Trash Art – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Trash Art

Recent pieces.

February 11, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 533am and I’m up early with my matcha green tea soy latte! Our 공주 (Korean for princess) was selected for the Stanford Invitational Speech Tournament (which is virtual) and is competing today in Impromptu and Declamation. She’s also been selected for the California State Qualifiers which are next month. It’s been a remarkable time of growth and scholarship for her, and we are proud. Reflecting back, this all really happened after we met a certain boy and family and had our family kdrama. I realized she needed an outlet to dress up and get attention, and speech competitions fit the bill perfectly! We are on to a local academic beauty pageant as well!!! Or at least dreaming of one. I have a close patient family friend who had done those pagents as well, and may get back into it and do it with our daughter. The two girls would be beautiful together and get to know each other. I have been a pediatrician for so long especially to some families, and those families know my heart. To be honest, sending her to private school with the social set she is in – sometimes it is exhausting. I’d rather my daughter be friends with my patients with their values. In the end, your friends should care about you and spending time with them should be something that is fun and joyful. If that is not the case, then perhaps they are not your friends. The teenage years are complicated for her, and my mantra – is less friendship drama the better.

But back to my title, “Trash-Talking Pediatrician” – I think it’s really clever! I might use it in my next talk. The truth is I started using minor profanity (only amongst adults) when I started my pediatric rotations as a third year medical student. I was I think 23 at that point. And then I stopped profaning about 20 years later, around the time I became Dr. Plastic Picker. Those that know me in real life in a professional setting, will know this to be the truth behind closed doors when I would get frustrated with others that I felt were missing diagnosis or providing poor care or when I was just upset about this workflow or that workflow. I tried many times to stop the profanity. Dr. Dear Friend know I had a profanity jar where I dropped $1 each time. And it did not work, even with my uber-frugal self!!! But then it magically stopped around the time I became Dr. Plastic Picker! Poor Mr. Plastic Picker started dating a sweet Vietnamese girl and then she became an F-bomb dropper and now he has a sweet environmentalist pediatrician wife now. But it was an unexpected time for him for sure. I think he still has PTSD from those years. It was stressful to say the least. The reason for the profanity was stress, but also someone named Babak Kalantari who I believe is a radiologist now in LA. He went by Bob. He and I rotated together in pediatrics and he LOVED to profane. I mean he LOVED it. And he was so funny. I picked up the habit from him! I’ll need to have lunch with him soon in LA so that I can tell him I finally stopped. I likely needed the release because those 20 years were stressful.

But I was literally a trash talking doctor because the first patient yesterday was a 3 year old well known to me who hugged me. The mother I’m sure is okay with my telling this story. She hugged me and she was cute, and then showed me her hands! She had the tell-tale lesions of hand, foot and mouth and I said “F*&&^” and that is it. The mother looked at me and laughed, and I looked at the child in horror and then laughed. The mother laughed so hard!!! And then the 3 year old was semi-chasing me around the exam room, and I was trying to stay away from her. I semi-changed my clothes and disinfected religiously the rest of the clinic day. We shut down the exam room as well. I think I’ll be okay and otherwise had a long clinic day and added on patients because it was the right thing to do, and closed most of my charts and answered all my messages and did not leave the office until 630pm. I said goodbye to Dr. M who is near retirement and doesn’t leave until the wee hours of the night for various reasons. He has really great music playing though.

So I was literally a “trash-talking” pediatrician because the above is my trash art with upcycled clean medical waste from work, and also I dropped a profanity at a toddler yesterday.

But let’s acknowledge a truth that all pediatricians want toddlers to know! #donthugmewithcoxsackie LOL LOL LOL

Just me in a video game “Dr. Plastic Picker’s Great Adventure” collecting cans. By my daughter.

April 6, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Yep. Here we go. We made the radio KPBS midday edition and the online article came out regarding the Youth Arts Exhibition at The Studio Door OMG, I just went on their website, and our picture is front and center!

Picture that is on the front of The Studio Door website right now.

The picture above is filled with love and joy and hope. Each one of those individuals is a shining light. I do have to say that I’m the shortest, and almost the oldest. The fellow pediatrician on the far right is a good friend but honestly I think a few months older and initially I thought was a vampire. Dr. C is from Romania near Dracula’s castle. But I’ve seen him now in nature’s light, and there were no fangs – just a beautiful artistic soul encased in a pediatrician’s highly trained armour.


Montage picture I sent AAP National.

