Saturday, July 29, 2017

Genealogy Trails

Hello My Little Marshmallows,

As you know, I have been researching my ancestry lately,  I am looking into the origins of my father's paternal side, the origins of my surname. Growing up, I wasn't able to get much information about my great-grandparents who immigrated from Minsk Belarus (then Russia) to England and finally to the United States, but I have been able to get more information off of Ancestry.com and newspapers.com such as:

1) Naturalization documents
2) Newspaper publishing addresses of businesses or gifting of property
3) Addresses of residences in the phone book and via the census
4) Registration cards for WW1.

It's fun to get information piece by piece and string it together, to get a clearer picture of their lives, and to match the information I find to the letters I have from my great-grandmother, and the stories I've heard here and there growing up.

It's interesting to see what life was like for immigrants back then, and I tend to believe the saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". In my genealogy class, the biggest myth that got busted for me, was that our ancestors didn't face bureaucracy back then, like we do now. Until now, I really thought that my immigrant ancestors became US citizens almost immediately. I noticed that though they immigrated the the US in 1905, they didn't become citizens until 1921, and they didn't shorten their names immediately after arriving at the Port of New York, they changed it when they became naturalized citizens.

Yesterday I obtained a copy of my great-grandmother's death certificate. I was really looking forward to getting my hands on it, because I didn't even think the county would release that information to me.  I wasn't home to pick it up (UPS required a signature), so I had to drive to a real
run-down area (the filthy buttcrack of my county) in town and wait over an hour, and I wasn't even mad about it,  I really wanted the information on it.  I didn't think I would feel much emotion opening the envelope and reading the death certificate, but I did feel emotional. It was the end of her life, and it's always interesting to capture the last moments of someone's life up to the funeral. Because death usually catches you by surprise, you don't know when it's your time. When I worked in personal injury and someone passed away, I also got emotional dealing with their cases, and moreso in this case, because she is my ancestor, even though this happened over seventy years ago.

My great-grandmother started her life in another continent, and ended up somewhere completely different. Life wasn't easy for her, and she had a difficult life no doubt, but she and my great father did escape antisemitism and built a life and family in this country. She had a much better outcome than many people she started out with in her hometown, as well as many of her siblings and their descendants (I am friends on Facebook with some of them).

I ordered her death certificate to find out why she died (heart disease), where she died (hospital no longer around), who provided family information on the death certificate (her daughter), where she had her funeral (funeral home is still in business), and where she is buried (in a Jewish cemetery in East Los Angeles), and the names of her parents (so I can continue my genealogy adventures).

I enjoy genealogy because I tend to live in the past and connect it to the present. Also, I enjoy research.

I don't know what my ancestors would think if they knew I was looking for their information. Most of them were too busy trying to live their lives day to day raising their families, they probably didn't give much thought to their descendants. Will someone come and look me up long after I am gone? Who knows? I am doing all of this for my knowledge and benefit, and it may stay with me until I pass and go nowhere further. Honestly, other than a few conversations here and there, most family members aren't too interested. I don't have a romantic idea of my existence living on after death, it is quite possible my boxes of stuff may get dumped out.

Life is short, studying genealogy helps me realize that. But I am alive now, and I am happy to be alive and still be able to decide my fate.






Sunday, July 23, 2017

Linkin Park

Hello My Lovelies,

I am sad that Chester Bennington from Linkin Park committed Suicide.

Until I was in college, I was only listening to boy bands and bubble gum music. Up until that point, I went to Christian schools, and I had lived a very sheltered life in a bubble (actually a CULT, but "bubble" sounds cuter), and had very little experience with the real world.

When I went to college and lived on campus, I was dealing with campus life, a full course load, and two jobs. I had a full schedule, and untreated anxiety and depression that was beginning to surface, that I still hadn't identified. What I mean by that, is growing up anxiety and depression didn't exist. Anxiety and depression were signs from the Devil and I needed to be more positive and pray more, and worship the leader of our cult more.  So the stronger the symptoms got, the more worked up I became, thinking I was going to the dark side. I never thought to reach out to mental health professionals, because I was taught that was a sign of weakness and that I had no control over myself. So I managed to bury my feelings for a while until I broke down.

I didn't have a TV moment breakdown where I screamed at everyone, or became violent, and I didn't need to be restrained. Instead, it started out with me waking up feeling completely miserable and being unable to eat. I went to the cafeteria for breakfast and ate a large breakfast. I knew I would need to eat a lot for a while since I wasn't hungry and didn't want to eat again for the rest of the day. Eating that meal was torture and it took a while, but I got through it.

As I was leaving the cafeteria, my stomach hurt, and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I rushed to the grass and threw up everything I had just ate, and I do mean everything. One of my dormmates saw me, and was really worried. I convinced him I was okay and went to my room and lied down on my bed. I started to feel so much pain in my chest and body, and I knew that I wasn't going to accomplish much that day. I had no other choice than to reach out to the health center on campus, and thank GOD they were there.

