Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"What have you been up to?"

When people ask you, "how are you doing?" or "what have you been up to?" many of us generally assume that the people asking don't actually want to know the answer: it's just something you're supposed to say when talking to people. Well that's true to some extent, but if you really think about it, it's called a "conversation starter" for a reason. The only time the question doesn't render a good answer is when the person who is asking already has something to say but felt the need to be polite. In that case, i'd rather them get to the point then ask me what's up, because, frankly, I hate telling people that nothing is going on my life and that I'm sitting in my room talking to you because I have nothing better to do.

But you know what? As much as I don't do it, I think it's always necessary to give a good answer to "What have you been up to?" and "What's new with you?" even if you know the people asking don't really care about the answer. Why? It's because you sound lame when you say "oh not much" or "my life sucks, i don't do anything" (which are my typical answers).

The truth is, we all know that it's always a lie when people say nothing is going on in their lives. We all know that there is always something going on in everyone's lives but we answer with "not much" because a)we think what what we do is quite uninteresting for others, b)we're don't want to talk about/too lazy to explain what we've been doing and we'd rather talk about something else, or c)we don't want to talk to the person who is asking. For the most part, I admit that I don't give good answers because of a combination of a) and b). And I would be quite right about a) if you don't finish reading the rest of this entry.

So henceforth, here is where I explain what I have been up to for the last year and a half. Now when people ask me what I've been up to and I don't want to talk about school or my sad life, I can provide them with this link. This is so that they will know that although I might be nerding it up, at least I'm not a lame person who sits at home and play pet society....

Currently I am working on two major projects for school:
  1. Documenting the libraries that are being used for developing applications for tabletop computers (e.g., Microsoft Surface) that's developed by one of the Sys. Design Engineering labs.
  2. Re-writing my paper on "The marriage of form and meaning: Chinese four-character idioms" for submitting to the publication Cognitive Semiotics.
I also do other stuff, like:
  • Updating documentation and tutorials for nSpace2
  • Other projects and assignments/papers for my classes (Genres of Technical Communication and Cognitive Science).
  • Lots and lots of reading.
  • Lots and lots of procrastinating.
In previous terms I took the graduate classes Semiotics, 18thC literature, Knowledge and Public Life, Cognitive Rhetoric, Writing about the Self Online, and Foundations in Rhetorical Studies, which resulted in many research papers and presentations (sometimes exams).

I'll be done in April '09 with any luck.

So that is what I do while I'm in Waterloo and that's why I have nothing to say when people ask me what I have been up to. Makes sense, doesn't it? ;)


some grad student said...

man, well, now I can't even a start a conversation with you, because what you've been up to :)

On another note, I got hit on a by a dude the other day, which is my answer to "what have you been up to" or has been for the last week. And! it is a great conversation starter! :)

Jenny said...

I feel so pathetic when people ask me what's up or what's new, because come on, you know there isn't ANYTHING new with me here in Belgium. I surf the web all day, I cook, I bum around doing nothing. Urrgg.. so yeah, when people ask me I really have no better answers than "not much". (unless you want to hear what I decided to cook for dinner) Having said that, finally I'll be starting my French course in a couple of weeks, and we'll be moving to the bigger apartment next week.. so I'll be busy with unpacking for a while I guess.

p.s. I want to read that essay on marriage

Felix said...

Make perfect sense. Very insightful.

Lynn said...

T: you can probably ask me what cognitive semiotics is or what chinese four character idioms are, and i wanna know what you did to get hit!

J: which essay on marriage?

F: are you making fun of me -.-?? =P

some grad student said...

haha you're right, and I was just being facetious.

I didn't get hit, but rather got hit on. It was... interesting. I was walking through a bar with this girl I knew and this kid jumps up and goes "Anne-Marie!", since apparently he knew her. He then introduced himself to me and asked where I get my haircut. That was followed by "by the way, the frame of your glasses goes really well with your slender body!"

So, yea, that's the story :)
I ended up talking to him and his friend a bunch more after that. His friend was pretty cool.

Felix said...

Not at all. I like how you broke down the simple things. People always mistake my compliments for sarcasm for some reason.