equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
31 Dec 07

Last Day Of The Year

Outside, the snow­fall is fast but light. From the blan­ket of white on the cars, one can tell how long it’s been snow­ing. Against this white is the aching orange glow of the sky, and the warm flu­o­res­cent street lamps. The blinds of the houses across the street are all closed and the lights are off.

City in a snow globe. Lifeless. Plastic. Shaken.

In the dark­ness of my liv­ing room, Emiliana Torrini sings to me about love in the time of sci­ence.

It shouldn’t hurt me to be free
It’s what I really need
To pull myself together
But if it’s so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don’t know what to do with myself

It’s the last day of the year. The lit­tle clock on my screen tells me it’s six min­utes to 2 a.m. I should be in bed, but this is the only chance I have to write.

Where did the time go? I thought I would be bored, or lonely, dur­ing the hol­i­day stretch, only to dis­cover that it wasn’t long enough.

They say that the days, months, years pass faster, the older you get.

Maybe this means I’m get­ting old.

/
29 Dec 07

The Challenges Of Expression

For feed­back, I showed Frédéric some of my ini­tial work for the next expo­si­tion, a cou­ple con­cept pho­tos that cap­ture the essence of my theme.

He told me I was being shy. That my work isn’t shock­ing or dis­turb­ing enough. Technically, it’s per­fect, but lack­ing the qual­i­ties that make it art. For my sub­ject, there’s a fine line between artistry and com­mer­cial­ism, and I haven’t yet crossed that line.

It made per­fect sense, what he said.

My sub­ject includes a lot of skin. But as a pho­tog­ra­pher who doesn’t have an estab­lished rep­u­ta­tion, I find it extremely dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple to take their clothes off, even for non-nude pho­tos. I’m try­ing to work on a lim­ited bud­get, with lim­ited mate­ri­als. I can’t afford to pay peo­ple to be my mod­els, so I rely on the favours of friends1.

There’s so much more I’d love to explore with eroti­cism, but I feel sti­fled by how uncom­fort­able peo­ple feel about being naked, along with a strong sense of propriety.

Working with mod­els is a chal­lenge in itself. There’s an ele­ment of uncer­tainty and unre­li­a­bil­ity when deal­ing with peo­ple, and being a con­trol freak, this has proven to be extremely frus­trat­ing. It would have been sim­pler to pho­to­graph objects instead of peo­ple, but human shapes are the source of my interest.

It’s also dif­fi­cult for me to pho­to­graph what is not con­sid­ered “con­ven­tion­ally” beau­ti­ful (to my tastes, at least). Bless the beau­ti­ful, I once wrote.

In addi­tion to all this, it’s hard for me to for­get the mean­ing I’ve always placed in what I cre­ate. For this exhibit, I’m try­ing to cre­ate out of pure aes­theti­cism. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I have to let go of these old habits.

At this point, the suc­cess of the show is still uncer­tain. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off in time. January will be busy. I know if I can over­come these chal­lenges, I’ll be able to over­come so much more.

It’s become a test of myself more than any­thing else.

  1. Tiana was nice enough to put out an announce­ment on her blog for model help, and care­fully noted that I’m not creepy. []
/
27 Dec 07

Christmas Observer '07

Another Christmas with Shirley and her fam­ily, although this time Bill’s fam­ily came down as well. I spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas day at their house, par­tak­ing in the Christmas expe­ri­ence with those who believe in the impor­tance of such a ritual.

Presents under the tree

We were wrap­ping presents (from “Santa”) until mid­night on Christmas Eve. The tree must have been raised the two feet off the ground to fit every­thing under­neath. Negotiations went on through the night as to what time to wake up, but the kids woke us up at 6:30 any­way. Looking back on the pic­tures of 2005, you can tell how much they’ve grown in just two years.

Loads more pic­tures behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

/
23 Dec 07

Holiday Stretch

Hi there.

