Monday, August 25, 2008

What Would Proust Do (or, Say)?

Since July 1993, the back page of Vanity Fair has been devoted to the Proust Questionnaire, in which a noteworthy person answers a series of personal questions. The questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust (1871–1922), the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. James Lipton, the host of the Bravo television show Inside the Actor's Studio, asks his celebrity guests a similar series of questions. I love both Vanity Fair and the almost silly and affected snobbery of James Lipton - he's like a caricature of himself and I watch the show usually for the talented actors but also for their interaction with Mr. Lipton who is so deeply aware of himself that it's pure entertainment to observe.

I'm having some writer's block today so I thought this would be fun. Here are my answers...

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being surrounded by the people I love.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Dying without first meeting my children.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Impatience and the occasional lack of self-esteem.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Intolerance, ignorance and arrogance.

5. Which living person do you most admire?
My mother.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel. And, the borderline absurd collection of handbags and shoes obtained on my travels (including the daily travels outside my apartment in New York City).

7. What is your current state of mind?
Sheer happiness.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience...ha! See Question Number 3.

9. On what occasion do you lie?
When I don't want to make someone feel bad - but only if it's little and white.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
It depends on the day but usually when I'm having some extra frizz.

11. Which living person do you most despise?
Despise is a very strong word but I'd have to say anyone who hurts a child.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty, intelligence and tenderness.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Honesty, intelligence, tenderness and strength and courage to be whatever she want to be. Confidence and the ability to embrace her flaws.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"I will try" and "I will do it" and "that's amazing!"

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband.

16. When and where were you happiest?
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the guitar or the piano.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My impatience and occasional inability to take things one day at a time (specific instance of impatience?).

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think I have several but I still have a lot of time. So far, it's having had the strength to follow my heart and do what I love.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Ideally, I'd like to come back as myself. I wouldn't tell my young self what ends up happening (so far) but I'd tell myself not to worry so much about it and not be so hard on myself. Otherwise, I'd love to come back as my Italian great grandmother. She lived a life with some adversity but it was a full, rich, adventuress life - she took risks, some calculated, some not, but she was fulfilled and loved deeply.

21. Where would you most like to live?
Manhattan - Exactly where I live right now with the ability to travel the world.

22. What is your most treasured possession?
Assuming this is about material possessions - My wedding rings and our home away from home. Also, this photograph that I have of my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my aunt and me when I was about three years old. I love it. I keep saying that I want to buy a better frame for it but I like the old one it's in right now.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To feel unloved and alone.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

25. What is your most marked characteristic?
The ability to laugh at myself and an insatiable curiosity.

26. What do you most value in your friends?
Raw honesty and the ability to make each other laugh.

27. Who are your favorite writers?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Maureen Dowd, Isabel Allende, Carrie Bradshaw (ha!).

28. Who is your hero of fiction?
Hmmm...I don't really have any specific hero. I love characters who are flawed but grow beyond it.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I'm still hoping to know who that person is.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?
My family of immigrants.

31. What are your favorite names?
I haven't met them yet so I don't know their names.

32. What is it that you most dislike?
Other than the traits that I deplore in others and in myself, I dislike any NYC subway platform in August, layovers when traveling, cheap shoes, anchovies and olives.

33. What is your greatest regret?
I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention (at least not here!)...

34. How would you like to die?
Surrounded by the people I love and at peace.

35. What is your motto?
Will it!

Today's soundtrack:

Samba Tranquille - Thievery Corporation

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