23andMe and the FDA

I know, I know… bureaucracy, the feds, mind control, money control, control control… You won’t be surprised that I’ve opted out of a political belief system, other than the fact that I truly cannot be made to understand what is so frightening about gay people, and why do we still have smog? Leaders are dumb. I fully grant that I COULD NOT LEAD, but neither can anyone else without backroom concessions and full-scale sales on the souls of those in power and, sadly, those of us in their wake. That’s trickle-down.

I didn’t say I wasn’t opinionated. It’s simply that I see governance as an impossible task. What then? “My brain hurts. Let’s do something else.”

I try not to rail against it. Futile though it all may be, it is no less futile so say “blah, blah… and blah.” I’m ignorant. I’m the worst kind of citizen: An uninformed reactionary. I do not have an understanding of how it works. As much as I try to relearn the basics, I can’t retain information anymore! Subjects that confuse and irritate me are banished so firmly beyond a cement wall in my mind, I can’t access them even when I want to. Basically, of paid elected leaders, I believe some are corrupt and some mean to do good – or did once – and plenty of others are just as caught up as we are in the nonsensical morass that is American life.

That said, I love my country. I love my home. I love my people. I love the land. I love freedom. (Ugh, that abused phrase – by both sides – makes my skin crawl! How dare they sully my reverence for autonomy! I LOVE MY FREEDOM! I hate leaders who appropriate it and tell us, “Your version wrong.”) Though you can guess what my thought is on war and the reasons we’re given for it (Lies. It’s about money), I am proud of and grateful for my [biological] father’s service (Army) and that of my brothers (Air Force and Navy). I do not take liberty lightly. Others die for saying to those in power, “I disagree with you.” I know freedom and I’m grateful for it.

Guv’ment, on the other hand, alarms me. They just want my money. Here’s proof:

“Dear 23andMe Customers,

I’m writing to update you on our conversation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and how it impacts you.

If you are a customer whose kit was purchased before November 22, 2013, your 23andMe experience will not change. You will be able to access both ancestry and health-related information as you always have.

23andMe has complied with the FDA’s directive and stopped offering new consumers access to health-related genetic results while the company moves forward with the agency’s regulatory review processes.”

Process this: You won’t have access to your own genome until enough people revolt. And who’s gonna revolt about an elective curiosity? It’s just so dumb. It’s so obvious! The government saw that more and more people were willing to pay for this information. Knowledge is power. “Don’t give access to the hoi polloi,” they schemed, laughing and rubbing their hands together. “And/or set up a circumstance where we are the only ones taking the cash.” For MY health information! Unbelievable!

Of course, I feel charmed again. As weird and hard as my life has been, I have occasion nearly every day to say, “Good grief, things work out for me!” Even the silly stuff, like knowing heritable traits and health conditions for fun.

23andMe has been so cool. Every now and then, I get an alert from the company that they’ve identified another potential relative. They’re usually 5th cousins. I get excited when they’re 3rds. I’ve sent out some pertinent last names to see if any match. No one’s replied. That’s okay. That’s not why I spit in the tube last March. And then…

Right before Thanksgiving, I got an introduction to a second cousin! “You probably shared great-grandparents,” the 23andMe robot reported. Do you know what a thrill that is? “Who is this person!? Where do they live?” I sent out my names. He answered!

“Oh!” I replied. “I’ll just die if you’re So-and-So’s son.”

“Yes. So-and-So is my mom.”

As it happened, Cousin So-and-So was at his home visiting for Thanksgiving and nearly jumped out of her skin with instructions to tell my mom and Grandma how much she loves them! Of course I cried. So did Grandma. Bringing her a hug from a faraway grand-niece made me happy. Thanksgiving is the holiday that makes me feel closest to my Grandpa, and all that is good about family. It was a wonderful gift to take home.

I love that even in my unorthodox way, I can still contribute and belong to the family I’m estranged from. I honor the times and ways I feel connected to them. Much of it is my own doing, insisting on gratitude and seeing the good when there is so much ghastly, ruinous wrong in us. Most of it is pure grace, having nothing to do with any effort on my part to stay above the anger. Still, I do feel very much like I’m watching from the outside. Physical separation must remain, sadly, in order for me to try each new day for spiritual connection to my immediate family, but the timing of this blessed introduction reminded me that, yes, I am detached, if that’s what I choose.

