30 Questions

A while ago Abby Norman, who wrote the utterly fantastic book Ask Me About My Uterus and runs the excellent podcast Let Me Google That, posted a series of questions on Medium which she asks herself every year. Surprisingly, none of them are about her uterus.

Since I’m an ex-MySpace-kid and I love a good online survey, I thought I’d answer them this year, since there are thirty of them and I’m thirty. Did I mention I’m thirty? I MADE IT PAST TWENTY WITHOUT DYING, Y’ALL.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was “I don’t care.” Being happy has never been a goal of mine. Fulfilled, yes. Able to say I’ve lived a full life, yes. But happy? Comfortable? Nahhhh.

Having said that, I do of course feel happy sometimes – often, in fact – and if I think back to the last time I felt happiest, I guess I’d have to say…

A deep, warm bath filled with things that smell wonderful. Eucalyptus, whatever’s in Star Child’s Meditation bath oil, Radox’s Nourish bubble bath. Some bath salts to make it a bit scratchy. A cinnamon-scented candle behind me to waft some more enticing scents my way, and various candles scattered around the room, casting enough light to read by.

A really good book to take into the bath with me. A mud mask that makes my skin feel all soft, and a hair mask that makes my hair smell nice and feel all silky (until I hit the pool the following morning and douse it with chlorine again).

Bonus points if this bath-and-book combo happens after a long cold walk in the driving rain.

2. What is your current state of mind?

Right this minute? Content. And a little bit drunk.

3. What is your greatest fear? 

Losing my ability to reason.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

That I’m not as strong-willed as I once was.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

I’m not sure what it’s called, but people who stand by and watch terrible things happening when it’s obvious they could make a difference, and they wring their hands and talk about how awful the world is when they’re contributing to it through their inaction.

6. What is your greatest extravagance? 


7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 

Being “nice.” I’m not sure it’s officially considered a virtue, but it’s something a lot of people prize in others. In my experience, however, much of the time when someone’s being “nice” they’re not actually being kind, or acting in a way that will prevent further harm. Instead they’re acting in a way that will prevent upheaval, and frankly sometimes shit needs to be upheaved.

8. What is it that you most dislike? 

At the moment my pet peeve is people who are like “Oh, you’ve been ill? Have you tried this [diet / bullshit homeopathic remedy / thing I’m already doing]?”

9. On what occasions do you lie? 

I lie by accident, with the lies usually exploding out of my mouth before I realise what’s happening and leaving me befuddled.

I was talking about this with someone who knows me well a while ago and we realised I lie in an attempt to make myself sound less interesting, or to extract myself from the conversation. For example, I will say things like:

  • [In a conversation about car accidents] “I’ve never been in a car accident” – even though my first memory is of being in a car accident, and I’ve been in several since.
  • [In a conversation about parents] “My dad was…” or “My mother was…” – which makes people think my parents are dead and then they don’t want to ask me any more questions, even though both of my parents are still alive.

… and so on.

10. What do you dislike most about your appearance? 

I’m fat. I still can’t quite believe that happened, even though I’ve been fat for like eight years now.


It still stuns me that most of my friends now have only known me as a fat person.

11. What is the quality you most like in a man? 


12. What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

The capacity to be completely, unapologetically herself.

13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 


14. What or who is the greatest love of your life? 


15. When and where were you the happiest? 

Ohhh that’s a hard one.


On one of our research trips. Stonehenge in winter is cold.

16. Which talent would you most like to have? 

I would love to be able to do anything practical with the level of ease with which my friend Simon can. I mean, he’s an actual builder / renovator / amazing housemaker person, so I’d never be able to do stuff like he can. But he can look at something and visualise how it can turn into something else, and then he can make that something happen. I mean, he can like lay concrete paths and shit. HE CREATED A PATH.

I can barely walk from my bedroom into my living room without bumping into a wall. I wish I were joking.

17. What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Getting onto the Pilgrimage Project.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

Right now, honestly? I’d be thin. Not just because it’d be nice to look thinner again, but because my doctors would take me more seriously when I presented with symptoms and we’d be less likely to repeat the whole whoops-she-almost-died-because-we-didn’t-believe-her fiasco of 2017.

19. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? 

Something supremely exhausted. A sloth?

20. What is your most treasured possession? 

My notebooks.

21. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 


22. What is your most marked characteristic? 

I dunno, I mean I think you’d have to ask someone who knows me. I’ve just WhatsApped my friends so let’s see what they say.

The results are in…

  • Unique
  • Forensic
  • Academic
  • Meticulous
  • Determined
  • Tenacious
  • Able to talk to anyone
  • Insightful
  • A good listener
  • And this result from the BFF, who knows me better than anyone:

23. What do you most value in your friends? 

Willingness to be there when the shit hits the fan.

24. Who are your favourite writers? 

Søren Kierkegaard, Umberto Eco, Jaume Cabré, Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt.

25. Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

Kathryn Janeway.

26. Which historical figure do you most identify with? 

Søren Kierkegaard.

27. Who are your heroes in real life? 

Sunitha Krishnan.

Also myself, because I believe getting to know yourself and creating who you turn out to be is one of the most important things in life. And no I don’t give a shit if it sounds corny.

28. What are your favourite names? 

Ohhhh buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

Zaphenathpanea, Thelxinoë, Enheduanna, Spencer, Xiomara, B’Elanna, Seven, Harley, Hunter, Hannah, Talitha, Tiziana, Mistura, Keturah, Shuvani, Mordecai.

Also Abby wrote ‘Rhodanthe’ in her response, which I’d never heard of before, but I love it.

29. What is your greatest regret? 

Trusting someone I shouldn’t have trusted, because it screwed up future relationships. Having said that, it also paved the way for some important relationships in my life, so I can’t say I regret it as such. I don’t think I really believe in regrets. Shit happens, some of it you probably shouldn’t have done but you did it anyway and you learn from it, right?

30. How would you like to die? 

I’d love to keel over at my desk, having finished everything important for the day but being in the middle of some sort of mundane diary entry. Ideally while living in the middle of nowhere, and I’d be nibbled at by random critters until someone realised I hadn’t been in touch for a while, and then having provided food for the local fauna my insides would be carted off and studied for science, and the skeleton would be donated to a quirky shop along with some kind of message which would be carved into one of the bones, and I’d be sold on to random people and have a very interesting after-death life of which I’d know nothing.

Your turn! If you fill this in, tag me so I can see your answers! I love reading things like this.

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