Philosophy, Public, Themes

Housewarmings ASAP

Any occasion is an opportunity to party. I have moved several times, not just apartments but houses I have owned and not. The first as heady as the last and the key to settling so is to have a housewarming party as soon as possible.

There was a week staying at the Fairmont in San Francisco looking for a place to buy where a real estate agent picked us up every morning to tour all the nooks and crannies of the city and I was hungry the whole time for food, and possibly for something in my price range. I was cross there was no time in the house hunting agenda to eat and also to realize that I had no hand in the agenda in the first place! I threw fits then, internally I combusted. This was the housing lending boom of the early 2000’s– where pressure to buy was as high and willy-nilly as the extent the banks would loan you for. For the record, I said No. For the record, I said I was hungry for food.

The place we won we did for a price we were told we wouldn’t win it for. It was splitting hairs in my calling the owners bluff, I realize that now but I had had enough pushing and I was about to budge no further. For all the other offers on the table, I was surprised they chose ours in the first place. It was a tense and foodless experience up until our housewarming party thrown by the real estate agent. I credit her for large platters of shrimp, boxes under white tablecloths for presentation, creme puffs and quality picture framing. The moment she combined my apples and potatoes into the woven platter I had on the table “Look! It’s pommes and pommes de terre.” I forgave her everything and really adored whoever she was or would be from then on out. I committed. All the neighbors came. She invited friends she thought we ought to know. This was the beginning of a long life of meaningful, purposeful parties for me.

Before all that, there was the property manager showing me a studio apartment on 8th Ave across from Town Hall in Seattle. It was a birdhouse of a place, a few stories up, corner unit. This was a place of 12+ floors where some tenants have lived for 30+ years. I was looking at my future. She popped my dream cloud and pointed out the east window to a sliver between two skyscrapers downtown where I could see the sparkling Puget Sound. She consoled me before I could reflect on her first statement by drawing a line in the sand “Maybe someday you can have a full water view.” Oh that’s where you want the line to be, eh? I don’t think so. I think we are standing in a sliver view of you keeping your job if you don’t rent me this apartment, I talked to the maintenance man on the way up, I know you’re half full in tenants, and full up on riff raff. “I’ll take it!” I got it for $200 less than asking. It was a superb place. I loved there were so many windows, there wasn’t any wall space, and the french-doored bookcase (with a window in it!) that amounted to the kitchen–thoughtful in an embarrassing way, like a huge smile with crooked teeth. What can you do? The window sills sat below my ass, and a lot would fall out of those windows to the shrubs below over the years. Occasionally, I would go down to collect the things. I never lost a guest.

Once I moved into this place, I packed it with strangers for a housewarming party, and the result was that a casual gang emerged that looked out for me when it came to even stranger strangers in all my time there and that is probably why I am still alive to tell these stories today. They saved my laundry, they made sure I woke in the middle of the night when the fire alarm called for us to get the hell out, they walked the stairs with me instead of taking the elevator everybody did because one could easily go missing in the bellowous shaft of the stairwell. What then?

Bainbridge Island occurred to me just over a decade ago now. During a storm where a college professor gave us a driving tour of the island in places where the storm enraged the water sending waves over the road we tempted down. I didn’t know what the hell this place was but I knew I wanted to find out more then. We bought a condo off the plans, a reckless fever that lit us from within which worked out because we couldn’t really see the plan and associated model with the power out and all. In the pitch of dark, the real estate agent’s enthusiasm failed to wane; I remember really wanting her to calm the fuck down. We didn’t have a housewarming party, I had a baby instead so the parties centered around that which made a lot of sense. Parties are the balm to the ouch of living.

A couple months ago I moved into a house that is slotted to be torn down in a year. It is a fine shack of a place near the water that the real estate agent encouraged, “Mak it is funk-y and if anyone could make something of it, you can.” Then I did and I am. Straight-away I set on a housewarming plan, affixing the invite to bottles of wine, delivering to all the neighbors and hounding my well-worn friends and some family into attending, too. It was just the warming spirit this place needed! After that party I could settle in. It was as if the air shifted and started flowing in cahoots with me where before it was ominous and pokey and I had no idea if things would ride right. What I still can’t believe is the neighbor next door and the neighbor across the street each having lived here for several years, met each other for the very first time crammed thigh to thigh on the broken-down adirondack chairs I had rescued from the yard and wrestled onto the porch just for the occasion! This news thrilled me, tickled my toes even. I was too aghast with delight to say so then.

