Social Media and My Life

Social Media Takeover

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The “good ol’ days”

I remember the day I got Myspace. I got caught up in all the hype of it. I didn’t like to go too hard and mess around with the HTML coding (I wonder how many people found out that they had a knack for programming from those Myspace days), but I obsessed over my “Top Friends”. It made my shallow little heart melt when my friends would put me up there. I liked to post witty crap that was only funny to one person: me. I brooded like any angsty teen and posted poetry. It was silly, but that was what was in for my generation. Well, as you can tell now reading this, that has all changed. Myspace is dead, and Facebook is the king. Social Media became a giant that wasn’t just the “cool thing for the kids”, it embedded itself into all of our lives and into the internet itself.

What It Was Before

My first true blossoming into social media was with Facebook. It’s sad to say, but I was pretty tame and well-balanced with Myspace. It was Facebook that devoured me whole. I joined it back when it was the elitist thing to do–it was only open for college students, so we had our own little “safe space” to frolic and post our crap in. Couple that with the ever-evolving technology in digital cameras and camera phones, and I found myself possessed into constantly posting photos with updates about my life. It was a great time because it allowed me to get to know all my new dormmates, classmates, and friends in other colleges. It gave me extra information to use to get to know other people, thus lending a great hand into my social development as well.

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Simpler times

It was the best! Facebook in its infancy was pure communication. It didn’t have all these pages, or groups, or reposting memes or whatever content. The overwhelming majority of content was original, and created by the user base itself. Much of it probably wasn’t as impressive as the stuff you see people posting today, but there was something oddly alluring about the baby that would become a juggernaut:

It was genuine.

Soon, other juggernauts were being born, and other would-bes among them. More and more, people were starting to enjoy the gratification that came from friends and strangers alike applauding each others’ stuff. Twitter, YouTube, Skype, whatever. The craze was on, and anyone who’s anyone had at least one social media outlet (probably before it was called social media). If you didn’t, then you were probably some lame old person or a formula-drinking infant baby.

Its Progression My Late-Teens

Myspace imploded, and Facebook was becoming the Chosen One. They opened the floodgates by allowing even more people onto their platform, and all these other random wannabe Myspaces came up. As for me, I was living it up. I had gotten a digital camera as a gift, and I was taking pictures of anything and everything and posting it up. Just like many other people in my generation, there was this incessant paranoia to log and record every single waking minute of my life with the fear that I would lose it all someday when I’m old and demented.

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Nobody cares, man

I posted like mad. Every time I met up with a friend, you’d see a status update of “Guess who I’m with!?!?!” or with every ridiculous holiday, you’d see a “Happy St. Paddy’s day! Who wants a Guinness with me!?” I lived and breathe online, and it was strange because I found my reality and my online persona slowly merging together.

 

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AH! REMEMBER THIS!?

Prior to sites like Myspace and Facebook, the internet was always a sort of mysterious Wild West. I met a lot of my friends through the internet back when we would just hide behind black screens and usernames (Gameboy88, Kickinaglass81, natakuoo5, and into its final resting place of makenshizero). It was weird then to see that the guy I went to class with could see my online persona, or my sisters, or my crazy uncle. It was all out there, and I was relishing in it because I was finally getting attention for all the little things. How gratifying!

Post-College

When I graduated college, my abundant diet of social interaction was cut into a fraction. I worked for a small company (maybe 15 people in the office max?), and the only other people outside of coworkers that I saw each day were a bunch of Indian children (we serviced a very privileged and educationally-driven group in Ohio). Social Media became my outlet; my escape. I was in Ohio with just my girlfriend (who is now my wife <3) and a few friends–nothing like my days back home. Social Media helped to fill that gap. It let me catch up with friends and family, and even allowed me to get to know some people from my past that I never had a chance to really sit down and truly meet. There were many friendships that would never have been if not for Social Media. It just made being social so much easier since I didn’t have to schedule time to go see someone, or memorize their phone number to call/text every day. I could just look up their name, their profile, see what they’re up to, and it’s like we already interacted without me needing to do so. What a sweet deal!

There are Ads in My Feed; My Friends are Ads

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We all have that friend

Things have greatly changed. I don’t know when it did, but Facebook started having integrations with anyone/everyone. YouTube was proving to be lucrative, and so everyone wanted to start their own channel to make money (I’ll be damned if I didn’t day dream about that either), and there was proof that companies would give popular Instagrammers free stuff! You could be rich from your influence on Social Media! Well, everyone and everyone wanted to chase their dreams of being stay-at-home millionaires. Then came the hollow, cheap, and fakeness that plagues Social Media today.

