11 | My Score: 12.9

March 24, 2008
Monday, 8:30 a.m.
Letter #11: My Score: 12.9


Dear Family,

Hi, Peeps! Ahh, for the taste of a soft, squishy Peep. I just know you haven’t eaten all of your Peeps yet. Especially not Katie, who stocks up on them every Easter and can produce a case of them from her stash in November, like she’s Peep Costco. Bite someone’s head off.

So, why am I writing at this time of day, just after breakfast? Well, I was headed upstairs after breakfast, next to “Easy,” a trustee whose team I beat at basketball last Monday at Yard. I asked him if he was planning to play basketball today. (He hadn’t finished the game with his team because of an eye doctor visit. His team’s record was 23-0, but the loss to my team didn’t count since he wasn’t there. I’m looking forward to ending his supposed winning streak.) He was distracted by someone else, so I continued up the stairs.

On my way to my room, my Christian buddy, Vincent, was standing outside his cell with his cellie. Vincent had been the most vocal responder to my “He is risen!/He is risen indeed!” He’d even yelled it out his cell door last night, after I had done it a couple of times at dinner. Good guy, but a bit hot-headed. I patted him as I went by. Easy was behind me, and Gypsy was behind Easy.

I’d no sooner gotten to my cell when I heard yelling. It seems that something Vincent said light-heartedly to Easy wasn’t received well, and Easy challenged him. Vincent said something back, and Easy pummeled him, splitting his lip and smashing his nose. I looked over to see Easy on Vincent’s back, trying to choke him. Cops were running in, yelling “Get down!” so we all lie flat on our stomachs. It so happened that I landed with my head out my door, where I could see the action, only 20′ away.

Lots of cops rushed in; one woman slammed my door shut as I tucked my head inside, and she pepper-sprayed everyone within range. I watched through my cell door window as they cuffed both guys and dragged them out. Another trustee, who started yelling in his cell, got taken away, too. Lovely.

As I was called to do a reading test a few hours later, I walked right past Easy, standing in a 3′ x 3′ cage in an outside hallway. I thought it was best not to ask if he was planning to play basketball. In fact, thanks to his stupid actions, we were kept off the yard today. And he was supposed to be released in two weeks. Another ninety days, and maybe it won’t be so “easy” to lose his cool.

So, the reading comprehension test saves us time in processing once we get to our permanent place. If you get a “12.9,” it indicates that you comprehend at or above a 12th year, 9th month student—a high school graduate. The facilitator was awesome. He told me he’s done this for two years. He used to teach high school, “but this is safer,” he quipped. He had us pick from four difficulty levels. I picked level 4—Advanced—and two others did, too, out of the fifteen of us. Fifty minutes, fifty questions. Read the story and answer the questions.

I decided to make the woman proud who taught me how to read at four years old, and I walked to the front with my test complete in 15 minutes. The next guy walked to the front 20 minutes later. As the facilitator passed out the results, I noted my “12.9” quietly, just as someone from the back asked, “What does 2.1 mean?” Oh. My. Gosh. Really. Really?

The facilitator didn’t miss a beat: “Well, 2.1 means you can definitely do better, so they’ll be retesting you at your next stop, to figure out if you rode the short bus to school.” Nice.

Yippee! I got my first letter while at Delano—today! Hoorah! I’m just so glad to hear you guys are alright. I’m looking forward to hearing updates on Mark, everyone’s money-making ventures, and ministry projects. Keep me informed—I’m praying for you all.

I love you so much, and though this is tough, we’ll not just “get through it”—we’ll be blessed through it, okay? Hugs all around.