All Things Die

Somewhere in my room, I have dusty vase of dead roses, so dry and brittle that a single touch destroys an entire petal. They were given to me almost two and a half years ago by a boy. For some reason, I haven’t thrown them away. I just can’t bring myself to. I have no remaining feelings for the boy, nor do I have any desire to go back to the point in my life during which he gave them to me. Maybe I keep those roses because they remind me of the reality of life:

It’s filled with wonderful things, like a spring garden full of roses, but they never last. As soon as you find something you love, something that fills you with joy, it breaks apart into powder. That powder slips through your fingers and fertilizes the endless field of broken memories. “There will be more flowers!” they all say, but what they don’t realize is that that single flower was special. So, so special, and nothing could be planted in its place. It was a blissful feeling in bloom, something so pleasing that it just begged to be looked at. But it died in the peak of its beauty. Pleasures, you see, are deceptive traps. They lead you on, bring you in, enchant you, only to cut you off in a millisecond. You’re left wondering if you did enough to appreciate it. Did you take it for granted? Did you love it as much as you could have? All you possess, then, is a handful of gorgeous powder and the renewed knowledge that yes–all things die.

Final Marks

Today, I walked out of my high school for the last time as a sophomore. Usually, I slip out a side exit to walk home more quickly, but I left through the main door today. For the drama. I will never forget how it felt to thrust my hands against that door, push it open, walk into the thick summer heat. I will never forget how it felt to walk by the rocks at the front of the school, intentionally between the second and third smallest. I will never forget stopping, looking back on the campus, and sprinting back to my house. I will never forget this past year.

As a freshman, I received straight A’s. I got good grades, put forth my (sort of) best effort, and did what I was told. I generated work like a factory. That’s what most students wish for–those high percentages necessary to get into a good school. I did not achieve those high percentages this year. My grades weren’t God-awful–I passed all my classes with better than D’s–but they weren’t anything to write home about, and I just wasn’t the student I once was. In fact, if my freshman self could have met my sophomore self, she would have been shocked. How dare I miss half my homework assignments? How dare I drag myself into school ten minutes late every morning? How dare I doze off during my first classes? She would have been horrified.

Maybe it’s true. I have been a bit horrific. A lazy, tardy, woolgathering slob with a slight disregard for mindless authority. But in letting myself go, I lit up a whole new part of me that I thought was only drenched wood. On required reflections, I turned in the truth. I went against the grain. I voiced my opinions and let my wittiness shine through. I was honest and open, with genuineness gracing everything I wrote. I made impromptu motivational speeches to my class. I went out of my way to uplift and inspire. When I read through all my yearbook signatures this evening, I began to tear up. The blank pages were covered not in scrawled have-a-great-summers, but in paragraphs. Paragraphs thanking me for my optimism, creativity, and loving personality. Paragraphs written by students, telling me that I have made a difference in their life and changed their worldview. Paragraphs written by teachers, telling me that I have inspired them. Paragraphs reminding me of my own worth and value. Paragraphs thanking me for being me. 

I have done something this year, something far more important than my homework. I have done what seemed impossible before. When I open my yearbook and see those beautiful paragraphs, when I reflect on the positive imprints I have made on the hearts of others–I I realize that those are my final marks.

Those are the marks that count.

Lyrical Analysis: Wiggle (Jason Derulo)

 Warning: These song lyrics have sexually explicit content. You probably shouldn’t read this one to your kids. Actually, I hope you don’t read my posts to your kids anyway. I’m probably not the best bedtime story writer. 

Okay. I’ve decided that it would be cool to start doing lyrical analyses. We consume all this media without thinking too much about what it’s actually saying. No, I’m not telling everyone to quit music and hole up in a corner with Baptist hymns. One of my personal favorite songs is about a girl telling a guy that he has a great bod, and should therefore screw her. And if he’s good at it, they can do it for eternity. Literally the whole song, and I’m okay with it. I don’t like the song for its lyrics. Nonetheless, I think it’s good to think critically about music. This is what I’m encouraging through my lyrical analyses.

Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg’s “Wiggle” was more popular last summer, but it’s one of those that stays with me. So, without further ado…

Hey, yo, Jason
Say somethin’ to her
Holler at her
[Laughs]
I got one question
How do you fit all that… in them jeans?
[Laughs]
The music opens with Jason encouraging catcalling. It already seems like yet another song objectifying women for their bodies (though that might have been inferred from the title). One thing I noticed from listening to the audio is that Derulo himself is saying this. To himself. So he’s out and about, and then loudly announces to himself that he should catcall a woman. We’re not off to a good start, Jason.
You know what to do with that big fat butt
Keep it far away from you.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Just a little bit of… swing

 Interesting how there’s no conversation here. He just sees a woman and expects her to shake her ass for him.

