Hello, I am alive.

Recently I’ve been rereading (yet again) old blog entries from college and came across this one from December 2010:

A Love for All Things Beautiful

sight, sound, and scent color, coffee, and conversation literature, lace, and love picture, poetry, paper, and pen

ink and inspiration time and truth and tattoo pleasure and pain and piercing swirl, smoke, and solitude

These are things that come to mind, along with images of flowers and grass growing wild in an open field. A simple life I have been longing to live. Something I feel I have been deprived of. There is a hunger growing inside me. A need, a longing to breathe an air some place else. A place with no concrete walls, no silver deserts of asphalt, no tall, fiber glass windows.

I want not only to see beauty, but to experience it. To hold it and preserve it. To create something out of it. To capture it and become one with it.

There is a fire burning in my hearth, warming up my made-up winter days. There is no fall in the land I come from, but dead trees stand proud, their roots buried in its earth, their branches reaching for its sky.

I, too, have a sky.

I long for something beautiful. Merely existing holds no meaning.

I long to be defined.

Some say people don’t really change, and I suppose this entry is a testament to that, because the things I apparently wanted nearly fourteen years ago are still the same as my desires at present.

Lately I’ve been trying to be more conscious of the things I consume. I haven’t been on Instagram for over a month (although I still occasionally post on my dog’s account just so the shelter we adopted her from could see that she is happy and healthy) and because of it I feel I’m healthier mentally. I should have quit a long time ago, but who has time for regret?

It’s summer now, but just like last year, it seems the arrival of the season has been pushed back yet again. I suppose this is how it will always be moving forward. Climate change deniers, care to explain why this is so?

Other than cutting back on social media usage, I’ve also been trying to buy less. I haven’t been succeeding on that front, but at least I’m making an effort, I suppose. For one, I no longer go to shopping malls for fun. Something I read on r/simpleliving changed my outlook on malls. It was something along the lines of ‘nothing you can buy from a mall will las you a lifetime’ and since then I haven’t had any desire to go window shopping. After all, what’s fun about walking around ogling at stuff you either don’t need or can’t afford? Or worse, both. I don’t even know why window shopping is something I spent precious time on. See? This is why one must always strive to be mindful of how one’s time is spent. Time is a limited resource, after all, even if it seems we have an infinite supply of it.

I turned thirty six years old this year. A scary number, for sure, especially because I still have not lost the weight I’ve been meaning to lose for about ten fucking years now, which means I still have not gotten pregnant. But, as always, I am still trying.

I’ve stopped taking ADHD medication over a year ago, and I honestly do not find the need for it. I feel like because I’ve lived so long without knowing for sure if I had it (and even forgetting I suspected it), I just learned to manage my symptoms—devising systems to help keep my shit intact. Of course, the official diagnosis still made a huge difference and since then I’ve only come up with more systems and processes to keep my life from falling apart.

The older I get, the more disdain I feel towards this broken system we’re forced to live within. It’s fucking exhausting and disheartening to watch the world deteriorate in the hands of the selfish and greedy.

2023 went by in a blur. I’m pretty sure a lot happened even just in my own life, but it takes a lot of time and mental effort to recover the events of the previous year from under the rubble of everything else going on at present.

At the end of 2023, my husband and I adopted a dog from a shelter in Osaka, and she’s been our priority since. We’re both still in our New Year holidays, so it hasn’t been excessively difficult just yet, although admittedly I had a bad case of puppy blues at the beginning. I almost immediately regretted adopting her because she’s not a small puppy. At six months, when we got her, she already weighed 14kg, and she will keep growing up to about 20kg. I’ve had dogs before, but they were family dogs. She is the first dog I’m actually taking care of myself, and in a way that isn’t how dogs have traditionally been cared for back home. She’s acclimatized pretty well to her new home life with us, but since she’s an adolescent, she’s been exhibiting some typical teenage behavior, so some days are a bit challenging than others. Overall, though, she’s a joy to have, and walking her, petting her, or just watching her nap in her pen has been a welcome addition to my daily life.

I’ve stopped thinking of New Year’s resolutions years ago, but I still write up a list of goals, which is usually just a list of things I haven’t accomplished in previous years migrated to a new notebook. This year, I’m using an A5 sized Hobonichi as a daily journal, since I’ve done pretty well at journaling regularly at the latter half of last year.

This year’s mantra is Take it slow. And by that, I mean, stop rushing through everything that needs to be done, take frequent breaks, and spend time just breathing and taking in life.

