Monday, March 9, 2009

Talking 'Bout My Jen-eration

I just got around to catching up on a few blogs and saw Design*Sponge's post on jen11. I found this particularly interesting:
...each artist will be sharing their work, as well as contributing to a visual dialogue about this particular generation of women born with the same name (more than a million children were named jennifer in the course of 15 years, leading business publications to refer to them as “the jennifer demographic”)
I had no idea I was "part" of a demographic. I knew there were a lot of Jennifers. The name Jennifer was the most popular name in 1978, the year I was born. But I am not a Jennifer I am a Jenifer. The answer to the prompt "First name?" given by the pharmacist/customer service representative/phone company/etc is "Jennifer with one n" and then I wait for them to back up and delete that second n which they automatically typed when they heard Jennifer.

I am simultaneously of a group but set apart. Its an odd sensation, maybe only because my name is a derivation of such a popular name. When I asked my mom why one n, she said she just wanted my name to be different. The irony which I point out is that in being different she picked the most popular name of my generation and took out one letter. But it makes me smile thinking of it. I can almost see it as a desire by her for me to be someone that would fit in and be well liked, but just unique enough to stand out from the crowd.

I like my name, despite spellcheck telling me it's wrong every time. And surprisingly I am not the only one with one n. There is even one in the jen11 show, Jenifer Altman. I have met at least one other Jenifer in person and, oddly enough, there is a hallmark across the street from my work called "Jenifer's Hallmark Shop." I was so excited the first time I saw it I went in and I asked the woman behind the counter if she was Jenifer with one n. She was not. Nor were the other three women I have asked since. But I still hold out hope.

So what's in a name?  What's in a name that is simultaneously rare and shared by a demographic?  I don't know for sure, and in the end it may not make too much of a difference since everyone knows me as Jen.  And that is something I do share with jen11 and all the other Jennifers.  Unless of course you're a Jenn. Jenn with 2 n's? Now that just doesn't make any sense ;)

PS - given that one of the three show locations is in New Hampshire, my home state and current neighbor to the north, you can bet I will be checking it out this April. It looks like a great show!


jen Renninger said...

Hi Jen!
I'm one of the Jennifers in the show (with 2 n's for me). It's been such an amazing experience already and it hasn't even gone up yet! One of the most interesting things has just happened in the past day or so- getting to hear other Jen's out there writing about their thoughts on the name. I really loved reading your post!

paper wren said...

Hi Jen! I am excited that I will get to see the show in NH next month. I wasn't expecting it to be so close.

I love your pieces up on the web site, I can't wait to see more.

Congrats on such a great show!

paper wren said...

Another note about Jenifers with one n. I did a search on Facebook and found 56 other Jenifers in the Boston area alone. Wow. Way more than I thought!

oline said...

that's so cool.