equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
Me @ Twitter

One day I’m going to learn to play the accor­dian, per­form polka music, and my stage name will be Normal Al.

9 months, 2 weeks ago
03 Feb 14

for you, i am sweeping words together

Winter has always been dif­fi­cult at times. At –15 or below, breath becomes a layer of ice on the win­dows when parked out­side, and I can do noth­ing but wait for the car to warm up again so I can see enough to drive. At that point, it means I’m sit­ting in the car for longer than my com­mute. I try to take it as a good way to prac­tice patience, but it’s a hard wait after an eight hour shift on my feet. It’s still win­ter in all it’s muf­fling glory though, the time in the year I most appre­ci­ate liv­ing in Canada. Girls and cats alike are more affec­tion­ate too, and I don’t mind being the source of heat.

cats and winter

 

I tend to get up around sun­rise now, and every time I step out­side before the rest of the world wakes up, it feels like I’m born again. It’s a chance for me to hit the reset but­ton on the last day. To let go of the past, even if it hap­pened only seven hours ago, and become a blank slate.

I also grad­u­ally broke the habit of check­ing my feeds after feel­ing jaded about news and media, then com­ing across this arti­cle. After months of absten­tion, I can say that I’ve gained time and lost noth­ing. It’s left me feel­ing increas­ingly dis­con­nected from the world, but I know that means I’m begin­ning to learn what really matters.

Me @ Twitter

The prob­lem with dig­i­tal pho­tographs is that you can’t put them in a shoe­box and burn them.

10 months ago
10 Jan 14

50/50

I’m writ­ing as a way of prac­tic­ing self-compassion. Weeks get lost to the cus­tomers and com­mute, and when time off involves not think­ing or being around peo­ple, it doesn’t leave much room for per­sonal growth.

The prob­lem is that noth­ing feels real or true unless I write it down. The changes are start­ing to flow together, and I’m at var­i­ous stages of progress on sev­eral fronts. There are no begin­nings, no ends, no chap­ters, no dis­tinc­tive tran­si­tions I can sum up neatly in a title. The lessons stretch out to years instead of months. Development has given way to evo­lu­tion. It seems silly to write about a feel­ing that won’t last from the first time I hit Save Draft to Publish.

I’ve been reach­ing out to new peo­ple cause it felt like every­thing I was doing was wrong. Marie came to feed the cats, not know­ing I was back from the hos­pi­tal. I broke down in her arms, and she bab­bled at me over break­fast, excus­ing her­self for talk­ing so much cause she was ner­vous about not know­ing how to help. I asked if she’d watch a movie with me, some­thing to do that was nor­mal and not cry­ing. It helped.

Jason’s also been talk­ing me through the upheaval. Advice is eas­ier to accept when it comes from a sur­vivor, espe­cially one who never pre­sumes to know what’s best for me. He’s become the stick prod­ding me for­ward one small step at at time, a voice of rea­son in my ear that reminds me to keep on doing this until liv­ing is like breath­ing again.

It’s a reminder that I’m here only cause peo­ple believe in me; they’re the ones tip­ping the scales when it feels like I might as well flip a coin and let fate decide what I can’t.

Me @ Twitter

RT @megbowler: Yet another unre­al­is­tic stan­dard of beauty for women http://t.co/sTbZT0TjZk

10 months, 3 weeks ago
Me @ Twitter

RT @nilsgeylen: I think my ther­a­pist is see­ing some­one else.

10 months, 3 weeks ago
27 Dec 13

lessons learned on the path to awakening

Order mat­ters. Timing is impor­tant. It’s help­ful to arrive at the point where things can only get bet­ter, but los­ing every­thing takes time. Making mis­takes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a bal­ance between hold­ing on and let­ting go. Some peo­ple should never have chil­dren. You’re only over some­one when you don’t need to make a con­scious effort to stop think­ing about them. The first step in tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for your needs is com­mu­ni­cat­ing those needs.

cat

Cats are lit­tle bun­dles of non-judgmental, unas­sum­ing, food-conditional love.

I need to be with lis­ten­ers more than talk­ers. A day spent writ­ing let­ters that will never be read isn’t a waste. Some peo­ple don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s impor­tant to make peace with one’s suf­fer­ing. You never stop grow­ing with the right peo­ple in your life. She never loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends pri­or­i­tize their kids before me. It’s okay to pri­or­i­tize myself before any­one else. Always be mind­ful of long hair when cuddling.

Foxhole party

There are peo­ple who love me enough to save my life (and pants are optional at their parties).

The ones with a lit­tle bit of dark­ness to them tend to be more inter­est­ing. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be happy. A bad trip doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean a bad expe­ri­ence. Strength is often quiet, recep­tive deter­mi­na­tion, rather than chest-thumping pushi­ness. Being kind to dif­fi­cult peo­ple is just as impor­tant as being kind to bene­fac­tors and friends; being kind to myself is most impor­tant of all.

