December 2023 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: December 2023

some teen pictures

December 28, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear blog readership! It’s 8:50am and its the first time in 20 years that I’ve taken the entire holiday off! I have a few more glorious days and spending it with the kids. Mr. Plastic Picker is off to work this entire week but he’s off next week. Our son will still be home from college, so they will do some father-son bonding. We are relatively senior members of our respective departments, and I’m very much YOLO (you only live once) kind of mindset these days. Looking at the real threat of climate catastrophe will do that to any reasonable person. I used to hoard vacation days and at some point had over 50 days banked. But now I just have the normal reasonable amount, always above 25 but usually closer to 35-38. I realized that I’ll never get this time back with my children, and staying at my current work which is very likely but is not guaranteed. Plus we keep on accruing vacation anyway. So I’ve stayed home this entire week when I thought I might put myself back into work, but I did not! And I’m actually really happy I didn’t.

I really need to get our climate newsletter out to our troops, mostly to organize my own thoughts and where we are headed for the rest of the year. I need to update our website as well. I still have a two presentations to work on that I need to send in to climate friends in New York and also to UC San Diego School of Medicine. Those are the two big upcoming talks that I am giving. Since I typed it out today, most likely I will do it. I also need to finish the dishes. Mr. Plastic Picker told me to leave the laundry to him, as he likes doing the laundry. The grandparents are currently not in town, but will be back before the New Year.

Mostly I wanted to show you how proud I am of our sophomore. I snuck in to watch her sleeping this morning and spied her Korean textbook. She has been studying Korean language since she was four years old first at church language school and then with a private instructor. And now she has added Vietnamese language as well. She studies Spanish at school. So the Korean and Vietnamese have always been extra. But she’s reading fairytales now and making little notations in her reading. Her Korean has far surpassed her fathers and mine, and I am so proud. Her Vietnamese is actually really good. I’m practicing speaking with her more now, and I can see her learning and picking it up quickly. In dovetails with the future I envision for her, which is one to advocate for those that will be at high risk due to climate change and climate migration – Vietnamese women. But those thoughts I can leave aside for now and let them naturally evolve.

For now and today, I am just proud of her for continuing her studies through her vacation at a steady pace. I’m happy to be here typing on this blog which I’ve been neglecting of late. I’m proud to have given some feedback on a print interview to a dear climate friend. My comments were constructive and probably difficult for her to take in, but it came from an absolute place of love. She knows it and will digest my comments. And I’ll be seeing her soon. And I’m so happy to be here with you – virtually. I know one day this blog and many other like it from other climate activists, will be historical references to this moment in time when we had to decide – do you do something about the climate crisis or do you just sit this one out? I decided to do something today. And that something is to work on the newsletter!!!

Much love from our climate family.

One of the grandchildren.

December 21, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

My own love is back in San Diego, likely already at work. He’s sitting at his reading station and what I think is mindlessly looking at black and white images of parts of bodies and contrasting shadows of light and dark. I know he makes up stories in his minds about the images, and I’m sometimes still confused about why he went into radiology. He did it because he was from a working class family, and was a smart and bright student. He needed to support his parents. He needed the titles and the prestige. I married him partly because of that. He was the boy who represented so many of the values and strengths that men in my family embody.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table across from my father. I had thought I was going to retell the story of how my parents met. It’s a beautiful story of a 15 year old girl who met a smart and handsome and overly confident 17 year old boy in Vietnam back in the 1970s. I had heard bits and pieces of the story, but yesterday sitting at my parents small square table I heard the entirety of the story with my nephew. He is my oldest brother’s youngest son. We laughed and were enraptured. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that the four of us will never forget. This story will be retold, and I won’t retell it here. It doesn’t feel right. It belongs to the family, and to the two granddaughters who will here the story. At 14 and 15, they were the same age of their grandmother when fate brought two young people together.

My dad told me yesterday that in Vietnamese you often introduce your wife as “Day la nha toi.” I don’t have the Vietnamese language software that can put in the diacritic marks. But essentially the phrase can be translated into “Here is my house” “Here is my home” “Here is my family.” It is a powerful phrase because essentially the wife is the house, the home and the family.

It might be old-fashioned but the proof is in all of us here today to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Here is celebrate the 7 grandchildren that are absolutely loved and cherished, that resulted from each of their children believing in love and fate and destiny. The two son-in-laws are not here, but they have absolutely been loved by my parent’s daughters. We are the girls who have created a house, home and family for our husbands.

And with that, I wanted to remember that phrase, that moment at the kitchen table and that absolute sense of rightness. These are the values I was taught, and it was so ingrained in me – but I had forgotten the source. It’s good to be together again to remind us our roots. And for the 11 of us here in Oahu today it’s because of a sweet love story when a 15 year old girl met a brash 17 year old boy, who dared to buy a meal at the market place from the pretty 15 year old girl.

Pretty hair. Pretty 15.

December 8, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 6:53am and I just have a few minutes before the day starts. A day of getting the little one up and off to school. She’s busy this weekend with a speech league tournament and she us up again against a certain rival speaker that has dark themes (now somewhat humorous). Her original prose and poetry piece is stronger for having worked on it with her coaches. I am forever grateful for the mentors that have landed in our lives. Through her speech team and through school, she is surrounded by accomplished and compassionate adults that help anchor our society. Judges and non-profit leaders and those that shine forth with goodness in their hearts. For a 15-year-old that is what one needs right now, those stabilizing adults that give them hope in these troubled times.

I wrote a heartfelt post yesterday. I didn’t share it on facebook Dr. Plastic Picker but I left it up. It’s important for me to remember yesterday and the emotions of yesterday. I never try to hide things anymore, and my emotional journey is so open and raw these days.

My world and universe was out of balance yesterday. I was dropping otoscope covers and ear curettes. My stethoscope , it took a few times to land where the ventricles are. I eventually did what I needed to do, but I was off balance. And the reason I was off balance because I realize that my job is try to protect all children, but that I need to focus on my child and I needed to let another one go. In my heart I had come to love this child /this boy like my own. But he has a perfectly good set of parents that will guide him in life. And today on this blog, buried in a post where only I’ll refer to – I wanted to say goodbye.

I wish you the best. I thank you for being an adorable 15-year-old when I met you, who listened to a crazy pediatrician go on and on about her daughter. I wish you health and happiness. I wish you joy and love. I wish you passion and purpose. And I know in my heart that you have an amazing journey in front of you, that you will go on to do amazing things. Dr. Plastic Picker, I am a good judge of character. When I met you, I knew there was something special about you and I thought that meant that I would get to see your journey in the years to come. You have wonderful parents that are accomplished, but it was always that as a pediatrician I saw something special in you. They were side-characters in this story.

I will worry about you from afar, just like I worry about all the patients that have come across my path. And I from afar like toward all children, hope that you will be protected from the forces out there that seek to distract you and push you from your destined path. Be safe and I hope the earth and universe surrounds you with love and protection and caring. You deserve it, as you were the kindest and most adorable 15-year-old I have ever met in clinic.

And with that, this is my pediatrician good-bye to you. Because I realize I am not your parent and I have to parent my own daughter – who in the center of my world. Just like you are the center of your parents. You will do great in life. And make good choices in those that surround you, that is my pediatrician wish for you. I am so grateful to have met you in this big world.

Green hugs, Dr. Plastic Picker

Pretty pictures of the teen.

December 7, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Thank you for following along my emotional journey of this climate work. I’m just here sitting at the kitchen table and it’s 6:15am. I’m drinking my matcha green tea with a splash of soy milk, and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. And I’m feeling hurt and disappointed. I’m including recent pretty pictures of our daughter to make myself feel better. I can’t and don’t need to go into details, but I’m feeling hurt. Opening oneself up to the world and trying to fundamentally address the climate crisis and improve environmental health for our collective children has meant opening myself up to all sorts of experiences and people and situations that I’ve never been in before. I have climate friendships now that I never thought possible. I’ll be seeing Dr. Elizabeth Friedman soon, and she is one of my most favorite people in the world. She is a Pediatric Environmental Health Specialist from Kansas City, Missouri. But it has also meant taking risks and today feeling hurt and disappointed.

I’ve learned that I need to let the hurt and disappointment sit. I guess she wasn’t enough for a picture, and someone else was enough to work on an entire project together. I am hurt because I feel like my child was excluded when I purposefully include as many other children/youth as I possibly can in projects that I think up. That’s it. I feel like my child was deemed not good enough for something that she is uniquely qualified for. But I know after talking to her that for the specific project she actually has no interest in it. It’s completely irrational my feelings of hurt, but they are there and today I’m going to enjoy wallowing in them. My love and affection were real, so very real. And therefore my hurt and feelings are real.

