Genealogical Considerations

I’ve recently become obsessed with researching genealogies on Ancestry. I find the whole process really intriguing. I have offered to do a tree for anyone who is interested. Unfortunately the two people who agreed quickly came up with dead ends. Ancestry has billions of records, but apparently not enough from certain areas in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to get anywhere for those two trees. Very disappointing! My family, with long extensions back into the USA seems to have endless records.

My husband is Mexican, and doing his family tree has been the most fun so far. His family was shocked but excited that I’ve come across an abundance of documents. They assumed that the record keeping was so poor back then (it definitely was), that I wouldn’t find anything. What I have found has been utterly fascinating, and a testament to older attitudes to government and keeping records in Mexico. Sometimes births weren’t registered for up to 10 years after the fact. Learning what was important at the time in different countries, and how they went about recording that information gets me excited, and sometimes a bit frustrated.

I find it very heard to read the Mexican documents due to poor penmanship, and there are many words I’m unfamiliar with, but it is good to get my brain working hard. I came across this one document officially recognizing two sons as legitimate, as their parents got married decades after they were born. When I first read it, I thought I misunderstood, but I didn’t. Both of the sons were named “Ramón”. One was just Ramón, and the other Ramón Antonio, the latter being my husband’s direct relative. I can find no explanation for naming both sons, who continued to live late in their lives the same name. I haven’t yet come across an ancestor that they could have been named after. Needless to say, it was difficult to keep track of who was who in the documents, and for a time I thought they were even more bizarrely: twins. That is because Ramón Antonio’s birth registration only lists him as Ramón. What a headache, but I’ve finally got it sorted out. They were born about 10 years apart.

Another amusing thing is when a child with a certain name passes away, and then they name the next child the same name. Come on Mexico, there are more than a handful of names going around!

In my own family tree I found a relative who married three women consecutively with the same first name. USA, you get the same note as Mexico!

I have also found stories of intrigue: people getting shot, kidnapped, and having scandalous affairs. Also the tragic: dying on the way over from Europe, having most of their family murdered, and entire livelihoods being destroyed.

There are potentially even more interesting stories, but I have recently discovered that some genealogies have been purposely made incorrect in order to please the person who paid for it to get done. Many people aren’t okay with accepting the fact that their family is most likely very ordinary, so the genealogists fabricate connections in lines even if the dates don’t make sense (they omit them for the family) in order to surprise. Someone recently posted on social media a “branch” of their tree with such obvious errors I’m surprised she posted it. So and so is the father of the other guy, but so and so was born after? Nothing in my family tree is that obviously wrong, but unfortunately I am going to have to go through my maternal tree again to make sure everything is properly cited.

One thing I would be really interested in doing is traveling to see where my and my husband’s ancestors lived, maybe visit their graves, and see if I can come across other documents not yet on Ancestry. Any excuse to travel is a good one for me.

That Day I Got Attacked

So much for feeling relatively safe in my neighbourhood despite its “charms”…

I was walking home from the metro station, and was very close to my house. I felt someone behind me, but he crossed the street to his friend. They talked for a moment, and then split off. I remember thinking it was very suspicious, but I was so close to home, and they were on the other side of the street, so I let it go.

I was looking at my phone when I felt that someone was following me very close. I turned to see what they wanted, and I discovered it was the taller one of the kids, and by kid I mean older teenager. As I was turning, he sprayed something into my left eye. I distinctly remember seeing the white stream of it hitting my eye. The dispenser was only inches from my face as he was standing directly next to me. At first I thought it was spray paint, and I clutched my eye in pain. The look on his face was a bit of shock, or maybe that was me projecting my emotions onto him. I wondered if he would go for my phone, but he didn’t. He turned and walked calmly away. Then I noticed there was no colour, and all of my exposed skin and lungs started to burn. I was confused, but then I got angry. I wanted to confront him. He was about 15 feet away when I started screaming at him. He turned to look and then started to run. There were people around, but they just watched. I started running after him, but I could barely see. I was worried about going blind, and that my house keys would fall out of my pocket and I wouldn’t be able to find them. He booked it down the street, and I decided my health was more important than revenge. I crossed the street, clutching my eye in pain. I didn’t know if I should go to a doctor. I didn’t know how I would even find one, or how I could explain what happened since my French is still very low level. I was in complete distress. I somehow made it into the apartment and no one was there. I ran into the bathroom and washed my face, but the water didn’t help. I tried to wash out my eyes, especially the left one that got directly hit, but the water increased the burning. It was horrendous timing. I had to pack and then head to the airport for my trip to London within the hour. I changed my clothes to get the stench off, and everywhere my skin had been exposed to the substance was bright red. And it burned. I don’t know exactly what he sprayed on me.

