Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Brief Excursion Into The Tangled Underbrush of Heisenberg Family History

Out of nowhere this holiday weekend I got a letter from a supposed cousin of mine whom I've never met. This would be a cousin on my mother's side, the Quislings, Quisling being Teh 'Mom's maiden name, her father having been Glaven Quisling, born May 15, 1899, which those of you who've cared enough to pay attention will recognize as my birthday as well, except mine happened in 1960. And that — the fact that I was born on my grandfather's birthday — is why I was named "Glaven Quiznos Heisenberg" instead of something lame, like Steve Quick, or something lamer still, like Run Bitch Run1.

So anyroad, I got this letter out of the blue from this guy claiming to be the grandson of Glaven Quizgame's sister. Included in the letter was my grandfather's obit from the NYT in 1949.

The fact that the guy could trace himself back to my grandfather, Glaven Quisp, should on its own have been enough to prove he was for real, was an actual relative. But in his letter, he also included the odd but seemingly innocuous factoid that he was curious about my side of the family because his grandmother — my grandfather's sister — never talked about her brother. Obviously, there had been some sort of falling out between siblings, viz., my grandfather and his sister. I read that part to Teh 'Bride and she sez: "O, he's related to you on your mother's side of the family, all right!"

Because my mother was a skilled — nay: unmatched — practitioner of the Art of what Teh 'Bro accurately calls "Teh Shunning". Teh 'Mom, bless her Irish heart, was perpetually not speaking to someone or other. Teh 'Bro had been on the receiving end of this treatment more than once for some unclear transgression or other. (Rule One of Shunning: You never tell the Shunned why he's being Shunned. What fun would that be?) One particular 'Bro-aimed Shunning lasted for over a year, as I recall.

I myself was never Shunned, but that's only because I'm just objectively so goddamned, fucking lovable that you just want to Eat Me Up, not Shun me. I am, in fact, one of the few relatives of Teh 'Mom who wasn't Shunned by her.

Now, I can't say that these Shunnings were all initiated by Teh 'Mom, because if this letter from my long lost cousin proves nothing else, it proves this, at least: that Shunning in the Queequeg Family is pretty much a dominant genetic trait. Teh 'Mom was the Past Master at it — and why wouldn't she be? She had the most practice — but others in my family could Shun Teh Fuck outta you, too. Part of the reason I never really got Shunned is I tend not to notice when I'm being Shunned and not spoken to; I just enjoy the quiet and think of it as a gift.

So, okay, maybe I have been Shunned. I just didn't care enough to notice.

So normally, while I'm enjoying the unusual and welcome quiet of An Unrecognized Shunning, Teh 'Bride has to ruin it by being "observant". She'll ask, "When was the last time your sister called?" And I'll be like, "Who the fuck cares?" And she'll be, "You know, I bet she's mad because of ..." and then she'll name some truly lame "offense" that only someone of Quiply Family Lineage could possibly be mad about, and she'll insist this "offended" my sister and I'll be obliged to e-mail her and Extend Teh Olive Branch.

All because Teh 'Bride has to go and "notice" things!

So anyroad, this guy contacts me to kinda fill in the blanks about my Mom's side of the family. Boy, did he pick the wrong Quakely-Heisenberg! Because our family history is made up of a series of disconnected anecdotes that I vaguely remember Teh 'Mom recounting at various times about people whose names I couldn't keep straight, much less their supposed relation to me, and so these stories've lost, in Whisper-Down-The-Lane fashion, even more useful data in my version. Plus, I just totally forgot most of them, because they are stories about people I never met because they all died before I was born.

In general, my family history is comprised of oral-tradition2 anecdotes. Anecdotes that are impossible, by the way, to string together into anything that even resembles a coherent narrative — coherent narratives being one of the main tools we use to remember long and complicated stories. But for Qiusbro history, you might have this one strand that you know eventually connects up with this other strand, but there's like a decade missing between them and so you can't get there from here without resorting to Fox Newsing it (i.e., making up your own facts). And even if you could connect them? The story they'd tell would be more subplot than plot; you'd end up more Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead  than Hamlet.

But the thing is, I think there may be something more akin to Hamlet — or, better still, King Lear — in my family history, but those stories are probably lost.

I debated even responding to this guy, but Teh 'Bride and Teh 'Dad prevailed upon me, so I e-mailed him and have heard back already. He seems nice enough. I'll keep my distance, though, because I really already have enough family to contend with (there is currently yet another Family Shunning in progress, and who need the potential for more of that bullshit?). Plus, genealogical ties? Meh. Who cares? My adopted son and I share no genes, yet he couldn't be more my son. To me, shared genes are not what makes a family.

