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adventures in gender-ing

April 12, 2015

Saturday, went with Spouse on a day trip: he taught a photography class for 6 hours; I walked around downtown Frederick, then browsed the library at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center.

Friday night, I’d felt my inner boy ‘come up’, and dedicated all day Saturday to ‘being a boy’. I woke up Saturday morning to a euphoric chorus in my mind: “I’m a boy! I’m a boy! I’m a boy!”

I couldn’t sustain it the entire day, as it was cognitively draining in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but the flashes where I was consciously embodying it were. . . delicious.

+++

I made no attempt to “pass” for male, any more than I do every day: half my clothes are men’s. Didn’t do anything different with my hair; wore a unisex necklace.

Everyone who spoke to me “read me” (or at least addressed me) as if I was a cis woman.

But… that made no difference whatsoever to how I felt inside. And my inner voices were totally different than usual. A lot more swearing.

+++

Didn’t realize before just how much of a disconnect there can be between my conscious mind’s “normal script” and what I’m actually feeling in my bodymind, especially on a day that involves no social stress whatsoever complicating things.

For instance, why would what other people read me as have anything to do with how my bodymind feels? I mean, it doesn’t. And yet the observer part of my mind was… kind of surprised by that.

+++

Maybe it’s just the different focus of Generations X and Y as parents (vs. how things were when I was a kid) but… all the illustrations I saw that featured people showed… groups of people. And of course, all the music you are forced to listen to is about love, or loss, or whatever, but it tends to be relentlessly social.

I had lunch at a restaurant. I was the only solitary person there.

I really truly enjoy being solitary: I can take in so much more of my environment, what I’m doing & feeling, what other people are doing, the trees, the flowers, the clouds in the sky.

Doing things with other people (unless it’s Spouse) is super-taxing cognitively. My enjoyment of what my bodymind is experiencing drops precipitously because I don’t have the bandwidth to spare for noticing it.

That’s not to say that it can’t be fun to do things with other people, because it certainly can. But it’s probably better for my enjoyment if the thing we’re doing is not something I really want to immerse myself in. Because I definitely cannot do both.

+++

Loved being in the rock shop, especially knowing I was a boy inside. (I would’ve gone into the rock shop anyway — I love rocks, and have had a rock collection since I was a kid.) I stopped myself from mentioning to the owner (impulsively) that I think I was a rock in another life. Or that I feel like rocks are my ancestors. Being a rock shop is especially heady thinking of it like that — being surrounded by “my own kind” for once.

+++

Got more, different (than last time) antique wooden bobbins that had been used for silk threads, at my favorite antique store. Also, this time, bought 2 antique hand-thrown flower pots: 1 for the potager, 1 for my car (in case I find dirt I want to take home).

+++

Upon getting home, napped for 3 hours. Then, as Spouse went to bed, went for a long “midnight walk”, all over the neighborhood.

A bunch of things have settled into new configurations in my bodymind. Improvements. Clarity about who I am now, and what I want, and why that’s good. Honesty with myself about how truly terrible some of my past decisions have been — but I also learned a shit-ton from those mistakes. Frankly, not sure I could have learned as much as I needed to learn without lots of disasters.

+++

Normally in Frederick I spend some time on a “coffee date” with myself, writing, but I couldn’t waste boy energy on that!

But I do have to do another coffee date soon. Maybe Monday.

+++

The utter deliciousness of Being a Boy during Aries… I’m going to have to do this again and again. Loving it.

The best idea I’ve had in a while.

{Although I’ve noticed I’ve started having Best Ideas I’ve Ever Had a lot more frequently lately… Must be doing stuff right!}

Homo habilis

April 8, 2015
  • Touch1 – connecting, physically & emotionally, with another person
  • Touch2 – tactile sensing ~ touching things with fingers, skin, etc.
  • Using hand Tools
  • Skills at a trade

(Being allowed to be) Openly proud of one’s mastery of useful skills

Grampa W. Uncle Ed. Uncle Mark. Cousin R. Cousin D.

What if I’d become a steamfitter, like Uncle Ed? I’ve always wondered if I made the wrong choice.

If I’d had the background such that I could rotate imaginary objects in my mind and then draw them, would I be an engineer now?

= = =

How do I teach myself what I need to know?

men, arm in arm?

