PEOPLE OF THE TRAIN: My #AmtrakResidency Application


I don’t know if I can put into words how excited I am that Amtrak is now hosting writers’ residencies. I’ve always wanted to take a cross-country train trip. It just sounds so glamorous: drinks in the dining car, getting dressed up for dinner, SLEEPING on a TRAIN, getting to watch the American landscape roll by without having to navigate it… I can’t think of a single bad thing about this opportunity.

Obviously, I’m applying. Actually, this blog post is my writing sample. Since most of my work is Internet-based in one way or another, I figured this would be the best way for the people at Amtrak to get to know me. I actually think that my predilection for web-based mediums might make me a good fit for the #AmtrakResidency, since I would blog and podcast and tweet and Instagram the hell out of my trip, should I be so lucky.

The history of elegance associated with train travel is fascinating to me. I’ve never stayed in a sleeper car before, so maybe I’m way off and things have changed, like how all movie theaters used to have chandeliers in the lobby and now they have bed bugs. But I’d like to imagine that train travel is still a refined pursuit, one in which travelers take the time to appreciate the journey, how many states are in between us, and what happens in the time it takes to cross them. That matters. “Flyover state” is an ugly term for unadventurous people. No part of the American landscape is “missable.”

One of my favorite things to do in New York is to sit in a park and people-watch. This city is amazing for it. There’s a guy in my neighborhood who rides a unicycle while walking his dog, and I’ve seen him so many times now that he’s almost boring.

Getting to people-watch on a cross-country train would be like hitting the lottery for me. Can you IMAGINE the people who’d be on board? I can. To maximize my time in the #AmtrakResidency if chosen, I’ve made some preliminary sketches of the characters I might see. I’m sure these are 100% accurate!















I know, it’s an incredible likeness.

So here’s to trains! Whether I get to ride one for free or not, I salute their rich history and colorful characters.

And dry goods. Definitely gotta give it up for the dry goods.


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