Vaccination Envy: Won’t Anyone Card Me?

I'm over 75! Please card me. Please!

Vaccination envy. Really.

Having made many adjustments, (and maladjustments!) to Pandemic conditions eleven months ago, the prospect of more change, more decisions, when and how to gain the little bit of “freedom” and “normalcy” that vaccination seems to promise – all this brings its own mix of emotion, reaction, response – Including vaccination envy. 

I am probably not a good judge which of the following are Adjustments and which are Maladjustments

  • Bargaining with myself: how often do I have to cook dinner to not feel like a total jerk – after more than 30 years of Gideon working evenings? If it were up to me we would both just graze as we are moved to. 
  • Changing relationship with clothing: some days I “dress up” for the hell of it (aka to cheer myself up) in an outfit I used to reserve for “special occasions.” Other days I throw on a sweater over pajamas to appear Zoom-presentable. And yet other days – and this would truly horrify my Mom, I’ll wear the same thing two days in a row if it passes the smell test.
  • Establishing a few new sustaining habits: in the morning, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, 2 oz. of cold-brew concentrate with a splash of macadamia-almond nut milk. I drink my 2 cups of green tea later in the day. In the evening: a jigsaw puzzle app where I can choose the number of pieces and whether I want them all right-side up to start with or if i can handle the additional brain challenge of needing to rotate them to find where they fit in. After waking hours without much in the way of dopamine hits, the little “click” the app emits when I move a piece into its right place is just a bit too satisfying.
  • Delighting in having found an outing that is fun and safe: Staples is my go-to: I can browse the various forms and colors of post-its, try out a new style of pen for note-taking or highlighting or coloring. Another dopamine hit.
  • Abandoning my neighborhood post-office the day I went to send a piece of certified mail: they had no certified mail forms and no idea when they would get them. Even worse, the selection of stamps was down to Scooby Doo and Hot Wheels. I’m sorry to be disloyal – the staff is great and obviously under huge stress. Now I go to different post office, where they conserve the certified mail forms by keeping them behind the counter. 

I have made all these avowedly privileged, first-world adjustments in an effort to maximize available pleasures and minimize unnecessary use of energy and  unnecessary provocation of agitation.

What does this have to do with vaccine envy?

I decided to expend minimum energy to capture an appointment. 

I decided that the following would be really bad for my mental health: hanging on the phone for hours, or constantly redialing, or scanning websites during the wee hours in hopes of landing an appointment.

I have been eligible in the over-75 group in Maryland since Jan 18, and I did snag an appointment on that date for February 17.

I was not surprised to get an email last week cancelling my appointment, and clarifying that the slot I had signed up for and had been confirmed for was actually reserved for people getting their 2nd shots.

Gideon got his 2nd shot today. I was relieved that the vaccine was there for him and that the process itself as orderly and uneventful as the first one.

Meanwhile, I am surprised at the mental health impact of not vigorously pursuing an appointment! Disheartened and depressed as I continue to hear daily in the news: get your shot! Along with the continued daily news of no clear path to do so. Emotions are not about “making sense” of course. And it’s not as if my daily activities would change dramatically if I had my two shots.

If you have chosen a different path, I hope your efforts pay off and the search itself brings you comfort. 

I   just    can’t    go     there.

Linear time has lost its meaning, which has opened up other opportunities, as I wrote in my last post. 

So, waiting another month or two, shrug. I hope I can continue to shrug longer if I need to. 

Meanwhile I will continue to practice inviting in all the parts of myself who have something to say on this topic:

  • the one who is ok with the adjustments and maladjustments I have made
  • the one who hopes for some kind of new normalcy post-vaccination
  • the one who suffers from absences – loved ones, hugs, a night out at the movies, a museum meander
  • the one who waits – sometimes with patience, sometimes with disgruntled entitlement – for clear direction on how to get an appointment
  • the one who prays that every shot given goes to someone who has been risking her health as an essential worker or first responder
  • the one who remembers to trust, from time to time, a Wholeness and All-is-Okayness beyond my need or capacity to manage.

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On Black Bodies in A Groundhog Year

After ten months of privileged, demanding, yet hardly ruinous self-isolation, time is losing its grip on my White Body.

One day is so much like another that I have ordered the clock pictured above and made a prominent space for it directly across from my seat at the diningroom table. 

So engaging with Black History Month in this Groundhog Year has prompted me to reflect on a the hundreds of years that Black and Brown people have survived ownership and control of their bodies: bone-crunching, spirit-defying Groundhog Century after Century.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was the son of parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the Civil War and himself died of tuberculosis at age 33. In his poem Forever he wrote:

I had not known before

    Forever was so long a word.

The slow stroke of the clock of time

    I had not heard.

Maryland Poet Laureate (1979-1985) Lucille Clifton shared some Kentucky history with Dunbar: she wrote that one of her women forbears had been the first Black woman to be “legally hanged” for manslaughter in the state. She invites us to join her in won’t you celebrate with me:

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

Whether or not you live in a place where we can sniff spring around the corner, this month is a time to reflect on and celebrate the survival of Lucille Clifton, and every other Black and Brown body. Each a whole human being, gifted and limited.

For those of us who are White, it’s on us to end the ever-repeating Groundhog history of controlling Black and Brown bodies, and shape a different world.

Our individual acts of repair may be small we think,             

creating barely a ripple. 

Together, we can make this historical time                                            a lasting, sea-change moment. 

No one else is coming along to do this work.

It’s on us.