There are ads everywhere–don’t get me wrong, I understand that a company offering access to the greatest and strongest social member base doesn’t do things for free–and all I see in my feed these days are useless memes, clickbait half-assed articles (You Won’t Believe What This Boy Said About Ants!), and advertisements. What makes it worse is that a good portion of my friends are now walking advertisements.

I get it, it’s a fine line to walk because you want to be supportive of your friends and their endeavors, but there’s gotta be a line somewhere. When I check out your profile, I want to learn more and catch up on you, not buy some Essential Oils, learn about Herbalife, or click on your referral link to some money pyramid scheme. It’s annoying, and I don’t blame my friends for trying their best to cash in on their local and microcelebrity to try to get ahead and get paid. Hell, I’m a hypocrite with this too because I advertise my blog every once in a while too.

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“Destined to travel”

Social Media has transformed right before my eyes–and I’m starting to become wary of it. I don’t post every damn day like I used to, and I’m okay with that (not to mention I finally have realized that my daily musings just aren’t important). I don’t repost random political crap that just appeases my echo chamber of friends.

“If you voted for X, unfriend me now.”
— Another huge problem exacerbated by Social Media.

It’s taken many steps back in my life. It still carries great importance–nothing allows me to catch up with friends and family better right now–but I am no longer dependent on it like I once was…

…and that makes me glad. 

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Parenting Gut Check

Lessons by Teddy

Do you see the resemblance?

On August 4th, one of the greatest life events in my life happened: Theodore Tang. It’s been almost 10 months since that day, and I haven’t had a moment to recollect until this past weekend, when we went to Arizona for my sister-in-law’s Medical School graduation (congratulations, by the way, Nancy!). As Teddy hit another milestone–standing–I found myself flooded by thoughts of the relatively recent past. It’s not even been a year, but I could barely remember a life without this beautiful boy. I wonder how much I’ve grown or changed?

How am I an Adult?

I’m still a kid, right? I still live with my parents (it would be insane to pass up no rent, occasional free food, and plenty of support for Teddy), I play video games still (although not nearly as much), and I still whine about stupid things. Yet, many things about me have changed. It’s hard to pinpoint the increments of this transition, but I am–without a doubt–a changed man. And I have my boy to blame. Looking at his pure, untrained mind and body develop has been a fascinating science project for me. I see how he learns, how he develops his thoughts and actions. The human body is amazing, and I can’t wait for him to discover language, or when he can run. I see life much differently now, and I think that is what contributes to my adulthood; added perspective. Through him, I have learned so much, and that has changed my life.

When will he be smarter than a dog? Beats me.

Reevaluate Life’s Priorities

The moment my wife announced to me that she was pregnant, we both collapsed in each other’s arms sobbing happily about the idea of a baby. We were overwhelmed with the curiosities of what he would look like, sound like, how tall he would be, or what his favorite food would be. More importantly, though, my view of life was greatly shifted. My priorities instantly changed. What was I working for? What was I spending my money on? How was I spending my time? Have I been maintaining my health properly? Am I conducting myself to be the best man possible so I can be a proper role model to my boy?

And just like that, life shifted. Some of the things that stressed me out before just seemed so meaningless. For example, I was a wreck when it came to work. I lost nights worrying about grades, deadlines, lesson plans; well, that didn’t matter at all anymore. One of my biggest fears was losing my job. I thought that my life would be over if I were to ever lose my position as a teacher in Elizabeth. Well, it happened… and well, I got over it.

It’s just a job, in the end.

As much as a job provided money, which then provided wealth and security so that I could help build a better and more privileged life for my family… it wasn’t that important to me anymore. Hell, he’s one of the deciding factors in what made me quit my miserable job. I still poured my heart into it, but I didn’t let it get in the way of spending time with my boy. I played games less. I ate better. All in all, I just appreciate the little things in life more. All because I get to share these moments with my wife and son.

I Appreciate My Parents More

I used to dream about running off to some city where nobody knows me, where I could take on the world by my lonesome, independently. Well, that dream died when this boy came into the world, and it was buried when I saw my parents holding my son. If you cared at all before, you know that I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to my parents. They can be stubborn, overbearing, annoying, outrageous, and difficult to work with. But, with my boy… they’re the best grandparents in the world. My mother rushes in the morning to pick him up when he wakes (and the wife and I have to get ready for work). My dad smothers him and takes the best worst photos.

