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  • Writer's pictureMartijn

A few of my favorite things

The second wave of Covid-19 infections is in full swing in Europe and I just finished a grim report about the outlook for the post-pandemic world. In parallel however, it is spring here, the days are getting longer, the sun is shining, nature is in full bloom and Alex and I are still planning to start our trip on February 1st (counting on a calmer Europe mid-2021). All this proves we are human after all and believe in hope. Hope that all this will go away relatively soon and that we will revive, like our garden.

I realized how transformed I was by the pandemic when Alejandra, my writing-teacher-become-friend, invited me to go see some murals in her old neighborhood (this was after she read my post about Chicago street art). It really hurt to see the mural below which puts the finger on exactly what I miss most: being with my friends and family and traveling - in my case of course they often go together.

Can you see the little backpacker in the upper right corner?

Even this cat was looking for warmth and foreignness !

So just like Maria in the Sound of Music recommended for such cases, I simply started to think about my favorite things. Such as:

- Having cake for breakfast- I once read that ex-Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had cake for breakfast almost everyday when she was a child, so when I occasionally do, it makes me feel like a Princess!

- Mariage Frères tea, in particular "French breakfast". Since Alex had stopped traveling to Paris for work, my reserves had become critically low and I had started to ration.....until he made a special order which came via FedEx, as a total and extremely charming surprise (justifying every argentine peso of the indecent amount of import tax to be paid to the deliveryman).

- Good correlations. Several years ago, I was awaiting the results of an important statistical analysis which would condition the launch of a new research method my team was developing at work. If the outcomes of the new method correlated well with those of the existing one, we would be able to successfully deploy a more modern and profitable approach. When I found out that the analysis was going in the right direction, I was so enthusiastic that Alex told the children "guys, if you ever want to make your mother happy, give her good correlations !"

- Going to a movie theater or a play. I hadn't realized how important this was for me until it went away. I was able to double check that in Chicago last month: the old Music Box theater was open to the public, so I went to see a movie in plain daylight (by myself, Alex was working). There was only one other person in the room but despite the masks, it was a great experience! Watching plays or movies via zoom or streaming is just not the same thing.

- Sculptures (but only when they are not made by me). Bronze sculptures are my favorite, especially if they live outdoors like in the garden of the Musée Rodin in Paris or the Kroller Muller museum park in the Netherlands. The note about them not being made by me refers to an unpleasant experience: because I like sculptures so much I figured I would enjoy creating them and took a class. My talent proved to be dismal and I didn't really like working with the materials either...sculpting is now definitely off my bucket list and I am all the more grateful for those who do have talent!

One sculpture that I liked here was the "Happy Girl" that was donated by the Netherlands government to Argentina and stood on the orange Plazoleta Reina de Holanda in Puerto Madero. She looked soooo optimistic! I am referring to her in the past tense because I just found out she had been stolen a year ago! Either someone wanted to look at her and feel happy in private, or she was sacrificed because of the value of her bronze. Very sad in any case, I'd better start thinking about another of my favorite things....

....such as for example my preferred sculpture at home: Girl at the window, made by my ex-boss Aldo Nonis. Being a foreigner almost everywhere, I often feel like I am looking at things from the outside, like she does. And I enjoy it!

- Last but not least, a good, cynical joke. Some people are just so good at capturing a moment or a thought in a joke or a drawing. Here are a few of my recent favorites (to keep this light, I will not refer to the barbarous murder of the history teacher in the Paris suburbs and the current debate about caricatures in France but I definitely believe this creative talent is vital for society):

History of human progress, starting with the invention of the wheel (reminds me that US elections are tomorrow!!!)

And finally, everything is relative: I thought Argentina was the "bottom" of the world, but in fact it's the duck's beak. I feel much better now.... Maybe I'll even stay a little longer...

...especially since it's spring here and there is no hurry to go to Japan after I saw this in my neighborhood :)

But eventually, Alex and I will make it to Europe, promised. Take good care of yourselves in these continuously challenging times and think of your favorite things. I miss you!

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