1) Brick (dir. Rian Johnson)
This film was pretty polarizing in my Motion Picture Script Analysis class, but I loved it, to the extent that it’s probably the best film I’ve seen all year. The score is 10/10, Joseph Gordon Levitt is 10/10, and the whole neo-noir vibe is 10/10. Even if you don’t like mysteries, or high school kids talking as if they were in the 1940s,
or Joseph Gordon Levitt looking cute af, at least give it a chance. You might not like it, but who knows, maybe you will.
2) Glass Animals
So apparently I was living under a rock, because I hadn’t heard of Glass Animals until this fall, when one of my residents (ily Will) introduced me to them. I decorated my wall with a bunch of pineapple prints, and upon seeing them, Will was like “Hey, you know this song?” And I was like, “no, but this is fucking amazing.” And then they had a concert literally half a mile away from me, which Will went to but I didn’t because at that point, Pork Soda was literally the only song I’d heard from them (rip me), so while they were at the concert, I decided to listen to the rest of their stuff and now they’re pretty much all I play on Spotify. Well, besides Catfish and the Bottlemen, gotta love them too.
3) Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Not gonna lie, I’m not the biggest proponent of self-help books, and I always think they’re minimal substance buried in fluff. Well, the fluff is certainly there in this book as well, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything from it. I came across Daring Greatly as I was preparing for a presentation on leadership through vulnerability, which, essentially, is what this book is about. You know that I’ve always been an advocate of using vulnerability as a strength, and Brené Brown is really good at teaching you just how to go about it. If you’re not about reading books, however, listen to her TED talk.
4) My Ted Baker Watch
We’re switching gears here, but anyway, if you know me, you probably know that I’ve been wearing a watch every single day for the past 10 years. I can’t live without a watch, and checking my phone every time I want to know the time is just inconvenient. This past month, however, all three of my watches happened to break at virtually the same time, to the extent that no amount of Super Glue could fix them. So after a 10-day struggle of not having a watch, I braved the Black Friday crowd and bought
the fanciest watch I could find the first affordable watch I that met my standards at Nordstrom Rack. And I couldn’t be more satisfied.
(if you’re interested, here’s what I look for in a watch: neutral colors, subtle design, an adjustable leather strap, 12 markers, quality)
5) My Residents
No explanation needed, I love them so much. I love them when they leave me bananas, I love them when they TP my door for Halloween, I love them when they yell my name at football games, and I love them when they call me their friend and tell me that I changed their perception of what an RA is like. I just love my residents so much, and I already fear what my life will be like without them next year.
February was wild. Within 28 days I got an on-campus job, was rehired to be an RA (which was super competitive this year), got an internship interview, got my navel pierced (possibly bad decision and expensive af), shot and edited a documentary, and did a very successful RA program that involved pizza and a game of hot seat with my residents that escalated to something else way too quickly.
1) Dark Chocolate Almond Mint KIND Bar
I know there’s a whole debate on whether KIND bars are healthy or not, but I’m deliberately deciding to ignore that and continue to believe that they are the healthiest snacks I can have. Well, besides baby carrots. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a white girl in California 😒, I honestly think that they’re the best snack you can eat when you have back to back classes 9 am – 6 pm and just need to grab a quick bite.
2) My Documentary
After my plans to film an elaborate and artsy short to the backdrop of Downtown LA fell through due to the rain and the sinkhole that swallowed two cars in Studio City, I had about five minutes to come up with a new project idea to film for my production class. Being as creative as I am, I decided to make a documentary on the very first thing I could think of: the USC Silks. And although it started out as a mess, it ended up, you know, quite alright. Apart from the awkward jump cuts, messed up aspect ratios and disastrous color correction, of course.
Like I said, it’s nowhere near perfect and editing is still one of my least favorite activities, yet if that doesn’t discourage you and you’re still interested, you can watch it here. Also, please don’t share the link, because then I’ll have to make it private (band regulations).
