Dad Blog: Relentless

One thing that has struck me about how difficult parenting can be is its utter relentlessness. It turns out that when you have a baby, they’re still in your house after several months. I’m beginning to suspect my son may even still be living with us in four, five years. There are no breaks. I mean, one of us will go for a walk or get coffee with a friend or something. Amy has seen two Broadway shows since Del was born, and I’ve been to a party and done some actor-y things on my own. We haven’t been shut-in with him since March. We’re living our lives:

Perhaps too much?

Eh. But those pictures provide a pretty good example of what I’m talking about: I can’t afford a hangover any more. Luckily I’ve hit the age where I don’t want to deal with hangovers anyway, but let’s say I go to a friend’s place and spend the evening drinking whiskey and get home at 1 AM. Guess what? Del doesn’t care. He’s getting up anywhere from 6:30-8 AM and he will want to eat and he will want attention and I’m not the sort of jerk to stay in bed and let my wife deal with it (yet). We’re a team, and it’s unfair for one of us to tag out without giving the other a heads-up and making some sort of plan to pick up the slack. We’ve all had a pretty solid cold already, and Del is currently getting over a little bounceback cold that Amy is probably catching again, but I’m dreading the first time Amy or I get truly knocked out of commission by sickness. Because Del rather inconsiderately won’t be taking a break on our account.

We’ve been extremely lucky that he has only required a few things above and beyond standard baby care. I certainly can’t complain about the hand we’ve been dealt, and he makes everything we’re doing worthwhile when he responds to us. He’s currently beginning to giggle which means we spend all day repeating the last thing that made him giggle like maniacs, desperate for another fix. He holds out on us, keeps us guessing when out of nowhere he’ll throw back his head and laugh at nothing. But the wheel keeps rolling, and we have to keep up or we’ll get run over.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

Dad blog: what’s up with baby people?

I’ve never been what I would consider a baby person. I’ve always appreciated the children of my family and friends, but when I see a baby on the street the general reaction is “ah, that is a person who is new. I’m happy I’m not responsible for them.” Being seated in close proximity to an unknown baby in a public place is less desirable to me than not having that baby there.

None of this has changed now that I have a child of my own. I love him and I think he’s a miracle genius baby and I expect exactly no one else to feel that way about him. So when I’m walking down the street with him strapped to my chest and people smile at the lump on me, I’m always confused. It’s summer and it’s hot and we’re usually walking so he can get a nap in while we get some fresh air, meaning he’s covered up. They’re smiling at what could easily be a pile of laundry on my chest. Or he’s in the stroller, canopy closed up to let him sleep and block the sun. They smile at the stroller. I could just as easily be the lady from Speed pushing that stroller full of cans but they smile.

There are definitely reasons to smile at my son. If he’s awake he’ll make eye contact with you and try to read your face. If you smile at him he’ll pause, plaster a cheesy grin across his chubby cheeks and look away like he’s embarrassed. It’s excruciatingly adorable. But he is not visible when these people are smiling.

Look, I’m not complaining. Would I prefer a world where people stumble blindly down the sidewalk, so wrapped up in their own problems that they can’t recognize an innocent little baby in their midst? Of course not. But I have a hard time believing these people see a baby and think “oh, what potential! What innocence! To inhabit the mind of a child again, free of all prejudice and worry!” I find that a little psychotic. I smile at puppies. I smile at toddlers and babies sometimes, but that’s because I can see them and they’re doing something cute. I guess I’m confused because these people seem to be smiling at the idea of a baby. It’s like if I were walking down the street and I just overheard someone say the word “sunset” and I smiled, because sunsets are pretty. That’s weird, right? I’m concerned they’re smiling because they see a dad wearing a baby, not a mom, and we’re so starved for male exhibitions of love that we have to smile at men doing literally the most basic of human functions.

Maybe I’m overthinking this.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

Dad Blog: One year ago today…

One year ago today, at 7:15 PM, standing on 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, I found out my wife was pregnant.

