Ancestry and Alcohol

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve become borderline obsessed with genealogy. When I’m not at work, I’m drinking beer and doing yoga/pilates or drinking beer and working on my family tree. In case you didn’t know, consuming alcohol and engaging in physical exercise go together like peanut butter and jelly. The genealogy is kind of like the ice cream reward at the end.

So in the midst of this Mayflower drama, I have learned some things:

  • If you are unable to find what you need at the state level, contact the county. There are many counties with historical records which predate those kept on file at the state level. If you’re searching in New York, be aware of County Historians and don’t be shy about contacting them. Even if they won’t do the search for you, they can at least tell you where to look or suggest a paid researcher.
  • Historical societies vary greatly by location. Some cover too much area and are too overwhelmed to help you with searching. Others have volunteer researchers who will go to the courthouse for you and dig up your records for a nominal fee. I just had one in Pennsylvania find a missing link death certificate for me that includes 8 pages of information for a whopping $17.40. That’s cheaper than ordering an official document from Kansas through VitalChek.
  • You might have to send letters and mail checks like it’s 1985. Calm down; You’ll survive.
  • History doesn’t happen in a straight line. My family tree keeps circling back on itself. I have to figure out how to make Ancestry understand my third great-uncle is also my third great-grandfather. Same guy. Small gene pool. Work with me here.
  • History is a whole lot more real when you’re looking at it in the context of your family. Yesterday, I worked on a second cousin thrice removed who worked for the Department of the Treasury in the years leading up to World War I. Those were some interesting times for the US economy. I have a bunch of cousins who are buried at Arlington. With 2,500 people in my family tree (and counting), I intend to rediscover who they were and visit at least some of them while I’m in DC this summer.

My brain feels like I worked all weekend, mainly because I did. I’m tired, confused, frustrated, and utterly addicted. In a couple weeks, I will be hanging out with a few thousand lunatics just like me and can hardly wait.

How Do Grown-ups Make Friends?

Serious question: How do qrown-ups make friends? Captain Obvious would probably tell me not being such a raging bitch would be a good start. Okay, point taken. But then what?

As children, we made friends at school or in the neighborhood. Or at grandma’s house. Or at McDonald’s. We didn’t fucking care; we were kids! In college, we made friends in the dorms or commiserating over the greasy cafeteria pizza. Maybe we made fun of the douche canoes at the frat parties someone thought would be a good idea. Maybe we had some lame retail job and all went out and got shitfaced together afterward. I even remember dozens of faces from the bars in Wichita that I saw every week but couldn’t tell you one of their names. It didn’t matter.

When we entered the real workforce, we made friends there. I was introduced to my ex-husband by one of those people. Never mind that she turned out to be a scandalous whore who got an Airman Basic kicked out of the Air Force for adultery and her husband had to be recalled from Turkey to get her ass under control. I worked at larger companies in my twenties so it was easy to find people with common interests even when I got divorced. I had people to do things with in a strange city and really didn’t give it much thought.

But then I didn’t remarry. And I didn’t have kids. And I started working for smaller companies. And then I moved to the desert. Oh shit. Now what?

Don’t say church. I tried that in Kansas and felt like I was being pounced on and interrogated before I could even get inside the door.

Don’t say the dog park. Have you even been to a dog park lately? Those people are awful! Dog moms are just as bad as soccer moms. I hate dogs parks. My dogs hate dog parks.

Don’t say in the neighborhood. No. The last thing I want is someone ringing my doorbell unannounced and uninvited. I don’t like people knowing where I live. I especially don’t like people thinking they can just…come over.

The hair salon? The coffee shop? At yoga?

You know what? Forget it. I have dogs.

Mayflower Whac-a-Mole

I’ve had some dumb ideas in my life but this one is extra special. In case you’ve been busy living your life, you should just be aware that next year is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing in Plymouth. Once I learned that three of my 11th great-grandfathers were passengers, I decided there must be a society for that.

Spoiler alert: There is, in fact, a society for that. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants exists (from what I can tell) to prevent legitimate descendants from joining their ultra-exclusive club. To say their documentation requirements are stringent is quite possibly the understatement of the year.

I thought I chose the easiest of the three lines to document for membership. I’m still not sure if that is correct but it seemed pretty straightforward at the time. I have found official records to support each generation but in some cases, they aren’t the right official records. I mean, I may have proven a connection to a [First and Last Name] but I haven’t proven that person is my [First and Last Name].

What makes this even more difficult is this particular line wasn’t full of Quakers. Those of you with Quaker ancestors know where I’m going with this. They documented EVERYTHING. I have tons of meeting records showing when my people finally got tired of the rule requiring them to marry within the church and decided to bounce. Quaker meeting records are amazing.

So I have established a committed relationship with VitalChek and they now know more about me than Amazon and Google combined. I’m getting pretty good at remembering which states began keeping official vital statistics records in which years. (You’re KILLING ME, New York.) When I got home from work yesterday, I was all excited that I received two more death certificates in the mail. Dear God, what is happening to me?

