love letters to a younger self

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love letters to a younger self //
if i could travel time,
i’d tell my younger self how much she was loved.
how perfect she is
how everything will be okay
how much she’ll laugh and smile
how she’ll fall in love
over and over again
how she’ll be surrounded by people that make her grin uncontrollably
how everything will look beautiful to her again
how she’ll come to love her body
how she’ll come to love touch
how she’ll come to love her mind
how she’ll come to love others
how she will become love.

Day at the Museum: Rijksmuseum

I really attempted to make the most of my short days here and I ambitiously set out to the Rijksmuseum to see as much art as I could. I believe I really did get through almost all the art excluding the Middle East room, as exhausting and unbelievable as that sounds!

I was laser focused.

Below are the pieces that really struck me one way or another for various reasons:

 

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Portrait of Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, Anne Louis Girodet Trioson, 1805-1809, oil on canvas

Hortense caught my eye for her beauty, but also because of her relation to Napolean. I read up on her husband recently (step son of Napolean, son of Napolean’s first wife, hence my familiarity with Beauharnais his name), and the house of Beauharnais caught my attention as I read the placard to see who this painting’s beautiful subject was. Apparently she did not like the environment of the Netherlands, so even as a ruler there, she spent most of her time in court in Paris. huh.

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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel
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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel

Sibylla caught my eye for her beauty, and for her having been recorded in classic antiquity as having given prophesy about Jesus coming. This is news to me. I am excited to read more on it.

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Woman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, 1663, oil on canvas
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Children Eating a Pie, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1675-1680, pastel

This looks so mischievous, and it made me smile. And so it’s here. Being nostalgic for the things we used to do as kids is good. to a degree. hopefully we can all continue growing up with it kept instead of looking back to mourn what’s good that’s been lost.

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A Rembrandt x Diego Valesquez special exhibition was up, and exhausted as I was by the end of my main museum roundabout, I could not miss this. It ended up being a little questionable. Not the works themselves, but the way they were curated, described, and the way the curators developed the narrative [dare I say it!] was poor, misleading, and unclear– like me during my high school days trying to write essays just to meet deadlines and pass with absolutely Zero intention of actually desiring to convey a point. That is really what it felt like.

The lamb (symbolizing Christ) was great though.

Other Rembrandt pieces were technically lovely, and I felt honored that I was able to see more of his pieces in person, but I’m not adding them here because they didn’t move me. Otherwise that would be an act of compulsion influenced by prestige, which is no bueno.

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This a scene depicting Bethsheba and David (in the castle peeking out of the squared piece) desiring after her. It’s a Bible scene (basically for anyone who does not read the Bible or does not remember, David fell in love with B, but she was already married to a guy that was under his rule (as king) so he sent the dude off in “war” (to be killed really) (and there goes another Bible story of how humans as great as kings make terrible, terrible mistakes)

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I loved this painting for its raw sensuality. It just jumped out at me and called me. Venus and her son is asking Adonis not to go. I love the way Adonis holds onto her lips tenderly like that, and that lovers’ gaze is real.

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Venus et Adonis, Ferdinand Bol, 1658, oil on canvas
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Satyr and Nymph, Gerard von Honthorst, 1623, oil on canvas

While this is definitely the more hedonistic counterpart to the former, I still find the scene very beautiful. Love, or love as it moves reveals itself in different forms and ways and meets different ends. While satyrs were mainly negatively characterized in tales of old, there is the wildness and freeness of them that I look to with positivity in part. I just love the play I saw. Even if it probably foreboded some very bad news bears between satyr and nymph (like when Pan chased after a nymph to the point she had to turn into reeds!).

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Lot and his Daughters, Hendrick Goltzius, 1616, oil on canvas

While this painting was technically rendered incredibly beautiful, the substance of it disturbed me very much. It recalls a Bible story of a time people were punished for their mistakes and so all the men were kaputed, except Lot. These are his daughters, who feared not being able to bear children, and so they got their father drunk and seduced him to bear. It conjures in me many thoughts too (like how sometimes, we’re *so* for getting to the end, we forget about the means that we’ve taken to get to the end).

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William II, Prince of Orange, and his Bride, Mary Stuart, Anthony van Dyck, 1641, oil on canvas

“The 14 year old boy is married with the 9 year old girl, and a kingdom is elevated.”

My thought ^ : basically opened a can of thoughts. So many ramifications to be unpacked

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Boy with a Drawing Book, Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1772, oil on canvas

This just makes me happy 🙂 And it reminds me of me, inside.