I had a meeting with an agent at Actor’s Connection at 6:30 that evening. Amy got home from work around 6 with a pregnancy test she’d picked up on the way home. I knew she was going to take it while I was gone, and I told her not to text me or call me or anything because I knew there was no way I’d be able to focus on the task at hand if the results were positive. It was still difficult to perform a monologue and have any sort of coherent conversation knowing that my life was quite possibly about to take a sharp turn. I had also told her that I’d call her after the meeting to see about picking up dinner. I walked out of the building, made the call, and said “So I’ll pick up sushi on the way home. Should I get a bottle of wine?” To which she replied “I don’t think so, because you’re not supposed to drink when you’re pregnant.” I did put the order in for some sushi, and I felt ten feet tall as I walked up 9th to the restaurant. At one point I was about to cross on a red light because there was a gap in traffic, and I thought “no, better not, you need to take care of yourself now.”

Don’t worry, I’m too much of a New Yorker for that to have lasted very long.

One year ago today, and I didn’t even realize it but tonight we got sushi from the very same restaurant while my son napped in his swing by our side. Almost four months in and I have a son who looks at me and knows me and smiles at me and giggles and tries to talk. At least, I think he’s trying to talk because of course he’s a genius. Nine months of secret fears, reading about what could go wrong, making up new things that could go wrong, worrying about space and money and time and would I know what to do and we are so fortunate. Fatherhood is unrelenting and I’m doing my best to show up for every moment, and I wouldn’t change a thing. One year of my life trying to reconcile the fact that I am indeed old enough to be a parent, older in fact than my parents were who were already a little to the right of the bell curve when they had me. Nine months of imagining who this person was whom we were bringing into the world, three months and change of getting to know him, a remaining lifetime of watching him become himself.

I can’t wait.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

Dad Blog: I was an actor once…

For the last 17 years I’ve been trying to become a professional actor.  It’s been slow, to put a delusionally positive spin on it.  As my son’s due date approached, I backed off of my day job of doing stand-in and background work.  I wanted to be around to help my wife out with anything she needed as she became distressingly more pregnant, and I also wanted to enjoy our last time together before our family expanded. Once Del was born, that was it–I turned off everything except being a dad for the time being.  For the first time in 17 years, my inner monologue hasn’t been “when are you getting new headshots maybe something with more color you really need to reach out to agents I wonder what casting directors I should try to meet on my own there’s nothing stopping me from booking commercial work right now except getting in the room how do I get a costar role without an agent I really need to make that short I’ve been working on.”  I’m not exaggerating.  I didn’t even have to think to write that.  I just flipped a switch and it all fell out of me.  I meditate regularly and for the last few years, once my mind settles that’s what’s left, that run-on nonsense you just read.  Every single morning.  Since Del was born?  It’s a lot quieter.  When he goes down for his nap after our breakfast and I sit down and get still, my mind reaches out and grabs on to that stillness while it can.  It feels like I was underwater for a very long time.

It has been refreshing.  I no longer have to answer the question “what are you working on?”  People just ask me about my son, and I’m more than happy to tell them.  In the back of my mind I’m hoping that going through this, becoming a father and stepping back from acting even if for a few months, will refill me or give me a different perspective or a new quality that will help me whenever I do get back into it.  The idea of jumping back into the fray is presently exhausting, and if that feeling never changes then I’m not sure where I’ll be, but for now I know what I need to do and I am doing it.  Plain and simple.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

An Open Letter to Mr. Impotent Bighorn

Dear Mr. Impotent Bighorn,

I saw you at the end of my five-mile jog today along the West Side Highway.  I was heading south, about to turn onto 56th Street, and I heard an ungodly train horn coming from the traffic waiting to turn left off the highway.  I was deep into Ira Glass talking about being a child magician, yet the sound of this vehicle modification cut right through his anecdotes in my headphones.  I looked over and saw you in your silver midsize SUV, unhappy with the speed at which the car in front of you was turning.  Once that car cleared you punched the gas and I had the chance to hear your modified muffler as well, drowning out Ira’s old neighbor telling him how good he was at magic when he was ten.  

Shortly after you turned onto that block, I turned behind you.  I will reiterate that I was at the end of a five-mile jog, yet somehow I managed to catch up to you.  Red lights.  They’ll get you every time.  I got to the end of the block just as you were gunning it at the light to go to the next avenue.  I caught up to you again there as you wasted more gas racing to what I assume was another red light, but I turned down that avenue so I didn’t have the chance to catch up to you again.

