One of my best friends is a true activist. He stands on the barricades for equality, for better wages for workers, for a basic income, to solve the climate crisis and more. I admire that enormously. Because of my autism, I am scared to death of large crowds of people. The only moments that I dare to face them is when I can perform—be it for hundreds or even thousands of people in a church, concert hall or stadium—because then they are there and I am here, on stage: sheltered, secluded, and safe. Sometimes I blame myself for being too cowardly to stick my neck out. But then I realize that I have a softer, quieter form of resistance: my writing.
Aaaand… yet another new category for this blog, after my nickname which literally translates to “museum mouse” and incorporates my initials as well (I never understood why it is not “museummus” which would be “museum sparrow”, but anyway). For this first blog in the new category, I’ll write about some of my experiences with the Dutch museum of education, aka het “Nationaal Onderwijsmuseum”.
Of course I had heard some tales about Canterbury – a pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages, surrounded by Ancient walls (originally built by the Romans), that encircle its medieval centre of cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. But I had never been there – until last summer. My stay in Canterbury allowed me to connect to the Alfredian world in a new way. This blog post is a reflection of my findings and the second of a series of four.
As an aspiring polyglot and a student of neuropsychology, I have a sweet spot for untranslatable words (from foreign or historical languages) that describe emotions, psychological states and/or behaviour. Because I got so many positive reactions about my work on hiraeth, I decided to share this interest with you by means of a new category for this blog: “Lost in Translation“. This first entry will be about the Korean concept of Nunchi, as I was recently interviewed about this by journalist Annemieke Riesebos for the Dutch magazine Grazia.
Hwæt – for another most fascinating manuscript I got to see at the British Library was that of Beowulf. And this particular manuscript of Beowulf is also associated with king Alfred the Great (Waugh, 1997). In this short blog post, I explain why the association of Beowulf and Alfred contributes to the myth-making of Alfred as a heroic warrior king.
When I heard that this year’s Domcantorij tour would lead us to Rochester, I got very excited. Not only would I have the change to improve myself as a chorister and deepen the relationships with my fellow singers, but the trip would also allow me to connect to King Alfred in a new way. This blog post is a reflection of my findings and the first of a series of four.
Last week, I got a nice brooche – or fibula, if you like – from the British Library. It is an enamel pin of an old fashioned typewriter, the kind of machine that’s also featured in the sidebar of this weblog. I like typewriters a lot, but not just because of my love for writing, my fascination for retro technologies, the funny scenes in the movie The Secretary and the memory of playing Leroy Anderson’s 1953 piece with our youth orchestra. No – for me, the typewriter is also a symbol of the emancipation of the writing and publishing woman.
“PING!” beeps my computer as it announces a new email, sent by Robyn Ochs. Her call for writing is like a storytelling guide, with many interlinked questions: “How has aging transformed you?” “What have been the most significant moments or transitions in your life?” “What do you imagine your future holds?” Pondering these prompts, for a short moment, I feel like I am in a movie, at the point where someone (almost) dies and we—the audience—see a life flash by. My brain replays some film-like memories, scary ones of the nagging children on the schoolyard and my homophobic ex-boyfriend, but also happy ones, of the first European Bisexual Conference. And I realise that Robyn cannot know how she and her work have affected my transformation. So, time to answer her questions!
Together with 35 of my fellow singers and our conductor, I crossed the Channel! For this week, the Domcantorij sings the Evensongs and Sunday services at Rochester Cathedral. And I thought it would be nice to write a short blog about the (medieval) history of this special cathedral where we are the “visiting choir”.