But here’s the problem: Every time I send them one certificate, they ask for two more. Every answer raises five more questions or life choices which must be documented. I don’t care how many times my 5th great-grandfather remarried after being widowed. But they care. Deeply. And they’re driving me to drink. Heavily. I don’t know why I can’t just send them my raw DNA data and let them figure it out.

I seriously don’t know if I will be able to have an active membership prior to September of 2020 but I’m going to Plymouth anyway. Mayflower II will be in port and I will spend all of the dollars to be part of that celebration. This is what getting old looks like.

Not Gonna Do It

How do people write when they don’t feel like it? I remember watching Carrie Bradshaw sit in front of her computer with the cursor blinking on a blank document and that feels like my entire life. Am I too sober?

I’m planning a trip to DC that requires a particular wardrobe so I’m stressing out over every detail. I’ve been mass-murdering yellow jackets that insist upon attaching themselves to my house. And my eyebrows are not growing out in an attractive manner. I’m not interesting and I’m not particularly creative. I can’t even talk myself into writing reviews on Influenster.

Zero inspiration. None.

I adore Yashar Ali. You guys know him, right? I follow Yashar on Twitter and Instagram and the man ALWAYS has something to say. I mean his food takes are fucking terrible but other than that, he’s an absolute gem. But how the hell does he always have something to say? I’m amazed by the prolific tweeters. I think I follow under 200 accounts on my main Twitter and I spend most of my time just absorbing everything. How do you even formulate an opinion on all of the shit that flies across your timeline? I’m having an A+ day if I can manage to retweet a few lost and found dogs in Tucson.

I have the same problem with Instagram. Being a thirsty bitch is a lot of fucking work. I don’t think I’m cut out for it. It’s like when I tell women to never chase a man. I think we should probably also never chase clicks and likes. It seems unhealthy. And yet, here we are.

So a clever and well-thought-out post isn’t happening today, friends.

The Lost Weekend

Years ago, I asked my grandmother to describe the personality of an uncle who was a trombone soloist for Arthur Pryor. His exploits were somewhat legendary but I was interested in who he was as a person. She suggested I watch The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland and Jane Wyman to really know what he was like. I doubt she intended it to serve as an instruction manual but I have a long history of learning the wrong lessons.

I wasn’t okay on Friday. I don’t know why and frankly, I don’t think there needs to be a why. I felt like I needed to unplug. The human race had disappointed me and my plan to recover involved two days of whiskey and skincare. No working on my family tree, no going out in public, and possibly turning my phone off for the entire weekend. I just wanted to stay home and watch Season 2 of The OA on Netflix. If it sounds stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.

So rather than telling myself to suck it up, I leaned in to the suck and a funny thing happened. After consuming precisely four ounces of Jameson Friday night (counting calories!), I woke up Saturday morning with a different agenda. I drank half a pot of espresso and did some yoga. I brushed the dogs and did some pilates. I drank precisely two beers (still counting calories!) and did some light lifting. Skincare products were applied. And yes, I watched a few episodes of The OA. That was weird.

Sometimes adult decisions sneak up on us when we’re not paying attention. I worked out again on Sunday. I cleaned my kitchen and both bathrooms. I cleaned out my Jeep and even put leather conditioner on the seats. More skincare products were applied. And I consumed two more beers (always counting calories!) as a reward for picking up after the dogs in the backyard.

I went into the weekend fully intending to be a self-destructive, self-pitying mess. I came out with a clean-ish house and no dietary regrets. My therapist is constantly saying “notice that” whenever I have a feeling. So I did. I noticed I had too many projects going at once and I took a break. There are some things I have been trying to force and I stopped trying, at least for the moment. And I saved my liver from impending doom…at least until the next bad day.

Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

So here’s what happened: After work last Friday, I stopped at the grocery store and spent $140 on beer & Lean Cuisine. Actually, it was worse than that. Half of the frozen meals I bought were store brand.

After I got home and stuffed all of the boxes in my freezer, I opened a beer and called my mom. I walked out to the patio to enjoy some Arizona sunshine and noticed a dead lizard on the artificial turf. My dogs have a long and storied history of murdering lizards so this was not altogether surprising.

As I was talking to my mom, I grabbed the poop scooper to dispose of the lizard carcass. I distinctly recall turning off my phone screen when she answered but somehow, holding my phone with my shoulder and jaw caused it to initiate another call to an unfortunate number. I could no longer hear my mom talking so I put down the poop scooper and saw my phone was dialing the number of a guy I used to…ummm…”date” several years ago. I panicked and hung up on both of them. He called me right back and I declined the call so I could talk to my mom.

About an hour later, I texted him to apologize for my shitty multitasking skills. If that had happened circa 2014, I would have been immediately pressured into allowing him to visit for a long weekend. The last time he visited me, I smelled the whiskey pouring off him from more than 10 feet away when I picked him up at the airport. We spent a weekend in Vail once that was just exhausting. At one point, we ended up driving to Breckenridge to have lunch with an old friend of his and it was quickly apparent that they were all used to the transient ski bum lifestyle.

