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

Holiday Observer '06

Thumbnail: The cat
Thumbnail: Salad
Thumbnail: Tidbit

On Christmas day, I felt like doing some­thing low-key, with­out the large gath­er­ings usu­ally asso­ci­ated with this time of year, so I decided to spend it with Joel’s fam­ily. Hanukkah had already passed for them; it was just another day. Charlotte, who learns from Nigella Lawson, cooked a tremen­dous meal of roast beef, beans, and secret pota­toes. Even the dessert was a fancy form of choco­late pot mousse, made from 70% cocoa Lindt and allspice.

We set­tled down with a lit­tle Gamecube, and I taught them Dutch Blitz, which we played well into the night. By the time I left, my spir­its were up again.

It was a nice mix­ture of young and mature. A place where I could shut off my brain and be a kid, but have a thought­ful con­ver­sa­tion too. They really made me feel like I was one of the family.

I arrived with hand­shakes and hel­los, but left with hugs and kisses.

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25 Dec 06

Christmas Is Dead

This used to be my favourite season.

I don’t even know why. Christmas was always about tedious gath­er­ings. Each parental group of friends and fam­ily — con­sist­ing only of Chinese peo­ple — would take turns host­ing par­ties. As one of the “kids”, I was thrust in a room with the other sons and daugh­ters. People I only saw once a year, with whom I had noth­ing in com­mon. Some years, I’d go to six dif­fer­ent houses in two weeks.

My par­ents would always host New Year’s. Some time ago, with the money I earned from my first job, I bought them a classy fon­due set and fon­due book for them to use as hosts. They never opened the box, or even cracked the spine of the book. It broke my heart.

The things that peo­ple gave me never made things bet­ter. Gifts were always safe.

Monetary cer­tifi­cates. Sweaters. Cheap sta­tion­ary. Nothing per­son­al­ized. Nothing from the heart. Nothing I ever needed or wanted. It was merely a dis­play of how lit­tle peo­ple knew or cared about me. It would have meant more if they gave the money to charity.

The one reprieve dur­ing the hol­i­days was being able to see Darren, sneak­ing out in the mid­dle of a party to get stoned with him, or hang­ing out with John.

Then why did the hol­i­days mean so much to me?

Maybe it was the atmos­phere. The snow. The mem­o­ries of Christmas in Hong Kong. The fact that peo­ple who had noth­ing in com­mon would put up Christmas lights. Something that every­one believed in.

Thumbnail: Cat statue
Thumbnail: Magnets of my initials
Thumbnail: Catnip jar
Thumbnail: Mao, The Unknown Story

Even though I’ve received some beau­ti­ful, thought­ful gifts for once, even though I don’t really cel­e­brate Christmas, I’m down. It’s too warm for the snow to stay. I didn’t buy presents for any­one. I’m work­ing the short week between Christmas week­end and New Year’s week­end because I can’t afford any time off.

I sup­pose the hol­i­days are what you make of them.

There have been many gen­er­ous peo­ple — Louise, John, Aaron, Joel, Bronwen, Pat — who opened their houses to me today, but it’s not the same.

It’s made me real­ize that even though I loathed those gath­er­ings back home, I still needed them.

To feel like I was part of some­thing, part of a fam­ily, as dys­func­tional as it was. Because of the divorce, there’s no home to go to for the first time in my life.

Christmas is dead this year, but it’s only a reflec­tion of how dead I feel inside.

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22 Dec 06

Photo Wrap-up '06

I was going through my pic­tures and real­ized that there were quite a few I haven’t posted, so I decided to do an end-of-year wrap-up. Most of these are pho­tos I like but they didn’t fit any­where, or were made redun­dant by other pic­tures telling a story.

