Our Tween/Teen – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Our Tween/Teen

Creme Puffs, 3rd batch was filled with laughter.

September 17, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m not sure exactly what happened when I started going to be beach most days and listening to the cadence of the waves on our shore. When I started picking up trash along the beach, I kind of started listening to myself and listening to the universe more. I started listening to my patients, my family and began to understand. I used to read a lot as a young girl, and now I don’t actually read for pleasure that much. I like to write out my thoughts, and I like to think. I like to feel.

And two Fridays ago, things were so odd in clinic. I felt like the universe was a bit off that day. It was somewhat the weather, and I think I was slightly dehydrated – and I was literally walking into clinic a bit off balance. All the children I saw that day, their issues and treatment plans were a bit unusual as well – but it all worked out and I healed that day and the adjusted minor things about my routine that day and the world came back in balance.

Do you feel that sometimes? Like something happens and perhaps something you did, and then everything tilts a bit? You feel like a change was made? I get that feeling more often these days. I used to feel so sure of things, that I was on the right path. And I know at the end of each day I’m on the right path, but during the day sometimes I have to listen to myself, the earth and the universe a bit more to make sure I’m doing the right things or feeling the right way.

I feel it more often after I know I’ve done an impactful thing for climate, or met another person that is the link in this climate work. It’s a more unsettling feeling, but powerful. I literally feel that sometimes an act, or a chance encounter, or a thought – can change the course of where we are heading. And that is a good thing, because where we are heading projected to the amount of global heating is not good.

Friday was an epic climate day and it’s all explained on Instagram reels. I spoke at the NEXUS panel on building electrification, and the talk landed well. I prepped for the talk by listening again to my friend Christine James’s webinar on building electrification. I made sure to look my part and put on primer and concealer and brushed my hair extra long to give it some volume. My daughter and being on the news more, has taught me that optics are really important. I think the active listening and the panel went well, because of the authentic open hearts that were there. Climate work can be intense, because what we are doing – everything is at stake.

But mostly this morning I need to finish a presentation, and do some finance stuff. Our son is home for a brief visit and it has been so wonderful peeking in on him sleeping in his own bed. But his place now is up at UC Berkeley to figure out himself at college. He’s had a good adjustment and today was really more for us than him. I think he knew he needed to see him, and his father is so happy to have him back in the house. We spent all day together yesterday. He got his flu shot. He got breakfast with his father. We went roller skating at Skate World, and had dinner at a Korean restaurant with his grandparents. We laughed a lot and his sister wore mascara for the first time. Well, maybe not the first time- but one of the first times. She is not allowed to wear it usually, but she did yesterday and she was very cute. I won’t post it here since you can see it on Instagram. She is so adorable.

Who knows what will happen with the climate? I know I’m doing what I can and what I can, is actually sometimes even amazes me. But I know I’m one of thousands of pediatricians who can do the same. That gives me hope for sure. Oh, and the adorable 15-year-old with the fluttering eyelashes ? She made creme puffs and they were delicious. There are some people who don’t like sweet things. But most people do. Most people like creme puffs. It’s not a deal breaker though. LOL.

Our son at UC Berkeley’s VSA intro meeting.

September 14, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I honestly don’t know what I’ve been doing? I think it’s too much climate work. We’ve had so many big wins that sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all. It gets addictive and I need to stop at some point, and remember that I am a real human being and not a super eco-avatar. Its not so much the blog, since here I just type out my thoughts. It’s more on Instagram when I put things to REELS and everything is so much more dramatic when there is music put to it. I’ve been on and off crying watching the REELS I’ve been making of the climate work, my daughter and my son and our lives. It is reality, but then it’s not. Then I just watched half an episode of a new kdrama, and OMG it’s too melodramatic. The step-sister just ran over the protagonist (who is of course the innocent and dutiful and smart and quiet and beautiful Korean girl) to prevent her from embracing her childhood love. So essentially the sister committed manslaughter for a boy who has been overseas for the last 10 years? Is that even believable? Really I had to turn it off. No boy (even if he owns an amusement park and is chaebol) is not worth that. And honestly, the boy in this kdrama wasn’t even that good looking. The girls were much prettier.

