Our Hipster Fathers

Dad July 76

No, the above picture was not taken last week showcasing the spoils of dumpster diving behind the Salvation Army. This is a picture of my father taken in July of 1976.

Today is father’s day, and it caused me to reflect a little bit and dig up some old photos of my dad. He’s not dead or anything, it’s just that all the other hipsters were changing their facebook profile pictures to old pictures of their dad so I figured I better get to it. As I digitally flipped through my iPhoto library, I realized that my dad sure did look like a modern day hipster.

My dad isn’t a hipster, though. Sure, he wore horn-rimmed glasses; but he was active in the Marines at the time and didn’t really have a choice. Yes, he wore a big flat-brimmed baseball cap; but he liked to play baseball, so there was nothing ironic about it. See that mustache? Nothing hipster about that; it was the 80s: people actually liked mustaches. And yes, his child is running around in not but hand-me-down overalls; but I’ll take credit for that one.

IMG_0474My dad has taught me a lot over the years. He stayed at home and took care of the house, fixed the things that were broken, and built things that he needed to use. We gardened together, washed the cars together, cleaned the pool together, and mowed the lawn together. He taught me how to ride a bike, load a paint brush, hold a hammer, and use a power drill. While I use all of these skills to perform my daily hipster house husband tasks, my dad wasn’t a hipster, but his resourceful spirit and industrious nature continue to inspire me in my life.

I love you dad, and thanks for not being a hipster.

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Exercise your OCD

My wife is super athletic, and with this gift she teaches ballet and fitness in a number of locations around the county. My wife is also incredibly empathetic: she doesn’t just relate to your feelings, but she joins in feeling them with you. This means three things (among others):

  1. She is an amazing teacher. No matter what she’s teaching, she is really able to understand each student’s level and give corrections that drastically and specifically benefit the individual student. 
  2. She is great at watching TV. Every emotion that the writers want the audience to feel, she feels. Fear, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, joy. It’s all there in every episode. She is the best at watching TV.
  3. She is serious at…let’s call it persistent encouragement. If you aren’t doing something that she knows needs to be done for your benefit, she will persistently encourage you to do that thing because she feels how beneficial it is for you.

For me, I am persistently encouraged by my wife to exercise. Her persistent encouragement towards this end only comes from a place of her own desire to exercise and be healthy. As she loves me, she has this same desire for me to be healthy, and thus comes the persistent encouragement for me to exercise.

So this weekend I did some exercise. I exercised my OCD.

Have you ever tried putting Q-Tips in a clear storage container? Both sides are so fluffy and heavy relative to the thin lightweight center beam. And they just scream to be evenly stacked like they appear in their packaging. I have tried various methods of placing Q-Tips in our Q-Tip container, but my OCD has not allowed me to quickly and easily throw a couple of handfuls of Q-Tips in the jar. Instead, the only method that will give me visual satisfaction is to place each Q-Tip in the jar one at a time. This way I can be sure that they are all evenly placed.

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At this point I’ve become quick enough at this particular exercise that it only takes me about thirty minutes, but I continue to write this post more as a confession than anything else. I don’t have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder most of the time, but when it does come out it seems to go against every part of my Hipster House Husband motto: it keeps me from being frugal, industrious, and resourceful. All the same, every time I reach into that Q-Tip jar, I only feel appreciation for the time I spent meticulously stacking each individual Q-Tip.

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Frugal. Industrious. Resourceful.

Hipster Ben FranklinAre you ready for a history lesson? I read most of an iBook about Benjamin Franklin, so by hipster standards, I basically have my doctorate in American Revolutionary History.

Benjamin Franklin is given a lot of credit for helping promote the ideals of the middle class in the New World. These were ideals that he embodied as much as possible, and which he looked for in a spouse. Here comes Deborah Read. By most accounts, Deborah was not an exceptional beauty. There was not a lustful passion or physical attraction that drove them together. Rather, it was more a union of practicality. Deborah needed someone to take care of her, and Benjamin needed someone to take care of him. Benjamin Franklin was a very pragmatic person, you see. He didn’t like to get into things that had no practical application or benefit. That’s why he invented the lightning rod and bifocals and a weird stove and a bunch of other super practical stuff.

