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Quaranzine a creative outlet for a scary time

Quaranzine started with a simple, open call: Need a creative outlet right now? You’re in good company. To my surprise and delight, 25 artists and writers from all over the United States—most of whom are total strangers to me!— answered that call. I am proud beyond words to showcase their thoughtful, meaningful work in these pages. Intentionally, Quaranzine had just one requirement: to loosely reference or relate to the coronavirus pandemic we’re all currently living through. Every single submission is included, presented here unedited and in the order received—a sort of time capsule encasing just a sliver of this unprecedented moment. Thank you all for sharing your creative pursuits during this scary time and thank you to anyone reading this. I encourage you to share this zine with your friends/peers/family/pets or anyone in your life who could use a little artistic escape. —Taylor Kuether, editor

lemon honey

by Grace Carini (Instagram/Twitter: @ladygra_gra)

candy coated capsule lemon honey let you taste me warm tongue flicks over under through combat my defenses battleground for this flu


by Laura Love Feild

Call Me

by Kimmy Pellikan (Instagram: @pellikan_art)

Untitled acrylic paintings by Monica JM


by Claire Sarafin (Twitter: @clairafin)

Josephine Traveled by bus from Waukesha to Milwaukee every day for work, to sew uniforms for the army. Loved the freedom of farming because the animals don't talk back. Prefers sweets - especially apple pie - especially apple pie with ice cream. It's her favorite pie to bake, but she'd rather enjoy it with friends.

Zoom Lingerie Party

by Poppers the Pony (Instagram: @poppers_the_pony, website: poppersthepony.bigcartel.com)

Quarantine Sestina

by Caelan Tietze (they/them). (Twitter: @smethingnerdy) I am curled up on the couch with the cat, scratching at wood grain with restless fingers. I could eat something, I could have some water, I could look out the window, watch leaves fall from trees. I decide I’m feeling a different kind of hunger, and should take a nap for a little peace. Maybe instead I’ll listen to “Meditation Peace,” maybe instead I’ll play with the cat. He meows at me, I sigh and ask if he’s hungry, close my eyes and rub the fur of his belly with tired fingers. Picture the meadow and flowers and trees, floating down on a cloud from over the water. Just like my mom always said, lapping ocean water, waves going in and out, and breath, and peace slipping through my mind like sunlight through trees (he meows, if he quieted he wouldn’t be a cat), sand between my toes, on my back, between my fingers, breathing life into a human hunger. It feels like the memory of being hungry, the memory of salt on my skin, of dark water, caressing my hands, making galaxies with my fingers In quiet lagoons. Quietly paddling down river, peace in the silence. Walking the streets, hearing a cat mew at me from between palm trees.

He hissed when I approached, my hand curling around a tree. I tossed him some leftover mofongo in case he was hungry. My mom and sister laughed at how I found a cat even 1,500 miles from home, after flying over land and water. I open my eyes, wonder what I’d give for that peace to come back and find me, have it twine between my fingers. But my hands are empty; I interlace and crack my fingers. The squirrel has knocked some leaves from the tree. Why can’t he give the poor thing a little peace? Maybe I am, after all, feeling hunger Anything I’d make I’d have to start now and boil water, And I can’t move until my lap is free of cats. The squirrel goes to torment another, slips like water down the tree. I stay sitting under the cat, rub his paw between my fingers. I wish my hand was held like that, and I let myself hunger for a taste of peace.


by Caelan Tietze (they/them). (Twitter: @smethingnerdy)

Last year I was drinking as much as I wanted, Getting high when I wanted. Staring out the window at swaying trees And calling my parents to let them know I was Safe. Last year I was surrounded by friends, Chasing geese from a canoe. Starting a fire on a greasy grill, Breathing in smoke and a sense of Peace. This year I am drinking as much as I want, Getting high when I want. Staring out the window at swirling leaves And calling my parents to ask if they are Safe. This year We are staring out separate windows, Pushing the cat away from my cereal bowl. Trying a meditation tape for the third time, Breathing in, breathing out, searching for Peace.

