Wednesday, August 25, 2010

proustian inclinations

For years I have been reading the simulated Proust questionnaire in Vanity Fair Magazine and thought - I would love to do this. Being a little slow on the uptake, I finally decided to answer the  original questions as posed to Proust. Proust completed the survey twice, and the questions differed slightly. This survey is a hybrid of the two versions. If you’re so inclined, complete your own interview in the comments section.

Your favorite virtue.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
wisdom, passion, certainty, integrity
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
The same that I despise: her ability to do absolutely anything, to get what she wants
Your chief characteristic.
I’m a mixed bag, but I think resilience
What you appreciate the most in your friends?
their forgiveness
Your main fault.
there are many, but currently: vanity, avarice, sloth, judgment, arrogance, gluttony and envy
Your favorite occupation.
Your idea of happiness.
living with Mat, in France: painting, cooking and gardening
Your idea of misery.
losing my sight - no potter’s wheel for me
If not yourself, who would you be?
me is fine
Where would you like to live?
Your favorite color and flower.
all colors and peonies
Your  favorite bird.
Your favorite prose authors.
right now? Gabriel García Márquez, C.S. Lewis, Joan Didion
Your favorite poets.
Wallace Stevens, T.S. Elliott, W.H. Auden
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Atticus Finch
My favorite heroines in fiction.
My favorite composers.
Bach, Lennon & McCartney, Mat Lombardi
My favorite painters.
too many to elaborate
Your heroes in real life.
St. Thomas More, Dr. Edward Mahama, Alexander Flemming, Robert Holbrook Smith
Your favorite heroines in real life.
The ones you never hear about
What characters in history do you most dislike?
of course - the usual suspects: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. Others that I think have done tremendous damage…Phyllis Schlafly, founders of the KKK, the previous Administration

Your heroines in World history
the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth I
Your favorite food and drink.
pastry and coffee
Your favorite names.
Phoebe and Algernon
What I hate the most.
The military event I admire the most.
The Battle of Agincourt
The reform I admire the most.
the one that hasn’t happened yet: when every single human is granted exactly the same rights, honor and dignity
The natural talent I'd like to be gifted with
How I wish to die.
What is your present state of mind.
Faults for which I have the most indulgence.
My motto.
“There is No New”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

a little garden

I’ve finally returned to my marriage, my home and my life in Chicago. My studio is set and I look ahead to a productive fall. I have never perceived autumn as a harbinger of death, cold and decay. It is a new season of anticipation and hope, just as the start of every school year was.

Gardens and their many metaphors are a present topic on some of the blogs I follow. With all of the Midwest’s horticultural bounty so readily available, how could they not? I bought these zinnias at the farmer’s market yesterday and while walking home I reflected on my childhood garden.

Apparently I showed some interest in my mother’s roses, and when I was 10, she designated a small area that I could cultivate. The first year I planted rows of seed according to the flower's established height. (My varietal preference would develop in time.)  Entirely responsible for the care, watering and weeding, I was delighted in July and August when my labors yielded beautiful flowers. I had learned patience, responsibility and planning. Things I forgot for a long time.

One can draw analogies between the garden and so many areas of life: love, friendship, care and responsibility. Plants that are forced and controlled can become unnatural, dependant and stunted. They lack the characteristics that gave them their initial beauty and hardiness. Similarly, the garden left untended falls prey to recalcitrant weeds and invasive pests. It may wither or go to seed. As in life, the balance between neglect and cultivation is delicate.

Though an avowed Francophile, I am uncomfortable in their highly manicured gardens. I much prefer the English garden where plants are selected for their peculiar attributes and then tended so they grow according to their own design, not the gardener’s. But of course, these are lessons learned, forgotten and learned again.