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

The Cutest Thing

At the Tai Chi stu­dio, bath­rooms are shared with an account­ing office in the same building.

Yesterday I found out that the keys aren’t labeled “Men” and “Women”, they say Yin and Yang.

22 Jan 07

Connor, Warrior Fish

So I got a fish.

Thumbnail: Connor side-view

A Siamese fight­ing fish, or Betta, named Connor to be exact. I wanted some­thing lively in my room, since I spend so much time in it. When I went to the store with Pat and Jen, they noticed that one fish was con­stantly flar­ing and swim­ming in cir­cles, almost like he was pac­ing. The fish in the cup next to him (to keep them sep­a­rate or they fight to the death) kept set­ting him off, so nat­u­rally, he was the one. As a clown­tail vari­ant, his fins are extended long like a comb.

I also got some live plants with which came a tiny snail, so small that he was trans­par­ent at first. After a few weeks, he grew con­sid­er­ably big­ger, and sur­vived a cou­ple hours out of water while I was clean­ing out the tank. Bronwen named him Humphrey, but he has since died, found dried up at the top of the tank one morning.

Bettas are funny crea­tures. Supposedly, they have per­son­al­i­ties (for fish), but I can never tell with pets I can’t touch. Sure, he swims towards me every time I turns on the lights or enter the room, but for all I know he could think of me as food. I can only tell that he’s very aggres­sive, flar­ing out his body and swim­ming back and forth when­ever some­thing gets near enough. It’s like he’s a caged glad­i­a­tor, rest­less about his next bat­tle. Dolly likes to sit in my chair and watch him go.

Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor macro
Thumbnail: Pale Connor

I named him Connor, after the immor­tal Connor MacLeod from Highlander, because THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (Betta in a bowl at a time).

19 Jan 07

The Old Boys of '99: Another Perspective

Note: I asked John, as a guest writer, to give his opin­ion. It’s funny to read his writ­ing; the style is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It’s obvi­ous that years of law school have changed him.

When Jeff asked me to write about the “Old Boy sys­tem” at UCC, the first thing I asked was, “what sys­tem”? To me, “sys­tem” implies some order or plan or orga­ni­za­tion, and the alumni of UCC have no spe­cial kin­ship or bond. An “Old Boy sys­tem” con­notes one that is dif­fer­ent from the ones that exist in every grad­u­at­ing class from every school I know of.

I had men­tioned to him that one of our class­mates is in my year at law school and Jeff won­dered aloud whether I would have men­tioned it, or noticed it per­haps, if that class­mate and I had not gone to UCC. I replied that I would have noticed him notwith­stand­ing our atten­dance at UCC, as long as we’d been a part of the same high school class as I’m sure most peo­ple would.

My per­spec­tive on the “sys­tem” is that there isn’t one.

I find it inter­est­ing that many peo­ple seem to think that one exists, and note that the main evi­dence used to prove their case is the seem­ing preva­lence of UCC alumni in the halls of power in this coun­try. In response, I would point out that the two things, atten­dance at UCC and later pro­fes­sional suc­cess, more likely have the same root cause — money, fam­ily con­nec­tions, or dare I say it, intel­li­gence.

The like­li­hood of those things being the cause of one’s pro­fes­sional advance­ment is greater than or equal to the like­li­hood that some sys­tem of quid pro quos or school ties. Ockham’s Razor is a prin­ci­ple that I would bring up in this con­text to dis­suade those who would claim that any sys­tem is behind the rise of Old Boys in their occu­pa­tions, the tenet of that prin­ci­ple being that the sim­plest expla­na­tion is more often than not the accu­rate one, and in this case which expla­na­tion is the sim­plest and most elegant.

That Old Boys get together in some nefar­i­ous Cabal to chart the course of the coun­try and select from amongst their num­ber the cho­sen to lead it is a myth.

Or is it sim­pler to say that chaos reigns supreme and indi­vid­ual old boys make their own way in the world, with­out the kind of help that the phrase “Old Boy sys­tem” connotes?