I’m already in hol­i­day mode. Sure, I have one day of work left — Monday — but my brain has checked out. I even took the day off yes­ter­day and made it a long week­end because I have extra vaca­tion days left, and they can’t be car­ried forward.

The chaise lounge on which I do my writing

This is how I spend most of my time nowa­days: on my new chaise lounge from EQ3, with a mug of tea by my side, in a gen­er­ally unkempt man­ner. Unshaven, with the flour­ish of a cowlick in my hair.

Last year, in which I declared that Christmas is dead, I stayed home out of spite, not directed at any­one but myself. This year, I’ve decided to go to Shirley’s for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and Pat and Jen’s for New Year’s.

But there’s a stretch of a sev­eral days in between in which I have no plans. Even though it’ll be a chance for me to do some extra writ­ing, work on my photo projects, maybe even relax a bit, part of me wishes I was busy like every­one else.

I know I don’t have any­thing to com­plain about. I’m lucky enough to be spend­ing the “impor­tant” days with friends who are impor­tant to me. I’m even lucky enough to have a choice of where to go. But I know that dur­ing the stretch, when other peo­ple has some­where to be, some­where to go, I’ll feel some­what for­lorn. They’ll have a place where they belong.

Maybe I’ll belong here, at home alone, on this won­der­ful chaise.

/
21 Dec 07

Papa Was A Rolling Stone

My dad called. After 14 months with­out contact.

Not that I wasn’t expect­ing it. He e-mailed me two weeks ago (flagged with the lit­tle red excla­ma­tion point to note that it was impor­tant), telling me that he was hav­ing a party on New Years. “Can you come and join us?”, it said.

“Us?”

Is he dat­ing now, I won­dered. Married?

I sat on this e-mail, unsure of what to say. A lit­tle while before this, Merv struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with me about fish­ing. I told him I used to go to this one fish­ing spot at a lift-lock in Peterborough with my dad, and it made me won­der what I would say if I ever talked to him again. He didn’t even know me when we were on speak­ing terms, how would he know me now? I’ve changed so dras­ti­cally in the last year.

We never left things off on bad terms. We just stopped talk­ing to each other, so there wasn’t any ani­mos­ity, on my part, at least. I never con­tacted him because I never felt like it, and I was expect­ing years to go by before he con­tacted me.

Then he called on the week­end. It took me by sur­prise. I thought e-mail was a way for him to stay dis­tant, while ful­fill­ing the min­i­mum parental respon­si­bil­ity. I had guests over and was enter­tain­ing and some­what charged up. He started talk­ing to me in Chinese, and I could only reply in English. It was too much for my mind, and I was too much on my guard. So I told him to call me next week.

And he did.

Read the rest of this entry »

/
19 Dec 07

Portaits of Meghan

Thumbnail: Meghan in red dress

A few por­traits of Meghan. Her big eyes and waif-like fig­ure give her some­thing of an inno­cent look, while the dress and labret bal­ances this out with a bit of an edge. Very appeal­ing, in my books. Makes you won­der which part is more true of her.

Read the rest of this entry »

/
18 Dec 07

Defining Myself Through Others

I’ve come to real­ize that as much as I’ve grown and gained, I still seek approval from oth­ers, albeit to a much smaller extent than before. This approval is how I define my self worth.

It’s an old, bad habit.

I can trace this habit back to my par­ents. I would always do things to try to win their approval, only to be met with a com­ment about not being good enough, or unsup­port­ive silence. Their con­stant crit­i­cism led to low self-esteem and feel­ings of inad­e­quacy. Yet another exam­ple of how they mind­fucked me.

At this point, it’s just a knee-jerk reac­tion. Remnants of my old, inse­cure self creep­ing up. I know that one day, I’ll be able to break the habit completely.

Until then, I have to remind myself that it doesn’t mat­ter what any­one thinks of you.

/
16 Dec 07

Christmas Wish-List '07

A look into my cur­rent tastes, updated for 2007. This list is some­what shorter than last years because the ones I haven’t checked off still apply, and I’ve been guilty of some spend­ing this month; The first two sea­sons of Robson Arms on DVD (which I des­per­ately waited two years for), sea­son six of Trailer Park Boys, my mit­tens, a RAZR 2 (the cell phone I’ve had for five years died), an elec­tric tooth­brush, and var­i­ous gifts.

Photography

Furniture

Housewares

Games

Movies/Shows

/
14 Dec 07

The Problem With Manual Stimulation

At the hair salon tonight, a new girl washed my hair. She went through the usual rou­tine, but before she fin­ished, she placed her fin­gers along the front of my hair­line, and with con­stant pres­sure, slowly worked her way back.

The water was warm, my hair was wet, and I felt the ten­sion going down my scalp. It was com­pletely sub­lime.

The edges of my lips started curl­ing, but I couldn’t tell if I was help­lessly smil­ing, or it was the stretch­ing of my skin upwards.

In the shower tonight, when wash­ing out the stray hairs, I tried doing it on myself. It didn’t feel the same, of course.

It was like that scene in Secretary, where Lee Holloway (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) tries to spank her­self with a hair­brush when explor­ing her sub­mis­sive ten­den­cies. I love the expres­sion of intent, and ulti­mately let­down, on her face.

The prob­lem with man­ual stim­u­la­tion is that it never feels as good as when some­one else does it for you.

/
12 Dec 07

Bittersweet Paradox

bit­ing keeps your words at bay
tend­ing to the sores that stay
hap­pi­ness is just a gash away
when i open a famil­iar scar
pain goes shoot­ing like a star
com­fort hasn’t failed to fol­low so far

and you might say it’s self-indulgent
and you might say it’s self-destructive
but, you see, it’s more pro­duc­tive
than if i were to be happy

—The Dresden Dolls, Bad Habit

I was jit­tery and ner­vous all day.

Several new devel­op­ments have left me with a lack of res­o­lu­tion. People to meet, presents to give, pic­tures to take, respon­si­bil­i­ties to ful­fill. And as much as I try not to think about it, it’s in my nature to do so.

I still haven’t got­ten passed this feel­ing. Still don’t know if I want to. Still don’t even know what it is. All I know is that it’s mak­ing me manic.

Until I fig­ure it out, I’ll wal­low in it.

I can only write this at night. When I’m falling asleep and off my guard, sit­ting on my chaise, with the cur­tains drawn and the win­dow open to the win­ter air.

Now I feel like writ­ing, but I don’t even know what to say. Everything’s too jum­bled for me to decide whether I’m happy or sad. Maybe it’s both, maybe it’s one because of the other. Life, at the moment, is so bittersweet.

Wonderfully bit­ter­sweet, that’s what it is.

/
11 Dec 07

Pardon My Freedom

Oh my God, did I just say that out loud?
Should’ve known this was the kind of place
That that sort of thing just wasn’t allowed

And look at me now up here run­ning my mouth
I just open it up and see what comes run­ning out

Well here it comes…

Like I give a fuck, like I give a shit about that fuck
Like I give a fuck, like I give a shit about that fuck
Like I give a fuck about that moth­er­fuck­ing shit
Like I give a fuck
Like I give a fuck
LIKE I GIVE A FUCK
LIKE I GIVE A SHIT
LIKE I GIVEFUCK

—!!!, Pardon My Freedom

This is me with­out boundaries.

This is the truth. My truth. My hon­esty in it’s purest form, includ­ing my opin­ion and bias.

Often, there are things said that peo­ple don’t want to hear, or don’t want to know. I never apol­o­gize for what I say because my opin­ions are never forced on oth­ers. No one has to come here and read what I say.

There are two rules: I never say any­thing here that I can’t say to someone’s face, and I never give away some­one else’s pri­vate infor­ma­tion.1

Other than that, I’ll never cen­sor myself for the sake of others.

