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The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Songs for unproductivity

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Managing Editor Allie Kelly, pictured circa 2003, "helping" her parents in the kitchen. 

I’m really talented. 

I consistently walk faster than the projected GPS time, I can think of three synonyms for most words and I can do an impressive cartwheel.

Sitting still is not one of my skills. 

Despite my series of silly (and more genuine) talents, I am objectively bad at resting, holding a poker face and chopping vegetables with basic kitchen competency.

As a kid, I was the menace that could rarely sit calmly in front of a movie. I was better occupied by art projects, flipping through picture books and playing outside in the snow until my fingers got cold.  

These days, I have trouble listening to a class lecture without simultaneously editing a news story or watching TV without doing research for an essay. 

I’m a chronic repeater of details, itineraries and to-do lists. Write it down, say it out loud. Things to do, places to be. Not everything is terribly important — constant movement just feels peaceful. 

But senior spring involves a lot of sitting still. 

It’s a feeling I’m getting used to. Because I’m on the edge of being a real adult and I don’t know where I’ll be in six months. There are lots of lovely people I will miss so much it hurts. For the first time, perhaps ever, I’m grateful to do nothing. 

There’s a lot of music that reminds me of being happily unproductive, of closed laptops and silenced Slack messages. 

Mac Miller’s “The Spins” sounds like cheap sunglasses and road-tripping with the sunroof open. Sleepy Sunday morning coffee with my roommates has Wild Rivers’ latest single playing in the background. And living room fashion shows where we model party outfits and Carolina Blue graduation robes are tied to Taylor Swift’s “Long Live.”

I’ve started carrying sunscreen and a beach towel in my backpack for sunny afternoons. Hippocampus’ “Buttercup” and Remi Wolf’s “Photo ID” are the soundtrack of campus picnics between classes in Carroll Hall — or, I suppose, a “Senior Skip Day.” 

Beer tastes better on the porch when the breeze smells like wisteria flowers and Lorde’s “The Louvre” is playing on a Bluetooth speaker, although Monday Blue Cups on an office editing break are a close second. 

Sunsets and sundress nights are accompanied by The Backseat Lovers, and I’m probably blasting Reneé Rapp’s “Too Well” through my headphones each time I buy an extra coffee as a treat.

I can’t say I’m handling the past few weeks gracefully. I keep having nightmares that I won't get my diploma or that I walk into commencement woefully late or in a shower towel. Putting my phone on "Do Not Disturb" makes me nervous. I’m often worried I’ll miss an important press release and sitting still continues to feel a little bit wrong.

But I'm getting better at it. Being still is a stellar use of my time — even if it takes energy. 

If you need me, I'll be using my unproductive skills to photosynthesize on the quad. 

And I think I'll stay there a while. 

@alliemkelly

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