Friday, January 23, 2009

ARGH + bye for now + very early media update

Cue the cheesy strains of hair metal band Europe, because it's the final countdown: in less than 24 hours, I'll be in Costa Rica.

I took today off work because I knew I'd have a million different things to do before I left, and I was right. Here's what I've accomplished so far:

1) Went to the library to return my books and print out my boarding pass. Here's where the "ARGH" comes in: after sitting on a computer so slow it was like molasses oozing down the back of an anesthetized snail, I finally got onto United's webpage and tried to check in.

Bzzzt. Couldn't do it because the flight is actually run by another airline, LACSA, and United just...well, I don't know, actually. Took my money. So I went to LACSA's webpage and nope, couldn't do it there either. Gotta do it at the airport. On the plus side, this means that I don't have to spend the entire ride to LAX maniacally chanting, "Okay, got my passport...boarding pass...ID. Passport...boarding pass...ID." Now I can just maniacally chant "Okay, got my passport...ID. Passport...ID." On the negative side, this worries me because I'd like to be officially checked in ahead of time so A) I don't have to fuck with standing in line forever, and B) I can make sure I have a decent seat.

Oh, and something else I noticed while I was on LACSA's webpage? Carry-ons can only be 22 pounds. Yeah, um, there's no way I can get everything I need for 2 goddamn weeks in Costa Rica down to 22 pounds. I think the suitcase alone weighs 22 pounds! So, unfortunately, I'll probably have to check the fucking thing. I'll cram as much as humanly possible into my backpack in case my suitcase goes missing.

2) Hit up the ATM. Fortunately, most Costa Rican businesses not only accept US dollars, but they prefer them. The first hotel where I'll be staying has a money exchange desk, so I'll trade in some money for colones, since some of the smaller places won't take US cash, and I really have to get a licuado (basically an insanely good smoothie).

3) Threw in a couple of loads of laundry.

4) Dropped off my rent.

5) Waterproofed my shoes.

6) Memorized the important phrase sin hielo (without ice).

After my laundry's done, I have to pack, and after that, I should be finished.

Did I mention that I've been taking 500 mg of B-1 a day for the last couple of weeks, and will continue to do so during my trip? Supposedly, it repels mosquitoes. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's sure as hell repelling ME. Seriously, every time I take a piss, it smells like a fucking GNC store.

Also, I bought the cutest goddamn pants you've ever seen. They're brown capris, but thanks to a complicated system of hidden buttons and straps, you can adjust them to any length you want. They're made of some special fabric that dries instantly, so they'll be perfect for trekking through the rainforest, and they make me look like I'm off to search for golden idols and lost arks. Originally I was going to buy a pair of those pants that zip off at the knees and turn into shorts, but every pair I found was intensely ugly and unflattering. I refuse to wear pants that make my ass look like an air mattress filled with tapioca. I also bought a hat, so cute. Nobody looks worse in hats than I do, but I don't want to get a sunburned scalp, so what little vanity I have must be put aside.

I'm posting my media update early because I leave at the unholy hour of 1:25AM, and I'll be spending the entire flight doped up on Simply Sleep and snoozing, so I won't be adding any books or movies tonight. I also doubt I'll be doing much reading during the trip, since I'll be too busy gaping at monkeys and volcanoes and whatnot, but if I do, I'll tack them onto February's list.

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. Royal Harlot* by Susan Holloway Scott: A juicy historical novel about Barbara Villiers Palmer, the mistress of King Charles II, filled with lots of detail and some very hot sex scenes.

2. Miles From Nowhere by Nami Mun: A teenage girl, disturbed by her mother's mental illness and father's infidelity, sets out for life on the streets. Sad and well written; the last chapter left me choked up.

3. Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond: Hannah is an elephant who lives at a tiny, rundown zoo. Samson Brown is the caretaker who has tended to her for over forty years. He's long due for retirement, and his health is failing, but he refuses to leave Hannah until he can find a replacement who will love her as much as he does. The writing can be really repetitive; for example, the author uses the word "subsided" three times in four pages, and one character says something "stiffly" twice in two pages. Also, two of the antagonists are so broadly drawn I'm surprised they didn't have mustaches to twirl. But despite its flaws, it's still a very charming book, and I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I got a big ol' lump in my throat at the end.


1. Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen: A memoir about the author's promiscuous past. It's not bad, but I was disappointed that she never really tried to figure out what caused her to sleep around so indiscriminately.

2. Love Junkie* by Rachel Resnick: A blisteringly honest, sad, and ultimately redemptive account of the author's addiction to terrible relationships. And, unlike the book above, she definitely figures out why.

3. Camp Camp* by Roger Bennett and Jules Shell: When I was in sixth grade, I had the opportunity to go to "outdoor camp". I eagerly leaped at the chance, because it meant a full week away from school (and we didn't have to make up the work when we got back!) and the bullies who made my life miserable. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an awful experience. Some of the bullies came too, mosquitoes feasted on my flesh, the food was inedible, and one of the male counselors liked to "accidentally" come into the girls' bathroom when we were showering. I missed my family terribly and cried so hard my face puffed out to twice its size. I only lasted a few days before begging to go home, and my principal dropped me off on my doorstep. My dad wasn't too thrilled that I'd pussed out, but when I hugged my mom and went into my room and saw Sprite curled up on my bed, right next to the latest issue of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, I didn't care.

So, for all intents and purposes, I never experienced summer camp, and I never thought I was missing anything until I read this funny collection of anecdotes, complete with alarming (seriously, in one of the pictures a girl is wearing the same Swatch sweatshirt I rocked in the 80's) and funny photos. It made me long for lanyards, bug juice, and getting to second base in the janitor's closet.

4. Lopsided* by Meredith Norton: A candid, irreverent, and at times hysterical memoir about breast cancer. Yes, you read that right. She certainly doesn't downplay the seriousness of her diagnosis and recovery, but she's smart enough to find the black humor in it. As one of the blurbs on the back cover says, "This isn't chicken soup for the soul; it's Tabasco." Highly recommended.

Oh, and here's one of my favorite passages, where she's talking about going to her Parisian gynecologist: "This looked nothing like an American gynecologist's office where everything is discreetly non-graphic and oven mitts protect sensitive soles from cold steel stirrups, as if you might not be there to get a Pap smear, but a steaming hot casserole."

And another: "For the first time Dr. Yuen saw that I was seriously upset. Not the upset where you sniffle and cry, but the ghetto-style upset where you burn down someone's check-cashing business."

One for the road (but this is seriously it, otherwise I'll be typing the whole book): "Oh my God! Was it true that black people can't float? I always thought we historically didn't swim because if they thought we could, white people would have made us pull barges or something."

5. Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent: The author voluntarily committed herself to three different mental hospitals in order to get a better glimpse of what life was like on the inside. Although I loved her previous book, Self-Made Man (in which she disguised herself as a man and lived that way for a full year), this one left me cold. She comes across as very pretentious and self-absorbed, and gives the impression that she thinks she's better than the other patients. Um, no, honey; you're just saner.


1. Kaze Hikaru vols. 7-8 by Taeko Watanabe

2. Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm

3. Wild Ones* vols. 1-5 by Kiyo Fujiwara

4. Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

5. Kitchen Princess vol. 8 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

6. Skim* by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

7. Joker* by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo: Wow, this is some grim shit right here. It's even darker than The Killing Joke.

8. Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston

9. The Walking Dead vol. 9 by Robert Kirkman


1. Resident Evil: Degeneration*: When zombies infest an airport, Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy reunite to take them out and uncover the truth behind the new outbreak. I'll be honest, if you're not a fan of the games, there probably isn't much here for you; otherwise, this is a must-see. The CGI is practically flawless, there are some great action scenes, and the voice acting (which includes Claire and RE4 Leon's original voice actors, as well as many other veteran anime/video game voice actors) is excellent. The DVD also includes two new RE5 trailers that made me spray my dainties. March 13th can't come soon enough!

2. Idiocracy*: A slacker is persuaded by the army to go into hibernation for a year, but it goes wrong and he actually wakes up hundreds of years later. He discovers that the world is exclusively populated by slack-jawed morons, and since he's now the smartest person alive, they want him to fix all of their problems. This movie is mostly famous for being completely neglected by its studio when it was released, which is a shame; it's the funniest movie I've seen in a long time, and has all the hallmarks of a cult classic.

