It’s hard not to have radical hope when you are me these days. I have so much hope in different domains in our family’s life. I have hope for our planet. I have hope for our society. I have hope for my future grandchildren. Life is so inordinately interesting when you have radical hope, but seek to earn that hope through action.
So today I am doing a lot of action because I’m refreshed mentally after coming back from UC Berkeley with our family. We had such a wonderful time with our son, and seeing glimpses of his life up there. We had some adventures that I detailed on Instagram, and many that are quieter or more private that I left out of Instagram. Fundamentally we got to know ourselves better. We are a close family for sure, but every day we change as people – and honestly we became reacquainted with our new selves. I was telling Mr. Plastic Picker that I had an epiphany about love this weekend. He had some mini-man tantrums (which he is totally allowed!!!) and was going through the process of his feelings of being annoyed at our daughter and myself. It made me slightly annoyed as well. But ultimately everything really evened out and we love each other more when we mend those bonds. My epiphany is that the expression of love for me now, is that I’m infinitely curious about him. I’m curious about why he does certain things. Curious about his emotional, spiritual and physical form. I’m curious about his day. And I’m curious about how his life will turn out, knowing well that I’m integral to that ending. But I’m most curious about his journey.
That’s it. I have radical hope and I’m so curious about him and the world and certain story lines in my head. But I will do certain things to nudge the storyline to the endings I prefer. Just nudging, with my climate action.
And I know he loves me because he’s always curious what I’m doing. I sometimes baffle him, but he finds me very interesting for sure.
Okay. Here I go. I have a tons of climate and environmental health projects to do. Letting my curiosity translate into some action!
Yesterday was an epic day. There are two doctors in our household, although I’m the only Dr. Plastic Picker, and one of those doctors had diarrhea and it wasn’t me. The reason it was an epic day, was because the diarrheal illness for that other doctor in our house, started off with excruciating generalized abdominal pain. This particular doctor has been through back surgery so I know this doctor has a high pain tolerance, but he called 911 without his Dr. Plastic Picker wife knowing during that early morning bout of abdominal pain.
What ensued was . . . memorable. One ambulance and one firetruck arrived to our house in the Pacific Beach area. The lights were flashing but thank goodness the sirens were silent. I had done a quick assessment of him when I saw him laying jesus-like in the foyer in his San Diego-style sleep-wear, moaning in his pain. It was generalized and a bit left sided, and his appendix was fine. Despite his prostrate position and my deep love for Mr. Plastic Picker, I told him “I can’t believe you called them! I can drive you to the ED. It’s 100% infectious and likely gastro.” He then at some point ran to the bathroom, and nature took it’s course. But by then the four tall good-looking EMT/fire-fighter people were nearly at our doorstep. Thank goodness I had the where-with-all to have put on foundation and drawn in my eyebrows (that had disappeared sometime in the 90s). My husband at some point returned to his prone position, but he confessed later that he was already feeling better. I helped him to the ambulance and the EMTs with training less than the 20 years we have been practicing medicine, reassured the still very handsome Assistant Boss of a specialty department that he had the best vitals that night. Outside the ambulance, the very imposing firetruck was also parked in front of our house with very good-looking young firefighters. I told them in my exasperated middle-aged Asian wife voice, “He’s fine. I checked his appendix. He has a very high pain tolerance and I think he was just scared of the pain. It’s probably gastro. He’s the chief of radiology!” Which is not true because he’s the Assistant Boss. But I was having fun playing my outraged role. Maybe in the back of my mind I knew I would be recounting this at some point.
In the end, the firetruck with the two handsome firefighters drove away. The ambulance with the equally handsome but slightly shorter EMTs let the doctor with diarrhea out of the ambulance, and his wife (Dr. Plastic Picker) walked him back into his house with the 15 year mortgage and low interest rate. His wife then ran back and gave the two young EMTs random unopened chocolate gifts and wished them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and sheepishly apologized to them. They were gracious and said, “it happens all the time ma’am.” And smiled very nicely and respectfully toward me.
The doctor that had diarrhea continued to have a few more bouts of diarrhea through the day. He still went to work to his solitary office, but likely spreading his diarrhea germs everywhere. At some point, he texted me and said he walked himself and his diarrhea germs to the emergency room to visit his ED friends and get himself an IV and some labwork. Said labwork made no difference in his clinical course, but it made him feel better.
And then at some point, he came home to greet his parents who had to take an Uber from the airport with his niece from New York. The niece is visiting from New York and that makes our children very happy to have some of that new york vibes soaking into our San Diego home. Plus she’s a cool college Sophomore. But as we were sitting and having dinner, the doctor with diarrhea was sitting in a slightly raised chair about 2 feet away from the main table and wearing a mask. Why he was wearing a mask, I’m actually not sure. He should be wearing a big diaper instead. LOL.
