A challenge is a good thing.

I have written so many times about the people who changed me and mentored me along the way. Teachers and professors that have impacted my path in ways I could never say thank you. But what about those who have changed you because they challenged you the whole way. Maybe you personally didn’t click or you didn’t necessarily like them, but because of that they pushed you. I never really talk about them much. Wait I take that back, I tell the story all the time to my students of the professor who once told me that I would just always put my family first and for that reason I could not have an academic career teaching the way I wanted and a family.

When I look back at that story and the way that that one comment pushed me I realized that even though I believed much to be wrong with that statement that it gave me drive. It gave me the will and want to prove him wrong. And I honestly believe I have. And I still keep it in the back of my mind as I push forward.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” 
― Molière

But I got word the other day of a surprise death of one of my previous instructors. An instructor that by all accounts I liked. But one who challenged me and one who pushed me hard. It made me take a moment out to think of the people and teachers I have had in my life that have pushed me and challenged me.

This first was my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Meadows. Mrs. Meadows got me on the heels of a big move for my family which also involved a move in schools. The only school I had ever been in since kindergarten and the following year after I had Mrs. Capps for third grade. Mrs. Capps was the first teacher ever to not only recognize my love for writing, but she encouraged it and in her steed I flourished and won awards. That basically to me what the perfect set up to not like what was coming next.

hooked_on_phonics_logoMrs. Meadows had big 80’s hair. She had blue eye shadow and she loved her darn phonics books. She was tall and lanky and she told us that our fourth grade year would be about mastering (her words) grammar and phonics finally. I didn’t know it then but that was the beginning of a life long struggle for me. She exposed that weakness. I remember our first paper we turned in. We had to write a story about American history and I wrote and created a story about Abigail Adams. I was super excited about her reading my paper and being impressed with my story telling the way Mrs. Capps always was.

But a few days after turning it in I got it back. It was completely marked in red and even had a note on it to see her. So I anxiously waited for the right time to see her and truly thought she was going to tell me my writing was good, but I needed to work on a few grammatical issues. And she did. But she never told me my writing was good. Instead she told me my writing needed A LOT of work and more work then she could do in the classroom. She also went to the effort to set me up with a years worth of hooked on phonics and no I am not joking. That day I went home with a pocket box of 12 workbooks that explored grammar, syntax and the nuance of our English language. I was to work through these books in addition to the work we would do in the class.

God bless my mom who made it fun and tried to see the positive in it and reminded me how much I love to write and pushed that this could just be an extension of that love. And partially she was write. It certainly fulfilled this weird need to practice writing that only I understand now was my inner desire and passion for teaching. I saw the benefits to this idea of skill and drill. But there is a reason that sometimes skill and drill is followed by kills in the education profession.

My belief in my writing abilities was dashed and I truly believed that Mrs. Capps was just being nice and that this Achilles heel of mine would always be there and stop me for the rest of my life. To this day, I still struggle with those words she spoke to me that fourth grade year. Thankfully, I am educated to know my syntax, grammar and usage stems from my background and heritage more than just something being fundamentally wrong. In fact, in my job and in my academic career I will probably always feel non-native because I learned differently. No hooked on phonics program could ever fix that. It is a personal struggle that I proclaim now and just own. I do that for two reasons. The first is it covers me and the second I hope it teaches my daughters and students to be okay with their own nuances. It is okay to not always be standard. In fact, I hope people often strive for differences.

But this professor who passed, I didn’t necessarily care for the subject she taught. For that I feel like when I had her I walked into her classroomahab with a chip on my shoulder toward her and her content. She was very traditional in a sense for a professor and what I mean when I say that I mean she fits most of what our society says a stereotypical professor should be. She looked the role and talked the role. But the material she taught I had trouble engaging in. I didn’t find it interesting and by the mid point I was looking at a B- in her class. My one and only in my graduate career.