April 8, 2015

Is it significant (or just a coincidence) that most of the Lithuanian literature I’ve read has focused on men, men, men?

In the historical (i.e., pre-20th century) Lithuanian literature I’ve been reading, written by men, when women appear at all, there have been 3 female archetypes:

  • the young, beautiful & nubile love interest;
  • the protagonist’s doting mother; and
  • the old hag, bitter that she’s not young & beautiful anymore.

= = =

For months, I’ve been composing a mental list of books of poetry I want to buy to teach myself / improve my poetic craft skills.

All the authors are men.

When I look at women authors (whose books I rated equally highly) in my Literary Spreadsheet, I either already own their books (but don’t feel drawn to them for this project), or… I feel strong internal resistance against including them in this project.

= = =

Could a secret aspect of dream-Lithuanian signify… exploring masculine ways of writing poetry?

Exploring masculinity altogether?

Is part of my own secret heart… masculine?

= = =

Have I been “fixated” on JM as long as I have, not just because of the (considerable) trauma aspects, but because… he’s a guy?

Dream-JM, I have often recognized as signifying “my deepest self”. I’ve run screaming from admitting that, even in my own mind, because of my horrible history with the real person, but… what if there’s truth to it on a different level than I’ve been perceiving?

{Because we’re cousins on my mother’s side, the real person-JM is as Lithuanian as I am.}

= = =

In my mind’s eye, I’m seeing my old friend from grad school, Kelly (a guy), my brother D, and the real JM.

What could the 3 of them all have in common?

Well, I’ve been friends (or at least “friendly”) with all 3. Other than that, though, I’m running aground. Personality-wise, Kelly’s an INFJ; D is an ENTJ. I don’t know what JM is, but I’ve speculated that he’s INTJ.

= = =

A phrase from a SFF favorite popped into my head: “The hope of their house”.

I don’t recall what Kelly’s birth order is, or if he even has siblings. (He is midway between the ages of my 2 oldest male cousins on my mother’s side though.)

My brother D is the heir to my mother’s atriarchy now, but she’s the one who pushed me out of that spot; my brother didn’t. If he’s the hope of the house, gods help them. (Although he’s much more like my mother than I ever was, so my displacement actually makes sense in terms of continuity of shared values.)

I don’t know how the real JM is regarded by his branch of the family. His oldest sister seems to be the social-hub, but I don’t know if she’s the atriarch-to-be (her parents are still alive). People talk about one of his older brothers as if he’d been the Golden Child all along, but growing up, he was anything but. And JM is the youngest of all of them — how does he hold his own among so many other strong-willed people? I don’t have any idea.

{Does he still hero-worship my brother? His brother(s)? Don’t know that either.}

If these 3 men popped into my head solely because they’re competing ideas of masculinity… why not any of the other guy friends I’ve had over the years? Marty. Ken. Carl. Paul. Loren. Wayne. Bree. Spouse. John. Roger. Ernie. Kevin. Matt. Plus, all my guy Twitter-friends.

= = =

I confided in all 3 of them. But only Kelly was emotionally supportive — he’s the first person I ever told I’d had a nervous breakdown. He was easy to talk to; and he didn’t judge, even when we disagreed about some serious topics. I remember a conversation where guns in the context of gun control came up; I assumed he was anti-gun like me, but it turns out, he grew up hunting. In someone else, I might have felt in danger from that, but I didn’t; we just agreed to disagree.

Not only was he willing to be seen with me — we had lunch together every 2 weeks for a couple years — but after returning from a long trip, he hugged me in the cafeteria. It was lovely, but I was so surprised, I initially stiffened up, didn’t know how to respond.

Paul was touchy-feely too (like I am), and Ernie, but they were both my parents’ generation.

So I guess that’s a third thing Kelly, D, and JM have in common: I’ve hugged all of them!

genograms, in verse

April 8, 2015

I finished the last of the (Easter) kugelis for yesterday’s lunch.

I tried to figure out how I could learn Lithuanian — every option I came up with, though, felt like concrete. There was no spark, no sense of “yeah, this could work! Cool!”

= = =

I “stayed up all night” in the usual sense: I went to bed at 6 a.m., slept for 5 hours. I vaguely remember something with Lithuanian(s) in my dreams.