21 Dec 13

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14 Dec 13

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13 Dec 13

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09 Dec 13

hey, c'mon

He’s only 40, an age I’d still con­sider young for a doc­tor. I see the fea­tures of so many of my Chinese peers in his face, though he’s actu­ally an Irish expat. Family and a restau­rant sealed his par­ents deci­sion to emi­grate to the Emerald Isle when he was too young to speak. It explains why his con­ver­sa­tional dic­tion is impec­ca­ble while some spo­ken con­so­nants are merged or lost, a famil­iar accent from being born into a Cantonese fam­ily. This imme­di­ately puts me on my guard. I’ve rarely got­ten along with those peers; the cul­ture hasn’t been kind.

But I’m not here for myself. I didn’t even make the appoint­ment, which is why I don’t know what to say.

Thankfully, he takes the lead and takes his time. The ques­tions cover a mot­ley gamut, and I can tell how com­pre­hen­sive his notes are through the clack­ing of the keyboard.

At some point he asks if any­one came with me, and I tell him who’s in the wait­ing room. He kindly offers to speak to her on my behalf, but she already knows. It’s the only rea­son I’m telling this story another time. I can’t help admit­ting how humil­i­at­ing it is to be so depen­dent on oth­ers, to need peo­ple like her so des­per­ately some­times that I can’t imag­ine how I’d sur­vive with­out them.

Without any change in his pro­ce­dural tone, he says this sen­ti­ment is part of our Chinese guilt. We dis­ap­point our par­ents by not being strong enough to live up to their expec­ta­tions as self-reliant adults, but they pre­vent us from grow­ing up by treat­ing us like chil­dren and refus­ing to let us make our own deci­sions. He knows, cause he’s gone through the same thing. At the same time, he never con­dones my feel­ings, offer­ing a reas­sur­ance that we all han­dle things dif­fer­ently, and that we can’t do it alone some­times. It tells me he doesn’t just lis­ten; he cares.

Before send­ing me off with a dose of Pristiq, he hands me a sealed enve­lope — on it writ­ten “emer­gency room let­ter” — and tells me to give it to the doc­tor at the Queensway-Carleton, while care­fully sug­gest­ing I have noth­ing to lose at this point. It makes sense, but I’m not ready. Not yet. This is good for now. She’ll thank me for tak­ing this step, one that’s as much for her as it is for me.

After, we hold hands in the car while wait­ing to be com­posed enough to be seen in pub­lic, bass lines wash­ing over us like heart­beats, an affir­ma­tion of rea­sons for and the things I love.

Me @ Twitter

Dear mid-20s co-workers: thank you for think­ing I’m the same age as you.

11 months, 3 weeks ago
29 Nov 13

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28 Nov 13

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20 Nov 13

stay is a sensitive word

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I haven’t been able to come up with a way of explain­ing the absence. I guess I’m still fig­ur­ing out where I stand at this par­tic­u­lar moment, and what it means to keep going. Many days were lost to the flux of ambiver­sion, when all I was try­ing to do was sur­vive the bal­ance of how much space I needed with how much com­fort I could only get from oth­ers. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned the impor­tance of tak­ing the time just to feel okay, which has mostly involved enjoy­ing the games I’ve put off play­ing for so long, spend­ing time with those who make me feel wanted+needed+awesome+loved, and draft­ing as often as possible.

girl and cat

 

My birth­day came some­where in between, a day I got to pick all the shows, eat dirty bird, and nest with the cats on me when they weren’t in the cud­dle train. It made the whole day mine, not because it was some­thing I asked for, but because some­one wanted to give that to me.

I’m slowly let­ting my guard down, let­ting myself share new songs in the dark, so the pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences become a per­ma­nent part of me. Making new mem­o­ries is a step towards sooth­ing my his­tory with heart­break. The com­fort I find in our embraces car­ries me through the time we’re apart, but feel­ing safe is still very for­eign. Just touch­ing fin­gers is a vul­ner­a­ble step, and it’s like being on a tightrope every time I put aside my inse­cu­ri­ties to make progress. Thankfully, she hasn’t let me fall yet.

Magic: The Gathering and beer

 

Most recently, I started work­ing at the busiest comic book shop in the city as one of the res­i­dent Magic experts. It’s left me try­ing to find my bal­ance again, even though the job is part-time and never feels like work. The posi­tion mostly involves run­ning the tour­na­ments, trading/selling/organizing cards, and giv­ing peo­ple game advice; things I already love doing in my spare time. A nice bonus is the fact that a new friend hap­pens to be one of the reg­u­lars at the Modern Constructed tour­ney, and I get to root for him and see how he does between matches.

Shawn even came in to say hi and give me hugs on my first day. Reminders all around that make me feel worth­while, instead of just believ­ing it. It’s the dif­fer­ence between know­ing some­thing in my head to my heart, a gap I’m start­ing to bridge with help from the right people.