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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

It must be really cool to be French ...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I came across something last week that piqued my interest: the Proust questionnaire. Marcel Proust was a French and sort of existentially brilliant author, and this set of questions was made famous by the answers he gave to them in the journal of a friend. His answers were much more enlightening than these of mine are, but I think anyone's answers to this set of questions would be pretty interesting.

Your favorite virtue: Genuine-ness. Genuiosity? Genuineimity? The quality of being genuine. And the ability to make up words.

Your favorite qualities in a man: This is like a recipe. I'm a sucker for the All-American type -- so it goes something like this: a good solid base of dependability and strength, mixed in with humor, attentiveness, intellect, adventurousness and just a pinch of danger. I know, I'm such a cliche. But hey -- the man does exist. And I saw him first.

Your favorite qualities in a woman: The ability to not take herself too seriously, to laugh about the stuff that happens in life and not create unnecessary drama. And loyalty and sensitivity.

Your chief characteristic: I have no idea. Self-awareness, haha. But seriously, maybe it would be adaptability.

What you appreciate the most in your friends: Chilliness. I mean the ability to just chill, we have great friends who don't require entertainment or excessive attention -- people we can just enjoy being around and sharing our lives with.

Your main fault: Obliviousness. And procrastination. And a tendency to be self-involved, if I'm being perfectly honest.

Your favorite occupation: Formally, my own. Journalism-ing. Informally, anything that allows me to create: painting, writing, planting or reading.

Your idea of happiness: As in a snapshot -- being surrounded by friends and family over good food in a lovely setting. Basically it would be the end of any sappy movie. Alternately, it would be living my life surrounded by nothing but books and designer shoes, and traveling the world -- if someone would pay me to read books and write shoe reviews in a different country every month. Yes.

Your idea of misery: Never being able to ask questions or find answers.

If not yourself, who would you be? I would like to be someone who has endless resources, who could help any and everyone with a need and not have to worry about caring for myself. I'm not sure this is possible.

Where would you like to live? Everywhere. At least, temporarily. I am obsessed with going places I've never been.

Your favorite color and flower: This is where Proust said something genius, but I'm just going to say my favorite color is emerald green. As for flowers, they all speak to me deeply and I'd hate to discriminate and hurt somebody's feelings.

Your favorite prose authors: C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters. Also, I love the Russian authors, Dostoevsky especially. So moody.

Your favorite poets: Claude McKay. And I have to say Shakespeare, even though that's also a cliche -- the sonnets. Oh, the sonnets. Hey, things become cliche for a reason.

Your favorite heroes in fiction: Frodo Baggins, from "Lord of the Rings." And Lucy Pevensie, from "The Chronicles of Narnia." Because they both blew everyone's expectations of them out of the water and turned out to be warriors in disguise. Also, because I am still obsessed with children's literature.

Your favorite painters and composers: I love anything by Van Gogh, even a chair. And Bach or Vivaldi. I don't keep up with modern art or modern classical music -- it just doesn't fascinate me.

Your heroes in real life: My husband. Don't roll your eyes. He's incredibly brave and strong. And my mother and father, for the same reasons. And my grandmother, because she is a fearless trailblazer.

Historical character you dislike the most: I guess John Wilkes Booth, because I really think the world could have benefitted from more of Abraham Lincoln. But honestly, I think that all people and the roles they have played on our global stage have been set there for a reason -- be they good or bad. Who knows, maybe if Lincoln had lived he would have gone downhill and become a drunken old lady robber or something. By that I mean someone who both drinks and robs old ladies, not someone who exclusively robs old ladies who drink.

Your favorite names: Anything Hebrew. I like names that convey a sense of history.

What I hate the most: Hatred is a waste of time and emotional resources. I will say, though, that it certainly miffs me when people mistreat others just because they can -- because they are bigger or more powerful. Makes me feel all righteously indignant.

The natural talent I'd like to be gifted with: I'd like to be naturally athletic. It's a lifelong pipe dream of mine. Also, patience, which I severely lack. But I think that's more a virtue than a talent.

How I wish to die: In a blaze of glory, of course. Preferably shot down while doing something heroic. But as an old lady. A heroic, butt-kicking old lady. Who has just eaten Japanese food.

What is your present state of mind? Tired. On all levels. But optimistic that someday in the future life will stop trying to kick my butt all the time. Ya feel me?

For what fault have you the most toleration? Rash behavior. In other words, wrong or bad things that people do because of something they were feeling in the moment.

I think it would be fun to sit around with friends or family and answer these together -- it's kind of like the grown-up version of all those goofy quizzes that teenagers love to give each other about their favorite music and crushes and such. Of course, you could always add those questions in, and pass each other notes in class.

P.S. Sorry I said "butt" and "kick" in conjunction with each other. More than once.

sharris@couriernews.net

Shannon Spears Harris
Shannon Spears Harris is a staff writer for the Courier News.
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