What are the words I would use to describe myself?
I think first, and foremost would be scientist. I love to see the world, I love to understand how everything works, and if I don’t understand it, then I have to figure it out. I am an avid people watcher: I enjoy seeing my friends interact, and figuring out the dynamics of relationships. And of course, my actual job is to be a scientist: I am currently in a ph.d. program, studying immunology. My days consist of playing around with lots of solutions, mixing them with cells that I grow up from mice bone marrow (extracted from their legs). My mornings and evenings and weekends revolve around the science of raising my 3 year old (there is definitely a method to it).
Coming in at a narrow second would be engineer. Or perhaps that is too scientific of a word? I have always loved building things, making things. At first, that manifested itself by my majoring in engineering for my undergraduate and master’s degrees, but it doesn’t limit itself to what I did for school. I love photography, ceramics, cooking, sewing. Perhaps the word is that I love to create. It’s so satisfying to hold something in your hands that you made yourself.
I am a first generation Chinese American. Emphasis on American. Often, I am asked where I am from, and my answer is always New Jersey, which for some reason, can be confusing to people. My ethnicity is Chinese, yes, but I am very much a Jersey girl. I was born there, and spent almost 16 years there. My parents were in some ways the stereotypical pushy Asian immigrant parents who expected their kids to get straight A’s, but were also surprisingly progressive in others. I was under the same scrutiny and pressure to succeed as my brothers, and for that I’m grateful: they believed in my abilities, regardless of my gender.
I went to a science and engineering magnet program for high school, attended Caltech for college, and MIT for my master’s…. so if you guessed that I might be a nerd, well, you’re dead on. I’ve read the Silmarillion more times than I care to admit. I was in the marching band drumline in high school. In my gaming heyday, I was a guild officer and Druid class leader in a casual raiding guild in World of Warcraft. Sadly, I had to quit that game 3 years ago, but still enjoy watching my husband tear through single player video games of all sorts. Most of my iPhone alerts are GlaDOS or Wheatley sound clips. I play a mean game of Rummikub, and prefer to employ the development card strategy in Settlers of Catan. David Tennant will always be MY Doctor.
I met my husband, Robin, as a fellow freshman at Caltech, in Blacker House. We’ve been nearly inseparable since then, over 14 years ago, and I’ve been his wife for over 8 years. It’s cliche, but I think the most amazing part of our relationship is that he encourages me to be the best person I can be, and vice versa, and that makes our marriage all the better. He still gives me a kiss before he leaves for work, still makes me laugh every day, and is my partner and equal in every single way.
Which brings me to the other most important person in my life: my little boy, J. Talk about holding your creation in your hands. J is 3 years old, and is simultaneously the source of much of the happiness and exasperation in my life. Emphasis on happiness, he’s a delightfully cheerful little critter, and he constantly fascinates me with his observations of the world. I am currently assessing post phd career paths that would satisfy my desire to engage in scientific endeavors, but still allow me play an active role in raising my boy. Thankfully, J is a pretty easy little guy to take care of. I feel like motherhood has shown me that I’m a relatively easygoing person, able to adapt to new situations quickly, and not get bogged down in the small details. For those who are curious, we co-slept till he was 5 months old, breastfed till 16 months, accidentally followed much of the rules of attachment parenting (I adore baby slings), made most of his babyfood, cloth diapered, are fully vaccinating on schedule, and have had him in full time daycare since he was 3 months old.