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

Design By Chocolate

Design by chocolate

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30 Oct 08

Worry-Free Friend

Pat doesn’t worry about me. At first, I was hurt, but soon I understood.

It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that he knows I’ll be alright.

And this is enough to make me believe that I’ll be alright too.

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29 Oct 08

Emo

I’ve had the strangest day. Or week. Or month. Or something.

Not strange in an odd of way, but strange in a con­fus­ing way.

It’s like I don’t know what I’m feel­ing right now. I don’t even know how I’m sup­posed to feel. Maybe it’s the uncer­tainty of my life right now that’s doing it. The insta­bil­ity that makes me want to go home and hide in the com­fort of my chaise, behind the warm glare of my Macbook Pro.

All day, I think of being at home and fin­ish­ing my projects. Then I get home and pro­cras­ti­nate — not watch­ing TV, or movies, or read­ing, or clean­ing, but lit­er­ally sit­ting around — because all I think about is talk­ing to John.

It’s only after I’m off the phone with him that I feel like I can begin my evening and be pro­duc­tive. I can talk with­out think­ing, with­out wor­ry­ing that he may judge me, with­out feel­ing like I’m being patron­ized, with­out car­ing whether I’m repeat­ing myself, with­out fear of offend­ing him, with­out even hav­ing to make sense. Like a small ses­sion of ther­apy, where I need to fig­ure things out for myself, but which can only be done after I’ve put it all out there to some­one else. It helps me more than I can under­stand or explain. Unfortunately, he gen­er­ally remains unavail­able until later in the night, and by the time we’re done, it’s already passed the time I should be in bed.

Even this was only writ­ten after he called me on his way home from ini­ti­at­ing new pledges at his old fra­ter­nity. And it’s already an hour later than when I planned to be asleep.

In any case, I couldn’t even bring myself to cry today. It just wasn’t in me. It isn’t what I’m feel­ing right now. Or not the only thing.

And when Death From Above1 came on, all I wanted to do was dance.

  1. Back when Iain and I first saw them in con­cert open­ing for Billy Talent, they didn’t have the gra­tu­itous “1979” suf­fix, as it was before the legal dis­pute. I refuse to acknowl­edge them as any­thing else. []
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28 Oct 08

Rachel Beausoleil at the NAC

A demo reel I made for Rachel Beausoleil, using footage I shot of her jazz vocal per­for­mance at the NAC Fourth Stage, as well as snip­pets of an inter­view I did with her. As a way of get­ting more expo­sure for future gigs, she asked for some video that she could shop around to dif­fer­ent venues. I agreed to make this demo reel for her in return for some tick­ets to the show for me and my friends.

It was a won­der­ful con­cert in an inti­mate set­ting. The reper­toire was quite var­ied — from waltz to Bossa nova to bal­lad — but all songs were per­formed as a jazz inter­pre­ta­tions. The setlist included Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Evangeline by Isabelle Pierre.

Of spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance is that the per­for­mance was on Rachel’s 40th birth­day. She had planned the con­cert over a year ago as a come­back after hav­ing two kids and giv­ing up her time for them.

I can now embed videos in HD after acquir­ing a Vimeo Plus account; they look oh-so-sexy, and even bet­ter in full-screen.

One of the high­lights of the night was Tom Posner’s bass solo dur­ing Caravan (a clas­sic Duke Ellington big-band piece) clock­ing in at almost two min­utes. You can see how sur­prised Rachel is when Tom loses him­self in the music and keeps going on this great flurry of notes. This solo is some kind of awe­some that I can’t even describe.

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26 Oct 08

Nylon Smile

In any case, I’ve been work­ing on my projects, though mostly try­ing to fin­ish the ones I’ve started. Sometimes it seems like there’s no end. Aside from an awe­some Friday night (and an hour after din­ner on Saturday night try­ing to digest a big meal), I’ve been work­ing non-stop this weekend.

At the very least, the days have brought much rain, and even more inspi­ra­tion. I miss the snow, but the rain sat­is­fies for now. I’m not even sure if I like how early the sun sets at this time of year. Both day and night affect the mind in dif­fer­ent ways, bring­ing out (or mask­ing) dif­fer­ent parts of you that you for­got were there. Each has its own importance.

At one point, I real­ized that life is a series of Jens, from win­ter to win­ter.

There’s been much music too, so much that I’m think­ing about start­ing up a pod­cast again. But it’s another project, another idea I have yet to do.

I could have writ­ten so much more about each one of these top­ics, but I tried to keep digres­sion to a min­i­mum. They’d end up being full-blown entries of their own, and I’d never fin­ish writ­ing any­thing. For these entries, the ones that ram­ble about no sub­ject in par­tic­u­lar, I always look for lyrics, or titles, or snip­pets from other people’s entries that sort of explain the mood I’m in. Yep.

I’ve been feel­ing dis­con­nected, some­what for­get­ting my Taoist teach­ings. This is prob­a­bly a good thing, as I tend to be focused on the thought and the­o­ries too often, and not enough on the application.

There’s a fine line between res­ig­na­tion and accep­tance. But some­times I feel like I’ve fallen face-first to one side.

To be hon­est, I’ve been writ­ing this entry for over a week now, but my thoughts and ideas keep branch­ing out. Every time I sit down at the com­puter, I delete some­thing that’s lost rel­e­vance, and add some­thing more. Like this.

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25 Oct 08

Eagle vs Shark

Eagle vs Shark

Eagle vs Shark is the new Postal Service.

The movie I can’t stop watch­ing. The movie I can’t watch with any­one else.

Not because it’s painful in any way, but because it’s sacred. A movie where no one else would under­stand the way I see it. A reminder that I was adored once too, when some­one loved me beyond limit or con­di­tion. (A mem­ory that I need right now.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

But I will leave you with this lit­tle song, if only for a short while. You need colours and can­dles in your room when you lis­ten though, and an imag­i­na­tion will serve you well. Having a make­out part­ner and wear­ing a cos­tume of your favourite ani­mal is optional.

That is all you need to know, for this is all I can say.

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22 Oct 08

Walk It Off

Sometimes, I have to get out, even when it feels like it’s 40°C out­side, because I need my music loud, and I need to fuck­ing strut, and the birds clear the way cause they know it’s seri­ous, cause the pic­tures are fuck­ing killing me, so I’ll just keep skip­ping songs until it hits me then I’ll CRANK IT until it hurts, walk­ing it off like it’s nobody’s busi­ness, danc­ing inside to the bass pound­ing in my ears.

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20 Oct 08

Thinking Of Her

Sometimes, as I’m falling asleep, I think of her.

She’s lying on my stom­ach again, lis­ten­ing to my heart beat, hands tucked neatly under my body. Or she’s spoon­ing me, her arm rest­ing on the crook of my waist, with a fin­ger draw­ing dis­tract­ing cir­cu­lar lines on my chest.

Muse in grass

Sometimes we’re in the tall grass, sur­rounded by colours of life with the warmth of the sun above us. A regres­sion to a time when all I had to think about was the colour of pop­si­cle I would have when I got home from camp. How unfair that our inno­cence is taken from us when we need it most.

And I lie there in bed, wait­ing for sleep to take me as the images lead me on.

My body telling me to let go, my mind strug­gling to keep her next to me a moment longer.

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17 Oct 08

A Change In Writing

There’s so much to say, and not enough time to write. It’s obvi­ous that I haven’t been stick­ing to any kind of post­ing sched­ule lately. The ben­e­fit is that I don’t feel the pres­sure of hav­ing to write some­thing every day, the draw­back being the fact that things I want to get down are often lost. When I do get a chance to write, it’s like I’m per­pet­u­ally writ­ing about thoughts, feel­ings, and events that are a month old.

Perhaps another evo­lu­tion in the way I write.

I used to write my thoughts quite often. Things I had to fig­ure out or get off my chest. Now, it’s mostly things that hap­pen in my daily life, and some­thing ran­dom here and there. It’s like I’m mov­ing beyond my con­fused ado­les­cence into some sort of reflec­tive dotage.

The entries from the first year were writ­ten with so much more fre­quency — roughly three times a day. Then that changed to once a day, then every other day. A few times, I tried to write less fre­quently, with­out a set sched­ule, but that never really worked. The writ­ing itch was always there. At one point I took a month-long hia­tus.

Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m try­ing to say.

The thing I par­tic­u­larly miss are the entries writ­ten late at night. Spilling my soul out in words, with the music, the sky, and the empty streets guid­ing me. As tired as I would be (I swear, some­times it was the exhaus­tion that brought it out in me), I always went to bed after feel­ing satisfied.

Now, I’m not sure what this all is.

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14 Oct 08

Baby Gensey

Baby tongue

Introducing Ryan Kevin Gensey, Aaron’s new baby boy, deliv­ered right on the pro­jected date. I bought him the tur­tle you see in the cor­ner of his bas­ket there.

Baby birth card

I had the chance to hold him before he was a day old in the hos­pi­tal. At first, I approached this idea with some trep­i­da­tion, see­ing as how I carry the pre­con­ceived notion of how frag­ile baby’s necks are, but I couldn’t resist. He’s a lot lighter than Dolly, but some­how just as warm.

Baby foot

Aaron has always wanted a boy first and a girl sec­ond — so the older brother can take care of the younger sis­ter — and it looks like every­thing is falling into the plan.

I’m now offi­cially an uncle.

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13 Oct 08

Video Love and Hate

I’ve been play­ing around with video all week­end, try­ing to get a bunch of things work­ing to no avail, when really what I wanted to do was just do some edit­ing and get a project under my belt.

Among the problems:

I hate giv­ing up these things, but see­ing as how I’ve spent count­less hours research­ing and exper­i­ment­ing for solu­tions with­out any luck, I think I’ll have to for now. Hopefully full-frame sen­sors will become cheap enough that reg­u­lar con­sumers (like me) can afford them, and maybe video stan­dards will actu­ally be more stan­dard. Until then, I’ll have to accept this “highly-rated” cam­corder that still lacks a man­ual focus ring, can’t pro­duce any kind of shal­low DOF with bokeh, and has an annoy­ing amount of low-light noise.