Next year I hope I will be drinking less, Getting high not as often. Staring at open skies, better able To live in my reality, maybe feeling Safe. Next year I hope I will make space for friends, Remember how I took their presence for granted. Smile and laugh and touch them, Remember It is not only being alone that gives me Peace.

new routine

by Taylor Kuether (Twitter/Instagram: @taylorkuether, website: taylorkuether.com)

listless at quarter after four i brewed a cup of tea and stepped outside onto the porch, a generous name for the set of sturdy wood stairs leading down to the alley or the laundry room. watching the forecasted storm roll in i saw seagulls streaking the pale green sky and remembered my place on the bank of a great lake; so easy to forget a few neighborhoods away. rush hour trains shuddered past, only a few masked riders in their windows. you know that fleeting feeling sometimes of not knowing what to do with your hands? this was that but all over.

I know you want love, but you shouldn’t look for it in a toxic environment, by Kelly Bertzyk (Instagram: @kellybertzyk)

#QuaranTay[lor Swift] sparks cardboard companion trend among friends by Brittany Peterson, McClatchy Video Journalist (Twitter: @brittanykamalei)

On a typical St. Patrick’s Day, Laura Lee, a self-described extrovert from Durham, N.C., would typically be out at a bar, wearing a “Kiss me I’m Irish” T-shirt. But with coronavirus sweeping across the globe, she was home alone, religiously following guidelines for social distancing. Lee was getting antsy, until she remembered her life-sized cardboard cutout of Taylor Swift — a gag gift leftover from her birthday. “I had some St. Patrick’s Day decorations, kinda adorned her with them, took a picture, and titled her ‘QuaranTay, my companion for quarantine,’” Lee said. Then she posed QuaranTay washing dishes. Then cooking. Then standing on the patio in sunglasses with a swimsuit draped around her neck. The posts to her Instagram account, @Pearl2137, include corresponding lyrics. “I’ve been trying to coordinate the song lyrics that go on the Instagram post with whatever QuaranTay’s been doing that day,” Lee said. The next post shows QuaranTay sporting a feather boa and crown for #FormalFriday, accompanied by the Taylor Swift lyrics “They took the crown but it’s alright.” Lee’s friends, including Miami resident Josh Keller, have gotten used to seeing QuaranTay. “I think at this point, we all know if you are on a video chat with Laura, QuaranTay will be attending and usually dressed in theme,” Keller said. “Laura is one of the most entertaining people I know and it seems right she’s stuck quarantined with her favorite entertainer.” Keller has since dusted off his Marilyn Monroe cut-out, which he got from a friend years ago. He poses her around his apartment, calling her “Marilyn Monrona.” “Marilyn is hanging out...mostly on the balcony and video game night,” he said.

Another of Lee’s friends, Suja Thomas of Durham, said she’s impressed at how Lee turned a tough situation into a fun one. It’s tough to be single, Suja said, in self-isolation during a pandemic. “It then struck me that I could enjoy and celebrate my singleness and solitude and bring similar company in — and Pierce B[rosnan] is my dream man — so why not ride out my quarantine with Agent 019, Covid Bond?” Thomas said. She jumped on the trend and bought a cardboard cutout. “I didn’t really set out to do this as an ongoing project. It just sorta happened that way. But it is a nice distraction for me,” Lee said. Photographing the persona QuaranTay is also how Lee copes with anxiety about being away from her aging parents, including her father who is immunocompromised. “I’m not sure how long I’ll stay quarantined... The goal is to isolate myself long enough so hopefully I’ll be able to go see them in the near future,” she said. “Hopefully QuaranTay and I will be taking a road trip very soon.”

(Note to reader: View this story’s accompanying video segment at https://bit.ly/2SmnjWL)

Oh the Places We Can’t… and Can Go

by Amanda Ostuni (Twitter: @aeostuni) Exasperation! Today’s a rough day. You can’t go many places, You’re home to stay. A pandemic has hit And forced quarantine You must keep to yourself To stay healthy and clean Confined to your home, you must be, you know While doctors and politicians say where not to go You want to hit the streets and stores without a care But many are closed so you really can’t go anywhere With a brain for thinking, being cautious and smart You won’t go where people can’t be six feet apart That’s how we kill coronavirus Isolation is what must be done To beat this illness That’s stolen our fun The less people you see The better off we’ll all be It’s hard, but things like this happen We must rise above Let’s follow the rules For logic, for love

