Wednesday Works: The Formula For Happiness

There is no proper formula for happiness.

No scientists or chemists hidden behind machines,

Spinning circles with different chemicals and substances,

Searching for the answer.

There is no formula for happiness,

But there are ingredients to try.

A smile full of teeth,

Enough warmth to fill a chest,

Laughter loud enough to fill halls and cathedrals,

And you,

My sweet one. 

Wednesday Works: A Rooftop Decision 

Sitting up on the roof was not usually one of his favorite past times. He was usually afraid of heights, but that night, he had more on his mind than just his fear of heights. He had planned to just go upstairs and think in one of the empty bedrooms that none of the partiers had inhabited, but the window had been open and it led out to the roof. It seemed peaceful, so there he was, his mind heavy with the possibilities. 

The party had been for him, and his best friend after they graduated high school. He had been accepted to a great school back east and as far as he knew she had elected not to go to college. She was more the artsy type anyway. 

He had been trying to tell her his feelings for years, but something had always gotten in the way. He knew he was running out of time, but maybe she would want to go back east with him. He knew he could no longer wait, he had to tell her his feelings that night. 

But how? Should he do it in front of everyone, or pull her away to the side? Big gesture or small gestures? Use the big “L” word or not yet? There were too many possibilities to think of all at once. 

An owl hooted close and he found the creature’s eyes staring back at him from the closest tree in the yard. He knew he would have looked and sounded crazy to anyone else, but no one else was there, so he told the owl everything. 

As he did, he came to a decision. 

—–

He ran down the stairs as quick as he could, taking two and sometimes three at a time. He had to find her. He nearly crashed into three other party guests as he reached the ground floor, and they just laughed it off. His fellow high school graduates trying to feign sobriety, their glassy eyes said otherwise. 

Luckily she found him. “Mitch!” She exclaimed happily, pulling a twenty-something with her. “I want you to meet my boyfriend, Cameron!” 

Wednesday Works: A Piece Based Off of the Worst Lyric in your Least Favorite Song

“I was a ghost on your birthday”- Transient Love by The Menzingers.

The letter was one of the smaller gifts waiting for him in the stacked pile of large oblong boxes. Brian would have almost missed it and it would have been thrown away in the refuse of blue and green wrapping paper, and thin ripped tissue paper warped into balls, if it hadn’t been for his astute eye. He was hoping that a smaller package was hiding amid the bigger boxes, something the size of an iphone, but instead he found the aged envelope.

He recognized the handwriting right away, and wasn’t sure that he should let his parents know, or if he should just slip it under his leg when he picked up the next gift. It was from his brother, but he had an idea who had put it there with the other gifts. He looked for her face in the crowd and he was sure she almost gave him a hint of a wink with her smile. She was mirroring the other faces all around him, though she was more his brother’s age. The not quite thirteen-year-olds, the smooth fourteen year olds, and his family, all smiling, even though they all knew someone was missing.

It was like a taboo to even think about it, about him, and Brian forced the thought out of his mind as he tore the wrapping paper away from a gift that any newly aged teenage boy would have wanted, it wasn’t the newest iphone, but he thanked his Aunt Judy for the socks anyway. He kept opening gifts, the pressure and the weight of the envelope pushing down on him, though it was safely trapped under his leg.

He was afraid to think about him too, afraid that it would crash the mood of his party and call back angry, tormented memories of his family’s past. Definitely not the right mood for a birthday party. So he kept opening the rest of the gifts, reacting as appropriately as he could to whatever the boxes and gift bags held. Then when they were exhausted, and the table cleared of all surprises, his mother called them all in for cake and ice cream. That was when Brian shoved the letter into his pocket and forgot about it until later.

The letter forced itself back into his memory as he got ready for bed that night. It fell onto his desk as he emptied his pants pockets of the things he had gathered during the day. The rocks that he and Tommy had collected to mold into slingshot ammo, the wadded up dollar bills that nearly every card had contained from the party earlier, and then there was the letter,  a new crease running along the thick envelope, the writing still clear as day.  His name in his brother’s scrawl.

Brian.

He wasn’t sure he even wanted to open it. What if it was the one thing they had all been looking for, the one thing that they were all missing as to why the things happened how they did. Instead of opening it right away he stared at it for quite some time.

But eventually, curiosity got the better of him and he broke the seal on the envelope and pulled out the contents carefully. It was a birthday card, and Brian wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse.

