Thursday, January 26, 2017

How I Will Teach My Children to Be Good People

Man, I hit a low point last weekend with social media, just super disheartened. So many labels, so much moral grandstanding. I found myself actually contemplating if it will be possible to raise good people in the 21st century (not a pregnancy announcement, just... wondering). How am I going to be confident enough? How will I know that what I'm teaching my kids is right?

The idea popped into my head to make a list of what I believe: to check in with my moral compass. I grabbed my iphone, opened the Notes app, and just started to write all the things I plan to instill in my littles. To my surprise, I wrote and wrote. As I wrote, my confidence returned. I've got a lot of values in my back pocket that I'll be proud to uphold. Many of these are truths I learned from my mother and grandmother. If it was good enough for them in the '60s and the '90s, it'll be good for me and my beebs in the 2020's. More for posterity than anything, hegre is that list:

What We Will Teach Our Kids To Make Them Into Good People/What I Believe

- No success can compensate for failure in the home. Russell and I have promised to make our marriage a lifelong success, and eventually an eternal success, in part because we know that our success will benefit our children throughout their lives. We will work all the days of our lives to build a successful home for them. We promise them a haven.
- A great love of reading
- Belief in a loving Heavenly Father, an amazing Savior, and the sealing ordinance before everything.
- Recognize cognitive distortions and learn how to counter them.
-  Learn to love to work. Too much free time actually leads to depression. One always needs purpose, and creativity and work provide purpose.
- How to manage their time
- Their rights are less important than their responsibilities.
- Never stay a victim. There is strength in forgiveness. Sometimes you will not be strong enough to forgive, but it's like a muscle. Work at it and the strength will come.
- You will always be a social success if you learn to ask people questions about themselves (people are always their own favorite topic of conversation!). Remember their answers and empathize with them.
- Life does not owe you anything, particularly money or attention.
- I quote Marmee from Little Women, "If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that's all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty. But what it cannot diminish are the wonderful workings of your mind: your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you."
- Don't be passive aggressive. If you need something from someone, you have to say it to them.
- A reverence for nature in all its variety
- A reverence for heritage. They come from two long lines of AMAZING people, and their place in the line-- their link in that chain-- will be just as awesome.
- Theirs is an exciting, incredible time to be alive.
- Their identity = their choices. Not skin, not gender, not achievement, not age. Those are exterior factors. Who you really are is who you choose, from day to do, to be. And I will teach them to make those choices good!
- They are important, because I say so. And THEY will be taught to say so. My mom raised me with a pretty healthy non-caringness about what other people think of me. I hope I can do likewise.
- That being said, small lives are just as valuable to Heavenly Father. Last shall be first and first, last.
- All life is suffering. That's the sad part of mortality. The good news is, Jesus Christ will restore equity to the earth one day, and all that suffering will be erased! Everyone will be compensated for the loss and grief they felt while in mortality, and the grief will wash away, to be replaced with joy.
- America has been and will continue to be the best country in history. They are luckier than almost anyone who has ever walked the earth.
-  Being known as trustworthy will be one of their greatest accomplishments. Live with integrity.
- Don't get tattoos, however tempting.
- Save for goals in advance. The bigger the expense, the early you have to start saving (hint: retirement savinbzgs start the second you graduate college).
- If you're not liberal when you're young, you have no heart, and if you're not conservative when you're old, you have no brain.
- You will never regret giving up free time to serve people. Service always makes you feel better!
- Find the balance between logic and emotion. They work hand in hand. One is not better than the other.
- Try not to focus on others who have more than you. Remember there are billions more who have much, much less than you.
- Talk to God. Whenever. Know that He listens, even if it seems  to be from behind a brick wall.
- The Memory children will NOT be heard making fun of people or passing gossip along.
- Remember to smile when talking to people; your smile is beautiful and it makes people's days better to get to see it.
- Try new hobbies in school, anything that interests you, even if you won't be super good right away. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the people who work hard often surpass the lazies with lots of natural talent in the end!
- Listen to lots of different viewpoints and be ok with uncertainty in the world. No one has all the answers. You do have to decide what you believe during the course of your life, that's part of growing up, but rest assured that, thankfully, you will have the Gift of the Holy Ghost to help you each time you face new uncertainty.
- Faith is simple. Exercising faith is not always simple. It, like forgiveness, is like a muscle. Start by just talking to God.
- Expect the church to break your heart at some point. Some parts of it will not make sense, and those are the parts that were made by humans. The point is to look past them to the parts made by God, the parts that concern you and Him.
- Don't feed the trolls. Angry people feed on attention, even negative attention. They'll cling HARDER to the opinions you disagree with when you engage.
- Don't put too much of yourself into social media or your phone. If you are unable to step away for an hour, practice putting it away for a whole day.
- No phones at church or dinner.
- Be honest about the amount of money you desire and go after it. Develop skills that people will want to pay you for, in a field you can stand. Don't make your hobby your career. Take it from someone who failed a little at all of the above.
- In the end, your life will be much the same as anyone's else's ever was: a couple dozen trips around the sun to do what you like with.
- Have a family.
- Stay close to family.
- Invest in your surrounding community.
- Hold your head high.
- Stay faithful until the end.
- You are very loved. We are proud of you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Post From the Past

