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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.

suicide etiquette 101

 

This weekend started off in a pretty interesting manner. I was at work minding my own business when someone I know (but just barely) asked me if I could tell when people were going to die. This may SOUND like a bizarre question, but it isn’t really, when factoring me into the conversation. I am a bit of a psychic. I don’t know if I should say that, because it’s not like I’ve been tested and approved, like some of those new commercials or adds brag about. Still, I’ve been known to acquire information accidentally. Like which player on the team is going to get the winning touchdown, or what your favorite sexual position is, or who has a problem staying away from the “ladies”. So the question didn’t surprise me, and I told her that even if I DID know when someone was going to die, I wouldn’t tell them. I mean, come on. “By the way, you have a week to live. Hope you have something planned”.

Her response was curious. “Oh, well I’ve been thinking about killing myself, and I just wondered if that showed up”.

Well obviously, this freaked me right out. She wasn’t telling me she was headed off to Rite Aid to get a fresh razor blade, or off to KMART for a load of ammunition, but it was unsettling nonetheless. And it’s not like I don’t understand these issues; depression, insanity, the call of a nice shiny pointed object. I get it. But this sounded to me like a call for help.

I was rattled by this open bald-faced admission, and went to another friend for a word of advice. Do I give this person my home phone number, so they can talk to me about this issue? Do I call the police? Do I alert her immediate supervisor? We settled on me giving her a hotline number, urging her to email me RIGHT NOW, and setting up a date for coffee NEXT WEEK, emphasizing that she WILL be around still next week. I was encouraged not to try to handle this situation myself, but to try to redirect her to a professional.

Still, that night I cried for quite some time. I was worried. I felt responsible. I thought that if she DID kill herself, and I was the only one that knew about it, I was totally culpable. What should I have done differently? I ended up calling her on her cell phone, and she was very flippant and nonchalant about the whole situation. “Oh, this is something I’ve been dealing with since I was fifteen. I think about it all the time”.

She wasn’t REALLY going to kill herself. She got depressed. She thought about her mortality. She cuts herself and takes pills sometimes, but not deeply enough to sever anything of importance (relatively) and not so many pills that she whacks herself off. So what, is this all just about the drama? Are you bored? Do you just want to give people around you nervous breakdowns?

No really, I very much understand this whole situation and way of life. But I just seriously think you need to get some help. Life can be better than this. You CAN be happy, if you want. Eventually. With pills. Or booze. Or a credit card that allows you to do a lot of shopping.

So I’m worried about this girl, and the next day am still bothered about the situation, and then yesterday talked to my therapist about this, and even today had to discuss the issue with several other people. Because this is serious. This isn’t like suddenly changing your hair color, or radically altering your physical appearance with tattoo sleeves or facial modification. This is the end of your life. This is you laying this death on someone else’s shoulders … potentially.

Sometimes people kill themselves, I understand that. I get that some people find this a viable option and a necessary evil, and I’m not advocating it nor am I denouncing it. It is, and has been, a part of life. But seriously, you need to think about WORDING people. If you talk casually about suicide on a regular basis, in front of people you barely know, you will likely get a reaction. If it isn’t really something that is a “big deal”, maybe you should consider just saying you’re depressed. Or angry. Or that you hate life. Actually going so far as to say you are thinking about killing yourself is a bold statement that will likely be met with some sort of response involving your immediate supervisor, the police, or a mental health professional. People DO care; but please, if you are just bored with your life, or looking for a way to pass the time, or just don’t have anything interesting to say, then you need to think up some new lines. It just isn’t good suicide etiquette to fake people out about your mental desperation. Next time, I might just hand you the extra gun I have in my glove compartment.

Psychic gifts from hell

I have the sight.  I have to admit it.

And I love it, quite honestly.  I love knowing things spontaneously and without prompting.  Like the fact that I should pick up a pack of mustard flavored pretzels at the store, because my sister will be trying some at work in about an hour and will want some for her own.  I love knowing that one of my sisters is pregnant before she even finds out.  I love talking on the phone to people and knowing what they are wearing and whether they have their hair in ponytails or straight.  And I love telling people that someone they know called Anna needs to get ahold of them, or someone they know that has just painted their living room yellow wants to talk to them.

I also love more important information, like that a friend will be dating someone soon, or will succeed in getting the job that they want.  I love knowing that someone will successfully receive a hard earned scholarship for the school they want to go to.

Often this information comes to me because I am doing a psychic reading on someone.  I’m actively seeking information on the querent, and so pick these bits up out of the stratosphere somehow.  Other times I’m just sitting in a Taco Bell minding my own business, when I suddenly am prompted to tell a complete stranger that something wonderful is coming into her life.

And usually my information is greeted with thanks.  People are almost unanimously grateful for the input that my quirky psychic bones get to them.  Still, there are those times that my information is awkward, if not off putting.

Like the time I had to tell a friend of mine that she should give in to her husband about something in the bedroom.  Well ok, I didn’t really tell her she SHOULD, I just mentioned that the topic was coming up in the reading.  Turns out her husband had been badgering her about a particular position to try every since they’d gotten married.  He finally got his way.  However, they divorced a short time later.  Ooops.

My little gift jumps out of my mouth from time to time.  I wish it were predictable, like some of the shows on TV make you believe.  Where the world around you goes all fuzzy or cloudy, or you start getting a headache, or colors change and shift.  Then I would know I was having a psychic meltdown, or moment, and I would know how to behave accordingly.  But that’s not the case.  True, sometimes I can see the information inside my head, like it’s on a billboard or a marquis.  But often I just blurt something out, before the thought has even solidified itself in my brain.  One minute information is not there, and the next it just is.  Which is great.

Except for when I accidentally blurt out something that is a true statement, when I think I’m only being funny.  Like, “oh that guy likes to wear women’s underwear”, and it turns out to be true.  Ooops.  He probably didn’t want everyone finding out quite like that.

Well, I guess you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, what with the nasty horse breath and all.  So I will just have to take the knocks that come along with all the fun psychic information.  It wouldn’t hurt if I could find a way to slow down my big mouth before it starts spewing out information that could get me into trouble.

But then, that just wouldn’t be me.