As I revealed in an earlier post, I was sent to boarding school in 9th grade because I'd been caught ditching school to go skiing on more than one occasion. Thus, I was labeled incorrigible. I wasn't, really. Incorrigible. I just loved skiing and didn't care about anything else. That sounds rather simple minded, doesn't it? There are some parents out there who would have given anything to have a daughter like me. That parent was not my mother. Still, I survived her rule to go on to a fabulous life of skiing. For a living. For fun. For a while. I wanted to train for the pro circuit and I knew I could win as I got better & better. I even had local ski shops (who are worldwide now, by the way) wanting to be my sponsor. I could have been great... maybe. Maybe not. I'll never know. That was not meant to happen. I was sent into teenage exile. Until I graduated in May of 1970.
Why in the world would I want to figure out Geometry problems or conjugate verbs or dissect some poor creature, when I could be skiing? Those classes didn't make me feel free but skiing did. I still like feeling free and I still love to ski. So, I guess the answer would be..... you get older and your body starts to slowly discontinue working as it once did. At this point, you need a brain, since all of your physical prowess is beginning to wane.
However, you all know full well why you do stupid things when you're young, am I correct? Hello! You're *bullet-proof* when you're young, right? Not to mention foolish. And stubborn.
When I was first sent away to boarding school, I thought my life had surely ended. I was miserable and I cried every night and I wanted to go home. I missed going to Mother's Tea Room & Bookstore after skiing, so I could read works by such geniuses as Kahlil Gibran and Yvgheny Yvteshenko and e. e. cummings. I missed smoking pot with my friends at Aspen High School (yes, I did that right along with everyone else in the late 1960's) and backpacking on the weekends. I just wanted to go home. Badly. That was not going to happen no matter what kind of fits I threw. No matter how much I begged and promised. I was there and that was that. I would have tried to run away if I'd had any guts and/or money, but I developed guts much later in life and I never did have any money. Besides, there was no place to go in the Ozarks of Missouri other than getting lost in the thick woods. Uh-huh. That's how remote Ursuline Academy was. I gained 20 lbs. my first year there. Fitness & exercise were never big issues back then.
Ursuline was also breathtakingly beautiful and was originally perched upon several acres. It was what was referred to as a *mother school*, which meant all of the Ursuline nuns nearby came there to make their final descent. There was a Chapel of immense beauty, consecrated ground, and a graveyard for all of the nuns who have passed on & those who will. The cloisters (where the nuns lived) were absolutely OFF LIMITS. So, where do you suppose we spent years trying to break into? The Cloisters! We were allowed to roam the grounds when studying and privileges sort of escalated as you went up a grade, depending on your behavior. However, we were never allowed to leave the grounds unless we were in a taxicab and had been past Reverend Mother Margaret Mary, for final inspection (lest we embarrass the school, which we did on a weekly basis). This way, they were able to keep track of us in a world long before computers and cell phones and other such frivolous items that are taken for granted these days.
In order to pass inspection for a trip to *town* each one of us had to parade past Rev. Mother Margaret Mary, where we had to kneel on the floor and prove that our skirts were long enough for local consumption, meaning they had to hit the floor when kneeling. Being the oh-so-savvy boarding school girls that we were, we realized that all we had to do was unzip our scandalous mini-skirts, pull them way low on our hips, and wear long, over sized sweaters over them. OMG! We were so brilliant!!! For about 5 seconds. Like no one in town was going to report what we were up to. Arcadia, Missouri is still (to this day) like a population of 500. HAHAHAHA! We were, alas, young & stupid. Beyond foolish really. But OMG how smart we thought we were!
We used to always take a taxicab into town and have the cabbie drop us off at the local hotspot *Cozy Corner Cafe*, where we would consume mass quantities of coffee and cigarettes and pretend that we were poets and women of matter, lol. The moment we arrived back at school via the taxicab, we were inspected for breath and clothing *aromas*. Hard as I tried, I never passed inspection. Coming back was always much more difficult than leaving. Especially when Reverend Mother lifted our sweaters to reveal our oh-so-cleverly-hidden mini skirts. So, our punishment was 2 weeks of not going to town, plus we had to do *Touchdowns*. I swear it was worth it to go to town and pretend we were in NYC with Jack Kerouac or Hunter Thompson (who was mayor of Aspen by then) or someone equally as Bohemian, as we smoked and drank coffee at *Cozy Corner*. We were avante garde, albeit in the Catholic boarding school in the Ozark Mountains version of avante garde.
So.... *Touchdowns* were a little mathematical torture device devised by the more clever penguins (nuns), for our punishment. They would give you a yellow legal pad upon which they had written across the top: 12345678910 Once received, you had to multiply by 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on, all the way up to 100. Once that was done, you had to divide all the way back down, starting with two. The real bitch of it was that you had to have the right answer for every equation, all the way. They checked your worked scrupulously and if a mistake was found, you had to start over from the beginning. There were many nights I stayed up past midnight in my pursuit of the correct mathematical answers to the task at hand. It was usually the same nun who stood guard over me. Sister De Lourdes. Who could spot an ant picking up a crumb of food from 50 feet away and could hear an ant sneeze from at least 150 feet away. The woman was psychic (or so we thought) She was one tough old Catholic broad... I mean nun. You couldn't get away with anything around that woman. I never could, anyway. She would always appear out of the dark from seemingly nowhere and always freaked me out. Not to mention caught me doing many bad things over the course of my most excellent education there. Like, I got caught with a friend smoking cigarettes on the altar in the chapel, using the benediction thingy for our ashtray. Yes, I know. We were bad girls, what can I say? I had ditched school to go skiing and my friends' parents were on a trip around the world. Oh yeah, baby! WE WERE BAD, I TELL YOU!
So, I remained patient (yeah, right!) throughout my years @ Ursuline Academy and I actually learned a thing or two, in spite of my constant resistance to do so. I've always cared more about literature and theatre and poetry than anything else, as far as studying books goes. Gawd knows I preferred to be skiing or backpacking or catching butterflies, for all that matters. Back then, this was a sign that I was somehow inferior, in my family anyway. What? I didn't want a university education to become a bore like those who went before me? Apparently I did not have the superior intelligence of the other members of my family. Whatever. Never bothered me in the slightest. I'm not a clone. Of course, I might sometimes be a bore but that's predictably after being around any of my family members and I usually get over it rather quickly.
I might not have emerged a scholar, but I did emerge a woman and a better person. It took me a year of hard work to lose the weight I'd gained to look like this. I'm the one on the left.
To be continued......