So it’s the afternoon but really I never blog in the afternoon. But here I am blogging at 336pm. I need to stop being so melodramatic. I was asked to speak at a California wide state webinar on leaded aviation fuel pollution project, and talk about a paper we published about a year ago. And then we are organizing our own webinar for that same week on leaded pollution of school drinking water for San Diego. Both are part of International Lead Pollution Week that is sponsored by the WHO. (let me take this opportunity to register our talk. Okay I registered the talk on the WHO website, and this is the second time! So I hope it goes through!) I learned that our HMO is phasing out gas leaf blowers (which is HUGE) after a flurry of emails from physicians in our group who were concerned. I sent an organizing email about the first post-H3SD summit meeting we are having tomorrow and bought a $300 surveymonkey subscription to get everyone’s input, since I couldn’t figure out google forms. Google forms and google docs are so complicated for people over 40! So far we’ve gotten a few more RSVPs for the planning meeting, but only 1 surveymonkey response. We shall see.

Anyway, the big thing I need to do in the next two hours is get our SDPCA/AAPCA3 September newsletter out. And then also prep Dr. Melissa Campbell’s and my presentation for the AAP CA3 School Health Conference. It’s just a 30 minute talk so it should be pretty easy as half of the slides are done already. But I wanted to jot down some thoughts this afternoon. It’s always good to come back to the blog. I both get very creative, and also very grounded.

I honestly don’t know why I’m being so dramatic about my daughter’s life. The girl hasn’t even had one date (and she’s not allowed to) nor even had a crush! She is too busy with speech team and her academics right now. I think it’s just that she’s such a good girl, that I wanted her to have some fun and excitement. But honestly, when your are 15 years of age and a pretty and smart girl – maybe boring is best. That’s what I am wishing for us this sophomore year. BORING BORING BORING. No more melodrama for me. Sometimes I know I’m half crazy living in my imaginary world. But guess what???!!! The melodrama was good because my real life husband and former college boyfriend (and indeed only boyfriend I’ve ever had) now is paying more attention to my daughter and myself. He is taking us to Book of Mormon, and planning out date night for his two special girls. See, we don’t need any boys because we have Mr. Plastic Picker. And its for the best because he needs to stop working so much.

I think this picture is super funny. He doesn’t do that when I hug him, because I’m the wife. The daughter that is melodramatic like me? Well. You can’t make up that expression. LOL.
My son not having sex for the first time I’m sure, because he had COVID and was quarantined in his triple.

August 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

This has been a topic I’ve been thinking of for the last year. It’s natural for me since we got our son off to college at UC Berkeley successfully and we are still navigating with our 15-year-old daughter the joys and pangs of being a teenage girl in our modern society. I’m also a pediatrician for now almost 20 years, and I’ve given “the talk” to more teens than I can imagine that come in and out of my clinic exam rooms. But when your own children are around the same age and going through the same, it hits differently. And honestly I counsel my children and my patients completely differently than when I was a younger pediatrician with just infants in my own house. Sex, consent, intimate partner violence, gender issues – all of it isn’t as pressing when you are changing diapers at your own home. But when you have two awesome teenagers yourself and a pretty 15-year-old girl at home – sex very much is in the back of our minds as parents.

For the first time ever, I had a teenager just having entered high school ask me after hemming and hawing for a bit “When do you think I should have sex? Beginning of high school? End of high school?” I was very proud of this said teenager for having asked me this question. We connected because this teenager had begun watching Kdramas and we just chatted about popular titles. Kdramas are so popular now beyond the Asian-American community, and I think a good thing mostly for representation of a more diverse cast of heroes and heroines. So with that connection, this teenager was brave to ask me this question and I am not the primary pediatrician. This was a chance visit with a doctor that said teenager will never see again.

