I started getting the local newspaper about a month ago. It was late one night when I ran to the grocery store for one thing. I don't remember what it was, but I remember seeing chocolate and deciding that was an acceptable buy and before I knew it my arms were full of crap. I seem to remember buying toilet paper, so maybe that was what I had actually gone to the store for. Anyways, I was tired and in a fury to get out of there and into bed when a man politely asked me something. Now, it is important to note that I'm a sucker. I'm the person at the mall who gets stopped for jewelry cleaning, mineral make-up, fancy hair straighteners, dead sea scrubs, etc. They must love seeing a single woman walking in a complete daze (just for verification I probably look stoned, but I do not do drugs). They grab my arm, wave their hand in front of me, call me beautiful, something that triggers me out of the perpetual daydream I live in. Here's the product and here's the sales pitch. I've gotten better at saying, "No" and being unemployed definitely helps the impulse to buy, but on this particular night when this nice gentleman asked me, "Would you like to save ten dollars on your groceries?" I didn't have the energy left to say no to his pitch. Now, for the first time in my life I get the daily paper.
I don't watch the news. I used to listen to NPR in my car on my way to and from work and in my office. Usually by the time I got home I had every news story at least twice. I never read the paper. On occasion a headline will show up when I open my Internet browser and I click to read, but lets be honest when it comes to news I'm generally apathetic and lazy. Now, I get the paper. At first it was exciting. I had something waiting for me outside the door every morning. In a waking dream I crept down the stairs in slippered feet to a freshly printed bundle just waiting for my eyes. I even read it for a few weeks. I was up to date in current affairs. I could follow what was going on in the ridiculous world of politics. I followed the horrifying story of a local high school runner who went missing. Maybe this was what ended it all? Chelsea King was a high school senior, cross-country runner, honors student, probably counting down the days until she graduated and left for college. She went for a run and never came home. A few days later they found her body, a true tragedy for San Diego or anywhere for that matter and an awakening for me. Sometimes I carry a knife when I run. If I get a creepy feeling or think the sun might beat me on a run. It's not convenient, but the thought of getting mawed by a mountain lion isn't very convenient either. Now, I have Chelsea to think of when I run on long, empty trails alone. The thought "that could have been me," has crossed my mind more than once in the last week. The thought, "If this is was anyone but a young, beautiful, white girl from a moderately wealthy family, bound for success would it be the headline for a week?" has also crossed my mind, but this should not take away the fact that it is a tragedy and it easily could have been me. When I train I run trails just a few miles from the same area. When I run I zone out and more than once have almost stepped on rattle snakes or have had mountain bikers sneak up on me.
Well, it's Sunday and they have a suspect in custody who was a convicted and registered sex offender. People are questioning the safety of their children and the effectiveness of sex-offender laws, but life moves on. Above the headline "The Chelsea King Case: It can and does, happen here," there is a picture of two local police officers saluting a motorcade of police cars on the way to a memorial service for a local sheriff's deputy who was killed trying to intercept a driver going the wrong way on the interstate. In the section Our Region there is a picture of three scuba divers looking for clues to another case of a different local girl who went missing over a year ago. "Pond yields no new clues in Amber Dubois case," the headline reads and along the side is a column reading "Missing kids is a sad fact of life in county."
I flip through the headlines reading the first couple paragraphs and not really finishing any article. By the end of it I'm depressed and scared and remembering why I don't pay attention to the world around me. Ignorance is bliss.
Am I better off jumping straight to the comics? Am I better off skipping the story about what's going to happen in Iraq now that elections are over and the US had pulled most of the troops out. Do I want to know about a female Navy Commander who was relieved of duty because of her language and maltreatment to her crew. Never mind the fact that five other Navy Commanders have already been relieved of duty this year, this is another strike against women in the military. Way to go, ma'am! Thanks, really appreciate it. I scan for uplifting stories, but like everyone else my eyes are drawn to the tragedies and tyrannies. Eventually I make it to the Sunday comics and my world somehow seems balanced again. It's only $10/month to get the Union Tribune, but is it worth it? Am I single-handedly saving the art of printed news or am I just killing trees daily? Should I call and cancel my subscription and just go back to my bubble of news that only pertains to me? Decisions, decisions. Maybe I should keep my subscription until the introductory deal runs out (6 month subscription at $10/month), but I'm on such a tight budget. Am I in a better mood when I don't get worked up over a headline about an event in the wold I have no control over?! Does any of this matter anyways? The world is doomed! Do I want to know that the apocalypse and end of mankind is scheduled for tomorrow! Perhaps the paper is bad for my health, but then I get to Garfield. Maybe it's because he's from Muncie, Indiana and my mom once drove us to Jim Davis' house in a very stalkeresque manner to show us how close fame and fortune was. Maybe it's the juxtaposition of Garfield's pessimism and Odie's blissful happiness that seems to mock me the debate of whether or not to keep my subscription to the paper I don't really read. Then again, what else would I be doing on a rainy Sunday afternoon?
NOTE: I recycle the paper.