Blacktop Coffee, 5:40 PM
"Will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?"
My introductions are getting shorter. Breaking the ice probably doesn't get more succinct or direct than this.
Excellent! I've found another participant who jumps into LMEC with great enthusiasm.
I was preparing to sit in the chair across from her, but I move to the chair next to her. This is LA, and there is a shoot happening outside of the coffee shop where we're sitting. Despite it being dark outside, the whole street is lit up with very bright lights, and I don't want her to strain by looking into the lights.
I give her the run down: one the timer starts, no talking and no looking away. You can blink, smile, laugh, and breathe. You can take a drink of your coffee if you want.
She takes a sip of her coffee twice during our session.
After our eye contact I give her a leave-behind card, ask her name (Jenelle), and if I may take her photograph for this blog.
We sit and talk for a while. During our conversation I articulate a new thought: that I sometimes become grouchy at the prospect of making small talk with people and this practice is proving to be an effective way for me to get around that and engage people, especially strangers. It immediately provides us with something meaningful to talk about other than "where are you from?" and "what do you do?"
I also articulate my desire to engage a diverse selection of people with this project and my desire to push myself into more vulnerable situations (asking people who appear to be busy or on-the-go, asking people in new environments, approaching more groups). I am doing a pretty good job of hitting diversity here in LA, where it's easier because it's more culturally and ethnically diverse than the Pacific Northwest, but I think I can push the vulnerable situations more.
After a very pleasant conversation I snap her photograph and head out to meet a friend for dinner.
Nice to meet you, Jenelle!