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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mrs. Uribe Put a Curse on Me

When I was in high school, I took a ceramics class taught by Mrs. Uribe. Mrs. Uribe was a heavy set, grey haired lesbian. She chose me to run errands for her during class. I am not sure why she chose me. At the time, I thought she, like all of my teachers before her, liked me. In retrospect, perhaps she chose me to run errands for her because my friend and I were silly, giggly, high school girls who disrupted the class with our chortling. We constantly flirted with a cute senior boy in the class. This may have bothered Mrs. Uribe. In any event, I missed an awful lot of class because I was taking papers to the administration office or leaving the school building to go across the street to the record store to buy a birthday gift for Mrs. Uribe's daughter.

I liked ceramics. All my life, I enjoyed doing anything creative. I drew. I made up songs on the piano. I danced. My friends and I made up plays. To me it was all fun! I hated being passively entertained. I wanted to make things and do things and be appreciated for what I made and did.

I also loved what others made and did. Music was exciting -- English pop, glam rock, punk rock, funk. I never watched TV -- I listened to music and read books. I went to concerts. I went dancing at the underage clubs. I partied. I extracted an image of what was arty and cutting edge from rock stars and authors and used it to inform my own sense of style. I denied being a Jewish American Princess.

I was also basically a good girl, I followed direction. I was filled with compunction. While I was not a ceramics genius, I was always creative and artistic. I enjoyed the process. I was able to practice the techniques. I did my projects, despite missing so much class doing Mrs. Uribe's bidding.

On the last day of class, I thanked Mrs. Uribe and told her I enjoyed her class. Instead of thanking me or telling me it was a pleasure to have me in her class (which all of my teachers had always said to me my entire life), Mrs. Uribe told me I was going to get married, live in a ranch house in the suburbs, drive a station wagon, have a big dog and two children.


That was not what I had planned for my life. Being a suburban housewife had nothing to do with staying up all night dancing in nightclubs. Being a suburban housewife was very far removed from traveling to exotic locations where I would be influenced by other cultures so that I thought differently. I didn't have the wardrobe of a suburban housewife!

Already in high school I knew that I was going to travel the world. I would settle in New York where I would first be a journalist, and then a novelist (when I turned 40 because you really need to experience life before you can write about it). I would have experiences that would inform my artistic endeavors. I would be important.

While I laughed at Mrs. Uribe and said, "You don't know anything about me," I think now she may have been a much better judge of character than I was when I was 15.


fourstones said...

Susan's writing, yea!

Uribepal said...

Good account Susan, especially since I am your eyewitness of Mrs. Uribe (being your high school friend). I think you have been far too kind in your writings of Ms. Uribe. She hated both of us, but I think it was jealousy! She was just jealous that we were young, full of energy and having a whole lot of fun. I also tried really hard in that class, making that Indian basket (remember that). I still have it (actually my mother does). I got a "D" in her class.