Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dr. Daddy

Today, it's all about my dad.

I'm sure if I walked into a room and said, "I have the weirdest dad," we could spend hours trying to top each other with weird stories, but today, put yourself in my place, and just imagine what it was like to grow up in the Ing household.

For my entire childhood I somehow was brought up believing my dad was born on Father's Day in 1931, in the backseat of a taxi cab in Austin, Texas. He was born in Texas, but not in a taxi. Pretty sure it was at home though, the only child of Louise (She was the Texas Woman of the Year at one time, worked at the Austin Statesman Newspaper, and leader of her church choir) and Dean Emory (worked at the Austin Police Dept, dealing with juvenile delinquents).

Dad was precocious. Skipped 2 grades. Loved football, but was too small to play on the Varsity team because he was so much smaller than all the rest of the guys. Still has a chip on his shoulder about that. He's from Texas, after all. Where everything's big, except the smartypants kids who skipped 2 grades. And football is everything.

Later, he joined the Air Force. He loved airplanes. Then got his first college degree. Then his second, while working at Lockheed as a technical writer, dabbling in aerodynamics. That's when he built his first car, which was featured in a six page article in Road & Track when I was just a wee little thing. This is what that car looks like today, and that's my dad standing next to it. Back in the early 60s when he built this thing, it was like nothing most people had ever seen before.

Then we moved from California to Oregon, and dad went on to become "Dr. Daddy," getting his PhD at the U of O, and soon after became a professor at a college he would like you never to know the name of in a little town in Missouri, and spent what must have been the 3 most miserable years of his life working for 'the man.' Even if he was doing what he loved, which is lecturing a room full of people about something he is far more knowledgeable about, he was still working for 'the man.' I should probably tell you that he has never referred to his peers at the university, nor the university system he worked for as 'the man.' He has different words that just don't seem appropriate for column honoring the awesomeness of fathers.

That miserable experience of working for the man led my dad to the single greatest decision of his life, which was to quit teaching mass media and communication theory, and instead try his hand at writing full time. And that's what he's done since that time. Today he's published dozens of novels, and scores and scores of magazine articles, and a number of novellas and short stories. He's had famous authors dedicate books to him, he's been nominated for several writing awards, and he's edited other famous authors books.

Meanwhile, mom went to work for 'the man.' To support my dad, who was now at home full time, brewing the creative juices and pumping out a novel just about every year, and even made it onto the NY Times Bestseller list. He was considered a Science Fiction writer at first, but everything he wrote about happened.  Eventually they came up with a new genre to describe the kinds of fiction he wrote about, so these days you can find him in the Techno-Thriller section (as well as the Sci-Fi section) in book stores and libraries.

My little sister and I got dragged around to a lot of science fiction conventions as kids. And believe you me, no matter how weird you thought your life may have been as a kid, if you didn't go to a science fiction convention on Halloween weekend, you may never really have known weird the way I knew weird.

Dad's in his 80's now, and doesn't write as much as he used to, but he still loves to command a room full of younger people, lecturing about something he knows more about than you do. Gotta love him. 'Cause he's my dad and all.

But recently, my dad made what I personally think is the 2nd most important decision of his life, which is to write his memoirs, in the form of a slightly fictionalized book about a precocious young kid growing up in Austin, Texas during WWII, and all the trouble he got into.

One of the cool things about growing up with a dad like mine is that when I was a little girl, he used to tell me and my little sister stores at night when we were tucked into bed with the lights out. Great stories. Sometimes they were about little girls who got lost in the woods and survived on their own for weeks. But sometimes they were about a little boy, growing up in Texas. A little boy who got into a lot of trouble. And those are the stories that fill this book. The stories I remember. The stories that made my dad who he his today. I've read them all (even if he thinks I haven't), and this one is hands down my favorite. You might find it in the fiction section, but to me it's not fiction. Because I know most of it isn't. Just adding a few embellishments along the way. But all dads are like that, aren't they?

You can find that book on Amazon, by the way. He's even gotten with the times and put out a Kindle version.

Here's to you Dad, and today's streaming Spotify playlist is all for you, chock full o' dad songs. Just skip over the country ones. There's only a few, because I know how you hate that Texas music, even if you're a Texan through and through.

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