Last night it was clear and almost warm, so I made a successful Asian chicken salad. Any recipe that involves the funkiness of fish sauce as a dressing is not always successful. Who wants to eat a dish that smells as if you stepped in something? But the taste is delicious if you hold your nose. I tossed together ramen noodles, fresh coriander, spring onions (scallions), minced shallots, garlic, freshly grated ginger, moist chicken breasts steamed in ginger and light soy, fresh chilli, minced lemon grass from the garden, ripe julienned mango, fish sauce, ground toasty cashew nuts, more fish sauce, squeezed lime juice, zested lime peel, grated palm sugar and about six or seven other lively and incongruous ingredients I can’t remember. Success!
Today it is raining and bitterly cold. A good day for work if nothing else.
The housemate’s brother is ill with some nasty colon disorder. He is about to have a colonoscopy and has been admitted to hospital. The housemate doesn’t get along with her brother and they only call on birthdays and at Christmas, but she got onto the phone right away. Her brother cried when he heard her voice and they talked as if they had never been apart for a day. ‘Blood is thicker than water,’ the housemate said afterwards. She doesn’t mind repeating cliches that are true.
I felt envious listening to this. I wish I had a family like that, I wish I could be family like that to my surviving siblings. In my family blood is thinner than anything except alcohol.
Over the weekend I was talking to a long-sober friend who ‘saw the light’ in a prison cell after trying to sever her long-suffering husband’s head from his neck with a blunt bread knife. (ouch!) She said, a little scornfully, to me: ‘You sobered up without any drama, you just stopped drinking as I recall, long before anyone realised you even had a problem.’ Oneupmanship in recovery is reprehensible but it happens. My friend is fond of purple paisley scarves, wobbly black eyeliner, teetering red heels and still likes to throw the odd scene in public places. Nobody has ever been as wicked and desperate a drinking woman as her.
The thing is, the damage in my case was all on the inside. I didn’t want to burn down the house or kill anyone else or dance on tables naked. I just sat behind closed doors trying to work out how to kill myself and do it properly because the drinking was taking too long to do it.
And anyone who has sat despondent and airless in front of an empty bottle at 9am on a summer morning feeling that this has to be the last day, that it is impossible to go on any longer, knows all about prison cells.