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Heat Advisory: Send Out The Kids

Something just happened that made me livid.

I had Buffy on her leash, and these two kids greeted me as I walked out the door. One asked me if I would take a tract. I took it as Buffy zoomed down the stairs to the grass to pee, and when she was done with her various business, I headed back up the stairs.

The kids were still there, dripping sweat and knocking on doors.

They asked where I lived, so I told them, and they wanted to ask me some questions on the tract.

I had read it while waiting for the puppy to do her puppy excrement things, and there was nothing on there I wanted to discuss, even with a couple of kids. As politely as I could, I told them that my life had taken a different path and offered them some water, which they declined.

“They have you out in this heat?” I asked them.

“Yeah, last summer was bad too.” They kind of laughed it off, but they were sweating through their shirts.

Not only were they out here distributing tracts, but they were doing so for a church that isn’t even in Maryland. It’s in West Virginia. What?

There was a phone number on the tract they gave me. I won’t mention the name of the church because I’m about to rip them up one side and down the other.

First of all, to have children out proselytizing in 106 degree heat is repugnant. Repugnant.

There is a heat advisory in effect until 8:00 pm tonight. Exposure to extreme heat can cause heat stroke and even death.

Secondly, sending children to proselytize is something of questionable morality to me as well. I could write a dissertation about how I feel about a child’s role in deciding his or her own faith, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say that it’s not the role of children to convince adults what to believe.

Finally? I thought for about thirteen seconds, then I picked up the phone and dialed this church.

A woman answered, voice chipper and polite. For about two seconds.

The moment I explained why I was calling, I could almost see spike-covered walls fly up and smell burning naptha above my head, ready to cover my body with boiling pitch.

This is what I said to her:

“Hi. Erm, I’m calling because two children just came to my door distributing tracts, and it’s over 100 degrees outside. There is a heat advisory in effect, and I feel that it is dangerous to have them out in this kind of weather.”

Her response: “It’s all volunteer-based.”

Me: “They’re children. It’s over 100 degrees.”

Her: “It’s the same as kids playing on the playground right now. Their parents signed permission forms and dropped them off. This was a pre-planned event.”

Me: “I’m sorry. That’s no excuse for them to be out there. I would hope the church would take responsibility for the safety of children put in their care and postpone or cancel events in the case of extreme weather. There are better ways to spread a message.”

Her: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

What?

Anyone who’s ever had someone give that kind of bullshit apology knows exactly how bullshit it is. That’s not taking responsibility for wrongdoing — and do not mistake me, subjecting children to extreme heat in the name of proselytizing is wrong, wrong, wrong — it’s giving someone the finger.

“What, you don’t like it? Fuck you, then.”

Yeah. Not cool.

Volunteer or not, how much say do you think those kids had in doing this today? I used to be very active in church, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I heard kids their age chomp at the bit to go spread the gospel.  In fact, I can count on my fist.

Because uh, NEVER. Even in a thriving church like I used to attend, it was the parents saying, “Yep, you’re going to share Jesus with the heathens.” (They didn’t put it quite like that.)

Having kids hike up and down stairs going door to door to distribute tracts is not the same as playing on a playground — which, if I had kids, I wouldn’t allow during a heat advisory either — it’s more irresponsible and downright endangering them.

So am I supposed to believe these kids were sent out there on their own free volition? Apparently. Apparently I’m expected to think they waved their little hands around, hoping to be picked for the honor of such a mission.

Shame on their parents, and shame on their church.

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Whew.

Five more school days, my friends.  Just five.  And the chances that there will actually be any children there are getting slimmer every day.  I had six for the final (!!!) today.  No joke.  Ugh.

Speaking of getting slimmer…I am too!  I’ve lost five pounds.  I’m ever so proud of myself right now.  Amazing what working out and eating well really does.  Tonight I ate like a queen and logged in my food on my new bestest site, SparkPeople, and lo and behold — I hadn’t even hit the bottom end of my goals for calories, fat, protein, or carbs.  That was a “wtf” moment if I’ve ever had one.  So I ate another half cup of cottage cheese and six more of the most delectable strawberries I’ve ever tasted.  For real; I have no idea  where these bad boys came from.  I suspect somewhere on Mount Olympus.  They are nectar for the very gods.  They taste like they’ve been injected with sugar.  But they are just strawberries. Just delicious, fresh, and beautiful strawberries.  Swoon.  The kiwis are just as good.  Thank you, friendly neighborhood Asian market.  Not only are your strawberries cheaper than Giant (by $2 for two pounds!!!), but…well.  See above, re: god nectar.

