circles

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Till We Meet Again

Vultures are circling
Flesh freshly dead
Swooping and hovering
Muscles flexed

Baby is crying
Doesn’t know yet
Doesn’t know why
Beloved has left

Blood games begin
Witches stirring
Menacing smiles
Cauldron bubbling

“Don’t cry, little Baby,”
The Broken Heart says,
“They shall never know your memories
of such Beautiful Days.”

dedication

Featured

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,

and now also Mini-B, the prettiest sweetest little girl.

My loyal friends YS, Rick and Minh.

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

scatology

2020 has come to an end. And what a year it was.

Before the new year scuttled in, I made a little discovery of sorts. A person I once trusted but who betrayed me some years ago had recently surfaced again, popped out like a bright orange plastic lollipop from the manhole of fabulously meretricious glitter. Interesting how death can bring such an eclectic assortment of worms wriggling out from the nether regions to the foreground. Somehow, despite all the cleverly choreographed gyrations, I could not really believe this person’s stream of platitudes, even though the words all sounded really nice. Today, my distrust found justification, and once again Truth made itself sharp and clear to me. I was angry at first, because I did allow myself to soften to his spurious utterances, but then a loyal friend’s remarks made me stop mid-rant and my seething rage melted into a feeling of relief and gratitude. Truth always sets free.

My friend said to me that it is “time to discard detritus and declutter” our lives as we ring in the new year. And then he added, “No more scatology!” What???? I had to look the word up. And wow, how very apt!

scatology/skaˈtɒlədʒi/nounn
An interest in or preoccupation with excrement and excretion / obscene literature that is concerned with excrement and excretion.

Excrement and excretion!

Yup. My dear friend is indeed right. Move along now, Bunny. Throw out the rotting rancid rubbish. Simplify. And stop examining the same pieces of shit over and over again. Enough is enough.

Here’s to 2021!

I look forward to continually show my gratitude to the few loyal friends by my side. And Lucy. I am surrounded by so much beauty – no more scatology!

christmas 2020

Happy Holidays, Everyone! From Lucy Like-a-Charm.

This is the first Christmas my baby sister has had without mum in many years. She has taken care of mum for sixteen years, without any help from any of us three other siblings – myself included – so it was particularly difficult for her, of course, but having close friends and supportive relatives around helped.

It was a cosy little one, I invited just four guests, one short of the allowable five, under the current Phase 2 pandemic restrictions. I actually really enjoyed myself this time. No exhausting sensory overload meant more meaningful interaction, and of course always great food, even though this year’s spread was pared down and kept really simple. My brother-in-law was busy in the kitchen from early in the morning, preparing dinner for my guests at my home and his at his place – it’s always a great treat to have a professional chef cook at home. A friend brought yummy dessert too – miniature tiramisu and raspberry parfait.

I don’t need many friends, in fact, I am quite relieved that almost the entire lot of them with whom I used to spend a great many tiring and overloading hours in the distant past have dropped away. Two close and loyal friends, and my favourite uncle and aunt. That was all. And we ate and chatted till midnight. A perfect Christmas dinner for me.

My close collaborator and now trusted friend, Peter, brought two giant boxes of artisan coffee: a special Advent Calendar box created by Hook Coffee with Very Special Arts. I am an ignoramus where it comes to coffee, but the ones we chose to sample that evening smelled delicious! Yes, it came with an advent calendar, of course, and each little packet was designed by artists with disabilities, all students at the VSA. I love the quirky names and whimsical art work, and the way it is packaged. There are two stages in this miniature coffee adventure: the first is sorting through the packets and trying to decide which one to try, the next is opening up the neatly packed coffee sachet, balancing it over the cup and pouring in the hot water, then watching as the coffee brews inside and savouring the fragrant aroma!

Then there was the frosted fruit cake, which we buy every year from Marks & Spencer, and into which brother-in-law injects cognac for added ‘vroom’ – a tradition we established some time ago and look forward to every Christmas.

None for you, Lucy, sorry!

Another Christmas must-have for us – chocolates! My baby sister’s best friend gave me a box of Godiva chocolates, which was devoured in a few seconds, and our helper, Nula, bought a box of pralines and shared it with everyone.

It was lovely and peaceful. No snide remarks, no dark hidden meanings behind superficial cackle, no unpleasant drama, nothing and nobody to be wary of or mentally and emotionally guard against, no smoke screens or gas lighting – just simple, sincere communication and gentle mutual regard.

And Lucy. Of course, Lucy.

