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

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Michele

Why should I stay and pre­tend?
You make me laugh again
My dar­ling, truth is we are not even friends
Love comes and it goes
Where your heart stops no one knows
How did I wind up in this mess, here with you?

Just a moment of weak­ness
I should exam­ine my head
Just a moment of weak­ness
I never meant a word I said

—Bif Naked, Moment Of Weakness

The first thing about you that caught my eye was your plat­form shoes. More specif­i­cally, the lanky way you walked in them with your plaid skirt on. You had such a funny gait that I would study when I was walk­ing behind you in the halls. Sometimes you looked like an injured fawn, vul­ner­a­ble and awk­wardly run­ning away with your long, slen­der legs. It was the very def­i­n­i­tion of sex­u­al­ity to a depressed, hor­monal teenage male.

Those shoes gave you an extra cou­ple inches, and I resented every time you sub­tly knelt so you wouldn’t be taller than me in any pictures.

I only have a sin­gle good mem­ory of our rela­tion­ship. You were sit­ting on my lap in the jacuzzi at Cammy’s place. It was February, and there was snow all around us, but we were warm and wet. Every few min­utes, we would dunk our heads under the water, then style each other’s hair, the win­ter air freez­ing it within seconds.

The more I got to know you, the more I learned that it was all a big mis­take. I stuck it out because I didn’t want to break up with you in the months lead­ing up to your exams. It was espe­cially hard when Lisa started show­ing inter­est in me, but I couldn’t do it.

You were a sex­ual bore. No sound, no reac­tion, noth­ing in bed. Your friends were all snobs. Your thoughts were trite, and your inter­ests were shallow.

You never knew it, but I had to decide between dat­ing you and Marina. It tore me up for a week, know­ing that one of you was going to be hurt. I chose you in a moment of weakness.

It was the biggest mis­take of my high school career.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
/
24 Nov 06

The Diary Under The Bed

On the 25th of September, at 11:04 am, my mom Googled my e-mail address, and found this blog.

She vis­its every day like clock­work; around 8:30 am when she gets into work, and some­times dur­ing lunch around 12:30 pm. Even though I told her never to con­tact me again, she con­tin­ues to check on me.

It’s some­thing I’ve known for a while now.

The exis­tence of this web­site was a secret I kept from my par­ents for as long as I could. I felt like I owed it to them to over­look my child­hood mem­o­ries because they stayed together for my sake, so I never wanted them to know this seem­ingly unrec­on­ciled side of me. When they told me they were get­ting divorced, I wrote an entry (that’s never been pub­lished) about how I stopped car­ing. It was their turn to start car­ing about me.

Of course, this was only true in theory.

To be hon­est, I was dev­as­tated. Bronwen likened it to her mom find­ing her diary under her bed, and I tend to agree with the analogy.

Chinese kids don’t talk to their par­ents about much. Even after being out of touch for a long time, par­ents will only ask whether they have enough money, whether they’re eat­ing enough, and how their marks are in school, if applicable.

The dis­cov­ery must have opened a can of worms. This is where I share my prob­lems. My inse­cu­ri­ties. My sex­ual expe­ri­ences. My past drug use. The bit­ter mem­o­ries of child­hood. On here, I’m no longer the dis­tant son they’ve known for 25 years. I’m open. Naked. Exposed.

Some were sur­prised that my mom would con­tinue read­ing my blog, believ­ing the things I say would be too painful for her to read. It makes sense though. This is the only way she can stay close to me.

So I have to ignore the entries in my server logs that con­stantly remind me of her pres­ence. I can’t let it affect the only place where I can write unre­stricted. I just have to let go, and con­tinue writ­ing. Damn the con­se­quence, as some­one once said. There’s noth­ing else I can do. After all, this is a pub­lic jour­nal. I have no right to com­plain about who comes here.

When you let go, you can write about anything.

/
20 Nov 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Ashley

The lovin is a mess, what hap­pened to all of the feel­ing?
I thought it was for real; babies, rings and fools kneel­ing
And words of pledg­ing trust and life­times stretch­ing for­ever
So what went wrong? It was a lie, it crum­bled apart
Ghost fig­ures of past, present, future haunt­ing the heart

—Belle & Sebastian, Another Sunny Day

Our rela­tion­ship has always rep­re­sented the inno­cence of my youth.

