If you could know when you’d die…would you want to know?

Don’t let the days go by
Could have been easier on you
I couldn’t change though I wanted to
Should I have been easier by three
Our old friend fear and you and me

We had some strange discussions at work last week.

If you were a fruit, what would you be?  I chose to be an apple, as I’m pretty ordinary, but most people like me.  I can be a little tart sometimes, but even then I’m pretty practical.

If you were a farm animal, what would you be?  I said I’d be mother duck.  I’m pretty good at keeping the kids in line, but not really the hard working sort.

And we had a philosophical discussion over whether we’d want to know in advance the date of our own or others’ deaths.  Most of the people in the office said they wouldn’t want to know.  One of the girls and I said that we would want to know.

If I had the option of kissing my husband goodbye in the morning and him never coming home again, or being told that he was gravely ill and would be dead within the week, I’d take the latter.  It gives you the chance to say goodbye, the chance to get closure, the chance to maximise your last moments together.

The others said you should be maximising your moments anyway, and living each day like it could be your last, which is true enough in theory but doesn’t work in practical terms.  If my kids are being lazy and not doing their chores, I get cross and yell at them.  If they’re naughty, I punish them.  It’s part of being a good parent.  Children who don’t have consequences grow up to be spoiled, self-indulgent, selfish, inconsiderate adults.  Good parents provide boundaries and consequences for stepping over those boundaries.  Those boundaries and those consequences vary from parent to parent, they even vary from myself to my husband somewhat, but that’s normal.

But if you had a family member who had a week to live, especially a core person in your family, like the parent or the child, then fuck the chores.  No one gives a shit about the state of the kitchen when someone’s dying in the hospital, right?  You’re all about maximising the moments you have left, and that doesn’t mean shouting at the kids to get off their asses and do some housework, it means saying the I love you’s.  And yes, my husband knows I love him, and I say it often.  At least once every day.  And he says it often to me.  And we make sure the kids know we love them.  But still…  I’d want to know.

One of the guys at work suggested that knowing you only have a year left to live stops you from living, because instead you’re focussed on the death that is approaching.  I disagree.  I think if you knew you had a year to live, you’d milk the most out of every moment you had left.  I go to work every day because I need the income to pay my bills, right?  And I save money toward my retirement because I hope to live long enough to retire.  But if I only had a year left to live, I wouldn’t be working, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be saving for retirement.  There would have to be some practical decisions made, as we don’t have the funds for me to just stop working, particularly if my husband and children are going to survive me.  I do have some life insurance though.

In life, we have to try and balance ‘living for the moment’ with ‘planning for the future’.  If you know that you’re 100% guaranteed to live to be 100, you’d be far more diligent about saving for your retirement.  If you know that you’re 100% guaranteed to die next year, you wouldn’t bother and it would tip the balance towards living for the moment.

I’d want to know, anyway.

A few days after that discussion, I found out that a family friend has terminal cancer.  The message I received said ‘No timeframe, she didn’t want to know.’  It all suddenly went from hypothetical to a real life scenario.  This family friend had the option of being given a timeframe (admittedly, a doctor’s educated estimate, no guarantees) and she chose not to know.  I’d have to know.  I tried to explain to the guy at work (the one who made the comment about focussing on the death instead of living) that the difference between ‘You’ve got a couple of weeks’ and ‘You might last a year or two’ gives you a chance to weigh up that balance between ‘living for the moment’ and ‘planning for the future’.  It allows you the knowledge to make decisions.  Of course, if you’re told you might have a year to live, you shouldn’t plan things for the last week of that year, and expect to die on the estimated day (not that a doctor would ever give you a specific date!).  It’s not about that.  It’s just about having a rough guide that can help you weigh up that balance.

My heart is with our family friend as she faces the reality of terminal cancer.  And, of course, with her family.  I fully respect her decision not to know, and I hope all her children (some of them are overseas) have a chance to say goodbye and gain closure.  I know that they’ll all have some wonderful memories of her, as I do.

So…  Would you want to know?

Social cooking

On Friday evening, my company got together for a social cooking ‘Asian MasterChef Challenge’ with Sachie’s Kitchen.   It was a lot of fun, and the food was delicious!

We were separated into two teams of four.  We’d chosen a Vietnamese menu, so we were making fried rice in lotus leaves, kaffir lime chicken with bok choy, and summer rolls. We watched a demonstration of all three dishes being prepared, then we had a set time limit to cook our own versions.  We were being judged on taste, presentation, one short speech from each team, and the cleanliness of our stations after we’d finished.

Because the kaffir lime chicken needed marinating, we had one team member working on butterflying the chicken thighs first, while another team member starting cooking the fried rice.  A third team member was preparing the chicken marinade, and I was slicing and dicing the ingredients for the fried rice.

While the fried rice was cooking, I soaked the lotus leaves in hot water.  Then we placed the semi-cooked prawns and raw peas in the lotus leaves, topped by the fried rice, then set them to steam while we moved on to the chicken.  The fried rice was flavoured with garlic, shallots, Chinese sausage, ground white pepper and fish sauce.

Then on to the chicken, which was seasoned with kaffir lime leaves, white pepper, tumeric, brown sugar and chillies.  When it was pretty much cooked, we added the bok choy for two minutes then seasoned with lime juice.

While the chicken was cooking, one team member was preparing the summer rolls while another prepared the dip for the summer rolls.  I can’t recall all the ingredients in the dip, but it included fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and chillies.  The summer rolls were stuffed with shrimps, noodles, red cabbage, lettuce, carrot, coriander, and another herb that may have been a Chinese mint or something…

Vietnamese summer rolls
Summer rolls

Everything was pretty straight forward, but the time limit made us all rush around and panic, and laugh at ourselves, and basically added to the fun and excitement.

Our dinner looked amazing when we presented it.  We pressed the fried rice into a bowl, then upturned it onto a plate so it looked neat and tidy, then arranged two prawns on the top as the host had demonstrated.  The chicken and bok choy were placed on the side, and the summer rolls were cut in half and presented with a tiny dish of dipping sauce.


It tasted even better. The kaffir lime chicken was quite spicy, but yum. The fried rice didn’t have a lot of flavour, but worked beautifully with the chicken. The dipping sauce didn’t have the heat of the demonstration one, but tasted good with the summer rolls. I’d definitely be keen to make it again to eat at home.

We ate our fill, and no one went even a little bit hungry. We had some summer rolls left over that no one had room in their tummies for.

We won the judging on the chicken, but the other team won on their fried rice and dipping sauce. We won on the speech (which I gave) and they won on cleanliness (we had cooked cleaner, but they’d done a better clean up at the end), so overall they won. Then the hosts announced that there was another challenge, a chopstick race. We won that and took home the medals for the day. Which seemed brutally unfair considering that the other team made a better meal. I felt really bad for them.

It was a great activity for team building, I thought, and I’d love to do it again just for fun.  It’s a bit tricky with my in-laws since my father-in-law is a trained chef, my husband is a trained baker and my mother-in-law used to run a cafe, but I can see getting everyone together and having a challenge would be loads of fun.  I’ll definitely look into it.  You basically get a fun night of interactive entertainment and a delicious meal to eat as well.  Can’t go wrong with that!

I believe the colleague who organised the event is getting a copy of the recipes we used, which is awesome.  Am definitely going to make those dishes again for the family to eat one night.  I love fried rice and that chicken was amazing, so yep, definitely doing that again.

Have you ever done social cooking?  How did you find it?

Man, I feel so old today!

I’m in my 30’s (okay, okay, late thirties!) and a colleague of a similar age made an Alanis Morrissette reference, which of course I got, but the young people in the office didn’t.
‘Well, isn’t that ironic, don’t you think?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, I really do think,’ I replied, laughing.

The young people were confused. ‘What’s the joke?’
‘It’s an Alanis reference.’
‘Alanis Morrissette?’
Oh my god, I feel so old! So I played Ironic for them, and they admitted that they’d heard the song before.

Then they had a conversation I didn’t follow at all. It was like they were talking a different language.
‘Do you like grime?’
What the fuck is grime? Sounds dirty. Is it a band?
‘Yeah, I like Jamie.’
Who the fuck is Jamie? I did a Google search, and found out that she actually meant Jme, who is a grime artist. And grime is apparently ‘a genre of music that emerged in London in the early 2000s. It developed out of earlier UK electronic music styles, including UK garage and jungle, and draws influence from dancehall, ragga, and hip hop.’ The early 2000s, and I’ve never heard of it. *Facepalm*

I really had no idea what they were talking about, but finally I said ‘I know a song you’d like,’ although I was kinda cheating because I already knew they liked it from previous discussions. So I played Low by Flo Rida.

Then my young colleague ruined it by saying ‘Yeah, this was my jam when I was in intermediate.’
Intermediate? I only heard this song for the first time last year! So what if it came out in 2008 and I’m ten years late. *Rolleyes* Anyway, that still made me 28 when it came out, and she was obviously only 11 or 12 then. *Sob*

So, anyone got any music recommendations from the last ten years I should know about? *Pthb*