We must kill this deadly virus To save old fathers and mothers Too much is at risk To hang out with others So… Oh! The places you CAN’T go You can’t go to a restaurant Or out to a bar You can’t shop for clothes You can’t drive very far You won’t be partying because it’s not right, it’s not slick You’ll pass germs around and someone will get sick Wherever you go, you’ll be a pariah for sure If you spread a disease for which there’s no cure But don’t be too sad Because it’s not all so bad I’m happy to say so It really is true There’s up-sides And yup-sides To hang on to Some of you can still work From home on a device It may not be easy But the option is nice

If you’re one who can’t work I know that’s quite tough But you live in a society That helps when things get rough The government is providing some dough Helping too are businesses, and neighbors you know The system isn’t perfect, those fixes won’t last forever But take comfort in knowing we’re in this together And that one way or another, things will get better We’ll make it out of this mess someday, you can bet The world isn’t over, not here and not yet Doctors and scientists are working, a cure will be found People are isolating, cases will go down And one day we’ll all be back around town We’ll be back to normal We’ll be working at our office space We’ll be eating and drinking at our favorite place back with friends, talking face to face Slow and steady, we’ll win this race And in the meantime There’s plenty to do Pick up a hobby you’ve always meant to do Read a book that’s fiction or true Knit a sweater that’s red or blue Play a game that’s old or new Learn an instrument like the kazoo Enjoy this strange time

Don’t just wait for it to end Write a story, make some art Keep a diary where you share your heart Watch some movies, catch up on shows Lift some weights, strike a yoga pose Sleep a lot, bond with siblings, mom and dad eat something yummy, don’t worry if it’s ‘bad’ Just don’t wallow in this time NO! That’s not for you! Stay positive and hopeful Focus on the silver lining Lean on those you love Don’t give into despair or whining Keep your head held high Don’t let all happiness subside Get fresh air outside It’s safe enough in land open wide And oh, the places you CAN go! There are options my dear In the outdoors, a yard or a park you can be with no fear Outside you can venture, for a walk or a hike A run or a ride in your car, on your skateboard or bike Active! You can stay plenty active cause nature is open So get some fresh air when cabin fever has you mopin’ We can make it through if we try Do not despair, do not cry

On we will go Though the present is foul On we will go Though coronavirus does prowl On we will go Through the monster’s bowel Onward up this Uphill battle Grab your weapons and armor Get your horse and jump in the saddle On and on we will ride To a future more bright To a world with no virus, Out of this darkness and into the light We will survive Yes! We will again thrive! (If we keep fighting to stay alive). FOLKS, WE’LL MOVE FORWARD! So… Be your name Bobby or Buddy or Billy Or Sally or Suzy or Steph Who is Silly Keep up with the quarantine At home you must stay! It’s all about waiting. Listening now, for a better some day!

(Note to reader: View an abbreviated reading of this poem at https://bit.ly/2yWv6E2)

Dying in the Age of Corona by Celeste Snyder

As it slowly became apparent that we were heading into dangerous territory with this novel Corona virus, my husband and I were taking a trial run at being snowbirds in Tucson and visiting his family. My children, who live abroad, were starting to go into lock-down about the time that we were saying our goodbyes to my father in law, brother in law, and his family to begin our three day drive back to Wisconsin. On March 8th, we checked out of the cozy Airbnb on A Mountain overlooking downtown Tucson and loaded up our car. Both of us felt utterly compelled by a feeling that we needed to get home and hunker down. However, we never imagined we’d be saying our last goodbyes to my 84-year-old father in law. Even though he wasn’t in the best of health and ended up in the hospital for vertigo while we were out there, we still planned to get back and see him again soon. Once we got home, we discovered we were behind in the game to prepare for Covid-19. All our local stores and their online counterparts were emptied of the prized hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes we would need to get through this epidemic. I started out by scouring the Internet for the stuff and making rounds at grocery stores to stock up my pantry while trying to wrap my head around the phenomenon of social distancing. I did score some Lysol wipes and the ingredients for homemade hand sanitizer at a local dollar store, but I only bought a couple since the shelves were full of the stuff. In retrospect, I wish I had bought a few more because the next time I went back, there weren’t any left. Who knew we’d need to be wiping down every little thing we touched and brought into our homes? Still, up until now, and it’s only been a few weeks for us back here in Wisconsin, it’s been ok.

