looking back, looking here. (10 books i loved in 2016)

‘kizzy, i am scared of everything, all the time. i’m scared of my ship getting shot down when i have to land planetoid. i’m scared of the armour in my vest cracking during a fight. i’m scared that the next time i have to pull out my gun, the other guy will be faster. i’m scared of making mistakes that could hurt my crew. i’m scared of leaky biosuits. i’m scared of vegetables that haven’t been washed properly. i’m scared of fish.’


‘i never thought of fear as something that can go away. it just is. it reminds me that i want to stay alive. that doesn’t strike me as a bad thing.’ (chambers, pei, 243)

january 2017 is almost at an end, and i’m a week into being back in california, and i feel like a ghost, just floating here, going through the motions of living but severed from everything — from home, from purpose, from hope. as the bleakness and homesickness set into my bones, here are attempts to anchor myself to something, to food, to books.

of the 60-odd books i read last year, these are the 10 i loved, that stuck with me over the months. they’re listed in the order i read them, starting with kleeman in january and ending with lee in december, and, if i were to sum up 2016 in reading, i’d say that 2016 was a year of bodies, and it was a year of silence. all ten of these books have to do with bodies in some way, whether it’s the value placed on bodies, the diminishing of people to only their bodies, the utility of bodies, the killing of bodies, the domination of bodies, and there’s a lot of silence thrown in there, too, silence in secrets, silence from god, silence as survival.

it was a year of asking myself how it is we define ourselves, how societies define us in accordance with the role they need us to play. it was also a year of asking myself who i was, what i believed, who i desired. like i wrote in my previous end-of-year post, 2016 is the year i walked away from faith and outed myself, and, in many ways, these are the books that carried me through much of that heartache and fear and anxiety.

and, so, without further ado:

  1. alexandra kleeman, you too can have a body like mine (harpers, 2015) [review]
  2. park min-gyu, pavane for a dead princess (dalkey archive press, 2014) [review]
  3. becky chambers, the long way to a small angry planet (hodder & stoughton, 2015) [review]
  4. esmé weijun wang, the border of paradise (unnamed press, 2016) [review]
  5. endo shusaku, silence (picador, 2016) [review]
  6. krys lee, how i became a north korean (viking, 2016) [review]
  7. sarah waters, tipping the velvet (riverhead, 2000) [review]
  8. garrard conley, boy erased (riverhead, 2016) [review]
  9. sady doyle, trainwreck (melville house, 2016) [review]
  10. corey lee, benu (phaidon, 2015) [review]

i kind of don't know where to start with this.

“humans can be so foolish. they don’t realize the light comes from themselves. they think the whole world is lit by a single lightbulb, but in fact a myriad of small lightbulbs must be lit for the world to become a brighter place. they keep themselves buried in darkness while continuing to envy the ones with light. seeing the darkness in everyone else around them, they give all their votes to the ones who are lit. this explains why poor people give their votes to dictators and why average people love the actors on screen. they don’t believe in their own light. they don’t believe

in each other’s light. they don’t hope; they don’t attempt to discover. and that is where the source of the world’s darkness lies.” (park min-gyu, yohan, 128-9)

i suppose, then, here is this: my favorite book of the year was park min-gyu’s pavane for a dead princess. park gives us three twenty-somethings who work in a department store and become friends, and they’re three young people who exist on the fringes of capitalist korean society, outside the desired standards of beauty and wealth. park essentially takes korea to task for its materialism and its singular standard of beauty, and, maybe, there’s a little too much politicizing, too much blatant criticizing, too much theorizing, but there’s also a lot of empathy and humanity in this novel.

korea is a funny topic for me, and my parents ask often if i hate being korean because i seem to hate korean society so. i counter that, no, i actually love being korean, and i take a lot of pride in korea’s history and the strength of her people and the vibrancy of her food and food culture. however, at the same time, korean society is one that is tremendously flawed and heavily patriarchal, toxic and narrow-minded and causing a great deal of harm to its people, to its children and youth. as i keep telling my parents about my relationship with korea and about everything else, the existence of one does not negate the truth of the other, and my heart aches for korea because i do love her, and, in many ways, for reasons both obvious and not, i will always be drawn to her.

corey lee’s benu, titled after his san francisco restaurant by the same name, reminded me of this. lee brings korean flavors and traditions into his food in thoughtful, creative ways, and i was blown away by the care he exhibits for food overall and korean food and culture particularly. he draws inspiration from other foods and cuisines as well, so it’s not like his cooking is solely korean-inspired, but there’s something about the way he’s negotiated his relationship with his korean ethnicity that i found so relatable.

