I feel like this picture – a little bit distracted – I am sorry
I’ve fallen back on questionnaires before, when inspiration fails me. This is the Vanity Fair Proust questionnaire, which I always love. I’m not alone: they recently published a book of them. I particularly enjoy thinking about my favorite characters in fiction and who my heroes and heroines are. I’d love to hear any of your answers to these questions – just link to them in the comments!
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Insomnia. Lonely, full of ghosts, and I panic about being tired the next day (preemptive anxiety being a specialty of mine).
Where would you like to live?
Cambridge is pretty good. Other candidates include on campus at Princeton and Palo Alto.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Empty hours, in bed alone with a book and my laptop. Watching my sleeping children. A glass of white wine on the rocks on my parents’ back porch in Marion with friends at the end of a long day in the sun.
To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
The faults of people unsure of their own strength and of their own path.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
The Velveteen Rabbit, many of Raymond Carver’s stoic, hardworking heroes, Phineas in A Separate Peace, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, the butler in The Remains of the Day.
Who are your favorite characters in history?
Joan of Arc, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Georgia O’Keeffe, MLK Jr, June Carter Cash
Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
Oprah, Ina May Gaskin, Anne Lamott, anyone engaged in the struggle to live authentically
Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Mamah Cheney (Loving Frank), Charity Lang (Crossing to Safety), Lyra (His Dark Materials), Eve (Paradise Lost), Mrs Ramsay (To the Lighthouse), Irina (Three Sisters)
Your favorite painter?
Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Georgia O’Keeffe
Your favorite musician?
The qualities you most admire in a man?
Intelligence, strength, and humility. And the ineffable (and rare) ability to make me feel safe.
The qualities you most admire in a woman?
A sense of humor. Not taking her life too seriously. Fearless intelligence, even when it is contrarian. Physical courage & risktaking.
Your favorite virtue?
Patience. Courage. Constancy.
Your favorite occupation?
Definitely TBD. Am hopeful I will someday know! Midwifery, writing, surgery, retailer, magazine editor, and headhunter have all been things I’ve considered.
Who would you have liked to be?
Pretty much anyone more centered and confident than I am!