Monday, May 20th, 2013
The more intensely I’m working, the more access I seem to have the obscure filaments of my memory.
There were warm summer evenings on the Other Side of The Hill. Menlo Park or Cupertino. San Carlos. There were kids I remember meeting. They thought differently than the other kids I knew. They were open and eager. They wanted to play new games. Invent new games. And they seemed to get me, in a way that nobody else did, and get that I was different too.
It was always summer when I met these kids. Cousins, or friends of friends, or just somebody I’d met on a playground my parents had stopped at so I could play. Central Park in San Mateo.
How many kids? Maybe a half dozen over the course of my childhood. Rico was one of them. Can’t remember where or when or how exactly we met. Just a different kid. We wanted to stay and play all night. It gets syrupy on summer nights on the Peninsula. Sky goes indigo, and Van Gogh stars. You can stay out in tshirts and shorts and in the gloaming we played the hybrid hide-and-seek / 20 questions game Rico and I made up: One hid while the other sought, and when the seeker found you, you had as much time as it had taken him to find you to guess something 20-questions style.
Saw it this evening while walking in the park across the street. A fleeting kid friendship between two different kids who just got each other. The one dad got it, too. He didn’t want to go. Finally he had to say it: “Come on son, we have to go. We have to drive back home to Seattle. Say bye to your friend.”
“Bye. Bye. Bye!”
- Jon Oropeza
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
“As I say, the day began gloriously. It was only this morning that I became conscious again of this physical Paris of which I have been unaware for weeks. Perhaps it is because the book has begun to grow inside me. I am carrying it around with me everywhere. I walk through the streets big with child and the cops escort me across the street. Women get up to offer me their seats. Nobody pushes me rudely any more. I am pregnant. I waddle awkwardly, my big stomach pressed against the weight of the world.”
- Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
This is how it is when we’re working on a big idea.
All of it is happening inside of you. Germination. Sprouts are forming, and forming sprouts of their own.
And the world knows. Senses. Seas part. Phone calls come in from across town, across country, from Tangiers and the middle of nowheres. Emails from people you haven’t heard from in years. Everyone is there just at the right time. To help. Or just to see what you’re building in there. It’s a neat thing, a sweet thing. One of the many paths of life.
- Jon Oropeza
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
I came across a post that Cap Watkins, Design Lead at Etsy, wrote about how much of his career has hinged on making one key connection.
…The other story started after a few months of living in Oakland. I was working out of my apartment fulltime, and hadn’t met a single person in the bay area outside the people working with me on PMOG. One day, I decided I wanted to meet some designers in San Francisco. So, I did the only thing I could think of: made a list of web sites I thought were well-designed, figured out who designed them and sent a cold email to the designer telling them I was a new designer in the area and asking if they’d like to get coffee or a beer sometime. In all, I probably sent around 20-30 emails to a variety of creative people in San Francisco.
I received a single reply.
Daniel Burka (who at the time was the creative director at Digg) said that, sure, he’d love to grab coffee. We set up a time and I took the train to the city to meet up with him and his friend Mark. We chatted for awhile and, just before we left, they both mentioned that they were going rock climbing the next morning with friends, and asked if I’d like to join.
Absolutely, I did. The next morning I hopped on a 6am BART train from Oakland into the city to get the climbing gym at 7am. There, I met a few more people, which turned into a few more people, which turned into a few more and suddenly I wasn’t all alone in Oakland anymore.
And that one contact eventually led to what he’s doing now at Etsy.
What sticks out to me is how he sent “around 20-30 emails”.
Most of us don’t do that. We don’t think in terms of the numbers game. Most of us would send one, maybe two emails at the most. And we wouldn’t get a single reply. And we’d sulk and say “Well that didn’t work”.
In a situation where you’re only looking for one, whether that one is a life partner or a whale client, it’s amazing to me just how wide your initial net needs to be. And how thick your skin needs to be when you cast that net, knowing that out of 20-30 emails, you’re only going to get one or two responses.
- Jon Oropeza
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
This I believe:
If you have deep, probing conversations with 10 people, and then you try to turn those 10 into opportunities?
Nothing interesting will happen. You’ll have to press each one, and you’ll reek of desperation.
If you say hi and how-are-ya to 1000 people, and then you hope for opportunities?
Nothing interesting will happen. You’ll be anonymous, untrustworthy, a gnat off a donkey’s tail.
If you have brief, meaningful conversations with 100 people, and give (for free) help or an idea to each of them, or just make them smile?
5 good opportunities will come of it.
dad would say: It’s easy to get hung up on the other 95. Don’t.
- Jon Oropeza
Monday, April 29th, 2013
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
What’s fun is, this logic works with other arts as well. It works with crafts and it works with markets and it definitely works with code.
Many times, working on a project, it’s been 7 or 8 o’clock at night and I’m at a point where I know just what I need to code next. I could push on into the night. But I know that if I do, I might end up somewhere where I don’t know what happens next. And if I leave it there, then I’ll lose more in getting started tomorrow than I’ll gain by working tonight.
Always stop when you know what happens next.
- Jon Oropeza
Sunday, April 28th, 2013
Jesse and I like to get together once or twice a year and do a food crawl. We pick a city. We walk around. We eat, we drink, we indulge. He calls it 24 Hours Of Gluttony.
The funny thing is, except for the rare times when I’ve gotten a little too exuberant it’s not really gluttony in the traditional sense. I enjoy eating. I enjoy drinking. But what I really love is the exchange of ideas. Understanding viewpoints. Food and wine (and coffee and beer) are great ways I’ve found of doing both. What is a dish but an expression of a chef’s idea about ingredients and place? What is a bottle of wine but a collaboration of viewpoints, these grapes on this hillside in this year blended in this way?
This time around, Jesse came here, and we crawled Portland. We did food carts, oysters at Eat’s new Pearl venture Parish (I can’t believe how good the Netarts Bay oysters are this year), we watched a Timbers game at Bazi (best game of the year so far), we had dinner at Accanto (Roman style tripe stew might have been the best tripe I’ve ever had, better even than Batali’s at B&B Ristorante).
So yeah, we do a lot of eating, and a good amount of drinking. But you know what? What sticks in my mind from our semi-annual get-togethers, even more than the food and drink, is the ideas I absorb and the ideas I get just listening to my friend talk about what he’s working on.
I can work for months on the ideas I get from just one weekend of talk.
So maybe Jesse’s right. Maybe it is 24 Hours of Gluttony that we do. Only I’d suggest it might be ideas that we’re really being gluttonous about.
- Jon Oropeza
Sunday, April 21st, 2013
Watched Les Mis last night. Not the 2012 version, based on the musical. The 1998 version, based on the original novel. Liam Neeson’s tender Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush’s superb Javert.
The book was published in 1862. 150 years ago. I picked up my copy this morning and thumbed through Part 1, up to Waterloo. I’d forgotten how the writing is. Punchy. Single sentence paragraphs. Active-voice action. Contemporary! Many paragraphs read like tweets, or at least would fit the 140-charecter limit.
Also, there’s this: Apparently Hugo was on vacation when the novel was published. He sent a telegram to his publisher with just a single character:
His publisher, aware of how well the book was selling, sent back a single charecter telegram in reply:
- Jon Oropeza