Uncategorized – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Uncategorized

wild daisies

June 20, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s our last full day on our Oregon farm, and we head back to our life in Southern California tomorrow. Today I’m meeting with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife OFW office, and one of their fish biologists. We have a Riparian plan that we need to finalize with the state of Oregon in order to continue some tax breaks we get for not developing an area of the property that has vital riparian habitat.

This climate activists life has led me here, to Oregon. There is no way to hide from climate change, our entire way of life will change. But we can all do what we can, in this chaotic reorganizing of society. This isn’t a climate bunker because the forest that surrounds us is likely to burn from wildfires at some point. But it was a way for me to deal with my climate anxiety. If I can just save these 200 acres, than I would have done some of our part. I remember when we flew out here during the COVID pandemic when travel finally opened up a bit, and we were up in this place during May. The ground was so healthy, and there were large birds of prey flying overhead. Knowing how degraded much of our earth is now, I realized how precious this place was. We “own” it but how does one own anything? You can’t “own” anything because our time on this earth is limited. I’m not afraid of death, because truly that is in the end where we are own destined to end up. We will be returned to the earth, and then I believe reborn again.

But for this time that I am here, I’ve decided one of my roles is to safeguard at least these acres. We’ve had movie companies approach us to film movies, that would have brought too much foot traffic to sensitive habit. We’ve had odd offers to grow wasabi from very wealthy people because the water is so clear in the creek. We’ve had multiple offers from some sketchy people to grow what we think is marijuana. Who wants a random acreage in the middle of a forest to lease? You must be doing something sketchy. So our family has decided to leave it for the fish and the salamanders and the earth.

Life is so busy that as a part-“owner” – we’ve only been able to come up no more than once a year. But it’s a blessed time that allows me to re-center. Every time I return, I am reminded how important the work that I am doing in San Diego is. And what we do in southern california, will help preserve places like this. And forests like the one that surrounds me, is doing it’s part by preserving the life that our species has decimated. There are baby deer frolicking around the property, a family of squirrels living in the old stone outdoor stove – every morning so busy. I love that squirrel family. If they had an Instagram account, they’d 100% go viral. But we’ll leave them to live their lives. The badgers, the mountain lions, the bears, the bald eagles, and the deer – we need to leave them some space. The concept of Rewilding is so powerful. But we can only rewild places, if we make our urban lives wonderful and filled with community and love and green spaces – so that the ridiculous suggestion from one of my patients to build a town in this secluded plot doesn’t come to fruition. The last thing we need is another town, where rich citizens flock and pretend to be eco-conscious.

We are just normal doctors that managed our money right. We still work and I have to return to our lives back in southern california soon. We can only keep this property if I continue working. I was so close to quitting years ago in the midst of my burn out, but I am so glad that I did not. Because I did not quit and got better, I have gotten to live this interesting second part of my life trying to fight for our community and climate. My daughter got to pick wildflowers on a farm that our family owns, and sat quietly on our porch and made a crown of daisies. Just like I try to protect her, I believe if we all work in our own ways to better society and address decarbonization – we will pull together as a community and weather the worst of this.

I still have so much fear and anxiety, and those of us in the trenches know that. We know about the catastrophic heat waves coming. We know about the heart disease and kidney damage and premature birth that is caused by global heating, environmental pollution and air pollution in particular. But being here calms my fear. I can still enjoy today. I can still enjoy a crown of daisies that my daughter made, because I know most days I have done so much to help move legislative work in California to address environmental pollution and climate change.

Just thoughts as we end our last few days in Oregon. Thank you for letting me share my journey. And I hope this blogposts finds you well.

Sushi at a New Place.

June 2, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I loved seeing all my classmates’ Harvard 25th reunion pictures! I know many of them had not seen each other in years and it was good to live vicariously with them as they transversed the campus and took pictures of spots that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I felt like I was drinking with them at the Hong Kong, despite having only been there once in college and not actually having drunk there at all. I am so glad to see Harvard through their eyes and lenses. I was sleeping next to my Harvard, as Mr. Plastic Picker and I were both alumni – so I told him that between the both of us that was Harvard enough.

