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

29 1/12: The Adolescent

A lit­tle while ago, I stopped shav­ing. I had the flu for about five days, and already had a five-day shadow devel­oped when that began. Then with a lack of social engage­ments, I decided to let it keep grow­ing, lest I lose such a gen­er­ous head start that only began because I was too lazy when I was sick.

I took this pic­ture, and it was more than three weeks with­out touch­ing a razor at that point.

Self portrait at 29 1/12


Aaron always keeps a neatly trimmed beard, so I asked him how he takes care of it; which direc­tion to shave, what length to start trim­ming, etc. It was strange to be seek­ing shav­ing advice from some­one at this point in my life. Most of the hair is around the mouth and on chin, with only an embar­rass­ing half-dozen wires sprout­ing ran­domly from my cheeks, so it required a touch of maintenance.

For a long time, I didn’t know what to think of it, whether I liked it or not. Aaron said to me, “Sometimes, you don’t need to know”, and I went with that for a while. Maybe time would give me an answer.

Soon after, I started shav­ing again. It wasn’t get­ting any thicker, and I didn’t think I could pull it off.

I turn 30 in 11 months, and I still can’t grow a beard.

The Turning 30 Series

20 Oct 09

Horizontal Eyebrow Piercing

Horizontal eyebrow piercing 1

I should start by say­ing that I’ve wanted a pierc­ing since late high school, either an eye­brow pierc­ing or a tongue stud1.

For some rea­son though, I never seri­ously con­sid­ered it. To me, it was like hav­ing chil­dren; one of those things you know you’d want some day, but don’t take it seri­ously. Then last week, I was sit­ting at my desk and ran­domly thought, “Why not?”. So I slept on it, and woke up the next day still want­ing one. That’s when I decided to do it.

My biggest con­cern was that it wouldn’t match me. Some peo­ple with pierc­ings look like they’re try­ing to over­com­pen­sate by being part of a “scene”, or by being younger (i.e. the midlife cri­sis, which my dad seems to be liv­ing out with three pierc­ings last year), or it just doesn’t fit their face. The last thing I wanted to do was get some­thing that screamed atten­tion for the sake of it. Most peo­ple have told me that I’m a far cry from mid-life cri­sis age, but I’ve feel­ing much older lately.

So I fig­ured that I’d rather get it at this age, than when I’m in my fifties like my dad, when it looks ridicu­lous. But as Tiana reminded me, it’s much less per­ma­nent than a tat­too. If I don’t like it, I can just take the pierc­ing out with min­i­mal scar­ring (as long as there are no other complications).

So I decided to get a hor­i­zon­tal, because I find that ver­ti­cals are not really my style (and alto­gether too com­mon for my tastes). The side seemed some­what arbi­trary to me, and I didn’t decide which side until I did my hair one morn­ing and noticed that the part on my hair was on the right, and so it seemed like there was a more open space there for the pierc­ing to fit.

Read the rest of this entry »

  1. My work in the den­tal indus­try, how­ever, has made me shy away from get­ting any­thing in the mouth, so that elim­i­nated the only other option for me. []
20 Aug 09

Versace Frames

Versace glasses

I wanted a bolder look this time, since my last pair is much more sub­tle. Actually, they’re still my cur­rent pair, as I wear one or the other, depend­ing on the mood.

Following the trend in most of my designs, I’m going for more con­trast and stronger statements.

They didn’t sit quite cor­rectly on my face (or most Asian faces, the sales rep told me, as we have nar­row nose bridges), because they don’t have nose pieces. The frames would be too low for my face and my eye­lashes would brush against the lenses, so I had to order some nose pads to add on myself, et voilà. A per­fect fit.

Versace logos

Of note is the logo on the arms. This is the first time that I’ve seen the Versace logo like this, but fur­ther research indi­cates that it’s an uncom­monly used alter­nate logo. I thought it was because the reg­u­lar logo would have lines that are too fine for small rep­re­sen­ta­tions, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, as I’ve seen it even smaller on watches and bracelets too. Which is just as well, as I wouldn’t care to wear any­thing with the Medusa’s head on it.

01 Dec 07

Mittens Make It Up

Thumbnail: Club Monaco mittens

The win­ter storm watch con­tin­ued at –14°C today. When you’re inside, the sun fools you with the warmth of its colour, until you step out­side and feel the bite of the wind.

