Every month, after I tear out all the blow-ins, heavy-stock pages, and perfume strips, the first page I flip to in my new issue of Vanity Fair is The Proust Questionnaire at the back of the magazine. For some reason, I am drawn to the series of questions asked of well-known people to draw them out and reveal some of their innermost thoughts.
Several years ago, I took a crack at the questionnaire, though I can no longer locate my responses. So I shall make an attempt in this blog, and invite everyone else to complete as much or as little of it as you'd like and share it with the rest of us. I'll include a blank copy of the questionnaire after this completed one, so you may cut and paste it for your own use.
OK. Here goes. From the brain of Ellen.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Cleanliness, empathy, sensitivity.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Generosity of spirit and intelligence in all its forms, including emotional intelligence.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The same. . .generosity and intelligence.
What do you most value in your friends?
Good judgment, loyalty, steadfastness.
What is your principle defect?
My tendency to give people too many chances.
What is your favorite occupation?
Reading, traveling, daydreaming.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Peace in all its forms. Self actualization.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Spiritual poverty, an ugly heart.
What would you like to be?
I am reasonably content with who I am, but if I couldn't be me, I'd like to be one of Oprah's puppies.
In what country would you like to live?
Other than my own, France, bien sur.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite flower?
What is your favorite bird?
Who are your favorite prose writers?
In addition to those in the RR, Khaled Hosseini, Frank McCourt*, and my late Aussie friend Pamela Bone, who always gave me the giggles.
Who are your favorite poets?
In addition to those in the RR, Khalil Gibran, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, and some of the other Sufi poets.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Jo from Little Women and The Little Engine That Could.
Who are your favorite composers?
Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky.
Who are your favorite painters?
Cassatt, Cezanne, Da Vinci, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Matisse, Monet, Morisot, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin, Van Gogh, and some of the pointillists.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Stand-up people. Those who act in the interests of the greater good. Those who refuse to sell their souls. Those with personal integrity.
What are your favorite names?
Those of the people I love.
What is it you most dislike?
Cruelty, duplicitousness, greed, gutlessness, mendacity, rudeness, selfishness, sense of entitlement, sycophantism, unbridled ambition, red meat.
What historical figures do you most despise?
Despots, dictators, anyone who has oppressed others, and anyone who has aided and abetted them, either through commission or omission.
What event in military history do you most admire?
The defeat of the Nazis in World War II comes to mind.
What reform do you most admire?
Duh. Equality and universal human rights, but we are not even close yet.
What natural gift would you most like to possess?
The ability to right wrongs and the ability to assuage the pain of others. The ability to eat whatever I want and still fit into my skinny jeans.
How would you like to die?
What is your present state of mind?
To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Impatience, though I have done better with age.
What is your motto?
Karma's a bitch. (No offense to bitches!)
* July 16, 2009 update: Oh, no-o-o-o-o!!! Frank McCourt is terribly ill! :-(
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