Ten or maybe eleven

THE POLL IS GOING, and is almost finished, I think, where we are seeing if 16 people can agree on a date for ‘N’. At the time of this writing (12.10PM), ten have. Ten people, people I have just met (some on the street, some on the big road, a few on the cafe hopping tours around the back neighborhoods west of Old Quarter). Ten of these folks, open and curious as they are, are agreeing on a date for ‘N’ Hanoi. One person emailed a ‘yes’, but I think it has to be a check mark on the poll to count. Doesn’t it? Hm.

16 is the magic number. Working my way towards discovering us.

But. 10.

Ten is a lot.

Ten is more than I had imagined, as I still have all of today, all of tomorrow, all of the next day, and all of the day after that, to keep on discovering people and asking them to join me at ‘Secret Event,’ on facebook, if they are there, because this is Asia and though I don’t have a personal facebook (I resist! After closing four accounts, I simply resist this frivolous thing!)…. Even though that, well. Fact: facebook is a giant way that people in this part of the world will communicate about things like this.

 

A. Spaice

IDENTITY. You need to have an online thing. An online thing that people can check out, so they can know you’re real, and even if you’re making an abstract thing like ‘N’, they still need to know that you are really… Credible. I guess that’s understandable. These days you have people walking up to you all the time asking you to do something, buy something, read something. The subtle things like people pretending to be friends with you so they can move you towards their agenda, that’s icky, so I try to just be direct now. [Example: There’s a thing. It’s happening next week. You’re getting this invitation in person because the only way to get an invitation is by meeting me or emailing me, because that’ just how this weird project goes.] I used to do it by Internet, inviting people I mean. I would have all kinds of channels going and sometimes, just sometimes, I would meet someone incredible and they would say, ‘Why not? I’m in,’ just like that. Blind. I totally couldn’t believe that, when it happened, and it made me want to keep going with the Internet seeking. But in Asia, it’s different. I realize that the way people do things here isn’t like how people do things in Western countries. Heck, sending email feels so arcane. I mean, I feel like an anachronism saying, ‘Email me.’ Yet… Email. Is how. I send the invitations. Because I don’t want everyone to know everything all the time. I think we’re sliding back into that kind o fworld, aren’t we? Where we just share in smaller circles? I mean, people think their facebook is ‘just for friends and family,’ but is it really? *skepticism* [Yeah, you can tell I don’t like facebook, right? I don’t. Especially nowadays when it becomes a substitute for real life, in person, impromptu, meandering, organically developed conversation. But then, it’s a fact. Embrace it, right? That’s why I had to make an event page, this time.

***

MIND YOU, the  event thing discloses pretty much nothing about ‘N’ and how it goes, and who it’s for, and why you should come. Why? Because it’s not that kind of a thing. It’s not ‘cool.’ There will be no free beer, no free pizza, no women in bikinis parading about. At least, I’m 99% sure there won’t be. A party for conversation. A party for ‘the third place’ (see that on Wikipedia, for more about spaces that aren’t for work, and aren’t for home). It’s about… Us. Gathering briefly and once with new and different others for a remarkable connection (leave the design and hosting to me). For honest sharing. Seeing one another. I go on and on about that in the page about the project, here.

Because ‘N’ is not for those who are looking ‘to get something.’ It’s for those of us who remain curious, who still want to converse, connect, but not in a weird or creepy way. ‘N’ makes space. For real life. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. But briefly, and once. For the craic, like, as we used to say when we got influenced by everyone around us in the southwest of Ireland. Ah, but I digress. Meander. Shift. Shape of space. Chance. The encounter. Randomness. Serendipity. The story ahead of us… Ah, but yes. This, to me, this possibility, this is it. Beauty.

To the journeys!

AHEAD. Oh. And… Later today I’ll post a few pictures of the venue we’ve picked, for ‘N’. Can’t wait… And… If you are just joining me, and are curious about ‘N’ and are in Hanoi, request an invitation through the button at the bottom of 16n.strikingly.com.

 

This is what it looks like

BEHIND THE SCENES. This (pictured behind the title of this post, above) is the conversation I am having simultaneously with people whom I have already invited to ‘N’ on a poll that lets us all mutually agree on a date. Maybe you can read this post, ‘Save the date, almost’, from yesterday, where I talked about the conferring taking place online that shows which date(s) are most popular. There are a few things that a poll like this takes into account and there are many more things that it doesn’t. For example, it’s very democratic, in a way. But there are some of us who are talking who are more interested in this than other people.

Now what do I do? That is the thing that I have to share about, next.

But in the private space, for just those who are going to be invited, very soon, to register. After I send the ‘save the date’ official note. Registration. That’s when ‘yes’ becomes ‘ticket-yes,’ and this becomes more and more real. Towards the day itself, when we converge from our vectors, our uncrossed ones, to focus on a point in time and space in which there occurs an ‘N’. Designing it so that 16 people who might not have met in that kind of way, in that kind of place, in that kind of moment, are engaged and discovering one another, in a salon thing called ‘N’: NARRATIVE. What are the stories we tell to the world?, asks this ‘N.’ Which ones do we tell ourselves?

