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Write On, Colorado

Life under the coronavirus shutdown is strange. But it’s also oddly inspiring.

Colorado authors, thinkers and readers share their thoughts on living through historic times as the state fights the progress of coronavirus

I haven’t left my place for 10 days. My hair is growing wildly over my ears and curling at the nape of my neck. My beard is even more unruly, as I’m reverting back to the ugly Homo sapien I am — more of a caveman-like creature with terrible posture and a unibrow. 

But instead of plucking edible plants from the ground or clubbing my next meal to death, I have a freezer full of Lean Cuisines and pizzas. 

Walking my trash to the garage has become an exciting adventure of sorts that I consider “travel” at the moment. But this is what we must do. The government doesn’t ask us to stay home and essentially do nothing for the greater good of humanity often, so don’t mess it up.

It’s also nice to finally know the term for what I’ve been practicing for most of my adult life. Social distancing isn’t just an effective way to combat the virus, but also my new excuse for not hanging out with anyone after all of this passes. At least I won’t have to make up bald-faced lies like I twisted my ankle getting off the pot or I’m hanging out with a lady friend anymore. 

MORE: See all of our Write On, Colorado entries and learn how to submit your own here.

Essentially every aspect of our everyday lives has been affected. It’s weird to see a Burger King commercial about best “minimum contact” practices. “Let us take care of you as you take care of yourself,” is the fast-food chain’s new motto. Never mind a Whopper is 677 calories, including 37 grams of saturated fat (56 percent of the recommended daily intake of such poison) and 87 mg of cholesterol (29 percent). 

Thankfully, the closest Burger King, or any fast food, is 66 miles away in Montrose, which might as well be Mars.

Speaking of intergalactic travel, my parents, who are both in their late 50s, are back in Pittsburgh. Dad’s still working; Mum isn’t. I love them, but they’re stubborn. My sister and I have been hounding them about not going out in public for anything other than essentials. 

They informed us Easter ham and spark plugs for the motorcycle are essential. They’re getting better. 

If anything happens to them, devil be damned, I imagine a chaotic scenario where I drop everything and hop into my car and drive across the country like Mad Max, fending off all the derelicts and degenerates who look like Joe Exotic along the way. I’d arrive back home a road hardened, post-apocalyptic warrior with skulls dangling from my belt and dried blood smeared under my eyes; a primal byproduct of these strange and terrible times. 

In reality, however, I’m taking this time to catch up on reading, with a goal to read at least one book a week. I also started an “extinction journal” to document all of this. Maybe the future aliens will find it useful. 

I stopped watching the White House virus debriefings and reading the headlines of the national papers. I started listening to black metal before noon, and enjoying a cup of black coffee and a bowl of bud before bed. 

My place, which is under 1,000 square feet, has never been cleaner. I’ve even wiped down the baseboards. I’m also a pro at washing dishes, like, every day. The hum of the machine is almost like the white noise of public side conversations. 

Fortunately, I am still working, which is probably saving me from pure, eye-gouging insanity. Covering the pandemic can be a lot, but it’s necessary and crucial.

Back to the present, it’s noon the day of deadline. Let’s wrap this up and get on with it. I scroll Instagram briefly. A post from the British daily The Guardian pops up.

“The horror films got it wrong. This virus has turned us into caring neighbours,” wrote journalist George Monbiot.

The whole ordeal is oddly inspiring. Seemingly everyone is lending a helping hand — yes, even Burger King. John Krasinski’s new weekly web show, “Some Good News,” has become a highlight of my week, if not a reason to openly weep. Check it out if you need a pick-me-up.

But my bloodshot eyes remind me that there is still work to be done. Someone has to cover the end of the world.  


Justin Criado is the editor at Telluride Local Media, which includes the Telluride Daily Planet, The Watch and Norwood Post. A version of this column appeared earlier in those publications.

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