A big blind date for just 16, in Helsinki, and just once

Tickets for ‘N’ Helsinki

OUR TRAVELING series 16N is next stopping in Helsinki. It’s a big blind date for just 16 people. (Who will be there? That’s the whole magic of it. The thing is a giant *surprise*.) It’s by invitation. Ask us for an invite, when you follow the story, here: http://designkompany.com/16n

29 August | ‘N’ Helsinki: NEUROSIS

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT. Neurosis.

In more than 50 conversations to date with people on the bus, on the street, in cafes, at pubs, passing through the town, looking left, discovering something, sitting still, not speaking, in libraries, distancing themselves, and telling me in some form or fashion that DK’s comics about this place remind them of ‘Finnish nightmares, and that I should look that up,’ well, in 99% of them, something uniquely common has popped up as a thing that everyone wants to tell to a total stranger. Maybe it’s because there can’t be judgment around it, or the fact that they’ll never see us here in Finland again. Maybe that’s why there’s an ease to it: the simple act of divulging personal data that, hey, were we to be living together as neighbors from hence forth, they wouldn’t ever, ever share. The thing is this. Mental disorders. As much as I want to share more about all the various things I’ve heard, I am not going to do that here, in this public space of the blog. Instead, I’ll collect the impressions and stories and 16 random people in Helsinki, and share at ‘N’ Helsinki: NEUROSIS, in the end of August when the time in Finland for Design Kompany’s team here comes to a close.

WHAT IS N? A conversation. A salon. A real life magic moment. For those whose paths cross DK’s, by sheer randomness, chance, and sometimes, internet discovery. I’m looking for people I don’t know—I’m engaging and connecting with some of you, here on the internet, and others, in real life. If you are in Helsinki or will be, you think, towards the end of August, hit me up. Or better yet, investigate on your own what I’m going to do by following the links at ’16N.’ We are just starting to make the move here, on showing up for ‘N’ here in Finland. It would be fascinating to see if we find all 16 people to make a ‘go’ of a thing that, honestly, wouldn’t be what it is were it not for 16 people taking a risk, showing up, and making magic together. A big blind date. Why not say yes? Read more about how to play 16N and then, if it’s a fit, I’ll invite you to register.

1 June | Atelier S P A C E moves to Finland

HELSINKI, Oulu, and Kärsämäki. New and different others. Conversations in S P A C E, intermingling with our online ones in these protected pages. Discovering and connecting people whose paths might not have otherwise crossed, that’s what we are up to, here at DK. Sounds like a big project, doesn’t it? I used to think so. But the more I go, the more I see that people are really interested in connecting, like for real, and that they truly do value genuine conversations, and the kind of space that lets those things just naturally happen.

Hard to find authenticity in the era of superficial social media, which is about bragging and facades and feeling bad, and stuff like that. I am ambivalent about it. I have an instagram account but don’t know what to use it for, or how. I don’t care to write about myself, not really, just the opportunities we are sharing for people who are curious to come out and check out the online and offline spaces. Why? Because it’s easier to discover more about one another when we actually take a chance and show up for a thing… this ‘hands-off’ thing that is the nature of our modern communications, in which replies come and go in sporadic fashion and people are available (or not) through so many multiple layers of channels of texting… It befuddles me. I’m an emailer. I have the occasional phone call. I converse with those guests who join DK in S P A C E. It’s working. We’re talking. Like for real, and I like it like this. On my way soon to find the next suite of guests for, I hope, ’16N.’ In which 16 strangers meet in one moment of conversation. Might it happen? We did this in London, Hanoi, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh. Could happen. Helsinki has an ‘N’ in it. The theme for ‘N’ Helsinki is NEW. Meantime, we’re also interweaving S P A C E the forum with the real life atelier in Kärsämäki: check out ‘Slow Moment’ to see how you can take part, it’s listed at our upcomings page. Here’s to the journeys, the new and the next.

ATELIER S P A C E || FINLAND. Atelier S P A C E happens in Kärsämäki on 21 July, which is International Zine Day. We’ll make a photozine this time. It’ll take place again in Helsinki, at the end of May and then again at the end of August. Somewhere in the middle of the summer when the festivals are on, we’ll also host an Atelier S P A C E session in Oulu. Check out the upcomings to see what’s what.

