Instead of trying to come up with some pithy summary of my whole character, I decided to just do the (abbreviated) Proust questionnaire. Apparently you’re supposed to be able to make out my character from these answers. First, though, just the facts, ma’am. The name Darby O’Shea is not my name. Ask me one day – it’s a long (very self-consciously meta) story. I write about food and photos and my daily life. Occasionally I write about politics and movies. I have a lovely, talented, exotic husband and two perfect dogs. I’m in school, but dying to get out. I teach and I read and I write and I cook and I eat. Any other questions? Leave us a comment. We may or may not answer.
My favorite virtue: generosity
Favorite qualities in a man: gentleness, vulnerability, curiosity, humor, not machismo.
Favorite qualities in a woman: fearlessness, confidence, loyalty, creativity
What you appreciate most in your friends: forgiveness and loyalty
Your main fault: either jealousy or laziness
Your favorite occupation: eating
Your idea of happiness: an absolute lack of boredom
Your idea of misery: being able to see but not attain the thing I most desire
Where would you like to live?: Somewhere with plenty of space for dogs and a garden, but still in a city. I’ll probably never be able to afford such a place.
Your favorite color and flower: My favorite flowers are ranunculus and lisianthus. My favorite color is harder to pick, but I have a deep love of green (preferably lime and spring shades), blue (navy and turquoisey shades), and nothing beats black and white.
Your favorite prose authors: These author questions are VERY difficult and these answers ought not to be taken as complete or in any particular order. A.S. Byatt, Margaret Atwood, W.G. Sebald, Italo Calvino, Edgar Allan Poe, Dan.
Your favorite poets: Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Paul Celan, Walt Whitman
Your favorite heroes in fiction: I have a long history of falling deeply in love with literary characters – usually ones I wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) like at all in real life. Notable examples: Heathcliff, Charles Darnay, Mr. Rochester, Mr. Willoughby. Others I’m pretty sure are actually good men and I’m not as ashamed of being infatuated with: Mr. Darcy (obviously), Randolph Henry Ash, The Lorax. Emphatically not Werther.
Your favorite heroines in fiction: Lyra Belacqua, Ruth Ozeki’s characters, Frederica in Byatt’s series (especially in Babel Tower), Elizabeth Bennett (obviously), Anne of Green Gables (obviously), Jane Eyre (also obviously). (Nothing makes you feel mundane like trying to answer these questions. I’ve frontloaded with my more obscure answers to counter this.)
Your favorite painters and composers: I do love art and painters are easy to pin down: Chagall, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Rothko, Pollock, Bosch, Max Beckmann. Since photography wasn’t around when Proust was at it, I’d like to add Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Ansel Adams, and Julia Margaret Cameron. I have very non-controversial taste in composers as well, unfortunately: Beethoven, Bach, Rachmaninoff.
Your heroes (and heroines) in real life: I don’t like dividing my real life heroes and heroines by gender, so I’ve combined them. My family, basically, for standing up to their respective challenges and overcoming them one by one. Dan, for having the courage and flexibility to move to whole new country for me. Two of my former professors who both escaped suffocating regimes under very different circumstances. A good friend who has survived way more than anyone our age should have to deal with.
What characters in history do you most dislike: Spies and turncoats of all stripes. (Except the badass spies like Mata Hari and James Bond.)
Your heroines in world history: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinem (though she’s not wholly in history yet), Elizabeth I
Your favorite food and drink: Oh, all manner of things. I love cake. Chocolate in all its incarnations. Pasta. Pork. There’s this duck with berry sauce at Dali that I dream of. Oh, and cheese. Also, there was an incident with some blood orange gelato in Rome that I’ll never forget. As for drink: I love hot chocolate, good smoothies, pineapple juice, chai. As for Drink: I’ll go for bourbon any time, good wine, and BBC beer.
What I hate the most: Closed-mindedness and prejudice, especially sexism. Feeling unmotivated and uninspired. And humidity.
The military event I admire the most: Helm’s Deep. (I’m a geek.)
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: Bottomless energy. And to be able to draw. Speed would be nice, too. And thrift.
How I wish to die: Old and satisfied. And quickly.
For what fault have you the most toleration?: I have so much toleration for all of my faults, but very little for other people. Probably I have the most toleration for excessive ambition in other people.