blog news, family, social media, stupid people, technology

I’ve got new DNA results!

I believe the featured photo is of my mom’s father’s family tartan…

Bless Ancestry. com and 23andMe. I was having some trouble coming up with a topic to write about today, mainly because I don’t feel like complaining about Trump, and he’s making up a lot of the news lately. But since both Ancestry and 23andMe just updated their DNA results, and my results changed a bit, I can now write about that! And it will be soooo interesting, too. To me, anyway.

According to Ancestry.com, I’m now even more Scottish than I thought. The updated results now have me at 58 percent Scot. That would probably make Ex green with envy, since she fancies herself a Scot. The rest of the results were also interesting, as according to Ancestry, now I’m only 28 percent English and otherwise northwestern European. They also report that I have 3 percent Welsh ancestry, which I can certainly believe, given how many of my ancestors were from the British isles and Ireland. Ancestry.com also reports that I still have Scandinavian ancestry– Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Again, that’s totally believable. I am as white as they come.

Interesting… and probably pretty accurate.

Now, my 23andMe results are a bit more surprising. I did the 23andMe test before I did Ancestry’s, so it’s changed a few times since I first got results in 2017. Overall, 23andMe agrees with Ancestry that I’m mostly from the British Isles and Ireland. But they added some spice to my heritage, which is also believable. Behold…

23andMe classify their results somewhat differently, grouping Scotland, England, and Ireland together. They used to report Norwegian DNA, but replaced it with Finnish. And Ancestry doesn’t report Finnish DNA, but does report Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

Some might be surprised to see the Spanish and Portuguese results, but to me, they make perfect sense. I probably picked up that DNA thanks to the Spanish Armada. Some people from that dramatic event in the 1500s inevitably got together with Irish and Scottish people, forever changing their DNA. I was glad to see French and German again, since I know for a fact that I have some German heritage, and likely have French, too, somewhere deep in my genes. I also know that there were a few Native Americans from Virginia who got with my family, since they appear in my family tree. I was surprised to see the Levantine result, which has origins in Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. But, I guess if we go back far enough, that makes some sense, too. Most people probably have some genes from the Middle East. I got a kick out of the photo 23andMe uses for the French and German section. It’s actually a photo of Hallstatt, Austria.

This is a screenshot from 23andMe’s Web site. I’ve been to this town and have my own photo of this view. It’s unmistakable as a famous Austrian town, where many Chinese tourists visit and wear dirndls and lederhosen.

What’s funny is, I just talked to my mom about our ancestry. She really doesn’t know much about her family of origin– especially on her mother’s side. I’ve told her a lot that she didn’t know, mainly because of these DNA tests and interacting with distant relatives. She never knew her maternal grandparents, since they died within three months of each other, before her second birthday. She was surprised when I told her I went on FindAGrave.com and found photos of her grandparents’ graves, as well as an entry for my dad, which was not put up by a family member. My Uncle Ed, who died just over a month ago, has an entry already, although no one but family is allowed to develop it until a year has passed. I think FindAGrave is kind of freaky, but it does provide interesting information about my long lost relatives.

Like my mom, I never got to know my maternal grandparents. My grandmother died when I was five, and we were living in England at the time. My grandfather died when I was six, and he was extremely senile and didn’t know who any of us were. I do remember living in his house briefly, back in the summer of 1978, because we had just come back from England, and my parents were purchasing a home in Northern Virginia, where we lived for just two years. He died months later, after having been court ordered to move into a facility, because he could no longer take care of himself.

The only grandparent I really knew was my father’s mother, who was affectionately known as “Granny” to just about everyone, even those who weren’t in the family. She lived to be almost 101 years old. My father died only seven years after she died. He was 81 years old, and had only lived without a parent for seven years. That is astonishing to me. Granny was mostly a wonderful lady, although she wasn’t as perfect as some people made her out to be. She had a mean streak. But mostly, she was full of stories, and made wonderful bread. I am glad Bill got to meet her and knew her for five years before she finally passed.

I find genealogy fascinating, especially since I grew up not really knowing my mom’s family too well. I knew my Uncle Glenn, who died in 2015, and I knew his daughter, although I haven’t seen her since my wedding day in 2002. She and I have the same blue eyes, inherited from our grandmother. Well… she got hers from Glenn, too. He had beautiful blue eyes. My eyes are probably my best feature.