Teddy vs Squash

I can be bratty at times–sometimes for good reason–but all my resentment, my anger, my bad attitude… they all just ring hollow when I see my parents with my son. They love him. It melts my heart seeing them together, and I try my best to avoid thinking of life without my parents. I know that Teddy will not be able to see them for the rest of his days, but I know that he will look back at all the photos and videos we have and burn them into his memory. I will not let him ever forget a single detail of his grandparents, who love him so much.

Surrounded by Love

My mother-in-law, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, my brothers-in-law. My family has grown, and it’s fun to be surrounded by such chaos (I’ve got 3 nephews and 1 niece right now). The hand-me-downs, the parental advice when my wife and I were still trying to figure our way through this mess that we weren’t prepared enough for… we were taken care of, as we always have been. I love it when my son goes and bothers his cousin Nathan (poor Nathan just wants to watch TV and Teddy just wants to lick his elbow). It makes me forgive my diva of a niece when she comes over and rushes past everyone just so she can say hi to my son. I find myself cracking the widest grin when I call my mother-in-law in Texas and she screams a song at Teddy that makes her look like a damned fool, but she does it because it always makes him smile. There’s so much love surrounding my boy, and it makes me proud.

Don’t kill me for this photo! I CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE IT

Smitten by My Wife

Being a new parent is terrifying. It’s a constant game of please-don’t-accidentally-kill-my-son in the beginning. There’s little sleep. There’s hardly any time for yourself. There’s so much to learn and do, and you can barely keep up. Well, we can keep up because of her–my wife. She does all the research when it comes to when to feed him, how to sleep train him, and all the other little things that are now second nature to us. She’s the reason why. I thought I lucked out when I found a woman who was so successful and beautiful, but now that I know that she’s a great mother–boy did I hit the lottery! Watching her spend time with our boy is my favorite thing to do. I love how she talks to him even though she’s introverted. Or maybe the way she sings to him even though she’s not good at singing. It’s all the big and little things that this woman does as a mother that makes my lip quiver and my eyes swell with tears. I never knew that I could love her more, and parenthood has proven me naive once again.

Love is Complex

One of my biggest concerns as a new parent was that my son would not know me nor love me the way he would love someone else. With a new job for me, I knew that my hours would keep me away from home longer. With my wife on call once every other week, that meant that she would spend days away from our son. Insecurities ate at us at every turn, and we were hyper critical of every little thing.

What if he prefers his grandparents more than his parents?

What if he doesn’t recognize me?

What if he doesn’t love me?

All that jealousy got expelled the older he got. His personality was coming out, and it was becoming very apparent that my son was a very happy baby. He smiles at everyone. He laughs pretty easily. He lacks stranger danger and wants to play with people. I see it now when he’s with my parents, or with my sisters, or with my mother-in-law, or with my friends.

This boy just loves everyone.

I had learned from my son that love isn’t measured like bars on a graph, but instead that it’s far more complex than that. My jealousy that he would love someone else more than me was incredibly stupid. He loves everyone uniquely. He goes crazy when I play the “shovel game” with him. He laughs at every little thing my dad does–even when my dad isn’t trying to make him laugh. Whenever we travel and he needs to sleep upright, he sleeps the best on his mom’s chest. Teddy has built a unique bond with everyone in his life, and he loves them each uniquely for it. There is no competition when it comes to him, because he’s just got nothing but room for affection for us all.

P.S. We totally have 10,000+ photos/videos of this kid…

Living With Friends

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Back in 2006, when I was only 18, I was surrounded by some newfound friends and we had all fallen in love with each other’s company. We braved this new world of a state university and took on all of its challenges and rewards together. We were a mixed cast, with people varying in ambitions, disciplines, and upbringings. However, we were bound in that we all lived in the same dorm without A/C, where we had to deal with this really creepy guy who lived in the single dorm, and we confided in each other that we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into with college. We were good friends for that year–passionate is the better word to describe the intensity of it. Many days and nights were spent together on the roof of cars watching the sun rise, in the thick backwoods behind the highway talking shop, wheeling these giant spools up and down the lawn, and throwing our own wholesome parties with our own homemade Slip-n-Slide.

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If I could go back in time… I’d tell us to NOT use laundry detergent as lubricant. A lot of smokey eyes then.

