Thursday, January 25, 2007

Susan

Somehow or another during college the first time around, I found myself being friends with quite a few older women. Some of them became sort of surrogate moms. It was kind of nice.

Almost twenty years later, I took a ceramic class, and found myself with yet another older woman. Probably older, but not that much older. Not near old enough to be my mother. More like a stand-in older sister.

I had to take a certain level art class to make up for a lost advanced painting credit. I didn't feel up to trying to take painting again. Beginning painting did not have a high enough number, and I didn't feel like I could just jump back into painting after being away for so many years. Plus there seemed to be an unreasonable amount of work involved, like fifteen paintings. I used to do about five a semester. There was no way on earth that I could do fifteen paintings I would be happy with in one semester.

So I had to find something else. Oddly enough, glass blowing was available, and I probably would have gotten in because I was a graduating senior. But unlike everyone else, I did not want glass blowing. It looks very dangerous to me.

Drawing probably would have been good, but I don't do so much of that anymore either. I decided that I really wanted to try something new. Since I was being forced to take a class due to someone else's screw-up, I should make the most of it and actually try to learn something.

I had a look around the ceramics lab, and a nice lady assured me that ceramics was not that hard if you were really willing to put in the work. And it was not that expensive. And the beginning course was a high enough number but did not require a lot of prerequisites.

So, off I went to sign up for the course.

I had been in the art department many years ago, but I was not welcomed back with open arms. Beginning Clay is mainly for art majors, and you are not an art major. You can get on a waiting list, and if you're still interested you might could get in after all the art majors have their chance. Why don't you take an art history course or maybe print making.

By this time I had really convinced myself that ceramics was what I needed to take, and I wasn't taking no for an answer. Two weeks later, after no art major seniors or juniors showed any interest in the class, I was allowed in. Possibly this was due to someone's secretary being tired of talking to me on the phone, but I didn't care as long as I got in.

By about the third week of class, I was ready to cry. One of my projects kept collapsing. I just couldn't do it.

And I knew better than to sign up for ceramics. I had seen the students at another school cry over broken pieces and all of that. I knew that sometimes you spent weeks on a project that just didn't turn out as planned.

But this was different. This was just the simplest little thing, and I couldn't do it. It wasn't even that I was upset about the way it looked, I just couldn't seem to make anything that fit the requirements of the assignment without it falling over just as I was about to finish it.

The nice lady followed me outside to make sure that I was okay. She said that everyone had the occasional bad day. But they would not all be bad days. She promised it would get better.

I went back in and started over with the project. There was no plan to it. It didn't look like anything. It was the required size, it had the required element of texture on it, it was hollow, and it didn't collapse. And, later, it dried without cracking, and a week after that it was fired without cracking.

The next project was easier to make, and I liked the way it looked. My new friend Susan complimented my work. A few other people complimented my work.

It mostly went smoothly after that. There were a few hassles here and there, a few cracks and such, but none of my pieces actually broke beyond repair.

My last project for the class, I got a little over ambitious. Despite the fact that I had bought about twice the recommended amount of clay, I was going to run out before I finished my project. I didn't realize this until late Friday afternoon, and Trinity Clay is not open on the weekends. Not only was I going to have lose two days work, but the part of the piece I was already working on was probably going to dry more than I would want, making it difficult to come back and work on later.

Susan gave me a whole 25 pound bag of that type of clay.

Not Susan sold me a bag of clay. Not Susan loaned me a bag of clay. Not Susan gave me some leftover clay.

Susan gave me a whole 25 pound bag of clay.

Wow.

So that was really nice. I got an A in the class and had several pieces that I was very happy with to take home. I like a couple of them so much I might try and duplicate them later on.

I graduated. And I tried to come and visit Susan in the lab to see what she was doing that next semester, but because of security it is really hard for someone not enrolled in that class to even get into the lab. After about a month I quit trying. I heard that she had moved.

So, earlier this week, when I was going to the bookstore to buy clay, I thought I saw someone who looked like Susan. But of course I knew that it wasn't Susan, because she had moved to be closer to a different school.

But then this lady who looked like Susan also went into the bookstore to buy clay. And it turned out to be Susan after all. She had missed one of the classes, and with the weird schedule and the ice and everything, we just kept missing each other.

So this is great. My buddy Susan and I end up in the same ceramics class, years later, at a different school. What an incredible coincidence.

2 comments:

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Nobodyinparticular said...

That's great; there are good people in the world. This should make the class more enjoyable.