Monday, October 28, 2013

Proust Questionairre: Lady Susannah Clary


It's the debut of our series of Proust Questionnaires featuring our first volunteer, Lady Susannah Clary. If' you'd like to volunteer, please drop Evangeline Eames a notecard inworld or add your name to our Fetlife thread.



1.    WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

As my only child teeters on the brink of adulthood, my greatest fear is that I missed something; that I made a critical error somewhere along the way in raising her. All parents make mistakes, but I worry that I haven’t armed her for the world and challenges ahead of her, that I should have done something more. It’s scary to watch your child stumble off into her own life. All you can do is stand by, breath held, smile plastered on your face and hope all the lessons stuck and stuck well.

2. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND?

Stressed. See question number one. Add a healthy portion of financial worry, a pinch of health issues for my child, stir in the pressures of PhD work and mix well.



3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OCCUPATION? (WAY OF SPENDING TIME)

This is a tie between reading in bed (something I do every single night before I fall asleep) and being outdoors capturing the majestic and the subtle offerings of nature. Both are refuges for me and both are essential to mitigating the stress referenced in question number two.

4. WHAT HISTORICAL FIGURE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?

Probably Marie Curie. She had passions for science and learning, and didn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t pursue them. She married and had children while having an active career – a feat almost unheard of during her time. She is respected not for being a FEMALE scientist, but for being a brilliant scientist. She is respected and esteemed for the merits of her work with her husband, her work with her daughter, and her work on her own. She advocated strongly for her discoveries to be used to help others (such as using radium to alleviate suffering of injured soldiers during WWI). She had to live near poverty and work under less than ideal conditions, but she never let that or anything else stop her pursuit of knowledge.


5. WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

This is also a tie. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a wonderful model of how to live a life of peace in today’s world. He works tirelessly to spread his message to everyone who will listen, yet he doesn’t stay secluded in a monastery somewhere. He tours the world and even has a Facebook page. He seems to “get” what it’s like to live in the world today, yet remains steadfast in his pursuit of a more peaceful world.

The other person is Malala Yousafzai. She is the now 16 year old girl from Pakistan. She defied the Taliban’s ban on girls receiving an education, and with the support of her parents, became a vocal activist fighting this unjust regime. For her efforts, she was shot in the head by the Taliban at the age of 15. She not only survived, she didn’t let the assassination attempt deter her efforts. If anything, she is a fiercer fighter now. She has written a book and traveled the world, speaking with talk show audiences and world leaders. If you’ve never heard her speak, watch this clip of her on the Jon Stewart show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f506lCk6Tos . She is incredibly articulate and intelligent.



6. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL HERO?

This is hard – I read a LOT (see question number three). A lot of the women in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka “Game of Thrones”) are wonderful heroes. Danerys Stormborn, for example leads savage and cunning men with ferocity and courage, yet insists on compassion and mercy for the oppressed and downtrodden. She is singleminded in her pursuit of her goals, yet does not let that get in the way of her seeing the humanity of those she encounters.  Arya Stark is another example – she refuses to act in ways that are contrary to her nature (i.e. like a girl at a royal court is expected to), yet she reinvents herself as needed to survive in unspeakably bleak conditions and meets every challenge with bravado and intelligence.

There’s probably a ton more I could list but those two came to mind first.


7. WHO ARE YOUR REAL-LIFE HEROES?

See my description of Malala above.

8. WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?

A tricky question, depending on how one defines “possession”. I don’t consider my daughter a possession, but she is the most treasured person in my life. I don’t like to define myself by material possessions, but if I had a chance to grab one thing as I ran out of a burning house, I’d probably grab my camera. It allows me to capture a lot of what nature means to me (see question number three) and it allows me to capture moments in time I want to remember (such as milestones and everyday moments in the life of my daughter). Then again, material possessions can be replaced. 

9. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST?

I don’t know if I can quantify happiness and pinpoint a specific moment and place. I’m happiest out exploring nature – particularly the woods and rocky coastlines. I’ve been happy with certain people – people with whom I connect and at moments when everything is effortless and fun. I was happy when my daughter was born healthy.


10. WHAT IS YOUR MOST OBVIOUS CHARACTERISTIC?

I’m not sure how to answer this one. Those that know me from SL might say my voice. Those that know me from my tumblr might say my perverted mind. It might be my sarcastic and offbeat sense of humor, but honestly, I’m not sure.

11. WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE (HATE) IN YOURSELF?

Laziness. I’m inherently lazy and I have to really work hard to motivate myself to do things – even things I know will get me to a goal I very much desire.


12. WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS?

Dishonesty. People who are deliberately dishonest in ways they know are harmful to others really bother me. I don’t mean the white lies most people tell – I mean the big things. The cheating on one you’ve promised fidelity to, the false friendships, the deliberately hurtful and harmful lies. Those are abhorrent to me.

13. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?

Oh if only I could afford to be extravagant! Honestly, it’s probably high-speed Internet and an everything data cell phone plan. I’ve convinced myself they’re necessities, but if someone who didn’t know me looked objectively at my budget, they’d seriously question those expenses, given my current income.  

14. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY?

My favorite journey I’ve taken so far (I want to do a lot more traveling someday), is a trip a former boy and I took. We flew from Detroit to San Francisco where we rented a car. We explored the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington, ending up in Seattle before we flew home. It was a lot of rocky coasts (see question number nine) and gorgeous views. It was 10 days with nothing to do but explore where we wanted – no expectations, no deadlines, no itinerary other than needing to be in Seattle in time to make our return flight. He and I also once drove Route 66 – the whole thing – from Chicago to California. That is a close second. We had no hotel reservations in advance – we’d drive til we felt like stopping, I’d go through the AAA book and book a room for the night. On both journeys I got to see parts of my country I’d never seen and it was awesome.