= = =

It must be symbolic. {In my defense, I can still be fooled when dream-characters look like people I’ve had troubled relationships with. Even though I know better.}

= = =

I initially thought these dreams were simply because I was reading a lot of Lithuanian literature; it was getting “processed” by my unconscious mind, into long-term memory storage.

That can’t be so with 8 nights of (consecutive) dreams. For one thing, I finished reading this batch of Lithuanian lit a week ago.

= = =

The more-recent dreams don’t have anybody I know in them: not Gramma, or Grampa, or anybody else I knew that actually spoke Lithuanian. It’s not nuns at Maria High School, or scholars at the University of Chicago either.

Why the dream with the Iranian guy, taking lessons on his vacation? {And he didn’t even look like Omid, who was much handsomer.}

+++

What does the Lithuanian language mean to me?

The very few words I knew (when I was younger) were what I spoke when I wanted to be my deepest, truest self, to someone I loved.

I thought of myself by a Lithuanian word — my name for myself. Later, a variation of that became my signature on most of the ceramic pieces I made (circa 2002–03).

My first houseplant had a Lithuanian name.

My email handles, for years and years and years, were/are Lithuanian words.

= = =

As a kid, I wanted to learn the language so I could say and think…. secret things. I don’t think I even knew what they were, or could be.

(Possibly related to how my grandparents only spoke it around my mother and her sibs, growing up, when they were concealing information. My grandparents did the same to us grandchildren.)

Could dream-Lithuanian be related to poetry, then? With it, I say the things I can’t even think / think about otherwise. I make sense to myself. I figure out what to do.

But… I’m already doing that with poetry. Although…

I either write about myself in the present tense, or I write about other people that I don’t know (imaginary personas / imaginary situations). But except for one — unfinished — poem, I haven’t written about my past, my personal history. Or my family history. Or my history with place.

There’s a Pandora’s box in my mind with New Mexico. I felt it when I was at AROHO in 2013, but it was… way too early, I guess, for me to find the key. On a night that everything was flowing, I made notes, but there was no spark.

It’s not poetry if there’s no spark. (I can’t even do prose with no spark. I can’t do anything. The spark is the catalyst.)

= = =

  • Secrets
  • Places, of personal significance (including New Mexico)
  • Gramma
  • The cento about FJG (Spouse’s great-grandmother)
  • Mountains

Currently, I use surrealism as a way to try to deal with things I can’t find my way to otherwise. I still need something to spark as I’m noodling around though.

So… ancestors, not always in my direct line.

My aunt and uncle’s house in Albuquerque. The courtyard fountain (?). I only remember falling into it once… although it was memorable, in a bad way.

Mountains, always mountains, even contained in the rocks that were everywhere.

The day my sister (3 years old?) accidentally overdosed on children’s vitamins when my mother was “taking care of us” — her own kids, and my (older) cousins, in Albuquerque, and she freaked out. My cousins, 12 to 15, were dragooned into “giving her directions to the hospital”, tricky since none of them drove yet. I vaguely recall driving all over creation, looking frantically for the right signs, while my mother got ever more hysterical. (I might have been told that last part, as I think my mother wanted me to stay at the house taking care of my little brother.)

(Since my mother was overwhelmed with taking care of 3 small children, including at least 2 that were mischievous / got into things they weren’t supposed to, she… probably shouldn’t have gone on to have a fourth child. Why did she, I wonder?)

And that question sparks a similar issue with my aunt: she had 4 kids, who were half-grown, when she had #5 with her second husband. Why? She didn’t even seem to like kids.

#5, unlike the others, was born in Albuquerque. That one thing I’m jealous of, even now. No matter how often I tell myself, consolingly, that I had my own relationship with Albuquerque before he was born (and I did), he was born there. Albuquerque is “visibly” part of the fabric of his life. Whereas, I would have to tell people. And I don’t tell people, because it’s shockingly intimate. (Which seemingly makes no sense whatsoever, and yet, it’s so.)

But! If I had a secret language… could I use that?

Um, yes?

= = =

Okay, what do we have?

Dysfunctional patterns, playing out over generations.

People being given too much responsibility for minding children => tragedy. That formula describes Vyta’s death, when Grampa was minding him; they were both kids.

For that matter, who was “raising” my FIL? He’s fond of both of his parents, but from his stories, he seems to have almost raised himself. With a tiny bit of guidance from one grandfather (but not until high school). Is it any wonder he… didn’t do a very good job? Where would he have learned?

People who are emotionally and/or physically neglected become narcissists as an (unconscious) means of self-care.

I don’t want to use poetry to tell stories of tragedy. My own or other people’s. And yet…

I don’t want to start feeling empathy for my father’s father! Empathy can trip you up, big time: while you’re “feeling their pain”, they’re mistreating the fuck out of you and yours, and not feeling sorry about it neither!

~ ~ ~ Oh. Um. Wasp witch, is that you? Um. We’re in a place of healing now? Yeah, all right. ~ ~ ~

I DON’T WANT THIS.

Hasn’t my soul been torn asunder enough?

 

 

And yet…

No one else has more experience having their life ripped apart. And then surviving it. No one else actually likes uncertainty and not-knowing and “diving down deep”. No one else chases the hard (because I’ll learn stuff – cool!)

No one else started therapy at age 11. And had their most-recent round last year, at 48. (Obviously, I wasn’t having it continuously for 37 years. But I’ve had it a whole bunch of times, with people using a variety of approaches.)

= = =

Okay. So, what would Baby Steps on this entail?

language logjams

April 8, 2015

Dream Monday night contained basketball and Lithuanian(s), in some combination. That’s 7 dreams out of 8 days.

Tuesday morning, I searched on the ‘net for Lithuanian + Baltimore, and didn’t come up with much I think I can use. There actually is a “Lithuanian Saturday school” (!), over in the DC Beltway (an hour plus drive) but of course it’s just for kids.

= = =

Considerations/worries about how to proceed, and should I proceed, with anything related to learning Lithuanian:

  • I’ve wanted this for so so long, maybe if I figure out how to do it, it’ll be a disappointment. Perhaps I shouldn’t bother? (Despite 7 days of dreams, though?!?!!)
  • As a kid and adolescent, whenever I had some specific thing that I desperately wanted to do, and my mother (or some other adult) traumatized me over how they obstructed me from doing it… well, (I now know from my Body Movement Psychotherapy last year that) the trauma stuff remains stuck inside me, and it keeps insisting that if I pursue the thing, The World Will End.
  • The Lithuanian language itself is related to Sanskrit, and Proto-Indo-European. There… have been a lot of … social/cultural advances since PIE speakers were dispersing across the world. Do I want to try to learn tones and inflections and cases and all that stuff (in addition to vocabulary) just so that… there’s no way to talk about myself, because I’m not part of the gender binary?
  • Who will I speak it to? Or just practice it with? Gramma’s been dead since 1998.
  • Would I dream in Lithuanian? I did dream in Spanish when I was learning it in high school; in Latin, in college. That would be… wicked-cool.
  • I’m all about Pragmatic ~ what could I use this for? Granted, I often don’t have the slightest idea what a new interest might be useful for until I’m well into immersing myself in it, but the internal resistance on this is really strong.
  • If this would entail lots of social interactions… that’s not my strong suit. Especially not when everyone gets all nostalgic about their dear old parents, and the Old Country (that I’ve never been to, and don’t wish I was from), and all that.

When an interest I had as a kid pokes a head above the dirt, I usually dive right in. But this one…

I feel very conflicted.

= = =

Lots of people from cultures that were decimated by the British Empire are (understandably) angry that they grew up speaking English, even a global English, rather than whatever language their parents or grandparents spoke natively.

I think my own father has similar feelings, even though I think none of my direct ancestors spoke Irish Gaelic unless you go back well over a hundred years. (My father’s parents didn’t grow up speaking Gaelic, and they were born around the turn of the 20th century.)

The thing is… I’m happy I’m an American poet, who writes in English. That’s part of why I picked a name like ‘Meander’, that’s a regular word in the dictionary. {With a wicked-cool etymology, that’s not English at all, but I digress.}

I have never wished that I was born in Lithuania, nor Ireland; I’m ever so grateful my ancestors emigrated.

But now, > 100 years after my (maternal) grandparents were born, in Chicago, and near Pittsburgh, why do I need to learn their native tongue? Why now?

