Happy Birthday, Dear J.J.

Today my cousin is turning 30! This is a thing that I recently did. That’s how it’s been our whole lives — growing up as the six-weeks-apart youngest grandchildren in a small, close family (just us and each of our older brothers), we shared many life milestones in close proximity (all the while looking quite stylish. See below. There were also some sweet overalls and plaid shirts in later years; not pictured).


Jennifer happened to write the most lovely blog about me on my birthday. I wanted to return the favor. Writing is what I do after all; only seems fair. So I decided to do a little tribute to her 30th year, through the TV shows we’ve shared in different stages of our lives.

(Me? Write about TV?! I know. It’ll be a stretch. Let’s see if I can get through it.)

Saved By The Bell

This show was maybe the first non-Lisa Frank related thing we were obsessed about together.

For pre-teen girls of the 90s like us, SBTB had it all: fashion, zany antics, cute boys, rated-G romance, and high school. Our pre-student-council selves wanted to be a part of that world (see: Little Mermaid), which seemed so grown up and fun. Plus it was on TV (in a world without hulu) at a time when we were likely to be hanging out — Saturday mornings.

Random fact: The original-cast run ended in 1993 (gulp).

High-school-themed program honorable mention: USA High 

American Idol, Season 2

Ah, college. The year was 20-0-2. We were freshmen at Drury. Though our college experiences were different (me in the dorms, Jennifer getting married and stuff), we did share many fond memories. Like that 8:00 a.m. drawing class when we drew the same naked lady in the art building basement. Special times in higher learning.

The spring and summer of 2003, we watched Clay and Reuben battle it out on American Idol. This period birthed a shared love of mix CDs, along with my misguided, and somewhat prophetic, love for Clay Aiken. We ended up watching the finale together with her (future) husband and my (future) ex-boyfriend.

Reality show honorable mention: Singled Out

The Office

What can I even say about this show. (I geeked out about Jim & Pam’s wedding on my old blog in 2009. Those feelings still apply.) We loved The Office because it was so, so funny. But it also gave us an excuse to hang out in those post-college years. I looked forward to the Thursday ritual of gathering at Jennifer & Matt’s house for snacks and Scranton, as much or more than I looked forward to the actual show… which was a lot.

We were figuring out for ourselves what it was like to grow up into the world of work, with its party planning committees and sometimes-awkward bosses. Like Pam, we were trying to balance the urgent to-dos of life with the desire to do creative work. Like Jim, I was just looking for someone to love. (Shoots a wide-eyed look at the camera.)

When the finale aired this spring, I laughed and cried through the episode and the hourlong retrospective special. (I mean, there were some ugly-cry moments. I’m not afraid to admit that to you.) And it wasn’t so much, “boo hoo, my show is ending.” It was, “wow, look at this thing that these people made!” mixed with “wow, look how much this thing informed my life for the last 9 seasons.” Nine seasons — can you believe it was that long?

(That’s what she said. BOOM.)

Post-college honorable mention: GLEE, season 1

New Girl

Our current favorite shared show, New Girl is sort of the TV soundtrack to our late-20s. Even though some things are still very different about our lives, and neither of us has three dudes as roommates, we share some very similar feelings. Married-with-kids or single-with-cat, there’s some restlessness and reservations we can’t help but have in common. And also some hopes.

Let’s just be real: Like Jess, we might sometimes be described as cute and/or quirky. We have been known to randomly burst into song. We like to make things (or sometimes at least, the idea of making things. Pinterest!!). We wouldn’t mind to own an entire closet full of Anthropologie dresses.

We both sometimes find ourselves in the “wait, but what am I really doing with life right now?” place. Which is maybe a thing we’ll never fully outgrow. But at least we’re in it together! (Like Jess, I am sometimes overly sentimental.)

So what?

So… all that to say: Happy Birthday, dear Jennifer, cuz of mine! I love that we have some much shared history — and shared TV. Television is one of my love languages, really, so I hope that you feel this blog post bursting with love. You are one of the most talented, inspiring, funny, stylish, creative, generous people I know.

Here’s to the new decade, and the adventures (onscreen and off) that it will bring. It’s fun to imagine what we’ll be like when we’re living our Golden Girls

Many, many, many decades from now.


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