Sleep It Off

Shower Thoughts@TheWeirdWorld

Sleep is kind of like just lying there pretending to be dead until your body is all like: “Fine, but just a little bit”

10:30 AM · Feb 12, 2020·Twitter Web App 635

The link between lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.” -Mark Walker

HEAT DOME

Hello from the Pacific Northwest one of the hottest places in America…well for three days anyways. Bellingham, where I work, is wayyyy up north, close to the Canadian border. Normally, we experience all four seasons, and temperatures over 85 melt us. Over the next three days the Pacific Northwest will bake under a once-in-a-millennium HEAT DOME. Have you ever heard of a heat dome before? I haven’t. No one has for 1,000 years! Our high temperature today is suppose to be 99, lower than Seattle, Washington’s 104 and our poor southern sister state Portland, Oregon is 107! It’s not the worst that can happen but it is disruptive and dangerous. Nothing to lose sleep over…possibly.

The heat wave baking the U.S. Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada, is of an intensity never recorded by modern humans. By one measure it is more rare than a once in a 1,000 year event — which means that if you could live in this particular spot for 1,000 years, you’d likely only experience a heat dome like this once, if ever.

The core of the heat dome, as measured by the thickness of the air column over British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, is – statistically speaking – equivalent to a 1-in-1,000-year event or even a 1-in-10,000-year event. photo credit CBS news June 29, 2021


June started off HOT! The Bellingham Herald reports June is a record breaking month, “Bellingham’s 66-year-old record high for the month of June (93 degrees set June 9, 1955) fell Saturday, June 6, at Bellingham International Airport topping out at 94 degrees at 2:53 p.m., with a heat index of 99… That may best the nearly 12-year-old record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Bellingham.” Another “poor problem” for our area. I’ll guess that of the 91,000 residence in this city, probably 30-40% have some form of AC. However, I have to ask if every home and apartment had air cooling on, could our power grid take it? Maybe… It’s difficult for folks without air conditioning to get sleep on these hot summer days. People like me.

I’m thinking about sleep today. I’m daydreaming about getting a good nights sleep this month. Mr. Walker points out in the video above that sleep is a “reset” for the brain & body. He goes on to report that sleep deprivation can affect genes associated with both DNA repair and DNA damage.
I love sleeping and napping. These are my favorite forms of meditation. Since 2019 I’ve put on some extra pounds and my sleeping has been interrupted by um…being fat. The mid-section fat, often accumulated during mid-life, and/or for women during perimenopause, has become my personal nemesis. That and I would like to publicly protest the high cost of a good mattress. A good mattress is a principal tool for a good night’s sleep. However, the starting price is plus $600 for a mattress of “good” quality. This is a high amount to pay for minimum-wage earners; in some states it is half their monthly salary. We already know there is a connection between income and longevity of life, but dang! The dots connect themselves.
Don’t give me that “survival of the fittest” crap.
Having the right conditions for sleep can lead to a longer life. Mr. Walker says there is proof lack of sleep is the gateway to EVERY DISEASE—that’s all, just every frickin’ disease.

“Every disease that is killing us in developed nations has causal and significant links to a lack of sleep,” he says. “So that classic maxim that you may [have] heard that you can sleep when you’re dead, it’s actually mortally unwise advice from a very serious standpoint.”

My goal today is to go in to work early, get office stuff finished by 2:00, run home and melt into a puddle of human slush, or something as close to this as possible. I’ll probably be in bed about 10:00pm after the earth cools.
The heat wave ends this evening, this weather system will slowly dissipate. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

NEW TO ME

Last night I attended a monthly poetry open mic on zoom. I discovered a new-to-me poet, Miranda Krogstad who is from Canada. Below is her beautiful poem about love — love in our blood. The DNA saga I documented 2014-2019 captured for me the idea that PEACE is in our DNA and blood. An amazing combination of cultures, history, nations came together to form a living breathing human. The manifestation of LOVE. Miranda expresses it beautifully, as a poet often can. In this video free style dancers interpret her words.

My deep thought today—(inner)Peace and love are powerful weapons to defend ourselves from disease. When we extend peace, patience and love to others they are gifts of LIFE! Please be safe and COOL today.


Live in Compassion & Kindness

“The highest form of knowledge is empathy.” – Bill Bullard

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
– Princess Diana

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato

“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” 
–Jackie Chan

“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.” – Dalai Lama


Sources
https://www.news-medical.net/health/DNA-Damage-Linked-to-Sleep-Deprivation.aspx

https://psychology.berkeley.edu/news/sleep-scientist-warns-against-walking-through-life-underslept-state

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/16/558058812/sleep-scientist-warns-against-walking-through-life-in-an-underslept-state

https://www.mirandakrogstad.com/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/how-much-does-a-mattress-cost

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heat-wave-dome-2021-seattle-portland-weather/

 

Day 305: Tattoo

On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate. Here we are over 300 days later, fatigued, depressed, foggy, frustrated…and now hopeful. Hopeful that the pandemic will end this year, and America can get back to work. The second half of 2020 I began to read the daily “briefings” of American Historian Heather Cox Richardson. Her writings have helped me to place events into a perspective I would not have been able to do so on my own. It’s helped me, might help you, the link is at the bottom of the page.

