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

A New Winter Ritual

Snow col­lected on the grass last night.

This makes me dream of week­end morn­ings in my liv­ing room, tea and a lap­top, look­ing out to a blan­ket of white. Dolly curled up on the arm­rest next to me, as she always is. No other con­trast feels as cozy.

Ritual dic­tates that I watch Onegin or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind on the day of the first snow­fall, a trib­ute to win­ter scenes and warm romance.

This year, I’ll buy myself some skates. I’ll pack a snack and some water. Maybe my cam­era in case an image catches my fancy.

As the strings shud­der and the beats go on, I’ll carve a lit­tle path for myself on the canal, and burn beneath the orange sky.

And this will be my new ritual.

18 Nov 07

She Doesn't Know How Beautiful

The art of longing’s over, and it’s never com­ing back.

—Leonard Cohen, Death of a Ladies’ Man

They ask me why I’m cry­ing. I tell them the song is too good, not to cry.

They ask me why there’s a bounce in my step. I tell them I’m in love, and I don’t care.

They ask me if she’s taken. I tell them she is.

They ask me if she knows. I tell them it doesn’t mat­ter as long as I feel this way, and I’m never let­ting go.

They ask me, “Why her?”.

I tell them she makes me happy with­out try­ing.

17 Nov 07

Emergence Exposition Opus 01

A few days before the show, I found out that Krista and Shane were play­ing a small venue in town. Usually I make it a point to see an artist just once in my life, but last time was dif­fer­ent; I was expect­ing Lederhosen Lucil, but was treated to an entirely dif­fer­ent and unfa­mil­iar sound. This time, it was my chance to see Krista and Shane per­form after becom­ing famil­iar with the songs. Turns out the venue was in un petit salon des arts. This place boasted a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent art­forms; music, metal sculp­tures, pho­tographs, paint­ings, and graphic poems.

I didn’t really feel like going out that night, but I forced myself to go, remind­ing myself that I could say the same thing any other night and I’d never get anywhere.

Thumbnail: Entrance of the Emergence Exposition

When I arrived, the Salon was to capac­ity. I couldn’t even get in the entrance; there were peo­ple phys­i­cally block­ing the door. My chance to get in came after a few had made room by leav­ing, then I saw a path up the stairs and took it.

Enter six degrees of sep­a­ra­tion.

Read the rest of this entry »

14 Nov 07

In Her Prayers

Every now and then, Louise let’s me know that she’s pray­ing for me. For my health. For my success.

She really believes in the power of prayer. It’s healed her fam­ily, it’s given her guid­ance, it’s pro­vided her with the strength that she needs. She’s one of the few Christian’s whose faith I respect1.

It’s a nice feel­ing to be in someone’s prayers, and she does this even though I’m not Christian myself.

Normally, I’m a skep­tic about these things.

Which makes it dif­fi­cult to deny how it’s lately been working.

  1. In most of my expe­ri­ence, it’s as Nietzsche said; “The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly, has made the world evil and ugly.” []
13 Nov 07

Present for the 27th

Eric, who used to work with me, intro­duced me to Brant Bjork, and stoner rock in gen­eral, about two years ago. It’s a genre that explores delight­ful rep­e­ti­tion, where vari­a­tions are sub­tle, but pow­er­fully psychedelic.

[I]t is cer­tainly accepted that the effects of mar­i­juana and the often low or psy­che­delic riffs of stoner rock com­ple­ment each other.

—Wikipedia, Stoner rock

I liken the idea to Plastikman’s debut album, Sheet One. Though of a dif­fer­ent genre — trance — it fea­tures a per­fo­rated album cover, an homage to acid tab art, for which the LSD enhances the details of every sin­gle min­i­mal­is­tic beat (so I’m told).

While I’ve enjoyed Queens of the Stone Age, who are con­sid­ered to be influ­enced by the stoner rock move­ment (indeed, Josh Homme and Brant Bjork formed pio­neer­ing band Kyuss while in high school), the sound is a lit­tle more com­mer­cial, less droning.

After I heard a few songs by Brant Bjork, I was hooked. I never asso­ci­ated it with a mem­ory, which is what I do with almost all my songs, but it was good enough that I didn’t have to.

