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

There's someone I want you to meet.

He’s a great guy who looks par­tic­u­larly nice in a skinny tie. His deep, smokey eyes seem to slay every woman he meets, and even the ones he hasn’t yet. There’s a strap­ping mas­culin­ity that you like, car­ried in the angles of his face, but a gen­tle smile reveals his true personality.

He’s intel­li­gent enough to chal­lenge that mind of yours, but so down-to-earth that you’d never feel inad­e­quate. He’s con­stantly cre­ative and a musi­cal genius, and I know you’d appre­ci­ate his work as much as he’d appre­ci­ate yours, even if they’re in dif­fer­ent medi­ums. He can let loose and have a great time, but he’s respon­si­ble enough to know when to stop. He’s con­fi­dent, but mod­est. Funny with­out being crude or clown­ish. Thoughtful and kind. Generous with his time, his thoughts, his pos­ses­sions, and his life. He’s the total pack­age, but most impor­tant of all, I know he’d make you happy.

And while I’ve always been unbear­ably jeal­ous when I think of you with any­one else (and maybe I chose him cause I like to think he reminds me of myself), he’s the only guy I wouldn’t mind you being with if it can’t be me, cause it would be such a waste otherwise.

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24 Sep 11

Jealous Jeffrey

It’s the first day we haven’t talked, some­thing nei­ther of us expected until some time next month. I think an ounce of Jäger will serve as com­pany instead, and maybe a diges­tif for the healthy salmon (who must have swam 100000km before being caught) that was thanked for din­ner. It burns the stom­ach and the throat, but doesn’t keep me warm.

Sometimes, she teases by call­ing me Jealous Jeffrey. It’s likely she’s gone to bed cause she has to get up early tomor­row, fallen asleep after a pil­sner she grabbed from work. But the mind wan­ders, and I think of her at a Sigma Nu party, being hit on by some frat boy with a popped col­lar and a striped wrist­band around his forearm.

I never worry though, not cause I know she’s mine, but because she does.

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02 Feb 07

Jealousy As Insecurity As Love

Hey Pat,

I don’t know how seri­ous you thought I was about being the best man or MC if you ever get mar­ried. I know it may sound crazy, but you get­ting mar­ried is as impor­tant to me as it is to you. I love you, and I know I don’t tell you that enough. You are a true friend to me, and you know that I don’t have many.

I see this as a great oppor­tu­nity to do some­thing for you, because you’ve already done so much for me. Let me take on the respon­si­bil­ity and sup­port you, to be there for you on one of the most impor­tant days of your life. I eas­ily put aside the dif­fer­ences I’ve had with any poten­tial peo­ple you may invite (I think that we’re smart enough to be open and dis­cuss this), because it’s about you, not me.

These things are usu­ally planned pretty well in advance though, so I won’t be sur­prised if you have some­one else in mind. I under­stand that we’re talk­ing about YOUR big day, so you should have the peo­ple YOU want involved in YOUR wed­ding. To be hon­est, I’ll be happy with what­ever deci­sion you make, because I’m happy if you’re happy. Bottom line.

In any case, let me know when you pop the ques­tion, and WE WILL FEAST.

  —Jeff

I wrote this two years ago.

Pat pro­posed to Jen a cou­ple of months later. Several months after that, they bought a house, delay­ing the wed­ding until this year.

Last week, Pat asked me to be a grooms­man and co–MC.

When I found out that Jason would be best man (as well as the other MC) there was a tinge of jeal­ousy in my heart, fol­lowed by an over­whelm­ing sense of guilt about this jealousy.

To feel this way was a bit of a sur­prise. Jealously has never been one of my promi­nent emo­tions. It made me real­ize that I’m a lit­tle inse­cure in my rela­tion­ship with Pat. There’s so much good in him, com­pared to the hatred, dark­ness, and weak­ness in me. He’s not my oppo­site, but he’s the per­son I’m con­stantly striv­ing to become. Just being around him makes me feel elated and relaxed.

