musings, politics, silliness

Monday morning advice…

For those of you who don’t know me on Facebook, here’s a good tip for Monday.

And afterwards, please soap your hands.

As the weather gets cooler, I realize that there will soon be mornings when I couldn’t soap my arse if I wanted to. I suspect I have a touch of arthritis, and sometimes I wake up with decidedly less mobility than usual. It takes about an hour before my lower back stops seizing and I can soap my arse properly.

Incidentally, 23andMe recently updated my ancestry report. I went from being 70.8 percent British and Irish to 97.5 percent. My German heritage “disappeared”, as did my Swiss and Scandinavian heritage… and now I’m apparently a wee bit Finnish, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, with a trace of Native American (that bit didn’t change).

Actually, I can believe that I might have 97.5 percent British and Irish ancestry/DNA. I really look the part, even if I don’t have the accent. When I’ve been in the United Kingdom, people have stopped me and asked me for directions. And I always feel very much at home there. In fact, when we visited Mildenhall in 2016, I felt like I was at home in Gloucester, Virginia. It really looked like the town where I grew up– not exactly my birthplace, but close. Mildenhall happens to be the first place I ever lived during my lifetime that I remember well. Incidentally, Ancestry.com also recently updated its results and I came out as almost entirely Brit/Irish there, too. In fact, according to Ancestry.com, about half of my DNA is Scottish. I don’t know if I buy that, but again, I definitely fit the part.

I could spend all day listening to her. I see I’m not the only one. Supposedly, some of my people and Bill’s were from County Donegal. In fact, Bill and I ran into a “McCrossan” when we were last in that area. When I married Bill, I traded an English surname for an Irish one.

Lately, I’ve given some thought to going “home” again. It’s been six years… they have flown by, and I do kind of miss home to some extent. I don’t know that I care too much about seeing family. Maybe my mom…. she’s become a lot nicer to be around since my dad passed away. Taking care of Dad was stressful and my mom could become quite bitchy in the process. But now she’s funny and friendly, and we can speak freely about subjects like politics, mainly because we agree. Mom also swears. She doesn’t swear as much as I do, but she swears more than she did when my dad was around. My dad hated swearing. It was probably because his father used to swear and hearing coarse language reminded my dad of growing up being abused by his father.

She’s very clever.

But going home is not so easy right now, for many reasons. COVID-19 is the main one. So here I sit, listening to funny songs by an Irish woman and thinking about the old days, when I still felt at home in the United States. I do love Germany, though. I wish more Americans could see how things work in Europe.

My cousin shared some post about what would happen if Joe Biden is elected. Basically, he’s upset about the prospect of paying more taxes. I live in a country where people pay higher taxes. Some of the taxes are a bit ridiculous, I will admit. BUT– most people here live very well, despite paying higher taxes. They can afford to take vacations. They can afford to access higher education and go to the doctor when they are sick. Parents can take time off to take care of their babies for a year or more. Those who are ill can get affordable hospital care and take time off work to heal. In fact, employers expect it.

My German friend told me yesterday that five years ago, her health insurance paid for her to spend time in a rehab facility to help her learn how to cope with chronic pain. The only thing she had to pay for was materials for a handcrafting project. The rehab was intended to help those who couldn’t work due to a medical problem find ways to cope so that they can get back to being productive members of society. That, to me, seems a lot better than just telling people who fall on hard times to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or worse, “tough luck”.

I understand that a lot of Americans don’t trust the government. They don’t like the idea of taking care of the whole community rather than just focusing on taking care of themselves and their families. And so, when someone dies, such as a different cousin’s husband did last week, we Americans often resort to measures like GoFundMe to pay for medical care and funerals.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are conditioned to pay obscene rates for medical care and funeral care. They don’t know anything different. They hate the idea of higher taxes that might go for paying for someone else’s well-being. They don’t understand that someday, they might need help themselves, and that money raised through taxes would theoretically be there for them, too.

Well… I don’t know how much longer we’ll be living the European dream. I do like it here a lot and have mostly assimilated, although my German definitely needs a lot of work. We don’t plan to stay here forever… but neither is a move back to the States in the cards at this point. I would like to wait until the virus settles down somewhat and Trump is no longer a threat to my blood pressure. I could write a lot about what I think of him… especially as the election looms and he does more drastic things to mess up democracy. But I don’t feel like ranting today. It’s rainy… dark and chilly outside. I’d rather focus on something cozier.

