Back to US Life Histories

My Family and TV

My family loves to watch television including me. Ever since I can remember, we always had a TV set in our house. We watched TV when we were young, when we come home from school, when we are eating, and until we go to sleep at night. Television has become a big part of our lives. God forbid if the electricity goes out in our house, there is absolutely nothing else we can do. It is pathetic to think that our lives revolve around the TV set, but we're not complaining.

My earliest recollection of me watching TV is when I was about 3 years old. My dad was a Chinese diplomat and he was sent to Korea to work. He met my mom there, and had three daughters. I'm the middle one. My older sister, Chrissy has always been the TV addict. Ever since she was born, she was often found in front of the TV set watching whatever was on. Even when there's nothing to watch, she watched news. I guess I took after her, because I followed whatever she did. It was a winter day, and we all sat around the TV watching Korean variety show. In Korea there is no furniture, so the living room only consist of a TV set, and the floor. I remember the floor was always mopped clean and shinning. My sister and I was drinking a beverage, and watching TV at the same time. I don't know who thought up of the idea of putting coins inside the cup and pretending it's a drink. I opened my mouth and drank the coin and spit it out. I guess it was fun for a 3 year old at the time. Then the coin somehow went too deep in my throat. I tried to get it out, but it was stuck. I still remember how terrible it was not being able to breathe. The coin was lodged in my throat and it felt so bad I couldn't even cry. My sister was yelling and screaming, but I think I was about to faint from lack of air. My aunt rushed over from the kitchen, saw what was going on, and took action immediately. She grabbed both my legs and turned me upside down. She hit me on the back so hard, that I spit out the coin immediately. I felt so relieved I started to cry. I still remember my aunt yelling at me for being so stupid. This made a huge impact on me because it make me think twice about doing something that would harm myself. I'm always careful about everything now, because of the traumatic experience. That's my earliest recollection of me watching TV.

When my dad was sent back to Taiwan, we had to say good-bye to our TV too. We weren't very rich then, and we couldn't afford a TV set. We had to wait months before my dad could buy one for us. One day My dad said his friend sold him an old TV set, and we were so happy. We couldn't wait until my dad came home from work. When he did come home, he brought home the smallest TV set that I had ever seen. I still remember it was red and probably 10 inches. I don't think we cared though, because we were just happy that we got a TV set. Watching that TV was a challenge also, because the characters on TV weren't straight. They all had something going through then to look like they are lopsided. The colors on the TV wasn't black and white, and it wasn't in color either. It's really hard to explain what colors they were, I just remember it being blue and white. We watched everything from that TV. I still remember all the cartoons I watched in Taiwan. One cartoon I remember the most about was "Tom and Jerry." American cartoons seldom air in Taiwan. We about to go out one day to meet my mother's friend. She was all dressed up and so were we. But, before we left we caught the beginning of "Tom and Jerry." We couldn't be teared away from that TV with fork lift. We just kept on watching and watching, and left our poor mother waiting downstairs. She waited for probably an 20 minutes and she gave up. She called upstairs and told us to finish watching the cartoon and then come downstairs. She was so nice, we almost wept with gratitude. Although that TV set was old and unclear but I still remember it fondly. I think it taught me to appreciate not only the new and interesting things, but also appreciate the old things. Like a Memorabilia.

After staying in Taiwan for four short years, my dad was sent to Maryland, USA. I resented coming to America because I heard so much unfavorable things about America. It was during the time when Carson kicked Taiwan out of the UN. Being patriotic to my country, I resisted coming to here. But My lied to me, and told me we were going to come right back if I didn't like it there. So I came. We moved to Maryland and stayed with my uncle's family. My sisters and I was so happy because the TV station here don't rest during the afternoon. In Taiwan, the TV stations goes blank every afternoon. The TV stations here go 24 hours and there so much cartoons we were wanted to see them all. I remember the best show on TV was "A Different Strokes" and my favorite cartoon was "Superman and Friends." My favorite day was Saturday morning. My sisters and I wake up around 7am and have our American cereal breakfast. Then we would sit immobile in front of the TV and watch 7 hours of cartoon until 1:00pm. That was heaven! No wonder everybody wants to move to America. It is the best place to be. Hey, I was only 8, it doesn't take much to satisfy an eight year old.

After we found our own apartment, we would go to our uncle's house only on the weekend. But, that changed with the invention of the VCR. My uncle bought the first VHF VCR, everything else was in beta. The video tapes from Taiwan was in VHF. We were so excited about the Chinese video tapes that we would almost go everyday to watch the soap opera like episodes. I remember we would all sit in the family room, and watch hours of this Chinese episodes. There weren't enough chairs so the children have to sit on the cold hard floor, and all the adults would sit on the sofas. There's about 10 people crowded in that one small family room for about 2 weeks straight. I would always fall asleep because I couldn't stay awake past 11pm. But my sister would watch it all the way through and fill me in on the parts I missed. Then at night we would continue watching until late at night. I don't know why we were so hooked on that show, now I think about it, it really wasn't that good. I guess we were just excited to see Chinese show in American. Even if it were the worst show ever, we would of still watched it and sacrificed our sleep for it. I think back now, the show wasn't all that important. It was the family get together that was special. Everyone got so close after watching that show together, we always criticized and talked about the show. That was a time that I will always cherish.

Once my sister and I got into a fight about what to see on TV. We complained to our mom, and I won. My older sister have to let me watch whatever I wanted. This was in our own house, and in the basement. My dad said we watch too much TV, and put the TV in the basement so we wouldn't eat and watch TV at the same time. I was happily watching TV and I don't know where my older sister went. After awhile I was getting thirsty, but I don't want to move from my seat to get a drink from upstairs. I was afraid if I let go of my seat, my sister would see the chance and turn the channel. Then I saw my sister coming down with a coke in a clear glass with only a sip left. I was eyeing it, and my sister was pretending that she didn't see me. Then she finally turned to me, and asked me if I wanted it. I said yes right away. She gave it to me, and I took a large gulp. As soon as it touched my tongue, I ran to the bathroom. I spat everything out, except for some that I drank. I can't believe she tricked me into drinking SOY SAUCE. She wanted to take revenge on me because I get to watch what I wanted to watch. That was when I know she was getting a little too serious about watching TV. Things got a lot better when My dad bought a second set of TV, I haven't drank soy sauce in a long time.

I still watch a lot of Television, "Friends," "ER," X-Files," and etc...are my favorite shows. But, I can't seem to generate as much excitement as before when I watched it with my family. The feeling is totally different now. Those are the times I will miss the most.

Jan 18, 1999

Back to US Life Histories