Friday, April 28, 2006


Nothing will ever be the same

UPDATE: Matt has posted details about the memorial services in NY as well as some great photos of Jennifer here. Matt has requested that you use this post on his site to talk about Jennifer's life and not to dwell on the tragedy and I urge you to so there or here or both. On a more trivial note, I hope to compile the delayed best best picture survey next weekend, so I've set a new deadline for ballots and comment as midnight Friday CDT.

In regards to Jennifer, the urge finally stuck me to ramble on a bit about what Jennifer Dawson meant to me.

I first met her in fall of 1985, when she was a sophomore and I was a junior at the same high school. It was at a pizza place following a football game where many of us went and she was present with my good friend Troy and her friend Kim, who had all gotten to know each other from their drama class.

The pain is so deep and so personal right now, I don't want to go into too many details of the past 21 years, but since this is a film/culture site, I felt I should take note of how many things will never be the same from this moment on based on the influence she had on my life.

I'll never be able to see any part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show again without recalling the many midnight screenings of it we attended together. The same goes for Pink Floyd's The Wall, which I imagine will affect hearing the music alone as well.

Jennifer introduced me to Raymond Carver's short stories, long before Robert Altman molded them into Short Cuts. We shared a love of early Billy Joel and John Irving and she really is the one that led me to delve deeply into the Beatles. Not that I plan to see any versions of them, but Barefoot in the Park and The Runner Stumbles will also bring her to mind.

I still have the bottle of nonalcoholic wine and fake flowers that she brought to the high school lunch table for my birthday, but I'm afraid to even look at them.

Needless to say, without her, I would have never known Matt Zoller Seitz or their great kids Hannah and James. My grief is unbearable at this time and I can't even imagine what they are going through. Thank God I hated the movie version of The Cider House Rules because otherwise it would remind me of seeing the stage version of the novel with Matt and Jennifer at the Atlantic Theater Company.

I can't imagine tuning in to the latest Sopranos episode come Sunday night and being able to pay attention because I so connect the show to Matt and Jen, who first loaned me their tapes of season 1 when I lived in New Jersey without HBO.

When I was in N.J., I was welcomed into their Brooklyn home many a time, which you can see in detail in Matt's directing debut Home.

I'll spare you the details on the circumstances, but I'll always connect the one true Manchurian Candidate with her as well as Crimes of the Heart. Hell, just the site of Sandra Bernhard may be too much, remembering seeing her show on Broadway with Jen when another friend visiting in New York had to cancel out at the last minute.

On the other hand, some cultural items have already proved beneficial. TCM aired The Graduate tonight, which I also relate to Jen, and just lying there with it on in the background did soothe me to a couple hours of sleep.

My equally devastated friend Dave said that he'd always imagined that he would see Jen again at my funeral and I truthfully wish I could have been able to oblige him —
this shouldn't haven't turned out this way.

Jennifer has been a major part of my life for so long that it seems to me as if an era has ended for me — and I don't want to face the new one. With the exception of my grandmother, no one I've known longer has ever left me like this.

I'm through rambling for now — it's getting too difficult to see what I'm typing through my tears — and I want this post to serve as a launching point for people to share their thoughts about Jennifer's life, not the tragedy of this week.

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Take your time. We will wait as long as it takes. So sorry for your loss. Will be thinking of you as well. You have our sincerest condolences.
EC, I didn't know you knew Jennifer so well. My condolences to you. Thanks for extending the contest for last-minute people like yours truly, but more importantly, thank you for your wonderful, heartfelt remembrances of Jennifer.

I only met her once, but she certainly left an impression. I was always hearing about her from Matt, who in fact had recently E-mailed me about something she did that was relevant to the piece I was writing for the blog.

She will be missed, but she lives on in the hearts and minds of people like you who knew her best, people who were touched by her short time on this plane of existence.
God, Ed, how I remember so much of that! I want to write of some similar remembrances but I just can't right now. She is so interconnected in my brain to all my thoughts on books, movies, and art. Jennifer was so lively, smart, and opinionated that she came into my life like a seismic force of nature. Before her, it never even occurred to me to have an opinion, or to think about any of that stuff. In a way, I think of her as a midwife to every opinion I ever had. Nothing will ever be the same.
Hang in there, Edward. As I said in a post to Matt's blog, my heart goes out to all of you. We're all thinking of all of you now.
I thank you for letting me know on the phone yesterday, Ed. Although I haven't spoken to Jennifer probably since high school, it was still a blow to me.

Reading through your post just brought so much back to me. As probably the person that introduced you two, I'm so glad that your friendship grew as close as it did.

I'll never forget all of our college days, and all of the episodes of Institutional Beige that she starred in, either in person or by phone or by letter.

Like you, she'll always be tied into "Pink Floyd The Wall" for me, as she introduced me to it one night. I remember her loaning me the album one day at school, and I was so proud of it, I carried it from class to class just so people would see it and ask questions.

Barefoot in the Park duet rehearsals...the subsequent drama contests where we stupidly thought we could move to regionals with Neil Simon material...the big silver peace sign on top of her all-black ensemble...playing Scruples with her and others in her room...