Thumbnail: Bronwen with our drinks at Moxie's 
Thumbnail: Model home wall art 
Thumbnail: Smiles around the cabin in Tremblent 
Thumbnail: Metal beatle 
Thumbnail: Karen plays with Chaos 
Thumbnail: Tremblent cabin 
Thumbnail: Blood oranges 
Thumbnail: Dolly goes for a treat in the hand 
Thumbnail: Me and Bronwen waiting for the bus 
Thumbnail: Just A Taste brownie 
Thumbnail: Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat 
Thumbnail: Eating yoghurt 
Thumbnail: The treats of Chinese vendors 
Thumbnail: Paper cranes 
Thumbnail: Stunt rider 
Thumbnail: Nala in my room 
Thumbnail: Jenn and Karen 
Thumbnail: Bottle of Miracle by Lancome 
Thumbnail: Steph's cat 
Thumbnail: Gerry's view 

Since we got bought out by a pub­lic com­pany, the pur­chas­ing pro­ce­dure has changed quite a bit. Some of the top brass from the head office in Boston flew in this week, and I made it a point to thank the CFO for per­son­ally approv­ing the pur­chase of a new Canon Rebel XTi, 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and 50mm f/1.8 lens. After the pres­i­dent intro­duced me, he told me I did a fan­tas­tic job with the pic­tures in the com­pany cat­a­logue, and it really made my day.

I think I’ve really devel­oped as a pho­tog­ra­pher in the lit­tle time I’ve owned my first SLR cam­era. Looking back on a year of pho­tos has made me real­ize that I’ve learned a lot, not only sim­ple pho­to­graphic the­ory, but famil­iar­ity with my cam­era and post-processing as well. I still have a lot more to learn though, espe­cially with expo­sure and meter­ing, as dig­i­tal cam­eras make it easy to get good shots with­out really need­ing to have an in-depth understanding.

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18 Dec 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Louise

The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
You know you done me wrong baby
And you’ll be sorry someday

BB King, The Thrill Is Gone

Our rela­tion­ship was a night­mare of ups and downs.

You had the amaz­ing abil­ity to make me feel good about myself, by say­ing the right thing with intel­li­gence and eloquence.

Yet every time I felt like I was mak­ing progress, progress that took tremen­dous effort and energy, progress for you, you would put me down. Every time I took a leap of faith and put myself out there, you would hurt me. It wasn’t even a case of bru­tal, tact­less hon­esty; you would insult my pride for no reason.

I think it betrayed a sub­con­scious inse­cu­rity. Something you would do to make your­self feel bet­ter. Like your con­stant need to prove that you’re busy and mov­ing on. It’s as if your life is empty, void, and you’re des­per­ate to fill it with something.

I had to end things when you went too far.

There were no regrets, because I did my absolute best to make things work. Even though I suf­fered, I ignored the pain, and tried work­ing through it. I only gave up when you proved too stub­born to change or understand.

The rela­tion­ship wasn’t a total loss. It was an inter­est­ing intro­duc­tion to the sub­cul­ture. It was pas­sion­ately sex­ual. It also made me more con­fi­dent, although I real­ize now that it wasn’t because of you. You barely gave me any trust, and every step for­ward I made, you pulled me back two. It was me who fought through all the inse­cu­ri­ties and rose to the occasion.

When you came back in January, with­out a word of apol­ogy or men­tion of the wrong you did, I had no inter­est in con­tin­u­ing the rela­tion­ship. After that, I thought of you when­ever I heard the song Buried Myself Alive by The Used.

Then, with all your let­ters and your apolo­gies and your tears, two years later, you asked “nicer than that”.

Unfortunately, it was at an unsta­ble time in my life, so I asked you to back off and wait. Your idea of back­ing off and wait­ing is leav­ing me creepy com­ments and dat­ing to fill the time. I just can’t under­stand how you keep mak­ing these mis­takes. It’s almost like you pur­posely sab­o­tage yourself.

I don’t want to be involved in the drama any­more. Nothing is ever sim­ple with you. Even though you say you’ve changed, it’s not worth the risk to me. You had your chance, and it was a damn good one.

