On Sunday mornings the alarm clock beeps a shrill, uncompassionate sound way too early, and long before I normally rise-and-shine during the week. I roll back the clock to schedule ample time for coffee and oatmeal, vital sustenance for semi-normal brain activity. I dry my hair and at least apply concealer and lipstick as opposed to drip-dried hair/sans make-up, my average weekly get-up. In addition to breakfast and primping, I try to arrive at the nursing home by 9:30 am to visit with Allen and Billie Edwards and the other residents. By this time, Johnny has been at Church for 30 minutes to rehearse with the musicians, and often drives through Starbuck's or stops by a kolache shoppe. His punctuality is an admirable natural gift, but surely his newly shaved head lends to speedy morning preparation. Whatever the reason, I seem to run late, a notorious life-long struggle.
Nonetheless, I make one quick stop at the first intersection as I leave our neighborhood. There is usually a stop light, so this diversion does not add to my tardiness. I pull up, roll down my window, fish out $1.75, and buy the Houston Chronicle. When we move into our house, I might have it delivered, tossed by a teenager (hopefully) in the near proximity of our front door, and read it at the kitchen table while sipping coffee. For now, I purchase the Sunday paper from a human being largely because lately, I'm more cognizant of my false belief that I am insular while driving. I flip on the A/C, turn up the music, and sing aloud, I am woman, hear me roar! I people-watch anywhere, anytime, and always at stop lights - other drivers, pedestrians, folks at the bus stop, and men in matching T-shirts selling newspapers.
Purchasing the newspaper from a stranger is an intentional act on my part. I do not want to be too isolated, not more than modernity easily provides. I like meeting the tenacious men, sweat on their brow, selling newspapers in Houston heat, rain, or shine. Arts & Letters Daily and Drudge Report are fine, good, and informative. FOX News and CNN are too informative. I'm unable to watch more than five minutes without a headache or hypnotization by the repetitive cycle of identical news every hour. Last month at the kitchen table in Austin, while perusing the Austin American-Statesman, I told Aunt Denise, "I, too, will buy the paper every Sunday. I need to read the newspaper and grow more informed of my city. Do you approve?" She smirked and nodded up and down. I remember growing up with a newspaper in the house, and recently conversing with my Mom, she remarked her preference to the paper over online news. The newspaper gives widespread, full information as opposed to random snippets that the likes of Yahoo! deem relevant.
I do a small amount of reading on a computer screen, but I prefer the bulk of my reading to involve turning paper pages - novels, the Bible, prayer book, dictionary, magazines, and the newspaper. I am resistant to rumors of vanishing libraries, and shiny electronic reading gadgets to replace dusty books. I turn 32 this month, so perhaps I am officially old-fashioned. I found my first glinting gray hair with glee in October. I am quite comfortable with inevitable aging and a Set-In-Her-Ways label. Real books need to remain for my grandchildren, and likewise, newspapers. There is an incarnational quality to holding the weight of a book or balancing tall pages of the newspaper. The olfactory aspect - crisp new pages, musty old tomes, and the cologne of newsprint. The black smudge of newspaper ink on your fingertips. Reading the paper demands focus as well. TV images bombard attention spans, but you must read the newspaper, focus, think, agree or disagree.
I read a significant amount during each week, so purchasing a paper every day is a futile notion. Besides, the voluminous Sunday newspaper is the best. In my youth I only scratched the surface: Sunday Comics, Parade insert, Toys R Us ads; and in adolescence, skimming introductory Section A headlines in boredom for a social studies project. Reunited with the paper in my thirties, I gravitate to Section A with genuine interest; Outlook for editorials, opinion, and political cartoons; City & State for local stories; Zest insert for music-theater-book reviews; Travel; and Section G with an eclectic assortment of articles. I try to expand my interests, but Sports and Business are not my passions even if my Dad is a coach. Sunday papers also offer a slew of coupons - in the studio apartment I lived for these coupons to decrease my grocery bills, but currently I am too lazy to clip coupons.
By the time we go to Church, eat lunch at Shiva Indian Restaurant, and drive home, we are peacefully exhausted by 3:00 pm. I toss the paper on the couch and take a nap. After my nap, the paper is neglected until Monday morning when I actually sort through sections for stateside and worldwide news. By Tuesday - yesterday - I was finished reading what seemed important, such as gubernatorial candidate platforms. Sluggish, I entertained the notion of not voting, but I snapped out of that foolishness. Iraqis only recently received the privilege to vote, and I am lazy? I hopped in the car, sighed at horrible parking on a crowded street, stood in a snaking long line, and voted, recognizing a former student of my parents and a guy from my high school on the ballot. I walked back to the car, a good decision in my pocket, thankful for our country and the opportunity to vote without violence or bloodshed as my friend Rina described of her hometown elections in Bangladesh. Newspapers, voting, and gray hair. Am I grown up?
Posted by jenni at 11:37 AM