How more blessed can one Autistic Bunny be? I feel immensely grateful and humbled, knowing that many around the world are unable to be with people they love, and / or do not have access to sufficient food, and others who may have a lot in terms of material things but have no real love in their hearts to share. It has been a difficult year. I am still grieving the loss of mum, but deep and resonant gratitude is something that Lucy has taught me to embrace, and it is what keeps me from falling into the bitter darkness.

Good wishes for a better year ahead in 2021.

a clement little Christmas

After a couple of weeks of Vera Lynn, we decided that Judy Garland would be next in our playlist. But mum suddenly and unexpectedly crashed. Within two days, she was gone.

Thinking of you, mum. I miss you. I never thought I’d ever say this. Isn’t it funny? But that’s what Clement Space is also about. And I am so very glad I came home, and brought Lucy with me, because Lucy is Clement Space personified. Oh, and those pompoms you made for me? They’ll always be significant now. I’m that daughter of yours with the PhD but had nothing much to show for it apart from pompoms! Yes, I did hear that conversation you had over the phone with whoever it was. I didn’t think it was funny at the time, but now, I am chuckling, my mirth springing forth lightly from a tiny underground stream. And I’m glad I could even laugh about this with you at the end. Except I didn’t know it was the end. I was hoping for more.

We spoke about the year ahead, hoping that it would be a better year for everyone around the ailing world. Now, you are gone. There is a strange, sad emptiness deep inside, where you grew in me over the last two years. It’s just not enough time, is it, to have a real relationship with one’s mother? But that was all that the heavens accorded us.

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sleepless

Endless 16 hour days, and too much work-related ‘people-ing’ in the past few days, have led to a huge crash. Fever and ulcers again, what else? Tried to sleep it off yesterday and today, but the flare up refused to subside, and the coming week will be crazy again. Whoever says artists and researchers have an easy life is definitely not an artist or researcher. So, I just have to get back on the hated but necessary steroids, which means more sensory hyper-vigilance and insomnia. It’s the vroom vroom super drug that makes you overeat, your face gets moon-shaped and puffy and you acquire unhealthy fat in the worst places possible. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror anymore. I do envy these two girls, Mini and Lucy, they know what beauty sleep is all about. Sigh… It’s past 4 am now. I’m still wide awake, but dissipated and exhausted. Lucy is of course sleeping in my side of the bed, she does that in protest whenever I work late or sleep late. Good morning, Every Bunny. I should try and grab a bit of shut eye now. But the neighbour upstairs has begun their regular ‘special’ knocking. There’s a kind of rhythm to it, and there are intervals between the knocking, but it happens every single morning between 4 to 5 am. What in the world are they doing? I have no idea. Is it a bizarre religious ritual, I wonder? Sigh sigh sigh sigh sigh….

like a charm

I’m still in the process of learning how to handle my camera. I think I have the most beautiful muse in the universe, but of course I am absolutely biased. And how not to be, when this creature is the love of my life? Lucy Like-a-Charm turned twelve on Monday, 30 November 2020. Photographing her is a way to pay tribute to her strong presence in my life, documenting her for posterity and vocalising in images my love and gratitude.

faith

Face shot of Lucy lying on her side, eyes looking towards camera, ears relaxed. Background light blue (lower half) and dusky pink (upper half). Blue text: “It is not my purpose to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken’ but to empower beauty in the vulnerable and unseen. Dawn-joy Leong, 2010.

Power is a strange thing. Humans crave power, sometimes even more than material wealth. Or perhaps it can be said that when humans have acquired sufficient financial status, their minds turn to wielding power? Yet, too few contemplate that when power is given to us to make decisions that will affect others’ lives in some way or other, our decisions to cause harm or to bring blessing have grave repercussions upon our own State of Being. A simplified way of thinking of this is that the more authority we have, the greater the responsibility in the human realm as well as the elemental and spiritual dimensions. Decisions to cause grief and annihilate, or decisions to bless and elevate – these will all come back to you in some way or other.

Many human cultures hold some belief in the interconnectedness of life, that “What goes around comes around.”

If you are Christian, think on this: Jesus fed the masses, no means-testing, no judgement on whether they deserved it or not. Jesus healed the sick, again, regardless of whether any of them were religiously correct, righteous or not. Judgement, according to Jesus, belonged to God, not man.

Perhaps your religion might have the same principles. I know there are many common beliefs across faiths / religions. For me, I am trying to keep my faith in my own way, and Lucy has taught me much more than all the human institutions of faith ever have. Thank you, Lucy Like-a-Charm.

