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Saturday, January 20, 2001
By Paul Ford
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.