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The two papers below were written in spring 2014 for a USC class called Tokyo The Modern City in Literary and Visual Culture taught by Professor Miya Mizuta. 

Gaijin in Tokyo: Liberation in Lost in Translation: An exploration of Tokyo as the essential character in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation

Tokyo's Dark Underground: An exploration of Japan's social nature through the lens of Murakami Haruki's non-fiction book Underground (2000). 

The following essays were written for a Television Criticism class at USC, taught by Professor Howard Rosenberg.

Burbank and Beale: Primetime Prophets: A critique comparing the implications of Network (dir. Sidney Lumet 1976) and The Truman Show (dir. Peter Weir, 1997).

Swastikas and Synagogues: Being “The Believer”: A review of The Believer (dir. Henry Bean, 2001), a Sundance film starring Ryan Gosling that ended up on Showtime.



In college, I was the head writer of USC's division of Campus Basement, a college news and satire community. My posts for Campus Basement can be found here



While at USC, I maintained a personal blog that grew fairly popular within the student community. Below are some samples of those posts. 


I have realized over the past few months that I’m kind of an actual grown-up now, which is a vaguely terrifying thought for many reasons, including the reality that I eat Uncrustables pretty much every day and like juice boxes better than wine. I still have trouble sounding out words and have to be corrected on my native-English pronunciation a couple of times a week (usually this is accompanied by great zeal from the corrector and failed attempts at adjustment for me). In a lot of ways, I feel more like a smart and socially advanced six-year-old than a normal 21-year-old.



All real life indicators point to me being an adult though, especially since I’m going to open the next sentence with “I was at Costco recently.” Yep. I was at Costco recently with my fancy new Costco membership* with a bunch of 70-something women who seemed like they were collectively out to get me for being born much closer to 2000 than 1900. I know this sounds paranoid but YOU WEREN’T THERE. More carts were run into me than could have been mere happenstance and one woman actually did it several times in a row with a scary “you can’t mess with me, I’m old” smile. They boxed me out for the free samples too, which is 50% of the reason to go to Costco in the first place. Damn.


   I suppose there is comfort in knowing that eventually I'll have dignity.

I suppose there is comfort in knowing that eventually I'll have dignity.

Anyway, as I tried to escape the wrath of the elderly and go get my final item (a massive box of toothbrushes**), I became caught in a Costco traffic jam by one of my elderly frenemies who absolutely knew she was stopping up a whole aisle, but totally did not care in the slightest. I was so close to the toothbrushes. So close. As I waited for her to move, I noticed that her entire cart was full of a product called Dignity. Turns out Dignity is a brand of adult diapers, which made me feel bad for being impatient with her, but also made me feel very mortal because I know that in like 2064, I’m going to be at Costco on Jupiter or wherever we’re living then (ugh probably still the Culver City Costco if I’m being honest) and there will be a young 21-year-old girl who resents the hell out of me for taking forever as I stockpile whatever the futuristic version of Dignity is. I got my toothbrushes and peaced.

With graduation on the horizon, it’s hard not to feel kind of old. I’ve spent the last twenty-one years in the safety net of formal education, where I get to mess up inside and outside of the classroom and know that it’s pretty much going to be okay. We spend so long in a structured system with a timeline. I knew I’d be here for four years. It took me up until like three weeks ago to realize that this is the last time in my life I get the combined blessing and curse of having a predetermined timeline. Other than the very vague timeline of me eventually needing to live my life with bulk packages of Dignity (guys, you know what to buy me for Christmas in 2064) in fifty or so years, after May 16, time becomes more of an abstraction that just goes by really quick. I’m not entering a workforce with a clear cut “how to” guide, there aren’t predetermined steps to get to where I want to go. That is very scary and daunting and has been mostly responsible for sending me into a Funk for the last few weeks (with a capital F because it’s decided to take a dictatorial force in my life, I guess it’s earned its right as a proper pronoun).

It’s hard to say without sounding cliché, but most of the value I got out of college was learning to let life happen. (A lesson I’m having trouble accepting and embracing in real life, but know to be true). The friends I am closest to are people that four years ago I probably would’ve been too intimidated by to even introduce myself to. (Turns out that generally even cool people are nice and normal, who knew. Also turns out that the cooler someone tries to come off as, the less fun they usually are to hang out with. COLLEGE MAN I LEARNED SO MUCH). I never expected to get more out of ten days at a film festival than a semester worth of lots of classes (sorry CTCS-200). Things in several different facets of life that I wanted to happen ended up happening because I put in the effort to make them happen. Probably more things I wanted to happen didn’t happen despite putting in the effort, but it’s much easier to forget about those things. WOW PEOPLE ARE RIGHT ABOUT THINGS WORKING OUT.


   This is a very relevant example of letting life happen.

This is a very relevant example of letting life happen.

This is really coming off more as a pep talk to myself than anything, but I guess that’s okay. Now that I’m grownish, sometimes I have to turn to myself for advice (and Yahoo Answers. Usually Yahoo Answers).

I hope everyone reading this is well and if you are also Funking about life, let’s collectively get over it and enjoy our last semester (or if you’re in more a Dignity stage of life, enjoy the fact that you literally can get away with anything because you are at that point in your timeline).

*I guess you’re grownish when you get excited about getting a Costco membership.

**And when you get excited about bulk toothbrushes

Cailin Lowrycollege, essay