I’m writing this open letter to you, sir–I didn’t actually see who was behind the wheel, but let’s face it, you’re a man right?  I’ve probably spent the last 25 years judging drivers on a daily basis, and not once have I seen a person driving like you who identified as female.  I would in fact bet all the money I’ve ever seen that you are a man.  I’m writing this open letter, sir, to tell you that I sympathize with your feelings of impotence.  Please note I sympathize, but I do not empathize.  I feel bad for your situation, but I don’t feel your situation.  While we’re both men, I’ve never had to prove that fact to anyone.  I don’t care if they know it.  I let my merits and demerits speak for themselves, and they have little to nothing to do with my gender.  However, men like you throw a lot of baggage into that gender.  I feel sympathy for your situation, your feeling that no one listens to you, that you have no control in your own life, because it causes a problem for all of us who identify as men.  And boys.  Probably especially boys, because they see men like you punching a door that’s been closed in your face, shouting at it to open, and rather than trying the knob or asking someone to open the door, they punch and they shout too.  Have you ever considered that you aren’t listened to because you don’t listen?  Do you stop and listen when people are shouting into the wind?  Do you ever stop trying to prove yourself?  Isn’t it just exhausting?

Anyway, your train horn and your muffler sound stupid and I will never understand spending money on that and I guess you’re not happy about the size of your penis.  Sorry ‘bout it.

Sincerely,

Some sweaty guy with nothing to prove

Dad Blog: Bringing Up Baby (in Manhattan)

We are raising our son in a Manhattan apartment. We are not millionaires and our grandparents did not bequeath us a quirky West Village apartment large enough to shoot a sitcom in, so our place is small. I was going to sketch out a quick diagram for this post, but I thought of something more effective. If you’re reading this in a location other than NYC, look at the room around you. Doesn’t matter how big or small it is, it’s close enough. OK, that room is where you live. Everything you own is in it and it’s where you sleep and make food and bathe and entertain yourself. That’s our apartment. And it’s actually big for the neighborhood. Now throw a baby in there too. Cool, you understand.*

Even before we had Del, living here had its challenges. Imagine your living space, but everything is just a few inches tighter than you’d like it to be. There are two less flat surfaces in your kitchen than you’d like. Every time you have to use something, you have to move something else to get to it. Make a Jenga tower of all your kitchen utensils, for example. Sometimes you wake up and wonder if someone is pranking you by moving all your furniture closer together overnight. I’m not clumsy, but I constantly savage my ankles on the corners of furniture. I bang my elbow in the shower three times a week and I’ve been using it for six years. I’m slim but I’m just slightly too big to walk straight through the bathroom door.

We knew more or less what we were getting into. Some of the specifics were unpredictable though. I never really imagined creeping through my own apartment at 11 AM, shades drawn, white noise machine blaring, as my son naps in his swing in the living room. I’ve learned the location of every creaky board. I save noisy household tasks for when he’s awake. My lunch for a couple years has been a smoothie made in a blender that sounds like a lawnmower, so I have to plan ahead. I’ll go into the bathroom and close the door so I can open a bag of spinach. I’ve silently screamed at our cat when he comes within two feet of the swing. He gets the picture. I’m seriously considering learning sign language with my wife. I’m sitting here in the dark writing this while she and Del sleep about 20 feet away.

The upshot is I never experience the anxiety of my infant son being out of my sight. I’m closely attuned to his waking-up signals and when he was only days and weeks old, we could relax enough to get something resembling sleep because unless we put him in the shower, we can see him. We have no use for a baby monitor. Our location is a walk of a few minutes from the Hudson River and Central Park, either of which we see on a daily basis. We are surrounded by playgrounds.

We recently visited Amy’s family in Texas and stayed with her brother and sister-in-law. They have (wait for it) TWO STORIES to their house, and the bedrooms are all upstairs. The first time Del needed a nap, we took him up to our room and settled him into the little rocking bassinet they had ready for us. He dozed off and we looked at each other for a moment then had a whispered conversation:
“So, what, we just…leave him?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Then what do we do?”
“I think we do whatever we want.”
A tear rolled down my cheek. We went downstairs and had a full-voiced conversation about Moana with our niece. Del slept like a rock. It was glorious.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

 

 

*Real talk: I’m exaggerating for comedic effect. I’m aware that we are very, very lucky to have our current setup. Seriously, so fortunate: The Coffin Homes of Hong Kong

Rest in Peace, Stretch

Stretch, like many of my cats back home, got his name when he was a nursing kitten. He would stretch out over his brother and sister to get to the nipple. His brother was Bob, because he had a bobbed tail, and his sister was Joe because compared to the two of them she was a regular Joe.

