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

Growing Pains

Thumbnail: Dry bacon

I caught my father after a shower. How for­mal the word, father. Like address­ing a char­ac­ter in some Elizabethan play. His hair was mussed, wild, even thin­ner than before. He’s been going gray since he was 15, and every cou­ple of months he colours it black again. It works for him, tak­ing at least ten years off his age. People don’t really know how old he is until he tells them that I’m in my twenties.

How scary it was to see him like this, like some crazy old fool with all his hair point­ing out­ward and uncom­posed, but still know­ing that he was still my sta­ble, strong, cold father. The thought that he may one day go senile, lose the viril­ity that he seems so des­per­ate to cling to, filled me with pity.

The bacon they serve me for break­fast is dry, dull, devoid of soft fat, or grease that pools in the waves of each strip. A result of his heart con­di­tion. No more cheese, red meat only once a week.

Thumbnail: Wrinkled hand

Even my moth­ers’ del­i­cate hands have deeply with­ered, though they remain soft from her atten­tive care, which include vary­ing sorts of designer hand creams and spe­cial­ized lotions that fol­low her every­where. My par­ents have long stopped wear­ing their wed­dings bands, but she wears one of my grand­moth­ers rings, a beau­ti­ful old-fashioned cut on a clamp mount, left to her in the will. I remem­ber my grand­mother pinch­ing my cheeks, hold­ing my hand, her skin loose but, like mom, sup­ple as a soft­ened chamois.

I see this ring on my mother, and real­ize that she’s get­ting older too.

09 Oct 05

Elementary School

Thumbnail: School crossing sign

Thumbnail: Four-square tiles

Thumbnail: Rusty tetherball pole

Thumbnail: School portable

This was my ele­men­tary school. The Catholic insti­tu­tion I attended dur­ing the first few years of mov­ing here. Where I used to offer best-friend sta­tus for a mouth­ful of Big League Chew. Old, famil­iar four-square courts are still painted on, unmoved. The T-ball poles are rusted out and miss­ing their teth­ers. Countless feet jump­ing, run­ning, skip­ping dur­ing recess have caused the pave­ment to warp and crack. Even the old porta­bles are any­thing but, their famil­iar beige tones still inhab­it­ing the back of the school, built out of con­crete and plas­tic foam when the town was bud­ding, and the class­rooms couldn’t han­dle all the stu­dents. Walking up the wooden stairs, I bet they even have the same groan­ing creaks.

Read the rest of this entry »

08 Oct 05

Weekend By Bus

Thumbnail: Greyhound station

Leaving by bus, in the rain and in the dark, is some­thing special.

The per­fect album to put on is Ágætis Byrjun by Sigur Rós, with songs like Starálfur and Olsen Olsen, but espe­cially Sven-G-Englar and Ný Batteri. Sounds are dis­tract­ing all around with the peo­ple talk­ing, the bat­ter­ing of rain­drops on the wind­shield, the thud-thump of the uneven high­way road, but they grad­u­ally fade to a lethar­gic pulse. The unrec­og­niz­able tim­bres of each dis­tin­guish­able instru­ment take over.

This is the moment. The exact pur­pose of the song. The notes are pure, amor­phous colours in the dark­ness, a dul­cet damper for the out­side world.

Soon the rhythm of the pass­ing city lights will become more and more sparse, and all that will be left in the win­dows are the reflec­tions of those with their over­head lights on, read­ing books or keep­ing eye-contact.

It’s been ten months since the last time you did this.

How has so much hap­pened since then?

07 Oct 05

Music Is The Only Thing

I wasn’t plan­ning on writ­ing until next Monday, but I can’t seem to get away from this.

With the falling tem­per­a­tures come late morn­ings. Stepping out­side ear­lier, the sky was still dimmed with the street lamps on from the pre­vi­ous night. It felt like the sun had already set, and it was only going to get darker. I was in the mood for some jazz, so I fid­geted on my iPod until I found a Duke Ellington col­lec­tion. Unfortunately, most of it is com­prised of big band swing songs, fast mov­ing, major keys, a sound that didn’t quite match the mood. I set­tled on Going Up, a calm pro­gres­sive jazz piece fea­tur­ing brushes instead of drum sticks, har­mon mutes in the trum­pets, and Les Spann on flute. Four years of pri­vate lessons, with four dif­fer­ent bands in high-school, have made me appre­ci­ate the pol­ished, round­ness of his sound. He trav­els chro­mat­i­cally with utter smooth­ness on the wood­wind, and unlike on the piano, which the fin­gers can move across in one sweep­ing motion, each note is played with a seem­ingly ran­dom com­bi­na­tion of fin­gers. In his head, he’s four bars ahead of his fin­gers, allow­ing his into­na­tion remain pre­cise with each pur­pose­ful note.

