Prof. Jessica Penner | OL05 | Fall 2020

Discussion: Meet My Feet

If we were meeting in person, I’d show you one of my favorite pair of shoes: Red Doc Martens. I love these boots. They’re comfortable for walking and teaching and just look awesome. They’re getting a little ragged and worn–I think I’ve owned this pair for nearly a decade. I know I’ve gone through at least two sets of inserts!

When I was in high school, I wanted a pair of Doc Martens, but couldn’t afford to have a “real” pair. Instead, I bought pairs of knock-off Doc Martens, which are fine and looked basically like the real deal, but I knew in my heartest of hearts that they weren’t the same.

There was a point in my life after I’d been teaching awhile when I realized: “Hey, you’ve got enough money to buy the real thing!” And then I started shopping, which is the most fun about getting new clothes or shoes, in my opinion. At first, I was going to buy the traditional pair (black), but then I saw these red ones, and I decided, if I was going to splurge, I was going to splurge on something that stood out.

Please add a comment to this post. What did you enjoy? What questions do you have?


  1. Diana Rivera

    I enjoyed that after stating how much you love your Doc Martins, you were transparent about owning a fake pair and that you did not hate them because they weren’t the real deal. If they did not have red would you have picked a different color?

    • Jessica Penner

      I probably would’ve picked another color if red wasn’t available, but I imagine I’d be secretly longing for red years later! 🙂

  2. Diana Rivera

    I really enjoyed that you were very transparent about owning a fake pair of Doc Martins, shows how humble of a person you are. My only question is if they did not have red would you have picked another color?

    • Kiara Wright

      What I really enjoyed about your story is how you explained how much you wanted the Doc Martin shoes. Even when you got the cheap knock off version you were satisfied with it but a part of you just wanted to get the reall ones and you worked really hard and earned enough to spoil yourself a bit and finally got something you always wanted. The reason why I enjoyed reading this short story of yours because I was able to relate to it instantly. When I was younger I always wanted an iPad touch to do grafic design but was never able to afford it. I ended up working hard, doing my best in school and I managed to save up enough to get one and now that I do I have clients here and there asking me to draw some stuff for them. Other than the red Doc Martin being the one to stand out, is the reason you also pick them because there are you favorite color too?

      • Jessica Penner

        I think it became my favorite color because of the Docs, you know? I suddenly saw red everywhere and I thought: Huh, what a nice color!

    • Jessica Penner

      Yes, though I’d secretly long for red…

  3. nickay82

    I like the color, the red definitely stands out! Black is my favorite color, but I agree with you to not get them in black because the black would be too basic and not as fashionable as the red ones.

    Did you choose the red because they look better in red, or is red your favorite color?

    • Jessica Penner

      I am fond of black as well–NYC has def influenced me on that color. I think I like red because, like black, it makes a statement. I think red became my fav color because of the Docs!

  4. maliklee

    I enjoyed how you were honest about buying the knock off version of the boots showing how humble and grateful you are as a person.The question I have is other than the comfortability of the boot was there anything else that stood out to you the most and would have you chose another style such as patent or printed ones such as floral

  5. Isabel Selmo

    what I enjoyed about this story would have to be the fact that that you wanted to give us a feel of who you are and something that you like.

    a few questions that I have are:
    – was there a specific reason why you decided to talk about your boots and not something else?
    – what made you fall in love doc martens ?

    • Jessica Penner

      When I first started teaching creative writing, someone mentioned this as a great ice breaker because it was something people had in common and it showed a bit of a person’s personality. I’ve loved the things I’ve learned about people through this activity–I’ve also learned new brands of shoes! I fell in love with Docs because they seemed to instantly make a person a little cooler. Basic jeans and a sweatshirt. Okay. Add Docs, and boom! Frilly dress. Okay. Pretty. Frilly dress + Docs, and boom! A statement!