Many of us are still around today, still friends. Things are, however, much different. A few fell out. A few grew apart. Others just faded away. It’s not the same as it once was, and I’m okay with that–we all have our own lives to live. This is just the way things are these days with everyone. When you form a group of friends from all over the country (and some parts of the world) with such varied interests… it’s understandable that we’d all find our paths leading elsewhere. We just celebrate the small moment where all our circles shared a piece with each other.

There was always this one recurring conversation that comes up whenever we all find a moment to meet up, and catch up. It’s a simple statement, but one that always sparks so many dreams and then always ends with a heart-breaking pang.

“Wouldn’t It Be Cool if We All Lived Together?”

 

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Ed, Edd, and Eddy’s Neighborhood

It would. It would be perfect. Imagine: if all your friends and family (who you cared about) lived just a few blocks–hell, maybe even just a few minutes of a drive–away? How amazing would that be? It was always just a light-hearted and idealistic joke, but I remember that this is what Smalltown America was like before (not saying it was without its drawbacks) globalization. My friends and I would joke about how our kids would grow up to be friends just like we were, and that we would go over each other’s house just like we would go over each other’s dorm rooms. Then we laughed. Then we grew up. Then life went on.

If everyone I knew and held dear lived close, what an enriching life my life–and my family’s life–would be. With my group of friends and family nearby, we wouldn’t have to cook dinner every night; we’d just rotate between each other’s homes and host each other all the time. If Lily and I were working late, Teddy would just have to stroll over a few hundred feet to a friend’s and hang out there. We’d all help each other out, and we’d all help each other grow and raise each other’s families.

I loved the idea of Teddy growing up around my friends and family. How lovely it would be if he could just go around the block to learn how to sew from his aunt Cindy, or could just go over to hang out with his cousins? I want to send him out to the mountains with his uncles Mark and Alex, so he could learn how to be an outdoorsman and be a martial artist. Maybe Olga can teach him how to sing, or Tim can teach him how to be an FPS god…. The sleepovers, the cookouts, the birthday parties, the trips. The examples go on with my multitude of friends and family.

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BRING BACK THE COCKTAIL PARTIES

I’ve been thinking about that more these days. As I watch Teddy play, eat, sleep, and be the cutest damn baby I’ve ever seen… I think about his future quite a bit. I think about the school he’ll go to, the friends he’ll meet, the weekends our family will have together, going over his cousin’s house to play, hanging out with his uncles and aunts–even the ones who aren’t blood related. I’m reminded that the crop of aunts and uncles for Teddy to visit is much smaller than what I had dreamt of a decade ago. One of my sisters lives 4+ hours away, another lives only 45min (and even then I consider that a stretch of a drive). I’ve got friends in California now, or in Colorado, and one of them is in Amsterdam, and another just bought a house in Long Island. Friends and family are getting farther and farther away.

I know there are a multitude of legitimate reasons why this will never be, but I just wish we could all chip in to buy a big chunk of land, a massive property, and live in a commune.

Just a nice thought, is all.

I Quit Teaching

 

On March 22nd, 2018, I resigned.

 

I had reached a breaking point in my career. I was still coping over the heart-wrenching firing from my time at Halsey. Why I had not read the writing on the wall after the joke-of-an-administrator even went so far as to write me an uncharacteristically scathing observation of me, I don’t know. I had gotten too comfortable there, and taken for granted the privilege of my position. I just thought that, as long as I was up there every day slinging what I thought was engaging material to the students, that would be enough. Ends up it wasn’t.

Let me disclaim this: I deserved to be fired from my last job. I’ve come to terms with it. I understand it.

  • I did not get grades in consistently and in a timely manner.
  • I did not submit lesson plans (and when I did, they were horrible).
  • I did not align all my lessons to the correct Common Core Standards and SMART goals.
  • I did not differentiate my classroom enough when administrators came in for observations.
  • I took too many days off (granted, I missed an entire marking period because of my eye surgery).

I did not do many things, and so I understood the reasons for my termination. However, I could not comprehend why I was such damaged goods to them. I deserved to be kept.

  • I built camaraderie and community within the school–made it seem less of a prison for both the students and the staff.
  • I helped however I could. I pulled strings to make events happen. I found loopholes and random resources so that my students could have enough books in their class.
  • I pushed forward some major initiatives in regards to technology–hell, I trained half the damn staff on some of the things they had us do.
  • I was a part of the professional learning community. I contributed ideas and lessons which were successfully applied by my compatriots.
  • I showed up ready to teach.
  • I gave my heart and soul to the development of the students’ mind and character.
  • I made the kids give a damn about school.