John Oliver also makes me smile. I like his analogy of last week feeling like a person finishing a marathon, after breaking the ribbon and about to celebrate an official comes up, shakes your hand, and says, “Did you know that one million dogs are euthanized in shelters every day?” Just give us ONE DAY to feel the relief. PLEASE, just one day for those that survived the four year attack on America by Americans, can we have ONE day of hope?

Outside of politics I’ve been thinking about an old friend that passed away a few years ago. Jim joked about being a curmudgeon, but he really was a good-tempered easy-going old guy who had a divine level of dad jokes at the ready. There was an absence of family men in my upbringing. Mostly appeared as unreachable, or two dimensional. Grandpas lived in other states, my father had sleeping fits, and my uncles were loud, swearing, sons of bitches that belched loudly and with great showmanship at the Thanksgiving table upsetting the aunties.
Life has a beautiful way of balancing itself. If you are missing a family relationship, say a sister, parent, or, heck, a whole family, somehow life brings you a family. I do not know how it does it, but it is so welcomed. Jim was welcomed into my life as an adopted grandpa. We met at a poetry open mic. Here is the one photo I have of us, taken at his first book launch.

2015, at Village Books, Fairhaven

He supported my work, greeted me with a smile, asked me what I was up to in my writing world, shared with me what he was marveling at that day. A wonderful gentleman. I believe it would be egotistical of me to think I was special to him because he treated everyone this way. All people and everything about this world were special to him. He passed “into the cosmos” in October 2019. I do not know how much support I gave him, but he helped me more than I was able to ever share or express to him.

My poem “Leaf Tattoo” was one of his favorites. Often when I see a leaf tattoo or now, the little buds of a new leaf on the branches, I am reminded of his kindness. I’m thankful for people like Jim. I’m glad he appeared in my life, and for other “adopted” family that visited, albeit, only for a short time. They are true treasures.

Leaf Tattoo
You can you feel it
In my city
The change of air
as wind folds in
fall’s weather.

Orange leaves appear on
the sidewalks of Holly Street.
No worms to dance them back to soil.

Cement laden, laid on
the roadside in random patterns leave
a tattoo, imprinted on the stone.
Five pointed stars
a tree hand
pressed by feet and rain
bleed orange ink for all to see.

By winter the marks wash away
By spring, bright green babies wave
at us from their mother’s arm
borne back into our memory.

Photo by Sarah Mae, Seattle, WA, on Unsplash

_______________________________________

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

Day 279: Confessions of a Sus

I play Among Us.  My name is “poptart”.  You may wonder why a 52 year old woman would want to play a real-time murder mystery set on a space ship with the prepubescent of our population,  but you’ve no need, I will tell you why I do it.  I’ve entered a very specific time in my life where I gain great satisfaction defeating children in games of deceit and strategy.  Today, however, those raggamuffins booted me out of two games in less than 30 minutes.   Don’t they have better things to do like Google history homework answers or something? I crashed on Pink’s argument that she couldn’t be the killer because “I’m only 8.”  If she’s 8, then I’m 8.  Ridiculous argument!  That pink flower in your hair only makes you more creepy, PINK!

It is 6:30 p.m. as I begin to write and I want it to be 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.  At that time I will have things to do: wake up, catch the days headlines, take a shower, have breakfast, get dressed then go to work.  When I’m at work I’ll have even MORE things to do.  Between now and tomorrow I have TWELVE hours to do something with.  At least 8 hours of that can be used for sleeping.  During COVID I’ve tested my sleeping abilities AKA: time travel.  I can fast forward about 3-5 hours at a time with an elongated blink of an eye …which is really what sleep is, one long blink. Rarely can I make it more than 12 hours in one undisturbed lay-down.  The longest since March is a good, very nice and needed 10 hours in bed.  Sleeping when bored is the highlight and delete of unwanted hours.  The “>>2x” button on your Blueray.  

What the heck will I do for 12 hours?

I started one adult task; reading a self-help book, “The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Newton Verrier. 

The Primal Wound is a book which is revolutionizing the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birth mother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. Since its original publication in 1993, The Primal Wound has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered the adoptees’ bible. The insight which is brought to the experiences of abandonment and loss will contribute not only to the healing of adoptees, adoptive families, and birth parents, but will bring understanding and encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned.