 

Kære København

HEJ.

i wanted to tell you about a thing we are coming to make happen in CPH later this year. This is the event.

16N is a series, and it is going to be for just 16 of you.

‘N’ Copenhagen: NEARNESS. ‘What’s close? How does it affect me?

KM had asked me for a picture, in 2015, when I was making the first invitations. ‘A picture! That would help.’

Okay. I have one now. From Hanoi. It looks like this.

What happens?

16 people.

Total strangers to the idea of ’16N,’ meeting in a big blind date.

Honestly, it somehow works.

You put your phone in a box. You talk about a theme.

We were talking about NOTEWORTHINESS in London, NOW in Bangkok, NORMALITY in Phnom Penh, and NARRATIVE in Hanoi.

‘N ‘ for CPH is ‘NEARNESS’. I just felt like it made sense, as a theme, when I got there and walked around in your city and met peopleand bumped into conversations.

I can tell you more about that, if you email me through the form at the ‘about page!’, there is definitely more to share.

16N. Each city has to have an ‘N’ in it. And the venue? Has to start with an ‘n’. So it’s kind of… Weird, right? Then again, weirdness seems to be welcome, in a small way, whenever I go to DK. Hit me up if you want details? There are tickets for this, just scroll down on this website on any page to find ‘N’ Copenhagen info under ‘upcomings.’

Checkit!

‘N’ ∩ The Mirror

GREETINGS, SPACELAND. I’m in the cloud right now. Just, right here, right over the moon. Several guests joining us for the online programme, The Mirror, have also been at ‘N’. Four ‘N’ events have happened so far: Phnom Penh, Bangkok, London and Hanoi. That was fun. Now, we are gathering in a virtual circle—but not all of us. Just a handful. Those who have decided to also try out this thing, the online reflection and writing workshop, The Mirror. Soon, we’ll convene in one small protected page on this blog. Meet in… Uh… Virtual space. To talk about ‘N’ near and far. Or just to hang out, together, with that shared ‘N’ experience ambiently about us. I’ll have to make this post into a private conversation when it begins, but in the meantime, salutations from… Up.

 

Being offline more

WIFI. Is scarce, here, in Penang. So, more offline time.

Eye contact.

As I talk in real life about the why of Atelier S P A C E, it’s doing something, it’s making it clearer.

As in, why.

As in, for whom, and where.

I seek cozy spaces that might not be ‘regular’ for philosophical and nonlinear meanders into the abstract. But… That’s what it is. Think about it. Space is invisible. But space connects us al. That particular S P A C E. Is what we are designing, in Atelier S P A C E. Really.

Don’t believe me?

Check out our gallery, and learn about our process to invite new people to join us in these kinds of things, as we blogged it all for ‘N’ Hanoi.

NEW & DIFFERENT. Wherever you look going to be a wallop of awakening; that’s because you’re in the newness, you’re in a spot that you haven’t been, and though it might be ho-hum routine for those who are living and working there usually, for you it is New. I didn’t tell you about S., did I? This weirdo installation… Involving… Well, wait. it’s too personal to put on this blog.

In the last 20 years of trying to find ways to engage people (so that I can get more engaged with the design work I think is better as a result, to be really honest), I have learned that the high-quality space that I want to create more of in this world resides in the real life bounded box of time, and location, which is set. Which is intentional. And good because we are *there*.

So yeah. If we meet, in one of the cities where I’ll be traveling, in 2018, I can share there.

(More for members of our online community, S P A C E, in exquisite and intricate details. Curious? Subscribe here.)

 

16N in a pic

AT LAST, the picture of our guests at ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. What stories do we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves? In this brief encounter, 16 people whose paths might not have otherwise crossed conversed and wrote, read and listened, in a space of just 2.5 hours. A magic moment. *!

’16N’ Hanoi happened on 27 June 2017.

Choosing colors from a 256-box grid

DID I TELL YOU that when you join ‘N’, you get to choose a color from the 256-box color grid that is the RGB palette for web-safe colors? Yes.

