Did you laugh today? 

Two days after my surgery someone messaged and asked how I felt and whether I was able to laugh as yet. I didn’t even consider it and just said yea things are normal. But then I realized a day later that I actually didn’t know… I hadn’t tried and when I did try I could barely get my muscles to co operate to bare my teeth let alone smile or laugh. 

I didn’t even miss it. I’d gone four days without physically being able to  laugh and it just hasn’t even registered. I’m not someone who usually laughs on a regular basis as it is.. I’m usually always in my room at home and not around anyone.. So it’s only if I am at either job then I would interact with people and possibly have reason to laugh… 

In general though I don’t think I’m someone that people would categorize as “someone who laughs”. I’m not a fan of comedies… Funny videos or clips on social media don’t interest me… And my interactions with people aren’t usually that relaxed to warrant laughing… My facial expressions have a short range from serious, angry or vaguely interested most of the time… 

For years as a child I hated my smile and even now I dislike it still. This is despite six years and thousands of dollars worth of braces to fix an overbite. The worst thing for me even now is having to do a photoshoot before we do a new theatre production. The poses and worse yet the smiling always seems so false and rigid to me while it’s often so effortless to all the other actors. 

I wouldn’t categorize myself as “ugly” but I wouldn’t say I’m “beautiful”… I’m alright. Doing a surgery on my face which has slightly altered it, while strange, didn’t make me feel like oh my god my face isn’t ever going to be what it was and I’m devastated… I just felt like well this is different and it doesn’t feel like me but I guess I will get used to it. 

Though the surgery was really on my nose all the surrounding nerves were affected so my mouth has actually been in more pain than anything else… The four top teeth to the front still hurt like a bitch. The thought of biting into anything is severely off putting still. The muscles were and still are a bit stiff I guess hence the non-facial movement. 

Today I could move my mouth a lot more and make some different faces. In a few days time it will be back to normal but I’m sure I won’t be laughing any more than usual. Some old habits are hard to break, new face or not. 

  

Travel

Isn’t it strange that we live on a huge planet but most of us will never travel even 1% of it probably in our life time? Whether it is that you can’t afford to, aren’t allowed to or just don’t have the time … There is a whole world out there that we will never see in “real”.

While technology and social media allows us to “see” these places with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, snap chat, YouTube and whatever else… It’s like seeing it but never breaking the fourth wall. It’s all an image from a screen that’s projected but never really experienced.

There are places I would like to go even though I’m not a fan of travelling. By travelling I mean the actual to and from… But Italy, Rome, Greece, Bali.. Have been places I’ve wished to go and lately I’ve had interest in seeing Prague. Even if I never get to any of those places though, the thought of the sheer vastness of the world can be overwhelming.

Why then isn’t there enough space for everyone to live in peace? Religions, races, ideologies … All shrink the world into this tiny space that can only “belong” to one or an other. Will we never really get back to a place of balance unless there is some drastic change? 

And by change what does that mean? Some environmental disaster that brings an apocalyptic cleanse? The rise of technology and AI brings to control the remainder of mankind? Plague and disease to wipe out those who cannot afford a cure? Everything seems so… Final. And not necessarily redemptive. 

Given current world events… Recession, terrorism, prejudice… It’s unlikely I will even travel to any of the places I listed above. I will have to live behind the Fourth wall until I journey to some other world in some other time and place where maybe I am lucky to arrive where there is peace and good will. Maybe then I will feel free to wander without fear in any land I choose to call my own. 

  

1st Surgery experience 

I had my first “major surgery” in life yesterday. I always had breathing problems due to a deviated septum which made breathing through my right side minimal at best. Added to that I also had consistently swollen turbinates which means my regulation of temperature sucks. I would get facial swelling and nose bleeds anytime it got “cold” and by cold I mean anything under 27 degrees Celsius would make it kick in. 

I didn’t tell many people I was going to get it done at first because.. It’s surgery ON your face. Not exactly the best place to want someone cutting you open and the many things that could go wrong. 

