Jan 15, 2017

Freewrite rescued from my email drafts: 1

Until Boulder Mac Repair ships my hard drive, I'm resigned to writing in email drafts. And wow, it feels crushing.

I'm surprised by how much form matters. Form dictates content. Tools dictate content. My writing here is guided by the email template provided by Google. I'm more cautious, less wild, than I am in Atom, where I can type away illiberally in the simple black box. Here, I'm trying to be professional. Here, I'm trying to present myself. It's hard to be myself here.

I'm coming to you from the Workantile, a co-working space in Ann Arbor. I'm sitting at a desk in the middle of an open office, with other desks, other computers, other typers, all around. It is a nice enough place, but the tyranny of open offices exists here as well. The draw of a co-working space is closely tied to this tyranny. Ideally, I would work in a silent room, where just outside there was a social space of busy workers I could plunge into when I needed a break from deep focus. But an open office does encourage the appearance of work. I can browse the internet at my desk here, read some articles, some comics, check facebook. But I can't watch a movie. I couldn't play Age of Empires. I couldn't watch porn. It's not that anyone would care if I watched a movie (though they would probably care if I was watching porn). It's that I am socially incapable of doing so. It's a social impossibility. And that is one of the main value-adds of a co-working space, at least for someone of my disposition. Social constraints that direct my behavior towards work, or activities that appear to be work. And the space of activities that appear to be work that I find interesting is much smaller than the space of activities that I find interesting (e.g. movies, video games, porn).

So I'm sitting here in the middle of Workantile, typing away on my new Macbook. My beloved 15" Macbook Pro had a short on its logic board, causing it to power down at unexpected times. This was inconvenient, though not fatal, but it would have cost over $800 to fix. I got a new computer instead. I would have gotten another Macbook Pro, but the 2016 model refresh hasn't occurred yet (and is rumored to be set for Q4 2016), so instead I got the new Macbook, which was refreshed last month.

The new Macbook has a butterfly-action keyboard, in contrast to the scissor-action keyboards found on older Mac laptops. The butterfly action makes for a slimmer key profile, and only a slight physically depression when a key is pressed. A subtle punching noise accompanies each key press, but it is a far remove from clickity-click of my 15" Pro, and further still from the pronounced clackity-clack of a mechanical keyboard.

This is the first writing-at-length I've done on the new Macbook. The keyboard is large, I think approximately the same size as the keyboard on my 15", but due to the slender key profile it feels insubstantial. I can type fluidly on it, but I am not yet confident with my movements as I skate over the keys.

I have so much I want to write about. An hour ago, as I was sketching my plan for today, I wrote out a list of 10 topics to reflect on. I haven't touched on any of them yet, but the ground I've covered so far feels important. I'm so happy to be writing. It is not a loud happiness; it isn't even warm. But it is there, a quiet pulse beneath the surface, humming softly as I type, humming even when I stop, content just to be within close proximity of the act of writing.

Writing is one of my favorite things. It took me a long time to recognize this, and I am still not fully reconciled to the implications.

[rereads: 2, edits: written in June 2016, a couple stylistic things but largely untouched]