The latest season of “Who Do You Think You Are” has been on TLC lately. Now, first, I am a little celebrity — obsessed seems like such a harsh word — I’m interested in celebrity and celebrities. I have loads of friends who don’t know who people are and don’t really care about what celebrities are doing. I’m not one of them. I’m not blown away by reality tv “stars,” but people who I’ve gone to the movies to see or who have moved me with their story and performance, I’m very interested in. I want to know everything, but I’ve always wanted to be in on the secret of everything. I think that’s why I wanted to be a therapist…I want to know the dirt. I don’t care about the gossip, I just want the knowledge. I think that’s why Twitter pisses me off so much. I want it to be a conversation between me and people I’ve accepted as someone I “know.” Clearly, it is not. Sometimes you can get someone to respond to you or retweet or favorite something you post. Saints alive if you can get them to follow you… But more often than not I get nothing in return. I say it’s a lot like standing in the middle of a busy party talking to yourself.
I’m also very interested in genealogy. I love seeing the path that has lead to me. I like to see patterns and pockets. There’s a long list of farmers and laborers in my own family tree (so many railroad workers!). And being pretty nomadic myself, it’s funny to see that my family has deep deep roots in Pennsylvania. I love to imagine my great-great-grandparents as babies. I just wish I didn’t have to research John Smith and William Thomas in England. Talk about a needle in a haystack!
So, combine two interests and baby, I’m there! I’ve been watching pretty religiously. It’s fun to see that celebrities are “just like us!” Not every story is great – Christina Applegate’s family had a dark side. I suspect Cindy Crawford’s story will make me hate her (in a loving way).
All of this got me thinking about people who do genealogy for a living. I imagine that the personality trait that would be most valuable in this line of work is patience. I spend hours looking at census from across the decades, my eyes crossing, and I know what I’m looking for. I can’t imagine trying to track down somebody else’s story.
I wonder what kind of training is involved in genealogy. How do you access records? I imagine there are a lot of people who just get really good at looking at local records. I can’t keep straight my own lineage, I don’t know that I could do that for others. What if you have to tell somebody their relative was an a-hole? I read that George Washington doesn’t have any direct descendants, so if someone came to me saying they believe they have Washington in their family tree, I’d be hard pressed not to laugh in their face.
Oh, what about people who do the DNA testing that determines what your ethnicity is? That would be interesting too. Maybe I would find out I’m related to one of the celebrities who doesn’t respond to my Tweets.