Thursday, September 24, 2015

Part 3 - Knowing (To Be Continued)

"How do you know?"

I'm not sure how many times I've been asked this question in the past month, whether it's been by people who are unsure of their partners, people thinking about breaking up with their significant others, people thinking of proposing (or thinking their significant other is going to propose and how they should answer), or people just looking for dating advice in general, but here's my answer: I have no answer for you. Let's be honest. I'm a fairly booksmart person, and I'm sort of creative when it comes to dating, but you're asking a guy who has a blog series about how much he sucks at dating. You might be going to the wrong person for advice.

When it comes to dating, I don't pretend to know much, or anything at all really, but here's what I do know: when simple things like spotting a gingko tree, eating an oatmeal raisin cookie, drinking boba, hearing the "bom bom bom" part of Shake It Off, cutting raw vegetables, or seeing a Chinese drama play in the background of a cafe (anything that could carry even the tiniest association to you and your significant other), when everyday things like that remind you of that person you're wondering about, you probably already know the answer to the question. I don't know a lot, but I do know that.

Here's the thing. You're going to wake up tomorrow morning, and you're going to be 60, and you're going to come to one conclusion: "I wish I had spent less of my life worrying." You're not going to know everything. You're sure as hell not going to be 100% positive about all of your decisions, especially when it concerns matters of the heart, but as far as those questions go, your heart knows what it wants. I've been saying that for years, and I'll continue to stick by it. There's only so much you can do and know, but when you know, you just do. Sure, you'll make mistakes, probably plenty of them. And, maybe what you want might change a year or five down the road. Maybe it changes a week later, but you can't anticipate that. I certainly couldn't anticipate that the time and distance I spent apart from my girlfriend made me a better and more appreciative man. All I know is that I'm happy now. That's as best as I can articulate it.

So, what ever happened to that dense boy and the split with his crush? That's a story still in progress. But, I'll say this - they've had several more adventures since then, and there are several more lined up. Some of them will involve more nerdy things like building Gundam models, but the fair majority of them will be accompanied by plenty of ice cream because what's life without dessert?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Part 2: Pieces

This story has several parts. This part is about how the dense boy finally found the courage to tell this girl how he felt. Unfortunately, he did so when they had less than a week left on the same continent. You can see how dense he is. Initially, he was planning to do it the night of the big concert. He made her dinner and surprised her with tickets to see one of their favorite artists, but as he drove her home, the words stuck in his throat. And, as he pulled up to her driveway, he lost his resolve and shied away from saying anything at all. Instead, he just smiled and said goodnight. He kicked himself all the way home that night. If you're yelling at him from your seat, don't worry, he did a lot of that too on the way home.

After berating himself all day, they went to a ballgame together the next night, where he stuttered and mumbled through nothing of importance again. After driving her home again, she left his car and walked up her stairs as she usually did, but this time, he decided that enough was enough and ran out of his car after her. You know that scene in the movies where the really attractive guy runs up the his crush's steps to proclaim how he feels, and he's either holding a boombox in the air or about to say something incredibly endearing and charming? It was kind of like that, except imagine it happening with an awkward Chinese boy wearing Giants gear on a foggy San Francisco night instead of a chiseled white male wearing a pea coat in the middle of a light winter snowfall. Also imagine that he has no clue what he's going to say, even though he's practiced it over and over again in his head, so it just comes out as halting, fragmented thoughts. Perfectly well executed stuff, people.

As always, his timing was impeccable as well, because after waiting the entire summer to tell her how he felt, he left for a race in Tahoe, and she flew halfway across the world for a three-and-a-half week vacation. Again, dense. So, he gave her pieces of him, like his college t shirt, to remember him by , and, she made time to talk to him every day, even if it was just for five minutes on a bus with wi-fi. For the next 3.5 weeks, they shared with each other as many pieces of their lives as they could while they were separated by an ocean and 7,000 miles of distance. Time flew by through 3am Skype calls and voice messages to wake up to, and when they reunited, she had brought back socks and puzzles and coins and bits and pieces from her time away. But, as summer faded and he returned to work and she to school, they separated. They didn't talk, they didn't text, and they didn't call. It felt like they had their moment, and the moment was gone.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Story: Part 1

This is a story. Actually, it's more like the story, and it's being written by a workaholic boy who had the absolutely unexpected fortune of meeting a wonderfully amazing girl. As usual, this boy was a bit dense, and he didn't know how to tell this girl how he felt. So, instead, he made her waffles, because she preferred those over pancakes. And, he sent her sand dollars while she was away at school, because she couldn't find any whole ones the last time they were together at the beach. And when she came home, she made him green onion pancakes and kale chips because they shared the same love for all things green. And, she held her hands out of his car window to use as cooling mitts for when his ears got too warm. (She didn't know that his ears only warmed up around her.) And, these things filled his heart, and he felt lucky just to have her in his life. He never expected that she would ever like him back.