  6. Saja Musa

    Professor Penner, I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s very strange how this short story about your favorite pair of shoes, helped me visualize who you are as a person. There is no doubt that you are very humble, hence why you revealed your inability to purchase the real name brand shoe. Additionally, your decision to continue to keep these shoes around does not imply that you are unable to purchase another pair, it illustrates how these shoes are a reminder of the hard work you put in to be able to be in the position to afford the real name brand shoe. You hold onto this worn out pair because it symbolizes your growth and achievements. One question I have is, why did you choose to purchase the bright red pair of shoes?

    • Jessica Penner

      I think it made me feel cool, and instantly made any outfit more cool, but also the red stood out, which was something I was trying to do more. When I was in high school, I always felt pressure to dress like everyone else, but in college and grad school, I realized I could wear what I liked, not what everyone else did.

  7. Amna Ahmed

    I enjoyed that your story what short, simple, and to the point. Yet, the story demonstrated who you are as a person. I learned that you get attached to objects and that you are logical when you decide to purchase something that may be on the more expensive side. I found it funny how it took you a while to realize that you were in a time in your life where you could afford real Doc Martens.
    Do you have other Doc Martens shoes?

    • Jessica Penner

      I do have a pair of “regular” black Docs now. There’s always a time when you just need to be a New Yorker and wear black!

  8. Robert Rampersaud

    I enjoyed your story of “Meeting My Feet” because it shows why Doc Martens became more of a sentimental value rather than it just being another pair of shoes. It doesn’t matter if you can afford a new pair or how worn much it is, but it the pride of final accomplishing something that you always wanted when you were younger. However, knowing myself I would have probably wore it once in a while to preserve the shoe, so how come you don’t try to preserve it to last longer? Also, how did you feel when you first bought the Doc Martens?

    • Jessica Penner

      I try to preserve my shoes as much as possible, though I’ll admit I use the preserve excuse to buy more shoes than I realistically need. 🙂 I felt very awesome when I first got them. I felt I had finally reached grown up status.

  9. Leviza Murtazayeva

    It was really fun and interesting to learn a little about a person and her dreams, which is why I really enjoyed reading this short memory of yours “Meet my feet.” Short memories or stories like these tell a lot about the person writing or speaking, it made me believe and learn how patient and passionate you are about certain things such as these Doc Martens boots.
    What made you splurge on the red boots instead? I may ask that only because most people choose the ordinary colors for cold weather especially in New York, it is almost always black. Would you buy another pair if you can? What color or style you would choose?

    • Jessica Penner

      I wanted to own Docs and feel cool, but I decided I wanted to be cool and a little different. I will admit I now own a black pair because, as I’ve said to others, sometimes you need just black! I have eyed a pair of Docs that have roses embroidered in them, but I haven’t taken the plunge just yet…stay tuned!

  10. Sarvi

    I think at some point of our life, especially as youngster teenagers, we get the feeling of not having enough material needs and we set goals that when we start working we will buy this and that, and already plan where to spend our money. I liked the idea of you buying not the real pair and feeling comfortable sharing it. Teenagers who also went through situations like these might actually benefit from your story so that they don’t feel that they were the only ones that couldn’t afford what they wanted.
    Do you always buy things of different colors rather than traditional black or gray because they stand out more?

    • Jessica Penner

      I do have a lot of black in my wardrobe, but I’ve decided over the years that I want to show a bit of my personality through my clothes, so I’ve added different colors! I also think it’s good for kids to learn that others have had to deal with privations or problems. It makes them feel less isolated.

  11. Luzmery

    I enjoyed the whole story but something that put a smile on my face was the part where you stated that because you couldn’t afford a real pair back in high school you got “fake ones” and even though you knew they were not the “real deal”you did not feel bad and worn it until you were able to afford the real Doc Martens.

    Now that they are a little raged, are you planning to get new ones?