GRID. THIS MAY SOUND like garblety-gook to some, but to others, it’s entirely clear. Of course one would enjoy with relish the opportunity: take 16N, which gathers 16 people in 16 cities, and let each guest choose a color, a unique ‘box’ that identifies her or him or no-pronoun, in a way that makes, you know, just enjoy the personalities that come through when we choose a color. So simple and light, right? It helps, I think, it helps us not look at each other as compilations of stereotypes. Stereotypes about people we see, and make calls about, stereotypes that are implicit and unconscious and culturally programmed. Ones that we’re not even aware that we have.

Does it make sense, kind of?

I feel we get caught up in this kind of thing, this kind of thinking, like: ‘Yeah, yeah. I can relate to you, because you’re like ___.’ A ___ that I have some experience with. So I can put you in a box.

Well.

Let’s just do that to ourselves, shall we? Shall we put ourselves in the box of our choice? Let’s be colorful.

Owing to that fact that I am in complete administrative overhaul here at DK World HQ, because of some new people joining me and helping me figure out how to be more efficient and smart and life-hack-y, I have gone through and painstakingly organized everything I have archived ever. (Well, at least since showing up in Asia, in 2013, that is.)

There are numerous splotches of paper, blotters, things in diaries, notecards, index cards, post-its, spiral-bound notebooks, looseleaf books, folded-over articles made into new kinds of zines and books to showcase, one day, in a light installation that will be invitation-only here where I am, presently. (Phnom Penh). And so on. But yeah, I also had to go through and put all the numbers for all the hex codes of colors that have already been chosen into a file. One place. Everything goes in a box!, and then, now, I can look at them all, and I’ll make a grid for all the 4 N events so far. That would be… 16 x 4… We are 25% done with ’16N!,’ wow, then what will I do. Hmmmm. Anyway, this is okay, because I want to make sure to show the journey, with you, as we go. Not just talk about it and stuff, but really show. SHOW, don’t tell, right? But I’m telling you that I want to show. What does that mean? Does that mean this is an oxymoron? Wait, what?

 

First ‘N’ selfie…

SELFIE. ON FRIDAY I WILL POST, at this very blog, the selfie. I’ve not shared any photos from any of the ‘N’ events so far (3 previous to this one), because of… lots of things. But I will, on Friday. At this blog. The selfie! That we took, together, at ‘N’ in Hanoi. That was such a moment of random and spontaneous fun. Let’s take a picture, said one of our guests, a portrait photographer who simply just ‘got’ this idea, and came, it was totally a blind date, like many, many other guests who showed up, not knowing, and it was a 16-way blind date, mostly, well, kind of, for many of us, at least there were bunches of permutations and combinations with new and different others that made it what it was. On the night. ‘Twas grand, like, and I slip into my southwest Ireland accent. Grand stuff altogether, mighty fierce craic. But it… was. That’s why I can say it like that. (You know, if I could just sit down and talk to you in real life instead of blogging here, then we could have the whole intonation and rhythm and eye contact that makes communication so nice, so human, so warm.) In fact, it is so important to me, and to our team here, to move towards those kinds of conversations that I am not blogging as much, I am not emailing that much, and I am only talking with people who are in our online circles in S P A C E. Why? So we can meet. Each other. Together. In real life. Did I say together? It’s so great, when we do. Be sure to join me, if you are in Phnom Penh or in some city somewhere that might have a good critical mass of people who, you know, are interested in things. (Or have an ‘N’ in them.) To the journey! And the selfie! Next!

A Poetic Narrative, by ‘N’ Hanoi

ON 27 JUNE 2017 in Hanoi, a mix of exactly 16 people got together for ’16N’, a traveling conversation salon on a theme that starts with an ‘N’. This time, our topic was NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves?’ and other questions popped to place as we took three floors of Nhọ Nồi, small cafe in Ba Đình, quite by surprise. An installation like no other ‘N’, this one resulted in a flurry of poetry-writing, on the spot.

This spot:

‘N’ happened here, Nhọ Nồi. (And on two other floors, too.)

***

 

FEW INSTRUCTIONS ISSUED FORTH, and that, I believe, is why this ‘N’ unfolded as prettily as it did. Days before ‘N’ at our first meeting, guest TN had said, poignantly, ‘Sometimes you have to let a thing happen instead of make it happen.’ Inspired by the notion that nothing needs to be forced (including the number 16), on the day itself, we let it flow. Looser, lighter than any other ‘N’ programme so far, this one gave way fully to the playfulness of our guests, I thought.

