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Friday, August 31, 2012

Hands Off My Pie

11th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Over the weekend I baked five pies and woke this evening to find the Pickles had eaten one. A full eight inch pie disappeared down his gut. Not that this should have surprised me as he has done things like this before and claimed he “lost control”. My feeling on the subject is that he just likes pie.
However, Pickles has always been a fellow who believed that he could blame his actions on the outside world and get away with it as he has done for years. We call this an “external Locus of control” in psychology and note that most folks who have them tend to be happier with who they are feeling that they are not to blame.
I asked Pickles if he had offered one of the pies to Mickey who had been over to install my range hood. I hadn’t asked the man myself only because I had no idea if any of the pies were left. Pickles could have eaten every one. Pickles said that he had not and I sent him over to deliver a nice sweet potato pie.
As I only had the pies because Pickles had sweet potatoes that he wanted to get rid of so I guess it’s should be no big thing that he had one but he could have saved some for me. If we gave away all four of the other pies then I would have wondered what they tasted like. When I make a pie we always split one so see how my cooking works but this time He had the whole thing.
I hope you live with less greedy folks than I.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do Not Go to Detention

10th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Yesterday I told you of the one time I was given detention. If it had ended there I think I would have forgotten the whole thing by now. No this was an illustration of the failed support network that I had as a young man.

I took this issue to Alan who, as my guardian, had the responsibility to defend my interest. First, the old man made a dirty joke. “Look, Rick, there are only so many times I can sleep with your teachers to get you out of trouble.” Making my problems a perverted joke was a bad idea for a man who earned his Master’s in psychology.

Then the old pervert said that I should pick my battles and that the principal was in the business of being in charge. I think the reason why this stuck with me is that I had a person I was to call ‘Dad’ who refused to look after my interests. It’s a cold feeling to know so much injustice and be so unable to defend yourself.

That empty spot in my chest where family should be over the years filled with ice. I have always been a cold man, but I am so because it is who I needed to be to live in this world.

As an epilogue, I never served detention as I arrived for it and was told I could leave. The darkness and the dim of my life is not without those points of light we would call stars.
I still am without the knowledge of why I was paroled. Did that fellow know of my character or did he know of the misconduct of his superiors? The truth is unknown.

Stay strong, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, August 20, 2012

Images: a Poem

Richard Leland Neal as an idiot 16 year old
Having found this on an old floppy disk I can say that it took me back to a time in my life I hated. This is a poem I wrote back in July of 1995, high school, and the old place was a dump I wanted to stay in forever.

 In other words, these are the words of an idiot fifteen year old. I had to do some major editing because back then I was suffering from the worst depression of my life and couldn't write much. My damaged brain simply didn't have the energy to form words and so reading any of my work from that time is like looking through a fog. Well, find what meaning you will in this, I sure did. 

 by Richard Leland Neal

a world of  beautiful images
a world I cannot enter
like a chorus of  life
I sit in an audience
 my peers in this cold computers
they have no soul, they have no god
no will no mind no reason
there glowing screens looking in to the world
but they stare expressionless at me
 I am one of them
I reach for an image from the cold of the crowds
 my hand is stopped
as if  by a wall that holds me back
and I strain to bridge the gap of empty solid air
as I push harder and harder
beads of sweat dot my brow
drops of  blood streak my hand
sweat flowing, blood running
stinging pain and yet I persist
muscles tens and shaking
my eyes monitor the slow progress
I finely bridge the gap and stop
the distance the trials and no reward
for I think is it worth it
to stain the image that was my goal
destroy it with my blood
and then in bold
I am not worthy of their world

then a wall on either side
the two worlds of beauty and of cold resist me
but it is not even the sting
that the devils make that would drive to allow
the passage out of my frozen hell
the reason for this is so plain to me
the reason is this you see
no point, no plot,
 no common ground lies between either
In my world it seems I soar aloft and am looking down
but I'm like a worm in the ground
I am lower than low
I can't be found
Like a part of a broken puzzle
I have no match
I’m searching out a missing piece

that has ceased to exist

Friday, August 17, 2012


9th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

        One of the events that sits ill in my gut from middle school is the one time I was given detention. The full details of the dispute I cannot recall. What I do remember is that one of the girl students sprayed something in my eyes and I, being the eleven year old fool I was, ran forward ramming into her.
        According to the state of California, to the best of my knowledge, she committed assault. Spitting on someone or making any unwanted physical contact is assault. In the eyes of the law I was defending myself. To my teachers it was a different story.
        The principal wanted to let the subject drop, but I was eager to see it resolved. She walked away ignoring me, but I followed her not permitting the issue to fall through the cracks. She had so far refused to talk to me at all about it and I was to put my words in. I had seen enough bull at school and I knew that letting things drop would never do because I would deal with them another day.
Well, if this was an issue of my being a male or that she felt folks of my skin tone had no rights I do not know. As result, I have always thought of teachers as folks with prejudice as my experience gives proof.
        You see it was I who got in trouble that day. The principal refused to even hear what I had to say. “Don’t you think that ramming into a girl is worth detention?” she said. The fact that I had been first attacked and that, if nothing else, we were both wrong never entered into the equation.
        Had my middle school been a better place this would surprise me but I knew it was a puddle of societal filth even then. In a place like that you will find a few good teachers, but only so very few as cannot stem the tides of ignorance.

