It’s nine a.m., New Year’s Eve (Day) and what am I doing?

Making cupcakes. My life is oh-so-exciting.

I remember when New Year’s meant going to a big party and staying up all night. And I remember when New Year’s meant going out to a nice restaurant with a band and ringing in midnight with champagne toasts, dressed to the nines. Ah, right. And now, New Year’s is cooking out on the grill at home, then walking through the woods to a neighbor’s party, in bed, most likely, by 12:30.

Have to say I like it. I like it a lot. My big throwdown-dancing-on-the-bar days are over. Or at least, latent. For the time being. This is just the perfect end to the year for me.

I’ve always sort of had issues with New Year’s. You feel that pressure: to be doing something fabulous, because everyone else (supposedly) is. And if you can’t stay up till midnight, then you’re superlame, no question. I intend to watch that ball drop, maybe even set off some fireworks, light a few sparklers. But I’m sticking close to home. It’s where I like to be, and I think it’s fab, anyway.

What will this year bring? Well, the biggest thing, career-wise, is the movie. I have no idea what to expect, so I’m going to do the one thing that always seems to ground me, start another book. Today I packed up the last of my Christmas stuff (fake mistletoe, dancing Homer Santa) and thought, okay, see you next year. I have no idea where I’ll be, where we’ll be. But I’m looking forward to the trip at any rate.

To all of you, I wish the happiest of New Years. If you’re down here below the Mason-Dixon line, you’ll do like me tomorrow, and cook up some collard greens and black eyed peas for money and luck, respectively. I’ll indulge in another New Year’s Day tradition: Sara Lee pecan coffee cake and watching whatever bad movies are on cable. This was an up and down year, no question, and the next will probably be, as well. But the ups are great, aren’t they?

have a good day—and safe night!—everyone. Bring on 2003!