Regular people. I am regular people, too. The synergy of getting regulars together is something I have dedicated myself to because there is nothing else I am so good at. There is an obviousness about the craft that flows through me and I just allow it. Well, I wrestle with it, too. Fight, disagree, ignore and still–it finds me just in time and asap.

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The day after a party is my favorite. I get to reflect… and notice things I didn’t before that brighten my already sunshiney review. Things like the faces on these flowers here.

“Home isn’t a place… it’s a feeling.” – Cecelia Ahern

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Public, Themes

Spoon Social

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New restaurant–Open but not ready for Grand Opening–makes it’s debut and welcomes a series of parties echoing the heart of the place. When parties serve as a call for a decided match in clientele, no matter the game, it is a win for all. You don’t have to capture all the people to make a place or party successful, just the right people at the right place and those are exactly those that show-up. That is it. It is as magical and as plain as it sounds.

Staying home is magical and plain too, I get it. A burgeoning hermit as there ever was, I find the collection of a few dowdy people (besides me) creates a lot more to live for than I ever could create on my own. I think this is a human way and so I don’t take it too personally. It is a matter of human nature to socialize, to connect for real. When we forgo connection for a variety of reasons and excuses, we have a hand in creating the problems we see in the world and deny ownership of yet suffer for.

If you didn’t have your reasons and excuses, what would you be doing now? How would you suffer less?

xx

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Philosophy

The Company Party (Big)

Company parties tend to be rote so therein lies a fine opportunity to bust out of the office box and make a party that is particularly fantastic. Take care to add elements of surprise and delight.

For formal/large parties, keep attention to the feel of the broader space, it ought to convey respect and coziness. Be sure to see to the finer details like table arrangements. Seating assignments are everything. Draft a chart and then ask two people what they think of it. Do not ask questions at this stage, just employ their recommendations. Listen to all the stories, repeat nothing and people will continue to tell you what they think of your seating arrangements unabashedly for all of your party planning years to come.

Keep hold of the objective of the party, the essence, which is the kind of gift you want to give and check-in to see how the party is shaping-up to it. Make adjustments on the fly if you can carry them out covertly and without hurting anyone. Otherwise let it go.

A party is a gift to many in one shot, and your job as the party maven is to be sure the gift is delivered.

What has made all the difference in your company parties?

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Public, Random

When You Quit, Really Take Them To Lunch

When you quit a job and your co-workers confront you with a send-off lunch and it is so spectacular that you continue the lunch monthly for a year.  As many as twelve people attended, I dinned alone only once. What made it stick was two questions, set in advance of the lunch, that we went around the table taking turns answering. It was so simple, we didn’t expect it to be so raw and satisfying. In 30 mins upwards of an hour, we connected more than each of us had in the larger part of a year working in that office neck and neck together. It was remarkable although we never remarked on it, we just kept showing up.

In case you were wondering… I quit because the team needed a chief happiness officer and the director wouldn’t allow me to be it there so I had to be it someplace else.

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Public

Potluck Community

Welcome home Otepkas

Welcome back to the country meets neighborhood picnic. Set one table under a tree, add a gauzy canopy to delineate where the folks drop their ‘pots of luck’ aside from the picnic tables to eat at and green to play at to effectively create an easy breezy welcoming home for all. Let us take every opportunity to love people where they are at and where they are going so we can revel in what happens as a way of life.

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Themes

Field Games

Early in the day before anything has a good chance of happening is a perfect time for a kid party. Rented parks cabin to roll out onto a hilltop green to a catered brunch and field games. No matter if any kids show-up for this horribly situated birth date for parties smack-dab in the middle of vacation season, the adults have a ball. To plan a party in the highest esteem is the only party that ought to be planned.

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