equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
22 May 06

Dreams For Cash

Thumbnail: March of the elephants
Thumbnail: Floor design
Thumbnail: Grass angels
Thumbnail: Iron circle
Thumbnail: Journey tablet
Thumbnail: Ring table
Thumbnail: Paper bird

There’s some­thing about these small-town stores. They carry every­thing; books, art sup­plies, fur­ni­ture, candy.

The baubles, the African stat­ues, the organic cat­nip tins, the eso­teric wire sculp­tures, they all go home with some­one. Some of them will be thrown out in less than a year, oth­ers become heir­looms passed from gen­er­a­tion to generation.

In all their tiny beauty, they make a difference.

The peo­ple who work there are never the same, but there’s always one thing that’s con­sis­tent. You can see the inno­cence in their faces, a warm feel­ing of rus­tic integrity. They all say hi, and go back to what they were doing, never mind­ing your wan­der­ing pres­ence in the store. I think I’d like to be one of these peo­ple some day. Maybe when I retire.

Selling dreams.

19 May 06

Sex Drugged

Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that some­times he has to eat them.

—Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

It’s after din­ner, and while her par­ents are putting the dishes away down­stairs, she’s going down on me, lying on her pink sheets, pants pulled down to my knees. Her brother’s in his room next door, and I’m pressed up against the wall that sep­a­rates us. In my quick­ened breath she hears that I’m on the verge of moan­ing, and keeps me in check with an embar­rased shush.

Without a means to express my plea­sure, all I can say is that I love her.

It wasn’t true. I was just lost in the moment, addicted to the heat of her tongue.

A week later, we broke up.

This is why they have the insan­ity plea. When you catch your wife in bed with another man. When you tell some­one that you love them, because you’re intox­i­cated, get­ting the best head you’ve ever had in your life.

And to this day what I regret the most wasn’t the con­flict I caused in her fam­ily with my even­tual absence, or the tak­ing of her vir­gin­ity, or dat­ing some­one else the day after we broke up.

It was that I couldn’t con­trol my words for those ten lit­tle minutes.

15 May 06

This Is How They Love Me

Thumbnail: Shirt and tie

With presents that come folded to per­fec­tion, boxed in white wrap­ping paper, and spe­cial wash­ing instruc­tions. This is the safest gift for some­one my age, unlike the guess­ing game that music, toys, or games has become.

This spe­cially processed, pure cot­ton fab­ric is designed for easy care and a crisp, con­fi­dent look that lasts. The soft­ness, absorbency and breatha­bil­ity of cot­ton, enhanced with inno­v­a­tive care fea­tures, ensure opti­mum wear­a­bil­ity. Engineered for no-fuss, express han­dling. Requires almost no iron­ing. Today’s quin­tes­sen­tial busi­ness shirt: time-saving, energy-saving, travel friendly.

We rec­om­mend using a mild deter­gent. Spin briefly, then hang to dry. Gently pull col­lar, cuffs and seams into shape. Touch up with a medium iron.

Not that I’m com­plain­ing. If it’s one thing my par­ents have been able to give me, it’s finan­cial free­dom. Never hav­ing to worry about how I’m going to pay for rent, or board, or edu­ca­tion. It’s not easy for Chinese par­ents to show affec­tion, an influ­ence of the cul­ture they grew up in, so they buy me things instead.

I’m the fam­ily pet.

The dog they can love and take care of and want around, but not have to actu­ally talk to or spend time with.

These are my treats.

12 May 06

Thanks, And No Thanks

I’ve offi­cially switched from Movable Type to WordPress, the lat­ter of which I’ve decided is a far supe­rior plat­form. This involved man­u­ally copy­ing con­tent from the old data­base, includ­ing every entry, com­ment, time­stamp, and ip address logged. Even though it took me nearly a month, I was able to go through my old entries and make the thumb­nails, links, quotes, and for­mat­ting consistent.

Thanks to the expe­ri­ences of every day life, for the peo­ple I hate, the peo­ple I love, the ones I respect, and the ones who inspire me to do more. It’s these that make sure I never run out of things to say.

Thanks to Trolley, who reminds me with his com­ments that I always have at least one reader.

