Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dead People

Can I go back to researching dead people now, please? Pretty please? I am just a ball of adrenalin after making a bunch of cold calls to potential oral history subjects for my upcoming research trip to Minneapolis. I'll take the adrenalin over the anxiety I had before the calls, but, geez, this is not a part of my work that I enjoy.

It seems so simple... "You were involved in this thing. I want to know more about that thing. Will you talk to me?" But it's not. I hate to impose, I worry they'll say no, I worry I haven't prepared well enough, scheduling is a nightmare, finding a location is an even bigger nightmare...

I've only done a dozen or so interviews, so the whole process is still daunting. Though, honestly, I think I will still be twitching on my 100th interview.

Some of the stress I invent. I always expect to have to work harder to prove myself but now that I think about it, no one has ever asked for my cv and no one has really interrogated me about what my motives/politics are or what kind of argument I intend to make with this research. I guess that is the advantage of interviewing activists. Obviously they thought the cause was good enough to devote some significant part of their lives to, so I guess they just assume that my interest is the same as theirs!

Two interesting bits from today's calls: one guy did ask was my interest was in the topic, but then he was a business owner in the neighborhood and not an activist, and he was easily satisfied by my two sentence reference to community organizing around quality of life issues in neighborhoods and surrounding commercial districts. Another woman turned out to be an activist from a later period than I have been working on (see one of those surprises I dread!) -- but her story is great and she is wonderfully thoughtful about her participation, local politics, tactics/strategies of community orgs, etc. that I am going to interview her anyway. All I could think while I listened to her on the phone today was, "I should get her in front of my class" -- they would be amazed.

So... it all turned out fine. I have 5 interviews lined up or coming together. All is good. Now I just need to calm down.


Shan said...

I hear chamomile tea is really good for that. the calming down, that is.

Daye said...

you should really meet Timmy. he has the same worries you could commiserate

BTW--you and W were adorable at Scrabble
i felt all warm & fuzzy watching you & mojitoman