Together, they spent a summer searching for ghosts in the park after dusk, driving through fog walls above the city lights, and passing post-it notes to each other at work. Still, after the many errand runs at Target (really just excuses to spend time together), the nights spent sneaking glances at her during Giants games at AT&T Park, and even after watching Justin Timberlake perform in concert, he still failed to find the words to fully articulate to her how he felt. It was a long summer of waiting and hoping and wishing. Before it had even begun, though, the summer ended, and those unexpressed words hung heavy in his heart.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Most Important Things

"Listening is loving." - It's one of the simplest, yet most elegant things anyone has ever taught me. No matter how wealthy you become, the greatest thing you could ever offer someone is your time.  I spent the past five days with some of the best people I know, carousing, exploring, and running through Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I have exactly two pictures from those days. Don't get me wrong. I wish I had documented more of these adventures with my closest friends, and I did take a bunch of temporary shots, but when I was 19 years-old, I learned some important lessons from two of the best mentors I could ever have had the fortune to meet and learn from as a petulant and immature young man. They taught me that there are a few choice words and displays of affection that cannot be replaced. Those words/acts include: thank you, I'm here for you, I love you, and I'm listening. They taught me to be present and give my time and attention to the people around me. So, I snapped a few images to at least share a couple of my feelings and escapades, and then I returned my phone to my pocket, not face-down on a table.

On the way back from Vegas, there came was a moment when I had a choice. I could have reclined my seat and taken a nap as one of my closest friends of 14 years drove, or I could have kept him company. I thought, "I haven't slept in days, but how often am I going to get to shoot the shit with this guy?" And, it was then that I realized we had already been talking for two hours, and we still had so much more to say. It might have been the highlight of that trip for me, just learning more about a guy I have now known for over half my life. Today was much of the same. After talking to one of my best friends for two hours straight on a last running adventure for us, we talked for another two hours over a couple good beers and plates of food. We could have both been antisocial and buried ourselves in our phones after talking for so long, but what would have been the point of hanging out if that were the case?

There will rarely be anything on your phone that could be as important as that friend or significant other in front of you. You can give that person the greatest compliment with your undivided attention, or you can stay mired in your phone. And, this is coming from one of the worst workaholics you will ever meet.

Friday, March 13, 2015

On Finding Happiness

If you asked ten different people from ten different cultures and backgrounds on how to find happiness, you would probably get ten different answers.The clich├ęs of living in the present, not coveting others' lifestyles, and/or enjoying life to the fullest would probably come up, but you've heard all that a thousand times before. You don't need any more of it.

In the Vietnamese language, the subjunctive tense does not exist. There is no way to say could have, would have, or should have. If you wanted to refer to hypotheticals in the past or future, you would find it impossible. In their language, there is no mulling over regret from non-existent events that didn't happen. There exists only the indicative tense, the present and what actually happened.

I don't pretend to know a lot. I'm 27, and I don't have much to my name. I am fairly booksmart, but I'm not well-traveled or well-versed in the ways of the world and the wealthy. I was raised poor, and I still have much of the same mindset I did when growing up, but here's what I do know: the best things in life are the simplest and they are free. But, you will have to earn them. Money won't help you here. Nor will any sort of drug or escape.

The past may be the past, but living a world where you cannot imagine the beauty of tomorrow also doesn't appeal to me as a very good way to live, and that's really the beauty of the subjunctive. The Vietnamese are right in that you cannot allow what didn't happen to hold you back, but I refuse to live in a world where I don't forward to tomorrow, where I don't cherish what I have today. In that world, I could still enjoy what I have, but I would not know that I can take it for granted because there are no hypotheticals. I cannot regret things I didn't do, such as never telling someone that I appreciate him/her.

I want to live in a world where I appreciate everything that I have on a daily basis. In this world, I also want to look forward to beauty of tomorrow. In this world, there is nothing better than thinking...and hoping that I will come home to a handwritten letter from a very special person...and then walk up to my room, only to find that there is in fact a handwritten letter from this person, and it's waiting for me on my valet. That's happiness. I have a lot of friends who believe that bigger is always better, and they continually escalate in order to feel like they're happier, but for me, it doesn't get any simpler than this:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Danny Sucks at Dating - How to Avoid a Broken Heart

"...that just leads to false hope and expectations and I won't put myself in those positions again. Just, why put yourself in that position of being let down again after having been let down many times? Close that door and he [or she] can't hurt you anymore..."

