Saturday, November 06, 2010

Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire Revisited

As I mentioned yesterday, I've wrote my original post regarding Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire a while ago.

Then I answered it here.

But that was four years ago. A lot has happened in four years. So I've been working on doing it again. As a little exercise. Just to see how much I've changed.

As I said before, the trick is to answer honestly with yourself - not trying to impress your potential reader. I actually also keep a file of these from old issues of Vanity Fair, so I'm thinking I may pull some of them out and scan them in to share in the coming months. I love reading what Tom Waits and Edward Gorey and Shirley MacLaine had to say. It's fascinating to me.

The Questionnaire:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Freedom from material worry ...and living in an enormous house surrounded by the people I love.

What is your greatest fear?
To die without having done everything

What historical figure do you most identify with?
I'm not sure I identify with anyone

Which living person do you most admire?
Tom Waits

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
my need to be liked

What trait do you most deplore in others?
Pretension... and being quick to judge

What is your greatest extravagance?
Time. When I let myself have any.

On what occasion do you lie?
To protect someone

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My size... I'm not big, but I yearn to be tiny.

What is your favorite journey?
from knowing nothing about someone to knowing everything

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
stoicism... and chastity

Which living person do you most despise?
Glenn Beck

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Awesome." "I'm sorry."

What is your greatest regret?
the time I didn't spend with the loved ones who are now gone

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Until now... the man who climbed Mount Desert Island with me and caught me when I fell coming back down...

But my life isn't over yet. And I have hope.

When and where were you happiest?
In a hotel room in Boston watching someone sleep roughly a decade ago

In Western Australia, driving to see my Aunt and Uncle in Perth with my fantastic, absurd, brilliant 18 year old Aussie cousin who is like my long-lost brother and realizing I was somewhere I belonged.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To be a tremendous athlete and dancer

What is your current state of mind?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be more athletic and more motivated.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?
probably a worried little hen. Or a bear.

If you could choose what or who to come back as, what would it be?
A great dancer

What do your consider your greatest achievement?
The lives I have had a positive impact on

What is your most treasured possession?
My grandmother's engagement ring

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Witnessing the death of a friend or loved one who is not yet old

What is your most marked characteristic?
my red hair, my (almost compulsive) need for everyone to be happy and safe and okay

What is the quality you most like in a man?
decisiveness, honor, kindness

What is the quality you most admire in a woman?
warmth, confidence, kindness

What do you most value in your friends?
loyalty, a lack of judgment, acceptance

Who are your favourite writers?
A.A. Milne, Tom Robbins, Terry Pratchett, Harlan Ellison, Jane Austen, Cormac McCarthy

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Jamie Fraser
(Go ahead, make fun. I don't care.)

Who are your heroes in real life?
One of my friends who died last year - she ran toward danger when every other person was running away. I hope to have that strength of character in my life in the moments when I have no time to think about my choices.

What are your favourite names?
Christopher, Grace, Gabriel, Michael, Dougal, Colin, Lorelei...

What is it that you most dislike?
getting out of bed on a rainy morning, yelling of any sort

How would you like to die?
Many decades from now, in the arms of someone who loves me

What is your motto?
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own battle.

I didn't re-read the old one first and looking at them both - some things obviously have knee-jerk automatic answers... But I feel like so much has changed. I love this exercise. Sometimes so much happens that you come out the other end different. I think I am different. But in a good way. Or at least mostly in good ways.

It's kind of reassuring to look at the changes in yourself and walk away from it thinking that, on the whole, you're happy with them.


  1. I'm so glad you're back, hon. I'm thrilled to see you.

    Maybe I'll give this a try when I have more time.

  2. Sounds good! I've been back to reading on the regular for a bit (because I miss your words when I stay away too long!) and I'm finding my way as far as writing again - and being willing to post it - goes! Any progress strikes me as a good sign. :)