But you know what I learned yesterday when my daughter was comforting me in my make-believe drama? I know she loves me and she was comforting me, and I know no matter what that in the end she realizes how much I love her. We got to talk about so many things. About family values and future aspirations. About boys and that’s its best to wait for the first of everything until it’s the right person. And I’m honestly glad that she’s going to wait on everything for many more years. My daughter realizes her Dr. Plastic Picker mother can be irrational and silly, and this climate work has changed me. She hugged me yesterday and looked at me and said “Mommy, I’m only 15.”

Yes, you are. You are a gorgeous 15 and honestly there was never a boy that was going to be good enough. I’ll let you find your own but I’m going to allow myself to wallow and feel hurt today.

Alpaca at UC Berkeley, sent by the oldest.

December 2, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I have many beautiful photos of the little one in her speech dress and heels from last night. She was practicing her Original Prose and Poetry piece and she looked beautiful. She’s upstairs right now and it’s 5:46am, getting ready for the Winter Classic Invitational Speech Tournament. This is her life at 15-years-of-age, and she’s been prepping all week for the tournament. She had a nightmare last night regarding the Japanese occupation of Korea, but that is the weird advocacy world that she lives in. She’s writing poetry and thinking about the world, but wants to look pretty for herself and for the future-husband that at some point will come into her life. But she’s more focused on school and high-school academic competitions than boys, for which I’m forever grateful.

As for our oldest? He sent us a picture of an alpaca that is on the grounds at UC Berkeley! I have no idea why there is an alpaca on the grounds of UC Berkeley – but there it is. It’s “dead week” where the kids there have finished classes and are studying for finals. Two more weeks until he is home for a good stretch for Christmas/Holiday break.

I’m trying mostly to give the little one her privacy. I’m exerting self control and not sharing her little stories and her most beautiful pictures on Instagram. It’s her life and her image, and she’s right that it’s time for me to step back. She started her ceramics instagram account, as she’s been studying ceramics now for now almost 5 years. But the reason why the stories of my two are woven into the climate work, is that they are my why. Just like likely your children are your why. It’s hard for me to explain what’s happening with the climate work without talking about the children, because it’s so interwoven that it’s almost impossible to separate the threads from each other.

The most important thing I’m working on right now is helping students in the Riverside area try to start and push forward a school electrification proposal. It had been done in San Diego, and I had a bit part. But most importantly I know a lot of people and connected some key high school student leaders, UC Berkeley and Riverside premedical students, and experienced policy experts from San Diego that can help the Riverside students. Kian Chou who our premedical student up at Berkeley has put out a WhenToMeet poll and I’m hopefully that next week we can meet, and I’ve secured a speaking spot at Kaiser Riverside pediatrics to talk up this issue.

I mostly need to put our our newsletter, as there has been so many developments that I haven’t been able to update our 60+ pediatrician/premedical student listserv. We are mostly focused on legislative priorities this year and have our pediatrician, medical student and premedical student teams. I just need to explain that in the newsletter. And then I have to finish a draft of the American Climate Leadership award application and send it to our co-authors so we can submit it, and try to get some money to expand the H3SD San Diego’s Heat and Human Health Summit idea. We are awaiting word regarding the first abstract we submitted regarding extreme heat and youth sports, and hoping to gets accepted as a work in progress at the region 9 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

But mostly this weekend I’m going to worry about my son up at college, and hope he continues to make good choices. He calls home most nights and checks in with us. We are proud that he’s been taking his classes seriously and doing well on his exams. He’s looking into lab /research positions for next semester, so we’ll see how his next semester goes. And mostly I’m be judging other high school speech competitors both today and tomorrow. And thinking how beautiful our daughter looks in her dress that she’s worn before. But honestly, her confidence level in herself and her accomplishments has grown so much in just one year. The 15-year-old is very different than the 14-year-old last year, and I’m so grateful that as much as one is able to – it’s been such a slow year. I’ve lived every moment and enjoyed every day, mostly because I write to you the blog readership and to some friends via email about how she changes day to day.

Wishing the blog readership and my real friends a wonderful and slow and intentional and sustainable weekend. Okay, got to sneak in a pretty picture for you! But just for you and not Instagram. Instagram was getting a bit too exposed for sure.