April 4, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s Monday morning at 632am, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table that has been thrice handed down. It’s my mother-in-law this morning instead of my father-in-law, as she is boiling something on the stove. The blue light of the fire on the kitchen range is something that defines my morning. It’s either lemon tea, porridge or water for their coffee that is the focus of the first fire. At some point we will need to get an induction stovetop as it does not make climate sense to burn methane (natural gas), but it’s on our to-do list. The parents-in-law are getting their COVID 2nd booster today. My mother-in-law told me, and I had heard from Mr. Plastic Picker already. Eventhough I already knew, I have learned to be quieter and listen to her and nod. Ask her a short question to make sure I knew that she knew I cared.

It’s a quiet weekend because the vibrant energy of our daughter is out of state, on a once-in-a-lifetime for most children school trip to Alaska. We try to raise her the way we were raised, without too much emphasis on material things. But both her parents are doctors, and her little private school enabled me to be a working mother and figure out motherhood and taking care of other people’s children. She’s turned out well, and is a credit to herself and her family. For her the once-in-a-lifetime trip for most children is still special, and she appreciates these opportunities that she is given.

I’m smiling this morning, but smiling more quietly. I’m smiling mostly for a close friend whose eldest has been accepted and going to UC Berkeley. Many friendships that start at work are complicated, because the practice of medicine is complicated. My relationship with this friend is complicated. But my joy for this family and this child is so true, and I’m soaring with them that this particular child was able to do it – and overcome obstacle after obstacle thrown in her way and her family’s way. Life is unfair. We are all fighting for equity, but we are not there yet. But this is 100% a win for the world but more importantly, I’m thinking of just my friend and her pride and her mothering and her doctoring. I write too much for most to notice, but if you are reading this – know that you are one of the people I most admire in the world. And I am happy for you and your baby.

And I’m smiling today for my babies too. All my babies. My own children, the oldest who is asleep and will be driven to school for only another month or so before he gets his own car. I’m smiling for the little children in my practice, as my heart is wide open now – to play and to laugh and to smile with them in clinic. I’m smiling for the earth. And I’m smiling mostly for myself and another mommy doctor, because it’s really hard to raise kids when you are tasked with taking care of other people’s children. And somehow via different paths, we figured it out. Both of us. All of us.

Let’s figure out together how to take care of now the earth.

Kids’ breakfast this morning.

March 1, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It really helps me to blog every morning. My mind and imagination kind of just wanders in the morning. I actually got a full night of sleep after I finished by last new-favorite K-drama. Oh My Venus – is soooo cute. Male lead, super cute and super hot. I’ve started doing some arm- weights inspired by the show. Anyway, after a good night of sleep and getting up a bit on time to blog – I get to just explore things. I started one blogpost which was good, but decided to just trash it. And then I sent some climate-emails. Then I started making breakfast for the kids, and inspired by some side salad given to us by the HMO machinery, I made a leftover vegetables vegan omelette with besan (chickpea flour). It turned out really well.

All I did was cut up the left over vegetables, added some eggplant and a small carrot. I heated everything in a bit of canola oil in the frying pan. Then seasoned with a bit of onion powder. Besan flour is chickpea flour, and you have to mix it with water to the consistency desired. After the vegetables which is a food-waste project are cooked to desired texture, I just pour the besan flour mix into the pan and cook. It cooks like egg. The only caveat is that you have to make sure it cook it all, since uncooked besan flour has a odd flavor. The key I’ve found is to really mix it before you pour it in to make the “vegan omellette.” I added some truffle powder as well.

My daughter had it this morning already and she really loved it. She has discriminatory taste. Anyway, I started wandering as I always do – how much money did I save? i searched “vegan omellette san diego” which led by to Breakfast Republic website.

OMG the vegan omelet is $20!!! I just made my kids a $20-30 breakfast and averted methane! This place is actually pretty good. But because I’ve been wandering mentally around, I’ve realized that they have a huge push for reaching sustainability. I’m going to have our premed intern Hakim reach out to them and see if they can’t try to feed us for the AAP Youth Arts Exhibit. It’s great advertising for them since we definitely are bringing in their demographic.

That’s it! I’m looking for free food for our exhibit. Because I’m trying to save the earth by being FISE (financially independent to save the earth), and this whole thing is fun because I try to be financially savy about the whole thing.

Will let you know if they respond!

Left over veggies and some eggplant and carrots from the fridge.
My iPhone photography is pretty good.

February 16, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I think my iPhone photography skills are pretty good now. I think it’s just that I’m usually out in the early morning or late evening, and the light is good. And also I take pictures of things I love and that’s just how I see the world. The above is a potted plant from my dad’s office that was essentially looked like on it’s last moments. But I took her home. And after several months, it’s alive and blooming. It truly is beautiful. Neglected somewhere else, and needed to be tended. It wasn’t too much work, but at a place where everyone stopped by to look at it on the way to the garage to say hi. Plants are living beings.


Reimagined/Upcycled “Clean” Trash Art Monster incorporating the birthday card “upper management” sent me.

