Randy Seaver has tagged me to be a part of the internet “Genea-tag” game going on in the online genealogical community (thanks, Randy!) and I’ve been asked to reveal "Five Things You Didn't Know About Me."
So, here goes:
1. When I was a child I had both the mumps and the chicken pox twice! This really baffled the doctors and worried my mother! I had the mumps and chicken pox together when I was about 3 or 4 years old, and the infection was so bad in the glands in my neck that I had to endure an operation. My glands were lanced to get the infection out. I still have the scars on either side of my neck. The second round of each came at about ages 8 and 9. My Slovak grandmother had some interesting home remedies for these maladies. For the mumps, my grandmother and mother cooked sauerkraut and wrapped it in a cloth for me to wear around my neck to reduce the swelling. I think it worked, but it was awful! To this day, the very smell of sauerkraut stirs this memory and I can’t eat sauerkraut!
The second time I came down with the chicken pox, I was sitting at the breakfast table eating my bowl of cereal and scratching the side of my head. I said “Mommy, look at this big mosquito bite on my head.” Well, it was the middle of winter in Pennsylvania—unlikely it was a mosquito bite. My mother called my grandmother and she told my mother to give me something very sour such as a grapefruit or lemon. This was her home remedy that was supposed to bring out the chicken pox. I remember insisting to my mother “I was not sick” and that “I WAS going to school!” Imagine a kid insisting on going to school! My mother just said “Okay” as she watched the chicken pox start popping out on my face, arms, legs, etc.! Needless to say I did not go to school for a week!
2. My favorite musical group when I was younger was the Bee Gees. I even took disco lessons and begged my aunt and cousin to take me to see Saturday Night Fever at the movie theatre. My mother refused to take me saying the content was not appropriate. My aunt and cousin covered my eyes and ears during those so-called parts of the movie, but my mother was still furious when she eventually found out that I had seen it! And I confess: I still listen to the Bee Gees today. They are but one group I include in the mix of music on my MP3 Player that ranges from Neil Diamond to Tim McGraw to U2 (my favorite group—I’ve seen them in concert 4 times!).
3. I am an only child and spent 14 years as primary caregiver for my mother and father during their various illnesses. I took care of my father through a stroke, a bout with cancer, a near amputation of his foot, and heart problems, and my mother during triple bypass surgery and three years on kidney dialysis. I did all of this while working my way through graduate school at Pitt and later on moving to Central NY for my job. My parents (and grandparents) stressed the importance of family above all else. Very few people know the personal and professional sacrifices I made during this time.
A picture with my parents, Ann & John Alzo taken on the day of my high school graduation
4. I have had some interesting comments from participants at conferences where I have been a speaker. The remarks had nothing to do with my presentations. For example: one woman asked me “When do you sleep?” after I mentioned all of the different activities I am involved in along with my full-time job and freelance writing work. Another gentleman told me: “You need a new picture [in the genealogy magazines] you are much prettier in person.” Finally, another individual once told me at a Czech/Slovak genealogy conference that I had a “beautiful complexion” and should “forget about genealogy and go into the cosmetics industry!”
5. This one may come as a shock to some. I do not breathe, sleep, and live genealogy. While I enjoy performing research, learning about my ancestors, and writing and speaking about family history, it’s not something that is “all- consuming” for me. Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone by this statement. It is actually more of a self-criticism because I know that I get bored very easily with tasks – even those that are genealogy related! It may be because I am a Sagittarius—a fire sign, and we Archers are characterized as wanting to experience as much of life as we can. We’re unhappy when tied down to a routine, and happiest when starting off on something new (which is probably why I sometimes jump from family line to family line during the research process). Sagittarians also have restless, adventurous minds, and like to take up new studies. Perhaps this is why I could not decide between “Nutrition” and “English” as my college major, so I studied both as a double major! I also find myself always juggling at least 3-4 diverse projects at any one time and have many interests outside of genealogy.
Now, I have to list five people I would like to tag. Since I don’t like to follow the crowd, I am going to be a bit unconventional in the folks I tag, so here goes:
Dan Burns, my good friend, fellow writer and blogger, and current collaborator on a new book project
Edith Wagner, editor of Reunions Magazine
Allison Stacy and/or Diane Haddad, Family Tree Magazine
Halvor Moorshead, Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy and History magazines
Steve Morse, creator of the fabulous “One-Step Web Pages”