Anonymous asked: Selected Proust Questionnaire, mademoiselle. Part A: What is your greatest fear? -Which historical figure do you most identify with? -Which living person do you most admire? -What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Others? -What is your greatest extravagance? -What do you consider the most overrated virtue? -On what occasion do you lie? -What do you dislike most about your appearance? -Which living person do you most despise? -Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Greatest regret?
- I am most afraid of losing my ability to change.
- I’d have to say Anaïs Nin. (We’re both 4s.) I have trouble reading her because I understand her compulsions and neuroses very well, and I dislike being reminded of them. Henry & June just about finished me. I read a page of her diary and feel like I’m being hit by a truck. It’s good, but it also feels indulgent sometimes.
- I really admire people like Frank Warren of PostSecret and Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York. Both of them have created beautiful communities where people feel free to share who they are and what they think without fear of judgment. That’s important. In fact, that’s revolutionary. Can you think of other spaces like that?
- I take things personally.
- I have a hard time with people who will not question their most basic convictions. Stubbornness gives a show of strength, but I think that sometimes it’s accompanied by a lack of empathy. I admire people whose strength of opinion is accompanied by an ability to listen, empathize, evaluate, and reconsider, even if the end result is that they still hold their original opinion.
- I tend to spend too much money on clothing.
- We’ve made extroversion a virtue (problem number one), have identified it with success (problem number two), and have made success dependent on it (problem number three).
- I occasionally lie about how much I spend on things. I don’t like being thought of as irresponsible, especially when it comes to money.
- At the moment, I’m not crazy about my hair. I’m ready for this perm to grow out.
- I can’t think of any names off the top of my head, but I get angry at public figures who embody the stubbornness I was speaking about before. Generally, only if it’s a pattern of behavior. We all have moments of weakness. I try to remember that.
- Well, I wouldn’t know that, now would I?
- I regret not doing a better job of keeping in touch with people from my past. One of my biggest failures as a person is that I leave people behind too easily.
Coughing French octogenarians passing a common cup of wine from one set of lips to the next, a gesture of communion, a gesture of love. I dip my bread in it and accept with their love their illnesses, their burdens, their selves.
Why does it wake you up in the middle of the night?
The perfect Chianti we drank in Rome, in that basement restaurant near the Spanish steps.
Water to —
The glug-glug-glug when you tip the open bottle for the first time.
Started by loving red, and will always love it most of all, je t’aimais je t’aime et je t’aimerai
How it’s one of the oldest things
The $5.99 Chianti at Trader Joe’s that never disappoints
How growing up where I did, and with my mother, taught me that you must never go to anyone’s house without a bottle — it’s a fundamental gesture of goodwill, of abundance from my house to yours
Jennifer Garner circa Alias and Kerry Washington circa Scandal
That Barolo from Eataly
What vineyards look like (labyrinth)
How there are people in the world who can tell what terroir a wine is from just by tasting it
Things classified by year (“it was a very good year”)
Dusty bottles in a basement
"Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love. We oldies yearn daily and hourly for conversation and a renewed domesticity, for company at the movies or while visiting a museum, for someone close by in the car when coming home at night. This is why we throng Match.com and OkCupid in such numbers—but not just for this, surely. Rowing in Eden (in Emily Dickinson’s words: “Rowing in Eden— / Ah—the sea”) isn’t reserved for the lithe and young, the dating or the hooked-up or the just lavishly married, or even for couples in the middle-aged mixed-doubles semifinals, thank God. No personal confession or revelation impends here, but these feelings in old folks are widely treated like a raunchy secret. The invisibility factor—you’ve had your turn—is back at it again. But I believe that everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight, together in the dark, with the sweet warmth of a hip or a foot or a bare expanse of shoulder within reach. Those of us who have lost that, whatever our age, never lose the longing: just look at our faces. If it returns, we seize upon it avidly, stunned and altered again."-
"Life in the Nineties", Roger Angell
Chicago seems determined to transform itself into an alpine village, so we’re holing up: I’m reading Rebecca West and drinking ginger tea, and he’s braising something, and we’re having fish and vegetables for dinner. I’m always on the brink of going stir crazy at this time of year, just waiting for the storm to pass and the snow to melt, but we’re creating a cozy little world here. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to end. This might be the last eight inches of snow. It will be warmer tomorrow.
"I saw that I would love him, and that loving him would mean saying yes to the self I would become by loving him, and no to the other selves I would never become by not loving him."