I don’t know, I don’t know.

Dream: 4.6.15

April 7, 2015

I’m clothes shopping with my mother. We’re at a boutique, looking at blouses and lingerie. {The only colorway I distinctly remember was a camisole of a complex shade of sort-of-peach (I wish I could think of a better name for it — it was a pretty color) silk, with ivory lace trim.}

I come out of the dressing room, and on a table in front of me, my mother has set out a row of bras for me to try on. I’m struck by how pretty they are — generally bras for A cups are boring and plain, but these are really pretty. The one I liked the best, couldn’t stop looking at even, was white with little purple flowers.

The thing is, I don’t wear bras, and my mother knows that. I tell my mother, “I will never ever ever wear a bra. I mean ‘ever’! You know, like the Taylor Swift song. I’m so glad she wrote that song — I keep finding things to sing it about!” (I wonder to myself if my mother knows who Taylor Swift is.)

My mother is disappointed, but does not badger me.

As I walk away from the table, and down the hall, leaving this store, I think to myself, “I could come back to this store, later, by myself, and at least try on the pretty white-and-purple-flowers bra. I don’t have to buy it! But I could make up my own mind, how I feel about it today.”

= = =

I’m off by myself in the mall. I bring a bunch of clothes to a circular dressing room, whose walls are mirrored inside and out. Very Space Age looking. The doors are odd, but I get them locked. I’m having more fun disrobing in there than I am trying on the clothes… I don’t end up liking any of the clothes.

At some point, after I’m dressed again, a guy I don’t know somehow opens the door and strides in. I’m gobsmacked.

I somehow get him back over by the door, but he won’t leave. I start to be worried/scared.

= there’s a blip in the dream =

Now there is an office full of people just across from my dressing room, and somehow the presence of those people scares off the guy who’d been menacing me.

I enter their office (also Space Age looking) to talk to them. There’s at least 3 people, maybe more, but my attention is riveted by the central figure: a medium stature man in his 30s, dark hair and eyes, a big nose, not unattractive. He’s Iranian, and he starts telling me about his recent trip to Georgia (the former Soviet territory, not the US state), where he was taking Lithuanian lessons. A woman who looks Eastern European, with tawny hair, curly, walks up to us, and says she’s been taking Polish classes at CCBC. Suggests I might like to do that.

I tell the Iranian guy that I thought I’d recognized that he was Iranian “because I’m following a bunch of Iranian people on Twitter”.

= there’s a blip in the dream =

Now there’s an office with just 2 nerdy guys in it, and they’re the ones whose presence scared off the menacing guy. The 2 guys are deeply in conversation, which I don’t want to interrupt, but I do want to thank them. They finally stop talking, and I take a breath to say something, when I look up and see my mother standing in the doorway, clearly waiting for me. I hurriedly thank them, and rush over to join her. I think about apologizing for “taking too long”, but I don’t do it, nor does she comment. I notice it feels good that I did not apologize, nor explain anything. We walk off together.

+++

NOTES.

I have not worn a bra since high school. For years and years, I wore camisoles, sometimes silky, sometimes cottony; nowadays, if I wear anything underneath, it’s stretchy tank tops.

I think this part of the dream has to do with how I don’t feel entirely happy with my clothes, how they look on my body, how other people perceive me in them. The blouses, the camisoles, the bras… they were all pretty. They looked pretty, but, more importantly, they felt pretty on my skin.

It’s also possible this was more literal, and telling me I need undergarments that feel good on, make me feel… happy when I wear them. Because it’s true that I haven’t worn any undergarment that makes my skin and my heart happy in a long, long time. Maybe that’s where (at least) part of my garment dysphoria is coming from?

I’ve been thinking I have to solve the garment problem/issue from the top down/outside-in, but maybe the dream is saying it should be from the bottom up/inside-out?

= = =

There is a situation, no, 2 situations, in my social life that I have recently found myself singing that Taylor Swift song about.

= = =

I’m following at least 1 Iranian person on Twitter this time, and I had been following 2 Iranian people last time. All women though.

= = =

It might actually be possible to take Polish language classes at CCBC. Historically, the idea of learning Polish was mildly interesting, mostly because of Poland’s proximity to Lithuania. But if I want to translate poetry… (and I do want to translate poetry) then maybe my perspective on the whole issue needs updating.

