Sidenote: This post is a day late. Something major that should be surprising to no one is that I am often very busy. This week has been a busy one at #NSLCinHouston and I didn't have time/remember to finish this post yesterday.
My sister (to this day) likes to jump out at me and cause me to scream or freak out. I jump at small noises and I hate scary movies. I've been surprised for my birthday before, and by my dad showing up in New Orleans when I won a national award last year. But something that doesn't surprise me in the least is my ancestry.
My maternal grandfather is very into genealogy – he and my grandmother have traced our ancestors back generations to a small town in Ireland. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Gallagher (also Irish), and with the Hiller and a bit of Pennsylvania Dutch* thrown in the mix, I was expecting an ancestry test to turn out very European.
Boy was I correct! According to the wonderful scientists who test spit samples for 23andme.com, I am 99.9% European. I may be the whitest person I know.
First, I didn't expect to discover that I'm 1% Ashkenazi Jewish. According to 23andme, this means that "You most likely had a third great-grandparent, fourth great-grandparent, fifth great-grandparent, sixth great-grandparent, or seventh great (or greater) grandparent who was 100% Ashkenazi Jewish. This person was likely born between 1720 and 1840." So, no one I even know the name of, but it's still interesting, especially considering the very religious nature of half of my family. And 1% isn't a lot, obviously, but I still think it's interesting.
Second, according to the researchers who processed my spit, I have more neanderthal variants than 70% of the population of those who have chosen to have their spit tested by 23andme (and this is less than 4% of my DNA, apparently). The one variant of significance I have alludes to the fact that I am less likely to have black hair. Well, mine is brown so I suppose this is accurate. Neanderthals' bones were originally found in the Neander Valley in Germany, so I guess my ancestors didn't really move too much at all. (Again, no surprise here.)
I'm pale to the point of getting sunburnt in the shade, my freckles exponentially increase in the summer, my hair is (most of the time) stick straight and won't curl easily, I'm 5 feet tall (1,5 meters) and probably won't grow any more, and I have blue eyes. My official DNA test results confirm and/or explain some of this (the paleness...) but regardless of what these test results show, or what the results from a competing service would show, I'm still just Kate. And at this point in my life, I'm quite happy being me.
*...which is actually German... according to my German professor, people didn't understand the word Deutsch back in the day and assumed these settlers were saying that they were Dutch)