equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
05 Mar 06

A Jumble Of Emotions

I’ve been a jum­ble of emo­tions lately. A mix of excite­ment and worry, fun and stress, unset­tling uncer­tainty and crossed-signals. On top of it all I keep get­ting all sorts of BULLSHIT from peo­ple, when it’s the last thing I need.

I gen­er­ally don’t like this feel­ing. To grow, and this is espe­cially true for me, one needs a foun­da­tion of sta­bil­ity. Once the basic things are con­stant, there can be changes and adjust­ments made to improve. Now I find myself strug­gling to keep the sim­plest things under control.

It’s cer­tainly been an inter­est­ing year so far.

24 Feb 06

The Return (Hiatus 1: Octave)

We move in cir­cles
Balanced all the while
On a gleam­ing razor’s edge

A per­fect sphere
Colliding with our fate
This story ends where it began

—Dream Theater, Octavarium

Back to this.

So much has passed, yet noth­ing seems to have changed. I’ve never gone this long with­out writ­ing an entry. For a while there, I didn’t mind. Didn’t mind not forc­ing myself to sit and write at every free moment. Didn’t mind my life not being taken over by this.

Now it feels like I’m in the mid­dle of a tran­si­tion. So much is hap­pen­ing around me, with so much to do, while my emo­tions remain neu­tral as if I don’t know what to think. There’s hasn’t been enough sta­bil­ity yet, or per­haps I haven’t been able to sit down to write and think about what’s going on. I’m ready now.

It’s been 33 days.

I def­i­nitely missed this.

21 Jan 06

Busyness Ensues


Thumbnail: Dolly scratches

18 Jan 06


You can’t be a proper writer with­out a touch of mad­ness, can you?

—Madeleine LeClerc, Quills

Has this become my only refuge?

No. Not even this.

15 Jan 06

Slightly Emo Frames

Thumbnail: Me with new glasses

Thumbnail: New glasses

Got a new pair of specs. I wanted either thicker rims, for a bolder look, or han­dles screwed into the glass with­out rims, for an even sim­pler look than what I have now. After try­ing on both styles, I decided on the thicker rims. Since these aren’t tita­nium, they’re sev­eral times heav­ier than my old pair, so I keep the old pair around for when I’m relax­ing or doing sports. The funny thing is that this is one of the least expen­sive pairs of glasses I’ve ever pur­chased, yet they’re D&G made.

13 Jan 06

The Winter Schedule

But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed in the gen­eral con­scious­ness you feel most delight­fully and unmis­tak­ably warm.

I save the window-opening rit­ual for Friday nights, after a long, tir­ing week, when the sweaters are all folded, and the shirts all ironed. Before I go to bed, I turn off the lights, square off my desk, and turn the win­dow crank 220 degrees clock­wise. Even though the ther­mo­stat is at 23°C, it’s any­where from –16°C to 5°C out­side these nights.

When I wake up at 5:00 a.m., as I usu­ally do, my room is filled with the chilly, snow-smelling air.

I do this only once a week to appre­ci­ate it.

I do it on Fridays to enjoy it.

11 Jan 06

Tremblant '06

Thumbnail: Winding road
Thumbnail: Cabin at night
Thumbnail: Aaron and Karen
Thumbnail: Poker game
Thumbnail: Phil's royal flush
Thumbnail: Old and new skis

Here I am, in a cabin in the mid­dle of the woods, 160 km away for two short days and a night in Tremblent. Today, we drove the wind­ing roads lined with pine trees and set­tled in. By tomor­row morn­ing, the 10 beds and mat­tresses are going to be filled with 16 peo­ple, all-round exhausted, cram­ming in as much sleep as they can before the hills open.

In between, Aaron finds a Bubbles action fig­ure that looks just like Karen. Phil is dealt a royal flush, which we’ll prob­a­bly never see again in our lives, dur­ing the sec­ond game of poker. For this, we drink, and I’m asked to make a print of the photo for every­one present to sign.

I’m not here to ski, or snow­board, or party, I’m just here to observe. Nick gave me the use of his lenses, includ­ing a 200mm prime L, but it was the 15mm fish-eye Sigma that I grew to love. How strange it is to be record­ing my mem­o­ries with some­one else’s glass.

