Good morning dear readers! I’m back from an epic few days up in Oregon. I don’t fly lightly but it was a combined brief vacation and working trip to try to figure out our Oregon farm. Stay tuned as try to figure out what I’m labeling CPR Cow’s Creek Professional Rescue. I’m forming a board of directors, and working with a friend on curriculum right now. It’s a fun dream and we are making this dream a reality. Mowed a few acres of pastureland. Roamed around the forested lots on the Polaris, and saw how much nature is in these timber forests. Family of deer, temporary wetlands with water fowl. We know there are bears and cougars and foxes. That large predators are on this land is to me heart-warming. So I’m trying to preserve this land but make it cashflow in our capitalistic society. I believe in responsible capitalism and democracy, and I think I can make this work.
Wow. My body is tired. I now realize my binge-watching Kdramas (and I’ve been a bad middle-aged mommy and binge-watching a lot) has been kind of excessive. I now realize that some of this is not unlike people who drink alcohol (which I do not but I am not judging) to numb themselves. I now realize that ending my traditional middle management career at five years of Assistant Chief was an emotionally hard and wrenching decision. I was numbing myself from the emotional fallout. The fallout, ended up being the emails and calls from some upper management that never materialized. I know that they too are just cogs in the HMO machinery, but to say that I am slightly disappointed would be true. I think all of us deep down all want to be recognized. Since I’m a metric oriented person, I know objectively I did so much in the five years that I was Assistant Boss. But now that I’m at that age of being a middle aged palindrome, where my age is the same read forwards and backwards, I realize that it was meant to be. I’m meant to decide where my path goes. Read forward or backwards, I’m still me and actually more fundamentally me that I could ever be.
So with those convulated thoughts, something amazing happened yesterday at our HMO. I was one instructor at one of the breakout sessions, but my climate HMO Friend Dr. RA organized one of hte first of it’s kind San Diego wide climate symposiums with cross institutional participation on the instructor and resident side from all the major Family Practice and Emergency Medicine departments. It was very epic and she has her own narrative that she will share soon in an academic piece.
We are back after one of the most unexpected vacations we’ve ever had. We were supposed to be in Hawaii staying at a family home, but ended up in San Francisco because of a once in a lifetime Oregon snowstorm that closed the I-5 up to our farm.
Let me explain. Our daughter was in Alaska on a once-in-a-lifetime school trip and she was exposed to COVID-19 by very close contacts. Even though we technically could have traveled and she had tested negative on day 3 after exposure and not ill and Hawaii stopped checking, we did not travel to Hawaii. The decision to not fly to Hawaii is because it was the right thing to do. We worried about being stuck in Hawaii if someone in the family became sick. We worried about having to take care of her, being an ex-preemie and formerly more sick when she was younger, out of state. We worried even just having to miss work, even though we both haven’t used any of our COVID time alloted by the state and the HMO, because we are health professionals who if we get sick – have large ripple effects on our patients. We try to avoid having to do that for our fellow physicians. If everyone did this, the whole system would run better – but that’s a discussion for later. We called a close friend for advice, and appreciated her listening to us. In the end, we made the decision that was right for our family which was to take a road trip. In the end our daughter did not end up getting COVID, and no matter what we are grateful for at least that.
It’s been a moment and a half since I blogged dear readers. The last blogpost “What does 끝 (kkeut) mean in Korean? To Finish” where I essentially announced my departure from middle management on my own terms was a big moment on this blog. It will deserve it’s own chapter in my book. We headed out for Joshua Tree to take my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop camping right afterwards and I was on digital detox. I hung out with my mommy friends and we had Teslas and Priuses dropped off our gear, as overprotective Asian physician husbands hovered at a nearby posh hotel. The Girl Scout mommies were truly primative camping in tents, as 20 hour per mile winds were blowing hard enough that our tents became unstaked. The girls learned to dig primative toilets, conserve water while camping, and we made so many memories that I can close my mind and the bird sounds and vistas come rushing back. This is how much water we had for a group of 12 camping.