I’m retired and used to a slower pace. It’s more the inability to get together with our loved ones, to hug my 80-year-old mother when I pass by to bring her food and medicine that hurts the most. When my ticket for mid-April back to see my kids in Kuwait was cancelled, I struggled to keep perspective that this too would pass. I just won’t think about how long that might take. One day at a time is my new motto. However, we just got news that my father-in-law has been diagnosed with an untreatable case of lung cancer. A tumor was inadvertently discovered while he was in the hospital last month. Suddenly, the shelter in place situation just went from being a challenge we could get through as a community, to an invisible wall preventing us from keeping our loved ones comfortable as they face death’s door. Every day we see nurses and doctors on TV struggling with the horror of having to ease grieving families through the death process via Facetime and Skype. It’s heartbreaking to imagine how important it is for families to be together at the time of passing. Yet, this virus is keeping us apart, unable to hold our loved one’s hand as we send them off. Yesterday we had a wonderful phone call with dad. He admitted he’d had a real shock when the doctor first gave him the news, but he is processing it. Yesterday he was happy and enjoying the sunny day. It was warming up out there and he was thinking about how to clean out his yard and house to make the job easier for us after his passing. Taking it one day at a time just takes on a whole different meaning when your days are numbered. While dad seems to be coming to terms with his mortality, I’m wondering what we will do with the feelings of helplessness to care for him. If we traveled through the country at this time, we would risk getting it ourselves. Then we’d have to quarantine for two weeks at risk of infecting him with Covid-19. The doctors haven’t given us a timeline for how long he has. Strange as it may seem, death is an inevitable part of life and life goes on during the age of social distancing and Corona.

For survivors, not being able to tend to our sick and dying will probably be the hardest struggle of our lives. Then there’s the lack of closure as families are unable to mourn together or to celebrate their loved ones lives through wakes and funerals at this time. Images of unclaimed bodies stacked into piles of coffins in mass graves in New York will haunt me forever. As New York seems to be reaching their peak and the disease works its way through the rest of the country, I’m left wondering what cost this will have to the souls of the survivors? In the meanwhile, we’re doing our best to follow CDC guidelines to become survivors and get through it the best we can. One thing I do know, and that is that people are resilient and creative. For now, I draw inspiration from my community as they love and support each other through food drives, teddy bears in windows, Christmas lights put back out and rainbows in windows. All of these things give me hope that we will get through this and we will be all right.

Millennial Rosie

by Jackie Mantey (Instagram: @jackiemanteydotcom)

Miss You From Here

by Jackie Mantey (Instagram: @jackiemanteydotcom)

Hands Free

by Jackie Mantey (Instagram: @jackiemanteydotcom)


by Jackie Mantey (Instagram: @jackiemanteydotcom)

Whittling Wood

by Sam Nelson (Twitter: @samwriteteach, Instagram: @tree_gazing)

It was during the COVID crisis that I started whittling wood. I kept it simple—walking sticks. I loved walking; and I loved sticks. Someone had gifted me a crafted strip of sweetgum last year, and I used it often. To walk with a stick is to be gifted the transformative feeling of rambling. When I ramble, I forget where I started, which means I forget that I’m supposed to return to a place called home. I just keep walking, as if I might walk free forever. My house stops being my home, a place of return, a place of stillness, a place of monthly payments, and the woods open up in revolving embrace. A good stick helps, like a bit of magic, a practical talisman. I’ve had it in my head for a while to gift my nephew a walking stick. Two years ago, I salvaged a strawberry-red branch of madrone from Big Sur and drove it across the country with me. Then I left it on my father’s woodpile in his shop, hoping to whittle it into a magical talisman later on. I never saw it again. When the virus began to show itself in D.C., I went to the National Arboretum with my partner, knowing it would close to the public soon. It was my third time that month. We avoided people while chasing magnolia blossoms. “I don’t know if we should stick our noses in these,” she said, as I whiffed deep—deep enough that a pistil reached up my right nostril. “What if someone with the virus stuffed their nose in that, too?” I looked at the blossom, a Yulan magnolia, wider than a fist, all citrus-butter and fragrant glory. There were so many of them. But damn this one looked good. What were the chances that this one blossom was festering in corona particles? I looked around. I saw another human plunge his nose into a star magnolia, eyes closed, as if it were a drug. We went the other way.