The peo­ple sin­gled out in Fitzgerald’s book are just that — sin­gled out. There are, if I’m not mis­taken, 71 old boys pro­filed in the book who grad­u­ated from the 1920’s to the 1990’s. In that time more than 5000 boys have grad­u­ated. The idea that 1.4% of those grad­u­ates are some­how a reli­able and rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple is ludi­crous. Such a sam­ple should not be used to draw any con­clu­sions or to make any generalizations.

The Old Boys of '99 Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Another Perspective
  3. Seeto and Bunston
  4. Mungovan and King
  5. Providing Ignorance as Bliss
  6. My Perspective
17 Jan 07

Kilted Groomsmen

You’re the per­fect woman.”

She real­izes this as she writes down my chest, waist, and hip size, then asks rhetor­i­cally, “What are the typ­i­cally ideal measurements?”.

Aaron and I could only look at each other, as we had no idea.


Wow, so you’re a really hot chick!”, says Aaron.

Hi-LAR-ious. Years of con­fi­dence I’ve gained, girl­friends con­vinc­ing me that I’m not too skinny, gone.

Reduced to a male fan­tasy, I’m my own dream girl.

And how much do you weigh?”


After he’s had a buf­fet”, Aaron adds. My friend the come­dian. To con­sole me, he says, “It’s okay. Remember, you’ll be paired up with Jenn in the party”.

My coun­ter­part. The tini­est girl I know.

Thumbnail: Aaron's wedding band

In the last few years I’ve been to wed­dings for other friends, but Aaron’s the first out of my core group to get mar­ried (although Pat got engaged before him). To pay trib­ute to his cul­ture, he wants the wed­ding to be a bit Scottish — some­thing his Popa is espe­cially pleased about.

As a grooms­man, I’ll be wear­ing a kilt. As a Chinese guy, I’ll be feel­ing a lit­tle out-of-place.

Thumbnail: Matching the sporran and kilt colours
Thumbnail: Comparing sporrans
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues

He asked me to give him a hand in shop­ping for the regalia. What a cul­ture shock. Looking through cat­a­logues of claid­heamh, sporrans, Sgian Dubhs, Ghillies Brogues. I can’t even pro­nounce the names. My tongue wasn’t made for these kinds of inflections.

It’ll take you guys longer to get dressed than the bride”.

Before we leave I remem­ber to ask, “Can we go tra­di­tional?”, with Aaron adding, “My Popa would be pretty upset if we didn’t”.

Traditional. The euphemism for com­mando. The euphemism for bear-ass naked.

Don’t worry, every­thing is dry-cleaned”, say the woman reassuringly.

It’s only after we leave that I real­ize every­thing but the shirt is made of wool.

I’ll be scratch­ing my balls through the whole service.

15 Jan 07

The Bias of Insecurity

I like to think that humans are, in gen­eral, cere­bral beings, unaf­fected by bias or emotion.

But every time I’m met with a bigot, who has noth­ing to cling to but the strength of their opin­ions, I lose this hope.

The more they speak, the more they prove them­selves as inca­pable of accept­ing any­thing but their own beliefs. Added to this is a lack of self-awareness, caus­ing them believe that they’re not closed-minded, they’re just right.

Often it betrays an inse­cu­rity. You can tell that under­neath their words, they har­bour a sub­con­scious feel­ing that they’re wrong. To make up for this, they express them­selves strongly enough to con­vince them­selves that they’re right.

As log­i­cally as you explain things, step-by-step, premise to con­clu­sion, they won’t under­stand. They’ll never be able to accept the truth, and remain com­pletely ignorant.

It’s impos­si­ble to have a dis­cus­sion with some­one like this.

The dis­cus­sion is super­fi­cial, and the issue lies within the per­son themselves.

12 Jan 07

The Old Boys of '99: Introduction

An old boy net­work or soci­ety can refer to social and busi­ness asso­ci­a­tions among for­mer pupils of top male-only pub­lic schools (inde­pen­dent sec­ondary schools)…and indi­rectly to preser­va­tion of social elites over time with­out regard to merit.


My high-school, Upper Canada College, is often touted as one of the best schools to attend in Canada. Someone once said that it pro­vides Canada with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of lead­ers, of whom include a Governor General, five Lieutenant-Governors, 24 Rhodes Scholars, and nine Olympic medallists.

