Saturday, April 12, 2014

Danny Sucks at Dating #6 - Pick-up Lines that always work

Apologies for not updating this series in a while. I decided to take a step back from dating and not force anything after some, err, unsavory events, so it's been all friends, presentations, papers, study sessions, badminton, and more papers for the past month.

If there's anything my brother has taught me about dating, it's that timing is everything and that you're probably not going to meet someone you genuinely connect with on a random night at a bar. So, love your friends, show gratitude to the good people in your life, and keep it simple. It will happen. Of course, I'm always up for new adventures, because I know I'm going to meet her in Farhampton, at a train station, while it's raining, carrying a yellow umbrella. Actually, she's kind of already in the picture already, but we'll see.

With that said, here are some pick-up lines that have been used on me or by me (except for one). They always work, so I definitely encourage you to try them.

#1 - "Haaaave you met Danny?"

To my friends: please stop playing this game. You know that I blush within 5 seconds after you say this. I don't lack confidence anymore, but I light up really easily.

#2 - "Hey, are you a tourist?"

Does someone look out of place? Think you can strike up a conversation with him/her? Just ask if he/she is a tourist. This always goes over well because people want to feel like they don't fit in. Sigh.

#3 - "You heard about Pluto? That's messed up, right? ::cue weird winking or eye movements:: "

Definitely got this from "Psych". Definitely doesn't work. No, I mean ,it definitely does work, just like it does on the show. Guaranteed success.

#4 - "Hey, are you mixed? You look exotic."

Yeah, it's this one. Not even I could do this. It's just not in me. Go ahead and try it. I will watch as you get a drink thrown on you. It will be hilarious.

#5 -(not actually spoken, but performed) ::Stuffing bills down my shirt::

Alright, I get it, but I am not a piece of meat. How dare you. I'm flattered, but how dare you. I have feelings too, I think...

(Apparently, I'm not worth very much either.)

#6 - "Can I buy both of you a drink?"

Good, but not that good. Don't be me. Bring someone else with you.

#7 - "Hey, I'm bored."

That's good. You're going to stay that way after that. Uncool.

#8 - "Do you come here often?"

Still a classic. Definitely still works. I am a horrible person.

#9 - "You look so tense and lonely over here." ::cue sad eyes and massaging::

How dare you. Happened to me, not by me. I'm not that creepy, probably. I should have enjoyed this? I didn't? It's probably because I'm slightly defective.

#10 (a real one) - "Hi, my name is ______. Insert genuine compliment here."

Make eye contact. Hold eye contact. Walk over and be honest. This one is the one that you should be using. Meeting people shouldn't be difficult. Don't be Barney. Or me. If there's one truth about all this, it's that the "book of love" written by Hollywood is kind of false. If you want to be with someone, you have to work for it. Simple as that. Except it's not simple at all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Ones Who Motivate You

The student should always surpass the teacher.

There aren't too many people anymore who get truly excited about their careers and openly nerd out when they talk about what they do. I am not one of those people. My work follows me into my dreams, and I have no problem with that because that's how I know that I chose the right profession. Furthermore, my interactions with my current/former students only reinforce how much I love education.

One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is seeing your inspirational students move on to bigger and better things, consequently keeping you motivated to be the best educator you can possibly be. A lot of people believe that it's a teacher's job to disseminate knowledge and inspire youth, but it's so much more than that. What makes my career worthwhile is watching students like Nicholas Manessis aspire to be a future CEO; or seeing Caroline Martinez push herself day-in and day-out to master the sciences (especially Chemistry!) in order to become a nurse; or hearing about how Alexis Rinck lobbies for activist groups like NYPIRG; or marveling at Joriene Mercado dominating life, representing our district in Boys' State, and committing to Stanford (I forgive you =] ); or secretly smiling at how Chandler Tieu tries to convince everyone that he hates school when in fact he is actually a brilliant student.