I usually ask the teens what they know from school and reading themselves. I ask them if they know about birth control and different forms, so I don’t have to repeat myself. I ask them if they know how common chlamydia. I go over the numbers and how it’s easier to test now, just urine and blood for all the STDs. We used to do cervical swabs and urethral swabs, and I assure them it’s so much easier now whenever they need us to test them. I talk about planned parenthood, and confidentiality and that I’m here to not judge and be a resource for them. I give them all the information and I’m so comfortable doing it. I use funny stories from my own life, to make it more relatable to them. I’m honest with my own patients about my own life and decisions, to hope to be an example to keep them safe in loving relationships. I tell them I met my boyfriend when I was a freshman in college, and we were friends and dated after a year of being friends. So between 19 and 24 (when we were married during medical school), we had lived in the same dorm buildings and at some point “things happened.” I told them I got on birth control for acne initially and to regulate my period because I was so stressed as a Harvard freshman that I didn’t have my period, but at some point the birth control was there for birth control because I wanted to have children at the time I decided. I emphasize that as young teens for the girls that they are very fertile, and I joke around that “a boy will walk by you and you’ll become pregnant!” which is not true. But that I do have several cases where I’m not sure if there was actual vaginal penetration and I think I may have had 2 cases in my career, where the young boy ejaculated somewhere very close to the girl and the young teen girl got pregnant. In both cases, the two young teens actually did love each other and the families decided to keep the babies. Those children are healthy, but I tell them – gosh that was really hard for those kids and one was an AP Chemistry student too. So be careful, it can happen to you!

From the CDC

But what I told this patient and what I’ve told my own children and all the children that are thinking about sex or may have sex or are hanging out in the teenage social media mileau that have oversexualized everything is this:

You deserve to be loved. Whether that be after you are married or before, you 100% deserve to be loved. That you want to be close with someone you care for sexually is very natural. And whenever you make that decision, I am here for you as a pediatrician not to judge but to make sure you are safe. But sex is not just sex, it’s such a beautiful thing that should be shared with someone who cares for you. It’s like anything you do for the first time, if you kind of do it “right” initially – like brushing your teeth or flossing – you do it better forever after and there won’t be as many issues later on. It’s such a private thing, that try to have some privacy and comfort. My own children I hope they will wait, but I told my son who is in college, use a credit card and get a hotel room or call your uncle for advice if you are embarrassed to talk to us. And that’s it. You deserve to be loved in every way, and isn’t love such a beautiful thing?

For my own daughter, I’ve told her the same. Her own pediatrician actually gave her a very different talk in the privacy of a confidential visit. But my daughter is very open with me, and told me afterwards the broad strokes of that talk. I so appreciate the different pediatric perspective but that talk was very different.

But for my own daughter and the patients I’ve had since they were young, I add a wistful little ending. The beauty is in the waiting. The perfect boy, he becomes your husband (Mr. Plastic Picker) and a wonderful partner. But enjoy today however old you are. 14, 15, 16, 17, and maybe even 18. 19. The beauty is in the anticipation, the waiting, the yearning.

And again for my own daughter, I told her honestly you are so busy right now. You have to continue develop your sense of self – emotionally, professionally and physically. And having a boy (or girl or whatever gender of the person that you love) there with his opinions , no matter how wonderful he is, complicates things. It’s about you now. And girl, you got so much awesome stuff going on!

But the summer she goes off to college and I’m not there to keep an eagle eye on things? 100% she’s getting a nexplanon placed (long term implantable birth control). I’m a romantic, but I’m not stupid. LOL. And that’s my story and I’m sticking with it! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend from your local litter picking pediatrician. I’m going to the beach to pick up trash this morning, and I’ll be with my teenager this afternoon getting curtain bangs so she can look cute for herself. She’s super excited about the curtain bangs!