I carried my sweetgum stick. We rambled through a dawn redwood stand, and then through the dwarf conifer collection, and on the other side of another hill, we found a pair of unlikely friends for D.C.’s climate—a giant sequoia and a coastal redwood, together but apart. I hugged the redwood, rubbing my beard into its hairy bark. I had quit hugging people except my partner, and now all of my backlogged affection went to trees. I hugged the sequoia next. Several of its branches littered the ground. Remembering the lost California stick I had meant for my nephew, I now picked another. The next day I began to whittle on my porch. Soon after I had a collection of sticks—sycamore, tulip, ailanthus, black locust. I whittled them all. I wasn’t sure what whittling actually was, or if what I was doing constituted whittling. What I was doing was stabbing and scraping sticks with a sharp knife. It wasn’t even a proper whittling knife. Instead it was an expensive, springaction switchblade, more suitable to skinning a small animal or killing a person than shaving a branch. But I liked the rhythm. It involved no screens, no Zooming, no words, no consumption of content or digestion of grief. It had tempo, a simple mechanical flow, scrape, peel, scrape, making something smooth from the discarded limbs of my favorite living organisms. A sharp knife helped. When the knife was too small for bulky knobs on the bark, I used a machete. I placed the stick across my right knee and slid the machete across the top, driving the knobs off. I swigged beer between cuts. I had bought the machete three years ago, justified by boyish fantasies of cutting through thick bush and chopping kindling for fire. But mostly I had used it to dig holes for poop when I camped in backcountry wilderness. Once, I dug a foot-deep hole in the sand dunes of Colorado. I was the only human sleeping in the dunes that night. The quiet of the San Luis Valley unsettled me. I could hear wind move through sand. When the wind stopped, I heard nothing.

I couldn’t remember another time in my life I heard nothing. It told me how far I was from anything human, a distance that first frayed, then soothed, my nerves. I rambled across the seams of the dunes until I was comfortable, knowing I was thousands of miles from any house that I might have to pay to call home. I was happier out in the wide open. So I dug a deep hole for poop. I stuck my machete in the ground next to me, squatted, and when I looked up, I saw the Milky Way, stretched out like a soft hammock. I felt cradled by it, but also grounded, just a boy and his big knife, rambling alone in a valley of sand and stars. I’m sure the machete unsettled the neighbors. When I first moved to D.C. I took pleasure in this effect, drinking beer in my little yard in Logan Circle, shirt off, trucker hat on, jumping and slicing at dead branches above me. My neighbors all had more money than me. They likely thought that money could get them away from this kind of thing. But it couldn’t. Until someone bought the house from under us. So I am here again, a new neighborhood, tethered to a new home because of a new pandemic, drinking beer, paring wood. I had tried to ramble in the park, but home was the safe place now. It was safer to sit on a porch than stroll public trails, and not even a good, sturdy stick could transform a walk in the park into an open ramble. So I whittle. It’s a loner’s habit. And when the mailman approaches, he takes one look at me and my machete and keeps walking. “No mail for you today,” he says. He skips to the next house and then all the others on the block. I don’t blame him. No one is sure who is safe to approach these days. Trees and sticks are safe, but other living things, we’re not so sure about. I simply nod, sip my beer, and then change back to the switchblade, curling red sequoia bark onto my bare feet on the porch. It seems like a good way to pass the time right now. Pretending to make a magic object for future use. And if this walking stick doesn’t turn out to be magic, it will still make for a sturdy companion on a quiet ramble alone someday, away from here, this safe place called home.


by Victoria Heilweil (Instagram: @victoriamaraheilweil, website: victoriaheilweil.com)