[Right, ‘N’ Hanoi? We did that. Didn’t we? We wrote impromptu, we eased into it, found a groove and a rhythm, and wound up having a poetry slam. More soon, in a protected-page post to follow with a certain picture, but for the moment, these are the three poems you all left behind… I thought you might like to read them again. To co-discovery! To meetings of chance! And to… real life. Enjoy, enjoy. More soon. <3]

 

***

I.
‘How do I fix this?’

I have always wanted to be blonde
Does everyone experience Fomo?
Fomo can be a motivation for someone?
I’ve recently started using the word “fomo” as an action verb.
Sadly, nobody understands what I say.
Sadly, sometime, people hate my pictures.
I think you’ll always find people that disagree with you.
I guess it depends only on their intentionsKeep taking photos!

Thankfully
you will be cured
during
the journey.
What can you break with the world’s smallest hammer?
Just forget it,
Use your
feet.

 

***

II.
‘Nameless’

I’m really terrible at remembering names.
LET’S HAVE BREAKFAST
She always loved him making her smoothies in the morning.
Then he popped a mint in his mouth;
I love these flowers
A terrifying hue of violet
‘Can terrifying be a positive description of something?’
‘Yes, if you overcome your fear…’
‘Terrible love cannot be overcome…’
‘Anything can be
overcome by
true love.’

 

 

***

III.
‘Subtle vibrations’

I have a life here.
14 people in the world are richer than all the rest, self-evidently
The truest measure of their riches
Is the willingness to fold themselves open
One day you will have all the love that you’ve given
If you have not given enough love, will you not be able
To see the love that everyone
Receives?
I see what I want to see. And you?
The sound that weasels make playing in a ball pit.
A little known fact: weasels are deaf, they can only feel vibrations.
*!
I wish I was a terrifying weasel
So I could produce terrific coffee.
Such a small thing like coffee
Can change your whole day! Why?
Because of no reason at all
Except that
We are
Here.

 

 

Towards the next thing, 5N

IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE PREMATURE to start blogging about the next ‘N’ already, but it is here, in my heart, as soon as the last one finishes. There is, of course, the thank-you not that I am still writing. For those who joined us at ‘N’ in Hanoi… wow, just last month. At the very end of June, when we were all sweltering and wondering if we could really pull that off, must have been really surprising (as one guest told me, hello GN!) for some to see that we did get together, 16 of us, and then, we took a selfie.

I need to share that.

I need to do that right, but I am also realizing that there is no ‘right’ for things like this. Blogging, is it already old school to be a blogger? I do not do product placements. There are no sponsors. I feel sad when I go to a nice event only to see that it’s been co-opted by some giant car dealership or beer company, and it becomes, well, more of the same. The banal.

This happened before, when I would join events that were ‘free’ but turned out to be anything but, what with the snapping of photos for someone’s ‘promotion’ and the marketing materials that are shoved at you more subtly in 2017 then they were in the 1990s, they don’t print flyers and blast them at you, they just… what? Make weird psychological triggers, capitalize on your insecurities, make you feel like you need something (absolutely ‘must-have’ it), because you’re not complete enough without… But ‘N’, if you were wondering, ‘N’, I think, I believe, is a way to really come back to just being who we are, together in a small circle, small is important, but not too small, because… you need a mix of people and I’ve found 16 to be perfect.

Four groups of four, that’s a bit of a holdover from the days when I recall working with other consultants to bring the jigsaw method to play in experiential learning workshops that we would design together. To varying degrees of success, of course. It’s not trendy or sexy, what we’re making here, in S P A C E salons, workshops, magazine, print stuff, zines, eZines, and things to come. Things to come! There is always that wild card spot. ______. Anything is possible, anything anything.

‘N’ CPH. For ‘N’ in Copenhagen, so far we have 5 people who are ‘in’, and that’s exciting. Things have changed a lot since 2015, though, since that time when they said ‘yes’… Still. We have been in touch. Corresponding, from time to time. The theme is NEARNESS, and that means building trust, over time. Showing up, even ambiently on email, is important, I think. Learning, changing, as I go.