Maybe something like this?

My not-so-sweet teen.

August 5, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

To my daughter. I love you dearly. I made this reel of you and it’s mostly so I can watch it again and again. I love it because you are my daughter. I didn’t let you know but I know you have an Instagram account that you can look at other accounts, so if you see this and tell me to take it down than I will. I don’t think I’m that important that there are that many people reading. The most important thing is that I love you and I think you are smart and pretty and fundamentally good. The judgements of others, you know our family doesn’t really care. For some reason sharing our journey I know is helping the earth. Our family is lucky and showing others the beauty of family, and goodness and that a family like ours cares for others and for climate – I think is part of our responsibility. We have been so blessed and to those that much is given, much is expected.

With that, WOW! You are definitely 15 and not 14 anymore. I love that and expected that, but I’ll miss my sweet fourteen year old that agreed to go to homecoming with a boy from a nice family. I know the 15-year-old you now won’t take any of my mommy-nonsense. I’m looking forward to watching the 15-year-old you from the sidelines. Please be kind to me though, and remember sometimes I’m going to make missteps. But I love you and you have big emotions at this age, and sometimes you still need hugs from me. Keep on eye-rolling as much as you want, and I don’t mind you slamming things once in a while. But I am going to remind you once in a while to tone it down a bit.

You and your father are so similar. And I’m glad we all got over summer chem together. All that drama, and you ended up with still fantastic marks. Your father also had a mini-meltdown over summer chemistry. As did many other parents and students this summer. It was definitely not the summer that we expected, but I think neither was 14 the year we expected. But it was a beautiful year and the summer, although it seems like it was so “lame” now, we’ll remember with fondness years later.

I am so lucky to be here with you for this year of being 15-years-of-age. To live every day to the fullest and to be present, is the most we can ask. Keep on dreaming and keep on expecting more of the world and others. That you expect a lot of me is okay too. I expect a lot of myself as well. I love you so much, my #bossgirl and all the funny hashtags I use about you. It’s just my perception of how I understand your childhood. And really I hope you don’t see this because you are 100% not supposed to be on Instagram. And you are 100% not allowed to have a boyfriend. But we did let you get your ears pierced. You got to go rollerblading this summer. We went shopping a bunch of times. And last night you got to look cute at the movie theatre and I 100% saw you smile and happy when a group of cute boys noticed you. But yes, you are allowed to look and smile but no talking to them in real life or on social media. I got your number, and I’m keeping you on the straight and narrow! Your mommy is a pediatrician.

Inspiring carrots.

July 6, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m not sure why but I find these carrots very inspiring. I’m not sure why they grew the way they grew, but they are so interesting. They are 100% organic and taste better than any store bought carrot I’ve ever eaten. Each new carrot that comes out of the garden, is really a marvel. My mother-in-law planted them in containers and we have many more to go.

Our son turned 18 and it’s the summer before he is off to college at UC Berkeley. He’s really proud of himself for how he did on the one AP test that he really cared about. He showed me his reaction video when he got his score back, and it’s in the field of study that he is considering. His good friend called him from the Serengetti to let him know the scores were in. Who knows what time it was in Africa? But back here in San Diego in the downstairs room that has been filled with his childhood memories, he celebrated by taking a reaction video for himself. I was so proud of him, just like his first words and his first steps or the first time he made a friend at school. He’s learning how to drive albeit later than the rest of his friends. He made straight As his last trimester, and we realized that without the stress of actually worrying about getting into college – he performed better and was more joyful. We know he is well prepared for college, and more importantly he has stumbled here academically and recovered. So he’s already learned those lessons, that I did not learn until well into my training.

