Paws to reflect.

I am getting a cat. There are the mice and rats, yes. But there is also the idea of something live that is here with me. It is great to imagine another soft, hair-covered creature, besides myself, sharing this space.

And why not? I love animals: observing, petting, feeding, scolding, holding. I think about animals almost as much as I think about people. Scooping the litterbox and scraping meat out of metal tins is hardly a burden compared so having something soft sit on my feet once every now and then.

I used to have long-distance relationships, and I was gone every other weekend for three or four days, building lovelike structures in the emotional ether. So I couldn't have a pet. I realize now how exciting they were, those relationships, the persistent adventure of going somewhere else, and being someone else. They were usually with upper-class women who were pursuing advanced degrees. Often I would get painfully lonely on these trips, because my life was bound up in the other person, and I am a man who wants lots of friends near me. But in transit I proved: that I was untied, and could have any kind of life I desired, and that I followed my feelings wherever they took me.

Now, my girlfriend lives a 12 minute walk from my door. We ride bikes. We make Valentines from stuff around the house. When I leave town it is to visit family or friends for a weekend, usually down to Philadelphia. I am most emphatically here, by the Gowanus Canal, typing constantly. The map is smaller, and personal change comes slower than the seasons. There is the weight to be lost, and the inner problems to be solved, and the organization to be achieved, and the taxes to be paid. But all of those things must be done here, by myself; I cannot make them vanish in the magic of a long bus ride or plane trip, to put my feet on the ground a different man with different ambitions. They were always waiting for me when I came home, anyway.

So why not a creature with whiskers and prominent ears? Why not that responsibility? This is my life, here. It cannot be escaped, and I do not want to escape—improve, yes. So off I go. Meow.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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