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Proust Q 5.0: Paula Tiberius is meditating like a, well you should read it yourself

May 11, 2012

Paula Tiberius is not just a saucy Los Angeles vegetarian with one of the greatest last names ever. She is my sister in law. Also mother of my niece and best friend of her husband, rockeur Richard Duguay. She has her own musical chops, occasionally playing in Rich’s band in L.A. and they recorded a cool protest song, We’re the 99, which I’ve embedded below. She has just written a novel, which I was prepared to say I liked no  matter what but I read it in one sitting and loved it. She is also a filmmaker who writes tartly about her adventures in vegetarianism and motherhood on her excellent blog. And she meditates like a … Ah but why don’t you just see for yourself. Enjoy this month’s edition of the Proust Questionnaire 5.0, an explanation of which you can read below.

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place? I’d love to visit you in Montreal in the summer – somewhere you pick. But a patio would be nice. With wooden tables. And well-dressed French-speaking people walking by…

Who and what would you be wearing? Who? Is that a fashion question? Have you seen my wardrobe? There aren’t any who’s in it. But it’s likely I would be wearing black. I try to buy other colors, I really do, but it
never works out. I bought a white shirt the other day and then ruined it when I opened one of those chia seed drinks that had gone bad and exploded all over me.

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking? Pink wine!

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others? I admire people with a good balance of confidence and modesty. It’s a fine line
sometimes, but too much of either turns me off. It’s kind of like defining porn – I know it when I see it.

What do you like most about yourself? I’m kind to other people, whether they deserve it or not.

Least? I’m too quick to apologize – sorry – I’m working on that.

What is your greatest achievement? My feature film, Goldirocks.

Editor’s note: She also did this with the husband.

What is your present state of mind? Positive! I’m meditating like a motherfucker.

Where and when are/were you happiest? I’m pretty happy in my hot tub in the evenings gazing at the lemon tree. California still seems like a miracle to me. Not so much the strip malls and fake boobs, but sitting in the hot tub gazing at the lemon tree makes me happy. I don’t know if it gets much better than that. I’m sure I have lots of past happy memories, but somehow it seems melancholy to remember happy memories. That’s ironic, isn’t it? Actually ironic. Not the new ironic, which really just means coincidental.

What is your first memory? I was four years old painting a picture of a black, blue and brown ghost, sitting outside at my grandparent’s house where my great aunt and uncle were visiting. I remember my great uncle Nick looking at the picture and saying, ‘Wow, you’re so talented!’

What, currently, do you most love doing? I love writing fiction! I’m currently novelizing a screenplay I wrote a long time ago and it’s so fun to go inside the characters’ heads after all this time. I also get to put in all the scene description that’s so forbidden in screenplays. Screenplays are so limiting – you’re not allowed to let anyone think out loud, and you can’t go into detail about the feel of a sofa cushion. Of course those limitations have their own joy, but right now I’m finding fiction writing really energizing.

What was your worst job? Hmm. Probably when I worked for Westfield Mall corporation writing response letters to people who put suggestions in the mall suggestion boxes around the country. Things like, ‘You should leave the Christmas decorations up until Greek Orthodox Christmas is
over’ which is apparently some time in mid-January. People are crazy. Unfortunately my supervisor had to approve the letters, so there wasn’t much room for creativity.

Your favourite colour? My daughter says my favorite color is black, so let’s go with that.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don’t think that’s something you achieve on earth.

Of misery? Not being able to express myself.

If not yourself, who or what would you be? A man. I’m so curious.

Where would you like to live? Multiple places! I’d love to have an apartment in NYC and Toronto and a villa in the south of France. Sigh.

What is your favourite journey? These days? Road trips to Palm Springs! But metaphorically, I would have to say the journey of creating something – a book, a movie – whatever – something that didn’t exist before.

What is your favourite or most memorable meal and when is the last time you indulged? I love fresh lobster, but I haven’t had it since I was in Cape Cod in 2007.

Name the person who influenced you most and how. My big sister Valerie shaped a lot of my values. She has always been big on honesty, kindness and fairness. And great shoes. She wanted to be a judge when she was a kid. Now she’s a philosophy professor!

Name the film/song/book/art that influenced you most and why? Well that’s a long list, but I will tell you that as a pre-teen I obsessed over The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Keith Richards. I think it’s impossible to pin down artistic influences – there’s always something else waiting to capture your imagination, and it only happens when you’re ready to learn from it.

In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire? Bernie Sanders – the senator from Vermont. When I listen to his vision of this country, I could just weep. I admire my parents too – now that I know how hard it is to raise a kid, I have to say I’m impressed with the job they did. The patience, particularly.

Who is your favourite fictional hero? I love underdog stories – anyone who’s fighting the good fight – for justice, for the right to be themselves, for freedom, true love, whatever – as long as they’re following their heart against all odds, they’re my favorite fictional hero. Nicolas Cage going after the girl on the other side of the tracks in Valley Girl, the burgeoning ballet dancing boy with the gruff dad in Billy Elliot, any story where a woman pretends to be a man so she can do something she loves that’s forbidden for women – those are the stories that get me…

What fault can you most easily forgive? Self-destructive behavior.

What fault can you not forgive? Someone who can’t see that they’re a pain in the ass.

What is your motto? Live as free as you can.

How would you hope to die? Peacefully.

Admit it. You read those celebrity Q&As and you know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. I know I do, but my friends are way more interesting. So, with nods to the “confession albums” of the late 1800s  made famous by the fabulous Marcel Proust’s answers, to French TV host Bernard Pivot who adapted the questionnaire, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton who gave it another spin and to Vanity Fair, which uses its own elegantly spun version to anchor the magazine’s back pages, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own version of the Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age.

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