Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Saturday / Sunday

After leading my playwriting workshop yesterday, I drove down toward San Diego to see a couple of friends, a married couple who were in town. They’re housesitting, and here for a while, and they’re very good people I’d like to see more of, but they don’t live around here, and given what my schedule’s been like lately (as reflected in the dearth of posts), Saturday into Sunday was the only chance I had to see them.

As is the way with things, in Southern California at least, Mr. Google promised that the drive would take me an hour and nine minutes; instead, it took about two. This was late on a Saturday afternoon. Why was traffic backed up on a Saturday afternoon? Because traffic is always backed up. Years ago, my friends and I settled on this great idea to avoid traffic coming back from San Diego Comic-Con:  go see a movie early Sunday evening after the convention, and by the time it’d be over, traffic would have cleared. These days we still see the movie — but the traffic is pretty much 24/7. It never clears.

I stopped and picked up a nice bottle of wine — a red blend that the wine-shop owner strongly recommended and that my friends effused over after we opened it — and they grilled beautiful ribeye steaks from an upscale supermarket where I’m too cheap to shop, and paired them with squash and cucumbers and other delights. We swapped all sorts of stories from the past year, and thoughts about current events. Eventually, the husband and I broke out cigars, and his wife went to bed, and he and I sat out back under a heater and smoked those cigars and drank scotch and worked on the world’s problems while one of the dogs kept coming back to me with a tattered chew toy. After Tuesday’s Democratic sweep of just about everywhere, I was feeling hopeful, but truly no one knows what’s going to happen — with anything — so it’s all wait-and-see.

My friend is living in Germany right now; that’s where he came in from. He was surprised how relatively cheap it is. The nice apartment, the healthcare insurance, food, and other costs total out at $1800 a month. My mortgage alone is just under $4,000 a month. Our cable/internet/phone package runs $275 a month. Food — for four of us, sure — is $775 a month, and at that amount, people around here can’t believe that’s all I’m spending. The more he talked about Germany, the better it sounded:  great cultural institutions, nice people, high walkability and easy access to cheap public transportation…. “Sounds great!” I said. “All I’d need is about 1500 certain people to move there with me.” Because there’s a very good reason I stay in Los Angeles:  all the people here I get to work with and socialize with — theatre people, business friends, friend-friends, some family. Actually, there’s another great reason I stay in Los Angeles:  I love Los Angeles. I’m crazy about it. Really. It was having this discussion with my friend last night that helped crystallize for me that I don’t foresee ever living anywhere else. Never say never — as Sean Connery learned when he said he’d never play James Bond again, only to return as Bond in a movie called “Never Say Never Again” — but the odds seem slim.

We finally called it a night at 2:30 in the morning, so I went upstairs to the bedroom where I was staying and pulled out the book I’m reading, “Us Kids Know,” by my friend former student, JJ Strong. I downed one of what I call “Sleepytime Alleve,” with a seltzer water, because every joint in my body ached just from being alive. Around 3:15, I switched off the light and snuggled in to sleep, but kept hearing this nearby crashing sound coming from outside. It was somewhat regular, and infinitely distracting to someone trying to sleep, like something coming in and hitting something, and then pausing, and then hitting it again. Finally I realized I was hearing the surf crash onto the beach. I wonder if whoever first romanticized the pounding of the surf actually tried to sleep near it.

At 7:46, the dog walker arrived to walk the housesat dogs; I know this because the dog pandemonium woke me up. I drifted back to sleep, waking up a few hours later, checking the news and social media and my email and going downstairs for a beautifully cooked and served breakfast, before driving back. I left around 1 p.m. — a good time, I thought — checked my phone, and saw that Google was predicting an hour and nine minutes to get home.

It took about two.

2 Responses to “Saturday / Sunday”

  1. Dan Says:

    Is this what they call “L.A. Lifestyle”?

  2. Paul Says:

    As someone who lives on a barrier island near the Atlantic Ocean, I don’t hear the crashing of the wave. I can hea a steady roar of the waves late at night when there is no vehicular traffic to drown it out.

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