A Mild Heartbreak

I am not really nursing a broken heart, but I am trying to use the word “heart” and “break” in the title, like Shaw’s “Hearbreak House” or Wallace’s essay on a tennis star who broke his heart–I can’t remember the exact title or the star’s name. Too lazy to look it up.

My heartbreak is very minor, probably just a little crack at the edge of the heart muscle on my failed attempt to make my own tofu. Another attempt and another failure. I am a victim of videos of unbelievably capable women who pour their artistic talent and limitless energy on things traditional women like my grandmother would do–tidying up, cooking etc., like Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, Dianxi Xiaoge, Liziqi.

Last year, I spent a week to completely reorganize my closet, learn new way of folding shirts and pants, throw away clothes, draw diagrams of new furniture arrangement, take down books from the shelf which I thought would never be read. It’s all because of the Netflix documentary of the Japanese tidying expert. After that crazy week, my life slowly crept back to what it had been before. I am by nature not a messy person. The only thing I ever hoard is my own writing–no matter how bad it is, I never have the heart to throw it away. However I also don’t have the passion for cleanness or tidiness or a life of aesthetic surroundings. Marie Kondo is an ideal I can’t live up to. Same with beauty standard and many other acknowledged virtues, which all women aspire to.

After watching several videos of homemade tofu from the pretty ladies living in Sichuan and Yunnan, I want to make tofu again. To lazy to do it from scratch, I start with soy powder. After getting the water boiled, I have a difficult time with the soy powder since they are all clogged up together. And it’s in boiling water and my hands can’t go in unless I am a heat resistant robot. Finally with the help of a mesh strainer, I manage to coax all the flower into the pot without chunks floating. By this time, my enthusiasm has waned. I start to think why I am doing what I am doing. What’s the point? Isn’t it a waste of time? If I had not wasted my life away with useless activities, I could have become … If Margaret Atwood is too much to wish for, at least I can write better than Somerset Maugham. Am I too shameless to say that? I can write about Asian people more authentically than Maugham. That’s for sure.

Finally, in a fit of self doubts and frustration, I throw some agar into the boiling soy milk. Making soy jelly is so much easier than making tofu.

Well, be careful of what we aspire to.

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