My responses to The Proust Questionnaire:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Good friends, family, and a lucrative, enjoyable career/job.
2) What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear has been realized: growing old. Death doesn’t scare me, but what one must endure to get there, does.
3) What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am a people-pleaser, and therefore tend to allow myself to be bullied.
4) What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I deplore the bully.
5) Which living person do you most admire?
Malala Yousafzai: the courageous young Pakistani woman who fought the Taliban for her right to an education.
6) What is your greatest extravagance?
Expensive make-up, perfume, and exclusive hair salons
7) What is your current state of mind?
Disillusioned, disappointed, confused
8) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
If it is truly a virtue, it is not overrated.
9) On what occasions, do you lie?
a) When I am afraid
b) To save another’s feelings
c) When all else fails
10) What do you most dislike about your appearance?
11) Which living person do you most despise?
I’d rather not say. He knows who he is. Update: I recently learned that this person died five years ago.
12) What is the quality you most admire in a man?
13) What is the quality you most admire in a woman?
14) Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I swear too much. It’s ignorant.
15) What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Someone who is absolutely amazeballs.
16) When and where were you happiest?
Two times and places: 1959-1967 in Arlington Heights, IL
1991-1992 in Tacoma, WA
17) Which talent would you most like to have?
O, to be an organized neat-freak!
18) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
The fine art of subtlety eludes me. I wear my heart on my sleeve like Liberace wore sequins.
19) What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Graduating from college and becoming a skilled enough writer and editor to help other writers get published. The latter would not be possible if not for the former. Oh, yeah. I wrote and published three books!
20) If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I don’t want to come back. If I must, then I’d like to be either a rock or an island. According to Simon & Garfunkel, rocks feel no pain and islands never cry.
21) Where would you most like to live?
Israel — where it is safe. Or Prague. I could do Arlington Heights, IL, too.
22) What is your most treasured possession?
23) What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Loneliness: that moment one realizes that s/he is truly alone; there is no one and nothing.
24) What is your favorite occupation?
Writing, because it is the one ‘place’ where I am my true self, and true to myself
25) What is your most marked characteristic?
My sense of humor
26) What do you most value in your friends?
The fact that they are my friends
27) Who are your favorite writers?
Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Bukowski
29) Who is your hero of fiction?
Scout Finch, of To Kill a Mockingbird and Holden Caulfield, of Catcher in the Rye
30) Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Probably a combination of Franz Kafka & Boo Radley
31) Who are your heroes in life?
I’ve learned to be my own hero. I’m the only one I can count on.
32) What are your favorite names?
Names, like most things: the more exotic, the better. I like Anastasia, (pronounced, ahn-ah-STAHZ-ee-ah).
33) What is it that you most dislike?
In people, it would be those who are judgmental with holier-than-thou attitudes. In day-to-day life, it would be pulling up yucky hair from clogged shower drains. Makes me gag.
34) What is your greatest regret?
That there has to be hair in shower drains. Seriously, the fact that I didn’t have children. Family is what it’s all about.
35) How would you like to die?
If I can’t go out in a blaze of glory, then I would like to die peacefully in my sleep.
36) What is your motto?
“Are we there yet?”