clement comforting

IMG_1948lucy-bum

“When you spend time getting to know an Autistic person you find many different sensitivities and physical supports that enable that person’s comfort. Communication won’t be possible without first understanding this primary dynamic. Once you demonstrate that you understand these sensitivity needs respectfully, you will be able to create safe space for a person to feel comfortable. Comfort must always be put into place before anyone can communicate with you to their best ability.” – kelly @autismhwy

The above quote is a poignant excerpt from this blog post: Communication Breakdown

This seems like ‘common sense,’ that is, allowing a person (any person) to feel comfortable within innate native frameworks in order to ‘draw’ the person ‘out’ into communication with Other. Continue reading

hide inside

Too much to process. Assaulted on all sides at multiple dimensions. Sensory attacks from the environment. Confusing shenanigans from certain quarters that even my non-autistic, neurotypical friends shake their heads at. Discombobulation. Distress. Chaos. Disorganisation. Changes, one following another, tripping over in clumsy stretto. Fever. Smarting eyes. Ringing ears. Inflammation everywhere. Tired, tired, exhaustion. Continue reading

installing grace

 

Food – and the entire process of sourcing, preparing, arranging and imbibing – is a material entity that engages itself with my attempts at installing grace.

Especially when situated within a graceless space, an inclement situation, or as a gesture of self preservation on multiple dimensions which cannot be better expressed via other structural forms.

There are times when I create to address emotional excitement, other times merely a primitive sensorial response of the moment, and then there are the “doing-ness” when in out-of-body forms of catatonia (brought on by trauma). Food provides a physical, concrete and palpable elemental anchor, not merely for the taste buds, but on dimensions that my addled brain is at the moment unable to string words on behalf of.

Today, lunch was a deliberate, even laboured and determined installation of grace. Self administered Grace. In the midst of shock and momentary devastation.

What happens when people representing organisations listed as “help” agencies and “advocates” attack and abuse the very people they purport to be “helping” and “advocating” for?

Today, I called one such establishment. I was actually acting according to instructions by another legal authority to pursue this line of action, specifically on account of disability. Dutifully, obediently, the Aspie Brain executed the action.

“Shock”is too mild a word for this encounter. But it will have to suffice.

I was summarily told…

We are not here to make you feel more comfortable, you know?

No words.

Back to my installation. That does make me feel more comforted, even if not more comfortable.

There is something about installing grace…

haptic pyjamas

“Haptic pyjamas!” has been bouncing in my mindscape with sonic, rhythmic, and visual vim and vigour, refusing to make a quiet exit. I am not sure why, but I have a strong suspicion it has to do with this latest piece of work and its nocturnal unfolding.

Two fluffy 60x60cm cushion covers, a vegetarian dinner of stir fried flat rice noodles and red capsicum and a gentle evening doggy-walk later, I decided to embark on reworking the Haptic HugShrug. It was already 10pm when I began. Lucy was snoozing in her favourit fluffy rug, occasionally opening an eye to check on me, and interjecting the quiet night air with a huff and groan every now and then. She does not like it when I stay up late. Her bedtime hour is 8pm, and I usually crawl into bed with her, working on my laptop until she shoves my laptop off the bed at around 10pm. Our routine has been very much upset lately, of course. I managed to complete it at 12am, by which time I was nauseous and dizzy, but feeling rather chuffed.

The Haptic HugShrug was first created in 2012, as part of the Haptic Interface event in Hong Kong. It is inspired by the concept of deep pressure stimulation as a calming therapy. It is made from Woolmark Merino wool top, but instead of crochet, this version (#3) is arm knitted, giving it a looser weave and more floppy movement than the former two versions.

Dimensions approx 110x70x4cm.

Available for sale as part of the installation catalogue, 100% of proceeds will go to mindDog Australia. Reservations and all enquiries welcome. Please message me at scheherazades.sea@gmail.com

overwhelmed

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A long ramble. A not-well-written meandering babbling. But I am unable to execute beauteous sentences and coherent semantic tapestry. My mind is exploding, and here it is…

Sensory struggle. Anxiety overload. Overwhelmed by the mocking interplay and combined assault of the inexorable passage of time and mounting anxiety in a bizarre Call and Response (on perpetual da capo).

Then comes a flood of benevolence.

And I am engulfed in a deluge all over again – no, not anxiety this time, but a gentle humbling at the Hand of Grace.

