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Deep Thoughts from Downtime...by Jamie Lynn

Jamie Lynn Miller's picture

Not everyone has it all figured out: house, full-time job and benefits and holiday greetings with their kids’ faces ready by October for Christmas. I applaud all these things, except for the holiday cards; what truly worries me about my married-with-kids friends is the total absence of their faces from any photo for the next 10 years. I’d have a better of chance of finding them on the back of a milk carton than on a New Year’s Card.

But besides finding your soulmate (I do believe in this) and settling down into a future together, I think probably one of the best things about being married with children is that everyone stops asking you what you’re doing with your life.

That question plagues me every off-season. Over the past 12 years, I’ve weathered the downtimes under a variety of circumstances: sometimes I’m gainfully employed, other times I muddle through, still other years have found me rip-roaring around the world with party time, excellent! screeching to a halt just in time for Independence Pass to open.

But inevitably, at some point during April and May, I find myself at home, alone - back from Moab, over burger night, taking a break from prix-fixe - and wondering what to do with myself.

I’ve always wanted to cook more. I’ve always struck myself as someone who should be really into cooking. My mom is a talented, abundant cook and whenever I want a home-cooked meal, I think of her. It occurs to me every off-season to mince and sauté and puree and all those fancy French words that mean the opposite of takeout.

Once upon a time, I was pretty fluent in French, and even had a period where my dreams were punctuated with “Mon Dieu!” and “Bah….oui!” But within six months after returning to the “states”, I realized that Spanish made a lot more sense. That was about 20 years ago, so Spanish makes a whole lot more sense now. I even took a CMC course but found that having gone to school for 20 years, ironically, seems to have completely curtailed my ability to sit still for 2 hours, even when cue cards and pictures are involved. I have the computer DVD for basic Spanish, but my computer has some sort of virus, make that ‘Malware’, that holds the picture on the screen long after the sound has moved on, like a badly dubbed kung-fu movie.

So I could use this time to look for refurbished laptops, because eventually I’ll be on the go again and will need to update my facebook status with increased regularity. There’s the ongoing clean-out-the-storage locker project which always sounds like a fine plan after a pot of coffee but if I don’t jump on it, the motivation disappears just as the caffeine wears off.

I could check my account at Susie’s Consignment, but that’s usually rather deflating. Nothing like bringing in all the clothes you thought were hip until about last week, only to be told every few months ‘sorry, still no money on your account.’ That really makes you wonder what you’re doing with your life, or at least what you’re wearing while doing it.

There’s the guitar that I bought and carry around, because like being an extraordinary cook, I have this keen intuition about myself that I’m meant to play the guitar. Rather well. I realize I need to take it out of the case in order to realize this path, and off-season presents yet another opportunity. Someone once told me that practicing 10 minutes a day is better than an hour a week, and as busy as I am updating my facebook status I know I have an extra 10 minutes a day.

I’m off to my cousin’s wedding in Mexico in a couple of weeks; another large family reunion with many married couples and many kids and discussions will lead where they always do; so what exactly am I doing these days? I think they legitimately want to know; Were this a different era, I might be burned at the stake, or be living in a dark room upstairs at my mother’s house, but the truth is that in this day and age being single and living in Aspen, Colorado will always seems exotic to someone who isn’t.

The best thing about this reunion, however, is my younger cousin Matt. It’s his wedding, and he and I aren’t so very different (aside from the fact that he went to med school and is now a successful doctor and is getting married, in Mexico.) My Uncle David has always said to me, “You’re Matt’s hero, Jamie.” That always confounded me. What was I doing to be looked up to, exactly?

Well it seems Matt always wanted to be outside, and travel, and live a little more footloose and fanciful; he became an ER doctor, known for their stellar work schedules, allowing him lots of time off and lots of places to take exotic assignments. He sends photos from Antarctica, he works in clinics in Peru, he takes group tours with elderly travelers through Turkey (alas, I think that particular travel brochure was in Turkish); he even rock climbs, I’m told.

So I’m looking forward to asking Matt a few questions about what he’s doing with his time. He’s always wanted to visit me in Aspen, Colorado. Maybe I’ll invite him over for a home-cooked meal next off-season.