As if it mattered

The puzzle piece with the frayed edges is the last one you need.

Last night I was having an exciting conversation with a lady, when I heard the sudden shake of a plastic bag across the room. The bag being trod upon, raced across. Which can mean only a single thing, that is, vermin. Have entered. My room. Again.

In less than 1 second I went from involved, warm banter to hypervigilance, all the lights on as I peered around the room, searching for motion, overwhelmed with a desire to punish the intruder, the desire coming on like hemorrhagic fever, the voice in my ear drowned out by the scuttling on the floor.

I apologized, explained with embarrassment what had happened, and was too distracted to keep speaking. Two hours later a visitor to the apartment - if anyone was coming over at 4:30 AM - would find me beating my stereo with an umbrella, trying to force the rat (the rat I saw, the puppy-sized monster that ran from under the stereo and tried to get into the bathroom) to go out the open door and into the hallway. But it wouldn't. It went under my bed instead. Where it shifted and rustled.

What do you call a man with no legs in a pile of leaves?

What do you call him 6 months later?

What do you call a man with 60 rabbits up his ass?

What do you call a man who sat up in bed with all the lights on and his shoes on, cursing every aspect of his life and deciding that this is fucking it, he's done, whatever comes next, it's all changing, everything is changing, transforming utterly, he's never going to sleep again, and he's going to stomp the clawtoothed little fucker into a fine film of blood, bone and tooth, and he's going to get a job or go back to school or get married or finish a short story or do something, something that feels like alive instead of a short comic-serious film spliced to loop.

.  .  .  .  .  

A total lack of focus, as if I were off on my boat rocking without any idea of the shore, and the loss of sense of time.

I am angry and fairly lost, but screw that, I will reclaim joy. I will tear open my own heart to give it air; I will go after the layers of fear-based shellac coating my mind with a hammer and break them and let the air in.

I have a prose style. I have a picture of a woman. I have the taste of garlic in my mouth. I have a love for dogs. I have a need to have my temples rubbed. There is evidence that life is a worthy endeavor. I have a desire to make things better. First for myself, then for everyone else. Hammers out!

Now I am going to sleep at Steve's to avoid hearing the rat snap its trap.




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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