cell phone diet: the right of first refusal

To decrease screen time and retake our brains from the insidiousness of having a computer brain at the ready for all of our thinking, compromising our attention, increasing anxiety, resulting a low-grade ever-distracted state:

1. install hourly chime app from app store on phone for daytime hours.
2. at the hour chime, allow yourself to phone for 5 minutes (whatever you want, texts, instagram, safari).
3. otherwise, no cell phone use aside from calls or maps or emergencies.
4. use a laptop or desktop computer for searching, reading, etc.
5. for longer dives into apps that only exist on the phone (e.g. instagram), allow yourself one hour a week on a set day (e.g. Monday).
6. before going to bed, allow yourself to catch up on any texts that were not answered during the day.
7. steps 1-6 are goals. if you don't get there immediately, don't beat yourself up about it. it's a process of uncoupling.

The concept is that one has the right of first refusal not to look at one's phone. Nothing is commanding us to do it. It will always be there, waiting. Nothing is really that urgent. Just wait until the hour. Once cell phone use was limited to 30-45 min per day, I have noticed a real difference.

The inspiration for the cell phone diet is to go back in time. What was I doing then? 2015 (The early iphone era)? Mainly just using the phone for text/calls.  LTE was pretty spotty/poor.


era of disposability

we live in an era where everything, from clothing to media content, is designed to be rapidly desired, consumed, and then discarded. history, ethics, literature, religion, civics, empathy, everything of another era that was valued for the robust strong ties it created in society now has little value because it cannot be corporatized, commercialized, and capitalized upon. those old flows have been fully uncoded and put in service of new flows that maximize churn and profit via disposability. the ability to feel otherwise now signals to others a vulnerability worthy of denigration, ignorance, and apathy. the tempo and cycle of culture is running at a fever pitch where technology is no longer in service of humans, but instead humans are running blindly to catch up with everything that is happening in their phones.


"There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love."
-- Toni Morrison


molly sarle

connan mockasin, thalia hall, 2019

opener helena deland

catching up

happy place at long pond, wellfleet

train they call the city of new orleans


dave and matt

jenn wasner

khruangbin at lincoln theater

george warren rickey

may 25 2019

the kid stays in the picture

skylar gudasz


We were not royal but snobbish, not aristocratic but class-conscious; we believed authority was cruelty to our inferiors, and education was being at school. We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom. We raised our children and reared our crops; we let infants grow, and property develop. Our manhood was defined by acquisitions. Our womanhood by acquiescence. And the smell of your fruit and the labor of your days we abhorred.

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye


On Joy by Zadie Smith

"Real love came much later. It lay at the end of a long and arduous road, and up to the
very last moment I had been convinced it wouldn’t happen. I was so surprised by its
arrival, so unprepared, that on the day it arrived I had already arranged for us to visit
the Holocaust museum at Auschwitz. You were holding my feet on the train to the
bus that would take us there. We were heading toward all that makes life intolerable,
feeling the only thing that makes it worthwhile. That was joy. But it’s no good
thinking about or discussing it. It has no place next to the furious argument about
who cleaned the house or picked up the child. It is irrelevant when sitting peacefully,
watching an old movie, or doing an impression of two old ladies in a shop, or as I eat
a popsicle while you scowl at me, or when working on different floors of the library.
It doesn’t fit with the everyday. The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it
has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once,
how would we live?"



A Man's Man, and a Writer's Writer - James Salter

In conversation, he’s courteous, flinty, guarded, and particular in a way that combines shyness and care. He doesn’t like to be asked things directly. “It seems shameful to me, to start analyzing oneself in public,” he said. His voice is thin, almost effeminate. He’s funnier in person than in his prose, which is generally solemn, and he has a gentle streak.If there are ants on the counter, he won’t kill them. He has an obsession with a 2003 documentary about the Thoroughbred Seabiscuit, which he watches over and over, tearing up in the presence of guests. He has been known to sing “American Pie” to clams when he shucks them. He always diligently checks the bill at restaurants.If he’s telling a story that involves numbers or years, he whispers the math to himself, his eyes fluttering, a finger tugging at his ear. He is a reciter of poems, and keen to read aloud. He likes to visit cemeteries. He measures out his Martinis precisely, down to a ritual drop of Worcestershire. He’s intensely competitive. He used to take pleasure in occasionally beating the poet Kenneth Koch, a superior player, in tennis, and he kept meticulous records of the touch-football games he and his literary friends played for many years on Long Island. “I could still show them my heels well into my fifties,” he said. He is renowned among them for his poise and self-control. He cherishes a way of life that may be passing from the world. For New Year’s Eve dinner at home in Aspen some years ago, Salter had everyone wear black tie.

by Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 2015


“In spite of wars and tourism and pictures by satellite, the world is just the same size it ever was. It is awesome to think how much of it I will never see. It is not a trick to go round these days, you can pay a lot of money and fly round it nonstop in less than forty-eight hours, but to know it, to smell it and feel it between your toes you have to crawl. There is no other way. Not flying, not floating. You have to stay on the ground and swallow the bugs as you go. Then the world is immense. The best you can do is to trace your long, infinitesimally thin line through the dust and extrapolate.”

-- Ted Simon, "Jupiter's Travels"

there is only one path and you are on it


Follow the descending line

Follow the descending line.   
I exist to follow truthfulness.  
I’m here with my motorcycle helmet by my side 
Able to eat a slice of chess pie 
In a town called Snow Camp
North Carolina. 

If there is only one path, why am I here, I asked.  
Truth is right here, in this diner, today.  

Truth exists in stillness, 
In fire before the match is struck, 
In a pond on a cool morning,
In thunder buried deep within a mountain.   



“I was focused on my phone.   It brought me so much happiness.   It was the perfect size.   If happiness was a size, it would be the size of my phone as I looked at it from 6 inches away from my face.”