Tag Archives: James Glica-Hernandez

The Language of Marriage

ImageWith all the discussion about marriage equality, I’ve heard arguments that included using different language for marriage-equivalents between two people of the same gender to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Well, I would like to suggest that if that is the case, let’s also find a lesser name for the union between two people who were previously married to other people since divorce historically is not allowed except under very specific situations in some traditions. Let’s also rename the union that includes one or both individuals who have betrayed his or her spouse with infidelity, because certainly this cannot be considered a sacred union. We should also find a different word for a “husband” who doesn’t provide for his family, because that doesn’t meet the traditional role of husband defined by many societies. Perhaps we also find another word for “wife” for a woman who doesn’t stay home to care for the family, and instead works to provide for the family. And a different name for a couple who chooses not to have or cannot have children other than “married.” If we’re going to argue for the definition of traditional marriage, which for the record has nothing to do with what some folks suggest, let’s keep the word “marriage” for a man and a woman who only have been married to one another, have been completely faithful, only have sex to propagate, where the husband works to earn a living, and the wife stays home to care for the children, they don’t use birth control, and they have regular sex, because most traditions require that as part of a “real” marriage.

If these limitations are not possible, then let’s use the word “marriage” for a ceremony in which two adults who have no legal reason they cannot otherwise be married, and who love one another, are joined in wedlock. You see, the definition of marriage is becoming more inclusive all over the world, including countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. Nothing anyone says or does at this point will change this fact. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court will grant all couples the right to marry. Eventually, all 50 states will grant permission to all couples to marry. Perhaps this year. Perhaps next year. Perhaps in 10 years, but eventually, this will be the case. It is inevitable. Those who attempt to stop or slow that process will be seen as having been on the wrong side of history. How our descendants will perceive those of you who drag your heels will be seen in the future.

Same-sex marriage may never be permitted in Muslim countries or where other religiously-orthodox governments exist. I understand that those who adhere to certain religious traditions do not support marriage equality, but state-sanctioned marriage has nothing to do with religion. The state grants permission for an atheist couple to be just as married as a Hasidic Jewish couple.

For the record, my husband and I had a religious ceremony and, as far as we are concerned, we are married in the eyes of God. Yes, we have a registered domestic partnership through the state, but that doesn’t count nearly as strongly to us as our marriage vows, which our minister officiated. Our vows are between God and us as a couple. I would suggest no one has a right to challenge the marriage celebrated in the eyes of God, nor how we call our marriage . No one.

What I know is that one day, my husband and I will be able to be legally married in our home state of California.  Until that day, I will not stand idly by and let others insist how my husband and I should define our relationship, anymore than I would insist how others should define their marriages.   


Love of FamilyWhen I was a little boy, aunts and uncles would stop by McCloud or Dunsmuir to visit with their families.  Other times, we would go to visit our relatives.  In those days, I knew all my relatives.  Every one of them.  Today, it’s a little different. I’m in a place where I’m finding new hometowns, places where our family members were born, reared, lived, and died.

As I began my genealogical investigation, I learned new names and eventually new faces when I happened across old photos.  In this age of Ancestry, com, Facebook, and the Internet in general, I am now in a position to uncover faces of my family from social media walls, detailed pixels, and delightful stories posted online.

The blessing is that after 28 years of never meeting anyone other than my children who have my facial characteristics and other genetic similarities, I get to see many, many people who populate my generational level of the tree as well as  those in a five or six generation radius. I also get to expand my knowledge of my adopted family through this process as well. I have to say, it’s so much fun and brings me the highest level of  joy!  Sometimes, I chat with my cousins as though we grew up together, and then I have to remember, “Oh, wait! I’ve never met this person!”

In my familial dream, I would be able to invite all my cousins from every branch of my family to a giant picnic so that they could all meet one another and we could take a panoramic photo of all of us!  I know it is unlikely, but in my brain and in my heart, our “family picnic” happens all the time.

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to get to know my cousins through they triumphs, their tragedies, their humor, and their passions.  It’s only on a screen for many of us, but it’s more than I ever imagined. This process truly is a dream come true for me!

