Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I was a boarding school brat... Part 2

When I was younger (much younger) and still attending my beloved Ursuline Academy (cough! cough!), my mother decided it was time for me to learn the piano. From Mother Monica, the same nun that attempted to teach my own mother piano. At the same school. At the same piano. The woman was ancient. Since I am now in serious danger of approaching ancient myself, I can't help but wonder what in the world she was doing still teaching piano. I never learned a thing. Wait, I did learn the high end of chopsticks.... TA DA! From one of my friends. No, actually, I learned & performed Fur Elise for my second recital, which was the second recital I had no one in attendence for me. I'm sure I must have been brilliant because Reverend Mother Margaret Mary suggested to my mother that she find a more suitable piano teacher for me.

Oh, and I also learned how to clean blood off the ivories. Mother Monica's fingers were so old & dry & cracked, that they actually used to bleed when she was giving me my lesson. She was like in her upper 80's at the time. Sheesh! Guess the Diocese didn't pay for frivolous items like skin cream. They just covered for pervert priests. Wait, did I say that? Ooops, guess I did. My bad?

Actually, Mother Monica was pretty cool as a teacher of history... when she was able to get her memories straight, which wasn't all too often. When she was able to drift off into her own world (which we soon learned to allow), she spoke of Nazi Germany and the many atrocities that they suffered as nuns in that country, during those times. The stories she told were gripping and horrifying and yet, I still don't think that any of us were really able to grasp the horrors that she spoke of. Many girls thought she was just crazy. But I think she would have been a totally brilliant writer, maybe. Had she not chosen to marry God. Had she not had the *calling*.

I believe she was a fiercely brave and intelligent woman. So, I dutifully cleaned the piano keys whenever she happened to bleed on them. I felt that it was my Spiritual Duty. Even though I wasn't Catholic, nor was anyone in the entire history of my family.

Mother Monica had taught my mother piano, only my mother was young and so was Mother Monica and my mother seemingly learned enough to be entertaining at dinner parties. She was good to go. However, I remember something of a rumor about Mother Monica when she had first entered the Order. The scuttlebut was that she had been a gifted concert pianist before comitting to the Ursuline Order. I'm sorry I didn't know her then. However, she sucked as a teacher when I was at Ursuline 40 years later, thank you!

As horrible a thing as this is to say, I was always secretly glad, because that meant my lesson was over. I was a kid, okay? I wanted to chow down. As in hit the *Snack Bar* and all of the emotion soothing junk foods that it offered. Which I never failed to partake in. We're talking a dream come true for a lonely, miserable girl who was far from home. Away from her skis and her mountains and her snow, that she so totally adored. Bring on those Twinkies! By the time I graduated, I was beginning to look suspiciously like a Twinkie, and nothing like the girl who'd had Olympic Dreams just a few years earlier. Thanks Mom! Job well done, as always!

Ursuline closed a couple of years after my class graduated. (I was always secretly worried that it was because of us... our Class of 1970.) But, actually, I think it was just the signs of the times. The changing of the guard. Life goes on. Now, the old dormotories have been restored and converted into a Bed & Breakfast. Another part of the school was bought and turned into an antique shop. There are still weddings held in the Chapel, which is still as beautiful as I remember it. Here is a link to Ursuline:

To be continued…


Mental P Mama said...

I love a nice little trip down these memory lanes. Thanks so much for sharing. I love how we gather little parts of understanding along the way and don't realize it until after we have stopped rolling along and take a look at ourselves!

scargosun said...

Your school reminds me of the movie "The Trouble with Angels" with Haley Mills. They showed us that in my all girls catholic school once. I experienced the all girls catholic school too but did not board. Those nuns really weilded a scary power over kids, didn't they?

Love your blog btw. Looking forward to reading more.

brneyedgal967 said...

Although you told this chapter with your usual wittiness and sarcasm... I found it sad. I was sad for the young girl who wasn't allowed to follow her dreams. And wanting to become an Olympic skier isn't frivolous at all. I see that happen among some people I know - pushing their kids to conform to their standards instead of letting them "be" the people they are. A shame. Glad you can share this with us - you write very well. For someone who plays the piano poorly, that is. *snicker*

brneyedgal967 said...

Oh and I love your play list. I may leave this window open all afternoon - so if you have a website stat thingy, and you see me here for oh, 4 hours or so... I'm not going all stalker on ya. LOL

imbeingheldhostage said...

Ok, I've been stalking these stories and not leaving comments because, well, I was just enjoying them, But in case you think there's no one out there waiting for the next installment, you're wrong.
You know you can print these stories in a blog-book? And your recipes in one of those-- I'd buy it!

Snooty Primadona said...

MP Mama: Yup, too bad we're not born adults, but damn that would hurt giving birth, huh?

Scargosun: Yes, it was alot like that movie at Ursuline. But, we tried really hard to be bad, lol. Although it wasn't REALLY bad.

Tammy: Unfortunately, it was sad, but I learned to deal with it. Still... I often wonder what might have happened. I'll never know.

Glad you like the music. I always thought I was destined to be a DJ, because I believe I have excellent taste in music. However, in some crowds, that would be debatable.

More about the *Brown Recluse* (my mommie dearest) at a later date. I have a lot of issues concerning her. LOL! Can you tell?

imbeingheldhostage: Yup, my brother-in-law reads my blog and sent me the link for BookSmart. I love it. Thanks for your kind comments.

Anonymous said...

I love this story..takes down memory lane as a past all-girls Catholic high school girl.

Bloody piano keys...oh boy.

Jo said...

What a lovely story. I clicked on the link, and Ursuline looks absolutely gorgeous.

I once took horseback riding lessons from a woman who had been a doctor in Nazi Germany and had managed to escape. Interesting times.


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