Monday, August 18, 2008

Fun Monday: Roots

Irish Fest, Festa, and a bit of Yankee bashing got me thinking: Do we feel like Irishmen or Italians, Cheeseheads or plain ol' Amerikins?

I was talking to a Brit friend about Irish grandmothers, and when I asked her about being Irish in England, she was insulted and said that she was English (even though she's half Irish).
A lesson learned about how the melting pot melts.

My reaction to anti-American sentiment surprises me because I've felt disenfranchised since I was two (and my mass of curly hair became a sand and ant magnet).

Celtic StormAre we defined by nationality or region, looks, profession or lack thereof?
What defines you: Your job, your family, your desires, your roots—what?

BodhranIf that's too much for a Fun Monday would you ever deny being Irish? To me it's unthinkable (although I was, if you recall, raised Italian).

Drinking tee

58 comments:

Karmyn R said...

I consider myself an Oregonian - nothing else because my heritage background is such a mixed bag.

Jeanna said...

Oregon is a great place and I can see why you'd feel that way, Karmyn. We are a nation of mongrels, aren't we?

Rayne said...

I was raised Irish, first. American, second. After the past few years I really don't feel as if there is an American anymore or even an America. I feel as if we are a country where people come to get what they can and then leave and that those of us who were born here should make way for them and give them everything while being ashamed of ourselves for being American.

Lil Mouse said...

i would never deny being irish (O'Neal in my immediate background, dont you know!) and I've found people dont judge me on it at all. and yes, i realize americans are bashed all over the globe, but i try and do my part through my blog to reach out, be inclusive and show that SOME Americans aren't just focused on themselves... I think as a nation, we are defined by our work, and at certain times, in certain situations by other things. politics during presidential election years for example. and what defines me? i try and define myself and forget what other people say about me.

Jeanna said...

That's deep, Rayne. I don't know why I haven't thought of these things before, maybe because the town I live in is full of liberals, intellectuals, and happy thoughts.
It's very cool you were raised Irish first.

Jeanna said...

Hey Lil Mouse, like I say, I'm sheltered. It hurt me personally when I started to hear the bashing from the Brits.
Good for you, you keep on keeping on.

Jan said...

My family's been in American, forever, since the 1700's. So, I'm defined by what I do. I'm a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, animal lover. I'm a bookseller, artist, garender, cook, photographer. I'm no longer a seamstress, but I'm an knitter and crocheter.

Jeanna said...

Good answer, Jan. You sound as if you're living life.

iPost said...

i define myself as human. i am proud to live in America and call myself an American, but it doesn't define my inner most soul.

As far as ethnicity goes, i am part Native American (Cherokee) and part mutt (all mixed up European lineage...Scottish, Irish, English, etc.).

Jeanna said...

Wow, Ipost, what a great combination. Maybe asking what defines your inner most soul would have been a better question, but I wasn't thinking that deeply.

Sayre said...

What defines me first is my son - being a mother is the most important thing in my life. Everything else is secondary.

As for my "place", my parents are both of a northern heritage. My mom's family is from Norway, several generations back. My father is an English immigrant. He was still subject to the crown when I was born, so I had dual nationality for my first 21 years. Due to WWII, he actually spent much of his growing up time in North Wales - and THAT place is where his heart and consequently his family is from. I've been over there several times and would LOVE to live there, but you know what? North Wales is becoming a lot like Florida! The tourists have taken so much over.

Jeanna said...

Dual nationality, quite cool.
North Wales is like Florida? Full of elderly Jewish ladies and polyester pants? I'd like to see that. Bet I'd like Wales.
You must have some sensitive skin, I don't know whether to blame the Norksies or the Irish for that, but the Italian genes always come through in the summer.
Thanks for the interesting answer, Sayre.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I'm a Brit. I was born in the UK, but this isn't the only thing that defines me.

"Your job, your family, your desires, your roots—what?"

All of them I suppose, but most of all my family, my beliefs, my wants and needs and hopes and my past. They're all tiny parts of the whole that is me :D

Jeanna said...

Hi Jo, I guess the tiny parts are what makes us tick.

Joy T. said...

