At number 4, Rue de Sévigné in Paris there is a Cider bar. The name is simple and lovely as the place itself: Cidrerie du Marais. I found it by chance, while wandering around the city. It was a rainy Summer day and my next appointment wouldn´t be for the next couple of hours. Not a hard decision at all to get in, and choose a seat by the door.

Savouring my cider alone in the empty place, watching the clouds passing by, I enjoyed the coming sun stretching its rays, while the gentle summer breeze carried all troubles away. I think the technical term for what I felt that day is joie de vivre. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel during a pandemic. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel when you lose a friend.

The world is full of people, but one single beloved person goes away and, suddenly, there is a huge empty space in our world, don´t you think?

Last week was very hard and, frankly, I believe you had your share of grief and pain yourself, so instead of talking about the seemingly endless sad hours I went through, I would like to turn this into a feel good post, and share a few glimpses of happiness I had over the last couple of days:

I found out there is a passion fruit plant in front of my building.

I saw an orange butterfly and it flew quite close to me for a while.

A friend of mine told me he could see my point and changed his mind about a sensitive subject.

One of my former German students (long story, but in another life I was a German teacher) contacted me and thanked my for helping her embrace change and follow her dream career.

I guess this is as much joie de vivre one could wish for now. Small miracles are all around.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Click here for four and a half minutes of joie de vivre

Hey, there! Good to see you again. That means you stick with me despite my random posting days. Thank you very much for that! Maybe you are also like me: sometimes a step ahead, but mostly a few steps behind the schedule. If so (and even more if not), thank you for the company! It really means a lot me.

As you know, March was hard, but I cannot complain about April. I was interviewed for the Ilustre Podcast, a small jewel made by an illustrator, my dear friend E., and could talk about my musical and research projects (to be aired on April 28th, stay tuned!). There is also another comic art related event coming by the end of the month, but I will not tell about it now. Oh, the mystery …

A busy month, as you see. Well, maybe not so busy for you, but quite so for me, since I had to add to the current month´s agenda all the remaining activities from last month. Procrastinators have the toughest life, trust me. To confirm my theory that procrastination can hit us all and nobody is really safe, I got an e-mail from one of my favourite newsletters and, guess what? It was about procrastination! And coming from one of the most productive professionals I know. Earthshaking!

My secret to keep a positive attitude about procrastination is cheating on it. How I do it? I fill my procrastination time with things that I can use later: from cooking to doing the laundry, any mildly challenging household activity will usually do. But some days require major measures, like watching a movie. Following the suggestion of my cinephile sister, I saw the 1969 classic They Shoot HorsesDon’t They?

Set in 1932, during the great Depression, the plot brings light to a lesser known moment in the USA history, the dance marathon contests. It is impossible not to be amazed by the accurate way it shows the origin and the essence of today’s reality television shows. Scary! A masterpiece, no doubt, but what really caught my attention was that the only tender element in the bitterly sad story was the music.

The beautiful jazz ballads from the 1930´s bring rare moments of relief to the tense narrative, and the black musicians playing it are portrayed as having way more dignity and class than the pitiful, starving bunch of white marathon dancers. A new approach made possible by the late 1960´s social movements maybe, but certainly something to think about today.

See how far procrastination can take you?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

“My grandmother was born on April 5th. I was nine years old when she died but as I age, her traces seem to be more and more present in me.”

I started the sentences above yesterday, the day I´ve planned to release this text, but then I was too busy and I missed the date of birth of my grandmother. I didn´t want to do it, because I have a great respect for dates and I really wanted to honor her birthday accordingly, but the fact is that I missed it.

I wonder how many times my grandmother missed or had to give away things that were very important to her, simply because life came in between, changing plans, re-arranging things we took for granted, leaving us no choice than recalculating the route. And sometimes we don´t even know which route we are in.

Belated or not, I would like to share a few words with you about my grandmother for she is probably one of the strongest, most interesting women I´ll ever meet in my life, and I am not only considering the way she managed to raise her seven children despite being often in dire financial straits (and frankly, we should stop reducing a woman´s bio to her role as a mother and how good or bad she played it), but also how ingenious she was. Every time she faced adversity, she dribbled it, as we say.

She was a short-tempered free thinker that would make her point looking straight to the eyes of the person she was speaking to, rather than in her/his back and, according to my family, I inherited all the previously mentioned characteristics. She was an avant-guarde woman in many ways, an excellent cooker and hers is the finest reply to a racist comment ever (long story).

Her name was Aurea, which means golden and I cannot think of a better word to describe her. She was made of gold and I know that somehow, she never stopped shining. She never will.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Many songs remind me of granny, who had a good voice and also liked to sing, but this one has a special meaning to me and I try to include it in all my performances.

p.p.s. Wanna see a picture of granny as a young lady? She is on the collage of pictures on my Facebook profile (top left)