Thumbnail: Survivors
Thumbnail: The flag hug
Thumbnail: Rugby and cricket players
Thumbnail: Trombone trio
Thumbnail: Rowing on Lake Ontario
Thumbnail: Football game
Thumbnail: English department
Thumbnail: Hockey team
Thumbnail: School spirit
Thumbnail: Away game

The fac­ulty was excep­tional. A pas­sion­ate, charis­matic group, some of them for­mer pro­fes­sors, notable busi­ness­men, intel­lec­tu­als. The facil­i­ties were top notch; foot­ball fields, base­ball dia­monds, ten­nis courts, indoor/outdoor pools, squash courts. Even the bands and the­atre groups had access to exotic instru­ments and props. I remem­ber for a pro­duc­tion of Hamlet they hired a fight chore­o­g­ra­pher to lend his exper­tise in orches­trat­ing the final fight scene.

School isn’t just about the edu­ca­tion though. It’s as much about the expe­ri­ence. The class­mates. The con­nec­tions. The Old Boy net­work.

When I first started at the prep at age seven, I was cycling along a bridge with another lit­tle seven year old UCC chap. He said to me, ‘My mother is so happy that we are friends because you are going to be able to do so much for me in later life.’ I remem­ber think­ing, ‘I won­der what it is that I am going to be able to do for this chap?’ Then I grew up and real­ized, ‘So that’s the way it is. That is what peo­ple expect.’

—Lord David Thomson (1964–1967, 1970–1975), Chairman of Thomson cor­po­ra­tion, Canada’s wealth­i­est man, sixth wealth­i­est in the world

The influ­ence of the elite legacy of the Old Boys is far-reaching. Compounding this is the age of the school, and per­haps a degree of nepo­tism. A related male at the school sig­nif­i­cantly increased the chances of get­ting in.

Like his grand­fa­ther, John was in McHugh’s house. If had a brother or a son, they would belong to Jackson’s.

Years later, I insisted that my sons, Hugh and Stafford, go to UCC sim­ply because I knew from my own expe­ri­ence that once a boy had gone to Upper Canada, he would never again be in awe of great fam­ily names, money, power or social stand­ing. He would know that although a good pri­vate school like UCC can pro­duce the best, it can also pro­duce the worst.

—Conn Smythe (1908–1910), founder, Maple Leaf Gardens

It was only when James Fitzgerald, an Old Boy him­self, pub­lished his best-selling book Old Boys: The Powerful Legacy of Upper Canada College in 1994 (from where these quotes are taken) that the blem­ishes of UCC came to light.

Beneath the veneer of of navy blue blaz­ers and pol­ished shoes were issues like any other school. There were drugs (though much higher-classed because of bet­ter fund­ing). There were sadis­tic head­mas­ters who looked for an excuse to cane their pupils. There were teach­ers who molested — or seduced — their students.

I learned to be a sex­ual masochist at Upper Canada. I’m not kid­ding. Whenever the house­mas­ter caught me mas­tur­bat­ing, his way of deal­ing with it was to cane me. Caning is a rot­ten method of teach­ing any­thing. What it taught me, of course, was the erotic con­nec­tions of can­ing. They are still with me to this day.

—John Gartshore (1935–1943), musician

A cou­ple months ago, I received a copy of Old Times, the semi-annual pub­li­ca­tion for alumni. In a sec­tion called “Class Notes”, they bring oth­ers up to speed on their class­mates. In the last issue, for exam­ple, they men­tion that Michael Ignatieff, class of ’65, had just joined the race for the lead­er­ship of the Liberal Party of Canada.

There are updates start­ing from the grad­u­ates of 1941, includ­ing my grad­u­at­ing class, the class of ’99. Out of curios­ity, I looked back on my year­book, The College Times, Canada’s old­est stu­dent pub­li­ca­tion. I had to won­der just how much the pres­tige of the school had helped them. To com­pare my idea of where I believed my fel­low class­mates would be, with what they’re doing now.

The mem­o­ries I had didn’t always match up with their cur­rent achievements.

The Old Boys of '99 Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Another Perspective
  3. Seeto and Bunston
  4. Mungovan and King
  5. Providing Ignorance as Bliss
  6. My Perspective
08 Jan 07

Video Wrap-up '06

Much like my end-of-year pho­tos, I had a few mis­cel­la­neous video clips that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

Parental Sit Rep

This is the typ­i­cal thing that hap­pens when I first see John in per­son. Since it’s usu­ally only once a year I get to do this, we do all major updat­ing. The minor issues are taken care of on a weekly basis over the phone.

