In the mid 1990s, the student body at the middle school I attended abided by a set of rigid faction politics that seemed completely normal at the time. Superficially, an outsider might perceive your standard clique dynamics at play, but the truth was that the whole thing was pretty fluid. Athletes hung out with the hackey sack kids. Hackey sack kids smoked weed with the “thugs”. Our weird, lower middle class version of “preppy” was not very removed, socioeconomically speaking, from everyone else, so rich kid pomposity was almost nonexistent. Still, we were young and there were lines in the sand to be drawn.
We did so according to the type of music we listened to. Those of us that listened to rock went under the moniker of “headbangers” and those that listened to rap were labeled “rappers”. If by chance you liked both, you were kind of this weird anomaly. You weren’t really ostracized, but any time we had “Headbangers vs. Rappers” football games, eyebrows were raised and foreheads were scratched. I firmly and proudly placed myself in the Headbanger camp at the time. And even if a good rap artist happened to cross my path(Tupac’s aggression somehow tapped into the angsty suburban discontent, but I held it at a distance), I wouldn’t know, because I was too firmly entrenched, hands clasped over my ears, content with my limited world of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pantera albums. Years later, I find myself a sincere appreciator of hip-hop music and that rigid binary stands out as a tentpole of my closed-minded youth.
Now, that anecdote is just a longwinded way of beginning to admit this:
I purchased my first Apple computer this week.
Those of you that know me or have a passing familiarity with this blog know that I probably hate myself right now. And, don’t worry, I do.
Paradoxically I happen to be an iPod user(I’ve owned 4 Classics and 2 Touches), despite an ongoing battle with iTunes that rivals Luke vs. Darth, Jacob vs. The Smoke Monster, and Harry Potter vs. Whoever The Bad Guy In That Turned Out To Be. While the iPod hardware has generally done just fine by me, I probably would have went elsewhere if it weren’t for the lack of other heavy-storage options in the portable digital music market(the dubiously reviewed Archos-tablet being the only other 120GB+ game in town). That aside, I’ve never contemplated buying an iPhone. They seem so bland and limiting after owning several Droids. They’re like the vanilla ice cream of technology. I’m beyond convinced that with a little research(the number of different Droid varietals is admittedly overwhelming) and a week or two of acclimation, most iPhone users would find a deeply more satisfying phone experience elsewhere. I’ve dedicated several blog posts to trashing Apple products and the obsessive flock that is hardwired into following the brand into whatever depths that their ad people would ask of them; that buy fully into a brilliantly smug and self-congratulatory PR campaign that postulates Apple users as some sort of badass outsider. In my first completed sitcom pilot, I wrote a scene where our Panasonic ToughBook-sporting protagonists destroy the MacBook of a pompous “hipster” cliché(macbook excerpt). Every time a PC of mine received a blue screen or just failed to turn on, I would consider Apple for a second, then become completely turned off by their cost and their rigidity and their strange, 1980′s approach to storage pricing(“What? $1 per megabyte of space isn’t fair?!” says some Apple Marketing Guy Who Still Has a Job).
So why did I buy one now? At the beginning of September, I found myself in need of a portable laptop that I could use for work. My Toshiba Satellite, approaching five years of age, runs like a fucking champ(after a HD swap, that is). But it’s entirely too bulky. To suit my needs, I grabbed a tiny 11-inch Acer Aspire. It had an AMD processor, which I’m not into but I only needed it for lesson planning, mobile grading, and lightweight browsing. The hard drive space was virtually untouched(save for some very small but valuable school documents that I lost). The most demanding program I used on it was probably Spotify(which came pre-installed). I hadn’t visited PornHub, DwarFuck, FastJizz, FapOn, FuckHorse, or FuckGoat a single time in my six weeks of owning the machine, which only underscores my pure and modest intentions with it. And still, the Acer received a blue screen error by the first week of November.
None of the Dells appealed to me and I’ve always heard scattershot things about them. I’d be willing to give Acer another shot down the road, but not for awhile. I liked the HP I owned, but its poorly designed fans which lead to a fried motherboard left a bad taste in my mouth. Lenovo and Gateway, admittedly, I haven’t researched very much since my previous big purchase(when I bought the aforementioned Toshiba). I’d have gladly went for a smaller model Toshiba. However, their Satellite series are an impractical-for-my-purposes 15-17 inches. And their Ultrabooks (11-13 inches), which are definitely appealing to me, are priced higher than the MacBook I ended up buying. I’m sure some of my decision making was influenced by kneejerk recoiling from a terrible Acer experience(seriously, six fucking weeks?). Stability and reliability is the one thing that even naysayers can admit Apple does well(sorta). I simply lack the patience and nerve at this particular point in my life to risk shelling out another few hundred bucks on something that is going to fail me. It’s one thing to lose the Warren Zevon bootlegs that I pirated. It’s another thing to play cowboy with documents that relate to my academic or professional well-being. At some point, I let out a resounding “fuck it” and decided to take the begrudging plunge. I marched down to an Apple store and while everyone was very courteous, it took around 3.5 hours, knowing exactly what I wanted, before I left the store with a product. I realize that’s just first-world bitching on my part, but I couldn’t help drawing comparisons that an Apple Store feels kind of like a DMV that plays slightly better music.
I’m typing this on that selfsame machine(A 13 inch MacBook Pro, non-retinal display). How’s it been going so far? Well, it appears that the Gradebook application my school uses doesn’t jive with the newest Mac OS. That’s kind of the most pressing I had to do this weekend, so fuck me on that, right? Toshiba to the rescue once again. Otherwise, it’s nice enough, sturdy, slick, responsive. I really do like the magnetized power cord thingy. I don’t hate it but I hate that it’s come to this.
The bigger issue here is what the machine is doing to me. I’m currently on antibiotics for an ailment that the doctor’s haven’t quite pegged yet. They say maybe a sinus infection or really deep ear infection. An alarmist would note that I do have several symptoms of Hodgkin’s Disease, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m inclined to believe that the swollen lymph glands, night sweats, chills, and ear aches are my body rejecting the Apple machine. My body knows that this is wrong, that this should have never happened. That the fiber of who I am, for so long, has been tied to my opposition to Apple. If there’s any consolation for me here, it’s that that loathing, that fire is still in tact. I close with a quote from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road:
“You have to carry the fire.
I don’t know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It was always inside you.”