equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
22 Oct 09

Waiting For A White Christmas

I can’t wait until the Christmas hol­i­days. I’ll have a chance to work on projects I’ve put on hold to make time for paid work. A chance to breathe. A chance to do noth­ing. Some seri­ous me time, inside my warm house, watch­ing a movie while wrapped in blan­kets. Lazy maple bacon every day, her­mi­tiz­ing. I may even decide to go home and visit peo­ple I always mean to see when I’m in Toronto, but never have a chance to.

I’m busy with side-work until the new year, and cur­rently not accept­ing new work. On the social end, I’ve come to a point where I’m not only booked, but double-booked, and find myself hav­ing to pri­or­i­tize plans and decide what I’d rather do. It’s been great for keep­ing my brain busy, and whereas I’d nor­mally feel over­stim­u­lated, I’m now rev­el­ing in all these awe­some expe­ri­ences and peo­ple I get to meet.

This doesn’t feel like a tran­si­tion phase, as the tran­si­tion, or what­ever the hell it is, already hap­pened weeks ago. I was at fork in the road, and now that I’ve taken the first steps, I find myself on a one-way path through a tun­nel with­out any exits, won­der­ing what’s on the other end.

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02 Dec 08

Christmas Wish-List '08

Updated tastes for 2008. Many items from my 2006 and 2007 lists are crossed out, which is why cat­e­gories like “fur­ni­ture” aren’t smaller now.

I’ve been told that I’m noto­ri­ously hard to shop for. Not only am I extremely picky, I have eso­teric (and expen­sive) tastes, and I usu­ally buy — and so, have — the things that I want. This year, I real­ized that good gifts are things peo­ple want, but which they don’t buy for them­selves because they can’t jus­tify the cost. It doesn’t have to be lav­ish, but maybe a lit­tle over­priced, some­thing you wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily buy for yourself.

Photography

Housewares

Furniture

Gadgets

Games

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27 Dec 07

Christmas Observer '07

Another Christmas with Shirley and her fam­ily, although this time Bill’s fam­ily came down as well. I spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas day at their house, par­tak­ing in the Christmas expe­ri­ence with those who believe in the impor­tance of such a ritual.

Presents under the tree

We were wrap­ping presents (from “Santa”) until mid­night on Christmas Eve. The tree must have been raised the two feet off the ground to fit every­thing under­neath. Negotiations went on through the night as to what time to wake up, but the kids woke us up at 6:30 any­way. Looking back on the pic­tures of 2005, you can tell how much they’ve grown in just two years.

Loads more pic­tures behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

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23 Dec 07

Holiday Stretch

Hi there.

I’m already in hol­i­day mode. Sure, I have one day of work left — Monday — but my brain has checked out. I even took the day off yes­ter­day and made it a long week­end because I have extra vaca­tion days left, and they can’t be car­ried forward.

The chaise lounge on which I do my writing

This is how I spend most of my time nowa­days: on my new chaise lounge from EQ3, with a mug of tea by my side, in a gen­er­ally unkempt man­ner. Unshaven, with the flour­ish of a cowlick in my hair.

Last year, in which I declared that Christmas is dead, I stayed home out of spite, not directed at any­one but myself. This year, I’ve decided to go to Shirley’s for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and Pat and Jen’s for New Year’s.

But there’s a stretch of a sev­eral days in between in which I have no plans. Even though it’ll be a chance for me to do some extra writ­ing, work on my photo projects, maybe even relax a bit, part of me wishes I was busy like every­one else.

I know I don’t have any­thing to com­plain about. I’m lucky enough to be spend­ing the “impor­tant” days with friends who are impor­tant to me. I’m even lucky enough to have a choice of where to go. But I know that dur­ing the stretch, when other peo­ple has some­where to be, some­where to go, I’ll feel some­what for­lorn. They’ll have a place where they belong.

Maybe I’ll belong here, at home alone, on this won­der­ful chaise.

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16 Dec 07

Christmas Wish-List '07

A look into my cur­rent tastes, updated for 2007. This list is some­what shorter than last years because the ones I haven’t checked off still apply, and I’ve been guilty of some spend­ing this month; The first two sea­sons of Robson Arms on DVD (which I des­per­ately waited two years for), sea­son six of Trailer Park Boys, my mit­tens, a RAZR 2 (the cell phone I’ve had for five years died), an elec­tric tooth­brush, and var­i­ous gifts.

Photography

Furniture

Housewares

Games

Movies/Shows

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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.

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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.

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01 Dec 06

Christmas Wish List '06

Thumbnail: Christmas cupcakes

You know it’s get­ting close to the hol­i­days when the fresh cup­cakes at the local bak­ery start hav­ing Christmas tree sprin­kles, so I thought I’d make a Christmas wish-list. Usually I have no prob­lem spend­ing money when I want some­thing, but I’ve been sav­ing my money as a goal lately. I’ve been good too, only spend­ing $120 on myself in November (two movies, a toque, and win­ter shoe spikes) as opposed to the $500+ I nor­mally do.

This isn’t a fan­tasy list by any means; these are prac­ti­cal things I even­tu­ally plan on buy­ing. I just can’t jus­tify get­ting them at this moment. Of course, I don’t actu­ally expect any of these things to show up under a tree on the 25th, since I don’t cel­e­brate Christmas, although this isn’t by choice.

Photography

Games

Furniture

Appliances

TV Shows

Movies

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28 Dec 05

Christmas Observer

Thumbnail: Shirley's mantlepiece decoration
Thumbnail: Braden with Shirley
Thumbnail: Christmas observer
Thumbnail: Ginger the cat
Thumbnail: Julia
Thumbnail: Snoopy the cat
Thumbnail: Braden opens a DS
Thumbnail: Nicole is happy
Thumbnail: Nicole's got attitude

Stepping back to the 25th, I awoke to the sounds of ebul­lient whis­pers com­ing from down­stairs as I lie in Julia’s bed, which she’d care­fully made for me. I checked my watch, noticed that it was 6:40 a.m., and remem­bered that Shirley put her foot down about not open­ing any presents until seven. The kids were already up, of course, their inter­nal alarm clocks set to spring in antic­i­pa­tion, even after we stayed up late the night before, play­ing wrestling games until the threat of Santa not com­ing put them to bed.

Instead, Santa went all out this year, from Nintendo DS, to mp3 play­ers, to boxes on boxes of clothes, to DDR dance pads, to portable DVD play­ers, to games for every sys­tem. He also left me a mini remote-control Mercedes SLK, and I’d nor­mally say that he shouldn’t have so he could spend more on the kids, but he also left Braden and Bill a mini Hummer and mini Mustang GT respec­tively, so I had to accept the gift in order to race them.

Just being there was enough of a gift. As the kids ran around, unable to decide what to play with first, I started to con­sider stay­ing so I could spend the day, but the respon­si­bil­ity of prior engage­ments and time with the par­ents kept me in check. We had a big greasy break­fast of bacon and eggs, but John was there to pick me up for the four hour drive home before the turkey dinner.

Next year, I decided.

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