This week­end it feels like I’m run­ning. I’m look­ing for some­thing, but I don’t know what it is or where to find it.

09 Jan 06

A Stoic Beginning

Sometimes, after pulling your­self out of bed instead of call­ing in late because there’s too much to do, when the walk to work is through ankle-deep snow which is com­ing down in sheets, you give up on avoid­ing the pud­dles because your socks are already soaked through after five min­utes, you can barely keep your eyes open from the pre­cip­i­ta­tion and the exhaus­tion, the cold is giv­ing you a split­ting headache, and the only thing keep­ing you stoic is to con­cen­trate on the music in your ears but your iPod runs out of bat­ter­ies and this is the start of your week, you have no other choice but to laugh.

02 Jan 06

New Year's '06

Thumbnail: Aaron and Rob
Thumbnail: Cheese tots
Thumbnail: Cristina's poker face
Thumbnail: Cuff links
Thumbnail: Lacey
Thumbnail: pass the booze
Thumbnail: Sarah
Thumbnail: Poker table
Thumbnail: Karen

Aaron and Karen’s annual New Years party was a fun time in a relax­ing sense, much lower-key than last year, with fewer peo­ple and casual clothes. I don’t believe there was any­one who felt out-of-place, which meant that one could eas­ily move from group to group with­out any feel­ings of intru­sion. So that I didn’t have to worry about catch­ing a bus home early, they lent me the use of their SUV for me to drive home.

I’m espe­cially pleased with this set of pho­tos. I think I was able to show the mood appro­pri­ately, with­out over-exposing the flash too much. My two favourite are with Sarah in her scarf and with Aaron hand­ing the low­ball to Rob. The for­mer because of the pure chance that worked out in cap­tur­ing the moment along with the won­der­ful tex­ture of her scarf, and the lat­ter because of how strong the two sets of hands look, like a firm hand­shake with­out touching.

31 Dec 05

New Years At Home

Thumbnail: Table settings
Thumbnail: Genseng bins
Thumbnail: House of flying daggers
Thumbnail: Lemon squares
Thumbnail: Little Buddhas
Thumbnail: Tiger shrimp
Thumbnail: Snuff bottle
Thumbnail: Soup for one
Thumbnail: Pacific store

I’m finally in my own house again. Going to Toronto means I give up the com­fort of my kitty, my com­puter, and my envelop­ing duvet for a few days of authen­tic Chinese food, real Chinese kung fu movies, silk­worm sheets, and a few moments of fam­ily dys­func­tion every now and then.

Time at home left me drained. Turns out that I had an extra party to go to, and this year, I pulled myself up to go box­ing day shop­ping. It was killer on five hours of sleep, but def­i­nitely worth it, my best score of clothes in years. Mom was run­ning around every spare moment, prepar­ing food for over 40 peo­ple for the New Years Party, while dad prac­ticed his karaoke between runs for gro­ceries. There were two nights that I sat by myself and enjoyed the new pro­jec­tor, and it was the most relax­ing time I had dur­ing my stay.

As nice as it is to get away, I’m glad this only comes around once a year.

26 Dec 05

Boxing Day '04-'05

Exactly one year ago today, I was doing this. Even though the annual party at Chris and Clarmen’s actu­ally starts on the 25th, I really see it as a box­ing day party, the way a New Year’s party really starts on the 31st of December.

That night we used the excuse of going to Timmies for all the par­ents as a way out of the house to have a ses­sion. Unfortunately, this meant remem­ber­ing about a dozen drink orders, some­thing that proves dif­fi­cult under the influence.