I was planning on going to the Harvard 25th reunion but my body was really tired, and it had been more of an emotionally taxing time than I let myself realize. Earth Month and all the speaking engagements were taking their toll. For some reason I ended up in Tuscon AZ speaking at a conference, and it went well and I was meant to be there – but I was away from my family and alone and had to travel. I prepared a new talk, and met all these great people – but for an introvert it is fundamentally draining. There were more speaking engagements. Then the premedical students need advising, and they are wonderful – but they sometimes ask too much of me. As I advise them voluntarily, I have to set limits and let them know what is appropriate to ask for and what is inappropriate. And some of the requests were inappropriate. It’s okay for them to ask, but I have to say no and teach them why I have to say no. That is part of the mentoring. The newsletter for our group came out, and we were busy doing the good deeds that need to be done. But for all those reasons, and my mother-in-law having a stroke, my son has alternate travel plans, and I’m trying to save vacation days for other important things – I decided not to travel and I’m glad I stayed home.

It was such a wonderful weekend honestly. I’m trying to re-boost the composter to start hot composting again. I got some coffee grounds from Vons/Starbucks and I’m hopeful that will do the trick. I need to add more water to the composter as I think it’s kind of dried out. I am deep cleaning the house and making multiple runs to Goodwill and donating things at the library. It feels really good. I am at the point that I don’t think anyone is going to read my collection of the Black Stallion books! So it’s been given back into the free circular economy so that hopefully we all start to consume less. I got stuck behind the Goodwill truck in an alleyway, and was just thinking of alleyways and that I’m not sure if the AlleyWay project that one of the UCSD professors is doing makes much sense. People get kind of possessive of their alleyways. I helped my son make a graduation card for a party, and we wondered if he would come home versus spend the night at a friend’s house. He came home last night, and I saw him in his bed and I was so happy. I am going to wash his curtains today because they are so dusty.

And most importantly I got to be here this weekend, with my family. We had dinner at my brother’s house and I saw all our boys that are so tall and growing into good men and handsome – get ready for their cousins trip with their cool uncle to Japan. We laughed so much that night, and I made jokes and we had memories together as an extended family that are so important. And our nieces from New York are coming in August. They asked to come for the week, and of course they are welcome to home into our home. I told them last summer that our home is their home, and that they can visit anytime. I’m so grateful for that.

If I had gone to the reunion, we would never had found our new sushi place. So I missed you all that were at the 25th reunion, but it was kind of like missing the classmates when they would go out on the weekends and I would stay home and study. I was always more of an introvert anyway. I have a lot of climate homework and family homework to do. If that makes any sense.

Beautiful cards from Audubon.

May 25, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s amazing how many climate projects our family is involved with or has donated to or a part of. Some of them are more controversial and not everyone agrees with how to decarbonize, so I don’t want to hurt folks feelings and don’t share some of it. And some of them are because of personal connections that are so complicated but innocent, that I only tell close friends. Being emmeshed in climate work locally has been a wonderful thing. I feel so connected and loved, and I’m able to give forth love.

And that’s what our family felt yesterday. We have been embraced and we embrace the wonderful people at the San Diego Audubon Society. We went as a family to their 75th anniversary gala. Mostly I’ve been working with San Diego Audubon by bringing a healthcare voice to the Rewild Mission Bay work. But under that umbrella, met so many wonderful organizations and amazing conservationists and climate minded people. When you fight for something you love together, it brings you closer to really wonderful people.

There were so many wonderful people there yesterday. And we are so grateful we went.