I warned my housemates via text what had happened and to be extra careful in the neighbourhood. They went to the police in the arrondisment that they were currently in but the police refused to help. Over the phone she told me to take some eyewash stuff that she had and use that to wash out my eyes. Whatever it was helped quite a bit. She ordered me a taxi to go to the airport because I was at this point terrified to take the metro. They eventually filled out a form online for the police, and on Wednesday I will go in and make a statement. The worst thing about the whole thing, is that I don’t remember exactly what they look like, so if I see them again, I will be completely oblivious. Apparently the son of someone else in our building was attacked by, we are supposing, the same guys but in a larger group. It is really distressing to know about the cruelty in the world, and even more so to experience it first hand.

But I must count my blessings. I am not permanently injured. I am not dead. I was not robbed.

 

Protest or Art?

I’m living in the 18th arrondisment in Paris. It’s definitely not the best neighbourhood, but not the worst either. The streets generally smell like piss despite there being FREE public toilets set up for use. There are at least two tent cities within 5 blocks of my house that I’ve noticed. There is garbage everywhere, stations of contraband laid out on blankets, and the hum of young men selling Marlboro cigarettes outside the metro station and by the park. Men greatly outnumber the women, at least in public. I’ve passed by many restaurants that are full, and not one woman inside. I pass 20-30 men on the street before I pass a woman. It doesn’t bother me so much as concerns me. I don’t feel unsafe, but I wonder why the other women aren’t dining in those places or walking along the streets. Perhaps they know something I don’t.

Since I’ve decided to drop school, and to be quite frank, now that I have a SIM card for my phone, I’ve been going on lots of long walks with three intentions: to get exercise, to see more of Paris, and admittedly, to hatch eggs in Pokemon Go. The latter actually helps me see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, as stops and gyms are at “landmarks” more or less. On these walks I’ve begun to notice a startling trend: vehicles being tagged.

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This was the first one I noticed just outside of Paris on my walk along the canal. Not long after, I discovered a car with the back half burned out. I was going to take a picture, but there was a group of tough-looking men standing by, and I didn’t want to risk anything. Now that I have seen them, I’ve been noticing them more often.

On my way back from a walk, just 2 blocks from my house I discovered this one:

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And on another night, I saw two vehicles tagged, just down the street from me, less than 1 minute away:

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I have never seen anything like this anywhere else I’ve been in the world.

I remember a few years ago, that during some protests, the French were burning vehicles, so I showed my housemate the pictures and asked her if it was part of an on-going protest. She said she’d never heard of it or seen anything like it before. Then again, she is new to this side of Paris.

The pictures I have posted are just a few examples. I’ve seen many more these past few days. I will have to do more research. But again I ask the question: are these examples of protest? Art? Or just the result of inconsiderate people having “fun” destroying others’ property?

Failing at Living Abroad

This is my second time living abroad this year. I spent 4 months earlier this year in London while studying. I loved the course I was taking, but it took a long time for London to grow on me.

Now I’m in Paris, taking yet another course, but unfortunately it’s not going as planned. I was supposed to be here for almost 9 months, which quickly got shortened to 4 months, which got shortened to 3 months, which now has me coming home in just over a month. (I dropped out of the program.) As much as I love Paris and where I’m staying, there are too many things not working out that it makes more sense for me to go home. That being said, my aim is to make the most out of being in Paris for the short time that I’m still here. This new focus I hope will have me blogging again.