In chrono­log­i­cal order:

  1. We met up at the house, where Darren’s fin­gers brave the turtles
  2. A ses­sion occurred out­side, and on the way to Timmies we intro­duced Chris to Dreamtheater (hence the music selection)
  3. An order is made for about a dozen drinks with great difficulty
  4. We drove back to play Slap Hand, which is a vari­a­tion on Slap Jack, except the pile is hit every time the cor­rect num­ber is called (and for increased dif­fi­culty we played with +/- rules where the pile is only hit if the num­ber spo­ken is an addi­tion or sub­trac­tion of a dif­fer­ent spec­i­fied number)
  5. Darren ran­domly deals every­one a hand of hold ‘em and plays it through, and this causes me to make fun of his obvi­ous addiction
  6. Darren pre­cisely deals a full hand of 13 cards for a game of Asshole, while talk­ing, for which I count my cards in dis­be­lief and finally real­ize just how much he plays cards

Other signs of how stoned we were:

This year, today, Lam joined us instead since Darren is off in Las Vegas.

22 Dec 05

Dreams That Blur

Last night I dreamed of beau­ti­ful bokeh.

20 Dec 05


Hello, I’m an introvert.

When going through Psychology 1101 to cover a required sci­ence elec­tive, I stud­ied the char­ac­ter­is­tics of intro­ver­sion and extro­ver­sion, but the mate­r­ial never really res­onated with me. As I saw it, there are vary­ing degrees of both, I fit some­where on the intro­verted side of the scale, and this was the extent of the appli­ca­tion of such a subject.

I can force myself to be social, friendly, cheer­ful (what Shirley and I call being on), but I can only do this for lim­ited amounts of time. Usually I can keep it going just a few hours for a party or gath­er­ing, or as long as a few days as required if we’re out camp­ing or snow­board­ing, but never longer than this.

The rest of the time I spend in my room, away from the world, because the social inter­ac­tions of every­day life are a huge drain on me. When I’m alone, I recharge in a way I can’t explain. I’ve spent years feel­ing guilty for this behav­iour. The North American atti­tude is that there’s some­thing wrong with being quiet or unso­cial. The most strik­ing mem­ory I have of this was dur­ing frosh week, when oth­ers would con­stantly harass me to go drink­ing, or danc­ing, or par­ty­ing with a bunch of peo­ple I had never met before.

Now there’s an expla­na­tion that makes more sense to me than a sim­ple degree on a scale. In a recent arti­cle, neu­ro­science researcher Marti Olsen Laney talks about the con­nec­tions between intro­ver­sion and biol­ogy. “It impacts all areas of their lives: how they process infor­ma­tion, how they restore their energy, what they enjoy and how they communicate.”

I real­ize that there’s a greatly sig­nif­i­cant cor­re­la­tion between the way I behave and my intro­verted mind­set. Introversion is an atti­tude that affects almost every aspect of my life, deeply rooted to a phys­i­o­log­i­cal level. It isn’t some­thing I should be ashamed of or embar­rassed about.

And if I can come out of my shell every now and then, I’ll be alright.

18 Dec 05

The View Down Here

Thumbnail: View from my room

This is the view out my win­dow on the night of a snow­fall. The bed­rooms are in the base­ment, so I get a sub­ter­ranean look at my minia­ture lawn with pine tree, although the gar­den is now buried under 40cm of snow. There are the Moonlights, deprived of their charges from snow cov­er­ing their solar pan­els. There’s the A/C that cost me a month and a half salary.

A lit­tle box, out­lined by fence and porch, of my things.

I sleep with the blinds open in the win­ter because at night I see more this time of year than in the sum­mer. Snow makes the sky glow an ashen orange, a phe­nom­e­non I can’t myself explain. On some nights, it’s too bright to sleep and I have to mask my eyes, peek­ing out every few min­utes to make sure my win­ter par­adise is still out the win­dow until I fall asleep. When I feel espe­cially sen­ti­men­tal, I leave the win­dow open a crack to let in the smell of ice and dry air.

The price of this plea­sure is at least three dead in weather related inci­dents across the province of Ontario.

14 Dec 05

It's Over

There’s no room for con­fu­sion or regret. One can only thrust one­self for­ward, never look­ing back, never ques­tion­ing what was once said. To learn from these mis­takes is the only sav­ing grace. Busyness is sim­ply self-distraction, and to believe oth­er­wise is self-delusion.

So do you fuck him harder, to bury the love you once had, to drown the guilt with fer­vent voices? To con­vince your­self that it’s over, and that this is bet­ter anyway?

And do you try to love him more, because you can’t love me?