The Friday nights, play­ing with can­dle wax in the dark, learn­ing how our bod­ies worked. Or the rush of worry and excite­ment about par­ents walk­ing in the door. Olfactory sense has come to mean a great deal in my rela­tion­ships. From those nights we made love with Beth’s voice com­ing through your tinny speak­ers, I get turned on when I lis­ten to Portishead.

I kept the bot­tle of Gap Earth you used, some­thing dear to me since it was dis­con­tin­ued. Every time I smell the noz­zle, it brings me back to the time we were together.

Out of all my other girl­friends, I thought you would be the one to end up in a D/s rela­tion­ship. I never real­ized it until my own intro­duc­tion to the lifestyle, but the things you did were the most nat­u­rally sub­mis­sive. The way you wanted to be tied up with our belts, the enjoy­ment you got from pain, your desire for me to be in con­trol, the way you would take my hands is yours so you could kiss my knuck­les. To this day, I won­der if you still like these things.

I’ve always tried to fig­ure out why I’m never sat­is­fied in my rela­tion­ships. It’s usu­ally not the fault of the peo­ple I date. Sometimes I blame my par­ents for their failed mar­riage, and how this has made me feel that’s it’s nec­es­sary to find the per­fect per­son so I don’t end up like them. Sometimes I think it’s because you were the first, and you came to define what was “right” or not.

Why then, did I break up with you?

I wish I could explain. I thought things would last, because you never hurt me in any way. In fact, you did noth­ing wrong. Maybe we were just too young. They say you shouldn’t marry the per­son you can live with, you should marry the per­son you can’t live without.

And I knew that I could live with­out you.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
/
17 Nov 06

The House In The Day

A few pic­tures of my house, some­thing that’s become a sym­bol of my tran­si­tion into adult­hood. My next house project is get­ting enlarged prints of my pho­tos to hang around the house.

My brightly-lit breakfast nook

The first thing you see when walk­ing in the front door is the break­fast nook. It’s one of the best fea­tures of the house, espe­cially in the morn­ing. Even though it’s on the south side, it’s extremely bright and sunny. The win­dows face a major road, so I usu­ally have the blinds closed for a lit­tle pri­vacy, or open them when I’m feel­ing social.

Kitchen: stove view

Plenty of cupboards

There are two path­ways that lead into the kitchen: the break­fast nook on one side and the hall­way on the other. It’s a rather nar­row place, but there’s enough elbow room to do some aggres­sive cook­ing. Tons of cup­boards and plenty of table space keep every­thing tidy.

My dining area

I recently bought this din­ing set from EQ3. Most things from there are custom-made: I was allowed to chose the mate­r­ial and colour of the seats, as well as the metal fin­ish and diam­e­ter of the glass. The first thing I did when I bought the house, before I had things moved in, was to have a dim­mer switch installed here, and in the two bed­rooms. I had the entire area pro­fes­sion­ally painted a neu­tral beige for a café feel.

Living room: TV view

Living room: couch view

Trolley took most of the liv­ing room with him when he moved out, so I’m still look­ing for pieces. It’s the one part of the house I’m not sat­is­fied with yet. I’d like to pur­chase one more couch, and a book­case to clean up that shelf. In the future I’ll be blow­ing up a few of my pic­tures for the walls. The TV is hooked up to the dig­i­tal cable box, an HD DVD player, an HD Gamecube con­nec­tion, and a lap­top (which unfor­tu­nately doesn’t out­put DVI). The couch was also from EQ3, and the cof­fee table, prob­a­bly my favourite piece in the house, is from Zone.

Basement stairs

Main bathroom

One of the odd­i­ties of the house is the fact that the bed­rooms are in the base­ment. It really turns some home buy­ers off, but I didn’t mind. It’s nice to have some stairs; they act as a gen­eral par­ti­tion between the work and rest areas, and have come to define non-student liv­ing for me.

Guest room

Trolley used to be in this room. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. I may turn it into a guest room, a photo stu­dio (which is doubt­ful, because of the red paint and how small it is), or a tai chi stu­dio. Most likely the for­mer, since it’s the only open-space large enough in the house for me to practice.

My room, bed view

My room, desk view

My room, mirror view

The bed­room is where I spend most of my time. It’s become a safety zone. The good thing about Ikea is that it’s so easy to match things in a set or series. I had the mir­rors installed soon after I bought the house, and they hide an entire wall closet.