Under the April Sky by Brynn Schaal

The sun had risen to its highest peak when the quiet spirit opened his eyes. He had awoken from a deep sleep where he had ceased to exist; the filtered light from the trees and gentle songs from birds invited him back to consciousness. In spite of its beauty, lying in this verdant wood was an unwelcome relief: his mind was a blank slate, and the only possessions he had were the clothes he wore and a burlap sack containing tiny vials of plants and liquids. As he stumbled to his feet, he reflexively grabbed the sack and carried it with him down a winding path. He felt his feet sink into the ground as he staggered across the forest and into a large clearing, where a giant white teapot stood in stark contrast to the cyan sky. Clustered beneath the teapot was a hamlet. Despite a heavy recalcitrance, curiosity pulled him forward. As he approached, he stretched out his hand to confirm the figure was not a hallucination.“Ah, Fen.” A tall man appeared from the other side of the teapot. “It’s nice to see you’ve risen from your period of rest.” Fen gave a look of bewilderment. “It’s me, Hans,” the man said. “You don’t remember me?” Fen shook his head. “Well, I see you’ve noticed our icon,” he said, his pupils dilating in the sunlight. “It sits atop a volcano. It’s expected to erupt in a few days after five hundred years of silence.” “How do you know it will erupt?” He was amazed he could even speak given the hoarseness of his voice.

“The same way you know when you’re hungry: it’s a sense that travels within you.” He led Fen to an elongated picnic table several meters away, where people sat on both sides and women were setting down elaborate dishes. A woman set a dish of berry porridge in front of Fen, inviting him to eat. “It’s our favorite meal for special occasions,” Hans said, eagerly shoving a spoonful in his mouth. “What occasion?” He lifted his spoon to his lips and tasted a small amount. Hans’s eyes widened and then a look of relief spread across his face. “A plague was sprung upon us and then a storm raged for days, but now we look to a new beginning.” Fen’s eyes were drawn to a log cabin near the far end of the clearing, where several cloth bags were stacked atop one another. Even from afar, he noticed a limb sticking out from one of the bag’s openings. “New beginnings require sacrifice,” Hans continued. A calm wind passed, creating a gentle whistle amongst the wildflowers. Fen looked to the people next to him and across from him and noticed no berries were present in their porridge. “We’ve selected you. You are our chosen one.” Hans gestured to a group of leering men sitting at the far corners of the table. A stiffness began to travel from Fen’s toes and up his legs. “Why?” It reached his hands, forcing him to drop his spoon.

“Your keen ability to predict the weather.” Different sets of hands grabbed him from under his armpits. “And accurate prophecies.” A vision struck him: He remembered the pulsating sensation under his nose which dragged its way to his temples, and him screaming a storm would come. He had run into the forest to find relief from the sunlight and nausea, only to collapse beneath a tree. One of the men grabbed the sack from off his back. “You came as a medicine man and will leave as a god.” He watched a group of men push a wooden staircase in front of the teapot’s curved spout, which now resembled a wicked grin. Hans climbed it, eagerly spinning around every few seconds to witness the men forcing Fen up the steps. Once Fen reached the ascent, Hans grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him into the spout’s entrance. Even from high up, Fen could hear people singing from below. “We thank thee for your visit, and look forward to your return,” Hans bellowed. As Hans pushed him down the spout, Fen sensed within himself what he felt when first awakening in the forest: a rush of nothingness.

Another Day

by Young Rose (Instagram: @versis.poetry)

Another day I escort my pen to this page since it’s the only place I can go Outside don’t care for us so I comfort myself in ways the neglected know too well My feet too cold to bare a sole I pray I don’t lose a soul I know I promise I’ll lose my mask if it means I’ll gain the truth Put myself at risk for honesty Give me truth and give it now Keep it 6ft deep Don’t sugar coat my fate The deceased ain’t die for this Give them soil and rest like their counterparts Stop forcing me into hobbies and confinement I never asked to be your puppet I only asked for another day


by Jessamyn Fitzpatrick (Instagram: @Jessamyn7) On the fifth day I call my first boyfriend. The one I haven’t seen in years. I want to call my most recent ex, but we’re not really talking anymore and I don’t know what I would say? I miss you. It still hurts. This feels as lonely as the end of our relationship did. Hope you’re doing ok. So I call my first love. Across an ocean and many countries With a new wife now, A woman whose face I imagine is like the mountains when clouds break open; honey-toned and expansive. He would like that, anyway. We went on a road trip once and he woke me up from the backseat just to see the sunrise while he drove. He did things like that and I loved him for it. So I call him. Knowing that it won’t be the same But hoping nevertheless to claim some small piece of what once was. Just because something never came to be, doesn’t mean you can’t still be in love with it.

