equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
29 Jun 08

To Speak, To Dream

Thumbnail: Infinity candle holder

It’s on nights like this that I feel espe­cially lonely.

I spent the last two hours look­ing for an image that would express my mood, but this was the best I could come up with. When I went out­side, to see if the street lights would offer me more, I passed by open win­dows, each one filled with a dif­fer­ent coloured light. It made me won­der what the peo­ple were doing, who they were with, what mood they were in.

It’s been a day alone. A day with­out con­tact. A day of rain and grey­ness, and liv­ing vic­ar­i­ously at Robson Arms.

So here I sit in the dark, with my apple and honey swirl pie and Ovaltine, writ­ing because I haven’t said enough today, list­ing to songs of love and hate. Feeling like an old soul.

Wondering tonight if I’ll dream, or sleep soundly, or dream with­out remembering.

27 Jun 08

She Treads Softly

Had I the heav­ens’ embroi­dered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and sil­ver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, William Butler Yeats

She knows how much I’ve fallen for her.

And by giv­ing her my heart in such a way, she’s shar­ing the bur­den. The last thing she wants to do is hurt me, and she thinks her­self self­ish for want­ing to be held just so. But I know what I’m get­ting into. I know the risks.

So I told her not to hold any­thing back, because there’s noth­ing she can do, no bound­aries we can define, to make me love her any less.

There’s no point in deny­ing our­selves the joy of what we have now. To be lying next to each other when we talk into the early hours of the day, bod­ies pressed against one another while the morn­ing light washes over us, is worth any chance at being hurt. We can deal with the inevitable later.

So she treads softly, on me and my heart.

And rests her head on my chest when I hold her.

25 Jun 08

Home Free

Thumbnail: Darren outside
Thumbnail: Tazo Berryblossom white tea
Thumbnail: Sausages, egg, and toast
Thumbnail: Dexter
Thumbnail: Bubble tea parlour
Thumbnail: Bubble tea
Thumbnail: Cigars
Thumbnail: Korean soup
Thumbnail: Dexter the cat in window
Thumbnail: Mall people
Thumbnail: Tempura roll
Thumbnail: Teriyaki beef
Thumbnail: Sliced orange

I left when the sun was set­ting. Along the way, the road stretched out infi­nitely before me, as if to say that I can always get away, and there is always more to go. The tree line danced and waved across the hori­zon, even­tu­ally dis­ap­pear­ing with the sun. Then the lines of red and white in each direc­tion guided me all the way to Darren’s house.

In it are lit­tle things from the house I grew up in — some can­dles here, some cab­i­nets there — that my par­ents didn’t want after the divorce. So strange to see innocu­ous objects from my child­hood in a dif­fer­ent setting.

It was the first time we’ve been com­pletely sober together since we were kids. No alco­hol, no weed.

I found out a cou­ple things I wouldn’t have known otherwise:

A week­end of sweet indul­gence, late nights, and inti­mate con­ver­sa­tion. No one under­stands my rela­tion­ships the way Darren does, because we both share these quixotic ideas about love. It was so com­fort­ing to be able to express myself on these things with­out hav­ing to explain my under­ly­ing feel­ings, as if some­one could truly under­stand me, espe­cially impor­tant in this cur­rent phase of my life.

It made me real­ize that home isn’t where the par­ents are, some­thing I used to believe1. It’s an idea.

A com­fort­ing place you can go to get away, where you’re com­pletely accepted for who you are.

  1. I’m not sure exactly when I stopped believ­ing this, but it was prob­a­bly some­where between the time my par­ents got divorced and I stopped talk­ing to my mom. []
23 Jun 08

A Change of Flowers

When I left, the flow­ers on my kitchen table looked like this:

Thumbnail: Dead flowers

When I got back, to my sur­prise, they looked like this:

Thumbnail: Fresh flowers

She made the bou­quet her­self — hand-picked the flow­ers, chose the colours, even made sure it was sym­met­ri­cal, know­ing my odd habits1 — and left them there to greet me from my jour­ney home.

I never ask for these things but she does them anyway.

Which is exactly what makes them so significant.

  1. I tend to straighten her neck­laces, her san­dal straps, the curls of her hair, the draw-strings in her hoodie/yoga pants… []
20 Jun 08

Road Trip

Two in one day…you know it’s serious.

I’m dri­ving out to see Darren for the week­end. He’s five hours away, and it’ll be my first trip out of the city in the car. My car.

There’s a cer­tain sat­is­fac­tion to fill­ing my trunk with odds and ends — tri­pod, san­dals, snacks — that I couldn’t have car­ried on a Greyhound bus. Got my GPS and a full tank of gas.

I had Summer Sun by Ellen ten Damme play­ing here.

