A gorge, on the way to the earthship.

There was fighting in the car when we came to the gorge. All had been fine, then we stopped for some elk jerky and something changed. I made a joke about Christmas - “I wonder if Santa eats elf jerky” - and then something was said, and something else, and suddenly 6 exchanges later, including a short speech by me explaining how certain things were never changing, we were sullen. The sign for the gorge appeared, and she parked.

I opened the door and a wind so cold as to make a Yeti cry appeared. It slammed right into my grudge. I walked from the car, always a few feet away from her. It was so cold my breath could see its breath. A cloud froze and fell to the ground. My fingernails frosted over and I began to sweat snowflakes. On the flat desert plain to my right, a herd of Norse frost giants ran south.

I stood over the bridge in my jeans and light brown coat, remembering how my fingers worked, willing them to move. She came to my side. “That can't be pleasant,” she said, in her expensive all-weather jacket with hood, hat, thick red mittens, slacks, heavy wool socks, and brown suede boots. She looked like a pop-tart inside a toaster.

I considered it for a moment. “You know, it really is incredibly unpleasant,” I said. “I am the most unhappy person in the world at this moment.”

We walked back to the car. The cold made it take a long time. It took so long that by the time we got to the car the stock market was up. A Democrat was in the white house. Rock music was good. Moore's law had been rescinded. By the time I put my hand on the handle, knowing that I gripped it only by sight, we had three kids and lived in Vermont. I was 43 years old and had a cat named Nana Sparkles. “What if I couldn't find my keys?” she asked.

I thought about it for a moment. “Medical emergency,” I said, teeth clacking like a horror-movie skull. Then she turned the key in the lock and it was all forgotten, the argument frozen out of me, so we drove to see the earthships.




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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