276 | Poor Spirit

May 5, 2013
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #276: Poor Spirit


Dear Family,

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I had a beautiful day—better than my Quattro de Mayo, anyway.

We have recreational yard time (code-named “yard”) once a day. One day it is during the morning program time (7–10 a.m.), the next day it is during the afternoon program time (1–3 p.m.), and the following day it is during the evening program time (6–7:30 p.m.). Due to school and classes, my schedule currently only permits me to be at yard Sunday evenings. I look forward to these evenings, because it is the one day every week I get to play basketball. I know, right? I have a VERY exciting life. Not just anyone can come to prison to enjoy all the amenities we offer here.

Anyway, I went out to yard last Sunday, all prepared to play basketball, only to find out that a bunch of guys had taken over the basketball court to play soccer. Well, it’s a version of soccer played with a small lopsided Nerf-style ball. I call it Sponge Ball Square Soccer. I do not live in Latin America, so I do not enjoy soccer the way that the rest of the world does. I’m not saying that I hate the sport: if I was kidnapped by a soccer cartel and my eyeballs were taped open, I’d watch a soccer game. But basketball is more my thing.

The problem I have with someone taking over my basketball court is that the guys doing it have no right to be at my yard in the first place. Only guys from my pod are supposed to be in my fenced-in recreational area during my yard times, yet these soccer fanatics will hide out in the hallway on the way to yard and mingle with our pod, switching yards. This rule infraction is bothersome to me, but the greater crime is expecting me to blithely go along with the pro-soccer plan, which incidentally looks nothing like pro soccer. Not that I know what pro soccer looks like.

Last week, I was so desperate for exercise of some sort that I joined a soccer team and was conscripted to play goalie. I’ve never minded washing dishes, so I figured I couldn’t be all that bad at kicking a sponge around.

I am a terrible soccer player (which is pronounced tear-ree-blay), but I have discovered that I am an even worse goalie. I had a decent attitude and fought hard until the bitter end, just waiting for the opportunity to play a real sport the next week.

Well, tonight I got ready for my much-anticipated basketball game, only to find out that the Cinco de Mayo celebrants had hijacked my yard. Again. However, this time they weren’t just playing a friendly game of Nerf soccer—each guy was betting on the game as well. I bet you can guess whether or not I’d bet on my skills. No, I do not.

Besides the betting, they also made clear that they didn’t have room for me to play on either team. Perfect. It was shaping up to be an awesome recreation time. I started to pout (in a grown-up kind of way, of course), but I’m not fluent in Spanish pouting phrases, so no one noticed.

Then, miraculously, I snapped out of it! I was still disappointed that my plans had been changed by The Dream Act, but I remembered what I’d learned through the whole being-put-in-school experience and decided to make the most of the situation. I jogged around the yard and even engaged in a pushup contest when challenged. (Of course I won! You think I would have written about it otherwise?)

The most frustrating part of all of this? The realization that I still haven’t mastered the art of letting my expectations go. It’s as if God saw that I needed a refresher course in yielding my rights and decided to bless me with several real-life situations to learn it. I’ll try to learn my lesson sometime before I become a great goalie.