I’ve been reading the Los Angeles Times for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I recall my parents bringing the paper in from the front porch and reading it every morning. I would wander in and go straight for the Calendar section, which back then was the size of a large magazine and as thick as the entire paper is now. I’d take it back to my room, sip a Cactus Cooler and circle all the concerts I wanted to go to. Elton John at Dodger Stadium. Earth Wind and Fire at the Forum. I’d sit in my room and calculate how many macrame belts I’d have to sell to afford a $15 loge seat.
When I moved out into my own apartment when I was 21, one of the first things I did was subscribe to the newspaper. (Well, that and put two wooden crates on their side, top it with a piece of plywood and call it a table. It sat underneath my framed Monet print. I’m lying – it was a Duran Duran poster.) Having a subscription to a newspaper felt grownup and sophisticated, even if I had even less time to read it what with all the parties and dating. To go with my new exciting, adult life, I expanded my horizons from just reading the Calendar section to perusing the local news section and sometimes – if I was seeing a college student or a scientist – the front page.
Fast forward to my years with my then boyfriend (and now husband) as we moved around to various parts of L.A. Our Times subscription always came with us and those are the years I remember reading the newspaper the most. We were like one of those montages in Hallmark movies, soft focus scenes of the two of us sipping coffee, exchanging sections, pointing out stories to each other and then laughing conspiratorially. Then we’d take the pages we hadn’t finished and head to a coffee house where we’d read and talk about changing the world so that others would appreciate how much we suffered for our art. Ah, those were the days.
Then we got married and had kids and bigger jobs. And computers. When we weren’t busy being busy, we were getting our news online. A few years ago we finally decided to make a change to our daily service, and after decades of daily delivery we decided to cut it down to four days – Thursday, Friday and the weekend. It felt like losing an old friend, but we couldn’t deny that we were so busy that most days the paper sat on the table, unopened. Even the kids, who often needed the newspaper for current events and other reports, were now allowed to download articles from the web. The Los Angeles Times was becoming as outdated and neglected as their Hilary Duff CDs and their GameBoys.
(Not to mention how bad it was from an environmental standpoint. Some days the paper went straight from the front porch to the recycling bin. We considered getting a hamster, just so by lining the cage with the classifieds we could feel like that tree did something useful before it died.)
And now? My husband and I just decided to scale back even further and switch to the Sunday-only delivery. There’s no denying that we just don’t read the paper as much as we used to, not with CNN.com right at our fingertips. Then there’s Facebook, where I have the added benefit of being able to read all the headlines as well as see my friend’s picture of her cat using the remote control. Hilarious! And convenient!
But don’t worry – I’ll never get rid of my newspaper subscription completely. Even if I may have put the final nail in the coffin by getting a Kindle, so that now I have several newspapers at my fingertips (which are no longer covered in newsprint, I might add.) There’s still something comforting about seeing that stack of papers sitting on the dining room table, beckoning us to open it up and expand our minds. And who knows, if my husband and I ever have the time, we may still head to that coffee shop – with the online version of the Los Angeles Times on my tablet – and figure out how to change the world.
When she’s isn’t using a rolled-up newspaper to kill spiders,, Marsha can be found at Sweatpantsmom.com
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