How The New York Times Inspired Me to Blog
The New York Times was always a fixture in our household. My mom gathered stacks of the paper near her spot on the couch ever since I could remember. The stacks grew larger and larger due to her limited time as a business owner mother of two but it paid tribute to her love of art, culture, and news. My brother and I would avoid the piles lest we knock them down and disturb her haphazard archival process. My grandfather also provided some insight into the venerable institution of the Times. So important was the New York Times was that Grandpa would venture out to the local convenience store between home and church to get him his own copy. I cautiously peeped over my grandfather's shoulder to watch him as he completed his crossword puzzle, perfectly, every single time - in pen no less.
Despite my early exposure to the esteemed publication, I didn't start actually reading the New York Times until college. Homesick and missing the Northeastern life in a quiet Virginia college town, I noticed a rack of newspapers holding free copies of the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the New York Times. The damp, earthy smell of ink on newsprint transported me back to my childhood living room. I began to pick up the paper every day it was delivered and started to discover a whole world between the newspaper pages.
I wish I could say I was the most intelligent reader of the times. I'd love to say I carefully perused the major headlines so I could be well-informed on the Middle East, politics, and local disasters. I started that way, believing that I needed read the main section before delving into any other section, like having dinner before dessert. But then I realized that all I wanted was to have my cake first, darn it. I would give a cursory glance before finding the different features I loved: Fashion & Style, Travel, Dining & Wine, Home & Garden. These feature sections opened my eyes to the world, a cultured and curated world with insightful writing and unique viewpoints. I was exposing myself to a whole slew of viewpoints far more sophisticated than those being shared by my Virginia classmates (no matter how smart they happened to be). Without leaving my bedroom, without leaving my couch I could feel as sophisticated as a New York City socialite aware of the latest fashion trends or as skilled in the womanly arts as Ina Garten in her Hamptons kitchen. Well, maybe Ina Garten is too high of an ambition, but you know what I mean.
The New York Times was the first instance of being exposed to writing that wasn't fiction and that wasn't the non-fiction of school work. It elevated the everyday and presented the unknown and extraordinary in the most accessible way. I loved reading the articles about anything and everything in New York and beyond. I would clip articles and tuck them into binders and notebooks for inspiration later on (pre-Pinterest days after all). In that moment I thought: couldn't I share what I noticed, share what I did on a day-to-day basis, and connect with others through writing?
Though it took a few years, the New York Times inspired me to log on to wordpress.com and create what would become buttons and blossoms. Like those cultural features of the New York Times, I want to share a little bit of my world, as I see it, like a newspaper writer. I want to share my travels, the exquisite cuisine I happen to sample, and some observations about the world as it passes by. Isn't that just what a newspaper does? Of course the New York Times does it with the sophistication that only a hundred plus year publication can but it's something to aspire to. And then I think, isn't it funny that I'm inspired to start something that is effectively working on killing the print publication? I wonder what the Times would have to say about that.