A friend loaned me the book.  We are both adopted children. The book helps you work through the emotional trauma of abandonment all adoptees experience.  She recommends it highly. It will be a tough read.  About 10 minutes in I begin to cry a little. 

The sun set at 4:21pm today.  I should have gone for a walk, but I didn’t. 

Tomorrow will be a better day.

‘effin Pink

DNA Part Seven: End of the Line?

 

 

DNA Part Seven: End of the Line?

OK, I’ll admit it, for the last two years the most I did in my DNA search was to send out four identical, short, thought out letters to the last four known address of my birth mother.  All four were returned “Unknown. Return to Sender.” I began to wonder if I will EVER reach her and started to measure how important it is to me. In 2016, thanks to distant cousins on the Rogers and Rowland side of the family, I attained two complete family trees going back to the 1700s.  The information holds great gems.  Is it enough?

This month—I have an update.  

 

BUT FIRST A RECAP…

As you may remember from previous posts, my birth mother, Joan, attempted to arrange an adoption through a local Church in the last month of the pregnancy.  Something fell through and the arrangement did not take place. Sometime in January 1968 a foster care worker connected “Baby Girl Tames” with the Farnand family, a young Seattle couple who were recently told they were unable to have children.

In 2016, after taking a 23andMe DNA test in 2014, I find three “cousins”: one from the Rogers, one from the Rowland branch and one from (presumably) my Latin blood fathers side.  Two of the cousins are the genealogists of the family. They unload full family trees going back to Wales, England, some photos, stories, and suddenly—an orphan has a history!  I was numb from it all. In a fog for many months, processing the information and delighted to have “people.” However, not all the news was without tragedy.

In part six I discovered that in 1964, outside of Dallas, Texas, four half-siblings were killed in a murder/suicide car fire by my birth mothers estranged husband.  Mom disappears from records and timelines, reappears in Seattle, 1967 to give birth to me, “Baby Girl Tames.”

 

THIS MONTH

So, this month, I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to try calling a phone number for my mother’s oldest sister.  

Auntie picks up.
We talk for 30 minutes.
Auntie tells me Joan had SIX children after having me.

Auntie is in her mid-80’s like my birth mother.  My mother’s sister claims she is unsure if Joan is still living because they haven’t talked in decades, but she believes she may have settled in Florida after marrying a man named Tames or Taméz.  She has little other information about my birth mom, except to say she traveled a lot throughout Central and South America, perhaps to calm herself after losing her family in the 1964 horrific event.

So now I am faced with the concept of not only *possibly* connecting with my birth mom but also SIX half-siblings!  My sense is that my Aunt made up the story to protect her sister.  I am, after all, basically a stranger who calls from out of nowhere asking to connect to my long lost mother. Still, have no way of proving the post-1967 story of my birth mother to be true or not.  At one time I consider hiring a private investigator, then reconsider.  Why chase after someone who has kept herself hidden for 50 years?  Why seek out a family that wants nothing to do with you?

Ancestry.com

Meanwhile, I grow an internet relationship with my Rogers-side cousin.  She has asked me to be added to her tree on Ancestry.com.  That site has a family tree focus.

Did you know Ancestry and the LDS church joined officially in 2013, and now hold the planets largest collection of ancestry data, an estimated 16 billion historical records, and DNA collection, supposedly for the purpose of helping the deceased get into the spirit world?

“Many Mormons do family history not only to learn about their heritage but also to find deceased ancestors who haven’t yet been baptized in the Church, and worthy Church members can then be baptized for these ancestors who have died.

When someone dies, Mormons believe a person’s spirit leaves the body. Performing baptisms for the dead is a chance for Mormons to do for those who are dead what they can’t do for themselves.”

( https://www.mormon.org/blog/why-mormons-do-baptisms-for-the-dead )

Many genealogists, Mormon or otherwise, use this paid site.  I’m not Mormon, however, the resources available at Ancestry are tempting.  I would like to discover more about my blood father’s side. I have agreed to upload my DNA to the site.  With my cousin’s information, we may be able to locate more family members.

 

23andMe

Meanwhile, 23andMe continues to send me email alerts that I have “new relatives” to connect with.  These people are almost all third to fifth cousins, which in my opinion are worthless connections.  I currently share DNA, that’s as much as ONE strand, with 1064 23andMe customers. The site is more about health surveys than creating family trees, although you can create a family tree it’s more informative if you can get other family members to buy the kit and register on the site.  The biggest advantage from my perspective is that you may be able to predict the health and features of future offspring. 

