Tuesday, June 2, 2009

coming out of the closet

I’ve reached a decision. This is something that has weighed heavily on my mind for some time now, but I have found that I cannot live my life to its fullest without being honest. It is time I come clean. I have been living a lie, and I am posting here to confess to you, my friends, in a public forum, in the hopes that exposing who I really am will allow me to live honestly.

I’ve been hiding for a long time, and I think it’s finally time that I come out of the closet. I just want all of you to know that this doesn’t change who I am. No matter what you may think about what I am about to reveal to you, I am still the same person you’ve always known and loved. Or loathed, as the case may be. All I ask is that, in spite of this long-hidden truth I am about to reveal to you, please, please, just give me a chance to be myself.

Here’s the truth:

I am a nerd.

Yes, I know this must come as a surprise to those of you who thought that someone as good-looking, athletic, charming, studly, handsome, well-endowed, outgoing, funny, and, let’s face it, well-built as myself could never be a nerd. But truth is stranger than fiction.

Here’s how I came out of the nerd closet: I got a Kindle.

For a long time I would only read it in the privacy of my own home, closing the blinds and ducking under the covers so as not to be seen. I feared derision and jeering from packs of unlettered jocks if I were to venture out with it. I imagined hordes of librarians with torches chasing me down in the street and pummeling me to death with copies of Gibbon’s ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ volumes 1 through 6.

But lately I have become bolder, making small forays into public with my Kindle in tow. At first cautiously taking it out of my bag, I would attempt to hold it in such a way that the leather cover made it look like an analogue book, peering over the top nervously, checking for torches and the odor of card catalogues. My boldness has grown however, to the point where I even read it on an airplane when I went to South Carolina in April! It feels good to be who I really am.

As someone who loves books and has read voraciously since childhood, the very notion of an e-book grated my nerves for a long time. It seemed so unnecessary. Besides, I love used books and the unexpected discoveries you can make in used book stores. I love ancient, yellowing books with crackling pages, I love even the strange notes you sometimes find jotted in the margins, and the proud claims of long-ago ownership inscribed inside front covers.

But I started looking into Amazon’s newest e-book (the Kindle 2, actually) after seeing a short (and rather derisive) segment on it on The Daily Show a while back.

And I love it. if you’re like me and suffer from ADD, you might read two or three books at a time. The Kindle is great for this. It remembers the last page you read when you click on a title, and it holds around 1500 books, depending on the format you use. It also can play MP3s and has text-to-voice, so any book you have on there can be read by a robotic-sounding voice, male or female, if you are too lazy to read for yourself, or if you drive a lot. Plus it’s hard to actually read when you’re fleeing from jocks.

You can change the font to five different sizes--if I’m running on a treadmill in order to maintain that incredible shape I possess, my aforementioned massive manhood bouncing around in my shorts before me, often smacking me in the chest and eyes, I can click the Kindle to display a larger type size, making it easier to read. Plus, hitting a button to flip pages is easier than trying to keep an analogue book open.

Also, Amazon is currently offering most new books for $9.99. This means bestsellers that are normally $25 and up are ten bucks in Kindle version. You can download newspapers, magazines and blogs as well. The kicker is that the device comes with 3G technology, like the iPhone, meaning that without ever plugging it into a computer, I can go online and download one of almost 300,000 titles they have available right now, and have it ready to read on my Kindle within 20 or 30 seconds. And books with expired copyrights are often free or almost free--classics, and lots of books published pre-1950 fall into this category.

Most importantly, to my devious, file-sharing, hacker-like mind, the idea that I am not bound by Amazon to purchase every title I wish to read makes the thing worth the rather hefty price tag ($359). Although Amazon has tried to limit the way users can get titles to maximize their profit margin, the device will read a variety of file types: pdf, word documents, text documents, and more, so I can transfer books I download from other sources as well as my own writing to the Kindle.

And it comes with a dictionary, so I can highlight a word and get a definition without leaving the title I’m reading. Plus you can make notes and highlight text that goes into a dedicated file.

Anyway. Whew.

I feel so much better having unburdened myself. Nerd power! Strap on your high-water pants and wear your pocket protectors proud, my brethren and sistren! Thickly tape that pesky spot where your horn-rimmed glasses broke when you were in high school! Brandish your slide-rules with freedom and joy!

We are the future.

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