Patty cake, Patty cake
With no hands
Got me in this club making wedding plans

I like to think of marriage as a beautiful, eternal commitment between two lovers. Jason doesn’t love the girl. He’s never even met her. To him, she’s just a worthless body attached to a glorious butt.
If I take pictures while you do your dance
I can make you famous on Instagram

This one isn’t just gross–it’s scary. It’s threatening. This woman is just dancing in the club, and Derulo wants to photograph it and broadcast it on the internet. If you didn’t know, Instagram has over 200 million active users. New York City has a population of approximately 8.5 million. Think about it.

Hot damn it
Your booty like two planets
Go head, and go ham sandwich
Whoa, I can’t stand it

Jason has attempted to use a simile in his song. All hail Shakespeare. But seriously, here’s just more bullshit about admiring this stranger’s butt. “Ham sandwich” is an innuendo that neither I nor anyone else I’ve known who’s heard this song understands. I could probably come up with a few speculations, but it would be a waste of my time. We all know what it really means. Jason’s thinking with his dick.

‘Cause you know what to do with that big fat butt

Again, keep it far away from you, Jason.

Cadillac, Cadillac, pop that trunk
Let’s take a shot, alley-oop that dunk

We’re talking about cars, now we’re talking about basketball. Yes, I know. We’re really talking about the ass. But I’m not following these cheap, rapid comparisons.

Tired of working that 9 to 5
Oh baby let me come and change your life

How? How, Jason? I don’t get it. This whole song is basically about you wanting to screw this woman. You’ve made us well aware of that. I just don’t understand how that would change someone’s work schedule.

Hot damn it
Your booty like two planets
Go head, and go ham sandwich
Whoa, I can’t stand it

Planets, sandwich, can’t stand it: a third grade boy with a space lunch box who’s hungry for snack break.

‘Cause you know what to do with that big fat butt

This repetition is becoming painful.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
(wiggle, wiggle, wiggle)
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
(shake it, shake it girl)
Just a little bit of
(little bit of, little bit of, little bit of swing!)

I don’t even know how to respond. The next part is absolutely disgusting:

[Snoop Dogg:]
Shake what your mama gave you
Misbehave you
I just wanna strip you, dip you, flip you, bubble bathe you
What they do
Taste my rain drops, K boo
Now what you will and what you want and what you may do
Completely separated,
Till I deeply penetrate it
Then I take it out and wipe it off
Eat it, ate it, love it, hate it
Overstated, underrated, everywhere I’ve been
Can you wiggle, wiggle for the D, O, double G, again?

Awful. I want to hide in a corner. Snoop Dogg takes Derulo’s expressed desire and attaches graphic imagery to it. Snoop Dogg, by the way, is 43. He’s a full-grown adult, still acting like a sexually frustrated 13-year-old.

Come on baby
Turn around (turn around, turn around, turn around)
You’re a star girl
Take a bow (take a bow, take a bow, take a bow)
It’s just one thing that’s killing me
How’d you get that in them jeans?

When you ponder life, what do you think about–the meaning of existence? The origin of time? What lies at the edge of the universe? When Jason Derulo ponders the starry skies, he wonders how on earth this stranger could possibly buy jeans that fit her.

You know what to do with that big fat butt

I think it’s awful how he’s expecting women with large rumps to “know what to do.” What does that even mean? Women should not be made to feel like their bodies are objects that must be used for a man’s pleasure. Smells like misogynistic shit to me.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
(wiggle, wiggle, wiggle)
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
(wiggle, wiggle, wiggle)
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
(shake it, shake it girl)
Just a little bit of
(little bit of, wiggle wiggle)
Wiggle, wiggle

Stop.

Now make it clap
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Now make it clap
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Make it clap
(baby when you do it like that)
Just a little bit of
Now make it clap
No hands baby, make it clap, clap, clap
(like swing)

For some reason, this struck me. Jason is not asking the girl a question. He’s giving her a command. She’s a toy. She’s entertainment for him. Turn on the TV, microwave the mac-and-cheese, start the car–those are all action commands that we use in reference to objects. That’s all she is to him. An object.

Damn, baby, you got a bright future behind you

What about her talents? Her dreams? None of that matters here. All that matters is her ass. There’s nothing more I can say here.

And there we have it, folks. This is the kind of music that comes on the radio. This is what’s pounded into our heads. Take a minute to think about what you hear. You never know what lurks behind that cheery beat.