Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 34

with 3 comments

So, sometime around noon today I entered my “Second Trimester” of my blog (Day 33 1/3).  If it’s anything like my (empathetic) experience with pregnancy, the first trimester should have been marked by nausea, overeating, mood swings, weight gain and tender nipples.  Check, check, check, check and double check.  It was all classic first trimester stuff: the period where I got used to my new condition.   Although I also did a bit of third-trimester “nesting.”

The second trimester, it would follow,  should be the “Honeymoon Trimester” where I am a glowing and radiant Earth Mother, not only accepting my position but being fulfilled by it.  I hope this part is true.  While I have certainly been ahead of schedule in a few things, I should be doing more “work”; ie: writing that I can eventually use to get paid.  This journal definitely helps me stretch my creative muscle, and it’s good that I’m writing every day, but it won’t pay for the new Chevy Volt I want to get.  It also eats up a lot of time, as I’m constantly thinking, “what’s my day about?” and “how do I make that funny?” and “Do I really want a Chevy Volt?”  Another thing that’s eating up way too much time is my obsession with indulging Phishing scammers in long correspondences.  I’m currently in a ten email-long dialogue with Mr. Susumu Toshito, head of the Mitsubishi Bank of Tokyo who’s trying to get me to help him smuggle out millions of Euros to an off-shore bank.  The character I play is an absolute emotional idiot who takes everything he says literally (when he says he doesn’t want to raise any eyebrows, I respond by telling him I shaved off my eyebrows and now feel stupid and he has to talk me down).  I have also referred to my pain in hearing about the “terrible sashimi” that has devastated his country.  My main problem with these conversations, aside from seemingly being a colossal time killer, is that it reframes the way I see emails.  Kind of like when I used to play Tetris too much and I’d look at a skyline and see digital bricks falling between the buildings causing them to fall.  Or my recent hallucinations involving shooting Angry Birds at people.  With my phishing correspondences, it has caused me to respond to legitimate emails as a condescending character.  I’m going to try to pare that back during the second trimester.  (If Mr. Toshito said that I would tell him that I ate too many pears and now feel nauseous and maybe I don’t have the right stomach for our deal).  Or I may try to justify the waste of time by publishing the emails as a bathroom book.  Maybe I’ll be more motivated in the third trimester.

So, where was I as I entered my second third?  At the gym, finishing up a workout where my goal was to lift a total of 12,000 pounds.  I proudly completed the goal within 40 minutes (though didn’t love that my trainer counted as 180 pounds each time I got up to get a drink, but I’ll take the accomplishment nonetheless.  And the complement, sadly.)  My workout regimen has been superb, even though the weight loss goals have not been achieved.

One thing I did get today is to help out one of our neighbor’s brothers who is visiting with his family.  Our neighbor, I’ll call him Bob, said his brother was coming to town and he’s very religious.  It’s been my experience that when somebody says they have a relative who’s a “very religious” Jew, it means he won’t eat bacon on his cheeseburger.  Which is fine by me, honestly, I try not to judge people (probably because I’m too busy judging myself.  And Mr. Toshito, to be fair).  Plus, bacon was never really my thing; I was a crab leg man myself.  Anyway, turns out Bob’s brother is in fact a religious guy– and needed help navigating the Jewish scene in LA.  I was eager to help out: to me, having Bob see his brother do the same things I do would maybe make it seem less like he’s living next to the Jewish Munsters (the Munsteins?) and would also help his brother feel comfortable.

I went over to meet Bob’s brother as he was pouring boiling water over one of their sinks to make it kosher as the rest of Bob’s family looked on in a way that many non-religious people look at their siblings who have become religious fanatics.  (Bob, like me, wears a baseball cap.  Unlike me, he has fair skin, blue eyes and looks about as Jewish as anyone else in Kansas City, where he hails from).  But to Bob’s family, and to many other people I’m sure, to pour boiling water on a stainless steel sink, he might have been waving a chicken over his head.  (Which is a ridiculous comparison, because we only do that before Yom Kippur).  And even though Bob’s brother felt perfectly comfortable, I felt nervous for him.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s my own insecurity about being “different”.

The truth is, I’ve always been a little “different”.  Starting in Junior High School my locker used to get kicked in so many times that it was practically turned inside out.  I remember vividly the janitor– a 50 year old guy (who was probably 24) with cut off sleeves, a ponytail and beefy arms covered with tattoos, coming to crowbar open my locker for the tenth time in as many days.  He looked at me and said, “Why do they hate you so much?”  I said I didn’t know, but I had assumed it was because I was different.  I’m not sure I told this story yet, but when I was invited back to my 20th High School reunion a few years ago I eagerly RSVP’d “Yes.”  I flew back from LA to Lawng Island with my wife, at no small expense, got dressed in a pair of slacks and a sport jacket and brought an extra pair of pants in case I got into a fight.  My wife asked the two obvious questions: “Why are you going if you think you’ll be getting into a fight?”  And perhaps the bigger question: “Why are you bringing an extra pair of pants?”  I answered her the same way I answered the janitor, “I don’t know.”

Turns out, when I got to the reunion, I was beloved.  People there who made my life miserable greeted me like their long-lost best friend (it didn’t hurt that I used several of their names in episodes of “Friends”).  I confronted the girl who passed around a list rating all the boys in three categories: Personality, Looks and Body and who gave me the distinction of being the only one to get a perfect score… of ZERO.  I went up to her and asked told her that I would accept the Zeros for Looks and Body if I had to, but I have a personality.  Even if it’s a bad one, it’s not ZERO.  She, of course, didn’t remember.  The truth is, she was probably worried about her own popularity– she was the best friend of one of the hottest girls in the class (who now looks like a (very) offensive Lineman for the Chargers, by the way– heh heh).  I turned to my wife after that reunion and said, “I think I may have been popular in High School.  Damn, I’ve been totally motivated by my miserable teenage years to be successful.  In fact, it’s the only reason I was able to marry someone as hot as you.”

I try to keep that lesson with me: that everyone probably feels like a freak in their own way.  (One of my favorite moments ever was being at a party where I saw an extremely rich and famous and good-looking show runner pass by a mirror on the way to the bathroom and say to himself with distain, “you fat bastard”.  At least I hope it was to himself.)   It’s certainly a good lesson when the voices inside my head start to criticize me– that I’m not getting enough done, or I should be more successful, or a million other things I tell myself.  The truth is, I’m as normal, if not more, as anybody else out there.  I’m going to keep that in mind as I enter my second trimester.


Written by 100daysoff

March 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Normal. What a concept.

    Michael Lebit

    March 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

  2. thumbs upppppp

    David Kopp

    March 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm

  3. LOL I’d like to know which girl wrote that list and voted you as a ZERO…. probably wasn’t funny then,,, but I certainly got a kick out of it now. Glad it wasn’t me.


    March 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

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