Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm a total void, but that's ok because my Ancestors were awesome!



There's absolutely nothing significant about me, or my life. In fact, my life is so incredibly devoid of meaning, I spend roughly a third of it clicking "refresh" hoping that something will show up in my Gmail and obsessively checking my Facebook page for Notifications.

Then one day, I heard about this website called Ancestry.com. I heard that it involves a lot of typing and clicking, and that's right up my alley. So I went to the site and started typing in the names of my mother and my father and my grandparents. And just when I was getting kind of bored, I found a leaf! Wow, a LEAF!!

Naturally, I clicked on it. And there it was- my grandfather's uncle's old library card!! You can bet I printed that up fast! Then I kept going- and more leafs popped up! I started clicking, and I found all kinds of fascinating crap- did you know that one of my second cousins twice removed was a good friend of Dwight Eisenhower's barber's best friend? Or how about this- MY Great-Grandfather once lived within fifty miles of Wendell Willkie's tailor's mother!

Nobody ever told me any of this! It may be because it's inane, trivial, seriously-who-could-possibly-give-a-flying-damn bullshit. Or it may be because my family likes to hide things from me. I've often suspected that I'm adopted.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah- about 16 hours in, I hit a snag. No leaves! So I typed in alternate spellings, imaginary addresses, and finally started to just pull names out of old movies. When I typed in "Atticus Finch," I got more leafs! Thank God, because I was THIS CLOSE to actually getting up off my butt and doing something!

Well, I ended up learning so very much about my family that I never knew or even imagined I could ever possibly care about- like, one of my ancestors wore this really funny hat. And I had another relative who took a train to California once. WEIRDNESS!!

And all it took was Ancestry.com, a hefty subscription fee, and four straight days in front of the computer obsessively clicking and printing away. Sure my back hurts pretty much all the time now, and living on cheetos and diet coke for 72 hours isn't for everybody, and everyone I know runs screaming from me whenever I approach with my cardboard box of Really Cool Information I Found, but it was sooooo worth it.

Because now I know I'm Somebody. Or at least, someone in my family once was Somebody. Maybe I didn't defend Tom Robinson from a trumped-up rape charge, but I'll always be remembered as the person in my family who cared enough to use up his personal days gathering up all this awesome data. I bet that gets me my own Leaf someday!!

Remember, you don't have to know what you are looking for. You just have to start looking. Why? Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't the slightest idea.

Oh right, I forgot- because you're online anyway. And no one wants to chat with you on Facebook.

6 comments:

  1. Change the .com to .ca and you've got a bane of my existence; we have the same ads, the same hefty fees and the same ancestor worship with a different higher level domain name North of the border. Of course, I could make the same complaint about hotwire.com, expedia.com and so on and so forth.

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  2. That was a brilliant assessment, sir.

    True story: My mother's cousin started doing this whole ancestry thing on that very website. What I learned from her endeavor (aside from having to remove myself from email updates- which is a lot harder to do than one would think) is that some people have even more time on their hands than even I do.

    And that's saying a lot.

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  3. It's all about keeping you online as long as possible. And I like the "ancestor worship" line and wish I had used it.

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  4. I really don't know much about my history and I did want to give it a try but this commercial is misleading on top of everything. In order to click any leaves you have to pay and thats a load of crap. You hit the nail right on the head with this entry.

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  5. ".... I clicked on the leaf and that's when I found out that my grandfather had done got him 157 dead gooks killed. Plus 50 water buffalo, too!"

    I couldn't help myself... To much?

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  6. "my grandfather's uncle's old library card"...

    That had me rolling. Thanks for that.

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