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

Day 46

with 3 comments

I mentioned the other day that several months ago my seven year old said, re: all his homework, “All I do is work.  I feel like I’m 45 years old.”  Of course, when he said it I was only 44, but now that I’m 45 I totally get it.  Around the same time he said that, I read an article (ie: Ryan Seacrest read an article and talked about it on the radio) that said that men peak physically when they’re 20 and creatively when they’re 45.  The physical thing definitely rings true: if I was eating and working out like I am now when I was 20 I would look like I’m made of wrought iron.  Now I look like I’m made of wrought tapioca.  The notion of peaking at 45 was inspiring to me, though.  I feel like all of my experience has readied me to have my own show on the air and run it effectively and efficiently.  Unfortunately, today I feel physically like a 45 year old and creatively like a 20 year old.

The last two days have been a trip down memory lane for me.  Yesterday I went back to the lot where I met my wife who was an editor on the same show I was writing on.  Turns out, my wife was very impressed by writer types, and I was very impressed by any women who looked like my wife who were impressed by me in any way.  Through the perfect confluence of events the likes of which haven’t been seen before or since (seriously, if I wrote down in a book the things that had to happen for me to get my wife to marry me and buried that book, the civilization that found that book in the future would celebrate my anniversary like it was Easter).  So, that was the good memory from yesterday, overshadowing the fact that I was at a table read for a show that essentially the network is auditioning to replace the show I’m already on.  However, anyone watching me help out today would think that I was secretly sent to scuttle the new show.

Now, of course, I’m being hard on myself.  My default is to be hard on myself.  (What a stupid sentence, “My default is to be hard on myself”.)  When I was on “Friends”, if I did not get a huge joke into the script every day I would consider the day a failure.  I don’t hold myself to that standard for anything else.  “If I don’t get in a huge teaching moment for my kids…”  Or, “If I don’t get in a huge listening moment with my wife…”  I still, however, feel terrible if I don’t live up to my potential at work, especially now that I’m peaking creatively (the fact that I took a golf cart the eighth of a mile from the office to my car is understandable– I’m 25 years past my peak walking-back-to-my-car years).  But today I lacked a certain clarity.  Sometimes I can look at a scene and see where the moving parts need to go, how to set up a giant joke and how to call it back in an unexpected way.  Today my biggest contribution was trying to eat the biggest apple I’ve ever seen in my life.  You should have heard me riff on this, “Boy, this is a giant apple.  If this apple was any bigger, it would be, um… a red pumpkin.  Heh.”  That was the kind of day I was having, which made me feel bad about myself and bad about not coming through for my friend, who honestly probably just went away thinking, “Wow.  Jeff had a big apple today.”  I’m telling you, folks, it was huge, it was like a, er…  Geez.

I don’t think I have a single friend who’s a tv writer who hasn’t griped that “this is a terrible business”.  I make more money than the President of the United States and don’t have people accusing me of being a Muslim.  I also can’t imagine the Chilean minors coming out of their hole saying, “I think what got us through the ordeal was knowing that as bad as it got, we weren’t sitcom writers.”  This all should be taken with the caveat, of course, that I’m incredibly grateful that people pay me to do what I do, especially since it’s the thing I’m best at.  What makes it a bad business is when I’m not the best at it.  That’s when the self-doubt comes in and the voice that keeps saying, “No, that’s wrong.  You’re missing the point.  Why are you here?”  Today, that voice came from my friend whom I was helping out.  But the good news is, like the fusion of the sun, the self-doubt will consume itself and cause me enough anxiety to shine brighter tomorrow.  Or explode in a supernova, I’m not sure.

But the silver lining to it all, was that being at work today, especially dealing with a down day, got me really looking forward to seeing my family.  I think ultimately, that’s what work is for– to get you to appreciate your family.  And even though I came home at the witching hour– right before the kids go to sleep when I assume demons possess my little angels causing them to say and do things they wouldn’t possibly say otherwise– tonight they were just sweet.  I hadn’t seen them in 24 hours– I came home last night after they went to bed and left before they got up, and they seemed to have grown.  I then sat with my daughter who went to school today (with a hacking cough that no doubt had people muttering about her irresponsible parents) and she asked me, out of the blue, “how was your day?”   I answered her honestly, “I was a little foggy today.  You ever have those days where you’re just a little off?”  And even though she had every right to respond, “Yeah, jackass, you sent me to school today with a basketball-sized wad of mucus in my lungs, I think I have an idea!”, she just said, “yeah”.  My son then called for me and asked me what I was talking about with his sister.  I told him I was talking about my day.  Instead of his usual ADD response of, “how are cumulous clouds made?” he asked me how my day was, too.  Every night I ask my kids how their days are and they usually respond in the same tone either, “good” or “bad”.  Tonight, there was something really rewarding about telling them about my day.  Of course, I finished off by telling them that “everything will be okay, though.  It was fine.” instead of my fear that yesterday was the last day I ever told a joke and we may have to move to a place under the freeway.

But deep down, I know it is fine.  Because after a day where I was off, my kids were kind and loving, and I’m about to go watch American Idol with my wife who still finds me impressive.  A day doesn’t get more huge than that.   Now if only I could figure out something to say about that giant apple.  Moron.


Written by 100daysoff

March 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Here’s the apple bit I heard driving home today – apropos of your blog. How timely:


    March 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  2. hahaha “if I was eating and working out like I am now when I was 20 I would look like I’m made of wrought iron. Now I look like I’m made of wrought tapioca.”

    David Kopp

    March 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm

  3. wrought iron / wrought tapioca; what a visual. All around excellent installment.

    Michael Lebt

    March 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: