XX. Jessiquest< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >

Glimpse This 

There is some peeping Tom guy harassing the neighborhood surrounding Stover Mancha, so all the desperate housewives had a neighborhood watch meeting to find out how to thwart him. Although, the main Mom who got peeped didn’t attend the meeting because she is smart enough to know to install floodlights and make sure she locks her doors without two cops spending two hours telling her these and more easy ways to take a bite out of crime. I am contributing to the neighborhood watch by offering my sweet Ninja Sheriff skills. In order to catch this Tom before he causes some real Law & Order type trouble, I will wear a black cape and survey the neighborhood after nightfall from a secret location in the trees.

Anyway, the Tom might look like this. Or that might be my friend Erich. Same difference.

Not speaking of ninjas or sheriffs (or Erichs), do you remember when JSDC reader Kelli won a sweet JSDC prize? Since she was recently in the same area as The Professor, we were able to arrange for said sweet prize to be hand delivered. This is just one of many services we here at JSDC provide.

(Another service is a glimpse of The Awesome.)

(Or a royal beat down for those who illegally glimpse into your windows.)

PS: Erich spells his name with a “h.” Because he’s the King of a Viking clan.

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The World Fairs the Better 

If the opposite side of your glass window looks anything like the opposite side of mine, then you should not be sitting in front of a screen reading these words you read.

Get out into that wild abroad. Or, at least, visit the other side of your door with no responsibility or chore and follow your bliss.

This may require you to quit your job. It happens.

Should the other side of your window not be inviting today, then I suggest you lean back, enjoy a deep breath, close your eyes lightly, (just a little, so that it’s not too dark)…

And remember a walk.

I myself am finishing up a project.

Then it’s back to LA.

Here, it is greener.

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Steadfast Orion 

A few weeks ago I followed a link from blogging.la to a narrative about Joshua, who, like my adventurous, loner self, simply wants to go about his business in the wild abroad.

Or, to be more precise, he simply wants to get from A to B on the Los Angeles Metro.

This is a luxury that we do not have. The ignored reality is that, not only is it unsafe to walk about at night (not to mention seen as strange), but following your path out alone can lead to mortal threat. Fear keeps us indoors after dusk and drives us out in numbers.

After reading Joshua’s story I composed an entry with a link to his site. I trashed said entry without posting it on JSDC. I do that sometimes.

Today I received a note from a regular:

It turns out that the guy in question is the brother of a co-worker of mine. The victim's brother is in a band called Imperative Reaction, which is fairly popular in some music circles around LA. He is planning a charity function, which he’s calling Antiviolence LA, in order to raise money to help out with his brother's horrendous medical bills and also to donate to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

It was time for another attempt. I revisited Joshua’s story:

My next string of memories are very wet and strange. I'm waking up on my side, and start crawling on the ground, trying to make my phone work; there's cars passing by but no one is stopping; I'm screaming and crying and I think I've lost most of my teeth. I keep spitting out and vomiting out blood. I'm trying vainly not to make a mess. I can't stand up. A small part inside of me keeps telling me I won't die out here; I just have to keep moving... just keep going and you'll end up safe, I had to argue with me that I wasn't going to die.

Anyone who has ever been hit full blast with evil intention, and been attuned enough to feel and realize that something wrong is about to occur, knows there’s a reason that evil is archetypal instead of something that can always be diagnosed away on Law & Order:

Evil, true evil, does exist. And it is strong.

Of course, when we Know, we often do nothing and dismiss it as paranoia. We don’t want to look silly dashing off the bus at the wrong stop just because of a vibe we get from another passenger. Or leave the beach because we might be about to get mugged. We don’t want to yell out for help before something happens. Luckily, something or someone usually thwarts the attempt. Call it divine intervention.

But what happens when there is no sense of what is about to occur? And worse, no intervention?

It will come to pass that evil will triumph, even if only for a moment. (For it always seems to inspire something good like the fundraiser linked above.) Still, a moment is more time than we think. And trusting yourself in the moment can save you more than time.

So how do we stay safe? Fear to go outside... Fear to walk the path alone... That price is too high.

In secondary school I wrote this:


At midnight steadfast Orion whispers to me.
I devotedly climb to the window seat
And he lures me outside the glass into the dark.
I come, afraid of those whose sleepy eyes
Delight only upon unruly stars and constellations.

Here Conscience cautions of Unsaiph, Maniac Borealis,
The Homicidal Clouds and Crazed Nebula;
That Fear, Miscreant Merak and the Neurotic lights
May remain waiting with Obscurity.
I allow the Dippers to ladle these away.

Enticingly Scorpius, Fortuna, and
Shinning Envy intermingle in a devious whirlpool
With Greek Eros and Latin lovelorn Caritas.
Ardor stands proudly guarding himself
From sparkling Passion, Epiphany,
And Andromeda's conquest.

Triangulum Unrequited shivers nearby.

It's not very good in that it would need some work in order to be a clear poem, and so I'll divulge (though I generally don't like to say what things are about) that the idea is that same, locked-up-by-fear frustration that I speak of in this entry. This is something that has bothered me since, as a child, I first became aware that the entire world wasn’t open to me wherever, whenever.

