a clement Christmas

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Clemency is hard to find. Clement Space is an ongoing quest. As is the Endeavour of Empathy.

Looking back, contemplating crashing fortissimo and lifting appoggiatura, soul crushing depletion and spiritual strengthening… Artaud and Wagner, humour, beauty, gritty determined ‘dogliness’… Lucy has once again carried me through yet another year with her gentle, wordless steadfastness of spirit and embodied grace.

It’s Christmas Eve. I recall with gratitude and fondness, the most precious Christmas gift from our sojourn in Paddington, Sydney. It was 2013, a quiet Christmas Eve, early morning when the summer air was still cool and crisp. Those roses, tossed out by someone, still fresh and beaming with a brilliance I’ve never yet seen nor witnessed again in a bunch of flowers. Put into my hands with a gruff greeting, from our friend Michael, an eccentric old man who lives in a rickety van. We met when Lucy and I were out walking, Lucy chose to say hello to this elegantly dressed solitary figure, smoking and reading the newspapers on the park bench just by our grass patch we call “dog patch”. I miss Paddo. I miss our neighbourhood, our friends, and I think of them often. Especially Michael. I hope he is well. One can never be sure. Michael comes and goes. Nobody knows where and when. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. He was choking back tears when we last said goodbye, too proud for a hug, we did not even make eye contact. But I hope he knew how much we would miss him.

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This Christmas Eve, Lucy and I are ‘home’ with mum, my baby sister and brother-in-law, their two little furry children, and our helper Nula. Lucy has over-eaten again, too many treats and a giant lamb bone from her aunt who thinks she is too thin. (Though I keep reiterating that Lucy is a Greyhound, they are naturally lean.) We are waiting for Christmas Eve dinner – yet another private gastronomic feast by my amazing brother-in-law. The over-fed Canine Angel is asleep in bed, next to me. I can hear her rhythmic breathing, and she opens her sleepy eyes occasionally to check on me.

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I reflect on Christmases long past, and I realise how peaceful it is now. Without any more pomp and ceremony, no more need to dodge snide remarks and undercurrents of bitchery or witchery, no competition for whose gift is the most expensive or who has achieved the most success in the year. Those are now distant memories, and juxtaposed with our recent ones, they stand as reminders of how much goodness has come along since I walked away from all that mire.

We had our pre-Christmas dinner with extended family and friends last week. It was a very merry one, noisy and overloading but not at all emotionally or mentally exhausting. A pleasant, happy, kind of overload. And, of course, the food is always delicious – how could it not be, with a top professional chef and two F&B professionals in the party?

This year, I slogged away all week to finish my handmade gifts to mum, baby sis, Mini-B and Tiny-T. A welcome restfulness of spirit and blessedness of mind – taking time away from a surfeit of advocacy work, campaigning and proposals – just to touch, feel, and flow with the patterns and variations so clement to the senses. ‘Making’ is a beautiful activity for me, calming and restoring. I’ve named my jewellery line “LaLaLouBelle” – after Lucy and my childhood nickname for baby sis. Every piece is made up of vintage and antique components, collected through my early years of avid travelling or handed down to me from mum and granny. Each one a narrative of love and filled with meaningful history.

Oh, yes, and Little Mini wee-wee-ed on Lucy’s bed yesterday, so I’ll have to buy Lucy a new bed. Mini is a spunky little (fat) button, with a penchant for Lucy’s bedding.

We’re all set! I’ve put up a miniature tree, with tiny lights and trimmings. Our presents are all ready for the ritual tonight. – we open ours on Christmas Eve.

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A peaceful and clement Christmas Eve wish to all from Lucy and me!

stew

Festive seasons are to me like stew. I love food. I love eating. But I am wary of stew. Things get thrown willy nilly into a large pot, stirred, cooked and cooked, and then poured out in a chunky, goopy, mass. The sound it makes when a scoop of the stuff hits the plate or bowl? Quite nauseating, like a soft belching blended and layered with thick, dull, stretched out staccato. I do not much like stew. And I do not much like festivities.

Regardless, it was a goodly Christmas and New Year over here for this Autistic Foodie Bunny, and I am beginning to learn how to actually enjoy these things.  Continue reading

stillness

Stillness. Tranquility. Quiet contemplation. Sonorous repose.

Much needed especially in sensorially chaotic times like Christmas, New Year and other festive seasons.

Too much noise, too much food, too much smell, too much light, too much human interaction… just too much of everything, no matter how lovely, can easily derail the autistic with hypersensitivity.

My head is pounding and my muscles tense from all the pre-Christmas preparations and mini celebrations ahead of time. I love to see people enjoying themselves and I like the sound of laughter, but too much is too much and my senses start to scream.

