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

Day 92

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The good news about Sunday is that you know that there’s no way you’re going to hear anything bad about your job.  The bad news is, that is completely incorrect: at noon I got a text that the show I had been working on was rumored to have been cancelled.  By 12:35 it was no longer a rumor.  By 1:00 the only thing that was left was the crying.  By 1:15 nothing was left.    On a normal day, this would have been the big news, but today there were other things at play.  Here’s how the day started.

Knowing that I would not be burdened by any work news, today was the day I picked to assault the garage.  At 9:25 a.m. my good friend Melinda, the woman who had introduced me to my first car and my first girlfriend out here (aka: The Worst Car I Ever Had and My Crazy Ex–) showed up at my door to make good on those past introductions.  And boy did she ever.  She brought along her friend Jose, and together with my wife and me started going through the garage with reckless abandon.  I told her to be brutal– if we didn’t use it we would throw it out or donate it.  Sasha’s play kitchen?  Gone.  Caleb’s Car Seat?  See ya.  The worm composter cum-worm oven?  Adios.  My mountain bike that I got 19 years ago because The Worst Car Ever didn’t work– now hold on a second.  Melinda asked if I used it.  “Yes.”  “It doesn’t have tires.”  “I’m going to put them on.”  “Where do you use it?”  “On the mountain.”  “Which mountain?”  “Uh… that’s right: Witch Mountain.”  The mountain bike stayed.  But virtually everything else went.  We filled a giant pickup truck with kids toys and clothes– except for the really cute baby clothes which Shawni got to keep in exchange for my mountain bike, and left a dumpster overflowing with detritus from 11 years of refusing to throw anything out.

The best thing about the cleaning was that it was addictive– once the garage started to get clean, the frenzy spread to the basement where party favors, old telephones, diplomas, window dressings, one of our boilers– all became casualties.  The only occasional stumbling block was when one of the kids saw that we were throwing something of theirs out.  “Hey, why are you throwing out my stumbling blocks!” my daughter would cry, and we would retrieve them from Jose’s truck.  But overall, it was a magical morning.  It turns out, that our garage has hidden compartments, and shelves and even a floor!  Things we had never seen before.  It was hard to believe that this was the same garage that two years ago an exterminator refused to go into even though we had black widow spiders.  I was once at an amusement part where an obese couple waited an hour and a half on line for the loop-de-loop roller coaster, just to be told that they were too fat to ride.  At the time I remember thinking, “Okay, that’s gotta be the sign to them that it’s time to mix in a salad.”  For us, when an exterminator finds your garage too disgusting, that should have been the sign.  But it wasn’t.  It was me having 100 days off that finally motivated me to do something about it.  It was 11:59 a.m. and the world looked great.

I didn’t get chills when I got the text that my show wasn’t coming back– not like the phone calls I had received on six previous pilots of mine that didn’t make the cut.  Maybe it was because I was already purging things from my life, that this show was just another thing that would be chucked in the dumpster.  Or maybe, like my wife said, it was the official closing of one door so that another one could open.  When I started writing this journal, I had hoped it would time out like a nice story– the first act introducing our hero and his obstacles: cleaning my garage, getting into shape, finding a job; the second act adding some twists– not being good at being a stay at home dad, realizing he had work to do as a parent, throw in a trip to eat up some pages; and the third act would be where everything came together, hopefully for a happy ending.   Well, we’re nearing the end of the third act and one of the obstacles– or characters–the garage, has been put in its place.  We are still awaiting the conquest of the last obstacle– finding a job, and hopefully it will play out like any good action movie, where our hero slays it in the second to last scene, hopefully with a good pun.  As for getting in shape, that is the character that shows up at the end, still very much alive setting up for a sequel.

The one thing I know right now is that I don’t know what I’ll be doing this coming year.  When I started this journal, a writer friend warned me against it, saying, “What are you going to do when your unemployment lasts more than 100 days?”  It was reminiscent of my friends and family asking me, “What are you going to do when you don’t make it as a writer?”, 20 years ago when I decided to quit my job and move to LA.  Back then it didn’t dawn on me that I wouldn’t make it as a writer.  I’m not so naive right now, especially in this economy and this environment where another friend likened being a sitcom writer to being a lamplighter, but I wrote 100 days off because I have faith that that will be when this story ends.  In 19 years as a tv writer, I have only known in 4 or 5 of them what I’d be doing the next season, and this will just be another of those gut-churning times.  Now, of course, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, and there’s another third act twist that happened today: my wife got offered her first job since having Sasha.  I hope that door is not the door that opened and I’m destined to be Mr. Mom, because that’s a book that I know doesn’t end well for me or the kids.  But in the meantime I remain a man of faith.  Faith that this week will bring me a job offer from an amazing show that I can help to make a huge hit and that will allow me to not have to write another journal for many more years.  And while right now I don’t know what that show is, there’s one thing I do know: I HAVE A CLEAN GARAGE!

9:20 A.M. The garage bares its evil fangs

2:00 PM. Guywithacleangarage says "what"?


Written by 100daysoff

May 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Looks like seder chairs from Costco or BJ’s on that “very neat and clean” back shelf.

    Marc Rosenberg

    May 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

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