Anyway… I’m glad to see the update from both DNA registries, even if Bill’s results are more interesting than mine are. He has African heritage.

Moving on…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an irate private message I got from someone who was angry about an eight year old blog entry I reposted regarding an extremely violent murder in their family. This person was threatening, and complained that I had mentioned the name of one of the victim’s children, who is still a minor. They acted as if I had invaded their privacy to find out the child’s name, and threatened legal action against me. It was not a nice thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning. In my post, I was pretty sure I had only included information that was already openly reported in the news, circa 2014.

I did some sleuthing yesterday, mainly because I wanted to block this person from ever contacting me again on Facebook (or anywhere else). I managed to find the person’s profile(s) and block them. However, in the course of doing so, I found out some new things.

I discovered that my memory was correct. The child’s name was included in several newspaper articles, most of which are online today. Furthermore, I found a wide open Web site, where what looked like some of the child’s schoolwork was openly posted for all to see. There was an essay there, revealing the names of the child’s parents, birth date, birth place, and the names of many family members, to include other minors. I even learned what kinds of food the child likes to eat, what the child’s career goals were at the time the essay was written, and where the child lives. So much for maintaining the online privacy of a minor.

I would suggest, to the person who contacted me, that before they issue legal threats regarding privacy of a minor, they might want to do some more Googling of the child’s unusual name. I learned a lot more about this child than I ever wanted or needed to know, simply by typing the name into a basic search engine. I suspect that their claims that I invaded their privacy would go nowhere, mostly due to this fact, but also because of the First Amendment, and the right to freedom of expression, which all Americans still enjoy, at least for now. If you want to come at me because I posted your minor relative’s name, you might also want to have a go at the reporters who originally covered the case. Because that is where the child’s name was originally shared, and that content is still freely available eight years later. And I had nothing to do with that.

In spite of being quite pissed off about that hostile PM, to the point at which I am deleting the blog’s Facebook page, I have removed the offending content as a courtesy to the person who contacted me. I did so because, frankly, no one else was reading that post anyway. Also, I removed it because, in spite of their false accusations toward me, I’m not a terrible person who is just out to make money by blogging. Likewise, I don’t want to cause people unnecessary distress. But even if I were just trying to make a buck, what would be wrong with that? There’s no crime against earning a living, right? Writing is a perfectly respectable career choice, even if some people don’t like the things that get written.

This blog isn’t a source of significant income for me. It’s more something I do because I enjoy writing. Moreover, I didn’t do anything wrong, and the claims that I violated anyone’s privacy are baseless and false. There is no law against writing or opining about things that are in the mainstream news. I do understand that people get upset when people talk or write about true crimes that affect them personally, but I don’t think that threatening to trying to censor people is the answer.

Finally… something a little ridiculous…

This graphic of stereotypes was posted in the Duggar Family News group…

Apparently, the above photo is circulating in certain parts of social media. It’s pretty disgusting. I would also say that it’s not very accurate. I’m not sure fundie women keep their figures when they’re eating things like tater tot casserole and barbecued tuna fish. I’ve also seen quite a few fundie women sporting heavy makeup, colored hair, and ridiculous perms. Moreover, I don’t think Jesus Christ would approve of the judgmental and negative attitude displayed regarding “The Godly Tradwife”. Jesus supposedly loved everyone, and helped those in need. It makes me sick that genuine Christian values have been co-opted and bastardized by hypocritical Republicans, who just want to quash anyone who isn’t like them, and doesn’t want to keep white, conservative men in power.

I might write more about this later… or maybe not. Hope y’all have a good Wednesday. Time to pick up my guitar.

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communication, condescending twatbags, family, healthcare, history, law, politicians, politics, true crime, Uncategorized

Granny’s notes give me perspective on the past…

I had an interesting Thursday, and not just because it was my day to vacuum the house. It was interesting because I did some thinking, and even became a little inspired. My Aunt Gayle sent an email containing a document written by my Granny years ago. The fifteenth anniversary of her death is approaching next week, so Gayle sent out “Granny’s notes”, which was basically a brief history of Granny’s long and fascinating life. Granny was born near Natural Bridge, Virginia and spent most of her life there, though she did have some brief sojourns to other places. She was the fifth of ten children, and the last of the children to die, at almost 101 years of age. Had she lived just 54 more days, she would have made it. But it was time for Granny to go, as she had obviously witnessed a whole lot in her life. I can’t imagine what she would think of what’s happening today.

