the Archivist

 

There are many names I had as a child. Nicknames given to me by parents and grandparents, and maybe friends. Names like Nellie, and Bunny, and Big D. Many of my childhood friends called me Nellie, a natural derivative of my full name Denelle. My grandmother called me Nellie Bly, though at the time I didn’t know she was actually sort of naming me after another person. Was my grandmother prophetic? Could she actually see into the future – as I sometimes can – enough to know that this name would fit me so well? Was she prophetically laying on me an adventuresome personality full of spunk and a disregard for conventional roles and behavior, just like my namesake?

My father called me Tiger, and more often Scooter. To this day I’m not certain he remembers my real name, because it is always Scooter from him. It’s a name I’m fond of. My mother called me Christina Marie when I was in trouble. And I used to be called Denny. This was a name I chose on my own. But unlike other names (Sweet Pea, for example, which never really took) I managed to force my family to call me Denny for an entire year, or maybe longer. Other names I used to go by I have found in secret places, like diaries, old coloring books, and that sort of thing. Christi. Sandi. Cindy. I had secret names, and secret codes, and secret lives that I am only now trying to discover and unfold.

But many of my selves have no specific name, though the individuality is very distinct. There are parts of me that existed in the past, and experienced certain things that others didn’t experience. And these people maybe weren’t brave enough, or stupid enough to stick themselves out and demand a different name. And so, to help myself – and my sister – identify these people, we are giving them names now.

Some of these people you will probably get to know over the course of time, if you hang around the blog. Stormy. Joey-girl. Mexico. You’ll hear me talk about Scritchy, and Lil’ Bird, maybe. Or Bubbles. But today you will hear about The Archivist.

Some of my people, like The Archivist, have titles rather than names. The Archivist actually just got her title, and thank the gods for it. One night talking to my sister, The Archivist pushed her way to the surface, angry and tired and frustrated. And swearing. She was nameless at the time, a hidden identity that had not previously surfaced. I have to admit that I must have known of her frustrations and issues, because I’d written a poem a year or two earlier, complaining of the same things she was lamenting.

She was a sort of janitor, this one. For a great many years – I imagine since my late teens – no one in “the system” or “Team Denelle” wanted to admit that we had others running around in there. No one wanted to deal with the craziness of being Multiple. So walls went up, and everyone went into their own hidey hole, and all the innards went into lock down, needing to hide emotions, thoughts, instincts and memories. This made it difficult to recall things sequentially (like which teachers I had in which grades), and immediately (like where did I lay down my keys, or that missing bra?)

This janitor person was probably created to move all the memories around. Some of my people are too little, and they don’t have certain memories like the others, or even vocabulary advanced enough to explain some of the things that went on in my life. Those memories couldn’t be around the littles, because that would be upsetting. So they needed to be dumped somewhere else. Some of my people hated my mom and loved my father, and vice versa. Some personalities loved everyone in the world, and some people would have grown up to be assassins. But everyone, regardless of name, personality traits or clothing preferences, all of my people were plagued by our past. Our history. The skeletons emerging out of the closet, chasing us down, and trying to consume our life. So for years and years, this janitor person tried to bury the memories somewhere, in some hidden compartment of the soul, or under some forgotten year of the life; a giant dust ball to be swept under a rug.

The Archivist came out one night, complaining. There is no more room, she said. There is no place left to go. No place left to hide. We have run from this past so many times, and hid in all the good places. Now there is just shit everywhere, and it’s exhausting. Hiding information from everyone is impossible. Trying to maintain secrecy about this issue is impossible. This personality was at the end of her rope, because she couldn’t keep up with everything. Where do I put all this shit??? How am I supposed to shovel this shit around forever??? Yeah, my sister and I could see that trying to hide reality from yourself was an overwhelming task. Plus there were no good bennies.

So we gave her a name, or a title really, and told her that instead of hiding and burying all of the information, she should catalogue it. We talked to her about some of the movies we’d seen, like Dream Catchers which, though very weird, has a fabulous scene revealing an intricate and complex memory system in someone’s brain, complete with winding staircases, circular library vault, and oodles of books full of collected information. Harry Potter was helpful too, with Pensieves that could reveal the past, but beautiful little bottles that would contain the memories until they were needed. Instead of having all of these horrible memories lying around in the brain, like a barn full of shit, we could organize them, label them, file them away in little bottles, drawers, and boxes. She would be called The Archivist, and it would be her job to retrieve information as it was needed, and she could put it away in the manner she decided.

Wow, sorry. Long story. But since then, since the naming of The Archivist a few months ago, things have been a lot smoother for ‘the system’. Memories emerge in a less traumatic way. Associations are made more easily. I still can’t remember things I want to in the middle of a conversation with someone. I still know that I know the answer to something, and can’t manage to pull it out of the bank in time for the current discussion, but the ebb and flow of my daily existence seems to be going more smoothly. And I am increasingly more able to actually FEEL the things I have gone through. And THAT is a miracle right there, because there has been a need for detachment my whole life. But that is a whole different blog, for a whole other time.

For now, I have to give Kudos to my Archivist, and tell her she is doing an amazing job.  It’s kind of handy, having all these people inside. It’s kind of like being a fabulous museum full of wonderful art pieces, and all of my staff people have their own little jobs. You should try it sometime. Just be sure to include extra closets and basements for the storage of stuff you don’t want to look at, because leaving it around everywhere is dangerous. Or just start off by hiring yourself someone to take care of it all, but be sure they understand their job, and be sure to treat them right. Because it’s an important job, recalling and recounting the tales of life. And everyone could use an Archivist.

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About denelle

writer. artist. ponderer.

Posted on June 16, 2010, in biographical, MPD, thoughts and reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That scene in Dreamcatcher was probably the best part of the movie. Very cool concept.

    I could certainly use an Archivist. My brain would also have an incinerator so that I could burn away all the bad memories. Not to mention a coffee maker.

    For some reason I imagine your Archivist to be a pissed off version of the receptionist from Ghostbusters. Haha

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