And there are other children that have turned 18 as well. Their 18 has been very different, and they are some of my patients. Someone who only the medical team knows and her mother knows, she turned 18 as well. Hers was a very different childhood. She never walked nor talked. She came in a few times a year, and more commonly in the winter for aspiration pneumonias. She had specialists and not friends. She had G tubes and tracheostomy sites and not AP test. But she also had a mother that watched over her as carefully and diligently as I watched over my son. Her mother protected her. Her mother made sure she was always well dressed. Her mother advocated for her.

So many 18 year olds in clinic these days, or maybe I’m just noticing them more because my son turned 18. I was happy to see an 18 year old in clinic whose parents have worked so incredibly hard to give her the same opportunities that my son has. When children are born, it’s not an equal playing field. Some are born with more opportunities as others. That my son earned his spot fairly in the system and is attending the same prestigious UC system as many of my patients, is a point of pride for me. None of these children are perfect, but they are each really amazing and loving. Society works better when the children of all classes mix, an that there is mobility within the social structure.

But mostly I’m grateful that I raised a caring young man who has empathy and compassion. Many of the other 18 year olds going to college have that same empathy. There are the other 18 years old that have such a different future, where their parents have to file conservatorship paperwork because they are special needs children. But they are all 18 year olds. Jumbled in my mind. Diverse, none perfect, and all very organic and real. None were store-bought. That is what the diversity of life is supposed to be like. I’ll never enjoy a perfect store bought carrot as much as the ones that come from our garden.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

Plastic Picker parents and plastic picker child #1.

June 4, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It was a big day for our entire family yesterday. For my real-life friends you’ve seen it on Facebook, all those senior moments that led up to graduation. Knowing that I’m his only mother has given me permission to take a break from climate work to do all those things that only I can do. Mr. Plastic Picker and I rushed around in the morning to Costco (had to split a hot dog) and then to Vons (to try to find graduation flowers). I was looking for a graduation lei, but we ended up with a small cute graduation sloth (that is his spirit animal) and flowers. My brother’s family ended up making us this amazing folded money lei instead that was truly unique. And then making sure I dyed my hair. Making sure we saved seats ahead for the ceremony, the reservations for dinner at Liberty Station. And even for next week, we are having a party at our house and getting the cleaning company to do a deep clean and ordering the food and sending the evite to those we consider close family friends. All those moments, only I can do and he wants to be celebrated. And it’s made me take care of myself, because I’ve always been his (and his sister’s) mommy first.

I am usually snapping pictures but yesterday I was just experiencing, and letting others snap the photos. I was just experiencing it all. The breeze was gentle and cool. The sunshades were majestic and appreciated. The colors vibrant. The happiness of the day and sadness of the upcoming parting of ways palpable. I sat at later that night at dinner with our extended family and just looked and gazed. I looked at my parents face multiple times as my father was laughing and saving his grandson’s number of his phone. I gazed at my own son’s face, as he was enjoying both sides of the table that he sat at the center. I gazed at the face of my daughter too often, as she was glowing in the center of her male cousins and her brother. She’s pretty and her prettiest is more evident when she’s the only girl. I gazed at my mother-in-law and father-in-law, as they sat in their fancy clothes eating American food, which they haven’t in a long while. I gazed at my husband and I pinched his cheeks, and then my mother-in-law pinched my father-in-laws cheeks in jest at the same time.

Yesterday was mostly about family and they realized how important the oldest and only son of the only son of the only son is to our family. He’s been this beautiful group project that we’ve all contributed and he’s turned out to be such a wonderful human being. I’m not sure if I’m really going to cry. I’ve certainly been teary eyed. But for my oldest after he was born, I had this great sense of responsibility. The feeling is very different than for our daughter. For him, I felt a heavy weight knowing I needed to raise him well. And I did. We all did.

