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It runs in the family, sort ofPosted Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 4:20 PM
My father and I share the same cheekbones, ogre-like height and secrets of messes my mother never needed to know about. But even though our facial features clearly illustrate the same DNA, our passions differ.
While dad could have rewired the microphones I sang into as a kid, he never quite understood my addiction to the spotlight. Still, he listened to me sing. I'd sit in his truck, turn the radio off and test out every, single audition piece for him. This went on for nearly four years.
Likewise, dad never shared my love of words. He never had to rewire a pencil for me, but when The Marshall Democrat-News offered me my first full-time writing gig, Daddy didn't hesitate to say, "If this is what you want to do, go ahead and do it. Mom and I will help you."
So with my father's blessing, I moved to Marshall.
Several months later, I walked into my parents' house after a long absence from the comforts home. As always, I kicked my shoes next to the ceramic chicken. I poked my head into the fridge to see if they'd been shopping. (They were ready for me. Dad had a six-pack of my favorite adult beverage, and mom had baked.) I set my cellphone on the dining-room table. I tossed my overnight bag in the hallway near the garage. And finally, I flung a pile of my latest deadlines on the kitchen counter.
Eager to show Dad one of my better photos, I pulled an issue from the stack. But his eyes gravitated to the text.
"I don't know how you do what you do," he said.
He scanned the long column stretching down the front page. At 500 words, this city council story certainly wasn't the prize of my journalistic portfolio. He asked me how long it took to write something like that.
"Less time than it takes you to change the oil in my car," I told him.
This baffled him.
During my most recent trip home, my parents and I tried to figure out where my writing addiction developed. Despite the high cheekbones, I've always been the "most likely to be adopted" child. My brother, father and mother lack my love of music, art and stories, and somehow I missed the sports and barbeque gene.
While our interests differ, our crafts find harmony in passion. I certainly don't build tractors for a living like my father does, but I take the same care with my final product as he does with his. Likewise, my mother doesn't polish drafts, but her home could easily pass as a Potterybarn showroom. My parents aren't wordsmiths, but somewhere along the way, I gathered their pride and their passion.
Yesterday, after the paper went to press, I flipped through the latest edition of The Marshall Democrat-News. As I cringed at a typo in one of my stories, I noticed my ink-stained fingers. Lately, I've dedicated a lot of time to mulling through differences. But yesterday afternoon, my discolored fingers strongly resembled my father's grease-stained hands. I'd seen those stains for years, but I've only recently understood the pride the grease resembles, or in my case, ink.
Maybe, I'm more like my family than I thought.
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Maggie Menderski graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri in May 2011. The St. Louis native began working as a staff writer for the Democrat-News shortly after. In her Out of Ink blog, she (typically) muses about the differences between rural and suburban life.