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 used to be a scientist: I just wrapped up my ph.d. in immunology in 2012. My days in the lab consisted of playing around with lots of solutions, mixing them with cells that I grew from mice bone marrow (extracted from their legs), although that gave way to days on my computer, writing and arranging data, working toward publishing my thesis work in peer reviewed journals. These days, I work as a technical writer/consultant, in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry, where I get to use my scientific training to understand drug development. My mornings and evenings and weekends revolve around the science of raising my children (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 4 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, R, as a fellow freshman at Caltech, in Blacker House. We’ve been nearly inseparable since then, over 15 years ago, and I’ve been his wife for over 9 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 people in my life: my little boy, J, and little girl, Z. Talk about holding your creation in your hands. J is 4 years old, Z is an infant, and they are simultaneously the source of much of the happiness and exasperation in my life. Emphasis on happiness. J’s a delightfully cheerful little critter, and he constantly fascinates me with his observations of the world. Z was born just this past Dec., and is growing into quite the determined little girl, a real spitfire. I work full time from home, which allows me play an active role in raising my kids. The jump from one to two kids, while challenging, has not been so bad. 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 with both babies till they were 5 months old, breastfed J till 16 months (still nursing Z), accidentally followed much of the rules of attachment parenting (I adore baby slings), made most of J and Z’s babyfood, cloth diapered, and are fully vaccinating on schedule.