Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bugger your soul

Erg. Snot Fairy's back again, damn her eyes. It's all Bloke's fault. He got a revolting bug and generously shared it with me. Ms Fairy is proving to be like that uninvited bogan who turns up at your party, drinks all the beer, eats all the mini hamburgers and then pukes through your screen door.

So, for the snot-ridden flu sufferer in your life, here's my chicken soup recipe. It's not hard and imagine the brownie points it will earn you. Or just make it for yourself and tell whoever gave you their disease to piss off and get their own.

3 large chicken thighs bone in, skin removed (about 600-700g)
2 litres chicken stock (that liquid Campbell's stuff will do nicely)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 dessertspoons soy sauce
75g flat rice stick noodles, broken into pieces

Heat the oven to 190C. Put the chicken pieces in a roasting dish lined with foil so it's easier to wash - I'm lazy, me. Brush them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with a bit of oregano. Roast for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, fry the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until glassy. Add the carrots and the rest of the oregano and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about half an hour. Chop the chicken and add it to the soup, along with the soy sauce and the noodles. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

There. Chicken soup not for your soul but for more practical things like your nasty nose and icky chest. You can even freeze it.

Now, anyone got a tissue?


Monday, June 11, 2007

Tales from an ER

An ER is a surreal place at 2.30am.

The carpark is icy, dark and quiet. Inside the first set of doors, a woman in pink ugg boots sits on the corner of a planter, her face in her hands. She is worn thin and surrounded by a fug of abuse.

The waiting room holds a motley collection of people, backs to the triage office and all staring blankly at an infomercial advertising a set of music DVDs. Just $29.95 each, or return within 10 days. But come on - this is The Supremes! Who would want to return it?

I settle down next to my sister and brother-in-law. They look rumpled, startled from sleep, just like I do.

A man sits in a wheelchair behind me, sucking greedily at an oxygen mask and whining intermittently. His elderly mother is at his side, patting his arm. Everyone is dressed in a bizarre collection of leisure wear and evening clothes. A man in a wifebeater lies on the gurney that has been his couch for the past six hours. Black-clad security guards stalk through the waiting room and then return to their office.

A sign high on the wall warns that Abusive or Threatening Language will NOT be Tolerated. The Police will be Summoned.

The woman in the ugg boots asks the triage nurse how much longer she will have to wait.

"Two bloody hours?" she wails, distraught. "I've already been here for two fucking hours and I'm tired and I just want to go home to bed and now you tell me another two bloody hours!" Her voice gets higher and louder. "I don't bloody care any more. You said the crisis team would be here soon!" The triage nurse's responses are inaudible, but obviously she is putting to use her course on dealing with aggressive patients. The wailing ramps up a few notches, with a few cries of, "Be fucked! Be fucked all of you!" It has an oddly Shakespearean quality: "Be fucked and smell thy way to Dover!" wouldn't be out of place.

A man in front of me is staring unashamedly, mouth open, half-swivelled in his chair.

The triage nurse seems to be winning until the guy in the wheelchair sticks his nose in.

"Oh, just shut up, will you?" he roars, surprisingly loudly for someone who supposedly can't breathe. "Just shut the fuck up and sit down!"

There are more cries of, "Be fucked!" with more roaring from the wheelchair guy. No-one bothers to point out that sometimes, things aren't all about him, largely because the woman in the ugg boots has gone for him, shrieking like a banshee and with fingers clawed. I barrack for her silently. I wouldn't mind bitch-slapping the selfish prick myself.

Within a few seconds, the security guards have wrestled her to the floor, bending her arms high behind her back. She is dragged outside into the cold to wait for a police pick-up. Her screeches become fainter.

Mr Wheelchair is unrepentant. Now he's whining that she went for him and she must be crazy, the bitch. He whines some more that the stress will give him another asthma attack and he's been waiting for a long time, too.

"I've got a headache," he moans.

The guy in the wife-beater decides that he's had enough of the ER circus and leaves. I hope he has a jumper in the car.

