Small talk slaughters me. And, the boredom of it aside, there is really no way to prepare. One can memorize a script: Hi. How are you? What do you do? What school did you go to? Where are you from? But this isn't helpful in the real-time of a conversation, where it will naturally deviate or continue on with more stock questions. I don't know why anyone would care where I did my schooling, or how this is interesting. Perhaps the difference is that extroverted Lady Friend sees a person from the outside-in, trappings to person, and I want to see from the inside-out. But this is not how small talk proceeds.
And you related just fine in this post, so don't be hard on yourself!