The frus­trat­ing thing is that I know it’s his wed­ding. He should be able to do what­ever he wants. There’s no rivalry between Jason and me. As studier of peo­ple, I have every bit of faith in Pat’s deci­sion. The logic has finally kicked in, and I feel a sense of warmth and secu­rity about being up there with Pat, a group exclu­sive to a hand­ful of peo­ple out of a seem­ingly end­less number.

It’s only now that I real­ize how self­ish and inap­pro­pri­ate it was of me to ask. Running around, mak­ing sure every­one is hav­ing a good time, giv­ing toasts, host­ing games, the duty of MC isn’t even some­thing I nor­mally want to do. I only asked because it was a way that I could show how much Pat has done for me, a respon­si­bil­ity I’d take on gladly.

I’m scared that I made him feel obliged, and I’m ashamed of being jeal­ous for that split-second.

Maybe that’s what love is.

Unfounded inse­cu­rity. Jealousy with­out reason.

A feel­ing that over­whelms logic.

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26 Apr 06

My Average Life

You ever read any Nietzsche?

Nietzsche says there are two kinds of peo­ple in the world. People who are des­tined for great­ness, like Walt Disney, and Hitler. And then there’s the rest of us. He called us “The bun­gled and the botched”.

We get teased. We some­times get close to great­ness, but we never get there.

We’re the expend­able masses.

—Jack Lucas, The Fisher King

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When I lis­ten to this song, a post-hardcore blend of catchy, melodic gui­tar lines and tech­ni­cal scream­ing, a feel­ing washes over me. I rec­og­nize it immediately.

Envy.

It’s the other, other, Jeff’s band, and he fits the eccen­tric rock­star per­sona to a tee. His clothes are all tight-fitting, thrift-store finds and Sally Ann recy­clables. Even his frames are a mod­ern­ized ver­sion of the old-school bad-boy sun­glasses. An unas­sum­ing type until you talk to him about his music, and then he’s a gal­va­nized, ani­mated per­son. He spends his money on stu­dio hours, and his free-time lay­ing down tracks, mix­ing songs, jam ses­sions. I don’t even know the name of his band.

I do know that this song is a huge improve­ment over the mate­r­ial he gave me a month ago. The struc­ture is less exper­i­men­tal, the sound is more pol­ished. The result of a new drum­mer, and redone vocals. Jeff’s goal is to get his name out there, win a record­ing con­tract, and spend the rest of his life mak­ing music. I can already tell that he’ll catch the atten­tion of the right per­son at the right time.

The envy burns a hole in my chest.

Knowing that this young man, in his mid-20s, is going some­where, is what fuels it. He has the ambi­tion, the abil­ity, the mind­set to achieve great­ness, while I remain one of the many.

If I had the time, the money, the ambi­tion, I’d do the same. I’d be a direc­tor. A pho­tog­ra­pher. Things I think I’d be great at. Instead, I sim­ply use video and pho­tog­ra­phy to doc­u­ment my life, as an extra form of expres­sion over the writ­ten word. As a result, my desire to improve is solely dri­ven by my per­fec­tion­ist atti­tude, not a desire to be great or to make money. I under­stand that to become one of the few is an invest­ment of one’s entire life, and the risks of doing so are severe. Too severe.

It’s my choice to live like this: risk-free and secure. It’s a part of my per­son­al­ity. I invest in gov­ern­ment bonds over stock. I’m a 9-to-5 guy, who doesn’t like going out on week­days, whose pri­mary goal is to pay off the mort­gage before I retire. My great­ness is a steady pay­cheque, a cat who jumps on my lap, and eight full hours of sleep. I enjoy the sim­ple things, and sat­is­fac­tion with what I have.

And I real­ize that not know­ing the name of Jeff’s band is a sub­con­scious choice I make. That way, there’s less chance I’ll learn of his suc­cess when I’m read­ing the paper.

Less chance I’ll be reminded of how aver­age my life is.

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