A conversation with a very important person to me helped me write this one (her quote above). Consider this a primer (which you do not need to follow in any particular order) on how to avoid sitting around with your best friends, nursing an aching, broken heart, which lies deliciously at the bottom of an ice cream carton most times. So, put up your walls, and avoid the following:

Step 1: Begin your dating life by growing up next to your childhood sweetheart. Make sure you carry her books as you walk together to and from school every day. Then, as quickly as it all began, part ways at your 8th-grade commencement, never to see each other again. Trust me, this one works every time.

Step 2: Start dating someone you really like, only to find out a couple of weeks later that she also started dating your best friend. At the same time she was dating you. Eat brownies and ice cream at will. You deserve it.

Step 3: In an attempt to salvage all of your previous failed relationships, fall for a girl who lives hundreds of miles away. Spend the next few years getting to know her, but dating other girls, only to go back to her every time your relationships fall apart. Definitely drive hundreds of miles to ask her out after you realize that you really like this girl, thinking a grand romantic gesture will change her mind after she tells you that she has a crush on a co-worker. Drive home in solace. Cry a little. You deserve that too.

Step 4: In another attempt to salvage your failing dating life, fall for another girl and start dating her. We'll call her Girl 1. Then, because your parents think your heart is still broken, have them set you up with a ridiculously good-looking and wealthy girl from Shanghai. We'll call her Girl 2. Tell Girl 2's family that your parents made a mistake because you're spoken for, but you appreciate how they can actually put up with you. Have Girl 2's family counter that rejection with an offer of a new house, a couple of Rolls Royce's, and a Rolex (or two). Reject counter offer in hopes that you found the one in Girl 1. Realize very soon afterwards that you're tired of competing with Girl 1's other boyfriend, and break up with her as well. Stand out in the rain with absolutely no girlfriend, no house, no car, and no fancy watch. I believe more ice cream is in order.

(It was at step 4 that I realized I may have a slight case of poor judgment, or just really, really strong optimism about life. You choose.)

Step 5: Really fall in love with a girl for the first time. Spend your free time with her sleeping in at bed and breakfasts, cooking for her, taking her to watch her favorite sports team, watching sunrises and sunsets, and just lying around eating pizza and watching tv. Tell each other you love each other, and carry her up her stairs as often as you can. It's a charmed life. Hang up your running shoes to spend as much time with her as possible. Then, turn into a jealous fool, and throw it all away. Be broken up with through email. This one deserves a beer, or five.

Step 6: Decide you're going to put up a wall and not tell another girl you love her again. Vulnerability is for the weak, and you are not weak. Fall for another girl, and tell her you love her all the same because she's worth it.

As much as I love the person who said the quote above, as you can tell, I really don't believe in any of that. Sure, I'm slightly reckless, and I don't try to hide my feelings. However, it's entirely easy to put up walls and live your life without getting hurt, but we should not aim for easy. We should applaud the ones who constantly go out there and get their hearts trampled on, grinding through heartaches and break-ups, undeterred and forever brave. Making yourself vulnerable, not knowing what might happen, but trying anyway, that takes real courage, especially in light of all the scars you carry. Remember this: as much as all this might hurt in the short term, you only have to get it right once. That's it. Just the once.

Monday, December 8, 2014


This one's short. I don't have much to say. I just feel it needs to be said because of how many people I've watched quit recently, whether it be on relationships, now-lost-passions, or school. None of these things should come easily. They wouldn't be significant if they did.

That being said, it is entirely easy to love someone/something because of x, y, and z. Wise does not mean real when it comes down to it. Love in its purest form comes when you love someone/something despite x, y, and z. There is no reason, there is no logic, there is no pros and cons list; when it comes to love, there is only your heart. To know and accept the flaws, potential pitfalls, and problems that could arise ten miles down the road and want to at least try, that's brave. That's a matter of the heart, and when it comes to matters of the heart, you will not find an answer at the bottom of a list of positives and negatives.

Anyone can love someone/something after deciding that it's the wisest course of action, but that's not love. That's a premeditated decision that comes from your brain. Maybe that career choice doesn't work out, maybe you get incredibly sick from running through torrential downpour, maybe you find yourself nursing a broken heart with your closest friends at your favorite bar. Or, maybe you find that what you have doesn't make any sense at all, but it was the best decision you could have made because you tried to make it work despite x, y, and z, just like you do with your family. They come with their flaws and shortcomings, but you love them despite all that. There will be many important life decisions that you will have to make with clarity of mind, but sometimes, you just need to trust yourself.

(Photo creds to my wonderful friend, Celeste Noche)