Sometimes it feels like music is the only thing that can bring out my emo­tions again. Most of them have been replaced by sim­ple deter­mi­na­tion. Everything is busi­ness busi­ness busi­ness because the world is cold cold cold.

I’m going home for the Thanksgiving long-weekend. A much needed break that I’ve been plan­ning for a while now. Funny that I still call it home when it’s a five hour drive away, and I own my own house in this city. Home isn’t where you grew up, it isn’t where you live now, home is where the par­ents are.

03 Oct 05

Walk Without Loo

Thumbnail: Statues looking up

Thumbnail: Day building

Thumbnail: War memorial

Three pic­tures.

Patience is the great­est advan­tage. Time brings all answers. Knowing that the sun will rise again tomor­row puts the mind at ease.

Sometimes you just need to wait.

01 Oct 05

Pita And Friend

After the last house­warm­ing party, Pita stayed the night, hav­ing come all the way from Montreal, not want­ing to drive back after a few hours of drink­ing. I asked him to stay on Sunday, and we ended up play­ing all the old Gamecube games that we used to play and mas­ter, back when we lived together. We never had the chance to do this since he moved to Taiwan and back to Canada over two years ago, so it was quite a rem­i­nis­cent experience.

Discovering I had a free week­end, I invited him over a lit­tle while ago for two days of pure gam­ing. The invi­ta­tion was extended to his room­mate, after Pita said that I should meet her, being a hard­core gam­ing chick who appar­ently can kick his ass in Soul Calibur 2. I have yet to observe this ass-kicking chick phe­nom­e­non for myself, and unfor­tu­nately, I haven’t had any time to prac­tice with Kilik or Raphael, so I’m pre­pared to get my ass handed to me. I’m hop­ing to make it up in Super Smash Brothers Melee.

This is the last week­end of fun before I start to get seri­ous about work (aside from a LAN party I have planned for the first week of November). I decided not to take the job at the book­store, and put my full focus on a web solu­tions busi­ness that I reg­is­tered this week.

They should be here any minute.

29 Sep 05

Walk With Loo

Thumbnail: Statue looking up

Thumbnail: Night building

Thumbnail: War memorial

Three pic­tures.

There’s so much to say, but noth­ing comes out. I think I’m still in shock. When I think that things have passed, this hap­pens. Complete ambiva­lence has turned to incon­clu­sive­ness. All I know is that I’m still a sucker for those two lit­tle words. There’s solace in the hope that other things will work out, that they wouldn’t have hap­pened, had things not ended up like this. Now all that’s left is clut­ter of questions.

Karma makes me ask who I’ve wronged so greatly to deserve this. At the same time, it’s an open-ended answer that doesn’t give me what I’m look­ing for, or make me feel any better.

And what do I do now, when all I have left are mem­o­ries that may fade like old pho­tographs sit­ting in the sun?

27 Sep 05

I'm Seeing Louise Tomorrow

We haven’t spo­ken in months.

I still think about her, but isn’t that how it usu­ally goes? You think about the last girl­friend until the next one comes along, ad infini­tum.

Sometimes I think about the oppor­tu­ni­ties I’ve missed with her. Never hav­ing a chance to attend one of her par­ties, a mys­te­ri­ous, eso­teric rit­ual that both fright­ened and excited me when­ever I heard about it. Never get­ting to use the beau­ti­ful rope she bought before she left for the final, extended break. Never being able to leave her bound and blind­folded in her own closet, the secret lit­tle fan­tasy we both shared. All the things that I took my time with, think­ing I’d have a chance even­tu­ally, expect­ing the rela­tion­ship to work.

But even­tu­ally never came.

Sometimes I have to remind myself how much she hurt me. On some days it’s eas­ier than oth­ers. How much I changed and grew and was brave for her, only to have her con­stantly put me down. I tried my best, did the most I could, but it was never enough. Her com­plete lack of faith was more than dis­cour­ag­ing, it was insulting.

Yet she was the girl­friend I respected the most, the only one I could talk to about any­thing with­out being afraid of los­ing her in sub­ject mat­ter. The girl­friend who taught me the most, who played an inte­gral part in giv­ing me the sense of strength and respon­si­bil­ity I feel today. I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out if it was all worth it, whether I’d learn these thing even­tu­ally, or whether the expe­ri­ence was unique. I sus­pect I’ll find out in time.

