HANNA ROSIN (HOST): For our show today about our true selves, we begin with a plague.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Exodus Chapter 10, verse 13. (Reading) So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning, the wind had brought the locusts. They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail. Nothing green was left - no tree, no plant in the field - in all of Egypt.
ROSIN: Locusts. Their reputation for destruction is so epic that they almost don't sound real. But they are real.
(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE) UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: A plague of biblical proportions as locusts invade New South Wales in Australia.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: There's nothing left for our women and children to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Biggest locust plague in decades.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: So we're left with nothing once the locusts have been here.
ROSIN: For centuries, people had no idea where these creatures came from. It was a complete mystery. They just seemed to come out of nowhere, decimate everything and vanish. And then in 1921, scientists finally figured it out. The source of the horrible locusts - grasshoppers.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) LULU MILLER (BYLINE): Hi. He's almost smiling. Should I try to catch it?
ROSIN: That's Lulu Miller playing with grasshoppers at a lab in the U.K., which is filled to the roof with bright green grasshoppers.
ROSIN: For a long time, no one ever imagined that these smiley, hoppy things could also be these monstrous destroyers of civilization.
MICHAEL ANSTEY: People thought that these were two completely different species.
ROSIN: This is Dr. Michael Anstey (ph), a scientist who studied this. He says the grasshopper is a shy, solitary thing.
ANSTEY: Very sleepy, very gentle.
ROSIN: Like, if they see another grasshopper...
ANSTEY: They actually run away from them.
ROSIN: So how does the docile grasshopper turn into a swarming, ravenous locust?
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) ROSIN: It turned out to be a little thing. When a drought happens, the grasshoppers all have to crowd into the same patch of grass. Their long hind legs rub together, and it's like tickle torture. The rubbing together releases some chemical which sets things in motion.
MILLER: It actually (unintelligible).
ROSIN: So here is the question that interested us - why did it literally take centuries to figure out that these two creatures were actually the same creature? And why, even after the theory was proposed, did scientists resist it? Why was that such a hard idea to swallow? Maybe it's because we can't see that in ourselves.
LISA FELDMAN BARRETT (NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY): You think that there is some essence to who you are that will endure regardless of the situation or the context. But the fact is this is actually not the case.
ROSIN: This is Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychology professor from Northeastern, who you heard at the beginning of the season of INVISIBILIA. She says that our attachment to this core identity, like I'm a really generous person, it runs so deep that when we encounter a new idea about ourselves, like you're actually kind of selfish...
BARRETT: People will defend themselves and dig their heels in, keep their concepts intact. Or they'll ignore what was said.
ROSIN: When the reality is...
BARRETT: You aren't who you are all the time. You have a vocabulary of the self, a range of people who you become.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) ROSIN: This is INVISIBILIA. I'm Hanna Rosin.
ALIX SPIEGEL (HOST): And I'm Alix Spiegel. And today, for our last show in our concept album, we're talking about the self and what happens when you encounter a new concept about yourself that is so different from who you think you are. Do you hold on to your original self tightly? Do you explore this other self? What do you do? We bring you two stories of people who greet this new self in very different ways. We have a story by Lulu Miller coming up. But first, we start with a woman who thought of herself kind of like a locust. That story in a minute.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) SPIEGEL: We now bring you a story about a woman whose self-concept gets hijacked, taken over by a 4-year-old girl in a yellow sundress. Producer Abby Wendle tells the story.
ABBY WENDLE (BYLINE): Tanya Marquardt looks like somebody who you really don't want to mess with. She towers over most people at 6 feet tall. And for years, she had a shaved head, lots of piercings, and she stomped around in black, chain-smoking.
TANYA MARQUARDT: My modus operandi for many years was don't - like, you don't get to come close. Like, [expletive] you. I never attacked anybody, but that part of me, that was there.
WENDLE: Which is why she was so surprised when one day she woke from a deep, deep sleep and heard...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: (Laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: (Laughter).
Like, what? What is that?
WENDLE: Tanya - not much of a giggler. But this giggle, it was her talking in her sleep.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: Now, she's been a sleeptalker her whole life. But recently, she started recording herself using an app on her phone called Dream Talk Recorder.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: Oh, that's great.
WENDLE: These are some of the recordings she's captured.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: And it was so beautiful.
It was very sweet.
WENDLE: When Tanya first heard this voice, she did not recognize it as her own. It sounded sweet, like an affectionate child who enjoys tickle fights. Tanya, on the other hand, has spent years in therapy because of her instinct to shut down intimacy and gentle contact.
