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

Day 55

with 6 comments

So, just a quick update on Day 2 of 30daysofbackpain: after a brutal assault on Wednesday, my back is fighting back angrily.  Apparently, my back does not like being deforested in such a violent way and there are street protests everywhere.  It is the stuff of lawsuits and I will not go into detail as I will be eating dinner soon.  However, I will say that if there were a service that offered back hair replacement, I would happily enroll.  Now, onto Day 55.  Here’s how it began:

8:00 AM– Daddy is ready to take the kids to school, happy to get them there on-time (8:25) for the first time in a long time.  Problem: Sasha is still doing her science homework from last night and Caleb is running around with one sock on.  I still have five minutes left to get them there on time.

8:10 AM — Sasha is still doing her science homework.  I add in my relaxing tone, “LET’S GO!  WE HAVE TO GO!”  Shawni gently tells Sasha to go brush her teeth and she’ll do the last of her homework problems when she gets downstairs.  Caleb is nowhere to be found.

8:15 AM– Caleb emerges from upstairs saying, “Boo!”, still wearing one sock, but on a different foot.  I ask if he brushed his teeth.  He reacts as if it’s the first time he’s heard such a question.  “GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!”  Caleb runs off upstairs.  I call up to Sasha, “LET’S GO!!!”  I ask Shawni what she’s doing and she says she’s finishing Sasha’s homework– at least she’s going to give Sasha hints– if she can figure it out.  Frustrated, I tell Shawni I’ll do it.  Shawni says we can’t do Sasha’s homework for her.  I say I don’t care, I want to get the hell out of the house, so what’s the question.  Shawni: “Explain how electricity works differently in a fan than in a clock.”  I stare blankly.

8:25 AM– Shawni and I are still trying to figure out how electricity works differently in a fan than in a clock.  Sasha comes downstairs and finishes the homework by herself.  I still think the question is irrelevant, there is no way Sasha will be an electrician.  I call for Caleb who comes downstairs now in both socks.  “Did you brush your teeth?”  Blank stare.  LET’S GO!!!!!!  Caleb puts on his shoes and heads out the door.  I’m furious.

8:26 AM– While putting the kids’ backpacks in the car they realize they have no water bottles.  I tell them it’s okay.  Sasha, who’s obsessed with following rules, says it’s not and goes back inside to get her water bottle.  I then drop my coffee all over the back of the car.  I tell Caleb to get in the car while I get a new coffee.   It’s the only thing that will make me happy, it’s for the kids’ health and well-being, trust me.

8:27 AM– I pass Sasha who’s exiting with the water bottles and tell her to get in the car with Caleb while I get my coffee.  She says she doesn’t want to go to the car without me.  I almost use a profanity.  Instead I tell her if she doesn’t get in the car I will cancel our vacation Wednesday.  It is an empty threat and we both know it.

8:29 AM– As I go to exit the house, Caleb runs in the house screaming.  Apparently Sasha threw his water bottle at him.  I hear Sasha from the driveway, “No I didn’t.  Caleb threw it at me!”  It’s not even a good lie.  I ask Caleb if he got hurt.  Through golfball sized tears he says, “No, but it killed the aphid in my hand!”  Questions abound.  I try to remain calm: “Okay, well go back to the car.”  “I can’t, I have dead aphid on my hand and it’s poisonous!”  I tell him aphids are only poisonous if he’s a tomato.  He doesn’t care.  My germ-phobic son runs into the house to clean off the dead aphid.

8:30 AM I get to the car where Sasha is still not buckled in.  I ask her where Caleb’s water bottle is.  She tells me it rolled down the driveway.  I find that it has nestled itself into a pile of mud.  I try to wipe it off with my shirt, but it’s caked on like a muddy cleat.

8:32 AM Caleb returns to the car, and sees me using my shirt to wipe off his water bottle.  I know that this will not be a sufficient cleaning for a kid who just went through a half a bottle of purell because he has a dead imaginary bug on his hand.  I go back inside to wash off the bottle.

8:34 AM  I get back to the car to find the kids literally smacking each other.  I scream at the top of my lungs, “STOP FIGHTING!  BOTH OF YOU!  IT’S DISGUSTING!”  I am tempted to use my nuclear card and say, “When mommy and daddy die all you’ll have left are each other”, but I don’t.  Instead I throw the car into reverse sending the kids scrambling for their seat belts.

