The Big Life Changes

Tying the knot isn’t the only big change I’m making in my life. But, then, my life has been one enormous change after another for the past five or so years, so I guess it’s not really altogether new.

But man is it exciting.

It’s funny how we anticipate and react to change. I remember the sense of urgency driving toward USC, across states and deserts, over mountains and more mountains. I remember one long line of asphalt and how sometimes it looks like it doesn’t matter where you’re going because you’re going forward so fast.

Some of the changes I’ve made lately haven’t been so sweeping or drastic, but the funny thing is, those smaller changes have been the ones that made me think.

I came here, to Pittsburgh, in February. It’s a great city, but it took me a few months to find a good job. Scary time. But I’ve moved often enough in the past several years it didn’t faze me too much.

Ask me to change my phone number, though, and apparently I seize up.

*

In June 2001, I went to a convenience store in Jersey City and bought a Sony Ericsson T-28 World Phone for the Voicestream cellular network. I think the choices back then were Voicestream or Sprint, mostly, and I remember Sprint sucked back then. Oh, and Cingular.

You’ll notice no AT&T or Verizon. Different market back then. Verizon might have been present, but it wasn’t the presence it is now. And Cingular hadn’t yet bought AT&T.

Or something.

I bought that phone and committed to Voicestream, and I used that phone for years. Because I bought it in Jersey City, I ended up with a 917 area code.

When I left Manhattan in October 2001, I brought my 917 area code with me.

I kept Voicestream and that phone. Eventually, T-Mobile purchased Voicestream, and I remained with them, too. One reason for my loyalty: during the September 2001 billing cycle, they gave all their customers 1000 free minutes. Which was a right thing to do.

Even when I moved to Los Angeles, I kept T-Mobile. Their plans were well priced, and I’d been with the company so long I was eligible for lots of discounts. Loyalty rewards and stuff like that. Plus, even when something went wrong–which was rare–T-Mobile was always great about fixing it. Their customer service was great.

So when I heard that AT&T had bought T-Mobile, I was disappointed. AT&T? Blech. I’d heard horror stories about AT&T; the commonest joke likened their logo to the Death Star.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I was pretty sure I was going to leave T-Mobile.

Plus, I wanted an iPhone.

*

Several months back, Microsoft previewed its next version of Windows, 8. Which is astonishingly creatively named, following Windows 7.

I hate the aesthetic Windows is moving toward. These tiles? Microsoft is calling the user interface it’s moving toward Metro, and it’s basically live updating tiles.

It’s basically going to put their current phone interface on a desktop.

And it’s an interface that seems applicable to a mobile device but less so when you’re not navigating by touch, like you tend not to when using a laptop.

Now, this is an aesthetic thing. I’m sure people will love it, and it seems, by all accounts, to be user friendly.

It’s just not for me.

But I became aware of both the T-Mobile/AT&T merger and the new Windows interface at around the same time, and immediately, both made me aware of what I didn’t want.

*

And so I made a huge bunch of changes in my life. For me, they’re changes that make me somehow vaguely more anxious than the idea of moving to a new city.

A few weeks back, I went to the Apple store and bought a new iPhone. I’d been using a Samsung Vibrant on T-Mobile, which was basically T-Mo’s poor man’s iPhone. It’s an almost-as-good experience, like pretty much every Android phone out there. I used Android phones (including the Nexus S) for more than a year, and Android is highly customizable but terribly fragmented (it seems like every handset runs a slightly different version of it). iOS works in a way that Android doesn’t. Android may have some more functionality (like widgets), but iOS functions, and that’s a huge difference for me.

And I decided to go with AT&T. It was them or Verizon, and I got a better employee discount with AT&T, and realized I know plenty of people who use AT&T and have had no problems with the carrier.

So far, I’ve had only one.

They couldn’t port my number.

It’s silly, but giving up my Manhattan area code . . . well, it wasn’t devastating, but I’m still mourning the loss of it. I used it for ten years, and through those ten years, it’s the only thing that never changed. Addresses, cars, girls, opinions . . . I always had that number.

In a way, on the other hand, I’m happy to give it up, because it was consistent when all those other things were changing, but I’m committing to a life now. I’m getting married, and I love the city I’m in and have no plans to leave it, and this has all felt like a new beginning. And a strong, solid new beginning, not one more new beginning in a long series of new beginnings.

And to celebrate that new beginning, and because I don’t like the Windows UI that I should probably point out, here, isn’t even actually out yet, I decided that if I was going to make one change I was going to make them all. New carrier, new phone, and next up, a new computer.

I bought my first computer in spring 1996. I chose its specs myself and had it custom built. And it’s pretty much why I’m a writer; before then, I’d used an electric typewriter, and the process sucked. I can’t imagine typing a draft of a novel on a typewriter.

So for fifteen years, as a writer, I’ve been using Windows. The next version of which, as I said, doesn’t appeal to me.

But you know what does appeal to me? My iPhone. I love iOS. And the last time Steve Jobs (RIP) presented anything, he noted that Apple intended to make iOS and OS itself into one platform.

So yeah. The other day, I found a great deal on a Mac.

I’m a little nervous about the transition. It may seem silly, but I use a computer for everything. And most of all, I use it for writing.

I’m looking forward to writing the next big project on a Mac.

And yes, the next big project is huge.


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