He will have a wonderful two months off, of hanging out with friends and camping with best friends. He will clean his room. And we will enjoy these two months together before we launch him off to college this fall. There is not much time because his school starts the earliest of the UC campuses. But I wanted to thank the blog’s readership. This has been my emotional journey on these pages, and I needed to tell you that today I just feel relief. I feel relief that he had the graduation that he had. He grew up within a caring school and family community, and he’s a great human being. And I’m 100% going to wear Cal Mom gear unapologetically for the rest of my life – because I deserve it and I’m proud of him and himself. No senioritis. Had the highest grades he’s gotten in high school the last trimester, and graduated with honor roll. And he took his AP tests seriously and prepared and we are pretty sure passed, hopefully with a decent score. The most important thing to his father and me, is that he respected his school and respected the sacrifices his grandparents and parents have made for him to attend and graduate from his particular school. And that gratitude to me, is worth more than any accolades or name brand university. He’s grateful. And I’m incredibly grateful for that. The Prom King? The Homecoming Court? Now that was just cool!

My heart.

May 6, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been on epic climate almost 2 weeks now. I haven’t been present as much on the blog to update the readership. I’ll update you now but mostly wanted to let you know that one of the main characters in my life turns 15 this month.

Our final version of the climate divestment paper was accepted to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. I helped substantially with those edits and am in the middle of the authorship group, and incredibly grateful to have contributed to the writing of the paper. I was able to secure an interview session with Contemporary Pediatrics for our lead author to amplify the message of our paper. I initially thought we would have to write a commentary, so I’m relieved this will be an interview and I actually don’t need to do anything further. This paper helped me further understanding divestment work, and it will help with the overall movement to have this paper with important names on it to distribute to our friends on the front-lines advocating for divestment as child advocacy as climate change affects children’s health.

I also received a big award which I’m not allowed to share on social media but I don’t think this blog counts? I’m really honored to receive it. There is going to be a fancy reception and I’m getting a trophy! A real engraved trophy! Thank you to the American Academy of Pediatrics CA3 – San Diego and Imperial Counties for nominating me.

But it seems really simple and a bit selfish. One of the biggest reason I am working so hard to fight climate change, is that I want the above teenager to have a livable planet. I want her and her brother not to have to deal with as catastrophic heat waves that are predicted right now. I want to have grandchildren that can remain in San Diego, or at least not have to migrate too far. I want to hold my grandchildren and watch them, and it not to be that hot. I want this for them and myself, and for all our children and grandchildren.

And most of my time these days is organizing the epic San Diego Heat and Human Health Summit. I’m making lots of noise with my climate friends, to draw attention to the health effects of deadly heat waves. We need all hands on deck. And I think it’s working. Can you believe it? Its working. And honestly it began with a burned out pediatrician who almost left medicine because I was stressed and sad, and I found happiness on the beach picking up trash.

If you know me in real life and want to help with this summit, let me know! It’s going to be epic and filled with beautiful people who are so good and joyful, that it just shines when they walk in the room. Trust me. I see it! I see it in all of you. So to the being who has brought me 15 years of joy. I love you so very much. And this weekend, we will spend it together just our family.

So many college sweatshirts/Tshirts.

March 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The senior is on social media now, so I think it’s fair I share his picture. Plus, this blog’s readership has been so wonderful to follow along as our family has been navigating raising our kids and trying to save the earth at the same time.

I think our college hunt is nearing the end. We are still awaiting 8 more colleges (U Penn, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, NYU, U Michigran, UC Berkeley) and on the waitlist for 2 schools. But he got into USC and I had no idea that he really wanted USC. If I know you in real life, please stop by and I’ll show you his reaction video. It is truly epic. We are having different discussions and imagining different scenarios, but our son knows his mind and he said frankly unless it’s Harvard, Columbia or Cornell – he’s rather go to USC. His father would rather him choose U Penn or Georgetown, and his sister as well would rather him choose Georgetown. And these are schools he has not even been accepted to. But our oldest is pretty chill, and already thinking about the Valorant tournament he wants to attend in LA and does not want to waste his time going to admit days of schools he is not that excited about. Each admission decision was so precious truly for us as parents. We had back-up plan after back-up plan. I had made vague plans to take the year off and travel the world with him, if he didn’t get into anything but his one safety school.