Stretch was a simple, sweet cat. He was obsessed with laps and sunshine. It was rare that you would find him anywhere else. He was actually too much of a lap cat sometimes, because not every outfit welcomes a cat who picks at fabric with his claws before he jumps up, drools profusely, and measures a good several inches more than the average housecat. He really lived up to his name.

Stretch loved his sister Joe. It turned out he loved her a little too much, because they were indoor cats and she became pregnant, about which you may draw your own conclusions. But they would often curl up on the couch or in a chair together, and once she had her strange little inbred kittens Stretch would curl up with them. Joe seemed to forget she was their mother. Stretch may not have had the sense to know he was their father, but he loved them anyway.

Stretch quickly came to eschew cat food. I believe this started with table scraps, and once he got enough of a taste of human food it was all he wanted. For your own sanity I highly discourage this, but mom would buy him chicken from the grocery store, she would cut up hot dogs, all manner of meat meant for people found its way to the countertop for Stretch. What this meant was that every time you walked into the kitchen to do anything for yourself, there was Stretch on the island, yelling at you to please god give him some chicken, processed pig parts, anything at all please can’t you spare something. He had in fact eaten twenty minutes prior, but you’d never know.

One by one the other cats passed away, and Stretch was king of the castle. His vision faded over time, something I noticed once when I was home. His pupils were particularly large, his eyes particularly glassy. I got my fingers very close to his face and waved them silently, eliciting no reaction. His family always had distinct eyes, and one of his daughters was born blind. He managed fine throughout the house, since nothing had really changed in the 15 years he’d lived there. He knew where the furniture was, and he knew where to find the laps. When it was down to just Stretch in the house, mom backed off her no-cats-in-the-living-room rule, though she did still try to keep him off the couch. That was mostly fine with Stretch, because he simply wanted to be in her chair with her, all the time.

Stretch was thinner and thinner every time I went home, but he kept eating his people food and he kept coming into my room whenever he caught the door left open. He’d be purring before he even came in, and he’d climb up on the bed and settle down and the room would vibrate with his contentment.

Eventually he stopped eating and spent time in strange new corners of the house, so mom knew what to expect. It happened a few nights ago, and mom enlisted the help of a handyman she knows to, as she told him, “dig a cat-sized hole.” He showed up with a little casket he’d made just for the occasion, and Stretch lies next to Scuzzy and Tituba, two other favorites. For the first time in my conscious memory, there are no cats at my mom’s house.

Except for Domino the basement cat, but that’s another story.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

Lessons Learned on Father’s Day

We were recently in Texas to see Amy’s family, and while we were there I realized I am now officially part of a different generation. My whole life it’s been the other grandkids and me, but now our children are the grandkids. This means I am where my parents and aunts and uncles were in all those family get-togethers when I was young. At which thought my mind recoils with “This is what it’s like to be the grownups in the family? That doesn’t make any sense! I don’t know anything!”

My whole life I’d subconsciously assumed that adults were adults because they’d spent years accumulating wisdom about humanity and knowledge about how the world functions. Turns out you just become an adult by getting older. They’ll let anyone into this club. I kept waiting for the day where I would slow down, begin exclusively watching the History Channel and old westerns I’d seen a million times while dozing in a big chair, and listening to oldies radio. While I was waiting, time sandbagged me. I now spend my time watching cartoons, whatever classic action movie is on HBO, playing video games with a guy I’ve been friends with since 1984, watching 90s music videos on MTV Classic and listening to “alternative rock” on Spotify. I have not, however, slowed down. I thought I was going to turn into my dad, but skinnier, while in fact I have turned into me, but older.

Anyway, we have been handed a magical baby who travels well and doesn’t complain and rolls with changes in his schedule and smiles at us when he wakes up. He was three months old yesterday and three months ago feels like an eternity. I know so much more about being a father now than I did then and I don’t even know what I don’t know yet. I don’t think I can put any of it into words. Sure, I can tell you how to adjust the straps in a car seat and best practices for diaper changes and what you can try if your baby is crying, but those are just trivia. That’s not being a parent. It’s a feeling and an experience. I was waiting to turn into a father, while in fact I have turned into me, but with more love in my life.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.