3. Dead Space: Downfall: A feature length animated film that provides some much needed backstory for the video game. It's incredibly gory and an awful lot of fun, although---like the Resident Evil movie mentioned above---I doubt it would hold much appeal for non-fans.

4. Eagle Eye: Shia LaBeouf plays a man who comes home from work one night to find that his apartment has been filled with weapons and material for making bombs. He receives a mysterious phone call telling him to run, and he winds up on the lam with a stranger whose son is being threatened by the same person. Wildly improbable, but entertaining.

5. Charlie Bartlett: After being kicked out of yet another prep school, a rich kid winds up in public school, where he starts dispensing advice and prescriptions conned out of his own psychiatrist. It's not bad, but it so desperately wants to be Ferris Bueller and fails. Playing the principal, Robert Downey Jr. is, as always, composed of awesome.

6. My Little Eye: Five strangers move into a house in the middle of nowhere and allow themselves to be filmed 24 hours a day. If they last six months without leaving the property, they win one million dollars, but if anyone leaves, they all lose out on the cash. They've hit the last week of the competition, and it looks like they're home free...until weird shit starts happening. Very creepy and tense.

7. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: I hadn't heard positive things about this, so I was expecting to be disappointed, but it was actually quite good. It's pretty dark for a kiddie flick; sort of Lord of the Rings Lite.


1. "Coo Coo Ca Choo" by The Bloodhound Gang: I have a friend who's absolutely horrified by the fact that I love this band, but the reason she hates them (i.e., their immature, fratboyish humor) is the exact reason I love them. I can't help it; every time I listen to this song and he sings "Happy Thanksgiving! Would you like a little white meat? I'll stuff my Butterballs and you'll eat", I crack up. (You know I'm actually a 12-year-old boy with gynecomastia, right?)

Besides, any band that lists a rhesus monkey and a "fridge magnet of local interest" on their concert rider is aces by me.


Kummerspeck: A German word for the weight you gain from emotional overeating. It literally means "grief bacon".

And that's it from me for a while! If you guys could keep your fingers crossed that I get on my flight with a minimum of hassle and that Costa Rica doesn't have any more earthquakes while I'm there, that would be much appreciated.

See you on the flipside.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

watch your back, Martin

Last night, I went to Target and spent about $200 on stuff for my trip.

…well, mostly for my trip. I also bought a box of oatmeal, a bottle of shiraz, two tubes of Dr Pepper lip balm, and a blanket because my apartment is so fucking cold you could hang meat in it and I figured buying an additional blanket for $17 was cheaper than kicking the thermostat up a few degrees every night.

Anyway, so I was driving home and

…okay, second tangent. Can I just say that I love my fucking car? I mean, I LOVE him. When I turn the ignition, the display panel on the stereo says “HELLO [sairentohiru]”, which gives me a little frisson of happiness. Ginji knows my name! And I love having a CD player, because it gives me an excuse to pull out all the CDs that have been gathering dust since I bought my iPod way back when. Many of them are unlabeled, so I never know what’s going to come out of the speakers. Sometimes it’s the cheesy, cheery Eurotrash song “Holiday” by the Other Ones; sometimes it’s the fratboy raunch of the Bloodhound Gang; sometimes it’s…um…Air Supply.

ANYWAY. So I was driving home and suddenly I heard three very loud beeps. I immediately looked at the control panel to see if any icons were lit up, which fortunately was not the case. I shrugged, figured I was hearing things, and continued on my merry way.

Well, today I dug my cell phone out of my purse to charge it and behold! Those beeps were a text message! The only text messages I ever get are from Verizon, so I wasn’t expecting anything exciting, but it turned out to be a treasure. Check this misspelled masterpiece out:

Ugh! Martin! I don think were gunaa work out! Sherwinz buggn!

Isn’t it marvelous? It’s like a bit of found poetry, or a Jerry Springer episode boiled down to just eleven words. I suppose I could erase it, but I think I’ll leave it on my phone instead, so that centuries from now, when my ashes have long been relegated to the earth, archaeologists will find my phone and learn things about the time in which I lived.