MARQUARDT: Because it was easier than having to deal with the - what I perceived to be inevitable abandonment. Like, I have a deep, deep sense of - that I do think I just will carry with me always - of a deep sense of abandonment.
WENDLE: When she was a kid, her dad spent evenings sitting in the den, smoking, drinking. Tanya remembers that on some nights, like after she'd broken a plate, he'd call her in.
MARQUARDT: There was this foyer in my house, and it had these hard kind of gray tiles. They're like stone tiles, you know, so they're not completely flat. And he would make us stand in the corner but on our knees, like - and he would make us pull our legs up so that our knees were exposed. And any time you'd turn, get your - you know, he would yell at us or come towards us. So it's, like, terrifying for a child.
WENDLE: He'd leave her to kneel there till her knees went numb.
MARQUARDT: Till I passed out. Then my mom would come take me to bed.
WENDLE: This kneeling punishment, it was extreme, but there was also nightly verbal abuse. Her dad would call her stupid and a mess-up and often threaten to leave the family. Tanya's mom and brother shared their memories of these times, but Tanya's dad never responded to our calls. When Tanya was younger, all of this made her feel unsafe at home. So the day she turned 16, she ran away, attempting to escape. But for years, her childhood haunted her.
MARQUARDT: Get your...
WENDLE: She'd go days without sleeping or eating, get drunk, go home with strangers until she felt like she was all filled up with darkness. And then in her mid-30s, something else, someone else appeared inside that empty space.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: (Laughter).
What? Like, what is that?
WENDLE: The more she listened to these recordings - and there are around 200 of them - the more she became attached.
MARQUARDT: The first thing I would do in the morning, I would, like, open my eyes, I'd reach over, and I'd play the recording before I even got out of bed.
WENDLE: She started calling the voice X because, well, that's what it called itself.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: My name is X. Hello.
WENDLE: She sketched a picture in her mind of what X looks like.
MARQUARDT: Pudgy little 4-year-old kid with short bangs, dirty blonde hair. And she wears, like, a yellow sundress. And she doesn't have any shoes on. And she likes to wear, like, crazy sunglasses and cheap earrings. And she's very happy.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MARQUARDT: Yes, we did. Yes, we did. Wow, we did.
Oh, my goodness.
(Laughter) That's weird.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: Now, plenty of us talk in our sleep at some point in our lives. And most of us just don't give it a second thought. But Tanya, she took this voice seriously. She was convinced that when she recorded at night, she was capturing the thoughts and feelings of an entirely different version of herself, her sleeping self, a little girl who wakes up when 37-year-old Tanya falls asleep.
MARQUARDT: I mean, do I think there's, like, an actual 4-year-old kid that lives at the space between dreaming and waking? Maybe.
WENDLE: So Tanya decided to try to meet X to talk.
MARQUARDT: It just seems to me like there's, like, some kind of inner knowledge that I have that's trying to say something to me. I want to know what it is, you know? I think I should try to find out.
WENDLE: So Tanya set out on a quest, and I tagged along to burrow under her wall of consciousness, or climb over it, or completely break through in order to have an encounter with X.
(SOUNDBITE OF MARK SNOW'S "THE X-FILES") WENDLE: No, not an "X-Files" kind of encounter. She's just trying to figure out where all of this innocent joy is coming from and what its message could possibly be for her waking life.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Begin to let yourself relax.
WENDLE: We started with a psychologist trained in hypnosis to see if she could help, but our session didn't reveal any life-altering message.
WENDLE: Then, late on a Sunday night, I set up camp next to Tanya's bed...
MARQUARDT: Good night (laughter).
WENDLE: ...Hoping to conduct, you know, a formal interview with X while Tanya slept.
It's about 3 a.m. and there's been no sign of X, just this.
(SOUNDBITE OF SNORING) WENDLE: Then, finally, to dream incubation...
(SOUNDBITE OF ALARM CLOCK) WENDLE: ...An idea that came from Harvard professor and dream researcher Deirdre Barrett...
DEIRDRE BARRETT (HARVARD UNIVERSITY): Hi, Tanya.
MARQUARDT: Hi. Hello.
WENDLE: ...Who herself kind of looks like a character out of a dream - gray streaked hair swept up in a loose bun, a flowy skirt.
BARRETT: Have you thought about what questions or advice you would like from the voice that calls itself X?
MARQUARDT: Well, I guess...
WENDLE: Dream incubation amounts to spending a few minutes before drifting off to sleep focusing your attention on one problem or question and telling yourself, I really want to dream about this. Then, as soon as you wake up, before even getting out of bed, write down everything you remember dreaming that night. So Tanya focused on X.
MARQUARDT: I'm ready to hear your message.
BARRETT: OK. I'm ready to hear your message. That's - yes.
MARQUARDT: Does that seem like...
BARRETT: Yes. That's...
WENDLE: So dream incubation. You're probably thinking, really, Abby from NPR? You're buying this? But it's actually a pretty basic idea. Before you fall asleep, think about something you care about and you increase your chances of dreaming about it.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: So after the session, Tanya heads back to her apartment, brushes her teeth, washes her face, does other bathroom-related stuff and finally to sleep, to dream, to incubate.
MARQUARDT: I'm ready to hear your message. I'm ready to hear your message. I'm ready to hear your message.
MARQUARDT: I'm ready to hear your message. I'm ready to hear your message.
I meet a short man who is a dream character. He wants to dance. I dance with the dream man. And then I see my sleeping self. She's smiling at me. She's giggling in the crowd. I go to follow her and she disappears. She's tricky. She's a trickster. She likes to play hide-and-seek. I go to the well. There is a voice like a telegram that floats up from the bottom of the well. I will be allowed to ask my sleeping self three questions when we meet. Suddenly, I am in the Adirondacks. It's in the middle of the forest. It's completely dark. That's when I saw X.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: (Laughter).
MARQUARDT: Hey. Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Hello.
MARQUARDT: What is your message for me?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Whatever you see, I see. Wherever you go, I am there.
MARQUARDT: What's the next step? What do we do now?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: What do you want to do?
MARQUARDT: I didn't know what to say, so we just kind of stared out at the water. And she took me to the foyer. And then she pointed at the shoes. And she pointed at these jackets. And she said...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Shoes are shoes, and jackets are jackets. And you need both to have an adventure. Go.
MARQUARDT: And she, like, pushed me out the door with my shoes and my jacket on.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: Tanya is reading here from her dream journal. And when she woke up, she felt like - yeah.
MARQUARDT: It feels like a message for sure. It feels like she said something to me.
WENDLE: But that good feeling she'd had in her dream?
MARQUARDT: I remember the feeling of it just like washing over me, this feeling of unconditional caring and love.
WENDLE: When she woke up, it was gone.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: Then we learned something amazing. This sleep researcher at UC-Berkeley, he explained that dreaming - just falling asleep and dreaming - is emotionally healing in and of itself. It's like overnight therapy. See, when we dream, our brain reactivates our most jarring experiences like the rush of fear when our father threatens us.
But at the same time our brain is reliving this, it shuts down the chemicals that cause us to feel stress. So as we dream night after night after night, the emotional charge runs out of the traumatic memory, allowing us to walk around in the world feeling less traumatized. Tanya was taken by this.
MARQUARDT: That's awesome (laughter). That's awesome. Like, its only function seems to be to heal me in my sleep. Like, that's pretty beautiful and mystical in its own way.
WENDLE: And recently, while walking alone in the golden hour of twilight, X's message...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Wherever you go, I am there.
WENDLE: ...Clicked. And something inside of Tanya began to shift.
MARQUARDT: There's a place inside of me that I've personified as this little girl that is not wounded and has - can never be wounded. It's like the idea of that - of, like, getting more of that feeling in my life is an incredible relief. Like, how incredible would that be? That would be amazing. And I think that that's what is being offered to me, actually.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) WENDLE: Tanya started to accept that offer. She's been calling her grandpa in Canada to catch up, going for long bike rides alone just to feel the wind on her face, little ways that she can see proof of X playing in broad daylight.
MARQUARDT: We think, oh, like, I'm - what's in - what's deep inside me. And, like, sometimes what's deep inside you is, like, just, like, a rocking tea party with, like, a 3-year-old or something, you know? Or you're just like, yeah, four sugar cubes for me, you know?
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) SPIEGEL: Producer Abby Wendle. When we return, Lulu Miller has a story about a man who goes to desperate lengths to keep one side of himself safe from the other.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) ROSIN: You're listening to INVISIBILIA. I'm Hanna Rosin.
SPIEGEL: And I'm Alix Spiegel. Today, we're talking about this idea of one true self and what happens when you find something within yourself that challenges your core identity, maybe because you're ashamed of this other side or you've built your whole life around a different idea of yourself.
CHAD MURPHY (OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY): OK. Sitting in my office, thinking about all sorts of anxieties and risks.
SPIEGEL: We now bring you a story of a man who discovered a very unexpected side of himself and then decided to hide it for years.
MURPHY: To do something in secret, it becomes a strange part of your psyche.
SPIEGEL: Telling the story - Lulu Miller.
MILLER: All right. So this guy who has been hiding a side of himself? Well, in real life, he just might be the squarest man on earth.
MURPHY: I'm a professor in a business school.
MILLER: He loves wearing Eddie Bauer. He's a father of four.
MURPHY: And my name's Chad, which - Chad is a terrible name. I mean, it's just, you know, like high school quarterback from the '80s.
MILLER: He's definitely got gel in his hair.
MILLER: And Chad grew up Mormon, lots of strict rules - no drinking, no caffeine, no swearing.
MURPHY: I think I said the F-word once when I was playing soccer when I was 11. It was like DEFCON 3 or 2. I don't know which one's worse but it was big. They heard it. And there was a big family council that was called.
MILLER: And they told him...
MURPHY: You know, you're going to have thoughts that are inappropriate or unholy. You can't control that, but you can control whether or not you let them linger.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) MILLER: And Chad took it to heart...
MURPHY: It was a holy fear.
MILLER: ...Became so vigilant about banishing unholy thoughts from his head, that whatever part was making them...
MURPHY: It mostly vanished.
MILLER: And so in life, he became...
MINDY: Polite and reserved and embarrassed.
MILLER: This is his wife, Mindy (ph)...
MINDY: I mean that in a good way.
MILLER: ...Who said that while Chad's 6-foot-5, he's always trying to appear smaller.
MINDY: Oh, whenever we're in a crowd, like if we're at a concert or something, he's, you know, trying to get out of the way.
MILLER: What guy at the party are you?
MURPHY: I'm the extremely agreeable person with no opinions. If, you know, say a political issue comes up, I'm the person that says, yeah, well, you know, what do you think about that? What do you think about that issue? I kind of turn it around. And they're like, well, I think this. And I'd say, oh, yeah, I basically - I think the same thing.
MILLER: And then one day, when he was in his mid-30s, a very different side of himself suddenly appeared.
MILLER: He was taking a train down the Northwest coast - big mountains out one window, ocean out the other. And he was feeling really lost.
MURPHY: It was a confusing time.
MILLER: He and his wife had just left the church. They'd come to disagree with it on a bunch of social issues and had slowly, painfully stepped away.
MURPHY: You know, there's there's something of a void there.
MILLER: But that morning, into the void had dropped a cartoon line drawing of a cat.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Meow.
MILLER: He had seen it at a museum gift shop and had been left with this nagging feeling that he too had a weird, goofy cartoon something in him.
MURPHY: And on the train it was like this sort of explosion...
MILLER: In his journal.
MURPHY: ...Of sentence fragments, names, bad drawings.
MILLER: He said he was furiously slamming words together...
MURPHY: One of them was Moldy Panther.
MILLER: ...Making little drawings...
MURPHY: Coach Clam, some kind of sports coach but he's a clam.
MILLER: ...Trying to find the precise form of this being within him.
MURPHY: There was Pumpernickel Idealism, Body Panther, Karen Bouffant, who would have tall hair.
MILLER: And at some point he descended, Lord Birthday - tiny crown, little moustache.
MURPHY: And it was like, oh, yeah, that's it. That's who the person is.
MILLER: And this cartoon man, Lord Birthday, turned out he could write and draw things Chad would never say.
MURPHY: All right, so 10 things men wish women would stop doing to them. Number one is poking their wieners with pine needles. Number three is drawing red circles around (laughter) around the stains in their undies.
MILLER: And when Chad got home, instead of throwing away the journal or chastising himself for having dreamt up these kinds of things, he began posting the cartoons online under the pseudonym Lord Birthday.
MURPHY: Questions for my ex - where do you live now? Are you happy? How does it feel to be a demon?
MILLER: They're a little hard to translate on the radio, but they are intermittently goofy and nihilistic.
MURPHY: OK, 15 best pickup lines. Number one - are you from Tennessee? You smell like a pretzel. Did you know that strawberries have feelings? They don't. Hi. I must be in a museum because you are pretty boring.
MILLER: And for some reason, the cartoons totally struck a chord. One follower described him like Shel Silverstein but on more acid.
MURPHY: This is unbelievable.
MILLER: Lord Birthday began getting hundreds of followers, thousands.
MURPHY: It's at about 130,000 right now.
MILLER: But other than his wife, Chad didn't tell a soul that he was the man behind Lord Birthday, not his siblings or friends or co-workers or parents. When I asked him what he'd do if one of his students found out that he was the man behind the account, he can barely voice this possibility.
MURPHY: I don't know. I don't want, you know, office hours. I don't want to be - I don't want to be talking about Lord Birthday. And that's a nightmare thought. I just kind of, like, slowly sneak out of my office and hide.
MILLER: And so Chad entered into a double life. In his real life, he stayed Chad - appropriate, respectable.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Polite.
MILLER: In the morning, he'd go to class, politely teach classes on managing individual and team performance.
MURPHY: I've seen, like, on Rate My Professors - and I'm always thinking like, you know, maybe I'll be inspirational. Maybe I'm inspirational. I'm not really inspirational. I'm not really funny. They all say that I'm a really nice person.
MILLER: And at night, these oddball, goofy, irreverent, sometimes dark cartoons would spill out of him in the form of Lord Birthday.
MURPHY: OK, 10 things you didn't know about men. Men are made of cotton. This is why they are unable to love.
MILLER: And he liked it this way, having a secret self.
MURPHY: It feels like I've kind of been inhabited by some other - some other presence. You know, it's affected how I see other people, I think, in some way because I feel like people have these selves within them that need that sort of escape hatch.
MILLER: It was like he suddenly had a kind of X-ray vision. As he walked around campus, his neighborhood, it was like anyone he saw could have a secret self, a side that was more rebellious or nerdy or naughty or whatever it was. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing that it was secret. Maybe secrecy was the key to letting that self thrive, just like with him.
MURPHY: I guess the only way I could describe it is if you're in one of those character costumes at Disney World. Seeing those when I was younger, I was like, that's got to be exhilarating, right? You're kind of in this secret space and nobody knows who you are or they don't know what you look like. And like, can do whatever you want.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) MILLER: But into this perfect split life came a problem - a book deal. Problems come in all shapes and sizes. See, Lord Birthday had grown so popular that a publisher wanted to make a book out of the cartoons and suggested that he should attach his real name to the cover.
MURPHY: Oh, boy.
MILLER: A thought which, after going ahead and accepting the deal, has been keeping him up at night.
MURPHY: Sometimes, late at night, I can sort of wake up like, what are you doing? Like, why are you doing this?
MILLER: Yeah, it sounds like you're happy with the split.
MURPHY: I am. I am.
MILLER: In a weird way.
MURPHY: It's not - maybe not healthy, but, yes, I am happy with the split. I think it's a useful thing. And I don't know what's going to happen when they become merged. I mean, the nightmare scenario is that Chad kind of gets too involved there, kind of kills Lord Birthday.
MILLER: And he said it's already starting to happen. To test the waters, he recently told his parents and siblings about the comic. And now when he sits down to try to draw it...
MURPHY: There is a double take now where I say things and I'm like, I can't. I can't say - I can't say that.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MURPHY: OK. So it's...
MILLER: Like, just listen to this audio diary he recently recorded while trying to draw a cartoon.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MURPHY: I want to say something about a picnic. Feel the sun on your face and the ants in your ass. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
MILLER: It's almost like you can hear the two sides of him dueling it out, grappling with each other.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MURPHY: I think I should say butt. I mean, that would be more appropriate. Or bum. It doesn't have quite the same - quite the same ring to it, ants up your butt. Ants in your butt and ants in your ass - I like the alliteration there, right? Right? Alliteration with two A's.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) MILLER: So how do we manage these different concepts of ourselves that we carry around within us? When they're in conflict, is it better to keep them separate as Chad did for so long so that they don't mess with each other? Or is it possible to be more flexible, to see what happens when you allow these selves to exist openly in the same space?
Are you going to do it, or are - do you want to stay - like, can we use your full name? Where are you with it? What's going to happen?
MURPHY: Oh, I don't know. What I'm afraid of is that when I become unified that I won't be able to hear it anymore.
MILLER: But he said for all the fear, he's just grown tired of leading a double life. And he finds himself suddenly curious...
MURPHY: I'm getting there with it. Yes, you can use my full name.
MILLER: ...About what the heck is going to happen when he takes the plunge.
OK, do one thing for me. Close your eyes.
MILLER: So picture someone who's, like - loves your work. And they're listening to this radio piece right now. And they've had no idea who you are. And you suddenly tell them your name, which is...
MURPHY: My name's Chad Murphy.
MILLER: And you reveal that you are a...
MURPHY: I am a professor in a business school.
MILLER: Which school?
MURPHY: I am at Oregon State University.
MILLER: Is Lord Birthday about to die? Like, is this his death?
MURPHY: Yeah, I don't know. But it's going to be OK. It's - I'll tell myself that. I'll keep telling myself that. Yeah. And maybe you can beat the - I mean, Oregon State - I don't know. It's fine. It's fine. Whatever.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHATCHA KNOW") KRIKL AND BE (BAND): (Singing) Once you know what you know about me, what I got to do to make you see. I didn't want to, but I'm going to be mean. You can try, but you will never really know me (ph).
ROSIN: INVISIBILIA'S Lulu Miller. By the way, Chad's book of cartoons will be out soon. It's called "How To Be Normal At Social Events."
SPIEGEL: And a word now about our other podcast out this week. In it, Hanna tells an amazing story which looks in a very different way at our ideas about ourselves and how they affect our life. It centers on a high school full of these working-class kids who had big dreams about who they were going to be.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #1: In 10 years, I will plan on being...
UNIDENTIFIED BOY #1: In 10 years, I'm hoping to be...
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #2: I want to be...
UNIDENTIFIED BOY #2: I'm going to be a millionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #3: Professionally playing oboe.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #4: Professional soccer player.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY #3: A doctor, lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Boom. I want to be a DJ.
SPIEGEL: To get them to these future selves, the principal of the school used a very unusual method.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: Five, four...
SPIEGEL: It was a big experiment, an experiment that ended up in a way that no one expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: And one.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #6: You're going to reach the stars.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: He was really excited about it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: It was a big deal for her.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #6: You're going to achieve everything you want.
SPIEGEL: That story is available now. It's the episode in your podcast feed called Future Self.
ROSIN: And if you haven't heard the earlier episodes in our concept album, you can go back. There's a bear fairytale, musical vampires and the discovery of a new emotion. If you're listening on Apple Podcast, please, please write us a review. We mean it. We'll be forever grateful.
SPIEGEL: INVISIBILIA is hosted by me, Alix Spiegel.
ROSIN: And me, Hanna Rosin.
SPIEGEL: And since these are the last episodes of the season, I just want to take a minute to say that though Hanna and I are the more public face of INVISIBILIA, INVISIBILIA is not Hanna and I. It is truly the product of the minds, interests and efforts of a bunch of people all combined in strange ways and rolled into one thing. Those people are senior editor Anne Gudenkauf, executive producer Jeff Rogers, producers Meghan Keane, Yowei Shaw and Abby Wendle, showrunner Liana Simons (ph).
ROSIN: This episode we had help from Lulu Miller, Michael Rodriguez (ph), Anastasia Kupstis (ph), Mark Memmott, Micah Ratner, Nancy Shute, Meredith Rizzo, Hillary McLellan (ph), Zach Hindin (ph) and Jon Hamilton.
SPIEGEL: Our technical director is Andy Huether, and our vice president of programming is Anya Grundmann. Special thanks to Chelsea Webber-Smith (ph), Jonah Simons (ph), Jonathan Klawans (ph), Philip Henderson (ph), David Plotz, and to Tom Matheson and Swidbert Ott and colleagues for letting us visit their lab and schooling us on exactly how grasshoppers turn into locusts.
ROSIN: And a big thank-you to the band Krikl & Be, fans of our show who sent us this song, "Whatcha Know," and let us use it to close out the show. And thanks to the band Peals for letting us use "Trillium," "Wind Honey" and "Tehachapi Loop" from their album "Honey" and to Blue Dot Sessions for the songs "Stale Case" and "Toi Gnossienne" (ph).
SPIEGEL: For more information about this music and to see original artwork by Marina Muun for this episode, visit www.npr.org/invisibilia. And now for our moment of non-Zen.
MILLER: Have you ever eaten one?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
MILLER: Do you like them?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: Yeah, they're all right (laughter).
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #8: A bit like popcorn.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHATCHA KNOW") KRIKL AND BE: (Singing) What you know about me, what I got to do to make you see. I didn't want to, but I'm going to be mean. You can try, but you will never really know me.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
Correction June 27, 2017
In a previous version of this podcast, we incorrectly referred to Lord Birthday's upcoming book as How to Be Normal at Social Events. The correct title is How to Appear Normal at Social Events.