(I’m going to keep posting here, a little more in public space, but more about the process of designing and hosting this and less about the people because that is by design a mystery. It’s a 16-way blind date, in a way, but not in that kind of way that you would think. This kind of blind date is more about conversation conversation conversation, in the shape of space that is by design meant to be safe, comfrotable, inviting, welcoming, all of the things that I think… I think if you know me personally, you know I most enjoy. Not too pretentious, a little bit scruffy, the perfect kind of venue that matches this, and more. I am writing and I am also listening to Boss tell me that there is another magazine called S P A C E and that I should be worried about that, but I’m not.

There is only one particular S P A C E I am interested in, and it is the quality, (where is Quality, asks ‘N’?) invite-only, sustaining space for great conversation, the kind that moves, progresses, goes into… the big, and open-ended, and connects us in ways that might surprise us, if we let ourselves go there… SO much to say here.

OPEN & CLOSED CIRCLES. More of this kind of talk will be shared in the closed circles. Because this is a very special kind of a conversation, and I am designing ‘N’ to be a specific kind of space, and this kind of space involves, necessarily, some exclusivity, so that we can have the right kind of stage set for the day.) For ‘N’. Otherwise, well. Otherwise it’s just like any other ol’ event, isn’t it? Bo-ring. And ‘N’ designs out the boring, the mundane, the ‘regular,’ the he-said-she-said ho-hum yes, yes, yes, we all know what that is like. And so, here I go, writing and emailing and conferring and circling back and following up, asking for registrations, reconfirmations, and finally, sending the agenda, meetpoint, and programme to 16 people. Sixteen ‘N’.

Will it? Can it?

Let’s see.

Meantime, I wanted to share, I know it’s just a screenshot of some email, but that’s my main view, from here. Today.

 

16 tickets for ‘N’ Hanoi.

The narrative of ‘N’ Hanoi, Part 4

At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.

IN THE MIDDLE, that’s where we’ll begin.

At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.

  • __, from the bus.
  • __, from the… um. The internet.
  • __, from a public event.
  • __, from upstairs. Who was first to join ‘N’ Hanoi. A spot that I am always eternally grateful to someone for saying ‘yes’ to. More on the ‘why’ of this, below.

SOMETIME IN THE COMING DAYS I will circle back to Parts I-III. About how it has been going all this time, since I first started to share out in the open about the journey of ‘N’ Hanoi.

From the time we started with having discovered the venue, to when the decision came in a sort of weird inward insight to commit to the doing, to starting the ‘N’ journey in this blog for the first time really talking about all the uncertainty as it’s going on, et cetera. And how I think I found 2 or 3 of us (but, in the end, was wrong about. Hm. Happens.)

Ups. Downs. Movements in between. Still at it, though. Still working towards gathering 16 total strangers for a conversation installation in Hanoi in June on the theme, NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell the world? What are the ones we tell our selves?’ A low-key conversation, in which no prior experience or expertise is necessary. It’s about the who, more than the where or when, so I am starting with invitations to people I don’t know. Asking them to add their preferred dates to a secret poll online. Asking us to confirm whether we can do this, whether 16 of us can ‘say yes’ and ‘show up.’ The two most important things you need to have happen before the magic moment of ‘N’ can even begin to come within gravitational reach. More about ‘N’ is at the ’16N’ link, in our menu bar at the top of this page. Check it out.

Those things happened, and between then and now Parts I-III of the narrative of ‘N’ Hanoi did, too, and I shared a little with the S P A C E community, which is what? Which is something you can find out about when you click the box here, and so on. There’s so many layers to this, isn’t there?

After the first ticket moved in Bangkok, I got this coffee.

 

***

 

When someone joins ‘N’ for the first spot, I know that the ball is in motion. The onus is now on me to gather the rest of us, somehow. It feels hard, sometimes, like trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. But other times it’s very natural, very casual, very normal. Like today, when I met ___. I hope you will read this, __, I hope you will discover that this is part of an interactive story, not just me writing and blogging and ‘documenting.’ I used to have comments open on everything here, but they are always taken over by people in car sales or something like that, and it gets ugly going through all  the spam, so I don’t do that now. But my comment box is always open here, in case you are reading, or someone else whom I shared about ‘N’ with today (or in recent weeks). I guess I only just started talking about it out loud because I got the feeling, after the first ‘yes’, that there was scope for this, here. Hanoi is on for ‘N’, I think. People are game, I think. People say yes and people sometimes even show up, and once in a while people co-host things with me, too. That is beautiful, when it happens. That is conversation at its upper limit best. Co-creation. Conversation. Making things up, together, as we go.