I became frustrated and went to see her in her office. What followed was an hour and half conversation about how when I feel disengaged I need to make a connection to the material. I know this connection. I teach it. I seek it out in my classroom all the time. But that chip stopped it. That chip didn’t let me around it, so I wasn’t seeing it. She printed out articles for me and we talked for along time about how the connection was there and I just had to find it.

We had read Moby Dick previously and then she assigned Ahab’s Wife which is a retelling of Moby Dick from Ahab’s wife’s viewpoint. As I took the info she gave me and the articles she printed out I realized I did have a connection. I began comparing her writing to Louise Erdrich’s, Books and Islands in Objibwe Country, and all the sudden the connections were happening so fast. It was a connection that only I could make but that connection turned me around to an A in the class. At the end of the class this professor pulled me aside and admitted she wasn’t sure I would find my connection because of my resistance to the content she was teaching. She also admitted being proudly wrong. That always meant a lot to me and reminded me that challenge isn’t always a bad thing.

So last week as I sat thinking about the beginning of my PhD program and then this new challenge my job threw at me I wondered if I could accomplish what I needed to accomplish. I was feeling particularly challenged and at a cross roads of my academic career where you are pushed to conform or engage in your own way. I still am there, but as I was thinking that night I began to think of her. I remembered how good pushing myself passed my own boundaries felt. I remember how she nurtured that challenge and made me a better teacher and academic. Then I heard less than 24 hours later that she passed.

This gives me proof to my adage that love always wins. If you follow your heart and if you do it with love, you will win. I didn’t let Mrs. Meadows dampen my own soul for writing. I could have and her voice still is in my head on every public piece of writing I share. But I am still sharing and I am still trying because I love writing. Same goes for the professor who said my motherhood would get in the way of career and the same for the professor who made me see that the connections are mine to mine and not anyone elses. That is love. Love of a career. Love of academics and love of writing.

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I am gonna tell their story.

I have done primary research in two different ways. The first way was in my classroom and applying pedagogical theories and my own philosophies on teaching writing and reading. And then last year there was the family history project where I researched a part of my family heritage that had not been told. That was exciting because it was like solving a puzzle. But the value was a little academic (get me the grade I desire in this class and teach me the research techniques I need to know how to do as an academic). Then this semester I am doing a whole other sort of primary research.

I took this picture to the right and this little two paragraph summary of something titled “Women Writers’ Club” that appeared as a blurb in a few magazines of social note. But it was not really much more than that. That was my starting piece. From there I had to prove that they did exist, who they were, when they met, and the kind of women that participated in this club. And what happened next was amazing. The research took me in whole and had a value so far outside of anything I had ever done.

I combed through archived newspapers, magazines and diaries. I tied the women, their writing and their created community based on their occupation all together. I could prove that they met, when they met, what they did when they met and how the world responded to that. The one thing that I cannot prove is how it made them them feel and what they talked about. Sure there were the news released that say, “On this day there was a meeting of the Women Writers’ Club and they wore this…and the subject of the day was this…”

However, I can tell that their meetings caused a kerfuffle and that many women used the club and by extension their annual dinner (their fundraiser from what I gather) to assert their rights as women. I had no idea that is where the research would take me. Sure I knew that by researching Victorian women writers I would expose some resistance to the norm. But what I found was what I consider a gold mine.

An example an article written by Honnor Morten in The Sketch titled, “Where Man is Never Missed” where she spent the bulk of the article talking about how man is not missed at these club functions. That same Hannah Morten wrote one the first Nurses Dictionary and the Midwives Pocketbook. This woman was amazing and stellar for women’s rights.

She insisted on making social change with her life. Her life too big to research and I just scratched the surface. But simple search of her name in archival newspapers turns up article after article of meetings, push backs on the male gender for oppressing women.

But the other women they too continued to go and support their cause. A simple cause of a group of women gathering together to write, for the purposes of collaboration, friendship and kindred spirits. The meetings were of a very serious nature and meant to spur conversation and reform. Many of the European suffragettes found themselves actively involved and pushing for those similar changes.