I understood within five minutes of meeting him why his ex-wife had divorced him. It’s not that he’s a bad person; I just don’t have the ability to roll like that. I don’t have the ability to just decide I’m going to live in a different country for the next year. For hell’s sake, I spent a year and a half talking myself into buying a new vehicle. I’m not wired to allow people to fly in and out of my life at a moment’s notice. His background and income level were attractive to me (in addition to the physical attraction) but his frenetic lifestyle was not. He finally understood that about me and stopped asking.

Boundaries, people. They exist for a reason. Set them and enforce them. Everything about your life will improve.

Patchwork of Crazy

I just have so many thoughts right now that I don’t even know what to say. There are just so many things right now. All of the things. And most of them will not be shared here.

Have you guys been on Hinge? It seems kind of extra. And I feel like their algorithm may be broken. Like, how could they think I would possibly hit that? Multiply that by about a thousand and that has been my experience. I had to make age a deal breaker because I was getting boys in their 20s all in my Likes; children really. I may be old but I guess I still have options.

Then I have an ex sliding into my DMs like…

Photo by Lukasz Dziegel on

…and I literally cannot even. Just no. I mean maybe. But no.

Yesterday morning, I had a dream that I designed a pair of Louis Vuitton boots. UGLY Louis Vuitton boots (which would obviously never happen in real life). They were a patchwork of the OG LV monogram and the new styles with the metal LV embellishment in kind of a Wellington style. Hideous! Forget the websites that tell you what it means if you dream about X. It means LV has been blowing up my Insta with some new styles and maybe I’m a little conflicted about them.

Last night, I spent hours searching old newspapers to figure out why one of my 2nd great-grandfathers died in an insane asylum and the answer was much sadder and more mundane than I expected. He had a heatstroke incident that caused brain damage. That’s it. He was only about 26 years old, had just built a nice new house, acquired a new milk wagon, had a wife and kids, and BLAM. He was institutionalized for the rest of his life.

I’ve begun the General Society of Mayflower Descendants application process. The first seven generations have already been proven so I just have to link up to the middle. This is a priority for me right now because I need to have my membership squared away for 2020, which will be the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing. My plan is to go to Massachusetts next year for the celebrations so I can party like it’s 1620. Just kidding. If I tried to do that, I would 100% be executed for witchcraft.

Also, I’m dress shopping for DAR’s Continental Congress in DC this summer. Do you know how difficult it is to shop for floor length gowns when you’re 61 inches tall? Most of these dresses are at least 61 inches long. Can you imagine me telling a seamstress she needs to cut off a foot of fabric? Don’t even get me started on the white gloves. I know my grandmother tried to teach me some manners but it obviously didn’t take.

It has just been a whole basketful of crazy lately. Mercury is supposed to be in retrograde until today so let’s put away the clown car and stuff the crazy back in the box.

Showers with Spiders

I generally have nothing against spiders. Unless we’re talking about the dangerous varieties, I am fine with gently relocating them outdoors where they belong so they can get on with their lives. Anyone who has done this, however, knows it can be a time consuming endeavor. It apparently isn’t their nature to be cooperative.

The first spider I saw in my master bathroom this morning was up high on the wall above the shower. I don’t wake up early enough to deal with these types of things before work so I decided it would just have to stay there for three reasons:

  1. It wasn’t moving.
  2. I’m a borderline midget.
  3. I wasn’t messing with a step stool before coffee.

I saw the second spider at eye-level on a different wall while brushing teeth. I considered letting it go but it was behaving erratically so I killed and flushed it. I couldn’t risk the two of them channeling their inner coyotes and circling me for the kill. It was self-defense.

I decided to be brave and just keep an eye on the shower spider because I really did have to get ready for work. Once I entered the shower, he tried to go to the ceiling but was dangling from one leg like he was playing Die Hard and not very well, I might add. He returned to the wall and kept losing his step. I wondered if he was injured and our inevitable confrontation would be a mercy killing.

I barely took my eyes off him and then he disappeared before my very eyes. I checked my hair but felt nothing unusual and thought he ended up on the ledge at the top of the shower surround. I finally saw him on the shelf by my hair mask. He then moved to the shower wall and began moving toward me.

At this point, I was washing my hair and ended up with shampoo in my eye because I couldn’t very well stop watching the little bastard. He backtracked and then fell onto the floor of the shower. I quickly rinsed off and decided I would dry off, grab some toilet paper, and end this little dance. Unfortunately, I pulled the towel bar off the wall and it came crashing onto the floor of my shower. So then I had a spider and a towel bar keeping me company. He seemed too stunned to move.

Shower spider’s life was then ended without further incident. There are a few key takeaways here but the important thing is bug spray exists and is currently being stored in my garage. Jesus Christ…if my house had stairs, I would be dead by now.

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