EP 002 - February to April 2017
Living in train cars, a professional lice picker, break-ins, alt-right name generators, refugees, friend-basking, and bird spotting. If’ve you’ve got a thing about bugs or break-ins maybe skip the the second and third submissions.
Mundane VS Mental, Stella, Pee Wee Jones, Fox Griffin, Pine Cone, Jessie Haddock
Roof Topper, Nelson, DeltaKnight1, Chloé Beaumont, Fringe, Joyce
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Hey Everyone, this is Alex. We’re recording live from a studio hidden somewhere in my grandparents attic. And this is Imagining Other People.
---Intro music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin---
Hi! And welcome to our second episode ever of Imagining Other People. In this podcast we explore what everyday life is like all around the world through written submissions and recordings. I’m your host Alex Serpentini and I wanna know what you did today. For those of you that are first time listeners, this whole podcast is basically strangers reading the diaries of other strangers, and it’s 100% based on community participation. If you wanna get involved (Which I would love you to do! I totally wanna hear from you), you’ve got two options. Alright so First, you pick a fake name, and then you can either :A. write me something something honest about your day, OR, B. record yourself reading what someone else wrote. And this is all completely anonymous. Theres lots more information and instructions on where to submit or how to record over at our website, ImaginingOtherPeople.comSo! That being said, let’s dive right in to episode two.
---Break 1 music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin---
Today we’ll be hearing about a professional lice picker, break-ins, living in train cars, alt-right name generators, refugees, friend-basking (which is a new term I was really excited to learn about) and bird spotting. If’ve you’ve got a thing about bugs or break-ins maybe skip the the second and third submissions. laughs alright, so let’s have a listen.
---Break 1 music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin---
Hey everyone this is Roof Tapper, today i’m reading some words by Mundane VS Mental. I’m reading them from a place inside of place, somewhere in the US. Here we go.
“The in between time is the hardest to get through. It’s difficult to balance working 5-6 days a week, for 12+ hours a day, weeks at a time; to having nothing scheduled but to catch up on real life.
I slept half the day away again today. Though, it was easier to convince myself that I SHOULD this morning. The rain was peppering the outside of the train car, there was a live train rumbling past outside, and my cat was nestled in beside me. Basically, it was cozy as hell. I’ll back up. I live in a train car.
How does that happen? What’s that like? Is it as cool as it sounds?
For me-my life had to fall apart to a certain to degree allowing for this set of circumstances to arise. It’s like living in a metal box shotgun house-which, I have several years of living in shotgun houses under my belt, so nothing new there. And yes, it is exactly as cool as it sounds. There’s no non-douchebag way around it. I am forced to live minimally (which seems to be everyone’s dream these days), and to stay tidy. Trains go past throughout the day and gently rock my caboose. (Pun obviously intended). I also get amazing views of the sunset that I can watch from the top of the traincar.
I’ve gotten used to the novelty of it and I don’t like to talk about it to everyone I meet because I live in an extremely identifiable, high traffic location. I don’t exactly want everyone passing to say- “oh, that’s where such n’ such lives,” OR “I know a person that lives in one of those.” If I wanted everyone to know my biz, I would’ve stayed in my hometown. Though, am I breaking this personal rule by writing this?
Back to the point, tell about my day.
I climbed down out of bed and made the most ridiculous single person brunch which was basically a sandwich of last weeks left-overs. Got a phone call from someone at a local charity I’ve been playing phone tag with for 2 months, and was able to set up an appointment to drop of my wares for donation. Mind you, these items have been taking up precious real estate in my car for these 2 months, so the fact that I was able to export them today was a big deal.
After that enema, I ventured to my favorite comic book store. Not only did I find the exact issue I was looking for, I also discovered that they just opened an arcade. The excitement was palpable and, as usual, I was the only customer in the building. I abruptly let social media know how cool my day was and then went to my local hardware store.
That’s probably a misnomer, since this place is more about the gear you use in conjunction with hardware. For my real specific hardware needs, I go somewhere else. Where they have every size bolt I could possibly imagine. But today was a day with other requirements. Specifically, ratchet straps to tie down my kayak. My heart swelled with pride (which it rarely swells with anything) as the ladies behind the counter recognized me and gave me a hard time about not having been in for several months. I explained that I had moved, which was not an excuse by their standards and they asked where. They inquired about the units and I had to get specific and say, “Well, actually. I live in one of the train cars.” Cue eruption of incredulous excitement.
Made it back to the caboose, started doing some adult things like paying bills. Got a phone call from a friend I met in the film business several months back. They always have something new going on and I’m continually amazed at their drive and achievements, given their age-so of course I dropped everything to have a classic phone conversation. Which, I have to say, people should do more often.
That phone call was followed by another to grab dinner with a friend. Dinner was lovely. We talked about our current struggles and planned their next visit to the caboose. Really, it was more a logistics talk since they had, essentially, invited themselves over. Which is fine, given my current lifestyle.
As soon as I felt like it was digestively safe, I went to the gym. As usual, my unusual schedule afforded me the place to myself. Angry rap got me through my painful, but much needed run.
The day ended with a Dave Chappelle comedy special on Netflix and a Skype call with another film friend.
When I regurgitate it, I guess I wasn’t lazy today. I got some things done, caught up with my people, did a deed, and satisfied my childish side at the comicbook store. Not exactly a career or bank account feeding day, but fulfilling in other ways. My career is gig based and as an independent contractor in the film industry it can be difficult during the in between times. When you’re existing as a civilian and not sending cars of cliffs or learning how to make movie meth, excitement has to be found in the everyday.”
Hello, my name’s Nelson and today I’m going to be reading something by Stella.
“My name is “Stella”, I’m 55 years old and I live in the states. I thought I’d describe a typical day in my life, but then I realized that there is nothing typical about any of my days, except maybe my family routine, but we aren’t your typical family.
I’m a self employed stay at home mom, married 26 years to a blue collar worker with two children and two dogs, living in a lovely home filled with lots of character. I’m a volunteer and a nit picker. Yep. A nit picker. I clean people of lice. I didn’t start out wanting to BE a nit picker, but my life has evolved into this strangely personal profession due to our own experiences with lice. I used to work in radio and TV until they sucked the life out of me and I finally had to walk away to heal. I’ve decided the real parasites are the people and not the bugs.
I’ve re-invented myself many times over and about 15 years into our marriage, with years of therapy under our belts, my husband and I adopted internationally. In our 40’s it made sense and has been one of the more sane decisions we’ve made together. That and buying the house we live in. So here we are living a typical Sunday.
The alarm started beeping at 8am this morning. It’s usually set for 6am but we’re on Spring Break thank God. I need every bit of sleep from this past whirlwind week of fun. I’d like to say that my day actually started at 8am but that would be a lie. I’ve been in the throws of menopause for 7 years now and a sleep filled night is rare. During the night I was awakened several times dripping in sweat. I think it’s strange to have to wipe sweat from my eyelids and cheeks in the darkness when all I’ve done is lay perfectly still on my foam mattress, which I absolutely adore. Fortunately the sweating ceases and I drift back to sleep as my husband’s c-pap machine blows a cool stream of air in my direction. He has sleep apnea and it’s like sleeping next to Darth Vader every night.
Finally I get out of bed by 8:30 after slapping the alarm a few times, dress quickly and head downstairs to fix coffee, feed the dogs and get a quick breakfast ready for the kids and husband. I always like a hot breakfast so this morning I cheat and toast bagels. Everyone is happy and we are soon out the door for church, minus the husband. Today our daughter is singing in the choir and the kids want to go to Sunday school. Before we leave I send out multiple emails because years ago I decided it was a great idea to create over 40 afterschool programs at my son’s elementary school. It’s a part time volunteer job that ‘s more full time and I really enjoy it but I feel guilty not making more money as the lice lady.
There’s a strange satisfaction in volunteering because really you could never be paid enough to be satisfied at doing something you love and it gives you freedom to create as you please. Personally I think I would make a great philanthropist. No one to tell you how to share your wealth or talent but you just give it 200%! Now THAT sounds like a job I would really enjoy.
Once at church my kids rush off to Sunday school and I meet up in the church café with another mom with a cup of tea and we talk about adoption. I’m working to help place two kids in need of a loving family, and she and her husband are interested. I start talking about my kids’ adoptions and find myself reliving the feelings. Gratitude swells inside me for all that we have been through and I feel a great kinship with this woman considering the same path of growing her family.
Before we wrap up I visit with another lady serving the coffee and tea and I bring up my mom in conversation. It will have been a year ago that she passed away from a stroke. The lady asks me of my first memory with my mother and I have to fight back the tears. I remember her holding me on her hip as I played with the buttons on her blouse. The question felt very intrusive and unnecessary.
My sister sent me a text that says “this sucks.” She’s in another state at a family funeral with our dad and I know she and Dad are reliving everything we went through with Mom. I sent her a text back that says “yes it does.”
Soon I head into the service and my 10-year-old son sits with me in the church balcony. We cuddle and he asks me about E=MC2. We remember the Energy=Mass but forgot the C part so we had to Google it to find out that it was the Speed of Light. During the service a guest from the local synagogue teaches us how to canter and the music is beautiful. We can’t help but focus on a wasp flying about the sanctuary. As usual the sermon is so politicalized I find it difficult to take in. I believe in the separation of church and state and often struggle with the political rhetoric that often takes precedent over the Biblical teachings. In fact, I don’t think Jesus was even mention in church today.
My husband attends another church these days. We are politically split and he has an even harder time with the messages delivered. He’s the conservative one and I am the family socialist. We are unequally yoked so we try hard to respect each other’s opinions as best we can.
After church and watching my daughter sing in the choir we head home for a lunch of leftovers. A friend returns Max, one of our family dogs. We actually share him with his original owner. It was last summer we were going to watch Max for the week while our friend went out of town, but after she dropped him off at our house, she had a stroke and went straight to the hospital. We kept Max for months and he bonded with our dog Mela and we all decided that it was best to keep the dogs together, but he goes for special holiday visits to his first family. It’s an open adoption of sorts I guess. Max had a harder time saying goodbye to his first family this time. I know he will need extra love to get through this heartache.
Today I set up play dates for the kids and pack up my lice equipment (a lamp, combs, solutions and towels) and head out for a repeat client. Last time I saw them was about five years ago and it was good to see how their kids had grown. Their kindness made me feel instantly at home and I was quick to set up and get to work.
We talked the entire two hours as I combed out all four family members and I felt like I made new friends for life, but ones I may never see again. They have a little dog named Brutus they call Bruce and their entire home was decorated in white linen. Not a speck of color and immaculate.
I head home unload my equipment, change clothes, and go to pick up my daughter and her friend and take them to choir practice. When I walked into my friend’s home I could smell the turnips cooking that the kids pulled out of the ground just yesterday, while visiting an organic farm. I was ready to make turnip potato mash as soon as I got home. I dropped the kids off at church and my friend said she would pick them up. After a few texts my son would be home by 7 so after cooking turnips and feeding dogs, I sat down with a plate of warm food and an old fashioned and watched a bit of news.
Soon the kids made it home and the husband chilled out with us. Computers were buzzing and I watched a PBS show about three sisters and their love for writing. Can’t remember their names but one wrote Jane Eyre. By ten o’clock I sent the kids up to bed and kissed them goodnight. It’s now 12:30 and I am done typing my day-in-the-life. Looking forward to a little sleep as I have another early morning lice client in the wings.”
Hello, my name is DeltaKnight 1, and I’m going to be reading a submission by Pee Wee Jones. Here we go.
“I am going to start by saying that I hope I am not breaking form too much. I have more than one day to discuss, starting with yesterday, which was quite invigorating.
The day prior my studio space had been broken into. It is in a shared studio facility with other artists, and we moved in less than a month ago. This break-in was amateur, no doubt juvenile. A few things were stolen from us: mostly my hand tools, and some of the artists had various small tools stolen as well. Even a broom and dustpan were taken. The thieves came in through a tiny ass window. Honestly, I can’t blame them for busting in. This new studio space is part of a neighborhood “revitalization” project, aka the bourgeoisie are here to gentrify. It is happening left and right in this city, and fast. I am surprised this break-in didn’t happen sooner.
But why was yesterday so invigorating? Because my fellow artists and I who are in this new space organized and drummed up a list of demands from the bureaucrats who put this fancy showboat together. We have been quite hesitant of occupying this new space, for the very reason that we feel uncomfortable and unsafe, knowing quite well that we are the guinea pigs of this gentrification project. The big antique windows backlit by the bright white chromophobic walls must be pretty aggravating to see from the exterior. We are taking it upon ourselves to make sure the community wants us here. The b-crats sure as hell aren’t trying.
But back to me and my invigoration. I am reading a book about rules and bureaucracy. Actually, between the day before yesterday, yesterday, and today, I have read a lot of texts on these topics. It is interesting how tied together things are. You can be reading about bureaucratic structural violence and the next minute recall a line from a text straight out of the anarchist library. So when I organized yesterday with my fellow artists, it was invigorating, because I got to utilize the knowledge I have gained from all of these texts. I got to beat my fist on the table and say things like “Blasphemy!” and “This is bullshit!” “Off with their heads!” (Ok, didn’t say that last one).
My studio was busted into, my tools were stolen, and the only people to blame are the fat cats who threw us into this space (I should mention we are graduate students), especially the fattest cat with his zippy flashy creamy new 7 Series that is parked out front of our new spaces during the day. Gentrification sucks, and here I am in the middle of it, adhering to its procedures as a graduate student so that I can make artwork as an artist. Not that I am not appreciative of being the first of a few to occupy a new studio facility, but we are all aware of the social and economic politics behind this project.
But what was most invigorating, was once we had organized, there was an energy at the table (my cohorts and I had chosen to meet at a bar that for some reason was open but not serving sudsy beverages, like being at a carnival but not getting to ride the rides because of “rules”). We all knew that we had been rushed into this new studio facility, and that it was textbook gentrification. And God damn it, we wanted the big wigs to know that we aren’t trying to fuck around here. While it was invigorating to assemble and draft of demands for things like our safety and security, mainly for our things and not our bodies, there was also a faint touch of contradiction in the air amongst us. Though we knew what this newly revamped building meant in the context of the neighborhood, and that what we were asking for was coming from a place a privilege, the stakes were still out of our control. We won’t get all of our demands, probably not most of them. And we have to play the bureaucratic game. But that feeling of vigor, of vitality, was the most exciting thing about the last few days, so I though I would share and vent about it, to no real end.
So, in keeping true to form, I’ll stop myself from rambling about my feelings, which were extremely fleeting I will admit, and stop talking about an event that has stretched over a few days, and get back to some everyday things, like what I have done so far today.
Today was made possible by the big pot of chili I cooked up with the love of my life slash best friend this past weekend. It was also made possible by the new exhaust system I had installed on my car that cost $625.00 even. I woke up this morning to the sound of the cherry-picker relentlessly beeping across the street (made possible by the roofing crew who seem to be learning as they go), I kissed my love, and took a gratifying shower. We then each had fried eggs over medium on top of rice, with a dab of pickled plum paste on the side, OJ, and coffee in our french press. We packed up some of that dank chili for lunch, and rushed off to these new studio spaces for a full day of art production, where I am now staring out of these antique windows, reflecting on a lot of things, but mainly procrastinating 70 pages worth of assigned readings for a graduate seminar. I was 10 pages deep when I realized I would rather write in a submission to a dear old friend’s project. The day is quite young still.”
Hi My name is Chloé Beaumont and today i’ll be reading something by Fox Griffin.
“My housemate is exploring the realities of 'fake news' and we find ourselves getting fired up again over breakfast. In a good way. We agree that she needs a pseudonym for her investigations and I jump up exclaiming: "remember those 'what's your porn star name?' games? Or 'Find your rock n roll persona...' ....'What's Your Disney porn star name?' ?!! Those ridiculous things? We should create one - 'What's your far right/Alt-right name'???!'"
So tripping over my washing in search of pen and paper is possible, but getting my washing in the machine (or any tasks for that matter, particularly a funding application) will have to wait whilst we immerse ourselves in this new very important action (!).
For starters your first name - Take the first letter of your first name: A-Z, from Rupert, through Nigel, May, Theresa, Marine, Tiffany, Donald...throw Fox in there.... Take the number of the month you were born in to find your surname:1-12...Thatcher, Farage, Ivanka, Murdoch, Le Pen.... We test out the instructions: "FIND YOUR ALT-RIGHT NAME, I land with Fox Griffin. That's me, my alt-right me.... An ode to the US news channel and the ogor Nick Griffin who the UK hopes to soon lose to fascist Hungary (oh the irony!!!)!
Also ironic is that I am now late for my yoga & pilates class! Which kind of makes the whole taking time out for such balancing (pah!) slightly counter-productive!
But I make it! And - as ever - find my mind whispering over and over again in rhythmic cycles, how much I love this time, how fortunate I am to have some space on a Thursday ...a space I must hold on to.... space....the spaces at the beginning and the end of every breath...the space in between....your thoughts like a cloud that come and go, a bird in the sky over head...that comes in to view and out of shot freely.... and I am completely relaxed.....
Right! Then on we must go to the next! A quick shower and left over pasta for lunch, a few emails and a call to a counsellor keen to refer a young person to our project, then on my bike and peddling through a coastal wind to the younth centre in town where we will be offering a drop-in psychosocial space and art group until 7pm.
A 13yr old boy from Syria is first to arrive, followed shortly after by a young man from Afghanistan, who was referred by the local authority children's service but now comes alone. We all settle in to individual art-making around a large table, with growing ease as the weeks pass, but with clear individual feelings of uncertainty, nervousness, hyper-vigilance from the boys. Next join three young men with their mental health practitioner from the NHS (national health service): one teen from Libya, another Kurdish Iraqi and finally a quiet young man from Eritrea, who looks more anxious this week and wary of where to place himself and what to do. I enjoy spending much of the group working alongside him. We organically move from his image of a unique tree - 'with very long roots', he wants to share with me - to thinking about our own roots; who we are; where we come from; what offers us resilience, strength and groundedness when the environment around us might be hostile, harsh and stormy. Finally, two young women aged between 14yrs and 16yrs arrive in the space, both from Eritrea. Each of these strong spirited, inspiring young people has fled persecution and danger in their home country, and has arrived in the UK in search of safety. A simple request for life not death. Some have had their refugee status granted, some continue to wait, in limbo - eager to study, work, contribute to their new communities and society, but are paralysed by the same communities and society.
Without any direction from us, a number of trees branch in to the space today. Alongside flags from home countries and a motley mix of British 'subjects' like the red fox that the Eritrean boy has crossed paths with by his foster home which edges on to countryside - a new unknown to familiarise himself with. Many other projects unfold, amidst movements of at least five different languages being spoken in the room tonight. A celebration of difference, diversity and learning from eachother rather than a barrier.
There's also a queue to continue stop motion animation work and this seems to hold the bits that are truly 'unspeakable' - the death, the persecution, the loss and separation. Both the confusion at such ill doings by human kind but also the certainty that these horrors did happen, and need to be confronted, acknowledged, given a resting place in our histories which is respected and remembered. The process huddled around our shared table, working collaboratively at times, perhaps in quieter tones so as to keep some privacy or test what the group can tolerate and survive, feels raw but also much needed. We are a group of three - two health care professionals council registered art therapists and a safeguarding and social care specialist. We first worked together in the large refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and were keen to establish a similar, ongoing service for young new arrivals in the UK. We are but Spring chickens but in collaboration with the young members of the group think we might be on to a good thing! We pack up the group feeling hope in what we can all achieve when we work together.
A glass of red after our debrief session, a cycle home with the familiar purr of the sea through the dark of the night to my left, and soon to bed. I cast a final thought to the funding applications that must be picked up first thing tomorrow. I know what incredible contributions each of those young people make and will go on to make, here in the UK, possibly back in their home countries and certainly elsewhere. I also know what can be done when lots of small actions and a handful of people come together as one - so much is possible. In particular now more than ever, this might be one of the most important messages to share on...”
Hello world, Fringe here coming to you from a Liberal Condo in the heart of Kentucky. Today i’m going to read a submission by Pine cone. This is what Pine Cone has to say.
“This morning I felt the full weight of dread that is THE DRIVE. It's so boring and I've done it more times than I can or care to count. Today however I'm driving it alone, something I haven't done in a while. A strange loneliness exemplified by the dropping off of my partner so far from our home. I'm not sure when I'll even see them again. A few weeks, hopefully not more than that. Most of the trip was blaring music from over-listened cd's with the windows down and the wind wiping my hair. I felt like a kid again. Driving where ever I want: road trip to the woods, road trip to a new city. I stopped off at a rest stop and laid on a grassy hill in the sun for a bit to try and relax after a brief traffic jam. It was warm and kind and felt like being wrapped up in goodness. I was trying not to think about my partner being so far from me, or my job I had to get back to. The sound of kids chasing each other around the vending machine hut made it easier.
The cities that passed are like blurs in my mind. I was watching the road but I rarely watched the world. I got into town and went straight to a dinner date with friends. Dinner turned into friend basking at a dark table outside a dimly lit bar. Friend basking is when you watch your friends and involuntarily smile. They grow and change and you watch from a short distance.
My bed is lonely and my dog is too hot to sleep next to me. The sheet covers my feet and little else as I lay staring at the ceiling in the dark. I miss my partner but it was a good day in all.”
My name is Joyce and I’ll be reading for Jessie Haddock.
“My walk between our offices in Hammersmith and Fulham takes me through a cemetery. I'm always really surprised at how well "used" this cemetery is. On sunny days there are always people sitting about on blankets, having picnic, chatting, playing with little kids or teenagers hanging about being teenagers, it's the least cemetery like cemetery I've ever seen. Wonderfully full of life.
Today on my walk through i heard a tapping in the trees and looked up, it stopped, I started walking, the tapping started again, i looked up. I couldn't see anything and I looked round to see if anyone else was looking. There was a bloke looking up too and then behind me another bloke, looking up.
"there it is" the first bloke said pointing to the trunk of the nearest tree.
Wow! I've never seen a woodpecker before, neither had either of the 2 blokes looking with me. The 3 of us just stood there for a minute watching, smiling, fantastic! and right in the middle of London too.”
---Intro music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin---
Thanks for listening to Imagining Other people. Again, I’m Alex Serpentini and I’d love to hear from you. Check us out at Imaginingotherpeople.com to learn more about this project and how to get involved.
The music was done by the incredibly talented B. Barbour of Psychic Skin.
The show was producedby Serpentindustries.
Thanks, and take care.