May 7, 2024

by Dr Plastic Picker

I am so sad today. I am so disappointed in what happened on campus 5/6/2024 at 5am in the morning at UCSD. The encampment at UCSD was entirely peaceful. I know too many students and faculty who can testify to that. Students were having peaceful gatherings and fostering community and discussion. And now after students were exercising their freedom of speech and assembly and speaking their truth, they were mocked and hurt by entities of authority and supposed trust. It’s heart breaking to me to see the students hurt, and mostly that their trust and idealism smashed. They saw an injustice and used their voice to ask the university to address that injustice. I don’t agree with everything the student movement asserted or asked for, but I certainly agree with their rights and the spirit of their actions. Then administrators and law enforcement officers of a city /municipality that many of them were raised in and chosen to spend these crucial years of learning, hurt them. Student and trusted peaceful religious figures were maced and beaten. There were snipers. This is absolutely ridiculous

The failure of leadership is so obvious. That the powers that be are trying to intimidate and instill fear into these students, shows the depth of some kind of deception or corruption. I do not pretend to know everything, but I do know when something seems fishy. If you are paid 1.5 million dollars to manage the university and you had to have police arrest peaceful students when other universities were able to address the protest differently, then you have failed. You do not deserve your 1.5 million dollars. You made how many more times my salary, and I work tirelessly for my patients (for which I am paid) and then for my community (for which I am not). I am unimpressed with your academic accolades. I am incredibly angry at this chancellor although I have never met him. In the end I am paid to take care of my patients and I take that responsibility seriously. In the end you are paid to take care of the UCSD students (and at the core are the undergraduates) and you failed.

And for those that are trying to rewrite/reframe what was happening at the UCSD encampments. I see it on some news outlets. Shame on you. Shame on you for trying to gaslight these students. The students will remember. When they become leaders in their fields when the rest of you have long left San Diego because you were never from here nor cared about these students and our region, you will be reminded when you had to made an important decision – and you decided wrong.

Dr. Plastic Picker

UCSD Premed AMSA society.

February 17, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and updated the readership. It’s been nice to be able to document this climate and health journey on Instagram, because I can essentially make my own music videos. I think everyone is enjoying it, and I am trying to moderate how much I share and how much I post on that platform. I am writing a lot of emails these days, and doing general writing – so I haven’t needed the blogging outlet as much. But I wanted to be here and let the blog readership know that I’m still here. I’m still plugging away at decarbonization.

I was sitting at San Diego City Council Chambers last Thursday. I’ve testified many times virtually, but I had never been in the actual city council chambers ever before. It was a very interesting day. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, since I had a full morning clinic and the City Council Environmental Committee meeting started at 1pm. But I was able to make it, and find parking in ever crowded downtown. I sat next to my good climate friend Andrew Meyer from San Diego Audubon, as Rewild was there as well to make comments about the DeAnza plan. I was really there to support the SanDiego350.org Youth Vs Oil group, as they brought forth a city resolution to defend SB1137. They had asked me to support and I came because the kids asked. This is one of our top legislative priorities from the AAP California anyway. I feel honestly humbled by these youth activists. As I was telling some of my friends, it takes a lot for teenagers to trust adults and to have that trust means a lot and I take that trust seriously. So I made comments, after their presentation and I think they were impactful.

I more importantly need to do my part as an adult. SB1137 is an oil and gas setbacks bill, and indeed I’ve been advocating for this for the last four years. Our group San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air actually formed partially from a former defeat of a similar gas and setbacks bill, back when our state senator was Ben Huesos. Lets just say he was never a good friend of this particular pediatricians especially since he was getting so much fossil fuel money to fund his political career (at least that is what some of my climate friends told me). Well, Ben Huesos is gone and Dr. Plastic Picker is still around! And SB 1137 did pass and was signed by the governor, and now we are part of a statewide coalition to defend this win.