More patient, as I learned to be from those I met in Copenhagen in 2015, on a foray into that place to see about making ‘N’ happen. I got there and realized I didn’t have enough time to find the people I was looking for, that those whom I would meet would need time to meet again, that email wasn’t something people do anymore (this is just something I do, is it?), and that… you have to kind of know people before you can show up from out of town and throw together something as wacky and undefined as ‘N’. But… I have been… staying the course. I still did some small things, a little talk about productivity and a couple of salons: Internet I Hate You and Drift and the Nomad. Both were good. Small, clean.

OPTIMISTIC. For Copenhagen, for 5N, whenever it will be, and however it comes into shape when it does, I am optimistic. I have been practicing at this, just that… cultural differences. It is so not like America, you don’t just walk around handing out cards and putting up flyers and saying, ‘This. This is good. You should do this.’ No one takes that kind of craic seriously, there. And why should they? I like the place because people do show up when they say they will… no fuzzy cancellations or weirdness which happened so often here in Phnom Penh that I got riled up about enough to design ‘N’ Phnom Penh in the first place. That was when you had to get tickets ahead of the poll-making step, so you really had to commit before you even got to help select the date. Same with Bangkok’s ‘N’. And London’s. This time, though, in Hanoi, I thought it would be interesting to kind of wing it. Once you get there, and you start being yourself, and people can see that you are earnest about it, what you’re making I mean, then yeah. It works. It can, it does. It will, for CPH, too. (But if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.)

IS IT WORKING? That’s subjective. Maybe people wouldn’t see the losses that are coming back financially as successes, but I, personally, find each ‘N’ moment to be such a magical one, such a gem, that I can’t help but keep motivated to carry forwards. ‘Success’ isn’t about ‘outcomes,’ it’s about paying attention, I think, to what you are learning as you go, and being able to adapt yourself so that you can, well, add to your life instead of simply check things off some list.) Is it working? Who knows. We are just 4N in. I am going to be writing more about Hanoi soon, and maybe I’ll share about Bangkok and Phnom Penh, too. There were ‘N’ events here I hardly wrote about, mostly because… new at ‘N’-hosting. New means… reluctant to share. Less so now. Less new, more open. Blogging again, weird, that. Anyway. Here’s to the journey. And very warm welcomes to those just joining us, in S P A C E.

The things to come

‘The Book of Red,’ by Design Kompany // Đà Lạt 2015 // find it on instagram @dkompany 

 


***

 

WAKING UP IN A NEW PLACE, not the train and not the bus and not the old house(s). Back in Phnom Penh, but seeing it from new angles. Ahead? It’ll be a different adventure, now, from this point forward. Different people to meet, different scenery to note. I think even new foods might enter into the daily routine, just because that’s what happens when you’re ready for the new. You have to be ready for it, right? It’s timing, largely, these things. When you find your magic moment of connection, it’s not because you’re always open to that-which-could-be-remarkable to fall into your lap, no, no. I mean, there are a few rare birds like that who are, which is super cool (but must be tiring? Hm). But yeah. What I’m noticing, and this is maybe just me, but what I’m discovering is that the moment of connexion doesn’t come just because of design (as I had hypothesized) or *showing up* which I have yammered about extensively to those who will give me an ear. But it’s, kind of, and this is really the new awareness of it, it’s mostly about timing. After an ‘N’, I usually just go into hiding. ‘And now I don’t have to talk to anybody.’ Pattern.

Unlike the earlier blog posts here, about how I make an ‘N’, and just how many interjections in other people’s day-to-day it takes to get enough invitations out there so that just 16 say yes, get tickets, and show up, well, no. Not now. Timing. For me, going into hibernation mode for a bit, now, is on the agenda.

There is no way in a million years I’m going to go out and talk to someone on the street or the bus or on a boat about something they should come along to, so they can ‘get out of their comfort zone,’ and yeah, they should, they should also pay for a ticket, and so on. No, I’m just not into it, right now. Same feeling, when I wrote ‘A new plateau,’ after ‘N’ in London (November 2015).

One magic moment


***

 

 

THE KEYBOARD IS NOT connecting, somehow, so this will be short and sweet. (If you were there, the pic is coming. I’ll email you.) I had such fun meeting you all, individually and then, together. A fuller, more articulated thank-you is in draft and I’ll send, for sure, soonish. A quick thank you here, for now. Many thanks for playing 16N. Okay. Let me get myself to the next stop, the stop after that, and then home. More from there for guests, and then, for those in our online circles of S P A C E. If you were there, to be continued!