In addition to learning if I have major markers for various types of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and I can also learn if I am prone to sneezing when a beam of sunshine suddenly hits me in the face, known as the Photic Sneeze Reflex.  Genetic research is discovering all sorts of new genes for fringe stuff like:
Newborn Hair Amount
Cleft Chin
Freckles
Earlobe Type
Asparagus Odor Detection
Widow’s Peak
Bitter Taste Perception
Unibrow
Earwax Type

Rutherford B Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States from 1877 to 1881

Since I took the first DNA test in 2014, I’ve learned so much, the mother’s line is British, one branch is Mayflower peeps, via the Francis Cooke line.  On another line, we are related to the Ethan Allan family and the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes. Both lines had large families, and there are many branches, so it is safe to guess I share the connections with thousands of other living relatives.  Also, there is an unprovable rumor that we are related to a King of England. Which king? Unknown. Just “a king of England.”  

In Conclusion…

You know what, I’m just not sure I need to know anymore.  I know I agreed to join Ancestry, but I mean, wow, I think my brain is full.  If a half-sibling reaches out, of course, I’d connect. If my birth mother, whose older sister now has my contact information, calls me, of course, I’d talk to her.  I have much to ask, many things to say. But, right now, today— I’m good.

If I learn nothing more from this point forward, I am satisfied with the information on hand.  I know my heritage, about 200 years of family tree history, some basic health markers. MOST importantly I have my own blood—my two adult children. The TWO people in the WORLD right now who I KNOW I am related to. They are my everything. I love them to the moon and back.  The day they were born, I wondered how difficult it is for any mother to leave her child. Breaks my heart. My adopted father passed away, but I have a healthy relationship with my adopted mother.  My adopted brother and I are also close. I have a small family, but they are people I can hold in my hands.

Do I need to know more?  As my (adopted) Grandmother Mimi use to say, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

 

Poem: Castaway

Rain clouds over Seattle skyline, photo by Christian Bobailla

 

Castaway

by Shannon Laws

 I am a yolk inside an egg
first light backlit behind mother’s skin
Morning glows gently
through her Texas accent

It’s about to rain in Seattle
Clouds dark-gray-pregnant with drops
hover over Yesler Way

Latin guitars labor heel slaps
against slats laid on the café floor,
serenade woodblock prints
balanced by wires against the red wall

Joker behind me gets up
throws something in the basket
It’s Wednesday afternoon
smashed into a ball
wasted

 


I learned I was born on a Wednesday. Such a quiet day to be abandoned, laid like an egg in a forest-floor nest, placed there for fate to guard but the world to devour.

#

DNA Part Six: The Good and Bad News

wordcloud
A tree shaped word cloud using known Rowland / Rogers family names

Good and Bad News to Report.  First the Good News:

I can’t believe it’s been over a year and a half since I have written about my DNA journey.  What a long quiet year 2015 was on the DNA front.  So many months have gone by with no new leads.  It was a tough year and full of distractions.  My temp work had me bouncing around between five different jobs.  However, I gained new skills and met some interesting people along the way, so no complaints.

Then, in April, 2016, I received this message from Sandra:

I uploaded my information into gedmatch.com and you were the first person on my list.  I wanted to contact you because I was wondering how you fit into my family.

 I’m not looking for anything from you.  I was just curious as to how we’re related.  I’m always fascinated finding new family.

Turns out Sandra is my mother’s cousin AND she is the genealogist in the family!  She sends me my mothers family tree.  For the first time in my life, I have a blood family tree, names, history and stories. It is overwhelming.  I’m in a fog for weeks.  Stunned actually.

Then, in June, this little gem shows up from David:

fyi, have put dna in GEDmatch and your dna in that database  has highest match to ours.
Our ancestry lived mostly in Ohio in the 1800’s.

David and I exchange trees.  We compare dates and names

Great
That is a match
You grandfather our uncle, Byron Rowland, brother of my mom, Gayle Rowland.

No wonder we are such a close match
Have much on Rowland ancestry

Music to my ears! If that wasn’t enough David sends me his family findings, a hundred page document that includes more names, more dates about the Rowland’s …and this note:

attached is tree for our mom, Gayle Rowland
It is same for Byron Rowland
Rowland’s were from Wales
Also, you are a Mayflower descendant

mayflower 2
On November 9th ,1620, the Mayflower’s crew sighted Cape Cod

Confused yet? The simple version is that David and Sandra share the same great grandparents, the parents of Gayle and Byron.  David descends from their daughter (Gayle) and Sandra from the brother (Byron). Sandra is my first cousin once removed and David is my second cousin.

There are so many families using DNA sites now. 23andMe lists over 1000 relatives for me, even though I only share one chromosome with most.  Sandra and David, as distant as we three are on the tree, score head and shoulders above the fray. I am thankful for these two diligent genealogists.

 

THE HORRIBLE BAD NEWS

Sandra sent the newspaper article with the headline

“Flames in Locked Auto Held Cause of 5 Deaths”
from the Castroville, Texas, Wednesday,
22 Jul 1964 issue of the Dallas Morning News.

