So right now, I’m standing in line outside Trader Joe’s. I pulled out my phone to kill some time. I was just going to scroll through Instagram or whatever while I waited to get into the store.

But I’ve been trying to be more conscious about my screen time—observing myself and my habits. I want to know when and why I use my phone, how it shapes my daily experience of the world.

And, like, as soon as I started paying attention to it, I was kind of disturbed by what I found. It seems like I use my phone to escape the world, to erase time—instead of engaging with the world.

Anyway, I thought that making a little biograph might help me do the opposite: instead of escaping into my phone, I want to pay a kind of loving attention to the world, even during bland or boring moments.

Truly, though, what is bland or boring about this moment? It’s a beautiful, clear day. The sky is perfectly blue and deep. There’s a little breeze. I smell garbage and cut flowers from the store—a lady just walked by cradling them in her arms. The grass is starting to come up, with patches of mud where it was trampled down during the winter.

Ok, I’m almost at the front of the line. Talk to you again soon.

Toby Altman is the author of Discipline Park (Wendy’s Subway, 2021) and Arcadia, Indiana (Plays Inverse, 2017), alongside several chapbooks, most recently Every Hospital by Bertrand Goldberg (Except One), which won the 2018 Ghost Proposal Chapbook Prize. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This response was created with the Biograph platform, which helps authors (not users) save time and experience. Biograph is dedicated to storytelling that enlightens, entertains, and inspires.

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