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Portrait of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck and his Family, Pierre Prud’hon, 1802-1802, oil on canvas

This reminds me of a family I would have liked to have had. Nuclear.

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Storage mirrors of the Netherlands

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Model by Johann Ernst Gotzowsky, 1750-1755, hard paste porcelain
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Ivory

 

 

My Prayer

Our Father In heaven, hallowed be your name,

God, you are good.

You have always, been good.

I’m grateful to see it now.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

God, there’s a lot of people hurting right now.

The corrupted are running unbound / absolute skepticism replacing hope

God, bring heaven onto earth. Restore and redeem us, victims of our own brokenness and the brokenness in the world we collectively contribute to.

Give us today our daily bread.

God, as I continue my work day, guide me in the knowledge and deep, deep understanding that this is not my work.

Help me with your all-good heart to separate myself from my ego, as far away I can.

Feed me your love, vision, hope, and healing for this world and your children

Let me sustain and live and breathe with that.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

More than the mistakes and errors I am conscious of and willingly confess I ask forgiveness for the sins I do not know [yet] I commit: the hurt I incur on others, intentional or unintentional, and the pride/actions I wield not for your glory, but for mine– not in service of love, but in service of love centered on self.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

God, I thank you for protecting my family.

I thank you for protecting my heart and refining it in a way that I can see that it has not yet broken. Lots of cracks, yes. But cracks have brought fortification, not brokenness.

I pray for your protection that I do not stray, that I stay fixed. I pray for protection from the external, but I pray most of all for protection against the wanderings of my soul.

 

 

I love you God.

Thank you God.

You are good, God.


Reflection with Psalms 65

I pray that my satisfaction “in the goodness of your house” is such that I no longer desire a taste of anything else.


Psalms 65 quote that jumped out to me in this moment, a reflection of purity and joy:

“The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,

the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain,

they shout and sin together for joy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accompanied by Music

How To Fall In Love With Art

How long has it been?

Up until college, I had grown up with an appreciation for fine art thanks to my parents, but it was never really something I had sought out on my own.

I knew enough “art” to maintain my sense of weird, self-righteous adolescent pride in being cultured and artsy. My interest was driven by nothing else really of nobler substance.

At 18, I moved to New York for college, and I enrolled in an art crit class on a whim during freshman year: the Art of Now course at New York University.

Fast forward to 2013, when I studied abroad in Shanghai. I decided to take on a heavier workload of art classes and immersed myself in contemporary and Asian art. I don’t remember much of the art I saw in detail, but this period of time would leave an indelible mark on me, and it was a catalyst for my passion.

Hu Jieming, Casual Status, 1992

I returned, enrolled in some more art classes.. a studio class in drawing.

During my time as a student, I had more time in the afternoons and between classes to do other things (doing nothing, meeting friends at cafes or for lunch in the West Village, chilling near fountains – damn life from 18-22 was so sweet) and I began exploring gallery spaces and art exhibitions everywhere! pretty intensely.

A pic I snapped years ago on another trip to Pace Gallery.

I started taking random things at home: scissors, a tableweight, a pepper from the kitchen, a rose and draw.

 

So newly inspired I was by the intricate beauty in all things that held form, line, and shape.

I was falling in love with art then.

I began to accumulate a larger inventory of the things I liked and disliked, formulate stronger opinions backed by a latticework of thoughts and experiences built thanks to the plenitude of art I’ve seen in the years which have since passed post- college.

For example, I prefer minimalism and modernism. I like French impressionism, and abstract expressionism.

For some reason, Surrealism and Dada works get me.

Man Ray, Ingre’s Violin

Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele works are so luscious and rich. Contemporary movements like pop surrealism, otherwise knowns as “Lowbrow” art are so cool.

Mark Ryden, the father of Pop-Surrealism

I don’t find a lot of photography art to be impressive, but I’m okay with that. Installations with various forms of media are sometimes a hit or miss for me. I like contemporary art, but I’m not particularly fond of Jeff Koons (active from 1977 – ) or Damien Hirst (1988 – , or Jean-Michel Basquiat (1976 – ). But I do love me my Toyin Ojih Odutola (2008 – , Osamu Yokonami, and Chad Wys (2011 – ) :

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Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper.
Chad Wys, Sculpture with a Spectrum 2, 2014. Collage on paper.

It’s 2018 and I love art more than ever.