I didn’t real­ize what sit rep meant until I heard it again while going through my footage.

Exhaling Food

And, of course, John gets his turn at catch­ing me up with all his drama. The way John expresses him­self often ends up mak­ing me laugh at inop­por­tune moments, such as when I’m try­ing to swal­low solid foods, which then tries to make its way through my nasal cavity.

PDA = pub­lic dis­play of affection.

Bubble Juggler

Trolley makes a good attempt at jug­gling two vials of bub­ble mix, then gets served by a passer-by.

Drinking Buddy



I had John in a ten­der state, telling me about his moth­ers last moments. Even though I found out on the first day of school in grade 10 that she died, he never told me the details until that rainy sum­mer day.

05 Jan 07


I gen­er­ally don’t like blog net­works. Too often they’re super­fi­cial, cheaply con­structed com­mu­ni­ties used by the cre­ators to give them­selves a sense of belong­ing and pur­pose in the blo­gos­phere. Some of the most promi­nent exam­ples of this are on Livejournal, where any­one will cre­ate a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-proclaimed “hot mom”, or even hap­pen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one com­mu­nity that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blog­ging. Several pro­lific sites I fre­quent, such as graph­ic­Push, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle fea­ture a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this lit­tle uni­ver­sal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the net­work called 9rules.

9rules logo

I dis­cov­ered that they’re the only com­mu­nity with a phi­los­o­phy and qual­ity with which I agreed. As on their web­site, “9rules is a com­mu­nity of the best weblogs in the world on a vari­ety of top­ics. We started 9rules to give pas­sion­ate writ­ers more expo­sure and to help read­ers find great blogs on their favorite sub­jects. It’s dif­fi­cult to find sites worth return­ing to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the inde­pen­dent web all under one roof.”

Their phi­los­o­phy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must con­stantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.

Although I can say that I agree and fol­low every sin­gle one of them, num­ber eight par­tic­u­larly res­onated with me. It’s one of my rea­sons for liv­ing, and par­tially why I started blog­ging in the first place.

For once, I felt com­pelled to join a community.

Becoming a mem­ber, how­ever, isn’t a sim­ple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour win­dow for peo­ple to sub­mit their blogs. 9rules doesn’t have a spe­cific cri­te­ria for what to accept. Sites are judged on con­sis­tency and qual­ity of mate­r­ial, as well the pas­sion for the sub­jects being blogged.

The com­mu­nity lead­ers go through every site together, often sev­eral times, before decid­ing whether to let some­one join. They also main­tain an exclu­siv­ity clause; mem­bers aren’t allowed to be part of any other com­mu­nity. There was even a purge once, to clean the net­work of any sites whose qual­ity had dropped.

In the past, the accep­tance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being sub­mit­ted. At the end of this round, the num­ber of accepted mem­bers stands at a ten­ta­tive 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.

01 Jan 07

New Year's '07

Thumbnail: Roast beef
Pat and Jen overfeed us.
Playing Tetris on the DS
Playing Dutch Blitz

Christmas is for fam­i­lies, but New Year’s is for friends. I couldn’t decide between Pat and Jen’s or Aaron and Karen’s this year, so I went to both.

Pat and Jen had me over for din­ner first. I met Sophia for the first time, which was a good way to put a face to the per­son who Jen talks about all the time. It was a great change to be hang­ing out with peo­ple who didn’t mind play­ing con­sole and hand-held games at a New Year’s party. Usually I’m the geek who wants to play games, and most peo­ple are uninterested.

Thumbnail: Poker game
Thumbnail: Rob
Thumbnail: Mel
Thumbnail: Alcohol
Thumbnail: Sarah and Cris
Thumbnail: Brother Mike
Thumbnail: Karen
Thumbnail: Cristina
Thumbnail: Rob humps Mel

I headed to Aaron and Karen’s after a cou­ple hours. They’re only a block away from each other, so it was an easy walk. It was the usual Trivial Pursuit (guys won), poker, and gen­eral row­di­ness. A few peo­ple crashed so they could drink, and the party went into the next day with some early morn­ing Wii.

