1. What's a natural talent you'd like to be gifted with?
I wish I could dance. I love music and am always motivated to move when I hear it, and people who dance always look like they're having fun. But unfortunately, I have the proverbial two left feet.
2. What is your ONE desert island album?
For ever and always? Shoot. There is actually a CD in my purse right now, the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack, because that is my current obsession. But could it be my one and only album? Or would I be more nourished by one of my lomg-time favorites, like Nilsson Sings Newman or Bug Music or The Vagabond? Or, reaching further back for things I loved even before I met the Man, something by Flanders & Swann or Tom Lehrer or the Hot Club Quintet? Maybe a classical favorite, like this amazing Mozart Requiem or Roger Norrington conducting Beethoven's 7th in the 1980s or any Bach compilation that includes this 1961 version of the double violin concerto w/ David & Igor Oistrakh? (It's retro, I know, but it's the first version I ever heard, and I still remember how it made me feel.)
I think if I could only take one, it'd either be Nilsson Sings Newman or the Requiem. Both generate so many feels, even if they're short on humor.
3. If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?
This is a tough one. Are we talking about a person I'd just plain like to be for a day? Or is it more about identifying someone whose life has all the amenities I'd like in mine, and imagining living in his or her house and substituting for him or her at work for a day, but as myself? I think the former is the far more interesting question, so I'll answer that one, and I choose ... hmmm ... Michelle Obama? She's super cool, full of energy and purpose and conviction, and is currently having a moment -- plus she gets to be married to Barack. :-)
If a time machine is involved, then I'd choose my past self, ca. 1989. As I recall, it was a very good year, and many of its days would be worth re-experiencing.
4. What's the most scared you've ever been?
I've been to court, and it was pee-your-pants terrifying. We're talking civil, not criminal, and the fact that I'm the biggest stinkin' goody-two-shoes on the planet and yet was somehow the defendant in this case -- not to mention that something real was at stake -- explains my fear.
5. What do you consider your biggest failure?
The breaking up of my marriage. I'll be clear: he left me for someone he met online. We had not been estranged or fighting before that (indeed, I thought we were happy and still in love), and I wanted to keep the marriage together even after I knew what he was up to, so the whole thing was 100% his choice. But I'll always feel that he wouldn't have left me if I had been sufficiently more awesome, so I'll always feel like I failed.
Is that crazy talk? You bet that's what I'd say to any friend who spouted anything similar. But how else to explain the sense of shame that completely informs my sadness?
6. What habit or quality do you think has contributed most to your success?
First of all, my bar for "success" is maybe not the highest: I think you're successful if you give it your best shot and try to stay decent despite the world's throwing all its crap at you. And context is everything: given the way my divorce utterly shredded me, for a few years right afterward I felt like a big success -- nay, a hero -- just for continuing to show up to work.
As for what quality of character has contributed most to whatever success I've ever had, I'm going to say stubbornness. I just don't quit. If you knock me over, I will get back up. If I fail, I will try again. If you insult me in hope that I will walk away, you will be disappointed. I'm sure this isn't always an unmitigated good -- that is, there are probably situations in which "No más" is the appropriate response. It's just that I seldom think I'm in one of those situations.
7. What's the thing about yourself you'd most like to improve?
Now that I'm in middle age and am suffering more accutely the consequences of past failure in this area, I would like to be more disciplined in my physical habits. You know: eating less, eating more healthily, exercising more, making sure I get enough sleep, and even flossing more regularly. And if I had to pick one thing from among those, it'd be eating less, since poor weight management has probably contributed the most to any health problems or general bodily discomfort I now experience.
8. What three words would you most hope people would use to describe you?
kind, smart, dependable