Yesterday was not only the birthday of our nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, but the birthday of one of my best friends, Jen. So I have decided to dedicate a blog post to the many amazing ways that this woman has slowly ruined my life by introducing me to more and more things knowing that I can’t casually like things. There aren’t 101, more like 3 but *shrug emoji*.
I met Jen in my junior–her senior– year of college. She moved into my suite at the start of the second semester, but in our short time as roommates we began a strong bond that has lasted ten years and I see at the very least 2 more years (or forever, whichever).
Our friendship truly began after an event that much like defeating a troll in the girls’ the bathroom, you can only walk out of as best friends for life. In a very weird series of events that I will not get into, one of our other suitemates broke up with a boyfriend and wanted to leave campus. This incident ended with two police officers, the head of housing and several resident assistants in our suite where 4/7 of us were underage, and there was a full on bar set on one of the bathroom sinks. I was very concerned about this at the time, although, literally no one else was.
Of this incident, my most vivid memory is another one of suitemates entering the common area wearing a fuzzy tiara after midnight seeing the head of housing and hearing the police radios, and slowly backing out of the room. It was a weird night.
Anyway, it was this day that Jen and I connected. While the police and every other human being who lived in our small college town were in our suite, she and I along with another roommate, crowded into Jen single room, then for some reason walked across campus to the freshmen dorms. In the middle of the night… in February… in Maine.
After that night Jen and I began to hang out a little bit. I introduced her to Hanson– you know the late 1990’s pop band that consisted of three long-haired brothers– because I was going to show with a group of friends. (Actually, it was the friend and her sister that I wrote about their mom a few weeks back, and also probably their mom). Hanson is fantastic, and I will link to some of their music here, here and here. So don’t judge me (one of those is totally MmmmBop, and I’m not even sorry).
After that semester, while Jen went on to graduate school, I finished my undergrad degree we stayed in contact mainly through the now ancient form of communication known as AIM instant messenger. At the beginning of that school year, Jen sent me a super ridiculous video of this weird nerd singing a silly song about Harry Potter and told me I had to watch the rest of the videos by these guys.
That weird video was Hank Green singing Accio Deathly Hallows. The video that propelled the Vlogbrother onto the front page of YouTube and they became part of the first generation of YouTube stars. Their channel spawned other channels, including many 5awesome collabs which were a big thing in the early days of YouTube.
For those of you who don’t know, the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, are the creators of fandom known as the Nerdfighters. John you may know was the writer of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars and for several overused quotes like “if people were rain I was drizzle, and she was a hurricane” and the one about nerds getting to unironically be excited about things. Hank does a bunch of stuff, but will always be most well known, in my mind, for that the video linked earlier and also a beautiful song about Helen Hunt. They are part of DFTBA records that is a platform for a lot of YouTube merch and the creators of VidCon. Hank does SciShow, John does something with Mental Floss. They have done a lot for the Internet and the Internet community.
John and Hank started a YouTube movement, and I became swept up in it very quickly. I spent about 3 weeks watching Vlogbrother videos, which at the time was about 200 four minute videos. I was in college and had, like, school work or whatever. So I couldn’t dedicate every moment to it because I had to eat and go to class and stuff. In short, my binge watching game was very weak in 2008.
When Paper Towns was released, I went to the Boston book tour stop with the previously mentioned fuzzy tiara wearing former roommate (where we saw a man dressed as Abe Lincoln riding a Segway down the road) and a picture of Jen on a stick. I really wish I had pictures from that time, but I didn’t have a camera phone because it was 2008 and I didn’t bring my camera with me because I was 21 and stupid.
This is me in 2008 with my not at all creepy David Cook from America Idol wall that was prominent in all my YouTube videos, holding my copy of Paper Town for a Nerdfighter thing right after the book was released.
It’s because of Jen that I first read Maureen Johnson novels. Maureen used to be in a writing group with John Green when he lived in New York so John would talk about her. Therefore, I needed to know. Maureen Johnson is my favorite author/ living human person now. (I am going to meet Maureen Johnson on the 25th if I don’t explode before then)
This is Jen on a Stick at Niagra Falls. True story: when John was signing books at that event we had Jen’s copy of Looking for Alaska, I think, and John asked which on of us was Jen and my fuzzy tiara’d roommate held up the stick and said “This is Jen, she’s real, she just couldn’t make it” and John Green had a facial expression of at first confusion and then acceptance that this was the life he had entered when he started making videos for the internet.
So, Jen introduced me to YA. She gave me the kind of writing that I love, she gave me the books I love.
Because of Jen, I joined the nerdfighter ning, where I met 3 other nerds, and together with my drama club little sister, created a 5 awesome collaborative youtube vlog (nerdstothepowerof5). These women have become some of my favorite people and greatest friends. I wouldn’t have them without Jen.
Because of that 5 awesome channel, I joined Tumblr and got very into Supernatural (more on that in second) and just about every other weird nerd thing that I love. I wouldn’t have signed up for GisHwhEs without Jen. I wouldn’t have named my cat Spencer without Jen.
This is Dr. Spencer Reid, my older son.
featuring my not at all creepy Jensen Ackles wall.
Jen forced me to download the Hamilton soundtrack, she basically held a gun to my head and forced me to listen to it (it’s important to note here that she lives about 1300 miles away). She also one time casually mentioned Star Wars and I said I had never seen it and she told me I was a bad nerd and guilted me into watching it.
There was a time where I hadn’t written in a very long like, like a year or two– until I watched Supernatural and discovered that there was little to no fan fiction around their childhood, and there is a lot of Supernatural fan fiction. With Jen’s encouragement, because she also wanted to know more about the boys’ childhood, I took it upon myself to create that story. Because of Jen, I fell in love with writing again. I write mostly for Jen. Jen is my target audience for about 99% of my writing. There other 1% is school work where my target audience is my professor or Facebook statuses that I post, so people will acknowledge me by liking it and make me feel relevant.
I like to think that Jen lives where she lives now because I got her to listen to Hanson, and there is a straight line between that moment and her decision to live where she does and is living the life she is. That one time that we drove across New England to see Hanson on Zac Hanson’s 23rd birthday changed the course of events in her life in a way that pushed her to where she is. But it’s probably not exactly correct. Maybe I want to make myself as important in her life as she is to mine.
Most of my friends have never met Jen, and I’m pretty sure some of them believed Jen was an imaginary friend until I went to visit her last year, because no one flies across the country to see their imaginary friends. I talk about Jen a lot because Jen is my person, and since I tend to never stop talking, Jen and her cool life in a big city comes up a lot.
Meeting Jen has significantly changed my life. I’m me because I met Jen. Would I have wound up here without her? Maybe. But it would have taken a lot longer, and I never would have been to a Quidditch tournament without her help. It wouldn’t have been as fun without having her by my side– via Facebook Messanger, so in my pocket technically.
I would not be Deanna if Jen didn’t move into that empty room in my suite in 2008.
Jen puts up with a lot being my friend. I complain a lot, about everything, and I tend to talk about myself a lot, and Jen listens and gives advice. I send Jen mildly inappropriate Supernatural related things; usually, in an email titled *IMPORTANT* and then, it’s just, like, a shirtless picture of Jensen Ackles from 2006 (which to be fair is kind of important). I’m sure she grumbles about how I never stop complaining/ talking to her friends, but she is always there with a green light on Facebook when I need her.
Jen is amazing, and I hope that yesterday was the greatest birthday she has ever had– well second best, last year’s was way better because I was there.
Until next time Internet,