Pandemic Rage Art
By Naomi Serviss
Where’d all my anger go?
Yesterday I felt versus everything.
I was Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers, singing, “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It.”
Figuratively caged and socially isolated.
Literally hobbled by foot surgery and quarantine.
Virtually connected but unhugged by my kids.
Fed up with a Debbie Downer relative.
One who parrots Fox News, spews exaggerated Manhattan crime stats and objects to mask-wearing.
Same one who Facebook-posted an ethnic slur.
My hard-working (from home) husband bore the brunt of my surliness.
His only escape was commuting to his corner office.
Located in the corner of our living room.
A foot away from the sofa.
Luckily for him I had a light-bulb moment foraging through the coat closet.
There I found my underused purple yoga mat, three West Side Market paper bags and a stray Regal Crown sour cherry candy.
I poked behind the neglected mat.
And discovered an old sketch book lodged in back.
A few pieces of discarded rice paper were in the corner.
Flipping through the sketch book, I rediscovered abstract cats, color-saturated designs and seabirds.
I think they were seabirds.
The Japanese brush painting course I took 30 years ago came rushing back.
I was a new mother on Long Island in need of an outside creative outlet.
One that didn’t require singing another Raffi song.
With a little bit of luck, I found one close by.
A former elementary school-turned-adult-education community center offering novice art workshops.
I spent the following eight Thursday afternoons not watching Sesame Street.
It brought me great joy.
I channeled roller-coaster emotions without glaring or fuming.
I became calmer, if not a gifted artist.
Worked for me then, why not in the aftermath of the pandemic?
I knew my daily doldrums needed banishment or at least, modulation.
My quick-to-anger fuse needed management.
I optimistically ordered online rice paper, watercolors, paint brushes, markers, construction paper, scissors and black foam board.
Unrolled the yoga mat on the living room floor and spread the bounty like an intoxicated pirate.
I flashed back to third-grade art class.
The recalled aroma of oilcloth-covered tables kick-started my endorphins.
I squeezed a dozen watercolor tubes into an empty plastic egg carton.
The orange Café du Monde coffee can from New Orleans had a second life as a supply repository.
It held a generous assortment of paint brushes and spiffy new scissors.
Rice paper was gently water-sprayed and crumpled for added texture.
Bright primary colors filled damp pages.
I dripped, splattered and brush-stroked away my rage.
I spread out the thick-stock construction paper, then doodled and scribbled out anger.
Cut and taped construction paper strips onto black foam boards.
My shoulders relaxed.
I stopped grinding my teeth at night.
I broke for Central Park walks, meals and episodes of Schitt’s Creek and The Americans.
Stayed away from Internet news and avoided conversations with Fox loving relations.
My blood pressure came down.
Next-door’s construction cacophony was less migraine-inducing.
The living room floor was covered with surreally concocted creations.
Foam board collages had been propped beneath the DVD player.
We could frame and group them on remaining wall space!
Or I could take pictures of them for posterity.
And ditch them in the recycling bin.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com