I’m continuing to focus on decarbonization, and have various projects deployed with many students. My good friend Dr. Anne-Marie Birkbeck Garcia and I were at UCSD AMSA speaking. OMG, that night was so fun! We were just talking about random things, and mostly about our lives and motherhood and being young doctors coming up the ranks together. I think our story resonates because we are both mothers with children the same age as many of the students that were sitting in the audience.

So just wanted to let the blog readership know that I’m around. Working on so many different projects, but it all seems to interconnect and make sense. But wanted to share a big one, which is defending SB1137. Thank you to all that have linked virtual and real arms with me, to try to fundamentally address this existential crisis of climate change and global heating.

Will try to turn off most of it this weekend, because my own college freshman is home. We picked him up at the airport yesterday and I’m about to drop him off at a central location so he can join high school friends for an esports tournament in LA. His baby sister made him homemade cinnamon rolls. It’s a sweet life we have, and that sweetness makes me even more desperate to save it from big oil.

My sweet son. Picking him up last night from a short flight from Oakland. He took the BART. Little steps.
Our other home.

January 21, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It continues to be a beautiful life of purpose and advocacy for me. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palos Verdes that I thought was a reasonable price, and there are other Prep School Speech families here as well. We drove up in our old trusty Prius and they drove in a Tesla. It’s a practical trip, to get our daughter up here for an invitational speech tournament. But it ended up being a small adventure that we are in the midst of enjoying. We had a drive up that took us beyond our home town of San Diego. I’ve never been to this area of Los Angeles, but I’ve heard of it. I’ve had college friends from this area, as it’s a bit of a ritzy area. We had sushi at a place across the street, and with just us three and the proprietor family – we watched BTS and Black Pink on the TV. There are a lot of Korean storefronts here and we drove by a Kumon. My daughter mentioned to me that she was glad we never did Kumon, and I didn’t subject her to that insanity. It was probably appropriate for some children, but for us – I had this blind trust that I needed to keep her body healthy since she was so sick when she was young and to make sure she had a happy and joyful childhood. That she’s done academically well in school, has been a complete bonus.

Indeed this weekend is a bonus. I never thought we’d get to be Prep School Speech Team Parents, and we find every part of it fun. The sushi dinner yesterday – fun. The gossiping about sophomore high school drama (which we are not involved in) – fun. The togetherness of parents and daughter in a smaller hotel space – fun. Wearing her green speech dress again with her new fancy earrings (that I splurged in a once and a lifetime purchase from Tiffanys) – fun. Dropping her off in the rain, and then again dropping two new umbrellas for her and wondering if she will have a kdrama moment with a handsome boy (they always have that umbrella scene where somewhere likes you and offers you an umbrella) – fun. And stopping by a local bagel shop for coffee and to split a bagel sandwhich, my husband and I – fun. And stopping by target to get a jacket for him – fun. I find it all fun, my life and also the activism.

The activism can be exhausting though. My students, former patient and fellow climate and health advocate Laisha Felix – we collectively did a wonderful job yesterday at UC San Diego School of Medicine. The conference and giving two workshops was a big deal! And we prepped and prepared, but more importantly we were sharing a real project that we did together that fundamentally helped with decarbonization and also address environmental racism in Barrio Logan.

This wonderful person named Laisha Felix. Future surgeon and daughter of Barrio Logan.

But the biggest thing this weekend was presenting and networking with the students at UCPRIME, thanks to my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. We were able to connect with three important advocates that we need from UC Irvine medical school. They are the missing puzzle piece that I need to continue advocating for the masterplan for climate safe schools, and also addressing leaded water pollution at K12 drinking water.

And the second biggest thing I did, was help Power San Diego establish a temporary auxillary office in North Park to try to bring municipal power to San Diego so that we can maximize rooftop solar. We are not going to be able to decarbonize fast enough with SDGE and SEmpra. End of story. We need municipal power and we need Power San Diego. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s a David and Goliath struggle, but for a litter picker like me – tell me it’s impossible and difficult, and I’ll jump right in to help.

