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

Day 44

with 4 comments

So, here’s the good news: first, it’s Day 44 not Day 45, so I only have to do 44 burpees–the exercise that apparently keeps convicts in great shape (that and prison rape, I suppose)– and not 45.  Also, my dogs’ reaction whenever I walk in the room is now exclusively one of fear that they did something wrong.  That same reaction, for better and for worse, is not shared in any way by my children.  In fact, earlier today I was lying face down on my couch– a couch which has endured nearly ten years of every type of dog and child excrement imaginable– when I thought, “I should turn over.”  Then, after turning over, for some reason I thought about how my son came about.  My wife, who was 40 at the time, and I decided to have another baby based on the tremendous success of our first, Sasha.  Even after an inspiring lunch with one of my lawyers who told me that it was virtually impossible for a woman to have a baby after 35, and the odds of having a healthy baby after 40 were somewhat akin to getting a show into syndication (ie: about 1 in 45,000,000), my wife and I decided to give it a try.  After three unsuccessful months my wife saw her doctor who told her that she had a clogged ovarian follicle.  He would give her a shot of something that would free up that follicle and we could try again the following month.  She asked if there was any chance of getting pregnant now, given the clogged follicle, and her doctor replied, “About the same odds of getting an idea bought by a network off of a studio script deal– about 10%” (this is LA, afterall, so everything is in terms of probabilities of getting a pilot through various stages of development).  Anyway, that little clogged follicle is currently upstairs screaming at my wife that his brain is telling him it’s not time to go to sleep.  He’s been exhausted for the last 48 hours and can’t sleep: it doesn’t make any sense.

Our other former zygote has been asleep for several hours.  Despite pumping her full of bubble-gum flavored Children’s Dimetap, she was unable to make it through a full day of school.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, if there’s a change in temperature, air pressure or the stock market, my daughter gets sick.  She told me she was sick the night of the play where she played the statue of Rapunzel, but it’s hard to know with her.  I’ve found that one of the hardest calls to make in parenting is when a kid is too sick to go to school.  My son has had a runny nose for four years now and I don’t think he’s missed a full day of school, whereas my daughter takes off any day that has an “S” in it.  Looking back, I think the rule in my family was that if your temperature was below 102 you were going to school, and since  I grew up in a time and place where the oral thermometer was not in vogue, I don’t recall missing a single day.

My wife, who’s judgment I trust implicitly, decided to let the kids sleep in late today so that they would not wind up missing a full week (Sasha was clearly going to be sick and Caleb was up late the night before).  I took the news as I always do, aggressive-aggressively (nothing passive about me).  Me: “How are the kids doing?”  Shawni: “I’m letting them sleep in.”  Me: “Okay.  I trust you.  Why?”  Shawni: “Because I don’t want them to get sick and miss school.”  Me: “Makes sense.  So you’re having them miss school so that they don’t miss school?”  Shawni: “No, I’m having them sleep an extra hour so they don’t miss the rest of the week.”  Me: “Gotcha.  So only an hour then?”  Shawni: “Whenever they get up.”  Me: “I trust you.  I just don’t understand why education isn’t important to you.  It doesn’t make sense.”  This is when Shawni walks away.  It is for this very reason that she and I never fight.

Anyway, the kids finally did get to school and my day was off and limping from the start.  It was one of those days where the only way I could justify doing as little as I did was if I had gotten really great news.  So, I decided to talk myself into really great news.  On the way to taking my dogs for a hike, still groggy from staying up past midnight the night before, I was reflecting on all the compliments I received from people who had been reading my journal.  People who had no incentive to lie to me.  It wasn’t like when I’m working on a bad show and I tell people the name of the show I work on and they say, “Oh, I’ve seen that show.”  And I say, “yeah”.  And they say, “yeah.”  These were my peers who thought my journal was funny and interesting and very relatable and a great showcase of my writing.  I had been thinking of publishing the journal when I’m done and I asked my agent to contact the same book agent who had made a good friend of mine millions of dollars by publishing his book off the internet.  And then, literally as I had that thought, my agent called.  He spoke to the book agent who said that typically books that are published off of the internet are based on sites that have over a million followers.  I thought about my site and its 350 followers, 200 of whom are my wife and another 50 of whom are her mother and I realized that we were still roughly a million followers short of a million followers, give or take 100.  I then made a very naive comment, “That doesn’t make sense.  What if it’s good?”   It’s a rookie question, I’ve learned years ago that television is not a meritocracy: the same people get pilots year after year no matter how good or bad they are and they’re almost always bad.  There’s a guy who’s name isn’t Peter Jensen but I’ll call him that because I’ll have to work for him someday, but every year, no matter what, he gets a pilot made, so next year I’m going to go in and pitch the “Untitled Peter Jensen Project” just to get something green lit.

