Every year, as I try hard to savor my birthday without suffocating it, I reflect on the past 365 days and all that they've wrought. 2011 has been especially transformative--the year I transitioned into a true freelance writer, took a hiatus from the classroom, got that much closer to surrendering control.
And this holiday season was the first I've spent in California! Though I cherish all those past Louisiana and East Coast Christmases, the lemony days and windy coastal nights have been lovely and serene. M and I kicked off Christmas Eve with fresh-baked blueberry muffins and a surprise package from Mom containing 12 presents for her future grandchild. (I never thought I could get so excited about white-knit booties :)
Then we headed down to LA to celebrate with M's family, which has become my family. These game-playing folks trotted out Apples to Apples, Guesstures, ping pong, and plenty of back gammon. Good times with my nieces, nephew, and sister-in-law! After a pit stop in the supremely clean, corporate, and stucco-roofed Santa Barbara, we came to San Luis Obispo for my birthday weekend.
So far, a charming day, beginning with a quick stop at Gum Alley, then breakfast at the ultra-hip Kreuzberg Cafe and Book Bar, whose menu items are named after famous authors. We feasted on the J.D. Salinger (bagel with lox and capers) and the Victor Hugo (hot beignets), then headed out to the coast for a gorgeous, windy beach hike.
Here I am, completing my 33rd trip around the sun...