Monty Python's All-England Summarize Proust Contest
(The choral society was always my favorite--Bink and I still sometimes sing, "Proust in his first book, talked about, talked about...")
I am thrilled by other people's responses to the Proust Questionnaire, [link to empty questionnaire (at end)] including, so far, Darwi's and Jen's.
Today Rudy in Paris, not currently blogging, e-mailed me hers and, when I begged, said I could post it.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Knowing everyone I love is happy and healthy at that moment.
What is your greatest fear?
That my children will suffer unnecessarily.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A tendency for melodrama.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I have always said that my least favorite type of person is a stupid person who is treating me like I’m stupid. I’m aware this makes me sound kind of like a jerk.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Lately? The time, energy and money I spend on running and its attendant paraphernalia.
What is your current state of mind?
Frazzled, but aware that I am in a time I will look back on as being wonderful and that I will someday miss very much.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
A tie: the ability to go without sleep and workaholism. I’m deeply suspicious of anyone who brags about possessing either of these. I wonder, though, if I am confusing traits for virtues? Well, these two things are treated as virtues in our society, and that just drives me crazy. Get some sleep, people! And being connected to work 24x7 doesn’t mean people like you, or that you are indispensable. And you are conceited if you think either of these two things is true.
On what occasion do you lie?
To get out of social obligations, frankly.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Well, since you ask, my teeth.
Which living person do you most despise?
I can’t seem to drum up that emotion in regards to any one person, although when I think of people that willfully partake in atrocities—whether against, say, one child or a whole people, I feel deep sickness and grief.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Male or female, I most admire a person that is engaged with the world. A person that notices things. A person that really sees or at least genuinely tries to see, the people around them.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
See previous answer.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m tempted to say, “I love you”, but deep down I don’t think that’s a phrase that can be overused.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Well, it’s a little early to say, isn’t it? But most likely the answer will be my husband. Unless he does something to really piss me off.
When and where were you happiest?
Oh, that’s the million dollar question, now, isn’t it? When I was in high school the senior class put on a production of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. It is safe to say I was traumatized by the experience. When Emily comes back from death and watches her family at breakfast, and she realizes the profound importance of the mundane moments, how it is these moments, not the flashy events, that make up our lives…. *
Well, I never got over it. I cried buckets, like my heart was breaking, while sitting in that metal folding chair in the audience. I really heard the dialogue.
That said, the last two years of college, and my twentieth birthday, are significant memories. I feel that I was aware of these things as they happened, which is what makes them particularly good. Now, I try to savor the mundane times with my kids, when we’re all just fooling around together after dinner. In general, in answer to the question, I strive to say: here and now.
Which talent would you most like to have?
This is boring, but I really do wish I had either musical ability or a better ability at learning languages.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Change one thing now, right? Not go back in time? I wish I could be more laid-back about having a messy house.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Successfully transitioning into stable adulthood. It was rather rocky going at some points.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I would hope a tree somewhere in the middle of a forest, where I would be left the hell alone and have some time to think. It would be a nice bonus to have loved ones be trees in the same general area.
Where would you most like to live?
Not a specific geographic location, but I wish my sister, brother-in-law, and parents were within a 2 hour radius of me. And I wish the Atlantic was in there, as well.
What is your most treasured possession?
I bought a ring in Chile when I was 20 and it was extremely significant to me. I wore it every day for about 10 years. I would become anxious when I ever thought of the possibility of losing it. I even had anxiety dreams where this happened. Then, right around when Magdalena was born---I lost it. Effortlessly. Completely. I was sad, but too busy with a newborn to dwell on it. I’m glad I was able to let it go. Now, I try not to become too attached to a possession. Those things can get lost, and then where are you? But my photographs are very valuable to me, I must confess.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I have always said I would rather suffer than witness someone I love suffering.
What is your favorite occupation?
Being in the present moment.
What is your most marked characteristic?
You tell me!
What do you most value in your friends?
Simply put, loyalty.
Who are your favorite writers?
I am officially boycotting all questions of this nature, including: favorite movies, favorite books, favorite songs… I always get really stressed that I’ve forgotten someone or something (and I always do.) So I’m keeping my lips zipped on this one.
Who is your hero of fiction?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Who are your heroes in real life?
What are your favorite names?
Well, of course—Magdalena and Clara.
What is it that you most dislike?
Oh, my goodness, where to start?
What is your greatest regret?
There’s no way I’m going to answer that. If pressed, I would someday tell my daughters that those little lies and small actions that seem inconsequential at the time have a way of adding up, and then they become a burden you have to carry around forever. So don’t do it, don’t say it. Just don’t.
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?
”The thing worth doing/ done right/ has a shape that satisfies/clear and evident.”—Marge Piercy
* “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”
Synopsis of the scene: Even so, Emily says, she still feels like one of the living, and against the advice of the other dead souls, she decides to go back and relive one happy day from her life. With the assistance of the Stage Manager, Emily goes back to 1899, to the day of her twelfth birthday. It is dawn, and we witness another typical Grover's Corners morning. As Constable Warren, Howie Newsome, and Joe Crowell, Jr. chat in the street outside Emily's house, Mrs. Webb comes downstairs to fix breakfast. Mr. Webb has been away in another town for the last few days, but now he returns home with a surprise gift for his daughter. When Mrs. Webb gives the young Emily her presents, however, the scene becomes unbearable for Emily's deceased soul. Overcome by her observation that human beings go through life without savoring their time on Earth, Emily tells the Stage Manager that she is ready to go back to 1913 and return to the cemetery. --Spark Notes
[end Rudy in Paris's questionnaire]