Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Jennifers...

Jen O:

I'm 41. I'm gay and currently single. I was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and raised outside a little Minnesota farming town of 302 crazy, loving, hard-working folks who were either off the boat from Scandinavia or the direct descendants of someone who was. I had 10 people in my graduating class. Eight of us went to college.

I was named for the actress Jennifer Jones and because my parents really wanted to call me J.D. (DeAnn is my middle name.) Apparently J.D. was some guy in the old westerns. But they never did call me J.D. Instead, I was - and still am by my father - called Barney (of Flintstones' fame).

I didn't grow up with too many Jens. I had a great aunt named Jenny Olson (old Norwegian spinster - I wonder if she was cut from the same gay cloth that I am) and knew of a couple other Jens from the neighboring towns.

Of course, now I am surrounded by women with my name. At work, there are so many Jens that we have our own alias so that we can redirect email to the appropriate one ("Hey Jen - is this for you?). 

Until I read about the Jennifer Project, I never thought of us as a sisterhood. But now I do. Human beings love to build community any way they can - and I think this is as good as any. And come on, we are way, way cooler than say, all those Marys and Stacys and Lauries and Karens.

Jennifer T:

I think it will be fun to see what variety of ladies we are who happen to share a name. I think it must have been a particularly popular name from about 1960-65, I've always had lots of similarly aged Jennifers in my life but known relatively few outside my age group.

As a Jennifer, I am 46 years old (young?,) live on a gorgeous 5-acre piece of land north of Seattle, about half-way to the Candian border, married my best friend 23 years ago and am still deeply and happily in love with him, got my bachelor's degree in education then stayed home to school and raise our 2 children (that son is now 23 and our daughter is nearly 21,) worked a ton of part-time jobs during those years including about 10 years of substitute teaching, and now that the kids are successfully launched have decided to return to school for a registered nurse degree. 

I plan on starting a whole new career by the time I turn 50. I love to sing and have been a member of a choir that specialized in Gregorian chant and Rennaissance sacred music and more recently in one that performs music from Eastern Europe. When I have leisure time I garden, cross-stitch, or read. 

Communities of friendships are highly important to me and I'd rather hang out with girlfriends than almost anything else. 

When I was little I went by Jennie, decided as a teen I'd rather always be known as fullly "Jennifer" and recently slipped into more and more times when Jen is used more frequently. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Jennifer Project Photo Shoot #2

The second Jennifer Project photo shoot will be held on Sunday, June 14 in Seattle.  I still have a few slots available.  If you are a Jennifer or know of a Jennifer who might be interested in participating in the project, please let me know:  coolchickphoto@me.com.

Want to participate but don't live in Seattle?  Never fear!  Email me and I'll send you a Jennifer Project nametag.  If you send me your photo (with the nametag), and a short bio, I'll post it on my blog and I may include it in the upcoming exhibit.

Hope you have enjoyed the Memorial Day holiday!

-- Jennifer K.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another Jennifer List

Some more things named Jennifer:

1.  The Jennifers:  Band.  No one currently in the band named Jennifer, but one of the founding members was named Jen.  I find the wallpaper on their website intensely creepy.  But that's just me.  And I like purple.  A lot.

2.  Jennifer Bridal:  Bridal Salon.  Owned by a Jennifer in Delaware.  There's even a "Jennifer's Thoughts" page on her website.

3.  Jennifer's Journey:  All Women Travel Site.  The site and company is named after a woman named Jennifer who died of cancer.  Her sister is running the company in honor of Jennifer.  Cool.

4.  Jennifer Baybrook.  World Yo-Yo champion.  There is a history of yo-yos, demonstrations, etc.  and Jennifer has a new DVD coming out.  I want it.

5.  Jennifer's Body:  Horror / "Dark Comedy" Movie.  Coming out in September 2009, apparently.  Jennifer, a cheerleader of course, becomes possessed and starts killing people.  Doesn't that happen to Carrie?

