What’s one cost of something that makes you happy?
My dog Luna has fur that gets on literally on every inch of me and my car. Luna makes me happy, but her fur makes me sad because, you know, it’s everywhere.
What’s one thing that happened to you this year that you didn’t expect?
I didn’t expect my son to progress so rapidly and be so successful transitioning from the loss of his leg to his prosthetic. I also didn’t expect his determination to carry over to all parts of his life the way it has.
What’s one way that someone you know worries about you?
I am a visiting professor from China and my mother still worries about me, especially about whether I will eat well without her cooking for me. It is not enough for me to tell her I’m fine since she thinks that may just be a fiction to keep her from worrying. The one thing that seems to help is that every night I send her pictures of the meals I make for myself.
Who is somebody that understands you?
I think my ex-girlfriend really understood me. There’s that stupid quote that says, “You can’t really love anyone else until you love yourself,” and I think that’s a lie. Sometimes you just need someone to love you and find parts of you that are worth finding. When someone really understands you and appreciates things about you, that’s incredible. I never felt that way in my life before. It’s crazy.
What’s one problem you used to have?
In middle school I discovered that I had a lisp because people kept pointing it out. It took years of therapy to get rid of it. I wouldn’t talk because people would make fun of me. I think people without speech impediments don’t understand how big a role speech and language plays in our life. After the problem was solved I was like, “I can talk now. I’m going to be the most outgoing person here.” That is kind of why I am the way I am now.
What have you gotten better at recently?
In college I’ve learned to see every failure as a chance to improve. This gives me confidence to be ready for the next challenge. I’ve also learned to show my weaknesses to others. Your professors and friends are ready to help. Even strangers would likely help you if you ask.
What’s a memory you have of visiting the workplace of someone you know?
My best friend once worked at a hardware store, and I would frequently stop in early when I was picking him up from work. I liked to wander the store and screw around with the tools and equipment. Once we had his girlfriend take pictures of us chasing each other around the store with axes as if we were attempting to murder each other. I believe I chased him with a pitchfork once too. We lean heavily toward the darker side of humor.
Beyond Small Talk
This app offers questions as starting points for conversations you can use to learn more about family, friends, or other people in your life.
Beyond Small Talk: Insight
This app offers questions to spark thoughtful conversations that will give you new insights about the people closest to you.
Using The Beyond Small Talk Apps
Whether you are on a road trip with a friend, at a family reunion, or out on a date night, Beyond Small Talk apps provide a rare opportunity to use your phone and still be in the moment with the people you care about.
Try using the apps one-on-one or in groups. Take turns choosing questions to talk about, and allow your conversation to move away from the questions when interesting topics come up.
After you’ve used the app for a while, experiment with new ways of using it. For example, try recording interviews with older family members or writing responses to the questions in a journal.