So, I hope you’ll all have a nice Monday and take Rosaleen’s advice to heart if you’re feeling a bit blue. Or, at least imagine yourself soaping your arse and slipping backwards over a rainbow. Maybe you’ll even crack a smile as wide as your asscrack.

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language

When Americans write like Brits…

Just because I’m tired of all the virus chatter, yesterday I shared an old article by the BBC about Britishisms that have snuck into the American lexicon. I was prompted to take this action when I noticed a post by someone whom I know is an American using the cringeworthy term “whilst”. Yes, I know, technically it’s English and most Americans speak English, but “whilst” is not really something one hears in American English. It’s a Britishism, and when Americans use it, it comes off to me as kind of false and silly.

I don’t know why– I guess it’s one of my many quirks– but it’s annoying to me when an obvious southerner uses words like “whilst”, “bloody”, or “learnt”. When an American uses a typically British construction by saying something like, “I was not meant to go to the store today to take a dump on aisle six.”, I want to shriek, and not just because it’s not proper to take a dump on aisle six. I get especially angsty when they say something like, “I was eating spotted dick whilst scrubbing my ass with Old Dutch Cleanser.” If you’re from Kentucky, why would you use a word like “whilst”, unless you’re an actor putting on a British role?

I shared that post on Facebook, and not surprisingly, it got lots of responses. Many came from apologists who explain they they married Brits or lived there for a time. Actually, I get that. I lived in Britain for three years myself when I was a very young child– from age 3 to age 6. I went to a British kindergarten. I came away from England with some Britishisms and, at least at that time, the ability to put on a convincingly British accent. Consequently, I don’t get too wound up over words like “loo”, “proper”, “twit”, “queue”, “brilliant”, or even “wonky”. A lot of those words, while distinctly British, are also used by Americans somewhat, if not in the same way Brits use them, then in another way. Maybe we Americans don’t go ’round calling something especially intelligent “brilliant”, but I do remember my Crayola packages with the word “brilliant” written on them to describe the colors. And what’s more American than Crayola? Actually, probably a lot of things.

When I say I get annoyed by Britishisms by Americans, I’m talking about the especially British words and constructions that one has to work hard at adopting. For some reason, it comes off as fake and pretentious to me when Americans purposely use them. I have a feeling this quirk comes from way back in the early 80s, when I was friends with a girl whose father was an American Air Force officer. Her “mum” was British. She had two sisters, one of whom spoke with an American accent like she did, and the other who spoke like a Brit. My friend used to complain about her sister who spoke with a British accent. She said it was annoying and fake, although in the sisters’ situation, it seems understandable that one of the three would use a British accent. They had lived in England and Germany when they were little kids and half their family is British. It seems only fair that one of the three sisters would speak like their “mum”. But if you were born and raised in Connecticut by American parents, why would you adopt a British flair? Unless maybe you have a head injury of some sort?

I also don’t understand why some Americans insist on spelling words the British way. A lot of times, they have to use an extra letter. If you write “flavour” instead of “flavor”, “humour” instead of “humor”, or “colour” instead of “color”, you have to take an extra millisecond to add that extraneous “u”. Even as I write today’s post with the British spellings of certain words, WordPress gives me the red underlining signifying that the British spelled versions of those words are wrong. Why do it if you’re not from the United Kingdom? Especially if you’re writing something to another American? It’s more understandable if you’re writing something to someone who legitimately uses British English because he or she is not American. But among Americans? I don’t get it. We know you’re not British. You know you’re not British. And simply spelling and speaking like a Brit is not going to make you British, as much as maybe you’d like to be.

Maybe Professor Higgins had a point… sounds like the Brits are snobs among themselves about language.

I suspect some of these people think that we Americans should be writing like the Brits do. Perhaps they even look at other Americans with disdain for writing in the American style. It looks like some Brits think we should come back to the Queen’s English fold. I suppose that’s one reason why it’s irritating to me when Americans write like Brits. It kind of smacks of snobbery. But, in fairness, maybe people think I’m being a snob when I say that Americans affecting a British accent or writing style is fake and irritating. And really, I probably should have been British myself, but for the many people in my ancestry who decided to cross the pond and breed.