  1. Private” is to my dis­cre­tion, of course. []
/
08 Dec 07

Missing Kissing

I’m fac­ing the very tan­gi­ble pos­si­bil­ity that I’ll be sin­gle for the rest of my life. Sometimes I won­der how I’ll sur­vive. The strange part is that I feel like I was meant to be in a rela­tion­ship. Quixotic ideas and roman­tic ideals have always pointed me in that direc­tion, but either the right per­son hasn’t come along, or they’re taken.

At the same time, I won­der if I can be in another rela­tion­ship. I’ve grown so accus­tomed to liv­ing alone, hav­ing things exactly my way, with time to work on my projects. No main­te­nance, as it were. How I do enjoy the freedom.

One sit­u­a­tion isn’t bet­ter than the other, of course. Both have their pros and cons.

Still.

I miss kiss­ing. More than the sex.

The quick acknowl­edg­ment of love in the form of a peck, or the inti­macy of a make-out session.

Has the win­ter brought this feel­ing? Has the sight of snow and snow­fall reminded me of how frigid the nights can be when you’re by yourself?

Or maybe it’s from being sin­gle for this long.

/
04 Dec 07

The Weight Issue

With a tone of gen­uine con­cern, as if I was being con­sumed by some dis­ease, Abdallah told me he noticed I was get­ting thin­ner. Perhaps this is true. I was recov­er­ing from an episode of IBS, and con­trol­ling my food intake. Maybe its my sets of nar­row, flared pants I’ve been wear­ing lately on Julie’s sug­ges­tion1.

Louise tells peo­ple I don’t eat a lot, which is true only when we’re out 2, and is also the only time she’s seen me eat. It makes me even more ill at ease when I’m already feel­ing unat­trac­tive, as if it was my fault and I wasn’t doing enough about it. Others will com­ment about the size of my waist, or make a pass­ing remark about how they wish they had my metabolism.

I try to take it all in stride, but it’s not easy when the sub­ject is con­stantly brought up.

According to my doc­tor, I’m aver­age weight — the aver­age being a range, with me being near the bot­tom. I know this, but it doesn’t make it eas­ier. Bronwen once told me that I have a weight issue, and after think­ing about it for a while, I real­ized that it was true. Even though it’s some­thing I can joke about, it’s still a source of self-consciousness, lead­ing back to mem­o­ries of my par­ents telling me that no one will love me if I’m this size forever.

Sometimes I won­der if I’ll ever get over it.

  1. Her the­ory is that baggy pants do noth­ing to hide thin limbs and make skinny peo­ple look even skin­nier. []
  2. Usually because I don’t like to be too full when I’m out. []
/
03 Dec 07

Hyperactive Euphoria

Maybe it was the exhaus­tion mak­ing me hyper­ac­tive and all WOOOOOOOOOOO this morn­ing. Maybe it was the weather on my side, try­ing to bury the city in 40cm of snow, telling me to for­get every­thing else. On see­ing myself in the mir­ror, I started to have one of those Strung Out, Matchbook moments while shav­ing. You know, the part that goes

I just comb my hair and wash my face
Keep straight ahead and keep my pace
Just think about noth­ing and my life’ll be alright
Well I got my friends, I got my pen
I got a mil­lion dis­trac­tions to keep me warm
And all I know is that I’ll be alright, that I’ll be alright

And while it’s get­ting so busy that I can’t keep track of every­thing, it’s also nice to be dis­tracted. I can keep these thoughts in the back of my head, and bring them out when I need them. Almost like I’m in total con­trol of it all, while it con­tin­u­ally verges on the peak of instability.

Maybe it’s the insta­bil­ity I thrive on, a way of feel­ing like my life isn’t stag­nant. That way, I’m not in a rut, devoid of inspiration.

So yeah. I think it’s mak­ing me hyper.

/
02 Dec 07

Where I Belong

Those who rule in accor­dance with Tao do not use force against the world
For that which is forced is likely to return

—Verse 30, Tao Te Ching

I may know bet­ter, I may under­stand what I’m sup­posed to accept, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Sometimes the world is crash­ing down around you, and all you can do is watch.

Because you can’t yell at the sky to keep it from falling.

/