Last week I sat in my apartment, watching the Oscars. I ate pizza, checked my e-mail and finished a load of laundry. For me, the real marker of time, the cosmic moment to reflect on another year gone by, is the Academy Awards.

One year ago: I have just driven back down from San Francisco. My clothes reek of hemp and humus, and I still have to host a prospective student who’s touring SC.

I miss all the major awards, and the kid ultimately declines the Trojan admission invite. But for once, LAX is completely empty. The city is so quiet, so calm, and for one moment I’m alone among millions.

Two years ago: I wake in Florence, Italy, with a Japanese man tickling my toes with the spine of a travel cookbook. “Egg?” he intones, staring.

I decline, wait in line 20 minutes for the hostel’s only computer and realize with horror that Crash has won best picture. I think it’s going to ruin my whole day until an hour later, when I ascend the Duomo to its topmost cupola, wondering, in the cool Tuscan sun, if you can die from eating too much gelato.

Three years ago: having put myself on the line in the pages of the Daily Trojan with my erudite Oscar predictions, I’m screaming inside as I scoop horse poop at my aunt’s barn in Pasadena. Under the impression that her offer of “watching the Oscars” meant watching the Oscars, I’d agreed to help “tidy up a few things first.” The closest I come to tuxedos this night is the black and white stallion that kicks over his slop bucket on me.

Nine years ago: I’m in a tux at a swanky Hollywood lawyer’s HoHills house. Some of his clients appear on the red carpet, and he refers to them with cool insider nicknames. It’s the most glamorous I’ve ever felt. Then I choke on paté and almost pass out.

Ten years ago: I’m riding by bike past the Shrine Auditorium, through the No Parking signs and past police officers preparing for the night’s show. The giant golden cutouts of Oscar are an arm’s length away, the red carpet so close.

I tell myself with confidence that 10 years from now, I’ll be famous and powerful, walking down its glorious length. What a day that will be.