--Written in 2012--

There is a question, or rather, a conversation I have with God several times a year, that he never answers. Or if he does, it doesn't stay answered-feeling for long. These experiences, wherein I basically think/pray myself hoarse, feel to me like... a schism, a crack, in the otherwise bright and undulating trail of my faith, which winds in and through my every action, emotion, and adventure. None of you get to know what I am asking God, but I feel very strongly that most of you have one or two of these questions yourself. They are tucked away in the back of your mind, and you fire them upstairs to the Big Guy from time to time with accompanying notes of curiosity, fear, and sometimes anguish. Ah, life.......

... I reached the end of another round of interrogation with God recently, and this time, I'm just letting it all go, telling myself that it is good not to know everything that God thinks. This is the good-enough-for-now answer that feels the most right, and I am reveling in it. After all, I reason to myself (with Dieter Uchtdorf's help), that if I were perfectly able to understand the creator of the universe, well, then, he might just be a figment of my imagination. But I don't! And he is not! He is mysterious and wonderful.

I think that Heavenly Father leaves some questions unanswered on purpose to keep us talking to him, to keep us asking why and which way and what next. And, hopefully if we are wise enough, we will also remember when we speak to him to thank him for all of the certainties he has held out to us already with open hands.

Ok, wait, there was a point to this philosophizing. During this last round of questioning, I kept thinking to myself, "I'm tired of leafing through the scriptures, I need something else to lift me up." I had in mind the great feeling, the aha! moment, I get at the close of an amazing book, or the end of a phenomenal movie. That fullness of beauty was what I wanted to feel as I asked my question. After all, God made me a lover of beauty and all that lies behind it. He and I talk really well and easily through that medium.

Today I was stocking up on summer fiction in the GW library, in preparation for my upcoming flights around the globe. As my hand reached up to the top shelf for one of my favorites, a book that made me see art in ways I had never seen before, Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev, I froze. My hand instinctively pulled down instead a 5 year old reprint of another Potok book, The Promise. I've never read it, but the graphic design on the spine drew me in, and just one glance at the duo of quotes near the title page brought me to that feeling of joy, warmth, and trust in Deity that I sought. Don't ask me why. Don't worry if the following doesn't move you the same way. Just celebrate with me the marvel of the written word, the ability of books, art, and music to transport you to different trains of thought, different people, ideas, and feelings that you never would have otherwise encountered, but which fall into step perfectly with you as you continue to make your way through that winding, undulating road of faith.

If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. but what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.
- Franz Kafka

Master of the Universes, send us our Messiah, for we have no more strength to suffer, Show me a sign, O God, Otherwise... otherwise... I rebel against Thee. If thou dost not keep Thy Covenant, then neither will I keep that Promise, and it is all over, we are through being Thy chosen people, Thy peculiar treasure.
-The Rebbe of Kotzk

(Bear in mind these are Holocaust survivors)

--- Written in 2016--

I can't remember which question I asked God in my 20s that I was referring to above. Nor can I remember what I found so moving about the second passage. Today, that passage makes me sad. I feel sad knowing some, even many, believe they can throw away their identity as the Chosen people of God. Thinking He is not keeping His Covenant with them because of some mortal difficulty or another.

