equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
30 Nov 10

France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre

We drove nearly 400km into Brittany along the west coast of France to Rochefort en Terre, a small town of only about 600 people.

Normally this would take about four hours, but the high­ways have a 130km/h limit (off­set by a toll to access the high­way), and this cut an hour off our travel time. Not that it mat­tered, as the French coun­try­side is won­der­ful to watch, pop­u­lated with hills and a vari­ety of colour­ful foliage. There are also end­less cows roam­ing the pas­tures; I finally under­stood why cheese, but­ter, choco­late, and cream are so promi­nent in French cuisine.

It’s strange to be in a place that’s so remote. To go for orga­nized sports, you have to drive to the near­est city, which is 30 min­utes away. At the same time, all the ameni­ties are a 5-minute stroll away. There’s no traf­fic here, no light pol­lu­tion, and no noise save for a bark­ing dog or two. In this part of the world, the cul­ture is rich in his­tory, but the life is rel­a­tively untouched by the com­pli­ca­tions of urban living.

cat

The first cat I’ve seen in a week. He’s grown old and docile, and luck­ily, this means you can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll be just as happy as by the wood burn­ing stove.

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Me @ Twitter

I pre­dict I’ll be eat­ing a lot of ice cream. http://twitpic.com/3bhv3m

3 years, 7 months ago
Me @ Twitter

Sam Beam (aka Iron And Wine) has changed labels from SubPop to Warner Bros. This wor­ries me. #please­dontsell­out

3 years, 7 months ago
Me @ Twitter

Damn, she’s destroy­ing all these songs”

3 years, 8 months ago
26 Nov 10

30

I turned 30 in France. This wasn’t planned. It wasn’t even an excuse to buy the ticket, when I made the deci­sion to fly there so many months ago.

But when I was at a din­ner party that day, speak­ing with a woman who pol­ished her English from a year of doing her degree in London (and had an appro­pri­ately posh British accent mixed in with her French), she guessed I was 30.

Amazing”, I said, “To the day.” She had to con­firm, “Aujourd’hui?”, and I couldn’t stop her from hush­ing the other con­ver­sa­tions so she could announce it to the table.

portrait at age 30

Kisses from the babies, the girls, and the babygurls.

They lit a thin can­dle in my banana split sun­dae, sang me Happy Birthday in two lan­guages, and plied me with expen­sive alco­hols. Earlier that day, Darren sent me an e-mail, telling me to get drunk. I didn’t let him down.

It was a far big­ger deal than I was used to, but it wasn’t hard to appre­ci­ate the atten­tion, from peo­ple I had only known for an evening or two. I thought they must have been hap­pier than me, just to have an excuse to cel­e­brate some­thing, and talk, and drink, and cheer.

No won­der peo­ple like their birth­days. No won­der peo­ple love France.

There’s no way for me to deny how sig­nif­i­cant the last year has been. At one point, I finally felt like I was the per­son I’d be for the rest of my life. Then things changed, and I fell to my low­est point. But I picked myself up, and here I am now. Still human. Still alive.

This project was a way for me to doc­u­ment my evolv­ing life and aging skin as it is now. I never knew how much I’d go through, and how much would change between each interval.

I turned 30, and I won­der who I’ll be in another day, another month, another year, another decade.

The Turning 30 Series

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Me @ Twitter

You know you love your home when you’re wel­comed from a 21 day trip with 5mm of freez­ing rain and all you can think of is how comfy you are.

3 years, 8 months ago
Me @ Twitter

Touchdown in Ottawa. #back­to­re­al­ity

3 years, 8 months ago
20 Nov 10

Call me McNgangus

Somehow, I ended up on the north­west coast of Scotland, with new friends, a much tighter sched­ule, and a re-affirmation of life.

Scotland

Europe 2010 travel diaries

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13 Nov 10

France: Day 6, Paris

It’s been rain­ing almost non-stop across France ever since I got here, so when I woke up to a sunny day, I had to take the chance and head out to Paris. I decided to see how far I could get on foot from Gare Montparnasse, my goal being a cross­ing of the Seine.

Paris is divided into arrondiss­ments or dis­tricts, spi­ral­ing out­ward from the Louvre like a snail shell, with each one hav­ing a char­ac­ter­is­tic feel. I began my walk in the 14th arrondiss­ment, and trav­eled north.

After about four kilo­me­tres, the stiff­ness in my legs told me I should head back. But Paris is dense and full of cul­ture and his­tory at every turn; on every block over there’s some­thing that catches the eye, and you never want to turn around.

Fountain of Saint Michel

Fontaine Saint-Michel, located in the 5th arrondissment.

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Me @ Twitter

Apparently Fuck You by Cee Lo Green is so pop­u­lar here that the kids are singing it in the streets, not know­ing what it means.

3 years, 8 months ago
12 Nov 10

Baby Scary Party

Leave it to Fédéric and Misun to host an awe­some cos­tume party, even though Halloween was over two weeks ago. They decided to have a party any­way, in a part of town where they only had two trick-or-treaters. There was quite a decent turnout (about 40 chil­dren) with­out hav­ing done any adver­tis­ing, save for a flier on their door, and I’m sure they all left tired and full from numer­ous sweets.

Of note is the wooden cas­tle in the back­yard, which Fédéric built for the kids, and which they quite appro­pri­ately adored.

Europe 2010 travel diaries

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Me @ Twitter

How does one keep from over­heat­ing when they have a cat in their lap while sit­ting next to a wood stove? Maybe I should be naked.

3 years, 8 months ago
Me @ Twitter

Gabriel has Yoko Kanno, TV on the Radio, Leonard Cohen, Lisa Gerrard, Roger Waters, Röyksopp in his music col­lec­tion. #instantre­spect

3 years, 8 months ago
Me @ Twitter

Murphy’s law: the day your prints are accepted in a Montreal gallery is when you’ll be in France, unable to deliver them for the vernissage.

3 years, 8 months ago
10 Nov 10

France: Day 5, Chartres

I’ve been step­ping out of my com­fort zone. Having far too com­fort­able a life at home meant I grew com­pla­cent. I had no wants, which meant I didn’t find the same plea­sure in the sim­ple things as I used to. Here, I live with­out a cat, with­out a ukulele, with­out a reg­u­lar chance to shower, with­out locks on the bath­room doors, with­out speak­ing the language.

I needed to be reminded of how other peo­ple live, and expe­ri­ence things I never felt com­pelled to do in Ottawa. It hasn’t been easy. I mem­o­rize French phrases, and hope no one responds out of a pre­dicted path. Even then, I fall back on an English-French dic­tio­nary, and Pouvez-vous par­lez plus lent­ment, s’il vous plaît, just in case. It’s some­thing I’ve been forc­ing myself to do, and at the end of the day I’m never disappointed.

Daty croque monsieur

Various styles of croque-monsieur, a grilled ham sand­wich with cheese melted on top of but­tered pain de mie, a pack­aged French bread that’s per­fect for toast­ing. Every bak­ery and fam­ily has their own ver­sion of this.

In the back is shred­ded guyère (a medium-bodied cheese), being sliced is mont d’or (very creamy and salty, and stuck to my teeth), and already halved is Camembert (which was super rich with a smell rem­i­nis­cent of a garbage, but cer­tainly didn’t taste like it…still, I had a hard time get­ting over the smell).

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