left or right?

[this blog post will be best paired with sister sledge’s “we are family”]

my family is in town this week (cue confetti cannon).

tonight we found ourselves on a tour of richmond in search of the best donut in town.

as we were concluding our tour as country style donuts, my mom asked for us to take turns going around the table to share our favorite donut memory–as one does.

here’s one of mine:

when i was very young, and my family still lived in houston, texas, we would frequently visit krispy kreme donuts after church on sunday.

as we were leaving the church building each sunday, my siblings and i would plead with our parents to take us to krispy kreme for a free glazed donut.

we would get in the car and wait with bated breath–

we had made our proposal.

we had reasoned several points.

we made our case.

we bat a few eyelashes.

even flashed a smiled or two.

now the ball was in their court.

mom and dad never needed to say their answer out loud.

when the car reached the edge of the parking lot, we knew that if we turned left, we were going home–but if we turned right, we were going to krispy kreme donuts.

sugar shack has the best donuts in richmond.


things worth celebrating—pregnant pause

[this blog post will be best paired with american authors’ “best day of my life”]

i rarely update my phone. maybe it’s because i’m lazy. maybe i procrastinate too much. maybe i’m paranoid that when my phone turns back on everything will be gone.

who’s to say?

all i know is that when i finally get around to committing to the update, it’s as if i have a brand new phone–everything is new and exciting.

new lights

new sounds

new graphics

new emojis

but i think the best thing that came out of this update is this: —

the dash is my favorite punctuation. probably because it looks dramatic–it creates a more penetrating pause–a pregnant pause. it demands attention, while the comma is easily ignored. the dash is also visually stimulating–it adds a strong horizontal element amidst strongly vertical letters.

at long last–the keyboard will autocorrect two consecutive dashes to one long dash.

one beautiful and seamless dash has replaced the two isolated and syncopated dashes.

things worth celebrating: birthdays and art jokes

[this blog post will be best paired with edith piaf’s “non, je ne regrette rien”]

happy birthday, claude.


here’s to the founder of french impressionism and one of the most popular artists of all time. monet is best known for his development of light and shadow, emphasizing the passing of time and the changing of seasons. monet led the impressionist movement–named after his work, impression, sunrise–through painting perceptions in nature and practicing the immediacy of a moment.

claude monet, impression, sunrise, 1872

that’s all great and important for the development of art history–however, monet is not one of my favorite artists. mainly because i don’t like looking at landscapes for too long. i enjoy his waterlilies well enough, but my favorite piece is his version of luncheon on the grass, because it adds to a larger art historical conversation. monet’s version was created as a tribute and response to manet’s original. one of my favorite things about art history is the mentoring and lineage created around a shared skill–and the inside jokes that come with that.

claude monet, luncheon on the grass, 1865-66



edouard manet, luncheon on the grass, 1863

manet’s luncheon on the grass is one of my favorite artworks–it is the painting that led to me love art history. rejected by the salon, and exhibited the salon des refusés, manet scandalized the public with a nude woman at the center of the artwork. it wasn’t simply her nudity that infuriated that public–it was her attitude. she should have been ashamed or blushing while trying to conceal herself. instead, she meets the eyes of the viewer devoid of shame, teasing, or flirtatiousness. she seems to say, “yes, I am naked. what’s it to you?” furthermore, she was not a goddess and she was not an idealized beauty–she’s no venus.

while manet’s luncheon on the grass did cause outrage, it has also inspired–and continues to inspire–many artists to reference his work. manet’s original piece was also created to reference a masters before him–it is the lineage created through references that continues to fascinate and entertain me. the three figures in the foreground of the painting are a allude to the judgement of paris. in the lower right corner of the classical engraving, there are two river gods seated with a classical nude in the same composition as the three in manet’s painting. manet also borrows the subject from titian’s pastoral concert.

marcantonio raimondi after raphael, the judgement of paris, 1510/20



the judgement of paris detail
titian, pastoral concert, 1508-10

luncheon on the grass continues to inspire professional and amateur artists alike:

a rose by any other name…

[this blog post will be best paired with paul simon’s “you can call me al”]

i’ve been on the road a lot since the internship began–the traveling makes me think a lot about my first adventure and the little things that made the trip significant.

my people call me “jeans.”

while we were traveling in the middle east, i gave up explaining my nickname entirely. i simply introduced myself as jeans. it didn’t need to be explained. it’s just a name.

when other members on the team introduced themselves, they would usually be asked to repeat themselves, and sometimes their name would be forgotten altogether.

