Alison Berkley: The welcome sigh of off-season |

Alison Berkley: The welcome sigh of off-season

Guess what. I thought I would hate the off-season, but I am happy to announce that I think I sort of love it!

First of all, my boss is out of town. He went to Hawaii for an entire month. Can you believe that he actually expected me to stay here and work while he is gone? How fair is

that? He asked me to “run the marketing department” in his absence.

When I asked him what that entails exactly, he said, “You can open my mail.”

Thank god I have something important to do – that really makes coming into an empty office building because I’m the only one who’s not on vacation so much more fun! (If my boss is reading this online, I just want to say I’m getting so much work done since there is no one in the office to distract me. I love my job, it’s fabulous!)

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that this is a total role reversal for me. Usually it is me who tells x, y, and z that I’ll be out of town for a month. When I was an “inde-

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pendent contractor” (translate: unemployed), I would go wherever, whenever. I can assure you that Aspen during mud season would not have topped my list. I lived on the whims of good surf, good weather, and good snow (god, that sounds lamer than a Warren Miller movie, but I swear it’s true). I spent more money on airplane tickets than rent.

I should be in San Diego getting my surfing arms back, but noooooo! I’ve chosen to “settle down” in the most expensive town known to man. Of course! That’s why I’m at work responding to the one e-mail and one phone call I got today, if you count the one from my mom.

My room is a total disaster area because I unpacked all my summer clothes but can’t put away my winter clothes because you never know, it might snow 2 feet tomorrow. (If one more person says, “it’s good for the drought,” I will sprout sharp teeth and claws. Drought-shmought. If I can’t wear open-toed shoes soon I will die.)

But who am I to complain? I don’t need to go anywhere. I wore my flip-flops to work twice this week (even if my toes froze) and only had to go as far as Carbondale to lay out in the sun. Town is quiet like in a thankful way, like when the last person passes out and the party is finally over. Everything is on sale, and there’s no one around except cool people. You can throw a party and be sure your friends will show up because they are so excited to do anything that doesn’t involve renting a movie.

There might only be two other people in the bar, but chances are they’re friends of yours (way better than a room full of strangers, if you ask me). The lifts are closed, but the mountains are still open and if you know where to look, you might even find a dry patch to walk on. What more could you ask for?

Off-season is also the best time to shop at all of Aspen’s upscale boutiques because everything is marked down to normal retail prices. This is a good excuse to go and spend a lot of money because you never want anything from the sale rack and end up buying something you don’t need. After you burn a hole in your credit card on unnecessariables, you can spend $50 to $100 eating and drinking your heart out at one of these “Prix Fixe” deals (would someone please tell me how to pronounce that? Is it prEE-fEE or pricks-ficks?). Just BYOB, it’s cheaper at Carl’s.

At least there’s no more worry about waking up early to ski. I thought I’d be super bummed when the mountain closed, but I am actually totally relieved. Living in the shadows of Ajax during the season can be tough. The ski area is so in your face, like the guy who works out all the time and never wears a shirt, you can’t help but look. Now he’s more like the kid in high school with bad zits, all ugly and pock-marked with mud holes. No more guilt over sleeping in on weekends, no indecision about how to spend my precious time, no more torture for having to work on powder days. I am so over him it’s ridiculous.

I’m also free from the uptight dog people on the Rio Grande trail, who I’m assuming are second-home owners. During the off-season, no one harasses me when my 90-pound chow/lab mix is off his leash and charges up to another dog (because he wants to play, of course) and makes it squeal when he pounces on it. Most people who actually live here have dogs who are cool, weigh more than 10 pounds, and can fend for themselves – er, I mean know how to play. (Oh, relax. I know there’s a leash law. I follow it whenever someone is looking.)

The point is, Aspen’s still beautiful in its own way, and now there’s no one here to spoil it. I love the quiet and privacy of a long bike ride on closed roads with no cars. I love the sound of swelling rivers that rush downhill while I creep up, pedaling only as fast as my lungs will let me. I love hiking through the snow in a t-shirt and shorts, the smell of sunburn on my skin. I love the way the trees are pale like me, naked branches stretched out begging for sun, longing for their summer color to return.

No, I do not think I’m a poet, and no I am NOT stoned! I’ll be back to normal as soon as I find something better to do.

[The Princess is all alone at work and is begging you to send her an e-mail at]