one thing i love about asian america is the sheer breadth of it, how we all have different ways of being asian-american, of identifying with (or not identifying with) our asian heritages, and one effect of that is that i appreciate when i come across people with whom i can relate. i am not trying to say that my way of being asian-american is the “right” or “good” way to be; i don’t believe at all that there is a “right” or “good” way to be asian-american, just that is right and good for us individually; and i’m honestly not one to place that much importance in having to relate to someone. i often think it’s given more weight than necessary and, when applied the wrong way, used to justify a kind of narrow-mindedness, and i rarely ever seek it out, but i do admit that there is a comfort there sometimes — there is something nice about familiarity, after all, and i am not one to deny that.

anyway, benu is this lovely blend of personal history, korean history, and northern californian sensibility, and it is one stunning book. i’d expect no less of phaidon.

my mouth hurt from speaking english. the muscles around my lips and my cheeks ached. in my dreams, voices stretched into long, silly words that meant nothing, and i woke up saying “milk” or “glass” before tumbling back into the sleep of nonsense dreamers. soon i vomited over and over at the side of the road while david reached over and rubbed my damp neck, and then i craved all kinds of things: hot buns filled with pork, cold and briny seaweed, red bean popsicles. the sudden craving was monstrous, like a thing already in my mouth that could not be tasted or swallowed and just between my frozen teeth with a jaw stuck open, and my longing for these foods was not a longing in my stomach but something jammed deep in my throat. (wang, daisy, 58)

while we’re talking northern california: there’s esmé weijun wang’s the border of paradise, which delivers so gloriously on the “holy shit, what?!” side of the spectrum. i love a book that serves a good mindfuck because it doesn’t happen as often as i’d like, and i love it even more when the author does so in beautiful prose.

i also just personally love how i even knew of the border of paradise, so here’s a story, that i somehow stumbled upon esmé and jenny zhang at the same time a few years ago, somewhere on the internets, and i’ve been following them both since. i remember reading esmé’s journal entries about finishing her novel, signing with an agent, trying to sell the novel, etcetera, etcetera, so i was excited when her novel was published last year, preordering it at mcnally jackson and scuttling over once i got the email that it had arrived and was waiting for me behind the desk.

this is the thing that makes the internet a cool place to me, and there’s something really awesome about seeing something through its journey, especially when it’s a book, especially when you’re a writer yourself and this is a dream and ambition of yours as well. it’s also more the case when the writer is someone as vibrant and generous as esmé; she has a book of essays, the collected schizophrenias, that will be published by graywolf in 2018 after winning the publisher’s nonfiction prize.

(none of this has any bearing on my thoughts re: border or its inclusion on this list. i was actually a little nervous going into it because i didn’t actually know what the book was about — there’s a reason i’m not trying to write a summary; it’s kind of awesome to go into it blind — and there’s always the chance that a book will disappoint. luckily, i genuinely loved it.)

(also, if you’ve never heard of or read jenny zhang, please, please, please do; you will be the better for it. she’s written for rookiehere is a favorite piece; here is another — and she also wrote this fabulous piece for buzzfeed after the michael derrick hudson scandal. she has a book of short stories coming out from random house this spring, and i am so fucking stoked.)

so, there are authors you follow for years who write lyrical prose, and then there are authors who are able to create these wonderful lethargic, sticky moods — and i’ve yet to find another writer who does that as deftly as alexandra kleeman. i love the weird places kleeman takes us, and i love her voices and moods — and i say “voices and moods” plural because i also read her short story collection, intimations (harpers, 2016), last year, and i’m telling you: kleeman’s knack for atmosphere is exquisite. her stories are just as interesting and moody as her tones, and i like her as a human a lot, too. there are some authors you just want to be friends with, and kleeman happens to be one of mine.

and now to switch gears a little.

the world, to me, seemed utterly transformed since kitty butler had stepped into it. it had been ordinary before she came; now it was full of queer electric spaces, that she left ringing with music or glowing with light. (waters, 60-ish)

park’s pavane may have been my favorite book of the year, but garrard conley’s boy erased and sarah waters’ tipping the velvet may have had the biggest personal impact.

boy erased is conley’s memoir of his time in conversion therapy after he was outed to his parents (by the boy who raped him, no less). conley grew up southern baptist to a very religious family (his father is a pastor), and he writes poignantly about being gay and christian, about not only the fears and anxieties that come of being gay in a christian community but also about the personal clashes that occur within you when you’ve grown up with god woven into your life and, suddenly, he’s not there anymore.

