Saturday, October 2, 2010

A burning quest to be sufficient.

      Drawing and Writing Copyright Jen Kelly 2010                                                                                                                          Disclaimer: My drawing and writing are products of my warped, incomplete and self-centered memory. 
Distortion and inaccuracies are normal.

My Grandma was the last in a string of shoe-tying instructors. At seven years old, I was humiliated that I couldn't tie my own sneakers, a feat most of my peers had mastered over a year before. When watching others demonstrate the shoe-tying process I'd never noticed the part where they'd push the lace through the loop with a fingertip. You've got to admit it's a bit of a sleight of hand maneuver, right? (Clears thoat) Right?

In addition to all the other things that eluded me: beauty, money, and athletic talent, I didn't want to appear to also lack intelligence. Evidently that particular neurosis started early, that and trying to hide my shortcomings.

It was maddening to know that I was smart and capable, but oddly unable to produce evidence of this when pressed (story of my life!) Most everyone eventually learns to tie a bow, but for some reason the standard teaching practices were not enlightening me, and I was past due.  I was going to be teased again when school started. And nothing hurt me more than teasing I couldn't dispute.

Grandma and I sat perched on the vinyl window seat with the summer sun frying our backs as she tied her shoe over and over for me. While watching this, I SAW it for the first time: the loophole, the fingertip, the missing link. And from that moment on, I could replicate the process just fine.

That made me blissfully the same as everyone else my age. Maybe there wasn't anything wrong with me. The relief was so explosive that the memory of that moment is the one foremost in mind about Grandma.

In case you're wondering what this has to do with anything, well, I get the same experience hearing other people's stories. It's a massive relief to see that a dysfunction--that I had thought was wholly my own--is actually common. In other words, I'm the same as everyone else. But instead of matching in basic life skill capabilities, I match in being imperfect.

It’s funny how being screwed up is easier when I'm not the only one. Others' acknowledgment of their own faults makes me feel validated, loved, and okay.

I hope you feel loved when you come and read, because I love to hear myself talk, and I've got more faults to acknowledge than San Francisco could shake a stick at.
What a combo!

Jen Kelly


  1. Yahoo! Keep writing! Keep drawing! I love Butter Side Uppity!

  2. Thank you for this lovey illsutration of this awareness! ...and why does it take half of our lives to realize this? I think about this all of the time! That we all put our pants on one leg at a time, as the expression goes. I revel in this most days.. washing dishes, sweeping the floor. All the awkaward odd moments walking among other people on the planet... Really needing coffee in the morning, not being able to remember the word I want to say...on and on. We ALL have these moments-- is it in our responses to these moments, then that we show our uniqueness?

  3. Too cool. Good writing too.

  4. Jen, I love you! and I love your blog, too. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!