You’ve wronged me too many times. The last time you left my house, not know­ing when or if you’d come back, I felt nothing.

I knew then that the thrill was gone.

A few other things:

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
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15 Dec 06

Brown Hairs On A Yellow Face

Trolley and Aaron can grow beards as I’ve never been able to. It’s always made me a lit­tle envi­ous. I’m not one who can have that gruff, dis­tin­guished look.

This comes as a strange phe­nom­e­non. While my dad could never really develop a full beard, he could quickly grow an all-over scruff. Scruff like it was made of steel wool. Sometimes he’d have to shave twice a day, and he kept an extra elec­tric shaver in the glove com­part­ment just for this purpose.

Apparently, I didn’t inherit this gene.

Thumbnail: Razor shavings

Thumbnail: Razor shavings close-up

I did, how­ever, inherit some sort of muta­tion that turns cer­tain hairs brown. I always thought it was Scottish her­itage on Aaron’s part that gave him the orange high­lights in his beard. Now I don’t know what it’s due to.

Unfortunately, I can’t show off this muta­tion, since I have to shave frequently.

When I don’t shave, my sparse facial hair makes me look like I’m still going through puberty and my balls have yet to drop.

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11 Dec 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Jackie

Am I not your favourite gad­get, no more?
How come my lit­tle baby?
Am I not your favourite gad­get, no more now?
How come not anymore?

Since you bought me, I feel lonely
Since that day things are wrong
Could you not repair me, honey
Is my war­ranty guar­an­teed gone

—Ellen ten Damme, Gadget

There was always some­thing about you.

Your voice. Your Joisey accent. Your hair style. Your always-on choker. Your pierc­ings (I was always a sucker for brow rings and tongue studs). Your taste in music. Your off-the-wall personality.

It was all so excit­ing. Something I’d never expe­ri­enced before.

But you were a total drama queen too. You would get upset over the most ran­dom, innocu­ous things. I could never tell if you truly believed the ridicu­lous things you said, or whether you just said them for atten­tion. Either way, I hated it.

You could also be as imma­ture as a teenager. I hated how you would do things like leave in the mid­dle of a game and storm off to the other room because you thought you would lose.

I put all my feel­ings aside for you. I would always let you have your way, but you’d never even con­sider mine, and I hated it.

Most of all, I hated how you meant so much to me, while I meant so lit­tle to you.

Even though I knew it wouldn’t last, even though I knew you were com­pletely wrong for me, like poi­son in the blood­stream, I couldn’t end it. Sometimes I still won­der if you ever think of me, or whether I was just another thing you used to occupy your­self in the sum­mer, between boyfriends.

I’ve writ­ten more entries inspired by what hap­pened than by any­thing else. I don’t want to give our rela­tion­ship any sig­nif­i­cance, but the truth is that I can’t deny how impor­tant it was. What we had wouldn’t even count as a rela­tion­ship, if it weren’t for how much it affected me.

My pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ships were never sat­is­fy­ing. It felt like I could never fall in love or appre­ci­ate my girl­friends for who they were, and I always believed it was my fault. Then I fell in love with you, and it helped me learn that the fail­ures of the past weren’t anyone’s fault, and sim­ply the result of incom­pat­i­bil­ity. If it wasn’t for this real­iza­tion, the suf­fer­ing and the heart­break wouldn’t have been worth it.

You were the only girl to ever break up with me. It was the short­est rela­tion­ship I’ve had by far, but for some rea­son, it was the longest for me to get over. My heart tells me you were spe­cial, but my head tells me you weren’t spe­cial at all.

You were only the one I couldn’t have.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
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08 Dec 06

Meeting Tina

What can I say about Tina?

Fulcrum edi­tor. Dom lover. Farsi speaker. Cadence Weapon lis­tener. Naughty girl dancer.

She’s cool. Certainly cooler than me.