unlike conley's, my faith is fully dead, and, when i read endo shusaku’s silence, i thought that here was a novel that explained to me why. silence tells the story of portuguese priests who sneak into japan in search of a fellow priest, and this is during a time when japan was brutally suppressing and excising christianity from itself, torturing people into renouncing god and killing them when they didn’t. the narrator struggles with god’s silence to the suffering of japanese christians, to the brutality they must endure in god’s name while god sits silent and does nothing and allows such violence and pain to continue, and, in the end, the narrator, too, must decide whether he will renounce god or not.

no, no! i shook my head. if god does not exist, how can man endure the monotony of the sea and its cruel lack of emotion? (but supposing … of course, supposing, i mean.) from the deepest core of my being yet another voice made itself heard in a whisper. supposing god does not exist …

this was a frightening fancy. if he does not exist, how absurd the whole thing becomes. (endo, 72)

when i think about silence, i think there is a cost for everything, and there is a cost for silence. silence breeds doubt, and it locks you inside your head, with your own fears and anxieties and insecurities. silence leads to brokenness, too, to broken relationships, to loss of faith, and silence is what cost me my faith, years of crying out to god and hearing nothing.

eventually, you start to feel like you must be mad, yelling at the skies and expecting an answer — and, even if there is a god, what’s the point if he won’t deign to engage with you? a world without god, then, is better than a world with a silent, cruel god.

in the end, in 2016, i did have to confront the frightening reality of a world without god — and it is a frightening reality, especially when you’ve grown up with god, when he was built into the foundations of your worldview. god is the basis of hope; it is his existence that allows you to see beyond this life, to “store your treasures in heaven”; and it sounds absurd to those outside faith, outside religion, but, when you grow up in that, when you believe it, live it, practice it for three decades of your life, the sudden absence of that leaves you bereft.

this is what i loved so much about boy erased, that conley gets this. and here is my favorite passage from everything i read this year:

“how do you feel?” my mother said. her hands were firmly fixed at ten and two at the wheel. this vigilance, this never taking a risk when you didn’t have to.

“i’m fine.” we’re all faking it.

“we can stop again if you need.”

“that’s okay.” it’s just that some of us are more aware of it.

silence. my big toe toggling the vent open and closed. with mark’s number in my pocket, i suddenly knew that what i was thinking was true. keeping a secret, telling a lie by omission, made it much easier to see all of the other lies around me. an expert liar was’ merely an expert on his own lies, but those of others as well. was this why LIA’s counselors were so good at challenging their patients, at calling them out? was this why smid and the blond-haired boy didn’t fully rust me?

“are you hungry?”

“no.” i can tell all of this to you later, after the ceremony. i just have to wait for the right moment.

“are you sure?”

“are you hungry?” but i’m afraid you’d be disgusted with me. i’m afraid you’d vomit again, right here in the car.

“a little.” the car turned a sharp curve, a stray pen tumbling out of the cup holder and rolling across the floorboard, a ping as it hit the metal bar beneath my feet. i could have picked it up, uncapped its top, and written my confession right then and there, had LIA’s rules permitted it.

“let’s stop, then.” i realize this now, that all of it might come down to me being afraid. that all of this supposed change is just to please him, to please you.

“i’ll pull into sonic. what do you want?”

“just some fries.” but i’m afraid of losing you. i’m afraid of what i’ll become if i lose you. i’m afraid because i think i’ve already lost god. god’s stopped speaking to me, and what am i supposed to do without him? after nineteen years with god’s voice buzzing around in my head twenty-four hours a day, how am i supposed to walk around without his constant assurance?

“an order of fries, please, and a coke.” beneath the speaker’s static, the clanging of metal in an invisible sink. “and a sonic burger.”

“can i get tater tots instead?” i don’t even know what i would look like to be gay. i can’t even imagine a life where my friends and family would want to talk to me if i was openly gay.

“make that tater tots instead of fries.”

