An Ending of Sorts

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.




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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