Monday, April 4, 2016

DNA – No Way!

Ok guys, so I've never made any secret of the fact that I'm a total dork. It's true. I accept it. I bore people all the time with anecdotes from the latest documentary I've watched. I listen to history, feminist and freakonomics podcasts. My favorite gift every Christmas is a different college lecture series about words, grammar, or the history of language. (Thanks, Dad!)  Yeah, I'm a complete and total dork.

But, one of my biggest geek interests is in genealogy. (Sometimes, I swear there's a 70-year-old woman stuck in my body.) My mom has done a lot of research about our personal family tree, and we know the names going back quite a ways. But I just can't get enough of all things family history. And, not even just mine. I adore the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" on TLC (the latest season premiere was last night!) and "Finding Your Roots" on PBS. I'm giddy like a schoolgirl when a new episode is on.

These shows are so intriguing to me because not only do you get to find out the ancestors of people (famous or not, doesn't matter to me), but you get to take a ride through the history of the world as you do it. If you live in America but are not Native American, well, then you're ancestors came from somewhere else in the world at some point. The shows take you back to all these countries where people lived and, from some reason or another, left and came to America.

(Side note: there are many seasons of an English version of "Who Do You Think You Are?", which obviously wouldn't have the whole coming to America aspect. But, I can't get my hands on it. It's stuck across the pond. I've tried. That's how pathetic my obsession with these shows is.)

I always think about what it must've taken someone to leave everything they've ever known to set out across an ocean to find their place in the world. It's fascinating to me. The courage and fortitude people have shown throughout history is insane. It makes my suburban dilemmas seem pretty pathetic in comparison. I never had to escape a Russian pogrom or be chased out of my country by a totalitarian dictator. These are real things, people.

Also, it's crazy to think about the myriad choices all these people made and how it all ended up funneling to you and your DNA. I mean, it's nuts. One great-great-great-great-grandmother falling in love with Peter instead of John, and your whole DNA could be different. I could very well be a super tall genius blonde model if not for that one choice. (I mean, I'm almost there as it is, but, you know, I'm sure it was only that one choice that ruined my chances.)

In these shows, they often perform DNA tests on the guests to discover what their DNA can tell them about where their ancestors came from. It's mind-blowing to think that with a tiny little spit, scientists can tell you that at some point you had an ancestor from China that you never knew about. It can also find that you're related to someone else who had the same test done. In one episode of "Finding Your Roots," Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly found out that they are distantly related. Whew, that Thanksgiving table would be a boisterous one, for sure. Just make sure to hide the knives.

Anyway, all this buildup to tell you the really thrilling news of my day. I got my very own DNA ancestry kit in the mail. What?!?!? Yes.

Me with my very own DNA kit!

The official kit!
The inside. Because I'm sure you were curious.

I was so excited to get this today. It's like I'm living in my very own episode of my favorite TV shows! I mean, I don't have an awesome voiceover telling me about my great-great-great grandfather or my own personal professional genealogist researching all the stories in my family tree. But, still. It's pretty awesome.

All I had to do was receive the kit, register it online, spit in a tube, and send it back out.

Yeah, ok, the spitting part was a little gross. I'm not a big spitter. But, I did manage it.
Also, holy cow, my wrinkles are starting to take over my face. Yeesh. 

In a short 6-8 weeks, I'll have my whole DNA ancestral history. Truthfully, that part is a bit of a letdown. 6-8 weeks?!?! That's forever. Especially because I am so ridiculously eager to find out my results.

Will I find out that my big nose is actually from a certain long-lost ancestor we had no idea about? (Yes, someone once told me that.) Will I find out my red hair is actually from somewhere in South America? Ok, probably a no on that one. My pasty self is probably 100% Northern European. I'm thinking it's going to turn out to be a very boring DNA ancestry result, but I'm excited nonetheless.

And, don't worry, I'll definitely let you know the results when they FINALLY get in. I'm sure you're just as curious as I am. Right? That's what I thought. You can read along and just pretend that I'm actually a voiceover in your head, and then it really will be like we're all on my very own TV show. "Who Do You Think You Are?: Amy Lafferty version" It's going to kill in the ratings.


  1. How cool - I can't wait to hear the results - :) something I do one of my children is interested in! ahhhhh

  2. CANNOT wait for the results!!!!! So glad you did this..have thought about it, thank will help answer some of my curiosity too!!!!