It was less than 24 hour at the campsite, but our troop earned three badges including the Girl Scout Natural Resources Badge which is truly beautiful and given by the National Park Service. And most importantly the camping troop reminded me that I am going to be fine. I’m going to be totally fine as I decided to 끝 (kkeut) my Assistant Boss career. I laughed and was a wife and a mother, and a climate and health advocate.
Yes. I’ve decided to become a Truffle Farmer/Forager. We have the farm and likely there are truffles on the farm. I cold-emailed the world’s top truffle expert to ask him about starting the truffle industry in our area in Oregon. He emailed back, and now I’ve looped in one of our neighbors who definitely has truffles in his area. We are going to forage for truffles on our parcels hopefully, but forage via satellite. I was precepting one of the UCSD Rady’s pediatric residents and I often mention my crazy doings, and one of her replies was incredulous. To the extent “how is that possible?” and asking non-sensical questions but in somewhat in a non-believer and slightly negatively nuanced way. Most people don’t know that I know these things. I read up. I don’t have time to explain because my brain is racing and thinking, but I was slightly annoyed. I just looked at her and the look of someone who is a non-Dr Plastic Picker believer, and I honestly just delete that person from my mind. No imagination, I’ve decided. Just precept and teach for the time I’m given, and move on.
So yes my dream is become a part-time Truffle farmer/forager. I’ve declared myself that. I am going to drive out the marijuana growers by bringing in an industry that is sustainable and actually good for the world. Using the water of the Cascade mountains to grow marijuana???!!! EVIL. Truffles that really require no water, and are native to the area and will increase LOCAL and SUSTAINABLE travel and cuisinse- GOOD. So for all you illegal marijuana growers in southern oregon, this pediatrician is NOT YOUR FRIEND!!! The children or Oregon are our children too! Marijuana is not good, period.
Come to think of it, it’s the ugliness of the entire marijuana industrial-complex that angers me as a pediatrician. That is part of what is driving me to really look into truffles for our area. I fell in love with the mountains and the trees on our farm. How does one “own” land? I think of myself as a steward. And I definitely don’t think the land was happy with the marijuana growers.
I’m waiting for another email reply from Professor Charles , our Oregon truffle expert. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are going up soon to spend a few days on our farm. We have two sets of friends going now, and I’ve invited the HMO residency program to use the farm for a retreat. I think I’m done mass inviting everyone. If 3-4 of my friends go, then that is enough. They are all climate friends, and I want them to be renewed by the land and the area. Heal them, and they will help heal the earth.
We are thinking of building a tree house as well with my family member! That would be so interesting!
It’s the day after Thanksgiving and we are home home. In our Southern California home. I have to work today normal clinic and Saturday 830-5pm. It’s extra duty on Saturday and my obligation of being part of our physician group. I get paid overtime. I don’t give away my shifts anymore. I don’t even know why we judge others for giving away their extra duties when others want to work it, but it’s still a thing in our department. The judging. But it’s getting better and I’ve decided that there are few times that it’s productive to render judgement on things like that. There’s Mr. Plastic Picker who is standing in the middle of the tree parcel of our Oregon farm. Over a hundred acres of douglas fir on that side of the parcel, and a healthy stream that flows through it. Both of us, and all doctors, we’ve been judged our entire careers. And sometimes the judging and punishing is inflicted by eachother. It’s an institutional and professional history that dates back centuries really. It’s no use blaming any one person or institution, but it’s important to understand how deeply rooted it is in our professional culture.
When you love someone or some place, you take a risk. You take a risk that that person or place – can be hurt or can be lost. Oregon is burning, and there are wildfires near the farm. My family member is up there and so far things are contained, but they are ready to leave if need be. We have insurance. We have money. We can rebuild if need be. But the threat of the forest fires caused by lightening strikes, is a stark reminder that no where is safe. We’ve lived through many wildfires in Southern California. And the Oregon farm, seeing pictures of the forest fires in the distance is numbingly familiar.