About backonmyown

I am a mother, a grandmother and a retired high school teacher. I am also divorced. The beautiful sunset you see in my header photo was taken from the deck of my NC mountaintop home back when I thought I was happily married.

DNA – putting the fun back in dysfunction.

I wrote a few weeks about investigating my ancestry. Since then I’ve garnered some unexpected and interesting circumstances to consider. IMG_0097

In the past two weeks I learned that I have a very close familial DNA connection with someone I never knew existed.

I don’t really understand DNA jargon and numbers and probabilities. I decided I must pay dues and join an ancestry community in order to learn as rapidly as possible. It’s slow going. There’s much to learn and it requires untold hours of my time. I know that DNA is a scientific study and I have great respect for science. It seems to me, though, there are an awful lot of variables. I don’t yet have a grasp of what’s for sure and what’s iffy (for lack of a better term). I think I need help – a tutor maybe?

Here’s the deal – I have a match so close that she almost certainly has to be my sister or my niece. The match is on the paternal side of the family. I imagine you see where I’m going with this. I have one brother (deceased) and a father (deceased). I obviously cannot ask either of them the defining question. The birth mother is not known. Well, she is known by someone. The information is in a sealed record in Raleigh, our state capital. Closed adoptions were common (maybe even the law?) in the 1960s.

It seems unconscionable that my new relative cannot get access to this information. I  suppose the biological mother would have to give consent if she’s still alive. All other parents and possible parents are deceased, including the adoptive parents. My sister/niece is not asking, nor is she expecting, anything from her biological family. She wants to know that she has roots. It’s not too much to ask.

I haven’t met her yet except by telephone, text, and Facebook. She looks like us. She’s seems nice and kind. She’s intelligent. The rest of the family would probably be drawn to her if we were at party. She has a sense of humor – that runs in the family. She has our wide grin. I’ve told her about some of our quirks and familial dysfunction. It didn’t scare her.

We could use you, S, to help put a little fun in our dysfunction. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.

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Nosy Nelly.

photo-38I used to read “Dear Abby” in my daily newspaper. One issue that came up frequently was “How do I answer when a friend or acquaintance asks me a personal question that I don’t wish to answer?”

Abby had a number of possible replies – Why would you ask me that? Why do you want to know? That’s personal. – Or sometimes, when Nosy Nelly is persistent, That’s really none of your business. Or perhaps a gentler version would be Let’s not go there.

Unfortunately, when Nosy Nelly is being her most inquisitive self, there is no gentle version that will deter her. She goes into a rapid-fire mode and makes numerous inappropriate inquiries, causing me to want to throw something at her, like maybe a serious reprimand about how damn nosy she is and how she needs to get a life.

Here’s the thing – the other side of Nelly is a kind, gentle, caring woman who goes out of her way to do for others. She doesn’t call attention to her acts of kindness. I truly believe she would take the shirt off her back and hand to a friend (or a stranger) if she thought they needed it.

The last paragraph doesn’t solve the problem of Nelly’s inquisitiveness, but it makes me pause and reevaluate my relationship with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Neither do I want to spend a lot of time with her. Somewhere there’s a happier balance. I’ll keep pondering. Any suggestions?

Ancestry – What’s in your DNA?

Recently I spit in a test tube and had my DNA examined. I thought it would be interesting to know a little more about my ancestors. I can’t say I learned anything new. Heck! I didn’t even validate what I thought I already knew.

I was not particularly thrilled with the results. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina so, of course, I was hoping for a smidgen of Cherokee. Nowadays I think most North Americans wish for a little Native American. Why is it we pine for a drop of native Continue reading

Be brave. Bloom.

IMG_2026“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin

Almost every day I stumble upon a quote that speaks to me. This one might seem to some my age a bit delayed – even too late. I don’t think so. It’s never too late to bloom.

Helpless and hopeless? Not for long.

pexels-photo-457563.jpegHelpless and hopeless is how I feel after every mass shooting. It takes several days to get a grip, especially when the killing takes place in a school.

School shootings are personal. I am a retired teacher.

As the faces of victims cross my screen, I see eager, bright teenagers on the cusp of adult life. Most are ready to conquer the world, to do good, and they sparkle with life. I know them even though I don’t.

Then I see the faces of teachers and administrators who have sacrificed themselves. I know them too. Most educators I have known would instinctively protect their students from harm. I can visualize the coach down the hall opening his locked door to offer safety to running children. I can easily imagine the young English teacher attending to an injured child or colleague.

It is all so sad and unnecessary, so I lick my wounds briefly and then I start to see fiery-red waves of anger. Anger is good for a time. It can be a good motivator. It almost always pushes me to act.

I see anger red when Paul Ryan appears on the news telling us not to have a knee-jerk reaction. Let me tell you something, Mr. Paul Ryan. If it were your dead child lying in a pool of blood you would change your tune. Please don’t ever say that again.

I see red when Thom Tillis of North Carolina (my state) says he is praying for the families. Take your prayers and shove’em, Mr. Tillis, until you’re ready to give up NRA money and take a stand against the AR-15.

I see red when President #45 addresses the Parkland community, vaguely mentioning mental health, but offering no solutions, thus putting an onus on the students for not monitoring the gunman’s social media activity. It’s nice of you to make an appearance among them, though I imagine you’ll stop by on your way to play golf at Mar-a-Lago. And by the way, how much money has the NRA contributed to your follies?

Here’s the thing, the NRA would like to keep us licking our wounds and wringing our hands. Well, listen up National Rifle Association, that’s not what real Americans do. We see red, we get angry, and we fight for change. We fight to elect citizens who will work to enact responsible gun laws and campaign finance reform. This fight is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s about money. Do you think we don’t know that?

The pendulum is swinging, the clock is ticking, and the NRA assault on America’s children is coming to an end. That’s how democracy works.

Clever insults.

In 2018, I wish…

Image-1I always welcome a new year with hope and good will. I’m trying to continue that tradition this year but I find it extremely difficult to be as optimistic as I’ve been in past years. This is uncharacteristic for me. As a rule, I’m an eternal optimist, not a Pollyanna but I am generally optimistic.

This year, I started to think about the wishes/hopes I have for you and for me in the coming year. Once I got past the traditional love/hope/peace items, I began to realize that everything else on my list related to the disgraceful language, actions, disregard for the common (wo)man that spews daily from the White House and its current resident. And the lies. Never has there been a POTUS who could even think up as many untruths as this one tells daily.

This administration, along with our current Congress, has caused me to cry and rage in shame many times for an entire year. Making the rich richer and the poor poorer is their primary goal. Or maybe it’s destroying the environment by ignoring science. They’ve also done a bang-up job of alienating our allies and causing further rifts between us and our adversaries.

The best I can tell, no world leaders trust our President to do anything constructive. I used to worry a bit about George W damaging our international image. He did do some damage but our current “leader” makes me miss GW. At least George had a kind face and I didn’t gag when I spoke his name.

Even Pope Francis appears to have serious concerns about this President. He doesn’t usually speak his name in his comments, but it’s easy to tell whom he means to address with his concerns. According to Newsweek, the Pope was as unhappy with 2017 as I. He called it a “wasted year of death and lies, harming the environment and humanity as a whole.”

If you’ve read this far, thank you for letting me get this off my chest. Maybe now I can return to my happier self and look forward to another year. I wish you, and all of us, a year of peace and love and good health. And for myself, the ability to recognize that this, too, shall pass. I can’t change much, but I can change how I react to the injustices around me. I can work locally to elect better people in 2018. I’m sure as hell going to hope for a Blue Tsunami in the next elections.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I absolutely mean it.