My grandmother was born at a time when women couldn’t vote, and were thought of as little more than property to their fathers and husbands. She died in the age of the Internet. In her lifetime, she bore nine children, and outlived two of them. She saw a man walk on the moon. She watched cars take over horses and buggies. She traveled to England to visit my parents, my sisters, and me, stopping in Scotland and Ireland, to walk on land where her ancestors lived. What would she think about the way women’s rights are being rolled back today? Granny was a conservative lady, but she was always very smart and practical, and she had a sharp mind until the bitter end of her life. I don’t know what she thought of topics like homosexuality or abortion. I suspect she was more progressive than some people would have liked to have given her credit for being. I say that, knowing that she was born and raised in Rockbridge County, which is a very red part of Virginia.

When I got my aunt’s email last night, I thought of a woman I “met” on 23andMe. She and I are first cousins twice removed. It turns out my Granny’s brother, Ed, had a fling with a young woman who had come from Longwood University (then known as the State Teachers College) to Natural Bridge to teach school. Ed and the young woman conceived a baby girl, whom they surrendered for adoption in Roanoke, Virginia. The girl was adopted by a couple from Roanoke and grew up there, while Ed went on to marry another woman and have a son. I seem to remember hearing that Ed’s son died when he was still in his 20s, although that happened when I was still a glint in my dad’s eye. Ed died a few years before I was born.

The woman I “met” is the daughter of Ed’s “illegitimate” daughter (to use an antiquated term), who was given up for adoption. She is in her 70s now, and has a half sister. They live in Maryland. I hadn’t been chatting with her lately, mainly because after we exchanged information, there wasn’t much else to say. But Granny’s notes changed everything. I immediately contacted her on 23andMe and told her about the document, and asked her if she’d like me to send it to her, since Granny had written about her parents and grandparents– and they were also kin to her. She enthusiastically agreed, so I forwarded the document to her.

Then I thought about the rest of this woman’s incredible DNA story. Her mother had grown up in Roanoke, apparently unaware that she had been adopted from a couple in Rockbridge County. When she became an adult, she moved to Washington, DC to work, and there she met a young, dark haired man who worked for the Ecuadorian Embassy. They had a fling, and sure enough, she got pregnant. When she told her mother, her mother snapped “Just like your real mother!” That’s when she found out she wasn’t her mother’s natural child.

Unlike her biological parents, to include my great uncle and his girlfriend, my cousin’s mom chose not to give her daughter with the “Ecuadorian” up for adoption. So she grew up not knowing her dad, but assumed she was half Ecuadorian, since that was where he was from, and he definitely looked and acted the part. Many years later, when she took her DNA test, it turned out that actually, he was Ashkenazi Jewish! I guess his family had moved out of Germany to Ecuador as a means of avoiding Hitler.

Of course, it’s not lost on me that had this all happened years later, Ed’s girlfriend could have chosen to have an abortion, and I wouldn’t have this novel worthy story to tell. And the truth is, I don’t cheer for abortions. Personally, I like the idea of choosing life over an abortion. But I am against forcing women to give birth, because there are simply too many reasons why having a baby might be the worst decision. And so, I read stories about women who made that tough choice and agonized over it, or even laughed about it, as Alison Leiby has, having written a comedy show about her choice to have an abortion before Roe v Wade was overturned, and women’s rights became even more threatened than they already were.

Yesterday, I wrote about Alison Leiby’s op-ed in The New York Times titled “Please Laugh About My Abortion With Me”. I still think it’s an article well worth reading. I found it very thought provoking, and I think she’s very BRAVE to have written it, given how completely horrible and closed-minded some people are about this topic. For those who missed yesterday’s post and don’t want to read it, here’s another link to the unlocked article.