The path of scholarship is never easy, and too many people struggle with crushing student debt. For me, it is an ongoing lesson in pespectival shifting and readjustment. My familial background eschews loans and looks down its nose at debt. When I won my PhD scholarship, I plunged into the real world of student debt. Ironic, but true. The scholarship stipend provided minimal living in the most expensive city in Australia. I scratched the bottom of the barrel and grasped for straws just to buy my passage, so as to take up the scholarship. Along the way, I needed help, a lot of help, which came from my one loving sister and her husband, and a few good friends. Each time I cried into the roaring void at a moment of panic and despair, Grace has answered in a soft still voice. Some old friends fell away, other friends I’ve known for ages stepped up and re-emerged, and I made new connections with people who have become trusted friends and loyal supporters. Trundling along in our rusty wheelbarrow.

Recently, my scholarship stipend ceased. My own college has stepped in to pay the tuition fees for this final semester, and for living expenses, a childhood friend in Singapore has generously extended a loan, as has another friend in the USA. And another friend has kindly offered a roof over our heads for the write-up months leading into submission.

My very pressing and present focus is on the upcoming exhibition, Sonata in Z 2015, marking the final part of a trilogy of experimental works in autism, parallel embodiment and alternative empathy.

As I hurtle through time and space, nearer and nearer to the setting up date, I grow more alarmed at the emptiness. I am one. And I have just one and a half months more to filling a space 10 metres by 3.5 metres, with a height of 2.8 metres, with all the luscious details and sensory engagement that I have in my mind. An impossible task. Yet, the show must go on. That has been the mantra of my life – perhaps of many an autist’s life, struggling through alien and inclement systems to forge some form of independence, hoping to make a tiny contribution to our worlds. But this time around, the show teeters on the mocking edge of the abyss of nothingness.

In this dismal setting, once more comes another wave. Of Grace. From Grace.

Last week, I received a surprise package from lovely friend and talented artist, Skye – beautiful hand crafted jewellery, a delicate necklace with horse-shoe pendant, a handbag, and a pack of trotters for Lucy.

Then on Saturday, my friend Rick came for our usual bruncheon session armed with gifts of sustenance. Water biscuits, Double Brie (no less!), fruit juice, and a tub of tiramisu!

Yesterday, lovely Rodrigo dropped by, bearing yet more wonderful presents, carried all the way across the world, from his travels in Europe and the UK.

Another precious bestowment, small but no less consequential – a CD of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4 – from my friend M, who lives in a beat up old van.

A phone call from Lucy’s beloved Godma, Rose, also brought a sliver of hope to the bleak horizon. She suggested that I ask a crafting group for help, to create the small little details for Sonata in Z. I am not sure what may come of it, but I am deeply grateful to Rose for her vigorous and rigorous care and endorsement of my work and my very embodiment. Hope is sustenance in itself.

Strangely enough, during our bruncheon prattle, Rick and I somehow meandered into this biblical quotation, from the book of Hebrews 11:1.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Just as I was agonising early last week over budgeting for food, questioning my needs and muddling through the finances, making lists and cancelling orders in a cyclical manic haplessness, worrying about Lucy’s nutrition and projecting onwards to some necessary medical procedures in the near future, screaming into the resonant silence and mumbling to myself and anyone else who was willing to listen to my drivel how I need an army of Smurfs to help me complete the little yet monumentally volumnous details required in my upcoming exhibition – and wondering how I would make it through this final passage to the finishing line of my Grand Quest!

Grace once more intervenes. Not with small morsels of charity, but with a Tsunami of gentle affection and regard. I am overwhelmed. But not crushed.

My exhibition, Sonata in Z 2015, is about creating clement space within which grace provides strength and enabling of Beingness, and wherein empathy propagates and emanates across all states of existence. The process is as important as the corporeal creation, and Grace forms the architectural foundation of all my work, as well as the fountain of Living Water.

I thank my friends and supporters for their channeling of this profound clemency. We are building Clement Spaces together – and across neurological cultures too! Welcome to Scheherazade’s Sea!

windows

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Windows. Spaces. Tiny perforations.

Fissures dynamic always shifting melding moving without punctuation.

Crevices of grace.

Fleeting portals.

Once grasped, hold fast.