Heck, I've been lucky enough to still be friends with former students like Matt Tom, Victor Kong, Jessica Suen, Bailey Yee, and Yvette To, all of whom I met during a chance summer, teaching (or fumbling around it for the first time) at a program I had never heard of before. Teaching me has taken me to places that I never dared dream I could possibly go.

In actuality, my students keep me motivated more than I could ever thank them for, and it's because of that that I do my damndest to make sure that I don't ever let them down if I don't have to. As a teacher, your work will follow you home with you every day, and even though you get "time off", you're really just thinking about how you're going to make sure you keep paying it forward to the ones that keep you going year-in and year-out. But, it's not an issue, because you'll love what you do, and you'll remember every moment of it.

 <-- -="" a="" br="" career="" coaching="" fulfill="" goal="" happiest="" honestly="" in="" making.="" men="" moments="" my="" nbsp="" of="" one="" teaching="" the="" two="" watching="" years="" young="">

Monday, March 31, 2014

Anthony Rodgers - A Mentor through all my Struggles

“The question is not, "Can you wear your father's shoes?" The question is, "Can you walk in your father's shoes?" It is one thing having a mentor, and it is another thing to become like your mentor.”

When I was 19, I was absolutely scared of the world and my future. I had just changed my major from a B.S. in Chemistry to a B.A. in...nothing? I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, but that didn't stop everyone around me from pressuring me to decide immediately. After a summer of working in the fast food industry and being completely despondent about the future, I met Anthony (Tony) Rodgers through a chance encounter. My aunt worked (and still does) for a real estate company that partially funded an educational non-profit called Aim High, and she wanted me to try my hand at teaching. At 26, I know that that summer was the most important one of my life so far.

Tony modeled positivity and support like no one I had ever met before, and without knowing it back then, he became one of my first mentors, teaching me to: be present in the company of others, grateful for the guiding lights in my life, and forgiving in the face of hate and slights. I watched him give without hesitation and model what it meant to be a genuine human being every day over that summer. Over the next seven years, he encouraged me to follow my dreams and pushed me to be as respectable and upstanding a man as he is. 

When I went through heartaches, he provided a steady ear. When my grandfather passed, he wrapped me in his experience and love. And, when I had no direction in life, he gave me one through education and teaching. While I know I can't be him and live the exact same life life he does, the example he set for me that summer, and every summer from that point on, reminds me that life is about the people we love and the relationships that we nurture, not material gains or superficial beliefs. I can't wait to work with you again this summer. I love you and appreciate everything you've taught me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Danny Sucks at Dating #5 - Why You Should Always Let Your Parents Set You Up

Some people think it's okay, and it definitely can work out, but I think, for the most part, this generally doesn't lead to good results in America. Still, give everything a shot at least once. What's the worst that can happen?

Stage 1: Your parents tell you they know a great "gal" to set you up with because you're getting over a break-up. Mind you, it's been a week. Definitely a good idea. They also tell you she's the wealthy daughter of a powerful hotel tycoon couple in Shanghai. Still a good idea. You say yes. Why the hell not? You can do this. You're awesome.

Stage 2: See this girl multiple times every week for the next couple of weeks to "make it happen". Before every date, sit in contemplation of how you're going to maintain a conversation with someone who doesn't speak at all for three hours at a time. Also, take a lot of flack from your parents for coming home too early from each date (Seriously, what parents say, "Why are you home so early?! You should still be out with ______! It's only 10pm!). Sigh.

Stage 3: Absolutely run out of life stories and conversation items after enough dates that just involve you trying to fill terribly awkward silences. It's cool, though, because she has to leave for Shanghai to finish her masters degree. Breathe a deep sigh of relief in that your conversations won't be so long anymore because this was still the heyday of calling cards for international calls. The young ones won't get this.

Stage 4: Have her parents tell you that she really likes you and that they love you, so here's the plan - she's going to move to America to finish her masters degree with you. They'll also buy out the house next door so that you two can live together. Need a new car? How about a nice watch? Matching Rolls Royce's okay? Rolex's too? Perfect. You can start panicking now. I think I got out a couple of good stutters before realizing that this was not such a good idea after all.