So, that pretty much set the tone for my day.  I was bummed out.  Not that I ever planned this journal to be anything more than it is– something that will get my wife’s friends from High School jealous that her husband can be funny– but as someone who gets paid to create, I let my imagination run away with me.  The truth is, this journal was and isn’t an end unto itself, but it lets me get away with saying that I’m writing every day.  A friend asked me if I’m happy that I committed myself to writing a post every day and I answered honestly, “Of course I’m not!”  But that’s my personality, I like challenges.   I’m surrounded by temptation: this stupid Paleo diet forbids me from having my delicious coconut creamer or grains or dairy or soy– and I don’t even like soy but I’d trade my pinky toes for a slice of tofurkey right now.  I’ve got these burpees hanging over my head like a guillotine, and if I miss a day I have to double up on the next day, so they’re accruing interest like a mafia loan.  And all the while I can’t stop using similes!  And this stupid journal is taxing me to make sense out of a day that just doesn’t make sense.

I got home from my hike and released the dogs who ran to their respective corners knowing that they had done something wrong.  I grabbed a quick lunch with my wife and then decided that I was going to make sense of what was left of this day: I was going to go to the coffee bean and tea leaf like a real out of work writer and write something real: my hourlong pilot idea that I’ve had for years.  And then literally at that moment, my kids’ school called: it was my daughter; she was sick and she wanted to come home.  The only thing harder than knowing when to send a kid to school is knowing when we should pick them up to come home.  We decided to pick Sasha up from school because my wife hates education.  And you know, because Sasha had a cold.

Shawni dropped Sasha off at the house to stay with the housekeeper while she ran some errands, and I grabbed my keys so that I could finally do something productive.  And as I went to go, I heard from the couch, “Daddy, I don’t feel well.”  “I know, sweetie.  Daddy will be right back.”  I sat down for a second and Sasha crawled onto me and curled up onto my chest.   There was something so warm and sweet about holding my little girl this way.  I flashed back to two moments in our lives together: one was when she was two years old and we were in a cabana at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas.  I was lying down and she was sleeping on my chest.  I asked Shawni to take a picture, it was the perfect moment “just please don’t get my stomach, boobs, shoulders or forehead in the picture”).  I then felt what seemed to be warm tea dripping down my body.  Shawni told me that Sasha had peed on me and offered to take her from me so I could clean up (ie: jump in the pool.)  I said no, I didn’t want to wake her.  The other time was when she was three and she told me she didn’t want to take ballet.  We were on the roof of an outdoor garage and I told her I signed her up from the class and we committed to it and she had to do it.  She told me she was didn’t feel well.  I told her I would carry her downstairs to the class, and as I picked her up she vomited all over me.  And I held her tight.  It’s a strange instinct that forces you to hug your own vomiting kid, but I was glad I had it.

And now, seven years later, here we were, lying on a couch that stood as a monument to child urine and vomit, and my daughter was lying on her daddy’s chest once again.  Coughing and wheezing into my mouth.  But I just pulled her closer.  Not everything has to make sense.


Written by 100daysoff

March 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Well that’s what being a dad is all about. Hugging them through all the bodily functions. Loved today’s “episode”.

    Marc Rosenberg

    March 29, 2011 at 2:38 am

  2. soaked in all the possible bodily fluids of your chilren; priceless.

    Michael Lebit

    March 29, 2011 at 6:12 am

  3. That was beautiful Jeff!

    Pam Hurley

    March 29, 2011 at 6:54 am

  4. Love this…


    March 30, 2011 at 5:42 am

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