 

To the Top of the World and Back in 10 Days – Part 1

I have always wanted to drive to Alaska and experience the North, and have been trying to get people to go with me since I was 17. Guapito and I decided that this is the year that we would finally do it. He booked two weeks off of work, but auditions, rehearsals, and the biggest windstorm I have ever seen (our power was out from Saturday noon to around 2:30 AM Monday morning… we live on a farm and are on a well and septic, so no power is a big deal) kept interfering, so we left a lot later than we had hoped. No power meant that we couldn’t do laundry or dishes or clean the house the weekend before we left, so all that was left until Monday. We spent Monday doing our best to finish the laundry, clean the house and ready the barn and coops for the farm sitter. Due to this, we didn’t end up leaving until Monday evening. We grabbed dinner on the way since the power outage had left us with no edible food. It poured rain for most of the way on the first night. We made it to 100 Mile where we decided to find a hotel after midnight. To our surprise, they were all full. “Is there a work thing happening?” Guapito asked. “No, they’re all tourists,” was the answer. We finally found a nice motel that had a room, and as a bonus, let us take our dogs inside with us.

100 Mile Visitor Centre

100 Mile House Visitor Centre

We hit up the tourist centre the next morning to get some information about our trip, and to see the world’s largest cross-country skis. The ladies working there were very helpful and gave us a map and guides for the places we were wanting to go. The map and the Alaska road trip guide proved to be extremely useful. I was anxious to get to the Yukon, so instead of exploring, we started driving again. I kept looking at the brochures and guides, seeing if there were any good, quick hikes or activities to do, but I was absolutely worried that we would not make it to the Yukon, and so we ignored all of them.

Williams Lake Tourist Centre

Williams Lake Tourist Centre

Aside from getting gas, where we bought some of the most delicious nectarines I have ever eaten from a little stand, our next stop was the William’s Lake tourist centre. There were lots of goodies to purchase there, and I more or less went wild. I bought some gifts for our farm sitter, and a few other little things. We were allowed to bring the dogs inside, and the employees doted on them and bestowed them with treats.

Not too much time passed until we were off again. Next stop: Quesnel, though we didn’t actually stop there. One of my friends is from Quesnel, and while we were driving through the first part, I couldn’t help but remark how great a thing it was for her to have left Quesnel, since it seemed to be a displeasing town. Later, however, I realized we weren’t actually in town yet. The town itself is actually quite nice, and I was pleasantly surprised. I could see why someone would want to live there, but that wasn’t enough to entice me to stop, so on we went.

We had a little debate about whether or not we should take the detour to Barkerville, and decided against it. According to Google, it was 2 hours out of Quesnel, so I calculated that going there would take an extra day in order to enjoy it. Though disappointed, I figured we could always go to Barkerville on another trip since it isn’t too far away. I was desperate to get to the Yukon, and quite worried that I would never get to see the tundra because we’d get caught up doing something closer to home. We ended up making an impromptu stop at Xatsull Heritage Village, which was excusable because it wasn’t far off the main road. Unfortunately, they only accept cash, which we had absolutely none of. Thankfully for us, they took pity on us, and we got to do our own walk-through free of charge. It’s in a very beautiful location, and we had an interesting chat with the fellow there. I absolutely love aboriginal cultures, so this place was totally up my alley, even though the tipis aren’t from that area. When I was young, I was set on living in a tipi, and I always made tipis out of cedar for myself and my cats. Now, I don’t think that is the ideal abode for me, but I still think they are awesome.

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Xatsull Heritage Village from the lookout

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After leaving Xatsull, we had to decide how far north we would go. We set an ambitious goal of staying in Fort Nelson that night (approximately 12 hours away from 100 Mile), but we almost didn’t make it…

Road Trip USA part 3 – Santa Monica, Venice, & Downtown LA

Not sleeping much became a routine thing for the duration of the trip. I averaged about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and never got up past 9AM. The lack of sleep really affected me; I stopped being able to think properly, and often mixed up my words or slurred them together. I understood a bit more of the “baby brain” that affects mothers when their children are young, and they don’t get enough sleep.

We were supposed to go to the Getty museum this day, but it ended up getting postponed until the next day, so we had more time to spend in Santa Monica. First we went to Stout to get lunch. The burgers were expensive, but delicious. They don’t come with sides, so we ordered yam fries, garlic fries, and a pretzel to share.

DSC_0418We then headed over the famous pier. I’d been there before, but it was almost 13 years ago the last time, so it was interesting seeing it again.