I think of that a lot these days. How in love I’ve been with memories. Fantasies. Ghosts. They say in moments like this to hold tight to the ones you love, But what about the ones you haven’t loved yet? The loves you haven’t met. Or saw, but didn’t choose. God, may I never again take for granted the opportunity to touch a stranger To hug a friend. To take a lover, new and foreign into my bed. To do the sweet, clumsy and delicious dance we humans have of unfolding and unwrapping one another, limbs growing ever slicker as we begin to dampen under one another, Sticking to each another with a kind of dewy curiosity, with the heightened newness of Do you like this? And OhGodyesDothatAgainDon’tStop How we become novel and wondrous to one another and so, in turn, to ourselves Please God, don’t let me forget that. And the Earth said Be Still And when mankind did not listen, she struck them down. Is that how they’ll talk about this moment centuries from now?

New ages perhaps on new planets of new people with all the same old, eternal worries we’ve all always had; Will anybody see me? Love me? remember me? Please God, I do not think I can survive this world Alone.


Take the bamboo chopsticks out of the dishwasher, let them air dry points up in a drinking glass. It makes it seem that everything is as it should be, at least for the moment they clatter to the bottom.

intimacy part one and two

by Marielle Glasse (Instagram: @elle.glasse)

Planning Sanity

by Marielle Glasse (Instagram: @elle.glasse)

Chronicles of Cat Parenthood During Covid-19

by Erin Stevens (Instagram: @erinelizasteves, website: writtenwithflair.com) All I have ever wanted to be is a stay at home cat mom. It’s a dream without a roadmap to reality - do I trick a billionaire into marriage? Find millions of dollars in a hollowed-out tree? Bribe a bank teller into forking over the cash? - but what I lack in a plan, I make up for in love for my cat son, Murphy, and a very clear vision. Picture the most bougie scene you can, and I’ve probably already had it. Boozy weekday brunches surrounded by other women of cat-mom high society. Our cats asleep next to us in prams like the little angels they are. I’d wear an oversized faux fur jacket, my ‘Cat Mom’ tshirt peeking out from underneath just so everyone knows exactly who they’re dealing with. Perfectly curated Christmas card photoshoots (with Murphy and me. Possibly with the billionaire if he’s part of this, but again, the man is not essential to this lifestyle). An Instagram aesthetic to die for with only pictures of Murph that hide his… heft. Organizing playdates with all of his little cat friends (though he’s what I’d call *anti-social*, so probably not). Of course I have other dreams, but none are as big and unattainable as this one. But then a pandemic swept across the globe and stole everything from our physical health to our collective peace of mind. The only silver lining I could cling to, the only thing that squashed a tiny amount of the existential dread I felt was thinking this is it. This is my moment to make this utopian cat mom lifestyle mine. The first few days of social distancing went great. Murphy seemed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for my constant presence in our tiny shared, no-room apartment. But cats can only feign tolerance for human existence for so long. Now, four weeks into Minnesota’s Stay-At-Home order, I understand why parents are so eager for their kids to return to school after a very long, LONG summer break. The boozy, bougie weekday brunches I dreamt of would probably make our arrangement more tolerable, but since I’m fortunate enough to still be working that’s not exactly an option.

I figured that Murphy would sleep most of the day while I worked, but in a turn of events that would shock no one, cats have adorable, demonic minds of their own. He has a knack for sleeping through my quiet work time, only to come roaring to life when I need to be on calls and video chats to reassure everyone on my team that I still have a pulse. “Wow,” one of my coworkers said. I’d just paused our conversation to snatch Murphy off my desk before he sent my lamp crashing to the floor. I was holding him in a very Rafiki - baby Simba - Pride Rock kind of way in front of the camera, exposing my coworker to Murph in all of his large glory. “Murph is... healthy,” he finally said. This is a recurring theme whenever anyone meets my son, and while he’s finally on diet food, it’s pretty obvious when he hops up on my galley oven and covers the entire stove top with his body that it’s not working. He enjoys it too much, and he’s taken my always being home now to mean that he should get fed whenever he wants. At first, I resisted feeding him beyond normal feeding times. I held strong when he jumped up on the counter and started batting stuff around during conference calls. I kept it together when he sat outside the closet where his food is kept and yowled loudly and pathetically. It was even manageable when he started playing garage band by opening one of my kitchen cabinets and letting the cabinet door slam shut repeatedly. Who am I to deny my child his musical hobbies?