But I am not afraid of death in itself I mean no one is getting out of this life alive, so I didn’t go into it afraid of dying but I also didn’t go into it wanting to feel ill for a long time after. I told myself if I made it out I was going to get better and fast. (Trying to convince myself mind over matter was all I needed). 

I’d never been under general anesthetic before and did not know what to expect. My experience with the general anesthetic was that I felt I was on fire… Like acid burning hell’s fire. As it went into my hand it moved like a wave up my arm and across from chest. Luckily I went unconscious before really beginning to panic. I remember thinking is it supposed to feel this way but not being able to ask it aloud. I guess I was under for close to two hours in all. 

What no one tells you about this surgery is just how much blood drains down into your stomach… And that this blood has to find a way back out. Cue close to ten hours of sporadic throwing up of blood. I assume the anesthetic didn’t help either. Finally after sucking on gravol since I couldn’t even keep down a tablet, the throwing up began to relent and I was able to keep down soup by today. 

They did warn me my voice may change as a result of the surgery but so far it sounds the same to me. But.. My face is different. Granted it’s too slight for the average person to probably notice but I knew it as soon as I saw myself in the mirror and my mother noticed it as once as well. I guess whatever they did to amend the septum caused a change in the appearance of my nose. It will take a while to get used to the fact it’s not exactly the one I’ve known for the past going on 33 years. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just .. Different for now. 

It’s now only the day after surgery and I feel a lot better tonight for sure than I did earlier so I’m hoping by the weekend to be back to myself. Doctor visit will be next week and I will get his prognosis but so far I think recovery is going well, solid food tomorrow will tell. 

I’m hoping that this improves my breathing and that I’m not hindered so much anymore whenever there is a temperature change as travelling abroad was becoming a real task. 

My parents were there the whole time and lots of people (family/friends) messaged about my well being and I appreciate them all for their concern. I didn’t really think that many people would have time to even care to be honest. 

Having this surgery so close after the near accident and coming out of it in pretty good shape seems to be life telling me again that there is some reason as to why I keep finding myself here. There is a purpose and meaning to my presence even if I am not always ready to admit it.

  

Present fear… 

As humans we all have fears, many of which are often seen as “irrational”. Whether cultivated from childhood experience, adult realities or maybe even residual past life fears… They are present. 

I don’t see how anyone could not be fearful given the state of the world right now. It is a terrible place to live… Recession, forced migration, civil wars, terrorism are all REAL truths that we face. How can these things not overshadow everyday life?

The daily news in our country has gotten so bad many people admittedly don’t even watch the news anymore. Numerous killings with no suspects much less captures, a swiftly devaluing dollar, increased drug trafficking, human trafficking, inflation and job losses by the thousand paints a dark shadowy pall over the blazing sun of island life. 

I am afraid. A hungry man is an angry man… And a lot of people are hungry and going to be hungrier very soon. What recourse will they have? With a steady rotation of governments with no answer to abate our fears… Crime is without a doubt sure to increase even more (which seems hardly possible given the state of the nation). 

Fear makes people work against each other rather than together. Every man for them self. Crabs in a barrel… Society is hardened as each person has become myopic and concerned only with their own well-being. We need to overcome the fear and look not only to ourselves but also our fellow man to survive. It is only through support for each other… Buying local, encouraging entrepreneurship, looking out for your neighbour that we will overcome. 

I am reminded of my favorite quotation from Frank Herbert author of Dune – “Fear is the mind killer. It is the little death which brings total obliteration. I will face my fear I will permit it to pass over me and through me and when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where fear has gone there will be nothing and I will remain.” 

We must overcome the fear together if we are to come out of this hardship as a nation and not an island of people divided. But… I fear we are too selfish a society to survive. 

  

Close Call… 

Yesterday I almost legitimately could have died. This wouldn’t have been the first time some major near death calamity has happened to me. But the actual feeling of this experience was … Strange. 

I left work at 11 am with a friend to get lunch and there was a fine rain, nothing big. We were in her van, no weight in the tray. We have the largest round about in the world in my country, known just as The Savannah. It’s three lanes and usually ppl park along the inside lane closest to the roundabout but cars can still pass in the lane as well as its wide enough  ( it’s 2.2 miles distance around the perimeter of the roundabout – huge). 

