December 2021 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: December 2021

New coffee (no I mean matcha green team soy latte!) table for my rooftop urban succulent garden.

December 29, 2021

I was a bit worried about my total plastic pollution bags total, but I’ve caught up. I’m at 9 bags today, and still a few days left. I’ll easily be able to get at least 15 if not 20 bags. But of course you are not really here to hear about my plastic pollution bag totals, right? I’m at bag 584 by the way. You are likely here because of my provocative title?


My Plastic Picker bought it for me.

December 27, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ve been in a cultural, linguistic and time warp. Lets just say I was in an alternate universe that was absolutely beautiful. But I’m back. Mr. Plastic Picker really loves me and really loves that I loved the K-dramas. My conversational Korean is definitely much better after so many hours of Korean-TV. I realized that as a young immigrant to this country, Mr. Plastic Picker is so Korean, and I’m definitely more what we call a 1.5 generation. He used to do and still does so many of the things that the characters in the K-dramas do. The way we used to sit on the floor of our medical storm to eat dinner with a small table. I thought it was so odd that my Korean boyfriend/fiance had these multiple containers of pickled dishes and go-chu-chang. But now I realize that so many of those things that he did and still does (like all the side dishes we have in the frdige) are indications of how rooted he is in his culture and traditions. I knew those traditions and we mostly follow them, but because I’m not Korean – I thought some of them were quirks of his family. I have always adored my husband but now he’s my living Korean-drama boyfriend!


Rooftop garden is blooming with succulents and unexpected.

December 25, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Merry Christmas to the blog’s readership. My brain has literally been exploding because I’ve been immersed in Korean dramas. I’m taking a break right now but honestly I think it was really good for me. Language function is located in the left hemisphere of the brain mostly, Broca’s area which is associated with speech production and articulation and Wernicke’s area which associated with comprehension. My Broca and Wernicke areas are exploding like the leaves of my succulent rooftop garden after the much needed rrain. I think the Korean part pushed out the Spanish part, and I need to let it dry out for a bit before watching any more dramas. If you need something great to watch, definitely check out “Hospital Playlist” which was recommended to me by my brother. It’s really good. I’m rooting for the pediatric surgeon and his love interest, the general surgery resident to make it long term.


My mother-in-law planted this a few years ago.

December 22, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s the week before Christmas. I’ve honestly been in a Korean-drama haze. I’m watching a lot of dramas but at the same time I’m learning so much more Korean and also reliving moments in my life as a daughter-in-law to a Korean family. I’ve tried to be a dutiful daughter-in-law and it has not been always easy, but watching the dramas and seeing the echoes of our own lives in the traditions that are explained is helpful to me. My children and my mother and everyone thinks I’m in drama overconsumption mode, but honestly this is something I need to do for myself to deprogram some of my thought processess that I had over the last two decades. I affirms many of my values that I’ve held close to my heart, but are continually questioned by others around me. I’m happy and it’s keeping me off social media mostly anyway.


Just a gift from the HMO for Mr. Plastic Picker.

December 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m not sure why I am sad this morning. I had a very nice and easy Friday staggered evening pediatric urgent care shift, and got home by 8pm. I used to get in by 10pm with the schedule from the old days. I had the morning to live my life, and got to see the kids and Mr. Plastic Picker off on Friday morning then start work at 1030am. I appreciate that time for whatever you call it, work-life balance, having breakfast, being able to think, self-care. This weekend I’ve been watching Korean dramas still, but I’m done with the last series which was really good. I’m kind of an intense person at times and when I really get into something, I really get into it. Case in point, my 19 year marriage 24 year relationship with my husband, almost at 600 bags of trash collected, acculumating accolades for a resume I don’t need. That intensity I think is important and a reflection of mental health and a soul that is strong.

And I’m not sure why but those intense feelings I’m having are intense saddness still at the middle management meeting we had last week as we were discussing schedules and mundane things. I’ve chosen to be true to myself, and to seek self-awareness and in that awareness I realize how scarred we all are. Senior physicians at meetings saying “we are getting through it, “it’s okay” and platitudes upon platitudes – when all of us know our back stories. A family that was deferred. Relationships and marriages shattered. Meals that were missed. Time. We loss time with family. Many of us didn’t get to see key moments when are children were growing up. And in that loss we all suffered from a medical staffing system that was broken, we weren’t able to be aware of the answers. We weren’t able to see beneath the source of all this scheduling cr@p that was one rogue idea that should have never left the gate. Another true manager that is not a physician or someone with power over our lives that is not one of us, telling us what to do. Why are physicians so scared? Why do people not listen to eachother at meetings? Am I guilty of that too? Did you hear people’s pain? Did you hear the replies that essentially were non-replies?