I'm a wife and mother first, anyone who knows me knows this about me. But now that the kids are growing up and I have more time for just me, I'm looking to re-define myself. Of course after 20 years as a sahm, first I have to stop walking in circles from confusion. But after that I'm going kick some butt :o) As for nationality, I'm proud to be German/Dutch. I don't shout it from the rooftops but I definitely don't shy away from telling people who I am.

Jeanna said...

Good for you, Joy. And good luck with the re-definition, it could be a lot of fun.

Jettie said...

Being a mom defines me!!
I had well lets see not the best life growing up!! As alot have. We were beaten alot and iam proud to say Iam nothing like them!!! :)
I love the mom Iam!!

survivor said...

WOW -What a GREAT question! I think for me anyway -my body type defines me or I have let it define me and then my profession -I just retired 31 years with the Feds -it is hard -I found out I had a job for all those years not a career -forgot to make friends outside of work after college -forgot to get married and have kids -the career came first -well the mantle is gone for good and I am really enjoying my Bucket List adventures; my body type (that yes held me back from some promotions/advancements); my beautiful Irish freckles, eyes, Scottish skin and curly brown/red hair; the slowly very slowly dwindleing fat frame -PURE American baby!- Yes I am enjoying it all from this side of life! Great question!

storyteller said...

I’m a native California gal … (half Dutch on my Mom’s side of the family) and Heinz 57 on my Dad’s … barefoot and carefree these days now that I’m ‘happily retired’ ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Sandcastle Momma said...

What a great question! I've never really thought about how I define myself but now, thinking about it, I would think of myself as a woman first, a mother second, a Floridian third and an American fourth. I'm proud to be an American so it surprises me that it comes in fourth but there it is. It also surprised me that the kids came in second LOL

Molly said...

Well, in the US, everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Mostly I am a human. I am a also a wife, mother, grandma, teacher, Democrat, Methodist, woman, and an American. I too have mixed heritage that includes Irish, English, German, French, and who knows what else. My lovely granddaughter is those nationalities plus Mexican, Lebanese, and possibly some Welsh and Swiss.

Stephanie, Mama Dramatist said...

I'm a Texan.

However, I'm defined by my Irish grandfather and my love of all things Irish (especially the music -- pass me a bodhran!!). I'm defined by my Scotsman husband. I'm defined by my German grandmother's wonderful recipes.

And I'm defined by my daughter as "Mommy".

jodi said...

hmm...Jeanna, if you live in a town of happy thoughts AND eat cheese, does that mean you're a cheesy optimist? *ducking* (hey! stop throwing things, lol)

I think I'm just me. :)

That's a very profound question...

Jeanna said...

That's a tough road to travel, Jettie. I greatly admire you for breaking the cycle.

Hey Survivor, we have some things in common there. I dropped about 70 lbs, and many things I took for granted long ago are all the much sweeter the second time around. Good for you! Enjoy that bucket list and let those curls flow, lassie.

Hugs and blessings to you too, barefoot storyteller! Is being barefoot required in California? Happy retirement to you.

Tiggerlane said...

Having only recently discovered my heritage, I can honestly say that my family (my immediate - husband and daughter) define me the most...that and my career! And what I've accomplished in life...vague enough for ya?

Jeanna said...

Hi Molly, everyone seemed to be Irish at Irish Fest as well. It was a lot like St. Paddy's with REALLY good music and no fake accents like at Festa Italiana. If I saw that list I'd remember "teacher" the most. Wow! What an amazing combo for your granddaughter.

Hey Stephanie, I laughed when I read your first sentence. Why is there such a place in my heart for Southerners? Then again, Texas is something else all together.
The bodhran is soooo hard to play for something that looks so easy. Or maybe it's just me. Many on my dad's side are defined by my Irish grandma.

Jeanna said...

Well, Jodi, the profundity (don't care if it's not a word) probably comes from reading your blog, doncha know.
It's a well known fact that happy cows mean happy cheese which means happy thoughts.
I was looking for something to throw...two liter bottle of warm Diet Ginger Ale, new Gaelic Storm CD, Tales From The Crypt comic book...no, nothing to throw at you.
Oh, and now you have me singing songs from South Pacific. Damn you, woman.