(my idol when it comes to being a teacher)

It was a slap in the face when I was terminated. Yes, there were legitimate reasons behind it, but I could not help but feel slighted when I received farewells from the teacher who slept in class, or the teacher who played movies in front of his kids every damn day, or the teacher who took my position away from me because he wanted an easier day-to-day. How could these horrible people stay, yet I had to go? Was I that bad? Was I that crappy of a teacher?

I Carried That Resentment to ACHS.

I interviewed only at a handful of schools over the summer–my resume was not impressive enough to warrant even a look. The only reason I was in contention for ACHS was because of friends I had. Pathetic that I needed hook-ups in order to land an interview. Eventually they hired me, and I found the spark of teaching again, if only for a short while. The environment didn’t seem toxic (at the time). The direct administration (the principal and VPs) were amazing–particularly worth noting was the unicorn that was ACHS’s VP. She was a teacher for over a decade, hired from within, and has the makings of someone great whose heart and soul were in it for the teachers and the students. I greatly respected them, and I was grateful that they gave me an opportunity. Well, that did not last long. With a newborn in my midst, I had a massive life event. Having my son completely changed my life.

#iloveteddytang — I’m obsessed

I Could Not Balance Everything.

Being an English teacher sucks. That, coupled with the largest student load I’ve ever had in my career, mixed with a lack of a classroom–it was the makings of disaster for a person like me. I found it difficult to grade essays, teaching reading, writing, and vocabulary was daunting enough. Keeping tabs on special education students who literally could not fail my class, having to write up infractions (to cover my own ass–why the hell do I need to cover my ass against a student who acts out? What happened to the benefit of the doubt to the only professional in the room?), preparing kids for these outlandish standardized tests, teaching the way that the curriculum dictates…

There are so many boxes that an English teacher needs to check, and I got tired of checking all of them.

Due to my lack of organization, sleep (the first three months were crippling because Teddy could not sleep soundly throughout the night), and general incompetence with teaching, I created a whirlwind of disaster. I could not balance. My entire teaching career, I had always taken work home. When I eat dinner, I’m thinking about lesson plans. When I shower, I think about how to practice this presentation so that even that one kid who just hates English class and will find any way to say it’s stupid can buy in. When I have spare time sitting, I would be grading. Well, all that time was taken away by my son–and I have no regrets nor reservations about it.

Having my son helped me see the priorities in life, and–for me–being a successful teacher was knocked down several notches.

I Was Wrought with Anxiety.

I had learned to hate work. Not because of the students, no–they’re always the fun and interesting part about work. I hated going into common planning where I would just feel complete guilt because it was 40 minutes of my day (that I would rather spend planning, grading, or just decompressing about my day) dedicated to meeting with a teammate who would only show disappointment and annoyance in how inept I am. It was sitting there, basking in the casual conversation but never being able to freely speak due to the feeling that–if I had time to chat, I had time to catch up on work.

I was drowning in work, and it gave me anxiety to come in every single day. I hated reading my emails from my very first helicopter parent. I hated hearing about how I did something wrong because that’s just how we do it here — I wish they had a handbook or some stack of documents that I could read so I could know what the standard procedure was. I loathed Common Planning every single fucking day where all I could do is sit there and take in the “Why haven’t you done this? Why don’t you have that? You’re doing this wrong.” I don’t need a daily reminder of how much I suck.

My Building Was Pathetic.

Worst paid teachers in the district. Air conditioners were broken–the few that worked would blow out the fuse. I’d have to go down the hall to turn the fuse back on. Windows were broken. Mice. Cockroaches. Desks too small for middle schoolers to sit in–let alone high schoolers. Special Education students who went around like they owned the place because they knew that couldn’t fail any class because it was against their IEP (that’s not what it says, but that’s what it essentially was). No contract (thus why I was able to resign so suddenly). No funding. Technology–the one thing that got me excited for education–was embarrassing. First day of orientation, we were told to prepare for 1-to-1 distribution, and that we would be a technologically capable school. Nope. Laptops in carts. Poorly managed (the locks were pipe cleaners tied in a knot).

This was where I worked. This was what I had amounted to. It was miserable.

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When each of these four pillars were waning, I found myself without equilibrium.

I Needed a Change.

As you can tell from my gripes, I was unhappy. I felt no joy from work, aside from the wonderful moments I had with students where I could be there to help them grow, expand their mind, and push them into being a different person. As much as I love the students, the feel-goodies were not enough to sustain me. I did not feel the joy of teaching, because whatever joy I had was quickly followed by reprimand. I did not feel appreciated from my pay–I took a massive pay cut to come here. I did not feel valued, because I knew I did not have my shit together. Worst of all, I did not think that I was particularly good at teaching anymore. My love for teaching had been sapped away, and it had instead turned into a horrible beast of resentment, anger, and guilt.

And so I quit.

Goodbye, Mr. Tang. You were a horrible teacher, but I loved who you were. I loved the lessons you taught. I loved the energy you brought into the classroom. I loved how you carried yourself among the students–the ones who fucking matter. However, I’m glad you’re done. I’m glad you’re dead, so you don’t have to see more benchmarks, PARCC exams, SMART Objectives, and Gradebooks. I’m glad you’re done with propping up events meant purely as positive PR moves for the school without soul. I’m glad you’re done trying to tell the kids that they all have to go to college in order to be successful. I’m glad you’re done dealing with the most toxic community: teachers.

As you leave, do not pay attention to the negatives: how you left the kids mid-year, and how it haunts you that they could have possibly had a better teacher to push them and teach them this year, how you were identified as the incompetent teacher by your coworkers, how your administrator from your last school fired you after you had come back from surgery and after finding out your wife was pregnant.

You fought to stop Y from dropping out of school. You talked to J every single God-damned day to not kill herself. You made a bet to A that you’d get him pizza if he’d throw his menacing behavior aside and finished the year with As–and you got him that pizza. You gave N the confidence to read, even though she was reading at a 1st grade level, aloud in class until she got competent enough to make it into college.

You didn’t quit teaching because you were a loser. You quit because you wanted to be happy.

Mr. Tang — 2012-2018

Going to Post More Often

Many things have happened in the past few months–most importantly a new job–and so I’ve found myself with a lot of guilt-free free time (I’ll explain that in a future post). I’ve decided now that I’m going to try to write something every week–posting at least something every Tuesday.

Doesn’t matter what, but I have to post something every Tuesday! Let’s go!

Fun Idea Series (#1) Meal Prep with Friends

love to cook. It’s a passion of mine that I share with my wife. Together when we were living in Columbus, Ohio; Lily and I would spend a lot of our time developing this hobby (which, at the time, was more out of necessity because I could not bear to spend another week finding sustenance on either fast food or restaurants). It is, in fact, one of the many activities that brought my wife and I closer together. We would have all these food adventures (given my $11/hr salary in our crappy 1br apartment) by looking up recipes and trying out something new or refining an old recipe. Delicious recipes were passed down through family and friends, and Lily would scour the internet for anything that seemed delicious.

That was about 5 years ago. We’re in New Jersey now; we live with my parents. This means that we don’t spend as much time cooking because we both work full-time jobs, have a baby, and my mom already cooks plenty for all of us. The passion has been put on the back-burner until Lily and I are able to move into our own home. We have this dream about a modest living, but one of the major expenses we’re willing to go all-out on is on the kitchen and dining areas. We love to cook, and we love to cook for others. It gives us a reason to cook even more, since cooking for two doesn’t require much at all.

Couple that experience with the past year at work–I’ve been on the Ketogenic diet. It’s helped me lose about 30lbs of weight, but one thing was made so abundantly clear throughout my drastic diet change: there are so many carbs in my diet. I could not eat most of what my mom cooked. I could not eat pretty much anything from fast food places. I was forced to cook for myself–so I looked into meal prepping; buying groceries every other day and cooking every night was not a very fun idea (even if I didn’t have to do too much of it because my mother was able to cook for us).

My diet has shown great results, and many of my friends and coworkers are interested in joining me. However, many of them are not as fortunate as I am where I am in a house of people who love to cook (my mom, my wife, and myself). So it got me thinking…

What if we meal prepped together?

Life is so busy that I do not get to see my friends as much as I’d like. It’s understandable, because we’re all on the grind and trying to make things happen. Socializing becomes this potentially expensive (because we go to the bars) and specialized event. Thinking this through, this is the rundown:

  • We want to save money
  • We want to eat healthier
  • We want to save time
  • We want to hang out and socialize

So what’s my simple solution!?


Meal Prep with Friends!

This is my answer to all those problems! It’s obviously daydreaming because the biggest problem to this idea is logistics–if people need to travel far just to do this one task, then it is no longer worth it. If fewer people show up, then the social aspect of the event takes a hit with each person who backs down. Despite the potential problems, I would push for it.

