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The Woman Who Knew Judo

I used to sit in the kitchen and draw when Jean visited my mother. I loved to show my completed drawings to Jean. She made me feel as if I’d discovered an elemental truth, or shown her something vital. Once, when I handed her a picture I’d done of a yellow lion with spindly legs and huge round eyes, she looked at it with consideration and said, “You know, it doesn’t look like a real lion. But I think you’ve caught the spirit of a lion here, and that’s a lot more important. This lion has lion-ness.”

“The Woman Who Knew Judo,” by Mary Gaitskill

I met Jean Taylor when I was five years old. She was the tallest woman I had ever seen, and she walked slowly, with her head up and her shoulders back, her hips moving like the hips of a slender cat. She wore black slacks and she had big feet which seemed to me very graceful, especially when she wore her straw sandals with the artificial cherries on them.