As a quadruple graduate of Crimson University (undergraduate, medical school, residency, chief residency and fellowship – we were even premedical tutors for a decade) – it’s hard for me not to think about the same Crimson University since both Mr. Plastic Picker and I went there and our son is now a junior in high school. The annoying thing about the whole Ivy League thing is that people expect your children to go there, even if you don’t want them to go there or they don’t want to go there.
That’s my girl. My former preemie, born at 2 lbs and many illnesses during her first few years of life. I’m having too much fun in the mornings trying to save the earth. Posted on several sites about the upcoming October 14, Children’s Environmental Health Day. Hopefully will get a shout out on the AAP newsletter and also twitter and Instagram account. I received $250 from the AAP California as an honorarium for being a part of a panel discussion. It’s such a kind gesture from them and I replied back after being inspired by thinking about October 14 and wandering around my succulent garden,
This is incredibly kind of AAP-California and unexpected and much appreciated. I will gladly accept on behalf of our san diego committee. my address is xxxx. I am inspired and since october 14 is children’s environmental health day, which one of my colleages Dr. Dan Spencer applied successfully to have recognized by several cities in the San Diego area – we hadn’t decided on an “event” yet. So I know this super affordable and family owned place that sells succulents for $1 a piece. I’m going to use the $250 and buy 250 succulents, and hand them to 25 of our pediatrician members to hand out to 10 kids on that day. It’s going to be the great pediatric succulent give away!!!! Thank you for inspiring this event! Super excited and grateful to have worked with everyone on that impactful day.
Texted one of our premed interns who needs a project to work on, and she can do this easy project. Maybe create a social media ad, and help me distribute some of the succulents. Maybe to Breda Velasquez who is the head of pediatric psychiatry. I really like her.
But in this fun and creative time I have in the morning, I wanted to share something with the blog readership. I know I talk about my children a lot, and you’ve all heard about my teen daughter. She has made me a better pediatrician, as she has helped me understand a bit better how scary it is to have a sick child. She was sick a lot when she was young. Hospitalized several times for pneumonia, surgery for ear tubes, meningitis supposedly in the NICU which ended up being a line infection. White count at some point of 90K. That’s a high white count.
She made the Wave Volleyball Club 14U-5 team. She had started volleyball about six months ago at a small supportive club in the southbay. She had a great start, and I appreciated mostly the time we had in the car together chatting and this new adventure that I, as her mother, was a part of. Right now she loves volleyball. Her life is volleyball. She is making excellent grades as well. She wanted to go out for this club, where the other girls are much taller and have been playing much longer. She has grit and she is determined. I’m inordinately proud of her. She is now a member of USA Volleyball, and signed a commitment letter with the San Diego Regionaly Volleyball Association. And that is it. Lots of environmental work and projects, but here I wanted to share this moment of mommy happiness. She’s my why. Just like likely your children are your why. We are trying to save the earth for them, so they will have a liveable planet.
It’s 230AM and I’m UP!!! I’m usually not up this early and I’m completely weaned off coffee for the last almost six weeks. I didn’t even drink a diet coke yesterday nor tea. Seeing a full panel of patients on Fridays was meaningful but it’s exhausting – emotionally. I thought I was okay, but after dinner when I was successfully able to have us eat a good several servings of vegetables by whipping up some broccoli and mushroom steamed vegetable side in the Instapot that went along with various leftovers a can of chilli – I fell asleep early. I was laying on the couch and the entire family was settled in the living room including the grandparents to watch some sort of documentary on a Kenyan marathoner breaking the world record. I dozed off pretty early. I just remember by daughter reminding my husband, “Can you make sure mommy gets to bed?” Somehow I ended up in my bed and had a good six hours of sleep. That is not bad. I usually sleep a good 8 hours these days. But I was thirsty and my body told me to wake up, and I had an idea about a climate project to further our collective efforts to Rewild Mission Bay. San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air have joined their coalition.
I think the reason I’m so enamored with Dawson’s Creek right now, other then the really good script writing and dialouge, is the idea of home. I’ve realized now that those stories and books that are “friends,” the ones that I read over and over again – have that theme. Where is one’s home? What is one’s relationship with place and how do you define it? For me, my environmental activism like many others is anchored in the idea of the places I call home and trying to literally clean those pieces of earth or the sky above it. That it is all related to the need to preserve the amazon and the water quality in the entire ocean, is why it now encompasses literally the entire world.
