I am ready to chose a trail and follow it this morning. Back to high school and my first newspaper assignment when I learned diplomacy. The first thing I ever had published in The Smoke Signal, was a poem I wrote about Karen and I at the Canfield Fair, when everyone thought we were twins. I submitted it in eighth grade. They didn't catch my misspelling of Ferris wheel, which put a damper on my accomplishment with critics. Still, I had made the paper.
A few years later, I joined the newspaper staff. My first assignment was to interview the head of the cafeteria. I had known this woman since babyhood. She was a classmate's grandma. We all hated the school food, yet, the guts for an investigative interview failed me in the presence of this kind woman, with a underlying defense. I said diplomatic before, but I think I crumbled under facing authority. I did not expose why the food tasted terrible, but instead wrote about government regulations and limitations set on this steely grandma. Grandma Boots worked with what she had and how dare we whipper-snappers question her. End of story.
Another assignment I picked was on John Belushi. Not too hard, didn't get to interview him. I read Newsweek, and maybe another source. I'm not even sure I had seen his movies much. I knew him from Saturday Night Live. Maybe I saw Animal House, I know I made a reference about his character and that John may some day serve in the Senate. Sadly, he never made it past his extended adolescence.
Writing for the paper held me to deadlines. Something had to be written quickly, with editorial feedback. We had round tables, sorting out ideas. I still wonder at how much different my writing would have been if I had a keyboard, instead of an electric typewriter, or my mom to edit and type for me.
We watched All the President's Men, the other night, when I was thinking back on my career decisions. This movie influenced my writing and political thinking, the desire to be in Washington. Nursing proved always the safe way, the fall back, the good part time job for a mother.
As my favorite poet, Robert Frost wrote and as I quoted before, the path I chose has made all the difference. I didn't have the guts to be an investigative reporter, yet, with nursing, I had to learn to dig to get to the story, read behind the words, look at all the surroundings. As I entered home health, with the boss accompanying me on my first visits, her word of advice, "You need to be a detective."
I have carried those words with me, still remembering the respect I held for Boots, the head cafeteria lady.