LULU LINDEN

Hello Patience, we meet again


I have many strengths. I know how to make amazing mac n' cheese (the cheesy, baked southern kind), I can pick out the perfect red lipstick for any of my friends, and dogs love me. You’ll notice that on this list, patience doesn't make an appearance. That's because I don’t have it. I’ve never liked waiting, and while I know there aren't many people who do, there are some for whom waiting is tolerable. Can you believe that there are some people who see waiting as an opportunity to do something else? For example, if they’re waiting for a bus that’s a few minutes late, they cheerily use that time to read a book or call a friend. My brain doesn’t work that way. I’d spend those extra minutes mentally cursing the bus, the driver, its passengers, and worrying about what will happen now that I am all of 7 minutes late. So yes, waiting isn’t a very pleasant experience for me. 

"It's maddening to realize some things are just out of your control and subject to the timing of life."

And because life and the powers that be know this, it seems like more and more lately it’s been the one thing required of me. I'm waiting to get that next level in my career, I'm waiting for a strike of creativity to propel my next project, I'm waiting to find someone I can feel passionate about again. Hell, as I write this on my morning commute, I'm waiting for the 6 train to get moving! And all the time I'm waiting, I've been moving as many pieces as are in my control to move and sitting impatiently with my hands clasped. It's maddening to realize some things are just out of your control and subject to the timing of life. 

So, I'm trying to find my options. I can't be stuck in a state of frustration because of time. Either I get comfortable with where I am presently so I don’t even feel the need to wait for something better, or I just get comfortable with waiting. Because of who I am, I know the former won't work. It's that hope for something better that keeps me excited about life, which means I'm going to have to become good friends with patience—no cursing at the cosmos allowed.



My god, the arch support is magnificent

How to Style Fila Disruptor

On any given day on any given street in New York City you will see a host of very interesting looking people. I call them "the cool people". Not very original, but the fact stands: these folks look cool. Within this category of cool people is a subgroup of New Yorkers (I usually see them around SoHo, though they can be spotted all over) to whom I refer as “the sneaker wearers”. Again, not very original, but as descriptive as I need to be for you to understand that these people wear the hell out of a pair of kicks. The Hypebaes and Hypebeasts of the city, if you will. And as they pass me by with their incredibly trendy cut-and-colored hair and athletic-wear-as-fashion aesthetic I think, “you know, those Nikes look like they have incredible arch support. Arch support sounds nice,” before I continue click-clacking in low block heels to my destination.

You see, I was not raised to look twice at sneakers. Not for some snobby, posh reason, but simply because I could not afford them. You can imagine as a child of the 90s raised in Brooklyn where Jordans and Nikes were a sign of status, this made made me an easy target for teasing. The few times I felt the need to step out of bounds and ask my mom for clothes like the other kids, the look on her face—a mix of frustration that I would dare even ask and disappointment that she couldn’t provide it—was enough for me to never ask again.

"Instead of feeling less than for not having a crisp pair of white Air Force Ones on the first day of high school, I decided that sneakers just weren’t my style."

Instead, she dressed me like any Caribbean mother would dress their young daughter: well-ironed dresses and coordinate sets, neat cornrows or plaits, and simple black Mary Jane shoes. If there was a function to attend, those shoes turned into ivory Mary Janes with a half-inch heel and a bit of sparkle. If I recall correctly, I think I may have had a pair of brandless Velcro tennis shoes. Nonetheless, I always looked presentable. Regardless of how rich or poor you were, whether you were wearing designer clothes or not, she always said you should look presentable, like you cared about yourself.

That rule stuck with me as I begun styling myself with what little money she gave me, and even as I started working. Instead of feeling less than for not having a crisp pair of white Air Force Ones on the first day of high school, I decided that sneakers just weren’t my style. Spending over $50 on a pair of shoes? That was just an irresponsible way to spend money, not a sign of being more fashionable than anyone else. This idea followed me well into my 20s to where I am present day, except now I live in a city where walking is a main mode of transportation. Flats, booties, and block heels just ain't cutting it out here on these uneven city streets. 

After almost two years of living in New York, lusting after the cool kids and their effortless comfort, I stepped foot inside a sneaker store. The first time I walked out empty-handed. I still couldn't make sense of spending $70 on shoes, but my feet, fed up with the lack of support, walked me right back in a few days later. I got over the lingering guilt of indulging in something I could've never afforded in my youth and walked out with a pair of Filas I've just discovered are called Disruptors, which I feel is accurate for the role they're currently playing in my life. 

*Full disclosure, I went through a Paramore phase in high school and was moved to buy a pair of Converses on sale at the local Ross Dress For Less, but that was the extent of my interest in sneakers prior to this moment. 

How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
Style a Black Dress With Sneakers
Black Dress with Sneakers
How to Style Fila Disruptor

Rules, schmules, am I right, guys?


There are some people you only need look at for a second to know, “Oh, yeah, this person is bad ass-rebel-rule breaker. Laws? You don’t need them. Order? Overrated.” No matter how many vegan leather moto jackets I buy or all black outfits I wear, no one will ever utter these words about me. And that’s fine. Following rules has brought me comfort. They function almost as a mathematic equation for security: if I do X, then Y must occur. Flawless arithmetic, in my book.

"I’ve been following the rules to solve for Y and I’m ending up with everything but. In short, the rules aren't working."

Here is where I should mention that math has always been my worst subject. I never really understood algebraic equations, so it makes sense that my formula has been failing me lately. I’ve been following the rules to solve for Y and I’m ending up with everything but. In short, the rules aren't working. 

When I step back and look at myself, where I am now, and what I've managed to accomplish, there are so many moments when I expected one outcome and got something totally, completely, absolutely NOT what I had calculated I would get. This has led me down a road of pretty consistent disappointment and frustration, at the end of which I found myself yelling, "Well, what the hell are the point of these rules, anyway!?" Naturally, it's in this fit of rage that I started to figure something out.

Life is no respecter of rules. You can't Pythagorean theorem your way through it. I've always needed validation in my choices—to know that what I'm doing will give me a desired outcome—but rigidly aligning myself to a set of rules is not insurance. Some things just have no guarantee. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasant reality of this, I'm trying to find freedom in it. If you don't bend, you'll break, and while I'm no badass rule breaker (don't think I'll ever be really), I'm finding some peace in the bending of rules.




Let's just pretend we're all in Old Havana


If there's anything you need to know about me, it's that I live for thematic dressing. When I was packing for Cuba, my goal was to recreate all of Chiquita Banana's most iconic outfits. Looking back, I feel like I accomplished this, short of wearing a fruit basket on my head which to be honest, had I had one, would've gotten worn.

"It's a incredibly easy aesthetic to recreate even if you don't find yourself skipping through the streets (read: stopping at every vintage car you see for a photo op) of Old Havana."

The formula was simple: primary colors, ruffles, an off the shoulder moment here, a thigh high split there. It's a incredibly easy aesthetic to recreate even if you don't find yourself skipping through the streets (read: stopping at every vintage car you see for a photo op) of Old Havana. It's also a very affordable aesthetic to recreate as evidenced by the fact that nothing I brought with me was over  $30 because let's be real, after paying for the trip—airfare, AirBnb, food, transportation, souvenirs—that's all this jet-setter could afford.

Now I'm not saying that you won't be able to splurge on anything above $30 if you feel the urge to dress thematically, but if you are in the same poor-person camp as me and you're looking for affordable summer dresses, I've got your back, boo!






I want to write an all-encompassing recap of my trip to Cuba, but quite honestly I’m a) too lazy for all that and b) answering any specific questions you have about Cuba over on Instagram (feel free to DM me, folks). More important than these two reasons, though, is this: of all the things I could tell you about Cuba—where to eat, what to pack, where to stay—there is only one thing I feel compelled to tell you.

But first, let me start by introducing you to three men I met in Cuba.

1) A man who owned a book store in Old Havana. His shop was small, but packed from floor to ceiling with books, posters, records, and postcards. He insisted that we spoke in English, even though I tried to practice my high-school Spanish with him, and I learned that he was a former history professor at a university in Cuba.

2) While shooting on one of Havana's colorful streets, an old man approached me to ask where I was from (we were very obvious tourists). We met somewhere in the middle of broken English and Spanish and I learned that he actually lived in New York for a time until he got sent back to Cuba after fighting a man who was attacking a woman on the train.

3) Our butler, Mario. I hate calling him a butler because he honestly felt like more of a Dad while we were there. He told me that prior to looking after this AirBnb, he was at another home for 25 years, but that this one had a pool he'd sneak a swim in when it wasn't occupied.

Thinking about these men, and really everyone I encountered in Cuba, gave me a feeling of this word that isn't really a word but more of a feeling—sonder.

sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

This was my favorite part of Cuba, and I took it home with me. A lot of my worst days are spent feeling dissatisfied with where I am and who I am. The fact that I am growing, that things are still happening, that I still have whole lives left to live often takes a back seat to my less than perfect present. God willing, I will live to be a 100-year-old woman with a million chapters in my book (some okay ones and some fabulous ones), and meeting these men, and really just experiencing all the people of Cuba, reminded me of this.

I get it from my momma



When you you're young and you hurt yourself, maybe with a skin of the knee or a bump of the head, your first reaction is to cry and reach for some source of comfort. For most of us, that was mommy. It was for me. Even when she wasn't around, I still knew she would have been a far better solution than a flimsy Band-Aid. As I got older, the ways I got hurt changed. Boo-boos turned into financial emergencies, missed career opportunities, and broken hearts—the kinds of things you don't necessarily want to run to mommy for.

"While there, I thought of how much I loved her, how happy I was she was even here for me to lean on, and then finally, her strength. And that was it."

This past weekend my mom came to New York and I was lucky to have her here for Mother's Day. Her visit also coincided with one of my strangest weekends in recent memory. I had a series of days that were a roller coaster ride of excitement followed by a crash of confusion, followed by a gray bout of sadness. Y'all, it was weird. I was covered by this cloud of feelings even as I pulled myself out of bed to get dressed for our Mother's Day date night.

At the banquet hall, in a room full of exquisitely dressed caribbean mothers laughing loudly, swaying in their seats to reggae and soca, I sat next to my mom, feeling entirely out of place. I wanted to talk to her about my weekend, but there was nothing I felt like I could share with her. Not knowing what words to say to ask for help, I laid my head on her shoulder instead. The childhood familiarity was comforting. While there, I thought of how much I loved her, how happy I was she was even here for me to lean on, and then finally, her strength.

And that was it. I saw myself moping about because of one weekend, a span of 48 hours, less even,  knowing full and well my mom has endured months and years of tough(er) times. I still had no clearer understanding of what had happened, but I knew then that it didn't have to matter. I have seen my mom go through some of the life's most unfortunate situations and come out at the other end still standing. Until I found my own, I let my mom's silent strength bolster me. I didn't feel comfortable enough to spill everything weighing on my mind, but her presence, the knowledge of her life, was sufficient a fix for me.


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