I have some different questions I've been firing up to God over the last two years. I still have some un-answered left-overs from my 20s, but I've made some adjustments to my life and outlook and I'm ok with the unanswered. Since we're talking about faith a lot, someone asked me recently why I stayed in the Mormon church, and my answer is that I made a covenant with who I believe God to be, and even if He is not who He is cracked up to be (though I believe He is), I am determined to be who I said I would be, in 1993, 2010, and 2014 (my baptism, endowment, and marriage dates, respectively). There is enough beauty in that.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Ruin Everyone Else's Dating Lives.

This is not a list of ways to get men. This is a map to the dark side... This is Your Guide To Becoming a Dating Villainess.


Welcome, my black-hearted novitiate. You have laid aside the pure and innocent desire to fall in love and seek instead, like Delilah, Lady MacBeth, and thousands of other scarlet women before you, to wreak havoc on the hearts of men. Maybe one--or many-- of those insects have spurned you. Maybe you have a pernicious rival (the "Heroine") who keeps blocking your shot and you wish to see her destroyed. Maybe you have just always loved sifting souls like wheat... whatever your reasons for coming, prepare for the most glorious power, the most electric thrill you will ever experience. Prepare to don the cloak of a Villainess.

Take a second to channel the evil powers of your most horrible high school frenemy, and that girl on the Bachelor who throws herself like a ho into the most perfectly laid plans of the Heroine. If your love of the Jane Austen books has finally driven you mad, choose now to meditate on Lucy Steele, Jane Fairfax, and Caroline Bingley. Let them instruct you in the beautiful art of ruining everyone else's dating lives.

The commandments of evil:

You can almost hear my evil cackle.
- Answer the door when your roommate has a date. Flatter and flirt with him on the doorstep til he can't remember his date's name.

- Wear the same dress that the heroine just bought, but yours is two sizes smaller, tighter, and shorter.

- Never have any friends of your same gender (unless they are your minions and you send them out to spread malicious rumors).

-Every boy must take you out somewhere fancy at least 8 times before you let him know it's not going to work out (That is, IF you let him know!).

- Have at least 8 boys cycling through this process at all times.

- Complain at length about how taxing all these dates every week are to your roommate who hasn't been asked out in 8 months.

- Upon hearing that someone has had a successful DTR, seduce the male into making out with you. Leave him a confused muddle of guilt and ecstasy.

- Never, ever call back.

- Never, ever text back. Except if you notice he has been texting someone else. Then bring your texting A-game!!!!!

- Go out with someone once, inform him suddenly that you're just not feeling it, and make everything AWKWARD!!! EVERY TIME YOU SEE HIM!!! TIL HE MOVES AWAY!!!

- Three words: skimpy. profile. photo.

- Date roommates or best friends at the same time. Get them to duel for you.

- WORSHIP Katy Perry and T. Swift outwardly, but take notes from Miley and Rhianna secretly.

- Passive aggression. Employ it in every conversation that don't follow your master plan.

- What's the feminine equivalent of the humblebrag? Oh yea. The complimentfish.

- If you truly find yourself desperate to be in a relationship, ask out a target and act like he is totally and utterly uninteresting on the date, thus securing his affection. When he comes around again, be completely unwilling to admit your initial interest or return his. Blame ALL weirdness entirely on him.  After all, he should have liked you first. He should have realized what he could have had.  He must pay for not having played a perfect game.

- Remember: you are better off without them.

Here are some suggestions specifically tailored to the Mormon fishbowl:

- Go after the EQP because of all his POWER!

-Dump the sweet EQP and immediately start dating the ward meathead. When asked, assiduously argue that, "He really is nice when you get to know him!"

- There are white, grey, and black ways of making out. Perfect all the moves in the latter two.

It's just so cute when they cry!
- Move into a new ward and steal ALL attention!!

- Testimonies can double as personal advertisements. Be uber-charming up there. Flip your hair.

- Reveal your beau's very personal secrets to the whole Relief Society!

- Say I love you. Dump him two days later. Take him back. Then do it again! Remember what Bain said: "There can be no true despair without hope."

