Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10-grand square feet of brainpower and fun

ALL MAKEWORKS AND NO PLAY make Jack a pretty cool guy, actually.
Three weeks ago I started renting writing space in a place called MakeWorks; an open-concept shared office that's a 15-minute walk from my home in Toronto. And now, 21 and a half days in, I'm thinking of changing my name to "Leon". As in "Ponce de". As in the guy who thought he discovered the Fountain of Youth.

Check this out.

At its simplest, MakeWorks is 10,000 square feet of office away from home for, oh, let's go with two dozen people. There's a wonderful concierge named Amy, a big kitchen with free coffee and tea,  printers--including a 3-D model--plus we have access 24/7 in case the urge to create (or escape) strikes mid-weekend. 

MakeWorks is also home to some truly come-hithery-looking leather couches and if I decided to have a little nap right here and now, in the middle of the afternoon, nobody would raise an eyebrow.

Almost all the MakeWorks inhabitants poke away at laptops; most have headphones or earbuds on. That way, it doesn't matter that the place is so open-concept;  whatever they're listening to serves as walls. Invisible musical walls. How cool is that? Plus music makes you happier, right?

On any given day, I am working alongside:

* computer programmers; 
* tv-commercial set designers; 
* digital-mapping experts;
* at least one telecommunications lawyer;
* a stand-up comic;
* one of the most successful freelance writers I know (not me);
* customer-service specialists for a used smart-phone company called Orchard. Orchard does other stuff too but re-juvenating and reselling phones is the only part I understand;
* a 27-year-old  East Berlin native named Simon. First day I was here, I introduced myself,  he told me his name and I said something like,"I can always relate to Simons because my name, Peter, and Simon have the same linguistic root." He said, "I know." He's a mathematician who helps German social agencies meet up with volunteer professionals. Or something. But trust me. You could count on one mittened hand how many people know that Simon and Peter are linked. Simon and I are now
IMAGINE, ALL THE PEOPLE: Maria's Portuguese
sports bar is right next door. World Cup starts exactly
one year from today. God give me strength.   
Facebook friends.

Tuesday I met a new office mate, recently graduated from York University and hoping to find new accommodation locally so his folks from Dubai can come visit soon. Another millennial who often sits across from me has an undergraduate degree from Waterloo University (not bad!) and a masters from OCADU, the country’s biggest (probably) arts school (not bad on steroids!)

Other co-workers are from  Great Britain, Argentina, Sweden, India, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Scarborough and I haven’t talked to everybody yet.

When I first got here I spotted on the on-line list of participants a name I just knew I had to contact: "Valkyrie Savage.”

I emailed and asked if her parents were big Wagner fans because one of the few things I know about opera is that composer Richard Wagner composed Ride of the Valkyries.

I loved her response: “My folks know Wagner, but the story of my name is a little longer and weirder than that... I'll leave it mysterious for now.”  

Valkyrie, who I met in person earlier this week, calls herself a "Digital Fabricatrix" and holds a PhD--get that? a PhD?-- in Digital something from Berkeley in California.

Speaking of opera.

MakeWorks is also HQ for one Larissa Koniuk, a touring operatic soprano who currently administers The Bicycle Opera Project, "the world's first and only opera company that tours on bicycle. When you're done my blog, check it out.

See why I love this place? It’s a smarts factory. 

Hang around these people and you can’t be anything but optimistic.

Two days ago, again, in the communal lunchroom, another MakeWorks resident and I were talking about nephews and nieces and she said something so sweet I almost cried. (P.S. The Carter tearing-up-at-the-slightest-sweet-gesture gene is an endemic familial annoyance. And material for another blog.)

My office pal was like, “I’m sorta worried about having my own children. I’m wondering if it’ll be possible to love them as much as I do my brothers' and sisters' kids.”

I understood but reassured her. “Don’t worry, Alex," because that's her name, I said.

"You’ll love your own kids as much," I continued. "Even more so, if you can believe it. There's no end to your love supply. It's not like gravy that you only have so much to spread around.

"Love doesn't run out."

If I didn't know better, I'd think my new office mates' smarts are starting to rub off on me. 

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