The Curiously Complicated Emotions of Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine

Spoiler warning, I suppose: I got my first dose of The Vaccine.

It was Moderna at a Wegman’s with a candlestick wait no that’s Clue. (Forget the candlestick part. The rest remains accurate.) Securing the appointment was not easy, and was based almost exclusively on luck — I had not realized that Wegman’s seems to update their appointments at Tuesdays around 11AM, and that’s when I clicked. The first four appointments I clicked did not take me through, but the final one suddenly… scheduled. (I’ll be honest, it’s not unlike how I got a PS5. Pure clickity-clickety luck.) A week later, that appointment happened. It was a simple, fast execution. I went in. Told them I qualify (not a lie, in case anyone fears me a line-jumper, though I have complicated thoughts about line-jumpers, most of which adds up to, “Well, anyone who gets the vaccine needs the vaccine and they’re one fewer link in the infection chain”). I went over, leaned across a pharmacy desk, and a very nice nurse stuck me with a needle so painless that if I had not been watching her do it, I would’ve assumed it was an act of pure medical mimery. Then they scheduled my second dose and after a waiting period of fifteen minutes, off I went, back into the world, my body now in possession of the Death Star Plans, aware of the flaws in its design.

The external process was easy.

The internal process was a little more complicated.

By internal process, I mean — what I was thinking, what I was feeling.

Here’s the thing. I haven’t been inside a store since March of 2020. I’ve remained a relative hermit. Our kiddo’s virtual. I don’t even go to grocery stores, having the combo-pack privilege of money and location so I can order food curbside, or delivery, or from a CSA. This isn’t entirely anathema to my life anyway, as I am a writer who writes in a shed in his backyard, so I’m pretty used to being happy in relative isolation — just the same, I love to travel. I love to people watch. Hell, I love grocery stores. I love shopping for groceries. It calms me. Maybe that’s weird, but it’s me.

So, it’s… interesting, at least, that my next trip to a grocery store was a year later, getting a vaccine for the disease that stopped me from going to grocery stores in the first fucking place. I masked up. I pushed past the small panic attack (ohmygodpeople ohmygodvirus ohmygodsixfeetSIXFEET) and did the deed. And upon receiving the shot it was like —

It was like it all hit me at one time, a cresting wave, a hole beneath me, a light from above. All of it. A pyramid of feelings spun upside-down, its sharp peak pressing down upon that space between my shoulder blades. I was happy, obviously. It’s hard not to be happy, I guess. Just the theoretical promise of even a rough semblance of normalcy felt buoyant, the feeling of being in a cage but seeing someone walking toward it with the door key in hand. Hurry up, you think, get over here, I got shit to do, I’m ready to stretch my legs, I’m ready to run, I want to go shop for produce, is there an orgy, can I get an invite, I dunno that I wanna go, I’m just saying, I’d like the option is all, because now life is all about options again, woooo. 

I felt happy. Obviously. Definitely. Yes.

But I felt… other things.

And it’s the other things I want to talk about.

I was happy about that return to normalcy, but angry, too, for how many people never left normalcy in the first place. So many people who chose to ignore the fire that was burning down their neighbor’s house. People who kept on living life at their maximum, sacrificing nothing while others sacrificed everything. And that anger mounted, too, because those people were sold a lie, a bill-of-sale for a bridge in Brooklyn, handed this disinformation debt from a toxic political environment stirred by a propagandist, a brute, a fool. I was angry at the politicians who even now act like masking is an act of terror against the nation of their faces, their beautiful faces, their God-chosen God-shined God-blessed faces, how dare you cover up their holy mouths with a crass slip of fabric. So what if it protects others? Protecting others isn’t the mandate of this country, damnit. Oh, no no no, individual liberty trumps communal responsibility every time. Who cares if the boat is sinking, you can’t make me use a bucket to bail it out. That impacts the freedom of my hands not to wield a clumsy bucket. Jesus Christ, I might get splinters! How unfair is that?

How dare I be asked to change literally anything in the midst of a pandemic?

And that makes me worried, too, because what happens in the next crisis? We have strong leadership now, but turns out, there are a whooooole lot of people in this country — and, I’m quite sure, the world beyond it — who are happy to ignore reality because it will inconvenience them in some way. We live in this age of Choose Your Own Adventure truth, where if you don’t like the option you picked, you just go back and flip to another page. “I turn to page 37, where climate change isn’t real,” and you get lost in the storyline you prefer rather than the one the rest of us are living in. It feels like swimming upstream, because it’s easier to sell a lie than to deliver the truth.