How I think I found 2 or 3 of us

THE THING IS, you just have no idea. When you go and say, ‘I’m here for a thing. A salon, sort of, but not really. It’s not a performance, well, wait, it IS, kind of. It’s an improvised play. together, the 16 of us, together is the important bit. Because who cares about ‘the arts’ or stuff on the walls these days in snooty galleries, who cares about what’s in our phones, who cares about the old books by dead people that line the halls of libraries in parts of the world where those books might have been interesting and important at one time, because, well, now, lookit. That way of schooling us just didn’t get us places. Did it? [Aside: I’m not a political theorist, or a sociologist, a psychiatrist, or an expert in cultural theory, science, et cetera. No. But I am an artist; and that means, I feel. I feel terrible about the way that the things that They Told Us Would Be Good For Us turned out to fragment and isolate us, turn on our fears and anxieties, and generally keep us from discovering our ‘edge,’ and most importantly, seeing what we are each capable of achieving as individuals with unique, one-uva-kind flair. I’m talking about us noticing ourselves, being who we really are, mirthful and fulfilled. Money and power and the chase, the hierarchies… that stuff… was someone else’s dream for something else. A time that died, that got dusty, but which we couldn’t let ourselves be pulled away from. The future happened, already. I met someone the other day at my second-favorite Indian restaurant in Hanoi. Who knows who he is. (Dude. If you are reading this, you need to really fill out the form about the conversation salon ‘N’, because those things where you actually show up are where the real learning happens, not these blogs that are written by people behind screens at all hours of the night on the other sides of your screens, because writing is a medium that is tired, so tired, sad as it is to admit this because it is my favorite medium (and yours, maybe?), but podcasting is where it’s at now.) And I don’t do that. So I am going to be quietly left behind the curve of Innovation and Evolution and Forwardness because I am too tired and probably too old to go out and buy some equipment to record myself and try to Get Famous. No, thanks. I’ll just write and blog and tie my shoes the old-fashioned way; one at a time. Here we go.]

INVITEES. Anyway, the lady who was with the person who I met was one of the two or three I think would be into ‘N’. And the new person. The one I met… yesterday? At the cool new cafe with the nice latte art? The too-cool, I think, cafe. A slightly-too-cool to be a place to host an ‘N’, but definitely isn’t a bad place for people watching. I love Hanoi for this one aspect, it might just be my favorite sport. Or maybe trying to make an ‘N’ is? That’s not a sport though is it. That’s just an impossible challenge. Well, mostly impossible. But not quite. And that sliver of almost-maybe is where ‘N’ lives. It is trying to be the thing that no one things can happen: 16 strangers saying ‘yes’ to showing up at an agreed-upon date, place, and time. For a salon. This one, this time, is on NARRATIVE. Are you ready, Hanoi? Are you there? Is anyone listening? See because that is the major part of it; you don’t know if your things that you talk about on the blogs actually have resonance in the real world. And the real world is where life happens. So I’ve been coming out of hiding a bit more and more, showing up at things, going out of my box. Saying hello to people who don’t say hello to me first. Saying nothing when they ignore me at the goodbye. Discovering it’s not personal, it never was, this online weirdness, this strange way of conversing the that nothing at all to do with the fact that some of us like to write and even at one point made a living from it, and others just like emojis. I hate emojis, but I think you know that, if you know me, personally, or if you see that I never use them, here or in the emails, or texts. Texts are rare. I hardly text. I text, though. I do. I sometimes text. Why am I telling you this?

BECAUSE ‘N’. ‘N’ is the kind of thing that brings up all sorts of things. You wonder, you think out loud, you wander. You go where you don’t think you should go (a bridge, yesterday) and you look out for people who seem like they might be the kind who would return your ‘hello’ instead of flee to their phones and glare into the glowing rectangles into the middle of the night. I am trying not to be cynical. I am typing into a glowing screen myself. Just, with a keyboard. That doesn’t make it any better, though, does it? I am still trying to find people who are interested in connecting. Just not through the usual ‘normal’ ways now. I do not do Tinder. I don’t care much for Meetup. I am not a fan of LinkedIn. I am, however, interested in chance, serendipity, looking around and walking about and running into it. The third person that I think would be a good fit for ‘N’? A lad. A youth. Let me tell you…

Is someone who I think would really get a lot out of it, on account of it being New and Different, and knowing what I know about being young and angry with the world, feeling like it’s all bad and everything, until, this one thing happens, this kind of bright light shines for a second on a spot that you didn’t see before. You see it for that one glimpse of a moment, and then, poof, it’s gone. Keeping it forever isn’t the point. NOTICING it, that is the place where we go from living to something more than just taking in sustenance… we go to places that connect us to things beyond just our day-to-day, our routines that might not involve little side conversations or the smile and hello that you would have seen if you had not grown up in a way that involves texting more than real phone calls. Real phone calls are so intense now, aren’t they? Well. ‘N’ is even more real life than that. And that is why I care so much about it. To the journeys, then. Pressing on. I made some real invitations, on email. And twitter. Good people are there, saying ‘tell me more,’ which makes me happy. Must not quit this. Must keep showing up. Must not let it bother me that the world is ‘too busy!’ and ‘thanks but next time’ and you know what? There is no next time. Onceness, noticing it, the shiny thing that’s there now!, that’s the entire point. The good news is there is still some time. My visa is good for another couple of weeks. WEEKS. I remember discovering four people in Bangkok on the four days ahead of ‘N’ there, and in London… SEVEN. So the odds are good. People here are a bit more open, too. I like this. I like it very, very much. To the journeys, then! To the next. —AS