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

Dexter the Cat

Named after Dexter the ser­ial killer. You can’t keep this cat down. If you leave any­thing lying around that’s not more than 25 pounds, he’ll play with it. This usu­ally involves bat­ting, scratch­ing, knock­ing it off a table, or chew­ing it.

I sus­pect this is why Darren keeps his house so clean.

27 Nov 08

Seasonal Cycle

It’s been snow­ing for three days now, the first real snow­fall of the sea­son. It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing to look out­side and see it falling1. Winter brings it’s own sort of cozi­ness, like the way sun is for sports and rain is for movies.

A lot of peo­ple don’t like the win­ter, whether it’s because they get tired shov­el­ing, they’re late from clean­ing the car, they don’t like deal­ing with the messi­ness, or they sim­ply hate being cold. To me, it’s all part and par­cel of liv­ing in the Great White North. The sum­mer brings as many unpleas­ant issues — burn­ing car seats, sti­fling heat, unavoid­able sweat. I wouldn’t be able to appre­ci­ate one if it wasn’t for the other.

I tend to get tired of the weather only at the end of each sea­son, because they seem to drag on for so long2. It’s a never-ending cycle of enjoy­ing the new sea­son, then miss­ing the next one.

There’s this great poem by Shioh T’ao I think of when try­ing to explain this:

Spring comes, and I look at the birds;
Summer comes, and I take a bath in the stream;
Autumn comes, and I climb to the top of the moun­tain;
Winter comes, and I make the most of the sun­light for warmth.
This is how I savor the pas­sage of the seasons.

My ver­sion would go some­thing like this:

Spring comes, and I admire the blos­som­ing fem­i­nine beauty;
Summer comes, and I go for a drive;
Autumn comes, and I fall in love with every­thing;
Winter comes, and I cher­ish the warmth.
This is how I savor the pas­sage of the seasons.

This is why I love Canada. I wouldn’t want to live any­where else.

For now, I’m enjoy­ing the snow.

  1. Admittedly, it’s been a mild win­ter so far; maybe I’ll feel dif­fer­ently when I have to scrape ice off my wind­shield at –40°C. []
  2. There’s a say­ing that Canada has only two sea­sons — win­ter and con­struc­tion. []
24 Nov 08

Going Home

Bike in snow

I’m going home today. It’s been a great trip. Just one more stop for lunch with an old boss before I make the drive back to Ottawa.

Cracking pole

I miss sleep­ing in my own bed. It’s been a dif­fer­ent bed almost every night. But the trip was also filled with good peo­ple. People who are truly touch­ing. And cats.

Bike in snow

I’m not feel­ing as over­stim­u­lated as I expected. Maybe I’ve been too busy for it to sink in.

I’ll be leav­ing in the early after­noon to catch the sun­set in the 250km stretch along the 401.

23 Nov 08

Conversations With My Father

We’re stand­ing in his garage in our paja­mas, with win­ter coats on. After a short drive around the block to bring the oil up to tem­per­a­ture, he pulls out the bright orange dip­stick to teach me how to check the level.

Even though he’s never seen what’s under this hood before, he knows where every­thing is. Every noz­zle for every fluid, every con­nec­tor to every part. A sixth sense that all dads seem to have, like when a steak is cooked medium rare, and when the TV is just big enough.

This is the first time we’ve ever done some­thing like this. A strange sort of bond­ing I rarely had in my childhood.

Inside, I’m show­ing him how to use Photoshop, to take the wrin­kles out of his friend’s faces. Anything helps at this age, I suppose.

In my heart, I wish my dad had shown more inter­est in my pho­tog­ra­phy. I wish he wanted one of the prints I brought, maybe to show other peo­ple and say that he was proud of me. But he didn’t. And I say noth­ing because it’s one of those things that shouldn’t have to be said.

He keeps bring­ing up his dance part­ner. The per­son who called him to make sure I arrived safely from the drive. He wears two new ear­rings in pierc­ings that weren’t there the last time I saw him, a gift from her, and I won­der if “dance part­ner” is his euphemism for “mommy”.

I’m too scared to ask.

There’s no rea­son for me to stay more than a night, because there’s noth­ing more to be said.

22 Nov 08

Urban Growth

Me in hoodie and tie

Me in hoodie and tie

Sometimes, I won­der whether it’s me or this city that’s changed more.

21 Nov 08

Missing Her Moments

I’m writ­ing this in my head
some­where between Belleville and Oshawa
as Leonard Cohen croons to me
on the stereo about miss­ing something.

I’m try­ing to put this
together in verse;
it’s the only way that makes sense.
Maybe because the songs he sings are too good,
or I’m still affected by the last time I had
strep throat and we read
Susan Musgrave poems in bed.

So much for swear­ing
that I’ll never write like this again.

I won­der why she ends her phrases
the way she does,
about whether her titles come from
those clever lit­tle moments,
or vice-versa.

Maybe I can fig­ure out how they do it
and I can express what it felt like to hug
her before leav­ing,
about how I didn’t real­ize how hard I was
doing it until I let go and felt her
breathe again.

She wouldn’t admit that she’d miss me
until I did it first. She had
said it more than me, last time, you see.

