex husband and I. I can recall the first day I met him and he was already a plump thing of a person to my twelve year old eyes. I call him Turtle Nose because of the photograph his father had of him as a young boy that was what he looked like before the fat grew in and he because he had an alien character in one of ‘his’ stories that looked like a turtle.
That and a turtle head is a poop about to drop, and everything he touches goes to shit. You know what I mean. From this point let’s call him Turtle Nose and we can get the joke.
Turtle Nose had been in the honors class a year ahead of me and, as we had a drama project with the two classes, he knew me from class. I did not know him. I had little in the way of recognition skills still at the time and I was unsure as to how he knew me when he approached me on the playground and wanted to play basketball. 
I was never one for sports mostly because without uniforms I could never remember who is on my team. Still, as I had nothing better to do at the moment I agreed and we played a game I had little understanding of at the time.

Turtle Nose said that he was a Mormon priest, a boy scout, and a chess player. None of these things held any sway with me, but I put them in my mental file. I cannot say that he was a bad friend a first, but then if he had been a good friend that should have made an impact on my well being.

My most honest assessment is that he was there as most folks were in my life at the time. It is my feeling that during that time in my life most people ignored my problems. I like to think of that time as the cold time because what I remember most is a feeling of cold. I felt that coldness under my skin and there is a bit of it in me to this day.

Stay warm, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Friday, June 15, 2012

George Washington’s Rules: Put Not Your Hands

10th March 2012
Dear Cassi,
Today I commit to memory George Washington’s second rule of civil and decent behavior “When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.” This I feel is simpler than “Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect, to those who are present.”
The second rule is simple; keep our hands out of the dirty zones of the body. I have never had a problem with that as a grown man, but I picked my nose as a child and I paid dearly for it in embarrassment.
Then I do know this has been a problem with some. It tends to be a sign of mental illness in those who are grown and sensible so playing with oneself is understood to be wrong. It may even go further as to say that one should, in general, keep their hands off their body when in public.
I grant that everyone gets and itch from time to time but still it never looks good when a fellow scratches his arm or chin. It makes others want to scratch. I will grant there are occasions when one needs to scratch or adjust or what not. Still, these are better done in private if possible. 
“When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered,” is not a rule I needed to hear, but I have met folks who needed a firm talking to in that notion.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Middle School Memoirs

9th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

If I recall correctly in my life history it is time for me to talk about middle school. If my calculations are right I first attended Katherine Edwards Middle School in the summer of 1991 taking three classes as a means for acclimating to the idea of having more than one teacher.
Katherine Edwards, from what I recall, was a nurse in the First or Second World War. I do not believe she had any relation to the area of the school for which she was named. The school was an old set of buildings set by 605 Freeway. This location denoted it as a school servicing the poor communities as the homes by a freeway have less value. 
I know they built on to the school at some point and then added a few “temporary building” for good measure. It was a modest school for folks of modest means. I recall the front glass windows being replace with those of all sorts of colors some misted and some blue, some glass and some plastic gone more diverse as the windows moved closer to ground level. 
That’s kind of how that place was, just a patchwork of passable bits. You look at each bit on its own then the bits are okay. They are what they should be, but when you look at them together you get a malformed hash.
My middles school was populated but students whose parents didn’t care. When the parents stop caring about their children the teachers follow. What we were left with was little more than a zoo for wild children who thought they were grown.
So far as I can see, a youth is like a rosebush. If a rose is never looked after it grows knotted thick and ugly. The longer it lives in neglect the harder it is to return the plant to its noble glory. The rose is a great survivor but its wild self is not so well off as its tamed. Children are like that, the need looking after, and at my middle school that was something they never had.

Stray safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


8th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Well, today I started Fluoxetine a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This in an effort to quell the anger I feel and dispel the dread. I know that it will do something but what I cannot say for sure. On the three occasions I have been proscribed this medication I have mellowed and done well but never before have I known what to do about my problems.
I must now exhume the bodies of those souls whose ghost haunt me still. I have to recall my bad times and in doing so take from them the emotional energies that they hold. By reliving my pain and holding myself calm I will suppress my emotions and desensitize myself.
The nature of my need in this is to speak, but not necessarily for you to listen. As the letters come they will be like tears from my eyes dropping onto the cold ground. My pain and anguish will flow through them and away from me leaving me purged. It will be a pus from a wound bursting forth and in its passing so much a relief for my red and fevered skin.
Fluoxetine is only a way of suppressing the emotions but it is not a cure. The cure is within the self and I only use this medication to aid in healing. It cannot heal me for only I can do such things.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving On

7th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

When I left grade school we had a graduation. I thought it was silly and so it was given that we had no mortarboards or gowns. Somewhere there is a Polaroid of me in a red shirt and green tie that was taken that day.
Off all the students of North Wittier Andrews Elementary I have no knowledge of any that did not pass. Why we would have some graduation signifying that we have accomplished something? To make the teachers feel as if they did something I assume. I couldn’t read until a year before my mother’s death. The teachers just thought I was stupid so they never tried to help me. Still, there we were in the patio sitting around being happy the summer was coming.
There were so many of those faces that I would never see again, but still none that I honestly miss. That was a part of my life I left behind when I went to middle school. I do recall they gave me the opportunity to attend a math academy at what would become my high school but I opted to attend a prep course at Edwards instead. It had an impact on my life, but what kind of impact I’ll still need to sort out.

Stay Safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal