Day: Mar 17

3 intervals from 17 Mar 2001 (Qualm Sharpening)

1:38 pm

The thing about kicking food: the brain functions differently, and the guilt and fear you worked through when you were a starch-and-sugar fiend raise their heads and begin screaming once more, insisting on attention. The everlasting urge, is to run down to the fucking mini-market and get something that even a 6-year old would find disgusting, some Hostess pie covered in caramel with a chocolate spiral on the top. I know how to manage myself, that way - narcotize myself into stasis. But it gets in the way of the truth, which is the goal of art.

Don't believe me? Just ask Joseph Conrad:

"Art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect."

Joseph Conrad turned all the dials up, past 11. Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, Lord Jim: firecrackers in the mouth and mind.

I know you might think I'm a pussy with the food stuff - and hey, I am, big weak gosling of a man, I'll admit it freely and have - but I've seen problem drinkers stop and alkies go off, and I /swear/ that going off the narcotics in your food can be just as hard. I don't expect the people in the world to understand this. I know it seems pathetic, like a teen-girl problem, a special-of-the-week issue. But I've been standing there with my jacket on and my hand on the door at 11:45PM, 15 minutes before Pal Supermarket closes, arguing whether or not to walk out the door and grab some sugary crap, or whether to stay in.

What's hard is to think you deserve to get better. I feel this urgent need to punish myself, to stay walled-off and far away. Getting the drugs out of your system takes away your walling-off options. Fuck.

I mean, it's not heroin. It's more habit and sadness.

Fact: white rice turns to glucose immediately upon entering your system. Don't eat it unless you plan to run 10 miles immediately afterwards. (Sad sound of throwing away a huge bag of white rice, feeling stupid and wasteful.)

Throwing away, simplifying, reducing. What a strange problem - to be so wealthy in objects and resources that I may eat as much as I want, when I want, and buy most of the things I want on impulse. I live like a king, on little cash. Most of my friends live like kings. We all want more. We clutter our lives.

It seems happiness falls in the middle, and the pleasure of obtaining must be balanced with some other pleasures. You must be vigilant against chaos. You must not close your fist too tightly, or it might stay deformed.

I want to work through it; I want a small life in a house with blank white walls and a small acre around it. A vegetable patch and warm cooking smells, books on the wall.

I was out with a woman who has the same problem I have with food, and I described the desire as wanting to go to bed with a huge loaf of French bread, to nuzzle and curl against the crust. She laughed, and agreed, and told me about an accident with a box of cereal.

Eventually, on this site or elsewhere, I want to tell you about what a bad person I've been, and what a good person I've become, and how much work it was to get there. Not that I can wash the blood off my hands, nor can any readers. Just to tell the story and fade away.

6:08 pm

Begin correspondence.

http://www.fireland.com, Thursday March 15, 9AM:

     I think I've gone on record
     before saying that Paul Ford
     is the best writer on the Web,
     but now I'm not even sure that
     the "on the Web" qualification
     is necessary. Crap.

From: Paul Ford
To: Josh Allen
Date: Thursday, March 15, 1PM


Nice try, but you're still not getting any more than the oil massage with manual release.

http://www.fireland.com, Thursday March 15, 2PM:

      What I meant to say is: Paul
      Ford stinks and has nonstandard
      sexual proclivities.

From: Josh Allen
To: Paul Ford
Date: Thursday, March 15, 5PM

So I revised my previous statement based on your refusal to truly satisfy me in any significant way, and then I get an email from Alexis entitled, "poor Paul Ford, what'd he ever do to you?" I can't wain. I can't spell "win," either, evidently.

From: Paul Ford
To: Josh Allen
Date: Thursday, March 15, 6PM

Sounds like you need to discipline your woman, she talking back like that.

End correspondence.

9:24 pm

From an email, July 18 of last year:

Forget him! He was small and withered. With a closet full of flannel skirts, I bet. No hair will ever grow on his back, I tell ya. Sooner or later all true males get hair on their back. Check his back some day, if you can. It'll be smooth, like a baby's colon. It is good you did not make your intentions apparent.

I have spent the last several days surviving a sexual nucular bom. BOOM it went off in my life. When will it end? When will I get any work done? I do not care. Another drink? Why yes, I will. What time is it? Where is the clock? Shouldn't you be at work? Is this your cervix? I ask these questions.

I am sorry about the cervix part. It was not needed, and of course it has not happened. I do not look for the cervix. It is not part of love.




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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)

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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)

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