The Smell of Apricot Chicken Reminds Me of SuperTed

Last night, as evening began to hide the clouds that had owned the sky all day, I stepped into my parents’ house to collect my daughter. A wall of scent and memory flew into my face and settled around my heart. It lifted the corners of my mouth and made me stop, and breathe.

Apricot Chicken!

I could smell Apricot Chicken cooking on a cold Autumn evening, whilst standing in the downstairs living room of my family home, right in front of the wood fire.

When I was five, six… sixteen years of age, I would sit in that room, watching ABC evening TV, while mum cooked dinner upstairs. In those days, she would have just dragged herself in from a long day in the operating theatre. The smell of Betadine would cling to her, and the sound of pots and pans and stirring and chopping would filter down the stairs, forcing us to turn the TV up with a grumble, completely oblivious to the fact that while we were annoyed that mum’s cooking was interfering with our television watching, mum was dead on her feet, knowing her day wouldn’t be over until dinner was cooked, the dishes were done, laundry washed, folded or ironed, and us selfish bastard kids had finally gone off to bed.

We’d sit there for hours, watching Danger Mouse, Trap Door and Roger Ramjet, waiting for Degrassi Junior High to come on. We’d laugh and fight, and ignore mum’s pleas for us to set the table for dinner, pretending we didn’t hear her, or telling her we’d be up in 5 minutes … we were such jerk liars.

Despite not wanting her to make any sound as she prepared our meal, we’d be desperate for dinner to be ready. The closer it got, the headier its scent, and the growlier our stomachs became.

Last night, that smell of Apricot Chicken took me back to that time, where I had my whole family at my fingertips, whenever I wanted (or didn’t want) them around.

And now my daughter is experiencing something almost identical to my own childhood, only hers comes without the scent of betadine and the stories from the operating theatre. And right now, it comes without brothers or sisters to fight with.

It also comes without the smell of Apricot Chicken, because they were actually cooking Ham and Leek Soup…(wtf??)

Mourning the loss of my nation’s dignity. Also: this blog is now a legitimate news source.

Well.

Don’t I feel like the parent whose kid just threw a giant tantrum because someone told them their well-functioning shiny toy was a piece of shit? And I feel bad, because I’m not just ashamed of my kid’s tantrum, I’m ashamed of my kid for being such a dumbass that it can’t even see how good this toy actually is.

Australian Media, I am golf clapping the fuck out of you right now. You won. You 1984’d the shit out of people who are too busy living their lives to spend the time required to sift through each and every news story – from each and every news source, in order to determine facts with which to make informed decisions.

I mean, clearly the Australian people can’t obtain facts from its media. Our media is, in essence, just a bunch of opinion blogs. Only the opinions aren’t those of the writers, but of the corporations and affiliated political parties that keep the blog.. I mean newspaper.. afloat.

When I was in High School, my English teacher gave me a 9.5/10 for an essay I wrote on Australia. She said she never gives out full marks because everyone can always improve, but my essay was so brilliant, she gave me as close to full marks as she could.

I felt like a cheat when I got those marks. I had written that essay in 20 minutes, and hadn’t even worked up a mental sweat to do so. That’s because the essay was about Australia. What I loved and treasured about this country.

I’d be really hard pressed to write that now. I just wouldn’t even bother. What I love about this country disappeared a long time ago, when the people of this country stopped fighting for the underdog and started whinging about being poor because they could only afford one plasma… When they wanted to get rid of a Prime Minister because of the way her voice sounds.

Meanwhile, if the citizens of this country were judged on such superficial matters, they’d all have been put down at the pound.

We are about to see some very dark days in this country, and all those people, those low to middle-income earners who, incredibly, believed that Tony “I am really Satan” Abbott was going to give them a lifestyle that included more income and less taxes, will very quickly realise just how easily they’ve been duped.

I won’t sit back and say “I told you so”. I will tell them to get angry.

My fellow citizens, the election is over, but this is where the work begins. In time, the I told you so moments will arrive, the curtain will fall, and the Great and Powerful Oz will show its true self. It can’t go any other way.

I’d like to be proud of this country again, if possible, so how about we all start demanding from our politicians what our employers demand of us? What about a job-trial period? What happens if they don’t meet their KPIs? What if they don’t use the bathroom code to log out of their phone when they leave their desk?

What makes us accept less of our politicians than is expected of us? We roll over and let our private corporate bosses ram the dildo of “company policy” up our arse on a daily basis – how about we hold our politicians to the same standard?

