Hello, 2023.

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.