On the back page of Vanity Fair magazine is a Proust Questionnaire that various celebrities and socialites have filled out. I thought it would be fun to do one myself, using the kind of questions that the rich and famous answer.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Reunion or a spiritual retreat among fellow members of the Community of Christ, singing the beautiful hymn, "We Are One In The Spirit." Nothing brings me closer to heaven than that.
What is your greatest fear?
That America will become a Christofascist country under a dictator who claims to represent Christ but does the exact opposite. Oops...our country is almost there. All it takes to seal the deal is another devastating terrorist attack that dwarfs 9/11.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
While I admire people like Galileo, da Vinci, Nostradamus, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Jefferson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy...perhaps the person whose personality, life, and passions that is closest to mine is Jack Kerouac. When I started reading him in 2001, I was shocked by how many coincidences I had with his life. I don't know what it means, but he is the one I most identify with.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My tendency to be a recluse more than I should.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Religious hypocrisy and sanctimonious outrage. They should look in the mirror first before casting stones.
What is your greatest extravagence?
I eat out way more than I should, and I should limit my chai latte drinking to one time a week.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Morality. Not because it's wrong, but because too many people use it to beat others up, while hiding their own immoral behaviour. I'd like to hear less moral outrage, especially over sexual related issues. Where's the moral outrage over torture, lying about war, and greed?
What is your favourite journey?
I love solo road trips, with just me, my music, and a long running conversation with God. I probably feel closest to God on a roadtrip than at any other time. I think a lot of that has to do with seeing large amounts of scenery, which fills me with awe for the power and creativity of God to give us such diverse landscapes to enjoy.
What is your greatest regret?
Leaving Washington, D.C. in 2000. I listened to my parents against my better judgment. Here it is, seven years later and I still haven't found the job I'm most passionate about. D.C. has so many cool organizations to work for, and when the Democrats are in power, that would've given me more job opportunities to choose from. And now my best friend lives in the D.C. area. So, I often wonder what might've happened had I stayed there. However, I love Portland, even though I'm growing in disappointment over the lack of good job availability. It was my biggest fear when I chose it over San Francisco as a place to move to last year.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Well, I haven't met her yet, so my greatest love would have to be writing. I love to lose myself in my writing sessions. It's hard to describe all the feelings associated with it, but it truly is a blissful state.
When and where were you happiest?
Probably during my internship in D.C. It was a perfect 4 months. I had the dream internship job, a group of friends to hang out with after work, a girl I was interested in, and I was living in the city of my dreams. It was the life. Hopefully, I can experience that again soon. But, I strive to always be happy, regardless of present state of being in a job I hate, making unacceptable wages.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Singing. It would be cool to be successful singer, because since adolescence, I had dreams of how I would perform concerts. I'd take people on a visual journey, and each concert tour would be centered on a theme. The closest I could think of, Green Day's cd "American Idiot" and Madonna's concerts represent something I would do...giving people something more than just a song and dance. It's all about the journey and taking audiences there.
What is your current state of mind?
Frustrated...with the politics of this country, with our economic scheme that rewards the rich and punishes the working class, with my low wage and overworked job, with the lack of meaningful work out there, with my novel not finding an agent that believes in taking a risk. I try to find my blissful moments to keep from being overwhelmed, but it's hard. Frustration is very hard to overturn without an external event that improves my life in some way.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
So far, it would have to be a tie between writing a 700 page novel and actually passing Biology 100 to get my long delayed Bachelor's Degree. Those two events were among the proudest I've ever felt.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
I love this question because I believe in reincarnation and I also believe that we do choose what we want to be in each lifetime. So, for my next life, I would choose to be born into a closely-connected Australian family. I'd be athletic, really attractive, with a long line of ex-girlfriends and hopefully all that I've learned in my current lifetime will be ingrained in me so that I won't be corrupted by such good fortune. And with that, I'd like to be a professional rugby player who eventually becomes Prime Minister of Australia.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Probably Dick Cheney when he realizes that God will hold him accountable for everything he's done on earth.
Where would you most like to live?
Paris, France. I could live the rest of my life there if I had a French wife and a writing career. It simply is the greatest city in the universe!
What is your favourite occupation?
Considering that I've had nothing but shit jobs all my life, I'm still waiting for it to come to pass...that of a professional writer/novelist. Nothing would please me more than to earn money writing, and also traveling in search of knowledge and good material to use in future writing projects.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Probably my brutal honesty. A lot of people are actually stunned by it, but I tend to say what's on everyone's minds, even when they hold back from saying it.
What is your most treasured possession?
My letters from Nathan Hagman, Nicholas Smith, Thomas Malone, Yves Dulout and Skyla Larsen. I enjoy re-reading them and am glad that they kept in touch when they did, even if some of them no longer do. The letters keep the memory alive.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their honesty and sense of humour.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty and reliability
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Kindness and grace.
Who are your favourite writers?
Jack Kerouac, Jack London, Michael Crichton, Dave Eggers, and Tom Wolfe
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Probably Ralph from "Lord of the Flies". I saw a lot of myself in him.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Vaclav Havel, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Al Gore
Which living person do you most despise?
Too easy. That would be Dick Cheney. I have nothing but absolute loathing for him. He is one person who should never be trusted with power and once he leaves office, he should be given a choice of prisontime or permanent exile in Baghdad's Green Zone.
What is that you most dislike?
How would you like to die?
Before my body or mind starts to break down
What is your motto?
I love and try to live by Martin Luther King's statement: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands during times of comfort and convenience but during times of challenge and controversy."
Pick five or more things on a single subject matter.
The subject would be Burma and the six things would be:
1) "Beyond Rangoon" dvd
2) The song "Mountains of Burma" by Midnight Oil
3) "The Voice of Hope" by Aung San Suu Kyi
4) "Land of a Thousand Eyes" by Peter Olszewski
5) "Saving Fish From Drowning" by Amy Tan
6) "Finding Orwell in Burma" by Emma Larkin