Thanks to Aaron and Pat, for show­ing me that they care when they tell me that they keep up-to-date with my life through this.

Thanks to Bronwen, with whom I’m the per­son I’ve always wanted to be.

Thanks to Number18, for giv­ing me hope with her daily life, and her über cool input jacks.

Thanks to Tina and Aurora, for their enig­matic entries that inspire me to write better.

Thanks to Winston and Barb, for let­ting me know that I, in turn, could inspire some­one to start writ­ing for themselves.

Thanks to Sikander for being the guy who shares music with me, even though we’ve never met in real life.

Thanks to Sophia, for intro­duc­ing me to music like CocoRosie, and quot­ing my own old archived entries back to me.

Thanks to Dru, a design artist I’ve admired for years, for unof­fi­cially steal­ing from me, an unspo­ken com­pli­ment I hold dear to my heart.

No thanks to the stalk­ers, who say they’ll never visit, yet con­tinue to read on a daily basis. The ones who hide behind ser­vices like Anonymouse, naively believ­ing that all their http requests are masked. The self pro­claimed hyp­ocrites, who have the FUCKING AUDACITY to tell me about the vices of blog­ging, yet blog them­selves. The exact rea­son why I never answer my phone anymore.

No thanks to the sequa­cious com­men­tors who say stuff but don’t say any­thing, or those who com­ment for the sake of per­sonal advertisement.

No thanks to the hotlink­ers, who con­tinue to steal my images, and in turn, my band­width and money.

When I was con­vert­ing my data­base and going through the old entries, I could recall each and every emo­tion that drove them. My writ­ing has become less ram­bling, less depress­ing, less cryp­tic since I started back in 2002. As time goes on and the entries become more recent, there seems to be a sub­tle, bur­geon­ing hope, a reflec­tion of the expe­ri­ences I’ve gone through and a chang­ing worldview.

And from the begin­ning of this blog to the entries I write now, the most impor­tant thing is that I always have more peo­ple to thank.

08 May 06

Moving And Growing

Thumbnail: Aaron and Karen at their threshold
Thumbnail: Bronwen's belt design
Thumbnail: Pat's bird
Thumbnail: Bronwen smiles
Thumbnail: Lacey licks herself
Thumbnail: Glass shower stall
Thumbnail: Hot chili oil
Thumbnail: Karen's corner
Thumbnail: Chaos in the shelf
Thumbnail: Staples
Thumbnail: Toy guns

Moving is often a task I avoid at all costs. The mess of pack­ing, book­ing ele­va­tors, orga­niz­ing rides, and phys­i­cally shift­ing dirty boxes around becomes a lot more com­pli­cated than I care for. Being approached to help move by a close friend is a dif­fer­ent story, how­ever, as it becomes one of the few times that I can prove how much I’m will­ing to do for them.

It thus becomes a rather gal­va­niz­ing scene to arrive with a party of friends at a doorstep, ready to help bring some­one else into another phase in their life. This week­end was no excep­tion, when help­ing Pat and Jen set­tle into their new place, a newly built four bed­room house out in the west end. Through most of last week, Pat and Jen had already moved the small items them­selves, so the only things that were left were the bulky fur­ni­ture. There were only eight of us, but we were fin­ished before we knew it.

Pat and Jen paid us in beer, pizza, and wings, but given the fact that they had already done most of the work, we hardly deserved it. The rest of the day was spent play­ing Mario Power Tennis, Donky Konga, and table tennis.

Helping them mov­ing was a reminder of how we’re all grow­ing up. Getting mar­ried, get­ting old.

I once asked Darren, the only other male cousin with whom I share a Generation name, whether he thought we’d end up like our fathers, two broth­ers who also share their own. Our fathers who are moody, wasted old men who work too hard, and don’t get enough sleep. Before we real­ized it though, we had already turned into them, sur­viv­ing the days on mostly rest­less sleep.

Look at us now. Pat and Jen are engaged, start­ing their fam­ily here. Aaron and Karen are one block away.

And the cou­ples take home left­overs the way the par­ents do at all the Christmas par­ties dur­ing the holidays.