I spent an hour-and-a-half look­ing for var­i­ous things and run­ning errands down­town. The streets were packed, the stores were packed, and I found nothing.

So I spent a stu­pid amount of money on these awe­some mit­tens at Club Monaco. I actu­ally walked out of the store and out of the mall when I found them, for fear that I would pur­chase them, but alas, here they are on my hands. I had to decide between the white and black stripes, the grey and black stripes, and the flat grey ones, but since most of my cloth­ing is neu­tral, I decided on the flashiest pair. The open hole for the fin­gers makes iPod and cam­era manip­u­la­tion easy. They’re 100% cash­mere; thin enough to wear indoors or inside your coat pocket.

Thumbnail: Club Monaco mittens, RW&Co toque

So it wasn’t a total waste of a day.

27 Nov 07

Differing Perceptions

Julie's drawing of me

Julie drew this pic­ture of me. The details betray her perspicacity.

Such as the way my shirt tails dan­gle insou­ciantly from the sweater. How the pant bot­toms are slightly bunched up. And while I don’t wear a tie that often, the preppy top + skater bot­toms style is accu­rate. Even the length of chain and the shape of my glasses. All the lit­tle details I think about when I dress myself. The only thing that isn’t me is the hair, which falls flat in the win­ter, due to the fact that it’s toque wear­ing season.

Also, I have no eyes, nose or mouth is this pic­ture. Only my wide-arm glasses, which I’ve said before is a large part of my iden­tity. Obviously, her exclu­sion of my facial fea­tures has put even more empha­sis on this.

I won­der: why are my arms drawn behind my back? Posture says a lot about a per­son. Maybe this was done with­out any con­sid­er­a­tion, but maybe there was sub­con­scious intent.

It’s always inter­est­ing to find out how other peo­ple see you. A self-image is often biased.

So which image is more accu­rate; yours or theirs?

27 Jun 07

New Glasses: Wide-Arm Wireframes

Thumbnail: Colour is gunshot metal
Thumbnail: Front view
Thumbnail: Side detail, D&G logo
Thumbnail: Side view
Thumbnail: White designer case
Thumbnail: The branding on the case
Thumbnail: Texture of pad printed fabric

I finally got some new glasses. It’s been years since I had my pre­scrip­tion updated and things in the dis­tance were start­ing to get blurry, mak­ing my eyes tired very early in the day. This time I got a wire-frame pair, instead of the thick emo frames I got last year, though they’re still D&G.

The wide arms are in now, but I really don’t like that style (or maybe it just doesn’t fit my face). I also tend to not buy any­thing that’s cur­rently fash­ion­able, as I pre­fer clas­sic designs. The wide wire-frame arms on this pair push the whole idea of trendy, but are oth­er­wise acceptable.

I’m still get­ting used to the weight. They’re very light, but still not as light as my last com­monly worn pair, which were like not wear­ing glasses at all. The good thing, I’ve come to dis­cover, is that they’re not flex­i­ble, and while this makes them more frag­ile, they’re much eas­ier to clean as they don’t bend when try­ing to hold steady.

Some peo­ple ask me why I don’t get con­tacts, and it’s because glasses are a part of my per­son­al­ity. In a way, they define me, stay­ing in touch with my dorky past. At the wed­ding Tom asked me to take them off for the pic­tures since they turn photo grey from UV light, but I refused. I think I would have looked stranger with­out my glasses, then with my eyes obscured by tint.

Choosing these frames took a cou­ple of vis­its. I had a hard time trust­ing Bronwen’s opin­ion because some­times she thinks I look good in things that make me either laugh or hurl. I went to Lenscrafters with Aaron and he tried on one pair that imme­di­ately made me think that’s the one, but I didn’t have that instantly recog­ni­tion with mine. Louise did though when I showed her, and that’s when I decided on them. Apparently they make me look more mature, or some shit.

04 May 07

Styles of Spring/Summer 2007

Tristan & America Get Their Groove Back

Thumbnail: America 1
Thumbnail: America 2
Thumbnail: America 3
Thumbnail: America 4

It appears that the heav­enly bod­ies have aligned against me in a cos­mic joke.

Let me explain. The trends at Tristan & America this sea­son are actu­ally sen­si­ble, and this is coin­cid­ing with the first time in my life that I’m in debt.

