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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Shadow of a Dream - Shakespeare

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Just a Short Letter

I found this letter in a pile of paperwork I had in a box and felt the need to publish it so the world could see. This fellow was my closest friend for eighteen years before returning from the army and making my life hell until I couldn't stand him any longer. Even in this letter he refers to me as "Rick" refusing to get my name right.

He evidently told his mother that we were no longer friends, because I wouldn't let him call me Rick. That's a good enough reason for me. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Row Principle

4th June 2015
Dear Cassi,

I ran into an old memory the other day in preparation for something, and felt I should share it with you. It’s funny how the world works like that, and something just pops back into my head after so long.
When I was in middle school, after my pool exploded and my mother passed away I got very out of shape. I couldn’t run ten steps without getting winded and I felt old. Funny to think you should feel old at eleven, but I felt old none the less.
Now I went to middle school and had P.E. once a day like every other fellow and so had to do with a P.E. teacher I’ll call Row. He kind of reminded me of an old crow carved of withered wood, but I’m going to call him Row so as not to offend that bird. I couldn’t spell his real name off the top of my head but what does it matter?
In any case, we were running the field one day and I was dead last with the old Row pacing me. I kept my speed even though it hurt like hell, and I had to close my eyes from the pain. I was out of breath and aching but would give him no ground. 

To add injury to insult his knee stopped working, and he ran with one stiff leg but could have out ran me at any moment. Somehow we were talking. I couldn’t give you an explanation for that, but mostly he was talking.  He told me how he won track meets as a coach by pacing the worst runner and making them keep running.

“The last runner gets down to a slow trot,” he told me. “I keep telling them not to give up. Come on, pass just one more kid.”

Row would focus on his weakest point, and this would make the largest impact on his work. It’s a funny way of looking at things until you break it down. Like I said for my projects, “if you have a car with a good engine but a bad transmission it still will never run.”

If you want to paint and you can’t paint clouds maybe you should paint clouds until you get it right. If you’re bad at something work at it until you get it right.

I will call this the ‘Row Principle’ your weakest point is where you can most improve.

Never give up, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, November 7, 2016

Love for Pools

2nd June 2015
Dear Cassi,

I’ve always had a love for pools which is no wonder in the state of California because of the heat, but did I ever tell you about the pool I had as a kid? It was one of those above ground jobs with steel sides and an uneven bottom. I loved that pool. I would come home from school and jump in wearing nothing but my jockeys and for most of my young life the water went up to my chin making me prance around.

I did very little swimming, but I loved the water so that I would just do laps walking from one end of the pool to the other. There was a time that the pool was heated, but the heater broke, and then we took it apart. I remember it being full of dust and old plastic bracelets. The base had been made of loose red bricks which became toys once unearthed.   

I used to build temples and army bases of those old bricks. A few I crushed back into dust, but why I couldn’t tell you. I never knew how sick my mother was until I was nine, and she never had the time to be there for me. I remember my happiest moments as a child being alone with my thoughts. I was a world onto myself back then and in a way we all are now.

You can figure that’s part of my keeping to myself now days, but there is much more to it than that condition. In the darkness of our lives we should let our mind grow distinguished and wise but keep our hearts young and able.

Well, one day I came home to find the side of my pool burst open and the back lawn teaming with insects floating in the chlorinated water. That was the worst day of my life at that point, but I didn’t know it yet.

Know what you have, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mental Health Facility Cover Letter

12th January 2015

My Dear Friends at (Mental Health Facility),

I take interest to your position as a Residential Counselor because of its relevance to my occupation of the last four years. I worked with young adults in a homeless residential setting. In this setting I dealt with vomit, urine, and other body fluids and was often told that I handled the worst parts of the job with grace and professionalism.

I can say with honesty that many of the clients commented that I was a patient and kind man who could always be relied upon to help them no matter what their problems. I took a great deal of pride in my work.