October 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Reimagined/Upcycled “Clean” Trash Art Monster incorporating the birthday card “upper management” sent me.

Happy Birthday Upcycled HMO Monster

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday Dear HMO Upcycled Assistant Boss Monster, Happy Birthday to me

I was made to do access for years

I was made to run after hours for years

I let myself do things I did not care about

I let myself do those things for years

Now I do whatever I want

Now I do whatever I want

Now I do whatever I want, because I am an effective Assistant Boss

I want to save the earth

I want to pick up lots of trash

I want to lead our health care organization to true sustainability, yes I really do

I still work on vaccines

I still work on peds quality

I still do a lot more work than I’m ever paid for

Yes I still do a lot of work

I don’t care what people think

I don’t care if I seem silly

I don’t care about titles and positions

I just want to be happy

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday Dear Upcycled Asisstnat Boss Monster, Happy Birthday to me

And if you were HMO Upper Management, would you really want to question who makes crazy cr@p like this?
No. I’m happy. I’m cute, and I’m standing on 3 wine cork legs. And I don’t even drink. LOL.
My trashart from yesterday.

September 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Part of the wonderful thing about blogging is that it just gets my creative juices flowing in the morning. We had some HUGE climate wins this weekend. To the extent that I could hardly believe it. I had to roll up in a fetal position with happiness that it all got done. I am but a bit player in all of this, but an active bit player. I know I have a ripple effect on it all.

Harvard University has a $42 billion dollar endowment. I will no longer say Crimson University. I went to Harvard University. I am no longer ashamed (I wasn’t really ashamed but it leant an air of mystery to the whole thing when I started this blog). There was a grass-roots alumni movement called Harvard Forward, led mostly by young alumni that worked to displace the old-fogey Board of Directors with younger more climate conscious board members who would vote to divest from fossil fuels. Through alumni networks, we all mobilized to get our alumni friends to do write in votes. I can say for two weeks I worked every connection I had. This was true throughout the country, as we all canvassed our friends. It happened. Even Mr. Plastic Picker voted. Harvard divested it’s $42 billion dollar endowment from fossil fuels. We donate yearly to the University.


Trash art person. Happy with itself.

September 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ve been thinking about eating disorders or disordered eating a lot. After decades of being a pediatrician, I think I’m beginning to understand. I had a dear patient come in last week for likely our final visit and she related to me her experience recently with anorexia, and we talked frankly about treatment and causes and her impression. I learned more from my patient than I’ve had from the textbooks in years.

There is this look that I’ve seen time and time again. It’s this look during the first initial visit when usually the mother brings the teenage girl and we broach the subject the first time. In this case, I’m usually the pediatrician who has cared for said teenage girl since prepuberty and now into this rocky time in adolescence. There is this look that the daughter gives the mother, as the mother is relating to me her concerns. The mother is usually standing rigid and seemingly in control, but I feel like she’s usually a glass statue about to shatter. She gets this gaze that eventhough she is talking to me, the mother is actually not looking at me – but looking at someone else. I’m a stand-in for the entire medical system at that point. The mother relates her concerns usually controlled with undercurrent of repressed emotion. And the daughter. The daughter has the look. The look when the mother has shushed her, and the daughter has stopped talking. She just looks at her mother from a teenaged body but the eyes of a young child, with repressed and unshed tears. And the daughter does not say anything because she’s been shushed. But her eyes say a lot. And I always think to myself the eyes say, “notice me. look at me.” And by me, I mean not the physical form me but whatever the “me” inside who is hurting.


My trashart last night after finding out I did not get moved to the next round of the regional position. Happy and eyes wide open.

August 27, 2021

by drplasticpicker

In times of great emotion or confusion or happiness, I make trashart. I know it’s weird but it’s true. Last night I made this from bits and pieces of plastic from our lives. The bottle caps are from the two Izzy bottles our kids drank during our San Francisco vacation. The winecorks are from @donttrashmissionbeach famous litter picker fame. I’m almost through all the bits and pieces she dropped off at our house. Most I recycled or had to go into the garbage. I saved most of the winecorks. And most of the “head” of this trashart piece is from the packaging from the new headphones Mr. Plastic Picker purchased for me. Most the packaging was cardboard and recyclable but not the handle part.


Our trash art piece perched atop a rescued plastic plant.

August 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Joey Potter was right in Dawson’s Creek. She told Dawson during the last season, as he again had an existential crisis about the meaning of his work as a teen soap drama writer – what has he accomplished? Joey looks at Dawson (although she ends up with Pacey Witter – HUNKY DREAM BOAT) that as a writer he is lucky, he gets to live life twice. And that is true on this blog as well. I get to live life twice, and have these blog memories to revist that give me so much joy.