My mother married a Captain who served in World War II.  They had five children.  After the death of their youngest son, my mother, Joan, wrote her husband a letter that she was taking the kids and leaving him.  He moved out and went to live with his parents in a nearby town.

Then, one day, perhaps when Joan was at an appointment, he loaded my four half brothers, and sisters, ages two to ten, into the car.  He put them to sleep with exhaust fumes by connecting a hose from the car muffler to a window, then poured gasoline over the car and lit a match.  Here is what the article reports:

“Justice of the Peace C. O. Williams of Devine said his verdict of “murder and suicide” was based on the physical evidence investigators had uncovered.

   The evidence, he said, included a letter Loessberg had written to his estranged wife in San Antonio and mailed shortly before driving to the pasture.

   Medina County Sheriff Charles Hitzfelder quoted the brief, handwritten note as saying: “You have only yourself to care for now.”

   Hitzfelder said the car may have been doused with an inflammable fluid.  The engine’s air cleaner was off the carburetor.

   A rancher and three youths who had been rabbit hunting in the area discovered the burning auto.  When found, the vehicle was upright, but had crashed through a fence and sideswiped two trees.”

The Rowland family was in total discord over the horrific murder-suicide.  It was 1964, perhaps they blamed Joan?  She ran to Seattle to live with a distant Aunt.

We know she married again.  She gave birth to me at Harborview Hospital, then, disappeared.  Perhaps, I am her only living descendant?

 

STILL, SO MANY QUESTIONS

Did her husband know about me?  Is she still alive?  It is possible that she is alive, in her 80’s.  I have all the information I need to find her address, find the marriage certificate, to find her phone number and call her.  I haven’t done any of that.  I just can’t get myself to do anything.

How could she…

What if…

It would hurt…

It could hurt.

It could also heal.

 


 

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2015/01/26/dna-part-five-how-do-you-identify/

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2014/12/20/dna-part-four-spice/

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2014/11/28/dna-part-three/

DNA Part Five: How Do You Identify?

This morning I’m reviewing my results from 23andMe.  I’m feeling frustrated and exhausted. Starting to wonder if I am an alien baby thrown from a space ship as it was circling the sun.  The results came back on Thanksgiving 2014, but the closest relative located is a third cousin; we have four segments in common and potentially share the same great-great grandparent.  Do I get a C- in DNA testing results?

dna-shared-between-relatives

I found a list of “Famous Adoptees” (see bottom of page).  It is comforting to know I am not the only one looking for family.  My mood is changing regarding this search.  Anticipating drama, I’m thinking it might be better to withdraw.

My haplogroup is U5a1a1, found primarily in modern day Ireland.  They are a pretty quiet group on the post boards. “Hi everyone! I’m also a U5a1a1.  My family’s primarily from Ireland.”—out. To connect and share stories with my third, fourth, fifth cousins requires family names to share and compare.

Good News

A DNA blogger recommended a site call GEDmatch.  A handy benefit of 23andMe is that the results can be downloaded and added to other DNA sites like GEDMatch.  Another close cousin was found using this public site.  He is a genealogy buff living in Brazil of Jewish/Brazilian descent.  He sent me the proof of our cousin-hood in this format:

Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 700 SNPs
Mismatch-bunching Limit = 350 SNPs
Minimum segment cM to be included in total = 7.0 cM

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
9 4564022 13535786 17.0 2509

Largest segment = 17.0 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 17.0 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.9

 His findings came with a warm note, “this is wonderful, we felt embraced by you dear cousin!” It is encouraging to connect with him, with anyone, honestly.

Here is how two sets of DNA look using a visual comparison option from GEDMatch.  Each bar is one of my strands atop another participant.  Color means a match, black is no match. Imagine each bar like a hair comb with “teeth”, solid horizontal color equals 100% match for that section, or “tooth”, and so on.  This graph compares our ancestral connections.

DNA M070444_M533447_E9A186
GEDMatch

How Do You Identify?

I’m going to take a leap here and say that the “race” question is irrelevant.  In my home I was raised by second and third generation German/Swedish and Irish/French parents.  However, my test shows no German, Sweden or French in my DNA.  My mother’s mid-western cooking, dinner at the table, and Lutheran ethics influenced me more than anything.  So what am I?  Here is what I believe TFN: Family culture, the style in which children are nurtured, forms our cultural identities.

10-gates-450
Henry Louis Gates Jr is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is also an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder.

I’ve been watching the PBS program “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr.  Many of the African-American guests discover a surprisingly large amount of European ancestry.  Gates himself discovers that he is 50% European!  He shares that he was raised in a typical African-American home.  He doesn’t “feel” Northern European.  So is he?  Only he can answer that.