There’s a whole population of Lithuanians in and around Catonsville. I wonder if I could find someone to tutor me? Something? Lithuanian language school on Saturdays? How do the immigrants, or maybe their kids, teach their own kids the culture?

Because… there was this whole THING where I begged my parents for Lithuanian language lessons when I was 12. My mother said if I “behaved myself” and “was a good kid”… until I was 15(!), then I could go to Maria H.S., or the University of Chicago, and learn Lithuanian from the nuns. I was so excited, omg. And I managed to be a really good kid for 3 fucking years. And then… on my 15th birthday, Gramma gave me an English-Lithuanian dictionary, which I thought was because my dream was coming true! Except it wasn’t, didn’t. She didn’t know anything about Lithuanian lessons, and my mother apparently “forgot” they had ever been promised, and I was too heartbroken to pursue it.

= = =

My unconscious has been having a field day with this Lithuanian stuff: this is the 6th dream in 7 days to deal with something Lithuanian.

I had a conversation in my mind with my (long-dead) maternal grandfather during my walk in the woods Monday, in which I noted that, if my writing ever becomes “known”, it could be as a transgender Lithuanian-American writer, and how about that?

(Technically, Lithuanian-Irish-American, I suppose.)

The glacier in my heart is starting to melt: I’m having All The Feelings right now.

= = =

My parts/aspects are navigating treating each other with respect. Ups and downs, of course, but I’m making tons of progress.

+++

I like my body, but I don’t (yet) know how to dress it, to reflect my new understanding of myself. Whenever I say anything to myself about “garment dysphoria” or any of those types of issues, some part of me sneers that I’m being shallow: aren’t there More Important Issues to grapple with? But you know, I don’t think there are, for me, right in this moment. Parts of me have been waiting, patiently and not so patiently, all my life for the Right Time to consider these things. I think it’s here and now.

Dream elements: 4.5.15

April 5, 2015

Not the dream ~

BEFORE I SLEPT.

I stayed up all night.

Started writing something (that I decided was probably a poem) that began with the line: “If I was a man, what kind of man would I be?”

At 6:30 a.m., I went for a walk, visited my friends the boulders at the bottom of the hill, walked into the forest until I got to the bridge over the stream.

Told the forest I’d envisioned marrying myself within it, but… not yet. The weather is still too chilly, I don’t know what I’ll wear {actually a significant issue}; basically, I’m not emotionally nor materially ready.

Only then did I realize ‘not emotionally ready’ encompasses that I don’t know who all the parties are.

Invited my boy/man aspects, and my nonbinary aspects, to ‘come up’, to tell me what they’d like to do, who they are, what their names are, what matters to them.

If we’re going to marry each other, I need to know names and personalities and what they value… so they can be reflected in the ceremony itself.

SLEPT FOR ~ 5 HOURS.

AFTER I WOKE UP.

Jotted down notes from my dream. Realized I had other issues that wanted to be written about as well.

Went right to the kitchen, heated up kugelis (Kosher for Passover). Scooped out, heaped on (my new find): lactose-free organic sour cream. Ate it, gratefully, pensively. The sour cream didn’t really taste like sour cream, but as I ate it, it was cold, creamy, and rich . . . and maybe that’s all I really need.

My family never had a tradition of eating kugelis on Easter, but here I am, able to do that, hundreds of miles from where I grew up (thanks to a large Jewish population near Baltimore).

Also ate a piece of pomegranate rugelach (a pastry I never had growing up), that inexplicably reminds me of Gramma; and 2 kolache cookies — not as good as the ones my Polish-Italian Aunt Eileen made, but still yummy.

Thought about a friend telling me that, in Eastern European culture, women are traditionally ‘stronger’ than men are, in the ways strength is seen as masculine in the West.

{And yet those Eastern European cultures, at least as far as the literature I’ve been reading, remain heavily patriarchal and oppressive and sexist.}

+++

I don’t remember the storyline, just particular elements.