But then I get hopeful, too. Because if you’d told me a year ago we would have a vaccine, a real goddamn vaccine with real goddamn efficacy, I’d have patted your head and said, well, that’s nice. But we have three to choose from, and may have more on the way. And and and, two of those vaccines are based on new technology pioneered by small companies that were ignored by investors because it wasn’t viewed as reliable, or properly capitalistic enough, or whatever their reasons. And it may lead us to new vaccines for other troublesome diseases. Which is amazing! Technology is amazing! Especially, especially when the important, life-giving, world-essential stuff isn’t subject purely to the whims of unregulated capitalism! Except it sometimes still is! And there enters sadness.

Sadness for those who haven’t gotten the shot yet. Who can’t get it. Who are marginalized and underserved in this country and in other countries, too poor to get the shot, too Black, too brown, too this, too that, you don’t live in the right area, you aren’t white, you aren’t in a more liberal state, you aren’t in America at all, and so on, and so forth. And it’s not just the people who can’t get the shot now. It’s the people who can never get it, because they didn’t survive. The right loves to regale you with how low the chances of death are, when the disease has killed well over a half-a-million people in this country already. We’re coming up on one Wyoming’s worth of people gone from the space-time continuum because we didn’t know how to protect them. One year. So many lost. We broke the world for 3,000 dead in 9/11. But some people shrug off a number that is 180 9/11s. One. Hundred. Eighty. Sometimes we were losing three thousand people in a single day of this disease. A horror show of pain and misery, lost lives, broken families, lost jobs, lost health from long COVID, and when I say lost, it’s not just lost, it was taken, stolen by people who politicized the disease, who governmentally codified a callous, uncaring response.

But, we’ve turned the corner, at least. You can say that much. A lot of doses have reached a lot of arms. We have better leadership now, better than I imagined we’d get. There’s a light at the end. We’re not in that light yet, and of course some people are running rampant (don’t even look up videos of spring break right now, or you’ll shit bees), but we’re… getting there. Rickety, clumsy, drunken. But we’re getting there. And so anger and sadness give way once more to happiness and hope, because for all the torment and woe, any chance out of *gestures broadly) ALL THIS is a good thing.

It’s a wild, whirling blender of emotions, is what I’m saying.

It’s a lot to process, but after you get that shot, you gotta sit there for fifteen minutes, doing very little but waiting to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction or puke up frogs or whatever, and while sitting there, it was hard not to just sit with it all. Because truly, I try not to spend a lot of time thinking about it in the day-to-day, because it’s too damn much. But in that moment, it felt right to dwell. Even to dwell upon what went, and what felt, wrong.

I guess I note all this just because I expected to feel happy and relieved, which I did. But I didn’t really expect that door to open and let all those other unruly feelings in, too. I guess it’s my way of saying, if I’m feeling it, maybe you’re feeling it, too. These days I think there’s more and more value in reminding people that it’s okay to feel things, even when those feelings are complicated.

To epilogue this motherfucker, I’ll note that the after-effects of the first shot have been mild. On the way home, my shot arm got weirdly hot right in the crook of my arm, as if I were bending the joint around a hot curling iron. It lasted for maybe five minutes, and then was done. During dinner last night, my tinnitus kicked up real hard — I pretty much always have it in my left ear, never in my right. The left dialed up loud and the right started, too. That was maybe ten minutes. Other than that, this morning I feel like I shouldered open a door with all the arm pain, but it’s not too terrible.

I’m told the second-dose is likelier to be a doozy, and to prepare for a day or two of downtime. That’s okay. Sometimes when you update the ol’ meat computer, it takes a while to properly install the upgrades. The antivirus software will have some bug fixes. That’s okay. I’m giving off good 5G software now as the Tiny Robot Tom Hankses inside me are learning their way around. My teeth are microchips, which is cool. I can access my own thoughts via an app, which was unexpected, but hey, the future is wild, y’all. The future. Is. Wild.

Anyway, eat shit, coronavirus.

Hope y’all get some shots in your arms real soon.

Be well, stay safe, mask up in the meantime. Care about others. Yay science.

54 responses to “The Curiously Complicated Emotions of Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine”

  1. Oh, I felt this. I found the waiting time after my first vaccine a little overwhelming. I tried to really focus on everything around me, to remember the people working, the people waiting to get theirs. A little personal moment in history.