Nevertheless, I do look forward to spending the next three days at our family holiday chalet together with the extended gang. This lot are cheery and easygoing, they do not insist on making me or anyone else join in their raucous goings-on. There is no oppressive social demand to sit at the table and silently cry into one’s soup while pretending to keep up with the meaningless babble. Two Christmases ago, that was what I was doing, entertaining wave after wave of superficial, self-important people in a fancy but not really classy apartment in prime location by the sea. I was the general dogsbody, locked inside a tedium dictated by charity. No more of that social rubbish. With this lot now, the food is always great – they are super foodies – and all that is required of me, mandatory, in fact, is that I turn up at meal times to eat. I am not even needed for small talk. So, the noise can be pretty daunting, but one unpleasant sensory bombardment in exchange for another delicious one, that is more than fair enough for this Foodie Bunny!

And Lucy has brought me a long, long, way indeed. Now, I have a Canine Angel. Non-speaking, elemental connectivity, no need for prattle and babble. Lucy is my Clement Space. My little nook for repair, restoration and refreshment. There will be lots of ‘alone-time’ with Lucy at our chalet in the suburbs. We can go for walks on our own, something I haven’t done much of since returning ‘home’. But now, I need to pack. The Angel needs her food. Oh, don’t forget to bring the Christmas Doggy Cookies!

Merry Theory of My Mind

Theory of Mind is a theory, or is it? Dancing around alien fires. Whose Theory and whose Mind?

While it is not true that autistic people lack empathy due to their inability to decipher other people’s mindscapes, I myself admit to being stumped, over and over again, by other people’s thoughts, motives, and actions.

Take, for example, this somewhat questionable penchant for offering help, mixed with an innate inability to make quick enough assessment of character and/or predict potential disaster. Not a good combination by far. Continue reading

back to Being

Christmas fatigue. OK, I have to admit that I absolutely love the food – and festivities always means food, food, and more glorious sensorially titillating food! But… The grand effort of ‘performing-the-neurotypical’ and pushing physical limitations to the hilt across too many consecutive days have finally got the better of me.  Continue reading

Christmas Fever

Yes, fever. No, not the metaphorical reference that everyone is used to.

Christmas (and any festivity) for me = Fever.

As in…

fever |ˈfēvər|noun – an abnormally high body temperature, usually accompanied by shivering, headache, and in severe instances, delirium…

And… mouth ulcers… throat ulcers… pain… a lot of physical pain… neuropathic, muscular, joint, and whatever else the overloaded senses decides to throw at me. A literal Hot Pot. 🙂

Merry, merry, merry!

But… Continue reading

the way you haunt my dreams

It’s Christmas time again.

I dislike festive seasons.

Heartbreaking loneliness… No, not me, but too many people are lonely and alone, and the starkness is brought home most cruelly during festivities such as Christmas.

Me? I balk at Christmas (etc) because of the excruciating sensory overload. I love my friends, but official festivities are extremely taxing on my hyper senses. I want to be alone with Lucy, not at party after party, not buried under a deluge of noise and human bodies. But… life is a duty, and I take my responsibility towards my non-autistic friends very seriously. Friends make life better. And never more so than now, friends are the people who help me along my journey. So, when friends want to gather, when friends honour me with their inclusion in what are happy occasions for them, then I quell my own aversion, brace my senses, and embrace the love. I find the little slivers of joy – the treasure trove of smiles and laughter – amidst the jaw clamping endurance of sensory pain. Continue reading

seraphim & cherubim

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I am no expert, but these represent to me the two highest orders of angels in traditional Christian angelology – probably inherited from ancient Middle Eastern celestial mythology? Anyway, they are stuck in my mind like little neon post-it notes today.

In the almost ridiculously ironic tapestry of juxtapositions that is my life now, I am surrounded by angels of myriad manifestations. Continue reading

Christmas with Lucy

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It was a busy Christmas this year. My wish to enjoy Christmas alone with Lucy was not granted, but we had a fabulous time anyway. It rained all day. Wet, wet, wet. I remember last year was overcast too, with some light drizzle, but it wasn’t as wet. This year, after a simple breakfast of kibble and chicken for Lucy and bacon and egg with Kaya toast for me, which I enjoyed in the lounge room on my brand new super sized bean bag from Target, I set about cleaning the front porch. It’s an old dilapidated house, nothing much can be done to beautify it, but a cursory cleaning with cleaning spray and water did help brighten the entrance quite a bit. It felt much cheerier. Or maybe everything just feels so much brighter since the Bulldozer left? Anyhow, cleaning the porch on Christmas Day was great, the street was deadly quiet and I could brush away in peace without passersby gaping at me or being annoyed at my splashing about. Talking about splashing, I also managed to do a quickie job at sealing up the gaps at the kitchen sink. Continue reading

Christmas!

 

I received my very first Christmas gift today. A very precious one. A bunch of white roses, slightly fading but still intact and lovely, from one of my homeless friends. He picked them up from somewhere. He’s very clever at picking up things that people discard. Good things. My garden chairs are two very sturdy wooden folding chairs – from him. He’s given me a number of very useful things, from his forays. Thank you so much, my friend, for having me in mind, and making that effort.

It will be a sweet Christmas after all. I am now looking forward to it. Continue reading