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


The night before the night before the new year

On the night before the night before the new year, I’m not working on my new play, and I’m not working on anything in particular, but I am thinking about all the things I’ll be working on in 2023, and about all the things I did in 2022, and about what I’m going to say about those things here, and what I’m going to forget to say.

Once thing I did in 2022, effective last week, was get a divorce. That wasn’t something I had ever foreseen doing. It wasn’t even something I was eager to do. But it was something that became inevitable, and I’m glad that my ex-wife and I were able to do it amicably. I still care about her, and I imagine I will always care about her, and I certainly don’t want anything damaging almost 40 years of almost entirely positive memories of our relationship. She said pretty much the same, but more eloquently: “We’ll always be family, you and I just won’t be a unit any more.” That’s pretty good, and I’m hanging onto that. Although, honestly, it takes something out of Christmas when 40% of that always-family is in one state, and 40% is in another state, and 20% is in Korea.

Speaking of Korea, one thing that happened in 2022 was that my son, my U.S. Army son, got stationed to Korea. Good for him. During Covid, he and his fellow soldiers spent a lot of time quarantined in barracks first in Georgia and then outside Seattle; judging from his texts and photos, Korea looks more enjoyable.

In 2022, I started a play that I’m still deep into. Usually I write one or two a year; this year it’s not even the one, but at least it’s a lengthy one and I think it’s a good one.

And I read 28 books, some good…

(The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy; The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston; both of Elizabeth Strout’s exceptional novels about Olive Kitteridge)…

…some of them terrible: (The End of Men, by Christina Sweeney-Baird, seemingly written by a naive but eager 10-year-old; and, astonishingly, Falconer, a true dud of a novel written by John Cheever of all people)…

…and some of them in-between, most spectacularly A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara which at 900 pages is intermittently badly written and frequently laughably over-the-top in cataloging the tribulations of its hero, who manages to avoid only the plague of frogs, but which is at other times compelling and authentic, so much so that one wonders if two different people wrote different sections, or if the author has a split personality.

In 2022, I went places.

I went to England, and not just London this time. London, yes, where I saw a middling play with some terrific actors, but also Birmingham where I got to meet a good Internet friend in the flesh and where he and his wife and I stayed up ’til 3 in the morning drinking wine and talking in an evening I never wanted to end, these being good smart interesting people. (I knew I was in the right company when I went into the bedroom where they kindly put me up and I scanned the bookshelves and saw that I’d read fully three-quarters of the same books, and that the others were on my to-read list.) And then we made a pilgrimage to Canterbury to see the world’s greatest rock band, Pere Ubu, and then from there I went to Brighton and spent a few days in the lovely entertaining company of another good friend who very kindly devoted an inordinate amount of her time to showing me around a fascinating city I never would have visited but for her.

I also went to San Diego for the annual Comic-Con, and also to San Diego for a much smaller comics fest, and to Atlanta with a beautiful woman, and to New York to see clients and friends, and to New Jersey to see family and friends, and to Hawaii (a place I’d never wanted to visit, it being bereft of metropolis, but a place I really enjoyed nonetheless), and to St. Augustine, Florida on business with the added bonus of seeing my beautiful and smart daughter (and where, to her delight, we got to visit the Museum of Torture, which left me wincing, and also a 17th century Spanish army hospital, which also left me wincing) and to Denver with a good friend to see a show and drink some drinks, and probably other places too that now slip my mind.

In 2022, I turned 60. It was as much a surprise to me as it seemed to everyone who proclaimed nicely, “Sixty! Really? You look so young! I never would have guessed!” (And I don’t even pay these people.) I don’t know how I could be 60 when I still feel 34 inside, although every morning the mirror is happy to educate me on this subject.

My mother called me last week to say how much she enjoyed the Christmas gift I sent her (a Hickory Farms meat-and-cheese selection, she being happily a meat-and-cheese-eating lady of German extraction), and I said, “Mom, I’m 60! Can you believe I’m 60?”

She said, “Well, how old am I???”

I said, “Mom, you’re 97.”

“Ohhh, wow!”


She also told me that her leg hurt. “What did you do?”

“Oh, I had a shot of whiskey. Now it feels fine.”

Right-o. I come from good stock. The sort of stock where everything’s fine, we’ll all be okay, and no one should make a fuss.

And that’s my expectation of 2023 in general. Sure, I have my goals, and I also have my plans. But 60 years have taught me that you can control only so much, and that you can control almost nothing except yourself, and then not even enough of that. Still, one way or another, in general, everything’s fine and we’ll all be okay.

So: 2023. Here’s to it.

3 Responses to “The night before the night before the new year”

  1. Adrian Says:

    Another fine post! All the very best for 2023, Lee.

  2. Dan Says:

    I always prepare for the New Year by making resolutions –for other people — and that done, shall spend this evening with a few friends and watch REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947) a noir fantasy with a theatre background you might appreciate.

  3. Richard Roesberg Says:

    Well, I read LIARMOUTH by John Waters and MISTER MONKEY by Francine Prose, among other fine works. A year full of books is a good year. And now my daughter is here with the grandkids, for a multi-day visit, and good friend Tia has stopped over. Chinese take-out for everybody!

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