The first class I ever made a bad grade in (a C) was handwriting in the fifth grade. No matter how much I practiced, my cursive was not the smooth, looping style that I was forced to copy over and over in my book. There was just something . . . off about it. Thankfully my mother reasoned that penmanship was certainly not a mark of intelligence (doctors anyone?) and didn’t worry about it.
Twenty plus years later, my handwriting is still bad–my lowercase B looks like a six, for example. But it’s more than that. No matter what I do, how hard I try, there is always something off. My skirts always have mystery stains or dog hair, my picture frames are never straight no matter what tools I use, my eyeliner always ends up pooled under my eyes despite all the chemical precautions I take against it, my hair is always lumpy or slightly undone, my cooking is always a shade too dark or too light, my essays always have one typo, my car always has a scratch, my left earrings keep disappearing . . . essentially everything in my life, despite my best intentions, is always smudged, rippled, browned, snagged, scuffed, crooked, chipped, or warped. It’s like I’m stumbling, tripping, sliding, and skidding through life. In a word: I’m off.
As the handwriting indicates, this is not a new problem. My life has been built around it. Never the best and never the worst, I’m usually pretty good or okay, but there’s something not quite right about whatever it is. It’s something that I have tried to work on. Measures have certainly been taken. And yet the off-ness remains. Sometimes it seems the harder I work against it, the more it rears its head. I was reading an article in Working Mother yesterday about how working moms expect perfection of themselves and how they should let go of those ideals. The effect was that I then felt guilty for not being harder on myself and not overcoming my off-ness.
The question then is this: do I embrace that I am off, that I will never have straight pictures, scratch-free legs, and correctly folded fitted sheets? Do I acknowledge that things will always be slightly crooked and smudged? Or do I try to straighten myself out somehow? Is there some way to do that, like a metaphorical V8 that will shift me to line up with the world?
I suppose these types of rhetorical questions will always be in the back of my mind. And it is for some of these reasons that I started Generation Cake almost two years ago. This represents my 100th post and I feel I am no closer to understanding myself or the world. However, I am thankful that I have someplace where I can share my thoughts with people who might just feel the same way.
Thanks for reading, Cakesters. Here’s to another 100.