I also hold a BA in Psychology but sadly have taken few units in early development. I believe I’m good with children, but in honesty have rarely worked with them.

Thank you for your time,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Not a High One Wants to Get

22nd December 2014
Dear Cassi,
Today I got some bad news with my lab results. It would appear as though my blood sugar is too high. It was bad enough when my work required me to take a health evaluation and now I have ‘health coaching’ to endeavor to keep my medical benefits at some reasonable price.
My work required a lab for this and my doctor insisted this be a fasting lab so after twelve hours of fasting, a morning of calling and rushing to get lab results, and making myself sick over things I learn that my blood sugar is one hundred and one. Four points into the pre-diabetic range.

So this is sobering but not unexpected. I have a love for soda and I eat too much junk from the machines. When you’re fat like me the world looks at you like you grew a second head, but a high of four points could just be an anomaly. Other than this and the fat I’m in perfect health.

Wish me well, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Going Green

I recall writing this as a suggestion to management at the homeless shelter I worked at back then. Then I remembered that I hated them and they treated me like crap so I never really finished the correspondence. You tell me if it was a good idea.

Sometime in November of 2014

Going green,

As a homeless rehabilitation program we always have a great need to both reduce costs and improve public relations. One angle that may be effective is to approach donors and volunteers with a desire to improve the campuses water consumption rate by planting drought tolerant plants, adding water crystal to lawns and installing water soil moister sensors. 

This would reduce our water bill providing more funds for other needs and appeal to both advocates for the homeless and environmentalists. Expressing a desire to become the greenest shelter in California may also bring us welcome public attention.

As a shelter we could then express that we assist the homeless in a responsible and environmentally friendly way. After all, what good is helping the homeless if there is no world for them to live in once they’re back on their feet?

Donors seeing or hearing about this can then feel confident that their money is well spend, and that their donations have a direct impact on the well being of all Californians.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

No Bed to Sleep In

2nd November 2014

Dear Cassi,
For so long in my life I’ve had this image in my head. It’s of a dark universe dotted with stars, but in this darkness there is an abyss. I see a star falling into that abyss and feel it on the cusp of becoming nothingness.
The other stars go dim and all hope vanishes for the little speck. The darkness closes in and all light is gone. Then there is a flash and the speck rises from the nothing. It holds itself against the velvet blackness and births and infinite number of stars. To me this has always been the symbol of hope from hopelessness and triumph from defeat. Then you could chock it up to me being eccentric.
Over the weekend I’ve run my normal loads of dishes but added in the work of clearing out my bedroom with the hope of removing the smell of cat poop and placing back in this room my entire bedroom set. My bed is now in pieces across two rooms waiting for me to reassemble it once I’ve cleaned and dried the carpet. I cannot clean the carpet until the morning so I must take my rest on the floor tonight.
In other news, my novel received no reviews over the last month and it should have been rejected. For some reason undisclosed the publisher granted an extension. What another month will do for me in their system of review I couldn’t say. In thirty one days no member took the time to read and review my work and another month may be just as fruitless.
This is a moment of darkness for me. I have no bed to sleep in and my hope is lost in the darkness. Oh well, I do as I have before and square my shoulders to the task ahead.

March on, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Three Years Ago

I clearly wrote this some time ago and then I was working with the homeless. Things change.
31st October 2013
Dear Cassi,
Well, the cats got past their first Halloween with no casualties even if I had something of a scare when pickles came home. He left the door open and caramel nearly got out. As it was late I think he would have been okay, but I’d rather not take the chance at getting him hurt. Halloween is the number one cat fatality day in America, or so I’m told, and I want to keep my furry wrecking crew off that statistic.  They scattered at the sound of trick or treaters as they rang the bell and called out for candy so I had no worry of the cats getting out until it was rather late.
I do have to say that the trick or treat crowd was rather annoying this year coming in at strength after eight and knocking on my door even after the lights had been turned out. I left the house early to deal with traffic and could still see a few of them on the street at nearly ten.
Another thing that bothered me was the rather young girls dressing in costumes that made them look, well, like strippers. It seems like every year the girls develop earlier but they shouldn’t be out at night showing it off. Even if we forget that this is a junior high student they should dress more sensibly for the night chill. I know it isn’t that cold this time of your in California but still.
This is one of the few evenings I was glad to have arrived at work. At least at work I know I’m dealing with folks over eighteen. Grant that my clients are a myriad of diseases that I wouldn’t like to come near.