Ali said...

Loved your question,just had to reply ...

I try to deny being Irish all the time, but my accent gives me away ;-)

Jeanna said...

Hi Tiggerlane, that's a full list. I'd like to hear the story of how you just discovered your heritage.

Now why in the name of Jameson would you want to deny you're Irish, Ali? Isn't all that rain crazy? If it starts up again here we are all truly going to float away.

Big Momma said...

I am a mutt (not nut) who defines hereself by her family.

IamwhoIam said...

I think I am who I am - I mix of my root, my family , my town, my own limit life, my nationally, my fears The whole kit and kabootal.

Faye said...

I'd never deny my Scots-Irish roots since it's a pretty direct line by way of Appalachian Mountains. Why, the old English language was common in my home when I was a child. Example: I'm been "plagued" before(embarrassed). Hopefully have the Irish love of humor and music and the Scots money sense--well maybe not that.

Jeanna said...

Hey Big Momma, sorry I didn't see you were from Ohio, and here I was ready to add you to my Made In Wisconsin sidebar list.

Great icon IamwhoIam. I think you're name says it all.

I hear ya, Faye. I was thinking about that on my walk, how I don't look a bit Irish except for my pasty white Irish behind. Then I thought about the Irish love of music and the sense of humor.
Do you really want a Scot's money sense?

jodi said...

...why, damn it??? I'm going around making the hand motions from the most techni-colored show about the South Pacific ever. I actually own the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, and know all the words.

swampy said...

What defines me? I am a mother,grandmother, a wife (those orders change on a regular basis), a survivor of breast cancer, friend to many, teacher...heritage: Native American (Cherokee with a roll number) German, just a mongrel mix !
An OU Sooner and an OSU Cowboy.
AND a life-long learner.

Jeanna said...

Does that mean you're singing Happy Talk, Jodi? Now that's a dumb ass song. Blah, blah, blah, blah happy talk. See how we talk happy alll daaayyy.
And of course you do.
So I looked up Pie Face and found out I was thinking of Pie In The Eye which was indeed on a board game (which I had and loved-Shenanigans) and TV show.
Funny, my mother was claiming Mitzi Gaynor was in On The Town just last night. I say "No." Am too full of bug spray and Cadbury Buttons to look it up. And a British Mars bar. Very good, but a bit stale. Like a 3 Musketeers bred with a Milky Way.

Jeanna said...

Hey Swampy, I only had lobular carcinoma in situ, but do know the fear of breast cancer. You have a roll number?
Go Sooners!
I think I'm a life-long will never learner.

ChrisB said...

Your post reminds me that when my eldest grandson was small we used to ask him if he was Irish or English (mum English dad Irish). He always used to say (pointing to his body) this bit of me is English and this bit Irish. I wonder how he would respond now he has lived in Ireland since he was 18 months old!

C said...

What a great post, Jeanna! Hmmmm...my roots? I am Caribbean-Chinese-Spanish-Filipina-Canadian. How's that for confusing? Hubby's Scottish-English-Welsh-Canadian. Our baby (who is due in Feb) is going to be a Heinz 57!

P.S. I've got something for you on my blog :)

Jeanna said...

Hi Chris, what parts of himself did he point to? I'm sure parts of him are still English (insert joke here).

Jeanna said...

Hey Der C. Can you count Canadian, it is "Little America" isn't it? (Simpsons quote) Oh, that's why everybody hates us.
That In My Blood graphic was a little creepy btw, can tell you've been spending time at the doctor's office.
Thanks for the honor, you flatter me.
That's one crazy combination, C. I didn't know about the Spanish.
John, that totally makes sense.
Too bad neither of you is German, you could name the kid Heinz.

C said...

LOL! Love that! Great baby name, Jeanna!

Yes, there's some Spanish roots on my granddad's side of the family. My grandpa Pedro always looked like a little Spaniard and not like a filipino. He was one handsome man in his day. May he rest in peace.

"Little America"! :) I've never taken offense to stuff like that. My friend from Philadelphia used to always say that Canada is just another American State. LOL! Other friends of ours would get really ticked off, but I knew he was teasing...sort of. Can I tell you how many people hated him? Gotta love him! He's rude, crass, has absolutely no social filter, and is a bit hard to take at times, but deep down he's a real sweetie!

