Archival Processing

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Time is Pressing


“Time is pressing, pushing me again.  And even as propelled forward, future-bound, I am forced to wait within this strange oblique, infinite curve fighting forward while bearing backwards.” ~Jim Tibbs


How do I get them to understand?

That what I want to do is nothing.



A lot has happened in the last 3 years, less than some, more than others.  But more than what I had expected.  More than I wanted.  But it is my journey.


As a navigator of my own journey I think I do well.  Don’t we all?  I mean I’d hate to find out that I had totally screwed it up somewhere along the way.  Missed the perfect mate.  Missed the perfect job or friends.  This is my journey.


“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder.  Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.  It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” ~ Barbara Kinsolover



I’ve been trying for nearly.  Stop.  Try again.  I’ve been thinking for nearly 20 years that I would like to write.  I’ve had other tell me for longer that I should write.  A couple of teachers and my Mother.  But my attention span always got the better of me.  I have lots of paragraphs, sentences, starts ideas and even more titles.


Maybe I should get a job writing book titles?



Empathy for the Consumer

The Candidate

Letters to a Friend


Most Days

Just Don’t Set Me on Fire


There is a Park Bench

Are You Ready

Black and White Bridges

3,610 words

Dual Life

In a Perfect World

966 words

My Wound is Geography

1,232 words

Untitled (NanoWriMo.09)

7,723 words

The Amana Colony Madam

The Ghost of Katie Morosky

850 words

The Uncurious Adventures of Knod Knowingly

15,179 words

Thin Line

2,142 words

Two Nights Ago

3,374 words

Welcome Back

2,255 words

Where I Am

Conflicted Life

Soul Sick

Rosie O’day

The Curiously Reckless Adventures of Rosie O’day

The Curiously Haphazard Adventures of Rosie O’day

The Curiously Unapologetic Adventures of Rosie O’day

The Curiously Lonely Adventures of Rosie O’day

The Curiously Whimsical Adventures of Rosie O’day

Spousal Negotiations



Spousal Negotiations was going to be comedy.  I hoped?  I thought of it as I sat on a sofa while my friends Jana and Bill, who said we are just going to look, navigating the decision to buy a new sofa.  I don’t remember how long it took.  But they were worried because I was in tow and they were just going to look.  He sat on it, she sat on it, she called friends to go measure the space in the house where they thought it might go.  They said yes, they said no.  They looked at me, we’re sorry!  I was good.  I had nothing to do and would have been sitting on my couch at home watching TV.  This was much more entertaining.  They bought the sofa.  Chapter one, The Sofa.


Others would have followed.  The Car, The Deck, The Patio, The Dog…


The title and idea of that one just lived in my head until I wrote it up there.  ↑  The others I pulled from the folders on my computers.


Rosie O’day.  I don’t know who she is really.  My Aunt in a letter one day after I had written her said I had a way with words and I should write about the funny girl in the commercials we all used to laugh at, Rosie O’day.  To this day, I don’t know who Rosie O’day is or remember the commercial.


They say write what you know and Barbara Kingsolver said, “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.”  There in lies my dilemma.  I know what I want to say.


It’s not the, figuring out what people want to hear, but what I have to say.  I sometimes think I know or would like to know what people need to hear.  But also am very aware that I can’t judge or assume that they think that differently from me that I need to teach them a lesson or redirect their thinking.  It’s a struggle between my head, my heart and my gut.


I have a hundred things I want to say.  But do they connect enough to make one book?  I don’t need to write the next great American novel.  I’m not Hugo or Dickens.  I just think that I do have some interesting ways to think about things and an interesting perspective on life’s journey.



Where to start?  Just start, start where you are.



I didn’t know my cousin Jim well.  Well, not as well as I would have liked.  For family he was pretty private.  I think it was in his DNA and in his fear that he was private.


He encouraged me without knowing it I think?  He meant the world to me, but I worry that he didn’t know that?  He wasn’t yet sure where I was in this world or how I saw things or would be accepting of things.


