Aspen Princess: Me, myself and I
I don’t know if it’s just because it’s offseason and you guys have nothing else to do or what, but I just wanted to take a second to say thank you for your emails and comments these past couple of weeks.
The need for reassurance came when a colleague of mine from another paper had her column pulled after over a decade. I thought, what if the same were to happen to me?
The best career advice I’ve heard is that we are all disposable. To believe otherwise is both arrogant and foolish. I am sure there is some hot millennial Princess out there just waiting to replace me.
Another great lesson I learned was from Evan Slater, my editor at Surfer magazine. Not only was he one of the hottest bosses I’ve ever worked for, he also was wise. He made going to work every day fun (other than the stress over what to wear, how much more weight I could possibly lose and how to learn how to surf by lunchtime) because in addition to being a pinup California boy with blonde hair and blue eyes, he was super smart. He also happened to be one of the most talented big-wave surfers of his generation and he was kind of a nerd. Once I found him in the office late night listening to elevator jazz on full blast.
He taught me the art of writing a punchy last line, but he also taught me about humility. I had no idea Evan was a big-wave surfer, a pioneer of surfing mavericks, or the person who discovered Mark Foo’s body when he drowned until I read it in a coffee table book on that very subject. I had no idea he took some of the most legendary, life-threatening, big-wave wipeouts until I saw it on the big screen at a video premiere. Believe it or not, surfers in general value humility; it’s an unspoken rule never to brag. The true test of an accomplished surfer is to let your surfing speak for itself.
So even though I make bupkis on this column gig, I never take it for granted. It is my lifeline as a writer, and as I have said a thousand times, without it I would shrivel up and die. This column forces me to sit down and write at least once a week. After 15 years, I have had a lot of practice writing 1,000 words. Like riding my snowboard down my favorite line on Highland Bowl so many times that my board seems to know where to go and all I have to do is stand on it, writing at this length has become second nature. There is almost no need to check the word count. Nine times out of 10, I know exactly when to stop.
The dilemma, then, becomes what to write about. Once a week I gotta come up with something, and boy oh boy, do those six days go by fast.
Believe you me, there are days when I cringe to hit the “send” button, knowing that whatever inane crap that has landed on the page will be in tomorrow’s paper. But without fail, it’s the columns that I dread my readers seem to love the most. And when I tinker all day on what I’m convinced is the most hysterical and clever thing I’ve ever written, it’s nothing but crickets. The moral of that little story is I can’t be the judge of my own work.
The truth is, I do feel insecure about teetering on the precipice of late middle age and the Botox wears off a lot faster than it used to and I need a lot more of it. Despite the demise of my beloved print media, I still have some semblance of a career and still call myself a “freelance writer” (in finger quotes). But the fact is I spend most of my time being ordered around by a 2-foot-tall dictator with seven teeth who can’t even talk yet and a pug who starts harassing me for her dinner at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The only remarkable thing that happened to me last week was when my kid dropped a load in his pants when we were out and about and I forgot to pack the wipes. I didn’t realize this until mid-diaper change on the front seat of my car, when I glanced and saw a canister of Armorall Wipes. They were kind of dried out anyway, and plus, what’s the worst that could happen? His little butt was as shiny as a brand-new penny.
Anyhoo, the point is there are days when I wonder if my crown has gotten a little rusty, or outdated, or totally out of vogue. On the rare occasion I do make it to Aspen, I am baffled by the apparent return of ’90s fashion and why anyone in their right mind would want to bring back high-waisted jeans, which for real don’t look good on anyone.
All I think about is renovating my house, which is never going to happen, at least not on a columnist’s salary. Maybe that’s why I’m so obsessed: Instead of lusting after unavailable men, I now drool over tile backsplash and Viking stoves and farmhouse sinks I can’t afford. I dream about hardwood floors and dormered windows and French doors and how I want to redo our decks with wire railing and replace our cheap siding with reclaimed barn wood. Just think about how much that would transform our little house!
So after polling you guys it sounds like you’d rather continue to read about my navel than about my, er, Trump. Thanks for reassuring me I’m on the right track. As a wise woman once said, “Enough about me. I want to hear what you think about me!”
Love you guys.
The Princess is in awe of springtime up the Frying Pan. Email your love to email@example.com.
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“If I was moving through the herd, the others would begin walking away, some of them at a jog, taking their calves with them, but the big brown ungulate would face me sideways, reluctant to move, not wanting to give any ground,” writes Tony Vagneur.