They even forced that no man be a waiter because they were convinced that a male writer or journalist would try and be a waiter and eavesdrop of their intelligent conversations because when the news did write about them they wrote that they were “GASP” eating alone in the company of other women without a man present. And to boot….SMOKING with headlines like, “And smoke could be seen throughout the room.”

What I believed would be research that showed that women who were writers and wanted female companionship gathered around the fire and instead of knitting they wrote was instead an elite feminist group of women that forced social change in their 16 (maybe 14 year span) with their membership at one time over 220 female journalists or writers. If that is not freaking amazing in this academic world I don’t know what is.

And even better my research has value to others besides myself. There really is no sentiment other than the sentiment I have in creating and telling their story. But all I did is let their stories come out and put the pieces together.

And their story also reaffirms my faith that women are powerful. So are men. But wow what we can accomplish when we place our differences at the door and let go of what we “think” matters we can finally get to the heart of what is important. And during this time it was finding their voice and creating their space to do it in. And I am part of that discovery. Wow, just wow!

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Winston Churchill

I never want to forget.

Yesterday at church they played TAPS (click “TAPS” to hear it) at church. Every Memorial Day they do this. And each of the current military and veterans stand and state their branch of service and they are applauded and appreciated as they should be.

I never really knew the day as much more than that or just a memorial to those that have died until I started attending this church 10 years ago. Usually in my family it was about grilling out or going to place flowers on (great) grandma and (great) grandpa’s grave. When actually it isn’t about either of those things. It has evolved to those this things.

But this year is different because of all the work I did on genealogy in the last year. When TAPS started playing yesterday immediately I teared up. I begin thinking, “Man, I am such a mush.” Then I realized it was more about the sacrifices my family made to be an American.

I said time and time again in my family literacy research that my family fled Bohemia (Czech Republic today) because of religious persecution. When they came here and struggled to find identities and who they were it was so very different than the identity I struggle to find on my blog. My sufferings, loss and hardship can’t come close to with the sufferings, loss and hardship they had to under go.

My irritation at my guys golf coaching schedule cannot even come to my grandma facing my Grandfather’s deployment to the Korean War. My ability to sit in church in that pew only finds resistance in my ten year old’s inability to get up for church or by asking myself am I in the right church? My grandfather was maintaining his catholic faith while hiding his “Bohemianess” from his neighborhood in order to fit in.

But this is not just about marginalization of a religious practice or group of people. This about my ability to be a working woman, a English teacher, the kind of mother I want to be, and a wife to whom I choose. Those freedoms came at a cost to those before me. Those freedoms are ones I place very little thought into now even though to my ancestors (even just my grandma and grandpa) were fought for.

My grandfather in the right was a veteran. He proudly served his country even though his country did not always accept him or his family. I am not sure I could have so easily been willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice given that immigrants were not so readily accepted in our country and specifically the region his family settled in.

Thankfully, by the time he served most of the prejudices were starting to get better, but I imagine my great grand parents were not so lucky. In fact, I know they weren’t. Yesterday in the pew that is who I thought of. And that is who I will remember today: Josef and Marie T. and their son, my grandpa, Joseph. Their road wasn’t easy but they always proudly took it the best they knew how.

And because of that I get to sit down to dinner with my girls and my guy and have some brats, creamed corn and cheesy potatoes. I can sometimes forget the sacrifices that were made so I can do that. And I believe they would want it that way. They lived the life they lived, so I can live the life I live. I just never want to forget.

The Down and the Dirty

There are approximately two weeks left in the semester. That is two weeks for me to grade 44 final drafts of two papers that my students will hand in. I have a 20 minute presentation on Thursday and two 13-15 page papers to follow due next week and 1 family literacy project that is already 16 pages.