And most of my saddness were a few phrases that keep on playing back in my mind. I wish this particular meeting was recorded and the replies could be replayed and we could listen again to our back and forth. Perhaps meeting transcripts should be analyzed like Shakpearean verses or passages in hallowed tomes. I think if we dissected our phrases and replies, we’d understand more about why physician burn-out is still a real problem. Why physicians disproportionately get divorced and commit suicide, and why our own children sometimes don’t do well in life because we sometimes work in unbearable conditions. Words make such a difference.

Thank you for continuing to hear my ramblings about life. Here is the beautiful roots of a beautiful gift a neighbor gave to my in-laws. During my now two year foray into gardening, I’ve learned one important fact. The roots of any plant/system have to be healthy. You have to regenerate the soil to grow the roots, and only then will you get beautiful fragrant flowers. That’s the management metaphor I’ll leave you with today. Still at it. So fundamentally well and joyous. Wishing for everyoen the same, and hoping we can heal our profession and the earth at the same time.

Screen-shot of a meeting on oil and gas setbacks yesterday.

December 17, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Sometimes when I go to bed, my mind is confused. It lived through the day and reorganizing things. Too much caffeine today? Too little nature? Did I help the earth? Climate gathering in person or another organizational meeting virtual that also has to do with climate? The day is filled with choices. I chose to speak up at a middle management meeting yesterday. I said my piece which is my truth, and I let it land. Whatever happens may happen, but I was proud of that moment. It was interesting people’s responses to those comments. But I have to speak up for physician wellness and I have a crystal clear understanding of my place in the world, and who I am. I wish that clarity for everyone.

The mornings are clear. The Christmas tree lights are twinkling in our living room. It’s a thrice handed down plastic tree that we love. Nothing new here. All the ornaments we’ve collected through the years, and they are mostly hand-made by the kids when they were younger. We have enough. I have a beautiful tin of cookies someone dropped off yesterday and I am so excited to eat each cookie. They were made with love and the beautiful reusable box with the cheerfull santas I will cherish forever.

And yesterday, I chose my family yesterday and I chose the earth. I chose my family when I spoke up about my displeasure regarding changes in our schedules. Most of the things that are wrong with the world are actually due to inaction or fear. Folks didn’t care enough or were too afraid to speak up to correct it. I have neither. What is there to fear when we have the code red for humanity due to climate change looming? And I have always chosen to act rather than inertia, even when I was at my saddest. I chose to walk toward the beach and I chose to start picking up plastic. I can chose to become a truffle farmer at any time.

And yesterday I chose the earth. There are only so many hours in the day and I thought to myself with all the competing demands on time, where should I go? I chose to attend the AAP San Diego Chapter Advisory Committee as I need to make sure the other pediatric leaders are on board as the climate change and health committee continues on our way. My co-chair is out on maternity leave and it’s important for at least one person to be there. I chose to show up at a virtual lunch meeting with Dr. Marnie Granados, who is co-chair with me of our new AAP California State Government Affairs Expert Section on Environmental Health and Climate Change. We met to discuss AAP California’s further support of oil and gas setbacks. Most of the organization and planning had been done by Drs. Marnie Granados and Amanda Millstein. But I try to document our journey and I am just amazed at how intense we look.

Willets I saw yesterday on my plogging journey Sunday morning.

December 13, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Here are some wandering wondrous willets I saw at the La Jolla Ecological Preserve. The beach I clean is a dedicated Marine Sanctuary area. There is a reason that the shorebirds only come from Crystal Pier and north, and the more north you go away from the commercial district and into the more wild areas where the kelp are allowed to remain and the insects flourish – there are more birds. I’ve seen snowy plovers, marbeled godwits, black turncoats, black phoebes, curlews, snowy egrets and now for the first time in a long while – I saw a flock of willets. They feed on insects, small crustaceans, mollusks and worms.

