Coming to you LIVE from the NEW POWERBOOK! It is tiny (12″), it is beautiful, elegant, lightweight (4.6 lbs), and it is screamingly fast (1.5GHz). I can’t believe it is mine and I didn’t have to: a. further increase my already fearsome student debt, b. borrow heavily from family and friends, c. promise my firstborn to Steve Jobs, or d. pay for it at all.
But, I kind of also have mixed feelings about it.
I’ve never had a computer that was just given to me by a job for my own use in that job. Probably because I’ve never had a real job. Since graduating from Ideal Small College, I temped for a year, and then started grad school. And I’ve been at it ever since. Definitely no “company” computers there! So, I’m kind of feeling like I’m not entirely sure that this windfall is “mine.” And I don’t know if it will feel as much mine as my old computers did. But, maybe that is a good thing.
I’ve had 2 Apple portables since I started grad school (this will date me and really let you know the meaning of a decade!): the PowerBook 520, and the iBook 500 dual USB. The Powerbook 520 was the first Apple portable model with a trackpad rather than a little rollerball thingey. It had a black and white screen, a 25 mhz processor, and a 160 MB hard drive. It weighed about a million pounds (7.1) and it lasted for five years before the internet became too big and pages too large to load, and all of the batteries died so that I had to reset the date and time every time I opened it. I still have it in my closet, and I’m sure that there is something of Vital Importance on it that I’m going to need someday, and so I refuse to get rid of it despite Spousal Unit’s pleas. (He didn’t know it was there until quite recently when I mentioned it in conversation the other day to someone else, and he overheard, and took notice that I still had it. Zen-like, he urged me to free myself from the burdens of unused and unusable material objects, but I fought him tooth and nail. And besides, it’s WAY in my closet. He’ll have to do a lot of digging through all the other unused and unusable material objects that I couldn’t name if you asked me to if he wants to find it in order to chuck it.)
By the time I upgraded to the iBook, computers had dramatically changed — the OS had changed, their shape, their size, their capabilities. It was a revolutionary experience to go from the 520 to the iBook (4.9 lbs, 10 gig drive) that I now have. It was great – it was wonderful -but it was also kind of sad. I loved that Powerbook 520 and can remember how cool I felt being one of the only people in 1996 who could do work on their computer at the coffeehouse, how neat it was to not have to use an external mouse, how great it was to have such a small footprint on my desk compared to other desktop computers. It wasn’t its fault that the internet came along and made it too slow. For a long time, I used both the 520 and the iBook together – before I realized that the old one just didn’t have it going on like the new iBook (iTunes alone should have clued me in, let alone AirPort!). When I finally put the 520 away in the aforementioned closet, I was sad – something had changed. It was kind of like putting away a once important stuffed animal in a box and admitting to yourself that it is no longer needed. That you had grown beyond a particular childhood comfort. And now, it might be time to put the iBook in its box in the closet and I don’t think I’m ready.
I blame Apple. If they made piece of shit computers like everyone else, by the time I upgraded I’d hate the blasted thing for breaking down, for losing my data, and for generally being such a piece of crap that I would happily deposit it in the nearest dumpster. (Can we say Planned Obsolescence everybody?) But, Apple makes computers worth falling in love with. Or maybe it isn’t an Apple thing, maybe it is a dissertation thing. It could be so hard to get rid of the old computer because we dissertators spend so more time with our computers than we do with anyone (oops — I meant thing!) else that we really connect to them. Maybe it is because they carry the burdens of our whole intellectual life and are the space where we make our life’s work. But somehow, for me, they become vitally important and beloved, not just a necessary tool for my job.
Anyway, maybe today I’ll get out that dusty old 520 box and finally send the thing on its way. How many Apple laptop computers does a girl need at one time? Yeah. Maybe it would feel good to liberate it from me, and me from it. Maybe I’ll do it.
Or maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.