But I know the college hunt is near the end, because I started looking at costs and my jaw dropped again at how absolutely ridiculous the actual cost of attendance is at USC versus UCSD. It’s 60K difference!!! It makes absolutely no sense to choose USC over UCSD if you were looking at cost. But we will pay for it, since we’ve been saving from the time I was pregnant with him and Mr. Plastic Picker and I are relatively young and working almost full time and otherwise live very frugal lives. I think of private school tuition as Mr. Plastic Picker’s entertainment budget. The father in this family will work whatever overtime he needs and forgo all the usual fancy doctor vacations to send the only son of the only son of the only son to USC.

But now I’m looking at the little one and she says she wants to be a lawyer! Geez Louise, I just double checked the cost of attendance to her target law school. I know she is only 14, but one needs to plan.

That’s crazy! I guess I should keep on working. I don’t mind. I really love being a pediatrician. So if you see me in real life, I’ll show you the reaction video. It truly is epic!

She was incredibly beautiful child.

February 19. 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m working the Sunday shift from 830-5pm and I’m at peace. I did a three way trade so that I could make an HMO Wellness and San Diego Audubon event in two weekends. That is for the earth and work, but I do that on my own time. Of course even though I am increasing our visibility in the community, and indirect advertising and membership growth and general goodwill – I am not paid for it. I created this opportunity for the earth, our HMO and myself through my own networking and creativity. It’s difficult because I don’t think the HMO upper leadership really gets me. Most people who work within the system – actually don’t. They are creatures of being told what to do, what do think, and have their times micromanaged down to the millisecond. After breaking away from true middle management, there is so much room for creativity. But I still work in the system I work in, and I do believe for now it’s the best system out there – so I will show up to work happy today. But I did a triple way shift trade in order for a friend to make a skiing trip, and myself to make the HMO Physician Wellness and San Diego Audubon event – and it all seemed to work out. This event is really the first of it’s kind. So I’m able to make that event and fulfill my obligations at work, which I used to find annoying because who likes to work on the weekend?

But I’m not annoyed this morning having to go to work even though my children have the day off. There is someone special there working also. This someone is someone who I haven’t seen in a long time. I want to give her a hug because we have a close friend in common that died. We all miss her acutely in different ways. I talked to another friend about her, and we used to talk and meet constantly during the years I was Assistant Boss. It’s hard. The sadness comes back once in a while when issues come up, where she would have had a fierce and just and insightful opinion. That passionate voice and that beautiful person is gone now. But those of us who knew her, were made better by her.

I’m not as annoyed to go into work because my children are doing well in life. That’s the honest fact. Physicians are stressed due to extra work duties, not because they want to go party. Come on! We were all studious premedical students. Most of us are annoyed to go into work on the weekends because we are worried about our families and want to spend time with our children. My own children are doing well for various reasons, but some of the reason is that after I decided to do climate work – I became happier. And a happier and more present parent, is a more effective parent.

And the beautiful toddler in the picture is now 14 going on 15, and I am so incredibly lucky. I am incredibly luck to be so loved by my daughter. She tells me often, and I tell her often the same. I still don’t know what I did to deserve such a living being in my life. She has so much love in her to give. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are not parents to overestimate our child’s abilities, but she is also incredibly intelligent. That is saying a lot when both parents are Crimson trained to the 8th power! Her spanish is progressing very well, and she is the honors track. She will get to the AP Spanish Literature level and will always have that skillset. Spanish is relatively easy to maintain since it’s so incredibly useful and an important international language. She also speaks Korean very well. She’s been in Korean language studies since she was four, at a Korean language school and now with a language professor who teaches her weekly. She does duolingo every day for both Spanish and Korean, and speaks with her grandparents every day. Most importantly, every day she takes linguistic risks and moves her language skills further and she enjoys languages. She’s been asking me to start Vietnamese language studies for the last few years. We’ve had fitful starts and she has learned some from me. Her intonation is perfect in Vietnamese and I’ve never been concerned since she’s heard the language her whole life. Now we have met with an excellent college Vietnamese language professor who is local, and speaks the more proper and easier to learn Northern dialect. So we start tomorrow with her official studies, and I’m confident that she will at least be conversational. Four languages isn’t bad! It’s the same four languages I speak, but other than the Vietnamese – I an honestly say her English, Spanish and Korean are better than mine!

