Alison Berkley: Unsettling nature of settling down |

Alison Berkley: Unsettling nature of settling down

I?m scared that I?m becoming too normal.

I traded a life of uncertainty and instability and the pursuit of writing for a full-time job that provides me with the security of a steady paycheck and health insurance in case something should happen, like heaven forbid I slip on ice walking down the street on the way to work and break my ass.

Whatever! I never worried about that kind of stuff before. I paid about as much regard to health insurance as I did to balancing my checkbook, or taxes, or the fact that at one point I had a Colorado driver?s license, Wyoming plates, a Beverly Hills cell phone number, and too many forwarding addresses for the United States Postal Service (or those people who sent me my bills) to keep track of.

I got on an airplane every other week to go somewhere I thought I wanted to be, no matter how much money or time it took to get there: Halloween parties on Lake Tahoe or surf contests in Hawaii or the X Games in Aspen ? but that?s the end of the story so let me start at the beginning.

A year ago, “normal” meant moving to Colorado on a whim a few weeks before I was supposed to start grad school at USC. It meant leaving a future in Hollywood to live with my brother in Alma, a small town outside Breckenridge. It meant I had no job and no real expenses.

It meant I ran every day at 11,000 feet, got my bellybutton pierced, and had a brief but torrent affair with a recluse 22-year-old from Sydney, Australia. It meant my only job was to try and write something good.

I bought an electric typewriter for $89 at Comp USA even though I owned a perfectly good laptop. I convinced myself the rhythm of a typewriter would facilitate the writing process the way a piano makes music. I loved the racket, the clack-clack-clack of my new finger drums, even if not being able to delete anything did drive me crazy.

I started an outline (with plenty of typos) for “Table for One,” a novel I would write about being unsettled in my 30s. I spent a lot of time alone and loved the simplicity of life in Alma, a remote, desolate town with not much in the way of people or oxygen.

My typewriter broke a few weeks after I got it and ended up lying in my brother?s basement in some box along with whatever inspiration I found to write that particular book in the first place.

I settled instead for what I already knew: sporty magazines and Web sites and fluff assignments that got me free lift tickets and travel and an excuse to go visit another boy who bought me all the free drinks I wanted but never took me out to breakfast the morning after (I totally hate that). I cried and moaned about not having a home, or a family, or anything even close to a normal life.

But I had plenty to write about.

An assignment to cover the X Games brought me to Aspen. I found a sea of cute foreigners and Ivy League-educated ski bums and that was all it took. I got a job as a snowboarding instructor. I got an e-mail from the sports editor of The Aspen Times.

“You?re exactly what we?re looking for,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, we can?t pay you.”

Little did he know a minute detail like that wouldn?t stop me. Money doesn?t make for good material, chaos does. Chaos breeds the creative process. That and drugs, or alcohol, or both.

A year later, I?m so settled and happy I could puke. My life went from global to within-walking-distance. I got a job. I found one (very unique and tolerant) man. I?m not confused, I?m not going anywhere, I?m not chasing anyone.

I sit behind a computer all day and giggle at stupid jokes and one-liners from bad movies with my co-workers. The highlight of my day is the free samples at Paradise.

I went to work hungover once, and will never, ever, do it again. I run at lunch but the only thing that?s sore these days are my wrists from typing so much. I feel animosity toward all those women I see on Smuggler every day who pass me because their legs are 10 feet longer than mine.

I?m sure they?re hiking because they don?t have to work on account of marrying wealthy men and I resent the hell out of them for that. My favorite place to be on any given night is in a hot bath with a good book.

I still live with a bunch of freaks and animals whom I adore, but not for much longer. I may have to hold a gun to my lender?s head in order to get that mortgage, but if there?s a will, there?s a way. Or because my grandmother left me in her will, there?s a way. Or something like that.

So what in the world am I supposed to write about? Weeks go by and nothing happens and my deadline hits me on the head every Sunday night like bird poop.

The problem isn?t so much what to say, it?s what not to say, because of the people I actually care about, and these responsibilities I have, and this new job, and the investment in my future and all that crap. My dad told me he can?t believe how mature I?ve become. I told him I have never been so insulted in all my life. Before you know it, I?ll stop wearing my hair in pigtails.

I guess I shouldn?t worry about it too much. I?m sure that eventually, everything will be back to normal.

[The Princess is having her head examined but would love to know you still care. You can e-mail her at]

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