It became more difficult to ignore him when Murphy took matters into his own paws and chomped down on my ankle. I limped to the bathroom in pursuit of Neosporin and Band-Aids, scolding him for being a “fucking bastard” who’s “incredibly rude” while he galloped away, his belly fat jiggling from side to side.

Oh and forget the vision of me in that luxurious jacket. My new work from home-chic look is complete with my grandmother’s stained Irish knit sweater and black yoga pants completely covered in orange and white fur because I’ve given up using the lint roller. The only exercise these yoga pants see is all the squatting I’m doing to clean his litter box and wipe up the cat puke piles before Murphy can eat them.

The only peace I get is when I lock myself in the bathroom, and even there I don’t feel safe as I listen to paws scrape slowly down the door. Twice now, I’ve left the door open while I’m brushing my teeth and Murphy bolts into the wet bathtub, which leads to me chasing him around with a bath towel. It goes without saying that this is not going to lead to an Instagram aesthetic that will make anyone feel #influenced. The list goes on. And while all of these things could potentially be overlooked, that there may be a slight sliver of hope in keeping my longtime, beloved dream alive, there was a final moment that sealed my fate. “Does your cat ever hump his toys?” I asked my best friend and fellow cat mom one night over video chat. She laughed so hard that she managed to tip her phone’s tripod backwards so that I was staring out her kitchen window. “What?” she asked, righting the tripod and trying to get me to repeat my son’s behavior. Long gone are the days of dial-up and questionable bandwidth, so I couldn’t blame a shotty internet connection on her mis-hearing what I’d said, nor could I count on it to help me change this uncomfortable conversation. I had no choice but to tell her how twice so far during this stint of social distancing, I walked in on my cat making very strange noises and violating the stuffed animal donkey that he typically carries in his mouth and shakes it around like a dog with a toy. The second time it happened I’d just come back from a walk. There he was, right in the entryway with that goddamn donkey. I was so horrified that I turned right back around and walked for another mile before I felt like it was safe to return home. I spent years dreaming up my perfect lifestyle, and all it took was a month of quarantining and walking in on my cat humping a toy donkey to kill it. And so as potentially another month of staying at home stretches out before us and Murphy continues to run the household (I have completely given up at this point - there are no more rules), I’m dreaming a new dream. One where Murphy and I spend at least 12 hours together, not 24, so that we can have our sweet cuddle time, and then I can leave and he can participate in delinquent behavior without his mother watching.

It also involves summer, sunshine, a patio with my cat mom and cat aunt friends. We’re sharing a celebratory, post-pandemic trough filled with mimosas (or maybe it’s just a trough for me, I don’t know). A bougie brunch on a budget. My only request is that we leave the cats at home.

10:31pm train east

by Taylor Kuether (Instagram/Twitter: @taylorkuether, website: taylorkuether.com)

i heard raindrops through my screened window, open to the rare spring air and i peeked through the curtains to confirm. in the distance the coming train rumbled; i kept the curtains pulled to watch it pass. bright despite the rain, white fluorescent cars glaring harsh even through the dark all silver bullet body and electric blue LED signs, “forest park.” i counted three passengers inside a game i can play these days only (chicago’s L system isn’t typically so bare) one masked-less, glove-less man rubbing his face, one man, standing, in a bright yellow sweatshirt, unfurling its hood. one woman in the last seat on the train, head ducked so low i could only spot her by the top of her dark, messy bun.

i don’t think i’ve ever ordered fish at a restaurant

by Taylor Kuether (Instagram/Twitter: @taylorkuether, website: taylorkuether.com)

but tonight, on this spring Friday five weeks since my last contact with another person, i envision a fish fry my mother would swoon over. the plate itself is densely, needlessly heavy as if it is earthy clay shaped and fired that very day then painted thick with glaze, glossy and speckled. the fish has to be cod— what other fish is so pompous in the Midwest? it’s an inch thick, flesh whiter than fresh snow and describing it with the (accurate) words “plump” and “succulent” makes me blush and shiver. the fry, the literal breading, is deep gold in color and crumbles and flakes in a way some might describe as shattering.

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by Shannon Gonick (Instagram: @shannongonick)

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by Emilie Connor Riggs (Instagram: @connoryoga)

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by Daniel Myers (Instagram: @dandalf_myers)

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by Maddie Sligh (Instagram: @maddiesligh)

Collages by The 1338 Household