- Throw a wrench in your current relationship and go make out with someone else. Inform the second party several weeks later that you're kinda sorta almost engaged to someone in Utah/New York/DC 2nd.

- When the heroine tells you her Prince Charming finally asked her out, give him a backscratch in church. And your phone number.

- Dump someone at the altar (worth 1,000 Villainess points). 100 extra points if you keep the ring.

- If you do successfully ensnare a poor unsuspecting hunk of manliness into marital servitude, fill people's facebook walls with your wedding pictures for MONTHS. Then only publish pictures of your life looking perfect, so as to help others set wildly extravagant expectations for happiness in marriage.

- Also adopt that annoying habit of all newlyweds and shill out unsolicited dating advice!

Any others I might add? I have actually witnessed every single one of these tactics before, except the altar dumping. Happy Valentine's Day, all you empowered Villainesses! I love you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Last Supper Lecture Part 2

(Continued from this post)

Like many biased art historians, I will now deftly skip from the art of the Renaissance straight into the supremely interesting 19th century, to a Last Supper painting that combines both the horizontal format of Da Vinci and the vertical, triangular format of Durer that we discussed previously:

William Blake. The Last Supper. 1799. Tempura on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Yes, you are reading that caption right. This is a painting by William Blake, the famous poet, who also had careers as a painter, engraver, and illustrator, although that knowledge is now mostly confined to nerdy art history circles. 

Herald of the Romantic era, Blake thought of the Bible as the greatest work of poetry ever written, and he created a set of ethereal, radiant illustrations for the Bible that convey the poetic nature of many Biblical stories. Hilariously, Blake thought the classical art of the Renaissance was masked paganism :) which I find funny because, to me, the mysticism and the suffused glow of HIS works to connote paganism more than anything the rational Renaissance ever put forth.

In my opinion, Blake was painting not a factual reimagination of the historical event of the Last Supper, but rather a representation of the symbolic nature of that moment, fraught with destiny, betrayal, and love. As an aside, the patron for Blake's collection of Biblical illustrations was Thomas Butts, a prominent Swedenborgian. If you ever want to study a super fascinating line of Christianity suffused with seemingly clashing principles like science and heavenly visions, read about the Swedenborgians.

But back to Blake. Notice anyone different around the table?

Oi! Who sits right below Christ and Mary Magdalene? A happily conversing, totally topless Adam and Eve! What might the inclusion of Adam and Eve in the sacrament ordinance signify? For me, I like to think about Eve's choice to leave the comfort of the garden because she wanted children. She wanted to progress in love, knowledge, and family. I also like to think of Adam, who loved God and obedience so much, but realized his wife was right, and chose to follow her into the lone and dreary world. I like to think about the joy that came shortly after their decision, when God revealed to them that their transgression would be forgiven, and that their fall was temporary, because their line would one day include a Savior who would redeem them and all of mankind. In their bravery, their obedience, and their faith and love, they are truly types of the Son who, in this picture, sits above them. Can you imagine what their reunion looked like? Father, Mother, and great-great---- grand Savior/Son.

How could including Adam and Eve in our sacrament participation increase the experience? Something to think about...

Does anything else about the work reveal new facets of the Last Supper for you? A student in my class commented on the contrast of the bright mandorla of light around Christ with the black background. He said it reminded him that one of Christ's names is the Light, and that to be anywhere but near him is to walk in darkness.

I am drawn to the two men bowed prostrate on either side of the table: the one laid full out and face down on the bottom left in a red cape, and the other man with only a bowed head and arm visible, in the middle of the right hand edge of the painting. Blake seems to be painting the Last Supper in a symbolic rather than factual way, including people like Adam and Eve whose presence at that moment are more of a spiritual inclusion, so I like to think that these two worshipers could represent me. After all, each week during sacrament I too approach that upper room where Christ introduced the bread and the water. I too come to mourn him on the hill where he died, and witness the tomb where he laid and which he walked out of, in my mind's eye.

My next painting starts an examination of how the 20th century conceptualized the sacrament and the Last Supper, and I think you will find its interpretation a far cry from both the monumental moment of the Renaissance and the supernatural occurrence of the 19th century:

Salvador Dali. Sacrament of the Last Supper. 1955. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Boom! That's right! Salvador Dali enters the fray! If you are reading this and you are in Washington, do yourself a favor and go quickly to visit this painting yourself in the little nook by the elevator in the East Wing of the NGA, before the museum closes in January for a $68 million dollar renovation. Phenomenal piece of art.