Our leaders should reflect the values that we of a nation hold to the highest importance. Right now, it appears that our values are: the continued persecution of the world’s most vulnerable people, the continued discrimination of homosexuals, women, and anyone who isn’t a mining/media magnate, and aspirations to have the world’s slowest internet, evar (which is basically like aspiring to get the wooden spoon in the footy tipping comp – clearly, you’re shit).

But it’s okay, because his daughters are pretty hot, and his party members have sex appeal.

Onya, Straya.

For my nan. Who won’t read this. Because she’s 80 today.

What do you say about your grandmother, the woman who helped raise you, on her 80th birthday?

My nan loves her footy and cricket with passion, but dislikes people in general for no reason she can pinpoint (“there’s just something about him/her”).

She is always buying us things. You have to be at least four doors down before you even whisper that you need / have been looking at buying something. If she hears you, without fail, she will turn up at your doorstep a couple of days later with exactly what you were saying you needed.
Apparently it was “just laying around”.
At the shop.

The woman has a giant heart and an even bigger stubborn streak. Like my sister, she’ll argue that the sky is green even if you’re staring right at it, and clearly, it’s FUCKING BLUE. No backing down. She’s the right woman to have in your corner if you ever need someone put in their place.

Just don’t get her involved if there’s a slight chance you could be wrong.
Like that time I thought I heard the bus driver say there’d been a fire on the bus. That totally didn’t go down well when Nan started going off about it and it turns out I was way, way wrong.

She has been there through everything I’ve experienced.

She looked after us as babies, and even in my last year of High School, I was still going to Nan’s after school, instead of home or out with friends.

So many of my warmest memories are in her kitchen, sitting around the dining table while Nan and the Four Daughters of the Apocalypse (my mum and aunts) ALL spoke at once – Three different conversations being held, with all women participating in each.

When Nan and Aunty Helen have different opinions, that’s when it gets really loud.
Aunty Sue tells them both to “wake up”, Aunty Fiona does her Muttley laugh, and mum asks who wants coffee to try and diffuse the situation.

There is honestly no place like inside the arms of your grandmother. The problem arises when your head height is their boob height – both my nans were blessed with ample bosoms and it made for some very awkward greetings as your head had to be turned on this awkward angle so you could get your arms around them.

Now my nan’s arms are thin and bony but they still feel like one of the safest places I’ll ever know.

And, thanks to her, I have started checking the outdoor furniture for spiders before letting any visiting children sit down.

So here’s to Old Rathy, the woman who says “bullshit” in my favourite way, the woman who taught her entire family how to have anxiety, and the woman whose face, voice, arms and kisses make up most of my life’s memories.

Happy Birthday you old tart. I love the shit out of you.

Why we can’t have nice things

The body wash had bubbled up and was tickling my naked arms, floating on top of the steaming bathwater.

A meditation track was playing in the background, the binaural beat lulling me into its calm embrace, readying my mind and my body for complete and very necessary relaxation.

“by now, your body should be in a calm state”, the voice droned. My subconscious agreed, and I felt my bones turn to liquidy warmth beneath my skin.

I exhaled to the count of five, as directed, but before I could take my next breath, girlcat launched onto the edge of the bathtub, caught in the shower curtain and unleashing a terrified cat scream.

Within seconds she had extracted herself from her curtain prison, and commenced her slow, explorative strut along the length of the bathtub, stepping on my phone – the source of my guided meditation – in the process.

In rescuing my phone from the bathtub, I took my attention from her and her back paws began to slip on the enamel. In slow motion, I pictured her falling into the water, her claws tearing my flesh as she scrabbled to escape.

Thankfully, she’s a cat with far better balance than I give her credit for.

She launched from the edge of the bath onto the cabinet beneath the windowsill, displacing deodorant cans and that heartbeat I should have just felt.

Me? I pulled the plug from the bath and decided that medication is much fucking easier than trying to relax when you have cats.

Audience Participation

There’s so much that could, and has already, been said about the place music holds within society that it feels ridiculous to even attempt it myself.

… but, you see, there’s this little, unknown band called Pearl Jam, who, for the past twenty years, have been some of the only witnesses to the person inside me. They’re the ones who get to see the ugly crying – the kind where snot drips down your red, splotchy face, and you sound like Claire Danes in Romeo & Juliet. That one. Like, a honk.

They’ve seen me at my most broken and confused, on the nights where I’ve been left alone with the bottle for far longer than is safe for me, and I spin through moments of clarity and confusion, before calling in to visit irrational anger on my way to blackout bedtime.

They’ve seen me on those depressed days, when Sid was away,  staring at walls in the same pyjamas I’ve worn for the past 2, unshowered days, avoiding mirrors or shiny surfaces just as I avoided food, and people.

But the best times they’ve seen me were when I was that long, blonde-haired 14 year old, all braces and lip gloss, hanging out on Spam’s farm, drinking passion pop, smoking cigarettes and singing, while we drove around the paddocks at a hundred mile an hour in that beat up old car.

Life was a sweet place back then. It was unmarred, sunny, the air around me felt filled with promise. I was beginning to find a place, with people who felt soft – their edges weren’t all sharp and smashy when they spoke to me. This was a new and delicious thing, for me.

These days, when I listen to Pearl Jam, it’s with the Friendship Family; those people you spend all your non-work time with. Mine happens to include my real life little brother, as it did when I was 15 and I was dressing him like a goth and painting his fingernails, and dad was like “Stop it! He’s a boy! And also, 5!”

I don’t do that to him now. My sister does still tell him what to wear, though.

The point is, Pearl Jam has been an active part of my life longer than anyone besides my blood relatives. They’ve been such a large part of my life that through forcing my family to listen to “Triple J Vol. 3 – 21” of my radio-tapes whenever we went on family road trips, I inadvertently turned my entire family into Pearl Jam fans.

That band is part of who we are, and now, all of us being adults, we take our family trips again and very little has changed. Nowadays, us kids are a little more mindful of what we force the parents to put up with. Mum’s fine – she has excellent music taste. Dad is just an angry little hobbit man who wants to listen to the races and has a terrible habit of losing his temper at whichever inanimate object he just tried to control, but failed to do so.

Hilarious.

His eyebrows are the best thing in my world. My mother hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, but for me, they make my heart warm every time I see them. He’s like an owl. His eyebrows are majestically wizard-like, and when he’s thinking, he tends to twist them, like some men do with their fancy-moustaches.

They then resemble small, grey devil horns on his temples.

Making him scared-angry is our favourite pastime. It’s where we make a mix-cd of chilled out songs, and then, when he’s all tapping his foot out of time, smiling away like a dickhead, BAM! Death metal.

He jumps, comically, and roars his angry-koala swear-a-thon (seriously, my dad is Don Vito), whilst grappling for the controls and inadvertently turning the volume up, instead of down.

It feels nice to make mum laugh.

So, for those who wish to play along at home, if you could identify them, who is the band/artist/whatever that you have spent the most time with in your lifetime, and what are some of your favourite/funniest memories?

 

Track marks

I love hearing the train thunder and roar along the tracks, its lonely horn tooting a sad little cry as it storms along the edge of town, briefly blocking the silhouettes of gum trees and powerlines, while sharp glints of moonlight glance off the top of carriages and tarp-covered freight cars.

I lay in the dark, my arms folded behind my head, eyes closed, ears open to the thunking rhythm and squealing energy. My heart races as the sound takes me back to late, dark nights in dank, drippy train stations across suburbs and cities and identities.

I like these country trains best. The silent fields, native animals and weary truck drivers the only witnesses to its journey,as the train thunders through towns and cities, villages and nowheres, mostly, around here, while the moon looks down upon it.

As I lay in the dark, I envy that train, getting to see the trees and the fields where the clouds part long enough to allow the moon to expose them.

If I wasn’t terrified of serial killers, I would get my licence just so I could go and hang out, alone, in the bush, staring at trees and bugs and dirt, and not having to explain myself to the people who want to know why?

There is no why. I just really like staring at shit.

Unfortunately, there’s that whole thing about me having the very worst sense of direction in the history of mankind, so going out in the bush, alone, is probably the very worst thing I could do, unless my goal was to: probably break my ankle and then get eaten alive by ants.

Which it is not.

Of course, I digress, and thus take you back to trains:

Toot toot, motherfuckers.

Today is made up of unicorns galloping on rainbows.

Today is my RDO – my fortnightly paid day off, that I look forward to every single work day.

It’s that shining beacon of hope when my alarm goes off at 7am, that comforting hug when I’m shivering in our office, and that happy place I go to when I’m cursing the world for not allowing me to go to work in my pyjamas.

I don’t get dressed on my RDO until the very last possible minute.

I schedule my day around all the things I can get away with doing in my pyjamas. Sitting in front of the computer, trawling the internet ranks highest among those tasks and often leaves my To Do list roughly… ignored.

I am not quite sure what today will bring. It is only 8:45am, and I have until midday to have this morning’s dishes washed.

That leaves a significant amount of ps3 time before the shower calls my name with its wet, seductive whisper.

Time to go mage-burn the shit out of some Giant Spiders.