  • My friend S. {Japanese-American poet. Gen X. Male.}
  • Tomas Venclova. {Lithuanian poet. My parents’ generation: born in 1937. Male.}
  • A spiderweb on a branch, above my head, in a tree that I am climbing. {I am pretty far up in the tree.}
  • Wooden sculptures, made up slats lined up, moving gracefully and harmoniously, like a wave.
  • All of the people who’ve influenced my written work… trying to fairly represent them, acknowledge them, but failing because there are always more that even I don’t realize mattered.

+++

NOTES.

S is… not like any boy or man I knew when I was growing up, and forming my ideas of gender. If I’d known someone like him, maybe I could have imagined my male parts, begun integrating them into my life.

Instead, my primary male role models were (in descending order of importance): my maternal grandfather, my father, my paternal grandfather, my male cousins, my uncles, my brothers, my brothers’ teammates and friends.

My (Lithuanian-American) maternal grandfather, to enduring ill effect on succeeding generations, believed — and explicitly told me, to my face — girls were worthless and stupid. If I were to embrace his version of masculinity, I would, like my mother did, have to regard with contempt my own female parts.

My father… I miss my father sometimes. My father held fast to a type of dichotomy (trichotomy?) for women. ‘Good’ women, like his mother, were selfless saints who put up with their brutish male relatives (but he seemed to hold them in contempt for being ‘weak’). His very strong-willed sister, he held in contempt for other reasons (that I never figured out). Or, like my mother and sister, a woman could be a vamp, could entice men with her beauty and grace. But women, by definition, could not be as intelligent or as interesting or as accomplished as a man.

If my father was ever friends with a woman, I don’t know about it. I do know about his male friendships, and there were a fair number.

My paternal grandfather was a total dickhead. Every single time I think about him, I start to cry from rage at the way he mistreated my father, who hero-worshipped him. My grandfather even mistreated my father in front of me, when I was a kid . . . and my father didn’t recognize it as abusive. I did.

Growing up, I wanted to be just like 2 of my older male cousins. When I got old enough to do stuff, they were teenagers and wouldn’t give me the time of day, of course. When I was still pretty little, though, one of them did torment me, and — following in everyone else in my family’s footsteps — he’s the one I hero-worshipped.

I doted on a younger male cousin, who also mistreated me. Didn’t want to be seen with me. Was emotionally abusive. Eventually beat me up, assaulted and raped me, tried to kill me.

The one of my brothers I had a relationship with, growing up, once he got taller than me, casually treated me with contempt, and occasionally bullied me physically. (The younger cousin hero-worshipped my brother. Of course he did.)

= = =

With all of these stellar role models, is it any wonder I’ve run as far and as fast as I could away from my own male aspects?

As an adult, I’ve always had male friends, and they’ve usually been nothing like my male relatives. But… what would “sharing” masculinity with male friends entail? Is that even possible?

Every time I… try… to think about my own masculinity, I start gibbering in primal terror. Everything’s been buried so deep for so long, and I’m sure there were excellent reasons for doing all of that. Who am I to consider opening Pandora’s box?

= = =

Was Tomas Venclova in my dream because he’s a male poet, a male poet in translation, a Lithuanian poet, a Lithuanian male poet, my father’s age? Someone whose writing style I admire? Someone whose writing skills I want to learn from?

Someone who might offer a different model of Lithuanian male behavior?

Someone who wouldn’t hate me? Someone who wouldn’t, casually or purposefully, try to destroy me?

= = =

For all that blue is associated with modern masculinity, when I’m feeling very boy, I wear blue… with red. Red, fire engine red, pure red (not red-orange, or red-violet) is a very masculine color to me.

And I have avoided Red anywhere in my life assiduously. Insisted I don’t like it: “it’s too obvious”. But maybe my problem with Red resembles my problem with Yellow, which turned out to be… it represents parts of my selves I’ve been suppressing.

= = =

Moving gracefully and harmoniously, as a system… if it’s a metaphor, I can see that having to do with masculinity. But if it’s literal… kind of (choreographed) dancing movement, like in my dream… Dancing, to me, is not masculine. At all. Graceful and masculine are polar opposites.

What if that’s not so?

= = =

The spiderweb feels significant to something outside of this dream, so I’m not going to address it here.

= = =

My metaphor of “42,000 variables” seems to take care of the part of the dream where I failed at accounting for all of my influences. But my dreams tackle problems that I can do something about. So, what is it about “influences that I don’t know I have” that is a problem that can be addressed?

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