6.  Jennifer's Patriotic Dog Jacket:  There is crochet involved.  Need I say more?

7.  Aunt Jennifer's Tigers:  A poem by Adrienne Rich.  

There will be more...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Jennifer from Maine

Today I was delighted to get an email from a Jennifer from Maine.  Part of her email reads:

I'm a pre-boom Jennifer, born in 1959, named after my mom's college roommate because she liked the name. My dad would have named me Debbie.  I was Jenny until leaving for college, strictly Jennifer after that and now seem to be drifting into jen.  I grew up as a solo Jennifer but in the late 80s I started having more experiences where I would be one of several Jennifers at an event. When I went to graduate school in 1988, I taught freshman (so they would have been born around 1970) and there were four Jennifers in my Design 1 class.  I thought then about changing my name to Lee (my middle name) and considered it again recently when I changed my last name from my married name back to my birth name but so far I've stayed Jennifer--

I have heard the Love Story explanation and although I distinctly remember reading Love Story stealthily in algebra in high school.  I didn't remember that being the main characters name until I heard the myth.

I'm planning to send her a nametag...


Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Photo Shoot...

I had my first Jennifer Project photo shoot.  Out of the 14 people I had originally scheduled to have their photos taken today, only 2 showed up.  It's about what I figured... Most of the Jennifers called or emailed to let me know they couldn't make it.  I'll find another time to meet with them.

Both of the Jennifers I met today were spectacular.  They were outgoing, fun, interesting, beautiful, and both were singers.

Each had different perspectives on their name.  One said that as she's gotten older, she's begun to embrace it, and likes who she is and the name itself.  The other talked about how the name Jennifer actually encourages people who hold the name to be more independent, to strive to stand out from the crowd.

It was amazing.  I am totally excited about this project, and to meet more people named Jennifer.

Thought I'd post two images of the women I photographed today.  More to come...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Shoot is On!

14 Jennifers.  6 hours.  

The first round of The Jennifer Project is on!  I got the insurance mess cleaned up today, so I've been cleared to host the first Jennifer Project shoot at my school.  

Which will happen this Sunday!

I heard from two new Jennifers today and got an email from an old Jennifer pal who lives in the midwest.  Keep 'em coming.  I'd like to get as many Jennifers to participate in this project as I can. 

If you are a Jennifer or know someone who is a Jennifer, please email me:  coolchickphoto@me.com.

So much fun...

Monday, May 11, 2009

On insurance challenges, schedules, and knife wielding freaks

The first Jennifer Project photo shoot is this Sunday.  I'm super excited to meet a passel of Jennifers, take some photos, and learn more about these women (and children).  

The schedule is finished.  I have 14 Jennifers scheduled, in 30 minute blocks, starting at 10 a.m.  

The problem is... my location...

I work at a school.  It's an awesome school.  It's beautiful and old and a fabulous place to take photos.  I've gotten permission to use the building for this photo shoot, but... there's an insurance problem.  Who's liable for an accident / fiasco / broken window during the photo shoot?  Me.  And the school requires me to have liability insurance in order to shoot there.

I've made a call to my insurance company and I'm waiting... waiting... waiting... for a response.  Apparently, homeowners / renters insurance sometimes covers such a thing.  

So I have a schedule, I have a location, but I don't have the final "yes" in order to proceed.  It's making me nervous.  I like to plan things.

The other thing I've been thinking about... and I know it's wildly paranoid... is .... what happens if one of the Jennifers is a knife wielding FREAK.  OR, even worse, some freaky dude who has masqueraded as a Jennifer and is also a knife wielding FREAK.

That would just... generally suck.

But I have a plan in place.

All we need is to get the insurance stuff sorted and then we'll have a venue...

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Project Update...

I'm still planning to have my first photo shoot on May 17.  For those of you who have emailed me and are interested in participating, I'll be emailing you to set up a time for the shoot this weekend or early next week.  

I've been a bit delayed because of some health issues and I've been having trouble securing a venue for the shoot.  

Thanks for your patience... more information to come...

And!  I'm still looking for Jennifers.  You need not live in the Seattle area... if you or anyone you know is interested in participating, please contact me:  coolchickphoto@me.com.

Hope all is well with you!

Other Jennifer Projects...

Last night, during a fit of insomnia I found myself in front of the computer at 3 a.m.  So, I thought I would check the site meter on "The Jennifer Project" blog.   I was too lazy to type in my blog address, so I googled "The Jennifer Project." 