It’s sup­posed to be sunny tomor­row. The begin­ning of fall, car­ry­ing the tran­si­tional tem­per­a­tures of sum­mer, is always pleas­antly cool. We’ll be strolling along the stores and restau­rants of Elgin, and I’ll be tak­ing my video cam­era in hopes of get­ting some footage of the sand­bag angels at the Confederation Park.

25 Sep 05

Jeff The Stylist

So what are the plans for tonight?”, he asks me, wet­ting my hair in the wash­basin before work­ing the sham­poo into my scalp.

Nothing much. My flat­mate has a friend over from back home, so we’ll prob­a­bly head out later. Maybe the Honest Lawyer.”

It was a com­plete lie. Trolley was telling me about being at the Lawyer the night before, so it was the first thing that came to mind. Kate’s here, sure enough, but there were no plans.

Even though we share the same name, we live in dif­fer­ent worlds. Jeff looks like he’s been carved out of mar­ble, shoul­ders exag­ger­at­edly broad with a stiff­ened super­hero gait. His facial hair is simul­ta­ne­ously gruff but hand­some, always trimmed in way that shows he takes care of his appear­ance. The styl­ist who always has some form of colour in his hair, whether it’s spikes or high­lights or chunks, and looks like he could pass for any­thing between 20 to 30.

Once, after walk­ing me over to the hydraulic chair, one of the slim­mer ones that are found in salons instead of bar­ber­shops, we started to dis­cuss the lack of decent metal bands from Canada. I told him that I was look­ing for more Breach Of Trust songs online (Jeff has the two first albums), which prompted him to ask, “You have a com­puter?”, with­out a sin­gle pause of the sheers.

The ques­tion left me dumb­founded. It took me a few moments to real­ize that not every­one has a com­puter, my bias com­ing from the fact that my friends all have one, being a grad­u­ate of comp sci. Almost every­one I know is also in an eco­nomic class to be able to afford such a lux­ury, with a lifestyle to actu­ally have a use for one.

Last time, he told me about run­ning out of dis­pos­able dishes, not own­ing more than a pair of plates he received as a tip once, and a tea stained mug, both of which have fallen into desue­tude. “I’ve never liked to do the dishes”, he flatly stated.

In a reac­tionary man­ner, I asked him, “You don’t have a dish­washer?”, regret­ting the words the moment they came out of my mouth. “Oh god no”, was his insou­ciant reply, as if he’d have no use for it, even if he had one. As soon as I asked, I real­ized the insen­si­tiv­ity of my ques­tion, that not every­one would want a dish­washer, as strange as it seemed at the time. I’m at a point where I’d have a hard time liv­ing with­out one now, and an even harder time bring­ing a girl home, cook­ing a meal, and serv­ing it to her on paper plates. A dish­washer has become a neces­sity for me, sim­ply based on lifestyle, much like a com­puter. Sometimes it seems like I spend my life on my com­puter, and Jeff’s a per­son who lives com­pletely with­out one. If I told him I didn’t have a car, I’m sure he would find it just as strange.

It was a star­tling real­iza­tion. I don’t know many peo­ple with­out a col­lege or uni­ver­sity degree, with­out a long-term career or fam­ily plan. I don’t know any­one still liv­ing the bach­e­lor life, happy to go out every night, and eat off dis­pos­able dishes. Jeff seems like a great guy, reserved until he feels out his clients, but friendly. I don’t know any­one like him, although I’m sure that there are many just like him.

And every time he cuts my hair, at the start of every appoint­ment dur­ing the rit­ual wash­ing, he asks about my plans for the night. Usually I tell him the truth. Nothing. It’s a week­night, and I just worked a full day. That’s when he lets me know about his own plans, which gen­er­ally con­sist of going out and drink­ing in some form or another.

But that day, I lied. It was a Saturday, and who doesn’t have plans on a Saturday night? I only feel guilty about it now, after being able to under­stand where he’s com­ing from. It’s only fair that I’m as hon­est with him as he is with me.

Even if we do live two totally dif­fer­ent lives. Even if he may not understand.

23 Sep 05

Oh, The Humanity

Although not in any nar­ra­tive Herbert Morrison sense.