I don’t get out to the beach to “plog” as often as I had before. I think healing my heart and my mind in other sustainable ways has been important. I eat plant-based, reduce food waste, reuse what I can, minimize our consumptive lives and I think and write more than I’ve ever done before. I sleep. But the plogging trips are balms to my soul for sure. I always learn something about myself and the world, when I’m there.

In my environmental journey, the importance has been the quiet details. The butterflies, the shorebirds, and the little bits of plastics. It’s only my noticing the details than I can understand the big picture.

And dear reader, let your mind wander during the weekends. It’s only by letting your mind wander and explore and play, that you can laser focus on your goals and “your why” and help recreate the world that we want.

Thank you for being here with me as I let my mind wander in the mornings.

First script reading for tvN drama series “Revolutionary ...
First script reading of the series “Revolutionary Love.” OMG it’s so good. Top right is my make-believe boyfriend.

December 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I had this big revelation as I fell asleep watching my current favorite K-drama. It’s “Revolutionary Love” on Netflix and I highly recommend it. I also really loved “Hometown Cha Cha Cha.” I have to admit, for the first time since middle school, I spent an entire night binge-watching a series which was “Revolutionary Love” and did not sleep. It’s taken 10 episodes for the two protagonists I love to actually hug, and the innocently sweet character build-up and emotional scaffolding has been completely worth it. It takes me a while to fall in love with characters and I fell in love with Jun’s (the young woman) feisty spirit and Je Hun’s (the young man) beautiful hurt soul. It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

It’s not really an excuse, but this K-drama is part of the reason I decided to pass on an upper management position that I’m uniquely qualified for. But I realized that, it didn’t inspire passion and creativity in me. And if I’d rather watch a K-drama than work on an application – than it probably means it’s not the right position.

During my happiness while I was watching this particular K-drama and practicing my Korean, I was a bit freaking out Mr. Plastic Picker with my Korean mimicking while I’m watching the dramas. I speak conversational Korean and had studied it in college, so it’s wonderful to watch as between the subtitles and my own langauge skills and realizing I have two of my own K-drama-like teenagers in my house (I think my two half korean kids are really good looking) – I’m having so much fun. Too much fun! LOL.

And what is there more to life than joy and good fun? These K-dramas (at least the ones I watch) are very innocent and beautiful storytelling with actors I can identify with, and a language I am quickly improving. I had always regretted not being able to take the 2nd year of college Korean due to a packed premed schedule. But honestly these K-dramas are better! Especially my colloquial Korean is getting much better.

Realizing that that upper management position I was going to apply for but didn’t? I realized during binge-watching that I am in my early 40s. I have a long time in my career still. And there is no rush. I have lots of interesting projects I want to work on that are specifically climate related. And my own kids are still young, and I need time to be happy and to enjoy them and life. Rewild Mission Bay “Love Your Wetlands Day,” helping my daughter and her best friend with their Silver Award project on the Rewild Mission Bay project, leading the first AAP California SGA Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change, The Youth Arts Exhibition this spring, and continuing to mentor all our premed students. My cup overfloweth is a beautiful way. I’m already the head of two big committees at our HMO even without being Assistant Boss, so I don’t need any more leadership jobs.

So thank you “Revolutionary Love” K-drama series, for reminding me that there are more important things in life than chasing titles that are attached to responsibilities that don’t inspire. You inspired me to continue to improve my Korean! And the earth inspires me to mentor and organize! Sending you much love from our K-drama filled house to yours! LOL LOL LOL LOL The storyline in “Revolutionary Love” is the same. Dare to change the world, and let true love guide you.

21 bags for November. Not bad!!!

by drplasticpicker

Even green “friends” can be unkind. What does it mean when someone tells you “You clearly have energy” with a certain tone of voice and expression? I was at an HMO Green Team meeting and I heard those words. I know we have competing pressures on our time, but my friends and I were there essentially on our free time. This is not one of our paid positions. And this particular person is paid to do this. It’s part of their job description. Does it mean “you clearly have energy, but lack clarity.” “You clearly have energy, but lack authority.” “You clearly have energy, buy lack direction.” “You clearly have energy, but are unable to articulate.” I know in my heart that is not what that person meant, but in my mind knowing that comment was directed at me who was the most senior woman leader there in that particular tone of voice – affected me. It’s funny how these running dialouges we probably all have in our head and we all bring our own particular histories to these make-believe scripts.