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There was the “Happy Singing Mexican” who has a lovely voice and appears to be continually ridiculously happy. His buddy just danced in the background. Not like professional dancing type, but more like “Hey, I need someone to be with me all day, can you stand in the back and ‘dance’?”.

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DSC_0428My friends and Guapito all went to The Coffee Bean or something like that, and I looked out at the water. Man, it sure is a nice area.

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While waiting, I spied these people who had decided to get extremely wet with their clothes on. I wish I knew the purpose of this. It’s not like it was a hot day, but alas they were there soaking wet. Can you spot them?

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Rae wanted to go shopping, so we headed to that shopping street, which is actually pretty cool. She really wanted to go to Victoria’s Secret, so I went in with her. There was a lady there with her dog. She was standing at the counter making her purchase when the dog slipped the collar off its head and she didn’t notice. I didn’t see it happen, so I wasn’t sure if she was just one of those hoity toity people letting their dogs run rampant in the store. It wouldn’t be my business. I kept an eye on the pup, but didn’t intervene. When she finished paying, she looked down, and her face paled and became completely panicked. At the same moment, one of the staff came up to her carrying the dog, and relief washed over her. I found it amusing at the time. I guess I could see how it could happen, but I wonder why the collar was so loose in the first place.

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After finishing in Santa Monica, we headed to Venice. I didn’t know anything about Venice until this trip, so it was all very new to me.

DSC_0446First we went to the beach. There were some cool people, that looked familiar. I think I saw them on YouTube. There was a big crowd, and I wanted to watch. We had apparently just missed the penultimate part of the show, and they kept saying they were going to do the grand finale. We waited for almost 20 minutes, and they never did it. They seemed obsessed with money and with race, which made me uncomfortable. They wouldn’t move on until they made sure they harassed everyone for a donation, and every time someone donated, they made a huge deal of it, specifying race and apparent status of wealth, then making implied “threats” that if we didn’t donate, they would just take the money by robbing us in our homes. I don’t find that humorous at all. Not interested in the spectacle at all, Rae went to go watch the sunset, and we wasted our time waiting for them to do something. Bored, we eventually left to join Rae, and by the time we finished on the beach and started to head over to the canals, the entertainers still hadn’t done their grand finale.

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DSC_0456On our way to the canals, we passed by Muscle Beach. This made me very excited. It reminded me of my favourite ride at Playland “Crazy Beach Party”, that had its final run last summer. I’m not sure where else I’ve seen/heard the term “muscle beach” but I thought it was cool. Someone in my class told me that it’s very exclusive. Not everyone can just go in and work out there.

DSC_0462The canals themselves were super romantic. I think it would be really cool to live on one of them, as long as it’s in an area that doesn’t flood. Despite Venice being a kind of sketch place to be, the canals juxtapose it in a classy way.

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I love light decorations. I think that they should be around all year, not just during Christmas time. Recently at home, I got sad when I saw my city take down the lights.

Anyway, after Venice, we headed back to Manhattan Beach to get ready to go out to downtown LA. One of our new friends said we had to dress up nice because he was going to take us somewhere really special. It was not what I expected at all, but it was super cool. It was a rooftop bar with interesting decorations, a pool, heaters, and a dance floor. Despite some drama that happened (instigated by my desire to have a cigarette), I had an absolutely magical time. I danced alone on the dance floor, I got in trouble for standing with one foot on a chair, and one on one of those things you put money in to see far away, I listened to some really awesome music while having brief, deep conversations about life that felt totally epic at the time. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera, but it is without a doubt my favourite memory of the entire trip. We left super late, despite our poor host having to work the next morning, but he still took us to a light display outside of some museum to take pictures.

DSC_0034Awwww….

Road Trip USA Part 2 – What the Hell am I Doing Drinking in LA at 26?

I was super stoked to sleep in. Since I didn’t have the responsibilities of the farm, I thought this trip would be a wonderful opportunity to sleep in. Unfortunately, I woke up at 7:12. I tried to go back to sleep, but someone was snoring, and it wasn’t Guapito, so I couldn’t hit them to get them to stop. I put on some headphones and tried to go on the computer, but Guapito gave me an angry face and told me it was too loud. I then tried to read a book, but I was too tired to hold my phone as a light, and I ended up pocketdialing my dad and leaving a 4.25 minute-long message. A $7.50 mistake *facepalms*. I decided to give up and just lay there with my headphones on. I tried to get comfortable but without any luck because I have big-ass V-MODA headphones. At least they sound good.