Don’t eat too much candy, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, October 10, 2016

Can Use the Walk

13th November 2014
Dear Cassi,
It has been something of a tradition with Pickle to reward those who drive him about with food, and as his best friend is now occupied in some academic manner he has turned to my services.
He picks the restaurant and often the food. I feel this is proper as he is paying and I never complain of his choices, but today I swayed things some in the form of a long walk.
It turned out that he wanted to eat at ‘In n’ Out’ burger and, in the time of doing so, find himself a sport strap for his sunglasses. I took to parking at the sporting goods store some half mile from the eatery and insisted we walk.

This proved to be a poor idea because eating and long walks are not often good bed fellows. The feeling of a large burger in you makes the body feel slow. Keeping my lunch down wasn’t easy but that is the price you pay for good health I guess.

Find time for things, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, October 9, 2016

An Odd Idea

It's an odd idea to me that in this world we speak of veterans over refugees or if someone needs help if they have tattoos. We talk of our civilized world, but I see people sleeping on the streets and know that we are still savages. To say that anyone should sleep on the street is the mark of a beast unfit to be called an animal and to call ourselves a free nation when anyone within our boarders is chained to low paying jobs, hunger, or fear, is that sad joke told by the most despicable of all creatures that is man.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Accused of Misconduct

29th January 2015
Dear (Nun),

I yesterday received word from the labor board that I will retain my benefits as I may not be accused of misconduct. This finding is not set in stone as the company still has one appeal left but a reversal of the decision is unlikely.  

I can, however, confidently move on with my complaint of retaliation.

On another topic, I gave that script to (other person) some two years ago and in two years time he never found fit to read the volume. I can understand his family taking priority, but at some point I do need to give up on him.

I’ll grant this to be one of the bitter situations of my life given how rarely I can get people to read my work. Still, at some point I have to say that if he wasn’t going to read it he probably should have said so and not given me the run around.

Well, I guess then the question is: should I give up on him reading my work? I can’t imagine it will do me any good to remind him further.

Hope for the rain,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Prozac and the Green Fairy

13th December 2014

Dear Cassi,
I think most of us want to find a magic doorway that will transport us away from all our troubles. This has been a running theme in my family as the old man was fond of snake oil buying thousands of dollars of pills that eventually rotted in his cabinets.
Me, I’m no better. I read some were on the internet that alcohol hits you harder if you take Prozac. This is because the Prozac occupies your liver until it gets eaten up and so then the alcohol fills your liver like a flood. I reasoned that if it worked that way it might work the other way. This idea led me to have a shot of Absinthe ten minutes before taking my Prozac.
Much to the chagrin of my doctor I now take this medication on weekends as it makes me too drowsy for the night shift. I think my body was catching up on months of lost sleep but, well, the company has little love for sick men.

In any case, Absinthe is called the ‘Green Fairy’ because it’s one of the strongest alcohols you can get. It has a reputation of hallucinations and tastes oddly of bitter black liquorish.  

The Green Fairy didn’t heal my wounds. I didn’t feel any different after this experiment and I’m unlikely to try it again.

Do what you can to be well, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Aladdin By William Glennon: Book Review

"Aladdin" adapted by William Glennon is a play that I was involved in back in high school. It was a fun little production that we cut up something fierce to get it on stage.
This adaptation is designed to appeal to young children and so it has little in the way of substance and more in the way of humor and jokes. The action is simple, the plot is wish fulfillment and the work is short and direct.  

Who should read this book? Theater Geeks looking to produce children's theater. 

