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

Day 90

with one comment

There is a dumpster in front of my house right now.  While its intended purpose will be fulfilled on Sunday when I administer an all-out assault on my garage, it served the auxiliary purpose of reminding me of my mood.  Today was another exhausting day of meetings, scheduled physically as far apart as two meetings can be scheduled and still be called “Hollywood” meetings.  I told my wife that I feel like a traveling salesman, and the product that I’m selling is me.  This morning I ran into a friend of mine– the kind of friend who says things like, “do you think that shirt looks good on you?”  and “are you struggling with your weight again?”– who looked at my scraggly salt and pepper beard and said, “So… no meetings?”  I told him that I had a lot of meetings, actually.  He responded, “Oh.  Do you think that beard looks good on you?”  The truth is, no, I don’t.  I think it makes me look 5-10 years older than I am– or than I think I look.  Or maybe it just makes me look as old as I am.  In any case, I am not a true “salesman” type in that I am not trying to make anything prettier than it is– I believe that my work and my personality should sell themselves.  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve made a career out of “what you see is what you get” hoping that you like what you see.

The big problem would be, of course, if I’m wrong.  The other day I played a practical joke on my agent that I will talk about now even though it has not been fully realized.  My Junior Agent, who is extremely dedicated and enthusiastic has been working tirelessly on my behalf.  His reward from me has been a continued stream of emails imploring him to work harder.  Anyway, after just about every meeting I have, my agent calls me and tells me that they loved me and that I’m in the mix and that I killed it, etc., etc.– stuff that they teach you to say when you become an agent.  After a meeting the other day, which seemed to go pretty well, I asked the person I was meeting with if when my agent calls, she would tell him that I was an arrogant jerk and that if I expected to get work, he better sit me down and talk with me.  I did this to see how that news would be filtered through my agent who is nothing but nice and supportive of me, but mostly because I thought it would be something we could laugh about when the tension broke– I would tell him almost immediately.  I waited all day to hear from him about the meeting.  Then the next day.  Then the next until I finally thought, “Huh.  Why isn’t he telling me?  Is he trying to protect my feelings from one bad meeting out of a dozen great ones?”  And that thought was followed by the more paranoid thought, “What if he had been getting that exact call after each one of my meetings so this call wasn’t a big deal?  What if the joke was on me?”

As it turns out, my agent never made contact with this person– or his assistant is just protecting my feelings.  But the truth is, these are the feelings of insecurity that start to seep in when you’re looking to fill one of only a dozen or so jobs out there.  And like Tom Petty so famously said, “the waiting is the hardest part”, especially someone who has a high idling motor.   I ran into a bookstore this morning between meetings and saw a book that said, “Becoming more Patient”.  I immediately picked it up until I read the subtitle, “A 30 day guide to becoming more relaxed”.  Who the hell has 30 days to waste on becoming more patient?  My wife, of course, has all the patience in the world.  She told me again that she’s not worried because she knows that whatever happens will be for the best, and all I have to do is control the things I can and let everything else run its course.  I told that same thing to a writer friend the other morning who said that it really helped him.  I then asked him to tell it to me so it could help me.   That’s not to say that my wife telling me these wonderful calming things doesn’t help, it’s just that she’s expected to be comforting, that’s her job.  Sometimes you have to hear these things from an unlikely source.  And just like that, my Senior Agent called.

I once had a suspicious freckle removed by a dermatologist, Dr. Fried, who told me he’s sure it’s nothing to worry about.  In fact, he told me the only way he would call me back is in the unlikely event that the lab said it was something to worry about.  Two weeks later my cell phone rang with the caller ID “Dr. Fried”, it might as well have been a skull and crossbones.  I heard him say “Wahhh  waahhhh wahhhh Melanoma wahhh wahhh wahhh”.  Ultimately, the freckle was fine, which I found out by removing a six inch brick of skin around my rib cage.  Anyway, the feeling that I had when I saw Dr. Fried’s name on my caller ID is the same feeling I have when my Senior Agent called.  It seems to be his job to come out of semi-retirement to give me bad news– as I mention, he is a partner at the agency of Doom & Gloom.  So tonight, when I saw his name on my caller ID, my freckle scar burned like Harry Potter and I picked up the phone and tremulously said, “heeelllllo?”  Whereas I am religious, my Senior Agent is very much not– I think you have to divest yourself of your soul to be a partner in an agency.  But sometimes he can say the exact right thing that can calm my own spinning soul.

He said he was just calling to check in and ask me how I was doing.  (Phew, no career cancer.)  I told him I was exhausted, about how I was a traveling salesman, about how hard it is to wait to hear news, etc.  He told me he understood: I have a family to support, I like to work, it seems unfair, etc.  He then said that everyone has a path, and that seemingly every year, for whatever reason, mine seems to be rocky at first but it always seems to work out.  He then told me to hang in there and spend time with my family and then he had to “jump”, how agents get off the phone.  And for some reason, this actually made me feel much better.  Maybe it was the surprising nature of the source, but in any case, there was no reason to spend 30 FREAKING DAYS trying to calm myself down.

The sun will be setting in about an hour which means that Hollywood will have to go on without me for the next 25 hours.  It also means that I will see my Senior Agent’s caller ID on my phone in about 61 minutes, knowing that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.  But as for now, the one thing I can control is logging out and spending time with my family and making that the most important thing in my life.  At least for the next day.

Post Script: Junior Agent finally called about the meeting where I was an arrogant jerk– he said that the executive thought that “My tone was not consistent with their network’s brand.”  I told him it was all a joke.  He said he was in on the joke; turns out the executive was not as mean, er, funny as I was and couldn’t go through with it.  He then told me that the meeting went great, they loved me, I’m in the mix and I killed it.  And right now, the thing I can control is choosing to believe it.


Written by 100daysoff

May 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. T-10 and counting. Good luck in the continued hunt.


    May 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

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