Wednesday, May 14, 2014

the proust questionnaire

Every so often, I like to challenge myself to answer the Proust Questionnaire. My answers tell me whether I am brave or not. More truth in my answers means I am brave. Hedged or incomplete answers, or outright lies, tell me that I am cowardly. This is an exercise for me more than for you. In fact, I suggest you do the same on your blog, or on your computer, or in your journal. If you write fiction, the questions can also serve to develop a character. Have fun!
  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Sitting in the dappled shade on a reserved lounger in The Sanctuary, a private section available for rent on most Princess cruise ships. The ship is either sailing or docked in a lovely location. I am being waited on hand and foot. I alternately read and doze. Occasionally, I deign to put on clothes and join friends or family or complete strangers in the dining room for a sumptuous meal.
  2. What is your greatest fear?
    Dying alone. If I allow myself to fully explore this fear, I'm able to conjure up the discovery of my body, days after my death. Then I expand the horror to include my sisters discovering the contents of one particular drawer in my bedroom.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    My ongoing failure to exercise. I'm fatter than I would like to be, but keep hoping I will simply wake up one morning with the body I feel I ought to have.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Rudeness to service personnel or customer service individuals AND rudeness from those same people.
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
    Any woman who has claimed her own personal power.
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
    Watching television or reading while housework remains unfinished.
  7. What is your current state of mind?
    Slightly worried.
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
    For entertainment purposes, I often embellish the telling of events that actually happened.
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    See question 3. I'm also now sporting my mother's double chin.
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
    Any religious person who invests a great deal of energy into trying to force everyone to comply with their particular religious beliefs.
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
    The ability to focus on the needs of others.
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
    The ability to run her own life without concern for what others may think.
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    Have I told you about the time ...
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    My previous partner, now a good friend. We've known each other since 1975.
  16. When and where were you happiest?
    Lying on my belly on the sail of a huge catamaran as it sailed around the Bora Bora lagoon at sunset, peering down into the water, listening to the steel band play and occasionally sipping at whatever rum concoction someone handed me.
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
    The ability to FINISH at least one novel or short story. I'm a fantastic starter, though!
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    I would be less critical of others.
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    My 27 year-old son sees people as people. He makes friends from all walks of life, every hue and every ethnicity. I believe I had a hand in that and I am very proud of this achievement, particularly since I raised him in rural Georgia!
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
    A gingko tree.
  21. Where would you most like to live?
    Montreat, North Carolina.
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
    A numbered print of The Forgiving Father by Frank Wesley.
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    Hating any group of people based solely on their belonging to that particular group.
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
    The speed at which I can be reminded of a story which I will need to tell at that very moment OR the speed at which I can be reminded of a song which I will need to sing at that very moment.
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
    Their willingness to listen to my stories (and tell their own) and the ease with which (most of them) sing along when I burst into song.
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
    Anne Tyler, Edith Wharton, Nevada Barr, Marilyn French, Pat Conroy, William Faulkner, Dana Stabenow, Jonathan Kozol, Studs Terkel, Ruth Rendell ... the list goes on.
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
    I have two. Mira in The Women's Room. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    The suffragettes.
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
    My father and his father for their integrity and huge hearts. People who live on the margins and maintain open hearts and authenticity.
  31. What are your favorite words/names?
    Samuel, koi, sakura, whisk, petrichor, and so many others.
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
    Mean people.
  33. What is your greatest regret?
    Many years ago, I sent someone out into the world because I felt he needed more world experience. I expected him to return to me, wiser and better equipped to handle a lifetime of love with me. He married the next woman he met.
  34. How would you like to die?
    Instantly, with as little fuss as possible.
  35. What is your motto?
    Never put a raisin where a chocolate chip could go.

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