29 Jul 98

Little Bastard/Story/List

I joined a web ring. You'll see the links above to "Little Bastard." Membership subject to review. I'm number 5.

I've avoided web rings. But these fellers are okay. If only the web ring could be called "Little Fucker."

The voices are solid, so click the link and see. Read of nurses metaphoric and motherly, other low voices speaking about botched living. I won't let your browser pop up any new windows if you click.

Ladies, these young men are what young men are like.

According to both of them, she's living in Alfred, shacked up with some fellow with serious facial hair. She serves ice cream at Friendly's, sleeps, eats, and screws the boyfriend. He doesn't have a job, so he stays home.

I'm sure it's more meaningful than that--the people who told me gave it a spin, to be amenable to my jealousies and emotions. You protect people this way.

Even more interestingly, she's a Subway Diary reader. I didn't know this. She refused to pay any attention to my web work while we were together, and mocked my writing until I stopped writing altogether. But now, she keeps a chart of pseudonyms from the diary, with the real names filled in to the side. She's shown this to people around Alfred--people who, I hear, are also readers. It's a snotty thing to do, but she had snotty to a science.

I didn't ask; I was told. I haven't heard from her in eight months, but she's been tracking me. It makes me wonder what she felt about the entry where I talked about my first post-relationship sex. I hope that it hurt her to read about it. I'm sure she'd be glad to know that hearing about her living with someone else upset me. She'd feel it was my due. It is. I'm not above jealousy and anger.

From the news, I don't feel much besides the shivers of something that ended as the Subway Diary began. The quiver in my stomach is from both my diet and my jealousy. If you look at the writing and voice in these entries, you'll see differences--I've changed myself internally, altered, improved, and sped my career, moved over a few notches in life. I'm not that person anymore, frustrated and deathly alone and looking for contact with something sensible--even if it's cold. I've managed to get closer to balance. And I hope to Christ that she's up to something better than described, that she has some goals and motions beyond this summer.

But Rhonda--that's your name, here--maybe you should leave me be. You mocked my writing and I followed your guidance, to become a smaller soul. One who didn't write, one who tried to believe your paeans to civil calm, picket fences, the overall importance of a clean house. I walked through your suburb near Albany and couldn't see a thing I ever could want, but you never understood why. Does any of this writing explain? I hear you're living in chaos, now, your room a mess. See how easy it is? God, I felt such a wave for you, right there, like I rarely felt while we were together.

I was no great shakes, telling you how wonderful you were, but acting angry and cold. I was small and greedy, looking for someone who would grip me tight. Remember how I liked you to hold me in bed, my back towards you, your arm wrapped around my shoulder? That did mean something, when you would take me in your arms and press your face into my back. It was as close to safety as I could come. Or when we smashed our heads together in the loft, hard, laughing at the sharp pain. The endless trips to bring a pitcher of water, and glasses, to bed. These were good things. The night drives. The time we made love, before I left for Philly with my father. I knew that it was a matter of time before things would end, never expecting we could stretch another year out of our distance.

It is hard to know that someone else is inside you, remembering for a dark moment about your pink flesh, the knots and ridges of your sex, that angled nose, the large curved breasts and fleshy buttocks, which were my territory. But I would never trade back what I've earned from solitude, this investment made in knowledge and craft, in waiting for something more than comfort.I'm not pure, even though I wish I were. I've even taken comfort from a visiting friend, in the same bed where you and I slept together for the last time, in Brooklyn. What I've found since our last time is truly valuable. But what I had was valuable, too.

Good luck. I really do hope you have what you want.

And if you keep coming back to read, well, what can I do? A reader's a reader. I'll be writing over my entire life, somehow, and my voice on a screen, or on page, does not belong to me. I should know better than to try to possess these words; they belong to me no more than you did.

Paul Ford

1:06 AM


I met a reader yesterday. She came to my office. She has her own online diary. It was a very nice coffee visit.

I didn't intend to be part of the online diary community, you know. I didn't know there was one.


A lot of diaries list the music a person is listening to, and the books they're reading. Here's my list.

Music (last two days)
Aimee Mann, I'm With Stupid
Arvo Part, Arbos
Curtis Mayfield, The Very Best of
Fat Boy Slim, Better Living Through Chemistry
James Taylor, Greatest Hits
Meat Beat Manifesto, 99%
Meat Beat Manifesto, Armed Audio Warfare
Negativland, Free
Neil Young, Harvest
Prince/New Power Soul, (whatever the new album is called; it's at work)
Prince, Purple Rain
REM, Document
Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues
The The, Dusk.
The The, Mind Bomb.

Books (currently reading simultaneously, over two-to-three week period)
A Short History of the World, J.M. Roberts
Accounting, third edition: Peter J. Eisen
Building Strong Brands, David A. Aaker
Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers, Robert Jackall
Personals, edited by Thomas Beller
Philosophy of Technology, Frederick Ferré
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James (I won't finish this in three weeks)
Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Art of Writing Advertising, William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, George Gribbin, David Ogilvy, Rosser Reeves
The Castle, Franz Kafka
The Total Package, Thomas Hine
Webonomics, Evan I. Schwartz

Work (currently performing)
Writing corporate narrative for large accountancy firm.
Writing copy for direct mail campaign for deregulated energy company.
Beginning to create book for publication (private project with two NYU profs)

Creative (currently creating)
Subway Diary
A five-to-ten minute narrative audio guide to religious experience, to be posted online.

Currently wearing
Solid red/purple oversized T-shirt. I look like an eggplant.
Purple athletic boxer shorts.
Traces of hair gel.
Head phones (The The, Dusk, track 4)

That was totally unsatisfying, and I'm never going to do it again.

Over to tomorrow's narrative.




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)

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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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