  2. I am not surprised how real life turned out to be very similar to Wanderers (did I get the title right). I read the book at the end of Decemeber 2019 through mid February 2020. It is as if you travelled forward in time, saw what would happen, came back and wrote about with just enough intentional differences to make us certain that you really could not time travel. Back in 2017 and 2018, I am a college teacher, I made all my students investigate and write about pandemics–I just had a feeling–and at the time, most of them thought I was nuts. Ubfortunately, I was right and that makes me feel a bit of a kinship with you. I will keep reading your novels: they’re good and I wonder what else you will predict.

  3. I’m so happy you have 1st shot of protection. I worry for all my American friends because it’s kinda crazy-town over your way. No joy with needles here, Germany is slow. I mean I’m okay with this for us ( me and my splitapart) because we have a house, with a garden in a very tiny sleepy village and most Germans have been pretty good at following the rules even when they disagree with them though patience is starting to wear thin.

    Honestly though, I’m tired. I’m tired of the fear and the what if we catch it worry. I worry. I worry too much and it’s made me sad, anxiety ridden and angry. But I read your post about getting vaccinated and I literally yelled HELL YEAH! because every time someone I care about gets a vaccine it means 1 less person I worry about losing. So yeah. It’s complicated but it’s also pretty great!

  4. Had my second shot just over a week ago. Yeah, had some nasty chills and stuff but, hey, that’s what microchips do. And then immediately had two medical emergencies (well, one was dental but teeth are people, too, right?) and just knowing I had those chips in me made going in to get those seen to feel, well, less emergency-ish. Like I could do that and survive?
    But the other side of that relief is, for me, some real ptsd. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a grocery store yet, not ready to put my tootsies in a restaurant, want to hug the grandkids but getting that close to another human being will feel…scary. And maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way? After a full year of nothing, going nowhere, seeing no one other than as pixels, I’m going to be hard pressed not to see sharks in the water everywhere.

    • You aren’t the only one feeling hesitant. I haven’t seen my g’kids, who live in another state, since Christmas 2019. I am so looking forward to seeing them soon. However, just because we’ve been vaccinated doesn’t mean the rest of the country has been. There is still a chance a vac’d person could pick it up and spread it. So your feelings seem perfectly valid, unlike all those morons running wild in Miami to the point of causing it to be shut down, and those folks predominantly haven’t been vac’d. I will still stay as far away from people as I have for the past year. But in two months or so, with any luck, I will pull those two munchkins close and hug the stuffing out of them.

  5. Super happy that you’ve gotten the vaccine. Happy for all my friends, neighbors, and family who’ve gotten it. Here in the last handful of colonies in the US (aka: the Nation’s Capital), we’re not getting nearly enough to serve our population.

    Please remember: “We” haven’t turned a corner. You and a select several million of the U.S. population have turned the corner.

    The rest of us are still stuck in the nightmare where we’re wondering how we got to the point where the first thing we’re going to do after we get vaccinated is get our god damn teeth cleaned.

    • I should note that here in PA, the availability and distribution are erratic — the Philly collar counties were seriously underserved, whereas predominantly rural (and WHITE) counties got shit-tons of vax. I was lucky and shocked to get an appt, to be honest.

      • Just the opposite in Missouri. Our governor is a farmer. Although St. Louis and Kansas City (where the majority of people actually live) had the most initial doses getting medical staff vaccinated. But then he started sending massive amounts to rural counties. In one instance, 1500 doses to a town with 65 people. Hundreds from the populous cities were driving up to 4 hours to get a vaccine in one of these places to 1) get a shot, and 2) prevent waste. This method was absolutely ridiculous. He finally switched up and mass events began last week in the places where they could do the most good. But that only after people drove their elderlies out into the sticks. I think he changed strategies to keep from being tarred and feathered.

        • Gotta love our Gov. Hee Haw! Three hours from StL both ways for mine, suffering side effects the whole way home (second time was WAY worse). The mass vax events now taking place here in the city are no better managed — one last week in St. Charles had citizens (elderly, sick) waiting up to 4 hours in their cars for the vaccine. There has to be a better way . . .

  6. Had my 1st jab of Astra Zeneca on Feb 3rd and still haven’t come back down to Earth, happily.
    I’d nearly lost the plot through the 11 months I was locked down.
    I was scared to get in the car and drive to the football stadium where mass vax was going on.
    But it was beautiful.
    EVERYBODY there was wonderful, so kind, so caring so happy to steer me through the maze until I reached the retired nurse who gave me my vaccination. I instantly wanted to hug and kiss him! I was close to or maybe right on the 1000,000 person to get the vaccine here in the UK
    The relief and the lifting of that huge load of dread was the closest thing I ever expect to experience as a miracle.

