A reflection on 2021

A reflection on 2021

Every year in December, I make an insanely long list of goals/wishes/intentions for the year to come. This year will be no exception. But I always start by reviewing last year’s list… which is sometimes confrontational, but mostly fun. 😉

2021 has not been easy on me. Still, I should not complain. Every single day, I could make music, work on my research, engage in budo, crafting and baking, and endlessly cuddle & play with Boris the Bengal Tigercat.

Some 2021 resolutions I had to let go because of COVID, but often I found another way to realize the intention (e.g. instead of going on tour to England, I gave a virtual Bardcore Party for the IMC in Leeds). As such, many of my dreams have come true – some even much more beautifully than planned. My wish to go archery again, for example, was fulfilled in a completely different way than I expected, namely in the form of the wonderful kyudo party at Washinkan.

The Japan Fans Performance at Camera Japan Festival was one of the highlights of 2021 for me.

On the whole, my Japan Fans project contributed to many exciting events for me (such as performing Japanese music at a large festival). It hit the ground running, was featured in popular magazines and national newspapers, led me to meet a lot of interesting people, and enabled my friends and me to make meaningful contributions (through various activities such as making sushi for the homeless).

Next to that, I launched my own illustrated brand BudoGirl, started working with a writing coach (highly recommended), and have thoroughly primed my idea for a book – Inside the Autside. Thus, next to singing in church and doing budo (mostly at home), I could experience many wonderful things in 2021. So, time to dress up and be grateful!

January 2021

The year started well, because Jolijn taught me a beautiful new song, which I could play on both her Celtic harp and my Russian gusli:

Speaking of music… one of my intentions was (and is) to become more “steady” as a chorister. Be careful what you wish for! 😉 Because of Covid, I was challenged several times this year to sing in small ensembles. In January, with a handful of choristers we sang “Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam” by Melchior Franck (ca. 1579 – 1 June 1639), among others. I really loved this composition. It is based on the Lutheran hymn of the same name about baptism, in the Dorian mode. Martin Luther wrote this hymn in 1541, as a counterpart of the hymn “Es wolle Gott uns gnädig sein” from 1524 (a paraphrase of Psalm 67) by Johann Walter.

Next to that, I did martial arts from home, went to virtual Cambridge for a conference, and uploaded the very first version of the Japan Fans website, including the first videos of the series about Japanese board games with my friend Kees.

February 2021

Inspired by a course by Vania Bachur, in February, I started developing my own illustrated brand – BudoGirl – based on my special interest in Japanese martial arts. I also created downloadable fonts of the two “Japanese” fonts I designed the previous year. For Japan Fans, I started playing virtual concerts (and for some reason, my piano version of Shabondama got 1.6K views). I wrote about autism & stress (forthcoming) and about the colonist propaganda in my childhood nostalgia. Next to that, I bought a kantele, did some budo in the snow, went ice skating with Inti, and biked a little over 400 km to raise money for Mental Health America, an organization that is dedicated to helping people to live mentally healthier lives. 

In February, I also designed the cover of a new album-to-be…

March 2021

In March, I started selecting and recording pieces for my new record – The Fipple Flutist – and continued designing elements for BudoGirl. Had a lovely afternoon in & around De Middengaarde, baked some traditional Dutch pastry, and my friend Evina gave me a fossil of an armigatus, that is about 100 million years old. I wrote about on-screen bi-versity, presented a paper on Westworld for the virtual seminar series “What (is) Medieval”. Was interviewed on national television. And besides all that, I biked over 400K to raise money for Hospices of Hope for which I won this shiny medal of Bagpuss (whom I’d already met before the pandemic, in Canterbury)!

In March, my Japan Fans project was featured in a local newspaper for the first time. Thanks to my sensei Carl for the picture.

April 2021

This month, the Japan Fans Study Group started, which offered me new friendships and a new impulse to my self-study of the Japanese language. Next to that, I continued my studies in design, including some more sumi-e and shodo experiments, which lead to both BudoGirl and Japan Fans being featured at various virtual exhibitions, including a long read on the website “Creative with Black Ink“. The latter is the personal site from a calligraphic artist I really admire, so you can image my joy about this! 😉

This month, my bawu arrived and I biked to raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. With Sakura-Kai, we trained kendo at De Middengaarde.

I also presented a paper on Neo-Medieval Covers Of Game Music for a conference on Ludomusicology, and premiered a new piece of music for King Alfred there:

This second piece of music for King Alfred was especially composed for the 2021 Ludomusicology conference.

May 2021

In May, I got a new bike. I won a first prize in the Okinawa E-Tournament World Series. Photographer Willem came to visit me at the office, to take a picture for a 2022 brochure (for which I was also interviewed about my apprenticeship). Jolijn and I went to Park Sonsbeek in Arnhem, where children were happy to see a mermaid and Erwin took some beautiful pictures, like this one:

Martine Mussies, mermaid, cosplay, Erwin van Dijk, beautiful mermaid

I revisited the planking challenge and got a Mermaidy medal for cycling  over 400 km (still on the old bike at the time 🚴‍♀️) to raise money for Mercy Ships. Their “hospital ship provides free lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is nearly non-existent.” Next to that, we sang in church with a small ensemble, once again. Among others, this little gem by Henry Gauntlett:

