Turns out scientists without kids aren’t very interested in poop either.
Okay, where the hell is this going?
I've realized that since coming to this new position, my networking has flown out the window. At first I put it down to having a very hard last trimester (when I started this job), and then to having a child that didn't sleep through the night during his first year. But none of that is true now, and I'm still not doing well at the socially talking to visitors when they come. Part of this is because I've fallen out of the habit. But I'm realizing that a lot of it is that I've become a lot more self conscious about what subject matters I can talk about now a days.
I no longer have a new "art film featured at Cannes that really moved me," or an exciting tale from my recent hiking trip, or great author that everyone else has heard of, but I've just discovered to fill the small talk at after conference dinners. I have toddler stories, airplane conversations, and political news. The first and the last are not good subjects for small talk with senior academics who you may ask for a letter of recommendation, or at least a kind word at a hiring committee.
I freeze at the thought that someone I know, but haven't seen in a couple years will ask me "So what have you been up to these last few years?" What do I tell him? My research output has been low (but not 0), and my life has been, well ....
Okay, having put at least part of the problem of why I'm having a hard time walking up to people and chatting, what do I do about this? I'm taking suggestions.