I move and live every week, drinking in all the things I see, from the daily visuals of life to the more curated representations of art at institutions.

And the more I do that, the more I understand this:

Art is an instrument that instructs the way we see and live our lives. Our lives, in turn, are ripe, breeding grounds for art: new expressions and new manifestos… and who’s to say that the act of life and breathing aren’t art in themselves.

They are synonymous with one another– and I cannot see the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          (on my best days- taha.)

September: Art Shows

Here are some shows to be excited about and below is a view of my favorite works from the referenced artists. Look out for them if you go!

Suzan Frecon’s Oil Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street, New York (9/15)

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Campana Brothers: Hybridism, Friedman Benda Gallery, 515 West 26th St, New York

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Noah’s Chair, Noah’s Bench, 2017

 

 

Ad Reinhardt’s Blue Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street, New York

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Number 88 (Blue), 1950

 

 

Rodin at the Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art (9/16)

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The Age of Bronze, 1876

 

Gehard Demetz, my modern day Geppetto.

Formally trained in religious sculpture, Italian artist Gehard Demetz has progressed to become one of the most talented artists of our century. He wields his art technique and experience to create works, many with children as subject, that explore the dichotomies and marriages of contradiction… between that which is evocative and whimsical – provocative and contemporary. His sculptures often carry an energy verging on the socio-political.

He relies on mediums like wood and bronze and certainly knows how to make dry wood come alive.

These are my favorite works of Demetz throughout his career as a sculptor:

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Introjection. 2017, Wood

 

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Life Without Christmas. 2017, Wood

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Dirt on my Shoulders. 2016, Wood

 

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Restoring My Blisses. 2015, Wood.
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My Parents’ Stories Sound Different. 2015, Wood.

 

Personally, I would say his best works were made in 2013.

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Stones In My Pocket. 2013, Wood.
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Mom’s hands and daddy’s nose. 2013, wood.

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Complement these visuals with a contemplative rendition of Bach’s Christus, Der Uns Selig Macht, BWV 245, arranged by one of my favorite composers and pianists, Chad Lawson.

Not Friends? Then No Benefits

A interesting piece on Modern Love by Emily Demaionewton. Sourced from The New York Times:

 

My friend Nathan and I were walking to a picnic when we passed a woman named Xenia. I stopped to say hello, and she kissed me on the cheek so intimately that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She had asked to hook up before, and as the sun set and Nathan and I packed up our hammocks, I texted her accepting the offer.

I was lonely. I was cold. I wanted to kiss someone before I turned 20.

I told Nathan I was going to Xenia’s room, and I could tell from the way he looked at me that he knew why I was going. When he didn’t try to stop me, something in my chest caved in. I wished that, instead, he had offered to kiss me.

Here is the problem: I rarely experience sexual attraction. I wanted to kiss a few boys in high school, but by the time I wanted to kiss them we were close friends, which, for me, seems to be a prerequisite for feeling sexual attraction. Unfortunately, on their end, the close friendship deemed me unkissable.

I’m demisexual, an orientation I didn’t even know existed until I discovered the term on the internet after realizing I seem to spend extraordinarily less time thinking about sex than my peers do. Demisexuality is on the asexual spectrum. It means that I don’t experience sexual attraction until I first develop a deep emotional intimacy with someone.

Sure, many people don’t have sex until they establish an emotional connection. But I don’t experience sexual attraction at all until then. I don’t see someone in the coffee shop and think: I might want to kiss her. I don’t go to parties and wonder what it would feel like to sleep with the guy in the corner.

The first time Nathan and I stayed up late talking was after watching “The Dead Poet’s Society” in my dorm room. When it finished, we lay on the bed and talked until 2 a.m. Even as we got too tired to speak, I didn’t want him to leave.

Nights like these became a habit. But after a few weeks of feeling like this was heading toward more than friendship, I needed to address something. Sitting together by a nearby pond, I said, “You have a girlfriend.”

He looked surprised. “Yeah. Why?”

“Well, I feel like some of the stuff we’ve been doing, like reading to each other in the middle of the night, is more intimate than something friends do.”

“I suppose it does seem that way,” he said. “Maybe we should put up clearer boundaries.”

This wasn’t the answer I had hoped for, but I said, “Yeah, O.K.” Then I added: “But I want to be clear that I might have a hard time with that, so a lot of it will have to be on you. Is that O.K.?”

He smiled. “Of course.”

Two nights later, Nathan lay in my bed and whispered, “Shut the lights.”

