concatenate

A massively overloading day. I made it through the first part because of Lucy. We attended the second Opening of I-Opener at Playeum this morning. It was heartening to see so many people at the event, and I was so glad that everyone seemed enthusiastic and supportive, and our work as a whole was very well received – but my senses were screaming with silent horror after the first half hour, and the shrieking crescendo broke the fortissimo barrier by the second hour.

When Peter, our friendly RydePet regular favourite ride came to pick us up at the end of the two hours, I was already in a near catatonic state, my headspace ringing with the imprint of dissonant cacophony. Strangely enough, I was still able to prattle away in the car with Peter and my friend Jacky, who was riding with us to the next event of the day. Was I already going into a state of disconnect?

I left Lucy at home, and Jacky and I went to attend the Peter and the Wolf show. Two of our friends, Cavan and Timothy, were in it, and Timothy’s mum so very kindly bought us tickets. But I couldn’t bring Lucy to this one. Ironic, because the venue is assistance dog friendly – Lucy has been there several times – but the show’s organiser’s “were not prepared” for us.

It was a fun show, the cast were great, and I even managed to smile for the cameraman after the show (he took a photo of Cavan, Timothy and me). But I had to scuttle away quickly after that, because my head felt as if it would explode and shatter into a million fragments.

Home at last with my Lucy, I crashed into a much needed two hour sleep, and woke up only when Lucy decided it was time for her dinner.

The headache is still doing its pounding thing, the two panadol insufficient to quell it. Time for an early dive into bed.

For people like me, some days, just making it through is a laudable achievement, something to be proud of. And today was a pleasant day. Really. I love my friends, so many came in a much appreciated show of support – in fact, I was so overloaded that I didn’t even see one of my friends, who brought her husband and son to the Opening. I didn’t know she was there at all, the sea of faces had melted into a bizarre Salvadore Dali landscape with an aggressive soundscape to accompany. Later, without Lucy, it was even harder to focus and I had to consciously and repeatedly pull myself away from the abyss of dissociation – the out of body sensation that overtakes when I am in overload. It was a day of positive social interactional vibes, but my senses just aren’t designed for this kind of activity. Especially not when I cannot have Lucy with me.

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Good Night, Every Bunny!

Lucy is now fast asleep in bed next to me. The little fragments of my Being are slowly shifting, shuffling and scuttling back towards each other, slowly joining and melding, slowly mending, inside this Clement Space of ours – just Lucy and me. The best soundscape in the world for shattered nerves? The rhythmic rise and fall of my Angel’s breath.

Good night, Every Bunny! And thank you my dear friends for helping me get through an actually really truly lovely day.

crafting clement space

Lucy has been busy inspiring this autistic Bunny yet again. We are crafting “Clement Space in the City (2017)” – getting ready for the Neurodiverse-city exhibition at the Customs House, Sydney, opening 20 September 2017! All part of a huge and amazing project, the BIG Anxiety festival 2017.

(Sorry, all Lucy-fans out there, I will not be taking her to the festival – not unless someone is willing to sponsor a return Business Class ticket on Qantas and the preparation costs.)

dehydration

Yesterday, I tried valiantly, and with great determination, to return a faulty dishwasher. The person on the other end remained stolid. It was I, not the dishwasher, that was the anathema, the malfunctioning entity. There was much spewing of verbiage completely irrelevant to my pleas, throwing of sparkly dust hither-thither and blowing of bizarre smelling fumes into my face. Exhausted and worn out to the very crisp core, I finally threw in the proverbial towel, recognising this as an exercise of futility.  I threw out the dishwasher. It now sits, sad and forlorn, in the junk heap. I swear, when I walked past this morning, I saw a malevolent snigger painted across its glass face.

This morning, Lucy woke me up at 6am, asking to be taken outside for our morning walky. Without her, I am not sure I would have the strength to get out of bed, even though sleep, most of the time, is pretty much like the spawn from a trashy, poorly written novel and an elusive goblet of sweet wine.

My eyes hurt. A stabbing pain. My skull throbs. A vice across the front squeezing intermittently. My brain is screeching a high pitched, dehydrated and incomprehensible sprechstimme.

It’s still April. Yes, I did check.

This Autism Awareness thingy, and the chorus of dissent from the actually Autistic community (justified and worthy of support), has already kicked a deep dent into my fragile construction of Clement Space.

Today, I just want to celebrate April as Adopt a Greyhound Month. Please.

Here, I present to you, Lucy Like-a-Charm in Sonorous Repose. A collection of photos I created in 2015, about her innate ability to identify, take possession of, and craft intimate spaces of comfort and calm, wherever she may go. A skill I very much want to learn.

Lucy Like-a-Charm in Sonorous Repose 2015

Available as limited edition prints. Enquiries welcome.

Greyhounds are such pulchritudinous creatures. Adopt a Greyhound this April! Bring back beauty into your life, Oh, Weary Soul!

