The Proust Questionnaire (an exercise in oversharing) 2017

I did this exactly three years ago; thought it might be time for an update. I have copied the original post; my updated answers appear in square brackets ( [ ] ) below the original answers.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A quiet evening spent in the arms of the woman I love. With lots of smooching.


What is your most marked characteristic?
My avoidance of any kind of personal rejection.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Living in Tokyo for five years. Although I had help along the way (and plenty of problems), it was the most self-sufficient I have ever felt. I even had a Japanese credit card. (Not to mention that Shibuya was record-store heaven for me.)


What is your greatest fear?
Ending up alone and homeless.


What historical figure do you most identify with?
I really don’t identify with any historical figures. The closest I could get would be Abraham Lincoln; I’ve read that he probably suffered from anxiety and depression for much of his adult life.


Which living person do you most admire?
I admire those people who are very good at being themselves and/or expressing themselves freely. I tend to be very reserved, keeping a lot of things in, so I’m almost always impressed by those who don’t impose those restrictions upon themselves.


Who are your heroes in real life?
I don’t have any heroes.

[Well, I have no permanent heroes. I am sometimes inclined to see folks as heroes in the moment.]

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My uncanny ability to hesitate to do things that most other people seem to do without much trouble.


What is the trait you most deplore in others?
If I had to narrow it down to one, it would be lack of empathy. Hypocrisy is a close second.

[Same. It is that very thing that is damaging our society these days.]

What is your favorite journey?
The early part of a romantic relationship, where everything is new and exciting.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being right. I love being right, but anymore it takes too much energy.


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Meanwhile…/In the meantime…
I guess…
I decided…
In my experience…

[Same, plus all/everything]

What is your greatest regret?
In late 1989, when I was living in Tokyo, my then-girlfriend and I got into an argument. Partly because I was thinking in English while trying to talk in Japanese (meaning the words that were coming out of my mouth were not completely what I meant to say), the argument ended with us breaking up. Even though she stayed in touch, and we both still had feelings for each other, I never mustered up the courage to tell her how I felt and ask her to come back. The regret is somewhat tempered by the fact that she is the only ex I am still on good terms with.


What is your current state of mind?
Confused/unsure—i.e., I’m still trying to figure things out.

[Same, plus depressed and frustrated. Too many things in life seem more difficult than they ought to be.]

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
We would have been closer when I was a kid.

[We would have been more direct and expressive. Too many repressed feelings and subtext.]

What is your most treasured possession?
Although there are certain things I would be loathe to get rid of, I can’t think of anything that the ‘treasured possession’ label would apply to. I suppose the closest thing would be my computer, since it’s a work tool, a creative tool, and a means of communication.

[This is still true—but I do have a scarf/muffler that I have had for over 40 years that I am happy to have kept for so long.]

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

[Same, but without hope. Isolation or solitude can be restorative, but when hope is lost, things get pretty miserable.]

Where would you like to live?
All other things being equal, I wouldn’t mind living in Port Townsend.

[Same, but I could also imagine living in a small town in, say, Scotland or Ireland.]

What is your favorite occupation?
I like taking photos, going to record stores, watching movies, reading, writing, looking up stuff on the internet, walking, that sort of stuff.


What is the quality you most like in a man?
Open-mindedness. Without open-mindedness, there’s no empathy, flexibility, humility, or fairness.


What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence. Partly because I don’t have enough of it myself, if I’m to be honest.


What are your favorite names?
It’s been a long time since I thought about this, particularly since children are very unlikely to be part of my future. However, a few names I liked were Michelle, Helen, Heather, Olivia, Molly, Sylvia, Rebecca, Alexandra, and Bartholomew. From my time in Japan, I liked the names Midori, Miki, and Yumi.


What is your motto?
It would be either If you don’t know where you’re going, go somewhere else or Confounding expectations since 1963.


(6 December 2017)

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