To get to know our new faculty and staff a little better, we asked them to answer a few questions from the Proust Questionnaire — the famous questionnaire that Vanity Fair asks celebrities to answer on its back page. Today, we introduce Middle School Collaborative Design Lab (CDL) Coordinator Marie Jiménez, who earned her bachelor's degree in GeoSciences from the University of Rhode Island and her master's degree in Earth Sciences from Syracuse University.
When and where were you happiest?
Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, around 11 p.m. Matunuck Beach. Rhode Island.
Whenever I think of genuine happiness, I get a very vivid image of this exact moment. Here is my best attempt to describe it:
I'm lying on a snow-covered shore, bundled up, my ugly Christmas sweater itching at my neck. Overhead, the night sky is clear. My face is so cold it hurts. I have the sniffles. One of my closest friends is lying next to me, and we are laughing — at what? I can't remember. I do remember staring up at the stars, transfixed. Minutes pass like this. A shooting star flashes across the sky and then another one! The snow is starting to melt beneath us, soaking our backsides, but we stay there for a little while longer, engulfed in happiness.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Everyone who knows me knows that I love to dance. I grew up in a Dominican household where every Saturday morning we would be woken up violently by the sound of merengue blaring. This meant it was time to help mami clean the house, singing and dancing to wake myself up. While I'd like to believe I'm a pretty good dancer, what I can't do very well while listening to merengue is sing. Why? Let's just say I don't have the best singing voice. Music is such a big part of my life, and it would be nice to sing along to my favorite songs without fear of ridicule and maybe get a little praise, too.
By the way, I sing anyways. Sorry.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I'd like to come back as Pando, also known as the Trembling Giant, a massive colony of quaking aspen in Utah. That would make me the heaviest living organism on the planet, a slight difference from my current form.
Where would you most like to live?
For a long time I thought it would be amazing to live outside of the US in a Spanish-speaking country like Argentina or Spain. And I still do! However, I think no matter where it is, the actual house is the most important part of my vision. I'd like to live in a small, cozy house surrounded by trees and nature. Oh, and a body of water close by would be nice, too.
Who are your favorite writers?
I love magical realism because of the cultural connection I feel when reading it. In magical realism, instances of magic, supernatural activity, and miracles are painted as mundane everyday occurrences. Typically drawing from regional/religious/cultural folklore, writers blur and sometimes completely eliminate the line between the scientifically explainable and the mystical.
My first experience with the genre was in high school while reading Cronica de una Muerte Anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Since then, I've been an avid reader of his, always checking for Spanish copies of his work at used book stores.
Although GGM is still one of my favorite writers, Junot Diaz has risen to the top of the list. His book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao really left an impression on me in ways very few books have. It was the first time I had seen parts of my culture, life experiences, and family portrayed in a book. His use of Spanglish and footnotes may just seem like a deliberate writing style to outsiders, but to me I see the roundabout way we Dominicans spread family gossip. I like to think of him as a distant cousin.
And finally, I'll just shout out my most recent favorite: Haruki Murakami. I'm still getting to know this writer and his work, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it!
CDL Coordinator Marie Jiménez.