We’re Not Just Hosting

Before any of this can happen, there needs to be an understanding by my friends and also myself: we are not hosting a party every Sunday. Yes, guests are coming over. Yes, food will be served for everyone. However, there needs to be an understanding by everyone involved that we’re all coming together to make something happen together as a community. Together we will make the day happen. Not everything needs to be set up (seating and tables) before everyone gets there–we will do it all together. This will be hard especially for me because this goes against how I was raised. Everyone helps.

Menu Declared by Wednesday

Throughout the week, we can all throw ideas in a group chat to each other about what we want to make for the week (adhering to diets, nutritional goals, budget, etc…) and when the time comes, a big email or text will go out announcing the meal(s) for the meal prep.

Commit and Pay by Thursday

Anyone who wants to sign up for the meal prep for the week will Venmo the ones doing the grocery shopping with their money ($15) and their vote for what they want to eat. To keep things simple, we will always charge $15 or $20 (still not sure about what price matches the need to create 5 servings per person) per person. That will be the rolling budget for the food preppers to work with, and any leftover money will be saved and spent on future meals.

We Shop on Sunday Morning

The beauty of meal prep is that we can properly calculate how much goes into each serving, then figure out how much each person will need, then shop accordingly. On the morning of the meal prep (since most people will be coming around at noonish or 1pm), some of us will go out to grocery shop for the meal. This can double up as another event if anyone else wants to grocery shop while they’re here. If anyone comes early, they can come join the ones who go out to shop for all the groceries.  If this proves to be too difficult, then we can grocery shop on Friday or Saturday (the benefit of committing by Thursday).

We Prep on Sundays

Everyone comes over to someone’s house and we all work together to prepare, cook, distribute, and hang out. Sunday works out because this is usually going to be Football Sundays (Lily and I plan on watching football and our family will watch football too). This gives entertainment for people who just want to socialize, and this keeps Lily and myself focused on something productive instead of sitting idly watching television. The kids can all play together, too, and we can all collectively watch over the children.

We Cook Together

The adults will all help each other out. The beauty is that we’ll have people of varying skill levels when it comes to cooking and prepping, so we’ll hopefully have the space for everyone to do what they can. Those who can cut will cut, those who cook will cook, and those whose only ability is to lift heavy objects can do that too. This will also be a great opportunity to teach young cooks and also to teach the kids how to cook.

Bring Your Own Container

This is just because of preference. 5 servings will be prepared per person, to last them through the work week. They will bring in their own 5 containers and we will fill those containers with the menu for the week. They’ll pack it up in their own coolers, then take it home at the end of the day.

We Clean Together

This is a big one. This hits once again to the first point of this not being a hosted event. Lily and I can’t spend our whole time afterwards just cleaning up after the mess. Hopefully this is handled throughout the cooking process as people are cooking, preparing, cleaning, and watching the kids throughout. At the end of the day, people will all be asked to clean up after the mess made by everyone. It’ll be easier if we do it together.


With this communal meal prep, I hope for all friends and family to come together for a practical cause and consolidate a lot of needs and wants into one eventful afternoon and evening. The resources necessary to make it happen–the logistics, the prior communication, the time, and the effort of it all–is heavily offset by the benefits that can come out of it. I really hope that I can make this happen once Lily and I have our future home. I can see so much good coming out of it!

Where Am I Going?

First off, a very quick update: My wife has been pregnant, and we’re about 23 weeks in (more than half-way there). She’s beautiful, she’s wonderful, and we cannot wait until we get to meet our baby boy Theodore ❤

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This was taken at the half-way point.

So as we’re preparing ourselves to become parents, one thing comes to my mind: career. There’s a ticking time bomb in my honey’s belly, and when it erupts, I need to make sure that I’m setting myself up for a career that will both be fulfilling for my soul, but also be monetarily capable of providing for my family. I am lucky that Lily will be the breadwinner in our family, but that should not make me complacent with my own position in my career.

I need to make more money, and teaching like this will not help me achieve that.

There are ways to squeeze out some extra cash in my district. I could be an adviser, I could teach summer school, or maybe even have a crack at doing some tutoring. There are plenty of avenues to make some extra cash in education, but it seems like there’s too much work added on for the few hundred or thousand that it would yield. The growth of my career will allow me to make about $90,000/yr… about 20 years from now. When I’m 50. That just won’t do, and who knows how much that will change over the years, given how volatile the American Education System is right now (and it does not look like it’s going to get much better anytime soon).

