If you’ve seen Inside the Actor’s Studio, you might remember the series of questions that James Lipton asked his guests at the end of each program. Lipton swiped this idea from French talk show host Bernard Pivot who in turn got it from a set of questions that Proust answered for a friend’s scrapbook. The editors of Vanity Fair have also asked various celebrities to answer the question, including one of my favorite eccentrics, David Bowie.
Even though I’m not famous, French, or an actor, I thought answering the questions myself might be an interesting exercise. On to the fun!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A well-made cup of tea, a 50-inch plasma television, and a new episode of Doctor Who. Alternately, the trip home from work the night before your vacation begins.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Worrying about anything and everything.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
If you’re measuring by how hard a thing was, it’s graduating college. I was so lost and out of it by the end that I barely made it. So yay! Hard thing achieved.
What is your greatest fear?
Being stuck in my current job until retirement. Variant: Not being able to afford to retire when I’m eligible to do so.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I can identify with Emily Dickinson’s introversion. I like spending time with close friends, but there are times when I just want to hide in my house and not talk to anyone!
Which living person do you most admire?
The Dalai Lama. I know that sounds like a pat answer, but it’s really true. I can’t imagine how you retain a positive, uplifting view of life in the face of such incalculable loss. What an amazing example for us all.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I’m a civil servant who gets paid to help people learn how to research things. Other civil servants like firefighters and the police are paid less than I am to run towards danger to help others. That’s bloody heroic in my view.
What is the trait you most despise in yourself?
Being afraid of things. It takes energy to fight each fear, and we only have a certain amount of energy to go around. I resent the fact that some days I am too spent to pursue hobbies or have quality time with my family.
What is the trait you most despise in others?
Snobbery and cruelty. That’s two. I can’t count, apparently.
What is your favorite journey?
Let’s see…about 14 years ago, I was sent to work part-time at the tiny Edisto Island branch of the library system where I work. The island was (and remains) quite rural and there’s a lot of beautiful forest and marsh views along the two lane road out to the library branch. I have a lot of good memories of the hour long drive from my house to that tiny library.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Punctuality. Oh, you mean of the seven classical virtues? Uhhh….Chastity. Temperance and Kindness should cover it. Also, Chastity is too easy to confuse with endless guilt about the sexual part of our nature. Those with power too often use Chastity as a way to control other people or other people’s bodies.
Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
Placeholder words, such as “like” and “um” and “you know.”
What is your greatest regret?
Pursuing an English degree in a single-gender private college with no Internet access. If I had gone to a school that had the Net when I was a freshman, I probably would have a more financially rewarding career.
What is your current state of mind?
Calm. Thanks, tea!
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
We’d have more things in common. Hopefully we’d get along better and be closer as a result.
What is your most treasured possession?
A signed photo of me with Sylvester McCoy at Gally in 2013.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being bullied without being able to stop it. If you have been there, you know what I mean.
Where would you like to live?
Easy! Somewhere in the UK.
What is your favorite occupation?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Friendliness. I’m introverted, so it’s easier for me to make friends when the other person is friendly.
What are your favorite names?
Amber and Rose
What is your motto?
Jeeze, I need a motto? Ugh. I’m sooo not living up to my potential or something. How about “I don’t know, but I know where to look it up.” That’s a decent motto for a librarian, right?