Stories from interviewing my dad

In my summer bucket list, I talked about how I want to finish interviewing my dad. We’ve been sporadically doing this for over a year now, and we only made it to his thirty-year-old self yesterday. That means he’s about to finally start talking about how he came to America, which I think will be some of the most interesting stories. They’ll have some pretty strong competition though. Here are a few of my favorites that he’s told so far.

A Strange Coincidence

While Mao Zedong was in control, every student in China had to memorize this thing called the Little Red Book. Basically it was a bunch of sayings about how great Mao and his advisors were.

One day, my dad took his two-year-old sister with him to school because the adults were all busy, and she ripped out the fifth page from his book, which was about how great this general was. In other words, she was a normal little kid, but in China at the time, this would have been seen as serious disrespect towards the general. If you were already from a suspicious family, it could even be taken as a criminal act of revolt. That was why my dad got very nervous about it and either tried to fix it or keep it a secret.

But then a few months after the accident, Mao thought that the general was trying to usurp him. The general tried to flee by airplane to Stalin because he was on good terms with the USSR after giving advice to the military in WWII (which is a crazy story by itself), but the airplane crashed in Mongolia. Everybody died in the crash—his wife, his son, all the people closest to him. It was a big, big deal.

After two or so weeks, the Chinese government officially announced that Lin Biao had try to run away as a traitor and was now considered an enemy of the country. And then everybody had to rip out the general’s page from their Little Red Books.

What A Nerd

When he was in middle school, he would think about math problems while taking the cows out to graze. His reasoning for why he did this was because there was only so much he could do without paper or pencil or anything else, but I would probably have thought about nothing before I thought about math problems.

Then in college, he reviewed over the summer what he was going to be studying the next year. It wasn’t required, but he did it because there wasn’t much to do and it made the school year easier.

Actually a nerd.

Confused By My Mom

During dinner one time, my mom was crying inconsolably. She cried for around half and hour to an hour before she was finally able to tell him what was wrong. It was because her roommate’s sister’s husband had died. My dad doesn’t remember what he actually said, but he remembers feeling bewildered about why she was so upset about it.

First Impressions Of Japan

First, an explanation: in America, there’s always a connector between the airplane and the airport, but in other places, sometimes there’s a bus instead. When my dad arrived in Japan for the first time, that was the type of plane he was in. It was raining really hard, and as the passengers got off the plane, the stewards stood on either side of them, holding umbrellas over the customers while letting themselves be soaked.

Brush With Infamy

While he was still in China, my dad went on a few business trips to America. During those visits, he and his co-workers visited engineering labs to check out the products their company was planning to buy. Each time, they met up with a Chinese man who acted as their guide/translator.

This was in the 1990s, and at the time (and probably today still), America had rules that some of its products—especially those used in the military—could not be sold to China. The deal that the man had helped arrange between the company my dad worked at and the company he visited in America was fine, but the man arranged illegal deals for the Chinese government as well. Because it was so dangerous, the man made bank.

My dad found all of this out later in 2005. He had moved to the US by then, and while reading the newspapers, he saw that the man had been caught by the FBI.

Do you remember any of your first impressions of new places you’ve visited?
What’s the nerdiest behavior you’ve ever heard about? Mine is when my physics teacher told us that during war movies, if a bomb drops a mile away but you hear the sound at the same time, he thinks about how the sound should be delayed.
If you had to guess, where would you put yourself on the feeling spectrum on a scale of 1 to 10?

P.P.S. More stories from my dad.

10 thoughts on “Stories from interviewing my dad”

