The boxes reach to the ceiling.

A half-essay about dust and a small room.

Miscellaneous considerations at 2:51 AM, Brooklyn, NY:

Scott Rahin slept here, on the futon. The next morning, he said, "you know, while you snored I beat off right into your blankets." My brother visited; I gave him my bed for his back and took the futon. We drank beer and smoked Ashton ascot cigars, and I learned that we were alike. A children's TV star slept on the futon a few times, and a few women have been here, some on the futon, some on the bed, some with their boyfriends. Two different men have slept with me on the bed, when I had several guests at once; we made poor jokes about our latent man-love and kept our feet from touching.

The dust under the main bookshelf is thick, with bits of paper and plastic toys and knicknacks embedded into the gray furry quarter-inch, like animals trapped in tar pits. I am planning to address the dust, as soon as I get through the boxes stacked by the bed.

The boxes reach to the ceiling. They contain all the confusing things, the unsortable objects: Letraset letters for craft projects, clip-art, old junk mail, a hammer, loose compact discs, the last jumbled pile of my life. When I sort through the boxes I will have found a place for everything.

On the wall are skyscrapers of books, 7-foot shelves with two feet of books stacked on top. The Fabulous Interiors of the Great Ocean Liners. The Great Bridge. Virtual Realism. Sears Roebuck & Co. CATALOGUE 1897 Programming Perl. Shelves built from unpainted pine, screws biting straight into the wood; shelves drilled into the walls with anchor bolts, the walls pouring out around the drill bit, white dust.

This is where I came home from Manhattan and wept, and where I came home from Queens and vomited into the toilet, the first place where I've stayed long enough to forget part of the experience. The people in the shops know my girlfriend takes soy milk in her coffee; they know I like pepper turkey, chocolate covered pretzels, my hair trimmed tight on the sides with the #2 setting, and guacamole. My neighbor is my closest friend. I think constantly of moving, because the apartment is rat-ridden and the landlord, in an ecstasy of greed, has decided to raise the rent $100 a month, an extra $100 for junkies, vermin, a building which shakes, and constantly honking buses. All of this, and myself, fits into 250 square feet, and still, it's a little more than I can handle.




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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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