Thank you, angels.

And now… Unless 23andMe drops its price, you’ll be getting ripped off now that most of the information is no longer available. Of course, some people don’t want to know the scary truth about their genetic doom blueprint, as pertains to health. The ancestral info was not at all interesting to me, or so I thought before I got it, since my people have done my genealogy since the dawn of the Mormon Church. If you are one of those who might not do gene testing because you’d rather not know your risks, map your genome now. It continues to be one of the best presents I ever gave me. I was stunned by the things I didn’t know about my people’s origins. Nevertheless, I’m so glad I got the whole picture! Suck on it, feds!

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7 … and do it here. I get ten bucks. ūüėČ

http://www.23andme.com/

Sarah Was a Dreamer, Too!

I spent 5 days and thirty some-odd hours pouring over my genome. By Friday afternoon, I was done. There was nothing I hadn’t printed out and written copious notes on. Fascinating stuff. Endless.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

I had a couple of hours to kill before 5 o’clock, so I began to fill out my family tree. I hadn’t considered this important because, as a Mormon, that’s been done for me. To death.

It was amazing! I’ve never had the experience of finding – and meeting – the people myself! Learning their names, where they lived… Filling in those blanks with my own hands was… a mitzvah.

Where did I hear that, so long ago I can’t remember? When did that become the only way to describe, sometimes, the transcendent connection to God and each other, and the enormous blessing that is life? I’ve been saying, “It’s a mitzvah,” for years.

(That’s more of a colloquial use of the term than literal. Really, it’s not even the correct use of it colloquially [good deed], but what would I know?)

It came as no surprise that I’m 52.2% British/Irish (Scottish). It was a shock (delight!) to learn that I am .2% Ashkenazi Jew! 40% of living Ashkenazi* descendants can trace their ancestry to 1 of 4 women!!! Do you know how intertwined and small and big and tearful you feel when you know who you are? When learning who you are surprises you and says, “Hey, we’re all in this together”?

Is there a reason in my blood that I read every Holocaust survival story I could get my hands on? Is there a reason I’ve chased Jewish men? (Totally accidental, but when you’ve been dating for 25 years and yet another suitor is Jewish, in the western United States, you recognize the trend. “Of course you are!”)

(One of my boyfriends said, “Are you sure you’re not Jewish?” when I sang “Hashivenu.”)

I’m an Anglo-American Ashkenazi Jew!

So!… I’m filling in the names and dates. I get to Louis Miller, whom I knew to be the one to bring this wonderful blood to my veins. My beautiful grandmother, whose life story I wrote, is LaWana Miller because her great-grandfather changed the family name from Mueller when they came to this country. Only by Googling the people myself was I to learn that Mueller is simply an Ashkenazi name for the village miller. My family had the blanks filled in already, but I never knew ’til now who they were.

The Muellers, of course, had been Christian for generations, but I found a forbear named Spangenberg. Hm. ??? (I also found the surname Pabst, and anyone who knows me well knows just how perfect that is. “They don’t give blue ribbons to everything.”)

I digress!

By now I was home and couldn’t stop. When I got stuck finding ancestors online, I pulled out my boring stacks of black-and-white paper with names and years and blanks and grids… Like I said, I have it all. Always have. I decided to closely read an account included in the pile. It was a life sketch of Sarah Ann Haigh, whom I’ve introduced you to (https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/meet-sarah-my-beloved-ancestral-mother/), and Louis Frederick Miller [nee Ludwig Friedrich Mueller]. I’d never read it thoroughly before because I know the story. It’s our lore and we’re very proud of her.
Little did I know…

Sarah was a dreamer, too!

Despondent after her husband died, she met him in a dream across a fence. Expressing a desire to join him, he said her work wasn’t done. He told her it was better than she thought it would be [in Zion], and it would get better still. A man approaching on her side of the fence took her by the arm, and they walked away together. Some months later Sarah met Louis, whom she called “Miller” for the fifty-plus years of their life together, and recognized him as the man in her dream.

Knowing I have another dreamer, on my mother’s side now, makes me feel less psychic myself, and more human and exactly like anyone. We all have access. We all have dreams. We all know. We’re from the same place. We’re in this together. We’re the same.

