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Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Lie Awake - Charlie Brown

Friday, December 28, 2012

Double Digit Tons

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

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

Even now it’s hard to think of one.

25th August, 2008

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let it be

18th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

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

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

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

Leave the dead in the ground, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Moo, the Cow Cat

5th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

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

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

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

Stay safe, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marry Un-birthday

4th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

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

Marry un-birthday to you, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Return to the Night Shift

1st December 2011
Dear Cassi,

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

Bundle up and keep warm,

Richard Leland Neal