All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel

Friday, March 27, 2020

Sad Spring

This is the saddest spring I can remember.  I take a walk every couple of days, and the magnolias, forsythia, daffodils, cherry and apple blossoms that have always brought a kind of life-excitement are blanketed by an all-eclipsing worry.  I feel wrong, at odds with spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


As of yesterday, all NYC schools are closed as we try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  A walk around my neighborhood was quiet.  I can't go too far as my ankle is still healing from the break, but it feels good to breathe air and see first signs of spring.  The empty playground at PS 152 is another matter.

I read back a little ways before starting this post, and much is the same, actually, yet intensified by more and greater horror from this administration. Now much of the country is self-isolating, waiting for the spike in COVID-19 cases that weeks of wasted time and ineptitude have made inevitable.  I have no symptoms, and have been careful since late February.  Last night I dreamed I had to go to the college, where a full audience was packed into the faculty area and overflowing into the office spaces.  I wove my way through, growling What about social distance?  Tim and I shook hands then realized we shouldn't have.  Cindy from second grade was there.  I packed up to leave, furious, then got very very lost looking for the subway in a treacherous area below TriBeCa, staved off an attempted mugging, and briefly lost my puppy.  That pretty much sums up the jumble in me.

I voluntarily spend half of each week as I will now spend weeks on end:  in my apartment, working with students and colleagues online, working in the studio. I'm very fortunate in this catastrophe.  Being 62 doesn't work in my favor, but my job and income are secure, I have no underlying physical problems, and I have full control over my environment and activities.

My mother would be 89 today.

I have new work in the studio, still building on the Japan series begun in 2012.

Thread, velum; 8 x 8"

An unpublished draft from June 21, 2018

The death spiral of our country is disorienting to my every layer and aspect.  I feel this pressure on me toward numbness, paralysis - psychological and physical.  It's makes shutting down a real risk. 

I'm opting out of more events than usual.  As I write, the opening party for Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself is under way at the Cigar Factory in Long Island City.  I had every intention of going; hadn't even questioned going.

Then the day just rolls itself into a ball.  My anxiety about all the people and the travel itself tip the scale.  For the first time, I'm beginning to feel my location is a disadvantage if I want to go out at night; so does the thought of travel.  I experienced my version of Anne Truitt's panic while driving alone to the Cumberland Gap (from Turn, previous post).  Mine was driving alone to Hartfort, Conn, to install Abductions and Reconstructions at Real Art Ways.

A long way of saying I did not go.  To my own opening.  I know that's not good or smart or wise.  I'm missing events I do not want to miss, like Writing the Constitution at Odetta Gallery last Sunday.

The limits of my reach, inability to be more than helplessness, guilt, and rage are making normal life harder.  I'm spending a lot of time on MSNBC and FB, reading about the cruel chaos on the border, the efforts to help, the situation for the immigrant children especially.  Normal-life posts have become disorienting, like my innards shout What world are you living in?  Lots of people have pulled back from the news, and I get it.  I should, probably.  But this is a crisis beyond what we can imagine.  Looking away or down-playing it is becoming more dangerous.  We have a responsibility to know and help if we are against this debacle of an administration - this debacle of a human being.