Big Guy, I was so sorry that the basketball team finished almost last in the first tournament of the season. Do you think coach will let the Rec Defectors come back now if they want to? Playing with just a handful of dudes in a tournament's got to be a lot harder than with twenty.
I'll bet it's super hard to make that call. I'm sorry to hear about Trevor getting a bad sprain. That had to make playing three games outta four tough when one man went down in the first one. What's your dad say? My mom said it sounds like an experiment in team building.
Have you guys put up your Christmas tree yet? Mom says we have to get a small tree this year bc we have to buy decorations, too. Me and Sarah tried to make a few decorations with ideas from the magazines at the laundromat. Sure you remember Yours Truly is not exactly crafty. Mom keeps telling us it's about the Spirit of Christmas and trying to come up with extra ways to keep up busy (probably hoping we won't miss Dad as much). And she's calling it the "Minimalist Advent Experiment". Everybody's got an experiment.
Speaking of which, have I told you what Ted and I are up to since the yard work is done for now? We cleared a small patch behind our apartment building. It helped that we'd started cleaning up the trash all the way around the building last summer, but I swear, weed roots must grow to China.
Anyway, we got it all hoed up, by hand, not with a tiller like Dad used to borrow from our neighbor. Ted's a pretty smart guy and likes to read. Then, you're never gonna believe this: he goes out and buys cow crap to put on it. Did I mention Ted's also pretty crazy?
Ted comes knocking on the door one Saturday, big grin on his face like he'd won the lottery. "Come on Jubel," he says, "we're gonna make some magic!" Magic nothin'! He wanted me to help work the manure into the pitiful dirt. Gross!
Then Ted tells me if this little (now stinky) patch can grow tomatoes next summer, he was thinking about creating a community garden for the people who live in the building. I'm betting a lot of them would like that since we all seem to be kinda strapped for cash. Anyway, clearing, crapping, and putting up a fence is about all we've done so far. Ted said we should call it the "Gardening in the Hood Experiment". See? EVERYBODY'S got an experiment going on!
Ted told me he was so impressed that I wanted to grow tomatoes on our microscopic deck next summer, he got inspired. He said we'd have a contest to see who could grow the best tomatoes. I'll tell you one thing, I'm not using cow crap on mine. I'm definitely not into stinky.
Gotta go wash up. Today's Advent Experiment is seeing how many cookies we can make for neighbors with as few ingredients as possible. (Yeah, you go ahead and laugh, but I know you're jealous...NAAAH!)
Good luck to you and the team on this week's game, and try not to get hurt!
How was your Turkey Day? Hopefully better than ours. No big turkey or watching endless football games with Dad this year. Ted came over and brought a pumpkin pie to go with the pitiful turkey roast (don't ask), but it wasn't as good as when Mom made it from scratch.
Sorry, Man. I miss Dad every single day, but some days are just harder. Don't tell Mom, but I'm almost dreading Christmas. (Maybe I should have put a warning label on this envelope @being so sad.)
But, wait 'til I tell you about Thanksgiving lunch at school!
Jase, my Man!
How's it going? Congrats on the roundball team's first win of the season! After the way you creamed those guys, I'll bet the Parks & Rec defectors are ready to come back. Don't blame coach for not letting them. Dad always said, "You can't play both sides of the street." Maybe he meant stuff like that, too.
Have I told you about Mr. Watson? Who knew an assistant principal could be such a trickster!
How's basketball going? I sure miss playing on the team, but I'm glad you're getting to start this year. It's too bad some of the guys decided to go Parks & Rec so they could have more games. Hopefully next year the gym will be rebuilt and they'll come back making the team better than ever.
Remember I told you I've been helping build sets for the school musical? Well, you oughta hear this girl sing!
I was super glad to hear Coach Smarker worked out a schedule at the high school so you guys can practice and play at least part of your games. Bet everybody will be happy when the middle school gym is finally ready.
Remember those guys I told you about, Mike and Harlan? Mike had a birthday party last weekend. He invited Harlan, me, Jameer, and three other guys. Mike's mom made tacos for us, then we binged on Avengers videos. Guess it doesn't matter where you live, tacos and Avengers are the ticket.
So, wait til I tell you what my mom did. With everything that's gone on, I guess Mom forgot I'll be thirteen before you know it. She must think I'm still in elementary school because she called my teacher to see if there were any after school things going on. Seriously!
Thank goodness my teacher, Mr. Collins, isn't a rookie. He let me know about mom's call on the down low. She told him I'm good with tools. Well, Mr. Collins talked to Ms. Lacy, our music teacher. The kids in 7th grade are working on a musical and she said they could use help building sets.
You know I never did anything for the plays at school, but I'm having fun with this. For real. The best part is getting to hang out with some 7th graders.
Just remembered that I haven't finished my math homework, so I better hit the books. Say hi to the guys at basketball practice.
Hey, Favorite Roundball Guy!
Are you up to your chin in practicing for basketball tryouts? Mom's still waiting for me to bring home info before she decides if I can go out for the team this year. You know, stuff like fees and practice days and times. Junk like that.
I sure hope she figures out a way it'll work for us. Maybe playing basketball will help me feel normal. Well, kinda.
