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

Day 81

with 5 comments

I think that when you’re the kind of person I am who works in the type of field I work in and it’s the time of year it is now, the trick is trying to stay optimistic.  I often wear a hat that says, “half full” on it.  People think it’s a joke, that I’m saying that my head is half full or that I’m being ironic because they assume I’m a “half empty” kind of guy, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Okay, some things could be farther from the truth, but 95% of the time I look on the bright side.  Okay, fine, I have self-diagnosed everyone in my family with cancer at least two to three times of year, but in general, I’m optimistic.  This specific time of year– the earliest buds of staffing season, there are few reasons to be overly optimistic, and fewer even to be overly pessimistic.  To compensate for the lack of momentum, I have decided to appreciate the “little victories”, and today I had several.

In the way of little victories, none was littler yet more victorious than my taking care of the fish tank yesterday, and completing the job today.  Sure, I caused a lot of havoc along the way, and had to ultimately call in reinforcements, but it was a job well done.  What was yesterday a putrid swamp of filth, was today a child’s starter fish tank, brimming with life (three tiny fish and a half inch of gravel).  In terms of pets, fish are even lower on the personality scale than the hermit crabs we had for ten minutes, but I have to say, those three little bastards really made me laugh this morning.  They were all clumped together in the center of the tank, able to see for the first time, looking stunned and a little embarrassed,  like three college guys at a bar at the end of the night when the lights come on.  Because they survived their first night of living in clean water– and because I had literally nothing else to do– I decided to reward them with fish accessories and a tank-mate.  It was to be my third trip to Petco within the past 12 hours– tomorrow will be my fourth trip, to try to return the sludge vacuum that didn’t work– and it was a complete success: I picked up a tiny little castle, some pink jewels for the bottom of the tank (it’s in my daughter’s room, after all), three fake plants that are advertised to “reduce fish stress” (how much stress is there being a fish?  It’s not like they’re going out for staffing on a pilot), and another tiny little fish whose main qualification was that he was durable, not to big, didn’t crap a lot and cost under $3.00– if only we could choose dates like that, am I right fellas?  Fellas?  Ahem.  Anyway, I am happy to report that now over 24 hours after cleaning the tank, not only does it no longer look like my fraternity bathroom after Rush Week, it is actually something pleasant to be in the same room with.  Not exactly beating the Germans on V-E day, but I’ll take this little domestic victory where I can get it.

Keeping with the pet-theme, I also decided to fix the doggie door (ie: I bought a new doggie door flap on line because they didn’t have one when I went looking during one of my twelve visits to Petco last week.  One may think this is not a big accomplishment, to replace a prefitted plasticized rubber flap on an existing doggie door, but one is not me for whom any type of installation is nearly impossible.  What made this installation all the more daunting is that it didn’t come with screws which meant I had to head down to HORROR MUSIC STING: the basement!  Now, fortunately, most of the detritus that was clogging the path to my tool box has since been relocated to the garage where it is clogging the path to the rest of my tools that I left in there when I was building shelves all those weeks ago.  So with a clear shot at the tool box, my job was simple: find six screws.  One of the few manly things I possess, aside from a drill a torpedo level (I don’t know) and six screw-drivers that are a cross between a philips and a flat head and thus work on neither– is an assortment of screws.  To make the screw situation even more masculine– if you can imagine– they are scattered in sawed off plastic bottles of Gatorate Artic Extreme.  The problem with every single random screw I own is that they are all too long for the job.  I know this because I once tried and the business end of the screws stuck out so far that it became more of a doggie trap than a doggie door.  So, what does a guy like me do in a situation like this?  Call a doggie door guy?  No, because that would not be victorious.  And I didn’t need to because this guy also happens to own a vise and a hack saw.  So using a little ingenuity (and two dozen screws and three hack saw blades) I filed down six near-perfect screws.  Did I put the doggie door on exactly right the first time?  No.  But did I put it on exactly right the second time?  Still no.  But on the fourth time, with the help of my son, we got it to the point where when the doggie door guy comes on Friday he can easily fix it.  Victory: mine.

My next category of tiny victory is work-related.  Building on the momentum of my meeting yesterday where the feedback as filtered through my hyper-positive glass overflowing agent was essentially, “Yeah, you know.  Jeff.  Yeah.  Ahem.”, I continued with my creed of “no meeting is irrelevant” and booked meetings for next week with pilots that may already be dead.  My agent last week mentioned a meeting with the guard at Warner Bros. Gate 7 which I thought was a joke until his assistant called me today for available times– preferably not during his busy time of 9-10 a.m. and 5-6 p.m..  But again, I’m getting out there and taking meetings.  The glass is half full– even if the glass is perched on a tiny table inside a guard booth.

Finally, my next giant little victory was with my daughter who as you may recall has been sick lately because she was exposed to people who breathe.  Last time she was sick it was disastrous– not really for her, but for me who couldn’t bare to see her miss three weeks of school.  And also for her who had to live with a father whom she interpreted as “blaming her” for being sick.  A nine year old girl can twist statements like, “If you wanted to get better, you’d be better” into a parent’s blame.  For some reason, maybe because I’ve been focusing on other things, or maybe I’ve actually learned a thing or two, but I’ve really laid off her.  I can hear my wife snort from the other room as I type this because she’s going to say, “what are you talking about?  All you’ve been repeating is, ‘she’s not missing another three weeks of school even if I have to sit in her class dressed like her and take notes’.”  But that was anxiety I was tossing towards my wife, not directly at my daughter.  And today it paid off: she pulled her tiny little frame out of bed, creaked downstairs, with eyes that looked like she was in a Ren and Stimpy cartoon, and actually went to school with very little complaining.  Was it because her throat was too sore to talk?  You’d have to ask her– though she can’t answer without extreme pain.  But she went and she stayed the whole day.  And I told her I was proud of her.  And I took her out for a milkshake after school even though it was 95 degrees outside and she claimed to be freezing.  Was it the equivalent of beating the Russians at ice hockey?  Hardly, but I took it.

So there it was, a day of living in the sunny side of the street, relishing the small victories of having a home to repair, an agent who’s scrambling to get me meetings with people who want to meet me back, a son who’s willing to take two hours away from his Nintendo DS to do a five minute project with his dad, and a daughter who’s healthy enough to go to school.  Are these the most important things in the world?  You know, they may just be.


Written by 100daysoff

May 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Simple abundance.


    May 5, 2011 at 6:38 am

  2. Couldn’t you just use the same screws from the original doggie door that you were replacing?


    May 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

    • I like how you think, but when we got back from our trip, the doggie door was hanging by a single threadbare screw.


      May 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

  3. Our daughter’s fish tank seems to only kill fish and breed the snails that clean up the tank. So it’s really clean and scary quiet. Wants some snails?

    Marian Merritt

    May 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

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