Ep. 7 – Living with “Resting Angry Biker Face” as a Dad

This week, I have a conversation with Alan Hawkins, Seattle husband, father of two daughters and stand up comedian. We talk about how he uses Twitter to hone his jokes, living with what he calls “resting angry biker face”, and how he trolls well-meaning but overbearing strangers who give unsolicited parenting advice.

You can check one of Alan’s stand up sets on Youtube.

A Visit to the Park

Dear Son,

It was a guys’ night tonight. Your mom took herself out to see a movie  (Fahrenheit 11/9 – I’m sure we’ll watch it together someday, and hopefully it’ll be merely a cautionary tale of a strange blip in American history), and I picked you up from daycare. Instead of going straight home, I took you to Indian Boundary Park in Chicago, about a mile north from where we lived at the time.

It was chilly, and you were a bit underdressed, but you didn’t seem to mind. You loved being pushed in the swing, and was upset when we had to leave to come home.

We had a quiet night at home, and when it was time to go to bed, you were ready to jump in your crib to “read” your books you have in there with you. You “read” and sang to yourself for a half-hour before finally giving in to sleep.

I’m still in awe how much you grow day by day, little by little. There’s a lot weighing on my mind right now, a lot of it has to do with what’s happening politically and culturally in our country right now, but you and your mom and Jessica Jones are the silveriest of the silver linings in it all.

Love you, kid.

Dad

Ep. 5 – The San Dimas Time Dilemma (or Anxiety in Multiple Time Periods)

San Dimas Time.
It’s a trope in time travel stories. It’s when tension is added to the story by having two or more different time periods linked to one another, time running concurrently, even though it makes little sense since one of the characters has a time machine at their disposal. It gets its name from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Rufus tells the duo that no matter where they go in time, the clock in San Dimas is always running, meaning even though they have a time machine, they have do have a finite amount of time before they have to do their research and get back to give their presentation.
If you start paying attention, you start seeing that trope in a lot of time travel movies and tv shows – including Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Quantum Leap, Frequency…trust me there’s a lot of them. Look them up online.
Anyway, this week’s episode is about my own personal San Dimas Time dilemma in my own life, and how I fight it.
I realized I had developed a bad habit in the way I spoke about this time a year ago. I did it a lot, but I noticed it most when were putting our son to bed at night – he was about 8 months old then. We would be in the bedroom – he co-slept with us until just a couple of months ago – Betsy would be nursing him, and I’d be on the bed next to them, us chatting quietly as he dozed off.
Here’s the bad habit I had developed: I would, somewhat anxiously, rattle off all the work I had to do after we had him to bed, and what I had to do the following day. I was three months into working entirely for myself, both as a real estate agent and a massage therapist. That sounds like an odd mix, but in the couple of years I’ve been an agent, I’ve met a lot of people like me: Agent slash massage therapist, agent slash yoga teacher, pilates instructor. You get the idea. It gives you a chance to flex entirely different job skills in either line of work. The most difficult part, to be honest, is the wardrobe change if you’re wearing both hats in the same day.
Anyway, trying to basically run two different businesses at the same time was stressful. Constant anxiety, constantly on the move, working with clients, arranging showings for home and apartment tours, and so on. It seemed like I was being conversational with my wife during bedtime on the surface, but I was more just talking to myself, talking through everything that had to be done. Instead of, you know, having actually quality time with spouse at the end of a long work day.
Only a small part of me was present with my family. Another part was a half-hour an hour later doing work after we had Harrison put to bed, another part of me was living in the next day, and the next week, and top of that, the end of the month, wondering if we’d once again barely be able to make ends meet and pay our mortgage.
What I can tell you though without giving you a whole bunch of examples in my past, is that not being able to be in the present moment wasn’t some new development born out of us having our first child and me struggling to make money in my work. I’ve always been like this, in one way or another.
I’ve always been anxious, racing against the clock in multiple time periods.
After picking up on this bad habit I was doing at our son’s bedtime, I decided to work on it and change the habit. Not just then, but any time I started a conversation with Betsy, I would check myself before I began speaking to make sure I was just about to start rattling off my to-do list. Was it necessary? Would it actually be useful information to her, or was I just using her as a sounding board?
This wasn’t easy at first. A few nights, I just ended up lying quietly on the bed for a few minutes, trying to think of something to talk about other than my to-do list.
I’ve gotten better at this…but it is still a constant struggle. I may not actually rattle off my to-do list, but it’s still often running in my head. But I get a little better, and little better every day. Being present in the moment, especially those fleeting moments of my son’s early life.
Here’s the thing: I have a lot going on in my life and a lot I want to accomplish: I want to work in two entirely different professions, I want to produce and create art…well, at least podcasts…I want to be a good husband, father, friend. And I have all of these different…time lines…running at the exact same time. I want to be all of these things at once, and that…isn’t how actual time works.
But I’m working on that. Because life is too short and too precious to be living on San Dimas time.

 

Ep. 4 – Your Daughter’s First Dance

 

Ep4

I have a wide-ranging conversation with John, one of my oldest childhood friends. John has two daughters – one in middle school and one just entering high school. He shares stories about starting a family in his early-20s, and what it was like chaperoning the dance where his oldest daughter had her first dance with her first boyfriend. We talk about what we’ve learned from our parents, and how we try to be better parents for our kids.

We also talk about time travel movies and TV shows, including the 2014 movie PredestinationBill & Ted, and various Star Trek movies/TV episodes.

Ep. 3 – Time Capsule for a New Dad

Ep3

In this episode, Dennis has a conversation with his friend, Sam Fain. At the time of this recording, Sam was just a few days into being a new dad, and they share and compare stories about witnessing their children’s birth, and first days of fatherhood.

Sam and Dennis co-host Fate’s Wide Wheel: A Quantum Leap Podcast, which you can listen to here, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Ep. 2 – Not Continuously Dead

Ep2

Dennis discusses a key scene from the 2003 Audrey Niffenegger novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and how it inspires him to think about the legacy he leaves behind for his son.

It may be obvious, but there are some major spoilers for the novel (and its 2009 movie adaptation). If you haven’t read the book and want to go in entirely spoiler-free, perhaps skip this episode for now.