Newsprint - Lois Greene Stone

            Sections were settled on the edge of a workspace. Informative but not newsworthy, they’d be spread on a kitchen table and looked at when I wanted; the first segment of the daily newspaper was political, or eventful, or reportage insisting on attention.
            As the milk was making cold cereal slightly soggy, I read of worldly incidents and continued to wonder why only the years were different as people hurting other people, plus power, were not really changing. The evolution from bows and arrows to nuclear seemed to show ‘progress’ – a finger on a button could eradicate en masse without even having to look into the eyes of a targeted person.
            My husband’s breakfast news comes from the voice of Alexa; this pretend-human briefs him on local and national occurrences. I continue folding the large newsprint, bending it into smaller segments; often, with some editorial’s words, I use an orange-color highlight pen to later discuss with him.
            A ballpoint and a highlighter are included in my routine as I discard the universal news and pull out the Arts, for example. I’ll notice the featured painter, then remember the color photo from my Art Minor days as an undergraduate. I tint many sentences I’ll discuss, via email, with my younger sister, a docent at an established museum. In a margin, I’ll note that this was not impressionist work and why was the artist considered part of that genre! Pulling out decades-old art books, with black and white pictures, I’ll look up the specific painter. Oh, he was friends with impressionists and included via association. I’ll mark up the margin again with my thoughts. That old textbook is also marked in its margins but no highlighter existed then so only my underlines in South Sea blue liquid ink denote what seemed important or needed to be questioned.
            A play is reviewed; the critic traveled to another state to see it performed and wondered why it had not been revived on Broadway. If readers were in driving distance, the trip was worth the effort as the production plus subject matter were so excellent. This article, a catalyst, causes me to remember summer stock theatre so very long ago, just about the time that television was beginning to appear in some homes. A venue in the Pocono Mountains accepted my older sister, then a teen, for her talent. A barn was the theatre; I went horseback riding not far from the barn during an afternoon we’d driven to see an evening performance in which she appeared. Names destroyed later by McCarthy were fine actors and accessible people. The place even performed a musical called “Good News” although dramas or comedies were easier to stage. I might have asked my older sister now if she remembered, were she now alive.
            As these sections, selectively saved, lower in height, a new batch begins weekly and, in many cases, I tear out a complete page putting it aside for more detailed reading, and, of course, arguing or agreeing in the margins near each paragraph.
            I do embrace technology when it enhances my life or makes me more physically comfortable. If it helps tasks, or offers emotional security, it, too, is welcome. I taught myself to use the first IBM-PC in 1981-82. As a writer, and then college teacher of English Composition, it was worth the struggle, and the nine-pin dot matrix printer was as much a wonder as the very first television set that came into my parents’ home. My students knew nothing yet of this device. An untethered land-line phone, with speaker enhancement, allowed me to cook a meal while conversing with someone. The pager my husband carried at work meant instant communication even though it was merely a signal to call home. Air conditioning stretched comfort, and hard-drives altered computer’s difficulty. Who could have imagined useless 78-rpm records, or pay telephone booths being obsolete?
            Yes, the traditional newspaper is on Artificial Intelligence. But I can’t ‘save’ the data, or write on that device, or tear out a page with sections so important for the moment that I want to share them. Still able to be delivered to my door, print, for me, is still…well, tangible.

Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard and softcover anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.