Breathe. Continue reading

consumed

Engulfment. A consummation. Completely devoured, imbibed with palpable force. A concrete visceral knowledge. Empathy with the elements that bring both delight and grief. Feeling resonances of clemency and violence. A pragmatic and empirical embodiment, the beauty of intersecting with the elements is not a romantic notion but a sensory exuberant peace, and there is really nothing fanciful about a splitting headache derived from wet, damp cold. Reality is just what it is.

Well, with all the above in mind, I had a rather benevolent weekend. Continue reading

hope in the concrete

Two extreme contrasts of musical traditions and expressions. Yet, to me, they are one inside a sympathetic-empathic dimension.

There is a common assumption that when one is at the end of tether, one returns to the most fundamental foetal comfort. When I am very very low, I reach for the familiar and concrete realm of music. It is a universal panacea, for layman and musician alike. And science now tells us what musicians through the ages have always known.

For me, there is that dimension of personal intimacy within the world of music, like a swaddling cloth, not just to my senses but also balm for intellectual and philosophical longing.

Good thoughts while standing at the yawning sensory breakdown precipice? What a wonderful instrument our body contains. If you can get past the horrible decor of his room (first video), there is a wealth to ponder on. For example, layered textures – evocative of multiple sensorial associations. Then there is proprioceptivity and its relationship with sonic / musical expression. This brings the thought stream to the second video. Palpable, concretised sensory materiality conjured from out of fluid, ephemeral entities. But then again, maybe not so ephemeral or ethereal? Sound waves are physical after all, even though we cannot see them with our naked eye, and their effects on our physicality can be long lasting indeed. Can visual art produce such dynamic cogent corporealities? I think not. (I might be offending a few visual artists here. But I am inclined to go with Schopenhauer.)

What an honour to have known music intimately. There is hope here yet. And I must press on.

a different kind of love

A rainy day. Cooler temperatures. Soggy sensory depression. Ah, the world of the hypersenses. Extremes of wonder and horror. Never a middle ground. And it is different for every individual. Our only commonality is that our senses are turned up to full volume, and the regulating switch is broken or at best faulty and fiddly. Mitigation? For me, medication and distraction are at best marginally helpful. Yet, I would not trade my hypersenses for a dull low hum that pervades most people’s lives. Not now, having known the glorious realm of acuity, despite the negatives, and all others considered.

This song is not one of my best by far, I remember the circumstances under which I recorded it – heartbreak and betrayal in more than one dimension, physical illness, and I was also running a high fever during the recording. I was on a tight budget, financed by a beloved friend, and the work just had to go on regardless. You can hear the tightness in my voice, the anxiety and physical pain too, perhaps. Looking for love in all the most terrible and deceptive places. A con job, that is what notions of “family first,” religion, community, romance and the myriad hard-sell ideologies that we are fed from the day we were born into the confusing, fluid and untruthful neurotypical social structures and systems. Amidst and despite the mêlée, I have been lucky to find true friendships.

And now, for a brief period that she is gifted to me, I have my Angel – Lucy Like a Charm.

I do not need to anthropomorphise her. She is not a human being. She reminds every single day that she is a dog, a Greyhound, and a very special one. It is a different kind of love. Flawless, symbiotic, perhaps even a once in a lifetime event – and I am grateful, for this gift, and for the ability to perceive it.

——–

“I Looked for Love” c.2000 – Lyrics: Dawn-joy Leong / Music: Christopher Fong

Vocals: Dawn-joy Leong / Piano: Christopher Fong

cloudy

IMG_0796lucy-bw

Lucy is my Angel of Clemency.

[This is not a Pity-Party Poor-Me post. I am voicing these thoughts because I hope that there will be greater awareness and understanding of the conundrum faced by autistic people who struggle to live and function within a system that is largely alien to our innate make up. It is not a grumble either. There is no “Us vs Them” anymore in my mind. I strive for Neurocosmopolitanism – a coming together and blending of minds – rather than to emphasise the divide.]

After two days of intense sunshine and heat, last night, it finally rained a little. We woke up to cloudy skies and a relatively robust wind. I have a love hate relationship with robust wind. On one hand, I love the refreshing feeling of a good cool breeze, the way it skims over my skin in a firm, passing yet continuous caress, but my auditory senses become increasingly stressed by the cornucopia of sounds that the wind stirs up. Rustling leaves are delightful, but my senses can only absorb and contain a limited volume – decibel level, frequency and yes, ‘volume’ as in capacity – before becoming overwhelmed. Continue reading