Linda Rand

Pandemic Diaries: Connection

“Encaustic on Plaster” by Linda Rand (detail)

In Linda Rand’s latest Pandemic Diaries entry “Connection,” she talks about being snowed in, tracking the latest COVID news, and creating art to stay connected. 

 

Been snowed in, going on the fifth day. I can feel my nerves straining without release. The dogs barking rankles me. I want to run ’til exhaustion, lungs straining, be spent physically. I miss my last human, the flirtatious play, our faces close, breathing each other’s air in the time of COVID. He had said, “I love how in the morning whoever wakes up first finds the other in bed, gets close.” I miss the company of another adult, having a drink at a distance with a friend outside, waxing philosophical or making creative plans for a future we’re all banking on but aren’t guaranteed.

According to The New York Times, the variant B.1.1.7 is roughly doubling in the U.S. every 10 days. It’s predicted to be the dominant source of coronavirus infection by March. According to NERVTAG (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group), this variant is associated with a higher risk of hospitalization and all-cause mortality. It has worrisome mutations that may help it elude vaccine control. Vaccinations are averaging about 1.66 million a day in the States, and many friends and family have received it.

So far what I’ve heard from the younger ones is that you feel fine until the middle of the night when your head and joints hurt beyond what you’ve known before. You wake up every hour compelled to do something because of the pain, like get a glass of water or take a bath. Apparently, stronger immune systems have a harder time with symptoms. Those with less reactive immune systems seem to sleep it off with mild flu-like symptoms.

Now, finished with both doses, they all seem to feel fine. I guess we’ll wait and see. This suspended attitude is one I’ve held for almost a year now. I feel that I can’t expend too much emotion on the unknown, needing all the energy I have to function as a responsible parent and human. It’s taking everything to stay relatively afloat.

 

This suspended attitude is one I’ve held for almost a year now. I feel that I can’t expend too much emotion on the unknown, needing all the energy I have to function as a responsible parent and human. It’s taking everything to stay relatively afloat.

 

The first couple of minutes of Schubert’s Trio No. 2 has been stuck in my head on repeat since the snow began to fall. As I watched through the window, the brooding texture of the music seemed to accompany the powdery mounds piling on shiny green camellia leaves. Branches bounced with the erratic wind, lovely dervishes of flakes twirled stark in front of the dark trunks of maple and Douglas fir trees. I wondered why the music’s pathos felt sexy to me. Is it because when we achieve that momentary intimacy there’s the illusion we’re not alone? Finally, we’re connected, but still, you’ll never know what a person truly feels, who they are, even when everything inside the two of you strains towards each other, loses all boundaries, attempts to merge. It all comes apart again.

I worked on my art commission late into the howling night, lights flickering but luckily staying on. Many friends ended up losing power for days, using the snow as a fridge, wood stoves to cook, and some lucky to have generators, others closed off from town as icy branches cracked from the weight, blocking roads. People are still out of power as I write this. My heart hurts for those houseless, hoping they find enough shelter, even as I’m moved by those offering their homes for hot showers and food from their kitchens.

As I near finishing my encaustic piece, I think to myself that if I can’t find relief, bathe my nervous system in the company of another human, have even an illusion of certainty, this will be the way I’ll channel it, through my hands, become movement, cloaked in the smell of warm beeswax, honeycomb vision, the drone of summers past, languorous in the petals. For a moment, I’ll slip through this portal, away from over eight inches of snow pushed against the door, to a time before climate change. In this slipstream, I’m not in the procession of stressors heralding late-stage capitalism, or alongside the pageantry of new coronavirus variants, at least seven freshly hatched right here in the U.S., even as governors are easing restrictions, some ending statewide mask mandates, and many trying to build confidence in reopening schools.

We are a creature that loves hypnosis, an irrational species ready to ride the waves of neurochemicals. We want to transcend, transmute, relieve the raw ache. We want to talk to the animals, plants, and stars; dislodge stale ideas; dive into the kaleidoscope of incarnation; and skate on the gleaming scythe of science. And always we yearn to return to connection. I’ll find you in the dream. We’ll bloom colors and finally know each other for the first time.

 

“Encaustic on Plaster” by Linda Rand

 

Linda Rand

Linda Rand is an Art Witch and Wolf Mama living in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in Entropy, Nailed Magazine, Unchaste Anthology Volume I, as well as anthologies Places Like Home, City of Weird, and The People’s Apocalypse, with non-fiction journal excerpts in Fuck Happiness: How Women Are Ditching the Cult of Positivity and Choosing Radical Joy by Ariel Gore. Her artwork has been included in PDX Magazine and the book Oneira: I Dream the Self. Follow on Instagram: @lindapaintsandwrites

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