15. WHAT DO YOU MOST DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE?

I’m out of shape (despite “round” being a shape), but, well…see question number 11 for why. I’m always shocked by photos of myself – in my head I’m still a much more fit 19 year old.

16. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST OVER-RATED VIRTUE?

Physical beauty. It has so little to do with what’s really important. It also confuses things like sexual attractiveness with true worth as a person.

17. ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE?

I try very hard not to (see question number 12). I lied to my last employer when I stated in writing I would live according to the rules of the Catholic Church (it was a requirement for employment). That made me acutely uncomfortable, however – the lying, not the not-following-Church-rules.  I’m more apt to lie by omission – to not mention things that others might think I should.

18. WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVER-USE?

This probably changes fairly frequently depending on what show I’ve been binging on (thank, Netflix!) or what books I’ve been reading. Online it’s probably the ubiquitous LOL.

19. IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’d be more consistently motivated. In all things.

20. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?

I don’t know if raising a daughter is an achievement in the traditional sense, but I do know that I put deliberate work into raising her the way I did. And despite my fears (see question number one), and despite the challenges of living with a very dominant 17 year old girl, I’m damned proud of the young woman she’s becoming. She’s still very much a work in progress (as are we all), but she’s finding her voice and standing her ground on things she values. And the things she values are pretty damned awesome.

21. WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE?

I want to live on a rocky coast in a pine forest (see question number nine) where I can’t see my nearest neighbor’s house yet a reasonably sized town/city is not more than 30 minutes away by car. Northern California, Maine, and New Hampshire have been places I’ve visited that have made me want to go house hunting immediately. I’d like to explore Canada’s coastlines more, though.

I want to live as “off the grid” as possible without sacrificing certain creature comforts (see my comments about high speed Internet in question number 13). I want solar panels and geothermal heat, and a wind turbine if it made sense for the location. I want a garden – both vegetables and herbs, I want a few chickens for the eggs, I want a beehive or two for the honey and the pollination of things. I want a big porch with a low wall and comfortable chairs. I want the sound of water flowing and moving.

I want a stone fireplace and a wood burning stove for heat in the winter. I want thick stone walls for insulation year round and trees that shade and cool the house in summer. I want a big open kitchen for baking bread and making soup. I want a basement to store the home-made wine and beer.

I also want some cute minions boys to help clean and maintain everything.

22. WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A MAN? AND 23. WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A WOMAN?

I am combining these because I think there is danger in making this question a dichotomy based on gender.

Qualities I admire in others are independence, honesty, genuine kindness, authentic-ness (by this I mean knowing who one is, being comfortable in one’s skin, and having the courage to live one’s life accordingly), and passion (for something).

I don’t think gender has any relevance at all to those qualities.

24. WHAT IS IT YOU MOST DISLIKE?

Beyond what I discussed in question number 12, I am consistently disgusted and frustrated by the pervasive selfishness and greed in the “developed” world today. These qualities have been raised to the highest level of “virtue” and drive so much of what is wrong all over the planet. From governments and leaders of nations to songs, movies, and television that comprise “pop culture”, to a generation of children with overinflated egos and a sense of entitlement that is truly mind-boggling.

25. WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN YOUR FRIENDS?

My answer to this is pretty much what I answered for question number 22.

Beyond that, value friendships that are relaxed and comfortable, that can pick up where they left off before life dragged one or both of us in different directions for a while. A sense of humor similar to mine is mandatory.

26. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?

This is not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Ideally I’d like to have my “affairs in order” – bills caught up, insurance policy paid up, porn deleted (and/or designated kinky friend all set to take care of anything … personal).

I’d like to die knowing I made a difference somewhere, for someone. That my life mattered and meant something. I’d like to die knowing that people I love knew I loved them and never questioned that.

 I’d like to die knowing something I created was going to live on beyond my lifespan.


27. IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR AN ANIMAL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE?

I have absolutely no idea! I don’t believe in reincarnation in such a literal sense. All of molecules and all of the energy that comprise our bodies have been in existence from the beginning of the Universe and all will be recycled eventually and recombined into new forms. But I don’t think that the sum total of my molecules and energy will be recombined to make one new organism.


28. IF YOU COULD CHOOSE AN OBJECT TO COME BACK AS, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Well, see my answer to question number 27, but for the sake of playing along, I’ll say a piano because it brings joy and expresses emotions not just of the person playing it but for everyone listening as well. The ripples of the music it creates can go on forever, especially if it’s recorded and distributed to others. A piano is also beautiful when it’s not being used; unlike most musical instruments it doesn’t get shut away in a case. 

29. WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO (WORDS YOU LIVE BY OR THAT MEAN A LOT TO YOU)?

There are two that are particularly resonating with me right now:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“PEACE: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be there in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”  ~ Unknown

(I’ve been seeing the second quote attributed to Lada Gaga of all people, but she most certainly didn’t come up with that – I’ve had that on a magnet since she was eight years old!)

30. WHO HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?

I can’t choose just one person as an answer to this question.

My parents, obviously. Many teachers who fostered a love of reading and curiosity and encouraged me to never stop learning. Authors of countless books I’ve read. Men I’ve loved and lived with (or not).

I think we are influenced in some way by everyone we encounter on more than a superficial level. We are not only a sum of our experiences but a sum of those we’ve known in some way.



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