Today at work I got an email from my boss with a link to July’s (I think) issue of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, where Dr. William Foege was mentioned as being Jimmy Carter’s ‘real-life hero.’
So why am I talking about this? Dr. Foege is a board member at the foundation where I work. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him a lot in the past year, but I have been able to see Dr. Foege talk and I am just impressed with his humility and his sincere interest and determination to help low income families. Dr. Foege is credited with the eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s and also is described as having played a central role in efforts that greatly increased immunization rates in developing countries in the 1980s.
Basically, this man is a genius! And also, Jimmy Carter’s real-life hero.
This made me think two things: 1) What would it take for me to be Jimmy Carter’s hero in real life? and 2) How would I answer these same questions, asked to Jimmy Carter and hundreds before?
In an attempt to imitate this style and so that you can learn a little bit more about me, I will answer Vanity Fair’s version of the questionnaire, inspired by Jimmy Carter, Dr. Foege and other ‘real-life heroes.’ Here it goes:
Proust Questionnaire: Maria Rigou
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sitting on the couch, watching a good show with my husband and cat, Benito, or maybe napping.
What is your greatest fear? Dying alone, I guess…
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Carlota de Mexico (born Charlotte of Belgium) for her passion and because she defended and tried to help her husband to the point of insanity.
Which living person do you most admire? My dad, for his determination and perseverance.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My sensibility.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Arrogance (I agree with Jimmy Carter on this!)
What is your greatest extravagance? My Louis Vuitton fanaticism (I bought my first and only purse with one year’s worth of savings)
What is your favorite journey? On the way to getting food.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Humility.
On what occasion do you lie? To avoid hurting people, especially kids (you know, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny????)
What do you dislike most about your appearance? My large feet. I am a size 10 and shoes look huge on me, almost like clown shows – that is how I feel they feel!
Which living person do you most despise? He or she who is cruel to animals.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Just. “I JUST wanted…./ We were JUST wondering if….”
What is your greatest regret? Not doing enough traveling.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Nicolas, food and naps. I no particular order.
When and where were you happiest? I’ll have to get you back on this one. I still have a lot of life to live, so I have no answer yet.
Which talent would you most like to have? I want to be able to sing, like Adele!
What is your current state of mind? I envy cat naps.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To be more tough to criticism and to stop being paranoid every time my boss is talking to HR.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That we could spend more time together. I live in a different country and sometimes it gets hard, especially when I’m missing milestones (my brother’s high school graduation, my sister’s college graduation, my dog dying).
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Again, still a lot of life to live…
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Probably a cat or dog owned by me.
What is your most treasured possession? My wedding ring because it represents the love that someone vowed to me forever.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Cruelty to animals and condescension.
Where would you like to live? I haven’t seen enough of the world for me to be able to answer this question. In the meantime, I’m quite smitten with Ann Arbor, Michigan, especially in summer and fall.
What is your favorite occupation? Cat caretaker or architect.
What is your most marked characteristic? Curiosity.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Respect.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Assertion.
What do you most value in your friends? Tenacity and love of food.
Who are your favorite writers? Ian McEwan.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Batman. Definitely.
Who are your heroes in real life? Immigrants.
What are your favorite names? Benito (my cat) and Nicolas (my husband). In that order.
What is it that you most dislike? Seeing people destroy anything and everything for and because of their egos.
How would you like to die? Feeling no pain, and of old age.
What is your motto? “Fake it ’till you make it” but for no particular reason, really.
Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design and even though I’m not a huge fan of Michigan in the winter, isn’t it dreamy?
Disclaimer: Opinions here are my own and do not represent the views of my employer. I was and continue to be very inspired by the work of the board and its individual members, and that is where this post comes from.