“i’m not really that hungry.” i can do this. i just have to fake my way through until i can take my big risk, whatever that will be. (conley, 222-3)

and then there was tipping the velvet. (oh, tipping the velvet!) i’m slowly rereading it now, and it’s still tugging at my heartstrings in such aching ways. i wrote a giant post about sarah waters in august, though, so i’ll just link to that here.

i also did a compilation of quotes from sady doyle’s trainwreck a few months ago, so i’ll link to that here as well.

i also wrote about krys lee’s how i became a north korean, so i’ll link to that here, too. and i never really wrote about becky chambers’ the long way to a small angry planet, so i can’t link to that, but i loved it and keep recommending it, and i hardly ever read science fiction, so …!

you needed a vision of the future in order to get anywhere; you couldn’t live life thinking you were always about to fall off a cliff. i didn’t want to tell him i would never go back with him to the church: i would be going forward, forward by way of getting back to the kind of life i used to have, only this time i’d live it better. (kleeman, 281)

making pasta is something i’ve wanted to do for a while now, and one of the definite pros of being back at my parents’ in LA is counter space. marble(?) counter space. lots of marble(?) counter space.

i’ve always loved working with dough; it’s one of the most relaxing things i can think to do; and i love the physicality of it. i’m not one who likes using gadgets in the kitchen (i won’t even use a crock pot or a hand mixer), so i do everything by hand, kneading, rolling, cutting, and it has been my saving grace this past week. cooking, after all, has always been the best therapy.

like i said above, i feel like a ghost, and this is how i’m getting through these days. i cook. i think about what i’m cooking, how to get better, what to try next. i think about how i can challenge myself in the kitchen because, for some reason, i don’t doubt that i can try new things, new techniques, more complicated doughs and succeed (or, at least, not fail totally). i believe i’m capable of this, of learning, of practicing, of improving, in ways that i cannot yet believe that i will write fiction again, that i will feel whole again, that i will learn to live with my suicidal depression — that i can be loved, despite all the ways in which i am broken. i don’t have that faith, but, at least, i have a kitchen to turn to, hands to work with, hunger and curiosity to feed — and, above all, i have food.

this is all we've got.

the snow stopped, i murmured to myself. it felt as if a long time had passed. snow erases everything. sometimes, it covers up things that can rot and disappear. for a little while, snow helps us to remember the memories we keep scattered in our hearts. and now the snow had stopped. (park min-gyu, pavane for a dead princess, 10)

2016 was a year of heartache; i didn’t know my heart could hurt like it did.

i didn’t know it could hurt so much from fear, anxiety, and disappointment. i didn’t know it could hurt so much just being who i am in a conservative setting, to look into the future and see the continued aggression and rejection, and i didn’t know it could hurt so much on account of my country.

i didn’t know my heart could hurt so much from sheer longing, not even for anything impossible but for things that seem so basic, so human.

i didn’t know my heart could hurt so much, to want so much to love someone, to want only happiness for her.

i didn’t know the human heart could be so easy to decimate, so difficult to kill.

if my heart feels destroyed, my brain feels so muddled these days. i’ve been trying to write this post since december 17, when we had snow in new york, and, now, it’s december 30, and i’m trapped in california because 2016 is the year the idea of rock bottom lost all meaning. i have things i want to say, but i’m not sure where to start, and all the anxiety from being stuck here is bleeding into everything.

all i want right now is to go back home.

i suppose, though, here’s a brief summation, that 2016 was the year of instability, of looking for and failing to find a full-time job and gain, with it, a measure of stability and assurance that i haven’t totally fucked up. it’s the year i finally met the challenge of semi-regularly producing content and trying to find a voice of my own, and it’s also the year i stopped caring about trying to fit into a specific niche or satisfy the implied requirements of what makes a good social media presence of a particular ilk.

2016 is the year i was constantly surprised by people’s capacity to love and reach out, and this means a tremendous amount to me because 2016 is the year i learned to carry anxiety with me everywhere, the year when spaces that were once familiar became treacherous. it’s the year i looked my sexuality in the eye, recognized it for what it was, and outed myself on social media, which wasn’t something i planned to do, ended up doing the night of the election because of terror, fear, and rage. 2016 is also the year i excised god from my life and walked away from faith — and the two combined means that 2016 was a year of constant tension and strain and worry.

it’s liberating to be out, but it comes packaged with a whole lot of uncertainty and fear. i also have the added baggage of having grown up in a conservative christian community, and being out means that i honestly don’t know where i stand with many people, if and which relationships are dead, what consequences my conservative christian family might face from their community because of my orientation. it might be a stupid thing for me to be worrying about, but it is there, and it is a thing that has kept me silent or talking in what feels like code, hoping people (allies) read between the lines or (non-allies) miss the hidden language altogether.

it’s been a lot to carry, trying to rebuild my world without faith and to navigate life outside the heteronormative mainstream. i feel almost like i’ve been reborn, and it has been exciting to claim this part of myself that i’d neglected and dismissed for so long — but that makes me angry, too, the narrowness of the world of my youth, the ways religion continues to repress and shame and harm with ugly violence fueled by blind hatred.