Namely, that people were retarded.

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008: the year in review

JANUARY: On the first morning of 2008, I woke up to scrambled eggs and cinnamon French toast lovingly prepared by Madre. Later in the afternoon, G and I caught our flight back to Los Angeles, and after a lousy flight that included a bad movie, horrible food, and a nasty headache for G, we finally arrived home. Unfortunately, I brought a rotten souvenir back from New Jersey in the form of a bad cold, and I reluctantly called in sick to work the day after returning. Went to Little Tokyo to see the fun Giant Robot exhibit at the Japanese-American National Museum; while there, I also stocked up on magazines and junk food. Daddy-O came out for a short visit, and we pigged out hardcore at some of my favorite restaurants. Received the sad news that Padre needed a quadruple bypass, and G flew back to New Jersey for the surgery and recuperation. Padre's surgery was scheduled for the same day as my brother's surgery to remove a malignant growth on his leg, so I was a nervous wreck; fortunately, both surgeries were successful. The Giants won the playoffs, earning them a place in the Super Bowl. I spent the last 2 weeks of January in a G-less funk, but I tried to keep my mind off his absence by shopping, sleeping, reading, logging countless hours online, and watching movies. Heath Ledger died. Rain pounded Southern California for days on end. The douchenozzle with the assigned parking spot next to mine left a note on my door claiming I damaged his car; after several letters were exchanged, I finally put the matter in the capable hands of my insurance company. Read 7 novels, 2 non-fiction books, 4 graphic novels, and one volume of manga; watched 11 movies.

FEBRUARY: To my (and everyone's) astonishment, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. I joyfully welcomed G back home. Barfed during a matinee of Cloverfield. Valentine's Day was wonderful, thanks to a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a delicious dinner, and excellent gifts. Finished God Hand. Went through an embarrassing flatulent phase, much to the horror of G and my massage therapist. Read 8 novels and 6 non-fiction books; watched 10 movies.

MARCH: G lost a bet and had to take me to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner; I got my carbs on hardcore. My brother was officially diagnosed with Aspergers. Daylight Savings Time kicked my ass. Art Model moved out. Became obsessed with video poker. Spent a glorious Sunday visiting Little Tokyo and the Hustler Superstore, and the next day, I bought Juicy Couture sunglasses and four pairs of jeans, so I did my part stimulating the economy. Celebrated M's birthday with a pinata, a Mentos fountain, and a trip to Hollywood, where we took a bus tour of celebrity homes, posed with Angelyne's pink Corvette, and got skeeved out over a junkie in a McDonald's bathroom. Finished Silent Hill Origins. Went to the Third Street Promenade. Read 6 novels, 2 nonfiction books, 3 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; watched 7 movies.

APRIL: My apartment became infested with boring beetles, turning me into a nervous wreck. I discovered a tantalizing locked case at the library filled with intriguing books, but the embarrassment of being escorted to the front desk to check out Black Hole by Charles Burns kept me from asking for anything else. Made Bailey's French toast for Sunday breakfast; was shocked when it actually turned out well. Finished Obscure. Was shocked to discover that Pizza Hut's pasta was actually good. For Administrative Professionals Day, I received a coupon for a whopping hour off work, but I was slightly mollified to receive a $20 Target giftcard two days later for helping my boss with a project. Scored a gorgeous Anna Sui dress on sale for $88. My brother had to go to the ER with chest pains, and my dad found out that he had to have cataract surgery. Read 6 novels, 7 nonfiction books, 28 volumes (!) of manga, and one graphic novel; watched 3 movies.