And I decided I wanted a Mom’s Christmas shopping weekend away with my best friend, Mommy Jargon. So it is cram cram cram. Which I am totally okay with but that is the reason why I am in hiding. I believe I will be able to jump into my regularly daily blogging tomorrow. As most of these things are accomplished. If they aren’t the rough drafts are and I am sitting pretty for a bit. 🙂

I am gonna change that.

As with most things I write, I write it and turn it in. Give it away. Fill in the blank with whatever you want but I let it go. Then I sit back and think of all the stuff I should have added or want to change.

Last week I turned in my first draft of my family literacy project. It didn’t pan out near like I thought it would. I tensed up in several areas leading me to understand better how that trait was passed down from generation to generation. The idea of “be ashamed of who you are” is rolling around in my head or the idea that it should be “secret”. Add in there my own Appalachian heritage on the other three leaves of my larger tree and I have a great case for addressing the ideas of stereotypes, misconceptions on culture and misrepresentations of the truth.

When you are born and raised in very marginalized groups such as Appalachian or Bohemian (to a larger extent Immigrants) I am finding that living those lives truthfully are not always easily carried out. My cousins and I (even more specifically my siblings and I) are the first generation to try and change the cycle of what happens to those groups. We did something different than what was expected of us. I need to explore that.

But as I am finding out the shame and reactions to stereotypes that my ancestors perfected very much filter into my every day. I struggle believing I have something worthy of saying. I struggle telling my whole truth because who would want to hear it? I mostly operate out of that seen not heard mentality.

What I did love and continue to love about this project though is seeing that my ancestors were politically active, had minds of their own and were with it enough to make huge changes in their life and accepted the consequences that came with those decisions. That is very much akin to how I live my life. I have never taken the easy road and I never expected an easy payoff. I worked for everything. And I mean worked in the larger sense not the 9-5 concept.

So as I head into the redrafting process of this project I hope to better clue into that side of myself instead of the one that continues the cycle of secrecy of who I am as if it were something less than what it is. As well, I didn’t go through the hours and hours of putting every puzzle piece together to not tell this amazing story of courage and change. Almost every single aspect of it can relate to my own life in some way. I am extremely proud of that.

Answers that never came…

Every day I run out the mail box or jaunt by it on my way home. Every day that letter doesn’t come again. My thoughts are plagued with questions. “Did I take it too far?” “Did I push too much?” Then I convince myself that he just hasn’t had the time. In a follow up to my research and interviews I sent my grandfather a letter. I asked some pretty simple questions. I felt like they were unobtrusive but pushed enough to garner answers that would further my own goal for this project and allow him to share the sentimental aspects of his heritage.

Question 1: Can you share with me a recipe that you grew up eating and a memory that surrounds it? This question seemed so appropriate because the one and only way I even knew of my Czech/Bohemian heritage was through cooking. Every year when I see my grandfather for a holiday his comforts seem to come from these Bohemian recipes. As well as, my memories of my great grandmother often center with her around the kitchen and cooking. As well, my grand father and his father were bakers. My great grand father owned his own Czech bakery which I found out through newspapers. My own grandfather worked most of his life after the military working in a Chicago polish bakery.

Question 2: Do you remember any specific traditions or customs that your parents brought over from Bohemia?  This question I hoped would reveal things that were important to him growing up. Because frankly I don’t know any of them. I know the food traditions. But if there are Czech traditions that my family carry out I am clueless of their origins and clueless if they have meaning.

Question 3: Did your parents ever talk about their adjustment to the United States to you? Now this one I realized might push the envelope some but I fully expected him to just ignore it if he didn’t wish to answer. This question would pry at the reasons why this heritage has remained a secret. Which is something I honestly can only provide an academic answer too. That still saddens me since I feel like that goal of this project and the one question I could not get answered other than through historical research.

