Monday, November 30, 2009

Which Way?

I think most people would describe me as an optimist, happy-go-lucky, something along these lines. But I know better. I usually describe myself as a realist, and definitely not an idealist. I vaguely recall considering myself an idealist my freshman year of college, then reconsidering a year or two later, realizing that while I would like things in the world to be ideal, I do not have the energy, drive, or willingness to wholeheartedly and doggedly make them so. Don't get me wrong, my cynicism is not constant, I definitely like to look for the good in situations, and people, and while I realistically know that I cannot make the world ideal, I do strive and desire to make it better.

Having family here for Thanksgiving was another refreshing reminder of my role as peace maker/mediator in my household, as well as workplace and every other location life drops me in. Wednesday: Mom was declaring our local newspaper to be valuable because it gives information about how to live a fulfilling life here. Riley was arguing that the NY Times offers national and international news. Mom: "there's no sense in getting depressed about things you can't fix." Riley: "but you can be informed." Bailey: "both local and (inter)national news have value." Mom: "she should be a mediator." Bailey, thinking to herself: "I am. I just don't get paid for it."

4 days later, 30 year-old brother Kelly receiving birthday spankings from his father (yes). Mom getting irritated at the petty violence. Bailey: "Dad, wrap it up, Mom's getting mad, and the boys need to hit the road to get back home." Yet another familial crisis averted.

I see someone in the back row with a hand raised, with that look on his face that is asking, "Bailey? Point?" Don't worry, Readers, it's coming.

On my break every morning at work, I settle in with my Americano and the NY Times (as I sorta-kinda side with Riley on the newspaper argument, although I do see Mom's point!). These breaks are quick, so I usually scan the front page, then dive into the most interesting headline for all the information I can down in eight minutes. Then, inevitably, as I switch to the continuum page (i.e., "Iran, continued A26"), I get distracted by the new set of articles on the page and abandon the one to which I was previously devoted.

It was at this moment, today, on page A8,

(here comes the point)

that I realized, if you want it to be, you can in fact make the daily newspaper your Choose Your Own Adventure story. If tense international relations get you down, head to the crossword! Mid-article! No one's stopping you, this is YOUR adventure!

For example, when I read the paper, I begin as Realist Me, on the front page, bonding with nuclear relations and stock market happenings, striving to be informed and be popped lightly (or pretty hard) in the stomach with some bad news, gritting my teeth and getting through it. But then I get depressed, and that photo from the Nutcracker performance in the Arts section draws Happy-Go-Lucky Me into its Tchaikovsky happy place. And then I get bored, and realize I could never afford tickets to the ritzy New York City performance of the Nutcracker, and sit back sipping my espresso wondering if I will be able to convince Dad to take me to the KC performance this year. At this point I've forgotten what I was reading about, so Holistic Me gamely heads for the business section, perusing the stats that don't make a lot of sense to me but trying to see the world from all sides and give a shot at understanding monies and their relation to, well, everything.

And this is how I attempt to become informed. And this is why I can tell you that an alligator strap wrist watch runs for about $12,000. I read about it in my Choose Your Own Adventure newspaper this morning.

The ending to my daily adventure always ends in the same way. I leave my paper and head back to the espresso machine to make lattes and mochas and such, serving them to familiar and new faces. Which is almost like a CYOA book, as I recall. All the endings are a little different, but ends are wrapped up, leaving you free to head back to your daily duties and routine. Either that, or I am remembering incorrectly and your adventure could either end with a happily ever after marriage or being eaten by a large beast. The CYOA books were mainly in my brothers' rooms growing up; I hung out with the Baby Sitters' Club most of the time.

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