A Single Brick

A Single Brick

By James Glica-Hernandez



Carefully, patiently, I lay my bricks,

One on top of the other,

Building the edifice of the

Sturdy, stalwart dam.


No expectations for soaring height

Or vast breadth… at the start, at least.

As the structure grows,

So does the tragic surprise.


Each brick holds back

Another drop of truth unspoken,

Another quivering breath held tight,

Another disappointment hidden.


Avoiding a wretched, free release,

A volume of terrorizing words,

The structure of expressed agony,

These bricks hold life together unchanged.


For should these bricks fail,

Everything would be drowned out

By the thunderous weight and

Suffocating tears of separation and loss.


So, build on shall I

Toward a façade of unvanquished strength

And veiled, unending sorrow

So that others… even me… can maintain our “same.”



ImageEmotional boundaries can be tough to define.  On the one hand, we want to welcome people into our lives and keep them there.  On the other hand, we want to make sure our hearts and bodies do not become damaged by another person’s presence. To accomplish this balancing act, we create boundaries.

Sometimes, these boundaries are so loose, they don’t prevent much more than someone drowning us in a pool.  Others have parameters that are so stringent, no one has access to the person’s vulnerability.  Both of these places can be very lonely for very different reasons.  The former creates loneliness because often, we are so ashamed that we will not discuss the situation with others.  The latter is lonely because we push everyone away who wants to get close.

Boundaries are a necessity, though.  Some view the production of boundaries as an ego-based activity.  I do not happen to believe it is.  I believe that these boundaries are a healthy way of building an emotional home in which to live.

“I welcome you to speak freely to me,” means there are a lot of windows from which light can bathe the room.

“I will only discuss things with you that are spoken respectfully,” means that orderliness in the home is vital to healthy living.

“I will not tolerate physical violence,” means that no one may approach your home with a wrecking ball.

“All people in my home will be respected… always… no matter how deeply you disagree with them,”  means that your home is a safe and healthy place to be for those who value those qualities, and a place from which others must leave if they do not choose to live according to these rules.

Arguments and disagreements are understandable.  Even anger has its place; however, one must always remember that love comes first.  One must love one’s self enough to act according to one’s highest expectation of himself, and one must love the other enough to not lose control over his words or actions.

Boundaries are healthy if not too loose or too stringent.  The best tool to determine how they work is to evaluate whether one is lonely or feels overwhelmed by the presence of another.  If one feels appropriate levels of both freedom and responsibility, joy and challenges, strength and growth, then one is in a marvelous place.

Her Song, “Move On”

Taking Their Leave

I lost a friend today. Not just any friend, but a dynamically important friend.  He actually died in early November, but no one called us, his family, to let us know.  We found out yesterday.  Richard and I have been friends since the early 1970s.  We have been “sistuhs” since coming up in the discos during the era of polyester, thumping bass, and champagne splits at gay bars around Sacramento and San Jose.  I will miss my friend for so many reasons.  Our history is long and always loving.  

What makes this so much more difficult is that the series of losses in the last few years of life-long family/friends closest to me, David, Mark, Joe, Miriam, and now Richard, is increasing. These are people that are my brothers and sisters, whether by birth or love.  I’ve been so graced to have so many to call my dearest friends in life.  Of the friends with whom I’ve stayed consistently close to for more than 35 years, only five remain, Margaret, David, Jeff, Sharon, and Shirley. 

My more recent friends, and by that I mean people with whom I’ve been close for 12 to 20 years or more, like Cathy, Sandy, Jeff K., and others are just as vital to my emotional and spiritual well-being.  These oldest friends, though, are important in a different way, because now that my family of origin, the three others in the Floyd Glica family, are gone, these friends are the only ones with whom I can share our memories nearly as closely as family.  Even my siblings by birth have not known me as long as my oldest friends.

The road grows more challenging without these comrades by my side where I can hear their advice, see their smiles, or hug their warm souls in person. Sometimes, I feel like I will be like my 92-year-old Aunt Mary who talks about being the last one of her friends to remain here to remember.  In my selfishness, I don’t want to be the last one standing.  The pain, I think, would be unbearable.  