Question 4: Do you think there are any important things I should share with my girls about your parents? The truth is my memories are vague and of an eight year old girl. Most of the time I became lost in translation due to the heavy what I believed to be slavic tone. But I want to share this with my daughters. Every holiday I replicate recipes to the best of my abilities for them to at least taste that heritage. But I want stories. They have stories of all other aspects of my family. But this that is so rich and so close is untouchable at times and that is difficult.

For many years my correspondence with my grandparents took place via letter writing and we always carried a sentimental bond that way so I believed this might be the best way to finish off this research. But I haven’t heard from him yet. It has been almost two weeks since I sent him the letter. I am hoping that I am not hearing because he is busy or not feeling well. He did under go an emergency gall bladder surgery about a week before I sent the note and I know he wasn’t feeling very good even after.

So my research on this project has to fill in the gaps that I cannot communicate either because people are deceased or because I cannot get those that I can talk to confirm. The way I have filled in those gaps is similar to what I read in part 3 of Beyond the Archives. I just allowed history to parallel with locations, times and people where I could and when that didn’t work I tried to rely on the stories I had been told and when that didn’t work I tried to let the archives tell me the story. But the reality is some things still remain and likely will continue to remain a mystery. I have to find a way to be okay with that.

I started this project all starry eyed and hopeful that I could answer every question out there that I had or every mysterious story I have been told. I quickly learned that I cannot uncover the truth to every story. But I certainly did uncover some very important truths. And that cannot be lost in what I did not find.

Is it Frank, Francis or Frances?

In the last two months I have spent countless hours squinting my eyes, trying to connect names, birth dates, addresses and pictures with these stories I have in my head. While the journey has been amazing and made me cry sometimes. It has to have been the most infuriating task I have ever attempted. But infuriating in the most successful and emotional way.

As I have said in previous family literacy posts this was not a section of my family that I had the luxury of pushing the tiny little leaf off of ancestry.com. Instead, I drew the tree and added branches and sometimes even took them away. I have confused father for son and daughter for mother. Almost all of my piecing together has come from obituaries and whatever I could flesh out of the archives in my search.

Now I have sat here all day trying to tie up lose ends and organized this pile of papers that is now (and I am not joking) 500 pages thick. I wrote notes off to the side, I printed whatever I could, I saved whatever I could not print and I still feel so overwhelmed. I know the awesome story that lies within these papers, and I know the awesome story I have within my head from family stories. I know the scholarly research I did to back up what I could and now I say, “How the heck do I put it all together?”

I know it will come to me and I know I am overwhelmed because this story has not really ever been told. But I know the importance of sharing it. I know the happiness it has brought me when I hit pay dirt and the sadness I felt when my info well ran dry.

In the  beginning I wondered how my family could not tell their story. I questioned if there was some big deep dark secret that must be kept quiet. But now that I am on the other side I find myself extremely protective of this story. And I am writer and story teller so I know the importance of carrying that on. But I want to do it respectfully in a way my own children will be proud but also, my dad, my grandpa and his relatives. All I have are these memories of an 8 year old, but now I have newspapers that fill in what they did, and interview questions that share a little more. It all tells a mostly complete story. I just have to do it justice.

Now it is time to begin to write. Though normally at this point it would get easy for me this project not so much. It is hard to put it all together and to know what is important and where. But I know after a few hours alone with my research and work beside me it will come together. The hard part is going to be figuring out who is Frank, Francis, Frances, Joseph, Josef, Marie, Mary and Mary Rose because all these names seem to be used interchangeably with one another.

I am gonna share a few of my major finds because of either extremely sentimental reasons or because I cracked another language.

I cannot even read this but I believe it is proof of my great great grandmother’s Antonie and her brother Johannes existence pulled from Czechslovakian records database

My father at a under a year and following is his birth announcement in the Brookfield Magnet

Lastly, my great grandfather’s naturalization record

Relatively Speaking.