“what’s your name?”





which is understandable because they weren’t used to our names–just as we weren’t used to their names.

but when people would ask for my name and i would reply with “jeans,” most people would smile, point at their own jeans or pants, and laugh with me as i affirmed the connection.

it was a simple thing, but it helped to build and sustain relationships because we did not have to repeat introductions.

i shared a joke with one boy from the neighborhood who came to the gallery for several nights. every time he saw me, he would walk up to me, point at me, and ask, “what’s your name?” and i would say, “i’m jeans.” at which he would laugh and say, “jeans and shirt! jeans and shirt!”

it’s a simple connection, but it allowed me to be known in a simple way in an otherwise foreign place.

drinks that match the ambiance: a slushy

[this blog post will be best read with lord huron’s “frozen pines”]

after the conference this week, we had time to do some sight seeing, and we wanted to make it a priority to see lake michigan.

as we gathered in the van sunday morning, cameron asked who was going to get in the lake with him today.

it didn’t take long for me to agree, and kayla soon joined the squad.

i proposed a friendly competition of who could stay in the water the longest submerged up to one’a ankles.

cameron and kayla accepted.

after walking around the beach for a bit and taking group selfies on the dock, it was time.

the three of us shed our shoes, took a deep breath, ran forward, and halted after two steps (we only needed our ankles covered).

michigan was in the upper 20s and low 30s that day–the water was 48 degrees.

kayla was the first to fold after a minute or two.

after that it became a point of pride. cameron and i both decided that we had come too far.

so we waited.

and waited.

we were in the water for nearly half an hour.

sorry. that’s what it felt like.

we stayed ankle deep in lake michigan between seven and eight minutes.

cameron’s feet got to the point where they looked like they belonged to a dead body, and when he was afraid that he would suffer nerve damage, he too folded.

and i emerged victorious.

i guess alaska did build me up for something–bragging rights.

but at the very least, i experienced lake michigan in its fullness.

the lifecycle of a salmon

[this blog post will be best paired with carmen twillie and lebo m’s “circle of life”]

this weekend, i shared a story from my childhood during the van ride to michigan, and it became cassandra’s favorite conversation filler.

she asked me to share it three times this weekend.

so it seems appropriate to share with my blog too.

my family moved to alaska in january of my fourth grade year. the following year, now in the fifth grade, my class (along with every fifth grade class in the city) would raise a family of salmon eggs for the year, releasing them in may. sounds like a great project to teach children about life cycles and the importance of salmon. apart from the fact that the fifth graders were sent (with parental consent and adult supervision) to harvest the salmon eggs.

a few weeks into the school year, the salmon were swimming back upstream to lay their eggs and die (something the diagram above does not include is that a salmon dies immediately after laying its eggs and will be the first meal after its eggs hatch–that’s pretty metal). my class went with a group of other fifth grade classes to a nearby stream with the task of catching mommy salmon from which to extract eggs and a daddy salmon to fertilize the eggs. i would also like to point out that all of this happened before we had sex education. we didn’t ask enough questions.

we arrive at the stream, and i watch in horror as my several of my peers wade into the river, grab a salmon with their bare hands, have an adult slice it down the the middle, then stick their hands inside the salmon to scoop the eggs out and into a bucket. and it gets worse. at that point another fifth grader would hold a male salmon over the bucket and squeeze the sperm out of the salmon into the bucket to fertilize the eggs.

we took the eggs back to school to watch our new baby salmon eggs grow up.

drinks that match the ambiance

[this blog post will be best paired with handsome ghost’s “blood stutter”]

(pc: kayla behm)

tonight i experienced sweetness in the gallery.

the sun had long set.

outside was misting rain.

cars were driving by.

people were quietly shuffling by on the street.

quiet music complemented the artwork.

the installation was twinkling in the gallery.

candles were flickering along the walls.

i held hands with four of my roommates in a quite circle.

our prayers floated with soft vocals and warm smell of candles.