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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. ~ ~ ~


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?

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