I’ll just keep doing things my own way | AspenTimes.com
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I’ll just keep doing things my own way

Alison Berkley
Aspen, CO Colorado

I finally got a new desk chair after sitting on this pathetic little stool that my friend Emily left behind when she moved to New York about four years ago.

I’m not exaggerating about the stool. It was wicker with a red and white pinstripe cotton cover that was filthy, because I couldn’t figure out how to get the cover off to throw it in the wash without cutting it. And it was uncomfortable. At one point, I tried using a little throw pillow to cushion my bum, but with no back support, my endurance for sitting at the desk was somewhat limited.

Sure, I’d move over to the couch and try working there until my computer got too hot on my lap. Once the skin on my legs began to blister and my hands began to sweat I’d put a pillow under the machine to insulate me from the heat. That made it feel almost nice, like a warm bottle in a blanket, which either made me want to take a nap or turn on the TV.



Still, I worked like that for more than four years.

The new chair was delivered yesterday from West Elm, a fancy leather swivel number with a polished chrome base. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, but figured, why spend my allowance on office furniture?




I’d rather flit the weekend away at places like Matsu, 39 degrees, and the 15 trips I’ll make to Clark’s as soon as I get an urge for spelt pretzels or frozen organic soybeans. The rest of the money likely will be spent on an impromptu trip to the spa to help out some super-stressed friend who works way too hard and really needs it, or maybe to get a long overdue facial. Hello, that stuff really adds up.

My friend Shanti finally bought me the chair. She has a media company and tosses me commercial writing gigs once and awhile. It’s her company and she’s a smart girl and wants it to succeed, so she’s buying me stuff that’ll make me more productive instead of paying me in cash. That’s how long she’s known me.

The thing is, I don’t have what you would call a logical mind. I’m no good at linear thinking, or anything that involves organization or math. I’m horrible at Trivial Pursuit, can’t read a map to save my life and always throw the instruction manual away. I fancy myself more of an artist, an independent thinker, all romantic and anti-establishment. A little unconventional, you might say. I am this close to storing cash in shoeboxes under my bed, and I almost never wear socks that match. Whoever said there was a law your socks had to match?

I just don’t see the world the way most people do, like literally. Clearly I can’t see clearly, especially if you’re talking about 10 feet away or more. One night several summers ago, John and I were driving over the Pass to go on a camping trip. My eyes were getting really tired, so I asked to borrow his glasses. Mostly I did it for a joke because he used to wear these nerdy thick-rimmed things that made him look kind of like a cereal killer [sic] before he got his I’m-hip-and-cool Oakley ones.

I put them on, and, all of a sudden, I could see everything: the road, the little signs on the side of the road that say things like “stop” and “yield.” The last time I could see that clearly was when I smoked pot in the Jimi Hendrix shrine on closing day at Aspen Mountain. It was odd, the clarity with which I could see God herself dressed as a mermaid, hovering over the mountain to bless us on that special day. I could even see stuff like moguls and ruts and other obstacles. (So what if the stuff we smoked was probably laced? It was really cool to be able to see like that).

I’m not a pot smoker but my boyfriend at the time was, so he’d always try to twist my arm saying things like, “Ali, it’s time for your vision medicine!”

I’m on my own program when it comes to saving money ” I’m not joking about the shoeboxes. If I don’t stash it, I’m going to spend it all and/or give the rest of what I don’t have away to the evil demons at Wells Fargo who charge me 33 bucks every time I use my debit card to buy a $4 cup of coffee when I’m overdrawn. I understand the principal, but doesn’t $33 seem like an arbitrary number?

“I thought that maybe I shouldn’t have deposited all those checks at once,” my friend Amanda said when I got back from Hawaii.

Amanda is just like me and totally gets it. See, the best way to save money is to not deposit checks until you absolutely need them. Thank god I have finally figured that one out.

Everyone says I take after my Grandma Berkley. When she died, we found out she hadn’t paid her taxes in more than 10 years, so most of her estate went to clearing up her little debt with the IRS. She may not have been able to avoid death, but she did avoid taxes. My dad’s kind of like that, too. The guy is smart enough to be a doctor but he’s super out of it sometimes. I’ve seen him take a bite out of a sponge and try to mop up the counter with a slice of toast. No lie.

I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s OK to be different. The no glasses thing seems to sum it all up best. Maybe I don’t want to see ” at least not the way other people do. But at least I finally have a comfy chair.