Know thyself, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hit a Girl

8th April 2012
Dear Cassi,
As a child all three of us had nicknames. Then as children we all have nicknames I guess. Among all the nicknames I have had I recall one my mother gave me, “Hair of the Goldenrod” because at the time my hair was the color of spun gold. I do recall my most common nickname was dweeb. Dweeb is a word that means socially inept or overly studious. I guess it fits.
My male sibling was Pickle Puss or Slow dependant on the year but I believe Pickle Puss lasted longer. It is a coincidence that he started getting rather bad zits and the name fit. Still, he did love pickles. So then I should call him pickles because hearing his name bothers me.
Then to my female sibling, well, she had a good number of derogatory names. The only one that I can truly use would be Bam-Bam because of her tendency to hit people. Bam-Bam ran about expecting her female nature to protect her from retribution.
You can trust me on this she was spoiled rotten and I can’t say why. Yes, she did have a pony, yes she had her own room when the two boys had to share one, but still the origin of her evil nature is unknown to me.
I recall her using my mother’s death for sympathy. She even joked about leaving the invitations for my mother’s funeral where her teachers could find them.
On second thought, I’ll forget the Bam-Bam is a girl. Hmmm, let’s call her Pony Girl from now on. It reminds me of a novel I read back in middle school.

Know evil when you see it, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pills with a Hammer

7th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

My medication is hitting me like a hammer but the pain in my back is lessoning. I told the doctor that I had a kidney inflammation and they said it was muscular. Then I took medication for anxiety and could finally sleep. I wake late and want to stay in bed, but the pain is slowly running out of my body with every trip to the lavatory.
It runs out of me like yellow pus bringing the relief that one finds in such a thing. Still, I’m almost bed ridden with my body feeling as a large weight. I wither at everything I do and can only hope that I can make another day pass.
At work I am the walking dead. I try to keep my eyes open but they sneak shut. I can hardly drag myself to the computer now. I drew a few comics last week and sat at my desk for hours doing it then took them to work at sat at my workstation struggling with the night and its reports.
Every day I think I feel better then I just stand up and feel the mass of my frame. I drink coffee until I’m sick and when I have the strength toddle off to the store and by energy drinks.
Still every day I get a little of myself back. I’m posting comics again. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Turn your gaze upward, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Walk Not On

6th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today I commit to memory George Washington’s sixth rule of civility and decent behavior:Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.” This is only the nature of what is polite.
When visitors come to the lobby I try to stand and greet them as this puts us at eye level and permits level talking. The nature of this nicety is one that I have violated far too much in my life and I will have to work on living up to this standard. 
‘Sleep not when other speak’ is a given, but ‘speak not when you should hold your peace’ is a bit harder to understand. On one point I think it means that you should never go about interrupting people or speaking ill of your friends, just as a man should hold his peace when in the company of a woman and thinking of a dirty joke.
Further, folks should never repeat things their friends say in jest that may be misconstrued. It is thus impolite to be the maker of gossip or the conveyer of gossip. It is also clear to understand that there are some things we should not say in public true or false. One should never talk of death when a baby is born nor speak ill of a man at his funeral.
Now ‘Walk not on when others stop’ is just common sense. If someone stops they do so with reason and walking on shows a lack of concern and respect. Again, one would think this rule is common sense but such a thing is never common and often quite costly.

Live in civility in this world gone mad

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Looks Good On the Wall

5th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

As early as I can remember my room had these curtains made of wood and string. They had the colors of autumn and I think they came with the house. Much of the fittings of my home were original during most of my life.
As children often do, we had picked these curtains to shreds and made god’s eyes out of the bits. I imagine you have never heard of these bits of yard and wood as they are a product of folklore from the Huichol tribe of northern Mexico.
The god’s eye is made of two or more sticks and woven normally with yarn. It is symbolic of knowing that which cannot be known and seeing that which cannot be seen. The eyes were traditionally woven for a child by their father and a central eye is woven at birth then one eye is added every year until the child turns five.
The four points made by the sticks are believed to symbolize earth, wind, water, and fire. Why few know and the origin of the eyes in so old much has been forgotten.
I imagine these were just something to have children do in day camp for us. I had to look them up to know where they came from. I think the odd bits of bric-a-brac that make up our young lives should be better laid out for us. I would have much preferred to know why those things existed when I made them as a child.
Then, it is funny that I never saved any of my god’s eyes with as many as I have made. What happened to them all I can’t say. Perhaps they found their way into the trash. What happens to all the bits we make as children? How did the magic drain from our lives and fall into this dull world?

Keep the joy alive, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, August 3, 2012

Walking Off with Things

4th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

If there is one thing I have always disliked it is folks walking off with things without asking. In this case there was an old gray jacket and a few bits of clothing. I had this jacket that my mother had given me and she had found one that was too big so that it would last longer.

My teachers, as I recall, had gone to call it my safety blanket because I always had it rain or shine. This was a fact I learned one day when I went to give a presentation and without thinking put my jacket over one arm. I was inside a classroom with no need for the jacket but it was just natural.

I recall taking this garment off in the heat only after suffering for a time because it had become so much a part of my skin that I forgot that I had it own. I wore it so long as it was mine. One of the front pocket tor out and the lining had gone thin but these were things I had no notion of at that age.

Then one day I went to visit a cousin and found him wearing my jacket. I had worn it the Friday before and it was now a Sunday. I knew it was mine because of the torn pocket. Then I noticed he had by blue Snoopy shirt and a few other things from my closet.

At the time I wasn’t angry, just puzzled, but as soon as I got home I looked to see what else was missing. Who goes into a boy’s room and walks off with things without a word? We had gone to the store that week and I had gotten a week’s worth of clothing. Now that was all I had to my name. To be honest I’ve kept a week’s worth of summer and a week’s worth of winter clothes ever since.

Remember to be upfront and true, little sister

Richard Leland Neal