sensory expedition

 

Lucy seemed restless this morning. She was lying in bed, watching me work at my desk, and suddenly did a little bounce and let out a mini yelp in my direction. I turned to look at her and she held my gaze, nodding her head, bounced again and made that same yelping sound. Lucy does that when she wants to communicate – she doesn’t bark at all in any other ‘normal doggy’ circumstances. When I first heard her bark, it was two months after she came to live with me, and out of the blue, one afternoon, she did that bounce + yelp thing, asking me to play with her. I’ve learned to recognise that. Continue reading

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troll and roll

 

 

 

Social media is an amazing thing, really. Dissemination of information – false and true and somewhere in between – quicker than you can say your own name. It’s a great space for many people with disabilities to connect, sans the traditional barriers. Yet, it’s also a grand circus for explosive and nasty battles where humans exhibit their common human DNA, regardless of superficial differences. Continue reading

monachopsis

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Wriggling… awkward shifting, shuffling… navigating frothy nausea… think, dank fog…

How to craft Clement Space inside a constantly assaultive alienation? Minuscule foci. Small things. Split-second moments. Carpe diem! Each tiny aperture is a precious molecule.

Lucy.

Home-cooked nosh.

Friendship.

Music.

Art.

Goodness.

Kindness.

Droplets of mercy and grace notes of consideration, respect and gentleness. These all are Clement Spaces, in the midst of monachopsis.

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

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

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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zzzz

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

syncopation

 

 

Sensory syncopation. Buzzing dissonance. Muted vowels. Overwhelming consonants. All this and more, gyrating – determined and unceasing – in the thrilling, vexing and amazing sensory ecology of Hong Kong.

I haven’t been back in 6 years, not since my Haptic Autistry and Haptic HugShrug exhibitions. It was lovely to be back, on old familiar soil, yet with so much vibrant newness yet to explore.

Three lectures/talks, two public and one private, and a great many old friends to catch up with, kept my days buzzing with activity.

 

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A new adventure awaited in Sham Shui Po – gritty, old, traditional and crammed – where I would stay for the entire trip, in a windowless bedroom above the sensory theatre of wet markets, dim sum stalls, cooked and raw food shops side by side, vegetables and fruit, and … fish. I landed smack in the middle of unfamiliarity. It was a deliberate decision, I wanted to experience somewhere different from my old memories of my life in Hong Kong – and I got what I asked for. Picturesque, and I am glad for my nifty Fujifilm X100T, but the olfactory ambience was confronting, to say the least. The smell of pork – raw, uncooked pork – literally envelopes your entire being, pervading the air all the way up into my dark little AirBnB bedroom. Then there was fish, rotting vegetable, overflowing sewers, and human bodies seething with perspiration wrapped in unwashed clothes – thematic elements weaving in and out of the tapestry, as the basso continuo of pork pounded on and on.

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Elderly lady selling fish and vegetables

One picture carved into my mind, leaving me engulfed in a heavy, thick and excruciating wave of sadness and haplessness, is that of an old lady, bent double, sitting on a small stool, selling fish and assorted vegetables, just in front of the strong smelling butchery at the corner. Her catch differed every day, sometimes there were larger fish, other days small ones, even turtles and frogs (for consumption) and dribs and drabs of wilted vegetables and fruits – whatever she could get to sell, I suppose? There is rubbish strewn around the filthy wet street, and there she is, sitting there patiently waiting for customers. I wanted to give her some money, but was afraid she would be offended, and what good would my few dollars do for her anyway? She was there every morning, and I, a stranger and ‘alien’ to this ecosphere, felt a choking sadness, an anguished torment each time I walked by. Hapless. I can still taste the air, hear the soundscape echoing in my head, and see the spunky, brave yet forlorn image of this lady in my mind. Poverty is crushing to witness, and my heart breaks even more because she is so terribly old and frail.
Continue reading

trap

A little sparrow is trapped inside a corner in a large human-purposed shopping mall. It flies around looking for a way out, but to no avail.

My senses connect with the bird in its distress and anxiety, I feel a tingling in my scalp, shortness of breath and tightness in muscles around ribcage. Nausea creeps in before I know it. The taste of my orange juice at the back of my throat has turned into a vile, sickly yet sharp dry metallic-sour taste, like acid burning the sensitive mucosa around my throat. Dryness is setting in and I must remind myself to swallow and breathe deeply.

The poor bird. My mind is working out ways to capture the bird and take it outside. But I do not have a shawl or towel with me, and it is flying too frantically anyway.

The room is tossing and turning in concentric circles around me, and the soundscape of human voices and piped pseudo-jazz music is slowly distorting in my brain into a muffled, slow-motion eerie kaleidoscope of dark purple colours and rancid vomitus.

And the hapless bird continues to fly, round and round, across, up and down.

The humans inhabiting the space, dotted around the room at small square tables, are all too engrossed in either their mobile phones or social chatter. Not a single person averse their gaze to look at the sparrow, not a single expression of concern. They share no empathic resonance with this sorry, desperate creature.

Soon, it will become too exhausted and maybe even crushed by the impact of smashing against windows, and will just fall to the ground and die. A slow, anxious, fear-filled death.

Just a sparrow? Not to me.

A small entity exuding overwhelming pain, confusion and wretchedly forlorn fear. Screaming fear, even. Fluttering. Flapping. Smashing. Falling. Rising. Da capo. Until there is strength no more. Not a twitter. No time and mental space to cry out. Just white hot futile determination. And then, there is silence and life is spent.

My heart feels squeezed tightly like a wrinkled old orange.

Heavy with sadness.

Overwhelmed by elemental empathy.

——

(Shop staff have become aware of the sparrow. Let’s hope something can be done to help the poor creature.)

small moments

In a raging sea of tumultuous tossing, frothing and heaving, small moments of grace and respite become crucial life saving sources of sustenance and strength.

So, go out there, disengage with the demons in your head or the monkeys in your circus, and have some time out with a friend, for sushi or tea and cake, an hour or two of elemental refreshment!