But I’m enjoying the day and this weird life of mine. I’m enjoying my pretty 15-year-old daughter and the little make-believe dramas at school, and seeing her mature and grow up well. And I’m looking forward to every day with her, and every day I have to make small changes in our fight for a livable earth.

Thank you for following along on my journey, and I’m trying to be more mindful to take care of myself and also be more present on the blog. Green hugs to you. And thank you for believing in Dr. Plastic Picker.

Picture of the Physicians for We Power Event.

January 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The Physicians for We Power event went well. My contribution was lending out my house and backyard to be honest. I had to have the house deep-cleaned (we needed it!) and then ordered the food, and used all the connections I had to get about 20 people to our actual house. The event went well, and authentic connections were made. The wheels of activism and natural organic connections that will hopefully avert catastrophic global heating are happening. I am reminded and I remind my friend Prof Adam Aron, that we each are one person. None of us are responsible for this entire thing, but certainly we can do our share to avert the catastrophe.

It’s a busy climate week honestly, and most of it is done virtually. Tomorrow we have an event for New York State and it’s getting a lot of press! My friend Prof. Sandra Jee just let me know that the talk has been advertised in the whole entire state of New York! New York is a big state! Out team is ready to present and it’s serendipitous the team that we have put together. I think it’s honestly that I’m amusing and somewhat interesting. And I’m co-presenting with a UC Berkeley premedical student. There is something powerful about pushing the youth out in front. That I tend to attract more Asian-American premedical voices and opinions is a good thing, because we are still underrepresented in this work. Our presence is sorely needed.

I also have an EPA lead meeting today which is like 8 hours long! It’s crazy! How does the EPA expect busy clinicians to go to an 8 hour meeting? We formed a lead advocacy team but everyone is in class or working, and I also am working. But I’ll register for the webinar and at least make some comments. The lead pollution in school drinking water still drinks me literally bonkers. We are giving the virtual talk tin New York tomorrow, which I need to practice and make sure my friend Dr. Sandra Jee is proud of us! And then on Saturday, Laisha Felix one of our amazing students is co-presenting with me at the UC PRIME Statewide Conference!

And this week, I also need to really organize and push forward the programming for H3SD 2024 with my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. I just texted him to confirm we can do August 9 evening and August 10 for the main program for the Heat and Human Health Summit. I heard from Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action that sharing our agenda was very helpful for them during their heat summit that they did in the summer. It’s funny how sharing the work and ideas really helps, and not gate-keeping. My daughter often uses that word. No one is allowed to gate-keep. She’s really wise (and super cute!). I have to confirm budget as well for the summer, and I still haven’t received by money from last summer’s event. I know I’ll get it but $5K is a lot of money! The wheels of the institution that I work at does sometimes move painfully slow. But I know they are good for the money! Is that what I have to do? I know there is more.

I haven’t been as active on the blog, but will try to get back to you more. I’ve been distracted by this 1.5 year long other storyline that has to be private. Mr. Plastic Picker was being annoying yesterday and said I was emailing my penpal too much. But I’ve honestly led such a wholesome life and this is my one bit of fun, and I’m going to keep emailing until my penpal tells me to stop. It makes me happy to share little stories that are innocent and sweet.

And that is it! Lots of environmental health and climate work to do! Our little one is going to the climbing gym today and she was pouting when we got home yesterday after dropping our oldest up at UC Berkeley. Teenagers are honestly like toddlers. They pout for no reason other than trying to get your attention. And isn’t it great that she’s trying to get my attention and not some boy’s? I’m grateful for that mostly. I think it’s because I amuse her as well.

The ad.