You should see the kids around here play. I think they were born with basketballs in their hands. 'Course there's not a whole lot of other stuff to do around here, so it's basketball or nothin'.
You're never going to believe this: one of the best players is a guy called "Harlan the Slasher". Jamari told he and him best friend had a minute back last spring. Long story short, the friend got stitches and Harlan got suspended for the rest of the year. Man, does that blow your mind or what?
I finally know my way around school. It still feels huge. So far my teachers seem okay. Thanks to Jameer I know a few more kids, and at least I have some to sit with at lunch now.
Mom's saying supper is ready, so I better go.
Check this out. Harlan found it online and thought it was me to a T. Did I mention that Harlan's a pretty funny guy?
There's Mom again, gotta go.
Man, what a difference a month can make! Remember the pic I sent you of my new school? Well, this is kinda weird. When I walk to the grocery store or laundromat with mom and Sarah, we hardly ever see anybody, like kids. When I spotted Jamari shooting baskets, I was surprised.
So here's the deal. Our neighborhood isn't so great. Ted, the landlord I told you about, told Mom that we needed to stay pretty close to home. He said there's a few other landlords around that are trying really hard to clean up the neighborhood. He said they are working with the cops, and the biggest thing is they may have convinced a guy to open a McDonald's down the street. It's nothing like home.
The first day of school totally blew me away! Mom and I had gone to my school to enroll, but I hadn't really thought about how many kids would actually be there when school started. Man, I gotta tell you, I checked the website online at the library, and we've got almost 1000 kids! And so far, I think I know the names of maybe 4.
Please write me back soon with lots of details about school. Tell everybody hey for me. And if you can put in some pics, I might have to put them up in my locker to keep me sane.
Lost in the crowd,
P.S. They let me print this one at the library from our school website.
Congrats, Jason! Man, I was just hoping the team would win and you wouldn't get reinjured. But making a double-play to win the final game? No wonder Coach gave you the MVP for the tournament! What I wouldn't have given to be there. Thanks for having Devon send me the pics. They were the next best thing.
Mom says we have to go enroll in our new schools next week. Sarah's kinda sad that we won't be in the same school anymore. I guess I am a little, too, but I'm a lot worried about not knowing anybody by Jamari or where to find anything.
Jamari said his mom signed up to get the school newsletter. This is kinda cool. Even though it's middle school, we still get recess. Can you believe it? They call it "midday recreation". After lunch, when the weather is good, you get to go the "recreation area", aka playground, to hang out or shoot hoops, or just walk around.
Get a load of this. You remember me telling you I had a job? I've been saving almost all of my pay. Come the first day of school, this kid is going to be wearing brand new Jordans. And bonus is Mom is going to be so surprised that I can help with school clothes. It feels good to do something for her for a change.
Would you look how long this is. Maybe if I keep working for Ted, Mom will let me get a phone. It'd be great to talk to you.
In the meantime, Mom took a picture of my new school that I could send you. I know, not as new or nice as yours. Like Jamari says, "It is what it is."
Write back when you get a chance.
How's it going, Jason?
Are you excited about the tournament this weekend? Is Coach going to let you try outfielding since you finished your physical therapy? Sure wish I could be there with you! You and I made a great team with you taking care of high-flyers and me snagging the grounders. I'll be rooting for the team from here in the hood.
You'll always be my bestie, Jay, but I'm excited to have finally met someone my age in our new neighborhood. Mom lets me walk to the grocery store once in a while. I'd spotted this basketball court a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, along with everything else, the tornado lifted my basketball.
Last week, on the way home from the store I saw a guy shooting hoops all by himself. When I stopped to watch for a couple of minutes, he came over to talk to me.
Anyway, his name is Jamari, and we're going to be in the same grade at the same school this year. Man, am I dreading having to start in a new school! I knew the name of every teacher at our school, and everybody in our class. For crying out loud, I won't know where the gym is, much less the bathroom. At least I've met Jamari.
I did it again, didn't I? Sorry for getting all sad again. It's really getting better here. I like my job helping our landlord. It gets really hot working outside, but it keeps me busy. (I think all the buildings keep the wind from moving around to cool things off.) At least I've made one friend and that seems to help a lot.
Hey, Jay, how 'bout give somebody your phone at the tournament so you can send me some pics of you batting or in the outfield. Can't wait to hear how you and the team do.
Go, get'em, Jay!
Jason, My Man!
Thanks for writing back, Jason! I was afraid my letter was maybe too depressing. You're a real friend.
I'm glad to hear you're back in the game. I hope Coach Howard isn't pushing you too hard. Do you think you'll be able to go back to right field next spring? You've always been our powerhouse in the outfield. Your physical therapy doesn't sound very fun, but who knows, maybe you'll be better than ever!
Have you see the latest Marvel movie? I might get to for my birthday. Things are still really tight, but Mom said if I keep catching fish to help out, she can save some grocery $$$ for the movie.
Sorry, Jay, TMI?
The best news is I've got a job. I'm helping the landlord keep the outside of the building stay cleaned up. Yeah, I know, not very cool, but maybe if Mom saves some grocery $$$ for the movie, I can spring for McD's. What do you think?
That's about all the news for me. Except here's a picture of one day's catch. Hate gutting fish, but really like helping my mom.
Good luck at your next game!