Stage 5: Have everyone hate you because you broke it off with a pretty, rich girl that liked you. Because, you know, those are the only things that matter. I mean, I guess if you're into that kind of stuff..and if you want to know, they never spoke to us again. I definitely messed that one up.

Epic fail by me? I honestly think there are more important things than just the superficialities, but after telling this story to a few people, their reactions were all the same - face-palming and this Arrested Development reference:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Danny Sucks at Dating #4 - "Love is the Best Thing We Do"

I have a lot of friends who have turned their backs on love because of past experiences and heartbreaks. Some genuinely don't care anymore, some act like or say they don't care anymore, and others advocate a life without companionship. To each, his/her own, but please don't try to live on your own. Humans are social creatures. Life is meant to be shared, not just experienced through one person's eyes. I may joke a lot about getting a dog and doing the same, but despite all of the posts I've written about my bad dates and relationships, I haven't become one of those people, and I don't plan on doing so anytime soon.

Call me an old-fashioned, sentimental idealist, or a unicorn, or just whatever you want, but I still believe that I can find someone who wants to share her heart with me just as much as I want to share mine. I'll find someone who will travel the world with me, who understands that intimacy is an all-encompassing word, who can challenge me to be a better man. I'll look at her and know, "I finally made the right choice here." At heart, Ted Mosby and I are still kindred spirits, and while he may have found his yellow umbrella after years of searching, I won't stop looking for mine simply because pessimism seems to be contagious these days.

As Ted said last night:

"Love doesn't make sense. You can't logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical, but we have to keep doing it, or else we're lost, and love is dead, and humanity should just pack it in. Because, love is the best thing we do. Look, I know that sounds cheesy, but it's just doesn't have to make sense to make sense."

Don't give up. We all fail until we don't, until something, someone finally makes it all make sense. Yeah, I'm a sucker for romance, but who can honestly say they don't like that giddy feeling of getting a call/text from that special person? Smiling when you think about the time you spent together the day before? Or looking forward to the time you'll spend together soon? Let's be real. It's a wonderful feeling.
I bet you were in love once. Hold onto that feeling.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Danny Sucks at Dating #3 - How to Ruin a Friendship

I'm nothing if not honest, but I haven't told this story for a lot of reasons. At 26 though, I'm not as easily embarrassed as I used to be, so why not? This is not a story about dating, per se. It's more about "going to see about a girl" (brownie points if you know that reference). If there's a friend you like and want to risk your friendship on, I won't stop you. I've done it plenty of times, each with mixed results. Just remember this: you won't get a second chance here, unless you're lucky as hell and carry four-leaf clovers with you all the time. Be sure you're ready to do it and/or end up pretty wrecked and miserable. If you're ready to take the plunge, follow these first-hand steps to success:

Step 1 - Meet one of your best friend's lady friends and act completely aloof to attract her attention. You will surely fail, but do it anyway because it's a hilarious move that teenagers think will work.

Step 2 - Maintain a long-distance friendship for years, fantasizing about the day you two will finally be together. Also pass up multiple dating opportunities because you're waiting for "the one". Meanwhile, continue trying to be cool and not to act like the awkward, super obvious mess that you are. You will also surely fail at this because you're transparent.

Step 3 - See her intermittently and maintain your cool. Talk about baseball and Harry Potter. They're fairly innocuous. Plus, she likes baseball and Harry Potter. Uh, win? You'll forgive her for liking So Cal teams though. We all make mistakes. How could she possibly know you've liked her for years with such innocent banter?

Step 4 - Convince her to come out with your friends, and then completely ignore her for the whole night, even when she asks you to join the rest of the group. This move always works. It can't fail, right? Ignoring girls and being a horrible person works all the time in the movies, and seemingly in real life, so I'm sure this won't blow up in my face. I mean, your face.

Step 5 - Apologize at 3am for being such a terrible person and failing at life. Let's be realistic, that's kind of how you expect that one to go.