At that point, I began to cry and the student nurse was very understanding. This was the first time I was reacting so strongly, I had no control over what was happening, and I was scared. I also had a full courseload and didn't know I was going to manage. I was scared I was going to starve myself by not eating. He looked at me with compassion in his eyes and said that my body won't let me starve, it will force me to want to eat. He also said that I could get medically excused and drop my classes and take time off (virtually impossible otherwise), and I could see the school psychiatrist. I was scared to see a psychiatrist, but I took the appointment, I had to so I could get excused from my classes.

Although I didn't like the psychiatrist I saw (I am pretty sure it was mutual), I did drop a class and retook it over the winter. I got my first prescription filled, took one dosage, and because I didn't feel better that day, mistakenly thought it wasn't working and stopped taking the rest of it.

But nevertheless, I did manage to get better and discovered bellydance a few months later, which helped keep a lot of symptoms at bay.

During this time, I discovered alternative music, such as Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd, System of a Down, 311, Nirvana and Papa Roach just to name a few. Linkin Park was by far my favorite and I watched all of their music videos. Chester screaming got me through a lot of study sessions at the library (headphones of course), and helped me realize that many of us are "crazy" and fighting our own battles.

Keep in mind that though my battle with anxiety and depression didn't get easier after this point,  it was a starting point, in realizing that I had a problem, and I couldn't ignore my feelings or surpress them any longer. Of course I tried,  and my journey has never been linear, but at least I have gotten better over time.

Linkin Park got me through college, and was there for me again when I left the cult for good.

It is really easy to condemn Chester Bennington for killing himself, especially since he left his wife, children, band and fans hanging. I don't agree with what he did, but I don't condemn him either because it is a really rough place to be in.

It is really controversial to talk about this, because unless you come out blatantly condemning suicide and the people who took their own lives, people will view you as supporting it.

I do not support it, and I want to live. I am thankful to be alive every day. When I was in the cult and wrote to the leader about my depression and how I felt there was no joy in my life, and what is the point of living, she took an active role in telling others I was suicidal and wanted to kill myself. That's false, I will fight for my life if I have to.

But on the other hand, experiencing my own prison of mental illness, and knowing it's far worse for others, I can see why some people see death as the only way out. That is because things have gotten so unbearable for them, they may have messed up and made poor decisions, and they don't think anyone could forgive them or understand.

Depression is different for everyone, but when I was experiencing the worst of it, there was no joy in my life, it was a fight to just even try to enjoy anything. Getting up and functioning was so exhausting, I remember once while I was showering, shampooing my hair was so much work, I didn't even finish the job and condition my hair because I couldn't muster up the patience to finish the job. I then got out of the shower and laid on the floor for another hour.

Depression for me came as a fog, arrived when I least expected it and just clouded my brain. Sometimes it left, but it always returned.

If you are reading this and suffer from mental illness, I do get it. I may not know your circumstances, I may not have the same symptoms as you, but I do understand. Keep on going. Live your live minute to minute, second to second, and don't be afraid to reach out to someone. I am happy you are still in this world.








Saturday, July 15, 2017

Le Weekend..............

What's Up My Kittens?

How is your weekend? It is hot as Hell here in South Florida. It's is hotter than the devil's nut sack.

I have a headache today. I didn't drink coffee today, and I am paying dearly for it because I clearly have a caffeine addiction. But I do have to cut back, because it really can really make my heart pound, and that's not healthy.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and I feel so much better. My hair had grown down to my butt, but it was just too much, especially since half it was color-treated. Now I am back to all my natural colored hair, and no more dead hair. I forgot that my hair could have volume. Who knew?

What else.......... I have researching family history on Ancestry.com. It's interesting to see the migration patterns of my ancestors. They are long gone, but I still have some of their letters. I wonder if they knew it would end up with me?

All of my mother's side of the family is still in Europe so I am talking about my father.'s side. His father's parents escaped religious persecution because they were Jewish, and immigrated to New York in 1905 to make new lives for themselves. They lived the American Dream, learned the language, had more children, at least one served in the Army, and owned a home and business. It is interesting to follow their stories through the Censuses, as well as by reading letters my aunt handed down to me.

My dad also send me a huge box of color slides from his marraiges, travels, and my childhood. I am going to invest in a slide machine and break out the wine.

I am not sure if anyone will come to me for family information down the line, probably not. I am one of the few that actively looks up information. I wouldn't call it research, as that would require me to get offline and go look up records on micro film and microfiche (can't remember the difference between the two) and verify information I find, with information I've been told by family.

Other than that, my depression is returning, and I try to manage the feelings. I had been on a very long happiness streak, but sometimes the old feelings come back and blindside me. I have to accept that and just go with it. Fighting it just makes it worse. I woke up with a pit in my stomach, and getting out of the house took forever because I just kept lying down. Once I got out of the house, I was moving slowly, and had very short patience with people in traffic and at the store. I wanted to cry, and I haven't wanted to do that for so long. It's like I realize that I moved to Florida all of a sudden, what am I doing here, where am I going in life, and I am not getting any younger!

