B&W Journals: New York City

“After so many months I still know nothing about New York, whether one moves about among madmen here or among the most reasonable people in the world.”

– Albert Camus, American Journals

Snowy day in New York, 2014, Michelle Lara Lin

Beginning 2014 with a blizzard…

I’ve always loved looking at old black & white photographs shot in various cities. However I’ve never had the opportunity to recreate the style in my own photography… I decided to experiment with it yesterday. Even though these shots aren’t fashion-related at all, they’re too lovely not to share. If you enjoy these, let me know and I’ll make sure to occasionally post some B&W photos. All of these were shot during more recent adventures around NYC, yet it feels like time travel.

Statue of Liberty, New York, Michelle Lara Lin

The closest I’ve ever been to the Statue of Liberty

Financial District, New York, Michelle Lara Lin

Financial District, New York City

Financial District, New York, Michelle Lara Lin

Financial District, New York City

2014

The Stranger by Demi Chen

Photography by Demi Chen
Jewelry by Possibility Jewelry
Shot at the Plaza Hotel, New York

Happy new year all! I hope you’re all having a wonderful 2014 so far. I’m starting the first day of 2014 by forcing myself to take a break and reflect.It’s tormenting! I’m not a fan of reflecting on the past. Time spent mindlessly reminiscing over the past is better geared towards engineering the future that you aspire to. I’ve read philosophies that claim that striving for a future is dangerous, because you never allow yourself to live in the present. Of course, I find that terribly absurd. When you drive with a destination in mind, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying the act of driving itself. Having a destination to strive, fight, and push for only makes the present moment even more colorful.

Now, I’m going to pause the acceleration and take a moment to thank all the incredible people in my life. My friends, my parents, and my brother who has shared a hell of a rollercoaster ride with me. And you–for reading my blog. I love you all. I hope your 2014 is full of incredible moments. I leave you with my very own brand of YOLO: Celebrate your individualism. Ask question. Challenge everything. Create art.

The Stranger by Demi Chen

The Stranger by Demi Chen

thestrangerblog-nye-12

The Stranger by Demi Chen

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Possibility: Return from Hiatus

THE STRANGER | Michelle Lara Lin

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
- Albert Camus

Photographer: Demi Chen
Earrings, rings, and bracelet by Possibility Jewelry
Sam Edelman Booties

Recovery

Whoa, it’s been forever since my last post (2 months!). It’s crazy how much things have changed since my last post. I still get messages from readers saying that they miss my posts and writing. I like to joke that I’ve become a mechanically cold writer since starting professional treatment for my psychological health. But there’s an element of truth to that. My best writing was produced when I was psychologically unstable and needed an outlet for it. I can’t say I miss those times–even if I did write more beautifully. I looked back on my old blog posts today and I can’t identify with the person I used to be. It doesn’t reflect who I am anymore. For months I’ve had no mood fluctuations and I don’t drift through my days debilitated by hypertangential thinking. It’s as if I had uncorrected myopia my whole life, and I’ve put on spectacles for the first time. I am no longer a stranger to myself.

THE STRANGER | Michelle Lara Lin

Revived love of Fashion

An interesting observation: taking this hiatus from blogging actually refueled my passion for fashion. I forgot how much I love fashion and why I started this blog in the first place. Like writing, art, code and other modes of expression, it is an accessible outlet for individualism. Admittedly, going “professional” with fashion blogging really distorted my sense of style. I wore a lot of pieces that I’d never wear again, or clothing that I liked but didn’t love enough to invest my own money in. Lots of the outfits were thrown together last minute–rushing art is not aligned with my personality at all. I take pleasure in spending lots of time constructing an outfit. The great news is, during this hiatus, my style has returned to the classic, dark elegance that I started this blog with. Everyday I dress up feeling more authentic, knowing that my outfit aligns with my inner character and values. For example, I’m now obsessed with vintage shopping–investing my money into timeless, quality pieces. Now I won’t accept any brand collaborations unless I love the pieces so much that I’d spend the money to purchase them.

Possibility Jewelry

In these photos, I’m wearing pieces handmade by Astrid Mueller of Possibility Jewelry. To me, her jewelry captures the spirit of possibility so powerfully through translucence. I wear her rings almost daily, and when I’m typing I do occasionally get distracted by her rings. They’re beautiful, minimal, classic, and inspiring. The transparence of her pieces serve as reminders that everyday is an empty slate full of possibilities.

THE STRANGER | Michelle Lara Lin

Possibility and Antifragility

What does possibility mean to me? Possibility is not just a cliché or a product of optimism bias. To me, possibility is mathematical and philosophical. It’s about embracing statistical randomness, uncertainty, probability, volatility, and antifragility.

Antifragilility was introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Antifragility is the opposite of fragile–this sounds a bit obvious. But in reality, when you ask someone what the opposite of fragility is, they’ll tell you that it’s something that is sturdy, tough, and robust. But think about this on a mathematical plane: if fragility is something that breaks easily under stress, the opposite of fragility is actually something that gets stronger under stress. (Robust is the middle ground) Nassim goes in depth about the prevalence and necessity of antifragility in our lives. Yet we set up systems–centralization, strong government control–that try to evade this, or we spend 3 hours sitting in front of a notebook planning 10 years  into our future, because we’re prone to doing everything we can to eliminate uncertainty, risk, and instability in our lives. In the short run, this is comforting, but in the big picture, it is terribly destructive.

Possibilities could not exist without uncertainty. If there were no uncertainty involved, it would cease to be a possibility… It would just be. Risk is the heartbeat that fuels possibility. Nassim is known for praising entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are the risk-takers who can overlook failure the same way they overlook success: who knows what could happen next? It’s all about staying center and moving fast in a whirlpool of randomness. Society calls this behavior reckless and crazy… Yet innovation is antifragile: it wouldn’t exist without the reckless and crazy behavior. Kevin Kelly couldn’t have said it better:

“Great engineers have a respect for breaking things that sometimes surprises nonengineers, just as scientists have a patience with failures that often perplexes outsiders. But the habit of embracing negative results is one of the most essential tricks to gaining success.”

Speaking of possibilities… I recently started a new company with an incredible team. Keeping it mysterious for now–so you’re forced to stay tuned. I’ll be announcing it soon!

THE STRANGER | Michelle Lara Lin