embrace

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Change can and does happen. Hope is not always just a frilly fantasy. Sometimes, even after one has given up and walked away, change unfolds.

Many years ago, I walked away from a connection with an ‘autism mom’. She wasn’t the typical, aggressive mom-crusader that you see in online mom-forums. She was always private about her woes, but nevertheless, at the time, so full of her own grief and struggle that she was unwilling to hear whatever I had to say.

Our paths crossed again recently. Her autistic son is an adult now. The struggles have been fierce, tumultuous, and the future is still shaky and uncertain. Yet, I see an acceptance, and embracing of her child, and a fierce loyalty and determination to support him, that I never saw before. Continue reading

sticky notes

A grey, damp morning for Day 4 of our little retreat.

Some ‘sticky notes’ to remind me of life, and little clemencies…

Someone to watch over me. Lucy by my side.

Muesli. Yes. The ability to eat this crunchy, texturally eclectic and considerably challenging concoction is testament to being alive.

The view of green by my temporary workspace. It is not spectacular, unlike the “million-dollar-view” of the bay and the water, but it represents respite to me.

And Lucy. Always. Lucy.

crushed

Crushed. But not shattered. Fragments will be rebuilt, with molten gold, silver and precious gems. Reconstruction is a process, a painful yet exquisite journey, of constant refinement.

The quest for Selfhood.

Half a century of trundling along in amazing, bizarre, surreal and hyper-real roller-coaster rides. Lifelong toxic ‘mentoring’ by social Svengalis, being groomed for compliant subaltern existence, peppered with pockets of Graceful Guidance. The cosmos propels ever forward, hurtling through multi-textured, supersonic, psychedelic, smorgasbord of existential flotsam, jetsam in a churning, heaving sea yet so full of pulchritudinous mercies. Continue reading

my love

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Till a’ the seas gang dry…

Collected my baby girl from the emergency vet this morning. Back home, fed a bland diet of cooked turkey mince. She is now sleeping in bed. We are waiting for her regular vet to come and pick us up, because Lucy is too weak to jump in and out of a taxi. Dr. Ivor is a wonderful vet, and he has been ever so kind to us. It seems like a long road ahead for us both, but I owe it to Lucy to do all I can for her wellbeing. Right now, our immediate goal is to stabilize her, before we head on towards a plethora of tests and explorations. Not a good time at all, I am in the throes of completing my Ph.D dissertation, and have (as it is) blown apart two whole months running around doing all kinds of things – moving house, packing & unpacking, dealing with Lucy’s accidents, battling my own monsters of meltdown and physical pain, fighting the bullying of the Evil Twins (real estate agents) etc blah – just about everything but proper work. Not much time left, and I face an impossibility. But we have come this far, we now have no other choice but to rely on the great cosmic clemency that has carried us through, to propel us forward. And thusly we shall go!

A Robert Burns poem that I like to sing to her… as we wait… I am trying not to overwhelm her with my anxiety and singing helps us both at times like these.

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie, 
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

Robert Burns

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!

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.

Happy New Year!

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2014 was a difficult year. The seed was planted by a Random Act of Kindness, which saw the Nightmare House Guest from the Deepest Bowels of Hell moving into my home, tunneling her way through the soft, gentle soil of my life-space with focused sociopathic purpose. The aftermath was horrific. My clean orderly surrounds turned into a sewer of filth and stink, and the atmosphere was filled with loud, screeching – the smelly lorikeet’s ear piercing cries by day, and its owner’s crass swearing by night. Yes, she would swear and scream at the bird for hours every night, while professing how much she loved her bird to everyone who had ears to hear, as well as on social media. The greatest tragedy of all that this woman brought about was that one innocent dog suffered immeasurable agony and lost a leg, a very decent charity was cheated of money that was raised online in their name (the woman pocketed the money), and my life was tossed into a rusty rickety wagon and set upon a crazy roller coaster track.

There were good things, wonderful things, in fact, that came from the grief, however, and 2014 will be for me a memory of juxtapositions. Conniving evil and gentle grace.

What initially was promised as a two week stay unfolded into months, when that woman refused to leave. We eventually had to move out in a hurry, to save myself from diving headlong into breakdown. At our new premises, we met new friends and good people who helped make our stay bearable, lent us support when we needed it, and at other times, they were just there, and that was clemency enough.

Winter turned into spring, and when the angry birds began to viciously attack Lucy every time we stepped outside our cramped little abode, and the resident Unhappy Door Slammer started to shake the very foundations of our gentle sonic sphere, I knew it was time to move on again. I yearned to be back in our old neighbourhood, I needed and wanted so very much to just get back on track with my work, but I did not believe it possible. Yet, grace prevailed, and a wonderful friend provided the wisdom, advice, and means to bring us back to our beloved Paddo.

In the meantime, I was working on my exhibition. There were many who lent their hands to build the work, and to them, I am most grateful.

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Once back in the neighbourhood we both love so much, we reconnected with old friends, and made new ones. Lucy is truly Like a Charm!

One of the new friends we’ve made is now sitting at my feet, finding solace and comfort from the noise of the fireworks. While her mum and dad enjoy the pomp and ceremony by the harbour, I am having a wonderful time babysitting the sweetheart, ringing in the New Year with the neighbourhoods’ two most beautiful canine personalities! ❤

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Happy New Year, everyone! May 2015 bring new joy, good health, inspiration, love, friendship and yes, the completion of my PhD dissertation! Go, Bunny and Lucy, go!

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questions

Questions. It seems Aspies cannot stop asking questions. I have questioned everything questionable (and even not so questionable) in my life. I have even struggled with the question of my questioning. When I wrote and recorded this song (circa 2000, Questions, in the album LOVE), I was battling the shadows of my own illness, while shaking my shackled fists as vigorously as any worn out prisoner could.

I still don’t have the answers. I doubt I ever will. Yet, life without questions just doesn’t create a rich enough tapestry, does it? Lucy has shown me how to ask questions more politely, and settle into a state of contentment even when the questions remain suspended in mid-air. Continue reading

pathways

After the unpleasant and messy task of washing up the dehydrator trays (yes, remember the smelly lamb’s fry that I sliced and dehydrated for Lucy?), I decided to reward myself. I made a new batch of marshmallow-rice-bubble bars today. The little minx Lucy wanted some, but mumma said, “No, no, baby girl, not for Greyhound Princesses, sorry!” She flounced off into the bed and began to furiously scrunch up the sheets into a giant mound, then flopped down onto the bundle with a loud, “Hmmmmfff!” Hilarious.

No, Lucy, you can sulk all you want but you’re not getting any. I chuckled at her, but I think that made her even less pleased. 🙂 Continue reading