My DNA – Blame the 0.5%

My DNA is unique.  As is yours.  I am a 100% authentic individual.  I, and I alone, am me.

This goes beyond my lifelong non-conformity.

I believe its roots can be traced right back to the Stone-Age.

I promised a couple of months ago to give you words.  (Note:  I never claimed good words, just words.  Even Shakespeare wrote some crap.)

Today’s words are strictly about me.  Feel free to click off and move along to more interesting daily activities.  Here goes:

I have never met my mother.  Or my father.  My biologicals (as I call them) were not married, and apparently during the pregnancy it was decided to put baby me up for adoption.

I harbor no ill will towards them.  Let me make that clear.  I was adopted into a family that tried their best, despite their own struggles.

Periodically in life, my mind wanders back to those biologicals.  Where are they now?  Are they alive?  Is their life happy?  Do they wonder about me?  Ever?

All my life, I have felt alone.  The degrees of aloneness (if that’s a word) depends on what’s happening in my life right at that moment.

But alone.

I was a shy, nerdy awkward kid, and I have bloomed into a shy, nerdy, awkward adult. But alone.  Even marriage and fatherhood has not fended off the feeling.

When I turned forty, I was in the midst of one of what I can only call a Dan decision.  I had a job that had turned from fun and pleasant into an absolute nightmare in just a few short months.  My stress levels and blood pressure were at all-time peaks.  So, rather than stay and do the walk-of-shame when fired from said job (which I could tell was on the horizon), I did the only thing that my being would allow me to.

I quit.

I had no back-up plan.  No new position lined up.  No savings.  Nothing.  The best way I can describe the feeling is what I can only imagine that sky-diving with no parachute might feel like.

But the day I walked out, I felt the best I had in years.  As I pulled out of the parking lot, I updated my Facebook status.

“Elvis has left the building.”

A few days later, the reality set in.

I beat myself up.  Married.  Kids.  Debt up to my ass.  And now, turning 40 and unemployed.

What a fine life you’ve carved out for yourself, my mental Dan told me.

There are just somethings I cannot do.  And not be my honest self is one of those things.  It goes back to my earlier statement.

It’s a Dan thing.  You wouldn’t understand.  Sometimes I don’t understand.  Kind of like this blog.

Anyway, during my “sabbatical” I decided to hunt up some info on who I really am.  Maybe that might explain some of this mystifying behavior.

I called the adoption agency with some questions, under the guise of gathering some health history.  Those of you who might not be familiar with adoption, in this state, adoption records are court-sealed.  So I knew that names and addresses were out of the question.  But when the solitary traveler seeks, he takes what he can get.

A friendly gent answered, and I told him what I sought.  He called back within an hour and asked me to grab a pen and paper.

He then read me all of the notes from the intake workers (probably nuns) that occurred during the process.  Some highlights:

Father is Strikingly good-looking (it might help to view that in the context of a sexually-frustrated nun making the observation) and obviously a trait he didn’t share with me.  Selfish bastard.

Mother physical description:  25, 5’11, brown hair, green eyes.  (My wife’s exact description, except age, by the way)

The gentleman described how I was presented to my mother in the hospital 3 times during her stay.  Each time, she would have to hold me and hand me back to the social worker and confirm that she was willing to give me up for adoption.

Sounds absolutely brutal to me, but I get the gravity of the decision she was making.

The last time I was presented to her, she made a comment that the social worker wrote down.

“He certainly is a handsome baby.”

Every time that I think about that line, I cry.

I don’t know if the tears are for me or her or the both of us.  But I cry.

That experience scratched that particular itch for a while.

This summer, on Facebook, I found a study at Washington University for smokers and their DNA.  I decided to sign up, not for the money, but for the free DNA analysis.  I would receive a complete breakdown of what I was and where my roots were.

6 long weeks passed from giving the sample and getting the email.  Which I got last week.  Some of you who are Facebook friends may have seen the status post.

So, without further ado, my DNA is as follows:

96.5% European, broken down something like this:

2/3 British/Irish/French/German

1/3 Italian/Sardinian

2.9% Native American – I knew that there had to be some in me somewhere.  Native blood is strong and powerful.

0.1% Sub-Saharan African

Holy shit, I’m black.  A minute percentage, but I’m pretty sure I know where the black landed on me.  😉

For your mathematicians out there, you are asking for the remainder.


And the last note on the report:

0.5% Not identified.

And therein lies the answer.  Whatever that 0.5% is, that’s where I believe the soul of who I am is.

Not identified. Uncommon.  Unexplained.  Raw, Neanderthal DNA still scratching at the rocks and howling at the moon.

0.5% that seems to win my heart and mind every time.

So when you read things here that you don’t understand or enjoy, blame the 0.5%.  That’s what I plan to do.

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