On the front was a dog driving a racecar, his ears blowing from the acceleration.  The front was a bit juvenile, with some pun about the happiest of “Barkdays”, but Brian was more interested on what was on the inside.

At first glance, the inside was normal, the completion of the pun from the front of the card that would have made any twelve-year-old laugh, and then Brian saw it, the binder paper folded perfectly to fit in the card. His brother had written him a small birthday message in the card in his nearly unreadable chicken scratch, but the binder paper was more important.

Slowly, Brian unfolded it and found a letter inside,  in his brother’s handwriting, and he struggled to make out the words, either through his brother’s handwriting,  or the moisture that had blurred some of the letters, making them large splotches of blue ink.

Brian,

Happy Thirteenth Birthday!  I’m sorry I couldn’t be there personally to tell you all these things but now that you’re a man, you deserve to know. There’s only so much pain and sorrow one guy can take alone. There are too many secrets that can’t always be kept,  or friendships that require more balance than a tightrope walk, there are too many things that should be happy, that caused me too much pain.

But this is your birthday message, so I guess I should keep it somewhat upbeat, teach you the lessons of being a man or whatever. All of my problems started around the time that I was your age, so if I can give you any lessons about how to avoid the same mistakes I made, these are them:

Make Friends: You were just a kid when we moved here from Ohio, so you might already have more friends than I did at your age, but I was thirteen and going through puberty and moving in the middle of the year when all of the cliques and friend groups are already formed is tough. Make real friends, not just the guys that hang around the first girl you ever kissed. Make true friends that like the same things you do, and whatever you do, don’t force yourself to like something or have something just to fit in. Friends are out there.

Find Love:  All kinds of love,  not just the kind that makes your underwear feel tight. Love for friends, love for family, love for music. Yes, there will be romantic love too, but don’t force it, you will only cause yourself more pain. When you feel love, for friends, family, or the girl that you hated in elementary school, don’t hide it. Embrace it and your life will be so much easier. Mom and Dad will understand if you truly love it. You might get your heart broken, or wake up one day and find that you hate whatever it was you loved yesterday, but it is worth the risk.

Grow: Don’t stay hidden behind what people expect you are. How often have you and I gone out and looked at people and made snap judgements? “She’s shy” or “He loves cats”. People will judge you by what you look like and how you act,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t shatter their expectations of you. “She’s shy BUT she likes to belt out showtunes when no one is looking.” “He loves cats BUT he can never love them as much as he loves Death Metal”. Explore your passions and don’t keep them hidden. Break out of your shell every once in a while and be brave.

I didn’t follow any of those lessons, and I ended up wherever I am now. Don’t get me wrong,  Brian, this is meant to be a happy message, despite the blotches. Just be yourself and never apologize for that. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, and live the best life you can.

Ok, enough sappy stuff. Well maybe one more thing. Something to end this letter off right.

I remember the day you were born. I was just coming home from kindergarten and mom usually had a snack out for me, but no one was home and the door was locked, so I waited outside. It wasn’t very long before Grandma picked me up and we went to the hospital. You were just born so you were in the incubator, and I remember asking Grandma why you weren’t in Mommy’s tummy anymore and then I told her that I wished you would have just stayed in there. I liked my room to myself.

The truth is: I am a better person, a better brother for knowing you, Brian.

I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person, and I’m sorry I was a coward. I shouldn’t be just a ghost on your birthday.

Love,
Patrick

Wednesday Works: An Adult Book Book Report by a Fifth Grader

Fifty Shades of Grey in Our Culture: A View on Why Sarah Stevens Slapped Me

By

Joel Fisherman

Before the introduction of Fifty Shades of Grey, there was Twilight. My stupid sister had to read all the books when they came out, and she begged my mom for weeks and weeks and weeks to take her to the movies when they came out. I wanted to stay with dad and do manly stuff, like work on the classic cars and mow the lawn and talk about shaving, but mom made me go with them. She said that it would make me appreciate women better, whatever that means. I thought they were the stupidest movies ever, and then Fifty Shades of Grey came out.

Like Twilight, my sister begged and begged and begged my mom to get the books for her, but like everything else my mom gives my sister she has to read or watch it first. She doesn’t want it “poisoning our young minds” when there are all the things out there that are “safe” for kids, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Teletubbies. What she doesn’t know, is that both my sister and I know about the internet and rule 34. Anyway, she had to read Fifty Shades of Grey first.