January 13, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

To say it’s a bit chaotic in my house this early morning at 7:12am is a bit of an understatement. I worked a full day yesterday (Friday). Dr. Dear Best Friend and Dr. MM and I did stop by Panera for a nice slow lunch. But finishing a busy clinic day, even if it’s pretty much on time – is still tiring. I came home and it was a wonderful evening. My little brother stopped by with our Corgi Cousin, and we had dinner and he and our little one watched Flowers of the Killer Moon. The rest of us we were just milling around the house, but those two were dedicated! Over three hours and it sounds like it was an important movie, but on the sad side. But as I was half laying there watching them watching the movie, I knew the morning would come. I’m so grateful my little brother texted late at night the kind women who owns a company that deep cleans his house. I’ve always tried to keep our house clean myself, but it’s so challenging and we have climate guests coming over. So he was able to get her and her company to come this morning and they’ll arrive at 830am to deep clean the house. It needs to be done periodically to maintain the house. We do this maybe four times a year? I probably should just give in and do it every 2 months. But its’ been ingrained in me to clean myself, and just live it our chaos if we can’t maintain things.

But there are climate folks coming for the Physicians for We Power event at noon, including lots of UC San Diego premedical students. And this morning, my in-laws and I are making a big ruckus about moving stuff and trying to clean before the cleaners come. Do you get me? I think everyone understands. It amuses me now at this stage in my life. My in-laws are always focused on how clean the garden looks. I’m upset about the kitchen and how many pickled vegetable containers and all the stuff they are fermenting on the counter. The kids are asleep, but when they awaken they too will be swept into the chaos. I haven’t even ordered the food yet! I was going to get vegetarian pizza or vegan thai food, but by the time I got my act together last night at 11pm – everything was closed. And they don’t open up until 11am anyway, which is cutting it too close. The Vietnamese sandwhich shops open at 730am, so I’ll just order 30 sandwhiches from there and have our oldest pick those up. I need to run to costco to get fruit and drinks and some snacks.

I’m blogging upstairs instead of usually on the kitchen table to give my inlaws a little bit of a break. When the cleaning starts, people start yelling. My mother-in-law was yelling at my father-in-law that it was time to eat breakfast, and he said he had to finish cleaning something for me. I love them dearly, and I told him he didn’t need to do it. But I had mentioned that I’d prefer that old rug thrown away, and he was determined to get it in the trash before breakfast. But after much old person, normal loving bickering and yelling – he is settled in the kitchen counter eating breakfast and his wife is nagging him, and I know this is very normal when we start cleaning.

It’s a beautiful rhythm to our lives. We’ve had lots of climate friends in and out of our house since I started my climate journey. It was hard for us initially, because it’s hard to let people into your home. But for us now, we come together and do it – because every time the gathering is done, we know we’ve made the world a bit safer with our advocacy and we are grateful to let those people into our lives.

But its 7:23am and we are in the midst of cleaning chaos! It will all work out. Not sure who will come, but those that come will be the right people. The earth has taught me that. To flow with the climate work, to flow with our loving and bickering family, and to flow with where I’m meant to go. And I’m meant to go to Vons to get root color for my hair and also to Costco to get the snacks!!!!

Thank you for following along on this weird climate journey of mine.

some teen pictures

December 28, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear blog readership! It’s 8:50am and its the first time in 20 years that I’ve taken the entire holiday off! I have a few more glorious days and spending it with the kids. Mr. Plastic Picker is off to work this entire week but he’s off next week. Our son will still be home from college, so they will do some father-son bonding. We are relatively senior members of our respective departments, and I’m very much YOLO (you only live once) kind of mindset these days. Looking at the real threat of climate catastrophe will do that to any reasonable person. I used to hoard vacation days and at some point had over 50 days banked. But now I just have the normal reasonable amount, always above 25 but usually closer to 35-38. I realized that I’ll never get this time back with my children, and staying at my current work which is very likely but is not guaranteed. Plus we keep on accruing vacation anyway. So I’ve stayed home this entire week when I thought I might put myself back into work, but I did not! And I’m actually really happy I didn’t.