After Việt Nam

FEELING A LITTLE CONTEMPLATIVE, right now. Back at ‘my’ cafe. Probably for the last time, since tomorrow is going-home day. The slow way. Back to Cambodia, this journey. ‘Home’ is there, for now. Some years have passed there. I am looking forward to regrouping, reconnecting with 2-3 people (the people who *show up* for things) when I go back. This two-month jaunt into Việt Nam has been exquisite, eye-opening, restorative… I know what I must do next: keep making S P A C E. Like we all just did, 16 of us, at ‘N’ just last Tuesday here in Hanoi.

Trips. Can be refreshing. I like these kinds of things, these wanders and forays into the area of ‘out of my comfort zone.’ I am really happy that I came to Hanoi. I am really, really happy I got to meet some cool people. Like this cafe owner. I told you, right? She waves now, to me. She’s older, so it’s nice. Generational stuff. It feels like all of Asia is saying, ‘Hey. Welcome. Come on in, sit down. Take a load off. You’re very much welcome here.’ And as I left the United States four years ago, starting the unknown circuit right here in Hanoi, I recall the unsettling feeling that I didn’t have a home. That nowhere was ‘safe.’ Creating space that is welcoming, inviting, engaging, and inclusive of new and different others, to meet in remarkable ways is my goal. Is my work. Is because I want that. Do what moves you, right? A very incredible artist I know told me that. JS. Please yourself first, he wrote. Do what moves you.

11 JULY. Now, there is something new starting. ‘A little S P A C E.’ Discover with us (because we don’t know, and that’s the point for ‘the Art of Not Knowing,’ our journey into discovery and this thing we call ‘N+1’, very esoteric, sorry about that, working on communicating it more forthrightly) what will happen next with ‘N’, and other programmes, as things unfold from here. There are a lot of things that I could invite you to, but I just want to open with this. ‘A little S P A C E’ starts 11 July, and is free. Meet me there? Start here.

 

Keep up with our stories in S P A C E…

 

 

Continued here…

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, I am sharing more about the just-gone ‘N,’ but in waves. First sharing will be with our guests, then with our online community S P A C E , then at this blog, then maybe *cringe* facebook. There was a selfie. First. Time. Ever, for ‘N.’ Kinda nervous about that, but hey, it’s 2017. But. Instagram? FB? Is that where selfies go? I’m not sure. Someone more hip to social please tell me what I’m supposed to do with the picture. The comment box on this post is open, for now. Thanks! (Speaking of social, is that passé, to just say ‘social’? Anyway, maybe it is. So yeah. Help. Bit by bit, learning. I am trying to use emoji more, and stuff. Checkit. 🐬✨)

Continue reading: To keep reading more of the narration from this journey, here’s what to do. Go here. Will take it from the top when you click ‘Follow N.’ Or, just click this box…

A. Spaice

Guests. Were you there? I think, this is what I know how to do, I think I’ll do this… With the selfie… it’ll be shared first with you all, in a protected post to come on this blog soon. Cool? While we are all taking time to maybe reflect on what the heck we just did together, which, wow, that was great, by the way, I hope you will feel free to email me as you like, about suggestions, reflections, comments, links, whatever you like. I forgot to ask you to pick a color, or tell you what the tickets were about. So there is a little more to come, if you want to hear more. Shall we continue? Maybe keep up with our stories in S P A C E?

Ready!

16 ‘ticket-yes’ guests!
JUST CONFIRMED our 16th ‘ticket-yes’ guest for tonight! Let’s get ready now with the signs, I’ll take a few pics and post if I can quickly set the venue up. More if I can… Oh, water.

Tonight in Hanoi

BIT OF FRUIT, some tea just now. Looking out over the rooftops, wondering what stories will unfold at ‘N.’ Many people to thank for helping out with this one, all of that will be shared later, when there’s more time. Going to set up the space. 5 hours to go. ‘N’ starts at 7! Last few reconfirmations arriving now… *!* is the feeling.