More than once, I’ve realized that if my ancestors hadn’t journeyed to America hundreds of years ago– we’re talking the early 1700s– I would probably be a Brit. 23andMe says that in terms of my DNA I’m about three quarters British and Irish. And although I know that 23andMe isn’t the most reliable proof of a person’s heritage, I know enough about my family to realize that most everyone was from sturdy British stock. Until very recently, most of them on both sides mostly lived in or close to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, although I did notice that they kind of streamed down there via Pennsylvania (a few ancestors were from there). That means that my people came to the United States and mostly fucked among themselves. I don’t even have that much German heritage. I mean, I have some, but it’s relatively recent not nearly as much as I would have expected. Sometimes Germans can be kind of cranky, too. Maybe that’s where I get mine. I only have a dash of Native American ancestry, though judging by my dad’s family’s dark coloring, maybe that was also recent.

Here’s another thought… at what point does a person cease to be what they are? I have an Italian friend who became a naturalized American citizen. He lived there for years, and finally became disgusted by what he termed “American weird-o-rama” culture. He married a German and moved to Germany, which as far as I know, is where he still is now. He also got disgusted with Facebook and deleted his account, so I haven’t conversed with him lately. But anyway, he was busting my chops last year because I posted about 23andMe, laughing about how Americans care so much about their ancestry. I then asked him if he still considered himself Italian. After all, he was born there of Italian parents, even though he had become an American citizen. He said yes, of course he’s Italian. He was even offended when I referred to him as an Italian-American, even though he’s a naturalized American citizen, because in his mind, Italian-Americans are tacky and unrefined. But… he’s giving me shit because I’m curious about my heritage and have found that technically I’m mostly a Brit? At what point does heritage cease to matter? I mean, I was born to southern parents from Virginia, but if you listend to them speak in their native Virginian accents, you can hear Scotland loud and clear. When I’ve been in Scotland, I’ve been reminded of Virginia mountain accents, even though the Virginia accents have been southernized. And I realize that I could have just as easily been born to people in Scotland or England and wound up with the same DNA.

If my people had stayed British, maybe, like my British friend, Christine, I’d be annoyed by Americans who spell “traveling” with one “l” instead of two. Seriously, Christine took me to task once, because she was a teacher in England and she saw my travel blog. I spelled “traveling” like an American, and she wanted to break out her red pen. It kind of makes one wonder why Americans and Brits spell things differently, anyway. I’m sure I could find the answer if I looked it up.

I’m feeling a little like Professor Higgins today.

Yes… in fact, here’s an explanation by Oxford International Schools, and just three sentences into the article, there’s that word “whilst”. But it bothers me less to read it there, because Oxford International Schools is clearly a British organization and the person who wrote this article is not from the United States. I do find it interesting at the end of the article, when the author points out that in British English, words like catalog and dialog are spelled with a -ogue suffix in British English. But, for some reason, when I see “dialogue” or “catalogue” in American English, it doesn’t faze me at all the way “practice” and “practise” do. That’s because for some reason, the shorter version of -ogue was never fully Americanized.

I fully admit that I’m cranky, though, and a lot of things bug me that probably shouldn’t. I wish I were more of a laid back person. It would make my life a lot easier. I don’t know why I’m so particular about some things. I also dislike some of the expressions my husband uses. He was born in Missouri, but considers himself an Arkansan and Texan. He was only born in Missouri because there was no hospital in the Arkansas town where his parents were living in 1964. They had to go to Poplar Bluff, which is where the nearest hospital was. Bill spent more time in Texas than Arkansas, but when I listen to him speak, he sounds like someone from the Mid South. He says things like “Here in a few minutes, I’m gonna put on my underwear.” I notice that his mom also says stuff like that. Not about underwear, mind you, but she uses some of the same expressions. But at least neither of them say “whilst”, which is really a relief to me, because if they did, I would laugh at how ridiculous it sounds.

According to this article by The Guardian, Brits get annoyed when Americans fake a British accent. I’ve noticed it happens a lot, too. I met an American woman on our last cruise who married a Brit and has sort of a weird hybrid American/British accent. But so many American people do it that maybe it’s just a hazard of living among British people. Madonna did it when she was with Guy Ritchie. All of a sudden, an American starts using the word “quite” and “indeed” much more often than they used to… and why is that? Does it somehow make them feel smarter or more cultured? As one British writer points out, plenty of people with British accents are uncultured and uneducated, and affected accents can be very grating. But I can concede that if one spends a long time in a place, habits can form.

In all seriousness… I do kind of like some British words. Some of them are just plain better at expressing a thought than the American equivalent. I like some of the biting British wit, too. I am proud of my British heritage, even though I don’t write words like “whilst” and, sorry, I do cringe when fellow Americans do. I hope that those of you who have taken the time to read this aren’t too irritated at me for expressing myself today. If you want to say “whilst” and you’re from Oklahoma, knock yourself out… Americans still have the right to be fake and pretentious if they want to be. But I don’t have to be impressed by it.

