Jessica's Story

A Brief Timeline

September 19, 1979: Terri and Steve become joyful parents - it is too bad that I will be their smartest, most charming, and most attractive offspring. (Just kidding, Brenna and Mike).

May 14, 1982: Brenna is born. Mom and Dad have to bribe me with ice cream for me to even sit next to her for a picture.

Summer of 1983: I write my first novella, titled The Apples and the Monsters Have a Picnic. It becomes an instant classic… within the family.

January 20, 1984: Mike is born. Brenna is a doting sister; I agree to snap Mike's buttons, on occasion.

1987: My mom decides to change her name back to McNeil (my parents having divorced), and I end up suggesting that Brenna, Mike and I get a hyphenated last name. A last name that is too long to fit on any official forms and is the endless curiosity of all McNeil/Lehrer News Hour fans.

1995: I learn to drive...learn to drive like a 95-year-old, that is. Mike tries to relay this fact to our Japanese exchange student by saying "putt, putt, putt" while pretending to drive, and we all have a good laugh when the student thinks Mike is saying something about me farting.

Spring, 1998: I graduate from St. Paul Central High School. The evening of my celebratory open-house, there is a terrible wind storm, and half of my friends end up spending the night because the power has gone out and the sirens are sounding. The next day, people can only leave by driving under trees bent to the ground, and our neighborhood is without power for a week.

Summer, 1999: Having interviewed many young bachelors, I meet Jesse Karl Patrick Lippert Grittner and decide that I should keep him around on a "temp to hire" basis.

Fall, 1999: I am starting my second year at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and move into the "Hoyt Hunny House." My parents are amazed that 15 girls can live so peacefully together, and I meet some of the most fun and intelligent women in Madison.

Summer, 2001: Jesse finally gets hired on for long term employment. His official title: Man of My Dreams.

Our Meeting

Jesse and I met in a pretty trashy little nightclub in St. Paul. At the time (1999) it was called "Club Extreme." It was a Wednesday night, so there weren't very many people in the club - mostly just the DJ and my friends. At any rate, one of my friends, Susie, had brought her high-school pal Jesse. He kept staring at me and smiling, and I was getting the feeling that he thought I was cute and a good dancer. Well, he was dancing with Susie a lot. I guess he was feeling a little timid, but I thought he was dating Susie. Luckily, I asked another friend, Galina, if Susie and Jesse were dating. She said, "No, they're just friends. Actually, I think that he likes you." She then went over and told him that I thought he was cute and wanted to dance, which made me feel like I was in junior high school, but we danced despite my embarrassment. We ended up talking a lot, and I thought he was witty and charming. So, when he asked for my number, I readily handed it over. A funny part of this story is that an ex-boyfriend of mine had come out with the group, and Jesse ended up having to give him a ride home after having spent the night very obviously hitting on me. Maybe he can tell that part of the story.

Funny Coincidences

1. I went to high school (yea Central!) with Jesse's younger brother, Sam, and had been one of two stage managers for a play Sam had acted in (You Can't Take It With You). Many of my friends and my siblings knew Sam (he was in Central's Comedy Sportz team), and their first question about Jesse was inevitably, "Is he as funny as Sam?"

2. My freshman year of high school I almost transferred to Highland (Jesse's high school) as a result of my family moving into that area, but decided against it for reasons I don't remember.

3. My mom had been to one of Theresa's annual holiday cookie parties back in the early 1990s. She had gone with a mutual friend and had most likely met little Jesse!

4. Theresa applied for a job in the mid 1990s that would have made her my mom's co-worker, but she ended up taking a different job.

The Engagement

About a year into our relationship, Jesse and I were cuddling and having a conversation about our "life plans." Jesse asked me where I saw my life going, including how old I thought I'd be when I would get married. I don't remember what I said, but when I asked him when he thought he would get married, he responded, "Whenever you're ready." How romantic!

When he really brought up the topic, I mean for serious discussion, it was over the phone (spring of 2001, for a time frame). A summary of what he said is along the lines of, "...so I was thinking that after we graduate, I want to go to law school, and it would be easier to get health insurance and family housing if we're married, so maybe we should get married next summer. Oh, Mike Garlich's here, I gotta go. Love you, bye!" Not quite as romantic.

Well, we bought a ring (yes, he let me pick it out - good man) a couple months after that discussion. He tortured me with it for the next few months - carrying it around with him so that he could make me leave the room and show it to my friends whenever we went out. He finally proposed on our two year anniversary celebration in Chicago, Illinois near Buckingham Fountain. I obviously knew that it was coming, but I still burst into tears the second he started to go down on his knee. I don't remember what he said, but it was probably very romantic. Don't let Jesse fool you, he doesn't remember either. I do remember that it was really fun to go out on the town that night and tell every random person we met that we had just gotten engaged. I also remember that I was (and still am) very excited to marry Jesse!