The doctor with diarrhea is my dear Mr. Plastic Picker and he was a big baby yesterday. But at some point after the ambulance left and before he went to work to spread his diarrhea germs, he recounted his lived experience as a doctor with diarrhea and his perspective as the patient who had panicked due to the pain – laying prostrate on the ground. And we laughed and we laughed. And in the back of my mind I thought, I hope this laughing doesn’t increase his intraabdominal pressure and a little bit of diarrhea comes out and makes me sick.
I’m still trying to process it all. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Michael Tran who was our leader back in our undergraduate days was the Co-President of the Harvard Vietnamese Association and Director of RYSE, Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment. Mr. Plastic Picker and I had been involved with BRYE, Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment. Both had largely served the Boston Vietnamese refugee community back then. Dr. Michael Tran organized a reunion for Harvard Vietnamese Association alumni in California. A lot of people came. I mean A LOT!
I never knew Mr. Plastic Picker’s surname has a Chinese and Vietnamese equivalent. Per Wikipedia “It derives from the Chinese character 尹 also used for the Chinese surname Yǐn and Doãn in Vietnam.” My surname is the most common surname in Vietnam. I’m attached to it and did not change it. But it doesn’t carry the gravitas and responsibility that my husband has for his surname. My husband is the only son of the only son. Therefore our eldest son is the only son of the only son of the only son – in a family and culture that is still patriarchal.
Savings the earth and picking up plastic is my hobby. I don’t get paid to plog (picking up plastic and jogging), and I don’t get paid to be a climate and health advocate. I get paid to take care of patients in clinic, and that is it. This blog is non-monetized and purposefully so. I remember back when this all started and Mr. Money Mustache’s blog people approached me about monetizing things, and I stuck with my origianl purpose. I’m an environmental hobbyist and I’m totally into it.
But like most hobbies, it cost money but I want to make sure it doesn’t break the bank. I try to mostly donate money to other environmental organizations like Rainforest Trust, Eden Projects, EDF and want to make it cost effective. The blog cost $25 a year for the domain name. Blogging is fun for me. It’s my environmental journal. But now my silliness is under brute force attack. Not sure what they are looking for on the blog? But it is, and I hadn’t realized it’s sometimes 800K attacks a day. There is an option for $110 a year to install a plug-in to protect this site. I’m not sure how much protection it will provide. I’m going to ask around, but it just brought up the issue of finances.
This is Dr. Plastic Picker at about 1 or 2 years of age. I could not believe it! San Diego is still a small town, and especially if you are Vietnamese – it’s a small community. A patient family I have had for over ten years, out of the blue said “our families know eachother from Vietnam! My mom has a picture of you from my brother’s birthday party.” And indeed dear readers, a picture was sent and it was me! I was so shocked! That’s me in clairemont at my first boyfriend’s birthday party. (kidding of course to his I’m sure beautiful wife). He clearly was distinguished back then, but neglected to give me cake or a share of his presents. I don’t remember the occassion but I do know my own emotions, and I am clearly upset that I was not the center of attention and I’m sure was not offered cake soon enough!
I thought Mr. Plastic Picker was my first boyfriend who I met at 18 and started dated at 19. I always told him that I waited for him, and that when my Crimson University Freshman Formal date leaned in for a kiss – I panicked! I didn’t want my first kiss to be from this particular Crimson University Vietnamese boy. He was nice but he wasn’t the one. As an immature 18 year old, I literally ran away from the poor boy who had so nicely taken me to a sushi restaurant and danced with me all night. But kisses are important, especially to young romantic 18 year old me.
It’s been 6-8 weeks of Korean-drama binge watching on Netflix and the “Asian Crush” app. Yes, I have been in Korean-drama land. The Korean dramas I watched just to name a few were “Crash Landing on You,” “Hometown Cha Cha Cha,” “K2” (that one is so good but there is a scene I would be a little bit embarassed to watch with my kids), “Revolutionary Love,” just to name a few. I honestly know for me this binge-watching was not unlike my previous periods where I was really into an author and binge read certain genres. There was my George Eliot period when I read Middlemarch almost in one sitting in 8th grade. I then proceeded to read everything she wrote. There was the more whimsical Jane Austen period, which I went through at the same time with one of my high school friends. I think Pride and Prejudice back then was $1 on the scholastic book order form? And then was the Clan of the Cave Bear series, where again I would read the new release and then I remember not eating for almost a day and almost passed out when I finally stood up after reading one of the novels. These were thick tombs over 600 pages long.