    I’m due my 2nd jab in mid-April but already I’m invincible. I could fight tigers in a cage.
    I bite my thumb at Covid 19.

  7. Congrats! Did you have any anxiety about the negative press while you were waiting that fifteen minutes?

    Here’s what I wish and you have a big audience so maybe some of them’ll pipe up and speak about it…but I wish more people who got the shot talked about it like just did. If there was a wider spread of people talking about the side effects…even if that’s sprouting a unicorn horn that brings in a better Spectrum experience…would help the people who are afraid of getting the shots. The fear of nanobots is real, dude. Who knew?

    Again, you line cutter you, congrats on getting your shot. Keep us up on the next one too.

  8. My wife and I got Pfizer-1 last week at a NASCAR track in North Texas. It was surreal because I have always had a fear of a pandemic since childhood. So it was odd seeing all these tents in a massive parking lot in an area so large that they had a little local radio channel to tune into for instructions. Seeing people in FEMA vests and just so many cars.

    And then it hit me how cool it really was, that one of the smaller counties in the area came up with this way to care for ridiculously large volumes of people…so much so, that friends from other counties in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area are coming out this way to get vaccinated. Granted, Texas has been one of the smoldering holes when it comes to infections and deaths from COVID-19, but at least something kind and efficient is happening down here.

  9. This post should have come with a trigger warning. Sobbing while eating breakfast isn’t safe, especially when my nose is clogged and I can’t breathe. But no eggs were sucked into my lungs. Whew!

    Why the sobs? You tapped into so many feelings I’ve been unable to name since getting my first Pfizer shot on St. Patty’s day. Mine was all about being in the right place at the right time. I was in the hospital complex for my annual boob squish and they were giving vaccines in the hall. I asked if they kept a “waste-list” thinking I’d come back near closing. I’m 64 with no health issues, and in my state that means Phase 3 and probably a mass event that could take hours (yes, we had one last week were people waited up to 7 HOURS

    • (stupid fingers hit the wrong key and it posted without me finishing)
      up to 7 hours in their cars!! The nurse did a quick check and they’d had a cancellation. ONE. A single dose. And it WAS MINE!!

      After getting my shot while waiting my 15 minutes, I messaged my kid and posted on FB all while fighting tears. When I left and walked into the pouring rain, I began to sob, the weight of this past year fighting me like a fist to my gut.

      So thank you for helping me name some of those feelings.

  10. Thanks for doing this, Ellen. I mean, Chuck! Getting the vaccine. Telling us about it. Telling us your truth about it. About all the things you share. It’s truly a pleasure to read you. An honor, even. I feel lucky to have found you (or for you to have found me), and I hope my “Shares” (on top of my purchases) are doing you some good.

  11. I’ve had both Moderna shots now, with minimal side eftects. Sore arm, for sure, but Tylenol/Motrin combo took that away. Also, a week after the first dose, I got “Covid Arm”, a not uncommon, itchy, rash, but that was gone in a few days as well. I’m in far northern Canada and everyone here that wants the vaccine has received it, so we are very lucky. We’ve had 5 cases in my town, all cleared last year. We all go to stores and restaurants. Some people wear masks, but many don’t. I’m really glad that you were able to get your vaccine. One more arm among billions bringing us closer to a normal life!

  12. Way too often, Chuck, you voice what’s in my own head. Whatcha doin’ in there anyway? Getting my 2nd dose this week. I’m eligible but don’t know why me when so many others still don’t have it in my community. Grateful crazy.