I didn't know this before I began researching this painting, but Dali actually broke with Surrealists and returned to the Catholic faith in 1949. He had a new interest in nuclear physics and was beginning to see order in the world where he previously envisioned chaos and the uncanny. I find it lovely that he found order restored within the tenets of Christianity.

What changes occurred in the conceptualization of the Last Supper and the sacrament in the 20th century? There are lots!

Dali has removed many of the more arcane, traditional Christian symbols of the Last Supper (no lurking Judas, no fancy goblets or heaps of bread, no red or blue) and instead created a more universal reimagination of the act of partaking of the Bread of Life. He is still interested in the Classical celebration of the human body; you really can't escape a contemplation of the reality and power of God as your eye travels around that massive torso at the top of the canvas. I think Dali's inclusion of this non-traditional view of God and the Savior, who still retains a closeness to his father-- see him gesturing up to him?-- represents Dali's hope that God is nearer to man than often presumed in these modern days. The savior's gesture up brings to mind the scripture, "If ye have seen me, ye have seen my Father." Despite the attention paid to the Father and Son's presence and power, Dali questions the extent to which they are operating in our lives. Note that both Heavenly Father and the Savior are transparent.

Dali did away with the traditional identification of the different apostles; if you look closely, the men gathered around the table are all mirror images of each other. I both like and dislike this. I dislike it because it takes away a bit of the historical reality of the Last Supper. I like it because it puts the emphasis on the personality of the Savior and the eternal nature of the sacrament. Because his disciples don't come with a particular identity, I can easily imagine myself to be one of those gathered to the table.

You can tell Dali is interested in elucidating the challenges modern worshippers have in combining scientific discoveries and faith. He was VERY interested in science, physics, and "new religiosity." The brassy enclosure surrounding the scene is a dodecahedron, which is apparently the most stable solid element. Dali also took pains to recreate all the elements in the landscaped background of the painting: water, air, fire, earth. This reminds me of my moments in the woods, or camping, or hiking, where I feel closer to God, and more accepting of the reality of Christ, than I do almost anywhere else (except the LDS temple!!).


My final piece is a contemporary painting by one of my favorite Mormon artists, Ron Richmond. It will look familiar to any of you who visited the Beholding Salvation exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art a few years ago.

What symbols of the sacrament does this utilize?

How is this depiction different from others?

I love the removal of all human figures. The artist encourages meditation on just the symbols of the sacrament; no more being distracted by John's personality or Christ's hair or the size of the upper room. The red cloth is vivid enough to bring Christ's painful passions to life, and the silver swath of cloth on which the bowls rest delivers the idea of the sacrament into our hands, down through the bottom of canvas. I end with this one because it is my favorite reminder that, in a very real way, the choice of how we view the sacrament, what we make of Christ, how we remember him, is all up to us.

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Artists' Battle: SURVEY

Russell and I discovered the "Scribble" feature on Gmail's iPhone app yesterday in church. Tell me, who's portrait of their significant other is better?

"Lindsey Looks At Art"
"Superfast Downhill Russell"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Part at Once!

From this glorious piece of writing about... a condemned football stadium:

"Let's not unman each other - part at once; All farewells should be sudden, when forever, Else they make an eternity of moments, And clog the last sad sands of life with tears." -Lord Byron,

an advocate for Irish good-byes if ever I met one.

Good-byes are hard. But they can be hopeful. Hope in others' future, that good karma is coming their way, that you have left them full of understanding of your feelings for them and that this might buoy them up to the heights you foresee them reaching. Good-byes are, in fact, a great opportunity to plumb a depth and breadth in a friendship or relationship that would otherwise always be skated over.

No, thankfully, I have no good-byes to say to anyone at present. I'm just thinking of a few friends dealing with them, and perhaps of my cities, Arlington and Washington. Winds in the east... something is brewing. That kind of thing.

Gerard Bryne. A country road, a tree, evening: Cruagh, on the road between Kilakee and Tibradden, Dublin Mountains, 2006. Fuji crystal archive print. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Las Vegas Aerial Shot

Found this gem on I Love Charts this morning, had to share. Look at Lake Mead shrink!!

