Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shy yet sociable (paca)

I appear to have two conflicting aspects of my personality. On the one hand I am very sociable. I want to know all about people all the time. Other people fascinate me. I am a huge people watcher and I always wonder what it is like to be that guy or girl. (Oddly, I have almost no interest whatsoever in celebrity gossip.) But at the same time, I am rather shy in an odd way. I just can't ever think of anything to say to someone. My French prof last semester was a grad student with a Laotian mom and French dad. He's super built muscle wise and super nice, and I kept wondering what his life is like. Was there any Laotian connection other than ethnicity? How did he end up in Hawaii? Is he mauled by men or women who find him gorgeous? But I have no idea how to speak to people. I look at someone and my mind just draws a blank.

So yet another paca idea I've had bouncing around in my head was to do interviews and profiles of people. Just people I see. Talk to them, find out their stories, take some pictures of their life, and then wrap it all up in some form of writing. Something like "a day in the life of X". It would be a way for me to talk to people but give me some formal reason for being there.

Sometimes the profiles would be of exceptional people, but not always, and I'm really thinking right now of grabbing people at UH. I discovered a while ago that one of my fellow grad students here has children and the children are at home in Korea, while she is working on her doctorate here. They talk over webcam on a regular basis, and I think they might even just turn the webcams on sometimes just so the family can see each other while they play and study. Now, that's really an interesting choice, not one that everyone would make. If you believe in stereotypes of Korea as a conservative society, it might be surprising that a mother would go off for a degree. Is she unusual or not? (I think the answer is no.)

There are people in my French class I'd like to talk to. Another is a woman who is 27, from Hawaii, and she's going back now for her undergrad degree. She works in a store in the mall, I think in a job she probably could have gotten when she was 17. Why? What's she been doing? She is fairly attractive. Has that held her back in some way because she could get by on that alone? Everyone I know is like me: they have degrees from good schools, usually grad degrees... (I am not sure if there is a single regular reader of this blog with less than a masters or terminal degree.) What made her different, or what made me different? Why did she decide to go back to school now?

There is another woman in French class born in Puerto Rico and her family is in the military. She's very opinionated, mentions Puerto Rico every single chance she gets, works 40 hours a week in a hospital while working on a masters and teaching Spanish. I want to know more about her.

There's a guy who doesn't look over 21 with low riding pants and a shirt hanging from his head all the time. Turns out he and I are the only married people in the class. How did he get married so young?

You get the idea. Anyone ever done an interview before? Any advice? In some ways, I'd like to do this as an article for the student paper, but it might be better as a blog so you could have more pictures and space. People's daily lives are so amazing. A little window into them through their stories, their appearance, the clothes they wear and the houses they live in.


J said...

I am similar in that I find people interesting, but have a had time knowing what to say.

One thing that works for me that might be a good interview question is asking them "If your __ were a food, what food would it be?" I've gotten interesting answers from asking about parents, church, job, spouse. I've found that people reveal a lot in metaphor that they wouldn't otherwise.

A friend and I got into a really nice conversation about how his church is like macaroni and cheese.

-E said...

i totally understand what you mean about talking to people... and i have the same coping technique. I make it my job. At church there are all these other couples with babies and i wanted to meet them and maybe make friends, but i was having problems talking to them... so i made a new group for parents with young children at church so i would have to go talk to them to see if they were interested.

i do not have a master's or other terminal degree. just my lowly little BA. maybe when i am done having children i will go back and get a masters or something...

Anonymous said...

u are shy and it is od, casue ur the kind of guy that "u just can't like u" u really can't, ur the guy everyone likes and likes to be around no matter who they are, maybe its a practice thing, i mean, comparaitive to me, perhaps, maybe things have changed since brnnon was born, but u've always seem to be a homebody too. i mean i love people and interacting with them all the time! i am soooooo social and have no problems whatsoever wlking up to people and to start talking thing, maybe its casue i flirt? who knows, but maybe, even without interviews, just start the practice with complete complete strangers to feel more comfortable, like when ur buying coffee at the shop and reading there, or something, that way, if its bums are is too scary and u make an ass of urself, and there is NOTHING wrong with that either, its not someone u'll see in class the next day