Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I am one of those people who always measures everything by what I was doing a year ago.

That’s somewhat normal, I suppose, when there is a holiday like Halloween approaching, or it’s the first big snow of the season, or whatever other significant event marks the passage of time.

Like I remember last Halloween I dressed up as an angel because I found this really cool white velour mini-dress with bell sleeves at the thrift store I could wear with my go-go boots. I’ll pretty much take any costume I can wear with go-go boots since the whole point of getting dressed up for Halloween, at least in Aspen, is for the girls to have an excuse to dress like strippers and sluts and for the guys to dress up like women.

The thing is, I can go back a year ago or even 20 years ago because I have been an avid diarist since I was 10 years old. I remember the first real diary I got. It wasn’t one of those girly numbers with the flowery cover and the lock just begging to be broken. It was a gift, from my parents I think, a hardcover blank book that was called “The Nothing Notebook.” I donned it with a hand-drawn rainbow with a heart (so early ’80s), and it was the beginning of a lifetime of documenting just about everything.

It’s very telling that I loved this idea of a blank book, especially a hardcover blank book, which feels permanent and long term. And it is, because I’ve saved every single one of them, and there are dozens. I have The Nothing Notebook sitting next to me right here because I just dragged it out of the storage closet.

Here’s the first entry from Dec. 2, 1980:

Hi! I am Alison Berkley, the big A.B., well before I start using you as a journal, I think you should know that I way [sic] about 92 which sucks, and I love Richard Jaeggi.

So by 10 years old, I was already on the fast track to boy troubles and a potential eating disorder. They say people don’t change, but what’s even more telling is not only how much they stay the same, but that they started out that way, like, from the very beginning.

I filled up the entire book in under a year, so I can’t go exactly to Oct. 28, 1981, but the last entry on Sept. 10 is even better. Just as an editor’s note, I named all my journals. So instead of “Dear Diary,” they all have names, like pets. This one’s name is Scooter.

Dear Scooter,

Today was a pretty good day, but tonight was excel [sic]. Today at music, Chris was chewing a piece of gum, and I asked him if I could have a piece, and he said he didn’t have any more and I go, “We could share it. (I was just kidding). So he rips a little piece, and hands it to me and I pop it in my mouth. I couldn’t believe that I did that. I guess it was an involuntary muscle. Here is the gum.

Yes, the piece of gum from 1981 that caused so much excitement is still taped into my journal.

Things didn’t change much the following year. Here’s what I had to say on Oct. 26, 1982:

Dear Florence,

Well, I broke up with Bart because he liked this girl Erica Ornstein and that really pisses me off. Even though he is being a faget [sic] I still love him so much and whenever I hear “Stairway to Heaven” I cry because I remember Betsy’s party when Bart and I danced made out and went to 2nd, etc. It was really great.

It shouldn’t surprise me, considering I was a little danger slut by the age of 12 that I was halfway to rehab by seventh grade. Here’s Oct. 20, 1984:

Went pounding with Bon Bon and Hopimus Maximus on Saturday night at Arie Hart’s party. Psyche-good time! Yuk, I hate puking. What did I say to Sean Saturday night at 1:30 a.m.? I will always love SDW. I miss him so incredibly much.

Just as an interesting side note, I became friends with SDW on Facebook not too long ago. He’s a heli guide/firefighter/kite surfer in Valdez, Alaska, so I can sort of understand what the hang up was all about.

Let’s jump ahead a few years and see how our little ‘ho is doing in her early 30s:

12:30 a.m. Halloween 2004. Okay let’s start over with this new chapter. It’s called “All About Ali” and does not involve any boys.

Still fighting a losing battle, are we? Jump ahead two years to Oct. 28, 2006.

I already know I can run away and hide, I know I can give up unhealthy habits, people, and places for weeks, even months, only to go right back to it again.

How depressing is that? Thank god I can’t remember where I put all the journals I’ve written since then. They’re in storage somewhere in a box that’s taped up or filled with other things that are on top of it, or something. The sucky part about keeping a journal is you usually only write in it when you’re depressed.

I still keep a journal. I have several in fact. One for my yoga/wellness, one for letters to my dead dog, and one for story ideas for my writing: I just don’t write in them very much.

So maybe people don’t change, but something’s different because I won’t be donning those go-go boots this year for Halloween. I guess the only thing that’s changed is I’ve finally found someone who doesn’t want me to.

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