(Or, perhaps you might want to bring one of these limited edition prints into your home? It would help an Autistic Bunny and her Greyhound Angel to procure much needed rations for survival of April BlahBlah Month!)

familiar

Finding comfort in familiarity. One of my two favourite spots in Paddo, the Arthouse Kitchen. This time, though, Lucy is not with me. I miss her terribly. That space she occupies – physical, mental, sensorial – is now a softly whirring void. I gravitate towards our usual table at the far corner. It is a cosy place, just right for one, and a comfortable area on the floor for Lucy on her fluffy rug. Continue reading

infrared

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Lucy in Infrared.

My love. In infrared.

Being away from her is never easy. We’ve had a tumultuous 2016. Since moving to home country, Lucy and I have enjoyed a sense of stability we did not have before, that of being within a family. It is a small family, just my baby sister, her hubby, their two furry boys Bizcuit and Tiny, and our mother. Now, there’s Lucy and me.

I no longer need to panic and worry about who will care for Lucy when I need to make trips away, or when I am unwell and cannot attend to her personally. Continue reading

desolate

I went there today. It was one of our favourite places, Lucy’s and mine. I sat at our regular spot. Smiling faces and hearty greetings from everyone. It was good to be back. The humans, the smells, the sounds, the colours and images, the textures, they are comforting in their familiarity. Yet, there was a void, a resonating desolation. There, in that space, that little nooky corner by my feet, Lucy was not. Instead, a walking cane, to help my unsteady hobbling, ungainly swelling of ankle and metatarsal joints. Bunny keeps on keeping on, while Lucy awaits patiently in her new faraway abode. Here, back in our former home, our old neighbourhood, the emptiness reverberates gentle memories of our adventures. Bunny and Lucy.

panacea

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sweet balm…

Sensory overload. What is it really like? Difficult to pin down, common to most autistics, yet different in each individual and varying from one circumstance to another. No, it’s not just “all in the imagination” and no, we are not deliberately playing some dramatic role for whatever purported attention-seeking accusation.

Right. So, here. Today’s episode.

Heat. Humidity. Crowds. Smells. Noise. Lights. Over-exposure.

11.45am – 1pm. Just a wee bit over an hour.

Nausea. Vertigo. Uhoh… think I am going to throw up – search frantically for a plastic bag. OK, this is going to be awkward, standing at the bus stop. Should I give up and go sit down somewhere? Bus is arriving in 2 minutes. Determination and stubborn grit – just get home, Bunny!

I did it!

Safe, tucked into bed with my panacea for all woes – Canine Angel and warm vanilla hound.

Ah, so lucky to have my Lucy Like-a-Charm!

Clemency.

Lucy’s Grand Adventure

This piece, about our adventure across the skies, traveling home to Singapore from Sydney, was first published in the Greyhound Equality Society website. I am republishing it here with some minor edits (mainly typos and grammatical errors).

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Lucy’s Grand Adventure.

– Dawn-joy Leong.

Lucy Like-a-Charm has graced my life for four years now. Lucy is my assistance dog. An assistance dog is one that performs specific tasks to address a disability. For me, Lucy primarily helps to mitigate the effects of autistic hypersensory anxiety, by warning me in advance about potential triggers, thus preventing serious sensory overload and meltdown. As an assistance dog, Lucy has connected me to the wonderful mindDog Australia family. As a rescued former racing Greyhound, we are part of the Greyhound Equality Society, advocating for Greyhound welfare. Yet, Lucy is much more than all these, she is also my research assistant, advisor and creative muse, inspiring unique trajectories to explore and ponder, and my Canine Angel, a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of parallel embodiment. Continue reading

lalaloubelle

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I have launched my handmade adornment line at last. LaLaLouBelle. Named after Lucy, my muse and inspiration, LaLaLouBelle marks a long awaited re-ignition of a smouldering ember, a little ‘yearning’ of the sensory kinetic realm to ‘hand craft’ reinterpretations of fascination. Since childhood, I’ve loved little things that held associative wonderment. I collected bus tickets, buttons, jewellery discarded by mum, coloured paper, odd shaped rocks and pebbles, driftwood, shells etc. Thirty years ago, I began to collect beads and semi-precious stones wherever I travelled. I amassed quite a sizeable collection of bits and bobs gathered from parts of Europe, the UK, China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and home in Singapore. Thanks to a very generous old friend, I have in my collection some precious pieces – vintage handcrafted glass beads from around Europe, Johnson & Matthey silver findings, wire, tubes and plates, semi-precious stones and rocks from the Natural History Museum in London – which formed the foundation for subsequent additions along the way. Continue reading

home again

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Cold Soba with salmon roe

Cold soba noodles with salmon roe for lunch today. A most pleasant light meal on a particularly hot and muggy day.

We are home again. Home has been many places for us both. Some more clement than others, we’ve wandered through a few amazing adventures along our nomadic meanderings. The good, bad and ugly: home invasion by a brazen con woman and her flea-riddled dog and noisome bird, trusted friendship betrayed at a most crucial moment, tossed into the wilderness of uncertainty, and mired inside sensory hell-hole, somehow, we survived. And then there was the sweet, graceful and lovely: loyal friends, exciting explorations, chance encounters, and of course there was the yummy weekend noshments with Rick to look forward to. It’s been a pretty interesting journey. Our little rusty wheelbarrow trundles ever onwards. Lucy and I are now settling into our new home in Singapore. Lucy isn’t very impressed by the humidity (but neither am I). Continue reading