The Cloths of Heaven are Old Shirts and Dark Slacks

Often in novels the dreams of characters relate to the action of the main narrative. A man fights with his wife, goes to bed, and dreams his house burned down. A woman dreams of a tree growing out of burned earth after finding out that she is not an orphan. This is horseshit. Last night I talked to Mo about shoes then dreamed that I entered a portal in my kitchen. In the universe that I found on the other side the Beatles never existed, and Prince was a Johnny-Mathis-style crooner, so “Purple Rain” sounded like “Moon River.” Another dream I frequently have: I am at work. The phone rings. I wake from the dream and go to work.

When I was in college I knew an old lady who would curse at me through my fog of oversensitive biases.

“I don't take aspirin,” I said. “I don't believe in it.”

“Pills are fantastic!” she yelled. “I was on pills and wrote a novel and had a love affair.”

I once told her that I was dreaming almost every night of sitting in classrooms. She thought for a moment—she was driving—and said: “Carl Jung says that boring dreams indicate a boring person.”

This burned its way into my brain like a curse and stayed with me for years. It was as if a wizard had cast a spell: remain forever soft and dull, in black shirts and black shoes with short hair. Other people went rafting down the Ganges but I was here in Brooklyn reading about Unicode.

Thus I used to feel ashamed and useless when everyone told me to go everywhere and do everything. But you dig a ditch, and then another ditch, and then sit and look at the ditch for a while, figuring out how you could be a better digger, ignoring people who love the ditch too much and shrugging off people who wish the ditch was a hill, and then you start up the digging again. No airplanes or Bodhi trees; just me and a machine and the occasional cat. It may be boring, but I am living my dreams.




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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