I will miss my beloved family and friends forever. 


Names of Our Past

When I started my genealogical journey 40 years ago, little did I realize how intimately this process would affect me.  It has brought people from all over the country together.  I’m learning so much about our family.  I thought it would be interesting for my clans to see some of the names of our people.  Because of the huge number of names, I used those that were of my direct lineage as a starting point.  The names in bold are the major family groups.  The italicized names represent the two subgroups of that particular family.  The date, e.g. “(1900),” represents the earliest year in that particular family line.  Generally, the names at the top of each list is closest to the contemporary period.  The names farthest away are of those many decades or centuries before.   Enjoy!

Family Name List

Glica Wiech

Glica  (1860)

Głod (Jajau)

Wiech (1746)










Chávez Gutierrez

Chávez (1132)








de la Rosa















Gutierrez (1760)












Arroyo Gutierrez

Arroyo (1759)






Gutierrez (1800)
















Herrera D’Anna

Herrera (1824)








D’Anna (1777)







New Faces, Old History

ImageHow is it that people born between 1900 and 1940, and tied to us in a direct genealogical lineage can be so very new?  That is the art and science of genealogy, I suppose.  Names and dates, paperwork and photos.  Sometimes, question marks are the most specific items we have about someone.  For many years, that is who my great-grandfather, John D’Anna was to me.  Now, in 2013, I am just beginning to discover who he is.  Because of the generosity of the family who grew knowing him, I am able to see him moving in silent films from the 1950s.  I am able to hear more historical information; the real stuff about a real person from living, breathing relatives.  It is a powerful experience to say the least.  

Until 1997, I didn’t know anything else about John D’Anna other than that he was my great-aunt’s first husband, and the father of my grandmother’s favorite first cousin.  After that, I discovered that John was also my grandmother’s father, which made Georgette my grandmother’s sister.  It was good news for both of them. For Gam, this was brand new information.  For Georgette, it was a lifelong secret about which she could finally discuss.  For me, it raised many new questions.  

John’s face has always been illusive to me.  Always at an angle, or in Black & White.  He always was looking down, or very old.  Now, John’s face is becoming more familiar and younger.  He reminds me more of my cousin, Kelly in some ways.  I realize, too, that more than any other branch of my family, my skin color is identical to my great-grandfather’s tone.  

I try so hard to integrate this information in all its abundance and importance, but I now this is a slow process.  

Jackpot! A Conversation with “Jazz Man” Gene Herrera

It is unimaginable to me to think of myself at 100 years old; yet, I met a man in August 2007 whose life blood runs through my veins, proving that it is indeed possible. Eugenio Herrera, born April 11, 1907, is my great-uncle, the brother of my birth-maternal grandfather, Ralph Conrad Herrera.

Gene and Ralph were born to Lawrence (Lorenzo) Herrera and Beatrice Lopez Herrera in New Almaden, Santa Clara, California. This was a mining town where all the residents were attached to the New Almaden mine. My family on both sides were quicksilver miners in New Almaden, some of whom died there. They moved to San Jose sometime after 1923. My grandfather and his family finally arrive at the permanent family home on South Third Street in San Jose.

Gene first married Rafaela Brandi and had a son, Robert. After Rafaela died, Gene married Concetta (Connie) Pagliaro and they had a daughter, Nancy. They were been married for well over 70 years.

Gene was a professional musician, playing the saxophone. His whole family was full of musicians. They even had their own band that played at a ballroom on South Second Street in San Jose. Gene played with all the greats in San Francisco, including Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and many, many others.  I am proud to be a professional musician like my Uncle Gene, if in the different genre of musical theater.

He only stopped driving in the early-2000s in his mid-90s. He stopped because his hearing was going and he had chosen not to wear a hearing aid.

In August 2007, my husband, David, my cousin, Catherine and her young son, Pablo, and I, along with Pablo’s friend went to see Uncle Gene and Aunt Connie for an impromptu visit. It was amazing to listen to this amazingly alert, well-spoken man talk about a century of life.

