Mandatory eavesdropping.

I listened to two fifteen year old girls on the train, taking the F home. 11 on Friday night. And the conversations don't change. They stay inane.

"Do you promise not to tell anyone?"


"I like David Berstner. I really do."

"He's so handsome."

"I know. And I really like Cindy, too. She's so perfect, and I'm...I mean, I guess they're a great couple."

"She's a cow. You're so much more beautiful."

"Really? You think?"

"Yes, I do."

"See, you're so lucky. You don't have to worry about David Berstner. Jake is so great."

"I feel lucky. I don't know what would ever make me break up with him. I don't think I ever will break up with him. If we ever do, it would destroy me."

"Oh, I can see you guys growing up and living together forever. In a big loft apartment."

And I wanted to grab the one who likes David Berstner and say--"It gets easier. You'll forget him in four years, entirely, forget his name and all the things you thought about him while listening to bad slow music on the Black radio station." And to the other one, I wanted to say, "It'll be okay. You'll go to college and say goodbye to Jake with great promises, and then you'll find yourself upstate, a little drunk, and in love with a guy named Abeeb who speaks French. I just want to warn you now, before you make any more promises you'll end up breaking."

But of course I didn't say a thing, and the other eavesdroppers stayed quiet and listened as the girls talked. Hearing our own histories and wondering how we made it through to now.




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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