Rejected.

pre-ps: remember those proto-youtube ‘Rejected’ videos? “My spoon is too big!!”

(Wow, 2002.)
But the real point of this post is NOT absurdist cartoons from my early college years.

You see, I recently got rejected. By a writing contest. Timothy McSweeney is just not that into me. Of course, he’s not the first self-important hipster in recent memory to decide he could do without me…

*Insert Jon-Stewart-style camera-mugging tie-adjustment.* 

Point is: I entered the McSweeney’s column contest about a month ago — which is a victory in itself, considering I found out about it just a week before, and I turned in my submission entire hours before the deadline.

There aren’t a lot of specific requirements — just the four questions below — and an original, quirky idea that’s smart & strange enough to suit the tastes of McS’s lit-hip readership. Seemed doable.

And even though I wasn’t selected, I’m still pretty proud of my attempt. Maybe I’ll just turn this into a column on my own. Then it could be the rejected idea that keeps on giving…

Enjoy:

A brief description of the proposed column:

My column is about breakups. I’ve been dumped three years in a row, all within a month of my birthday. (Beginning to wonder if it is in fact not them, but me. I write in order to figure it out.)

I was in my car the other day when Bryan Adams’ “Please Forgive Me” shuffled on my iPod. As I belted along, playing air drums on my steering wheel, I thought about how the breakup song genre can be broken down into a much more nuanced taxonomy. All heartbreak anthems are not created equal, and I like the idea of exploring that. You turn to different tunes for the different stages of heartbreak: anger, denial, driving by his apartment at 3:00 a.m., finger-wagging and moving-on, etc.

The prescription idea came later, and it seemed a natural fit, because music is such potent self-medication. And pharmaceutical ads are such fun to lampoon. Then I thought about expanding the concept to other typical post-breakup activities. And here we go. Ex-Rx.

One full example column:

Ex-Rx: Bryan Adams, “Please Forgive Me”

No one denies the pain you’re going through, and self-medicating with this early-90s adult contemporary hit is an acceptable coping mechanism according to the American Psychological Association(‘s message boards). Bryan Adams songs give your broken heart a healthy boost, including warm thoughts of Kevin Costner’s glory years and vague memories of the disco-ball darkness of roller skating rinks.

Use only as directed.

Active ingredients:
Nostalgia
Weepy Guitar
Power Bridge

Side Effects:
Using Bryan Adams could result in spontaneous displays of emotion in karaoke bars or karaoke-like behavior within your motor vehicle. The use of alcoholic beverages intensifies these symptoms. If you are prone to episodes of air guitar, do not use Bryan Adams while operating heavy machinery. Heightened sense of romantic heroism will usually pass within a 24-hour period. Resist the urge to contact your ex until at least 24 hours have passed. *If you’re feeling lonely, don’t*…post the YouTube video on your Facebook wall after 12:00 a.m., as feelings of post-post remorse may occur.

Brief descriptions of three additional installments of your column:

Future columns would examine more songs and their corresponding moods: Jeff Buckley’s “Lover You Should’ve Come Over”, Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”, Fleming & John’s “Ugly Girl”, Sam Cooke’s…pretty much anything. The format would most likely remain close to the original, but maybe new sections evolve: a doctor’s testimony, diagnostic quiz, holistic self-care, etc.

And I imagine the concept easily expanding to cover other post-breakup activities, alternating between music and other topics, like: binge shopping, martinis, Nora Ephron films, rebound sex, joining a gym (or book club), etc.

A short biographical note:

Hi. My name is Sarah Jenkins. I just turned 29, and I’m a writer from Springfield, Mo. (Hometown of Brad Pitt and Bob “have your pets spayed or neutered” Barker; home state of Jon Hamm and Todd “shut that whole thing down” Akin. Yes, we’re known for our beautiful men and a natural concern for reproductive issues.)

Other things you might like to know: I play the accordion, I ran the Chicago marathon, I have a cat named Jenksie, I do improv comedy, and sometimes people tell me I remind them of Tina Fey. And then I kiss them full on the mouth.