Books' Read: 27 of 5,000

Pages 63

Total Pages Read for 'The 5,000 Project' 6,196

Monday, October 3, 2016

Battled Bepression

By the fact that this letter has no name at it's end I can tell I never finished it. Well, I was depressed. 

In any case, I hope what is there makes good reading. 

6th March 2014

Dear Mr. (YouTuber),

It was the fifth of March that you asked your audience, of which I am one, to tell you the stories of their depression. I have battled depression for the whole of my life, and so the story of my depression cannot be held in a comment. So long a story needs thought and introspection notwithstanding the need of all things done by the depressed: time.

My depression found its start in the rough handling I received in tender youth. The youngest of three children in an unsupervised home my older siblings would unite against me as a force of violence and so I would fight until exhaustion against them. This prompted my mother to send my older (sibling) to live with other family members for a summer, but it did little good as (they) had to come back for the school year.

These beatings of youth left me with what is called transient brain damage as a result of trauma to the back of my head. I struggled to read and struggled to write because of this problem, and even now I would be unable to write this letter coherently without a program that reads my work back to me as the written word and I simply do not get along.

My depression worsened with my mother’s second relapse of cancer. She fought the disease for as long as she could but lost and died a week after my tenth birthday. My father was what one may call an absentee parent. He would arrive at my residence on Friday night and leave Sunday evening, and so I would see him for the weekend. This left the home in the care of my older (sibling) who, mentally ill and violent, ruled by needless force.

At the time, in wake and sleep my life was a nightmare. In my waking times I stood silent looking after myself and staying away from siblings as best I could. I often had dreams where my hands were cut off, and I learned in college this is symbolic of the feeling of helplessness.  

By age fourteen my depression had reached its height, and I could hardly lift my hands. I had medical insurance, but my father refused to take me to see a psychiatrist. Why I cannot with certainty say, but he would always dismiss my maladies with “it’s all in your head” or “You’re a hypochondriac”.

For much of my high school years I felt like a piece of dead meat with a soul trapped within. There were times I would sit in bed unable to sleep but unable to stand as if a prisoner in my own flesh. Every morning I would vomit, I’m not sure why, before or when I got to school.

I made it past high school and suffered with depression my whole life finding what friends I made of little help. I learned in psychology that the abusers find the abused and that many of us accept abuse as we think it to be normal. I was twenty nine when I walked away from the abusive people in my life, and I still have trouble making friends often due to my condition. I take medication, and I live with my problem but there is little hope of recovery.

The one great silver lining to my condition is that I can relate to my clients as I work with the homeless population of Los Angeles. Many of them lived a life as sad or worse than my own. They find in me a listening ear and accepting mind a comfort. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kind of Special Strange

The first signature from my 1994 Middles School Yearbook is from a history teacher and the second from a student who went on to be a cartoonist in high school. The lesson here is don't judge until you know people I guess.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bert Bye Erick

I had to blot out a few things from these signatures from my 1994 Middles School Yearbook. Phone numbers and such, I have to think they wouldn't be the same people after all these years. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Here are three more signatures from my 1994 Middle School Yearbook. I believe the first is from my art teacher and the second two from fellow students. That feels so far away now. It's almost like it was another lifetime.  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Joy to Know

I believe this is the woman who got me into theater arts. Looking back at my 1994 middle school yearbook I'm not sure I would thank this woman for all she did for me. Theater was never all that great in the end. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bye Imagination

Here are two more signatures from my 1994 Middle School Yearbook. I'm winding down this collection. I'm trying to post them all but not all of them are that interesting.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


So, John here as come up with an inventive way to sign my 1994 Middle School yearbook. Okay, well, you made my job hard but good job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Eyes New

Sometimes folks have nothing to say and this is the case with Mr. New who's inscription in my middle school yearbook from 1994 was somewhat scant. Then I'm not sure that Ms. Ball did much better. Oh well, at least they wrote something.