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

hair of the dog

I wish Trolley was here so we could play Starcraft 2 like we did when we lived on Island Park. I’d set up my lap­top in his room — he’d have a beer and I’d have a joint — and we’d spend hours against some com­put­ers in Warcraft 3. Or he’d surf the web and lis­ten to music while I wrote in this blog, shar­ing the apart­ment with his kitty and mine.

Those were the sum­mers of No Motiv and Coheed and Cambria. The win­ters of Bel Canto and The Dears. I remem­ber being happy then.

I wish Aaron and Trolley were here so we could get really, really drunk, even though I don’t drink any­more. Only when I wake up in the mid­dle of the night, and all the thoughts I’ve been push­ing into the back of my head come claw­ing out, leav­ing me with a rest­less mind. I pour a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks and prac­tice scales until the alco­hol makes me fall asleep again.

One time, we went to the Honest Lawyer to cel­e­brate Aaron’s birth­day. In our drunken haze, we thought it’d be a good idea to order some pizza when we got back to my apart­ment (there was a pizze­ria right out­side the side door). Aaron hurled in the gar­den rocks as we were wait­ing for the order. We brought him in, and gave him a pil­low and towel cause he wanted to sleep in the bath­room. He told me later, “I only get that drunk when I’m really depressed”. Sounds good to me.

I wish my friends were here so we could drink like the old days, when we were between school and work, and women.

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15 Aug 09

Protected: A Clip And Then I'm On The Way

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30 Apr 09

Protected: Self Medication

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23 Feb 08

Hanging Party

I feel utterly intoxicated.

Reading poems around the piano

With a ham­mer and a lad­der, we hung my pic­tures tonight, care­fully decid­ing where to place each one to bal­ance the colours, the ori­en­ta­tions, the shapes, and the concepts.

Amongst the wine and the wood, the kids and the colours, we stopped to admire the art in the house. Adrienne dropped by to share her lat­est graphic poems with us, along with her alco­holic find­ings. “From The Desk Of” Penelope was writ­ten that day, dense and deep, full of details taken for granted. The words must write them­selves, I thought.

Thumbnail: Poem reading
Thumbnail: My fruit and body series wall
Thumbnail: Old fashioned side-table
Thumbnail: Akio
Thumbnail: A hammer and a poem
Thumbnail: Old style heater
Thumbnail: Frederic and Akio
Thumbnail: Nicole Beaumont artwork
Thumbnail: Akio on the ladder
Thumbnail: Wine, ice, and salad

Misun and I seem to share a kin­ship through our appre­ci­a­tion of expres­sion, some­thing I’ve never had with my friends. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with them, but I’ve always felt like they can’t relate to me when it comes to emo­tions or cre­ativ­ity. As I seem to be the cre­ative brother she’s always wanted, and she seems to be the sup­port­ive sis­ter I’ve always needed, we agreed to be adopted siblings.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In a recent inter­view, Frédéric said, in his ebul­lient Parisian accent, that one of the rea­sons he wanted to open the Salon is to pro­mote dia­logue and inter­ac­tion. Perhaps it’s this hunger for dia­logue that con­nects us. He also men­tioned to me he was stressed out about being inter­viewed; being put on the spot made him freeze up. I told him I had the same prob­lem with pretty girls. “You’re affected by beauty”, he said, some­thing I knew, but not some­thing that every­one understands.

I left, feel­ing like I was a part of some­thing won­der­ful, some­thing greater than myself.

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04 Nov 07

Taoist Hedonism (or Why I Don't Miss Smoking Weed Anymore)

One of my daily rit­u­als used to be light­ing a joint when I got home from work, and rid­ing off the weed for the rest of the evening. It was the only thing that could relax me; oth­er­wise, I was tense and uptight. I couldn’t just sit and watch a movie, read a book, lis­ten to an album with­out it because I felt too guilty, as if I wasn’t get­ting enough done.

For the first year that I quit, I missed it ter­ri­bly. Not because I couldn’t sleep, not because food became bland, not because music didn’t sound as good, but because I couldn’t calm down. I was always try­ing to get things done, con­stantly depriv­ing myself of plea­sure to accom­plish things with­out an end.

Following Taoism has changed that. Taoists value becom­ing as a child. Having no extra­ne­ous thoughts, and liv­ing in the now.

Unless stopped by adults, chil­dren live life to the full, whereas for most adults exis­tence seems more of a near-life expe­ri­ence where we resem­ble actors rehears­ing for a play that never quite begins, instead of play­ing fully, as chil­dren do, in a per­for­mance that has no begin­ning or end.

—Mark Forstater, The Tao

In doing so, I’ve begun to live every day as if it was my last. I don’t worry about run­ning out of my good tea any­more, and just drink it. I don’t feel guilty about doing noth­ing, about let­ting my mind wan­der. I do what I feel like, when I feel like it. I’ve been able to let go. I stopped sweat­ing the small stuff, and started enjoy­ing life.

Remember how well you slept as a kid? That’s how I’ve been sleep­ing now.

An ex-smoker once told me that the part he missed the most about smok­ing was the rit­ual. The early-morning-coffee or the after-dinner smoke. He felt a lot bet­ter after quit­ting, but if he found out the world was going to end in a week, the first thing he would do is go to the cor­ner store and buy a pack of smokes. I used to think that I’d do the same with weed. Not so, anymore.