  13. I won’t bore you with the details of my efforts to get an appointment, there are so many stories about that, and the thing is to be diligent and creative and diligent again. I couldn’t sleep the night before, worried that I’d show up and they’d check their list and say “Laurie who?” I was excited, relieved… and felt a bit nauseous, when they found my name, and I was only a few minutes away from my shot. I haven ‘t been quite as isolated as you.. but it’s close. I am on a first name basis (well, I know their name from their nametags, and they know my car) with the wonderful people at Walmart pickup. I have to drive nearly an hour out of my way to get groceries, but that seems trivial (especially since I can do my ‘shopping’ in my pajamas rather than walking up and down the aisles).
    I had some pretty serious chills for a day after shot 1… but hey, who doesn’t need an occasional day huddled under the covers? Don’t know what shot 2 will bring, other than INVINCIBILTY!! except that it won’t. I’ve spent a year without eating in a restaurant, without going in a store, without getting a haircut.. and the mere thought of crowds makes my hands shake a bit. Apart from the fact that the vaccines only provide limited protection against mild cases… I have a mindset of AVOID PEOPLE that I need to deal with.
    I was a hugger, before… I’m now going to limit that to family and close friends.. and only if they’ve been vacc’d. I was extremely proud of my ‘firm business handshake’… I’m replacing that with a polite nod.
    And I have to figure out how to deal with the people who have announced they won’t be getting the vax. (and they’ve NEVER got a flu vax? Are you f’ing kidding me? Glad I now know this about them.) For some, it’s easy, I’ll simply avoid them. Forever. For others, it will be a bit more difficult. They’re basically good people, but they say stupid things like ‘I’m very careful about what I put in my body’. Me too! And Vaccines are #1 on the list of what I put in my body. I never had smallpox. I did have chicken pox, measles, mumps… and today’s kiddos don’t. I’ve had the flu once, as a non’vax’d person, and 3 times as a vax’d person…. and I have a DEFINITE preference. And I’ve been following Moderna for a couple years now, bc their new mRNA technology might mean that my future annual flu shot will give better protection than the current flu shots.
    (take a deep breath)
    Yeah, Chuck… I love your words. They’re good words, very good words.

  14. Holy sh*t all of this! I’ve lost 14 ppl in my very red state. 1 was a nurse whose job it was to test others. Yet, still so many saying “I’ll take my chances” while running around “unmuzzled”. No one is safe until everyone is safe– Faucci/Biden/common sense.
    If we don’t all die from selfishness, I fear what will happen if we’re in another deadlier pandemic, a world war, or a sale on cabbage patch kids. Half of us will be yelling FREEDOM while the other half are burying our dead.
    I have my first shot, but it troubles me that it was more difficult to get than a brand new iPhone and fewer people want it. A large city in my very red state was unable to give away their vaccines, so I’m looking at my next shot as practice for many boosters to come.

  15. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I’ve been living and feeling this past year. My first dose is scheduled for April 10th (pure clickety-click luck) and I fully expect to feel everything that you felt. We’re feeling optimistic enough to plan a full family vacation this year, but not optimistic enough to book one without a generous cancellation policy. And it’s driving distance. No planes or trains in this girl’s immediate future!

  16. My husband and I were on multiple devices the minute that Chicago opened appointments for our class (expanded 1B) at the Mass Vax site at the United Center. The website basically melted – we got 3 different sets of error messages before the site stopped showing at all, but I was NOT giving up. Hit refresh every few minutes until it came back on about 50 minutes later, and finally got my appointment. My husband was having trouble (turns out that the reg system didn’t like Firefox) and he was like “I’ll just try again later”. I may have grabbed him and barked “You are NOT leaving this room until you have an appointment!” We got him logged into my laptop and browser, all the while I kept saying stuff like “I realize I’m being obnoxious but just deal with it!” and I got him his appointment – within an hour of mine. We got the confirmation emails and I burst into tears. I remember repeating “It’s actuallygoing to be OK – WE’RE going to be OK” through hiccuping sobs. And that was just getting an appointment for dose one.

    We’re set for Friday afternoon. I’m going to be a blubbering mess in the waiting area

  17. Chuck — you often articulate exactly how I’m thinking and feeling about things. Thanks for your clarity — even if isn’t exactly clarity but a ping-ponging complexity of ideas and feelings from the micro to the macro — all of which are true.

  18. Thank you. To read your particular blend of hope and sarcasm really hits the spot for me. I’ve been trying to avoid thinking of getting the shot till it’s my turn, I won’t be line jumping because my heart can’t stand it. But when it’s my turn Whoo boy I’ll be there! And making space for the complex emotions. Thanks for the heads up!

  19. My other half and I got our second shots of Pfizer on Saturday. The aftereffects were definitely worse than the first one (I felt like I had a low-grade flu most of Sunday, but feel much better today). I’ve been on a list with my healthcare provider for a couple of months…but they’re the ones who teamed up with Amazon to open the “SuperVax” site at Amazon HQ in Seattle. The Amazon volunteers were over-the-top helpful and courteous and the Virginia Mason arm-pokers were efficient while remaining friendly and engaging. Overall, despite some line-standing for Shot #2 (I think the scheduling software glitched and overbooked for our time slot) it was very well-organized and well-run..

