dedication

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This blog is dedicated to:

My canine angel, Lucy Like-a-Charm.

My baby sister Althea, her wonderful hubby Robin, and her two furry boys Bizcuit & Tiny.

My loyal friends YS and Rick.

Without you, there would be no adventure, no narrative, no amazing tales to tell.

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Talents

Truth. Multidimensional abilities. But… because… unable to fit into the Grand Neurotypical Circus Libretto…

...autisticook

There are so many things I can do, and do well at that.

A picture of freehand nail art, done on my own nails using nail polishes, showing a drawing of a small gnome with a bright red hat, surrounded by berries and flowers, on a green to brown gradient background

I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my nail art, for starters, and a lot of people have suggested I could do this professionally. I don’t think I’m at the level yet that I’ve seen from professional nail techs, but it’s a special interest and I’d probably get there within a year.

I’m a good cook. Not at restaurant level (mostly because my presentation sucks), but if someone asked me to cater an event for 30 people, I’d nail that. I’m really good with taste and texture and what foods work well together. And I rock beer pairings.

I’m a damn good writer. Mostly blog posts, sometimes essays. Even release notes and user manuals. I’m detailed and structured and I have an awesome command of language. I know how to grab someone’s attention.

I’m a good carpenter…

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clemency & space

 

This morning, I travelled across my little island home from the central region where I live, to the western coast, to the Yale-NUS College library to set up my miniature Clement Space in the City (revised, 2018) installation. It is an impressive campus, not for its size, as it is a small one, but for its compact superficial beauty. There is a sense of crafted tranquility in its manicured greenery, right in the middle of smart modern buildings. Meandering around clean, crisp corridors, trying to find my destination, I wonder about the lack of clear signposts. Is it a deliberate exercise in subtle exclusion, a quiet ‘hint’ to outsiders that we are not exactly warmly welcomed into this carefully constructed environment for the elite? I do not really know, but I did have the thought that Lucy would’ve loved a nice run around the green grass patches, though she’d probably create bald muddy holes in the wake of her greyhound strides. Then another thought following this one was, “Is this beauty something to merely behold, or can we actually use it, run around in it, hug the trees, roll in the manicured grass, laugh, flap, stim and lie on it?” Continue reading

Rendang (Be)Aware!

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Crispy Chicken is KFC, no Rendang!

There’s a big storm in a cooking pot these days, huge outcry over the ignorant judging of a Malaysian dish by a non-Malaysian. So, what’s in a rendang? Plenty. Especially when judged by some self-styled ‘expert’ on a cooking show who has no idea at all what rendang is. Thus, all hell breaks loose. And rightfully so. We are guarding our cultural heritage after all.

Here’s the British High Commissioner in Malaysia weighing in on the matter, defending the delicious not-supposed-to-be-crispy dish.

However, why is it that Autism is being bandied about by non-autistic self-styled ‘experts’ without authentic Actually Autistic voices writing the libretto, and that is deemed ok?

Does this mean that Rendang Awareness is more genuine than Autism Awareness / AutismAcceptance? 

crush

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I can literally hear it, the crunching, fragments rubbing against one another, breaking, jostling, resisting until they break yet again into smaller and smaller composites. The soul is an amazing, elastic creature, yet so fragile in its dichotomous existence. Crushed, overridden, derided, mocked, flung from one extreme to another, the dissonant chromaticism so excruciating, a wordless silent scream issues forth, travelling through time and space into the vast nothingness, pain with an ominous fermata riding mercilessly atop. Continue reading

cockroach

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Autism Awareness Month is going to sweep over us again, like a nauseating sludge – engulfing, choking, terrorising.

Awareness? Just like the cockroach in the room that one becomes aware of, that’s as far as it goes, this ‘awareness’ exercise. And autistic persons are being treated accordingly.

Parents, Siblings, Teachers, Peers, Autism Organisations… the list goes on… and round and round in dizzying concentric circles…

You write books detailing my vulnerabilities, my meltdowns, telling the world how terribly inept I am, using my dirt and mess as stark contrasting juxtaposition to your shining, glittery ‘suffering’. You can be you, this is you, this is how you deal with things, this is how you talk, this is how you react, this is just what is, so take it or leave it, but I cannot be me, because you are feeding me, housing me, and so you own my existence.

You kill me, it is murder, but because I am autistic, you become a hero instead, and the media is in a pity-party frenzy, not for me, but for you.

Do I even realise how stressed you are, having to care for my every need? Oh yes, I do. I am aware of much more than you care to even know about me. But what I think and how I feel are not at all important to you.

When autistic people protest, you tell us: Stop the drama!

When I try to explain myself to you, you tell me: Stop arguing!

When autistic people ask to be paid for work done, you tell us: Stop making demands, we ought to be grateful that you are going to great lengths to organise events on our behalf!

When I try to share my hopes and dreams, you mock me: Stop being ridiculous! You can’t even take care of yourself, what are you talking about?