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23andMe

Another long lost relative…

Yesterday, I noticed I had a new relative on 23andMe, this one even closer to my DNA than the one I wrote about yesterday. Her name is Pat and she’s my first cousin once removed on my mother’s side. She and my mom were born during the same year, which makes her an octogenarian. Her father was my mom’s Uncle Herbert. I never knew most of my mom’s relatives because they had a smaller family and weren’t as social as my dad’s people were. I do remember meeting my mom’s Uncle Walter, who was married to an Irish woman and lived in northern Virginia. I remember Walter was always well dressed and drove nice cars. Pat also knew Walter well, although she only met my mom once or twice.

I can hardly fathom not knowing my cousins. I grew up going to family reunions every year. I know my twenty-one cousins on my dad’s side pretty well, and I know a lot of their children. I only have one cousin on my mom’s side, though I am finding out I have more distant relatives like Pat, who now lives in Washington State. Like my mom, she married an Air Force officer and he moved her all over the place. When he retired in 1979, the year after my dad did, he worked for Boeing in Washington State. She’s apparently been out there for many years.

I called my mom last night to tell her about these discoveries I’ve made through 23andMe and she was very interested. I passed my mom’s phone number to Pat, since mom doesn’t use computers. I hope they’ll get to talk to each other.

Meanwhile, although I had resisted Ancestry.com for years, I finally ordered a DNA test from them, just because I want to see how close the results will be to 23andMe’s. Then I started making a family tree. I was amazed by how far it went back. I found relatives of my maternal grandfather’s as far back as the 1500s. I found German relatives I didn’t know about, some of whom were from Hesse. Sure enough, my people on both sides have been in Virginia for many years, but before that, they came from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. I found one from Delaware and one from Connecticut. I guess they arrived in Boston and made their way south right around the time people started coming to America from England. I found one branch from Ireland, including County Donegal, which is where the Crossens came from (Crossen is my married name).

I decided not to sign up for Ancestry.com’s subscription service because it’s pretty expensive and I don’t need another subscription. I also read a lot of negative reviews of the service and people having trouble quitting it. I may change my mind eventually. It’s amazing what you can find. I found an old yearbook photo of Bill’s on Ancestry.com, along with our marriage license. He was very cute as a high school JROTC cadet. I probably would have had a crush on him back then, too… of course, when he was in high school, I was in elementary school.

It’s mind boggling to realize that if any one of the 300 people I’ve found so far who are my direct ancestors had made different choices in life, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s even more mind boggling to know that my particular branch of the family tree will end with me. This new hobby ought to keep me busy for awhile. Every time I think I’ve found everything there is, I fall down another rabbit hole. At the very least, it gives me a chance to connect with other people, which is a very rewarding thing… especially since I have been feeling pretty divorced from my family lately.

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23andMe

Guess I’m not Spanish or Italian anymore…

23andMe just updated their algorithm again. According to them, I no longer have Spanish or Italian DNA. I’m a little bummed about it. Now, instead of Spanish and Italian DNA, I have gone back to having Scandinavian DNA.

Back in September 2017, Bill and I submitted saliva samples to 23andMe. These were my original results.

South Asian? That was surprising. Turns out it was also apparently wrong.

About fourteen months ago, 23andMe updated again. This time, they said I had Scandinavian DNA to go with my majority British heritage.

I always wondered if maybe there was a little Swede in my creed.

But then they updated again… and until a couple of days ago, they had removed the Scandinavian connection and added .7% Spanish, Portuguese, and .5% Italian ancestry. I also went up a trace in British and Irish ancestry, as well as Native American. I could believe the Native American connection, given that my people have been in Virginia for a couple of centuries. I figured at least one or two of them must have gotten with a local. And I could also see the Spanish connection because of the Spanish Armada. There is such a thing as “Black Irish” people– those are Irish folks who have dark hair and dark eyes because they made babies with people from Spain. Also consider that Spain actually isn’t that far from Britain or Ireland as the crow flies… and that they got their dark features from people in Africa. Southern Spain is not so far from Morocco, you know.

I kind of enjoyed thinking I might have a dash of spicy Spanish or zesty Italian in my DNA. But, then 23andMe ran their data again and, wouldn’t you know it? I’m not only no longer Spanish or Italian at all; I’m also a tiny bit more Native American.

So maybe I’m a little Scandic after all… for now, anyway.