    But I don’t feel like it’s really over yet. I remember how dead the streets and freeways were last spring. Now traffic seems almost normal again, though few downtown offices are open. I try not to dwell too much on the past year and all the terrible mistakes that have been made, or I get angry and full of despair. Toxic individuality is a real plague on this world.

  20. I actually got to experience a lot of these same thinky-thoughts before I was able to get my first vaccine dose (Pfizer – kicked my ass square between my shoulder blades, but I had COVID in January, so that tracks.)

    Back on March 2, our dipshit Governor did away with the mask mandate and “reopened” the state. That was my time to reflect on the lies, the loss, the people who never stopped living life full-throttle (and probably killed a few people along the way.) It was a pretty traumatic day, honestly, especially since some of those anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, Abbott-and-Trump-ass-kissing morons are my family members. And because I’d just lost a friend to COVID a couple of days before.

    I’m glad there is some kind of light at the end of the tunnel, but there is so much lost we’ll never get back. And knowing that it didn’t have to happen that way…yeah. Recovering from this nightmare is going to take awhile.

      • Most people seem to have worse side effects after the second dose than after the first.

        Anecdotally, those of us who have HAD Covid are more likely to have the stronger reaction after the FIRST dose of either of the mRNA vaccines. It’s been true of the people that I know who had it, so we’re going in expecting it. We managed to get Friday afternoon appointments, and have set things up that we have the entire weekend to nap and complain as needed.

  21. Thank you, great article.
    Yes, it is hard to realize we are so close to being able to meet the survivors of this horror.
    So many lives lost and it’s not over with those refusing to get vaccinated and all the dangerous political deniers.
    Stay safe and masked.

  22. “I guess it’s my way of saying, if I’m feeling it, maybe you’re feeling it, too.”

    That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always feeling it. (That said, I think I’m handling all the shitbees fairly well, all things considered. So, yay? Second shot, here I come!)

  23. Great commentary, Chuck. Good to know I’m not the only one thinking all that stuff.

    I got my second Pfizer shot yesterday. No adverse reaction to it or the first one. Given how screwed up the roll-out was at first, things are going well now. A friend notified me the end of February to go try the county website again (which two weeks earlier had crashed as soon as you tried to get an appointment date). I put in my zip code and came up with getting it at the neighborhood CVS, and had an appointment for six days later. Wow, who knew what capable, competent leadership and management could do?

    I too was fortunate that being a writer is a job best done at home, alone. When the stay-home order came, I thought “That is different how?” Interestingly, this has been my most productive year ever – three manuscripts completed waaaayyyy ahead of schedule and sent to the publisher to squirrel away for their publication schedule. And then the “accidental book” that started out as a background chapter in the book I was supposed to be writing, came out last fall and got a “Must Read” from Kirkus Reviews, which books like mine almost never get, and then had sales to match. Go figure.

    There was a point I was wishing all the idiots would get the damn virus and Make America Great Again with their permanent departure, then thought again of the fact that at least a significant minority of my readership would be on that list, so just decided to continue avoiding them as I always try to do even before all this.

    The one thing I can say is, it’s amazing how much our horizons had contracted, and how wide they become when Death is off the menu.

  24. Thanks for this post. I get the first Pfizer shot tomorrow morning and I’m super nervous, but also happy. Luckily, I hear that one is supposed to have lower side effects. Still scheduled two days off just in case.

    Like you, I’m also having complicated emotions about all this. Finally, I’m staring at the end of social distancing. Back to family events, travel, all of it. But I’m also wondering how the hell I’m supposed to face the people who made zero sacrifices during all of it. The people I know who GOT Covid and still are telling us it was never a threat. To make matters really complicated, one of the people I know who never slowed down scheduled me for my shots. Life is weird.

  25. Yes, yes to all the things! I’ve been so frustrated with people just (seemingly) living their lives without thought to others; with reckless disregard. It is hard, now, to be entirely joyful or without anxiety. For a year anxiety has been an extra shirt and it still doesn’t feel quite safe to remove that shirt. But the hope is there, and it’s spring, so I’m going to work on cultivating that crop. Thank you for sharing!

  26. I had Covid in January. It was hell, and I had a mild case. But because I am lucky enough to have friends who have friends in the medical field, who suddenly had too many shots and not enough people one shiny Saturday a few weeks ago, I got the vaccine. And got the 2nd one Friday. Sick sick so sick after both BUT I GOT THEM! I have them! I am FREE! Not so fast, that – but yeah, Covid – from having it while also dealing with a badly broken hand, to finally getting better – to actually being able to GET better (some are not so lucky) – it has been quite the emotional ride the last few months. But I am fully immunized! Lucky, lucky, lucky me. I am very grateful to all those scientists out there who worked (and are working) so hard to save us.