As we turned a corner on the inside lane we picked up a skid. It was as if it was in slow motion. I could vaguely hear the screech of the tires yet I was more concentrated on the fact that we were making a full 180 degree turn to the left straight into the other two lanes. 

It was like being on glass. When we came to a stop we were facing south- north instead of west- east blocking all three lanes of traffic who all managed to stop just less than four feet from my passenger door. If we had been hit I / we would’ve been dead for sure… At midday… 1 min from work where people knew we just left for pizza and 3 mins from my own home where my parents were far from because they took a day trip to visit family.

Now if anyone knows The Savannah… 1) There’s usually ALWAYS people parked along the lane we were in and that day there was not a soul. 2) Usually at that hour there is lunchtime traffic and somehow no one was in close proximity to us. 3) skids at that particular corner are prevalent and most times you end up crashed INTO the Savannah which we didn’t 4) drivers usually are going so fast behind you they can’t stop in time which they all did.

My friend said she felt her heart racing although I can’t say I felt the same. I felt calm… Underwater almost. There was just a sense of slowness about the whole thing for me. 

Later on people attributed God being present… Guardian angels… Luck… Who knows. One remarked to me it clearly wasn’t my time to go and I still have a purpose here. The fact that my boyfriend died in a car accident never necessarily made me feel that may be the way I would go as well…. Though I did wonder if maybe he was looking out for me wherever he was up there. 

I suppose it’s one of those experiences that will stay with you for a while on your mind, until the random mundane every life experiences drown it out. But even though in the moment I thought to myself if we get hit we’re not making it out of this one… Something told me it wasn’t going to be the end. Not yet. 

I told my mother but my father doesn’t know anything. His recovery has been relatively quiet lately so I didn’t want to upset the equilibrium. No ransom upset = no excuse to use drugs. Though my mother isn’t much of a talker I’m sure it upset her a bit but… This is life and no one gets out of it alive. We should just try to do the best at it while we’re here and that is something I know I have to keep reminding myself all of the time whenever I feel like I don’t want to live. 

I’ve still got more to do. 

  

Influence 

Women have played an important role in my life with regard to people that I hold dear to me and whom I feel have truly influenced me…  

From my mother.. My great aunt.. My retired head of department … I have learnt the existence of the infinite nature of unconditional love, the straight and unrelenting course of responsibility and the far reaching depth of inner strength… 

It is amazing in itself that I have had so many female heroes to look up to. I can barely hope to emulate any of these in 1/10 to which it has been shown to me by these women. I can assure you, I have been an unworthy student of these powerful matriarchs. 

At a point now where I have to truly understand the self and what future I want for myself, I often feel lost. No longer able to rely on the excuse of youth as reasoning for not having direction in life, I find myself now just trying to be… stable? 

I feel like there is so much more that I could be doing though… Even though I don’t know what this “more” is specifically. Empower women worldwide? Volunteer to go to war torn countries or places stricken by poverty and give service? BE “present” more in my life?  

I know I always talk about not knowing my place in life… With no plans of marriage or children it can leave a single woman with a vast desert of a future before them, a void that society often insists cannot be filled unless in the role of mother and/or wife…  How do I create a forest of opportunity in the face of this desolation? 

It is also hard because I do not find any one thing and stick with it. I can’t find a center and like the great poem “the second coming” by Yeats… Things fall apart… 

Without a center I have disjointed ideas but no true framework of what I want my life to be. But how can this be? Three decades into my life yet I have not cemented myself as to who I am and what I want? How can this be especially when I have such great women to look to all of whom made definite decisions about their life (whether supported by others or not) and chose their paths unapologetically? 

I cannot continue to go foundering into the future. The importance of womanhood and being a woman may be highlighted today as it is International Women’s Day, but it is something that i struggle to comprehend every day. 

I want to be the woman that I believe I am supposed to be… One full of purpose… Believing in relying on strength within the self and free of fear.