At times? They even stand in the way.
November Stats:
Running Miles: 110.27 (1013.4 miles for the year so far)
Walking: 32.73
Total: 143

You will notice that there are still no pussy-@$$ miles from riding my pussy-@$$ recumbent exercise bike because it's still broken. But I should be getting it back from Art's Welding any day now. We took it there a few weeks ago and Art promised to call us next day to tell us if it was fixable. He never did. I finally went there this past Friday and he said it got buried under a pile of stuff but was fixable and that it'd be done that day. We then promptly never returned to get it.

But we will. This weekend.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy because I was hoping to break 1000 running miles for the year, which I did. Now I want to make it 1100. Which I should have no problem doing .

November's 110.27 running miles just edges out March's 110.21 miles for the most of any month this year. And March had one more day than November.

There's a stat I won't Shun.
1 Praise Jebus I dodged those bullets!

2 As opposed to LuMu, who's more from teh anal tradition.


  1. Who's LuMu - no wait, nevermind. I don't need any additional details around footnote 2.

    Shunning ... the gift that keeps on giving. I like that :)

    Congrats on the 1000 miles. If I can count miles on the elliptical, I ran 5 mile last month. Impressive, huh?

  2. Mine is not exactly a close family; once at Christmas I realized it had been more than 10 years since I'd seen my brother Richard (yes, there really is a Dick Quick out there) and, after mentioning the fact, we ran out of conversation.

    Oral family history/legend is always fun. My Uncle Charlie (great great granduncle by marriage) was hanged as a horse thief... allegedly. Great Uncle Tunis, drunk as usual, tried to beat a one-eyed dragon in a fistfight, which turned out to be a streetcar in disguise. (G.G.G.) Aunt Hattie never got used to being "civilised" and peed in the street on a regular basis. (G.G.) Uncle Otto was so cheap he'd bring a box of strawberries to a family gathering and say he "didn't have time to buy two."

  3. Oh, and as a fan of all things starting with a "Q"... Qiusbro? What the heck is Qiusbro?

  4. @SteveQ - Fuck if I know. I was running outta fake Q-words when I came up with that one out of sheer laziness and when I noticed, after uploading the post, that I had transposed the "u" and the "i", I just couldn't be persuaded to care. So it was supposed to be "Quisbro", if that helps at all.

    All of the stories I know about my grandfather are useless anecdotes, which means they must be true. Teh 'Bride just last night found a circa-1935 NYT article in which he was named as being the President of the New York St. Patrick's society, or some Irish nonsense or other. Which stands to reason. Because one of the few stories I know about him involves his traveling back from England with his uncle - "The Monsignor" - who raised him. The Monsignor, being a Quisling family member, was also as Irish as the day is long (and, being a Monsignor, obviously Catholic), but he was evidently a real Anglophile, and traveled to England every year. (Yeah. Vows of poverty are not what they used to be, just as vowels of chastity mean it's still open season on altar boys.)

    Anyroad, the ship they were on had to make a stop at a port in Ireland and my grandfather evidently ran down the gangplank and kissed the Irish soil. Much to the stern Monsignor's chagrin. Naughty grandpa! Teh Mom laughed when she told that story.

  5. And speaking of oral tradition (interpreted by mind, not yours)...wouldn't you love to have your mom's voice and laugh recorded telling that story? I think about this all the time when a resident tells me something funny or interesting and even more so when a relative shares a family nugget. Please buy a $40 digital voice recorder and ask Teh Dad to tell you some of his stories. What a priceless keepsake, and a great way for Ian to always know him. xo

  6. Comment by the numbers!

    1. My most favoritest, GQH post title EVER!

    2. My family is just Irish enough and just Catholic enough to fully participate in the Shunning rituals. My husband is immune to their guilt inducing powers (The heathen!), and never gets why I spend hours, days,months trying to tease out what my offense was from a shun inducing event.

    3. I had to ride the pussy-ass (any reason why your symbol-ize the 'ass' part and not the pussy part? Curious how that makes it more PC?) recumbent bike at the gym today. I was given a recovery plan for my hip which oddly enough says my fat ass should not run on it everyday.

    4. 1000 miles is freaking awesome. I would love to say something snarky, but I got nothing. That is just plain awesome.

    4. Why do Carrie's comments always make me all misty eyed and feel like I need to call my mom?

  7. I think I like this shunning business. It probably saves one a fortune come Christmas time.

    Beth: "Who's LuMu?" That would be me - the much maligned former blogger who is now G.'s number one fan. I love him despite his constant and unseemly references to my hung bole.

    RBR: "Why do Carrie's comments leave me misty eyed?" Hmmm... Well, perhaps because you're a WEENIE, that's why! Suck it up, you! Your emotional, sensitive side is a disgrace to trannies everywhere! Find your ball sack already.