An interview with my dad

After dinner on Thursday,

(which was Hopdoddy’s. It was my second time eating there, and my verdict stays the same. Hamburgers: still not impressed. Fries: the plain ones are nothing special, but their parmesan truffle fries are addicting. My brother-in-law picked the most expensive burger on the menu. It’s called the Impossible Burger and turns out, it’s actually plant-based. He was very disappointed.)

I interviewed my dad. This is a translated, edited, and incomplete transcript of it. Also: interviews are so great. It opens up conversations you don’t have on a regular basis.

A Future Engineer Fails a Math Homework

I remember very clearly my first day of math, and we were learning how to count. One, two, three. I wrote all my ones horizontally. And they were all wrong. I got a zero for that assignment. My first ever math homework was a zero. That’s my first ever memory of school.

First Impressions

(What did you think of America?)
The first time I came to America, I thought it was clean. The people were nice. And the grocery stores had a lot of food. Also, people’s work lives and their home lives are separate here, but in China, social ties are really complex.
(Do you still think the same things now?)

(What’s your first memory of Jiejie?) (That’s my sister.)
When she was born, I wasn’t at the hospital, but when she came home, she cried loud. And didn’t stop.

(What’s your first memory of me?)
Your skin was really pretty. You were really little. Your cries were super soft.

Sidenote: I was born early. I also learned I had jaundice when I was born.

The Real Question

(How did you know you loved Mommy?)
How? How do you answer this?
(Okay. Just try.)
I care about her and I’m willing to help her when she’s in need.
(So you knew because you were willing to help her but not other people?)
(Jiejie in background: Well, at the end of the day, you choose to love someone. You just love that person.)
How I know? I love her so I know.
The real question is how I knew she loved me before we married.
(Haha. That’s funny.)


Hey, Daddy! I know you will (probably) be reading this. (If not, Mommy, I know you will, so please tell him to.) I just want to wish you an early happy birthday. Fifty-four years old in five more days. WHOHOO! It’s usually the parent who says this to the kids, but I’m so proud of you. Although you started out with so little, you have accomplished so much. I apologize for being grumpy and moody and mad. I admire you for sticking to your principles even when I don’t like them. Guess what, Daddy? (Say “what.”) I love you.


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