What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Quietly sitting / standing in front of something heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Jascha Heifetz playing one of Paganini's Caprices, and old church mother's shoes shuffling across the wooden floor over to you, the lowkey creak of the pew just before the congregation breaks out into a holy ghost-inspired shout. I imagined beauty's the electricity of Black joy that hung in the air of those juke joints back in the day too. I think happiness would look like the flailing woman in John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo. It looks like whatever Delacroix decided to throw on a canvas.
What is your greatest fear?
Being on my deathbed knowing that I'd lived too small, that I'd been too afraid to be genuine, or overestimating my importance in the grand scheme of things.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
A tie between Zora Neale Hurston and Alan Lomax
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Sophocles' Antigone. I first read the play when I was very young. I loved her humanity fiercely. I remember asking God to make me brave enough to "say out loud when things were wrong".
Which living person do you most admire?
I don't know. I like to think that I admire slivers of things in people. I'm very careful that way. I'm very, very careful.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Living inside my head...and hemorrhaging money on fries and beer.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I'm finicky about noises and people in my space.
Where would you like to live?
Which talent would you most like to have?
I'm not sure. When I think about the attributes I would've needed to stay in school, my mind immediately goes to the far more wonderful ones I cultivated because I didn't stay. I wouldn't jinx myself by saying.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What quality do you most like in a man?
What quality do you most like in a woman?
On what occasion do you lie?
...when I'm sleeping. You ain't getting me on this one, no sir.
When and where were you happiest?
After working at UCLA in the summer of 2007, I took a trip up the coast to San Luis Obispo and rented a car so I could drive into San Francisco. I remember driving north through the fog, sneaking occasional glances at the ocean, marveling at the mountains. I remembered feeling so deeply happy to be alive.
If you could change one thing about your family what would it be?
I would bring my stepdad back. He was a beautiful soul and didn't get as many years as he should have.
What is your most treasured possession?
I'm a family historian, so I created a Heritage Box. I've filled it with census records, clippings about my maternal grandparents' notable hometown in the Mississippi Delta, articles about amendments, and photos. I hope to keep adding to my handwritten tree and dig into the early 1700s.
What words or phrases do you most overuse?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What is it that you most dislike?
What are your favorite names?
Genevieve (I was almost Genevieve), Christian, and Charlotte for first. Gray is a wonderful last name. :)
What is your motto?
“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.” - Václav Havel