Remembering a sweet friend and her brother.

Today I went to see my friend Ashley’s father, Bill Streiter, speak to high school seniors about the loss of his children. Ashley and Billy were killed by a drunk driver April 5, 2003.

Bill spoke today about losing his kids but also about how important forgiveness is, about making smart choices, the impact of making bad choices, and being a good human by doing small things to make the world a better place.

He tells their story in a way that makes you realize how precious life is and how it can all change in the blink of an eye.

He is amazing. Bill didn’t preach to these kids but instead used such a sweet approach of telling his story by conveying the importance of making good decisions, not as a random stranger but as a father from the same town they all grew up in. Bill lost his two children, his only children and can somehow tell this story without flinching by knowing (praying) he’s making an impact on these young minds. Hopefully he is implanting a seed that will help them grow into smart decision making adults who are also decent humans.

Ashley was younger than me by two years. Her best friend Caitlin and one of my best friends, Lauren are cousins. So Caitlin and Ashley were kind of like our little sidekicks. We loved/love them like little sisters. They even got fake ids as us when we turned 21 (pre 9/11 when it was a breeze to get one lol). I was lucky to call her my friend and I miss her a lot. It makes me so happy to see how much her best friends support each other year after year and I love how they name their children in honor of Ashley and Billy. It’s beautiful how deep their friendship runs.

Today, watching the high school seniors view the tribute video and see Ashley in her Hanover Park cheerleading uniform and lining up with all of her friends in their prom dresses and seeing photos of Billy hanging out with his crew of friends, I hope helped them relate to this story as they go to their prom this week and start their college careers. I pray they realized how far making a bad decision can reach. 16 years after Ashley And Billy have been gone, I sat today in the same auditorium I sat in myself as a high school senior. I listened to my sweet friend’s dad tell his story with two of Ashley’s best friends, one of their adorable daughters, and one of my best friends all next to me and we sobbed remembering our friend and her brother as if it happened yesterday. If that isn’t a huge ripple of impact I don’t know what is.

My favorite books

These are the “Top 10 Books I Love”. I have re-read all of these books dozens of times….

David Sedaris is my all time favorite author. And although I am a loyal fan to all of his works my top 2 are: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked. Reading his books made me love the short story format and love him for the he’s hilarious, flawed and lovable human he is.

I honestly didn’t love love reading until my friends went to college while I went to beauty school. One of the first “college ish” books I read was Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. My best friend, Faith, read it for one of her classes and when she finished I borrowed it from her. I was instantly a fan of weird dystopian fiction after that. And honestly if you haven’t watch the Hulu series what are you waiting for?

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb is just an amazing book. Some parts of it were so relatable to me especially at a time when I needed to feel like I was understood by anyone, even if it was just a fictional character from a novel. This is still one of my go-to re-reads whenever I’m in a book rut.

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs made me realize talking about me and my family’s wackiness was ok. Augusten writes in a way that makes you want to reach into the pages and hug him for all he’s been through all while giggling and crying reading about his experiences.

Vox by Christina Dalcher is an intense dystopian fiction that made me never want to put it down. Crazy premise that made you think: what if? If you love Handmaids tale you’ll love this one too.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero is a must read for everyone. If you’re feeling like you need a kick in the ass to get yourself out of a rut or to the next level of your life or career it’s kind of a life changer if you’re willing to let it be. It was for me. After I finished this book is when I finally let myself think “Why can’t I publish a book? Who cares what people will say?” And it helped push me to get serious, I’m very thankful for this book and it’s message.

Educated by Tara Westover is just an unbelievable book. When I was reading it I was picturing the things that were happening to the author in like the 60’s or 70’s but then she mentions that she was a teenager when September 11th happened and I realized she is younger than I am right now!!! Her perseverance and will to not only survive in that environment but to thrive into such a successful woman is amazing.

Gmorning Gnight by Lin-Manuel Miranda is a really sweet collection of little poems/pep talks/daily tweets that Lin-Manuel combined to make all of us better people for reading them. It’s one of my favorite things to look through almost everyday. I keep it next to my bed because it makes me so happy to flip through it before I fall asleep or if I wake up really early but don’t want to get up yet.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio will tear your heart out, make you sob, but also make you cheer for the small victories of everyone that feels different and the hardships their families face. Auggie is my favorite character in any book I’ve ever read… ever. I think this book is so important for every kid and adult to read.

This feels weird…..

This is something I don’t usually talk about. Today, April 11th is the 28th anniversary of my moms death. I am 38 which is the age my mom was when she died. Talking about this feels icky to me because I’m not into people feeling bad for me and I’ve always prided myself on being strong and not feeling like I want to share things like this because I don’t want people to hear it and give me sympathy. Even typing that word made me gag a little.

That being said the age “38” has been looming over my head all these years. As a kid I always felt like I was the only person in the world to lose a parent. I didn’t know anyone else that had happened to. Now that I’ve published my book it’s something a lot of people want to ask me about or share that they had also lost a parent as a child. Since speaking to other people who have lost parents at a young age they all have said similar things about a fear of “the age.” It doesn’t matter how your parent passed away, so many people who were like me and had a parent die when they were a kid feel like they won’t live beyond the age their parent was when they died. I know that sounds crazy and seems silly to those of you that haven’t lost a parent or have lost a parent as an adult but it’s this gnawing feeling in the back of my mind reminding me every once in a while “when you turn 38….you’re a goner”.

So I turned 38 in September and since then the last 7 months have been such a roller coaster of amazing, chaotic and sometimes kind of crappy moments for me. I had a small mental breakdown, I decided I was going to finally publish my book but then I ran into SO many obstacles with the self publishing process, I made TONS of mistakes and stressed myself out over crap that didn’t matter, I went on a few different podcasts which was a big challenge for me to speak about myself and be recorded doing it, I’ve gotten to be interviewed and filmed about my book by PR firms…also not something I had ever thought i’d do in my whole life, I got my mental breakdown straightened out with cognitive behavioral therapy (what’s up Diane Magee<— my therapist), learned (hopefully) a lot of life lessons along the way, but best of all, FINALLY after three long years, I published my mother-flipping book and made people LOL while they read it. I did things I never thought I’d do, I hate speaking about myself so much (I literally made a HOLE in my thumb while recording one of the podcasts I did from my nervous fidgeting) I want to barf every time I self-promote myself but obviously I do it so my hard work wasn’t in vain, even though it makes me want to run and hide. But after all those things and you know what happened in my 38th year?:

I. Didn’t. Die. I’m still here. (Knock on wood though bc I still have 5 months left of 38) So my point of this whole long blog post is that this is the year I dreaded for most of my life and now that it’s here it actually has so far been one of the most amazing and life changing years of my life.

I’m thankful to be over the hump of this irrational fear of “the age” and to those of you that have the same fear as I did, if you haven’t gotten to your “age” yet… I promise that it’s going to be better than you think! It might even be the most awesome year of your life.

Softball failure

Athletic ability is NOT my best quality by a mile. I “played” sports because my friends played sports. I am the queen of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so obvi I didn’t want to miss out on friend time especially when it meant we’d all be wearing matching outfits.

Now that I’m an adult my aunts and uncles inform me that they’d take time out of their busy lives to come watch me play softball. They’d sit there watching me dive in front of every pitch because I didn’t want everyone there to see how sweaty I could actually get by having to run. Instead i’d purposely get pegged and walk casually with a slight limp for effect. Then when I got back to the bench I’d sit there eating whatever snacks everyone had brought and I’d French braid the entire teams hair. They would sit there giggling and wishing they were somewhere else, I’m sure, while I pretended to play softball.

I don’t regret a thing though. I couldn’t hit. I could barely catch. I definitely couldn’t run but I sure did give a mean French braid by the end of my first softball season. I can still French braid like nobodies business which has helped me in my current life as a hairstylist. What would being a star softball player have done for my life? We will never know I guess.

Wesley Snipes

Some facts about me and WesleySnipes

{also the title of one of the short stories in my book: Chapstick Eater; Exploits of an Oddball} .

1. No, I don’t know Wesley Snipes..

2. I never planned on interacting with him in any real life situation. Ever. .

3. I’m certain he most likely panics if he boards a plane and sees a short chubby girl with glasses on the same flight.

4. Yes, my Best friend Lauren, still is one my best friends. We’ve flown together again after that flight…. we did not sit together on a plane ever again though lol.

5. Haven’t been back to Vegas since.

6. I’ve never been able to watch Passenger 57 in its entirety (I’m scared of planes as it is).

Click on the link to check out: Chapstick Eater; Exploits of an Oddball and read the whole Wesley Snipes saga in its entirety .

Kids wearing business suits and becoming bartenders.

If you want to get a closer look at my bff since birth, Faith, in her sensible business suit and me dressed in a white nightmare of a dress… AND also get to read about how me and my brother, Neil, became bartenders at young children (and darn good bartenders honestly)

Then you should click the link 👉🏻

Jackie DellaTorre wrote a book?

I know, I know. Most of you that know me personally are thinking “Jackie barely graduated high school… how the hell did she write a book?” And I honestly think the same thing some days!! I couldn’t have done it without the help of SO many people that I love.

This has been nearly three years in the making and it feels AWESOME and exciting and honestly a little nerve wracking for it to finally be done! I hope all of you think it’s funny and if you don’t I hope you lie to me and tell me it was 🤓 just kidding.