Babies are…people?

One of the heavier brain benders about having a baby now is there’s this little person suddenly living in our apartment. We’ve had pets for years—first Tommy our cat in 2009, then Omar our frenchie a few years later. Depending on how much you consider your pets members of your family (in our case 100%), your brain may try to drop your baby into the same slot as your cat and dog. This becomes disconcerting when you’re staring lovingly at your baby’s face and you realize he’s staring back in a way a dog and a cat can’t. In other words, when you gaze long at the baby, the baby gazes also into you.

The first time this happened it made me realize this is a person we have here. A new roommate, though one with no motor skills and questionable bathroom habits. He’s looking at me looking at him, thinking about what he sees, trying to draw conclusions and make sense of all the input. Omar on the other hand?

He’s thinking about when you’re going to reach for some food.

Tommy?

Plots our deaths nightly.

Del will eventually have opinions about politics and music and driverless bitcoin cars or whatever the hell 2035 is going to look like. More worrisome is he will have opinions about me. He will think I’m funny or annoying or weird or lazy or condescending or who knows what. Given the positivity my wife and I associate with our own families, I’m not too concerned about how this will end up. But.

BUT.

That’s a haunting but.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly hes an actor and writer.

Dad Blog: Birth of the Patriarchy

A lot of very basic human truths become quickly evident once you have a baby. One of the first to occur to me was how the patriarchy got started. You may be surprised to learn that keeping a child alive requires a great deal of attention, time, and self-sacrifice. You may be further surprised to learn that a man can, at any point, just get up and walk away from this situation while his female partner literally has a living thing latched to her. The baby gets fed and survives, the men get to hang out with each other and run things, and women slowly disappear from society. I will now show you how I think this played out.

INT. ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIAN HUT, 8000 BC

Abraham and Rebecca look lovingly at their new son Jacob. Abraham is 53 and overweight. Rebecca is 18. Jacob is a little baby.

REBECCA
Look at our son, Abraham. Isn’t he beautiful?

ABRAHAM
Yes, Rebecca. And thank Gozer he is male.

REBECCA
Um, OK.

Jacob starts to cry.

REBECCA
Oh sweetie don’t cry, mommy will take care of you.

She begins to breastfeed her son. A few moments pass. Something occurs to Abraham.

ABRAHAM
So, you’ve got this right?

REBECCA
Um, I guess, but—

ABRAHAM
I mean I’m not much use here, I thought I’d go see how Ben and Sarah are doing with their new baby.

REBECCA
OK. Before you leave can you just—

ABRAHAM
Great, see you later! Yell if you need anything!

Abraham exits

REBECCA
I need food!

EXT. BEN AND SARAH’S FRONT DOOR

Abraham walks up and knocks on the door. A baby is crying inside. Ben opens the door.

BEN
Abraham! I thought you had a little baby of your own back home!

ABRAHAM
I do, but listen to this—I just got up and left!

BEN
What? You can do that?

ABRAHAM
I just did! I mean I didn’t LEAVE-leave, I’ll go back tonight, but I was sitting there and I was like “this is really boring and tough, I don’t want to be here.” So—I just left!

BEN
This IS really boring and tough! I want to leave too!

ABRAHAM
Well come with me! I have some ideas!

BEN
(to Sarah, unseen inside)
Hey honey, I’m going out with Abraham for a while. You’ve got this right?

SARAH
Um, I guess, but—

BEN
Great see you later!

MONTAGE: Ben and Abraham get all the new dads to come out with them. They walk arm in arm down the street, drinking and singing. Later at a tavern they’re all gathered around a table in a heated discussion. Then they’re inscribing things on tablets and nodding in agreement.

INT. ABRAHAM AND REBECCA’S HUT

It’s late at night. Rebecca looks exhausted, and baby Jacob is crying. Abraham stumbles in.

REBECCA
Abraham! Where have you been?

ABRAHAM
Hey sweetie! Just out with the guys.

REBECCA
What have you been doing all night?

ABRAHAM
Nothing, we just invented a bunch of rules for this thing called “society.” You don’t need to worry about it. Where’s dinner?

 

Totally went down just like that.

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