I love my city :)

Also, I need to get the second half of my Last Supper Lecture post done. I know! I want to finish this Sunday. I'm publishing this goal to get some accountability. Hold me to it!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

One Year

2013 was my first year with a photo-happy iPhone and I did a lot of documenting. I haven't succumbed to Instagram yet, and therefore I will recap the last twelve months of my life "old school" style (and I can't believe I'm going to call it that) on my beloved albeit slightly dusty blog.

Months are backwards, because... you'll see. You get a story at the end.

I actually got into the Christmas spirit this year (unlike all the past years filled with finals). Went home for 6 glorious days which became 8 glorious days thanks to a glitch in Delta's booking system!!

My brother Marcus said it best when he said that Brown Thanksgivings are his new favorite holiday. I am blessed to come from two of the most entertaining, warm, funny, faithful, close extended families known to man, and it was a joy to bring Russell home to meet everyone for the first time. We sang, we stuffed ourselves, we made good use of the Strip... I even made a custom Google map documenting our adventures!

A pilgrimage to the Rosslyn garage where Deep Throat Mark Felt dropped off his FBI papers for Washington Post's Bob Woodward (if you are a history nut like Russell and I, go see it soon, the garage is going to be torn down!), a hike in the Shenandoahs during the government shutdown with roommate Kathryn, the Fall White House Garden Tour, and Halloween with my boyfriend the L-shaped Tetris piece!

Imagine Dragons concert, freakishly rainy UVA-BYU football game in beautiful Charlottesville, and this:

My brother Spencer leaves Virginia forever :( but then I chase him across the country on two GREAT trips to San Francisco and Utah! Gone almost the whole month!! Come home to an immediate roadtrip with Russell to Louisville, KY to cheer on my friend Ben as he completes an Ironman!!!

Fourth of July, of course, and a date to the Woodrow Wilson pool, the most beautiful pool I have ever seen!

Got back together with Russell after 76 days apart (every great couple breaks up at least once or twice!), bridesmaid at my beautiful friend Marissa Pugmire Findlay's wedding, whisked away to NYC for an artsy golden birthday and then a "Russell day" the next day, which meant seeing famous NYC sports arenas :)

Complete a relay half-ironman with a bunch of friends, go to my fifth Duck Beach trip, GRADUATED...

Second year of going to the Richmond International Speedway for NASCAR with friends, finally checked Mount Vernon off my list! Road trip with friends to St. Augustine Florida for my first ever Olympic triathlon!!!

(One of my favorite memories of the year! Loved that race, that state, but most importantly, my friends!)


Skiing at Wisp with Rachel and Megan, indoor triathlon in Baltimore with Kathleen and Ben, quick trip to Utah to be a bridesmaid at my wonderful friend Ashley Crist Girvan's wedding.

For V-day, I got him Spandex, he got me flowers :)

WARNING!!!! Moosh alert!!! I am very happy and ready to talk about it!!!

Around 1 am on January 1, 2014, Russell and I celebrated the one-year mark since our first kiss. I want to close by telling that story, because it really basically set the stage for 2013.

(2014 reenactment)

Before Christmas 2012, Russell had called me, his friend (and secret crush) of two years, to ask me out in celebration of my finals being over and my Master's coursework finally being complete. Unfortunately, I flew back to Vegas that very night so I had to say "No, but raincheck please?" Over Christmas break I remember showing my best friend Jessica the facebook pages of the three eligible young men I had in mind for the new year 2013. Jessica was absolutely Team Russell, who was bachelor #2. I remember her explaining, "He looks like your style. It's like you already dress him!" PS. I AM crazy about the mix of good-old-baseball-cap-boy and buttoned-down-casual-man he has fashioned for himself (see: the swanky collar above and the adorable fanboy outfit below).