My major relationships have been with men who have dark hair and wear glasses, physically resembling both myself and my middle school science teacher. Probably not a coincidence.

:::

So that’s a thing. You’re invited to reject me, too. Everybody’s doing it. But fair warning: I’m probably going to blog about it.

Please forgive me, I know not what I do…

Best Break-Up Song

Mindy Kaling once tweeted that she uses her running time to craft elaborate revenge fantasies set to music. Homegirl’s got it right. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good dose of bad energy to propel you on a run—even if there’s no particular target to direct said revenge fantasy toward. I was recently reminded of this little vindictive gem, and I know for sure that the award for Best Break-Up Song must go to:

Fleming & John “Ugly Girl”

(Sad story: it appears there is no official video for this song. So you’ll just have to listen to it. The old-fashioned way.)

Done and done.

I heard this song for the first time sometime in high school, riding in my brother’s car. I think it stuck with me, for one, because Daniel’s music taste was always cooler than mine, and when he listened to something I liked, I took notice. But also, this song just purely kicks ass. It perfectly captures that feeling…Don’t act like you don’t know which feeling….Because deep down, we all know the truth.

No matter how mature & magnanimous you are, and even if your ex started dating Scarlett Johansson after you, she will remain the bizarro-world, store-brand, not-quite-as-funny-or-pretty-or-smart version of yourself somewhere in your mind.

…Is she so nice that it makes up for her face? There’s no way!

(And that’s the way it should be.)

B is for Bob Hope

As I was packing up my stuff at work tonight, I picked up a piece I have yet to read that was loaned to me by our archivist. It’s from Drury’s 100th commencement back in 1973, and guess who gave the address. Yup.

Bis for Bob Hope

One of my favorite things about my job are the days when I discover random facts about Drury, (One of my favorite things about things is discovering a new little fact. C’mon.) and working at a university lets me encounter random knowledge all the time.

Like:

Did you know that Drury’s art collection includes an original Picasso etching? Wait, it gets better: this piece was donated by Tom Whitlock, who studied music at DU in the 70s and went on to win an Academy Award for writing “Take my Breath Away” from Top Gun.
(Right?!)

And:

(This one is probably only cool to Drury people. And maybe not even them. But I like it.) I’d always heard folklore about Weiser Gym being an army hangar once upon a time, but I never knew the whole story. Turns out it was a surplus B-29 airplane hangar from WWII, purchased in 1946 and moved from Granite City, Illinois, to be built piece-by-piece like an Erector set.
(YOU GUYS!)

Okay, so imagine my delight to have this BOB HOPE speech in my paws, a copy of an original typewriter script that he read when he received his honorary degree from my alma mater, 10 years before I was born.

It’s just…I can’t…

It’s like taking a little class in how to write classic jokes.

B. Hope knows his ABCs

Like:

I am deeply grateful for this honorary degree. I would question the wisdom of the faculty, but I’m too conservative to start a protest…

Anyway, I’m now a doctor. At least I can get on the golf course on Wednesdays…

There’s something to be said for completely separate (not co-ed) dorms. If it weren’t for that, some of you would never get your jogging done…

It’s pithy and political and, of course, dated at points, but I love it. I can almost hear his delivery and want to add rimshots as I read.

…and then he breaks it down:

So, you see, you’ve got quite a responsibility, quite a challenge. And if there was ever a time when Americans needed to live, to laugh, and to pull together, it’s right here and right now. We need people with courage, patience, tolerance, and, above all, a sense of humor. And a person can have that no matter what his age or his hair style.

So there you have it. B is for Bob. And…

B is (also) for Black

[As in, “Many Shades of “]

My iPod brought it up while I was running tonight, and I couldn’t help but smile. Because B, as you know, is also for breakup songs. Not the weepy-sad Bryan Adams / Michael Bolton kind, but the spiteful, badass power-recovery kind. And few are more badassily power-recoverful than this one from The Raconteurs.

Some days, there are no better songs to run to than a song like this.
When you feel in your heart that you’re finally running away from one thing…and running toward just everything else.