Egg and Tofu Spring Rolls with Nori

Disclaimer: I wrote this last weekend.  I still think that it's important for me to post this, but know that I've become much more positive as the week has progressed.  I won't pretend that I'm magically better - but I can say that, especially as I write this little note now, I'm much happier than these words below would have you believe.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Being disoriented by your own emotions is an interesting phenomenon.

One moment you recognize that you're feeling one way, like you're content with yourself, working at your desk, pouring over a genetics study; then suddenly you find yourself with your head in your hands, and you're rocking back and forth in your chair in the middle of the library, with people and voices streaming all around you.  You become aware of yourself, how sick and sad you must look, or otherwise how incredibly invisible you are when no one meets your eyes, as you look up and scan the room for someone, anyone, you know.

It's not just in the library, either.  It's at crew practice, it's walking through the quad to class, it's waiting to fall asleep in the darkest hours of the early morning.  It's like everything is collapsing in and shattering outward at once, in a gray and quiet way; but you know quite well that you are being dramatic, that anyone else in your position would be handling this much better than you are.  Anyone else would be put up walls.  The feelings would just be waves, breaking against it, and the sound of them crashing would simply fade out into a dull roar, which itself would become almost nothing as the walls grew higher, stronger.  Maybe I'm not able because I'm not willing, deep down.  Or not willing because I know I'm not able.

I'm sorry if you don't want to read about this, whatever this is, or if you think it's not appropriate for me to share these struggles in this kind of forum.  I'm not sure myself if I should even be posting this.  I don't want people to worry, and I don't want you to think I'm just crying out for attention here.  That's not the point.  If you know me in person, you know that I don't hide very much.  I'm not good at concealing how I feel.  It's not that I can't keep my mouth shut when a thought pops into my head (well, some people would probably debate that I can't keep my mouth shut, I can be chatty), it's that everything I'm experiencing emotionally shows on my face.  I'm a terrible liar.  And I've always considered this lack of composure, so to speak, a weakness of mine.  I mean, several people who are close to me think it's a weakness, too: how are you supposed to be successful in your career if you cry when you're frustrated, no one will take you seriously if you show too much emotion, you're only hurting yourself and the people around you when you can't maintain your composure.  These aren't exact quotes, but you get the idea - some of it is gendered, like oh you're acting like such a typical woman, all emotional, ugh, pull it together, but that's clearly not the whole story.  It doesn't have to be gendered to be a negative position on emotional toughness.

Nonetheless, it's been drilled into me that this is a personality flaw.  It makes me a burden, while also making me a weak person; it is a hindrance to social and economic success, and so on.  I've tried so hard to make myself tough, especially in these past two months.  I've tried just not to feel anything.  It doesn't work.  It can't work, and it shouldn't work, because it's not a flaw.  It's how I am.  And it can be positive.  When I feel something, I feel it deeply, and you know that I feel it.  And that kind of transparency, while leaving me vulnerable in many ways, also renders incredibly sensitive to the people around me.  I let people into my world who are willing and able to be a part of it, without boundaries (and sometimes people who aren't willing or able to be a part of it, apparently, as I've discovered).  That can be an incredible gift, both for the people in my life and for myself.

So I'm not going to try to hide too much here.  I'm purposefully being non-specific, mostly keeping names and personal events anonymous.  Those details aren't incredibly important to understand what's going on with me, and are too much information to give as far as I'm concerned.  The reflection is enough, I think.  And it may be too much.  So if it is too much I'm sorry.  If you're worried, don't be, I have an incredibly strong support system.  It's just that writing here helps me, for whatever reason.  Maybe I should keep a personal journal, but I probably wouldn't keep up with it when it's just for myself like that, so I let my thoughts overflow here instead.  I hope that those of you who are similar or are feeling similarly will understand, and even benefit from reading this.

Here's to solidarity.

Egg and Tofu Spring Rolls with Nori (for one):

1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/5 block soft tofu
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small avocado
2 sheets nori
3 rice paper wrappers
2 radishes, sliced thinly (I didn't actually use these, but I really wanted something crunchy, so I've written them in here for when I make them again)
~2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (I didn't have any on-hand so I made a random sauce that evoked similar flavors, but I would've preferred straight-up Hoisin)

In a small non-stick pan, heat canola and sesame oils over medium-low heat.  Once warm, crumble in the soft tofu and warm in the oil for ~5 minutes (basically a quick marinade).  Beat the eggs with the salt, pour over the tofu to cover the pan (making sure the tofu is evenly distributed), and cook low and slow until the eggs have set.  Slide the omelet onto a plate and chill in the freezer.

Heat a couple cups of water until it's almost simmering (it should be steaming but not burn your hands when you go to dip the wrappers in).  Meanwhile, tear each nori sheet into 3 pieces and slice the omelet into 3 pieces as well.  Slice the avocado thinly.

To form the rolls, pour the water into a round dish or cake pan (~9 inch diameter).  Soften one rice paper wrapper at a time in the hot water, then lay flat on a clean surface.  Lay 2 nori strips over the wrapper, making sure to leave space to fold up the sides later, then smear some Hoisin sauce on the nori.  Lay on a third of the avocado, a third of the egg, and some radish slices.  Fold up the sides and roll (like a burrito).  Finish the other two, cut each roll in half, and dig in!      

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