Alex and Hannah SP

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Connection and Collaboration #1 in town with Alex (the attempt to subtly ask "what is your perception of us?"). After traipsing through the library, which we found unnerving because of the silence and after staring at passersby under the guise of doing a puzzle, we left and continued to the bookstore, Gamer's Grotto, and attempted to get into several churches. We went into the Bennington Pottery in the hopes of finding someone to impose upon. I felt like a predator. We had an agenda, a purpose to disturb, and the people were unsuspecting innocents. Alex and I awkwardly meandered around the store, evaluating the options, stalking the prey. We pro-ed and con-ed every couple we saw, not wanting to engage with someone in the form of exchange, not wanting them to feel obligated to cater to our prying. Not that our questions were innocent and genuine, but we didn't want them to feel obliged to reply. We discussed whether being outdoors was more acceptable, or being inside. Was it like backing someone up into a corner indoors, or would it seem more natural to start up a conversation there? We decided to approach someone under the guise of admiring whatever they happened to be looking at. I walked up to an older woman who was examining a set of dishes labeled "chocolate". I picked up a milk or cream pitcher and, seeing it was chipped, said "this has seen better days". She agreed and informed me we were browsing through the defected section of pottery. She was examining plates of mismatched blue shades. Alex joined us and we asked if this was her first time in the store. She said no, she stays in Manchester during the winter, leaving her home in Connecticut behind. We discussed the whys of a winter up North, then she asked if we lived here. Grudgingly we said yes, she inferred that we were students from the college. I asked "knowing that we're students here, what is it you think we study?" she replied without much speculation, "well, if you go to Bennington you probably study some sort of art..." DAMN Alex and I thought- why couldn't we study nuclear physics or something besides art. We then asked what type of art did she think we studied. She didn't have much of an answer and we revealed our areas. She discussed her own schooling (university in Philidelphia) and we discussed the dangers of the city, where we were from, how I missed the ocean but loved the mountains, the feel and culture of Bennington compared to our own hometowns, and why we chose Bennington. We parted ways after some time and on our way back, Alex and I decided she seemed mildly suspicious as to why we kept engaging her in conversation after what would be the socially appropriate time to move on from casual conversation over mismatched, chipped pottery. We regret not asking her name however, and I usually always give mine after a fairly lengthy conversation. Maybe we'll see her again one day without an agenda and perhaps feel so socially awkward. What did I feel during this exercise? Like I was suddenly socially inept. - Hannah

Hannah and I had some troubles. We began in the old book store in town but the only person there was a Bennington student. We moved on to the library, where the quiet intimidated us more than we expected. We then went to Bennington Potters with the intent of engaging someone while browsing. It took us a long time to begin talking to anyone. We had no idea how to start a conversation here. Should we ask them a random question right away? Talk about the pottery? Hannah started to talk about the damaged and discounted pottery with an older woman. I jumped in and we discussed the merits of the damaged plates. Hannah asked if this was the first time she'd been here, which is was not, and if she lived here, which she did not. We talked about where she was actually from, Connecticut, and she inquired about where we were from. She said we looked like college students, so we asked if she could guess what we are studying if she could tell we were college students. She figured that if we went to Bennington we must study some kind of art. This was true, unfortunately, because the cliche is often right. I told her I study film and she asked, quite surprised, why I didn't go to NYU. We talked more about the college and why she is here. She spends the winters in Vermont and the summer at home because of the proximity to the beach. She went to college in Philadelphia and she was adamant about the unsafe area of Philadelphia. We agreed that Bennington is much safer, but, she said, "this isn't the real world." She told us we had a lot to experience in the real world. The entire time the woman had been a little skeptical, it seemed to me, about why we were talking to her and she continually took a step away, poised to leave, until we engaged her further. The conversation ended and we regretted not getting her name. We wondered if having a question or plan of action before approaching someone would have been better, and why was it that we felt to awkward under the pressure of having to engage someone with a specific goal in mind.

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