The Busy Bee

The tired lad.

I need to start over and move to New York. That I am here already and established in my small life complicates the need. But I want renewal passionately, and have no desire to find some other city for a home. Where would I go? Boston?

I want the sidewalks to feel new under the black rubber soles of my shoes. I want to start the friendships over - with the same friends - but as someone new, someone who isn't going gray so quickly, someone whose head is lifted out of fog. And maybe I could lift this gloom.

I'd live somewhere in Brooklyn Heights, start a Web site called Ctrain. I'd get a full-time job and work hard, and the banality of office life would be diminished because I would be working in New York, and every day would have a dramatic heft, a sense of value that days lost in other cubicles in other cities had lacked. I would feel history like an undertow pulling me along, bringing me into the narrative of the NYSE and the NASDAQ. The subways would be a tangled cord of mystery which I'd unravel every day (my God! This train goes all the way to the Bronx).

I want to rediscover those monuments that have firmly placed themself into the collective mind: the tree at Rockefeller Center, the entrance to Central Park, the towered apartments on the Upper West Side, the Chrysler Building, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue, the Brooklyn Bridge, coming across them not as familiar parts of the view but as I first did, like an archeologist digging up a Bible scene, as the structures inside myth rose up in front of my pale hands.

The Empire State Building becomes a fresh needle into the clouds; the scrap-heap tragedy of downtown becomes new and terrifying. The women no longer look like cheap copies out of magazines, and the voices, the accents, are fresh.

And me - I'd be excited, and exciting, spouting a thousand ideas a moment, an interesting ball of feeling coursing through the streets, worrying about getting into bars, wondering if I'll be dressed right for dinner, concerned about getting lost. I would feel the challenge of the city fresh.

But I am already here, lonely and cranky and uninsured, having just eaten take-out Chinese, my wisdom teeth creeping in and 3 hours away from deadline, writing dozens of pages to sell a product to strangers.

Time is the narrow pipe into which I cram my hopes and huge ambitions, and they never all fit. And the ones that always make it into the pipeline are those that will be followed by money. The rest of it splashes out into a void.




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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