I really need to get our climate newsletter out to our troops, mostly to organize my own thoughts and where we are headed for the rest of the year. I need to update our website as well. I still have a two presentations to work on that I need to send in to climate friends in New York and also to UC San Diego School of Medicine. Those are the two big upcoming talks that I am giving. Since I typed it out today, most likely I will do it. I also need to finish the dishes. Mr. Plastic Picker told me to leave the laundry to him, as he likes doing the laundry. The grandparents are currently not in town, but will be back before the New Year.

Mostly I wanted to show you how proud I am of our sophomore. I snuck in to watch her sleeping this morning and spied her Korean textbook. She has been studying Korean language since she was four years old first at church language school and then with a private instructor. And now she has added Vietnamese language as well. She studies Spanish at school. So the Korean and Vietnamese have always been extra. But she’s reading fairytales now and making little notations in her reading. Her Korean has far surpassed her fathers and mine, and I am so proud. Her Vietnamese is actually really good. I’m practicing speaking with her more now, and I can see her learning and picking it up quickly. In dovetails with the future I envision for her, which is one to advocate for those that will be at high risk due to climate change and climate migration – Vietnamese women. But those thoughts I can leave aside for now and let them naturally evolve.

For now and today, I am just proud of her for continuing her studies through her vacation at a steady pace. I’m happy to be here typing on this blog which I’ve been neglecting of late. I’m proud to have given some feedback on a print interview to a dear climate friend. My comments were constructive and probably difficult for her to take in, but it came from an absolute place of love. She knows it and will digest my comments. And I’ll be seeing her soon. And I’m so happy to be here with you – virtually. I know one day this blog and many other like it from other climate activists, will be historical references to this moment in time when we had to decide – do you do something about the climate crisis or do you just sit this one out? I decided to do something today. And that something is to work on the newsletter!!!

Much love from our climate family.

One of the grandchildren.

December 21, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

My own love is back in San Diego, likely already at work. He’s sitting at his reading station and what I think is mindlessly looking at black and white images of parts of bodies and contrasting shadows of light and dark. I know he makes up stories in his minds about the images, and I’m sometimes still confused about why he went into radiology. He did it because he was from a working class family, and was a smart and bright student. He needed to support his parents. He needed the titles and the prestige. I married him partly because of that. He was the boy who represented so many of the values and strengths that men in my family embody.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table across from my father. I had thought I was going to retell the story of how my parents met. It’s a beautiful story of a 15 year old girl who met a smart and handsome and overly confident 17 year old boy in Vietnam back in the 1970s. I had heard bits and pieces of the story, but yesterday sitting at my parents small square table I heard the entirety of the story with my nephew. He is my oldest brother’s youngest son. We laughed and were enraptured. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that the four of us will never forget. This story will be retold, and I won’t retell it here. It doesn’t feel right. It belongs to the family, and to the two granddaughters who will here the story. At 14 and 15, they were the same age of their grandmother when fate brought two young people together.

My dad told me yesterday that in Vietnamese you often introduce your wife as “Day la nha toi.” I don’t have the Vietnamese language software that can put in the diacritic marks. But essentially the phrase can be translated into “Here is my house” “Here is my home” “Here is my family.” It is a powerful phrase because essentially the wife is the house, the home and the family.

It might be old-fashioned but the proof is in all of us here today to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Here is celebrate the 7 grandchildren that are absolutely loved and cherished, that resulted from each of their children believing in love and fate and destiny. The two son-in-laws are not here, but they have absolutely been loved by my parent’s daughters. We are the girls who have created a house, home and family for our husbands.

And with that, I wanted to remember that phrase, that moment at the kitchen table and that absolute sense of rightness. These are the values I was taught, and it was so ingrained in me – but I had forgotten the source. It’s good to be together again to remind us our roots. And for the 11 of us here in Oahu today it’s because of a sweet love story when a 15 year old girl met a brash 17 year old boy, who dared to buy a meal at the market place from the pretty 15 year old girl.