Women Worth Knowing: Meet Jennifer

You'd never peg her for a rebel.

I remember with a clarity the first time I saw Jennifer.  I was over at Tommy’s house, and he was expecting a visit from Stephanie and her friend.  Jennifer turned out to be the friend, a little pixie of a thing with pretty blonde hair that went on forever and an impish smile.  She was wearing a prairie skirt, an oversized shirt and a vest.  In two years’ time, the hair had been cropped down to a fiery red bob, and the modest prairie garb had been traded in for cire catsuits she wore with an enviable elegance.  That girl looked good in anything!  If Facebook is to be believed, and I think it should, she still does.

Jennifer had a sly, dry wit.  You had to get to know her a little bit, and then her humor would start to peek through.  In my mind’s eye, she always has one eyebrow raised, has always just slipped something wry into the conversation, and her lips are always twitching up into that devil-may-care smile.

Back in the day, Stephanie was working as a nanny, Jennifer as a librarian, and I as a banker.  Jennifer is the only one of us who actually stayed true to her course of study and stuck with her career track.  For as long as I have known her, she has been quietly ambitious and worked as hard as she played.  She has always followed her own drummer, too.

She is a good and loyal friend.  When she loves you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.  She isn’t afraid to be different.  She isn’t afraid to stand out.  She knows how to get things done.

Meet Jennifer.

Name: Jennifer Baker
Age Range: 30s–for one more year anyway 🙂
Preferred Job Title: library director and mom
Industry: public libraries

Who are you? i’m a sixth generation texan who defected and moved to california almost ten years ago. i love texas and it will always be home but i do not plan to live there ever again. i am a perfectionist and an optimist with a little bit of ocd. i am very patient with people and i have a long fuse but i when it blows it’s not good to be around. i have everyone around me convinced i am an extrovert but i am really a closet introvert who prefers to either be alone or just with close friends. i like people to be comfortable around me so i am a bit of a chameleon. i tend to adopt people’s postures, cadence and even accents. i used to do is subconsciously but now i notice it and use it to my advantage. i am very driven to succeed but i don’t like being praised too much. i do enjoy compliments but only in moderation. 😉 i want people to notice i did a good job but it’s more important to me that the job is well done than to get credit for it. i despise hypocrisy and people who are judgmental. i try to think before i speak and frequently play out conversations in my head before i have them. i have a high tolerance for pain and am not easily frustrated. i complain a lot about little things but usually keep the big things to myself. i talk outloud to myself and to inanimate objects. i prefer experience to things. so if you are going to buy me a present it should come in an envelope not a box–ie. massage gift certificate, tickets to the theater, a trip to hawaii.

Describe your family: the family i was born into is very conservative, ultra-fundamentalist christian (ever seen “jesus camp”?) they vote straight republican, are anti-choice, anti-gay, and even a bit racist but don’t see this in themselves. i was this way too when i was a kid simply because i didn’t know better but as i grew up and came to know other views of the world i changed my outlook to be as inclusive and tolerant as possible. i have a sister who is two years younger than me. she got married a little over a year ago and is having her first baby this summer. i do not have aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents. the only grandparent i ever knew was my paternal grandmother who died when i was twelve. i did not know her well and i do not remember her as a very pleasant person.
my chosen family is my husband and our two little boys. i have been with my husband for ten years after a failed marriage in my early twenties. he is my best friend and my biggest fan. my first son will be four next month and my youngest just turned three months. he was born two months premature. we also have two cats.

What does the first hour of your day look like?
get up, help my husband get our oldest off to school. get dressed, feed the baby. soon it will include getting myself to work. i am not a morning person!

The last hour?
everyone is asleep and i am enjoying alone time. i have to force myself to go to bed because i tend to get mentally revved up around 10:30pm. i get everything ready for the next morning since i am not a morning person

What makes you feel successful?
in my personal life making people happy, making people laugh. someone liking my idea. at work, the same, but also getting invited to participate in things where i can put my experience and viewpoints to good use.

What brings you joy?
figuring something out or helping my little boy figure something out. good theater. good movies. good food. dancing & music. a good hair day and new clothes.

What women do you admire?
business women like my friend joan who works as a consultant and tells it like it is. those who persevere in hardship…the “take the bull by the horns” type. single moms like my friend chris or moms of sick children like my friend ashley. women who buck convention. also those who seek out opportunities to help people and try new things. i have a friend, stephanie, who is living in afghanistan now working as a librarian at the university there (when she’s not in lock down). she spends vacations going to places like india to work in medical camps. i could never live that life but i admire it to no end. i also admire nurses (women and men, but usually women) who work with people who are the most vulnerable and don’t have a voice like small children, the terminally ill, and the elderly.

What do you like best about your closest friend?
humor, honesty, and pluck

What do you like best about yourself?
my tenacity and that i can find calm in the storm

What advice would you give boys about girls?
treat us gently, fairly and equally. when a girl is talking, listen with your eyes and your ears.

How do you overcome adversity?
when you’re going on a bear hunt and you come to a river that you can’t go around, over or under, ya gotta swim. i’m a “head down and press onward” kind of person. i tell myself “this can’t last forever and i will survive this”

How do you want to be remembered?
as someone who was kind, considerate , generous, energetic, innovative, intelligent and always looked good for her age. 🙂

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