But it’s the end of August, and although the work of earth-saving will continue – the kids’ summer break is drawing to a close. They have another two weeks until school restarts. They are still at their fancy prep school and I’m at peace with the exorbiant tuition that we pay which is the antithesis of much of what I stand for. But I accept that it’s okay to have contradictions in one’s life. I’m Dr. Plastic Picker but we still get sushi in styrofoam once in a while. I extol the cost savings and health-benefits of making your own home-made pizza, yet I buy salt and pepper fried chicken wings for our clinic at moments of weakness.
Yes it’s the end of August and it’s been a really good summer for the kids despite the altered vacation plans and the COVID delta surge. We stayed mostly in the house, still social distancing. We did have the kids do a few outings mostly with family and to family houses where everyone who was able to , was vaccinated. Our son had his 16th birthday with two vaccinated friends at Liberty Station where they had lunch at the outside food court and masked. My sister came into town, and our family got together several times for dinner. That was probably the best part of the summer. And instead of Oregon and Montana, we instead did a short driving trip to San Francisco where we wandered around up there.
But sitting back and reflecting during this summer, I’m really proud of our kids. They both grew intellectually and emotionally quite a bit. Both took risks. Our daughter threw herself into volleyball and found something outside of academics that gives her passion and purpose. She’s made such a good group of friends through volleyball that I’m forever grateful to the Neptune Volleyball Club. We were buying used uniforms at the fancy prep school used uniform sale, and we ran into some happy friends but mostly what seemed to us unhappy acquaintances. It’s been good for her to get out of her friend bubble and get to know other people. She delved into her love of ceramics, and it’s something that she is exploring now. She’s going to join the ceramics club and also taking another course as an elective. I fully support this. And our son finished Advanced Chemistry over the summer and surprisingly enjoyed it. He did very well, and will take AP Chemistry this next year. He was proud to have finished his SAT prep course that took up a lot of the summer. And the summer writing course that he was resistent to doing, he actually really enjoyed.
Mr. Plastic Picker and I are so proud of our kids. For us, focusing on them as intellectuals and giving them the room to take intellectual risks has been very important. And for us that has helped us as people too. I’m trying to take risks in my career and to grow professionally and intellectually. Mr. Plastic Picker is still trying to figure out his path as well. It was overall a really good to summer for the kids and our family.
It’s 3AM and the puppy and I are up. I simply had a cup of coffee at 6pm, and it was too late and now my sleep cycle is off. In general, my sleep is much better. This is in general a rare occassion. The puppy got up as well, and I let her out for a bit. Of course she barked into the empty night, and I opened the fridge and with the light of the fridge which she can see from the backyard – she comes running in. I give her a treat. She’s now comfortably asleep with the safest and most gentle person in the house, our teen son. She loves to curl in bed with him, right behind his knees. I saw my old mentor Dr. Ash yesterday and he always told me it was important for children to grow up with a dog. I sometimes would bristle at the lessons he tried to pass onto me, but in this as in many things he tried to impart – he was right.
Yesterday was one of those days. I doubted myself. But what I realized is that if you reach out, friends and mentors make it better. It’s good to get different opinions and then you kind of take and discard, and reformulate one’s own truth. That’s what I did yesterday. Those conversations are still in my mind, comments and impressions sorting themselves out. Life will all work out. Career will all work out. And what would have been an evening that could have ended up with a headache, ended up being one of those perfect evenings. Work stresses could have stolen yesterday’s prefect moments. But I have learned through my senses to center myself and what I remember from last evening was not the stresses, and spinning worries and thoughts that can destroy one’s true presence in the now – but I remember the moments.
It’s been a world-wind two years, especially the last year. While everyone was holed up and quarantining at home, our department went to the office every single day. We worked the entire time. With more time at home though because the kids were home and the rest of the world shut down, I further dived into climate advocacy work. I am proud of that work. Wrote a paper, spoke at what seemed like a gazillion virtual conferences, picked up almost 500 bags of trash, and kept up the blogging and climate advocacy recruiting, But the world is opening up and I’m resting right now. I still have projects coming up. Next weekend we have a PHAC dinner and need to socialize with the beautiful people in the slide. I’m actually looking forward to it. Going to make Mr. Plastic Picker come as well. It will be good for him. Our fearless leader Dr. Bruce Bekkar gave us a big shout out at the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health Conference, which I attended virtually with an HMO colleage. One of the UCSD medical students and the the two pharmacy student leaders from VCU Sustainable Pharmacay Project also attended. I didn’t check up on the three students, but I did nudge UCSD to pay for one’s registration and the other two students I paid for them to register. Technically we still have a day of meetings tonight. But I’ve lobbied already and there are enough people. At some point, you need to know as a climate advocate when you’ve done enough and let others help. Another pediatrician and the other premed student are going to help, as they’ve essentially planned and done everthing for the journal club on Clean Air that is upcoming. The social media ad that our premed intern made is really beautiful. I’m excited about that. Then there is the Eco-America training early June.
