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Wednesday, March 10, 1999
By Paul Ford
Closure on the Internet
I just took down the Subway Diary, my last web journal. As I type this, I am replacing every HTML page with a pointer to Ftrain; this process will end in only a minute. I'm through to July.
This removal makes me deeply sad. I considered outright destroying the entire Subway Diary, erasing the source files, ridding myself of the memory, but, while they may seem superfluous to anyone else, to me my own words are precious, and I've kept a backup. I'll use the Diary to support Ftrain, editing the entries and re-posting them, extracting and improving on what was there.
I have little sense of history, and I too frequently lose track of all my friends, letting emotional bridges crumble, so there is no oral history of Paul Ford. My connections with others are either too numb and distant, or too inflammatory and brief, to sustain a narrative. So I write it down instead.
When I am lonely I go in and read what I have written and, while it does not salve me, I know I am human, not a Subway-riding automaton. All the mistakes and missteps in the prose remind me that I'm a child, still, primitive and struggling to work with the English language, a raw material larger than any constructed building, a substance more complicated than the most obscure chemicals, and far harder to sculpt than clay.
Reading my own stuff, I also find rhythms and expressions that have their own logic, and once or twice in the Subway Diary, I wrote something sustaining, something that convinces me to keep at this small endeavor, because, given 10 years and the adequate application of pressure, I can transform my prose from coal into, if not diamonds, at least a smooth and clean carbon. By then I will be 34, with some youth left and some wisdom implanted by experience into my thick skull.
I can't help that I see my prose as myself, so I hope that transformation also applies to me, to my flesh and brain, and my soul. I know I am not what is written here, but I can't help but identify these words as myself.
It helped me get over some ugliness. I know it did injury as well; I feel worst for what I wrote about a long-ago ex-girlfriend, who deserved no public scorn, at all. I was childish, and that's one reason to take it offline, to keep it from doing any further psychic injury to her, wherever she is. I feel terrible about the things I said, especially after I learned she was reading the journal and kept saying them.
The list has reached its end--all the files are gone from their old URL. So goodbye, old thing. It was nice to have you, for those 11 months, as a tool for keeping sane and finding new things with which to concern my time.