FAMOUS ADOPTEES

Here is a list I found of well known people who are also adopted:

Kate Adie (journalist)

Edward Albee (playwright)

Maya Angelou (poet and author)

John J. Audubon (naturalist)

Michael Bay (director)

Tallulah Bankhead (actress)

Layne Beachley (surfer)

Lynda Bellingham (actress)

Ingrid Bergman (actress)

Andy Berlin (co-founder of ad agency Berlin Camerson & Partners)

James Best (actor)

Les Brown (motivational speaker)

Surya Bonaly (professional skater)

Richard Burton (actor)

Senator Robert Byrd

Augustus Caesar (emporer of Rome)

Truman Capote (author)

Harry Caray (baseball broadcaster)

Peter Carruthers (professional skater)

Kitty Carruthers (professional skater)

Kristin Chenoweth (actress)

Eric Clapton (singer)

President Bill Clinton

Lynette Cole (Miss USA 2000)

Nat King Cole (singer)

Gary Coleman (actor)

Daunte Culpepper (professional football)

Rachel Crow (X Factor contestant)

Faith Daniels (TV news personality)

Ted Danson (actor, adopted child and adoptive father)

Tommy Davidson (comedian)

Toby Dawson (professional skier)

Eric Dickerson (professional football)

Bo Diddley (musician)

Carl Theodore Dreyer (filmmaker)

Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle)

Clarissa Pinkola Estes (poet)

President Gerald Ford

Jamie Foxx (singer, actor)

Scott Fujita (professional football)

Tim Green (professional football)

Jonathon Gilbert (actor)

Melissa Gilbert (actress)

Newt Gingrich (politician)

Faith Hill (singer)

Scott Hamilton (professional skater)

John Hancock (U.S. Founding Father)

Debbie Harry (singer)

Reese Hoffa (Olympic shot putter)

Jesse Jackson (politician)

Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)

Eartha Kitt (singer, actress)

Matthew Laborteaux (actor)

Patrick Laborteaux (actor)

John Lennon (singer)

Representative Jim Lightfoot

Allan “apl.de.ap” Pineda Lindo, jr. (singer, member of Black Eyed Peas)

Art Linkletter (TV personality)

Ray Liotta (actor)

Charlotte Lopez (actress and Miss Teen USA 1993)

Greg Louganis (Olympic Gold Medal Diver)

Malcolm X (human rights activist)

Lee Majors (actor)

Nelson Mandela (human rights activist)

Nimmy March (actress)

James MacArthur (actor)

Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels (musician)

Frances McDormand (actress)

Tim McGraw (singer)

Sarah McLachlan (singer)

James Michener (author)

Tom Monaghan (founder of Domino’s Pizza, owner of Detroit Tigers)

Lucy Maud Montgomery (author)

Marilyn Monroe (actress)

Moses (biblical leader)

Mother Teresa (humanitarian)

Alonzo Mourning (professional basketball)

Dan O’Brien (Olympic gold medalist, decathalon)

Hugh O’Connor (actor)

Michael Oher (professional football, story inspired The Blind Side)

Jim Palmer (professional baseball)

Aaron Parchem (Olympic figure skater)

Lorraine Pascale (model, author and chef)

Dana Plato (actress)

Edgar Allen Poe (author)

Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi (TV personality)

Priscilla Presley (actress)

Michael Reagan (President Reagan’s son)

First Lady Nancy Reagan

Nicole Richie (TV personality)

Wilson Riles (educator)

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Victoria Rowell (actress)

Buffy Sainte-Marie (singer)

Paull Shin (state senator)

Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s, children’s advocate)

Leo Tolstoy (author)

Dr. Ruth Westheimer (media personality, sex therapist)

Mayor Anthony Williams (Washington, D.C. politician)

Jett Williams (singer)

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DNA Part Four: Spice

Spice

I recently moved.  I noticed while cooking the other day that I gave up a spice advantage.  The “community” spice rack had all sorts of wonderful grounded herbal ingredients.  One of my favorites is smoked paprika.  My current meager collection is about 6 things: two kinds of salt, a black pepper grinder, curry and… well four items (you can’t count chicken stock as a spice).  Spice is expensive.  It will take a while to build up my own rack.

dune_cat_spice_must_flow-475x267
A quote from “Dune”, a 1965 epic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert

Food would be bland without some spice.  This is also true with DNA.  Looking at my genetic make up, although the majority tracers are 85.9% European, I like seeing the “dashes” of Italian, Iberian, West African, and Native American; it’s the spice in my DNA.

It’s been almost a month since I received the results from my 23andMe DNA test.  (see DNA: part three)  I’m working the social aspects of the site to find any relatives closer than 4th cousin.

