Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Introducing Body Memoir Politic: Looking (A Play)

Body Memoir Politic:


A Play in Ten Scenes


Jennifer Semple Siegel

© 2008


One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that Mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all.

Go ask Alice

When she’s 10 feet tall.

–Grace Slick, “White Rabbit”

Go to the website.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Jennifer Project

In the next few weeks, I'll be searching the internet for interesting ordinary people named Jennifer.
I already have one woman in mind; I don't know her, but when I was doing a search for my Famous Jennifers blog, I ran across her website, and my first thought was, "Dang, I'd rather feature someone like her than a famous Jennifer." I'll be emailing her soon because I absolutely do not want to post anything about a stranger without her permission.
By the way, I don't have anything against celebrities, but their lives have already been thoroughly dissected, so it's difficult to add anything new to the pool of knowledge.
If you happen to find this blog, and your name is Jennifer (or you know a Jennifer), email me and tell me a little about yourself or your Jennifer (with her permission, of course). A url to your website and attached photo would be good (but nothing x-rated, please). You can also add a comment here.
I'm particularly interested in Jennifers, of any age, who are doing or have done extraordinary deeds and making a positive difference in this world. It doesn't matter if you're a janitor or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Yes, the photo in this post is me; I tried searching the web for a photo of an ordinary-looking woman, but it felt funny to snatch something off the web and fob it off as a Jennifer.
The only thing extraordinary about my photograph (other than its obvious Adobe manipulation): I took the picture of myself. I needed a photograph of myself fast--I no longer remember why--and I was home alone.
I like the original version because it looks like me.
If you want to know a little about me (before committing yourself to this project), check out my home page Jennifer Semple Siegel.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My New Memoir

I may be a Jennifer, but I'm also a writer who has just completed a memoir titled I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment. When I was 18, I was committed, against my will, to a mental institution, The Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa, pictured in this post (I snapped this photo in 2004).

The institution is still in business, but has added a new twist to its business: incarcerating sex offenders.

I'm in the process of shopping the memoir around to agents and editors. For those of you who are writers, you know how difficult it is these days to gain the attention of the powers who decide what gets published. So I have decided to try something a bit different:

I have set up a web page with an open letter to agents and publishers regarding my memoir. I'm also going to try the old fashioned way, but the other night, as I was checking out a domaining blog, I got this brainstorm: why not find a generic domain name and put my promotional information on it?

Amazingly, some great generics having to do with memoir were available and just ready for the plucking (for cheap), so I grabbed several variations. For now, you can see how I have used one of them (I'm still a bit slow with creating web pages):

This domain name was parked on Sedo for less than 24 hours and received three browser type-in hits, so I decided to pull it and DO something with it--that's my goal for all my parked pages; I just need to find the time without devoting my entire life to creating web pages. But this one felt important (at least personally).

Don't be afraid to promote yourself and your artistic endeavors on your own blogs and web pages; it may be the only free advertising you will ever get.



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On Being a Jennifer

I was named after a celebrity, the actress Jennifer Jones.

If you are in your 20's or 30's, you may not have heard of Jones, but when I was born in 1950, she was wildly popular and considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. The above photo says it all, I believe.

In the 1950's and 1960's, the name "Jennifer," for a kid, was considered to be an oddity, one that set its bearers apart from the other kids. In 1950 only 750 per 1,000,000 babies were given the name Jennifer.

As a kid, I hated my name; I might as well been named Brunhilda or some other unlikely name, and set out to be known as someone else. My names of choice: "Jenni" and "Mary" (my confirmation name).

Various relatives got around the Jennifer conundrum by calling me Jeff, Jeffer, Lee, Lee-Lee, Jennilee, Bugs, Bugsy, and Bugzita.

If you call me "Jeff" or "Jeffer," I'll answer you. But then I'll know that you're a long, lost relative, even if I don't recognize you, because no one else calls me that, including my husband Jerry (who has his own identity problem; he shares the same name as one of the Superman creators).

I have re-assumed "Bugzita" as an online user ID, which I used at
Foetry and currently use at Post Foetry, a blog I created after Foetry closed, and other sites. I even own the Bugzita dot-com domain.

I spent my childhood and my teen years loathing and dodging the moniker "Jennifer." My Aunt Hazel must have felt the same because she lobbied (nearly successfully) to have my name legally changed to Candace.

At the time, my last name was Carson, so one can only imagine the profoundly negative effects of being known as "Candy Carson." Fortunately, my mother had the foresight to refuse my aunt, a formidable presence in our family.

I have been told that I did answer to "Candy." Blissfully, I do not remember this.

Still hiding behind nicknames and diminutives, I graduated from high school. I moved out to Hollywood, California, to hang out with my mother and aunt and, perhaps, get a job. Instead, I discovered the pharmaceutical delights of the time and started hanging out on the Strip and started introducing myself as "Jeff."

Then I met my first husband Jeff. "Jeff Loves Jeff" wasn't quite working out, and I felt I had outgrown "Jenni," so, reluctantly, I called an uneasy truce with Jennifer. Besides, Jeff, tired of a female upstart hijacking his name, started calling me Jennifer.

I was introduced to my new Pennsylvania in-laws and friends as Jennifer.

Over time, I not only accepted my name, but I also started loving it, both for its beauty--both aural and visual--and its rarity. Being a Jennifer was a special privilege, bestowed upon a very few young women.

And then the 70's hit; the peers who once teased me about my name started naming their baby girls "Jennifer."

According to The Name Machine, 1970, the same year my son Eric was born, was the most popular year for naming girl babies Jennifer: 35,350 per 1,000,000 births.

I didn't notice this trend until about three or four years later when I started overhearing young mothers shouting "Jennifer" to their misbehaving progeny. At first, I thought they were yelling at me because who else would be named Jennifer?

Only I wasn't misbehaving, just trying to keep my own child in line.

Suddenly, Jennifers seemed to be springing up all over the place; at first, I was flattered because, finally, others were beginning to see what I had always known, at least on some level: that being a Jennifer was not only okay, but awesome!

But then it became annoying: how dare they hijack my name? Why did every other girl have to be named Jennifer? Did the baby girl name machine run out of other lovely names? Enough, already!

In my sixth decade of life, I have called a truce with the Jennifer craze and have come to view us as belonging to a special club: You Jennifer!

I invite all Jennifers, even Jennifers with variant spellings (Jenifer, Jennyfer, Jenniffer, etc.), and those who love their Jennifers, to check out the
You Jennifer forum, where you can post your thoughts and stories about being a Jennifer or loving a Jennifer.


Jennifer (who else?)