She had paid it for­ward,
now it was time for me to pay it back.

18 Nov 08

Someone To Take Care Of Me

It’s times like this I wish I had some­one to take care of me1, because I’m tired of tak­ing care of myself.

  1. Pat once told me there should be a per­son in every group who’s always con­trolled, calm, and together (in case of emer­gency, or oth­er­wise), and he tries to be this per­son. It must be true, because he’s my rock, the friend who has never let me down. I once asked him if this idea extended to his mar­riage, and he told me that it applied to 90% of the time. But for the other 10%, when he’s tired, unmo­ti­vated, and doesn’t care any­more, Jenny takes over, and he admit­ted to me that he’s become depen­dent on this. []
16 Nov 08

Birthday Surprises

My friends know I don’t cel­e­brate my birth­day, because I don’t believe in rit­u­als1. I went through most of Thursday with­out any­one men­tion­ing any­thing, aside from Louise call­ing me from the road, remind­ing me that we were going out for lunch the next day — which the three of us do on our birth­days at work.

So when I got home around 9:30 that night — tired and hun­gry after Tai Chi — I was sur­prised to find a let­ter taped to my front door. This let­ter lead to my birth­day game:

Then, before I went to bed, I real­ized I had two phone messages:

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.

Hearing Dan and his fam­ily singing was awe­some, but hear­ing my dad’s voice was some­thing else. He had never called to wish me happy birth­day him­self; it was a day only my mom would remem­ber, and she would always pass the phone to him.

It seems like every year I expect noth­ing to hap­pen, but I end up being sur­prised in one way or another.

  1. And this was before I dis­cov­ered Taoism []
09 Nov 08

Night Driving

Going home after a party in my Civic Coupe.

I love dri­ving at night when the roads are calm, and the pat­terns of the street lamps pul­sate in your vision.

09 Nov 08


I’ve been blessed with friends who paint, sculpt, carve, design, sing, and com­pose, and I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to find a printer and framer who are artists them­selves in what they do. Even though they have dif­fer­ent medi­ums and ways of express­ing them­selves, they’re all dri­ven by a sense of pas­sion. Some can explain where it comes from, some can’t, but you can tell it’s rooted deep within their beings.

Passionate peo­ple have always attracted me. When you talk to them, you become filled with ebul­lient energy. You feed off each other, like a dia­logue of ideas and inspiration.

It’s warm­ing. It’s moving.

Together, you become some­thing that’s greater than you are by yourself.

05 Nov 08

Last Minute Halloween Party

Trolley and Steph

Thumbnail: Sushi platter
Thumbnail: Halloween hallway
Thumbnail: Halloween pirate
Thumbnail: Kitty
Thumbnail: Living room
Thumbnail: Me and Trolley
Thumbnail: Halloween pimp
Thumbnail: Pumpkin lights
Thumbnail: Gathering
Thumbnail: Raggedy drink
Thumbnail: Dog skull-and-crossbones cape
Thumbnail: Spooky drinks
Thumbnail: Taking shots

Last minute Halloween party means last minute costume.

I’m walk­ing down the con­sol­i­dated aisles of Walmart at 7:30 on Saturday night. The cos­tume pack­ages are all 50% off, and the mod­els on the labels are all pre-teen. I don’t think I’ll fit in the tights of this Batman cos­tume, and this vam­pire cape only goes down to my waist.

I’m sud­denly struck with a fit of nos­tal­gia. Remember that time when I was at that party with Becky, who was wear­ing a witches mask, try­ing to engage her in a con­ver­sa­tion after we met at the Honest Lawyer1? Remember when we went as Supertroopers to the party at the girls house? Remember when I got drunk off that bot­tle of Earnest and Julio Gallo?

I hur­riedly grab a black cowl and bloody knife, and walk to the check­out line. With my full-length leather trench coat, I’m hop­ing it’s enough to gain accep­tance to the party, but not too much to stand out.

As I leave, I won­der if Halloween still exists for those of us past our trick-or-treating days.

So the plan is to get there early. That way I don’t have every­one look­ing at me when I walk in the door. Bail when it gets too loud, or the peo­ple too drunk. But every­one invited through Facebook was told eight while I was told nine, and I’m almost last one there.

Read the rest of this entry »

  1. If you ever read this Christine, I will deny every­thing. []
03 Nov 08

Feed Reader

I’m a visual per­son. Personally, I’d rather peo­ple visit my site instead of adding my feed to an aggre­ga­tor. It’s a sad fact that the num­ber of sub­scribers to my feed nearly dou­bles my daily vis­i­tors. The look of my site is a reflec­tion of my cur­rent per­son­al­ity and mind­set, and even though it hasn’t changed in a while, it’s still rel­e­vant. I’ve held off using a feed reader for as a long as pos­si­ble, because I believe that a site’s look is as impor­tant as the infor­ma­tion that it conveys.

But my blogroll keeps grow­ing, and I’ve reluc­tantly turned to using an aggre­ga­tor to keep track of the sites I read on a daily basis. It’s a lot more effi­cient, but cold, and bor­ing, and I feel like I’m miss­ing out on some­thing the writer is try­ing to say.