Here is the fun thing about searching for your ancestors when you are in the year 2011   —-> Everyone has already done the work for you. Your great aunt 27 times twice removed decided it was important to tell your family story. Somewhere along the way the digital age moved in and moved your info to a library and that library connected with another and then eventually connected with a digital file and then can you pop on any of a few databases (free and paid) and within minutes have your family’s linage at the touch of a mouse (yes that was a long and grammatically incorrect sentence).

However, there are some families that for whatever reason have not been researched. For my family that carries my maiden name of Tucek that is the case. I am only two generations removed from Bohemia which is now known as a Czech Republic. Two weeks ago I was stuck. I didn’t know why my family would leave their homeland and then come here and be so quiet.

It hasn’t been easy finding the answer to those things either and most of what I have found has had to be pieced together through newspaper articles and obituaries. I am doing good old genuine genealogical research. The research is time consuming, back hurting and frustrating. I have to force myself to step away. I get confused. I mix up dates. I want to quit. Rinse and repeat over and over.

The wonderful news is at the end of this I will hold in my pretty little hands a map of my family. From Bohemia to present day. I have pieced together their various “stories” that I connected with some facts. I have documented what files I could through library research and the rest through millions of clicks on the internet search. I have translated Slovak into English and English into Slovak.

I have laughed and cried in this process. I have found myself saying a lot, “Oh yea, that is why I feel that way.” I have looked myself in the mirror and said, “Get over it!” When I compare what I go through daily to the struggles my family had.

From what I have pieced together is my family fled Bohemia because of their strong Catholic faith that was being “Germanized” (can’t really define this yet and researching it) and they felt persecuted. They were distraught enough to pick up and bring the whole family to America. At the time they emigrated to the US most people came in couples and not larger families. My family came with 9 people who were bound and determined to stick together. Add in that they emigrated with neighbors, friends and other Bohemian Catholics and they were a Czechoslovakian force to be reckoned with. They went to family in Omaha, NE until they could get on their feet. Four years later they bought land and settled in Michigan. Again surrounding themselves firmly in family and Czech heritage.

Another puzzle I have not solved yet, but when my grandfather was an adult he moved to Chicago and opened up his own bohemian bakery and became interwoven in the Czech quarter (my word) in Chicago. His neighborhood was surrounded by Czech families and businesses. At that time Bohemian Czechs began being discriminated against because of the “weird” customs and heritage and were referred to as “Bohunks”. As well, in Chicago specifically they isolated themselves from others outside of their heritage. So once in his neighborhood from what I piece together he functioned in a little Bohemia. He ran the bakery there and banked with a Czech bank and read the establish Czech newspaper. From there I have to stop… because I need to prove the “stories” and follow it up with some historical research.

What I find so awesome and sentimental about all this research are two things. My family educated themselves and they were into cooking/baking. These are two things that I find myself drawn to in ways I cannot even type out into words. They wrote on their passenger manifest they were each able to speak multiple languages and came to America English ready. They came with money and did well once here and were able to start and run businesses. I did get to witness that since my great grandfather was 10 at the time he arrived and died when I was eight but to have it in writing. The cooking connection is my most exciting. I love to bake and am actually quite known for it in my family. But I have only carried on what my father gave me and his father gave him. And I have proof that his father gave it to him and his father gave it to him! There is a reason why we are all so fascinated with cooking and baking. It is something that has stayed with every single section of my family tree straight from Racice, Czechoslovakia.

I love digging in and finally writing my own Relatively Speaking….Until the next part!

(on a side note: one link that links us all too is our large noses. When I showed the picture above to my guy and said, “Do you seen any resemblance?” He points to my nose. Lovely! I still gotta prove that guy above is related but I am fairly certain he is.

Playing in the archives…

Last night my class met in the archives and if you don’t understand what that means to me than you don’t know me at all. We were surrounded in every direction by books. Yellowed books. Add in the company I was with who most are just as geekified as me and it was my little slice of heaven.

