Monday, April 18, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Read all about it

(Not exactly a "Microblog" -- but something I wanted to get off my chest today.) 

For as long as I can remember, I've had a newspaper delivered to my doorstep, and read it (or at least browsed through it), cover to cover.

I guess it all started with my mother.  She grew up with a daily paper at home, which my grandfather would usually bring home at lunchtime, and when were there to visit, I would help him complete the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble, scan the news, read Ann Landers, pore over the listings for all the movie theatres in far-off Minneapolis, and wonder how long it would take for the same movies to come to whatever small Canadian Prairie town we were living in at the time.

And so the daily newspaper was delivered to our house when I was growing up, too. Even when I was living in a university dorm for my four years of undergrad, I had the local city newspaper delivered to my door -- lots of us did. You have to remember this was a good 15 years before the Internet became a household thing. Our dorms weren't wired for cable, so if you were lucky enough to have a TV in your room -- probably, like mine, a 12-inch black & white set -- you had to settle for a handful (like, about four) local channels for news & entertainment, pulled in with a set of rabbit ears (antenna). When John Lennon was murdered in December 1980, I watched a bit of coverage on TV, but there was no CNN or other 24-hour news channel -- I listened round the clock to the music and news and talk on the radio. And then read about it all in the paper the following day.

I think the only time in my life when I didn't get a daily paper delivered was when I was at journalism school -- and I didn't need to then, because when we arrived at school every morning, there were two large stacks of newspapers waiting for us:  the local city paper and The Globe & Mail, "Canada's national newspaper."  I read them both. :)  Our profs wanted us to get into the habit -- after all, this was the business we all wanted to get into, right? -- and would give us regular quizzes on current events to make sure we were paying attention. 

When dh & I got married, I continued my two-paper-a-day habit, subscribing to both the G&M and Toronto Star.  The papers would be on our doorstep when we came downstairs for breakfast, and I would sort the sections into my preferred reading order, scan the headlines while I ate my breakfast, then tuck them into my briefcase and read them on our daily commute to & from the office, discarding the sections I'd read into the nearest recycling bin as we exited the train. We also got the Sunday New York Times delivered, as well as a three-times-weekly free/voluntary payment local paper, stuffed fat with flyers.

Which is why the phone calls I had to make this past week were so difficult.

Dh & I went to visit our new condo building last week to meet briefly with the property manager and discuss the details of our upcoming move. While we were there, I asked him whether the building residents were able to get newspaper delivery. The guy looked at me like I had two heads, & then shook his. So unless I want to buzz in a delivery guy every morning at an ungodly predawn hour, that means no more daily paper at my doorstep. My last Globe & Mail was delivered on Saturday, and the final Toronto Star & Sunday New York Times yesterday.

No more scanning the headlines while I eat my breakfast.

No more lingering over a particularly interesting story.

No more ripping out or clipping especially interesting stories to save (although I've been trying to get out of this habit for awhile -- if I find a story of particular interest these days, I'll look it up online & bookmark it).

No more stumbling onto a familiar name in the obituaries.

No more unexpected bargains found in the ads.

No more notices for interesting exhibits and events at local venues. 

No more flyers to plan my shopping around.

Yes, yes, I know, all of this information is available online. And we do watch the suppertime newscasts most evenings, so we will get the main news of the day that way.  But scrolling through headlines on your laptop is not the same as scanning full stories in a physical paper. You have to deliberately seek things out on the Internet. It's the difference between searching for a book on Amazon vs strolling through the aisles of a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, having an interesting title or cover catch your eye, picking up the book, reading the flyleaf and scanning the first chapter -- perhaps a book you never might have heard of or thought to pick up until you spotted it.

Yes, I know newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur (or so people say). I know only "old people" like me still read the paper in its physical form.

Yes, I will save trees (and money -- even if I get a digital paper subscription, it costs a lot less than subscribing to the physical paper). Eventually, I will get used to looking for information online instead of on paper. (I guess this means I won't be reducing my time online anytime soon...!) And dh is happy he won't have to haul stacks of newspapers out to the curb (well, to the building's garbage room now) for recycling every week.

Regardless of the benefits of giving up the paper, and of this move generally -- and I know this will sound silly to some people -- I felt a very real sense of grief and loss when I made the phone calls to cancel my long-time subscriptions, and when there was no paper on my doorstep or at the breakfast table for me to read this morning as I ate my oatmeal and sipped my orange juice and tea. There's been a lot of positives and benefits to this move, of course --  but there have also been losses and things I've had to give up, and this is one of them. The newspaper has been a big part of my daily routine, my life and my identity, for almost all of my life. It's a very strange feeling to have to give that up and let it go.

Are you a news junkie like me?? Do you read the daily newspaper? Do you have it delivered to your home?

(Postscript: I had this post pre-written & ready to go... and of course, when we opened our door this morning, there was the G&M. Make a liar out of me, won't you?? lol   So things didn't unfold exactly the way I described. But they will, soon.) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  


  1. Oh no! That's terrible!! My dad used to read the newspaper every day, and conmment on world news and politics. I think that's where my love of travel and international relations came from. When we lived in Thailand we'd get one of the English language dailies at home, and I'd read the other one at work. I read the paper every day, and do the crosswords if there's time, and almost always a sudoku. My DH regularly suggests that we cancel our newspaper subscription but I'm resisting it.

    I have a suggestion for a new Sunday ritual - head out for a walk/breakfast place and pick up the Sunday paper on the way, then read over coffee and enjoy.