These are some of the most tech­ni­cally dif­fi­cult pic­tures I’ve taken. A 1.6x field-of-view-crop-factor meant that I lost a lot of the wide end of my lens, and mixed light­ing con­di­tions made things espe­cially dif­fi­cult. I didn’t take pic­tures of the sec­ond bath­room or the laun­dry room. In the next series, I’ll get shots of the house at night.

The house changes it’s per­son­al­ity when it’s dark and moody.

/
13 Nov 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Introduction

An ex e-mailed me out of the blue the other day. She blamed it on the fall weather, caus­ing her to rem­i­nisce and Google my name. We hadn’t seen or spo­ken to each other in over five years.

After feel­ing each other out for the first part of the exchange, we caught up on each oth­ers lives. She’s been mar­ried for three years. Moved out to Kingston after liv­ing through the pol­lu­tion and over-stimulation of down­town Toronto. She has a full-time job while work­ing toward her Master of Education part-time. Her husband’s an artist at heart, she says, try­ing to make a liv­ing off cre­ative writ­ing. No kids yet, but instead, two cats, Emily Wednesday and Shadow.

Me? I moved to Ottawa for uni­ver­sity, bought a house, recently got out of a rela­tion­ship, been work­ing as the mar­ket­ing and IT man­ager at a den­tal lab­o­ra­tory. Oh, and I have one cat, but I’m think­ing of a second.

There were some things I’d been mean­ing to ask her for a while. Going through a series of rela­tion­ships since ours has changed my per­spec­tive, and I’ve always won­dered whether she’s grown in this way as well. I put a few ques­tions to her, but she told me, in an ami­able way, that she wasn’t com­pletely com­fort­able indulging my curiosities.

What she had no prob­lem talk­ing about before was now taboo and off lim­its. Was she afraid of upset­ting her hus­band by dis­cussing such per­sonal things with an ex-boyfriend, or did she sim­ply change so much?

There are a lot of things I’d like to say to my ex-girlfriends, but the nature of a break-up can be that of ran­cor. Communication breaks down. People lose per­spec­tive. I’ve always had a tremen­dous need to express myself, per­haps to the detri­ment of my rela­tion­ships, but dig­ging up what’s past and buried for the sake clo­sure seems a bit self­ish. After hav­ing this ex tell me that she was uncom­fort­able, I real­ized that it may have been rather inap­pro­pri­ate of me.

It’s only here that I can say what I want.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
/
10 Nov 06

Winter Transition

Thumbnail: U-Haul warning
Thumbnail: Shrimp appetizer
Thumbnail: I heart sluts sticker
Thumbnail: Make-up case
Thumbnail: Open shed
Thumbnail: Boxter logo
Thumbnail: Fallen roots
Thumbnail: Storage lockers

I had a dif­fer­ent entry planned out, but I have to write this instead. To get this feel­ing down before I lose it.

It’s hard to tell what the feel­ing is exactly. Happiness? Worry? Maybe a mix of both. I only know that I’m ner­vous, like I’m out on a limb, wait­ing for it to snap. Things have never gone this well for long.

Life has finally set­tled. I have the house to myself. I’m sin­gle. I don’t have to worry about what my par­ents do or think. I’m on a reg­u­lar sched­ule, with only Tai Chi lessons on Saturday morn­ings. Other than that, I fill my time how I please, which cur­rently involves a lot of Pikmin 2 and phone-calls with John or Bronwen.

With this new-found sta­bil­ity, I ven­ture into the out­side world to social­ize. A while ago I watched Fearless with Aaron. Pat and Jen treated me to din­ner and Borat last week. Sunday, I cooked Bronwen and her par­ents a Chinese lunch. Next Tuesday I’m going to the 2006 Legends Classic tour to catch up with Jeff, my old floor­mate from first year. Soon it’ll be Trolley’s house­warm­ing party, along with all the other hol­i­day events.

I’m ini­ti­at­ing every­thing. In the past, I would never be the one mak­ing plans.

Four years ago I wrote that guilty plea­sures aren’t so guilty any­more. I’m back to this feel­ing again. What a strange cycle. I’m start­ing to feel like I deserve to be happy.