I may have found a 2nd, but the person responded to my story with “Let’s continue cautiously”.  They have two female cousins that MAY have moved to the Pacific Northwest and “married Anglos” around the time I was born.  The adoption label has a shock value that works both ways.  I am once again reminded of the taboo label attached to me since before birth.  A child that is a living reminder of a moment someone wanted to forget. Despite an unknown reason for my origin, I am an advocate for adoption over abortion.  I’d like to think somehow my  life has a needed affect on this pool table of a planet that rides on the back of a tortoise.

tumblr_mnv0gggejr1qmsrmwo1_500

CUBA is now open

It’s been an especially encouraging week regarding CUBA, position #1 for my Country of Ancestry above the United Kingdom, #2!

President Obama will move as soon as next month to defang the 54-year-old American trade embargo against Cuba, administration officials said Thursday, using broad executive power to defy critics in Congress and lift restrictions on travel, commerce and financial activities.”  

-New York Times, December 19, 2014 

It’s almost as if Cuba is calling me.  If this is true, soon I will be able to visit it.

 % of Cavewoman

The test also shares how much Neanderthal you have.  That’s right, the closest evolutionary relative of modern humans. The first Neanderthals arrived in Europe as early as 600,000 to 350,000 years ago.  They lived along side modern humans for thousands of years. Genetic evidence suggest that they interbred and although Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 years ago, traces of their DNA — between 1 percent and 4 percent — are found in all modern humans outside of Africa.  The average European has 2.7%, I have 2.6%.

2 6 neanderthal
I am the 2.6%!

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I am 2.6% Neanderthal.  While I contemplated what that means I notice a t-shirt is available for purchase, readily available with my percentage on it.  Talk about a conversation starter.  While wearing it perhaps I’ll walk around and use the word “Cronk!” for every word, and smash stuff.  “It’s OK I’m just letting my inner Neanderthal out”

Article credit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/us/politics/obama-intends-to-lift-several-restrictions-against-cuba-on-his-own.html?_r=0

DNA Part Three: The Test Is In

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The Test is In

So today, the day after Thanksgiving, I receive the results from my DNA test with 23andMe.  Logging in I went straight to the “My Results” tab.  My hands were shaking a bit.  I wondered if there would be an immediate DNA match, perhaps 6-12%  or more, with another person on file.  I hoped for maybe an Aunt, Uncle, Cousin.

Right in the middle of the page is a color coded circle with the map of the world in the center.  In the right column is the “Ancestry Composition” listed by percentage .  Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. This analysis includes DNA you received from all of your recent ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived before the widespread migrations of the past few hundred years.

Here are my results: Haplogroup U5a1a1

85.9% European (45% Northern, 33% Southern, includes 12% Iberian)

8.3% Sub-Saharan African (7.3% of it is West African)

5% East Asian and Native American 

.8% Unassigned (probably mole people)

Publication1

(The report breaks the findings out in more detail, for example 1.4% of the European is Italian DNA, but I just included the BIG numbers here.  How glorious to see so many regions represented.  It’s my DNA and I love it!)

You get a little history about your haplogroup.  The U5 group is one of the oldest haplogroups in Europe.  Genetic tests indicate it probably arose when modern humans first moved into western Eurasia from the Near East about 40,000 years ago.

The top five countries I share DNA with, my Countries of Ancestry, are Cuba, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and Spain, in that order.  That’s one hot dish of fish n’ chip! (as in put some salsa on those chips!)

The closest match at this time is a person I share only 0.79% DNA across four segments.  This means we are genetically 3rd, 4th or 5th cousins.  However, there are over 960 “DNA Relatives”, people that share at least ONE segment with me. The more people I meet and connect with through the social network side of the site, the better my chances of finding a closer match, so stay tuned.  Just finding one REAL relative would be amazing.

TOOLS

The coolest tool I have uncovered so far, and there are many tools, is the DNA Melody.  What a feeling to have my DNA turned into a short little song!  Talk about music in your blood.  I shivered the first time I heard it.  I had to play it over and over.  You can listen to the song played by a “piano”, “guitar” or a “dulcimer”. Those instruments I selected with respect to my DNA origins.

How they do it: 23andMe lab looks at several components of your DNA and crafts a unique melody based on your genotype.  Key is determined by maternal haplogroup, Rhythm by the genes that control eye color and height, Pitch by the crazy genes for ear wax and photic sneeze response. (sneeze response!?)

Please visit my SoudCloud account to hear them.  Just click on the links to listen.

Click to listen:  

DNA Melody by Piano 

DNA Melody by Dulcimer

DNA Melody by Classic Guitar

This story is just starting.

DNA Part Two: The Waiting

The-Family-Tree
Family Tree. Artwork by Pauline Murphy

Part Two
The Waiting

I’m getting close to the day.  The day my 23andMe DNA test will return and I’ll know my genetic heritage.  I’ve decided to  share the results with my two children first, then my mom and brother, (my father has passed).  Then share it here.  The story will not end with the results.  The social media aspect of 23andMe may potentially link-up the results with relatives.  As I stated before it might be boring or a big mess of family drama—let me share my mess with you.