At Thanksgiving, dur­ing one of my trips through the mall with Andrew and Alex, I resumed my search for Brant Bjork’s solo album by the name of Jalamanta. It was a big­ger city, a big­ger place…maybe I’d have a bet­ter luck. Unfortunately, every music store gave me the same answer; it was an album they didn’t keep reg­u­larly in stock.

Alex asked me what I was look­ing for, the name of the album and artist, and I didn’t think any­thing of it.

Thumbnail: Brant Bjork

Yesterday, I found a pack­age in the mail. Fragile — CD, it said. Inside was the Brant Bjork CD I’ve been look­ing for, which they found at an inde­pen­dent music store. Along with the CD was a card made from my Pollen Junkie photo (which was taken in their gar­den), with a mes­sage writ­ten on the back.

And as great as it is to finally hear the songs I’ve been miss­ing, as nice as it is to have an orig­i­nal release, it’s noth­ing com­pared to the thought­ful­ness, the effort they made to find me exactly what I was look­ing for.

Update: Julie bought me a lucky bam­boo plant, along with a vase filled with dec­o­ra­tive rocks and a cute hand-drawn card. Very, very nice! Definitely an effort spent acquir­ing all these things, and much appreciated.

11 Nov 07

A Loss of Faith

Been hav­ing an insane argu­ment with a per­son on Flickr over a “racist” pic­ture of me and Bronwen.

Are peo­ple really this asi­nine? I really don’t want to believe it, but it’s kinda hard when they repeat­edly go beyond all sense of logic.

There goes my faith in humanity.

Please, please, please, let this be a joke.

09 Nov 07

Privy To All The New Shit

I’ve been in the strangest mood lately. Killing my Top Rated playlist every­where I go, yet I skip through 90% of the songs, try­ing to find the right one. Talking to myself. Replaying con­ver­sa­tions in my head.

I don’t quite feel at one with the Tao. I’ve been let­ting small things get to me. It’s as if I’m falling back into my old destruc­tive habits, but upon real­iz­ing this, I fight against it. The strug­gle, when observed objec­tively, is quite amusing.

These are excit­ing times. Along with the excite­ment comes ner­vous­ness. It’s turned me into a jum­ble of emo­tions, bit­ter­sweet, and unlike any­thing I’ve ever expe­ri­enced before.

Wish I could do some­thing with this feeling.

08 Nov 07

Trolley's B-Day '07

Thumbnail: Rock 'N Bowl alley 
Thumbnail: Aaron and Karen 
Thumbnail: My shoes in blacklight 
Thumbnail: The girls bowl 
Thumbnail: Making a wish 

Since he’s never been bowl­ing before, we decided to go for Trolley’s 30th.

Rock ‘N Bowl is an inter­est­ing phen­emo­nen. Aaron thinks it’s for the 14-year-olds to get all hooched up and feel like they’re going club­bing. Didn’t stop us — Trolley included — from get­ting carded at our table when pitchers.

Five-pin is harder than I remem­ber. Maybe because I was try­ing to spin every­thing, so it would either hit the left pins, or com­pletely gut­ter on the right when I tried to adjust. For our two teams, it was a pretty close match through the night.

For the pho­tographs, I tried to play around with light set­tings. 2nd-curtain-sync wouldn’t work for me, and I didn’t real­ize that there’s a set­ting for it on the 580EX flash which over­rides cam­era set­tings. As a result, the pic­tures are mostly flash-less to cap­ture the mood of the wildly swing­ing light.

The next day, I dis­cov­ered that I some­how pulled my left glute and right groin mus­cles. A gen­tle reminder on Trolley’s birth­day that we’re all get­ting older.

06 Nov 07

A Difference of Love

Love doesn’t end, just because we don’t see each other.”, she told him

Doesn’t it?”, he asked.

People go on lov­ing God, don’t they? All their lives. Without see­ing Him.”

That’s not my kind of love.”

I real­ize that on days like this — when the wind is cut­ting through the seams of my jacket, when my stom­ach is so cramped that it twitches, when I’m uncon­trol­lably nod­ding off to sleep on the bus, when my trans­fer expires before I can use it, when incom­pe­tence isn’t keep­ing my appoint­ments — that I can’t call you. It just wouldn’t help.

You aban­doned me when I needed you the most. I’ll never trust you with any­thing impor­tant again. Including me.

You may say you love me, but I don’t love you. Not anymore.