But my friends were there, and the meeting was productive and I’ve know been able to vent some of my frustrations here on the blog. Meetings and committees are all difficult. But we moved the work forward by stating our case that we needed some help, and we’ll move forward with the other person assigned to our work.

So here I am back on the blog, and dear reader – thank you. I haven’t posted as much the last month but the traffic has been steadily rising still. I can’t believe I’m at 596 bags of plastic pollution averted! Salvaged 1810 items from landfill. Click here to see my totals page!

November 2021 Plastic Picking Totals! 21 bags and 46 items!

Aluminum Cans14Recycled
Plastic Bottles12Recycled
Sand Toys0
Flip Flops0
Clothing Items2Donated
Glass Containers3Recycled
Tennis Balls0
Swim Goggles0
Office Supply Items14Used

Honestly every month I come back to the blog and I know I’ve trudged forward. I’ve trudged forward toward my goal of 1000 bags (wow 596 bags is a lot!). And I’m trudged forward in my efforts to save the planet. I irritated some people yesterday at a meeting, and they irritated me back. But I know they are green friends and even green friends that say non-ideal things want to save this earth. And then I had a fun and very impactful meeting with AAP Climate Change and Health friends from our new super-cool committee (State Government Affairs!!!) and we discussed some upcoming legislative stances we want to take. We divided up the work and went forward on more climate work.

It’s so important to fill up your earth-agent/green super hero tank with goodness. yesterday was watching some K-dramas and practicing my Korean. It was silly but fun. I’m drinking matcha green tea soy latte, and I’m looking outside our wet backyard with the rainbarrels having caught as much rain from the sky as possible. I’m happy this morning because mother nature watered the urban rooftop garden, watered the backyard container garden, watered our front garden, watered the HMO parking garage succulent garden, and she’s working so hard. She’s working to cleanse the world and heal. For me this is a spiritual journey as well as a practical one. It’s practical because I want a liveable planet for all our children. But it’s spiritual because I know we are part of this larger cosmic battle between inaction and action, hopelessness and hope, disinterest and attention, fatigue and energy, good and evil. You have to choose which side you will be on. I choose the light. I choose hope. I choose action. So maybe when that person said “You clearly have energy” she saw my light. Please dear readers and go forth and be part of the light. The darkness is coming. It threatens to overwhelm us, but you can choose the light.

The Green Dragon that is our HMO has awoken, but it needs to wake up a little faster.
Wow. It was really good.

December 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ve known Eric Nedelman as a parent of my patients for well over a decade. We’ve chatted about their kids and life, and gone through the normal markers of childhood for their children. But he handed two CDs to me last visit. I have been handed CDs in the past, but for some reason I finally found a computer that has a CD player and popped in the CD. It’s really good. I’m amazed at the talent and creative works we all have around us, that often go unnoticed or not appreciated. I wonder who reads my blog sometimes. I put my heart and soul into my writing, grammatical errors and all. It feeds my soul. And for Eric Nelelman, this CD is very good. Check out The album was created back in 1994. That was the heyday of my high school years so maybe that is why the music resonates with me.

I particularly liked track one and four. One is “Back at Home” and four is “Stand Up.” We are honored to start putting together the 2022 AAP Youth Arts Exhibition on Climate Change and Health, and it’s going to be at a large Hillcrest art gallery and the owner has donated the entire space for the month. We’ve never done anything like this before. But part of the exhibition will be experential and I’m going to ask Eric if we can play Track one and Track four at certain areas in the art gallery. The entire point of the exhibition is to highlight the understanding and perception San Diego County’s children have on the state of the earth, and then the artistic and real prescriptions their pediatricians are doing to adddress this.

My colleague and creative mastermind behind this Dr. AF says we should do an Exhibition Catalouge. I’m all for it! He eve has someone who wants to work on it. So here we go, doing something we have never done before. We need to wake people up and we will do it through the art work of our children and our own creative projects that address climate change as the single greatest threat to our children. If not us, who? If not now, when? And part of the how, is through our own storytelling.