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!
I fell in love again yesterday. I am still happily married but Mr. Plastic Picker was in an irate mood. Sometimes when you are married for a few decades, it’s hard to remember the other person is a separate person. And sometimes, separate people have to have some alone time to deal with their emotions. But as I’m going through a time of growth and change, Mr. Plastic Picker also is going through a time of his own growth and change. So he was home walking our puppy and taking our son to his activities, and I was at Girl Scouts.
It may have been the emotional transference from husband to wife, and my need to get a way a bit from my husband. But we went on our first outing for our Girl Scout Troop for the year. And it was wonderful. Absolutely amazing. I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life, but I’ve never been kayaking and I’ve never seen La Jolla Cove from that perspective.
It was a wondrous adventure from the time Mr. Plastic Picker dropped us off at La Jolla village until when we returned home after the bonfire filled with pizza and s’mores. I didn’t intend to kayak but my fellow co-troop leader was not feeling well, and there needed to be another troop leader. So my daughter and I were in a double kayak. She was in the back steering and I was the power in the front.
San Diego you were so beautiful yesterday. This native daughter fell in love with you again. And I fell in love with the brown pelican. Brown Pelican you are 70% blind. You return to your nesting place because you need to see the bright white splotches of your white excrement on the cliffs. You can keep gallons of sea water in your gullet. And you are always true brown pelican, returning to home where you’ve marked things with your excrement. And perhaps Mr. Plastic Picker spirit animal is the brown pelican. And you were beautiful gliding over the calm waters of the cove and diving in to skim for fish. You kept on gliding over me yesterday. Or Mr. Plastic Picker, is your spirit animal the bee that tried to sting me while I was in the kayak? How in the galatic universe a bee found me in the middle of the cove to try to buzz around my face? I did not squash you bee, because you are a super being – indeed one of the most powerful living things on earth. But I did not know why you were in the ocean trying to land on my nose? Were you trying to pollinate me? I don’t think that would be appropriate! Good Lord!
But yesterday was a wondrous day spent kayaking in La Jolla Cove. I really did have a wonderful invigorating time. Even getting tipped over at the end as we tried to return to shore, and shivering in cold but saved by my dear friend’s extra blanket and jacket. The entire day was about reconnection and nature and community. And even Mr. Plastic Picker was touched by that community because he picked us up and our parent friends said hello to him. I love my husband. But even after almost twenty years of marriage, we can be mysterious to eachother. Is he the 70% blind brown pelican or the annoying bee? I don’t know. I do know that I love him and my giving him space yesterday, and being joyful is the best thing for him. I know he drank all of my plant-based almond milk and he got to see the weird bananas that by friend Dr. Joe gave our family. They are La Jolla Bananas. Who else gets to eat bananas grown in the backyard of a a La Jolla House but the Plastic Picker family?
Much love to you all, and it is so important to support your spouse when they are having one of those days. Yes I fell in love with you again San Diego. Yes you brown pelican. And every day you, Mr. Plastic Picker.
I have no problem with fancy and those who are fancy. I guess I would be a hypocrite because I like fancy real estate (that has value of course). It’s much cheaper to join the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club than buy an Oregon Farm. Plus it’s easier to get to a local tennis and beach club than the 14 hour drive from San Diego to our farm. Previously I would judge those that were part of a Beach & Tennis Club but now I don’t. I just don’t play tennis, and I already live near the beach which I visit early in the mornings myself rather than being surrounding by others.
But we went to the neighborhood just north of us which is La Jolla. I’m forever grateful for that area because as their real estate values skyrocket and normal professionals like doctors cannot even afford to live there, our neighborhood which is just south which has larger lots and actually a home which I like more with normal neighbors (one who egged our house the night before – really people???!!!) increases in home value as well.
We went to what was for us a fancy restaurant to eat with the kids for our wedding anniversary. Mr. Plastic Picker and I have been together almost 25 years. Married for almost 20 years. That’s a very long time. We were laughing in the car as we were driving our two teenage progeny home from the dinner, and I clutched Mr. Plastic Picker’s right arm as he was driving with his left and we couldn’t help giggling at a joke. And then our 16 year old son said, “that’s what happens when you are married forever.” It was a funny and beautiful moment. And yes both teenage children were subject to our chatter because it was our anniversary and the entire point of said anniversary was to have them. And they are here now and teengaers, and we fed them fancy food. Fancy children. My parting comment as we left the fancy neighborhood, “I hope you guys get good jobs. But if you don’t, please marry a dentist.” And that is all. LOL.