Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Getting to know me


This photo is what I used to believe was my first memory. I am sitting in my big brother's lap on a blanket in my front yard. My other brother is holding our dog Lucky's head.  The other kid is our neighbor from across the street. In retrospect, I may just think this photo is of my first memory because it is one of the few baby photos I have of me. I do recall my mom telling me that Lucky nipped me and my mom scolded him. She claims he would sit and protect me after that. Lucky eventually was sent to "live on a farm" because he had a habit of biting people. Lucky wasn't.

In the almost two decades I've been writing this blog, I've offered up quite a few biographical tidbits about my life. I have written about trying to interview my elderly parents about their lives before they died. Neither was very forthcoming. I think they had just settled into their old age and didn't really want to think about the past. Most of what I gleaned about their lives came from stories they would tell us as kids on long car rides to go camping or musings around campfires.

Unlike most children, I was actually curious about who my parents were before they became my parents. But since they are dead and most of the people who knew them when they were young are dead, I will never have more than a sketch of who they were and who they wanted to be.

My own children don't seem to really care about who I was or who I am. I accept this because they are immersed in their now and the complications of being teen agers. I generally try to avoid telling stories of when I was their age. I like to think I can tune into the clues given by eye rolls and distant stares and have stopped volunteering stories of my youth.  I come from a distant time that they can't relate to. And the things I used to be proud of (like being a drum major at a school with a "Braves" mascot and wearing full buckskins and a headdress) are now considered incredibly not politically correct. My daughter is particularly embarrassed that I participated unknowingly in cultural appropriation by dressing as a Native American Chief. 

My high school has since abandoned their inappropriate mascot image of an Indian brave if not the name. In 2019 they changed the name of the mascot from "Braves" to "Brave" (which they somehow thought was more acceptable). But when I visit their web page there is no mention of a mascot Brave or not. Their logo, however, is now a capital "B" for Boise. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Non Angli sed Angeli


Upon seeing English slave children in Rome, Pope Gregory I the Great, supposedly said 'These are Angels, not Angles'. He apparently said this because the English kids had blonde hair and looked more like how he imagined angels looked than your average dark haired Roman. He then sent St Augustine and 40 monks to England in 596 to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. I think everything went downhill from there.

According to my 23 and Me DNA results, I'm about 99 percent European and my ancestors primarily came from England. This came much to my chagrin because I grew up thinking I was Irish. Instead I am predominantly English and potentially an angel.

I did have blonde hair until I was about six or seven years old. And since I was very well behaved, most of my grade school teachers thought I was an angel. Mostly I was afraid of authority and kept my mouth shut. So maybe I am (or was) an angel.

My son was born with red hair that eventually turned blonde. He has a head of curly blonde hair now, as a teenager, and can look angelic. He also looks like a young Peter Frampton and could be a rock star (if he had any interest in singing or the guitar).  If he is an angel, he is a sullen one. 

I am pleased to say that St. Augustine and his 40 monks must have not gotten through to my ancestors. As far as I know, I don't come from a long line of Christians. From what I have researched on, I come from a long line of poor farmers and farm hands who likely didn't realize they were angels and may have been Christians, but in name only. They were mainly focused on making ends meet.

I have to admit that I have a bias against being a Christian. I have found that when someone professes to be a good Christian it is intended as a way of implying they are one of the chosen and everyone else is going to hell. To which I am always tempted to tell them to go to hell and keep their beliefs to themselves. 

The irony of Pope Gregory I's proclamation was that he thought the young English kids looked like angels but were more than likely pagans who worshipped trees and earth spirits. Plus they were slaves. They probably wouldn't mind having angel wings so they could fly away and smite their enslavers with bolts of lightning. 

Those are my kind of angels.