I remember sitting next to his bed at the hospital.  Mostly in silence. I remember answering the phone in the kitchen at the Butler’s he was gone. I remember holding one of my baby cousins at his funeral and someone asking if I was ok.  I remember not knowing what to think or do.  Or if I was ok.  Or how to honor his life?


He was well known in the theatre community in Kansas City, especially children’s theatre.  So his obituary was top of the fold and graciously written by Robert Butler.  He was so loved.  I hope he knew that?



January 14, 2013 1:35pm(PST) – I posted, “Time is pressing, pushing me again.  And even as propelled forward, future-bound, I am forced to wait within this strange oblique, infinite curve fighting forward while bearing backwards.” ~Jim Tibbs


Born Hannah Elizabeth Gemmell Great-Neice of Jim January 14, 2013 9:50(CST).


I had used this sentence as the foundation of a video I did I school.  Repeating it, overlaying the words with images of Kansas.  I hadn’t thought about it for a very long time or even remembered it in one of the many documents in a folder on my laptop.


While sitting waiting for a friend I came across the words and posted them on Facebook, the afternoon that my cousin, Jim’s niece was in labor.


From the archives…


One night, several years after the actual production of the piece, I watched a video that I had done my junior year at art school.


It was a tumultuous time.  My Family was in pieces, my Aunt had not spoken to us for several years and wouldn’t for several more.  In my opinion she was in a self-imposed exile and putting the blame on my Mom, Dad, Brother and myself…we didn’t like her husband?  Enough said.


A year or so after I sent out letter to all of my Aunts, Uncles and cousins asking them to tell me stories about my Great-grandmother, we made a pilgrimage.  I got one response, on cassette tape, from my Dad’s cousin Norman. Norman was my Great-grandmother’s first Grandchild.  I’m sure that I have that tape somewhere?


When my Uncle and I finally talked about it he said that he was speechless and didn’t know how to respond.  My Uncle the actor who always has a response to everything.  I didn’t understand and still don’t today what he meant by that?


Several months after that, he decided it was time to come from New York to Kansas City and trace as much of the family history as he could.  Granted he had done his homework.  He knew when Kansas had become a state, where my Grandparents came from.  Along with other fairly important tid-bits of information and a few not so important.


He started with his parents.  There was conversation about how they meet, married and moved to Kansas City.  Then there was his sister and her husband.  He covered some of his own personal history, the house that he was born in, his grade school and high school.  My Grandfather’s brother, my parents and we were off to Neodesha, Kansas.  Where we would see, my three Great-aunts, Irene, Mildred and Marie.  We ended the trip with my Great-great Uncle, my Great-grandmother’s youngest brother, Pete Whiteside.


As the journey progressed, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for or wanted to uncover, but then it wasn’t really my journey.  It was his.  His interest was on the dark side of the Pixley characteristic.


From that trip we had hours of video, about twelve that I edited down to two hours at his direction.  Then, in a moment of stupidity, relinquishment…release…at his suggestion I used the tape that we had recorded all the interviews on to make copies of the final two hours so that he could return to New York with copies.  I know, I know, you don’t need to say it…I’ve already been there, done that!  Again, it was his thing, not mine.


From that two hours, and several hours of old home movie footage that I had transferred on to video I produced a 7 minute video, with text by my cousin Jim, “Time is Pressing”.  “Time is pressing, pushing me again.  And even as propelled forward, future-bound, I am forced to wait within this strange oblique, infinite curve fighting forward while bearing backwards.”


As I re-watched this video, something struck me. The video starts with my cousin Miles starting the car, driving and talking about driving and singing to the radio.   The black and white images are nostalgic and haunting, but for the first time alarming and devastating.


Kansas is flat, you can see for miles but yet you see nothing.  As the fence posts and grass passed by, the twang of the music on the car radio had a certain familiarity to it.   Life passed by, life lost; life missed, history, maybe, possibly this time life would reveal itself.  The images take you into the small town of Neodesha, though the 4 or 5 block long downtown.  In the background my Great-grandfather who I never meet is calling a square dance.  And then to the house of my Great-grandmother.


As the car rounded the corner I was able to insert footage of the inside of the house.  Inside of the house that for me still holds the warmest memories of my childhood.  What of them I can remember.  The kitchen was always warm and smelled of bread and food that would carry you through the day.  There was a guarantee of complete certainty that when you entered that room or that house that you were totally and completely loved unconditionally.  You were welcome, wanted and adored in that house.


I believe that today I could, if in the right place, know the smell of that house, know the sounds and the feeling of being a small child there.  Not that I need much of it, but her attentiveness to you when you were around her, like there was no one more important than you.


I couldn’t have been much more than 5.  Russ was still a baby and he was on our Mom’s lap in the kitchen, were, as usual, a lot of cooking was going on.  Lot’s of activity and smiles.   I don’t know if I wanted to pick Russ up or if I too just wanted on her lap, but she pushed me away?


As I watched my small frame move away from her and sit myself next to her on the side of the small kitchen chair…I broke.  The camera caught, just for a second the look on a small child’s face that you just don’t want to see if you have any compassion at all.  A look that more than anything else in my life today I identified with.  I somehow understood, or didn’t understand?


A look of not being taken in.  Not being enough to really be apart of something more than just me.  Not being enough to have the complete feeling of being truly needed, wanted.   A void, a detachment, being pushed away, out of place.


Is this what I have been doing my entire life?  Pushing people away?  Pushing away the life I deserve, the life I thought I wanted.  Who have I unknowingly pushed away?  How do I break this cycle?


Many things could have been going on for her to do that, but how can you explain the face.  The rejection?


I find myself here today, almost 40 year old.  Working through this life by myself.  Sure I have good friends who are more support than some people deserve. That support isn’t what my heart wishes for.


A friend said to me one time that he thought that it was amazing what the two of us had been able to accomplish without the help and support of a spouse.  I don’t believe for a moment that I need that to go on or to continue on this journey of mine.  I understood what he meant.  And I hope I don’t have to explain it?  But is it really necessary to continue it alone like this?


Was there more rejection as a small child that impressed upon me that you have to fend for yourself in this life and that somehow now I have this huge wall around me that says…”it OK, thanks but I’ve got it”?


If it is a wall, what else do I know?  I share great things with really great people all the time, but the intimacy is missing.  That deep, to the core feeling that some is there heart and soul.  Someone to hold you and tell you it will all be all right, someone to hold you and tell you how happy they are to have you, someone to hold you and say what a great job you did, someone to hold you and say, I love you.  Someone to hold and say it will be all right…someone to hold and say, I love you.


I fear I’m not bold enough or brave enough to break the cycle to step out of what I know is comfortable as painful as it is.  Maybe I have missed opportunities and maybe I haven’t.  It does seem strange to me that I’m still alone?  It doesn’t seem natural and yet at the same time it does.  And of course there is that fear, I’ll admit it, that if I allow myself to love anyone that much that I’ll lose myself or that I’ll have to love everything and lose everything.


Have I been or was I truly taught how to love?  Or was I taught how to push away?  Taught how to fend for myself and that I have to take care of myself because no one else will do it, because no one really ever did.


I drive myself crazy relating to every sappy movie or love song on the radio.  “Do you know how much in love with you I am…I have fallen without even taking a step”.  “If I’m not in love with you, what is this I’m going through.”  “I don’t want to be unknown.  More than anything.  No one wants to be unknown.”  I could follow this path for pages…but I won’t.


More than anything…I don’t want to be alone.



My exploration to date has been a simple one, really.  In terms of what I know now and what I explore and take in.


I have for years gathered and taken in information.  Take it in carefully so it’s not garbage in garbage out.  Being respectful and honoring all aspects of who and what has come my way.

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