Not that I don’t miss it every now and then. There are cer­tain things that can only be expe­ri­enced through mind-tripping highs. It’s some­thing I’d like to keep for spe­cial occa­sions. When I go to see Darren, or when John comes down, but even those sel­dom times aren’t worth it any­more. I know I’ll never do it again, but I don’t mind because I know I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to expe­ri­ence it already. The impor­tant part is that I’m not depen­dent on it.

Taoist hedo­nism has set me free.

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17 Apr 07

A Year Of Sobriety

It’s com­ing close to a year now that I ended my affair with mar­i­juana. As refresh­ing, pro­duc­tive, and lucid as it is to be sober, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss it.

THC has the delight­ful abil­ity to make every­thing bet­ter: music, food, girls, writ­ing, rid­ing the bus, doing the laun­dry. There are also things that can only be appre­ci­ated after a joint. You don’t see, hear, feel things the same way.

It turned into a lifestyle, a word I like to use because it sounds so much bet­ter than “addiction”.

Between 2004–2006, I’d only be sober for about nine hours on weekdays.

Weekends were straight wake-and-bake, espe­cially if there was a party, a camp­ing trip, or some good old dim sum.

I was a com­plete light-weight too; it didn’t take much to have me float­ing for a night. As a result, one ounce of BC hydro would last me more than a year. An added bonus was that I never needed a dealer; there was always some con­ve­nient source through a friend of a friend. O Canada, land of the free, the Inuit, and the plen­ti­ful bud. I’m sure that Pierre Burton would agree.

Sessions were a habit­ual provider of great mem­o­ries (from what my brain was actu­ally able to retain). I still think of Darren at the wheel of the Civic, look­ing over at me and whis­per­ing “Vanilla Sky” as he’d taunt our mor­tal­ity by let­ting the wheel drift the car into the oncom­ing lane. It was at once ter­ri­fy­ing and invig­o­rat­ing, some­thing you could only feel after a ses­sion in the park. Even a few of my favourite entries were either inspired by weed or writ­ten under the influ­ence.

Food was also a big thing. Every meal was like nec­tar and ambrosia. I never really stopped eat­ing over the course of the day, as I’d have food around me at all times. Pretty soon, I hit a sat­is­fy­ing all-time high (no pun intended) with my weight. Now that I’ve stopped, I lost it all. They won’t even let me donate blood any­more because I don’t meet the min­i­mum weight require­ments. This is what I looked like, circa early 2005, and this is what I looked like circa early week­end. How I miss the full­ness of my face.

Sobriety is dif­fer­ent. Everything is clearer, but toned down. Life gets evened out.

As much as I miss it, I won’t go back to smok­ing weed again. I had a hard enough time stop­ping in the first place, and the risk of get­ting addicted again isn’t worth it.

Maybe I was just get­ting older, but near the end, the side-effects started tak­ing their toll on me.

Instead of the rac­ing ideas and inspi­ra­tion from when I started, I turned into a zoned-out waste. I’d be com­pletely use­less when it came to talk­ing or think­ing. I stopped lik­ing myself when I was stoned. My stom­ach felt like it was slowly digest­ing a sack of peb­bles, and my throat became sore and dry. Even now, I still come across the odd stash of honey lozenges in the back of a drawer.

It was espe­cially scary in the last few months when I could feel my tol­er­ance build­ing up. I was con­stantly chas­ing after that head-tripping peak from the early days, smok­ing more and more, but it’d never last longer than a half hour. The weed would help me sleep, and when I stopped I turned into an insom­niac. For a while, the will to do any­thing eluded me because noth­ing was entertaining.

Now I’ve quit my vices alto­gether. No alco­hol, no caf­feine, noth­ing. Sobriety is underrated.

I know I’ll never go back to that time in my life, but I sure do miss it.

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26 Dec 05

Boxing Day '04-'05

Exactly one year ago today, I was doing this. Even though the annual party at Chris and Clarmen’s actu­ally starts on the 25th, I really see it as a box­ing day party, the way a New Year’s party really starts on the 31st of December.

That night we used the excuse of going to Timmies for all the par­ents as a way out of the house to have a ses­sion. Unfortunately, this meant remem­ber­ing about a dozen drink orders, some­thing that proves dif­fi­cult under the influence.

In chrono­log­i­cal order:

  1. We met up at the house, where Darren’s fin­gers brave the turtles
  2. A ses­sion occurred out­side, and on the way to Timmies we intro­duced Chris to Dreamtheater (hence the music selection)
  3. An order is made for about a dozen drinks with great difficulty
  4. We drove back to play Slap Hand, which is a vari­a­tion on Slap Jack, except the pile is hit every time the cor­rect num­ber is called (and for increased dif­fi­culty we played with +/- rules where the pile is only hit if the num­ber spo­ken is an addi­tion or sub­trac­tion of a dif­fer­ent spec­i­fied number)
  5. Darren ran­domly deals every­one a hand of hold ‘em and plays it through, and this causes me to make fun of his obvi­ous addiction
  6. Darren pre­cisely deals a full hand of 13 cards for a game of Asshole, while talk­ing, for which I count my cards in dis­be­lief and finally real­ize just how much he plays cards

Other signs of how stoned we were:

This year, today, Lam joined us instead since Darren is off in Las Vegas.

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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
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