Step 6 - Promise yourself that if the Giants win the World Series, you'll finally ask her out in a grand romantic gesture. Screw it. Halfway through the playoffs, decide that you're going to do it regardless of the outcome. It's been years, and you're just sitting around doing nothing. Boombox over head (points for that reference too).

Step 7 - Ask your brother if he'll help you on an insane quest for love (He'll agree because this is the only part of the plan that actually works - did I say that? I meant that this plan is foolproof). Drive seven hours down south, listening to Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, and other acoustic delights (Give me a break, I was 22. My girl T. Swift would have loved it). Come up with a thousand scenarios and conversations of how the night is going to play out and ramble endlessly to your brother about turning the car around because you're freaked out of your mind right now.

Step 8 - Arrive at said girl's house at midnight. Shake loose the limbs, and ring the doorbell. Remind yourself that you're awesome and that this will work. Make small talk with the lovely mother and then embark on your epic quest.

Step 9 - Spill the beans and profess your undying love. Get rejected and leave the house in pieces. The mother kindly offers you some water though, and you make up some lie about being so far away from home because you're visiting another friend down South. Way to save face. I bet you fooled no one.

Step 10 - Stare out your car window wordlessly for the next seven hours on the way home. Jimmy Eat World loops on repeat as you try to understand what just happened. There may or may not be some tears involved at this point. Don't worry. Your brother won't let on that he knows you're in shambles. He'll utter words of encouragement and yell at the traffic to entertain you because he loves you.

Bonus Step - Don't speak to this girl for the next four years out of embarrassment and heartache. However, every time you're on a date or your relationship is on the rocks, think about her, and smile knowing that you would do it all over again because you're the kind of guy who puts it on the line.
 An image of the trip...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Lil' Sis (a short hiatus from the dating posts)

I talk about my brother a lot and for good reason. As much as the little brat I used to be resented him, the man that I am today stands for what he does because he was raised by someone so loving and selfless. I can't repay him what he's done for, but I can use what I've learned to help those younger than me. It's why you'll find me watching my old badminton players at their games, leading study sessions on the weekends, or catching up with former students, even though I'm not currently teaching or coaching any of them. In the end, it's the relationships we build and the example that we set for those who surround us and touch our lives that really matter.

I didn't get what my brother had done for me, though, so for 25 years, I felt as if I were a failure for not living up to everyone else's standards for me, which is why I started writing so heavily on this subject. I want people to know that growth and change are always possible; failures don't define you - they simply act as stepping stones on the path to success. We all need to remember this, especially the young ones around us.

When I first met E (name changed for anonymity), I saw an incredibly shy and introverted young woman with great potential, but I don't think anyone had her told that yet. I told myself, "She could turn out just like you - a kid who would stay shy and lack self-confidence for a really long time, or you could change that. This is your chance to keep paying it forward. You've always wanted a younger sibling. How about a mentee? Someone going through the same problems I did as a teenager, but only this time, I'm going to make it extremely clear that someone will be in her corner and support her in whatever path she chooses. I'll be the helping hand that my brother was for me. I won't let expectations or society beat her down without a support system in place."

So, I did, and we talked, and she fell, but I encouraged her unconditionally. She made mistakes, and I let her do so, but she learned, so I kept encouraging her. And she got angry, a lot, but still I encouraged her. And through the years, I got to see her grow into a confident young woman who knows who she is and fights to learn and challenge herself. She motivates herself and strives to do things for herself now, not for anyone else. It's the kind of person I wish I had been growing up, but I'm happy to see someone, who I now consider my little sister, navigating life with a mindset that's poised for growth. I couldn't be more proud of the person she is today. And while I want to protect her from all the horrible guys out there in the world, I know that it's her journey, not mine. As long as she continues to grow and learn, there's no harm in making mistakes or falling every now and again. It's how we should we all be doing this too - moving about with cautious fear, but infinite optimism, and a little, or quite a bit, of passion.