So when she asked if I wanted to meet, it made me ner­vous. I’m not com­fort­able around cool peo­ple. I never know how to act around them.

Tina has this laugh though, this girly, ebullient-but-not-annoying laugh, that put me at ease. The way she expresses her­self betrays a sub­tle matu­rity for her age. One of those peo­ple who knows what they want and where they’re going. Even with this matu­rity, she retains a youth­ful fash­ion­abil­ity. She’s four years my junior but I never felt like we lost each other in con­ver­sa­tion, some­thing I find espe­cially com­mon when talk­ing to peo­ple my age.

On the out­side we’re very dif­fer­ent. At our core, we have very sim­i­lar per­son­al­i­ties. Maybe this is why we got along so well.

Thumbnail: Tina laughs
Thumbnail: Tina jumps
Thumbnail: Tina runs

She obliged me a few pho­tos so I could see if I could cap­ture her play­ful personality.

Thumbnail: Dolly attacks Tina
Thumbnail: Tina hugs dolly

It’s obvi­ous that she likes cats, and Dolly was no excep­tion. Normally, I take upwards of 200 snaps when I’m doing por­traits, but she was too dis­tracted by the cat rolling around on the floor between us for me to get more than 50.

Tina was the first per­son I’ve met through blog­ging from the Ottawa area. The next blog­ger I have to meet is Sikander. I think I saw him with Lunato walk­ing down Rideau once, but I was too shy at the time to intro­duce myself.

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04 Dec 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Christie

I can see the pain liv­ing in your eyes
And I know how hard you try
You deserve to have much more
I can feel your heart and I sym­pa­thize
And I’ll never crit­i­cize
All you’ve ever meant to my life

I don’t want to let you down
I don’t want to lead you on
I don’t want to hold you back
From where you might belong

You would never ask me why
My heart is so dis­guised
I just can’t live a lie any­more
I would rather hurt myself
Than to ever make you cry
There’s noth­ing left to say but goodbye

—Air Supply, Goodbye

Over four years ago, I started this blog because of you. I felt like you never under­stood me, so I needed a place where I could express myself with­out any inhibitions.

I had a lot of hope in you, being drawn to your youth and inno­cence. A lot of hope in us. I always thought you were like clay I could mold. Someone who would even­tu­ally com­plete me, but you never changed or showed improvement.

It took me a long time to real­ize how wrong it was for me to do that. How wrong it was for me to want you to be a dif­fer­ent person.

I never appre­ci­ated you for who you were, and you never deserved any of it.

I hope I didn’t hurt you. I heard from your brother that you’re already on your Masters degree. I hope he’s healthy and happy. I hope your par­ents are doing well, that your dad is retired and they’re trav­el­ling out east like they’ve always wanted when you started university.

There are a lot of fond mem­o­ries of our time together. I won­der if you believed me when I said that I wanted to marry you. It was some­thing I hon­estly felt at the time, until things started falling apart, and I went through one of my phases again. It wasn’t your fault.

I had to end it before I led you on any further.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
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01 Dec 06

Christmas Wish List '06

Thumbnail: Christmas cupcakes

You know it’s get­ting close to the hol­i­days when the fresh cup­cakes at the local bak­ery start hav­ing Christmas tree sprin­kles, so I thought I’d make a Christmas wish-list. Usually I have no prob­lem spend­ing money when I want some­thing, but I’ve been sav­ing my money as a goal lately. I’ve been good too, only spend­ing $120 on myself in November (two movies, a toque, and win­ter shoe spikes) as opposed to the $500+ I nor­mally do.

This isn’t a fan­tasy list by any means; these are prac­ti­cal things I even­tu­ally plan on buy­ing. I just can’t jus­tify get­ting them at this moment. Of course, I don’t actu­ally expect any of these things to show up under a tree on the 25th, since I don’t cel­e­brate Christmas, although this isn’t by choice.

Photography

Games

Furniture

Appliances

TV Shows

Movies

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