Mel gave me an invi­ta­tion card to their wed­ding in March, and Rob extended the annual Super Bowl party invi­ta­tion. It was a nice ges­ture, because I don’t know Rob and Mel as much as I’d like. I think I’m given that respect by asso­ci­a­tion with Aaron. I hope Rob knows that it goes both ways; a brother of Aaron’s is a brother of mine.

When I’m host­ing a party, I can see Pat study­ing the other guests. It’s in his nature to be aware of his sur­round­ings, and he always tells me that there are inter­est­ing char­ac­ters. This time it was my turn to observe, and there were plenty of char­ac­ters at both places.

I sug­gested that both cou­ples com­bine par­ties for next year, but I’m not sure if the peo­ple would mix.

Thumbnail: Cristina swings
Thumbnail: Pat swings
Thumbnail: Sarah swings
Thumbnail: Aaron bowls
Thumbnail: Cristina and Aaron

I also had a chance to try the Wii. Admittedly, the inno­va­tion impressed me. Gameplay can be fun for casual and sea­soned gamers alike.

And peo­ple have the fun­ni­est faces when they’re swing­ing that con­troller around.

29 Dec 06

Holiday Observer '06

Thumbnail: The cat
Thumbnail: Salad
Thumbnail: Tidbit

On Christmas day, I felt like doing some­thing low-key, with­out the large gath­er­ings usu­ally asso­ci­ated with this time of year, so I decided to spend it with Joel’s fam­ily. Hanukkah had already passed for them; it was just another day. Charlotte, who learns from Nigella Lawson, cooked a tremen­dous meal of roast beef, beans, and secret pota­toes. Even the dessert was a fancy form of choco­late pot mousse, made from 70% cocoa Lindt and allspice.

We set­tled down with a lit­tle Gamecube, and I taught them Dutch Blitz, which we played well into the night. By the time I left, my spir­its were up again.

It was a nice mix­ture of young and mature. A place where I could shut off my brain and be a kid, but have a thought­ful con­ver­sa­tion too. They really made me feel like I was one of the family.

I arrived with hand­shakes and hel­los, but left with hugs and kisses.

25 Dec 06

Christmas Is Dead

This used to be my favourite season.

I don’t even know why. Christmas was always about tedious gath­er­ings. Each parental group of friends and fam­ily — con­sist­ing only of Chinese peo­ple — would take turns host­ing par­ties. As one of the “kids”, I was thrust in a room with the other sons and daugh­ters. People I only saw once a year, with whom I had noth­ing in com­mon. Some years, I’d go to six dif­fer­ent houses in two weeks.

My par­ents would always host New Year’s. Some time ago, with the money I earned from my first job, I bought them a classy fon­due set and fon­due book for them to use as hosts. They never opened the box, or even cracked the spine of the book. It broke my heart.

The things that peo­ple gave me never made things bet­ter. Gifts were always safe.

Monetary cer­tifi­cates. Sweaters. Cheap sta­tion­ary. Nothing per­son­al­ized. Nothing from the heart. Nothing I ever needed or wanted. It was merely a dis­play of how lit­tle peo­ple knew or cared about me. It would have meant more if they gave the money to charity.

The one reprieve dur­ing the hol­i­days was being able to see Darren, sneak­ing out in the mid­dle of a party to get stoned with him, or hang­ing out with John.

Then why did the hol­i­days mean so much to me?

Maybe it was the atmos­phere. The snow. The mem­o­ries of Christmas in Hong Kong. The fact that peo­ple who had noth­ing in com­mon would put up Christmas lights. Something that every­one believed in.

Thumbnail: Cat statue
Thumbnail: Magnets of my initials
Thumbnail: Catnip jar
Thumbnail: Mao, The Unknown Story

Even though I’ve received some beau­ti­ful, thought­ful gifts for once, even though I don’t really cel­e­brate Christmas, I’m down. It’s too warm for the snow to stay. I didn’t buy presents for any­one. I’m work­ing the short week between Christmas week­end and New Year’s week­end because I can’t afford any time off.

I sup­pose the hol­i­days are what you make of them.

