Monday, August 3, 2009

Read All About It

I don't know how long this will last, but right now it's about quarter to 8:00, and; Caitlin is quietly reading a book in the living room, Maggie is quietly watching a DVD in her bedroom (portable DVD player, she doesn't have a TV in there), and Ryan is quietly playing a game on the Wii in the den. That last one is pretty shocking. "Quiet" and "Wii" rarely visit the same sentence around here. I honestly can't remember the last time something like this has happened while I've been home alone with them - Dan just landed in Denver for a business trip during which he'll get to see my sister for a couple of hours tonight.

I usually wait until everyone is in bed to type on the blog, but since it's so quiet, I thought I'd try it while the gettin' was good. How great to have a library that has something for everyone and three kids willing to entertain themselves for awhile without any loud & annoying music, DS sound effects, or arguing.

Oops - never mind - it's 7:52 and time's up (for the quiet anyway): A direct quote from Caitlin, "Finished another book in one day." Technically, it was 3 hours. She just bounded into the den where Ryan declared his score on the game then promptly announced he was going outside (better than screen time) and Maggie called down from her room - "Who's out?" and paused the DVD player to join him in the neighbor's yard. Caitlin is considering starting the 2nd book she checked out this afternoon.

I've been so out of anything resembling a routine lately that I was thrilled to have the morning to myself (well the kids were here, but that's normal). I slept in, read a little, ran the dishwasher, finally got on the treadmill, took a shower, paid some bills and started laundry all before lunch! It was oddly satisfying after a ton of activity to do some mundane things.

While having a cup (or three) of coffee somewhere in this lovely morning, I was reading the Daily Herald's front section. It was an odd mix of stories; some very local (the success of the annual Elk Grove bike race) some very international (how a long overdue crackdown on illegal opium farms in Afghanistan cut off the main source of income for the majority of the population who now may turn to terrorism as the only reasonable alternative for making a living). I've always found stuff like that a strange dichotomy. That those two stories show up on the same page. Same thing in news broadcasts - when they report on some heinous murder and then switch to the county fair to see the winner of the pie making contest. Like it's a perfectly natural segue.

I guess maybe to a degree they might be trying to offset some of the tough stories. But if that's the case, they don't quite pull it off when the bad stories have escalated to evil running rampant. I find it hard to read something like that Afghanistan article and then go merrily about my day. If I didn't have the Bible to give me an eternal perspective of what I believe is a true reality I would have had a pretty depressing day after that.

I actually love getting the newspaper - the whole experience of it. The idea of the paper is probably even more appealing to me than the actual articles, but we're fortunate around Chicago to have 3 great papers and I'm really sad that before long they may all be obsolete. Dan and I recently saw the movie "State of Play" (Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and some girl - wait a minute I think it was Robin Wright) and one of the main characters was an investigative reporter. It was a pretty good movie, I thought. Plenty of action, good acting, a plausible plot. But the scene I remember most was a bit of a montage of all the different machines printing out the newspaper copies and assembling them into stacks. Something about it made me nostalgic. I love newspapers. And I don't want to read them on-line or on a Kindle, or through any "unlimited app" iphone. I want to spread it all over my dining room table or fold it into quarters and read it on my couch.

I realize how old that makes me sound. It's the second time today. I was on the phone earlier with my 14 year old niece who likes a boy she met at camp. I remember liking boys I met at camp at her age and they always lived in a different state and so I asked her if she got his address so they could write to each other. She was silent on the other end of the line and then it occurred to me, they've probably texted each other a thousand times since they met and there was no need for something so silly as writing a letter and posting it snail mail and getting it a week later. When I figured it out, I asked if they were texting and she kind of laughed (more with me than at me?) and said "yeah."

But she's missing a little something in not having his handwriting in front of her or the chance to read the same thing over and over and wonder what he meant by it. Or maybe she's not. Maybe they ask each other what they meant right away now. It just makes me realize I've become part of that generation - the parent generation - the they-just-don't-understand generation. I guess we understand as much as our parents did at the time. I wonder if she would have known what I meant if I had asked her to 'read between the lines'?

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