The birds’ collective singing this morning is particularly trilling and lilting and beautiful. Its 547AM and I haven’t been able to truly be here on the blog to write in a few days. I posted things related to my climate work, but I haven’t been able to process and reflect. The writing has become much needed as I try to figure out this wonderful thing called life.
I went to bed crying last night. I was cleaning up my photos and I delete all the litter-picking photos and nature scenes, because I’ve taken then and chosen which ones to post and use on the blog versus Instagram versus facebook. It takes some sort of carbon to keep them, and those images I let go. But I must have accidently pressed a screen function that I didn’t know exist, because suddenly a lifetime of selfies on my daughter and myself popped up. I scrolled through those photo of a younger me and my little girl , and I did what any mother would do. I looked at her face, the tilt of her head and the roundness of her cheeks and the gap-tooth smiles – and I cried. A decade of regrets came pouring down my face. Where had the years gone? Where had I been? Where had that little chubby cheeked grade-schooler gone to?
It’s someone’s birthday this week. Mr. Plastic Picker and I have two teenagers now in the house. One about to drive and another living in a world of dreaming about volleyball spikes and playing varsity. They both have such conventional lives with conventional concerns. For someone who grew up in a refugee household, I realize how unusual that is. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are who we are because of the way we were raised, within loving households that faced more struggles but anchored in a country that had opportunities for us. We are not trying to recreate ourselves in our children or recreate the circumstances that molded us. We are happy that the children have volleyball, and some of the biggest concerns is who is going to be taller than whom. Which SAT prep course to take? Summer house vacation with friend or go with your parents camping? I concentrate on them and also concentrate on the society surrounding them.
Did you hear about Bill and Melinda Gates divorce? Do you think money had anything to do with it? No money in the world is worth the dissolution of a marriage. I remember when Al and Tipper Gore annoucned their divorce. Because I had rewatched the Inconvenient Truth so many times, I was shocked. My own parents are still married. Mr. Plastic Picker’s parents are still married. And indeed when I was a young doctor mulling over the divorce of Al and Tipper Gore, a Dr. KJ who was older worked beside me and she came out and said “I’m still married.” That reminded me not to borrow the concerns of others.
Bill and Melinda Gates mentioned in their press release about their three children, and successfully raising them. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are in the midst of raising our two tweens. For me, our marriage and the family we’ve created which is an extension of our two families merged into these two teens – is the most important thing in my life. Maybe this is something a liberal feminist would disagree, but its more important than my career and more important than money. I don’t talk about my marriage and my family as much about plastic, but I wonder if my friends truly understand.
But that’s the wonderful thing about the new world. I can do it all. I can be married, have two teens, and be Assistant Boss and be an Eco-Avatar Dr. Plastic Picker. I can do it all and also be head of vaccine quality measures. It’s funny one truly understands who is supportive of your career, or those who gently push you along and help you along the way. Beware of those who subtly leave professional land-mines. Dr. Plastic Picker is all my years of being a mentor and Assistant Boss, I never told anyone to quit. I never told anyone that you could not do anything. I hope that I encouraged people along their career path and their family. There is no race. You can have children, a successful marriage, and be in leadership. I’ll clear the professional land-mines for you. Other people don’t see them, but as a litter-picker now I notice them all.
I am proud of our teen son this morning. I’m up later than usual at 6am. I was watching “The Crown” last night, and it’s okay. I don’t consume much media or popular entertainment these days, because I think the life in the real world and trying to save the earth is more interesting. But I did watch a few episodes, and was up just a bit later than usual. In about an hour, I’ll plog to the rec center. Surfrider is cleaning PB this morning, so with all those people there – I’ll go where it is more neglected and applaud them on Instagram.