‘N’ PHNOM PENH was so fun, so magical, that I got excited and started in on thinking about how to make ‘N’ happen in Bangkok. On the theme, NOW. What is now? On each of three visits to this colorful city, where nothing seemed to stop or slow, I found myself bedazzled and enchanted by the zoom. The very quick flow.
ENERGY. You could walk out of your room in Ekkamai or Thong Lo, and you could find spreads of good foods on little popup tables, as though they were installations of the highest-art variety, but then again, they were just as they were. Real life, out there in the open. With me on the flight over were these 16 tickets…
THE VENUE, according to the project, had to start with an ‘N’. I’d talked a bit online with the people at Nikko Cafe, and we settled on that, for a *secret location*. It was perfectly beautiful, with an outdoor area and an indoor one, both of which I think (perhaps to the chagrin of the managers) we sort of took over. With our fanciful, flowing, real life conversations.
THE WALKABOUT. I had decided to commit to heading to Bangkok by flight and booking a hotel for one reason. Twelve people had committed to it. Gotten the date fixed, on a poll. And bought tickets, ahead of time. That gave me some confidence that they were serious. So that meant, so had better I. For the last four people, I figured, why not just go there. Why not just chat away to people, in real life like I always do on my journeys, and see where things went? (Except, I never had an agenda. Never. Having a reason to talk to people felt, to me, weird, and I didn’t like it. Bangkok was the first place where I had to work through that uncomfortable, awkward feeling. I was there selling tickets. But you know what? I couldn’t. People I could find, that wasn’t hard. But selling. Well. Read on to find out what I did, instead.
Waiting to cross a street at a rather long light, I met __ from Sweden, who was, unfortunately, going back that way. The first person I approached. Was a ‘no, thank you.’ Well, okay. I guess that happens. __ was, very remarkably, open and conversational, which I also think had to do with the fact that both of us were traveling, were on the road, looking around, ready for the serendipitous and curious to walk into our paths. I wish he could have been at ‘N’, but I was so interested in his story that I wanted to reach into my bag and simply gift him a ticket.
Which gave me an idea.
What if I could gift the last four tickets to people?
Then I could focus on the conversation, the eye contact, the just being there listening to them.
I stood in, myself, for the guest who couldn’t make it on account of work, an island, and a boat that wouldn’t go.
‘N’ Bangkok: NOW
What is now?
IMMEDIATELY BELOW is the essay that we compiled together. I had asked people to submit a short piece on the theme, ‘What is NOW?’ Collating these into a handout that I could share on the day was a way for me to have a sort of conversation with those who had booked online, so that I might get to know them, through their submitted notes, in some way. Here is the link to that collection, ‘What is NOW?’…
FOUR of our guests and I found one another in the jazz scene, so I thought it would be fun to host an afterparty, ‘The Book of Blue.’ It took place at one of the venues that I especially liked, jazZ happens. Where there was a nice quality of space that felt like it was right for intersections and conversations from new angles to come into shape. The second floor, especially. See ‘Mini afterparty for guests of ‘N’ Bangkok.’
Prior to making ‘N’ on the day at the appointed time and place, I had to feel some feelings out, which was unusual for me because this time, they involved other people. Other people showing up, or not showing up, which was the big fear about ‘N’ not working out, back then.
Doubts. Anxieties. Trepidations.
Things popped into my mind, all over the place those few days. Like, what was I doing? Was this worth anything? Was anyone going to care? I wrote a few scattered-sounding blogs during that time, but they are honest. I share a few links here, so you can get the sense of what it was like with those internal monologues.
Here are a few posts from before, through, and after the week in Bangkok to set things up for ‘N’.
- 8.9.15 On artfulness and growth
- 10.10.15 Tea and sunset
- 10.8.15 Tarot on the roof and signing Sheffield
- 13.7.16 Nothing to report
‘The true joy in life’
‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.’ From ‘Man and Superman,’ G. Bernard Shaw, quoted in the essay, Who I make ‘N’ for