Hard to believe I ate so well today.  Protein shake, nectarine, then I made pasta.  It is a multicolored Abetini pasta, which I tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sauteed garlic, some oregano, parsley, and basil (dried) and tomatoes, both sun dried and one fresh plum tomato.  I topped it with some fresh basil (also thank you, Asian market) and a sprinkle of feta.  Amazing.  While I ate that, I also had some ratatouille in the oven, which may be my new favorite veggie dish.  Just layer thin slices of eggplant, yellow squash, red or orange pepper, and zucchini over tomato sauce, sprinkle with your favorite herbs, brush with olive oil, and bake for an hour on 350.  So awesome.  And less than 100 calories per serving.  I am loving eating healthy, dudes and dudettes.  I don’t feel bloated and blah after a big meal, and I am losing weight.  Love it.   I never realized just how many calories are in the average restaurant meal.  No joke, it’s at least 1000.  Probably more.  Definitely more if you get bottomless soda with it.  Yeesh.

Okay, enough about my foodscapades.  It is sleepy time!  (I’ve been sleeping better too!!!)  Happy.

‘Tis the Season…

…to be utterly thankful.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Between the fall colors that are the last flaming burst of life before the earth goes dormant in winter and the gathering of family home to hearths and living rooms after being scattered for the year, it just holds a warm place in my heart.  There’s nothing I love more than taking the opportunity to get together with loved ones over Thanksgiving without the pressure of buying, buying, buying.  It’s one of the few American holidays that hasn’t been overtly commercialized–as evidenced by the fact that stores often put out their Christmas displays immediately following Halloween nowadays.  Thanksgiving gets rather lost in the fold–how do you commercialize a family dinner?  Oh, granted sales of sparkling cider and turkey go up, but it’s a far cry from the raging consumerism of Christmas.

I love it.

I love everything about it.  I like getting up early to put the turkey in the oven, covering it with herbs and stuffing it full of toast and veggies.  I like spending the day running around the kitchen, peeling potatoes, laughing with family, getting frustrated at pies and people, and preparing for the biggest feast of the year.  I love looking around that table and seeing faces of people I love dearly looking back at me.  All with the knowledge that today is a day to be thankful, to take nothing for granted, to love fully and be loved and to set aside the frantic busy-ness that makes up the other days of the year and pour our energy into people and life.

I love taking some time to reflect on what I’m thankful for.  There’s never a bad time to count your blessings, but Thanksgiving is really quite a good time to do it–because everyone else is doing it, and it makes these few weeks of the year a time of openness, of friendship and family and love.

Of course it’s shiny happy people stuff–that’s what the holidays should be about.

I don’t really have anyone to spend my holidays with, in terms of a romantic sense.  I am single.  But it’s more than okay–there will, most likely, be any number of holidays in my future in which I am flying to and fro, trying to coordinate plans with a significant other.  When I look at my family members doing this, I have to add the unlikely blessing to my list that I am the sole person in charge of figuring out what the hell I’m doing for the holidays.  I can go where I please and see who I want.  Woot.

I’m really quite thankful for any number of things, singleness notwithstanding.  I quite like the weather–though I’m in a lonely camp there.  I’m thankful for the many people who are new in my life this year–they’ve all been rather extraordinary, and I feel really very special.  I have a nice home, a steady job, and I’ve finished my first novel.  I will, in the future, finish the others as well.  Just a matter of time.  I have a lovely writing group filled with other odd souls such as myself.  I’ve had a large number of wonderful experiences in the past few years, and I really feel quite lucky about that, too.  On a very basic level, all my needs are taken care of.  I don’t have anything to complain about, not really.

I’m thankful that I’m pretty healthy.  I have the occasional sniffle, but I’ve thus far escaped any serious malady this year, and I fully intend to round out 2008 with my lungs intact.

I am thankful for the chance to see my mom’s sister and family after nearly ten years of absence.  I leave for ten years, come back, and 2/3 of them are bigger than me.  Who’d’ve thunk?  My cousins are all grown up now.  It will be quite the party this weekend.  I’m also thankful to get the chance to see a good friend again on Friday.  It’s a bit of a trek up north, but worth it.  I’m very excited.

I am thankful that my car will (will, I say) make it all the way to Columbus, then on to Toledo, then back to Nashville in one piece without major incident (or minor incident, for that matter.)

Yes.  It will be a lovely Thanksgiving.