October 29, 2015

WEISSMANN | Happy Meal

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By RUTH WEISSMANN

This is an old family recipe for happiness, passed down on an index card from mothers to daughters to sons, stained with spices, edges charred. When you were a kid, happiness wasn’t an acquired taste; it was an extra hour of TV time, dessert before dinner, or finding an orange newt in the backyard to put in your sister’s shoe (thanks for that). But beware: As you get older, you might find it harder to swallow this dish. In fact, you might get so busy that you need this recipe to remind you how to cook it properly again.

First, boil two cups of The Sound of Rain on the Windowsill. Add That Last Cookie You Found After You Thought You’d Eaten Them All, and let simmer. Stir in Brand New Fuzzy Socks and one Oversized Sweater. Turn heat to low, and mix in two cups heavy cream and one cup Giving Yourself Permission to Sleep In. In college life, there is an intense pressure to always do more. There is a push, push, push, a demand for résumé reviews and career fairs and a beginner’s guide to a high-paying job. Keep in mind: This meal will turn out just as good if you ignore the culture of Never Enough.

Next, focus on your dry ingredients. Using your rolling pin, spread out one fresh, wholesome workout: An old-fashioned Trail Run works just as well as the more organic Yoga Class kind. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees while adding The Way Your Mother Asks What You Want For Dinner When You’re Home. Dice a handful of Finally Being Done With Midterms. Steam three parts Finishing a Good Book and mix well. If you accidently drop a bit of Your Professor Grading Vindictively into the mixture, remember that you shouldn’t take things personally. Nothing others do is about you; it is almost always about their own battles.

While this is in the oven, find two Getting Handwritten Letters in the Mail and start to chop. Don’t mind whatever Ina Garten says about emails being easier to work with. In a small bowl, combine Monopoly Night With Your Roommates with Singing Along to the Car Radio, and stir until there are no more lumps. Divide mixture, and let cool at room temperature for two hours. At this point, you should taste the dough to make sure it has enough Being Around People Who Make You Better. One of the hardest things to do is realize that the people in your life aren’t appreciating who you are, but it’s better to be honest with yourself. You’d rather have quality ingredients than too much flavor.

Start to combine the extra dry ingredients with the mixture on the stove. Increase heat until your meal starts to really cook, then add whatever spices you like best. Usually, I shake in Doing the Sunday Crossword or a little Having a Really Good Hair Day. Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of Warming Your Pajamas in the Dryer, and blend in the Doing What You Really Love To Do until smooth. This is a critical step, but it’s especially important to happiness that you stop trying to be passionate about whatever you think is expected of you, any forced career aspirations, and start focusing on what you do with your free time. You already have a passion; it’s okay to fight for something that might not make a good traditional career. Be loud about what you want, but be quiet about who you are — that will speak for itself.

Finally, when serving, make sure you can taste both the main ingredients and the smaller, subtler ones — like the Getting an Extra Hour of Sleep you added. Did you catch the hints of When The Clocktower Plays Christmas Music? Hopefully, the ingredients of this recipe will remind you of the places you get to go, the people you get to see in your daily life. It’s easy to forget to be thankful for the routines of a good life. Remember, happy people count up, not down. They focus on what they do and who they see, not how they fail and what is missing. Happiness is hinged on gratitude, and gratitude is easy in theory and difficult in practice. Of course, all recipes take repetition; you always burn a few batches before you really nail it. And you won’t be able to eat this meal every day. But with the right ingredients, you could have leftovers to last you a while.

Ruth Weissmann is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at raw287@cornell.edu. A Word to the Weiss appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

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