There have been many gen­er­ous peo­ple — Louise, John, Aaron, Joel, Bronwen, Pat — who opened their houses to me today, but it’s not the same.

It’s made me real­ize that even though I loathed those gath­er­ings back home, I still needed them.

To feel like I was part of some­thing, part of a fam­ily, as dys­func­tional as it was. Because of the divorce, there’s no home to go to for the first time in my life.

Christmas is dead this year, but it’s only a reflec­tion of how dead I feel inside.

22 Dec 06

Photo Wrap-up '06

I was going through my pic­tures and real­ized that there were quite a few I haven’t posted, so I decided to do an end-of-year wrap-up. Most of these are pho­tos I like but they didn’t fit any­where, or were made redun­dant by other pic­tures telling a story.

Thumbnail: Bronwen with our drinks at Moxie's 
Thumbnail: Model home wall art 
Thumbnail: Smiles around the cabin in Tremblent 
Thumbnail: Metal beatle 
Thumbnail: Karen plays with Chaos 
Thumbnail: Tremblent cabin 
Thumbnail: Blood oranges 
Thumbnail: Dolly goes for a treat in the hand 
Thumbnail: Me and Bronwen waiting for the bus 
Thumbnail: Just A Taste brownie 
Thumbnail: Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat 
Thumbnail: Eating yoghurt 
Thumbnail: The treats of Chinese vendors 
Thumbnail: Paper cranes 
Thumbnail: Stunt rider 
Thumbnail: Nala in my room 
Thumbnail: Jenn and Karen 
Thumbnail: Bottle of Miracle by Lancome 
Thumbnail: Steph's cat 
Thumbnail: Gerry's view 

Since we got bought out by a pub­lic com­pany, the pur­chas­ing pro­ce­dure has changed quite a bit. Some of the top brass from the head office in Boston flew in this week, and I made it a point to thank the CFO for per­son­ally approv­ing the pur­chase of a new Canon Rebel XTi, 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and 50mm f/1.8 lens. After the pres­i­dent intro­duced me, he told me I did a fan­tas­tic job with the pic­tures in the com­pany cat­a­logue, and it really made my day.

I think I’ve really devel­oped as a pho­tog­ra­pher in the lit­tle time I’ve owned my first SLR cam­era. Looking back on a year of pho­tos has made me real­ize that I’ve learned a lot, not only sim­ple pho­to­graphic the­ory, but famil­iar­ity with my cam­era and post-processing as well. I still have a lot more to learn though, espe­cially with expo­sure and meter­ing, as dig­i­tal cam­eras make it easy to get good shots with­out really need­ing to have an in-depth understanding.

18 Dec 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Louise

The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
You know you done me wrong baby
And you’ll be sorry someday

BB King, The Thrill Is Gone

Our rela­tion­ship was a night­mare of ups and downs.

You had the amaz­ing abil­ity to make me feel good about myself, by say­ing the right thing with intel­li­gence and eloquence.

Yet every time I felt like I was mak­ing progress, progress that took tremen­dous effort and energy, progress for you, you would put me down. Every time I took a leap of faith and put myself out there, you would hurt me. It wasn’t even a case of bru­tal, tact­less hon­esty; you would insult my pride for no reason.

I think it betrayed a sub­con­scious inse­cu­rity. Something you would do to make your­self feel bet­ter. Like your con­stant need to prove that you’re busy and mov­ing on. It’s as if your life is empty, void, and you’re des­per­ate to fill it with something.

I had to end things when you went too far.

There were no regrets, because I did my absolute best to make things work. Even though I suf­fered, I ignored the pain, and tried work­ing through it. I only gave up when you proved too stub­born to change or understand.

The rela­tion­ship wasn’t a total loss. It was an inter­est­ing intro­duc­tion to the sub­cul­ture. It was pas­sion­ately sex­ual. It also made me more con­fi­dent, although I real­ize now that it wasn’t because of you. You barely gave me any trust, and every step for­ward I made, you pulled me back two. It was me who fought through all the inse­cu­ri­ties and rose to the occasion.

When you came back in January, with­out a word of apol­ogy or men­tion of the wrong you did, I had no inter­est in con­tin­u­ing the rela­tion­ship. After that, I thought of you when­ever I heard the song Buried Myself Alive by The Used.