MAY: Did some house/catsitting for C and M and took full advantage of their much nicer bathtub. Got hooked on Dead Rising. Went to Sawtelle Boulevard to check out the Giant Robot store; while there, I chowed down on a Beard Papa cream puff and a delicious curry lunch. We also saw a tiny crepe store with a sign in the window that said "We do not appreciate IDIOTS who laugh at sign and not order, know what you want before coming in or go away and not waste our time!" I desperately wanted to take a picture, but I feared the wrath of the Crepe Nazi. Much to my horror, the beetles that invaded my storage closet in April relocated directly over my BED. Fortunately, my landlady got an exterminator to come out immediately and spray the little bastards into oblivion. Had to go home from work a mere 15 minutes after getting there because I broke out into a cold sweat and got dizzy and nauseated; afraid to drive, I asked K to take me home, which she did. Oddly enough, I started feeling better almost as soon as I got in her car! Not dedicated enough to return to work, I bought the new Shojo Beat at Borders and read it at home while eating a Subway sandwich and a red velvet cupcake. I reluctantly returned to work the next day, but happily treated K to lunch as a thank you for her help. Daddy-O broke off his engagement to Saint G. G and I went out for a fancy dinner with C and M, and strangely enough, an unknown person had put a leftover container of chocolate cake on the passenger side of G's car! We were stumped; our best guess is that he left his car unlocked, someone got in by mistake, and fled in such a hurry after discovering their error that they left their dessert behind. G and I started watching Marronnier, a Japanese horror movie about wax dolls, but it was so shitty that we turned it off, even though we were buzzed on cheap red wine at the time. Was embarrassed to be caught singing along to "Brown Sugar" by my section manager. Read 3 novels, 5 nonfiction books, 1 graphic novel, and 1 volume of manga; saw 6 movies.

JUNE: The Cube Farm celebrated its anniversary with a huge catered lunch; I ate so much that I practically went into a food coma, and was completely unproductive for the rest of the day. G2 came to town, so G, C, M, and I hung out with him, eating, laughing, watching movies, and playing Frisbee. Went to see John Connolly for the fifth time, and after I got my copy of The Reapers signed, I posed for a saucy snap with him. My thighs broke out into a lovely mottled red rash, and I made an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out; fortunately, it turned out to be nothing worse than a bad case of heat rash. Was horrified by my addiction to the Denise Richards reality show. G’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephews came for a visit; we went to Little Tokyo, which the kids loved. A heat wave hit Southern California; sadly, although I moved them to the coolest part of my apartment, Bruiser and the Ebi Twins died. After two weeks of guests, I was excited to spend a weekend completely alone with G, but our joyous reunion was marred when I got sick. Finished Lost: Via Domus. Martin Lawrence was in line behind us at the movie theater. Read 7 novels, 5 nonfiction books, and 3 volumes of manga; saw 10 movies.

JULY: Spent the 4th of July in Santa Barbara eating, shopping, and watching fireworks. Spilled a bowl of miso soup all over myself and G; fortunately, neither one of us was hurt, although we smelled like soy until we were able to go home and shower. Brought my jujitsu-practicing neighbor running to my door when I screamed over a huge spider that landed in my hand when I was unrolling toilet paper. Spent C’s birthday in Malibu and Santa Monica. G decided to keep his birthday low-key, so we went to dinner and a late showing of WALL-E. I took my birthday off from work and spent the afternoon shopping, reading, and napping. Later, I put on my new Anna Sui dress and we went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. I had a Milky Way martini, margherita pizza, and bread pudding that came with a sparkler in the middle. Thanks to several coworkers taking vacation at the same time, I was a frazzled mess. Took a CPR class and started snickering during the instructional video because the “choking” victim sounded exactly like a Resident Evil zombie. Went to the Third Street Promenade with G, C, M, and R; to my delight, the man with the monkey was there, and I got to touch it again. Read 7 novels, 4 nonfiction books, 11 volumes of manga, and 5 graphic novels; saw 7 movies.

AUGUST: Started off the month feeling even more stabby than usual towards my job…a feeling that was only enhanced by a horrifying motivational meeting where I had to participate in inane group activities. After almost six months without a trim, I finally dragged myself to Supercuts and got my shaggy mop cleaned up. Finished Eternal Sonata. Spent an inordinate amount of time laughing at Batman GIFs and macros online. My brother came out for a short visit. Had a fantastic time at the Ventura County Fair, going on rides and gorging on glorious food ranging from roasted sweet corn to a red velvet cupcake the size of a softball. Had to get my CA-125 blood test, which left me feeling weak, so I replenished myself at the Chick-Fil-A down the block. Daddy-O came to California, took G and me to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner, and then headed up to wine country for a few days. Much to my incredible joy, Douche Nozzle moved out. Went to my oncologist’s for my annual visit, and fortunately everything was fine. Had a massive allergy attack; cause unknown, but Claritin helped. G and I celebrated four years of unwedded bliss. Read 7 novels, 3 works of nonfiction, 6 graphic novels, and one volume of manga; watched 6 movies.