I have been complacent lately in life, and although I have been blissfully ignorant, I have developed bad habits such as bad sleeping patterns, bad diet choices, and sleeping half of the day on weekends.
Don't get me wrong, I love it, and it has made me happy and relaxed, but this is definitely not how I want the rest of my life to play out, because I have things I actually want to accomplish. My medication has helped with my mood, but I still carry old habits from when I wasn't taking anything.

I have dreams in life of promotions, of decorating my condo, or more travel, of getting back into dance, and I can't actively live all this out with my current habits. Maybe one day down the line, actually get married and share my life with someone, and I can't live the way I currently do and make that happen.

The problem is, my old habits are extremely hard to break. What helps me get through this is to accept my feelings, and complete small tasks one after the other. Today I started small things like cleaning the litter box, and mailing a letter I've been meaning to mail. Then I dumped the trash. Small tasks, no big deal. I didn't get very far, but that's okay. Sometimes I do, and I make great strides in cleaning and getting stuff done. Many people spend time doing all their cleaning in one shot. That is just not me, at least not yet.

Okay, enough about me for today. Besitos my lovelies!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who do you think you are?

Hello There My Little Hummingbirdies!

Long time, no bloggy!

I have recently started getting into Genealogy, because I have always been curious about my heritage and my roots.  It all started in the fourth grade when my teacher had us fill out our family tree.  I very recently started my little genealogy hobby by registering on Ancestry.com and taking free classes at my local library. I love the library, and the teacher is a wealth of information.

I first started back in 2009, but I quickly gave up. I had started searching for my great-grandparents' names in the Ellis Island Manifests, but came up empty handed. Growing up, my father told me that they immigrated through Ellis Island, so when I looked through the manifests without finding their names, I figured my dad gave me the wrong information and that was the end of it. I did visit Ellis Island with a friend of mine, and absolutely loved sailing by the Statue of Liberty and walking through the same processing gates the newly arrived immigrants passed through.

I have since found the naturalization records of my great-grandfather who apparently sailed into the port of New York in in 1905 on the Umbria from Liverpool, England. But I can't locate his name or my great-grandmother's in any manifest. I will keep looking, it is quite possible their names weren't recorded.

This time around with genealogy, I have a lot more patience, and a willing to learn. I learned that many people give up after looking on Ancestry.com, which is what I did. But I learned in my class that 90% of the information you're looking for is not online, especially since many records still have not been digitalized.

I enjoy tracing the addresses of my ancestors through the Census and telephone directories, to see where they travel and settle down, and how they made lives for themselves. My mother's side is from Austria and is still all there. I haven't started researching that side. My grandmother was very private and, it's not that they won't share family details, they definitely aren't excited about it, so I let it be.

So I am focusing on the ancestors from my father's side.His father's parents immigrated from Minsk, Russia (now Belarus) to England, to New York, before settling in California. Some of the family from Minsk ended up immigrating to other parts of Europe. Out of the blue back in 2011, I received a Facebook message from my distant cousin in Paris, a descendant of the family members that ended up in Europe. When I was in Paris the year before in 2010, I actually saw our family name on the wall of the Shoah, but had no idea I still had family in Paris. I did end up going back and meeting them, and seeing their version of the family tree.

My father's mother's side is goes is a little different. My grandmother's mothers's side goes back far in this country, I haven't determined how far just yet. My father's father's side was Canadian with ancestors coming from England. I still have a lot more research to go. It's fun to see the the paper trail, as well as see the common distant cousins aka "kissing cousins" on Ancestry.com. I contacted one of them, and it was nice to talk to her.

Anyway, this is the very beginning of my journey to connect the dots. Companies like Ancestry.com and TV shows make it seem like it's so easy to do genealogy, it's so easy to build a family tree. All you have to do is go online! WRONG! Not only is most information not online, but you must verify each piece of information you get, because it is very easy to fall into the rabbit hole. Not only that, but you will find conflicting information, and brick walls frequently.

There is so much information out there, so many free courses, so many research sites for free, such as familysearch.org. I just happen to find Ancestry more user friendly, so I do pay. Over the weekend I took a class at the local library of how to research land records. That was definitely fun. I do notice that I am usually the youngest person in classes like these.

It can all get extensive and tiring, but for me, it's a quest to find the truth. Family history is truly a game of telephone. By the time the information gets passed to you, you don't know what is really true, and what is embellished.

That is all, off to follow more paper trails.

Besitos!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lazy Sunday Funday, Bitches !!

Good Morning Kitty Kats,

Happy Sunday!

My cat is out sunning himself on the balcony, I am watching bootlegged Judge Judy reruns off YouTube, and I just finished my homemade nachos (with extra garlic and cheese) and Starbucks DoubleShot Epresso.

My house is a mess, I have a bookshelf to assemble that probably won't get assembled today, and dishes that need to be done. I live in a state of perpetual disorganization, but at least I am hygienic and I know where things are.

A couple of weeks ago I bought rollerblades. I hadn't been on blades in over twenty years. I think it was one of the best purchases I have made in a while. They ride smoothly, and I didn't fall on my first time back in the saddle.

Anywhooters, time to go back to being up to no good. Besitos!