He told us of the day when his grandmother died. When she collapsed, she landed on his tiny seven-year-old body. He related the stories of how his father wanted Gene to be stronger, so he insisted that he do manual labor. Gene was a sickly child during his youth and stayed close to the home. His family never really respected the fact that Gene grew up to be a professional musician, because they used to say he’s living so long because he never had a “real” job.

When he was playing in the 1920’s and 1930’s, times were tough, but he kept at it, eventually becoming the oldest-living, actively-playing member of the San Francisco Musician’s Union.

Uncle Gene and Aunt Connie showed us pictures of Uncle Gene at his gigs, including one of which showed Uncle Gene with the professional boxer, Max Baer. It was kismet, since I knew of a story in which my father, Floyd, used to sell ice cream to Max Baer in Sacramento during the 1950’s.

Our visit was a wonderful experience for me. On February 19, 2008, Gene’s sister, Marie Aiello, died at the age of 97. Uncle Gene was the last of his generation to remain, and at 100 years old, it was not likely that he would be around much longer, so I visited him as often as I could.

I am so grateful to have met him and been in the presence of my genetic and musical history. There were so many similarities between him and my Grandfather, Ralph, or Papa, as I called him. It was comforting and made me feel connected again in a way I hadn’t for a very long time.

Uncle Gene died September 25, 2010 at the age of 103.  I miss him terribly!

My DNA and Its Surprises

Here are my raw results from the Ancestry.com DNA test I took recently:

Eastern European            35%

Native North American   24%

Native South American   10%

Southern European           7%

British                              6%

Uncertain                        18%

To my family, some of this may come as a huge surprise.   I know it did to me.  Various stories are rampant in our family about our heritage.  These results add both clarity and questions to our process.

The verbal histories and documents for my birth father’s family are very clear.  From my third great-grandparents, each responsible for 3.13% of my genes, generations of my paternal grandfather’s family are from Michoacan, Mexico.  Many more generations of my paternal grandmother’s family are from Aguascalientes, Mexico.  These individuals date back nine generations from me, some into the mid-1700s, which would account for one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) from each of my ancestors at the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent level. We know the towns and villages.  We know the names.  We know the dates.

In my birth mother’s family, though, we have always learned that we are not Mexican.  We are Native American.  Period.  End of story, if my grandfather’s stories are accurate.  The challenge is that the groups with which we should identify ourselves are not so clear since each of my maternal grandfather’s siblings told a slightly different story.  Apache, Yaqui, Blackfoot, Ohlone, and so on.  Having not been reared in this family, being adopted at birth, I had to learn all of these stories after most of my ancestors were gone, and be able to decipher them the best way I knew how.  Eventually, though, I came to a dead end with no document-supported, objective answers that affirmed any of the stories without question with regard to our Native American history.

Several years after discovering even what questions to ask, I heard from a cousin of mine, Catherine, who has been a vital part of our journey to discover our family history, that a researcher in Santa Barbara was asking for DNA samples for people believed to be, in anthropology-speak, Costanoan indigenous people, or those whose ancestry came from the West Coast of California.  We didn’t know whether we were from this macro group or not, but we had found our people in the San Jose, California region for more than 150 years.  We do not have information about where some of them were born.  With this information, I offered our direct-line genealogy and a DNA sample.  That was several years ago and still I have not heard anything.  All I know is that my DNA currently resides in Germany with researchers who are trying to make sense of my gene pool.

Let me continue this discussion by giving some perspective to percentages in every person’s family lines.  The following table shows what percentage and fraction of my genetic material each person in that generation must claim:

Parents                                     50%               1/2

Grandparents                           25%               1/4

Great-grandparents                 12.5%            1/8

Great-great-grandparents         6.25%          1/16

If more than one of my progenitors shared an ethnic history, and in our case, some even shared family history,  then the overall percentages of ethnicity would be skewered, which they are.

Late last year, I heard that Ancestry.com, an organization to which I’ve belonged since 2004, began sending out notices that a DNA test would be offered.  This wasn’t one of the “Y” chromosome tests for one’s paternity information, or a mitochondrial DNA test for matrilineal information.  No, this was an autosomal DNA test where they evaluate a person’s entire genome at more than 700,000 sites, or markers, in the individual’s full 23 chromosomes.   This was the whole picture taken from all of my genetic material.  I couldn’t pass it up.  I added my name to the waiting list.  Several weeks ago, my name came up.