I used to shop at T&A years ago. With ribbed sweaters and sharp silk ties, they always had a clas­sic sense of fash­ion. Around 2002 the style turned into what I can only describe as urban cow­boy. Dress shirts were adorned with tas­seled fringes and pre-worn edges. Mannequins even had the Texan string tie. For the next four years they exper­i­mented, what I’d con­sider a strong euphemism, with dif­fer­ent styles, until this season.

The spring/summer col­lec­tion has gone back to it’s clas­sic roots, with a lovely blend of earthy tones. I like to stay with neu­tral colours — though noth­ing pas­tel — because I don’t like my clothes to make bold state­ments. I pre­fer to hide my per­son­al­ity, what I’m think­ing, and let my actions speak for themselves.

New clothes are def­i­nitely more of a want than a need, so it’s hard for me to jus­tify going fur­ther into debt to add more to an already full closet.

Maybe I’ll wait until it goes on sale at the end of sum­mer. The prob­lem, espe­cially at T&A, is that the small sizes dis­ap­pear within days.

The cos­mic gods, they’re laugh­ing at me.

Khaki Ressurection

The zip­per on my khakis jammed and promptly died at a rather inop­por­tune time (well, I guess there’s never really an oppor­tune time for such a thing). When I brought them in to get fixed, I real­ized that I didn’t have a backup pair.

I only buy khakis at Randy River, the store with the wiiiide-legs that nearly cover my foot with shoes off. Even the Dickies relaxed-fit work-wear series aren’t wide enough, and they’re too stiff for my taste. They also lack a double-reinforced back leg cuff, which I like cause all my pants touch the ground.

The only prob­lem with R2 is that the small­est size they have for pants is 30. As I found out when get­ting mea­sured for the wed­ding, I’m actu­ally a 26 waist, but I pre­fer 28–29 max so I can wear them low on the hips. When they’re 30, I have to cinch up my belt because oth­er­wise they’re really low.

This sea­son, the R2 khakis are all very dark with slight orange tones, and cargo pock­ets or frayed edges. Really not my style. At least I got my cur­rent pair back within a week. Hopefully they’ll sur­vive me until next season.

Fall of the Ben cut

They dis­con­tin­ued the Ben wide-leg cut from Bluenotes. Instead, they’ve come out with a new Walker boot-cut. Off the shelf, the Walker cut really reminds me of the flare they put on girls jeans back when I was in high-school, but I only say this cause I like to give Aaron a hard time about it. They look good on him, but he can pull off anything.

Bluenotes is the only place I buy jeans, and jeans are the only thing I buy at Bluenotes. It’s because of the Ben cut that I go there (and cer­tainly not their pop-culture silk-screened shirts). When I found out they aren’t being made any­more, I had to buy the last three pairs on the rack — two 29s and a pair of 28s.

Oh Ben. You define me.

What will I do for jeans now when they all wear out? For the last cou­ple years I’ve done preppy tops with skater bot­toms, but maybe my style will change by then.

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 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.

11 Aug 05

An Odd Mood Lately

I spend my time squar­ing away every­thing in my room so that I’m com­fort­able enough to write. The extra cables are gone, as well as the ran­dom receipts and bus trans­fers that some­how end up on the car­pet. My mir­rors are all in place, mak­ing the room seem twice as big, but I when I look I only see myself, slouched com­fort­ably in my chair, hood over my head. Even Dolly has won­dered in to lay her­self flat on the empty floor. By the time I’m done clean­ing, I’m at a loss for all the things I’ve been try­ing to get into well struc­tured paragraphs.

A new episode of Trailer Park Boys is play­ing on Showcase, and I’m watch­ing it with the sound off because too much infor­ma­tion would ruin the fourth sea­son, some­thing I’m deter­mined to see in order from the begin­ning. Ricky’s in a high school, com­pletely out of place as a thirty-something man in shop class try­ing to make some hash or grow some weed or har­vest some kind of nar­cotic, and this only adds to my amusement.

I’ve been let­ting my hair grow out, à la Matt Heafy in the video for Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr. Somehow, I’ve only now dis­cov­ered that my hair nat­u­rally grows towards the front, and by brush­ing it for­ward, it still looks respectable when I haven’t had it cut in a month and a half.

I’ve been in an odd mood lately. Thoughts branch off in my mind, but noth­ing seems solid enough to fol­low through. Inspiration always comes the day after today.