There are ideal writing conditions and then there are “lock myself away from the outside world” writing conditions. I can understand the thought process behind barricading yourself in a cabin and getting into your own head until something worthy comes out. But it’s also your decision if you’re going to do that.
While secluding myself from walking COVID carriers wasn’t how I wanted to end the ski season, s— happens. That said, you could spend your time following this crisis hour by hour, minute by minute and stocking up like Aspen might be the setting for Snake Plissken’s next “Escape from …” movie and end up buying enough booze and weed to reevaluate your life priorities.
Or you could take the approach I’ve been trying when I’m not buying out Local Spirits, which is to immerse myself in the arts and the opportunities isolation has weirdly provided.
I have listened to a load of reggae, specifically Bob Marley (Mostly the B-sides because I wore out the classics years ago). I’m looking for positivity. If you want hip-hop that leans fun and carefree, try A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Big Baby DRAM or even Lil’ Yachty. Blasting various Rat Pack artists at dinner makes everything taste better. Basically, try replacing CNN with music as your background noise and you’ll be a lot happier.
Speaking of dinner and music, this current situation feels a lot like the cooking scene in “Goodfellas” when they’re passing the time in prison, confined but with access to most* of life’s luxuries. Obviously, don’t make all meals an event — you’re in isolation, not some kind of reverse fat camp — but cooking a nice, balanced dinner is not only delicious but is another distraction to stave off negative sensory overload.
Also, as much as I love “Goodfellas,” that type of programming isn’t exactly light. (I have been rewatching “Narcos,” which also isn’t light, but it’s a dope show that I haven’t seen 25 times.) I love Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro, but there needs to be balance for action movie junkies and “Law & Order: Molested Children Unit” fans alike.
I’m open to any comedy right now. I watched “Get Hard” for the first time the other day because I knew there were at least four good laughs — and Will Ferrell and Kevin hit the over. I’m seriously considering catching up on a decade-plus of below-average Adam Sandler movies because it’s better than trying to get back into “The Walking Dead.”
I’ve been watching more or less every episode of “Jeopardy” because it’s nice to have some sort of competition to critique. I can’t wait for questionable Double Jeopardy wagers to get scrutinized on “First Take” when ESPN runs out of topics if they haven’t already. I wouldn’t know; I haven’t had the heart to turn on Sportscenter since the NBA went dark.
To that note, I’ve also scaled back social media because there are no more fun, new videos of Zion dunks or deep Dame 3s, so I missed the Tom Brady news by a day or two. So, yeah, at times I have felt like that isolated writer, cut off from the outside world, trying to get the most out of my brain with so much free time on my hands and nowhere to go. But then you remember, “Hey, I’m not the only one who’s forced to work from home.”
My fantasy football group text has produced some of its best moments. We had a debate over would you rather take a weeklong cruise right now or spend a weekend in jail. We still haven’t figured out how to set up Texas Hold ‘Em or Rummy tournaments but I feel like there’s a breakthrough coming soon.
Then there’s the opportunity to spend time with the people you’re closest to. Normally, in order for my girlfriend and I to be able to see each other, we have to chart out schedules like they’re business appointments:
“I can do Wednesday at 5 p.m.?”
“OK, that works. Can you do noon Friday?”
“Let me check, I might have something with Amy and Rose. I can definitely do 12 on Monday.”
“That might work. Let me see if I can shift my 10:30 with Ben up to 9.”
But now, it’s like, “Hey, what time do you have to go into the office?”
“You mean my living room?”
The “I’m stuck with my family” jokes have been coming in faster than confirmed COVID cases, and I’m not sure how reflective those are. Work gets in the way of spending time with significant others and, for me, to be able to hang out with Caitlin all day, every day, it’s been f—ing awesome, and I’m not sure you can say that about much going on these days.
So whether it’s blowing up your friends on the group text, binging B-list comedies, listening to “Keep On Moving” for the umpteenth time or spending time with people you love most, be safe, be kind, stay positive and slug a beer or two because this will pass and hopefully sooner than later.
*I say most luxuries because at this point I would pay money to listen to any sport, not even watch it. Sign me up for the Croatian water polo league pass right now.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at email@example.com.