Lessons in humidity

But first, man, I love being the fun parent. I made a cake for my little boy’s birthday. It had four layers of icing and a picture of pocoyo and friends as a topper. On the side there were three butterflies, two keys and three mushrooms made of marzipan. I brought the cake into my mom in law’s and we opened it when the kids were done with dinner. A lot of excited shrieking followed. The kids loved it! I felt as if it was my birthday the amount of excitement the cake generated. The best part was A saying, “Mummy made cake for me.” I am the boring parent. The layer of the law. The one who makes them do horrible  stuff like clean up and finish dinner. Feels gooooooood.

The humidity is rather troublesome in cake making. I didn’t realise this. I iced the cake two days in advance. On my first layer of icing I used an enormous tip. I finished covering the cake in 30mins. It takes a surprising lot of icing to cover an 8″ cake of four thin layers. I discovered by accident that leaving the icing to dry in the fridge makes it a lot easier to add another layer to smooth out the surface. I didn’t need to make it super smooth but it looked a lot more like store bought. The cake topper showing pocoyo and friends tore from the humidity. A hairdryer at close range manage to dry the icing so that it peels off from the plastic backing. As the backing came off, there is a certain glossiness which vanished like disappearing ellipsis in the heat. The icing became much stiffer.

The marzipan figurines flopped about. I could not get them to dry. Perhaps I need to dry them in the fridge before using.

I have been thinking about consuming and creating. I started out believing in the all or nothing of consumption and creation. Because every art, writing, music was produced perfect in its perfections and imperfections when consuming it, I felt like  Sisyphus. I felt no joy in creation not in consumption, oddly. Only a dogged strange desire to produce something instantly beautiful. I remembered being able to write only 500 words in a single day.  I remembered trying to think through plots. It was heinously difficult. I frowned at the laptop all the time. I fell asleep dreaming about what happened next. I woke up stressed and disgusted because I had fallen asleep and did no work. The most difficult work required me to come up with  a string theory like order to explain everything that happened in the novel. I did write novels during nanowrimo, some pretend poetry, and pages and pages of journals. These were drivel to me – I have no wish to associate myself with drivel. The early to mid twenties were tough. I left this stage and swung to consuming theatre, music and art without any creation. I think I spend a good ten years enjoying local theatre and jazz music. It’s interesting that the consumption of books made me want to write as if participating in a dialogue with other writers. Consuming theatre and music does not excite me into creation. It was superb entertainment. I actually saw Emma Yong’s debut in the Room on 42nd Street. (I doubt even the actors remembered that place.) Jonathan Lim won the Life theatre awards that year for his solo piece Emerald Hole. I loved local theatre. All the foreign productions were expensive. Local theatre was cheap and good. Arts festival was cheap and good. So was film festival. Man I could not forget Adam’s Apple, Flammen & Citronen and Tokyo Godfathers. And of course, The Lives of Others. I sat in while Hou Hsiao Hsien talked about his films. I went to jazz festivals put up with poseurs and their dates. The last few I remember going was to a few local Chinese productions,  Ah Jiu, December Rain and Thunderstorm. The absolute last thing was Chestnuts, where I was front of house and Judee Tan stole the show. Of course a large part of me struggling to produce something also had to do with my mom’s rubbishing of anything related to  the creation of art. The funny thing is she was knee deep in choral groups then. She knew my secondary school choir teacher. She knew the good piano teachers, she was invited to the home of Kuo Pao Kun (his wife dances). In my consumption I maintained my blog headspace. In those days,  the community was really small and not so political. Political yes, but not exclusively so. We talk of many things : poetry, film, art, music,books. Nowadays it seems political blogs are the only blogs treated seriously. In those days, I had written than creativity gets people into trouble. 

Time has worked on this puffery and I decide now that creativity is a flow. I find creativity expressed in all that I do, at work and at home. At work, I am proud of all the things I pioneered from very little that I have, using not very difficult or advanced concepts. At home, I write now, private letters to my kids and husband. Creative endeavours are a flow, there is not the all or nothing  model where we are either  wholly consumerist or wholly creative.  Younger I could not appreciate a more flowy concept, that all art is a dialogue, not a competition for a sensation of wow. We talk to the living around us, and the dead before us, and the unborn ahead of us. Well, not cakes. Cakes express a crafting skill but Cakes does not need to talk. It serves a magical moment whether store bought or made. It is a dessert. Sometimes pretty, mostly delicious unless it is bad recipe. But always it is made for a moment to be enjoyed.

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