Honestly, a social DNA site freaks me out a little.  I used my real name for processing, but a fake one for the profile.  My personal photo is a bunch of flowers.  I am chicken.  Cautious.  Nervous.  Feeling the need to protect myself, and yet I have to look, I must take a peak into this unknown.

ADOPTED FAMILY TREE

Here is what I know.  My adopted parents are mainly of Irish and German decent.  My mother and her siblings were the first generation born in America, my father was his families third.  I was raised by a working class family in the suburbs south of Seattle, on the wooded plateau of Federal Way.

Around 2009 I got the bug to research the family tree.  My dad’s Irish side was a bit beat up from divorce, my grandmothers five husbands and the generational condition of not talking about the ass holes in the family.  (Would have been nice if they would of at least saved their name and date of birth.)   Mom’s side ended with her great-grandparents, the parents of the ones who made the boat trip over.  She knew it all from memory, with the help from a few notes.  That tree is a nice big full tree, with many children.  However, I couldn’t go past 1880.  Using European genealogy sites is expensive, so I stopped there.

TartansMacLaren
The MacLaren Tartans, photo credit: Clan MacLaren Society of North America

I married into the Laws family.  While researching their tree, I learned they have a long stake in America.  The first, James Laws, came over from England, landing in Massachusetts in the early 1700’s.  There was a split of some kind in the family. Many stayed in the Carolinas while others, my ex-husbands side,  went to Chicago, then Kansas, then California. Prior to England, I could only guess that Laws was a corruption of “Lawrence” a possible connection to Scotland’s MacLaren Clan.

146_MacLaren
The MacLaren Badge

After contacting the North American chapter they confirmed the surname connection.  We joined the clan immediately.  It was exciting to learn about tartans, badges and read about the fighting history of the MacLaren.  We took the kids to the Highland games in Tucson, found the MacLaren booth and told the kids, “These are your people.”  Later we visited the popular Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace.  It felt like “place”.  A virtual family I am happy to be a part of, even if by marriage.  It is an identified part of my children’s heritage and I celebrate their lives as any mother would.

 WHAT IF

What if my DNA reveals something unexpected?  Of course it will.  Do you remember on the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are” when guest Spike Lee learns he is not 100% African?*  Blood has no boarders.  Do the boxes we check on a form define who we are in society?

Here’s another gem, this one from a usaid.gov job application:

“Ethnicity and race information is requested under the authority of 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-16 and in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget’s 1997 Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Providing this information is voluntary and has no impact on your employment status, but in the instance of missing information, your employing agency will attempt to identify your race and ethnicity by visual observation.”

“Visual observation”―What the hell does that mean?

Lets play a game.  Can you guess Keanu Reeves nationality just by looking?  Here’s a photo of the famous actor:

keanu
Keanu Reeves

He was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an English mom and an American father.  His father was born in Hawaii, of British, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and Chinese ancestry.  You only get to know that information when you get to know Keanu and he shares it with you (or you look him up on IMDB).

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Nature and Nurture

My DNA test talks to the very old debate of nature verse nurture.  How much of what and who we are is dependent on our upbringing, and genetic makeup.

nature-nuture
photo: Simply Psychology

Saul McLeod writing for Simply Psychology has this to say:

“In practice hardly anyone today accepts either of the extreme positions.  There are simply too many “facts” on both sides of the argument which are inconsistent with an “all or nothing” view.  So instead of asking whether child development is down to nature or nurture the question has been reformulated as “How much?”  That is to say, given that heredity and environment both influence the person we become, which is the more important?”

If you are interested in this discussion, please visit the site (see link below).  It is full of intriguing arguments, especially about temperament and the “genius” gene.  To much information to share here.

Washington Adoptees Rights Movement (WARM) was my first point of contact for information regarding my birth family.  The site also included reunited stories.  Some good, some not so good.  One reunion I remember was about a daughter and her father that discover they had same mannerisms.  They combed their fingers through their hair the same way and liked the same type of food.  Makes me curious if mannerisms are genetic.

I am wondering what it will be like to meet any member from my birth family.  I wonder if we have the same eyes, smile, and laugh.  I wonder if any play the piano, sing or write.  My mind is full of wonder.  Questions my heart asks, the words go out into the universe like an echo, returning empty.

In part three of my series I will tackle race and religion.

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Part One here: https://shannonplawswriter.com/2014/11/12/23me-it-begins/

Work Cited

McLeod, Saul. “Nature Nurture in Psychology | Simply Psychology.” Nature Nurture in Psychology | Simply Psychology. Simply Psychology, 2007. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.

http://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html

MacLaren Clan of North America:  http://www.clanmaclarenna.org/

To learn more about the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace visit:  http://www.royalfaires.com/arizona/

*http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2010/04/30/wdytya-spike-lee/