Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate | AspenTimes.com
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Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I’m so broke and so bored I’ve resorted to sitting around the house looking at free porn on the Internet and eating way too many snacks. Let me just say you would not believe the things people are willing to do in front of a camera. What really gets me is they post this stuff for free.

Turns out they’re not the only ones whoring themselves out for a cheap thrill.

A few days ago, I found out my column pay is going to be cut in half. Let’s just say my weekly wages would cover drinks, maybe, but not dinner. It’s boiled down to about six cents a word.

Six cents. I remember when taking less than a dollar a word was a huge concession that you’d consider for friends or local rags or the web just because you were in a generous mood. That dollar mark was the measure of an established freelance journalist. It was your worth beyond its actual value.

My response to The Aspen Times was, “I’m grateful to have a column at all and am willing to do my part to make sure the ship doesn’t sink and just hope we can weather out this storm.”

I do think it’s understood in this economy that these things aren’t personal, but it’s still demoralizing. Glass half full people say, “You’re lucky to have a job at all.” Others say pay cuts are B.S. and people should have the courage to just say “no” to doing the same job for half the pay. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ll admit I was relieved not to be losing the column all together, so I rapidly agreed to keep writing it. Some people suggested I write fewer words or give it less time. But it doesn’t work that way. Oddly, I’m spending more time than I normally would as the chambers to my creativity and usual wit are clogged with smoke from my ego as it goes down in flames.

Like, I’m still hearing complaints that I’ve become too boring now that I’m happy and life is good and drama free. So let me see if I can dig up some good drama for you.

For one, I still have a psychotic dog who likes to eat doors and windows and cars with no rhyme or reason as to his sudden and unpredictable appetite for glass, metal, and upholstery. One minute he’s this adorable little teddy bear and the next he’s like Cujo on steroids. As if the multi-personality/sociopath disorder weren’t bad enough, he was recently diagnosed with diabetes. So now I have to give him two injections of insulin a day. And even if he wasn’t a mental case who is constantly on the verge of death but will never die, my boyfriend and I want to move in together but he is only allowed to have one dog. When you consider the fact that his dog is the size of a horse, the chances of getting the property management to make a concession for us is slim to none even if my little Genetic Disaster didn’t floss his teeth with wood shrapnel from torn up door frames.

Speaking of dogs, you should see me trying to walk the beasts now that my family has expanded to include not one, but three alpha males: a chow/lab, a King German Shepherd, and an Italian Minnesotan.

I got one of those thingies that you can connect two dogs to one leash and I honestly think if I were to attach it to a truck, or a tractor, or a trailer, those little brutes would do just fine pulling a heavy load, never mind a girl who is just a few inches shy of being considered a midget. Suffice it to say we get a lot of attention walking around town like that, but it’s serious comedy when the dogs decide to walk on either side of me and then ahead so I am virtually hog tied and we’re all tangled up with each other in one big smelly heap and no one ” including me ” knows who’s in charge.

So of course it’s preferable to have these guys off the leash, whenever it seems safe or reasonable to do so. Excuse me, but I always sort of thought letting your dog off leash in this town was sort of like jaywalking. If there’re no cars coming, what’s the crime in crossing the street on a red light, especially if no one is looking? So if it’s offseason on a gray day with no one in sight and over 20 miles of trail in front of me, I’m gonna be tempted to let us all run free. I know it’s against the rules and so does everyone else I see on the trail who is doing exactly the same thing.

Well, not anymore.

I’m cruising happily down the Rio Grande trail when along comes the Park Ranger on his bike, pedaling next to me with the Wicked Witch of the West theme song from The Wizard of Oz playing in the background. Apparently, a German Shepherd-sized dump was left on the side of the trail when I wasn’t looking.

“I’ll get you my pretty,” the Poop Police said, threatening me with a long list of fines for various violations. I told him I was poor and when that didn’t work, I started to cry. When that didn’t work, I thought about getting on my knees to beg, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m not gonna blow the Crap Cop, especially when he’s on his silly little bike ” so not sexy.

“We can vouch for her that she’s poor!” said the two rich ladies who walked by with their miniature dogs that had also been off leash. “She’s our yoga teacher!”

That’s when it hit me. Financially speaking at least, my life really is in the pooper.


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