I had a dif­fer­ent entry half-written, but the dark­ness was debil­i­tat­ing. All I wanted was a sec­ond sun; it felt like a case of SAD because the night was mak­ing me both anx­ious and uneasy. It’s noth­ing close to a panic attack, but it was bad enough that I felt com­pelled to called Pat to help talk me out of it. He’s one of the only peo­ple I can count on 24/7, and just talk­ing to him for an hour helps me fig­ure out more about the world than three months of writ­ing here. I know my eyes’ll feel like lead weights tomor­row for stay­ing up this late, but I need to get this entry down before I lose it. Hopefully, know­ing that it’s Friday will be enough to keep me alive through the day.

Self-improvement has dri­ven me for most of my life, a never-ending goal that’s guided me through my actions and beliefs. This is usu­ally based on com­par­i­son, since improve­ment is always rel­a­tive. Those who can accom­plish what I have dif­fi­culty doing always have my respect, and give me some­thing to work towards.

Before I com­plain about get­ting six hours of sleep the pre­vi­ous night, I think of Navy SEALs who get four hours total dur­ing Hell Week, a five day under­wa­ter train­ing exer­cise dur­ing the first phase of the BUD/S. That’s when I real­ize that I should be able to sur­vive an extra hour of work with­out much dif­fi­culty. When I feel like throw­ing my hands in the air after work­ing on an ad for four hours, blinded by the depth with which I’ve star­ing at the mate­r­ial, I think of my boss who can work through count­less inter­rup­tions and dis­trac­tions. That’s when I real­ize that I should keep at my work, because per­se­ver­ance will almost always yield results.

If I can sur­vive it, any­thing can make me stronger.

But as I dis­cov­ered tonight, every­one has their weak­nesses. Even Pat. He’s always seemed as solid as a rock, com­pletely unfal­ter­ing, but he admit­ted that there are also moments of weak­ness, how­ever brief. Times when he can’t get any work done because some­thing is both­er­ing him that he can’t let go. Times when he just doesn’t feel like going out or social­iz­ing. To find this out about Pat, was to dis­cover that the most cheer­ful, friendly, con­fi­dent, and men­tally strong per­son I know has his off days. Even the hard­est work­ing, most pro­duc­tive per­son I know occa­sion­ally falls vic­tim to a case of the Mondays or the 9–5 grind. There must be some sem­blance of bal­ance, in how much to push one­self, and how much to accept.

To strive for per­fec­tion is fine, but to lose sleep over imper­fec­tion is foolish.

Being a dom­i­nant, respon­si­ble for another per­son, means that one should be solid as often as pos­si­ble, but even this extreme case should allow for some lee­way. This doesn’t mean that I won’t try as hard in my attempt at dom­i­nance, but know­ing this cer­tainly makes the approach, and even self-improvement in gen­eral, much easier.

Some may say that it’s a fal­lacy to com­pare one­self to other peo­ple. After all, every­one has dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties and tol­er­ance lev­els, and it’s no fault to born bet­ter at some things than others.

But even then, everybody’s human.

20 Sep 05

Keeping Myself Occupied Has Been Easy

Some things fall in my lap, oth­ers I actively seek out. It’s keep­ing track of every­thing that’s get­ting difficult.

Too busy to think. Too busy to write.

I have to remind myself that that’s what I wanted.

And here I am, turn­ing over in my head the idea of moon­light­ing at a homely used book store that’s a five minute walk from my house. Stuck to the glass door is a notice for part-time help dur­ing the week­end, that I pass by every time I go gro­cery shop­ping. I walked in there once and bought a Penguin Classics copy of The Odyssey for $1.45, because I lost my old copy from high school long ago. I’ve always wanted to work at a cof­fee shop, but gave up on that idea after apply­ing to one a few years ago and find­ing out that my résumé ended up in the garbage, was picked out because of a good word put in by a friend, and promptly placed back in the garbage again. In hind­sight, I’m glad I wasn’t hired because I would have quit before the train­ing was over. It was only some­thing to hold me over until I could find some­thing with a bet­ter career that’s more in line with my edu­ca­tion, which is exactly what I found two weeks later. A book­store seems like a good alternative.

Aaron and Shirley are both encour­ag­ing me to go for it. The for­mer thinks that it’ll be a good change from the reg­u­lar 9–5 that I do, and a job that I can use to relax. The lat­ter is telling me it’ll be fun, and that she’ll pur­sue her own dream job as a wait­ress (moon­light­ing as well) if I apply to this one.

I’m still considering.