and, so, 2016 is the year i learned that silence is not an option. i ended up outing myself in a pique of rage and panic because this country had basically made it very clear on november 9 that it didn’t matter whether i was in the closet or not — it was going to come after me and my rights, anyway, so i might as well speak up, and i might as well fight.

which goes to say that we might be looking right at 2017, and i might be feeling completely muddled and broken these days, but we’ll find the words to talk about all this shit in the months to come.


my goal for 2016 was to read 75 books, and i did not meet that goal, coming in at 65 (i think). i feel like i fell short of all my reading goals this year — didn’t read 75 books, didn’t read anything in completion in korean — though i did blog more, so i did write more about what i was reading.

it’s not to say that 2016 was a bad reading year. i don’t think any year in which i read and attempt to read diversely, intelligently, and thoughtfully can be a bad reading year, but it is true that 2016 was largely an uninspired reading year. i struggled considerably with staying engaged, staying interested, not with specific books per se but with fiction in general. for the most part, though, as unpleasant as it is to be uninspired, that was still okay because i diverted a lot of my focus into reading more food writing and more cookbooks, into exploring what that intersection of literary writing and/or journalism and food looks like.

this is not a comment on the books that were published in 2016 — or that i read this year because i read some amazing books that moved me and challenged me and helped me find hope amidst the shit (my next post will be about 10 specific books). i’ve struggled with some very real fatigue this year, though, and it’s a fatigue that has almost entirely to do with whiteness and straightness, despite 2016 having been a pretty good year for writers of color. it’s encouraging to see the industry being better, trying to look beyond its white straightness, and yet …?

maybe this fatigue is an inevitable by-product of both this election cycle and this election, all the ugliness it exposed to be alive and well in this country. maybe it’s an inevitable by-product of the disappointments in my own life, of not finding a job, of struggling so much to survive, to pay the bills, to write. maybe it’s also an inevitable by-product of all my interpersonal and social anxiety.

maybe it’s all of it.

in his year in reading essay for the millions, kevin nguyen writes:

if you believe that books have the power to do good, you also have to believe that they can do just as much harm. after the election, there was no soul searching on book twitter. no one questioned the power structures of publishing. can we talk about how one of the big five publishers is owned by news corp? often the publishing of things like bill o’really’s twisted histories is justified as a means to support literary fiction. but does anyone asks if that trade-off is worth it?

it’s easy to romanticize books and to make them out to be great cultural pillars, and that’s not to say that they aren’t. it’s crucial to recognize literature’s place in the world and its ability to shape thought and, yes, do good (and to stop trying to kill humanities programs), but it’s easy to lose ourselves in this idea that, because we read, we are good, we are somehow superior to other consumers of other modes of culture.

we make a thing out of a flawed industry, even going so far as to make the big 5 out to be these great underdogs in the world of amazon and internet media, when big publishing is exactly that — big — and just as guilty of making bad decisions, of failing to adapt and make changes, of sitting around and talking about a topic (aka diversity) instead of trying to do something about it. just because publishing’s business is books doesn’t mean it’s an industry that’s not guilty of indulging and overexposing celebrity, of selling out, of making questionable compromises in the name of what — money? reputation? power?

which is not to dismiss the agents and editors and publicists and marketers and designers and the army of assistants and HR people who try to acquire great work by writers of different colors and backgrounds and orientations and bring beautiful, thoughtful writing into the world. i know that there are great people working in publishing today, and i love the work that they do, the dedication they have to literature and literary culture. as a reader, i am indebted to them, and, as a writer, i hope one day to be published by them, to place my book in their hands, to have them on my side.

and yet there is something about always having to make this kind of statement that feels odd — like, how we must always go out of our ways to say that, yes, we know that not all white people are racists and we know that not all men are misogynists or assholes who commit violence against women, not all christians are homophobic bigots. to have to make that concession is simply another way that power exhibits itself, this seeming need to protect the power-holder’s fragility and indulge its self-defensiveness, all just to be able to say that shit is bad and shit needs to change.

making a criticism is not making a blanket statement that everything in that setting or grouping is bad. things are not so clearly either/or, and contradictions exist within everything — and, as such, 2016 was a good year for writers of color, but 2017 needs to be a better one. we need more writers of minority groups telling their stories, whether through journalism, fiction, or personal essays. we need to be asking ourselves if the trade-offs are worth it, and we need to admit that books can do as much damage as good. we need to question why we read what we read, why we write what we write, why we publish what we publish, and we need to look at where voices are being cut off and shut out.

