Thursday, December 30, 2010
To me, any validity in these programs would have to be the successes they generate. I'm not interested in the claims of those who sponsor the programs, since they have financial motivations. The proof is in the experiences of the participants. So, if you've tried one of these programs, please share your story with us - positive or negative. Enquiring minds want to know. :)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."
Down rippled the brown cascade.
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Anyway, here's to progress and the hope for even more! :)
Posted by Neal at 7:54 AM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
To which I responded:
...Here's another thought to consider. Its one thing to ask, and quite another to recieve the answer. You must be ready to recieve it. Willing to accept it and act upon it. So I ask - is the Church ready to recieve such an answer? As a people are we ready to embrace our gay brothers and sisters? Perhaps the answer will not come until we, as a people, are ready to recieve it.
Let me elaborate on this thought.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
So today I woke up to one of the rare but woundrous events people in the South either love or dread - snow! I'm a lover, not a dreader. I just LOVE snow! Its so beautiful and peaceful and, well, snowy! Down here its really pretty when it sticks to things, as all the tree branches get coated just like they had frosting on them. Its a different effect than snow on evergreens, which we have much fewer of. Oaks and Hickories rule here. But one thing about snow is that it makes it really hard for the birds to find food. Most of the time the ground is bare and they can scratch around for seeds and nuts all day long, but a heavy snow like we're getting today covers all that up. First thing this morning I made sure the feeder was well stocked, then I took some time to watch my little bird friends come to dinner. And come they did! It looked like lunch time at the McDonalds drive thru! Birds were lined up by the dozens on tree branches and bushes just waiting for a turn at the feeder.
Now here's what I oberved at the feeder today. Birds have different behaviors and interactions that kind of reminded me of people. Tiny ones, like Gold Finches, Titmice, and Chickadees are relatively well mannered. They zip in, get a seed, and then fly off to a tree branch somewhere to crack the seed and eat it - allowing other birds a turn for their share. They're neat eaters. Sparrows, on the other hand, are like pigs at a trough. They fly in and perch on the feeder and park themselves as they gobble up seed after seed. They attack anyone else who gets near them and hog the whole feeder til they're good and done. Cardinals - the biggest and showiest of the birds, are a park-and-munch kind of bird as well, although much more tolerant of other birds who want a share. Even so, the Cardinal usually gets the feeder to himself, perhaps with a few lightning dashes in-and-out by Chickadees and Titmice for a seed or two. Woodpeckers are completely different. Like Chickadees they take a single seed and then fly off to eat it, but for some strange reason they can't just take any ole seed from the feeder. It has to be just the RIGHT one, and they fling seeds everywhere digging through the tray trying to find that certain one with their name on it! The other birds love this, of course, but it infurates the tar out of me.
Posted by Neal at 4:38 PM
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
So the other day I'm talking to my cool Bishop like we often do, and I casually asked him if he ever suspected I was gay before I came out to him a few years ago. Understand that I consider myself a pretty straight-acting guy, with no obvious "gay" external indicators. I had assumed that no one really suspected I was gay. My external self-image is one of "normalcy". Imagine my surprise when he told me he thought I was gay the first time he met me! At the time, he was not yet a member of the Church. He was coming to Church occasionally with his wife, but hadn't even taken the missionary lessons. One day at Church I walked up to talk to his wife about something and also to introduce myself to him. I had one of my friend's kids in tow, which I often do (for some reason kids just flock to me - I can't explain it), and evidently after I had finished talking and walked away, he commented to his wife that he "didn't think Mormons let gay people become members". She immediately started defending me, saying I wasn't gay, I was a member of the Bishopric and I was just single at the time, etc. etc. This conversation continued in the car on the way home from Church, with her defending my "straightness" the whole way!!