  27. Chuck-You heard right man, that second shot is a pisser. The effects are more emotional, psychological. The second day I was spaced out, beside myself, out of my mind, and, and, I don’t know what came all over me, I, I,
    So sweet, so BRILLIANT, I didn’t even put them in a review folder, I just killed them, and I CANT’T UNDO MY ACTION!! I am so distraught…
    Happily, when it comes to writing that just can’t cut it, my little Darlings, there’s more where that came from!

  28. I’m just….tired. So very tired. Of all of it. Of being the adult in the room. Of having to be careful.
    I’m tired of watching idiots flaunt the rules to keep us safe. I’m tired of them being lucky or worse, getting Covid, not suffering too badly and then shrugging it off. My Mother-in-Law just passed after a long fight with cancer; she went in for a life-saving operation to remove the tumor, but the surgery proved too much for her. She fell to dementia and weakness and required care. Her husband of 55 years couldn’t be with her. My daughter couldn’t see her. My sister-in-law, two days after saying ‘she didn’t even think she could get it’, exposed my in-laws, causing everyone to quarantine, meaning not even supervised visits. My daughter will never forgive their entire Fox-benighted family for taking her final chance to see her grandmother alive from her. And I cannot blame her. That my sister-in-law is a nurse who was giving Covid tests to prison inmates and still didn’t see the value in masks? Words fail.

    It’s not just that I want this to be over. It’s just taken so many things from us…and yet there are people out there who STILL don’t understand how they’ve harmed us. At the funeral service just this past Friday (sorry if this comes across as raw, but it is) some of the church-goers could barely keep their masks on for the hour. Some took them off. And my sister-in-law, when calling to make arrangements for some sort of mini-luncheon after the memorial, said to my wife ‘I know how you feel about Covid and masks’ as if it was some sort of an opinion or fringe idea. I wanted to, as Chuck might say, SHIT BEES.

    As I watch friends, family and coworkers get the vaccine, I have entered into a state of mixed relief and FOMO. Grateful that loved ones and others are protected, tense and upset at how hard it is to get one for my wife and I.

    ….and in the time it took to enter this, my continual refresh on the Wegman’s page got me an appointment for my wife and I (on different days) within the next week at our local Wegman’s in Downingtown (thanks, Chuck). I think I’m going to go walk in the sun for a while.

  29. Thank you, I so needed to read THAT blog! And now having gone through the comments I think I may have had a small scatological outburst, not of environmental disaster proportion, more of a streaking, after burn underwear skid kind in reading the comments on the after effect of the vaccine if you have had Covid. Cuz I am pretty sure I had, working in aviation and heavily involved in wrangling the repat flights in March 2020. They would not test you then unless your were drowning in your own fluids so I can now vividly imagine the horrors that await me if I did in fact have it …blehh this just keeps on giving!

    I hope we have learned some solid lessons during this pandemic but the cynic in me would say that we have not suffered long enough or deeply enough for enduring transformational change. And before you slay me for thinking this has not been horrific enough, talk to my job loss, industry collapse and the loss of several colleagues to the disease and trying to prop up friends working in the medical field who are burned out and traumatized.

    Let me be wrong, and yes science is fucking cool!

  30. Gah, I love the way you create word-images! I laughed out loud at “Sometimes when you update the ol’ meat computer, it takes a while to properly install the upgrades.” My husband looked at me questioningly so I had to share it with him. I always love to read your take on current events – thanks for sharing your internal monologue. And yes, if your reaction is anything like mine, you will be down within 12 hours after the 2nd dose, but back up and at-em within 36. A small price to pay to be safer myself and to those around me.

