autistic opinion

Sunday morning. Not much sleep. Too many reasons to list. I am grateful always for Lucy by my side. Difficulty with sleeping is another one of the many struggles that most autistic people face. Again, it’s probably less to do with Autism per se, and more about the state of high anxiety that we seem to be perpetually in. Hyper vigilance inextricably blended with acquired trauma (just staying alive can be a traumatic journey for many an autistic person) would be my own guess.

I am listening to Joan Baez today, because of an ear worm that began to wriggle in my headspace as I got out of bed today. This song. So beautifully sung by Joan Baez. “The Water is Wide”. Continue reading

savouring pulchritude

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Spending time with Lucy, just us both, nobody else, is both precious and renewing. What she gives me is more than I deserve, really. How can I not place her right up high on top, in my list of priorities? My life is so busy with this and that, but I am all she has. The inequality between Canine Angel and Mere Human is absurd. So much Beauty in the hands of a weak, confused, distracted and faltering human.

It was hot and steamy – not the kind of weather we like for walking – but we both love the Botanical Gardens. There is always something new to discover, yet so much that is comfortable and familiar.

No rain for awhile, and the grass was losing its deep green colour. There wasn’t any cooling breeze this time, I felt my body cutting through the thick moisture in the air, and I could literally sense the droplets cooking in the heat, my skin tingling with the subtle minuscule movements.

I was once told by a forestry expert that there were some really old tropical hard wood trees in the gardens. What I do know is that this place is very well cared for, the rangers, cleaners etc are very kind and friendly, and dogs are welcome here, though they must be on leash. It makes sense to have dogs on leash here, because there is vulnerable wildlife, and to keep the dogs safe from snakes. Yes, we have cobras here in Singapore.

We were too hot – I was drenched in perspiration and Lucy was panting heavily – and so we headed to the cafe for respite. I had a coffee, which I mixed with my iced milo in the bottle I brought with me. I settled Lucy on her mat with her water bowl and a huge length of Chewy Roo from our favourite Loyalty Pet Treats, which we order direct from Australia. The owners are wonderful folk, and we’ve become friends through the years. We’re lucky to have good friends, though I think it is Lucy who attracts the good people to us. I have her to thank for this.

The Princess was remarkably calm and collected, even when the chickens came to check her out! And there I was, feeling nervous about them chooks coming too close. Silly me.

We spent just over two hours at the gardens. It wasn’t a big day out, only a slice of the morning, but these little moments means so much to me, and I hope to Lucy too.

hope & hatred

Everyone wants to be a hero these days, it seems. Or maybe not just these days, but as long as humans have existed? With social media and the internet, things are of course speeded up and magnified, because the world can just burst through your computer or mobile phone or tablet screen right there into your living room (or wherever you may be at whichever moment).

Greta Thunberg is making news now – probably going to be a far more prominent autistic figure than Temple Grandin ever was. And she is attracting far more bullies, haters, jealous critics etc than Grandin did during her time-in-the-sun.

Why are so many people up in arms about Greta Thunberg? Here’s just one little article in a sea of articles trying to figure out this phenomenon: “Much Ado About Greta.”

I can understand and even expect the ableist haters, bullies and naysayers. It’s sort of a ‘regular’ thing in the autism world for us autistics who dare to speak out about anything at all to be spat on, chewed upon, derided and mocked with vigourous venom by loud non-autistics. (Or to be tokenised.) What I find intriguing and sad, are the autistic voices mumbling and grumbling along the sidelines. Continue reading

not alone

Not alone, never lonely – when I am with Lucy. I have never liked to ‘share’ my mental, emotional and physical space when I am deep inside my creating, building, making realm. Yet, sharing this sacred space with Lucy is so comfortable, seamless, and even joyful. And she has taught me how to (sometimes) tolerate other humans inside this interstice of clemency too.

I’ve been finding renewal and restoration for frayed nerves and burnout inside this space lately. Coincidentally, renewing and restoring some of my old clothes – accompanied by Lucy. The above photos show my latest execution: modified a pair of very old Roberto Cavalli jeans and transformed it into a long skirt. Lucy approves, methinks? ❤

every time we say goodbye

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I hate leaving her. Each and every time. This is her face, when I say goodbye. I always promise her I will be back, but the truth is, I can only do my best. My prayer for safety is only for Lucy, that I make it back to her, to fulfil my promise. No, it is not ridiculous at all to love a dog far far more than I love any human, including myself. This is a kind of empathic resonance that is pure pulchritude. I am honoured to have found it – or rather, to have grace visit upon me in this way. Autistic or not, this is pure unadulterated Joy.