So I play the songs that I usu­ally save for when I really need them. I lis­ten to my music louder. I sing at the top of my lungs. I dance in my room while iron­ing. I order things that are nor­mally too expen­sive for me when I eat out. I laugh a lit­tle more.

I can feel myself get­ting giddy again, but I have to ques­tion if it’s all a lit­tle fake. If it’s a mask for my ner­vous­ness. I prob­a­bly won’t be able to tell for a while, so I’m just try­ing to enjoy it.

Another tran­si­tionary phase.

/
06 Nov 06

Rebel Son

Rana pulled me aside the other day and told me, I under­stand your cul­ture now. I under­stand your deci­sion.

She elab­o­rated on a woman at work who had sent her daugh­ter to live in China. It was soon after the baby was born, and the grand­mother assumed respon­si­bil­ity of par­ent. The mother never went to visit, only send­ing money for her upbringing.

That day, the grand­mother and grand­daugh­ter came to work, hav­ing flown into Canada to visit. No one at work had seen the child, two years old now. The whole time, she was ner­vous and shy, clutch­ing the leg of her grand­mother. When the mother tried to hold her, she wouldn’t budge, only cry­ing the rau­cous, uncon­trolled, unin­hib­ited tears of a child.

Rana told me this with sur­prise and con­fu­sion in her face. It was hard for her to believe that any­one could do this to their baby. I wish I could say that I was surprised.

This child was too young to know bias or bit­ter­ness. She only knew what she felt, a being of pure emo­tion. The woman who was sup­posed to be her mother was no closer than a stranger, and for the first time, Rana was exposed to this.

I’ve always con­fided in Rana about my own rela­tion­ship with my par­ents. She’s one of the few who really care, ask­ing me if there’s been any news on a reg­u­lar basis, espe­cially since I cut all ties. We never argue, but she’s never fully agreed with me. She always tried to give me a mater­nal per­spec­tive, being a mother of three her­self. I’ve admit­ted that I don’t under­stand what it means to be a par­ent, but that day, she real­ized that she never under­stood what it means to be a child of the Chinese culture.

It’s cold. It’s mate­r­ial. Most Chinese par­ents can only express their love with money.

In this way, my par­ents showed me that they loved me. They prob­a­bly think they did the best they could, but as a child of the North American cul­ture, I felt noth­ing. I never knew what it was to be loved.

And Rana said, You were the one who rebelled against this.

/
03 Nov 06

Senators vs. Leafs '06

They call it the bat­tle for Ontario. The Ottawa Senators against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One of the pub­lish­ers I deal with at work schmoozed me, along with Joel and Louise. We’ve given them a fair amount of busi­ness over the last lit­tle while, each of us involved in a dif­fer­ent part of the process, so he treated us to a Sens game. Even though my team (the Leafs) got pounced 7–2, it was still an excit­ing game; lots of end-to-end action, close penalty kills, and Heatly scored a hat-trick. The Leafs were sim­ply out-finessed. Great seats too. Coincidentally, we ran into Rockstar Jeff at the game.


Thumbnail: Me and Joel
Thumbnail: Hockey rink
Thumbnail: Rockstar Jeff
Full stadium

Eva Avila, this year’s win­ner of Canadian Idol, lead the national anthem. To my sur­prise, I was able to fol­low with the French, but it was all pho­netic. Something I learned in grade school, but never actu­ally understood.

It was a lit­tle dis­heart­en­ing to see how every­thing is so com­mer­cial­ized. Scotiabank place, VIA Rail goals (com­plete with train horn when some­one scores), Jubilee Timex time. Even Pizza Pizza spon­sors a free slice if the Sens win and score six goals or more.

There were prob­a­bly an even num­ber of Sens fans and than Leafs fans, but the lat­ter were def­i­nitely more vocal. Any Sens chants were drowned out. It’s easy to tell how gal­va­nized fans get in such a rivalry from com­ments I received on a pre­vi­ous post.

The best part was before the game even started. Master Corporal Paul Franklin from Edmonton, who lost both his legs in a sui­cide attack in Afghanistan, came to drop the cer­e­mo­nial first puck. They rolled out the red car­pet to cen­tre ice, and he hob­bled along with metal legs. Both sides of the rivalry cheered and clapped as one, louder than any other point in the night, proud of their sur­viv­ing soldier.

It was quite a poignant, misty-eyed moment.

/