There’s a study that shows asking another person a certain 36 questions will prompt greater intimacy between you and at a more rapid rate. “36?” I hear you asking. “But the headline says 24.” That’s because I’m only going to answer the first 24 of these questions. Though I might do the final set in an upcoming newsletter, so if you haven’t signed up, do it now.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
I’m not sure there’s anyone I really want to bring into my house as a dinner guest. I’m very aware of the fact my house probably doesn’t make a fabulous impression because I’m not a keen housekeeper. Also, I don’t cook. So I’d probably only invite people I don’t actually like and subject them to my dirty house and bad cooking.
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
Yes, actually. Or maybe not famous so much as known? I think there’s a slight difference. I’d like my work to be noteworthy so that, in certain circles, my name was known. If that makes sense.
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Depends on who I’m calling and why! I don’t talk on the phone much. I prefer text or email because then I can compose what I say. As a writer, that’s important to me. But people I’m close to—my parents and good friends—I have no reason to rehearse anything.
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
A day in a foreign city like London or Paris. There would be some time spent in a museum and then a walk in the park. A nice meal or two in there somewhere. A bookstore probably.
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I do this all the time. I sing to myself, the cat, the kids. I don’t even notice any more, so I’m not sure when I was last doing it.
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Well, wait a minute. Any 30-year-old? Or me when I was 30? Because I’d just had my first child then and my body was not in great shape at the time. And are you saying that if I choose body my mind would necessarily be addled? There’s an implication here but it’s not explicit. I’d need to know more before deciding.
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
No, thank God, and I don’t really want to know either.
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
We like to quote movies. We both have parents who are still together. We have similar values and ways of rearing the children.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
More family vacations. We only ever seemed to visit relatives; I wish we’d gone other places sometimes.
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
Should I type for four minutes? No? Look, you can read my bio on IMDb if you like. Maybe some day I’ll have a Wikipedia page. Wouldn’t that be cool?
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To be able to write faster. It takes me a long time to write a book (or screenplay), and I wish it didn’t. I wish I had better focus and could sit down and crank stuff out—quality stuff, that is.
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Whether I ever become a well-known author or screenwriter. Or maybe, more specifically, whether I ever win any awards. That’s shallow, but there you have it. I don’t especially want to know what others think of me, and I don’t want to know how I or anyone I love dies. So something simple and concrete. That way I know whether I’m wasting my time or should just be satisfied with what I’ve already accomplished.
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Living abroad. I’ve wanted to do that my entire life, but the opportunity has never arisen. I’ve tried to “make” opportunities, too, but it’s never worked out.
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
I should say something like “my kids,” right? But that’s a joint effort—that’s me and my husband and the teachers and the kids themselves. So what is MY greatest accomplishment? Getting a play staged and then turned into a short film—I consider that my most noteworthy accomplishment thus far.
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
Intellect + humor. I look for good conversation but also a lightness of being.
17. What is your most treasured memory?
Oh, God, I don’t even know. I have so many wonderful ones, I can’t pick just one to be “most treasured.” They carry equal weight. Most are from childhood, though. Fresh-mown grass. Catching fireflies. Stargazing with my dad. Long drives in the car, just for the fun of driving around.
18. What is your most terrible memory?
My entire junior year of high school.
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
I’d write faster, or at least leave a comprehensive set of notes so someone could finish my work for me. Then I’d travel and make memories with my family.
20. What does friendship mean to you?
It’s a very specific bond. You can’t fake it. There’s a connection there that’s very strong and endures even the greatest strain. That’s why they say you only know who your true friends are when you’re in a crisis.
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
I’m not sure I understand the question. I’m an only child and am very close with my parents. Still, I’m very independent in a lot of ways, and I have a difficult time giving and receiving affection in a demonstrative way. I show my affection to friends and family in other ways—visits, calls, sending little gifts, just trying to be generally thoughtful. The one exception is my children. That love and affection, the hugs and kisses, comes very naturally to me.
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
Well, my husband isn’t here, but I’ll say this: he’s supportive, smart, funny, a good cook, and family-oriented.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
I mentioned I’m an only child. We are very close. At the age when other kids were trying to distance themselves from their parents, I was still happy to hang out with mine. I don’t know about “happier than most other people’s.” I know I had a happy childhood, relatively sedate.
My family now, it’s large and chaotic. I like to think we’re warm, but I don’t know if we’re close because there’s so many of us. But we do a lot of things together. It’s difficult for me to judge, really, because I’m too close. I’m in it and part of it and not objective about it.
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Ooooh. That’s complicated. We’re fine, I think. I’m closer to my dad because he and I have similar temperaments, but Mom and I had our fun, too. We would go see the movies Dad wouldn’t see. Stuff like that.
My mom is the social one in our family and I wasn’t the type to be on the phone or out with my friends all the time. We’re just very different. But she’s always meant well.
Okay, those are the 24 questions. As I mentioned, I may or may not do the final 12 in my newsletter. A quick glance at the remaining questions shows there are a few similar to #22 in that they ask the responder to say something to a partner, or else have the partner answer in some way. So we’ll see which, if any, I can use in the newsletter, which I expect to put out next week. Sign up now on the sidebar!