I noticed that a lot of people on Facebook were commenting on Leiby’s op-ed, but it appeared that very few had bothered to read it. It was behind a paywall, so that’s to be expected. Still, it’s disappointing when someone writes a piece that is thoughtful and interesting, and the masses– who can’t or don’t want to pay for a subscription– feel the need to make irrelevant comments about it. So I posted that I thought Alison Leiby’s excellent op-ed was “thought provoking”, and it’s a shame that few people appeared to have read it. Others who had read it gave me likes, while a few obvious pro-birthers gave me laughter.

Naturally, it wasn’t long before a guy named Steve decided to engage me. He immediately wrote a mocking post to me, asking what part of Leiby’s post I thought was thought provoking. His comment was full of the usual tripe about how Leiby is obviously an uncaring, irresponsible woman who made a poor choice in sexual partners and then cold-heartedly KILLED her baby. I laughed at that and wrote, “Didn’t read the article, huh?” Because I knew that if he had, he would find out that the piece was not about Alison’s decision to have an abortion, but rather how she had processed the experience, the difficulty of discussing abortion with others… and yes, LAUGHING about it. She’s a comedian, so tackling difficult topics with humor is literally what she does for work.

Steve came back at me with more hostility, accusing me of not having read the article, which I actually did. And then he demanded that I defend my pro-choice opinions to him, which I don’t have to do even when people ask me politely, let alone make demands. But I decided I wouldn’t be engaging him at all, when I noticed that in his snarky retort, he referred to me as a “chick”. Imagine that. I’m 50 fucking years old, and this “pro-life” man, who doesn’t even know me, just called me a CHICK! I’m not even a fellow human being to him. I’m a baby chicken who happens to have a uterus (for now, anyway). My Granny used to take care of “chicks” on her family’s farm. And then he expects me to have a thoughtful discussion with him about a topic as complicated as abortion is? I don’t think so.

“Duck you, Steve.”

My response was more or less, “I can answer the questions, but I am choosing not to, because it’s obvious to me that you just want to judge this woman’s very personal decisions. The fact that you just referred to me as a ‘chick’ gives me a pretty good idea about what you think of women. I couldn’t be less interested in interacting with you. Please leave me alone.”

To his credit, he did stop tagging me. It’s a good thing he did that, because if he hadn’t, I could have commented on the fact that not only does he dismiss and dehumanize women by calling them “chicks” when they’re being serious, he also doesn’t respect them when they say “no”. And this overbearing habit that some men have of not hearing the word “no” when a woman says it, is precisely why a lot of women need to seek abortions in the first place!

Fortunately for Steve, he did hear me when I asked him to leave him alone, and he complied with my wishes. Not every guy offline or on social media is even that respectful, so I guess I should be grateful that he knocked it off when I requested it. But it was quite clear to me that he hadn’t read the essay and was betting that I hadn’t, either. Then he had the nerve to try to demand that I interact with him. I wonder if he was ever like that on his dates.

Is Steve like this guy?

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on ol’ Steve, though. It probably didn’t occur to him that calling me “chick” would trip him up on his path to the idyllic Land of Mansplaining Sanctimony. Like a lot of people, he failed to think ahead. Failure to think or plan ahead, is another reason why some women want or need to have abortions. It’s natural that this happens, and as Steve has proven, it’s not just the women who have this issue.

It occurs to me that Granny, who was a very strong, intelligent, wise, and hardworking woman who bore nine kids, probably had to deal with that kind of shit from men all the time. I know she had to deal with my grandfather, whom she had said was the “nicest man” when he wasn’t drinking. The trouble is, he was “always” drinking, and had a legendary temper. Or so I was told by his son, who was my dad. By contrast, Granny wrote in her notes that her own father was very quiet and gentle. Being married to “Pappy” must have been quite different to her, just as being married to my gentle husband is different for me. Like Pappy, my father was often very nice and kind, but he was also a severe alcoholic who could be brutal. Thankfully, he wasn’t physically abusive very often, although it was often enough.

I think about women who are still, even in 2022, when we have laws against domestic violence, trapped in horrific relationships with men who won’t take no for an answer. I think about women who are on their way to financial freedom, or finally have the achievement of a lifelong dream in their sights, or maybe can’t keep any food down because they have severe hyperemesis gravidarum, or any other medical issue, just wanting to make their own private decision about whether or not to be pregnant. If I had gotten pregnant with Bill’s baby, I would have been very happy about it. But if I had gotten pregnant after being date raped at a fraternity party, not so much (and no, that never happened to me, but it could have). Likewise, I served in the Peace Corps, where female Volunteers have been known to be sexually assaulted. I personally knew of one person who was raped when I was serving in Armenia. She didn’t get pregnant, but if she had, she would have been required to get an abortion at her own expense, or leave the Peace Corps.