Is my voice so broken? Are my words so devoid of sense? Is my Beingness so utterly despicable or laughable that you must use puzzle pieces to symbolise me? Or are you just not wanting to know my thoughts, not interested at all in who I am, because YOU are all there is and I simply should not exist? Without you, I am nothing. I cannot tie my own shoelaces. I cannot earn enough money to feed myself. Or… I cannot even feed myself. So I have nothing valuable to say. It is Autism Awareness Month, and you are making all the awareness on my behalf.

Cockroach in the Room. I am already much aware that you are aware of me. Awareness is a behemoth – overwhelming, overpowering, tyrannical – no room for negotiation, not even gentle co-existence. The Autistic is persona non grata. Deemed useless, hapless in the swirling vortex of Awareness.

Bring out the cockroach spray. Get the brooms ready.

We do not need more awareness, really, do we? We already are your filthy little cockroaches in the pristine normative room. And you are swatting and spraying at us every single day anyway. Let’s just do away with the pretext, shall we? Scrap Autism Awareness Month. We’ve been aware of your awareness for a very long time already.

crucial assistance

 

 

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Lucy came with me to the Arts & Disability International Conference today. It was a huge blessing to have her with me, well worth the small ‘inconveniences’, like having to take her outside for potty each time we had a break and thus missing out on food and beverage.

When we first arrived, I made the mistake of choosing to sit in a busy area where people were walking or wheeling back and forth, standing around chatting, and even striding over Lucy, who was laying on her mat next to me at my feet. The lights in the rooms were confronting, to say the least. Lucy took it all in with grace and quietude, and she kept a discreet whisker out for me all the time. I began to feel nervous and agitated from the constant noise, movement and frenetic energy buzzing round and round, and Lucy got up to indicate that we should move to a less busy spot. She led me to the far corner on the other side of the room, and we settled down comfortably there, until lunchtime. Continue reading

I.N.U. Review

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The family decided to check out this new (to us) dog-friendly place on Friday last week. We’d heard that they served really good local style food for humans, and we weren’t disappointed at all. Too many dog-friendly cafes  fail at dishing out good quality human nosh. This one is one of the unusual ones, like The Tea Party at Pasir Panjang, but the great thing about I.N.U. is that they are very near our home.

Lucy was disturbed at the beginning by a small unruly Frenchie named Rufus with an attitude far bigger than his size. He rushed at Lucy, who was nicely settled in her own mat, pawed at her face and attempted repeatedly to mount her. Lucy got up, tried to back away but she was stuck in a small corner and began to look really troubled at the very first launch of this unruly behaviour. I politely requested his humans to please quell their dog – he belonged to a man and a lady, the man completely ignored my requests to remove the dog and did not even glance our way, while the lady came quite reluctantly to remove their dog – but this happened once, twice, three times, four… again and again and again, and they never once offered an apology.

Righto, dog people, here’s some frank advice: if your dog has this kind of problem, please keep him/her leashed, or crated. This is just simple, standard basic decorum. I mean, would you like it if I kept rushing up to you and shoving you in the face and climbing onto you, engaging you in ‘friendly’ wrestling match, when all you’re doing is trying to have a quiet meal in your own little corner? Why should dogs be any different in terms of invasion of personal space, why should my well behaved dog have to put up with rowdy behaviour, even if not aggressive but overtly, inappropriately ‘friendly’?

My poor gentle Lucy was becoming more and more agitated at the unwanted visits (every few seconds) from the dog, and so was I, almost at my wits’ end trying to stay calm and composed while keeping that nuisance away from my girl. Another thing about this kind of anti-social dog behaviour is that the big dog who is the gentle victim is inevitably blamed if their threshold to endure is crossed and the big dog retaliates. What would happen to the small bully if Lucy were not so patient, long-suffering and retiring, and if I had allowed my girl to be continuously assaulted in that way? Whose fault would it be if an altercation ensued and someone got hurt? It was not pleasant at all, and I was just about to enter into the ‘near meltdown’ zone, when suddenly, the manic intrusions stopped.

What happened was something I didn’t expect but was very grateful for. The overly rambunctious Frenchie finally disappeared from view. I turned around to look for him, and saw that someone had placed him in the elevated section near the cashier and behind a sturdy baby/doggy gate. There, within that confined space, I could see Rufus running amok, but at least he wasn’t bothering my Lucy anymore. I presume it was either Cindy, the owner of the cafe or the dog’s own humans who placed him there. Very thankful for that extra space for ‘time-out’, a most well thought out design of space by the owners of the cafe. Thank you, Cindy!

The other dogs there were very well behaved and we made sure our little curious Tiny was similarly kept in check. That is the way playgrounds ought to be, spaces where children can enjoy themselves, interact safely one with another, with adult supervision, and the same applies to doggy-play.