Every time we say goodbye, I die a little. Always. Every single time.

falling in love

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My senses always fall in love: they spin, swoon;

they lose themselves in one another’s arms.

Your senses live alone like bachelors,

like bi er, slanted rhymes whose marriage is a sham.

They greet the world the way accountants greet their books.

(D.J. Savarese – “Swoon”)

Sensory idiosyncrasy is common in Autism. Simply put, autistic people experience the world in different ways from the normative. Those of us with hyper senses (not exclusive to Autism, but prevalent) smell, taste, see, touch, hear and connect with the world in ways that can be excruciatingly painful, yet also exquisitely pleasurable at the same time. D.J. Savarese‘s poem, “Swoon“, describes autistic perception beautifully. For me, my senses always fall in love, over and over again, with Lucy Like-a-Charm. The evil brands on her ears, burnt cruelly into her skin, are permanent reminders of the suffering she has had to endure in her past as a slave to the disgusting Greyhound racing industry. Yet, she has emerged with so much grace, poise and such strength to trust in her own assessment of humanity. That Lucy has decided to place this trust in me – she adopted and saved me, much more than I her – is an honour that surpasses all others ever conferred upon me. She is not just a dog, or a cute pet to me, she is the embodiment of wordless cogent pulchritude, balm to my frayed senses, and my oasis of goodness. My Clement Space. To this magnificent yet humble being, I owe my very life.

 

deliciate

Deliciate: to delight oneself; to indulge (in feasting or other revels)

Old words fascinate me. And this one is a timely balm to a fractured, frayed and frazzled soul. (Yes, I also love alliteration. Part of my sensory ‘stimming’ – calming, even if just for the rhythmic enunciative physical qualities.)

This is one old word that I’m longing to luxuriate in.

Sometimes, the cosmos interferes vigorously, even sharply, for my own good, especially when I have been self-destructively obtuse, obstinate and obscurant – inwardly – denying what ought to be glaringly obvious, covering my ears to the roaring whispers of ratiocination. A knock on the head was needed to wake me from my self-induced somnambulism. This thunder-clap on my thick skull came from a remark made by an autistic man, expressing an utterly selfish viewpoint with foot-stomping petulance and digging in of the heels with so much defensiveness that it was almost bizarre. The age-old “What’s in it for me?” agenda reared its ugly head. I was shocked and disappointed at first, but I realise now that, inside a deeper consciousness, I already and always knew this side of him. I had merely been blinded by my very own enthusiastic hope that the person would change, daring to even think that I could make a difference in this person’s attitude and learning journey within such a short span of time as three years. Continue reading

elemental embodiment

2012 red boots

This day seven years ago, I got on a flight from Singapore to Sydney to take up my PhD scholarship at the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts, now called UNSW Art & Design.

I was not to know then, as I snapped this photo of my favourite Doc Martens boots with my trusty old iPad, sitting at the boarding gate in Changi Airport, that I was embarking on the most fulfilling and happiest years of my life. And I had no idea that I would finally find the companionship and love that I had searched for unsuccessfully all my life. Continue reading

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!

shifting sands

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2018 is coming to an end. Another year has gone by. Laboriously long yet flashing by almost unnoticed. Ironic and paradoxical, yes.

What is “family”? Who are “friends”?

The frames have shifted through the years, sometimes shuffling along unfolding slowly and other times abrupt and sharply decisive. People once considered family have now drifted into the nebulous dark mists of hell and damnation, frothy flotsam and jetsam, haphazard filigree patterns on a dirty old blanket. Demarcations have moved, and others once existing in a blurry background now come into focus. Friends, too, have come and gone, riding wave upon wave of change.

This Autistic Bunny is happier than ever before, more content with the noshments on the buffet table than any previous memory serves. The ghosts of Christmases past still flit around, awkwardly slashing the benign atmosphere as if in feeble attempts to remind me of their continued existence on a blighted and beleaguered earth. Yet, they fail to cause any real damage to Clement Space – an ecology of grace, comfort and wellbeing.

The world rages ever on and on, angry swirls of unmet expectations, unfulfilled striving, and the quest for more and more, and yet more – bringing with it a vicious cycle of destruction and chaos, jealousy and meticulously sharpened hatred.

Yet, for now, despite and perhaps even because of the trepidation and uncertainty, tribulation and impecuniosity, threat of loss and prospect of stark challenging change, a ‘newfound’ (over the last decade or so) clarity has arrived, of the various components and constituents of love, goodness, loyalty, acceptance and undeserved favour.

And… for now… very much treasured, every single moment of this blessing, I have Lucy Like-a-Charm.

Meandering thoughts for the season. Thank you for wading through this with me. Wishing Every Bunny a Beautiful Holiday Season!