When I was in ninth grade, my English teacher instructed our class to read The New York Times on Sunday. She wanted us to follow current events, but even more, she wanted us to read great journalism.
So I would lie on my stomach on the Oriental rug in our living room, flipping through the Arts & Entertainment section.
“You need to read more than the Arts section,” my mother would say, looking up from the crossword puzzle.
“I do,” I’d mumble. “I’m reading the Style section.”
I still read the Sunday New York Times religiously, but I rarely veer off my well-trod reading path. I pick up the paper from my front step, or the bushes, or wherever the paper guy has thrown it. I remove it from its plastic wrapper and pull out the sections of interest, which I read in this order:
Style. The Book Review. The Magazine.
I mostly read the Style section for the Modern Love column — despite my bitterness over being one of the legions of rejectees — and the Vows section. Then I move onto The Book Review, where I mostly read the reviews of non-fiction before I scan the bestseller list. Finally, I settle down with The Magazine. If I find the cover story compelling, I read that, then the Eat section, then Lives, and then the crossword puzzle.
Before I had children, i.e., back in the days where I know not what I did with my time, I did the crossword puzzle more or less in its entirety. I’d usually get through half of it on Sunday, then keep it in eyesight during the week, so I could fill in an answer that came to me when I was peeing, or loading the dishwasher.
For years, I got the New York Times everyday, but as my budget got tighter, I cut it down to Sundays only. Now that I’m trimming the fat from my single mother budget, I find it hard to justify paying $35 a month for Sundays only. So I’m considering the previously unthinkable.
Canceling my subscription.
I can read most of what I want to read online except for the crossword puzzle, which I never have time to finish anyway.
But what I’d miss is the ritual. Opening my front door to find the paper waiting for me. Turning the pages as I drink my coffee. Reading Modern Love, half the time being duly impressed, the other half sniffing that I could do better. Filling out a few squares of the crossword puzzle — always in pen — before I reluctantly abandon it for kid stuff or my never-completed-to-do list.
I’m leaning towards canceling my subscription. The guilty is starting to outweigh the pleasure.
But today, I’m thankful for The Sunday New York Times.