It took her weeks and weeks, and she was set in her ways that my sister, nor I, could even lay a hand on that darn book. Not that I cared, it was a stupid book based on another stupid book. My sister, a freshman in high school, was angry to say the least, and she wanted that book. What I didn’t know was that she would get it.

So what does this have to do with why Sarah Stevens slapped me? I’m getting to that. Anyway, my sister read the book behind mom’s back, in her bed under the blankets with a flashlight. How do I know this? She would tell me almost every detail on the way to school, and at first I was grossed out, but then I thought to myself: “Does that stuff actually work on women?” It had to, right? Why else would everyone want to read it and be so happy all the time? I had to know why, so I had to run an experiment, but more on that later.

So back to Sarah Stevens. We’ve known each other since kindergarten practically, and it wasn’t until this year in Ms. Buzman’s class that I started to feel all weird around her. She used to gross me out, but now I find myself wanting to hold her hand and play more than tag with her, and mushy stuff like that. Because of that, and all my sister had told me about Fifty Shades of Grey, I decided she would be the best test subject for my experiment.

I asked my sister more about Christian Grey and Edward Cullen and what made them so attractive to women and she told me all about it. At first, I was disgusted, and then somehow it all started to make sense. Some of the phrases were foreign to me, since I haven’t taken a lot of sex ed, but I do have the internet, and google, and a few sites I probably shouldn’t mention in this paper.

So after weeks and weeks of research, figuring out how to act and look like Christian Grey, or Edward Cullen, minus the sparkles. I finally had it all set. My experiment was all set to move forward.

I decided to do it on a Wednesday. Not sure why, I just woke up that morning and decided that that was the day. I would get my results by lunch, no chickening out, even though looking through all my research that morning on the bus, I did feel a little stupid.

At the first recess, I unbuttoned the shirt of my school uniform, just like Christian Grey wore his in one scene, and I approached Sarah on the playground. She was hanging around with her goofy friends, both more annoying than her and way less pretty, but she was the first experiment, and they were there if I needed a second and third test subject. So I went up to her, did my best impression of Christian Grey (smoulder included), looked her straight in the eye, and said:

“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet, or spank the living shit out of you”.

At first she was confused, and then her face turned varying shades of red, and I wondered if it was really that easy to make a girl have an organism. Then she started yelling a bunch of things that I probably shouldn’t repeat here, probably that she learned from her mom and dad. And then she slapped me the hardest I have ever been slapped in my life and ran away crying.

Experiment number one failed. Sarah now refuses to talk to me, her friends think I’m the biggest jerk alive, and I have no other test subjects at this time.

What I don’t understand is why women think Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight are so worth reading. Why do the the men in them get to do all of the things they do and the women eat it up, and then when I do it, I get slapped? I don’t understand it, but I intend to research further. I want to know why Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular!

Joel- This was not the approved assignment. See me after class.

Wednesday Works: The Object on your Left is a Metaphor

The object to my left is an internal hard drive for a laptop.

Life would be so much easier if people were hard drives. You would fill them up with all of your information, your pictures, your photos, your memories. And then, when you get sick of them, and all they contain, you can switch them out for a shiny new version, with tons of extra space.

Of course, people are not hard drives. Nor are they treasure chests. You cannot crack them open, plunder the riches within and then leave them forgotten. People are much more special than hard drives, or treasure chests.

They themselves are the treasure.

Wednesday Works: Make a Mixtape for Someone You Love. The Songs Cannot include “Love You” in the Title

These lists are fun, and I definitely enjoy love songs more than hate songs!

  1. Every Thug Needs A Lady- Alkaline Trio
  2. Shut Up and Dance- Walk the Moon
  3. Gates- The Menzingers
  4. I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore- The Menzingers
  5. The Luckiest- Ben Folds
  6. China- Tori Amos
  7. Joy Comes in the Morning- Red City Radio
  8. Montreal- Elway
  9. Fatally Yours- Alkaline Trio
  10. Songbird- Fleetwood Mac
  11. Hands Down- Dashboard Confessional
  12. Let Me Call You Sweetheart- Bing Crosby
  13. Nose Over Tail- Alkaline Trio
  14. 1000 Oceans- Tori Amos
  15. Better Whenever-Elway