At last, we could focus on food and enjoying our evening. I ordered the beef tendon and brisket noodle, and the others had fried rice, pork ribs, and bak kut teh. This may seem like a tall order, but truthfully, every dish was delicious! The noodles were just al dente enough without being chewy, the broth aromatic and dark, and there was a good balance of beaf tendon, brisket and green veggies. I tasted some of mum’s fried rice, and although I am not a fan of fried rice, I don’t really like my food all mixed up in an indistinguishable mess, but this one was done right – the rice didn’t stick together in a goopy mass, the rice was lightly textured, and I was able to taste the individual ingredients quite clearly. I didn’t manage to take a photograph of the bak kut teh because my brother-in-law ate it all up rather quickly, nodding his head and making approving noises as he went. The pork was cooked perfectly, tender and the marinate zesty with a hint of spice. We had banana ice cream for dessert, but this wasn’t my favourite, as it was a tad overly sweet. Nevertheless, five big thumbs up from all of us (Nula, our helper too)!

Even Lucy eventually had fun – she decided it was safe to have a wander around after the rambunctious Rufus was removed from her vicinity, and got up from her mat to ‘mingle’ with the shorties (all the others were little ones) in her quiet, regal and slightly aloof way. Another delightful detail? The owner of the cafe has two lovely Shibas, gentle and perfectly behaved sweethearts with such adorable curly tails!

We shall return. Thank you for a lovely evening, I.N.U.!

inside clement space

Dogs are amazing creatures. I never wish to anthropomorphise them, because they are more beautiful than human beings in my eyes, so why make them into inferior entities by ‘humanising’ them? No. There they are, inside clement space, the way anyone should be when enveloped in tranquility and equilibrium – around them there may be a hundred thousand different things clashing, crashing, turning, pivoting, whirling and reverberating, yet, there, inside their little cocoons of grace, they lay quietly resting. Renewing. Refreshing. Replenishing.

Lucy Like-a-Charm and her two ‘cousins’ Bizcuit and Tiny. Blessedness.

home cooked by experts

It is lovely to have good meals cooked at home by people who can whip up nosh better than I can. The icing on the cake is that I do not have to lift a finger, and no dishes to wash afterwards. Always look on the bright side of life. 🙂 It’s not always that my peculiar senses fully embrace the eclectic and sometimes strange (to me) tastes, but having that executive function taken care of so completely is a relief, and that makes the smells and tastes all the better, even the dishes I am not as keen on.

Merci Beaucoup! ❤

expedition

Lucy is excited. We’re going out to the park! But mumma says, “Be patient, we need to wait for the Uber surge pricing to go down, ok?” So thankful for UberPets in Singapore.

It’s been over a year now, Lucy has not had an off-leash jaunt since bidding goodbye to her Greyhound Playgroup friends. Memories of our last playgroup still fresh, we set off today on our first adventure at the Bishan Dog Run, just Lucy and me. Beloved Sally has left us, as had Kerry Lee a little ahead. Today, we dedicate our first expedition in Singapore to our beautiful friends, Sally, Kerry Lee and Misty, who taught Lucy how to run for fun. And to Jack, Lucy’s first ‘boyfriend’, who was ever so gentlemanly towards her.

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It was peaceful at the dog run, we had the entire big-dog run to ourselves until the end, when we were about to leave, and a sweet, mellow chocolate Labrador came. The little mini Schnauzer next door at the small-dog run kept trying to say hello, but Lucy wasn’t much interested. She was too busy sniffing around.

My girl has aged. She wasn’t keen on running anymore. Not even for the treats. Perhaps it is the weather here in Singapore, warm and humid, though there was a gentle breeze throughout the morning. Maybe I should take her there earlier in the morning next time. It was still lovely to see her walk around freely, unleashed, gently exploring. The other dog was dashing back and forth, very excited to see Lucy, barking at her from the other side of the fence. Lucy gave him scant attention, even when they were very close, Lucy just nonchalantly continued to sniff the grass while the miniature Schnauzer frantically tried to engage her. That’s my regal Greyhound gal. She’s not going to be swayed if she has decided on her desired focus.

The UberPets driver who took us there was very chatty and friendly. We talked about dog rescue and silly pet owners who do not know how to care for their pets. On the way back home, we had to wait 18 minutes for the UberPets driver to get to us. He was a bit sullen at first, but thawed in the end because of Lucy. He told us about how he wanted to quit UberPets, because it wasn’t profitable for him to have to drive halfway across Singapore just to pick up a pet-fare and the surcharge for pets is only $2. I agreed. People in Singapore who want to travel with pets have almost no other alternative apart from expensive pet-taxis. UberPets is a great service, and we are happy to pay more than that $2 surcharge for UberPets to continue. I do hope they won’t do away with the service. Lucy and I depend on UberPets to get around now.

The Princess had a bath when we returned home, she was not pleased at all, but it was a great way to cool down.

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All happy now, snoozing the afternoon away in air-conditioned comfort! Happy Day, Every Bunny! ❤