On the non-technical end of video, one of the dif­fi­cul­ties is that I’m always torn between telling a story, and sav­ing a mem­ory, both of which seem some­what mutu­ally exclu­sive. The for­mer tends to be more con­cise but cold and mechan­i­cal, whereas the lat­ter is filled with all the lit­tle details I enjoy but poten­tially boring.

Video is also less for­giv­ing, as fram­ing is more final with­out the crop­ping func­tion of still pho­tos. Then when you move into high def­i­n­i­tion, things like dirt on a car, blem­ishes on a face, stray hairs, become much more noticeable…and invari­ably end up dri­ving a per­fec­tion­ist like me crazy.

I still love the com­bi­na­tion of move­ment and sound and dia­logue that video affords though; it’s the medium that I find comes clos­est to real life.

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08 Oct 08

Patterns in the Chaos

I hap­pen to have a chance to write now. It’s rain­ing, so nat­u­rally the win­dows are all open.

My life has been some­what chaotic lately. Weekends spent being social have been turned into intro­verted exile, a way of charg­ing my bat­ter­ies once again. The added ben­e­fit is that I have more time to tie up loose ends on my projects. I’m even get­ting back into the still photo medium again.

Dry erase boards

I installed these dry-erase marker boards next to my front door. I use them to keep track of my tasks, projects, and errands, so I can come home and imme­di­ately decide what I feel like doing. The two sil­ver clips are used for hang­ing notes and letters.

Nothing feels bet­ter than putting that thick black line through a task. Writing on frosted glass is pretty tasty too.

Dry erase board closeup

I use the other board for quotes, a way to keep myself moti­vated — or grounded — every time I pass by on the way in or out of the house. It’s also a nice way for me to prac­tice my hand-drawn typog­ra­phy, by try­ing to bal­ance char­ac­ters, words, and lines on the board in dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions in an esthetic manner.

There’s some­thing famil­iar about this. A feel­ing like I’ve been here before, not in this sit­u­a­tion exactly, but in the mid­dle of the chaos.

All I know for sure is that I feel like I can han­dle it much bet­ter than if this was hap­pen­ing a year ago.

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05 Oct 08

Awkward Brunch

The time my words dig a hole out of which my best friend must climb.

If you pay spe­cial atten­tion at 1:21, you can see John’s face when he sub­tly shakes his head as if to com­mu­ni­cate to me, YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE.

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03 Oct 08

Looking Forward to Tai Chi Classes

Knowing the con­sis­tency with which I go, she asked me if I ever felt like not going to my Tai Chi classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

I thought about it, and came to the real­iza­tion that I didn’t. There have been win­ter nights where the com­bi­na­tion of snow­storm and ail­ing tran­sit sys­tem have sud­denly left me with a wel­come free night, but other than that, I always enjoy going to class.

Before Tai Chi was table ten­nis1, and some days, I’d have to force myself to go. But when I was there, in the mid­dle of a good rally, then pant­ing, sweat­ing, exhausted after­ward, I’d always remind myself that I was glad I went.

Tai Chi offers me some­thing else though, a way for me to lose myself for an hour or two. Maybe because it takes so much focus, or so much focus to not focus on any­thing, that I’m able to for­get every­thing else. Even when I’m prac­tic­ing the form on my own it’s not the same. Being at the stu­dio with the other stu­dents — learn­ing from and teach­ing each other, apply­ing the prin­ci­ples we can’t prac­tice by our­selves — lets me get away. On top of that, I know that I’m improv­ing, even if I may not notice it in myself.

And that’s enough to make me look for­ward to my next class as soon as I step out of the stu­dio into the cool night air.

  1. Unfortunately, they’re both on the same nights dur­ing the week, which means I have to choose one over the other []
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01 Oct 08

Deuteragonist

I’m the au pair with the jazz tapes, telling him to use Davis and Coltrane on the first date. The hero’s child­hood buddy, who dies in mor­tar fire dur­ing their ser­vice in the Second World War. The awk­ward friend who isn’t attrac­tive enough to play the lead. The sib­ling con­fi­dante, who con­tra­dicts the pro­tag­o­nist with cyn­i­cism, only to be proven wrong in a sat­is­fy­ing fit of glory.

All my life, I dreamed of great­ness, of being the main char­ac­ter in some quixotic story.

But I’m slowly real­iz­ing that I’m only a deuteragonist.

I wrote this entry about four or five months ago, but never pub­lished it. I held off because I wasn’t sure if it would be true a week after I wrote it. Weeks turned into months, until the sud­den real­iza­tion that I don’t feel this way now.

I regret not pub­lish­ing it at the time. Even though it holds no rel­e­vance any­more, at the very least, it would have been a time stamp of how I felt in the moment. There are so many fleet­ing mem­o­ries and emo­tions that change here, part of my ephemeral nature. But part of me thinks that it took this real­iza­tion to give me the strength to say it.

Maybe I’m start­ing to believe in myself.

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