17 Sep 05

Transitway Six

Thumbnail: Transitway

On days like this, it’s bet­ter to wear light cloth­ing, and throw on a hooded wind­breaker. The rain out­side is just a driz­zle, so it’s com­fort­ably cool. Pay no atten­tion to the hydraulic hiss of the wind­shield wipers, or you won’t be able to help hear­ing them through the quiet parts of every song. Window seats are prime. There are fewer dis­trac­tions from peo­ple walk­ing down the aisle.

The 95 goes from one end of the city to the other, straight through the heart of Ottawa. Every stop is a mem­ory. Old haunts. Past lives.

Here was your first apart­ment. Sometimes you’d find Christie wait­ing for you here on the benches between classes. How long ago those days seem, how imma­ture and rel­a­tively inno­cent. The next two stops are on the edge of the uni­ver­sity cam­pus, four years of scat­tered tru­ancy. Two stops later is where you use to buy a medium caramel cor­retto every morn­ing after an exhaust­ing night with Louise. Your old gov­ern­ment office is another two on. The con­crete build­ing looks so for­eign now, and you won­der if the same peo­ple are still inside. Another few stops is your last apart­ment, before buy­ing the house, the end of bus rides home every day.

Music never meant so much.

You pass by con­struc­tion sites, fin­ished build­ings, see the evo­lu­tion of the city.

Every stop can be traced to a dif­fer­ent point, a dif­fer­ent girl­friend, a dif­fer­ent path in your life.

Six years of expe­ri­ence, six years of shift­ing, ever-changing anima.

Six years passed.

Six years lived.

Six years grown.

14 Sep 05

Awakening: The Reborn Dreamer

I wake up every day look­ing at Death, and you know what? He ain’t half bad.

—Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp

Its not until you lose every­thing that you are free to do anything.

—Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I used to take pride in the fact that I felt like I could die sat­is­fied any day. I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t ask for more, and there was a tremen­dous sense of over­all sat­is­fac­tion. I had every­thing that I deserved. After that, all I had left to expe­ri­ence, every fall morn­ing caught or tear shed, was a bonus. Of course, the clos­est I had ever come to death was a minor case of pneu­moth­o­rax, which I imag­ine is as fatal as pinch­ing one’s skin between two Lego pieces while build­ing the Death Star, so this feel­ing was never actu­ally put to the test. I’m sure I’d feel dif­fer­ently if I ever came fright­en­ingly close to the end of my life, although just how much remains a mystery.

Perhaps this grew from a cogent sense of frailty, per­pet­u­ated by all the sto­ries of freak acci­dents echoed through­out the media. The stu­dent who impaled his heart on a num­ber 2 pen­cil while try­ing to catch a foot­ball in the mid­dle of class. The gen­eral who drowned in a pool of his own blood from a nose­bleed on his wed­ding night. Even the pres­i­dent of the United States almost choked to death on a pret­zel. To dis­tance myself was the only way I could deal with it.

The prob­lem, I’ve only recently dis­cov­ered, was that this left me alien­ated and unat­tached. I have no dreams, noth­ing to live for. Not even a goal to work towards. During high-school, the goal was to get into a uni­ver­sity. After uni­ver­sity, the goal was to get a ful­fill­ing job. After the job was the house. Now that I own a house, it feels like the rest of my life has been laid out in front of me. No risks, no sur­prises. I appre­ci­ate every­thing that I’ve been given, but it feels like it’s been a lit­tle too easy. Even my most sig­nif­i­cant goal was rather sud­denly accom­plished this year. As Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote in his book Afterthoughts, “How many of our day­dreams would darken into night­mares if there seemed any dan­ger of their com­ing true!”. A simul­ta­ne­ous ful­fill­ment and dissatisfaction.

I pre­sented this prob­lem to Pat, and from his infi­nite wis­dom (at 24, no less) I real­ized that one should never live for what might hap­pen. Otherwise, a per­son would go crazy. Of course, to truly live this way, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a fatal­ist. Having this belief means that one can only do the best that they can, and to go means that it was meant to be.

For now, I’ve been keep­ing myself occu­pied, until I can fig­ure out what I want in the last rest of my life. Blessed is the per­son who is too busy to worry in the day­time and too sleepy to worry at night. It’s only now that I’ve dis­cov­ered that I need a few dreams to survive.

And I can only hope to never reach them.

