EP 004 - Louisville Library, Part 1
Themes: dreams of opening a safe space on a farm, a blind date, bad dreams, the importance of music, losing your family photos, making someones day, getting misgendered, working remotely in the library, thanksgiving, crushing on a friend, meme-filled days, the subtle art of goodbye, questioning your own job title, trying new things, wanting to be helpful, and giving up everything and hitting the road.
Sweet Nightmare, Janice, Trouble, Mehra Renn - Half Human/Half Vulcan Starfleet Specialist in Planetary Histories and Cultures, Casey Jones, Isabella Swan, Scarlet, Ginger Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Fracis Gables, Willow Scott, BEN DOVER, Anita Reason, Tourmaline, Ging, Ocean Blue, Carly
Felix, Professor X, Kenim, New To Star Trek, Anne, Christina Alexander, Admiral Cornywallis The Third, Anita Reason, Key, Alloy, Phil Chlora, Zachary, CJ, Valmont, PriPri Seabrook, Luca Della
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Hey Everyone! This is Alex coming to you from my studio in the heart of Louisville’s South Central library, and This is Imagining Other People.
--- Intro music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin ---
Hellllooo! And welcome to Imagining Other People - a podcast where we explore what everyday life is like all around the world through listener submissions and recordings. It’s basically a strangers-reading-the-diaries-of-strangers type of thing, and yeah I’m your host Alex Serpentini, and I wanna know what you did today!
So It’s the end of November 2017 and I’ve got something really special for you today. This past month I have been the artist-in-residence at the AMAZING and brand new South Central Library in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of their Collider Program. Like for real you have got to see this space - if you can’t check it out in person there are awesome images on our instagram page and on our website. But yeah, I know we try to focus on life all over the world here on this podcast, but I wanted to turn the tables a little bit, so I set out to find out what life is like in my own community and share that with the rest of the world. Um, so during my residency I set up a recording studio right in Library itself and opened it up to everyone. Anyone could come in and chat with me, write something about their day, or record themselves reading the words of another library patron. I just LOVED the idea of creating a mini archive of community life within a larger archive full of books, and an even more kind of wonderful happenstance was that a lot of the library staff themselves got to read the words of their own patrons. That just… makes me so happy you guys.
I honestly had no idea how this project was going to go… if anyone was gonna stop by or what - like mostly what I do is digital so I wanted to make the studio inviting - laughs so I literally brought over like half of my houseplants, decorations, a rug, blankets and lamp and just…. set up a space to listen to what other people had to say.
I was really blown away by the response. I love libraries because they’re like the last great equalizer - there’s no barrier to entry so ANYONE could come in, and I got to meet so many people I would have never had the opportunity to before. I learned a lot about the history of Ghana, about trying to learn science as a young girl in a segregated school, I got to learn about the lives of some of the security guards, about working a farm, about poetry from cuba and sailor moon and minecraft, and just… so much more. There ended up being way more submissions than I hoped for, so I’ll likely have to split this over several episodes! I’ve just…. really happy, honestly.
--- Break 1 music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin ---
Like I said, this is a special episode but it will still follow the same format as the others. It’s still a batch of anonymously written submissions that are read aloud karaoke-style but completely different strangers. And, that being said, I still am in great need of readers for the upcoming episodes! laughs of course I’ll always love more written submissions too - so if you want to get involved in any way, you can go to imaginingotherpeople.com for lots more information, frequently asked questions, directions, and all that other good stuff.
But enough from me, let’s learn together about what some people are experiencing in Louisville, Kentucky.
--- Break 2 music by B. Barbour of Psychic Skin ---
Hey, my name is Felix, and today i’ll be doing a reading by Sweet Nightmare.
“I am at a stand still in my life. I am between jobs, I am a student, I am just trying to find my way in a beautifully cruel world. I have a dream of opening an Organic and Natural farm. I want to have programs where young adults and children come to and plant, cook, and mainly to survive if anything happens. When I was younger I saw some pretty horrible things and I know a lot of kids in this neighborhood still do. So I want them to have a place that they can run to when they are in trouble. I want to give them hope. I want to give them something I never had: a safe place! A place that is filled with animals and plants. I want to make a place where you don’t have to pretend and your imperfections are just as beautiful as perfection is considered to be. That is why I am going to school, that is why I am working. I don’t get to have a social life and Im okay with that. My life will be better soon enough.”
This is professor X and today I’ll be reading a submission by Janice.
“Today I got back into the swing of things. I woke up (late), grabbed an apple, raced to work, raced home to change, and raced to a restaurant for a brunch date, if that’s what people call it anymore. Again, I’ve met up with a stranger in a public place, hoping for a little happy in my recent blurred life. I’m back into taking chances just for the sake of being a live and living to the fullest. Later, I’ll revisit my love of theater, catch up with some old friends, and return to my mother’s empty home. I hope she had a good day today.”
My name is Kenim and I will be reading something by Trouble.
“I had a bad dream about my brother who is autistic. My family was trying to punish him or something he didn’t understand. I woke up crying and immediately put a reminder in my phone to text him at noon and tell him I love him. I only see him twice a year, but he’s an adult now an so am I and we’re both trying to make our own life. I’m on the spectrum too but in different ways. I miss him.”
Hello, this is New to Star Trek, and I am reading Mehra Renn - Half Human/Half Vulcan Starfleet Specialist in Planetary Histories and Cultures. Their submission reads:
“Today is a wonderful example of the gift of Serendipity. Now that I am old and work 2 part-time jobs, no two days are the same. On Tuesday, I key data, files and do other clerical work in the office of a manufacturing facility. Normally, Tuesday is a 7-hour slog, but today I finished all my work by 12:30pm and came to the library - (I saw that my requested DVD was being held and decided to come get it).
This new library is gorgeous - especially on a November day like this, where the sun still makes fireglow of the leaves, and the generous windows let everything in. Of course, any library is wonderful. I have scarcely stopped reading since I learned, and being around all these fascinating books is pure pleasure. I have managed some self-discipline today; so far I am taking out only one book (The Private Lives of the Tudors, by Tracy Borman), instead of 3 or 4. Of course, at home there are still more books - some ready to be returned, some not.
I saw the notices about this month’s Artist in Residence and the project sounded exciting, and I am so glad I came upon a sign inviting one to drop into ‘The Studio’ in the back. Found it, too!
I would love to be an “artist in Residence” some time, somewhere. I would love to tell stories, or lead sing-alongs. When I went through testing some years ago at a career center, I was surprise dat how wide and deep the “artistic” stretch in me is. When I was a kid, “artist” meant somebody could draw. Later on, it meant somebody who could write things good enough to be published, or good musicians. I was never any of these things. But now I know that my main “art” is worship - specifically put, Vatican II Roman Catholic liturgy. And I have played music and led music and taught music for worship, and if I were a more talented and skilled musician, I probably would have disdained this way of being as a musician. Worse, I probably would never have understood how the music and the ritual move in and out of and around each other, and speak to aspects of ourselves that reasoned discourse can never reach.
I am very pleased on this most golden, serendipitous, November day.
Grace, peace and comfort to all who share this.”
Hi everyone, this is Anne, and i’ll be reading the following by Casey Jones.
“I was overworked, hurt myself over and over and then the only one not invited to breakfast with my co-workers. I get home and realize my tablet is gone. It devastated me when I biked back to work to find it was stolen. All my pictures of family and friends, gone. A bad end to a bad day. I called my friend sad and he came and got me. We went to the peddlers mall where I found a tractor seat for $10. Good find! I was so happy spending time with my friend, I forgot about my tablet. I don’t need things to be happy, just people who care about me enough to be there when I need them.”
Hello I am Christina Alexander and I will be reading a submission by Isabella Swan.
“These past few days i’ve been feeling a bit blue, almost as if no one cares. But today I woke up with a different attitude, a positive one! I want to see others around me shine and be happy. Because it turns out when you put off negative vibes mostly everyone around you will, too. Today I want to smile or wave or say “hi” to the right person and make their day like someone else made mine this morning She showed up and asked me if I wanted to hang out and I was going to sit in and be depressed and play video games. So, today be someone’s “good morning” or be someone’s inspiration. Make someone feel better or have a better day. Sending out positive vibes to everyone all over the world!! Hakuna Matata”
Hello everyone, this is Admiral Corneywallis The Third reporting in, and today I will be reading a submission by someone who would like to go by the name of Scarlet.
“I didn’t have class today. I’m a college student, I’m off today through Friday for Thanksgiving. I slept in today. I feel kind of terrible because of it honestly… Oh well. Don’t change your sleep schedule, kids, it’ll ruin your whole day.
It’s cold today. I suppose that’s to be expected for the end of November. My favorite jeans are in the wash, and all my other pairs are really cold, so I decided to ear tights. They’re warm enough, but the cold wind stings.
The thing that I hate most about weighing tights is the perceptions they bring with them. I’m small - only 5’2” - and feminine. My gender gets assumed enough without me appearing feminine.
The worst part is I like tights and dresses and looking pretty. But I know I can’t go out without strangers seeing me as a girl.”
Hi there. This is Anita Reason, and i’m going to read a submission by Ginger Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I’m going to read what’s going on with her today. Or them today.
I am working here remotely today. It’s beautiful here and I’ve been waiting to visit but I haven’t had a chance until today.
My mind halfway into work and halfway into social media, my friends, emails from my yoga friends, my true calling (launching my own awesome businesses) ahhh so much.
Desiring freedom, freedom to be me (more so) and mak e money while doing it…
I volunteered this morning, mentoring. It was inspirational. We did a series of exercises with our mentees on strengths and weaknesses. I know my strengths but have always felt those creative things just aren’t what adults “do” and get paid for.
That mindset is changing.
I’m lucky to have the people Ive interacted with today in my life and lucky to be here and able to work in this beautiful open space in the SUNSHINE :).
Hello, my name is Key and i’m going to be reading for Francis Gables.
“I’m going back home to see my family for thanksgiving. I haven’t seen some of them since moving here. It’ll be nice to eat turkey and watch anime with my brother.”
This Alloy and I’m going to be reading a piece by Willow Scott.
“I keep thinking about a friend I’ve had for 10 years and have been in love with for 5. I got to see her for the first time in a while the other day. We went out to get breakfast to celebrate her birthday, and when she got off work later that day, she spent the night. Eery time I see her it’s really awkward at first because I’m trying not to mention my monster of a crush on her. But, every time, the day ends in tears of laughter and my cheeks hurting from smiling too much. She’s seeing someone else, so I know it won’t work, but I still feel strongly about her. I know she loves me even as a friend, and I’m happy with that. She still makes me happy.”
My name is Phil Chlora and today i’m gonna be reading a daily testimony from mr. BEN DOVER.
“This morning I listened to X-Ambassadors while I scrolled threw memes on the Bus. It’s pretty dark and Gloomy and is about the Equivalent of a Trash Truck. Today was okay, Got some work done, shared memes with friends, after the 7 hours of continuous work and mentally unstable friends I went home and watched my favorite show on Netflix. About an hour later Mother came and took us to the Magical land of McAlisters where we are the most tastful and luxorius food. After a good dinner full of talk and Spilled drinks she dropped me off at the library I’m sitting in now. I have to take care of my brothers, come to think of it she has probably Abandoned us… anyway I have to go find the two smaller demons cuase I don’t know where they are now”
Hello. My name is Zachary. I’m reading something written by Anita Reason.
“today is a reprieve from the hustle of anxiety and juggling of life. being here in this space has allowed my mind to rest. being here among friends has allowed my brain to fire with inspiration. today is one of many days where i have been able to slowly let go. a slight cutting of the cord is a small death everyday, but a necessary step. it’s a small chain of reactions that is building into a pathway that has already been traveled and worn. looking forward to the future”
Iiiiiit’s CJ! reading Tourmaline.
“Today I am thinking a lot about my future. Am I an artist any more or am I more of a craftsman? do I want to make personal work? Do I want to engage with those around me? Am I more of a business person with a system that works? If that’s true, is that okay with me? I don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but they have been on my mind.”
I’m Valmont, and today I’m gonna read something by Ging.
“Exploring Libraries today. This is the third “out of the box” new thing Ive done this week. Life is what you make it!”
Hi my name is PriPri Seabrook and I’ll be reading something by Ocean Blue.
“So I woke up exhausted from a going-away party last night and ran into an old friend from childhood. It was really strange because she lost her job again and seemed so sad even though she was smiling. It broke my heart and I just wanted to take her in and help out and show her all the free resources at the library (the reason i'm here) like free coding programs to help her get sustainable income. I know this person has self-destructive habits so it might be in vain but I still want to try. I have a habit of trying to help too many people who don't want to be helped and getting taken advantage of. I can't even find a job myself right now, why do I keep trying to give what I don't have?”
Hi everyone, this is Luca Della and today i’ll be reading a submission by Carly.
“I currently find myself sitting at my new dining table. A space heater is pointed directly at my face, set to 65 degrees. I pause every few minutes to rub my hands together in front of it, as if it was a fire. I’ve turned off all lights but one, and I’m charging my phone’s battery from my computer’s battery. I’ve calculated the wattage, and I think I’ll be safe to run this space heater all night, but I’m really not sure. Does it have an automatic shut-off? Will it turn off while I’m sleeping, and will I wake up terribly cold? Does the thermostat work without the propane on? I wish I knew the answer to that question but I’m not wiling to risk it via trial and error.
I just ate a portion of chili a friend made me. She put the chili in a plastic deli meat container. I threw it back in the refrigerator because I have no water to wash it with. I hope the spoon was clean.
This morning, I very slowly rose to start the day. When I made it to the bathroom, I saw eye yes doused in glitter. I went to a costume party the night before and I danced the night away, but I forgot to wash my face. There’s smeared mascara and eyeliner too, it’s quite a sight.
I remember the start and end well, but In trying to remember the events of today, I find it’s all a blur.
Four people made me meals and I ate every one of them. First, I had scrambled eggs and bacon. Then, I rushed off to transfer my belongings from one car to another. Then, I rushed to my van and trailer and packed them full. Friends were texting me to see if they could drop in to say goodbye. I wanted to be on the road by 1pm, but I saw that deadline fading quickly. I went to my empty house and found the fence door had been broken in the wind storm. The For Sale sign stared me in the face, but I walked right past it and went inside. What was I here for? Oh yes, I grabbed all of my clothes from the drawers and stuffed them in a garbage bag. What else? I forgot something important and went back for it. I emptied out the garage: The telescope, the boxes, the bag of goodies that never made it to friends. I dropped some of the items off with a friend, and the rest to Goodwill. I made it back to the studio just in time for second breakfast: Sunny-side up eggs, super buttered toast, more bacon. My ex and I took time to thank each other for these past years. We love each other so deeply that we have to let each other go. But, it’s not the end. It’s just the beginning of a new kind of relationship. It’s so hard.
I reschedule drop-ins with a friend, but she eventually comes and brings the chili and tours my new trailer home. Another friend is in crisis mode, desperate for support. I don’t have the capacity, but wish I could offer words of wisdom. I try, but I get cut-off by another drop-in. I’m grateful for these drop-ins. I didn’t make enough time to say proper goodbyes. I start to think about those I won’t see again for who knows how long. I cry. I spend the day crying off and on. Why am I leaving all of this behind? I finally grew roots. Finally found a supportive group of friends.
Recently, a friend explained that perhaps I needed these supportive friends in order to embark on this journey. I hope I have been the same kind of supportive back. I aim to be going forward.
Where am I going? I haven’t even mapped out the route. I decided to take the easy/known route, because my mom insists there are more gas stations… just in case I break down on the way.
I ended up staying in Louisville, Kentucky until almost 6pm. My ex helps me navigate backing out and turning around in the parking lot. Once I’m set to leave, I get out of the car and squeeze him one last time. We cry as we sway. It’s funny how you know when someone’s ready to let go. We do. And, I take off. I go the wrong way at first, but I correct the course. This whole day is an analogy for my entire life.
The drive was far less scary than I thought. I’m beginning to get the hang of driving this rig. I think about how dangerous it is to think of it as an extension of me, but it makes sense as I drive it. I’m cold, in the Tennessee foot hills, but my space heater is doing its best. I'm exhausted, so I’ll try to sleep under all the covers, and wake up to start a very new day. And, continue the journey to Florida.”
--- Outro 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.
This podcast is an offshoot of the Imagining 50 Other People Project, of which uou can learn more about at fiftyotherpeople.com.
The music was done by the incredibly talented B. Barbour of Psychic Skin.
Thanks, and take care.