8:51 AM– We arrive at school after a silent drive.  I kiss the kids and tell them to have a good day then walk back to the car knowing that my day will include 4 trips to the supermarket, one to the dry cleaner and at least two to the same mall to take back another item I bought for Shawni that didn’t fit.  As I do, I remember that I moved to LA from New York exactly 20 years ago today.

Exactly 20 years and three months ago today was the day I told my father I was moving to Los Angeles.  He was just going through a career change so I knew I would have to find the right moment and the right way to tell him.  He picked me up from the train station to take me to his house for dinner and immediately told me that my stepmom saw a psychic who told her that one of her children was moving far away from home and the other was going to be engaged.  Apparently, this was my moment.  I told him, “Guess what?  Liz (my sister) is going to be getting engaged.”  I then explained that I was quitting my job as an investment banker to move to Hollywood to be a writer.  As luck would have it, on my way to catching the train in Penn Station I saw that the cover story in M Magazine that week was “Why Ivy League Graduates are Leaving Wall St. for Hollywood”.  If ever I needed a sign that I was doing the right thing, this was it.  My father threw the magazine across the room and told me if I moved to California he wouldn’t tell me when he died.  It was a remark driven by the same emotions I had when I threatened to cancel our vacation (except, if I had to, I could carry through on my threat).  He was just a guy, like I was, who didn’t want to lose control of his kid.  My father came around eventually and is now my biggest fan.  In fact he– who once told me that “only crazy people move to California”– now lives a 50 minute flight away in Las Vegas, where truly only crazy people live.

The person who drove me to come out to California was my best friend Mike.  I’ll spare you the details, but it was his idea that we quit our jobs in New York and come to LA to be writers.  We had done comedy together in college and wrote together afterwards.  I agreed with him that LA was where our future lived and joined him for the ride and my life, of course, has never been the same.  We got married a month apart an at his wedding I started my Best Man’s toast with, “Mike, everything I have, I owe to you.”  A month later, he started his toast of me with, “Jeff farts a lot.”  We were both right to a certain extent, but who says something like that in public?  I mean, of course I don’t owe him everything.  I remember Mike and I taking an improv course at the Groundlings and our teacher, Kathy Griffin (the Kathy Griffin) introduced her to a friend saying, “this is Mike and Jeff” in two years they are going to own this town.

It’s now been twenty years and I don’t own this town.  I don’t even own my Prius.  Not that we didn’t have our chances: we were the hottest writers on the hottest show in history and we left after two years to create our own hit show.  It was a life-changing decision: it sent my career on a different trajectory (still a good one, mind you, but not “town owning”), but the big payoff was that it allowed me to meet my wife and ultimately have my kids– all of whom are priceless.    After a particularly frustrating day– I think the day before I got my back waxed– I tried to think about whose life I would change mine for, and I couldn’t think of anyone.  I told my wife that and got a well deserved, “awwww”, then continued past the point to tell her that I even considered my friends and acquaintances who had much younger, really hot wives.  My wife at that point probably reviewed her own life trajectory and where it went off course for her.

Anyway, the 20 years have gone fast, and if someone were to tell me when I got off that plane in LA with $1500 in my pocket that someday I’d be living with a hot blond in a nice house, with my two adorable healthy kids and a hairless if bumpy back, having just written for a tv show starring Captain Kirk, I would have been over the moon ecstatic.  I need to look at my world from that perspective sometimes, just to realize that cranky kids and all, I really do own this town.


Written by 100daysoff

April 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. My favorite so far….


    April 8, 2011 at 6:04 pm

  2. You have written some really good ones over this past 55 days but yes – this was the best to date. But how does elecctricity work differently in a fan than a clock?

    Michael Lebit

    April 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  3. LOVED this one. Thanks.

    David Kantor

    April 9, 2011 at 1:18 am

  4. Please don’t say if a post is my best so far. It makes me insecure that it’s all down hill from here. Now I’m going to have to get a tattoo and lose a kid in the mall.


    April 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    • OKAY JEFF; then to ease your insecurity, lowering the bar of future posts, I changed my mind: THIS POST SUCKED THE BIG ROTTEN EGG!!!! Is that better?

      Michael Lebit

      April 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

  5. I know you said not to say it, but this IS my favorite. Mostly because I’m a secretary in little Medford, Oregon with three kids in a two bedroom home and we still seem to have the same morning routine. 🙂


    April 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm

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