So then Jack says to Liz Lemon, “You Can’t Have it All”

by Andie Bottrell

By some wizards wave of the wand, it has been three months already that I’ve been in Missouri on my financially forced hiatus from my L.A. home. I knew it would be a difficult challenge, and it has- I’ve been alternating between, “This isn’t so bad” and hysterically crying over small things like being asked to take the paper I used to decorate my cubical prison walls down. I’ve never been so busy in my life. I work eight to five with a ridiculously heavy work load that demands my two least developed skills (math and confrontation) inside the cubical prison collecting money for newspaper ads and then I come home and work several more hours writing about plastic surgery procedures. The 12+ hour days Monday through Friday, in addition to other odd jobs, leaves me with only bits of time on the weekend and during my lunch break to work on my own goals. As someone who has had the luxury for the past three years of solely working from home and creating my own schedule- it’s been a tough adjustment.

One of the things that happens when you don’t have a lot of time to allocate to things is your priorities come screaming into focus. I often talk and think about and re-read this poem from my favorite drunken genius Charles Bukowski (I even have it tacked on the cubical prison wall behind my computer) and I want to share it with you now.

air and light and time and space

by Charles Bukowski

“–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,

something has always been in the


but now

I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this

place, a large studio, you should see the space and

the light.

for the first time in my life I’m going to have

a place and the time to



no baby, if you’re going to create

you’re going to create whether you work

16 hours a day in a coal mine


you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children

while you’re on


you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown


you’re going to create blind



you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your

back while

the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,

flood and fire.


baby, air and light and time and space

have nothing to do with it

and don’t create anything

except maybe a longer life to find

new excuses


I love that poem because it’s true.  And I’ve kept finding ways and moments to create through this time. I made a commercial for Zenni Optical Commercial Contest and somehow won Third Place even though I didn’t have a nice camera or a crew (I had to tie the camera to a tree branch and my shower head) or much time to do it. I researched and found some film and theatre people here and made a short film of a scene from my latest play. I painted my biggest painting, wrote two songs, wrote several poems and a few short stories, and am about a month shy of finishing the first draft of my newest screenplay. For all this, however, I have also dropped several balls in many other ways- in relationships and in other projects. This is the point in the episode where Jack tells Liz Lemon you really can’t have it all. You have to choose.

I hate letting people down. It breaks my heart when my actions hurt others I love or when I fail to keep my word. There was a long period of time between when I was 16 to about a year ago when, due to personal experience, I thought if you let someone down they walked away forever. It was in part due to the theatre that I learned that staying in the room was not only much more interesting, healthy and productive but something people are capable of if you stay in the room too. The thing is that people make mistakes- most of the time they don’t mean to. No one wants to make a mistake- most people don’t want to hurt you. Things just happen because life and humanity is messy and imperfect. And when you are trying to do more than you are capable of, you are going to make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean life’s over- that doesn’t mean you just walk away from it all in shame- that means, learn why you made that mistake, do your best to make amends, and then move past it knowing yourself, your limitations and priorities better.

2 thoughts on “So then Jack says to Liz Lemon, “You Can’t Have it All”

  1. Andie, it took me decades to realize that when I’m writing, deep in it, it is best I bow out of things because I would shut down in the middle of a conversation. That’s not good. Now I just say, I am working on this piece and it’s keeping me up all night, got to finish it and when I must go out, I force myself to stay engaged. While we juggle writing and work and family and friends, we must keep in mind that it is okay to say “No, I can’t” and it’s also okay to miss a few deadlines that only come once a year to say, “Yes, I will”. I write more than a few “I’m sorry poems”, “here’s what so awesome about you if you’ve never been told poems”, and “I love you poems” because sometimes the stress of not getting to the writing makes me not good company so I give the best that I can give – words and love, writer lady. Words. Because words can paint a thousand pictures…and pictures are worth a thousand words… I try to say the things that normally people would say when their loved one is gone/dead because that is my best (my quality time as it were) which is all I can really give when I can’t give time. After a while people start to know when you’re writing and that you’re weird right about then…or not. No, the world is not over when one messes up – I agree with you – but it can hurt like it is. The writing life is hard yet full of moments that teach us humanity and humility and what grace truly is; it is also full of decisions that sometimes only sit easy on the page…

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