CovidCorvids

Jon Adams is an amazing artist. He draws and fleshes out trauma. Jon gives ‘voice’ to the silent scream. I am especially enthralled by his Corvid series. I have no other words for this. Those who know trauma, you will understand the deepest empathic resonance in Jon Adams’ work. Follow Jon on Twitter or Instagram!

roll

I first had Vietnamese rice rolls in 2012, when I embarked on the incredible adventure of a PhD scholarship in Sydney, Australia. I left Singapore with mixed feelings – I was excited about the scholarship, it was a dream come true, but my relationship with mother was probably at its very worst ever. (I will unpack all of it some day in my memoir, this blog post cannot contain all that weight and tumultuous unravelling.)

It was during the brief period of settling in, before Lucy came into my life, that I ventured into the university campus in Paddington. At the time, it was called COFA (College of Fine Arts), UNSW. I think I was there to hand in some papers. They were undergoing massive construction then, and there was nowhere to buy food apart from a little kiosk run by a Vietnamese lady. The rice rolls were the cheapest thing I could find, it reminded me of Chinese spring rolls and “poh piah.” Well, I made the right choice, they were delicious! Since then, I started making my own rolls with rice paper.

I revived this old favourite recently, a few months before mum’s passing. Mum was never a foodie, she ate too little, but she was interested in fun and unusual things. She’d been to Vietnam and she loved the food, so when I offered her some of my own rice rolls, she was quite happy. My autistic penchant for themes and variations (which non-autistics like to call “meaningless repetition”) kicked in, and I began to make these rolls more often for myself and for mum.

I am glad I spent the last two years making good memories. I’d hate for us to part with nothing to remember but griping, moaning, complaining and bad-mouthing other people, which is what some of her final conversations with others were centred around. I’ve learned from Lucy to live in the moment and be thankful for every little good thing. Now, I’ve added rice rolls to my collection.

moth

It came the other day. Perched on the wooden fence, unflinching even when I ventured near. A brown so dark it was almost black, with a tiny speck of blue in the middle of its wing. Set against the blue of the pool, it was as if there was a puncture that allowed one to see right through. After awhile, it took flight, circling just above me in a lithe dance, round and round, fluttering and flitting, and then it flew away. Was this the culprit that ate up most of the Elephant’s Ears? If so, it must have been a very hungry caterpillar indeed.

For some reason unknown, or perhaps no reason at all, this fleeting encounter brought a sense of sadness and yet peace. If only humans could learn to behave with graceful dignity and extend practical decency, conciliatory gestures without drama or emotional flotsam and jetsam, we would create a better world for us all, and for the creatures that we live with. Instead, we kill, pillage, subjugate and bully, we play games that prove our superiority above others, we seek to crush those who disagree with our limited viewpoints, and we use our powers of authority to collect garments of bitterness and adorn our heads with crowns of elemental condemnation, all for what we think and declare are ‘better ways’ or often not even that. The power in your hands can redeem you or curse you, depending on how you use it. It is more peaceful to be someone living a humble, simple life, empowered only to Be and exist as best as is possible. I don’t want or need power over others, lest I forget the unencumbered peace of just Being. Life is short. Death is eternal. Do we wish to bless or to ruin others? What does it cost us to do either? Is there a temporal price tag juxtaposed against an eternal one? Our actions reveal a lot more than our pithy words. The answers lie deep within the core of our Being and our connection with the universe. Bon voyage, little Moth!

rain-gems

It has been raining almost every day. It’s that time of year. I noticed yesterday that the Elephant’s Ears have been eaten up by something, perhaps a very hungry caterpillar? Rain droplets gather and hang precariously like tiny jewels, fascinating and alluring. I call them “rain-gems.”

The human sensoryscape is filled with seething, churning and gnashing, I can hear it with sharp acrid clarity, the grinding of teeth cuts through dense heavy air, echoing through pitch darkness.

Dust and dirt fly when buried skeletons are unearthed and shaken too vigorously. Why such desperate need for aggression? Do they not feel the cumbersome weight of their clumsy axe on their backs? Gentle soft wings of doves are so much more comfortable, are they not?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” – Maybe, just maybe that might be?

Heartless human wickedness plot and plan under cover of puffed up authority to rob the innocent and weak of power and worldly endowments, but human evil cannot take away immutable Truth from those who grasp and embrace it. Listen to the elemental, material universe… there is much more to our human existence than our skirmishes for power one over the other, fermented self aggrandisement and bitter mockery. If you can and wish, you will find peaceful clemency in minutiae, in humble little things. And the tiny, breathtaking yet still beauty of rain-gems.