I particularly enjoy going out to dinner with my wife, Patricia, because we just sit and talk. No up and down to get the salt, to get more wine, or make the coffee. Not that such distractions are a big deal; I guess it is just being at home, there is the expectation that one eats and then moves on to the next thing, whatever that is. She continually tells me, just sit, Art; let's relax and just enjoy this time -- but I can't, or don’t.
As I write this, I realize what I never realized before -- the problem is me. To repeat, I enjoy going out to dinner because we just sit. However, strangely, sitting is the reason I enjoy dinner less at home, even though my wife is an excellent cook… and baker. I'm going to have to rethink “dinner out,” or better yet, rethink “dinner in,” and learn how to draw as much enjoyment from “dinner in” as “dinner out.”
I know I really must have an issue personally. This is driven home by the fact that at management meetings, at the Herald, everybody sits around the conference table, but something within me won't let me sit…so I always stand.
Well, enough on that. What I really want to write about is last night’s dinner topic. I told Patricia my next column was going to be on China, to which she replied, "Why on China? What people really want to read in the local newspaper is about local things."
You know, she may be right. Maybe I write on national and international issues because of my interest in them. I tell myself that we have three newspapers delivered to our house daily because, as a newspaperman, I need to be up on issues … but the articles are rarely local, thus reinforcing an emphasis on non-local columns.
It’s funny, though, at the same time she was telling me all of this, we received a Spout Off which called me out for the very thing she is saying. This tension puts me in a quandary, because a fair percentage of the Spout Offs we receive concern issues outside of Cape May County. This implies people want to talk to others in the county about subjects beyond county borders; while many of us live here, our interests aren't confined to here. With that being the case, the editors within the building regularly come to me to ask if a given statement is true because they won't knowingly publish an assertion of fact which is false.
So what have I learned? What does all this tell me? Answer: In my columns, be more locally focused while not overlooking the non-local. This will require that I put my head more into local issues, which has historically been the purview of our newsroom. Well, okay. I accept the challenge.