***

 

16N

When ‘yes’ becomes ‘ticket-yes’

DISCOVERED OUR MOST RECENT GUEST today on my visit up to the north side of town. Really fascinating and fun conversation, on the spot, pretty dramatic. Wow. I knew that I was in over my head when I realized suddenly that the person I was meeting was far more practiced in the art of listening than me. Also a little older. A year. Just a year. But she was, clearly, so much wiser, in this particular aspect. Then I lost my hat. I don’t mean that as some kind of expression, (if it is an expression?) Well, I guess these things happen. Losing hats, I mean. Then I caught up with my team. Then we got dinner. Then I came home, and read through the email. Then I saw that our count for ‘ticket-yes’ guests had bloomed to 13 (from the 7 that I reported earlier [edit] yesterday). Things move really quickly the closer we get to the moment of ‘N’. It’s like relativity, and spacetime, or maybe just… deciding. There are some lovely people we will be gathering together, in the shared moment that will be happening at ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. Here’s a bit about the journeys here, with ‘N’ in Hanoi, for the last few weeks. First, we had to pick a date. This is how.


***

 

Choosing a date, together

We used an online poll so people could mutually agree on a date for ‘N’.

 

THE INVITEES. Tonight, I’ll close the online poll where I invited people to confer on a mutual date. (The first few lines will show you how we landed on Tuesday as a date.) But whom would I invite? It was a matter of gut feeling. If someone frowned, no. If someone avoided eye contact, no. If someone gave me a warm return smile after I said hello, that was a little step towards maybe. After a while, we had a critical mass and a date. Soon after that, I just shared about it here and there and waited to see how things went. The people I met in real life were in cafes, on the street, (I shied away from interrupting people at lunch, but didn’t mind accosting someone who might be walking along on the way in or out of somewhere, like the youth with a trumpet in a case earlier today… hey, if you’re reading, I’m serious about the improv stuff, very). Overall, I looked around as much as I could, walked kilometers upon kilometers, got lost on the buses, found an incredible juice shop on Yen Phu, invited a young lad from the No. 9 to ‘N’ (who responded to the poll above), carried forward, carried on, worried, thought I wasn’t really fit for this since I’m an out-of-towner, took that and owned it, circled around and around, realized it doesn’t matter cause you’re a stranger everywhere and in my case especially in the ‘where I’m from’ places, took a train to the countryside to look at the land formations and rivulets and get lost and wind up… okay, that’s too long a story, then took a few days off, then did a mini-checkin with myself to decide if this was worth trying to do, then kept at it, because what’s ‘worthy’ is what’s ‘noteworthy,’ in so many ways, and NOTEWORTHINESS was our last ‘N’ theme, and wow, did I learn what that means (to me). It’s all relative. What would have been the point if I didn’t try very hard, and if not hard because hey, it’s really hot, and it rains, and it’s hard to get motivated sometimes to go out and talk to people I don’t know, then to try, at least, earnestly. Carefully and honestly, to discover the *new* and *different* by getting out of my box.


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WONDERING HOW THIS WORKED? Mechanics are simple. I invite the first few guests to a poll, where we could see if this was even reasonable to attempt, given I have a limited time here (visa). And when we saw some convergence for the 27th, I asked some others to join in on this, too. As the number approached 43, I realized it was time to just ask directly. Emails and personal invitations followed, and the last few lines are those who confirmed just these last 24 hours. For this ‘N’, I tried it a little different from before. Instead of making people get tickets ahead of time, I just thought, let’s start with the date, this time. So I invited people, as I went.

Going along, starting in late May, and continuing through June.

In total, there were 43 people invited to this poll. (I met way more people than that, people I didn’t think were really a good fit. I’m looking for the kind of people who say ‘yes’ to the unexpected, and look for challenges, and are ready to discover others who might be of similar ilk.) Must also tally the people I invited in other gestures, but I haven’t gotten a final count yet. I’m pretty distracted, it’s hot here, and it’s hard to get too terribly excited about what might happen when I don’t know if… well. If 16 will be there. Then again, what do we really ever know?

Well.

Of 43 invitees, there were 18 respondents to this poll.

As I write this note at 9.31PM here, 13 are ‘ticket-yes’ guests.

I’m excited.

13 today.

16 tomorrow?

Let’s see.

Late registration (USD $27) opens tomorrow for the last three seats.