23andme.com is the best gift I ever gave myself. $108 and some change for thrilling scientific information, and reconnection to my true self, my goodness, my spirit, my people, my fellow man, you.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

*The Ashkenazi are an ethno-religious group indigenous to Israel that migrated to Europe.

23andme.com

All the revelations, new understandings, and information make the picture more complete while simultaneously shrouding life in ever more complex, delicious mystery. I am in love with 23andme.com!

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

DO IT DO IT DO IT! Don’t you wanna know?
(You do! It’s amazing, this feeling of antiquity, humanity, sameness, and uniqueness!)

A Homeland In The West

Utah Jews Remember

In the summer of 2009, this wonderful book caught my eye and I bought it for $20. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t let it go unpurchased. I kept meaning to read it. “I have got to read that book!” I chided myself again and again. I thought it would make the most thrilling conversation-starter coffee table book. It’s about Salt Lake’s Jewish pioneers.

This year, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by and claustrophobic in all my stuff. How can one woman have so much STUFF, for the love of all that is holy!? This summer I¬†participated in¬†The¬†Greatest Yard Sale of Time and All Eternity. I put¬†that book up for¬†2 bucks. “Clearly, this doesn’t belong to me,” I thought as I imagined the true owner finding it in the library. I could feel the excitement of¬†sharing in that magic and joy together.

No one bought it. “Huh. I guess it’s mine, after all.” I was confused. I felt it finding home.

I found her! She moved here from San Francisco and joined my African Dance class. We went to lunch and she told her story and ancestry. It was well after my Saturday nap that I remembered that neglected book. I took it to class the next week. It was Hanukkah!

Not only was it appropriate for the little¬†gal whose grandparents helped found Salt Lake’s Jewish Community, they were in it! She looked in the index. “Oh, yep. Here they are,” she said, turning to the page with their¬†story and WEDDING PICTURE here in the SLC!

Thanks, angels. It’s not the first time I bought something for a future owner other than myself, but it was certainly the best one. I can’t sufficiently capture the thrill and humility.

The Sordid Story of My Book

I’m so glad I have a photocopy of Abigail’s story. Mom sent it to me a couple of years ago, when my co-worker Teresa became excited about Abigail after I shared her story.

Over the last 20 years I created¬†the false memory in which her husband was killed by an anti-Mormon mob, ha!¬†Now, I research my facts and tell the unexaggerated truth. And Mom still flatly refuses to give me¬†the family history in which I found Abigail’s story. I “met” her face first, in a photo-lineage of my people on that side. It was amazing!

Azalia,¬†my paternal grandmother,¬†did the work, compiling the stories, photos, and genealogies, creating a fat book of my family through hers. I’m in it! On my beautiful mother’s lap. My dad’s in his uniform. My sister and brother¬†are the cutest toddler and Kindergartner!

My mom¬†divorced that clan, but she paid $20 for that book, by damn. It’s hers, not the property of Abigail’s rightful heir – ME – her “latest generation,” which holds her “in honorable remembrance,” just as she wished.

She’s mine. I want my book! It’s a button. I pushed it in my last battle of the War with Mother,¬†in¬†November 2011. I hadn’t pushed¬†THE button¬†for¬†15 years. It went that far. It was the punch in¬†her face from 19-year-old me, and, just like then, I’m out. They’re not speaking to me, for the umpteenth time.

I’m secretly terrifed she’s destroyed¬†the book¬†since then, but I just can’t see Mom doing that. She’s such a good¬†person. That’s something I¬†might do. Instead, I¬†proceed with gratitude that she has my book in her safe keeping. It¬†exists because she holds it for me. It would not have survived my suicidal years, which claimed¬†my scrapbooks and journals. I have that blessed xerox of Abigail’s story, and my book will come,¬†eventually.

I am grateful. My aunt says she might be able to find an extra in the family clutter.¬†It won’t be necessary. Mom’s still¬†caring for¬†mine. She’s a¬†worthy woman, too. She’s¬†holding it ’til I’m ready. It has blessed her life, helping her tell stories of faith and endurance in church, where she feels connected to her personal truth, which I love and celebrate. So I’m glad she continues to enjoy my book. I’ll read it cover to cover, someday.