June 2021

This month, I received the superb yearbook of “Kelten” (Celts) which featured the Asterix article by Wouter and me, as well as my review of the Viking exhibition, including the cheat sheet inspired by Evina. In church, we sang Quemadmodum desiderat by Philippe de Monte (with five choristers), among others. I presented papers on male-female friendships in the context of Alfred the Great (publication forthcoming) and on cats in the work of Tolkien, for which I also did a calligraphy:

I had some great budo trainings (kendo, iaido, karate and kobudo), tried to speak Swedish for a polyglot challenge, and went to the World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. At my apprenticeship, I took up a course by Ana Blooms in which I learnt some botanical drawing, which I really enjoyed. This was one of the first drawings I made for it, of an indigo plant:

July 2021

In July, I took part in the virtual edition of the International Medieval Congress (University of Leeds) by presenting a paper on Nehalennia and hosting a Bardcore Party. I visited zoo park Beekse Bergen with my family. In the Old English Enthusiasts group meeting, I presented my travels to Rochester, Canterbury and Winchester. I was allowed to join the Dutch team trainings for the European Championship in iaido, where I learnt a lot. Virtual cups continued and I won a second prize at the Athletes E-tournament Trophy World Series. On the last day of this month, I was a guest at Kendo Kai Den Haag. And for my mothers birthday, I made her this a ceramic bird brooch:

Between 23rd July and 8th August I cycled 578 km to raise money for Transplant Sport, a charity promoting active recovery for transplant recipients and increasing awareness of the benefits of organ donation.

August 2021

I did a live presentation called “Autistic Art?” at Mediamatic in Amsterdam, with some exploratory questions about autistic art, my concept of autiethnography and many examples of my work. We launched the Japan Fans’ free online kanji course. I started selling t-shirts of BudoGirl, got myself a new “Nuvo” soprano recorder, and did a digital drawing of Storm (one of my favourite horses):

A digital drawing of Storm, which you can also order as a poster.

Thanks to our cycling holiday, in August I apparently covered the most kilometers of all the people in Europe who took part in these charity bike races, with which I earned this medal:

This gold medal / first prize came as a surprise in the mail.

September 2021

In church, next to the services, we sang and played a concert full of English choral and organ music! 🥰 With beautiful works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Charles Villiers Stanford.

I published about the why and how of the Soviet version of The Lord of the Rings, about two The Last Kingdom (2015–) fan fics hashtagged #NotMyBrexit, and about Aragorn as the Ideal King.

Jolijn & I did a Japan Fans Performance at Camera Japan Festival, in which we combined sumi-e paintings with Japanese (inspired) flute musics. The day after, I also performed a selection of these music at an inclusivity festival in Woerden, while my sempai showed some iaido and kendo kata.

As for budo, I participated in two iaido events – the NKR summer seminar in Amsterdam, and the Shinkage ryu seminar in Rotterdam – and I got my first Dan at the Amsterdam kendo seminar, which was really a milestone for me.

Sempai Inti helped me with shinai maintenance (including attaching this purple tsuru).

October 2021

In church, we sang many services and two concerts, this month. One with music by Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) and one with Duruflé’s beloved Requiem, based on Gregorian chants – which was one of my personal highlights of this season. Of course, my birthday was another highlight and I got a re.corder!

As a member of Sakura Kai – Kendo en Naginata Utrecht, I went to Heroes Made in Asia, helping out with some workshops by Yushinkan Iaido & Kendo. With our Japan Fans Study Group, we worked on a Mermaid story by Mimei Ogawa (小川未明). 

I published on sapiosexuality and on (mis)representations of female autism, and was interviewed and photographed for an interview in De Telegraaf (the largest Dutch national newspaper), in which I talked about the Japan Fans and my budo.

Me in Bōgu (防具), photo by René Bouwman for De Telegraaf.

November 2021

In order to raise money for children in refugee centers, I opened an Etsy shop with Christmas cards. I learnt my first words in Korean and received a “Halloween” medal, for the 5K run I did in order to raise money for Chloe’s and Sophie’s Special Ears Fund😊

On the anniversary of his death, we sang this piece by Hugo Distler (1908 – 1942). I edited some earlier recordings (mostly classical additions to pop albums) and uploaded my cello version of the music of “Trapped” (Icelandic: Ófærð). Next to that, I mainly played Secret Cat Forest and ukulele… 😉

December 2021

In December, I published on healing women in Alfredian fanfiction, and on learning Celtic languages with Duolingo (which for some reason got over 2.5k likes). Besides that, I was interviewed in VANDAAG magazine, and allowed to provide the musical accompaniment for a Leiden University Medievalists Podcast.

In the last weeks of 2021, I obtained a 3rd kyu in wado ryu, got a beautiful tanto from Santa, won a first prize in the Athletes E-Tournaments Trophy World Series, and finally found the courage to restore and frame my New York painting:

The New York painting I made for my father.

With yet another lockdown in the Netherlands, our Christmas concerts could not take place. But in turns, we keep the paeans & lauds going 💒 and I was lucky enough to sing on Christmas day. Here’s a small snippet of that service:


The above is just a small selection of the many, many beautiful moments in my life from the past year. In my mind, I was grumbling a bit about 2021. That didn’t feel right. So I decided to count my blessings… and they are literally countless. Thank you for being part of it – and all the best for 2022!❤️

…and now on to my 2022 resolutions 😉

My name is Martine and I am writing my PhD about the Cyborg Mermaid. On this website, you’ll find blogs about autism, cyborgs, fan fiction, King Alfred of Wessex, mermaids, music & musicology, martial arts, (neuro)psychology, video games, and random nerdiness.

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