Years ago, my husband used to get up on the weekend and walk three blocks to buy his morning paper. Often my daughter would go with him. My neighbour still comments that she would see him leave the house and think to herself “There goes Rene’. Getting the paper.” He read the Calgary Sun every weekday morning with his morning coffee at the office. He was a news junkie and faithfully watched the evening news on TV. As time went by, he eventually would sit down with his computer in the morning and read the news that way. He wanted subscriptions so he had me buy them. I was the keeper of the finances and so in his mind, subscriptions came u der my jurisdiction. I had to get one for Vanity Fair because there was one article he wanted to read. His free ones apparently were used up. They sent me a lovely tote bag. I was always the first person into work since I drove with my husband, and he would hit the gym first. Getting off the elevator at 6:20 a.m. I would scoop up the newspapers and bring them in to drop with reception. But for some reason I started to read the Globe and Mail and in time I started to receive the Saturday edition at home. When I took a morning coffee break away from the office, I would often buy a Calgary Sun to do the crossword puzzle. It was a brain relaxer on a tough work day.
These days I subscribe to a number of newspapers, but they are all online now. And they send me emails with headlines and little blurbs so I can decide what I want to read. It was always easier to peruse an entire newspaper when it was paper. Online is a bit more difficult. I only subscribe to two American papers. The New York Times and The Washington Post. Alas I let Vanity Fair lapse after my husband passed away. Here at home, I chose the National Post and The Globe and Mail. The Calgary Herald is my go-to for local news. I find if there is a big story breaking, I read 6 or 7 different articles regarding the same story. The Guardian, Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, even TASS and The Moscow Times. Quite often the same and yet subtle differences. It is interesting to see the perspectives from different countries. Sometimes I like to look up Danish newspapers and practice my Danish. That lasts about thirty seconds and then if the translate button isn’t working, I just go to the Copenhagen Post. Cheating maybe but at least I try.
I know so many people who truly believe that mainstream media is corrupt, biased and in all ways absolute bullshit. Maybe. Maybe not. I do know that I have in the past been part of news stories, and when they were aired on TV or published, they didn’t tell the whole story. Then again, I have watched movies that were made based on books I had read, and they certainly didn’t match up either. If you make a movie based on a book and try to capture all of the nuances, the movie could be 5 or 6 hours long. Editing is a very important job. Capture the highlights and forsake some of the little stuff. The same goes for the news. With limited time and space, you just can’t always dig deep. As for the political biases that upset the public, it is important to see the other side of an issue. Maybe you missed something. Don’t shun a paper just because they don’t share your belief. Essentially you are then just surrounding yourself with views that are the same as yours. Not a lot of personal growth going on there.
But here is the big thing I think people miss out on. Newspapers offer up so many other things than just news. When I was young, my Mother loved to read Ann Landers. She was Dear Abby’s sister and they offered up advice to people who wrote into their papers. These days I love to read a column in the Washington Post written by Carolyn Hax. Same sort of column. I love how her mind works. Sometimes I read the letters and I know if I was answering I would not be kind. Then I read her reply. Often, her answers are mainstream. Often brilliant. It’s the way she forms the response that I love. And then there are times when I think “Wow. Good way to look at that.” Today her reply to a reader was regarding rules and boundaries.
Carolyn wrote… “Superficially, what’s going on is making a “rule” and passing it off as a “boundary.” Our boundaries apply inward, to ourselves; rules apply outward, to others. So your wife is trying to make a rule to control others but is framing it as a boundary to suppress dissent. Whether that’s deliberate, I don’t know, but it’s a common, self-serving misinterpretation of what a boundary is — mistaking “what I want” for “what you have to do.”
I had to put her words here because there is no way I could capture the very essence of her response with my own words. Maybe it seems trivial or silly to you, but words are very powerful, and this particular explanation really touched something inside me. It made me think about my own actions and thoughts as well as those of the people in my life. Just an advice column in the Washington Post, but an example of how sometimes we can find real pearls of wisdom in a newspaper.
I am a personal fan of Opinion pieces. They often draw the biggest support or disdain from readers, and I love to read the readers responses. Then I laugh and laugh. Especially when the response isn’t edited or corrected in anyway. As is the case with on-line articles. That is when I usually feel sad for the education system. I know it isn’t kind or right to judge others but when it comes to spelling, grammar and basic sentence structure I am such a critic. I know I make a lot of mistakes in my posts and don’t catch because of my particular lack of focus and attention. And things change over time which we sometimes don’t like. I don’t like the oxford comma, but I use it often because my stupid computer highlights words in blue when I omit the comma. It messes with my head, so I just include it. I personally see it as a redundancy. That’s my view. Right or wrong. But it is hard to take someone seriously when their replies are heavy with poor grammar, spelling mistakes and a complete lack of punctuation.
There was a time when a “lady” was only to have her name in the paper three times. When she was born, when she was married and when she died. We have come a long way since then. Now people actually pay to have their names in an article. We all want attention. What was once considered scandalous is now sought after. We forget too I think when we comment that our words are forever. It was only a few years back that my niece found an article about my Grandmother in the Calgary newspaper archives. It had to do with a recipe of hers I believe and it was such fun to read. A flash into the past bringing my grandmother to life as we smiled at the innocence of the time where she resided. It is soon ninety five years since my grandparents immigrated to Canada the first time. Here was a small snapshot into their life. The small town papers my parents received in the mail throughout my life. Even years after they moved away from the towns in question. It was a way to keep up with the people and lives they had left behind in their journey through life. When my father passed away we helped to ready my parents home for sale. I came across four years of newspapers from a small city south of our home. They were all from the 1950’s and I realized these newspapers had been moved to six different houses. Treasures of my Mom. Lovingly kept as a part of her life. Part of me thought she was nuts. But there was another part of me that understood.
When Mom eventually passed away there were so many carefully cut from newspapers and magazines and hidden away in boxes, books and drawers. Today we read something and forward it onto our friends and family. Sharing the ideas found within. But in time, these will be lost. We don’t print them off to save. We no longer clip articles. It makes me a little sad that one day when I am gone, my children will be clearing out my house and my Grandchildren will never run across any little scraps of paper in the pages of my books. They won’t wonder why I saved it. They won’t slip it into their wallet to keep until it finally falls apart. Like I did when my Farmor died. Often people ask why I write these little blogs. I think it is a way to share with the grandkids a person they can never really know. To pass a little of my life and my husband on to the Grandchildren stories about who we were before we became these old people. Not only that, my husband is no longer here to make memories. Some of the littles will only have our stories. The twins were only 7 months old when he died. Jonjon only 18 months. We have had another Grandchild since he died. She will never know him. She is almost one year old and I have never met her either. She may never know me. I leave that in Gods hands. But in the meantime, I think I may go and buy a newspaper. I think I need to feel it in my hands. Maybe I will clip out an article if I find one that interests me. I’ll put it in a book. One day when I am gone, I hope it is found. My child. Or my Grandchild. And I hope they smile as they tuck it into their wallet to carry a piece of me with them. First though, I think I will go and see what Carolyn has to say. Maybe I will print it.