I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that there were a zillion "The Jennifer Project" links (it's not that unique a name, let's face it folks), but I was... Not only was my blog the... um... 9 billionth listing in the search, but I learned:

1.  There is a band named The Jennifer Project.  No one in the band is named Jennifer.  I feel like there are enough of us with the name so people who don't have it should not be allowed to claim it.  I'm so sure.  I liked a few of their songs, though... 

2.  The Jennifer Project is a book by Clyde W. Burleson about a highly? effective? acquisition of intelligence (with the code name:  Jennifer) following the sinking of a Soviet submarine in the early 1970s.  This book was also made into a Discovery Channel show.

3.  The Jennifer Project is a qualitative research initiative undertaken by Gay and Gender Research.  They describe their Jennifer Project:   "In a world of strict gender roles and blatant heterosexism, one would wonder how an anatomical female who self-identifies as a, "bisexual multi-gendered person" could survive and thrive.  This project is a qualitative exploration into the life of such a person, who will be referred to as "Jennifer." 

4.  You should check out this The Jennifer Project blog entry from Ms. Prolix.


5.  Another Jennifer searching for Jennifers:  http://www.youjennifer.com/2007/09/jennifer-project.html

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Moving Forward...

At this point, I have about 15 Jennifers interested in having their photographs taken for The Jennifer Project.  I'd like to have about 40, ideally... so I can have a variety of looks and ages represented in the project.  So, I'm still looking for more people / places / things named Jennifer.  If you know anyone, please have them contact me:  coolchickphoto@me.com.

I've almost secured the venue for the first Jennifer photo shoot.  I'm waiting to get a confirmation, but it looks like I might be able to use the theatre at my school which would give me some lighting to play with, and is a fairly convenient location for most of the Jennifers.

Now, I need to start making a schedule.

I got an email from another Jennifer yesterday who now lives in San Diego.  She said she would like to participate in the project.  I'll send her a nametag and have her take her own photos...

She says:
I've been a Jennifer since the 22nd day of November, 1975. When I was a little girl, I was a Jenny. Actually, my full nickname was Jenny Penny. There were always at least 3 other Jennifer's in my class and I was not from a large town. Around age 8 or 9, I decided  not to be a Jenny anymore because [...it] just sounded too childish. Then I was a Jennifer again. Until college. In college, I was a Jenn (with 2 n's). Jenn was then shortened to J Mack [part of her last name] - because there were too many Jen's, Jenn's, Jenny's, and Jennifer's at my very large state university to identify me just by my first name. After law school, I chose to be a Jennifer again. Now, I don't mind being called Jenny and even think it's sweet. My son is named Nash. No way in hell he was  going to be named Jack (the male Jennifer...).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Toddler!

Most of the Jennifers I have been in contact with since beginning The Jennifer Project have been in their late 20s or 30s.  The urban rumor claims the movie Love Story starring Jennifer O'Neill sparked a wave of interest in the name.  Because hundreds of thousands of people were named Jennifer in the 1970s and 1980s, as these Jennifers and their contemporaries are having children, parents everywhere are avoiding the name.  Which makes the name "Jennifer" a rather unique name for a toddler.  

I heard from one (via her mother) yesterday.  Here is an excerpt from the email:

My name's not Jennifer, but my little 18 month old's is. Before she was born, we heard lots of comments when we told people the name we had picked - "oh, isn't THAT an original name (sarcastic tone lost in this email)".  The funniest thing is that Jennifer is a very original name for a little 1.5 year old girl these days! While many of her friends are named McKenna, Emma, Madelyn, Riley, Zoe etc, but she's just Jenny. Her name fits her very well because she's cute, smart, and has a really funny sense of humor.  She was named after our beloved Aunt Jenny who died much too young (age 43) one year before our Jenny was born. 


I can't wait to meet her.

As I'm putting together the project, I'm hoping I can find a broad age range of people named Jennifer -- children, adults, elders.  I think it's important to advertise the "Calls for Jennifer" somewhere other than Craig's List... 

Any suggestions on how to find more Jennifers?

My first photo shoot will be held on May 17.  I have about 15 people interested in participating so far.  Awesome!