    • Jessica Penner

      I don’t wear them as much now because of their raggedness, but I’ve kept an eye out for a similar pair, although a pair that is embroidered with roses have caught my attention. I haven’t bought them, but we’ll see…

  12. Angelica Hernandez

    Hi, I enjoyed your story becuase I myself wear and love Doc Martens. I like how you shared that when you were once in highschool you werent able to afford them to eventually being able to afford them. Its a goals like that that make you reflect and make you proud of yourself . Its great that you stuck with the ones you wear, and probably hold alot of senetental value to you.

    A question I have is, what first attacted you to Doc Martens?

  13. Mohammed Hashim

    I enjoyed the story about your favorite Doc Martens shoes. The choice of color is unique which is kind of cool too. I really respect that you were passionate about those specific pair of shoes, passionate enough to remember that you couldn’t afford them before so you treated yourself when you had enough to buy those genuine dream shoes you’ve always wanted. I think a lot of people have these sorts of wants in their life that they can’t achieve without a little development in their financial stability. I’m glad that you were able to achieve one of your childhood dreams.
    Some questions I have are: 1) How did you feel emotionally after getting those shoes?
    2) Do you miss the feeling you had when you were on your way to finally buy the real Doc Martens?
    3) Did you ever find them uncomfortable and thought that maybe they weren’t worth the time and money you’ve invested?

    • Jessica Penner

      1) How did you feel emotionally after getting those shoes?
      Happy and cool!

      2) Do you miss the feeling you had when you were on your way to finally buy the real Doc Martens?
      Oooo, good question. Yeah, I think anticipation is often better than the thing itself!

      3) Did you ever find them uncomfortable and thought that maybe they weren’t worth the time and money you’ve invested?
      Yes, I’ve found they’re pretty good in general for walking long distances, but there is a point where the feet just hurt from walking. I used to think maybe they weren’t worth it, but I’ve realized that sometimes your feet hurt because that’s what feet do!

  14. Angelica Salazar

    I enjoyed reading the details of how comfortable you find the shoe to be, it made me think that it may be one of the many reasons you like Doc Martens. Another thing that I liked while reading this story is when you said “I decided, if I was going to splurge, I was going to splurge on something that stood out.” This stood out to me because I also have a similar way of thinking when it comes to shopping. I always like to find at least one bold piece, its like the saying “go big or go home”. Anyways, a question I have is would you still get the black boots? Or do you prefer to stick with the red boots?

    • Jessica Penner

      I do have a pair of black Docs now, because sometimes you need to wear all black!

  15. Kael Krummenauer

    I enjoyed how you managed to give us a glimpse of your life by writing about your favorite Doc Martens. Particularly the first part where you state how worn and used they look, I love a more rugged look on boots, it can also serve as a reminder of all the good moments you had in your life while wearing them!

    When choosing the red color and saying you wanted it to stand out, does it represent you wanting to stand out more than when you were in Highschool?

    • Jessica Penner

      Yeah, in my high school you had to dress like everyone else, so this was a way to defy that!

  16. Parikshit Thapa

    Hello Professor, I really enjoyed reading about your favorite shoes. I liked how you were able to express yourself so much about the shoes that you loved. It was really interesting to find out how your first pair of Doc Martens wasn’t original. I feel like all that matters is that you actually loved it. Also, have you thought about another pair of shoes that you really like other than Doc Martens.

    • Jessica Penner

      I do own a pair of Blundstones now. They’re a more “sensible” shoe. They’re super comfortable and I like them a lot, although I don’t feel as cool wearing my Docs.

  17. Mamadou

    What I really enjoyed about the piece was the mention of you wanting a pair in high school and eventually settling for a fake pair. It opens up the possibility in the future to bring up experiences that you had in high school with them. Which leads to my question: Are there any interesting stories from high school involving the boots?

    • Jessica Penner

      I do remember that my “fake” pair in high school didn’t have a lot of traction, so I’d often slip and slide when hurrying to classes!