The mediocre breakfast was at 9:55, because it stopped at 10, and everyone else got to sleep in till around 9:45. We then walked down to beach. It wasn’t as quick a walk as Rae had been expecting. The walk was beautiful though. The neighbourhoods were really cool, all strung up with Christmas lights. They reminded me of a co-op housing place where an old friend of mine used to live. The beach was spectacular with perfect waves. It wasn’t crowded at all. I so wanted to jump in the water and play, but it was way too cold for that.

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Manhattan Beach

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Houses at Manhattan Beach. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place to live?

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Main Street in Manhattan Beach

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Friends ❤

We didn’t get to stay too long until we had to head back to meet some friends for lunch. We went to Panera Bread, which has really delicious soup. I had the fall squash soup that I probably could have eaten 15 bowls of. The two friends we met up with were lovely chaps. After being very friendly and telling exciting stories, they took us to an absolutely gorgeous lookout point.

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Lookout in Palos Verdes

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Lookout

Guapito found a tumbleweed and got really excited. He wanted to see it in action, but we all stopped him before he could throw it. Apparently California is pretty strict about stuff like that.

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Guapito and the tumbleweed

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Old friends and new friends ❤

One of the fellas had to get his car from the shop, so we all agreed to meet later to see the sunset from a pier. The four of us roadtrippers headed to a Starbucks by the beach to wait. The view was incredible. We then went to see the Korean Friendship Bell, which was really cool. It was obvious that we were going to miss the sunset on the pier, so we watched it from the location of the bell.

Korean Friendship Bell

Korean Friendship Bell

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Sunset!

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Boys are silly

We then met at one of our friend’s houses and made a game plan for the evening. I only had one goal for the entire trip: to be able to sing the Bran Van 3000 song (Drinking in LA), and have it be somewhat accurate. A.K.A. go drink somewhere in LA. I don’t know why I love the song so much, but I always have. It’s one of the few songs that if it comes on my ipod, I have to listen to it, and I’ll enjoy every second of it. I was listening to it sometime last year, and I actually paid attention to the lyric that says “… at 26” I realized I was going to be 26 soon, and that it was the only year in my entire life that the song would be accurate. I made it my mission to visit LA sometime (despite despising LA) before I turned 27. Opportunities came and then disappeared before I could jump on them. So when Rae asked me to go on a road trip to San Francisco, I was hesitant. I asked if she wouldn’t mind heading to LA for a day or two, and she said that they were going for 4 days, so I immediately agreed. It was my one non-career-related goal that I had for 2014.

Anyway… after stopping at the hotel room to grab my ID, we headed to Malibu and had dinner at Moonshadows, which is an expensive seafood restaurant. It was some miscommunication how we ended up eating there, but the food was pretty good, and the view was stunning, even at night. We saw a seal swimming, which just made everything perfect. There were 3 new people who joined us there, and we all feasted together. We were going to get drinks there, but at $12+ per drink, we were all quite hesitant. The non-attentive waitress solidified our decision to leave and go to Zebra Room, a cash-only dive bar instead. It ended up being beyond perfect. It’s a cash only bar, but the drinks were cheap, and they had a jukebox that fortunately had my Bran Van 3000 song. I jumped around the room, traded dimes and a nickle for a quarter and eagerly pressed play.

I had to wait about an hour for it to come on, and I was fairly drunk by then (I never drink, so it really didn’t take long). But when it did finally come on, my eyes lit up (or so I’m told), and I sang my heart out. I made sure not to forget the line: “What the hell am I doing drinking in LA at 26?” because, you know, I’m 26, drinking in LA, and honestly don’t know why.

I accomplished my goal. I was completely content and satisfied. It is absolutely remarkable how things work out in life.

We then went to one of the friend’s houses, and had some delicious Stella Rosa wine that tasted like juice. Neither Rae nor I enjoy the taste of wine, but this was incredibly good. We then played the card game Bullshit, which I was terrible at in an inebriated state. Our host was wonderful for entertaining us at such an hour when he had to work the next morning.

When we finally got back, it was really late. Surely I would get a good night’s sleep this time, right? Nope.