This is how I real­ize that love is defined dif­fer­ently by dif­fer­ent people.

My love is (was) boundless.

Yours is of convenience.

04 Nov 07

Hugging Etiquette

She hugged me yes­ter­day. I thought I was over her, but maybe I’m still smit­ten. Physical con­tact does funny things to the mind.

I don’t under­stand why girls are so into hug­ging. Often, I’ll go for a hand­shake, and as if it doesn’t take, they’ll lean in to hug after­ward. A girl once asked if she could hug me after I explained to her my pro­ce­dure for check­ing a cat before adop­tion. Figure that one out.

The funny thing is that most girls aren’t very good hug­gers. They give limp hugs — more of a press­ing of the arms to the body — and it bugs the crap out of me. It’s like get­ting a soft hand­shake, also referred to as the “limp noo­dle”.

Bronwen’s an excep­tion. I always give and get a bear hug from her when I see her and when she leaves. Sometimes we fight for arm posi­tion­ing, because we both pre­fer to have the arms lower than the other. I like to have my arms around a girls’ waist, whereas she likes to have her arms sur­rounded, so she feels protected.

The two Louise’s are/were also good at hug­ging. Nice and firm, with­out being too clingy. Maybe it’s a Louise thing.

It just makes me won­der; if girls are so into hug­ging, why aren’t they bet­ter at it?

04 Nov 07

Taoist Hedonism (or Why I Don't Miss Smoking Weed Anymore)

One of my daily rit­u­als used to be light­ing a joint when I got home from work, and rid­ing off the weed for the rest of the evening. It was the only thing that could relax me; oth­er­wise, I was tense and uptight. I couldn’t just sit and watch a movie, read a book, lis­ten to an album with­out it because I felt too guilty, as if I wasn’t get­ting enough done.

For the first year that I quit, I missed it ter­ri­bly. Not because I couldn’t sleep, not because food became bland, not because music didn’t sound as good, but because I couldn’t calm down. I was always try­ing to get things done, con­stantly depriv­ing myself of plea­sure to accom­plish things with­out an end.

Following Taoism has changed that. Taoists value becom­ing as a child. Having no extra­ne­ous thoughts, and liv­ing in the now.

Unless stopped by adults, chil­dren live life to the full, whereas for most adults exis­tence seems more of a near-life expe­ri­ence where we resem­ble actors rehears­ing for a play that never quite begins, instead of play­ing fully, as chil­dren do, in a per­for­mance that has no begin­ning or end.

—Mark Forstater, The Tao

In doing so, I’ve begun to live every day as if it was my last. I don’t worry about run­ning out of my good tea any­more, and just drink it. I don’t feel guilty about doing noth­ing, about let­ting my mind wan­der. I do what I feel like, when I feel like it. I’ve been able to let go. I stopped sweat­ing the small stuff, and started enjoy­ing life.

Remember how well you slept as a kid? That’s how I’ve been sleep­ing now.

An ex-smoker once told me that the part he missed the most about smok­ing was the rit­ual. The early-morning-coffee or the after-dinner smoke. He felt a lot bet­ter after quit­ting, but if he found out the world was going to end in a week, the first thing he would do is go to the cor­ner store and buy a pack of smokes. I used to think that I’d do the same with weed. Not so, anymore.

Not that I don’t miss it every now and then. There are cer­tain things that can only be expe­ri­enced through mind-tripping highs. It’s some­thing I’d like to keep for spe­cial occa­sions. When I go to see Darren, or when John comes down, but even those sel­dom times aren’t worth it any­more. I know I’ll never do it again, but I don’t mind because I know I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to expe­ri­ence it already. The impor­tant part is that I’m not depen­dent on it.

Taoist hedo­nism has set me free.

02 Nov 07

The Case For Divine Serendipity

I sup­pose I shouldn’t be sur­prised to find out you’ll be in town the day after I write about you.

The way the young man I just met is tak­ing the same bus home with me. The way the friend who’s been lost for­ever sud­denly shows up, pack­ing your bags in the check­out line.

But I know it’s not a sign. It’s not some cos­mic path, just the way things are work­ing out. At least, I think so. My life has been filled with such occur­rences, and I’ll be damned if it all doesn’t start to mean something.

See you tomorrow.