  18. Chynaworrell

    I like that you gave us backstory of your relationship with Doc Martens and why they are your favorite pair of shoes. Also, I absolutely agree with you that shopping is the best part of getting new clothes and shoes. It’s actually one of my favorite hobbies. I loved that you bought the pair that stood out, it’s always good to be unique and stand out from the crowd. Do you always try to find things that stand out when you are shopping?

    • Jessica Penner

      As I’ve grown older, I’ve def moved from trying to “fit in” to finding my own personality. I try to not get too trendy (just because those things aren’t as well-made) but I like to match what I see people on the streets wearing and have my own flair at the same time.

  19. Dylan

    As someone who didn’t have the money to spend on stuff in high school, I definitely relate to you. I only had a stash of birthday money that I had saved up since I was a kid and couldn’t really buy cool things that caught my eye. Also, I bounce back and forth in my head between preserving something I really love or using it as much as possible. It’s a constant struggle, so I really respect that you’ve put those boots to work so much. Do you have any distinct memories that you associate with them? Also, have you ever found a snake in them?

    • Jessica Penner

      No snakes–yet–although I was at a conference in New Mexico years ago, and one of the things they warned us about was the fact that little animals and insects liked shoes, so they advised us to keep our shoes on shelves and check before we put them on! A favorite memory…I was wearing them the day I found out my novel was going to be published!

  20. Marina Malak

    Hello professor,
    Great and simple description that made me visualize and feel present in your experience. I’m not really into foot wear that much but i was able to conclude how much you are passionate about it. I could feel your excitement about the new shoes and it took me to things that i can relate to money wise when i wanted something that i could not afford. Definitely a simple story but full of real emotion that most of us can relate to to some point. I enjoyed reading it!

    • Marina Malak

      do you think if you could afford the real boots earlier, you would have lost your passion and excitement about them now?

      • Jessica Penner

        Good question! Yes, I think the anticipation is a big part of the enjoyment of anything. If things are too easily gotten, we don’t appreciate them as much.

  21. Adama Barro

    I enjoy your memoir of these beautiful Doc Martins, it is inspiring to like something, have goals and work and achieve them.
    I am related to your story, because growing up, i used to like the rock group Scorpions so much especially their electric guitar that when i start working and earning money, i bought an expensive looking one,just like the one they use on stage and hang it as a ‘trophy’ on my leaving room wall.
    The childhood memory that guitar give me is priceless .
    My question to you is, do you like the Doc Martins because they are comfortable or it because you couldn’t afford them back then?

  22. Jozelyn

    I enjoyed reading your story about finally owning a pair of Doc Martins, as it can be relatable for so many. Whether it was shoes such as Jordans, bags such a Micheal Kors or more, in my experience, high school was a place where owning the real thing and have name brands was significant. There are people who would spend what they have left on name brand items to respect status or”fit it.” In your case, you embraced the fact that you were not in the best financial position to buy yourself a pair and settled for a look alike, which is something that not many people can do. My question to you is, how did it feel when you finally bought your first pair of Doc Martins? Was it hard to contain your smile after the purchase or did you keep your cool?

  23. Bryan.carabajo

    I really enjoyed reading your story regarding your doc marten boots. One because I can immediately tell that those pair of boots mean so much to you, and two because you worked hard in order to be able to acquire them. The fact that you’ve had them for a decade shows a lot about the person you are and the way you value things. You also mentioned that you were rocking a fake pair of doc martens before you were able to get the actual ones and that reminded me of when I was young in middle school and rocked some fake jordans. My parents, later on, we’re able to get me the real deal but I never really paid mind that they were not real. Now that I work and make my own money I’ve been buying myself my own shoes, but I’m not into jordans really. I love Red Wing boots, which are for construction and cost a good amount. Other than that I had a few questions regarding the doc martens. Why did you choose those boots in the first place? What stood out in them and especially in the color red? The last thing is that I completely agree with the fact that if someone is about to get something that they have been wanting for a while, they should go all out. Overall i really enjoy your story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *