‘Soon-to-be Ghost Towns’

Your bags are packed. Every item on your to-do list is crossed out. How do you kill the time until the flight? Your book and computer are tucked away in perfect backpack compartments and you don’t dare disturb them.

Would it be possible to do nothing? To sit still in one place,  to listen to music in the foreground for once, to single-task. You might consider listening to “The Lonesome Crowded West” by Modest Mouse. It isn’t a cheerful album, but complex enough to hold your attention. Maybe some distortion will help you process all of your feelings about this upcoming trip. Where are you going?

Nobody likes a long layover and your travels haven’t even begun. Your stomach twitches in anticipation of the ups and downs–a series of connected flights, stuffy airplane cabin air, strained conversations with strangers . . . too close for comfort, waging silent wars over minuscule amounts of elbow room. Will it be worth it, just to get there and to come back home?

Zooming (in)

An example of the sort of writing that happens while procrastinating types of writing that are slightly more real.

Two girls sit at a kitchen table on their Macbooks, wearing glasses that they suspect might help them focus.

“I used to have a pair, in college, that didn’t have any lenses in them. When I’d wear them, people would be like, ‘what are you doing?’ and I’d be like, ‘I’m focusing. These are my focus glasses.'”

“That seems ideal. Because people wouldn’t think that you’re like, trying to fake them out.”


“Cuz, it’s known as a hipster thing.”

“Totally hipster.”

They go back to staring at their computer screens, clicking and typing. Spotify plays an ad about finances, which ends in a phrase that hangs in the air, ‘pina coladas.’ In the silence that follows, the girl wearing the professor glasses starts to whisper a song, “gonna get a job, gonna get a job, gonna get a job . . .” and the one in red glasses joins in, “gonna get a job, job job job job job job job job.”

“That was a good song!” Professor Glasses says.

“Premium material,” Red Glasses says. She continues to sing the song in her head, though her goal was to work on a story–not to get a job.

Forty minutes earlier, she had asked Professor Glasses, “Do you think eating a brownie would help our productivity?”

“A real brownie or like, a fake brownie?” Professor Glasses asked.

“Um, a special one.” Red Glasses said.

“Done. Yes. Definitely.”

“Because it would be LYBLing. We have to LYBL!” Red referenced the acronym the invented for Live Your Best Life–something Professor had said, somewhat sarcastically, in text message to a boy.

So they split a brownie and debated whether to give the dog a piece. Decided not to because it would have been the dog’s first brownie experience. Too much pressure.

“Hey!” Red Glasses calls out suddenly. “You’re on the phone! That’s not resume-related.”

“Actually,” Professor Glasses says, holding up her phone, “I’m looking at this girl’s resume.”

“Oh man! I’m so bad at B.S.”

“Like the card game? I’m really good at it.”

They talk for five minutes about card games before Red Glasses realizes that she created a distraction by trying to make sure they were staying focused. She returns to a document on her laptop, where she has been free-writing in the style of Tao Lin instead of working on things, and she types:

I am attracted to anti-social jobs. Like, socially I hide under a rock and poke my head out every once and awhile. A crab? Yes. No, stop feeling jittery about all of your social interactions. You felt good about them at the time. Only later did you start feeling filled with regrets, which makes it sound like a one-night stand or something . . . Why are you typing so fast? Stop this. Work on the other thing.

The complex narrative that takes place in the afterlife? How am I even supposed to write something that Huge?

It all starts with opening that other window.

But what about this free-write, which vaguely channels Tao Lin?

He is an unpleasant person to channel. And besides, by now you have unconsciously switched to Miranda July. If you worked on the other thing, you could channel the dog instead. Stop the nonsense. Press X