  1. These stories are so interesting to read! Woah, it’s almost creepy how much of a coincidence the first one is. And that’s crazy about your dad finding out that that guy got caught by the FBI. It would be so weird to be reading the newspaper and be like, “Wait, I worked with that person.”
    My mom actually has a really crazy story from when she was in college. There was this guy that she met one day and they started talking and walked around the track together, just the two of them. Then later she found out that he got arrested for murder. It’s kind of terrifying, actually.
    I don’t know what the nerdiest behavior I’ve ever encountered was, but one thing that comes really close is this: my cousin who has a degree in chemistry and her fiance at the time (now husband) discovered that when they put their initials together it made one of the elements on the periodic table. The element was a kind of earth metal or something that was actually really pretty, so he made her a sort of tiara with that element as the center piece and she wore it for the wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Oh my goodness, I know. If it was in a book, I feel like the editor would cut it because it sounds too improbable. Ohh, that makes me think about a thing I learned this week. I was reading a book, and I learned that not only did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on July 4, but this guy ten or so years earlier told Adams that he had a dream where they both died around the same time—I KNOW, I KNOW.
      Ahaha, I would have had the same reaction, but my dad told me in the most level way possible. He’s a pretty level person in general. I’ll need to ask him what his reaction was in the moment–thank you for bringing that up :))
      I have to say that was not where I thought this story was going. That’s so scary!!
      Ahhh, that’s so cool!! I love that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, I loved reading these!! Thank you for posting them. :))
    Strange coincidences intrigue me so much, and the coincidence with your dad and the book is so crazy and cool. I remember learning about the Little Red Books in my AP world class sophomore year (I wrote “last year” at first and then realized that I don’t know if “last year” qualifies as sophomore year still or if “last year” is now junior year)- I actually think I ended up mentioning it in one of my essays on the exam, haha.
    I definitely would have thought about nothing before thinking about math problems. The part about your physics teacher made me laugh, too! I spent a good few minutes trying to think of the nerdiest behavior I’ve ever witnessed, but I couldn’t pinpoint one exact thing. Probably because I am a nerd, and so are a lot of my friends, so there’s just a lot to choose from…I don’t know if this is exactly nerdy, but my lang teacher last year had an obsession with bad movies. Like movies that are horrible and everyone knows it. He would show us powerpoints detailing all the bad parts of bad movies, and he told us he had a carefully curated collection of all the bad movies, and we watched one before winter break (Trolls 2) and it was very much the worst movie I’ve ever seen. So maybe that wins?
    Whoa, the guy was caught by the FBI?? That’s intense. Honestly, reading these stories has been the best and most interesting part of my day so far, so thank you for sharing them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for reading and asking for them :))
      I know–some of the coincidences my dad tells me about are a little too crazy. I’ll have to tell him you said that :)) Aha hmm, I feel like I’ll keep thinking of junior year as this year until senior year starts. Ohh, no way! My school doesn’t have world history, but I hope to take a history class like that in college.
      I know right??
      Hahah, he said it so off-handedly too, so in my head I was going like WHAAT??, but we were on a class zoom so I refrained from bursting out laughing. I think less of my friends consider themselves nerds than yours. I do get called nerd a bit though by them. Jon likes to send the emoji with the glasses and teeth. AH a bad movie collection?? Ahahah, that’s so good. Was the emoji movie on there? That’s the first one I think of. Whaaat, I didn’t know Trolls 2 was bad. I feel like all I heard about was how much people loved the first one and how kids wanted to watch it over and over agian. That’s a really good answer. Maybe I should just do a post of nerdy things.
      I KNOW. When he told me it made it into the American newspapers, I was like really??? I’m curious where he’s at now.
      Oh my goodness, thank you :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’m also thinking of junior year as this year until the new school year as well! It just seems right, especially since we kind of have zero closure for this school year.
        Haha! It kind of depends, like my friends at dance definitely wouldn’t be considered nerds but most of the people I have most of my classes with at school and are more my school friends would be. ;)) Haha, I have no idea if the emoji movie is on there, but even though I haven’t seen it I feel like it should be. Oh, to clarify, not the Trolls 2 that recently came out- it’s a Trolls 2 movie from 1990, and to just begin to explain its badness, it is neither a sequel nor is it about trolls. Ahh, a post about nerdy things would be so fun!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know, and now, it seems like this coming school year is very up in the air. More so than it was a month ago! My friends from two different school districts in the area said that they’re schools as of right now are offering both full time online school and in person.
          Hahaha, I love that.
          WAIT WHAT. There was a Trolls 2 movie from 1990?? And it wasn’t about TROLLS OR A SEQUEL. What. This seems too preposterous to be true.
          Yes, I agree. I need to compile a list.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I know, it’s crazy. My district is also saying that we have to pick between in person and online- what about yours? I want to go back in person, but with the cases increasing, I’m not sure if that will be smart in August…and apparently someone doing the summer sport programs at my school got it, so that doesn’t bode well for us and I’m sad about it. Ahh, I love/hate that as I type this comment I can hear my dad watching the news about COVID…if that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what does.
            I KNOW. All the facts don’t add up. And better yet, it’s a horror movie. I would say watch it, but…don’t. It’s actually terrible.😂 But almost so bad that you want to watch it? But still bad enough that it’s kind of a waste of time.
            Yes!!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My dad said they sent out an email saying the private school group or something in the area is going to release a statement this month, but I’m not sure if that’s really happening. I have no idea what will happen, but I am pretty confident that all the parents at my school will be super against virtual learning. I’ve seen several posts of classmates going to the beach in Florida together, so I feel like they’ll be okay with in person school. Hahah!!
              WAIT WHAT. No. This just became exponentially crazier.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Ah yes, the amount of people going to Florida right now is quite a bit on my social media feeds, too. My house is a constant state of discussion about school next year, since my parents are both teachers and have been constantly talking about it. I’m not sure how right this is, but my mom was telling me something about how if no one goes back in person, they don’t get funding for schools, so that’s why they’re so adamant on making us come back?
                Haha!!

                Like

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