Katie has been involved with a thing called Power of the Pen for the last two years. Basically it is a creative writing contest consisting of tournaments on the district, regional and state level. I’m sad that it is only available in Ohio because it is a fantastic program. The kids are divided into groups of 5-6, given a prompt and the clock starts. For forty minutes they write fast and furiously. Their papers are read by a set of judges and scored. There are three rounds and at the end of the each round the number one ranked paper in each group is read by a separate group of “master readers” and a top paper from each round is selected.
During the awards ceremony the top 15 writers from both the 7th and 8th grades are announced. The top paper from each round is also given an award and finally, the team awards are given out to the school whose team scored the highest overall. There were probably about 180 writers there yesterday divided pretty evenly between the two grades.
Okay, so this is where the bragging starts, and if you aren’t family you might just want to stop reading right now.
You’ve been warned.
Katie placed 11th overall for the 8th grade and took the award for the top paper in round 1. Her 8th grade team took the first place team trophy. Another of her teammates took 2nd place overall and the 7th graders from Oakwood also had a very strong showing. We were so very proud of all of them.
Here is Katie’s paper that won best of round. The prompt was: If you laugh at yourself, nobody else will beat you to it.
And I am officially finished bragging.
My mother always told me that to be able to laugh at yourself was the most important skill out there. She said that everybody would respect you if you had this ability. But whenever I try, it always turns out badly.
Where I live everything is white. They say that color excites us. Everything is made out of cold, shiny metal, so gray that if you look at it for too long, you can feel yourself starting to shiver, as if your soul was slowly turning into ice and if you hit yourself with a hammer you would slam into the floor and shatter into a million pieces.
It’s lunchtime. Normally you stay in your room with its white-as-a-dove feather bed and one single solitary chair. At meal times and outside play however, you can leave that horrid room.
Betty, the nurse, opens my door. Her brown hair is tucked under her white cap. One button is undone on her dress today, revealing her fleshy skin underneath. It’s hilarious! I start to laugh. The sound resonates off the furniture and bounces into the hall.
“Mr. Bohman, Mr. Bohman,” Betty says, stepping into the room, “it’s time for the midday meal.” She steps closer to me and her heels sink into the carpet. She grabs my arm.
“Oh! A little rough today, aren’t we? A little feisty!” I smile and start to cackle again at my own wit.
“Come on, Mr. Bohman.”
We walk down the hall. We pass no pictures or paintings on the wall: no mirrors or flowers can be seen. “Too exciting,” they say.
Entering the kitchen, moans and cries filter through the air. Some people just like to complain. Others, like me, just find the joy in life.
“Joeyyyy! My man!” I shout across the room. A man, my friend Joey, raises his head and pretends to shoot me with two fingers. I double over, then straighten up, both Joey and I laughing hysterically.
“Mr. Bohman, Mr. Bohman, stop. You’re sixty-three. You are much too old to be playing games like this,” Betty says to me, her hips firm and her eyes cold and hard. She pulls me up to the first counter and we pass a sign that reads” Oklahoma Mental Institution”.
“Oatmeal or chicken soup?” she asks, gesturing. I look at the food and shudder. The oatmeal? More like oat-vomit. The soup? Well, I don’t even know where to start on that one. A silver spoon sticks out of the oat-lump and an idea pops into my head.
“Light bulb!” I shout and grab the spoon. A cold, gray, oozy lump of oat-gross clings to its metal surface. I grip the spoon and launch it over my head, back towards the eating area. It smacks the sign, which now reads “Oklahoma Me_tal Institution”.
“OH MY GOD,” I cry, doubling over in hysterics, “METAL INSTITUTION!” Waves of laughter roll through my body, similar to the waves you see at the ocean, rolling into the sand and spilling onto towels and sand castles.
“Mr. Bohman! Stop! Control yourself! Remember what the doctor said!” Betty warns.
“Too late.” I manage to squeeze out. I’m on the floor now, rolling back and forth on the white tile floor. Betty hits a button on the wall and two giant men come barreling through the door, startling a few patients. One of them, an elderly woman, starts to cry. They reach me and grab my legs and arms, pinning them to the floor. A giant needle shows itself and one of the men inserts it into my arm. I scream as the cooling fluid sifts its way into my bloodstream.
I wake up on my bed, laughing.