Proust Questionnaire

Apr 01

30907189_5bd1bfb1c6I’ve been in a funk lately, simultaneously buzzing with ideas and struggling to get them down on paper. A series of nuisance interruptions hasn’t helped: a root canal, a bad back, taxes, taxes, taxes.

So I’ve decided to try to ease myself back into regular writing by following the lead of Lindsey at A Design So Vast and offering my answers to some of the questions from the Proust Questionnaire, a popular 19th century personality survey best known for the responses Marcel Proust provided to his friend Anoinette in her “confession album” – and for responses offered these days by celebrities on the last page of Vanity Fair magazine.

Alrighty, here we go, with thanks to Lindsey for the inspiration and invitation:

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  

Waiting – in line, in traffic, in a doctor’s office, on the runway, for test results or the response to a query. I am decidedly untalented when it comes to waiting. #firstworldproblems

Where would you like to live?  

In New England, my homeland and the place where a chunk of my heart still lives.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?  

Lying in bed with a big, fat novel and a hot cup of tea, with nowhere to be and no one calling my name.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?  

The faults of people who are trying too hard to be somebody else because they don’t have enough confidence in the person they actually are. (I may or may not have personal experience with this phenomenon.)

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?  

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings, John Ames from Gilead, Thomas Cromwell from the Wolf Hall trilogy (though history may not agree with my classification of him as a hero – and with good reason)

Who are your favorite characters in history?  

Queen Elizabeth I of England, Henrietta Lacks, Julia Child

Who are your favorite heroes in real life?  

Paul Farmer, Rosa Parks, early childhood educators

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?  

Kristin Lavransdatter of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy (has anyone out there read these books besides me?), Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility (ask me tomorrow and I might say Lizzie Bennet from Pride and Prejudice or Anne Eliot from Persuasion), Dorothea Brooke of Middlemarch

Your favorite painter?

That’s easy: Vermeer. (Or maybe Rembrandt. Or Edward Hopper.)

Your favorite musician?  

John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Adele

The qualities you most admire in a man?  

Intelligence, wit, sensitivity

The qualities you most admire in a woman?  

Intelligence, sense of humor, self-confidence, the ability to listen

Your favorite virtue?  

Loyalty, dependability, punctuality

Your favorite occupation?  

Writer, teacher, mother

Who would you have liked to be?  

Someone who would have been more grateful for exactly who she is and exactly what she has.

Like Lindsey, I’d love to hear any and all of your answers to these questions!

Image: Town Green by heatkernel via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

amber_mtmc April 1, 2013 at 7:12 am

Your answer to the faults question made me laugh and sigh. It describes me as well. I have never heard of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. Care to enlighten me?

I really enjoyed reading your responses. A great idea to get used to writing again.


Kristen April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

So Kristin Lavransdatter is a trilogy of historical novels about a Norwegian woman living during the Middle Ages. She’s smart, she’s strong, and her love for a problematic man leads her to make all sorts of unconventional choices. My husband and I read the novels last summer and I was completely captivated by this independent, yet ultimately loyal wife and mother. It’s not the lightest read, but I think it’s totally worth it.


Shannon April 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

I find many of your answers very familiar. I find that the distaste for waiting and the punctuality go hand in hand.


rebecca @ altared spaces April 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

I never thought of this. But it’s true!


Lindsey April 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

Love this questionnaire, and find your answers both illuminating and inspiring. Thank you! xoxo


Pamela April 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I have been thinking of you a lot. Nothing like feeling bad in march when everything feels worse. Love the questions and the answers.


Lara April 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Love these answers and loved Lindsey’s too. I’ll have to give this a shot when I’m feeling in a funk.


TheKitchenWitch April 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hey, hey, hey! Are you not okay? I think so many of us get the “winters” and it’s a bad bit of business–isolating and terrifying–beginning at 3pm until finish of the day. But you, my staunch friend, rarely vent or say anything is amiss. Please email me because you have been such a grounding force for me through all of Mama’s hellcrap and the flotsam trailing behind. Pretty sure you know my phone # but I’ll email you, if you prefer the phone (hahahahhaha. Fellow burrower.) But I’m here.


Kristen April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

Thank you so much, my dear friend. xo


christie April 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Henrietta lacks…that was interesting to read. You are fascinating.


Jana April 2, 2013 at 7:27 am

These are fun! You really have a penchant for the 19th century, huh? I’m too stuffy-nosed to think about my answers to these questions right now, but I’m going to come back to it. :)


Lady Jennie April 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

This looks like FUN! I will do this next free post I get.

And I feel like we’re veeery similar!


Heather Caliri April 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Woot woot for Paul Farmer! And love Dorothea Brooke of Middlemarch, too!


lisa April 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Wonderful answers. The questions really make me think, and puts a lot of things back into perspective.


Wolf Pascoe April 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Kristin Lavransdatter has been on my “to be read” bookshelf since the last century, I’m chagrined to say.

I’d rather be reclining in an infinite backyard with a cup of hot chocolate and an audiobook, but I take your point.


Jack April 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

Sometimes when I find myself in a funk I turn on Johnny Cash and just start writing about whatever comes to mind. Lately this particular song has been resonating with me:

I also like running through questions like you listed here.


Liz April 3, 2013 at 10:23 am

I love this. :)
Made me think….
And considering I need to make myself blog more lately, perhaps I will try this one and link up.


Perfecting Motherhood April 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Interesting list of questions, and even more interesting answers. However, I think you missed your answer for one of them:
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
doing taxes, taxes, taxes!!!
It’s way, way worse than waiting in line.


Kristen April 10, 2013 at 10:07 am

How about trying to work on taxes while waiting in line? That might be the real nadir of despair. :)


D. A. Wolf April 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

The questions are divine and your answers are sublime.


Justine April 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I’ve been in the same funk. I’m sitting here trying to write, but nothing is coming out. So I’m visiting blogs for inspiration today!

More proof as to how similar we are: Elinor Dashwood, Dorothea Brooke, and waiting. With so little patience, waiting torments me.

And reading a book in bed with no one calling my name? That’s my idea of heaven.


rebecca @ altared spaces April 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

Lucky me! I am married to a Samwise Gamgee of sorts. He’s a keeper. Loyal to the core.


Contemporary Troubadour April 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Root canal? Yow! I hope your recovery was uncomplicated. That piece alone would be enough to put a little funk over my day/week/month depending on how it all went, but the rest on top of it? No fun. I’m glad you found a way to keep writing. I should try this tactic since it feels like I can’t pull two minutes together in sequence to get a longer piece of writing started these days. Episodic = better than nothing at all, eh?


ayala April 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I hope you are feeling better :)


Jane April 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I love posts like these. Such a entertaining way to learn more about your favorite bloggers.

And like me, I love how, when asked your favorite painter, musician, etc. you can’t just put down just one.

Hugs to you. Hope things are looking brighter.


Cathy April 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Okay you’ve now inspired me and I went and did mine. I love that this was an easy fix for me to get a post in and to keep it light. I needed that. Thank you.


Amanda April 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Love it. You. I must try this.

I wonder though, that last question feels like a pull on a sweater that I can’t help myself from tugging. Seems like a great launching off point for a post about becoming who you want to be. The loss of people I love has begun to feel as much like a new opportunity as it does an unspeakable hurt. Peel away that which is of no use, be who I want to be, and honor the legacy of the people I’ve lost. Sorry, I’ve been a bit melancholy lately, so everything ties back to loss and its inevitability, but that last question, again, seems like a chance.

Either way, love and light as you move through this space.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: