“I woke up to having, again, three women standing over me…”

Have you ever had a chance encounter with the stranger that has stuck with you? What happened? I was 20 and I was pregnant. And single. And my parents kicked me out of my house, well, their house. And I was going to my brother's house in another state and I lost my bus ticket. So I started walking. And I remember being- I hadn't eaten in two days and I was starving, big ole pregnant. And I saw this grass that just looked so comfortable and I laid down on it. And I fell asleep, and I woke up to having, again, three women standing over me asking me if I was all right, what was wrong with me and I kind of started to cry and told them my story. And they took me home with them. They gave me a bath, another bath, but this time it was a shower. Gave me, washed my clothes while I was in the shower. Gave me a robe to wear while they dried. And then they fed me a hot meal. I ate like I hadn't eaten in a week. And they bought me a bus ticket and put me on a bus to my brother's house. They were angels. God sent them. I know he did.

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“… She did not get that like living or going to Florida for the winter was like a clue…”

The first one that struck me was actually the snowbird one because it makes me immediately think of a story which is probably my only snowbird story. When I was like 24-25, I was living with two other women and one of them I did not get along with and the other one who I did get along with, mostly, she grew up in Austria so there were definitely like kind of cultural things and customs that aren't you know, second nature to her, that she didn't necessarily get. And so she had started dating someone. And I was asking her about him, like they had probably been dating for a couple weeks and she was a singer like a choral singer and so they had met in this like choir, a city choir. And you know, she's telling me this, that, and the other and he sounded really great and she said, "But he spends the winter in Florida." And I think it was about approaching winter time and I just like had this moment of pause. Because I'm like, okay. Old people spend the winters in Florida because we were in Michigan, living in, Michigan. And so I was like like ,"How old is he?" And again, we were like 24 or 25 and it was the funny part is that she did not get that like living or going to Florida for the winter was like a clue that he was much older. So she said, "He's 51." and I had another pause and I was like, "How old is your dad?" And she says "52." And I was like "Well, at least he's younger than your dad." You know? And it was just like, oh man, they I mean they dated for- what I mean, at least six months I think maybe longer. But it's just like- she definitely- there were some father issues there and I think he seemed like a great guy and she was a great person but it's just like yeah, I don't think that's probably a healthy relationship. But anyway, he was a snowbird. And that's what I think of when I think of people who winter down south.

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“So she had this whole thing in her mouth and my dad was trying to get her to let go…”

What's the silliest thing you've ever seen a pet do? Well, when I was seven we got my dog Peyton. She was a Jack Russell Terrier, and we were in Ohio at that time. About four months later so I had turned eight by then and it was probably like early April because we were wearing coats my dad and I were taking her for a walk and we were probably maybe three blocks from our house or so. And there was a piece of bread like in the street, kind of like one of those dinner rolls you get at a restaurant or something, so pretty like big. And it was just sitting in the gutter of the street and Peyton was the most likely of our dogs to eat strange things that she shouldn't. And so she saw this and she managed to get like the entire thing in her mouth and so her mouth was wide open because like I said, she- Jack Russells are not huge dogs, she was maybe like 20 pounds. So she had this whole thing in her mouth and my dad was trying to get her to let go of this big piece of bread and she would not do it. He had his hand around it in her mouth. She wouldn't let go, and her head was like bobbing up and down as he was trying to yank it away from her. And I think finally they ripped the thing in half and so Peyton did get to eat half of it. But It was really funny to watch from the sidewalk like this tug of war with little Peyton's head bobbling up and down and my dad getting progressively more frustrated. A grown man in tug of war with 20 pound dog over a piece of bread. Always remember that, we still laugh about it today."

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“I was there in the last days of the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship.”

I spent six days in Taiwan where my major professor was spending a sabbatical. And that gave me an opportunity to have a wonderful tour of Taipei, as well as the southernmost tip of the island. So, I wanted to mention that my participation in the workshop at the East-West Population Institute introduced me to a very nice lady from the Philippines who was at that time a professor in the sociology department at Saidaya University which is in Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines, on the island of Mindanao. And she facilitated a sabbatical for me to spend in the Philippines. So I lived in the Philippines, the far east from September, 1984 up until May, 1985. It was a difficult sabbatical and I ended up wishing that I had not gone. I was there in the last days of the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship, that was masking as a democracy but was not a democracy. And all of the people that I came in contact through the university who were intellectuals had turned against the Marcos regime. They saw it as a dictatorship and not a democracy. I did suffer anti-Americanism because everyone knew that I was from the United States. And the United States was viewed as propping up the Marcos dictatorship, which we certainly were doing. But I was treated poorly because of my American citizenship. But when you handed lemons you make lemonade and I learned from this experience in the Philippines, and I learned things about myself I did not know before. And I emerged a stronger person after having had that hard experience. I'm reminded of the old saying 'Diamonds are made under pressure.' And I hope I have become a diamond even if imperfect.

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“She just crashed right through the surface. My parents and the other parents did everything they could…”

Content Warning: Mentions of drowning and death My best friend, when I was eight years old, we went camping in Oscoda and and we thought where we were was frozen over and spoiler was not frozen over the very surface was frozen but she walked onto the ice and she fell through and we found her three days later. She was dead. She had drowned. That was my first introduction with death. Actually, It's kind of a morbid story, I am sure it's not the light-hearted ones that I think are expected, but to her credit or to my parents' credit. They did not know that we were out there. We were supposed to be on the shore and not go near the water. We were kind of having like a little picnic with another family that we'd met at the campground. and I being overly cautious, then and now, I remember saying "I don't think this is really a great idea." It doesn't you know, my mom said it's not it looks more solid than it is and neither of us were very small children. We were very very stocky overweight to be honest children and she, I don't know what her plan was, I think she thought she could make it like a large slip and slide. Or a slip n' bleed rather. Yeah, she took she just took off running and then kind of made like that diving motion you make on a slip and slide and she just crashed right through the surface. My parents and the other parents did everything they could. They tried to get rope, but she kind of she was flailing a lot. We couldn't get her back to the hole. She was under the ice and she was kind of drifting away from the the hole where my parents couldn't couldn't grab her. They tried to grab her and my father wanted to go in and he couldn't- he couldn't fit through the hole and he was you know punching at the ice trying to make the hole bigger and it just it wasn't making it bigger. You know looking back maybe we could have gotten something to make the hole larger but none of us- I mean, I was eight. My parents were freaking out. Everyone was freaking out. They called the police the police. I don't remember how long…

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“Okay, I’ve revised my answer, I want it to be a Saturday.”

If I was stuck in a time loop, what day would I pick? I always have questions around these prompts. Like how long does the time loose loop last for because that would change my answer. But I think if I just if I didn't know that then it could go on indefinitely. I would probably pick a day that I don't have any set obligations. So like Saturday or Sunday where, in theory, I could do all different kinds of things that day. So it would be a Saturday or Sunday in the summer. Um, I would want everything about my life currently to remain true. So, I have a partner I would want to be with my partner. I wouldn't choose a day in the past before I knew him. And then I think I would just kind of reinvent the day each time. So sometimes maybe it would be really structured and I'd go out to events and things and other times. I would just kind of lounge around. I would- I guess okay- I've revised my answer. I want it to be a Saturday because some things are closed on Sunday. So it's a Saturday which means the library would be open. So if I wanted to read all different kinds of books this loop just went on forever and ever and ever. That would be really nice and I wouldn't have to pay for it. Although I guess my bank account would reset each day. So it doesn't matter. I was gonna say that I might try to gamble but it wouldn't matter again because even if I won it would reset the next day. Yeah. A random Saturday in the summer with my partner. No, nowhere to be. No plans I'm missing.

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“And she just had this incredible story and it turns out she’s a hundred and three years old…”

I do have, kind of a fun story. We had at the library this summer a series of book talks which we do every year. So authors come in, talk about their work. And people get to ask questions and have a chance to buy their, buy their books and have them signed, that type of thing. So we had- usually we try and have, Michigan authors or stories that take place in Michigan something that has some sort of a local Michigan connection and one of the books this year was called the Dock Porter, which is about the dock porters on Mackinac Island. And the two guys that wrote it were actually dock porters. I think in the 1970s 80s something like that and they just remember their- just an incredible experience being these dock porters on Mackinac Island, that's where they met each other and have stayed friends, you know since then. So they gave this talk one of them was in person and one of them actually lives in the Philippines. So we zoomed the second author in. And it was a really great talk really interesting, you know, a lot of really good questions from the audience and then this lady who was in the audience started to tell this story and she was very quiet. It was kind of hard to hear and she looked like she was you know quite elderly. And she talked about this story about how her mother was a schoolteacher on Mackinac Island and how they used to live there, and they used to walk across the channel between the you know, they used to walk across well Lake Michigan and to get from the Upper Peninsula to the lower Peninsula and they used to plant, I should- plant- but they used to put trees down to kind of make make a path, so people knew where they were going, so they put these trees in the ice. And she just had this incredible story and it turns out she's a hundred and three years old and really just had some amazing amazing stories about walking across the ice from Mackinac Island to the lower Peninsula and it was such an incredible such an incredible story that I thought that was I thought that was pretty cool.

