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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

Let's Look Back: 2021


Out of focus shot of fireworks; Let's Look Back 2021
Photo by Julie Tupas on Unsplash

It's that time of the year, to reflect on everything that's happened in 2021 and to look forward to 2022. Because I'm apparently addicted to tags, I sniffed around the web for some questions that would be fun and came across this article from 2018. I liked the questions and thought I'd blog about them with updated details, even though the tag is meant for Youtubers to put on their channels. Oh well! Enjoy!


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1. Three words to describe 2021.


Challenging, stressful, lonely


2. What was the most memorable moment for you of 2021?


I visited Raizen Sennyoji Temple in Itoshima, Fukuoka in April. There I saw the giant wooden Kannon (Avalokiteśvara) statue, which is so sacred, they keep it shuttered and you can't take pictures of it. The Buddhist monk did the Heart Sutra for us and then opened the doors to Kannon, and it took my breath away. The statue is enormous and very beautiful.


Then, behind the temple that houses Kannon, is a little wooden walkway that leads to hundreds of Buddhist statues made of stone scattered throughout the forest. It is a place where you can definitely feel something--I don't know if it's energy, or spirit, or the sense of something ancient, but seeing Kannon and the statues at Raizen Sennyoji was the main memorable moment from 2021 for me.


3. What was your most played song of 2021?


I sort of stopped listening to new music except for the occasional KPOP videos my brother would send me. Of all the music that came out this year, I like TRI.BE's Doom Doom Ta and I've played it more than once to boost my energy.


4. Did you take any trips in 2021? Tell us about the most memorable ones and why! I've been living in Japan for 5 years and I've tried to take small trips when I've been able to, but no place very far because I'm worried about the coronavirus, and I always keep an eye on travel warnings and emergency levels. So, I've hardly done any travelling this year.


In April I went to Itoshima, which was wonderful, and then the same month I went to Hita to find all of the Attack on Titan memorabilia (especially the statues and the dam that was the inspiration for Wall Maria). I haven't travelled since, and it's so hard, because there are so many things I still haven't seen in Japan (like Kyoto and Osaka, let alone the rest of Kyushu). I leave in August 2022 so I definitely feel like time is running out...but I want to be safe from the coronavirus, too, so I may not have another chance to travel again.


5. Something you’re looking forward to this coming year?


In August of 2022 I'll return to the United States. Although I am terrified of getting resettled, I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends again. It'll be the first time in six years I'll have seen my mother and my best friend.


6. What was your favorite meme of 2021?


Oh, jeez, I'm really bad at keeping up with stuff like that. If I think about it, I like the Anakin and Padme meme from Star Wars.

7. What was the hardest thing you went through in 2021?


Grandma dying was pretty rough. I wasn't able to go back to the States to support my family and see her one last time before she died.

8. Who/What are you most thankful for throughout the last year?


I'm grateful for my family Skyping with me through some rough patches. I'm also grateful for a therapist and psychiatrist who speak English here. Because I've been able to get medical care for my bipolar disorder, I've been able to stay in Japan for as long as I have.


9. What was the funniest thing that happened last year?


Whenever the family gets together for Jackbox games, we always have some laugh-out-loud moments.


10. What was your favorite series this year?


For TV series, I'd say Invincible, and the 2nd season of The Witcher, which I just finished watching. Oh! I really enjoyed Squid Game, too!!


For book series, I'd say The Cursebreaker Series by Brigid Kemmerer and The Folk of the Air by Holly Black.


11. What societal events or news stories shocked you this year?


Pretty much all the news about the United States shocked or pissed me off this year. The top stories that made my blood boil would be the January 6th insurrection and how the US has been handling coronavirus. I just cannot wrap my mind around people who are anti-vax and anti-mask. It is so easy to help out your fellow human beings, and I don't get why people won't.


12. What are you hoping for less of this coming year?


Coronavirus.


13. What are you hoping for more of this coming year?


I want it to be safe enough to travel again. If I don't get to Kyoto or Osaka, I'll be disappointed but understanding. I just want to be able to finish exploring the rest of Kyushu. I have yet to venture further into Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima...and I have never been to Nagasaki or Okinawa. It would be a shame to never go to these places when I can drive to most of them.


14. What personal goals did you achieve in 2021?


I finished writing my book, Son of the Siren. It's in revisions now, but the most important thing is that I made it to the point where I could type "the end."


I also read books this year, after having years of not being able to concentrate enough to do so. It felt like a miracle. The reading slowed down after a while, but I still read several books, so I'm proud of myself. I also learned a lot about YA fantasy this year that will help me whenever I write.


15. What is your favorite YouTube Content Creator in the last year?


Well, I only watch one fairly regularly, and that's Markiplier, so he wins by default. I checked out his playthroughs of Resident Evil Village.


16. What are you/did you do for New Year's Eve?


Honestly, for New Year's Eve 2021, I'm going to spend it inside wearing The World's Most Comfortable Bathrobe.™


17. What was your most memorable New Year's moment?


In January 2021 I did hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the New Year) and proceeded to suddenly get violently ill and puke in my mask while I was at the shrine. The illness hit me very suddenly and wiped me out for a few days. It was just a stomach bug that the doctor told me had been going around Kikuchi, and I was so shocked I had gotten it because of the precautions I'd taken for coronavirus. I got sick anyway. I'm glad it wasn't COVID, but it ruined my New Year's visit to the shrine.


18. Where is your dream city/place to celebrate New Year's?


Honestly, I can't pick a better place than Japan. Shrines are so much fun during the New Year holiday and I love visiting them every year. They're like little festivals with so much going on!


19. Do you celebrate New Year's with a kiss?


In America whenever I was at a party, I did. Just a little peck, and I only did it if everyone else was doing it. Hooray, peer pressure!


20. In 2022, what are your goals?


I want to finish revisions, submit to Author Mentor Match, and find an agent. If that doesn't work out, I want to self-publish as a backup.


21. Where do you want to travel in 2022?


I want to travel to Udo Shrine in Miyazaki for certain...I just want to visit more shrines to fill up my goshuin books. I would love to go to Kyoto. I'm scared to go because I'd have to figure out public transportation and flights and all that, but I know that this place is special for its temples and shrines. I also wish I could go back to Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture.


I pretty much assume none of this is going to happen.


22. What film are you most excited for in 2022?


Spiderman: No Way Home doesn't come out in Japan until January 7, 2022, so that's the big movie I'm looking forward to seeing in the new year.


23. What do you think YouTube will be like this year?


Probably the same as last year. I honestly don't know. I don't watch it very much.


24. What do you think 2022 is the year of?


It's the year of the tiger!


25. What are your New Year’s resolutions?


Find an agent, and try to come up with an idea for the next book.


26. How are you going to motivate yourself to stick to your goals this year?


Honestly, I don't know. I normally reward myself with shopping or something new, but I need to slow down with that--I have to save money and I need to consider the fact that I'll be shipping many things back to the States before I return. The less things to send back, the better!


27. What are your dream scenarios for 2022?


Not only get an agent, but have that agent secure a book deal for Son of the Siren. I would also like to get a job that pays more than $12,000 a year (which was what I was doing in the States before I came to Japan. Being a lecturer = poverty).


28. In 2022, what new things do you want to try?


I want to start a new book.


29. What are you going to stop doing in 2022?


I really, REALLY want to stop drinking soda. I'm addicted to it. I have tried to quit so many times and I just can't seem to. It's pretty bad.


30. Three words to describe your upcoming 2022?


Hopes, goals, and prayers.