SEPTEMBER: Spent Labor Day at a local park with G and our friends, watching a Motown concert and enjoying a picnic. Much to my dismay, they discontinued the alternative work arrangement at the Cube Farm; no more Monday matinees for me. G and I went to Little Tokyo and I burned my tongue on an extra-hot plate of curry. My boss tried to move me to a department I loathe; I managed to sack up and tell her I didn’t want to, and she picked someone else. Victory! Caught a nasty cold and called in sick to work; spent the afternoon on the couch slurping down a Jamba Juice smoothie and alternating between napping and Law & Order SVU reruns. Read 6 novels, 3 nonfiction books, and 4 volumes of manga; saw 2 movies.

OCTOBER: After over a full year of having no neighbors at all, a noisy family moved in below me. Went to a local fall festival with G, C, and M; we wandered through the corn maze, ate tons of junk, took a tractor ride, and marveled at Sky Goat, the Evel Knievel of goats. G and I went to Washington DC and had a great time. We walked about ten miles every day, saw an amazing glass exhibit, went to the various Smithsonian museums, awww’d over the baby panda at the zoo, ate the best Chinese food I’d ever had, went to a trendy restaurant with glorious desserts, and spent time with friends and family. Unfortunately, my trip back to California was unpleasant, thanks to turbulence, waiting over an hour for the flyaway bus, and nasty traffic due to the wildfires. Finished Resident Evil: Code Veronica (which I had played numerous times before, of course, but not for almost ten years) and Princess Debut. Sadly, one of my favorite local restaurants shuttered its doors. Spent Halloween in West Hollywood with G and our friends, drinking and admiring all the outrageous costumes. Read 6 novels, 10 nonfiction books, 8 volumes of manga, 3 graphic novels, and one comics anthology; saw one movie.

NOVEMBER: Went to the Day of the Dead festival on Olvera Street. Finished Silent Hill Homecoming. Much to my delight, Barack Obama won the Presidential election; much to my disgust, Prop 8, which prohibits same sex marriage in California, passed. Went to Little Tokyo, where G and I scored several bags of our beloved jyaga bata potato chips. A wonderful woman at the Nordstroms perfume counter gave me a big bag of assorted samples, which was akin to giving a vial of crack to an addict. G and I went to Florida for Thanksgiving, and although there were some snags during our vacation, one thing made it all worthwhile: Monkey Jungle. Finished Unsolved Crimes. Read 5 novels, 3 nonfiction books, 9 graphic novels, and 5 volumes of manga; watched 3 movies.

DECEMBER: When G and I were waiting for our flight at the Miami airport, we were treated to a woman screaming “I wasn’t on board because my daughter had to take a shit! Can YOU wait when you gotta take a shit?” at the ticket agent. Our flight back to California was no less fun, thanks to twin babies sitting behind us and a rude guy next to G, but at least C was nice enough to pick us up so we didn’t have to dick with the flyaway bus. Sadly bid goodbye to my AWA days, but at least my last one ever was very productive. Got a tetanus shot that left my arm sore for a week. Traded in my 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier for a 2009 Honda Civic, which I promptly named Ginji. Dropped a heavy perfume bottle on my bathroom vanity; the bottle was unbroken, but the vanity cracked like an eggshell. Finished Dead Space. Housesat for C and M and loved up on their cats. Spent Christmas with G, watching movies and eating rotisserie chicken from Ralph’s because every restaurant in the area was closed. Spent New Year’s Eve drinking and then falling asleep on C and M’s couch, but at least I woke up in time to see the ball drop, officially ending 2008 and ushering in a new (and hopefully better) year. Read 7 novels, 9 nonfiction books, 4 volumes of manga, and 7 graphic novels; watched 4 movies.