30 Oct 07

The Weeping Sky

Thumbnail: Hurdman station on a rainy day

Thumbnail: Walkley station on a rainy day

It hasn’t stopped pour­ing since I woke up. I’m trav­el­ing through the city in my favourite hoodie. Thinking about you and your del­i­cate wrists. The pho­tos I took of you smil­ing, always look­ing away. Wondering what it must be like in your world. Wondering if we’ll ever meet again. Wondering what you meant when you told me it’s hard to be alone when you’re told you’re grow­ing old.

I write this so I won’t have to write about you again.

Perhaps in a sim­pler world things would have worked out dif­fer­ently, and you would have given me a sec­ond thought.

But I have no tears in me.

The sky weeps instead.

25 Oct 07

A Truth is Worth a Million Words

You inter­pret my heart, my nature, as you wish to believe it.

— Onegin

People see what they want to see.

As I touched on a while back, some of it comes from inse­cu­rity. Other times, from a fal­lacy of pro­jec­tion as some peo­ple igno­rantly, and mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cally, believe that every­one must think and act as they do. There are a few other cases that don’t fit into either of these cat­e­gories though.

An exam­ple: I once offered a guest in my house some yogurt. The first thing he asked was, “Is it going bad?”. He didn’t believe I would have given it to him oth­er­wise. It was a per­fect reflec­tion of his dead­beat friends who expected you to eat before com­ing to a party, and he had never known any other type of peo­ple. A more extreme exam­ple is if you offered to feed some­one at your house and they got insulted because they thought you were imply­ing that they couldn’t afford to feed them­selves. Some peo­ple see things that aren’t there. It’s an amaz­ing sub­con­scious sign of their characters.

The way some girls inter­pret things is also an inter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non. Some of them think a guy who’s talk­ing to them must be hit­ting on them so they drop the b-bomb in ran­dom points of con­ver­sa­tion, just to warn you they have a boyfriend. Some girls think you’re gay because you don’t make any advances towards them. Some girls think you’re torn up, depressed because they declined your advances, and end up mak­ing a big­ger deal about it than you do. I want noth­ing more than to tell these girls to get over them­selves, but I bite my tongue because they end up embar­rass­ing them­selves more than I could ever do myself.

There are also times when a per­son is so pig-headed and stub­born that they see every­thing through a fil­ter, inter­pret­ing your actions in some crazy way, and believe you’re at fault because they sub­con­sciously refuse to see their own mistakes.

The old me would have been insulted when some­one assumes I’m a cer­tain way. Nothing would anger me more than some­one pre­sum­ing to know how I feel or what I’m like, and I used to care des­per­ately what they thought, even if I knew I was just mis­un­der­stood. It’s an inter­est­ing feel­ing to be passed that now1.

The truth leaves no room for bias, only interpretation.

I’ve learned never to take respon­si­bil­ity for other peo­ples’ inter­pre­ta­tions. Only take respon­si­bil­ity for your intent. You learn a lot about a per­son from the way they inter­pret things and from the way they see the world.

With the truth in your heart, it doesn’t mat­ter what any­one thinks.

With the truth on your side, noth­ing can go wrong.

  1. It’s actu­ally been quiet a few months since I wrote this entry. I didn’t post it at first because I wanted to be absolutely sure that it wasn’t a fickle feel­ing, and that my strength was firm. Reading back on it now, it seems more rel­e­vant than ever. []
24 Oct 07

The Ass-Slap Ritual

As I opened the front door to walk to work, I remem­bered that Aaron is pick­ing me up for lunch today, so I thought I should check to see if my wal­let was in my left back pocket (where it always is). The thing is, I always put a wad of mois­tur­izer in my left palm so that I can lock my door with my right hand with­out get­ting my keys all greasy, then rub it in while walking.

So I reached with my right hand to pad my pocket and see if it was there, but feel­ing a bit stiff from the weather and the morn­ing, I had to stretch with a bit of force and momentum.

Exactly at that moment, my neigh­bours came out of their house. We greeted each other, and after repeat­edly refus­ing their offers to drive me to work on such a chilly day, we went our sep­a­rate ways.

Then I real­ized that since I hadn’t com­pletely stepped out of my door frame at that point, they prob­a­bly saw me check­ing for my wal­let with­out under­stand­ing what I was doing, and thought I was doing some strange cross-body back-reaching ass-slapping ritual.