Today I finally came up with a title to the untitled.

Because, aren’t we all, like Orion, merely trying to stay ahead of the Scorpion?

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I’m having loads of fun with gymnastics. I’ve been missing that clearness of mind that results from physical activity. That closeness to the other side that allows you, if only for a moment, not to think...

I don't buy that whole, “Treat others how you want to be treated” saying. This is mostly because it implies personal gain, which, if you watch Charmed, you know to be a bad thing. The same goes for, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


At least one of these sayings, (often called “The Golden Rule",) appears in some form in most religions. Most notably, they all promote the same thing: A bit of loving-kindness in relation to the common human value of right relationship.

But, as any good storyteller knows, it’s all in the positioning.

For this reason I have I always preferred, “Do not unto others as you would have them do not unto you.” This means that you can do all the good in the world and it may not come back to you, but if you do some fucking evil, it probably will. Hence, good is normal and is therefore not rewarded. But evil, evil is not normal and is rewarded with back-atcha evil. Assuming that this is true, this means that humanity is naturally good with tendencies toward evil and not vice versa.

So maybe we aren’t as screwed as we thought.

...There is a clearness of mind that comes from physical activity. And, afterward, in your exhaustion, a release of free flowing thought. After having my brains turned upside down back-handspring style and passing through some stars, those thoughts above drifted effortlessly to the forefront.

That's what everyone is really after, you know.

A release.

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Root, Branch & Tree 

In passing, over the years, I have caught snatches of family myths and strung them together in my memory. None of them surprise me. No matter how outlandish, I consider them to be a pearl of mythical truth. Of course I didn’t want to actually know too much about them because that might ruin the story. Some of these are alluded to in JSDC random fact. Some of these are the following:

M.Sto’s Side: Great grandmother had psychic tendencies. Saw ghosts. Made scary accurate predictions.
The Grizz’s Side: Great grandfather had eagle-eye for certain rare Trifolium.
The Grizz’s Side: Great grandmother related to Queen Elizabeth.

Grandmother Stover was over to dinner yesterday, and, on impulse, I inquired about the fable of the Stovers, (The Stovers West Virginia, mind you,) in relation to the Queen. Of England.

“Your Great, Great Grandmother was invited to the Queen’s coronation because they are related.”

I’m sorry, I think I just hallucinated.

Did she just say, “because they are related”?

No one else was particularly excited by this news. Then again, no one else at the table has always known that they were totally meant to be Queen of something. Since Grandmother Stover believes her cousin will not be willing to part with the original invitation, I have dispatched her to procure a copy. Once I have that bit of evidence I can then set to some lineage tracing. (And by “set to” I mean, “set M.Sto to.”)

I suspect that this bit of Stover history will take months to solve and won’t yield anything spectacular. Still, you never know what truths lie hidden in JSDC random fact.

And you never know why I write the way I do.

For now, be advised that there exist mysteries.
Or, mystories.

That’ll do.

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Part One: Root, Branch & Tree

Found in a journal of family history, written in the hand of my Grandmother Stover’s first cousin, Mary Etta Ergenbright, and transcribed by myself:

Some of you are aware and others was shown the invitations Grandmother Taylor received to the wedding of Elizabeth II and Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1947, also to the Coronation 1952. I remember some of us was excited and spoke of this to Grandmother. Being the “grand” lady she was, she was pleased but modestly stated, “Elizabeth II (now Queen of England) was a distant cousin.” I wish now, (as we all do, I’m sure) when I spent many a vacation with her, after my first son was born, that I had asked her many details in our talks. She was always interesting and the most desirable company for all ages. To me, she always had the love for, and the interest of her grandchildren. Even at the age of 89yrs she was youthful in mind and actions. She seemed to understand the growing problems of the young and had a very broad outlook on life.

She notes:

Grandfather Taylor was of English decent. Grandmother Taylor was Scotch-Irish descent.

Another passage:

During World War II while the grandson she raised, William Ray Richardson Jr. was stationed in England Grandmother renewed her interest of investigating her legacy in the banks in Scotland. I was told by Grandmother she has money there drawing interest these many years. To collect she had to present this Bible and a certain seal, which had been misplaced. Grandmother had the Bible which I saw and I was always informed with her passing - the Bible was to go to her grandson, William Ray Richardson Jr. which I assume he now has.

And, yet, another passage:

Turnbull name from early date has supplied a romantic origin. According to tradition the name derived from a man named Rule who saved the life of King Robert the Bruce by turning a ferocious bull which had threatened to gore the King. For this service he obtained a grant of the lands of Bedrule and a new name – Hector Boece (1526) to whom we are indebted for a number of picturesque tales relating to our early history – Not withstanding the spelling of 1315 the name is probably from O. E. Trunhald “strongly hold.” Patrick Turnbull was bailie of Edinburgh 1388. The Turnbulls were among the most turbulent of the Border Clans as attested by the frequency of their name in Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials.