I can’t wait to drive with the win­dows down while the sun is set­ting along the hori­zon, Summer Sun play­ing on the stereo. To be going some­where by myself.


Killed my top rated playlist at work. Even have all the songs burned to sev­eral CDs for the trip. My head is filled with lyrics. I may also begin my audio­book of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

I’m going through some hyper­ac­tive eupho­ria again, this con­tra­dic­tory feel­ing of the scary and excit­ing unknown. The best part about hang­ing out with Darren is that each of us under­stands exactly how the other feels, even though we may not under­stand it in our­selves. Something which is espe­cially impor­tant right now, even though I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay.

I just need to get away for a while.

20 Jun 08

The Cat in the Closet

Dolly on my clothes

When you live with a cat who sleeps on things to mark her ter­ri­tory, you never won­der why your clothes are cov­ered with hair.

18 Jun 08

Tai Chi/Taoism Paradoxes

Another cor­re­la­tion between the phys­i­cal expres­sion of Tai Chi and philo­soph­i­cal ideas of Taoism is the ubiq­ui­tous exis­tence of para­doxes in both. There are con­tra­dic­tory answers to many ques­tions, and at the same time, the answers are very sim­ple (a para­dox in itself).

An exam­ple from Tai Chi is the pos­ture of the p’eng shape. If you’re too stiff, you can be pushed over eas­ily. If you’re too relaxed, you can be col­lapsed eas­ily. People make the mis­take of think­ing that you have to be one or the either — that you’re either resist­ing a force or let­ting it move you — with­out under­stand­ing that there exists a “some­where in between”. It’s dif­fi­cult to explain how some­thing can be struc­tured and relaxed at the same time.

A Taoist exam­ple is the idea of wu wei, or “action with­out action”. Practically speak­ing, it’s the con­cept that you don’t do any­thing that isn’t nec­es­sary, and by remain­ing reac­tionary you let nature (or the inter­ac­tion of Heaven and Earth, as Taoists roman­ti­cally say) run it’s course. In doing so, “noth­ing is done yet noth­ing is left undone”.

Last class, my teacher said “Tai Chi is easy, that’s why so few peo­ple do it well.” His words reminded me of verse 70 of the Tao Te Ching.

My teach­ings are very easy to under­stand
  and very easy to teach
yet so few in this world under­stand
  and so few are able to practice

The answers remain elu­sive and dif­fi­cult to explain because they must be felt, as in Tai Chi, or expe­ri­enced, as in Taoism, a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the para­dox­i­cal nature of both the ancient Chinese mar­tial art and philosophy.

17 Jun 08

Lysergic Bliss


There’s a ten­der­ness that reaches deep within me, and bur­geons forth to paint the world an intox­i­cat­ing spectrum.

It’s a world where every song is a jour­ney, every chord is more dul­cet than the last, and I don’t want to, I need to dance.

It’s not a sim­ple feel­ing. There’s so much to con­sider — new real­iza­tions, unfa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, ques­tions of fate, unre­solved pro­pri­eties, inevitable change — that it’s all a mix of emo­tions unlike any­thing I’ve ever expe­ri­enced. But who says that life has to be sim­ple? All I know for sure is that I love her, even if she doesn’t love me the same way.

And for now, I’ll wear this smile like my heart on my sleeve.

15 Jun 08

A Bittersweet Indulgence

Our bod­ies burn like flames in an oven, so we kick off the cov­ers. I slip my arm around her waist and press her body close to mine. She holds my hand to her chest, fin­gers wrapped around fin­gers, legs wrapped around legs.

The morn­ing light comes in blue and soft and sub­tle through the win­dow, and the stars begin to fade.

I want to hold her like this under a tree in the sum­mer and pass the time in her com­pany, alive to every moment we’re together. I want to hold her like this when the cars and streets are buried under snow out­side, so we may truly know what it is to be warm and com­fort­able. I want to run my fin­ger along the soft­ness of her face, so I may learn every land­mark and fea­ture, and never for­get. I want to read to her my favourite books on lazy Sunday after­noons, so I can take her to where they’ve taken me. I want to feel her breath against my skin, the breath that gives her life, and me joy. I want to wake up to find she’s not away in another bed, but next to me, lost in slum­ber, for there can be no other such sim­ple happiness.

This is where I’m per­fectly con­tent, lost in a moment when time has stopped and noth­ing else matters.

But I know it won’t last for­ever. She’ll soon be gone. I won’t be the one to do these things with her, the one to love her the way she was meant to be loved, the one to love her as deeply as she deserves. There’s no use in think­ing about it now.

I’ve fallen for this muse in my arms, totale­ment, ten­drement, trag­ique­ment.

The one who inspires me to cre­ate won­der­ful things, to make beauty as I see it in her, so that oth­ers may share in this feel­ing. If I had a mil­lion words to describe her grace, it still wouldn’t be enough.

I could be sad, but I’d rather be happy instead.

So as the sun begins to rise, I indulge myself a lit­tle longer, and hold her closer before drift­ing off to sleep.

14 Jun 08

Protected: Questioning Hope

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12 Jun 08

Baby Face

Baby on shoulder

Thumbnail: Baby pout
Thumbnail: Baby furrow
Thumbnail: Baby yawns
Thumbnail: Baby wants beer
Thumbnail: Baby glances to the side
Thumbnail: Baby pensive
Thumbnail: Baby sleeping

Babies seem to have a dif­fer­ent expres­sion every sec­ond, and the expres­sions are so inno­cent. They hide noth­ing. I like to think each expres­sion reveals the drift­ing thoughts going on in their tiny lit­tle brains. Rather dif­fi­cult to pho­to­graph because the face they wear when you press the shut­ter release but­ton is invari­ably dif­fer­ent from the one you get.

Rosella here is half-Persian, half-Caucasian. Aside from being so cute you could chew her cheeks off, you can already tell how beau­ti­ful her mixed blood is going to make her.

08 Jun 08

The Eyes

The eyes

The first thing I notice about a girl is her face, but the eyes are what hold my attention.

Especially eyes like this.

Big, round, and pure. They’re the ulti­mate sign of fem­i­nin­ity, because they con­vey inno­cence, youth, vitality.

Sometimes, the most inti­mate and per­sonal thing you can do — from hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion to mak­ing love — is make eye-contact.

06 Jun 08

My Relationship with Frederic and Misun

I con­nect with Frédéric and Misun in two very dif­fer­ent ways.

With Frédéric, we relate through our emo­tions, our drive, and the need to express our­selves. We also have a ten­dency to feel like out­siders, per­haps because we’re often judged or mis­un­der­stood. In this way we com­fort each other, because it’s as if we feel less odd or alone.

Misun, on the other hand, is like my big sis­ter. She cares about me, takes an inter­est in what I do, and gives me advice the way I imag­ine a sib­ling does. I can share my inse­cu­ri­ties, my dreams, my feel­ings with her, as if I’ve known her my entire life.

Together, they encour­age and sup­port me, although never to the point of flat­tery. In this way, I know that I can trust them to be hon­est; some­thing increas­ingly rare nowa­days, as peo­ple hide behind smiles and empty words. When I’m with them, I feel like I’m wholly under­stood and accepted.

I always leave their house with a tremen­dous sense of hope, because they believe in me the way no one else ever has.

04 Jun 08

Design Robbery

After my Perishable Press inter­view, and hav­ing Version 10 fea­tured in a Crestock arti­cle titled “13 Minimalist Designs You Really Should See”, this site has seen a surge in design-related traf­fic. But increased expo­sure is a double-edged sword. Higher pro­file sites make you a big­ger tar­get for secu­rity issues, spam, and design robbery.

Such as the case with eric-akmal.com.

Does this look familiar?

Eric Akmal Dot Com top

Eric Akmal Dot Com bottom

Read the rest of this entry »

02 Jun 08

A Reason For All

The crooked become straight
The empty become full
The worn become new
Have lit­tle and gain much
Have much and be con­fused
So the Sage embraces the One and becomes a model for the world

Verse 22, Tao Te Ching

Yesterday, I woke up from a nap at four in the after­noon. Usually, when I wake up from a long nap, I feel groggy and uneasy, but this time I was bright and rested.

When I went out­side, the rain had stopped. It washed the bird poop off my wind­shield, it filled the air with the lin­ger­ing scent of clean­li­ness. In my car, Becky started singing in the stereo.

I had You Broke My Heart by Lavender Diamond play­ing here

And every time she hit me with the words “cav­alry of light” in her waver­ing vibrato, I had to sing at the top of my lungs along with her, my voice crack­ing, my dig­nity left behind me.

I can’t even remem­ber the last time I’ve been so happy.

This morn­ing, I was run­ning late for work. But by the time I got to the car, the sun had been out long enough to warm the breeze. I could roll the win­dows down and let the air in. The traf­fic made me even more late, but it let me take my time too. It gave me the chance to enjoy Lenny croon­ing to me about how true love leaves no traces.

It’s like I’m wait­ing for some­thing to go wrong, because I’m not used to things going this well. But nothing’s going wrong. Things are be work­ing out. Everything has a rea­son, no mat­ter how small or trivial.

Taoist the­ory says that sur­ren­der brings per­fec­tion. Don’t force any­thing. Allow things to hap­pen, and they’ll nat­u­rally bal­ance out. Perhaps I’m finally believ­ing this, instead of sim­ply under­stand­ing it.

When things are going badly, you’re not really behind.

You’re just wait­ing for the good that wouldn’t be pos­si­ble otherwise.