All of these tests are done at a 50% confidence interval, so chances are excellent that these results are mostly bullshit anyway. What they do know is that my origins are almost 100% European. All you need to do is look at me to know that. I’m actually glad to see the higher concentration of German ancestry, since I know for a fact that I had German relatives from the Rhein and Karlsruhe relatively recently, as in the 1800s. You can change the confidence interval on 23andMe to see your actual raw data if you want to– up to 90%. I have always sucked at statistics, even though I took six classes in the course of my seven years in university studies. What I know is that at a 50% confidence interval, researchers are only 50% sure of their results. The overall results become less specific at 90%, though they are definitely more accurate.

Bill’s results changed, too. He’s no longer got Nigerian roots. Instead, he has links to Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. I never thought I’d be in an “interracial relationship”, but I guess I am… Looking at Bill, you’d never know he has any African genes, but apparently, he does. He has Dutch ancestry and the Dutch were quite involved in the African slave trade, which means some of them were having sexual relations with African locals.

I can’t help but remember studying slave narratives in my African American and Women’s literature classes at Longwood University and learning about the “tragic mulatto“. That was a fictional character that appeared in literature back in the 19th and 20th centuries… a character that was sad or even suicidal because he or she was “mixed” race and did not fit into either black or white worlds. In the slave era, many white men got black women pregnant. The children that resulted from these sexual trysts were considered “black”, as one drop of African blood supposedly meant a person was black. Naturally, some of them “passed” as white people and enjoyed more privileged lives. It kind of makes me cringe to think about that today, but it was the law in parts of the United States back in the 1800s. The “one drop” rule was never federally codified and is now, thankfully, a defunct law.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t even been 100 years since my home state of Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made interracial marriages illegal and required all birth and marriage certificates issued in the state to declare a person either “white” or “colored”. Even today, there’s still controversy about racial relationships in Virginia. Just recently, Rockbridge County, which is where most of my family is originally from and where Bill and I got married, was in the news because the marriage licenses issued there required applicants to state “what they were” racially speaking. Virginia was recently sued due to requiring marriage license applicants to list their races. It’s not the first time Virginia has been in the news regarding its attitudes about interracial relationships. Until 1967, it was illegal in Virginia for a white person and a black person to marry. It took the Supreme Court to make the decision to lift bans on interracial marriages.

I’ve spent over half of my life in Virginia, never fully understanding just how racist a past it has. And this is even though I had the benefit of education and a normally functioning brain. What’s funny about these DNA tests that anyone can take is that people are realizing that we aren’t as “pure” as we think we are. People with racist attitudes are finding out that many of them have genetic links to the people they most disdain. We are more alike than we are different. And yet, even in 2019, we have plenty of white supremacists around, proudly showing off their racism to the masses.

I suppose I shouldn’t care so much about where I came from. I find genealogy and DNA testing fascinating, especially since there are so many stories connected to it. I recently wrote about how I found a DNA relative through 23andMe. Her mother was the biological daughter of my great uncle Edward, whom I never knew. He was my paternal grandmother’s brother, and he died six years before I was born. My relative, who writes that I am the only one on 23andMe from my great uncle’s family who has connected with her, explained that her bio grandmother had a “fling” with my great uncle and got pregnant. She was originally from Farmville, Virginia, the town where I went to college and where Virginia’s great teaching college, Longwood University, is located. It’s likely Edward’s girlfriend was a Longwood graduate like me, since she was a teacher by profession.

Bio grandma gave up my DNA relative’s mother for adoption in Roanoke, Virginia, not at all far from Natural Bridge, Virginia– which is where my father’s family is from and many relatives still live. My new relative’s mom had a fling with a man who worked at the Uruguayan Embassy in Washington, DC back in 1944. In 1945, my relative was born. She grew up thinking she was half Hispanic, but she learned thanks to 23andMe, she is actually half Ashkenazi Jewish. Her father, who had “passed” for Uruguayan, was actually most probably someone whose family fled Europe to escape the Nazis.

I love a good story, and this lady is now sharing her story with me. And it’s all because of 23andMe, she’s learning about her mother’s father… a man whom I never knew, but I knew his sister, my grandmother, quite well. I am providing a link to that part of her history, all thanks to DNA testing. Still, I have to admit that having done the test, I have a lot of questions I never considered before… and it’s very interesting to see how the guesses as to what and who I am are changing as more people get DNA testing done. My new relative even found pictures of our great grandparents– Rebecca and Edward Barger– my granny’s mom and dad and her grandfather’s mom and dad. It amazes me that until very recently, making this connection with my relative would have been very unlikely. I wish I could connect her to some of my older relatives, whom I know could answer more of her questions than I can.