But I digress. I bring these things up to mention my House Husband motto: Frugal. Industrious. Resourceful. For these are things that Benjamin Franklin loved most about his Deborah. Not only did she clean the house, but she kept the finances for his printing business. Not only did she cook the meals, but she also helped to run the family business. When the people of Philadelphia mobbed their house on Market Street because they thought Benjamin to be a British loyalist, did Deborah grab a frying pan? No, she grabbed a rifle. And while I am wholly subscribed to pacifism and non-violent response, her resourcefulness cannot help but be admired.

Benjamin Franklin wrote and spoke in praise of these attributes of his wife often. Not only frugal, but also industrious. Not only industrious, but also resourceful.

As a House Husband, these words mean a lot to me. I keep track of our budget: frugal. I make the most of my time outside of my full-time job: industrious. I use what we already have to improve of our lot: resourceful. As a Hipster, these words give me license to do weird hipster things. I ride mopeds to save on gas: frugal. I make things by hand when they can easily be purchased: industrious. I repurpose trash into usable items: resourceful.

These words will come up often because I use them to help guide my days. They also make me look smart because I get to talk about Benjamin Franklin, a topic on which I am obviously very educated.

Credentials of a House Husband

I don’t stay at home; it’s true.

I’m not raising children; right.

How do I have the audacity to claim the title of House Husband? Do I dare poke fun at those that call themselves house spouses? Well, yes, kind of. Only because I firmly believe that if I can’t poke fun at myself then I shouldn’t publish anything, and I believe I have taken on the role of house spouse as much as any baby-touting better-half.

Over the past five and a half years of marriage, our job situations have, well, fluctuated. Across the timeline of our marriage, the weight of “nights away” and “hours worked” and “multiple jobs” has shifted back and forth. The realization came that this weight had shifted away from me when I was only working one job at 40 hours a week. This was the least I had worked in the lifetime of our marriage. At the same moment, Marie was working five part-time jobs. It was time to ramp up the expectations I had for myself and our homestead by taking on another job: house husband.

I’m no stranger to bivocationality. Not only do I have personal experience in the field, but this seems to be an epidemic of my generation. This hipster phenomena has seen a lot of young people going to college for something about which they are passionate, then graduate to work full-time in retail or food service or hospitality in order to support their passion as part-time or free-lance or volunteer work.

As I stepped into my new role, I realized something that I didn’t expect: this new job was my passion. I like running a tight ship, I like keeping the dust off our mantle, I like organizing and decorating and innovating and improvising. It’s not that Marie doesn’t help clean; she just doesn’t like it enough to write about it on the internet. This job for me is fun, it’s gratifying, and I’ll work full-time to support it.

That’s why I am the audaciously self-appointed House Husband of our little homestead, and those are the credentials I use to write as one.

Credentials of a Hipster

I tie my bow ties by hand.Bow Ties

You see, I went through a phase for about three months in which I decided to wear a tie everyday. It started out innocently enough: an attempt at self-discipline and an interest in resolving my typically disheveled appearance.

At that time, the four-in-hand knot was the only knot I knew, and I used it everyday for about a week until I got bored. “Am I really going to do this every day?” I asked myself. There has to be more to this.

So started the YouTube videos. Windsor, Half-Windsor, Pratt. Spread collars, button downs, stays. All of this was very good, but I needed something to challenge me at the same time that it told the world: I know how to do something that you don’t!

I tie my bow ties by hand, you see.

And really, that’s all you need to know. The air of superiority with which I can relish that sentence is one of the fundamental components of being a hipster. What you don’t need to know is the hours I practiced and failed, or the fact that the majority of my knowledge about neckwear comes from YouTube. Because a big part of being a hipster is knowing enough useless information to belittle other people without really knowing anything at all.

This is a place in which I can vent some of these peculiarities at the same time that it gives voice to the less coarse of my oddities. Whether it’s gardening or moped repair or home brewing or the exact temperature at which to brew your coffee, that’s the stuff I’ll tell you about; because that’s the stuff I know about. I am credentialed as a hipster to speak on these and other matters of impracticality, so I hope you read along for both our sakes.