Later, in the treatment area, a woman curled in the foetal position is wheeled in. Her handbag is on the barouche at her feet and only her dyed-red hair is visible over the ambulance blanket. Fifty tablets of Valium are mentioned and she moans incoherently.

The ER staff seem neither busy nor stressed. One, an Indian woman, is complaining loudly about the stupidity of a man who has brought his wife to the hospital in labour even though it has no maternity ward and she is booked in elsewhere.

"Who will be paying for the liabilty if the baby is having a congenital birth defect?" she brays. The other staff mutter in agreement.

I'm distracted by Emesis Bag. It's for puking in, according to the litlte blurb on the side. Apparently, kidney dishes just don't cut the mustard for catching splattery vomit. It looks like an oversized plastic condom with a hard plastic flange at the top.

"Now, there is an alternative. Now, there is Emesis Bag," the self-important little blurb squawks. Somewhere, someone is very proud of Emesis Bag. I imagine him sitting in a bar and trying hard to pick up women.

"Oh," he says carelessly, sipping a martini (shaken, not stirred), "I imagine you've heard of me. I invented Emesis Bag."

Forget hospitals - taxi drivers all over Australia should carry a few in their back seats. It would save a fortune in befoulment fees.

I go into the women's bathroom. The toilet has a generic black seat and a miasma of stale piss that punches me in the nose when I step into the stall. I start scrabbling at the industrial-sized roll of paper, preparing to line the seat. I'm tired and not sure I can hover without losing my balance.

In slow motion, the behemoth of a bog roll flies off the holder, bounces on the pee-besmirched seat and wedges itself in the bowl.

I stare at it, horrified. There's only one stall. I think briefly of running away to the disabled loo, but realise there's no choice: I have to retrieve the giant roll of bum fodder because Christ knows I can't flush it and the longer it sits there, the more toilet water it's going to suck up.

There's a wet patch on the bottom 10 cm long and half a centimetre thick; too much to flush. I settle for tearing off a dry length, then dropping the wet bit in the bowl. Repeat several times. Finally, I decide to let the next person fend for themselves. For all I know, the same thing happened yesterday and the day before and I blotted with paper that was already infused with toilet water and cholera-strength Domestos.


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Sunday, June 03, 2007


I’m back. The Phlegm Fairy has relaxed her snotty grasp just enough so that I can think coherently again. Hurrah, etc.

Gigglewick has kindly tagged me for a meme that was obviously made with snarky bitches like me in mind: 10 things I hate about other people. The only trouble here will be restricting oneself to just 10 things. As you may have noticed, I’m not prejudiced. I hate everyone.

So, I’ve have a big bowl of crabby flakes, I’ve got my angry pants* on and I’m ready to give it all I’ve got. ~flexes knuckles, cracks grumpy bones~

So, in no particular order:

1. Watching them eat
There aren’t many things I hate more than watching other people eat, unless it’s John Howard and stepping barefoot in cat sick at 2am. My perfect weight-loss video would be watching a 300kg man in boxer shorts steadily working his way through three dozen double Whoppers with cheese, while chewing with his mouth open. I would probably never eat again. If you chew with your mouth open, I don’t want to see you eat. The same goes if you
* talk while you’re eating and spray lumps of half-chewed chip onto the table;
* jam huge chunks of food in your mouth; or
* you’re shoveling in the grub as though you were stoking the boiler of a steam train.

Take it home and eat it. I do not want to watch. And don’t even get me started on people who can’t hold their cutlery properly. I’ll forgive you for poor chopstick style, since Bloke used to say I held chopsticks like someone who’d been brain injured. I’ve recovered now, thanks for asking, and can hold my own with the fiercest of dumpling snatchers.

2. Their capitalistic greed
Everyone needs a house. No-one needs an $18 million house. How many rooms can you use at a time? Likewise, a car is a useful thing, especially in cities with lousy public transport. A Ferrari, a Mercedes, a Porsche or anything else that costs as much as an average home, is unnecessary. Similarly, $500 bottles of plonk, $1000 shoes, $2000 jeans, $5000 handbags, $30,000 home theatre systems and $500,000 diamond rings are simply not necessary. There are children starving in Africa and you’re buying, what? A pair of shoes that you’ll be bored with in a few weeks? Yay, you.

3. Sharing the road with them
I believe in carma. It’s similar to karma, but it relates specifically to traffic. You let people merge in front of you, you don’t block side streets, that sort of thing. Just like the wheels on the bus, what goes around on the road comes around. If you let other drivers in, someone else will let you in when you have to do a zip merge. (I love that expression. It sounds like a submarine manoeuvre. “Zip merge, captain, zip merge!”)

However, I know how the Dalai Lama feels, because not everyone embraces my philosophy. Especially in Oddelaide, home of weird serial killers, unpalatable meat pie dishes and uncontrolled wankers of the road. There are arsehats everywhere: people who are unaware of the purpose of an indicator, people who speed up to close the gap when you are trying to change lanes, people who tailgate when you’re doing already 62 in a 60 zone. So while I try to practise carma, I would also like a backup rocket launcher mounted unobtrusively on the roof of my hatchback.

4. Their pack mentality
As one of my friends says, “Nothing is any good once other people like it”. And she’s right. I don’t care whether it’s tickets to U2, a football team, Ikea, Stella McFartney clothes from Target or any other danged thing that suddenly becomes popular. Make up your own bloody mind, for Ford’s sake! Fashion – just say no.

5. Celery
“Hang on,” I hear you say, “Celery isn’t other people’s fault! It's a vegetable!"

Yes, it is other people's fault.

If no-one liked celery, then it would fall out of favour. It wouldn’t be grown, it wouldn’t be sold in green grocers’ shops and it wouldn’t find its way into my Asian takeaway with such monotonous bloody regularity. It’s easy to mistake celery for a piece of cabbage or bok choy and once you’ve started chewing, you can’t spit it out, can you? No. Death to celery.

6. Low food standards
The average café/purveyor of pies/food court shop-filler seems to put most of their effort into making their food look good while completely disregarding the taste of the finished product. Why? ~throws self to knees, punching fist at sky~ Just because a dish is cheaper than $10 doesn’t mean that the noodles automatically have to be gluey, the soup watery or the pasta stodgy and overcooked.

And while I’m hating people for their food, can we please stop playing hide the chips? It pisses me off no end. And why does an ordinary schnitzel suddenly resemble half a cow, steam-rolled, crumbed and flash-fried? For some reason, if it isn’t schnitzilla and if it doesn’t overhang the plate, it’s just not value for money. I’d be happy to pay 2/3 the price for half the schnitty. Frankly, it’s off-putting to see something on my plate that could easily feed a family of four.

7. Their nut worship
I’m allergic to nuts. Not peanuts, because they’re legumes and not water chestnuts because I think they’re just a random vegetable saddled with an unfortunate name. But pretty much everything else that calls itself a nut will cause my throat to swell shut. Most of them also induce hives. As a kid, my mother suspected I was allergic to cashews and asked my old House-style doctor about it. His response? "One afternoon when you don't have anything to do, give her some more and see what happens." Golly gee, I loved that doctor so much.

So, I don’t quite understand why everyone loves nuts to such an extent that they put them in anything they want to look a bit schmicko and fancy. Walnuts are not necessary in salads. Pesto tastes great without pine nuts. Butter chicken is way better sans cashew paste. And having two nut desserts on a two-choice menu is just rude. It’s nearly as bad as then serving me a fruit platter when I have clearly requested the Belgian chocolate ice-cream from on of the nut desserts. Grrr.

8. Their rampaging self-esteem and sense of entitlement
I’m not quite sure how this came about, but suddenly every man jack thinks he is God. And not just a god: the God. They may be presented with dozens of reasons why this is not true – laziness, surliness, lack of application, poor marks at school, attitudes that are even worse than mine (and believe me, I could give attitude for Australia) – yet they continue to labour under the misconception that they can all be brain surgeons. Nay, that they have the right to be brain surgeons and that anyone who suggests they can't is just not working for them.

I blame the parents. And Paris Hilton. Sure, I only have to discipline a cat, but there’s constructive encouragement and then there’s encouraging your kid to believe in something that is never going to be true. And that latter is doing them a serious disservice. I’ve heard all that stuff about positive thought and encouraging good self-esteem and that’s great, but please, can we have some realism?

When I wor a lad, we used to live in a rolled up newspaper by t'side of t'road and every day we'd have to get up, before we went to bed, and lick the road clean with our tongues. When kids are brought up to believe they are the best there ever was even when they have fairly solid evidence to the contrary, then that’s really not doing them any good. As Cloris Leachman’s alcoholic mother character says to Tea Leoni’s highly unpleasant daughter in Spanglish (which is really rather a cute movie, I must say), “Sometimes, dear, your low self-esteem is just good common sense”. What's wrong with teaching kids to work hard to be the best they can instead of suggesting they just deserve it automatically? /rant

9. Their cursed ignorance
I’m a history nerd and I follow world events. When someone asks me a question like, “Was Germany involved in World War II?” or “Was there a war in Yugoslavia?” or “Where’s Japan?” I want to do them a serious injury. How do people grow to adulthood, breed, hold down a job and still be so damned ignorant?

10. The way they try to use my innate politeness against me
On Saturday, I was in a shopping mall. Icky, I know, but there’s a supermarket and a book shop there, so I can get Diet Coke, cat food and books in the same place and I only have to park once. Bite me, all right? Unfortunately, there are also other things in these hideous places where the sun don’t shine. Like charity muggers. When I went yesterday, I was crook, sleepless and miserable, but I dragged my sorry arse out to get needful stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah – it’s the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Bleeds”. I know. Anyway, as I was escaping the ninth circle of hell, I tried to manoeuvre around a tall lad wearing extended-toe pimp shoes, which he had inconveniently shoved into the aisle. “Hi,” he said, turning on the 1000 watt Colgate smarm and holding out his hand for me to shake. “Can I ask you a question?”

“No,” I growled, ignoring his outstretched mitt and walking on as the smarm melted from his mug.

Of course, what I should have said was, “You already did. And you wasted it. Ha ha bloody ha!” But I was diseased and not thinking of anything but getting the DC, kitty fodder and books back to the car boot and then going home to bed.

These people are turning me into a nastier, less polite person than I used to be. If that were possible, of course. Come on - I'm already pushing a trolley that has all the responsiveness of a stoned, retarded crab. Do I really look like I want to stop to chat? I’ve already had merchandising chicks in the supermarket offer me a bit of apple on a stick, a stodgy-looking chunk of sugar-laced muffin and something white and sludgy that may have been yoghurt, custard or fabric softener. So, Mr Ring of Fricken Confidence, if I’ve resisted the seagull urge for free food in the supermarket, then I’m damned sure not stopping to chat to you about whatever charity you represent. I make informed choices about who I donate to, not spur of the moment decisions based on your happy smile and faux mo. Now fuck off.

Gosh, I could have gone for miles and miles and now I’m all out of space. Perhaps I’ll tag myself later on and gripe some more. But in the meantime, I’m tagging Audrey, Ariel, Sakura, petstarr and killerrabbit. Come on, loves give us a big blast of your grouch.

* In case you were wondering, my angry pants are a "bargain" pair of black size 11 bootleg Levi’s that some wretched underfed little shop girl told me would surely stretch enough for me to breathe if I just put them on and loafed on the couch for an evening. She assured me that she did this all the time. Such was my lust for the bargain black Levi’s that I bought them, despite serious misgivings. A couple of hours on the couch later, I was losing feeling in my everything and the jeans were swiftly bundled into the bottom drawer, waiting for the day when I skinny up. Now I just put them on when I need to rustle up some angry. I also own some whiny pants, but they’re floppy trackies that I like to wear when I’m hungover or disease-ridden.

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