  31. I’m glad I stayed for the comments on this post, as I learned a few things I truly needed to know. Thanks, everyone! I got my first Moderna shot last week and the second one is scheduled for mid-April. Given that I’ve been having sleep problems for the last 18 months (either too much or not enough), I’m proud of myself for getting up on time for the appointment and actually getting there at the appointed hour. No snafus at the health dept., friendly people, minimal paperwork; if anyone told me to wait 15 minutes before leaving the bldg., I didn’t hear them (I only have one ear that hears). Happy to have started the vaxx process, and looking forward to the final “poke” in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to lay in a supply of ibuprofen and acetaminophen ahead of time. No emotional roller-coaster so far, but I have a feeling that’ll come when I get to hug my assisted-living-dad for the first time in over a year. Heads up on that greatly appreciated, Chuck. And I’m glad you got your shot. 🙂

  32. Glad you were able to get your shot, and the dose of mental health it brings. I work in healthcare and had my second shot in January. It hasn’t changed anything as the other 2 people in my house haven’t had theirs yet, and may not until after April 12 when Illinois opens it up to all adults. Here’s to hoping that everyone in our family get their shots soon and we can have some semblance of normality. We have been doing nothing but curbside pickup at Walmart as Aldi doesn’t offer that and when we tried Hy-Vee, it was awful. It made me twitch the other day that I had to go into Walmart to the pharmacy because they wouldn’t bring out the prescription in the rain. I hadn’t been in their for a year until then, and even with having both doses I still worry about being a carrier.

  33. Right on, Chuck. I’m getting mine tomorrow and I cleaned my house on the thought of having people over, someday. Nivmcely put. Thanks.

  34. I love your books, I believe I have 5 of them and do read your post. I myself love to write and I enjoy your thoughts in this world we made.

  35. So pleased you’ve been jabbed. Good for you. The UK has vacconated over half the adult population – at least with first doses – and the death rate is coming down and down again. We’re leaving it 12 weeks between the first and second shots in order to get as many first shots into as many arms as possible. My mum was in the first age cohort to be jabbed (January) and she’s getting her second dose on Saturday, 11 weeks later. Best Beloved and I got our first jabs in early February and hoped to be called in early May for the second jabs. It’s worth noting that the vaccine takes about 3 weeks to kick in, so once vaccinated you still have to be careful for a while. My daughter’s granny-in-law had the jab, but caught Covid a day or two later and sadly died. (Age 94)

  36. Congratulations! I’ve been fully vaccinated since December (I’m a COVID nurse). Take some ibuprofen, or whatever NSAID your body handles well, before your second dose and for 24 hours afterward (make sure to get dosing correct!). It will help minimize inflammation and low-grade fever as your body adjusts and begins to produce its own defenses.

    You’re so right about the twilight zone at the crossroads of pandemic and politics. I’ve been a breath away from tears or yelling for a year (I’m not a crier), I have had patients die raging because the disease killing them is a “hoax.” My own mother told me that getting vaccinated was tantamount to cannibalism. I am just now, as my husband gets his vaccinations, beginning to think about getting back to writing. Global pandemics are a big suck.

  37. Thanks for this, Chuck, and all the commenters. I am so far down the list (in California, where we have so many more people to vaccinate than any other state it isn’t even funny) that I may not look into it with any seriousness until/unless my employers decide to un-remote us. At the moment, 95% of other people need the shot more than I (working fully remote and in excellent health at 55).

    Have not lost any of our immediate family or close friends, but two of the latter have had COVID so we know we were simply lucky. My sister is an administrator for a UU church which can’t resume ‘live’ services until they complete a new ventilation system, because their building had no operable windows. Of course, neither does the skyscraper in downtown LA where my job originally resided. Won’t lie, I hope we never go back to ‘before’ in that sense. I would rather work at home forever than be in 60 stories of recirculated air with gods-know-who and their entire zones of contact.

  38. All of this and all of this… I get my second Moderna jab in 2 weeks, and Stephen just got his J&J this morning, and I hadn’t allowed myself to feel any sense of relief until reading this post and comments and now I’m sobbing. May the tide continue to shift.

  39. I’m one of those in a country that doesn’t have it yet. Thanks to the overblown blood clot nonsense and capitalists nixxing the generic, I’m in for a wait of a year, or two … who knows, maybe even more than that. So yeah … It sucks. Glad America’s getting it though. My mom’s safe at least.

  40. After my first shot, I didn’t expect to think of my friend who died early on in the thing, in May 2020. She fought in the hospital for six weeks, but if things had been just slightly different, she would have had a life-saving shot within less than a year. Just a damned year and she would still be be kicking around in the world, making bad romantic decisions, having babies, talking shit, just doing her. But she’s just gone, at 35. I almost cried at the receptionist counter before I left the doctor’s office because such an insignificant span of time, when I was sitting at home writing ad copy and drinking too much, that time could have saved her in other circumstances.
    I’ve told all of two strangers about her death, just being out and about, and both have smirked at me and asked what her underlying medical problems were. I can’t tell you how infuriating and silencing that was. I hope both of them get fucking herpes.

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