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Thursday, July 25, 2002
By Paul Ford
Giving up on bicycles, etc.
After stealing two bicycles on Saturday afternoon, they came back this afternoon, broke into the building again, and stole the wheels off a third. They couldn't get the frame because it was UBolted to the banister. I was about 7 feet away, behind my apartment door, as they did this.
The police came once more - officer Gonzales, a medium-height man with a strong jaw, and his partner. Officer Rodriguez came on Saturday, a smallish woman with long hair, also with a partner. Today I told the same story to Officer Gonzales I'd told to Officer Rodriguez, and signed a report. “A lot of them have been stolen lately in the neighborhood,” he said.
I called the landlord and told him I'd withhold rent unless he secured the doors. Giant rats, thieves, estimated taxes, all lurking. Open sewage in the basement. Junkies, skulls wrapped with blue wire then layered with thin skin, shooting up in the foyer. Five or six friends suggest, helpfully, that I move to something nicer - oh, fucking genius, thanks - but on what? On the hope of more advertising work? With the Dow going down faster than Linda Lovelace? On my prospects? Because the world needs an obsessive document theorist/fiction experimenter. Thank God I can fill that niche, by which I mean to say, God, I had the new bike, the one given to me to replace the old ones, for 3 and a half days before they stole the wheels from the hallway. I rode it twice, once to get it home from the friend who gave it to me out of sympathy, and then, for 10 miles, nearly 3 times around Prospect Park, and back to 9th St. I was very excited about this bike. Now I have another $200 to spend on the wheels, or more if I decide to buy another bike outright. And I simply can't swing it.
So, ah, I give up on bicycling. I am tired of broken bikes, stolen bikes, borrowed bikes, getting bikes on trains. They won't steal my shoes, so I'll walk.
So many things are going slightly wrong, aggregating: not enough work, a sense of increasing futility with the work I get, difficulties writing anything that goes deeper than a single layer of skin. Health insurance at $380 a month, for coverage that the doctor hates to honor. My pitiful retirement fund, of which I am proud - look! I'm 27 and self employed and saving - fading to nothing. Clients who stretch projects to a full month of work, then don't pay for 5 months. Under it all, an increasing understanding that my abilities and talents are being squandered, due to my own inability to pull together the 30,000 disparate threads of my interests. And then there's this Web site. Why couldn't I love a form of writing that wasn't considered the bastard child of the bucktoothed computer nerd and the self-published poetess? Why couldn't I be good at something reputable, like Defence Contract Proposals?
What can I do? Advertising, finance writing, brand consulting, PowerPoints. Back to the banks for me, if they'll have me. So much for the prose, the agent, the editors; my inability to finish makes it hopeless, so back to the finance and trading firms. Teach myself once more that I am overjoyed to be a merry mechanism in the grinding wheel, happily keeping my mouth shut and my ideas to myself as I write: “This object is a listener on signature LOW_MARKET_TRADES and is called by com.giantbank.util.listeners.” And, “And that's why you need Filno's Hand Chomper - because, today, Chomped Hands Send the Signal of Success.”
Time to get back on the hustle, which means dropping the guiding principle, which is “diminish the amount of bullshit in the world.” No one pays for anti-bullshit; they pay for more bullshit, they pay $75 an hour to hear me tell them, with style, about the effective nature of our new payment system, or, for God's sake, about the advantages of our new customer resource management flow process as it applies to the manufacturing vertical, 100s of pages adding to the noise, leverage, implement, exceed expectations, a fire hose of unnecessary adjectives and nouns forced to become verbs, nouns in drag. Ideate. Brandstorm. The companies steal your heartbeats, the rats steal your sleep, the girl steals your heart, the thieves steal your bike. Of course, I must be stealing something, too, telling myself I earned it. If I just hadn't wasted all that time....Well, there's an epitaph, anyway.
So I sit and count off the value of lost property in my head. I'm going drink a glass of water and go to bed, and think of death and intruders. I'd say fuck them all but six, and save those for Paulbearers, but in the interest of consistency, fuck the six, too, and cremate me instead. Right now.