Last night I was tasked with being discussion leader so I proposed many questions. But most of them seemed to have one common theme. My own personal struggle I am having making what feels like fun research feel more academic. I hear my instructor passionately defend it as academic and how she is really trying to pave the way for it’s respect. I feel myself agreeing and nodding my head. It is research. It is important. It can be scholarly. Who says fun doesn’t come into the equation?

Then I walk away and feel insecure. Maybe it is because I am a newbie grad and still a little wet behind the ears. I have been trained for many years with what scholarly research should look and feel like. This is very different. I know it has merit and validity and I just hope I am able to translate that merit beyond our classroom. As a graduate student everything has possibilities outside of a classroom. In research, we always try and dive in with motives beyond those four walls. This project is no different.

Once we were set free I felt like Julie Andrews in the hill scene of the Sound of Music. At first I didn’t know what direction to go and I hurriedly ran one direction only to excitedly run the other direction. I ran down aisle after aisle. I think I went down every aisle that exists in Allen County’s Public Library Genealogy Center. Who knew such a place existed? All the records of towns, cities and counties both nationally and internationally. It was so freaking awesome. And can I tell you how many times I saw the title, “Relatively Speaking…”? Once I settled down a little I saw a tall tower that existed that had helpful hints. Each paper had various regions and how to find that info in the library.

Quickly, I saw “How to trace your Czech/Slovic Anscestors” and “Czech Surnames” and both were so valuable. Both books gave me enough information to confirm what my families stories already told me. They start by offering up czech and slovic surnames. They tell you what regions they came from in the area and then the most awesome part….they tell you what region they immigrated to? The two various spelling possibilities for my family name immigrated to Kansas and to Cleveland. I have pretty much proved I am related to both. YEA!

As I sat on the floor with the books around me I eventually found my way to original official copies of my family in Brookfield, IL. It was freaking awesome! Unfortunately, just as I was digging in and proving things my hunger took over, the class was over and it was time to leave. I left with a promise of coming back this weekend to begin the real searching outside of a mouse and a screen. It is time.

On the edge of ignorance…

Remember last week my topic I was all worried about researching? The wall I was sort of afraid to climb. Well in typical MommyRhetoric fashion I jumped first and asked no questions later. Instead I leaped and I suppose I will deal with those consequences later. And I am sure there will be some. Whenever dealing with family there always is.

The cost benefit analysis for me is always how I typically make these types of decisions. For me, the benefits of exposing truths from myths are worth it. I am an academic which means at times the world is meant for me to try and constantly figure it out even though the task is impossible. Sometimes I have to shut it the hell off.

However, I know inside my family’s rich history lies some extraordinary people and heritage. I believe that the cultural boundaries that they were afraid to cross don’t exist like they once used to. I believe they exist but in very different ways and I wholeheartedly believe that in the darkness isn’t deep dark spider webs of stories meant to be secret. But instead an immigrant family trying to find ways to fit in.

That isn’t to say my research might not land on something dark or touchy but I will deal with however it appropriate at the time. I will try and protect those in the stories I uncover. Because the reality is…this is my family. They carry my maiden name and I can always go back to living in the myths.

The research hasn’t been easy and I work for every single morsel of information that I find and I feel elated to find just smidge only to end up finding it gets me to yet another dead end. And maybe that is a good thing. It would not be scholarly or even have much value if in one click it was all right there.

David Gold said in The Accidental Archivist:

“In academia, one is in a perpetual liminal space. As soon as you answer a research question, you ask another, your growing body of expertise simply marking the expanding edge of your ignorance”.

That is so me and this project! I know my capabilities as a researcher but this is testing me and at times making me frustrated because I can’t find the answers. Just when I feel so damn smart because I dug through 147 obituaries to figure out how to spell my great grandmother’s Czechoslovakian name and I land on gold I find the 148th obituary that spelled her god damn name different. So what is it?

Besides if all else fails I can prove I am related to Marie Tucek who created the very first bra. She called it a bra supporter. And no I am not joking it is very possible I am related to this woman. I have about 24 Marie’s in my family line.