The common trend for most people in my situation is to go back to school, get a master’s degree, and join the administration. I could, if I pushed myself, become a principal or even a superintendent one day if I go that route. To be more humble, I could also pursue a degree in being a guidance counselor, which I think I could do a decent job at. I’ve considered those two routes extensively, but I know at least where my heart lies: neither.

 I want to be in educational tech.

At least in my district, there seems to be a massive misallocation and mismanagement of investment into technology. You always hear these hyperbolic motivational speakers ranting about how America is falling behind in the tech department and so needs to bring their education up to speed on it. Well, my district at least attempts that, but squanders a big chunk of what vital tax-payer money we receive.

  • We provide students with laptops that are not built to last (and are so bottom-of-the-barrel that they end up failing within a few months) and also a lack of infrastructure to keep up with maintenance. So we say we are one-to-one, but in reality we are not.
  • We have, as a staff (in my place at least) that is technologically illiterate. We prefer to use pencil and paper simply because it is what we know, and we are afraid of treading into foreign territory.
  • We are battered and overwhelmed with a large number of third-party programs, applications, websites, and “tech” tools. This would normally be a good thing, but the lack of integration and ease ends up boggling even the more seasoned veteran users of technology. Test taking programs, math assistance programs, that one website that students can use to check their grammar, and the millions upon millions of dollars we promised to Blackboard Inc. to provide us with a horrible user-unfriendly and outdated workflow management system… these things run the staff into the ground, and thus run the students into the ground with them.
  • The training provided to both staff and students is abysmal. We aren’t taught how to utilize the tools at our disposal, and whenever we are, it is in the most pain-staking way possible. (We once had a training where we had to listen to a monotonous speaker showing us heavily distorted images and watching a video of a dude watching a video) We are given tools and not taught how to use them before being ordered to use them.
  • We are just archaic in so many senses. We waste paper by creating “order forms” for things like copies, discipline, and other administrative tasks. We have so many redundancies and inconsistencies in just the way our system functions that every single task becomes incredibly tedious.

The administrators, the teachers, and ultimately the students are then turned off by technology because of these things, and it pains me to see it because it is not difficult. The whole point of technology is to make life easier, not more complicated!

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F*** this s***, bruh

Technology is Horribly Implemented

That’s where I want to come in and help. This is where I want to focus my career, and this is where I want to build my legacy. I want to be the teacher (or even the tech coach or tech adviser) who is responsible for making the little everyday things in the classroom run smoother because of technological integration. I want to be the one who smooths all the bumps and pockets of disruption caused by misunderstanding. Let me make this clear though: I do not want to be in IT. I want to be a tech-minded educator.

I want to teach teachers and staff to incorporate Live Documents. I want every student to use Edmodo or Google Classroom (and thus Google Drive) so that they can never lose their essays or homework assignments again. I want to create a paperless system so that teachers can navigate through their essential tech tools without feeling like they’re digging through a pile of junk. I want to figure out a way for schools to embrace social media instead of avoiding it and being fearful of being destroyed by it. I want to teach the teachers, the administrators, the support staff, and the students how to use certain tools to make their lives easier and also make school more engaging. That’s what I want to do.

My game plan is simple: if I stay within this district, I’m now under the strong impression that I need to really champion for myself. I’ve been very humble since the start of my career. I’ve helped teachers learn some of the district-pushed technology (despite my qualms for it), and I’ve even gone out of my way to teach teachers some of the things that I use (in regards to tech) for my classroom. I need to make myself more known. I need to establish my credibility to my superiors that I am capable and adept at pushing technology to the staff and to train them.

Will this remove me from the classroom? Yes and no. If I become a tech coach, I won’t be able to teach as much, and that’s okay. My students will no longer be children, but adults (and actually, probably students eventually when I need to push something). I will be able to affect more individuals and allow learning to be achieved in a tech-friendly environment.

The Dream State?

A coworker of mine–Paul–and I spent a lot of time last year day dreaming about this, but we have an idea. We want to start up our own consulting firm centered around this idea–to push on tech incentives and to teach teachers how to use technology in their classrooms and to teach schools how to use technology to their advantage. I don’t even know where to begin with this kind of thing, but that’s where I want to be. I want to set my own hours, work on a topic that I find to be extremely satisfying and exciting (and fulfilling most importantly). This is where I think I will be able to have a lasting impact. This is where I will have my legacy (at least in terms of career, because my boy is going to carry on my legacy <3).