I paid my fees, and within a few days, my test arrived.  I spit in the vial and sent it out that next day.  That was about three week ago.  Yesterday, my test results came back in.  Several things happened when I received that notice: I had some information confirmed, received some new information, and realized that my DNA may be in Germany a long, long time.

The confirmation I received is that my genetic history is about 1/3 indigenous to the Western Hemisphere; 24% from Central and North America, and 10% from South America.  The data did not specify from which side of my family these numbers came.  Although I was not aware that any part of my family originated in South America, it does not surprise me that some part came from there because my father’s family lived so far south in Mexico.

The most startling bit of information I received was that more than 1/3 of my genetic material originated from Eastern Europe, which includes countries from as far south as Greece to as far north as Estonia.  One fact that made me smile is that my ethnicity is likely similar in part to my adoptive father’s, whose Polish heritage I have always claimed as my own, if only culturally.

As a strange aside, this information inspired me to to remember my late friend, Miriam, who often said to me, “I just know you are part Gypsy!”  Contrary to what some who know me well may believe, she was not referring to the alluring musical theater character of the same name.  She was referring to the Romani people.  She had no reason to believe that I was part Gypsy; however, more regularly than I’ve seen with most others I know, she often made amazing leaps of intuitive gymnastics.  Could there be a grain of truth in what she believed about me?  She said this on numerous occasions, most often just before she died. The circumstantial evidence is there.  The Romani people speak a language that many anthropologists and linguists believe originated on the Indian subcontinent.  When people look at me, including individuals from that region,they most often ask me if I am East Indian.  Not Mexican.  Not Italian.  Not North African. Not Middle Eastern.  Indian.   Could others see in my face what our family has had no knowledge?  Could my genetic history confirm their observations by the fact that 35% of my ethnic pool originates in Eastern Europe, the same place the Romani people have lived since no earlier than the 11th Century?  Of course, this is simply a fantastical hypothesis; or is it?

The part that is most confusing to me is that I have no idea from whom such a large proportion of my Eastern European genetic heritage could have stemmed. The only segment of my family that originated from anywhere remotely near there is the Sicilian branch of my family.  As far as I know, not one person can be traced to Eastern Europe, let alone more than one-third of my ethnic heritage.

The most expected part of my genetic information is the 7% identified as having come from Southern European parentage.  With families in Mexico often having Spanish ancestry, and a Sicilian Italian ancestor, this made sense.  The one question that arose is that with one grandfather who I believed to be full Italian, this number should have been at least 12.5%.

One small surprise was the 6% defined as genes that originated from the British Isles.  That means that one of my great-great grandparents was likely English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh.  The only problem is that I believe that I have information on all 16 great-great grandparents.  Is this an indication of a secret that no one knew before?

The most difficult challenge that I had with the results of this test is a category called, “Uncertain.”  This classification is for genes that have markers that generally indicate they derived from a certain area, but they do not meet the “extremely high standards” that Ancestry.com claims it has.  Until they can be verified, these markers shall remain in this quizzical category.  Could this be where the specific markers for small bands of Native Americas exist that at this point cannot be authoritatively assured?  Could these be African or Asian aboriginal people that have so few people tested that there is no way to verify the data?  Which of my ancestors are represented by this number?

The number itself is problematic.  When I checked others’ levels of “Uncertain,” I saw numbers as low as 6% to as high as 16%.  Why did I not see anyone with my level of “Uncertain,” which was 18%?   This is nearly 1/5 of my genes, representing more than one great-grandparent’s genetic history.

As with any research project, often the researcher is left with more questions than answers.  Such is the case with my DNA results.  In this case, though, this is all so very personal.  The good news is that I now know that fully 1/3 of my heritage developed from the Native American people stretching from North America to South America.  On the other side of my family coin, I now have to figure out from where we originated because our information is clearly nowhere near complete.

Stay tuned for more information as we delve farther into our genetic past.