The original picture of the nerd, at least from my wonder years, was of a person surrounded by books and in possession of a pocket full of pens. I am a nerd, old school, and proud of it. My house contains many towers of books and my completely awesome pen collection that no one is allowed to touch. I adore my pens.
When I was in junior high, I spent many blissful hours creating and perfecting my own version of the cursive alphabet, just so my writing would look more visually appealing. I wrote in my journal every night about some cute boy or another. I wrote notes to my friends and letters to my pen pal. I scribbled notes in class, and drew pictures in the margins. All with the magic of a pen flowing effortlessly along the smoothness of the paper. The act of placing a pen to paper to record my thoughts was bliss.
I took a typing class in high school and learned to type on an ACTUAL TYPEWRITER. It was not even electric, because that hadn't been discovered yet. I learned to whack the keys really hard with my fingers in a fast pattern that created words, even if I kept stopping to correct my spelling. The typewriter never took the place of my beloved pens, however. I just could not fit a Smith-Corona into my purse, and the correcting fluid kept leaking out of the bottle. I went back to my pens.
When I was in college, computers were becoming popular. It was all about BASIC, Fortran, and COBOL, which turned out to have nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica. I was intrigued by these new programming languages, and they used the same QWERTY keyboard that I was already used to pecking at. The benefit of the computer was that it sped up the writing; you could churn out a decent research paper in half the time it would take to write it or type it. I do a passable job at using a computer these days.
But though it speeds up the heart rate, and provides hours of cardiovascular support, the 'clack-clackety' of the basic keyboard is rather banal. A computer ultimately does not support my creative process. You can't thoughtfully chew on your keyboard. You can't put your keyboard behind your ear to demonstrate that you are thinking very hard. In case anyone is looking.
My family is pretty tech-savvy, thanks to the efforts of my husband. We have all kinds of tech stuff. At the end of the day, however, when I have an idea or a list or a 'to-do', I reach for a pen. I reach for simplicity. For in the comfort of that tripod grip, of letting my fingers feel the vibrations of the paper as the ink flows over it in the act of creation, I sometimes find the self I want to be.