Jeanna said...

C.- "Little America" is far better than "America's Wang" (Florida).
Hmm, reminds me of someone we know...
I confess, I think of Canada as Northern Wisconsin.

hulagirlatheart said...

What defines me? Hmmm. My roots (the folks who raised me). I can't deny where I'm from, nor would I want to. My husband and daughter, my desires, my job, my faith. Gosh, the list could go on and on. I'm a work in progress, shaped by many things.

Jeanna said...

I don't want to deny where I'm from either Hulagirlatheart, and have rarely been given a hard time about it. But when I have, it's just confusing.
Congrats on your 5K.
Don't you wish more people were works in progress instead of one and done?

lisaschaos said...

I don't really know if I have an Irish in me or not but I would always claim to be. :) I love so much Irish!

Jim's Chocolate Mission said...

I would say im British and proud of it!!!

if you asked the same question to a Scot (some from Scotland!) they would say they they were Scottish and distance themselves from being British completely....I just dont know what it is...they are certainly a proud bunch!

Personally I couldn't give a damn about where people come from....its great to be proud of your heritage...but unhealthy to obsesse (sp!?) over it!

Jim

Jeanna said...

I think the Dempsey-Olsons are driven mad by that little bit of other disrupting our Irish blood, Lisa, but what the hey, the more the merrier. (The moor the merrier?)

Jeanna said...

I think the Irish side is pretty into it, Jim, but that's okay with me, love the whole culture. I've always thought of myself as an Italian, though, having spent my formative years in Italian households.
Funny thing, both Irish and Italian relatives have lived in England, some remaining behind and both sides preferring it to either Italy or Ireland. Still have some Italian relatives in South Hampton.

BS said...

I don't deny being 1/2 Irish ! With a maiden name that begins with "McL" - how could I ? My grandfather was very proud of where he came from but he didn't sport the "green" - only the "oranage" !!

Dallas said...

This is an interesting question - I'm going to comment on the nationality/state part. My husband was born in Sweden but grew up in the US, and lives now in the US, and sounds like a tourist when he goes back to Sweden, but he calls himself Swedish. I consider myself a Texan, because I was raised by Texans and my name is a Texas city, but I never lived there. I'm just a Texan by heart.

Jeanna said...

Hi BS, and how could you? Everybody sing: Your father he was orange and your mother she was green.

Jeanna said...

Of course you do, Dallas, I bet it's hard to find a Texan who would say anything different.
Say, how do you get such clear, crisp photos on your blog? Mine never look that good.

Alison said...

my mom is Welsh, born and raised and came to California in her 20's. My dad is Irish American, met my mom and they married and she stayed here!! I was adopted so I never saw myself as either, just their daughter. My children are also adopted..a full circle. I define myself as a wife,mother, sister, daughter, friend.

Jeanna said...

That's interesting, Alison, and it's surprising how many Irishmen there are living here. There have been a few Welshman heard from too.

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

I'm a Yankee Bra and proud of it!

stwidgie said...

On definitions: I suppose if I'm anything, I'm from Northwest Indiana. As far as I could tell, the whole ethnic heritage thing was irrelevant until sometime after "Roots" aired, and then everyone became interested in finding theirs. Which is fine.

A troubling thing to me is how much Irish-American self-identification with drunkenness I see at Irish festivals. It just doesn't strike me as funny anymore, just sad.

And seeing as you were at Milwaukee Irish Fest, too: did you catch the Maimee Cajuns? Their washboard/percussion player looked so much like George Clooney! I must've taken two dozen photos trying to establish that... ;^)

Jeanna said...

I only wish we could have spent more time there, StWidgie.
There is a lot of drinking, but then again, the state of WI is no slouch at that either, and you have to remember that a lot of this has to do with age. It's an excuse for those of a certain age or mind set to let loose. As if they need any. For them it's fun and merry. Until someone loses an eye.
No, I wanted to see The Screaming Orphans, but didn't see them either. Ended up planted at the Miller Lite stage seeing three great bands instead.
So much music, so little time. Let me know if you post the Clooney photo.