Ed, my heart goes out to you. You were so close to her, and I know she meant the literal world to you. You and Matt are in my prayers.
I didn't know you knew her so well, Ed, and I'll be sure to keep you in my thoughts as well.

I can't even begin to imagine what this feels like, but know that you have my sympathies.
I am a friend of Matt's from high school, The Arts Magnet in Dallas. After college when Matt and Jennifer were still living in Dallas, Matt, Me my friend David and Jennifer would spend many nights just hanging out and talking. I remember Jennifer as a very smart, passionate and compassionate woman. I remember thinking, after I had gotten to know her better, that she was the perfect fit for Matt. If two people were ever soul mates it was the two of them-they completed each other. Therfore for me recount my favorite memory of her just seems incomplete.

I went to their wedding and recall that in the recieving line when I got to Jennifer she gave me a big kiss on the lips, right in front of Matt. I jokingly scolded her saying that she was a married woman now and she couldn't go around kissing any man she fancied. Matt jumped in the act saying that he was going to rough me up after the reception. I then gave Matt a hug and thanked him for inviting me. It was wonderful. They were so in love and so right for each other. I was proud of Matt and grateful to Jennifer for how happy she made my friend. It was a beautiful wedding.

I was at that wedding too and my memory of my brief spin on the dance floor with Jen seems more vivid today than it did when it happened.

The wedding also has silly cultural links for me as well as I flew the next day to New York for the Pulp Fiction junket and to interview Martin Landau in connection with Ed Wood.
I don't think I've spoken to Jen since high school. She was one of the few people there who was nice to me since I was a new kid. If you know who I am, you're one of the others that made my life bearable then, too. I regret never telling any of you that before.
Well this is a baffling experience but I'll try anyway. I let a long long time slip by since I talked to Jen. We were the best of friends a billion years ago in high school and co-conspirators in any number of things. I can't bring back any specific memories with getting overwhelmed right now, but it is pretty nice to read what's been said here.
Being Wagstaff’s kid brother, I was too young to directly feel the seismic influence from Jennifer that impacted Copeland, Wagstaff and the rest of the highschool gang. That’s not to say that that influence didn’t reach me, it did through the strong influence of my brother. But her direct impact on me was a bit different. She was more like a big sister (as well as a friend). I was in my junior high jack-ass stage of life, and she must’ve had a lot of patience to spend as much time with me as she did. She hung out and watched movies with me and took me places when Wagstaff wasn’t around & I enjoyed that more than she probably knew. She also did a lot to help me adjust to highschool social life. Like Jeff Thomas mentioned over on Matt’s blog – and Harry on this one - she had a way that made you feel special and good.
My condolences. My mother died last year so I can understand the grief of losing a loved one.
I have only known her briefly through high school, but something special in life has come abruptly to an end. She never made anyone feel unwelcome or out of place.

Even though I have not talked with her since high school, I knew what was up in her life more than some of my own family. Most of my friends would visit or talk with her regularly. Her special connection with so many of my friends and the sorrow of her loss is a testament to how loved she was.

The love and caring that she had for her friends is amplified through Matt and the kids. A friend of hers was a friend to the whole family (if not an extended member of the family).

It breaks my heart knowing that someone so truly good is no longer with us. It pains me even more thinking of all the people (friends and family alike) she leaves behind.

PLEASE, please find comfort talking with each other. You know that's what she would want. We are all here, and we all are hurting.
I only know Jennifer through her posts on this site and from what Edward has told me about her over the past several years. Having known Edward for nearly a decade now, I know what an important role she played in his life and how devestating this loss has been for him - and I can only imagine what a difficult time this has been for her family and friends.

I'm glad people have been able to use this site as a forum to share their remembrances about a person who touched their lives in such a profound way. It's important for those who loved her to be able to voice their grief and reach out to one another - I think too often we're encouraged to conceal our emotions when faced with the loss of a loved one, to be stoic and soldier on without acknowledging how deeply a person's absence can affect us. From all accounts, Jennifer was someone with whom people were always allowed to be completely themselves - she extended unconditional acceptance to those she loved, and earned their trust by regarding everyone's feelings with an open heart and mind. I think it says a lot about Jennifer and the person she was that her friends are open and honest enough to share their feelings about her and what she meant to their lives. It's a legacy that I'm sure will continue to provide comfort and solace to those who are still dealing with this terible loss.
I barely met her once or twice, back in college, through EC and Sag. But I really felt like I was able to know her through Ed, in the way that only he can teach you about someone or something (especially during those goofy days of college). I know the impact she had on his life, and we will all see the impact that her passing will leave on many people. My most sincere condolences go out to those who knew her and loved her.

EC, take care of yourself.
Hi, guys. This is the aforementioned Jen's friend Kim. Another high school buddy pointed me to your site. Well, this sucks about as bad as anything could, and I'm feeling about as emotionally raw as are many of you who knew and loved Jen, and feeling the pull for reconnecting with old friends. (Sag - are you who I think you are?) (Hi, Clay - I came across some great pics of you the other day while digging through my old photos). (wagstaff - read your comments on Matt's blog. very touching).

Hi, Ed.

Anyway, I'll be there Thursday. Maybe I'll see some of you. Or contact me at
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