When I crawled back under the covers, he wrapped his arms around me and I felt close to someone in a way I never had before. I wanted desperately to stay like this, but along with the glow in my chest, guilt twinged.

“Should we be doing this?” I asked.

“Shh,” Nathan whispered. “Go to sleep.”

That night, as we lay in each other’s arms, I hardly slept — having another human in my bed was distracting — but I didn’t mind one bit.

This moment may have been the turning point, the moment when, had I known asexuality existed, I would have realized I didn’t quite fit into that category. Because in this moment, I finally understood why someone might want to have sex.

With Xenia, I knew just seconds into kissing that it wasn’t for me. It felt strange, wet and cold. I felt no attraction because we had never been emotionally vulnerable with each other. I didn’t tell her I wasn’t enjoying myself; that would have been unkind. She was good at asking what I wanted and didn’t, so it wasn’t unbearable. But those aren’t words you want to use to describe your first kiss.

After our night together in my bed, Nathan told me how guilty he felt. I mostly listened, but I was thinking about our earlier conversations about sex — how I told him I never felt the desire for it. But that night was the first time I fully understood how important it is to him and many other people.

I don’t know how I missed it for so long; I guess I just thought sex was something that crossed people’s minds from time to time. I was afraid about what this meant for me, afraid it was the reason I had never been in a relationship, afraid that my lack of interest in sex meant I would never find love.

While Nathan debated if he should break up with his girlfriend, I asked, “Are you afraid I wouldn’t have sex with you?” I didn’t add: Because I would.

He thought for a moment. “No, I don’t think that makes a difference.”

But I didn’t believe him.

Nathan didn’t break up with his girlfriend right away, though he did eventually. He stayed single for a while, then started dating another girl.

The night I was with Xenia I left her room with more questions than I had started with. Was I asexual after all? Was I just not attracted to women? Why couldn’t I make myself feel anything?

Surely, I was broken in some way. This was before I discovered the term “demisexual,” and having a name for it helps. But it only goes so far in a culture that includes sex at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

More than a year after we met, Nathan and I walked to an art exhibition on the edge of campus. It was spring, and plants were beginning to bloom. On the way, I stopped to take a picture because it looked as if someone had hung dryer lint on the trees.

When I turned around, Nathan asked, “Do you love me as a friend, or something more?”

I’m a terrible liar. I said: “You can’t ask that! That’s not fair — you can’t ask that.” But of course he could, and of course, my response was answer enough.

Nathan asked if there was anything he could do to make this easier for me.

I told him, “It’s more the stuff we can’t do that hurts.”

We were the only people at the exhibition when we arrived. One installation made repetitive thumping noises: three balls bounced in repeating patterns on the floor. The bouncing was the only noise, and as it kept repeating and repeating, I got the surreal feeling that this was the only room left in the world.

I stood for an inapt length of time watching soap bubble from a hole in the wall while Nathan stood yards away looking at a broom propped up by a kitchen knife. The questions that had floated through my mind for months all surfaced: What is wrong with me? Why do I hardly feel attracted to anyone? And how will I ever find anybody if I’m only attracted to one person every four years?

A year after Nathan slept in my bed, I went to a concert by the band Daughter with my friend Greta. More recently, Greta filmed a dance rehearsal for me, and as I changed back into my street clothes, I looked at myself in my bra in the mirror and wondered what would have happened if I had changed in front of her. If she would have looked up from what she was doing, maybe come over and run her hands along my back. But the concert was months before, when Greta and I were just two people who lived on the same hall and had lunch together now and then.

Right before Daughter came back onstage for an encore, I asked Greta if she wanted to leave and beat the rush. She said she didn’t mind, and we pushed our way halfway to the door before I stopped and said: “Wait. There’s one song I wanted to hear that they didn’t play. Let’s wait and see if it’s the one they’re playing.”

Daughter didn’t play that song, but the first lines of the song they did play caught my attention: “What if I’m made of stone? … I should be feeling more, draped over your bones.”

Greta and I stood listening to the song I now know is called “Made of Stone,” facing the stage with its soft purple lights reflecting on our faces. We dissolved into the ambient noise, watching Daughter’s lead singer hide shyly behind her bangs while singing soulfully to strangers. The air around us was dark; we, too, could hide.

Daughter finished their song, said one last thank you. And as we walked with the crowd into the damp night, the last echo of “Made of Stone” reverberated through my mind: “You’ll find love, kid. It exists.”