Then, with all your let­ters and your apolo­gies and your tears, two years later, you asked “nicer than that”.

Unfortunately, it was at an unsta­ble time in my life, so I asked you to back off and wait. Your idea of back­ing off and wait­ing is leav­ing me creepy com­ments and dat­ing to fill the time. I just can’t under­stand how you keep mak­ing these mis­takes. It’s almost like you pur­posely sab­o­tage yourself.

I don’t want to be involved in the drama any­more. Nothing is ever sim­ple with you. Even though you say you’ve changed, it’s not worth the risk to me. You had your chance, and it was a damn good one.

You’ve wronged me too many times. The last time you left my house, not know­ing when or if you’d come back, I felt nothing.

I knew then that the thrill was gone.

A few other things:

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen
15 Dec 06

Brown Hairs On A Yellow Face

Trolley and Aaron can grow beards as I’ve never been able to. It’s always made me a lit­tle envi­ous. I’m not one who can have that gruff, dis­tin­guished look.

This comes as a strange phe­nom­e­non. While my dad could never really develop a full beard, he could quickly grow an all-over scruff. Scruff like it was made of steel wool. Sometimes he’d have to shave twice a day, and he kept an extra elec­tric shaver in the glove com­part­ment just for this purpose.

Apparently, I didn’t inherit this gene.

Thumbnail: Razor shavings

Thumbnail: Razor shavings close-up

I did, how­ever, inherit some sort of muta­tion that turns cer­tain hairs brown. I always thought it was Scottish her­itage on Aaron’s part that gave him the orange high­lights in his beard. Now I don’t know what it’s due to.

Unfortunately, I can’t show off this muta­tion, since I have to shave frequently.

When I don’t shave, my sparse facial hair makes me look like I’m still going through puberty and my balls have yet to drop.

11 Dec 06

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Jackie

Am I not your favourite gad­get, no more?
How come my lit­tle baby?
Am I not your favourite gad­get, no more now?
How come not anymore?

Since you bought me, I feel lonely
Since that day things are wrong
Could you not repair me, honey
Is my war­ranty guar­an­teed gone

—Ellen ten Damme, Gadget

There was always some­thing about you.

Your voice. Your Joisey accent. Your hair style. Your always-on choker. Your pierc­ings (I was always a sucker for brow rings and tongue studs). Your taste in music. Your off-the-wall personality.

It was all so excit­ing. Something I’d never expe­ri­enced before.

But you were a total drama queen too. You would get upset over the most ran­dom, innocu­ous things. I could never tell if you truly believed the ridicu­lous things you said, or whether you just said them for atten­tion. Either way, I hated it.

You could also be as imma­ture as a teenager. I hated how you would do things like leave in the mid­dle of a game and storm off to the other room because you thought you would lose.

I put all my feel­ings aside for you. I would always let you have your way, but you’d never even con­sider mine, and I hated it.

Most of all, I hated how you meant so much to me, while I meant so lit­tle to you.

Even though I knew it wouldn’t last, even though I knew you were com­pletely wrong for me, like poi­son in the blood­stream, I couldn’t end it. Sometimes I still won­der if you ever think of me, or whether I was just another thing you used to occupy your­self in the sum­mer, between boyfriends.

I’ve writ­ten more entries inspired by what hap­pened than by any­thing else. I don’t want to give our rela­tion­ship any sig­nif­i­cance, but the truth is that I can’t deny how impor­tant it was. What we had wouldn’t even count as a rela­tion­ship, if it weren’t for how much it affected me.

My pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ships were never sat­is­fy­ing. It felt like I could never fall in love or appre­ci­ate my girl­friends for who they were, and I always believed it was my fault. Then I fell in love with you, and it helped me learn that the fail­ures of the past weren’t anyone’s fault, and sim­ply the result of incom­pat­i­bil­ity. If it wasn’t for this real­iza­tion, the suf­fer­ing and the heart­break wouldn’t have been worth it.

You were the only girl to ever break up with me. It was the short­est rela­tion­ship I’ve had by far, but for some rea­son, it was the longest for me to get over. My heart tells me you were spe­cial, but my head tells me you weren’t spe­cial at all.

You were only the one I couldn’t have.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen