Jessai Flores

Mars Adams:

The first time I heard “Boys Will Be Bugs”, I was seventeen years old, listening to Spotify on shuffle in the dead of night, alone in my bedroom at boarding school.  At the time, I was one of around 60 girls in a grade of over 200 students at an originally all-male boarding school.  Music was one of my few escapes in a misogynistic environment that engulfed me in intense anxiety. I related to the song in an unexpected way; in my interpretation, “Boys Will Be Bugs” morphed into a poignant commentary on the inscrutable ways in which my male peers behaved and conformed to toxic gender norms, often tormenting one another, and especially the girls at school, for reasons that I just couldn’t wrap my head around:

“Don’t message me cause I won’t reply, I wanna make you cry /

Ain’t that how it’s supposed to be? Though it isn’t me /

Boys will be bugs, right?”

Two years passed, and “Boys Will Be Bugs” re-emerged on my radar as I began my freshman spring at Yale and entertained new and — at the time — terrifying thoughts about my gender identity. I didn’t feel like I could deal with being a girl for any longer, and I didn’t feel particularly like a boy either; in fact, I felt worse than either, almost subhuman at times, wanting to shed my own skin. I was newly fascinated by Cavetown’s music — here was a transgender musician who had written several songs depicting his experiences and struggles with dysphoria and his own identity. So as I unravelled my own cocoon in coming out as nonbinary, I crawled back to Cavetown’s warm melodies, wallowing in the lyrics:

“I feel stupid (stupid) /

Ugly (ugly) /

Pretend it doesn’t bother me /

I’m not very strong, but I’ll fuck you up if you’re mean to bugs…”

“Boys Will Be Bugs” served as the soundtrack — and a resolution — to this distress: maybe it was alright for me to be a little bit lost, to still be figuring myself out, even as I verged on the age of twenty. I was allowed to feel like I was just growing into my identity for the time being, and maybe that was enough. I’ve just turned twenty, and I think this year I’m going to own my identity, on my own terms.  Today, “Boys Will Be Bugs” features on every other Spotify playlist in my library. So, just as Cavetown put it: “Don’t mess with me – I’m a big boy now and I’m very scary!”


Jacqueline Kaskel:

“You Make Me Feel So Young,” sung by Frank Sinatra, is my cure-all, my remedy for anything and everything that comes my way. When I listen to this track — whether I’m surrounded by people on my way to class or by myself taking a hot shower — I can’t help but smile and sing along. When I hear that bouncy brass opening, all my troubles seem to melt away, leaving me with the sensations of bliss and comfort. 

I remember the exact moment I first heard this song — it was in the classic 2003 film “Elf.” It plays in the background as Buddy and Jovie go out on their first date around New York City and find themselves ice skating at Rockefeller Center. I remember worshiping that scene as a kid, wishing I could capture that happiness and keep it forever close to my heart. Each time I listen to “You Make Me Feel So Young,” it reminds me of simpler times with my family at Christmas, when we would eat too much chocolate peppermint bark and watch “Elf” together for the umpteenth time. I am reminded of my own memorable trips to New York over the years — singing in Carnegie Hall, seeing Broadway shows, going to the Metropolitan Opera and seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in real life — all special experiences shared with the people I care about. I’m no Frank Sinatra, but if you listen to me sing along with “You Make Me Feel So Young,” you will hear my pure joy and peace of mind.

And in my last week as a teenager, this song feels especially apt: youth doesn’t last forever, but the feeling of it can. Surround yourself with people who make time stop, who make you savor each and every moment. Still young myself, I can only hope that when I’m older, I’ll have people in my life who make me feel the euphoria of youth. 


Elizabeth Watson:

It’s the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school, sometime around 1 a.m., and I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed with my laptop. The Word document I have open is nearing 60 pages — single-spaced, to my absolute pride. I scroll through it from the start, fast enough to make the pages blur, and grin. I’d been making up characters and stories since middle school, but this was the furthest I’d gotten in a writing project that was really, truly mine. Some of the characters that existed in that flurry of pages are still here, although a little different five years later, while others persist in fragments — but still perfectly alive in the sentences my 14-year-old self wrote after midnight.

Songs can be bookmarks for memories. They seep into thoughts and ideas if you listen to them enough, and so whenever you hear that opening chord, all of the memories your mind folded inside it come rushing back. That’s how I found this memory again. I was digging through my music library in search of a song when I stumbled across a playlist from around my first year of high school. It was filled with music I listened to towards the end of middle school, which provided plenty of nostalgia on its own, but it was significant for another reason too. This was a playlist I’d created specifically for my first major creative writing project, a piecemealed soundtrack of my own design. As I listened to it again, writing not in my childhood bedroom but in my college dorm, I remembered all the details of that first project — all of the places I’d imagined so vividly and the characters who made their homes there. The story I’m writing now is different from the one back then but that doesn’t mean that my old characters stopped living. They’re with me every time I write, and every time I listen to that playlist.


Rena Lin:

There are moments you know are going to last forever as you’re living them. They’re the moments you think would make it onto a movie screen, complete with background music and slow-dancing montages.

During the winter break of my junior year at Yale, a few of my suitemates flew to my hometown, Los Angeles, for a week. I hesitate to say that we did a lot of things, but one thing we sure as hell did was make a playlist for the very short road trip that we planned to take to San Diego.

It was my first time driving longer than an hour on my own, so the approximately five-hour round trip to and from San Diego was new to me. In the middle, I said to my suitemate, “I’ve been driving for so long that the road doesn’t feel like a road anymore.”

The soundtrack for our winter break getaway ranged from Taylor Swift to Kenshi Yonezu to Bleachers, so diverse that we played a guessing game of who had added it every time we shuffled the playlist. Each of us contributed fifty songs, counting two hundred in total. But no matter how many genres littered this soundtrack, all the songs that we played felt strangely and distinctly ours.

In the two and a half hour drive back from San Diego, I was thinking that if this were a movie, it would actually be pretty boring. We’re not exactly a crazy and spontaneous group; the trip consisted of sleeping in more than we would like to admit. But here, in this tiny car, at 11:00 pm, there were moments of silence, when we were just enjoying whatever song had been newly shuffled. Occasionally, someone would say something like, “This is definitely a Brandon song.” Some laughter. More silence.

“I think this was mine, actually. You’ll get it when it gets to the chorus.” Another silent moment, and more waiting. More anticipation.

Then, when the chorus played: “Oh, right. It makes sense now.”

We have a word for love for a reason, which is lucky because it’s the only one I’d use to describe that moment and those people that I feel so strongly for.

But if we did not have a word for love, I would say, “I know you added this song because it just feels like you.”

If we did not have a word for love, I would say, “Put the playlist on shuffle again. Let’s drive until the road doesn’t feel like a road.”


Elizabeth Watson served as a Science & Technology Editor for the News. She previously covered breakthrough research as a staff writer and illustrates for various sections. Elizabeth is a junior in Pauli Murray College double majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB) and Humanities.
Jacqueline Kaskel edits for the WKND desk. She is a junior in Branford College majoring in English Language and Literature.