05 May 06

Fifteen Year Friendship

Being trans­ferred to Bayview Glen in grade five was my first pri­vate school expe­ri­ence. The change from Catholic school was sub­tle; aside from the bet­ter funded facil­i­ties and pas­sion­ate teach­ers, the only dis­cern­able dif­fer­ence was the man­di­tory uni­form. It was there that I met John in my classes, but back then he was the bully who threw me against a wall at first recess. My par­ents inter­vened in the form of an angry phonecall to the teacher, and I learned never to tell them about my prob­lems at school again, out of fear that I would be emas­cu­late me.

John main­tained a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the kings of the play­ground. At that age, he was a pre­co­cious pre-teen, match­ing machismo with Daniel Cappon for the atten­tion of Pamela Arstikitis, the acer­bic, metal-mouthed, blonde beauty. I remained bliss­fully young and igno­rant, and we never really got along.

In grade seven, he changed schools to Upper Canada College, as his grand­fa­ther had done over fifty years ago, while I went through both the test and inter­view, and didn’t make the cut. Our par­ents knew of the school’s pres­ti­gious rep­u­ta­tion and yearned des­per­ately for their respec­tive sons to be alum­nus. Two years later I made a suc­cess­ful sec­ond attempt, and moved there too.

I was by myself, in a school full of jocks, aca­d­e­mics, and artis­tic eso­ter­ics. John’s rep­u­ta­tion didn’t fol­low him to this insti­tu­tion, where he was the odd, alien­ated, aloof, young man, while I remained the small, dys­func­tional boy who never fit in any­where. We were seper­ate lon­ers, and our indi­vid­u­al­ity is what brought us together. We never had any classes together, so lunches were spent phi­los­o­phiz­ing on the bleach­ers when the weather per­mit­ted, or mis­be­hav­ing in Mr. Lorne’s class­room, throw­ing text­books at each other in the win­ter. Eventually we went our seper­ate ways in uni­ver­sity, and John was the only per­son I kept in touch with.

Thumbnail: School choir in grade 8

In the sum­mer between grade seven and eight, as part of the children’s choir of Bayview Glen, we audi­tioned for a part in the Canadian pre­mier of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This con­sisted of a demo tape, a semi-final com­pe­ti­tion between 25 schools, and finals of 10, with only four school choirs being selected. The judges told us to hold our cel­e­bra­tion until all the final­ists were announced, but by the time we were called, we couldn’t hold it in, and let out with a thun­der­ous roar. It was the only time in my life that I was so happy I cried.

The pic­ture of our choir, roughly 25 stu­dents between the ages of 10 and 14, ended up in the per­for­mance book­lets that were handed out to the audi­ence as they walked from the lobby to their seats in the Elgin Theatre. We were far from friends back then, but we stood next to each other. I still don’t under­stand why.

Thumbnail: Me and John on the couch 15 years later

Twelve years later.

John’s hair­cut hasn’t devi­ated from a hastily brushed mop. Mine, on the other hand, has gone through var­i­ous stages of shagg­y­ness, poofi­ness, and occa­sional what-was-I-thinking. It’s just like the two of us. John did all his grow­ing up before he was 12, and at his core he’s essen­tially the same per­son now as he was back then, while I con­tinue the never-ending cycle of learn­ing and growing.

And this will prob­a­bly be true in another 15 years.

01 May 06

Summer Housemate

Thumbnail: Sleepy Bronwen

This is what I wake up to every day.

What I enclose in arm and leg at night, or press my back against when I roll over.

They say it takes weeks to get used to sleep­ing with some­one (or with­out some­one, when the rela­tion­ship is over), but for me, the tran­si­tion is seam­less. All it took was an extra pil­low, and some space accom­mo­da­tion for two stuffed ani­mals, and a braided shred of old blankie.

Every day, I wake up between two and five in the morn­ing. It’s an afflic­tion I’ve had for years, some­thing that wouldn’t be so bad if I could fall asleep again, but my mind always races, keep­ing me up for another hour or two. When she’s next to me though, my thoughts remains calm.

This body keeps me warm, rested, and pacified.

So what will I do when she’s gone?