Monday, November 16, 2009

I Always Wanted a White Horse Named Tir na nOg

A quick one today as I left this to the last minute and only have 10 to spare before I leave work. Certain thoughts keep popping into my head randomly. No, not just the "burn them, burn them all" evil leprechaun, or "did I turn on the living room light? Am I DVR-ing "Lie to Me"? It's the kind of things one fantasizes about or thinks about regularly. Is there a god? If so, does he hate me? Do you ever really know a person? Or my favorite in which I reenact a fictional interview with some magazine like Interview.

I am often amazed at how little people know about themselves and where they come from. Certainly there are exceptions to being naive, adoption being one, but what's the excuse for everyone else? How can you NOT be interested in who your family is, where they came from, were any of them famous? I grew up in a household where history and superstition ruled. I learned all about my father's people (Irish and Prussian) and gradually about my mother's (Welsh) as she became more interested and informed herself. I remember thinking how cool it was that I'm one quarter a place that doesn't really exist anymore. Prussia. Prussian. "How very Prussian of them." Other than that, the best stories came from Ireland- the mythology, the clans, the IRA. I always felt very Irish (my full name is incredibly Irish so that helps), as does the strong bond I feel with my father who identifies strongly as Irish as well though he speaks no Gaelic, but does speak German, Polish, and Russian. Funny.

My sister, if you were to ask her, would identify very Welsh (which makes sense as she is strongly linked with our mother). This explains why she has the Welsh dragon tattoo and I have a celtic knot. It took us forever to come up with a tattoo to get together (we settled on "sister" in hieroglyphics- another dedication to our Dad).

I am fascinated with learning more. I want to know everything. When I meet people and say something like, "Wow, that's an interesting last name. What is it?"; and they have no idea. I feel very sad for them. It must be horrible to have no understanding of where you come from or your culture. To see yourself purely as American, nothing else. The beauty of this country is in the mixed heritage of our citizens. If we don't know (or care to know) about ourselves, how can we expect to be tolerant and know others?


  1. I agree that it is good to know where you come from, but at the same time, I'm always wary about probing people for why they don't know their history. Sometimes there are family-dynamic reasons why someone doesn't want to know about a part of their heritage.

  2. I would say that most people (sadly) don't want much understanding OR tolerancce. I don't get it. I LOVED learning my heritage. My cousins and grandparents know even more about it than I know. Great thought though. "If we don't know (or care to know) about ourselves, how can we expect to be tolerant and know others? "

  3. That's a great point Dani and one should be sensitive about probing for any information from people, even friends. I have found though, that when talking to someone on this topic, I learn even more about them then I would have before. It's how I found out two of my friend's were adopted and I learned a lot from them about that experience!