24 Feb 98

Slight return

A Month of Neckties

My private fuse burnt out. Official preparation for adulthood begins, February, 1998. The last four months, in my tiny apartment, I had a million pounds of peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth. I lived on lousy food, in squalor. I drank and lamented and pushed the dirty clothes over to the empty half of the bed.

Maybe it's the season. Maybe I have complicated emotional reasons for my actions. But prior to contemplation, there's cleaning to do. The papers need filed. Back taxes must be paid. I will report punctually for employment, pleasantly dressed, clean and smiling. Every day, a necktie shall knot at my eighteen-inch throat. Coworkers laugh, as I've retired old shirts for silky, ironed ties. But they treat me more nicely, too.

Now, diet and exercise. I perform sit-ups. Kinesthetics. Physical culture. Flossing. Scrubbing. Ringing, positive thoughts. Abstinent eating: no sugar, no caffeine, no white flour. No alcohol. No marijuana. All substances must be evaluated with a boolean operation before I can ingest them. Tylenol? Yes, that's okay. Nyquil? Maybe. Turkey? Three slices. A great big submarine sandwich with salami, and a candy bar, and some goddamnded greasy Utz potato chips with a Coke? Fuck, no. Well, the Coke. Diet. Caffeine free.

With scrubbing, my bathroom floor shines. It's as white as a starlet's teeth. Even the grout is pleasant to behold. I have caulked the tub, and lo, I have lived to tell the tale. Painting. Stackable shelves. The rhythm of nails entering the walls, my books yanked from plastic milk cartons and hung from my knees to well above my head, forever out from under the bed. My tiny, newly shelved kitchen nook will glow in sunshine yellow. Wood, anchored into the wall, shall support the toaster and the one - cup - of - coffee - for - single - guys - who - only - need - to - make - one - cup - of - coffee - maker.

120 days of the diary, and thirty days of neckties. 5 days of careful, cautious, eating. Four days in a clean apartment. And now -- seven hours of sleep, and a day gets added to all the numbers right above.




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.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

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.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 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)

Tables of Contents