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A Conversation with Christopher Moriates | See previous interviews

Christopher Moriates
Clinical Instructor

Chris Moriates

Good morning, Chris! Are you a morning person? What do you like to eat for breakfast?

I like mornings but am not necessarily good at them. I would readily sleep in, but these days it is not really a choice as my son is up early. During the workweek I have coffee and cereal, but we like to go to Zazi on weekends. I love their gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd; I usually go for the sweet stuff.

Are you a lifelong Californian? What is your family background? Would you tell me about your family?

I was born in Long Island, New York, but my family moved to Southern California when I was 3 years old. I am the oldest of five children and we’re spread throughout California. We’re a close-knit bunch with three brothers and one sister. My dad had his own business importing seafood from around the world and my mom stayed at home with us. After we were grown, she worked as a substitute teacher and dental assistant.

You seem an easy-going guy, are you?

Some people describe me as easy going while others see the exact opposite. I think I am, having gone to medical school in San Diego, and studied at the beach! I am also kind of a perfectionist, though, which can drive my wife crazy. When we go on vacation, I have everything planned and am not as easy going as either of us would like.

What little things make you smile with pleasure?

My son. He can do anything and make me smile and laugh. He is crawling now and when I come home he is waiting for me at the top of the stairs smiling and laughing.

Can you describe your sense of community? How have you integrated your personal with your professional sense of community?

I feel like I am part of different communities: my family, friends, and work, and all of those communities somewhat blend with one another. My family is my most important core and focus. In talking about work/life balance, I read something recently that noted that being a physician is not a job or career, it’s a profession and an ideal. It is hard to give everything to medicine and, at the same time, give everything to my family, so I just try to do the best I can in both realms. I am still figuring out the boundaries.

There is a delightful image of you and your baby on Facebook. Tell me about being a father.

It is incredible, just as everyone says; it is one of the most amazing and challenging things anyone can do. People warned us that we wouldn’t go out anymore to dinner or a movie, which is pretty much true, but what they don’t say is that you won’t really care so much about those things anymore. For the most part, you don’t resent that you are home on Saturday night in your pajamas watching “Yo Gabba Gabba.”

What are some of your interests? If time were not an issue, what would you like to pursue more actively?

I am really into music and I used to go to tons of concerts and buy CDs and records. I like many types of music. Though growing up in the 1990s my favorites were Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and indie rock. I also like some roots rock, hip hop, and jazz. Writing has also been a major interest of mine, and something that I am now trying to combine with my work. I enjoy creative writing, which is why when I was asked to write a monthly blog for the Costs of Care organization, it seemed like a perfect combination. I also hope to write editorials in a more professional role.

What is your Mom’s signature dish? What is your favorite? Would you provide a recipe?

I am ¾ Italian and ¼ Greek. My Mom’s signature dish was Baked Ziti, something she would cook for me in college. My dad also does a lot of the cooking at home and because he wholesaled seafood, as kids my brothers and I often played with live lobsters in the kitchen and somehow eating it afterwards didn’t bother us. Every Christmas Eve, we eat seven dishes of different seafood, which is a Sicilian tradition, an event that our family loves.

Would you share an anecdote that best describes the give-and-take of marriage?

We were leaving San Diego, where everything was going great, for San Francisco, so I could come to UCSF for residency. My wife found work in Concord, which is a long drive, so after a while I asked her if I could get her anything for the car that would make her commute easier, thinking maybe a satellite radio or some accessory. She said, “I’m glad you asked, yes, there’s this BMW I already picked out.” So she got a new car!

Which is the personal space that you keep neatest: your work office, your home office, or your car?

Probably my work office. There are piles, but they are neatly
organized.

What was the last incident that made you downright mad?

I was mad the other day when I had an extremely difficult patient who needed help, and I sincerely wanted to be the one to help her. I felt that I really went way above and beyond to try to get her to stay in the hospital. She was happy about what I did but later that night after I went home, she left the hospital anyway. It felt a bit like a betrayal but then I realized part of what was sad was that I wasn’t really as upset as I thought I should be. She unfortunately wouldn’t let anyone take care of her.

Who was the last person to compliment you?

That would be my wife. She is very good at making me feel great and building me up.

Thank you so much, Chris.

- by Oralia Schatzman

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