3) Highschool Lover by Air
We were watching The Virgin Suicides in class and I fell in love with its soundtrack, and specifically this song. I was playing it on repeat for half an hour in the gym, which might not have been a great idea since now I inadvertently associate the two, but I’m going to use it for the soundtrack of my next short in my Cinematic Communication class, and it’s going to be great (FUTURE LILLA: it was not).
4) The DTLA Art Walk
As an RA program, this was a complete failure. 20 people RSVPd and a total of two showed up, and the TAP cards we were given didn’t work. The whole thing ended up being super disorganized and I couldn’t go to any of the galleries I wanted to, but there was live music and contemporary art and street food, so if you enjoy any of that, I’d recommend it. Just plan ahead, because the galleries are a little spread out (FUTURE LILLA: I did this program again and 23 people showed up and I had the best time ever).
5) The Original Pantry
So after my roommate, uh, kicked me out for the day, I decided to use the opportunity to do some exploring, and by exploring I mean doing very basic things like study at Nature’s Brew and walk around the Echo Park Lake. Nature’s Brew was 5/10, the food was OK but beyond my budget and it was way too crowded, and Michael told me I was guaranteed to meet people there but I didn’t. The Echo Park Lake was cold and sketchy and people started following me so I left. Anyway, after that, I spent 6 hours straight hanging out at our Customer Service Center, where I was joined by two of my friends who, at around 1 am, decided to go to the Pantry. It turns out we all had traumatic memories tied to the place (I was there right after they stole $500 from my debit card), but nevertheless we had an amazing time and the food was great and I definitely recommend their lemon cake. Yup.
tl;dr: The pantry is an LA staple that you must visit, and the people you see there at 2 am are always very interesting.
1) We Are All Stardust by Stefan Klein
This is a collection of interviews by German science journalist Stefan Klein, who asks the world’s most influential scientists big questions about the nature of the world and humanity. And no, it is not boring. It makes you think and reconsider what you already know, it makes you challenge your perspectives in a way that some may even deem controversial. You don’t have to agree with it, of course. But if it makes you think, that’s already an achievement. And don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s scientists speaking. While this may not be a book you get through in one sitting, it’s definitely comprehensible to all.
2) The New York Times: The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking
“The first step to stopping negative thoughts is a surprising one. Don’t try to stop them. […] Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts. Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle and own it. […] By acknowledging your negative cycle and accepting it, you are on your way to taming your negative thoughts.”
About a year ago, I wrote an entry in my diary about being “a happy mess.” I went on for pages about how I tell myself that I’m happy so I must be happy, only to come to the conclusion that I am “ultimately a very unhappy person.” And then, last year, I had a somewhat similar conversation with a former friend about me being too negative, leading up to this post. Eventually, I had to come to the conclusion that trying to convince myself that I’m happy just doesn’t work, and BS like “happiness is a choice” is what it is — BS. What you can really do, however, is acknowledge that you’re unhappy, get to the core of the problem, and try making adjustments from there. And none of those adjustments include denying your feelings or thoughts, whether they are negative or positive.
3) The Rose Bowl
If for some reason you haven’t read my phenomenal blog post on the Rose Bowl yet, you can do so here. I promise you, it wasn’t as depressing as yesterday’s Super Bowl (Truer words than “the Falcons won the popular vote” have never been said.) Butyeah, the Rose Bowl, the longest day of my life, the best day in recent USC football history, the best football game I’ve personally attended, and also the day it became conclusive that I shouldn’t be a movie star because cameras hate me.
4) Baby Carrots
Or baby cut carrots, more like, because what most people tend to think are carrots that owe their miniature size to their youth are in fact full-grown adult carrots that were cut down to looksmall and cute (#lieslieslies). Of course, there are real baby carrots, but they look like this and I doubt that you are eating them.
So, now that we have all that cleared up, here’s the deal: they’re healthy, they taste good, and they’re ideal for snacking. Honestly, what else could you ask for?