I lost friendships in 2023. I let them go by choice, but most of them were collateral damage from the rupture of my relationship with my high school best friend. I was frustrated when I realized people still chose to associate themselves with her and her fucking husband even when they know they are benefiting from government corruption—something which nearly everyone in that friend group is vocal against. I cannot stand being friends with people who actively choose to remain friends with people like that because, to me, tolerating corruption is akin to complicity. You cannot act like you are against corruption when someone you consider a friend is doing it right in front of you and your response is to simply turn a blind eye. Such bullshit.

Obviously, I still carry a lot of anger, and I don’t think it’ll dissipate anytime soon, but I am trying to focus on more important things in my own life. Letting go of those friendships and accepting that our values simply aren’t compatible anymore frees up space in my life for people whose moral values are more aligned with my own.

I can’t control other people, and that includes who they choose to be friends with. I’m sure they have their reasons for staying, but that is none of my business, and the sooner I come to terms with this fact, the better.

It’s sad, but so are many other things in life. And acquainting myself with that sadness, sitting with it, and becoming comfortable in its presence rather than running away from it is something I intend to learn this year too.

Well, then. Happy new year, stranger. Hope this year turns out better than the last for all of us.

They say grief never leaves us. But today I learned that a certain kind of grief does eventually come to an end.

I recently lost one of my best friends—the one I’ve known the longest, for more than half of my life. They are alive and well, just to be clear. But our friendship is dead.

Over the last several years, that person has been shoveling dirt in secret, digging a hole that would become the gravesite of our decades-old friendship. Meanwhile, they have been lining their pockets, building a life I never knew they wanted for themselves. This was someone I grew up with, someone I considered family, with whom I shared my deepest secrets, closer to me than even my own brother.

I should have known. I should have noticed the symptoms, read the signs. But they were sly and careful enough to ensure I was in the dark, oblivious, believing my friends were untainted by the sins of the corrupt.

I was an idiot. There were many things I neither knew nor understood about how things worked within the system, and, as a result, did not catch a whiff of the smoke in time to kill the fire. When you trust someone with your whole heart, when they made you believe they stood for the same things you do, you would not think them capable of burning down your own damn house.

We fault people who have been duped into questionable agreements by suspicious strangers, but what of us who believed in people we loved greatly, but in the end still found ourselves robbed?

Ah, but here is where it gets amusing: that person has broken my heart before, when we were much, much younger. And I forgave them, dismissing the incident as a mere consequence of our immaturity. A regrettable decision, in retrospect.

I understand now that love, along with everything good that comes with it, in the hands of the wrong person, can be weaponized. That the same love that once kept you afloat on murky water can turn into the tangle of weeds that causes your drowning.

Grief is a moving train and today I arrive at the final stop.

I get off and find myself in a desolate landscape that reeks of death and decay. The sky threatens rain. Dragging a heavy suitcase behind me, I trudge along a muddy dirt path leading to a grave pit. I unlock the suitcase. Inside it is a photograph of us sitting side by side, twenty years younger, wearing white blouses and pleated skirts the color of marigolds, smiling from ear to ear, blissfully unaware that one day, they would stab our friendship to death, and leave me with the responsibility of laying it to rest.

I bury the remains of our love. This time, not even a single tear is shed. To keep grieving is to keep loving. This is where it ends.

Spending the morning writing on my physical journal and reflecting on what it means to practice memory-keeping. Recently, I’ve been lamenting on the fact that we can only recall a tiny fraction of our lives. Most of the memories I can easily retrieve at this point are the ones tied to strong emotions, pleasant or otherwise.

I remember reading somewhere that strong emotions cause the brain to commit an incident to memory, so I’m not surprised this is the case. Still, what a tragedy. Thousands and thousands of days, of moments we ought to remember, lost forever in oblivion.

I regret not writing in journals more when I was younger, and not keeping what journals I did have. One reason I couldn’t keep a journal was because my mother was always going through my stuff, so there was no semblance of privacy at home. Even when I was in college living in dorms, I still had to take my stuff home every sembreak, which meant my mom had time to rummage through my things when I wasn’t home and read what I wrote in my diary. I resent that about her.

Growing up, I became conscious of what I was writing in my journals. I censored myself sometimes, fearing somebody might open my journal and read it. These days, because my husband isn’t the type of person to invade someone’s privacy, I am able to write with less anxiety and more freedom, without having to hide my journals in drawers, fearing someone will look for them, find them, and read them.

I’ve been journaling almost every day since last month. It helps that I’m always carrying my Traveler’s Notebooks with me these days. The Delfonics pouch I bought turned out to be a good decision too, because now my daily journaling supplies are in one place. In the past, it has happened that I had a notebook with me, but not a pen, and vice-versa.

Let’s see how long I can keep this up. I’m positive I can stick with it because this is the kind of person I’ve become: someone who struggles to remember, and thus works harder than the average person to record her thoughts, emotions, and memories. After all, isn’t it easier to revisit memories when they’re in a tangible space?

When circumstances change, you can change with them. You are not bound to who you are in this moment.

Anxiety is a house with no windows. There is a door, of course, and under this door is a gap.

There is no light in this house, save for what leaks in through the narrow space between the door and the floor.

The blooming daisies, the frigid layers of powder snow, the crimson and golden hues of maple and gingko leaves

The smell of earth and grass and raindrops. The feel of wet soil slowly enveloping one’s feet

The joy and music of sunshine on a clear day

The world beyond the door of the house I would not leave.

Sometimes breathing feels like drowning.

I woke up at 8:39, long after my husband has gone to work. I couldn’t make his morning coffee, which has been a source of joy for me.

Checked my phone and saw a long email from a parent whose child is having trouble at school.

Spent the first half hour of my day responding to them and the next couple of hours thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it now.

As I was making my morning coffee, I thought about it too, and ended up spilling some of the coffee I ground because I had forgotten that I unscrewed the dosing cup from the grinder when I picked it up.

I ground the beans a little finer today. Still, I felt the water drained a little too quickly. Layers of frustration for breakfast, maple syrup on top. “You forgot to buy butter,” my husband said last night.

“I haven’t gone grocery shopping,” I replied.

“Oh, right. Sorry,” he said, taking me aback.

I appreciate apologies more than the average person, I feel. But I don’t forgive easily. I hold on to grudges as if they were a lifebuoy.

Perhaps, I should have learned how to swim.

But there are countless things I couldn’t learn because I was too scared. I wish my mother had not allowed Fear to ever steer my boat, but she did not know any better, did she?

The things I need to do lay on top of the things I have yet to do. Sometimes I am shocked at how quickly the day ends, how I have only dozed off to sleep, and the sun has once again risen, only to set a moment later.

It has been twenty one years since the movie A Walk to Remember came out. It’s surreal how much time has passed, how much I’ve aged. Mortality feels like a tragedy, but what is there to do? I breathe because I don’t have a choice.

I grasp my own hand from the surface of the water to keep my body from sinking.

I’m starting the year off with pain in both hands. Actually, the pain started even before 2022 ended. Initially, it was only my left hand that hurt. I thought I broke my wrist, but it turned out the pain was caused by playing too much Monster Hunter Rise on the Switch. It’d be hilarious if the pain weren’t so troublesome.

I’ve stopped playing since and I say this with great sadness. I deeply enjoyed MHR, both solo and with my husband, my brother, and my dad. I got pretty good at using double blades, only for this to happen. My dad told me it’s most likely De Quervain tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Apparently this condition is also called gamer’s thumb and texting thumb, as both console gaming and texting involve repetitive thumb movements that, when overdone, can result in inflammation.

Last week I visited my GP and an orthopedist to finally get my hands checked. My GP took a blood sample to check for possibility of rheumatoid arthritis, and the orthopedist took x-rays and his diagnosis is tendinitis due to overuse. Thus, he advised that I rest my thumbs and to keep my hands warm, as the cold winter weather could also cause joint pain and stiffness.

Growing old is so much fun, isn’t it?

I can’t believe it’s 2023. I still write 2022 when filling out forms and I imagine this will go on for a while longer. Around the end of November, I became interested in brewing better coffee at home. I’ve always liked to drink coffee, but the coffee I made at home has always been from the supermarket. It didn’t make sense for me to spend a lot of money on a drink that has always just tasted bitter or sour. I didn’t understand why some people were so passionate about it, and it was the intensity of that passion that kept me from dipping my toes into the world of coffee.

What got me into coffee wasn’t even coffee itself—it was milk. When I went to Tokyo at the end of November last year, I spent a day cafe hopping in Shinjuku and trying out different cafe lattes, and went back home thinking I had to learn how to make a latte at home (complete with latte art, of course).