The Awakening Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Cause
  3. The Reborn Dreamer
12 Sep 05

Just Forget

Jeff: I can tell you feel the same
dar: do you still talk to her?
Jeff: no…I actu­ally specif­i­cally told her not to talk to me again
Jeff: cause of some creepy stalker shit she was doing
dar: hahaha
Jeff: and she still e-mails me
dar: damn..
dar: she’s going to kill you in the dark
Jeff: haha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­hah­ha­ha­haaaahh
dar: she prob. knows where u live
dar: and watches you

In uni­ver­sity I met Mike, half-heartedly doing his biol­ogy home­work in my cryp­tol­ogy class to hang out with his old high-school friend, the lat­ter of whom was one of my clique. Mike has an odd charisma. His out­spo­ken­ness means that he exudes con­fi­dence, and the girls love him for it. I’m never really sure if his mild chau­vin­ism is a seri­ous atti­tude, or just some­thing he projects around other guys to fit in. One of those sex­ist ass­holes the girls can’t seem to resist.

He once con­fessed, “I have this Korean chick fol­low­ing me. You know, the kind you have to kick off your leg like a dog”.

Those girls are only in the movies, I thought to myself. The dorky ones with the glasses who have impos­si­ble crushes on the main char­ac­ters, who, in turn, are com­pletely blind to the awk­ward advances. The girls who sac­ri­fice their chance at hap­pi­ness, because they love him so much and just want him to be happy, mar­tyring them­selves in the minds of teen audi­ences everywhere.

But they do exist. Those stub­born girls who still try to keep con­tact after you tell them you never want to speak to them again. The girls who con­tinue to check your blog at an aver­age of twice a day, some sick voyeuris­tic fascination.

Those girls you wished would for­get about you, so you could for­get about them.

10 Sep 05

Awakening: Cause

Worry does not empty tomor­row of sor­row — it emp­ties today of strength.

—Corrie ten Boom

It started with a sin­gle panic attack, at work, in the mid­dle of the day.

Heart rac­ing, dif­fi­culty breath­ing, par­a­lyz­ing ter­ror, fear that I was about to die.

If you’ve ever had a bad trip off psilo­cybe, or magic mush­rooms, the effects are very sim­i­lar. Not that I’ve ever had a good one. Half an hour into inges­tion, I start to feel nau­se­ated. At the back of my head there’s a creep­ing sense that some­thing is wrong. My hands start to trem­ble, my mind feels like it’s shud­der­ing. Eventually, there’s a com­plete uneasi­ness in the body, both phys­i­cally and men­tally. Around that time, the body reacts quickly to rid the stom­ach of what­ever is caus­ing these symp­toms, and vio­lently ejects them in the form of vom­it­ing. Stems and caps come out as dark brown flecks, and you won­der how eat­ing some­thing so small thing can make you feel so terrible.

But with a panic attack, there’s no expla­na­tion. No sense of pre­ven­tion. No float­ing fun­gus in the pool of your toi­let you can point your fin­ger at and say, “I’m never doing THAT again”.

It comes with­out warn­ing, with­out obvi­ous rea­son. All you want is to end the attack. To crawl into a cor­ner and hide. To tear off your stran­gling clothes. To die.

Afterward, you’re not won­der­ing what you’re going to lis­ten to on the way home, or how to get the atten­tion of that cutie in the porce­lain depart­ment, or when you’ll have time to go buy more sham­poo. All you’re think­ing about is when the next one will hap­pen. All you’re left with is a bunch of ques­tions and a sense of insta­bil­ity. I have my sus­pi­cions, but I’ve cho­sen not to write about them until I’m cer­tain, some­thing which I believe will come in time. There’s no sim­ple diag­no­sis, no easy answer.

Recently, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that the word “wheeze” can acti­vate asthma attacks in asth­mat­ics. The mind trig­gers an asso­ci­ated emo­tional response, and the body man­i­fests the reac­tion. It’s the same after a panic attack. Sometimes, peo­ple with panic dis­or­der can bring on an attack just wor­ry­ing or think­ing too much about it.

Not that I have a dis­or­der. The fear of an attack isn’t detri­men­tal enough to stunt me socially, and doesn’t pre­vent me from func­tion­ing as what the DSM IV would con­sider “nor­mal”. It was only a sin­gle episode, but habit of con­stant self-evaluation means that the threat of it hap­pen­ing again is always there. It’s in the back of my mind whether I’m at work, or play­ing games, or cook­ing din­ner. Every minute of every day becomes a strug­gle not to think about it. And when you know you feel like dying dur­ing an attack, you start to won­der whether it’s worth liv­ing at all.

People face this ques­tion when they’re diag­nosed with ter­mi­nal ill­nesses. Told that they have only have a few years left, they live more in those num­bered days than they do in their entire lives until then.

They awaken.

The Awakening Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Cause
  3. The Reborn Dreamer