post-anaesthesia

by (vanessa)

I am stirred awake by voices. The first person I see when I open my eyes is my mother, and I think about how much I love her and how this state of post-general anaesthesia is equivalent to that of being half-dead or half-asleep. The world spins madly and gloriously before me and for the first time I wake up with a clear mind and do not think of 15 ways today could turn into a disaster, because all I want to do is one, lie back down and sleep away this throbbing headache, two, get rid of this cough and three, request for a vomit bag. My mother helps me slip out of the hospital gown and into some more comfortable patient pajamas (pretty sure there is a more official term than PJs), and I am too tired to feel ashamed of or disgusted by my body. A doctor comes by to check on me. He presses on my stomach and asks if it hurts. I say no. He asks, “Is there anything you want to tell me?” and I almost say, while you were standing there behind my mom in the dark, I actually thought, just for that split second, that you were the grim reaper.

Throughout the night I sink in and out of a mostly dreamless sleep, rising from bed several times to throw up – now I understand what the pre-op 6 hour fast is for – and watching overworked hospital staff go about their night duties through a haze. The next morning I ask my mother if I had launched into another one of my senseless somniloquies. Apparently, the last time I sleep talked I demanded answers to inane questions like “how many siblings are there in Pride and Prejudice?” and “why isn’t Colin Firth American?” She assures me that I did no such thing.

22/8/2015:

Miserable days in Kent Ridge ( / can’t reach).

At lunch, I lament over how my appetite has been restored now that I am not sick anymore. A friend and I have just sat through a lecture on the Greek obsession with the nude male body, where “nakedness was an index of strength” and men walked around with mere tunics draped over them because skin and bone were to be publicly admired. The exposed male body was “synonymous” with the model Greek citizen who had nothing to hide. And here is the best part: women’s bodies were thought to be cold and weak. They were not sex objects as they are in Hollywood or the things of beauty as they were in Botticelli paintings.

In the Greek polis, the virile active male body was pitted against the feeble sluggish female body. Then we have The Gymnasium, a classic age dude-bro frat club testosterone central where promising young men underwent vigorous mental and physical training, “learnt the art of nakedness” and got hit on by older mentors who found them attractive. They spent their mornings polishing their physiques to perfection and their afternoons “philosophizing” – really euphemism for intellectual masturbation. Summarizing things in inelegant 21st century language takes all the pretty out of things. Where I once pictured classical Greece to be a place where the common man could go to the market and strike up an earnest conversation on morals or ethics with a fellow citizen – and without either attempting to one-up the other, mind you – it was really an exclusive congregation of all the pretentious, pedantic pseudo-intellectuals in town, an alliance of the Triple-P’s, where the only basis for membership was that you had to be a proud owner of a dick and a decent brain. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Greek peni- I mean polis.

Things that continue to puzzle me:

i) Hippodamus of Miletus divided the land into three parts: the private, the public and the sacred. The city’s most important buildings ie. temples with statues of their gods were situated in the Acropolis. The thing that confounds me is how “the sacred” was a vital part of the polis yet it appears that the Greeks worshipped gods freely with no collective religion? So how did they do this ie. sustain a “sacred” realm without a definitive religion?

ii) Why did they revere the goddess Athena in light of how they saw the female body + out of the plethora of Greek gods they could have adopted?

iii) Is it unfair of me to consider the context in which Aristotelian principles were conceived eg. Greek attitudes towards women? For politics was understood to fall under the public sphere, whereas women, being the weaklings they were, had no place in it and remained confined to the private sphere. A part of me sees Aristotelian thought as politics of men as comprehended by a man, and this springs to mind whenever lecturers make references to him. Is it wiser to look at political thought in a “death of the author” fashion and discount his world view and historical milieu?

Events on the way home, in chronological order:

i) I tell a friend about em-bare-assing times at the hospital and my views on the human body. The body is to be diseased and I have never found anything remotely beautiful about it – okay save for the eyes, legs and hands – but recently I have been looking at what the body can do eg. sports, dance etc. and I think about how nothing compares to the feeling of moving / breathing.

My friend talks about blasting J-rock whenever she feels stressed and I talk about psychedelic rock being my musical drug. She asks, did you ever have a fictional character that you would turn to whenever things got tough? And you just wonder to yourself what would they do if they were in your position? I say of course, who was your character? She says Gaara, and there is a moment of mutual acknowledgement that he was pretty awesome. I cite Zuko from ATLA haha because of his persistence and his sad, honour-obsessed Fire Nation banished reject story. I mean how can you not relate to that?

ii) Eurasian kids on the train with their parents. The older child is a girl who seems oblivious to how pretty she is and stands by the window, staring solemnly not at her own reflection, but outside, at the bright street lights. Her younger brother is a precocious little thing with an angular face that makes him look older than he really is. He is the kind of kid always traded up by adults for his dumber, chubbier counterparts. He says in an American accent, “It’s just my theory. People aren’t mean, I think. They’re just tired and that’s why you have them shoving their way through all the time.” His mother looks at him; her eyes are vacant and she is uninterested. She orders him to “坐下” and he sits down next to his father who is reading a fantasy novel. They do not exchange a single word throughout the ride.

iii) I walk past a group of men in light blue Workers’ Party shirts and get semi-excited because the area in which I live is usually neglected during elections lololol. Also thought about ways to make self-introductions in tutorials. The next time someone asks “what do you major in” I will declare myself an apolitical political science major. I will declare myself a fraud.

Despite the lack of substantial things to say, I will make it a point to blog more here as opposed to my personal blog where I spew words carelessly and bother little with the syntax and punctuation – the end result is sounding like a pathetic emotional ruin in every single post, but this is not the place for weepy ramblings or maudlin monologues or lovesick musings or sexual frankness or filthy confessions, and I intend to keep it that way, at least, for as long as my compartmentalized selves do not collide.

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