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

Day 45

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I can’t take it any more.  I’m so exhausted.  Ever since my “vacation” started I have been averaging six hours of sleep per night; I’ve done more writing than I do when I’m working and I’m emotionally and physically drained.  Today I finally got to take a two minute power nap right after lunch but was awoken by some jerk in the car behind me who honked to let me know that the light had turned green.  In an effort to get to bed tonight before 11:30, I am only giving myself 20 minutes to write this post.  If I can hold myself to the discipline of writing every night, I should be able to hold myself to the discipline of stopping.  At 11:30, no matter where I am, I’m stopping.

When I went to bed last night (ie: 12:35 this morning) I anticipated that today would be an extremely productive day.  Why?  Because I would be working.  A very good friend of mine (ie: someone I see twice a year) is running a pilot and asked me to come to the table read at 4:00.  For those of you not in “the biz”, a table read is where the actors sit around a table and read the script.  (Good to have a friend on the inside, huh?)  Anyway, I hoped that the axiom, “If you want something done, give it to someone busy” would hold true today.  Unfortunately, what I didn’t count on was that my daughter, who has single-handedly driven up the price of tissues in the last two days, would be home sick.  As I mentioned, it causes me endless stress when my daughter especially is home from school.  Since my wife does not allow me to fight with my daughter when she’s sick because she thinks it will just add stress to her and there’s nothing she can do about it, I redirect my inappropriate anger and pick fights with my wife.  My wife doesn’t really indulge me, so I have to up the ante by making threats that are impossible to keep.  A typical conversation: 7 AM: “Shawni, is Sasha up yet?”  “No, I’m letting her sleep in.”  “Okay.”  7:15 “Is she up yet?”  “No, she’s going to sleep in this morning.”  “I don’t want her missing school.”  “I don’t either, but she’s sick.”  “If she doesn’t go to school today I’m going to take her out of school and home school her.”  “Okay, if that’s what you think is best.” “SO NOW YOU WANT TO HOME SCHOOL HER??  ARE YOU NUTS?!  HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HOME SCHOOL HER, YOU CAN’T EVEN GET HER UP IN THE MORNING!”   And, an hour ago: “How’s Sasha?”  “Still seems sick.”  “I want her to go to school tomorrow.”  “I do, too.”  “Do you think she’ll go?”  “I don’t know.”  “I’m taking her to school even if she’s sick and I’m going to sit next to her in class so she doesn’t fall over.”  “I don’t think you can do that.”  “Fine. But if she misses school, I’m canceling our big vacation we have planned in two weeks.  There’s no way I’m going to have her miss school for that vacation and this cold.”  “I’d be fine with that.” “SO NOW YOU WANT TO CANCEL OUR VACATION???  WHY THE HELL AM I SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY ON A VACATION YOU DON’T WANT TO GO ON?!?!?”  And so on.  It’s the fatigue talking. (although in writing this, I still think I’m right).

Today my fatigue got a boost at the gym.  Fueled by the rage of my daughter and my wife conspiring to have my daughter be home schooled, I arrived at the gym to find my wife purple and sweating (a look I really like, and I’m not kidding.  There’s no telling what I would do if I saw Barney after running a marathon.)  My wife told me that our trainer issued an insane challenge that I would have to do as well.  I told him I was running on pure anger, frustration and a cereal bar.  He didn’t care.  This was the workout that Shawni and I did today and which I’m still sweating from: 20 Handstand push-ups followed by 40 pull-ups followed by 60 Burpees (exclusive of the 45 that I STILL HAVE TO DO TONIGHT WHEN WILL I GET TO BED???) followed by 80 sit-ups, followed by a trip to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai hospital.  I just threw up a little thinking about it.

Since my time is running out, I’ll skip to the feature of my day.  Helping out on a pilot.  It was for the network I have been working at for the past six years and in the audience was the Who’s Who of Who Passed on My Pilots.  It’s a weird feeling going in to help on somebody else’s show, and it actually made me a little grateful that I was not going through production of my own pilot right now (although I would be a lot less exhausted).  The pressure on me now is absolutely zero, and I thought I did great, save for two minor faux pas: The first was when I called my friend away from a chat with the head of the Studio to ask him jokingly if I could introduce the cast.  My friend pretended not to hear me so I repeated it (still counts as same gaffe).  Second gaffe was after the table read, one of the actors, who’s character name is Rick, say, came up to my friend and suggested that maybe it might be fun to get a little more back story on Rick in the script.  I, either thinking that A: I was talking to a friend, or B: I was invisible, said, “Wow, that’s interesting that you would ask for more lines for Rick.  You don’t see that often, an actor asking for more lines for his character.  I think we should look into that.”  My friend and the actor looked uncomfortably at me, and I realized that A: I was not invisible and B: I had just lost a friend.

Anyway, this experience of working on a friend’s pilot reunited me with two old friends (one now a former-friend) and gave me the chance to work in a no-stakes environment which really liberated me and allowed me to appreciate the process.  And out of this I had an epiphany which I will write down so I carry it with me for the rest of my life: the true meaning of


Written by 100daysoff

March 29, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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