Anyway… writing about this keeps me from watching bad TV and eating junk food, which according to 23andMe, I’m probably statistically more likely to do, thanks to my DNA. I’m just kidding. I don’t think they’ve yet made that determination. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if, someday, they did.

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family

Repost from my old blog: Adice…

Since my original blog is now locked down indefinitely, here’s an interesting reposted family related story to go with today’s fresh content.I originally posted this in August 2017.

As is my habit, I started today by looking at Facebook’s On This Day application.  I found some interesting goodies from the past, including a bunch of old photos.  Below is a picture of my grandparents.  They were my mom’s parents.

My mom’s parents, Adice and Carl.

I never knew Grandma Elliott.  She died when I was four years old.  We lived in England at the time, so I didn’t attend her funeral.  I am her youngest grandchild of five.  I have three sisters and a female cousin from my mom’s brother, who only had one child.  I haven’t seen cousin Sue since my wedding day in 2002.

This is a very recent picture of  me.  I was trying on a gown I bought for our upcoming cruise.  The gown is pretty, but laden with beads and sequins that fall off every time it gets moved from its hanger.  I doubt I’ll wear it more than a couple of times. (Circa August 2017)

When I was growing up, I used to hear all the time about how much I resembled Grandma Elliott.  My mom would go as far as saying that if I didn’t look so much like her, she’d swear she picked up the wrong baby from the hospital.  I think that’s because I mainly got my personality from my dad’s side of the family.

I don’t know a whole lot about Grandma Elliott, other than she had blue eyes, like me.  She also had dark hair, which I have never had.  That’s partly because I colored my hair for years.  Right now, it’s more or less natural because I quit coloring last fall.  I was born blonde and went darker and now I seem to be back to blonde, which suits me fine.  I must have gotten my hair from my maternal grandfather.  I inherited my grandmother’s bone structure and her nose… and perhaps her penchant for being crabby.

Grandma Elliott’s first name was Adice (pronounced “ad-is”).  I’ve never known anyone else with that name.  Maybe if I’d had a daughter, I would have named her that.  I was given Grandma’s middle name of Leighton.  I always hated that name when I was a child, but I’ve grown to appreciate it now.  It’s unusual and kind of elegant.  My mom gave all four of her daughters traditional and formal names with a somewhat regal ring to them.  All of us, except for one, go by nicknames.

I was told Adice worked in a dress shop and had a wonderful flair for fashion.  She was noted for being really pretty and people even used to call her “Pretty” as a nickname.  She was great at crochet. I even have a blanket she made.  My mom is also really good at all things involving sewing, needlepoint, cross stitch, and knitting, although she never learned to crochet.  I suck at sewing and needle crafts.  However, I did inherit my mom’s musical genes.

I did some basic genealogy last year and determined that my grandmother is related to a large family in Lynchburg, Virginia.  She grew up in Amherst, which isn’t too far from Lynchburg.  When she married my grandfather, they moved to Buena Vista, Virginia, which is where my mom was born and grew up.  It’s now become a Mormon mecca, thanks to LDS folks buying Southern Seminary and turning it into Southern Virginia University.  My mom graduated from Southern Seminary.

All of this comes up just after Bill and I submitted DNA samples to 23andme.  I told my mom about doing that and she was very interested.  I look forward to finding out what my heritage is based on the test results.  I’m guessing, based on what I’ve found so far, I’m mostly of British and German origins, although I won’t be surprised if there’s Native American in there too.  My dad’s side of the family is rather dark…  dark hair, dark eyes, and some members have rather dark skin or a lot of freckles.  I definitely favor my mom’s side of the family, which is decidedly Celtic looking.

The majority of people on both sides of my family seem to have been in Virginia for a very long time, so I don’t have the connection to other parts of the world that some people do.  I will say, however, that I feel very much at home in Britain and Germany.  England is astonishingly familiar to me.  The part where my very first memories come from looks just like where I grew up in Virginia.

As I write this, it occurs to me how fast time flies and how it seems like just yesterday, I was a child.  Now I’m middle aged.  I guess, if I’m going to make a point to anyone, it’s that you should try to enjoy your life as much as possible because time passes fleetingly.  Before you know it, you’ll be solidly entrenched in the middle of your life.  I look at mine and wondered if it’s going to mean anything to anyone, especially since I “broke the mold” and won’t be passing on any descendants…  But then, given how very fucked up the world is today, maybe that’s a blessing.     

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