5) Michael Kors Arabella Ankle Boots
You know that feeling when you walk into Macy’s for a pair of black jeans and then walk out with the jeans and a pair of $250 boots? Yeah, I don’t either, because fortunately there was not enough money in my bank account for that, but I couldn’t get these beauties out of my head and spent the next month fantasizing about them and returning to Macy’s in New York just to look at them (no judging plz, I know you’re judging).
And then a miracle happened and they went on sale and I was on a hunt for ankle boots anyway and since I honestly couldn’t get them out of my head, which I take as a sign usually, I went ahead and bought them. Unfortunately it was an online sale and I messed up the sizes a little bit, but you probably know me by now, so I used my special powers to shrink the size of my feet and now they’re perfect. Well, maybe not. Point is, I don’t know how it happened, but now they fit. Yay. End of story.
1) California Adventure
Another reason that I loved my Icons class is that we took a field trip to Disneyland & California Adventure. Now, I’d been to Disneyland before and although I still enjoy it, I do believe that it gets less exciting with each visit (mostly because they focus on theming and narrative, not on thrill rides — the things you learn!). California Adventure, on the other hand, was phenomenal. It was my first time there but it definitely won’t be the last, because I only got to do four rides, and there are many many more out there. Also, World of Color is the best.
2) Love Don’t Go by The Family Crest
(runner-up: People Say by Portugal.The Man)
This song is on the soundtrack of Sugar Mountain, a recently released independent film about two brothers who fake a disappearance on an Alaskan mountain. The film itself is, not gonna lie, pretty meh and structured weirdly, and the only reason I watched it was that the one and only Shane was one of the leads, but this song plays during the opening scene, and it’s phenomenal. Portugal.The Man also features on the soundtrack a lot, and you can’t really go wrong with that, can you? (Yeah, soundtrack and score are a solid 10/10, the rest…I guess it’s worth a watch?)
3) New York City
I mean, do I really need to explain? If you haven’t read my blog posts on it yet, you can do so here. I’m so in love with that city that I’m already planning my next visit and haven’t stopped wearing my NYU sweater since (which is gross, I know, and I promise you I’m about to change).
4) My Astrobiology Professor
If you ever get the chance to take a class with Dr. Ken Nealson, please do it. He is amazing. He is one of the best people out there in his field, and he is so funny and engaging and excited about everything. Also, he wrote us a song. He wrote a song about the class and brought his banjo and sang it for us, and even got us donuts and everything. So yeah, if you want to hear the Lowdown and Irritating Melancholy Aggravating Life in the Universe Blues, sign up for CORE 103.
5) Adult Coloring Books
This is an odd one, because I’ve always hated coloring and I find it really pointless, as Chris from Skins perfectly sums up. However, my friend/fellow RA Trinity held a finals de-stress program with coloring books, and since it seemed like a perfect way to procrastinate, I decided to go for it. Now, it didn’t exactly go as planned and it was counterproductive in the sense that I just kept coloring and coloring and I couldn’t see the finish line, leaving me even more stressed out. However, if you’re coloring just to procrastinate and have 24 hours to write a 20-page take home final, maybe you really should be freaking out. Anyway, I’ve found that just coloring for a few minutes every day really helps you clear your thoughts and just relax for a little bit.
Not gonna lie, YouTube is my guilty pleasure and I absolutely love watching vlogs and Vlogmas videos. I watch mainly British YouTubers and I feel like I’m living vicariously through them during the month of December, especially since they remind me of the happy times when I lived in England.
1) Peppermint Mocha
At the risk of sounding basic, this thing is, like, totally amazing. It tastes like mint chocolate and, unlike most sweet Starbucks coffees, actually feels refreshing. And as an extra bonus, it reminds the people of Southern California that it’s supposed to be winter right now.