Thanks to this newfound interest in cafe latte, I discovered I couldn’t make a proper latte with brewed coffee. The base of a cafe latte is espresso, which meant I needed to get an espresso machine. I promptly went on Amazon to look for the cheapest espresso machine I could find that didn’t sacrifice quality too much, and then went on to watch video reviews on YouTube. And this was how I came to know James Hoffmann and was discouraged from purchasing a cheap espresso machine. And down I went into the coffee rabbit hole.

It was thanks in part to Hoffmann that I decided to go with the Cafflano Kompresso for my espresso maker. It’s not a machine, though. It’s a compact manual espresso maker that looks similar to an AeroPress, but has a narrower water chamber that allows for espresso extraction. Hoffman compared the Kompresso with the Fellow Prismo (an AeroPress accessory that claims to produce espresso-like coffee) and he concluded that the Kompresso can produce something close to an espresso, but the Prismo cannot. The guys at the Euroean Coffee Trip channel got better results with the Kompresso and produced something that had an impressive amount of crema.

I started off with a jar of Illy espresso grounds, but couldn’t replicate what I saw on the ECT video. I later found out that to get crema, I needed freshly ground coffee. And to get freshly ground coffee, I needed a grinder. At this point, I started feeling like it was too much trouble and was getting too expensive, but I was determined to be able to make espresso at home, so I went on Mercari and fortunately found a brand new 1zpresso J-max for a very good price. But even with an espresso-capable grinder, I wasn’t getting good results on the Kompresso, so in late December, I decided to purchase a manual espresso lever machine, the Flair Pro 2. The Flair is indeed capable of producing excellent shots of espresso (though let’s be honest, this early, I doubt I can really tell the difference between a good and a bad shot lol).

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve accumulated so much coffee paraphernalia in a matter of weeks and even went as far as buying new furniture to set up a coffee corner in our dining room. Sometimes I wonder how long it’ll take for my brain to decide it’s had enough and moves on to a new hobby, but at the moment, I really enjoy learning more about coffee and discovering all the wonderful flavors in a well-brewed cup.

To make a cafe latte, however, I need something to create the proper milk texture, and unfortunately, I neither own a milk steamer nor do I plan or buying one. I tried using a cheap handheld frothing wand I got from Daiso a couple of years ago, but have had better success at creating microfoam with a french press. Results vary, however, and this has been a source of frustration, especially now that my hands don’t work as well as they used to.

Still, I’m glad I finally decided to learn more about coffee. I love visiting and hanging out at cafes, and have always fantasized about someday owning one, but for now, I’m happy to be able to make delicious coffee in the comfort of our own home.

My mom came to visit for the first time in early December and stayed for nearly a month. I was very happy to have her over, since it’s been more than two years since I moved to Japan and it was only recently that the country finally reopened its doors to tourists. Hopefully my whole family can come visit in the near future. Especially since I don’t intend to come home anytime soon, as pretty much all the news I get from home is bad news.

Recently I’ve been thinking that I worked a lot in 2022 and although I like my job and my workplace, I feel like I should work less this year and focus more on getting healthier and conceiving. I will be thirty five this year, after all. Thirty fucking five. Insane. Honestly, it feels like 2022 came and went in a snap. What did I even do last year? What did I accomplish? I’m afraid now is not the time to be thinking about this, so maybe some other day.

Well, happy new year, friend. Or stranger. I hope 2023 will be a better year for all of us.

Trigger warning: Mental Illness

Very recently, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—first, by a doctor here in Japan and, second, by a psychiatrist based in the Philippines. I’m still in the process of coming to terms with the diagnosis and I’ve been spending a lot of time looking back and trying to recall the ways ADHD has affected my life.

The first time I ever considered the possibility of having ADHD was in my last year of college. Back then I wrote quite regularly on various blogs, and about eleven years ago, I wrote about suspecting I might have the predominantly inattentive presentation of ADHD. I guess I never considered I was showing symptoms of hyperactivity, only to find out over a decade later that I do, in fact, show some level of hyperactivity.


I thought I’d find the time to pick up a pen or, more realistically, the folding plastic keyboard I got off Amazon for my iPad since the Magic Keyboard costs too much—

But, no, the time to write was never found. Or perhaps I simply ignored it when it did arrive at my doorstep. Maybe it rang the bell but got ignored like an NHK fee collector.

すみません。日本語喋られません, I say. I don’t speak Japanese: a half truth.


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