Friday, November 17, 2006

Northern European Heritage

When I was a teenager, I became quite interested in my family's history. I wanted to trace my roots to find where my ancestors came from. While other families went to Disney World and Disney Land, my family took trips to rural Ohio to sift through country record books. These are good memories for me.

It is no surprise to find that I am a full quarter Swedish. The fact that I have been asked (not by an overly smart individual, but asked nonetheless) if I was albino. My skin is pale. Not the porcelain skin, but just lack of pigment. My skin is actually rather pinkish. My great grandfather, Bernhard, came to America on a ship, through the Great Lakes, and settled in Chicago. He returned to Sweden to marry Alma, my great grandmother, and then brought her back to America. This made my grandma full Swede and taking a look at my nose, you can guess which traits passed on.

My maternal grandfather's family had immigrated to America during Revolutionary times and while I have an extensive history since landing here, I don't know all the countries they arrived from. I can guess by the arrival times and settled areas, Northern Europe was the primary source of genes. On my paternal side, the family came from England, Germany, and France. There is a little bit of Scottish somewhere in there too.

What does this mean for me? It means that the sun, that great big ball of yellow in the sky, is not my friend. My eyes, blue, are quite sensitive to natural light. Ten minutes of summer sun will make my skin feel like it is on fire and I never tan. The closest I come to tanning is having a white band of skin surrounded by varying levels of pink where my watch resides.

My sensitivity to sunlight is a factor that I work the night shift. It feels better to be awake at night. At work, one of my peers will jokingly refer to me as Vampira. Today, on my way in from the parking lot, my peers saw me and we walked in together. Not a bright day, but bright in terms of fall/winter sunlight and I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. More teasing ensued.

Living the night life is not always exciting, yet I do enjoy it. There are things I miss out on because I sleep while most people work, but I do enjoy a pleasant summer evening. I love driving at night (as long as it is not raining). I don't deal with traffic, ever, and I don't get tired when I go out at night. Even on cold winter days, my car is usually frost free on the way to work - which gives me that extra 10 minutes in the morning. It also works out that if I want to chat online with foreign friends, I can usually catch them during their mornings.

It's not that bad. I do get to see the sunrise, usually once a week right before I go to bed. It does make me schedule more events and fall into routines to visit family.

Welcome to my world. I'm a night owl.