Sh*t Jesika Said (August 17, 2010)

Jesika

I am not on Twitter, and I vow here and now that I never will be. I promise you the day will never come when you are able to hurl these words back at me. In the first place I don’t get it. Or maybe I do but just can’t get behind what looks to me to be the most self-serving, arrogant form of expression out there. Who am I to assume that there are legions who will hang on my every 140 character sound bite? Meh.

That said, there are a few people who have managed to evolve genuinely successful literary careers from their Twitter accounts. One such individual is Justin Halpern, the man fortunate enough to be born to a wise and hilarious philosopher of a family patriarch. Sh*t My Dad Says has morphed from a daily feed tracking one father’s off the cuff remarks, to a veritable cottage industry. This year, Halpern published a memoir of his father’s musings (of the same name) with some truly touching anecdotes woven around the random slice-of-life observations. This book spent weeks onThe New York Times bestseller list (Hardcover Nonfiction), and deservedly so. Halpern Sr. is as inappropriately candid as he is educated, loving and genuine. Fathers like this well deserve their 15 minutes of fame.

On April 25, 2009, I lost one of my best friends, Jesika Brooke Thompson (above right), to a devastating and quick bought with ovarian cancer. Just 30 years old at the time of her death, an accomplished lawyer, and a wonderful daughter, partner and friend, Jesika only had 17 days between diagnosis and death to finish up the business of her life. Obviously, this isn’t nearly enough time to provide closure for oneself and a whole circle of admirers. The whole outcome still feels like a bad nightmare from which I might eventually awake.

Today, August 17, 2010, would have been my friend’s 32nd birthday. We met in 1992, at the pregnant with promise age of 14, and for the next 16 years, Jesika continued to be the most hilarious person I knew. Not of the punchline driven, stand up comedy variety either – most of the time Jesika wasn’t trying to be funny. She was organically raucous, a gift of which I was always envious. Much like Justin Halpern’s Dad, Jesika had this uniquely warped, but logical way of viewing the world that managed to get right to the heart of its rampant absurdity.

In reviewing some of the emails and messages exchanged between Jesika and I over the years, and with respect to Justin Halpern’s tome, which brought me oodles of unanticipated mirth this past weekend, I bring you the first edition of Sh*t Jesika Said.

On Temporarily Moving In With Relatives After Relocating to Chicago:
“I might not survive Joliet. My grandmother hasn’t stopped talking for about 3 weeks.”

Locating a Dentally Challenged High School Rival on FaceBook:
“I found Little Miss Jump Rope floss on this thing.”

On Catching Up With Friends You Haven’t Spoken to in Awhile:
“How’s it going toots? I have had the most ridiculous couple of weeks……….it includes identity theft and Iowa. Bet you are hooked now huh?”

On Ambivalence Over Starting a Family:
“How do you feel about carrying little black babies (anything so I wouldn’t have to do it)? Just kidding! But seriously…”

Discussing Current Events:
“The article was about how PETA approached Ben and Jerry’s to start using breast milk in their ice cream instead of cow’s milk. Deelish!”

On Dividing Household Chores with Your Partner:
“That wouldn’t work on Kevin, I have to ‘pretend’ like I’m so mad, so he gets scared into doing chores.”

Supporting My Fledgling Writing Career:
“UGH. Am I going to have to start buying StreetWise now? I need my daily Becky fix……..On a side note, a co-worker of mine just grunted and farted. I need a vacation.

P.S. I’m proud of you.”

Is it any wonder I miss this woman so? I have spent the last 16 months weeping profusely at the very mention of Jesika’s name. However, in recent weeks, I have found that I am suddenly able to enjoy reminiscing with a smile – and exercise the option quite often. How selfish would I be if I didn’t share a slice of the wonderful memory I carry, with those who were not given the chance to know this fantastic lady?

Wherever Jesika’s spirit might be, I hope she is enjoying the birthday rewards deserved from a life well lived, having shared the gift of laughter with everyone she encountered.

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