For over a week now I’ve been telling myself I’m getting a MacBook Pro.  My rationale – I need it to be successful in the Sketch Writing 101 class.  That’s solid logic.  I mean, I’ve seen the class set-up before and watched in awe as various students whipped out their laptops. Now those are writers. That’s what writers do! I figured if I had the trappings of a sketch writer, then it would naturally follow that I would be a good sketch writer.  And if my writing failed, I could just wow everyone with the soft glow of the Apple emanating from the back of my laptop.  Oooo… magic glowy apple.

I pictured myself as the perfect Mac tool (you know I mean that lovingly).  I’d wear my turtle neck, view the monitor through my thick framed glasses, maybe throw on some Nina Simone, maybe a beret and sip some herbal tea while wiggling my naked toes around and then I would type exceptionally thoughtful thoughts.  Ponies would be replaced by my thoughts on the latest TED talks, maybe a little Bill Maher or the deeper meanings of Bob Marley.  I would then adopt snapping as a way to signal my delight with things.  People would take me more seriously.

I tried to justify it by thinking back to our family’s first Apple – a IIe (2E, since that suddenly looks weird to me) with its 64KB hard drive.  Dad taught it to speak while I had it challenge you with the question “Shall we play a game?” at each boot-up (I grew-up in 80’s, it’s not my fault that question seemed clever/humorous at the time – I’m a simple soul).  It’s the machine I learned BASIC on and the machine I’d sit in front of for hours with a copy of Byte magazine at my side carefully programming away typing in the free code from one of the magazine’s published programs.  When I was forced to use the school’s IBM, I nearly spit.  It was so clunky in comparison.  The command lines weren’t as intuitive. The file structures seemed more archaic.  Apples at that time weren’t even sexy, but some how IBM managed to produce an even less sexy machine.

It didn’t help that Dad worshipped Steve Wozniack.  He was a god in our house and we were probably only a frame away from having his portrait displayed prominently.

When I went to college, our dorm had a shared Mac sitting in the main office.  As an RA who spent plenty of time in that office, I had the luxury of having a lot of access to it. I was blown away by the innovation – so compact, so… cool. (An adjective that the Apple brand mastered.)  But when it came to buying my own computer, I had to settle for a PC.  It was just cheaper and post college, I was a telemarketer who didn’t have a lot of money to throw around.  I remember looking at all of the computers and longing for that Mac and feeling defeated as I brought home the PC.

Apple and I later met again when I became the IT gal for my office and was responsible for our mixed Apple/PC environment.  There was a movement to switch completely over to PCs, but I stuck-up for the Apple users and eventually got the powers-that-be to upgrade from the older Apple LCs to the new iMacs – another truly sexy beast when it first appeared on the scene.  PCs have never had that.  Their idea of upgrading to a sharper looking product seemed to be taking their chunky putty colored rectangles and replacing them with slimmer black rectangles. Ooh. It’s so very square. And let me just say from a networking standpoint, the Macs were easier for me to set-up,  Although, you could rebuild your own desktop, thank you very much.

Then Steve Jobs passed away and it felt like suddenly innovation had died.  I wore my black turtle neck in memorial.  I read and re-read his Stanford commencement speech and watched the “Think Different” Gizmodo tribute to “the crazy one” and felt sad.  That feeling fueled my desire as much as the idea of me looking smart among a group of writers.

Sometime this past weekend reality set-in.  Somewhere after I toggled and re-toggled the two or three customization buttons for the MacBook Pro I knew it wouldn’t be mine.  I just can’t justify that price for essentially what I would use as a hot looking word processor.  Jay suggested a PC laptop, but that’s a bit like wishing for a pony and receiving a stick horse with a plastic head.  (Yes, I am adept at pony analogies. You’re being spared rainbows and butterflies for now.)  I even looked at Dell to see if I could convince myself that those were cool.  What I got out of it was “hey, for the cost of the low-end MacBook Pro, I can get a low-end Alienware laptop”.  That would be great if I wanted to go a completely different direction.

For now I’ll just have to settle for the college ruled owl notebook with the new gel pen.

But man, I can still envision a me that has that silver beauty on her lap typing out a story for the Big Blue Mess or maybe composing my first really great sketch.  Some how beautiful words run fluidly through my fingers to the keyboard. I see myself in class, glancing down at the screen to read my new words from the screen, the class broadly smiles approvingly and laughter erupts around the table at my inspired comedic masterpiece.  Tom, my instructor, beams proudly and exclaims, “Beth, that was brilliant.”


Not like Jobs, the brilliant giant of Geek fame,
With conquering vision astride from land to land;
Here at our sun-washed, drought-scorched classroom doors shall stand
A gleaming laptop with an Apple torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and its name
MacBook Pro. From its beacon-emblemed case
Glows world-wide welcome; its mild curves command
The back-lit harbor that brushed aluminum frames.
“Keep, ancient architecture, your outdated pomp!” it cries
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your befuddled PC masses yearning to be Adobe Flash free,
The wretched users of your lack-luster shore.
Send these, the future sketch writing greats, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my Apple beside the golden door!”

(Heavy apologies to Emma Lazarus)

EDIT:  Dad reminded me that the IIe had a 64kb hard drive, not 512 as I mentioned.  I’m blown away by how much that computer  could do with so little.  Back when programmers wrote very tight code (pre-memory leaks becoming so very common in the years that followed).

2 thoughts on “iColossus

  1. Charla Doughty says:

    Dad still kicks himself for not taking our 2E cover for the *Woz* to autograph when we went to UT to worship at his feet. What a funny guy…in love with life and his *Apples*. Although I swore I would not get another Apple product (okay, their customer service kinda stinks), with Steve Jobs disappearance from the world of great ideas, I too, am looking at iPhone and iPad in a new light.
    This is really good story you have written…perhaps there is a sketch somewhere in there?

    People are going to be really jealous of your notebook and dandy gel pen.

  2. Beth says:

    Dad needs to open the Apple IIe. Someone told me that some of the originals had a component that was signed on the inside. It can’t hurt to look, I suppose.

    I think I’ll sit in a corner and hope no one notices my sad notebook, although I confess, my pen is pretty great.

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