  2. I get this. I often find that I stay stuck in places or situations because I develop attachments to rituals/things/people. Even when it's not in my best interest to stay stuck. It's so damned hard to let go sometimes.

    I agree with Mali- a new ritual is definitely in order. And I firmly believe that, since this move is a good decision, the new ritual will feel like an old habit in no time!

  3. I am totally a news junkie! I get the bulk of my news online, but I do enjoy reading a real newspaper. I usually drive down to the gas station on Sunday mornings to get the local Pittsburgh Post Gazette and depending on the plans for the day, the New York Times too. I've never had a newspaper delivered to my house, but I have fond memories of reading the newspaper every day with my grandma before she passed. Every year for Christmas we get my dad a weekend subscription to the local paper where they live.

    I think I recall that you will have a McDonald's close by. Maybe you could walk there, buy a coffee, and read their newspapers? ;)

  4. To my european ears this sounds ridiculous. Why not have an outside mailbox?!? Isn't that the whole idea of mail, getting a message while not at home? Count me in as old then, at 43.
    Some shops here get their mail in plastic on their doorstep before opening times. Even the shop that later sells those same newspapers!

  5. Holidays as a child with my grandmother always involved a daily walk to the corner shop for food staples and a newspaper. Through my much younger eyes it was a huge broadsheet that required the kitchen table as the only flat surface large enough to lay it open for reading. It had a large overseas news section which I always read with interest. The best part was when we kids gathered around ‘helping’ grandma to do the crosswords, wordfinder and any other puzzles of the time.

    When I started working, the paper was dutifully bought every morning before getting on the train to the city. The puzzles usually lasted me until my required stop.
    It’s been home delivered since I got married and we only cut that out when I stopped working. We signed up for the online edition, as a way to reduce spending costs, but I still get the weekend editions home delivered...I like a hard copy to read (and a huge crossword and puzzles to work through) to wile away those lazy weekends.

    I do miss the daily hardcopy, it’s not the same as reading it online over breakfast, and now with the news at our fingertips, I’ve become a news tragic, reading several overseas news sites and flipping across web pages most evenings as part of my daily round-up.

  6. I, too, was going to suggest a morning trip out to get the paper. But there must be some mechanism for getting the newspaper delivered - how does the mail get to you?

    Sigh...change is hard.

    1. The mail gets delivered by Canada Post -- they have access to the building (their own keys) -- and gets put in separate mailboxes in a little room off the front foyer (we have an individual key for our box). But I gather they don't give building access to the newspapers or their delivery contractors. I guess the mail is considered an essential service, whereas newspaper delivery is not. :p I suppose it would be just as easy for the pizza delivery guys to argue they should have access too, lol. :p ;) There is no 24-hour security guard on duty, just a security door -- we will have to buzz people in -- so I suppose they don't want too many people wandering around at random.

  7. What about just leaving it at the front door of the building? This isn't quite the same as just padding to your own front door in slippers and a robe, but it's close. (And you could just take your slippered and robed self to the main building front door!) I think this is crazy! The newspaper delivery IS mail while pizza delivery is NOT. Paper delivery should have access. There has to be a way to do it...

    1. I don't believe they're labelled (the ones we get/got at the house aren't, and they weren't when got delivery at our old apartment -- they were just dropped outside the door, unwrapped), and I have a feeling it would be gone by the time we got down to collect it. :p And I'm NOT going down in my bathrobe & slippers, lol. For one thing, my mother would be horrified ;) and for another, this is a rather upscale building in a upscale, mostly Italian suburb. I will already stick out somewhat as a non-Italian; just what I need to be labelled "the crazy mangiacake (non-Italian) in unit ###," lol. :p ;)

    2. This response made me smile. I'm a 1/2 Italian from NY. My father is full Italian and my mother is essentially full Irish. The old school members of my father's family have come around to this idea of "mixed breeding" though it was hard for them at first (they're in their 90s). Now they'll say things like, "he married an Irish (German, French, English, Polish, whatever) girl. She's not Italian, but she's SO nice." Haha. They try. ;)

    3. LOL... dh's family have been very good to me over the years, and it's not such an issue with the younger ones, but the cultural differences were and still are certainly there. I was the first non-Italian to marry into the family, on both sides. Some of his cousins on his dad's side have since married non-Italians (we sit together at bridal & baby showers & drink tea while everyone else has espresso, lol), but I am STILL the only non-Italian to marry into his mom's side of the family, 30+ years later. Where we're moving, I am going to be surrounded!

  8. I feel that way about paper books, so I get it. I stopped newspaper delivery a long time ago because we weren't reading it, but we also lived downtown so it was easy to wake up, walk downstairs to a kiosk outside, and buy the paper. Maybe more expensive, but I only did it on days when I had time to read it, so it was probably a wash. Maybe you can start a new tradition of morning coffee/newspaper in a special place.

    1. My book collection is one reason we got a two-bedroom condo. ;) I have downsized my books enormously over the past year, but I still have enough to fill three IKEA Billy bookcases, plus a couple of Rubbermaid tubs. :p I just couldn't pare down any further right now. :(

  9. I never got newspaper delivery but I still like the feel and smell of an actual newspaper, an actual book, a record album and still mourn the loss of having milk delivered to the house until I was about 8 years old. I'm not a news junkie by any means but I think a lot of us have great memories attached to newspapers. There was always a syndicated column in our local paper that switched off among Joey Adams, Art Buchwald and Erma Bombeck. My mother and I would hurriedly open up the paper in hopes of seeing Erma Bombeck's picture at the top because she was our favorite and probably influenced my writing a lot more than I even realize. To me, it was just a great daily moment that I shared with my mother.