And guys like Steve want to frame a narrative about how anyone who wants or needs an abortion is just some loose, slutty woman with no heart or morals, who “got herself pregnant” because she was “irresponsible”. Same guy wants to call me a “chick”, as he demands that I engage with him. I’ll bet he was expecting me to write something coherent and sensible, too, even though he degraded me by calling me a slang barnyard term for a young woman. It’s crazy! Why should anyone waste the time or energy?

That brings me to some other news that has come out this week. That ten year old Ohio girl who was raped and had to go to Indiana for an abortion resurfaced in the news, after certain right wing pundits theorized that her story was a hoax. And then, Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, was allegedly “outraged” that the girl’s doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, allegedly hadn’t reported the abortion— except she HAD, and the story is absolutely true. See below.

I’ll bet that jerk, Rokita, hasn’t even apologized for his mistake, and decision to smear the good doctor’s name. She did a great compassionate service to a CHILD who was raped, not once, but TWICE! No ten year old is, in any way, prepared to have a baby! But Rokita isn’t about to humble himself. Instead, he’s “gathering evidence” to see if he can still nail Dr. Bernard for doing something that was obviously medically indicated. Guys like Rokita just want to put doctors and nurses in prison, don’t they? Misogyny is still alive and well in our country. I wish there was more empathy and decency!

At least in Ohio, some of the politicians are showing some remorse for their mistakes, having initially cast doubt on the girl’s story. But you know how remorse is, when it comes from a politician. It’s often pretty hollow. And Ohio is a state where a MALE legislator wanted to make properly treating ectopic pregnancies ILLEGAL. He wanted to plug and play non-viable embryos– technology that doesn’t exist. What makes me especially sick is that these dumbasses aren’t even learning from their mistakes. Ohio’s MALE attorney general, Dave Yost, was among those who doubted that a ten year old could get pregnant. Yes, they can, and this is one major reason WHY abortion should be allowed… and frankly, kept PRIVATE. There’s no reason why the whole world should have to know about this girl’s hellish torment, even if she is anonymous (for now). This is something that should have been kept confidential and dealt with by medical personnel, social workers, and law enforcement. It should not be a political football. And for Christ’s sake, she should not have had to go to another state to get an abortion done! Way to prolong and increase her pain, Ohio!

Some people, unbelievably, think that poor baby should have been FORCED to birth— and they have even said they would have “hoped” she would come to understand why birthing her rapist’s baby, when she’s ten years old, is the right thing to do. Naturally, it was a MALE lawyer named Jim Bopp who said that. That shit regularly happens in developing countries, not the United States! And even those countries are reevaluating their draconian positions on abortion.

So, you see, we still have a long way to go… in spite of the great wisdom in Granny’s notes and the great progress she personally witnessed in almost 101 years of living. I truly do wonder what she would think of how things are today. Reversing Roe v Wade has opened a huge Pandora’s Box. I really hope we can get this mess straightened out for the women of the future. But at least I know it won’t affect me personally. I haven’t had a period in about two months. I think very soon, Aunt Flow will finally become a guest from my past. And I thank God for that on so many levels.

In other news… Ivana Trump suddenly died yesterday in what appears to be very suspicious circumstances. It was curiously announced by her most famous ex husband, Trump, who disseminated the news on Truth Social, his very own social media platform. It seems curious that she died so suddenly, weeks before Trump is expected to announce another run at the presidency. But I’m sure the details will come out soon enough. Maybe it’s a coincidence, like Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide was. I know that many idiots will still happily vote for Trump, even though it’s very obvious that he’s a liar, a cheat, and unhinged to the nth degree. I think the people who keep supporting him will eventually find themselves on the wrong side of history. I think if he wins again, it will be a disaster. Hopefully, the saner people in the Republican Party will keep him from running for the Republicans. They already know he can’t be controlled… and I’ll bet he’s paid for MANY abortions.

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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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