Fun fact: I’m the daughter of a Writer.
A Creative Writer.
To paraphrase one of the great 20th century humorists*, if you’ve ever been the only child in an art gallery full of works prominently featuring eyebrow-raising nudes in every conceivable medium while adults drinking oaky Chardonnay from small plastic cups gather to listen to other adults read their own poetry aloud in forced, cringey, pretentious tones, well…you might be the daughter of a Writer.
Yes, I know that was a long walk just to get to a Jeff Foxworthy reference from his career-defining 1990’s comedy bit, but may I remind you that like oaky fundraiser Chardonnay, this blog is free.
Anyway, I’m referring specifically to what was known as the Fort Bragg Center For The Arts, or FBCA, which was, through my 7 or 8 year old eyes, a monthly happy hour held in the top floor of a decrepit yet charming atrium style department store in Northern California.
In its hey day, the venue for the FBCA gatherings was called Daly’s Department Store. I used to play, completely unsupervised, in the dusty storage rooms among the unclothed mannequin parts and Christmas window dressings and one old typewriter that still worked.
Since my mom was the event organizer (and for some reason didn’t believe in babysitters) I could run free through these happy hours in full view of glamorous taste-makers with silver-streaked hair in smart-framed glasses, draped in earth-toned patchouli scented scarves accented by large metallic 90’s brooches (and I haven’t even described the women.) These people were looking “intently” at everything in the gallery, the way you’re supposed to look at things in galleries, having what I assume were pithy exchanges dripping in the sarcastic undertones of the academic elite. They were always looking intently at everything, except for me. I was just someone’s late-in-life kid, darting in and out of their cultured conversations to get to the food table. (I should mention there were cubed cheeses and toothpicks, so you know it was fancy.) My dad would play jazz standards on the piano and once in a while I’d sing with him on the stage, to no one in particular, which is incidentally still my target audience to this day. It occurs to me now that he may have been playing piano because he was asked by my mother to do so, or he may have been playing to avoid having to talk to anyone swirling oaky Chardonnay in a plastic tumbler in a half repurposed department-store-art-gallery. Or maybe he just saw a piano and thought, “Hey, a piano.” Probably all, but mostly the third.
I think somewhere my parents have a VHS copy of when the local news station came to one of the events and I was more than happy to be interviewed about my opinion on the art, which I believe I described as “fabulous,” really making the most of my fourth grade vocabulary and launching my career in live television, specializing in completely useless commentary. See the Jazzoo interview on my IG highlight reel @MrsKansasMommy. I’m not proud of it but my dad’s comment in the background is the best…
Anyway, enough about me and my “totally normal childhood” as the daughter of a Writer.
My mom, the aforementioned Writer, has released a fictional romance/action novel largely based on her own “totally normal childhood” as the daughter of a prominent Driver, a racing legend in Kansas. So I guess what I’m saying is all childhoods are weird but she turned hers into a page-turner full of suspense, drama, romance, and complicated family relationships set against the backdrop of the gritty, glamorous, and too often deadly national pastime of racecar driving in America.
It’s called Trophy Girl by Marlis Manley and it’s available on Amazon, so go add it to your holiday list right now. And you know I know good writing because as I explained, from a young age I was exposed to a lot of it, and then some. In a word, the book is…fabulous. (*callback.)