we need to ask how we can do better, whether as people who work in the industry or as writers or as readers because it will take all of us to create change and move the world to a better, more open place.

i don’t mean this to sound condescending or like a lecture, but i do want to throw the challenge out there because, again, silence is not an option, and, similarly, indifference is not an option. we don’t get to not care anymore, and, as such, i hope to see more in 2017 from publishing and the literary world. like i said, there are people out there doing great work, so i don’t think this is a vain hope.

ultimately, 2016 is the year that being able to recognize myself in literature started to mean a whole fucking lot, and i will do as much as i can in my own limited ways to bring more attention and awareness to great writing by minority writers. it is the least that i can do.

if 2016 was a year of heartache, 2017 is the year we lose each other.

early next year, i’m looking at a move to the bay area, back across the country to california, that fucking state that just won’t let her goddamn claws out of me. it’s a mess of a situation where no one wins, not me, not my family, not anyone involved, and it’s not something i’m really thinking about in any substantive way yet because to do so would be to descend into rage and desperation.

i know exactly what a move back to california means; it means a return to rootlessness and restlessness and continued self-loathing. it means not letting myself settle down because my singular goal will be to leave as soon as i can because the longer i stay, the greater the damage, and i’m already in pieces.

to some, it might sound strange and irrational because a state is a state, it’s just place, somewhere to be, who bloody cares? a cage, however, is place, too, and place is a weapon, a trap, a hell, and, as a queer woman of color, place matters a lot because place is directly attached to safety, and safety is something i don’t take for granted.

there’s that saying that a wounded animal is the most dangerous, but i wonder to whom the danger lies. is it the wounded animal that is in danger from herself? or is it the person or thing cornering her that is in danger? when you trap a wounded animal, who will she harm — you? or herself?

if there’s something to remember, it’s that things do not exist simply in clear binaries. it is possible to love someone and be disappointed in that same person, to acknowledge someone’s goodness and generosity as well as that person’s narrow-mindedness and flaws. it is possible to love someone who harms you, not in a stockholm syndrome sort of way, but in a genuine way that recognizes that we all fuck up and we are all capable of causing great harm but we can also admit that and work to heal wounds and rebuild trust. 

it is possible to be so completely, humbly grateful for what someone does for you and find yourself suffocating from that same gratitude, and it is possible to care for someone and love that person deeply and trigger that person in all the worst possible ways. it is possible to believe that you are doing the best for someone and wreak so much damage that that person will flee from you just to have even the smallest chance to heal.

it is possible for things to be okay even while they’ve fractured beyond repair.

it is possible not to want to live and also not to want to die.
it is possible to listen to someone speak and not hear what that person is actually saying.
it is possible to have an open heart and draw lines and conditions that close up that same heart.

it is possible to be, to commit acts that so completely oppose each other at the same time, and to believe in a world of perfect consistency is to be naive.

when i think about 2017, i see nothing. i have no hopes, no expectations, just silence and darkness, a low thrum of hopelessness underneath it all. 2017 already looks like regression, ten steps backwards, and i can already chart it out in loss. 2016, in many ways, is ending with lines drawn in the sand indicating the limits to certain relationships, and 2017 is starting not with calm and anticipation but with my anxiety and depression keyed up as high as they can go. 2016 might have tracked the decline of my mental state, but 2017 is already tearing at the shreds, causing more damage before the year has even begun.

i have one goal for 2017, and it is to move back out east, whether to new york or boston, by the end of it because i will not live and die in california, a state that i despise and that has never been kind to me. i know where home is, and, by the end of 2017, i will be back home.

happy 2016!


may you prosper and read great books and eat great food and drink great coffee and enjoy great company in 2016!

last year, i made three bookish resolutions:  (1) to read 75 books, (2) to read a book in korean every month, and (3) to write better reviews.  i ... kept none of those.  instead, i read 70 books, did not read a single book in korean, and failed at writing better reviews.  or at blogging regularly.  or semi-regularly.

i'll still make bookish resolutions, though, so, for 2016, my bookish resolutions are:

  1. read 75 books
  2. read a book in korean every month
  3. write better reviews (aka blog more regularly)

... >:3

i mean, if i didn't succeed last year, might as well keep trying to accomplish my resolutions this year, right?

oh, and one more:  READ. PROUST.

happy 2016, all!