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“if the tipping culture goes away…. I’ll be making so much less a year.”

I saw that Michigan has passed the- I don't know what the phrase is for it, um for tipped workers where we have to get paid now a minimum wage of 12 dollars an hour instead of the whatever it is like $3.75 or whatever. I get $5 an hour and then plus all my tips. And it's kind of I know people are appealing it and bringing it up into higher courts, and it's probably going to go to the Michigan Supreme Court. And I got to be honest, I don't know how I feel about it passing. I think people are doing it because they want to help. Because they think it's really unfair that we're not making real money. But like I have this fear that if it does pass. You know, the tipping culture will go away. Which don't get me wrong, it is stupid, like the whole idea of it is dumb, I understand, but it's my life and I'm accustomed to it now. Yeah, and so if the tipping culture goes away to wait tables for 12 dollars an hour and then you know say maybe you get like five percent or 10% tips on top of it. I'll be making so much less a year. Like there's no way I would stay I will let you know right now. There's no way I would keep waiting tables, you know at 31 years old. If I was making twelve dollars an hour, like right now I make somewhere between I don't know, between $25 and $40 an hour. Which yeah, why would I want to change that? And then I do understand like some people think that like it would make more sense to have more fair salary between front of house and back of the house. But my opinion is take all that extra money that you would give me for the twelve dollars an hour and just give it to back of house. I don't think people that work back of house should be making any less than 20 dollars an hour like that should be the minimum. It's a hard job. And it's hot and it breaks your body, and you work every night and every weekend and every holiday. And most of the time you get no insurance. No benefits. No sick leave, no paid time off. No 401k. But it's a skilled labor job,…

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“The word ‘east’ reminded me of him.”

Okay, I'm not gonna go to the questions yet because surprisingly I have something to talk about East. So, I've- I'm half Chinese and lately I've been interested in like Chinese mythology because like it's so cool. And so, one thing I've been looking into was like different little creatures and gods and spiritual beasts and stuff and there's this one really cool dragon in Chinese mythology called the green dragon or azure dragon depending on how you say the name I guess and he's like the man of the east the East Sea is his, even though like when you look on a map of China is only the eastern side is connected to a sea. I don't get why I like Black Tortoise, Vermilion Bird and the White Tiger all have like corresponding oceans to them when China is surrounded by Mongolia and other countries like that, but I'm not gonna fret about the details. Could be like, you know established before when China is bigger. Maybe I don't I like know nothing on Asian history, even though I'm Asian, I'm like shameful to my ancestors. We need to be taught more about stuff in school. But yeah, I don't know the word East just reminded me of him. His name is 'Qinglong'. I forgot his other name. But yeah, that was something cool.

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“And then we started sinking.”

What do you think of when you think about up north? One of our team members goes camping and tubing up north every summer. So I don't go tubing up north. I go to a place with my cousins once in a while. And it's not the cottage, and we usually go tubing. The tubing is so fun! And one time, seven of us were on a tube and we were just going really fast, super fast. And then we started sinking. And then like almost every everyone but one of our cousins was - jumped off it and it was just so funny because it was just sinking and sinking and sinking. And another time when we were tubing, two of them who were the most cocky - like, "You guys are gonna fall off. We aren't." They were the two who fell off and we had to circle back to get them. I'm so glad it didn't happen to me, that'd be kind of creepy. But it'd be refreshing. And so that was just a really fun experience that I had. It was super fun. It was more like down south, but yeah going tubing is one of my favorite things to do. And it was for my grandparents 50th anniversary. And it was just super fun like because we had to take photos later in the day - family photos. But until then we'd just go tubing and when we got back we had hot dogs and we got to do stuff at the beach. It was super fun. It was like one of the funnest experiences I've haded in my - I've had, not haded in my life.

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