That our children are better than us, and we try to leave the world better for them – is a central tenet in my life. But today I’m amazed that my daughter wants to learn my mother tongue, Vietnamese, mostly because she loves me and she hears me speak it often. After I had a prolonged conversation with our new Vietnamese language professor and she overhear, she turned to me and said “Mommy you are really awesome.” So that’s the happy mommy that doesn’t mind working the Sunday extra two shifts today.

Me being loved by my sister-in-law. Our wedding over 20 years ago.

February 15, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The climate work has been remarkable the last few days. I’m in the midst of San Diegans who truly care for the earth and a livable future for our children. I’ve been on the phone and in conversations with such influential people in San Diego, and our ultimate goal is to build some climate resiliency for our region. The one thing I contributed is my creativity and thinking of the name and idea of a “Heat and Human Health” Summit to be held at UCSD, and bringing all the healthcare groups in San Diego together to tackle this issue. This will be the first of it’s kind in the country and hopefully a model for other regions.

But in the process of truly reviewing the data from Scripps Oceangraphic Institute and the power point presentations on heat from the County of Public Health, one again realizes how absolutely dire the climate crisis is. The heat waves are here already, and they are only going to get worse. We have to continue to try to address the climate crisis by plummeting our green house gas emissions, but we have to also plan for the more likely future of worsening heat waves. Heat waves drive premature birth, smaller babies, cardiac deaths, mental health flares and violence of all kinds. In looking at the data objectively, I again was met with a wall of climate grief.

Climate grief is real. It is so very real. And when you are a deep in the weeds climate and health advocate, you know what it means. It weighs on your heart, as you look at your children and realize the world that we’ve handed them. It weighs on me, and I’m holding back tears this morning. Last night, a few slipped out as I was laying next to my peacefully blissfully asleep husband. I still have dreams for my children, dreams for my son and my daughter and for their families and future grandchildren. But when you dream, one has to acknowledge that when we make the predictions for a 7x fold increase in heatwaves in 30 years in San Diego – that those that will be bearing the brunt of this are the current children we have when they are adults raising their own children.

Realizing the existential crisis of climate change, opens ones heart. My heart is so open these days. I was chatting with a work friend who is also a climate friend, and we talked about how we are different. Exploring passions and talking about our work and climate with others.

This morning I’m realizing I need to give myself some time. I’ve been on a whirlwind of planning and brainstorming for this conference. “Heat and Human Health” Summit! I think that is a great idea! I just need to bring everyone together, and other’s will be standing on the podium when we do the opening sessions. But you heard it here first dear readers!!!

Love this morning as I think about those that are on this journey with me. Love for our premedical students who have been spreading ideas and inspirations. Love for those at UCSD who have opened their hearts and their physical facilities to this prospective conference. Love for my future family, those that will join us when my daughter and son decide whom they will love. Love for my future grandchildren, in whatever form they will take.

And love for myself today. I still need to remind myself to take care of myself. I went for a short jog yesterday. This afternoon I think I’m going to take a break from the frantic emailing, and buy myself some vegetables and try a new recipe. And despite my teen daughter reprimanding me for mentioning a certain boy’s name yesterday, I will refrain from mentioning that boy’s name but I can still dream for her. I can still plan and think of a fuzzy future. But I realize that I don’t want to be thought too weird so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself! So if you see me humming and thinking, just remember I’m imagining my daughter in a hanbok like myself on her wedding day.