The inspirational journal of rising NYC jewelry designer, entrepreneur, violinist, and pastry chef, Yumi Chen.

NYC Jewelry Designer, Violinist, Pastry Chef, Small Business Owner, Free-Spirit, Positive Thinker!

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Archive for February, 2009


Friday, February 27th, 2009

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Do you ever wonder if we are living in a time that will one day be the fodder of great art and literature and history books? It’s the little things that tip me off. Like when I went into my coffee shop to order my latte yesterday. I always grab a packet of honey to sweeten it up, but I was told “Sorry, out of honey”. Really? Not quite the life of Ma and Pa Joad, I realize, but it’s just far enough away from the norm that it makes you stop and think.

I bumped into my superintendent the other day as he was hauling a used refrigerator into my neighbor’s apartment. He told me that my neighbor’s gorgeous stainless steel refrigerator’s compressor broke and due to the recession, they were unable to get the parts to fix it. The company apparently told them that they would be shipping out the parts in a few months, so for the meantime, they were placing a temporary refrigerator in the apartment. Seriously?

Maybe I’m hyper-aware of the situation since I’m reading Ayn Rand’s “We The Living” which takes place during the Communist Revolution in Russia. The words are beautiful, but it is almost too depressing and frightening to read. It makes me so grateful that we, in modern day America, are only standing in lines at the change counting machines in banks (I had over $70 in change! Yippee!) rather than spending hours in line hoping to score some stale bread or sour millet. Sheesh.

But you can’t help but notice the “Recession Special” signs adorning shops and cafes (Gray’s Papaya neon signs are probably the most obvious), the special bargain menus popping up at restaurants everywhere, even at Jean Georges! Conversations everywhere are about money and work. At least people seem to be maintaining a certain sense of humor about it all: the windows of a store on Broadway are covered in papers saying: “The ‘We’re Not Closing’ Sale- Up To 70% Off!”

I read somewhere yesterday that hard times don’t build character, they reveal it. If there’s one thing I’m sure of it is the resilience of this city and its people. It is definitely an interesting time, but I do feel confident that we won’t be faced with the struggles depicted in the photos and stories from the 1930s.

I can do without honey for a while.

Obama is Superman

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

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Barack Obama is one ambitious man. He has insurmountable courage and charisma. Let’s face it: this man has stepped into a job, into shoes so large, that anyone would have to be crazy to attempt taking it all on.

For us, Barack Obama is a desperately needed change. As he reminded the nation last night in his prime time address, he values health care, education and natural resources. He is realistic about the state of affairs, but not deterred by it.

For us, Barack Obama is hope. He is the promise (his own promise, nonetheless) of our country coming out of troubled times stronger than before. He is a modern day Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman. Maybe even a little bit of Superman, too…

For me, Barack Obama is a leader who believes in small businesses, like my own. He believes in “Main Street”, in the everyday American, in the entrepreneur. For me, he is an inspiration to keep fighting, to keep smiling.

He just may be the only one who can lead us all out of this dark tunnel. I believe in him. I trust him. Don’t you?

Track Obama’s progress at:


Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Josh Henderson | Violinist

My parents were still in school when I was born so I spent a lot of time at my grandpa’s house. He was a very musical guy, he always had lots of instruments laying around. So playing music just seemed like a natural thing to do. It kind of just happened. I started on the piano, though, and didn’t pick up a violin until I was about nine. A few years later, I went to Aspen to study at the Aspen Music Festival and that’s when it first struck me that I wanted to really be a violinist. To be in a big environment with so many good people all in one place- it was the first time I had seen or felt that. I graduated early from high school; well, technically, I kind of dropped out. But I was going straight to college so they gave me a diploma anyway. Then I finished my undergrad a year early at the University of Cincinnati and moved here to New York to study at NYU. I guess I found some loopholes. I really wanted to move to New York ’cause there’s so many opportunities. You’re just always kind of playing around, but it’s nice to have the blanket of school.

I love living here- it’s awesome. I’ve been doing some freelancing. I’m trying to be active in both fields: alternative rock kind of stuff with the violin as well as classical. The thing about musicians is very few of them have just one job: it’s always necessary to do ten million things, which I love. The good thing with music is that you always have that security blanket of teaching to fall back on, you know, to help you pay the rent. And I like teaching. I definitely would want to do more teaching later on.

But I really just enjoy playing. You might not always get paid, but you’ll always have some effect on someone. Art is a service- bringing something to someone else. At the end of the day, that’s the biggest reward.