2) X Ambassadors
So I shamelessly admit that I found a good portion of my favorite bands through auto-generated YouTube playlists, and X Ambassadors was no different. However, I fell absolutely in love with them over the past couple of months, and the next thing I knew was that I was performing with lead singer Sam Harris and drummer Adam Levin during our homecoming halftime show. And to prove that it happened, here’s a video of it:
3) Thanksgiving Dinner
So, for some obscure reason, I was selected to sit with USC President Nikias during his annual Thanksgiving dinner, was chosen to be the subject of an article for USC News about said dinner, and was also asked to give an interview to KTLA about it. I’m not sure how all of this came about, but it resulted in a pretty eventful night during which a moderately creepy photographer followed me around and I got a true taste of what it’s like to be a celebrity — something that was definitely aided by the fancy name tag and the red carpet everywhere.
Also, if you’re looking for the article, I wasn’t too happy with it for a variety of reasons (names were misspelled and assumptions were made based with a clear racial bias), so I’m not going to link it here. If you’re really interested, however, a quick Google search will do the job for you.
4) CORE 101, aka my Icons class
I didn’t realize how much I actually learned from this class until it was over and I actually had the opportunity to apply all that we talked about. But that’s more of a December things, so we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. In November, however, I got to write a paper on why V-J Day in Times Square is an iconic photograph (one of my favorite assignments ever) while also learning about a variety of other things, such as how Helvetica was originally an anti-authoritarian font, and how Hello Kitty is actually not a cat, but a British schoolgirl. We also learned about Andy Warhol, which was so useful as I’d always had a love-hate relationship with Pop Art, mostly because I was desperate to love it, but at the same time failed to actually understand it. This class clarified so much and I really appreciated everything I had learned when I was on my trip to New York.
1) My Choker Necklace
In accordance with choker craze of 2016, I shelled out $25 for this piece of string with a stone attached to it. Was it objectively worth the price? Not sure. Was it subjectively worth the price? You bet it was. I just love this thing. It’s pretty subtle so it works with a lot of outfits and with the two other necklaces that I wear 24/7, but since it’s handmade, it’s not like the other gazillion chokers out there in the world right now. I’m not big on falling for current trends, but if I do succumb to one, rest assured that I will find a way to put my own spin on it.
So this is actually a textbook for my icons class, but I just couldn’t put it down, it’s so interesting. It narrates the history of the theme park in general, talks about the beginnings of famous theme parks and contrasts them with amusement parks, and also analyzes the architecture and world-building of theme parks, among other things. Definitely worth reading.
Part of my compensation as an RA is $500 dining dollars. Now, as I’m writing this, it’s the 11th week of school, and I’ve managed to reduce that number to $39. I wonder if my obsession with green tea lemonade has anything to do with it. Like, before I came to USC, I didn’t know that combining tea and lemonade was even a thing. And here I am now, getting three of these a day on occasion. Yeah, not sure how to feel about that.
You know that I love Wes Anderson. You know I do, but usually, I prefer his style over the actual content of his films. The Darjeeling Limited, however, is not like the rest. It’s funny and the soundtrack is spot on and I actually care about the characters. I’m telling you, it’s one of his most underrated films.
5) Spirits by The Strumbrellas
Okay so I’m cheating a little bit here, because this song was more of an August favorite, but whatever. I still like it. It’s special to me as this was the song I listened to on move-in day (aka one of the best days of my life, minus the part I spent crying behind a dumpster, but that’s a different story).
6) CTCS 464, aka my Film/TV Genres: Shot on Location class.
This class is amazing. We had to analyze a Coldplay music video for our midterm. We are currently analyzing a The Sopranos episode for our group project. I’m going to be analyzing one of my all-time favorite films, Holy Motors, for my final paper. And on top of that, I’m learning so much about the use of space and locations, and watching amazing films, such as Rome, Open City, Double Indemnity, Safe, The Fall, District 9, She’s Gotta Have It, and the aforementioned The Darjeeling Limited. We’ll also be watching Avatar, which I’m less than thrilled about, since I took great pride in not having seen it, but I had predicted that this day would come eventually, so I’ve accepted it with quiet resignation. And, to be honest, my excuse for not having seen it had always been “they’ll make me watch it in film school anyway” so there’s that.