After a sweet 2012 Christmas spent with family, I flew back on New Year's Eve, donned my stripey new Dress with a capital D, and set out to attend a big party thrown at a friend's house nearby. I saw Russell there, and I remember we had to shout at each other to have a conversation, the place was so packed. He actually asked me to step outside for a second, explaining that crowds like that get him anxious. Since then, he's told me he was worried I didn't feel comfortable around him, because the conversation didn't last long. I have since reminded him that he brought me out into 20 degree air wearing nothing but a simple sheath dress! We talked, we returned to the party, the countdown to 2013 came and went, I think we were in different social orbits in opposite sides of the room. About ten minutes later he noticed me gathering my things to walk home and offered me a ride (leaving behind his brother, Michael, who was just visiting for the weekend and knew no one there :). We sat in his car outside my house talking for probably 15-20 minutes, and a youtube video was mentioned, so I invited him in to watch it. At this point, apparently, he thought I was TOTALLY on the hook for hooking up. It crossed my mind that we might kiss, but I brushed off that thought before I'd even unlocked the door because I thought Russell was WAY too gunshy for that, and besides, we were just friends. We talked on the couch for at least an hour, I remember discussing really deep topics for "just friends," including, ironically, the idea that no one needs more than one year of dating to decide to get married (look at us, eating our words!). Sometime after one am Russell realized his brother was stranded and he rose to leave. He hugged me and I hugged him... for a while. :) Both of us still fight over who was "lingering" during that hug!! I swear he was the one holding on!! We then pulled back, and bam- three little kisses! Said good night to one another, and I closed the door, smiling, although slightly worried that I had just shot a giant hole in a great friendship. Fortunately, he called the next day to ask for a date and so here we are, a year later, marveling at the fun two people can have and how cool love is. Here's to a great 2014 ahead!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

British Library engravings... CAN'T GET ENOUGH!

Did you know? The British Library just released ONE MILLION image scans of book illustrations from its 17th, 18th, and 19th century collections onto Flickr. I spent an hour scratching the surface of this treasure trove this morning, here are a select few of my favorites (and I do mean select; guys, I cannot stop downloading images! This is incredible!).

The visual inspiration for Frozen's Kristoff?? Look at his hat!!
Bebe! Pull my heartstrings!

Anyone else excited to go home for Christmas??
Winter always makes me want to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone, especially after seeing/getting obsessed with Frozen.

Now go find your own!
PS I saw TONS of illustrations from old French and German art history texts like this^. Made me miss research. I always checked out the oldest possible books on whatever I was researching because those books help you get a sense of the initial perception of an artwork. Then you move forward in time and research and start to sense how society changed its thinking about an object's significance and meaning over the centuries. One of my favorite shifts was the old 19th century penchant of Germans to "scientifically" document (aka own) every aesthetic type (and every ethnographic type, but that's a different story). Thus they produced a lot of tight-fisted, pseudo-scientific, occasionally racist illustrations of items. Around the same time, the French realized, in part thanks to Victor Hugo, that they had a majority share in the worlds' collection of Gothic architecture, and likewise began recording all aspects of the built environment (like the example you see above). 

Around that same time, the early American cultural leaders were informed by their Puritain heritage and the idea of Manifest Destiny. They thought good art should encapsulate history, morality, and the natural sciences. Great art would be painted with a "magesterial gaze." An example of an artist who they thought did this superbly? Frederic Edwin Church. See his Twilight in the Wilderness, from 1860 (The Cleveland Museum of Art):

I'm getting a bit nostalgic. Three years ago I spent every waking moment of my December on a final research project on this artist. Can you see how he would have been lauded back in the day for incorporating something of the divine in his paintings? As well as the scientific? (That atmosphere!) Today, a more modern avenue of study taken with Church's works to identify which pigments Frederic Edwin Church used. According to William Talbot, formerly of the Research Library of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Church was experimenting with both organic and synthetic pigments on his canvases. These pigments included (in case you want to know) lead white, vermilion, red lead, strontium yellow, chrome yellow, cadmium yellow, chrome green, green earth, earth colors, umber, artificial ultramarine, and Prussian blue. Art Historian John Howat argues that this mix of traditional and modern pigments illustrates the artist’s penchant for following the latest achievements in chemistry and science, but I still think there's a trace of symbolic, even alchemical manipulation in the artist's choice of pigments (Vermilion? Hello!).

Happy Saturday!

PPS Do you like my new blog layout? First time I've touched my template in four years! Obviously, I couldn't stand to stray too far...