In sum: Ancestrally speaking, I have a bloodline to the Queen, a secret bible and key-like seal that leads to some Scottish treasure and something to do with Robert the Bruce.

Clue by clue… Adventure by adventure…

My amazing sidekicks and I will travel anywhere required, from West Virginia to Buckingham Palace, and talk to whomever necessary until the mystery legacy of my family lineage is solved.

When we put another piece of the puzzle together, it will cut to an awesome dream-like-reenactment-type sequence. You know, like my awesome, mythic imagination. Such as when I found out there were some rowdy Scottish clans involved, I flashed to Braveheart. That was rad. This show will be like nothing you have ever seen. Funny, with heart, it will be a magical-docu show. It will be a quest…

A Jessiquest.

That would totally be 56.222278452 x better than any show on MTV, including “Date My Mom because I'm lame,” “TRL with five hosts and no videos,” and “Movie Awards that are a commercial promoting movies that haven’t even come out yet instead of mostly celebrating the ones that have.”


Grandmother enclosed a letter with the journal pages she sent. In the letter, written to me in her own hand, her final words to me were, “I would like to find out how I am related to the Queen.”

Truly, I do have some work ahead of me.

And no, C.Sto, I'm not splitting the treasure with you. Unless you agree to become my sidekick.

For life.

Update: A letter from a master genealogist.

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Magical Me 

Let’s face it people: I am on a Jessiquest.

Anyone who is on a quest definitely needs a wise sage to guide them. It’s, like, a rule. Accordingly, I have begun e-mailing genealogists for help on my mission. Here is the first response I received:

Dear Jessica,

You seem to have an interesting life. I hope I can give you at least a modicum of satisfaction on your query.

Awesome! This expert guy is going to give me some killer advice. He will be my Obi-Wan.

First, I would recommend that you buy through Amazon.com a copy of my current novel FIT FOR FATE: A Tale of Byzantine Intrigue in Modern Athens. There's no genealogy in it, but you wouldn't want me to miss an opportunity to promote my book. And it's a good story, too, (lots of intrigue and romance) based on the seven years I worked in Greece.

What. Greece? Romance? No, no: I seek the wisdom of a Master Genealogist--

For genealogy I'd recommend that you read my book APPLIED GENEALOGY, now out of print, but available in libraries that have a large genealogical section. It has two chapters on royal genealogy, and a lot of other helpful chapters. If nothing else it gives you straight talk about the pitfalls of genealogy and helps you avoid numerous pitfalls. As an example, when I was Historian General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, a woman came into my office in Plymouth, MA, and said: "My name is White, and since there was a passenger on the 1620 Mayflower named White, I must be a Mayflower descendant and I'd like you to give me all the names in-between him and me." (If you're interested in Mayflower genealogy, the definitive book is my PLYMOUTH COLONY: ITS HISTORY & PEOPLE 1620-1691.)

The only book I want to read is the one titled, “All About How J.Sto is Related to the Queen”--

On the other hand, it has to be true that there are many Americans descended from British royalty, although sometimes via the bar sinister (King Henry I, for example, is known as the father of his country because he sired numerous children via his many mistresses). Chapter Two of APPLIED GENEALOGY will show you that theoretically if an individual could go back to the time of Socrates, he or she might find one septillion ancestors. Of course, there weren't anywhere near that many people on earth at the time(or any other time), and the answer to the poser is "ancestor collapse, "that is, every marriage between cousins (very, very common) cuts the number of potential ancestors in half.

It really helps that you put all of your books in caps so that I can NOT BUY THEM.

Although I was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, I'm not actively doing any genealogical work at this time, since I'm spending all my time writing novels. You can see more of my background and books and a lot of photos, some flattering, some not so, by going to my Website www.gilderoylockhart.com. Probably the largest commercial source for genealogical information can be found at www.ancestry.com.

Really? Do you mean the sites on which, per my letter, I found your articles and e-mail address?

On the one hand, they can save you a lot of work by showing you what has already been done in tracing your family back -- no sense in re-inventing the wheel. On the other hand, there are of course charges for their services. In the interest of full disclosure, my first three books were published by them, and just a couple of years ago they paid me a handsome fee for an article on royal genealogy in their bimonthly magazine.

One time a king paid me a handsome fee to assassinate someone. You I'd do for free.

I see you're from Northern Virginia, and my wife and I live in No. VA, too, although we plan in the not-too distant future to move elsewhere. We're both busy with a large number of projects, so unfortunately I won't be able to give you any additional information (I'm just putting the finishing touches on my newest book, among other things). But I wish you good fortune in finding what you want from genealogy, and in any of your other endeavors. Please keep in mind two seemingly unchangeable laws: 1.) Ninety percent of everything is crud, and in genealogy the percentage is probably even higher, and 2.) Everything costs more and takes more time.

Best wishes,
Gilderoy Lockhart

Dear Mr. Lockhart,

Thank you for all of this information about you and your handsome fees and romance books. Your letter will definitely help me on my quest to find out more about my family’s history.

Forever in your debt,
Jessica Mae Stover

PS: You forgot to mention that you won Genealogist Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award five times in a row.

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