Today was a strange and wonderful day, emphasis on the strange. I knew that I had an appointment to get the first dose of my COVID-19 vaccination at 12;45pm, and was strangely anxious concerning the affair. Last night I found it really difficult to sleep, and once I had fallen asleep I woke up a couple of times. I hate that more than not being able to sleep at all, because it feels as though I’m fighting with myself. Can’t get comfortable, can’t settle down, giving new meaning to the descriptor “tossing and turning”. Ugh.

I managed to get through the night, although I’m really unclear about why I had so much anxiety concerning the vaccine. I suppose it was all the hype, the reporting, the preoccupation of everyone who has a heartbeat with the progress of the virus and the vaccines. Will you get the vaccine? Why or why not? Oh, you don’t think you want the Moderna? Side effects! But aren’t there side effects with the Pfizer vaccine? And what about the Johnson and Johnson shot? It’s only one shot, and I hear it’s not all that effective. Wait there’s another one coming? Astrozeneca or something? I heard that one gives you blood clots!

So, by the time I was almost at the doorstep of the needle, I had already been driven to distraction with all the talk, all the speculation, all the hypotheticals and misunderstandings. But, I was committed, so when Walgreen’s sent me an email with a confirmation number and confirmed my appointment for today, I was ready. The email cautioned me to bring the email with me to the appointment. It also instructed me to print out the included vaccine consent form, fill it out, and bring it to the appointment as well. When I got up this morning, I had one mission – to print out the email and the consent form, fill out the form, and proceed to the pharmacy. Easier said than done.

My printer, which is wireless and connected to my router via wi-fi, had other ideas today. It had decided to just, oh, take a break from the network. OK, no problem, I’ll just restart it and it’ll be right back. Nope. Even though I swear I have printed since I moved the printer from one room to another, and connected a new router, it had other ideas today. It wouldn’t attach to the network, so I figured it wouldn’t be difficult to re-connect it. Nope. It had somehow forgotten who it was, even that it was a printer let alone how to connect to my network. OK, how hard could this be? Um, well…

It took me more than two hours to get the damned router to recognize the printer, and vice versa, and not only to recognize it, but to connect. After cussing up a storm, including words I’d never heard before, and could be considered speaking in tongues, and rebooting printer, router, and cable modem multiple times…there was finally a connection. Goodness. I must have logged a full mile trudging from room to room to reboot and press the WPS button and peer vexedly at the status screens. I was on the verge of storming out to just get another printer, but then *presto* the battle angel of the ethers did her thing.

After getting the printer working, I printed out both the email and the consent form, hurriedly filled out the consent form, and logged into a regular meeting that I have on Monday mornings at 11am. When that was over, it was time to head out to the Walgreen’s location where I’d get my vaccine. So, that’s what I did, still feeling strangely anxious yet also excited, like it was time to go to Disney World or something.

So, it took me about 10 minutes to get there, and I was all proud of myself as I bounded into the store and right into…a line at the pharmacy counter. OK, not a big deal, shouldn’t take too long. Well, except that the guy who is always in front of me at any counter, any appointment, any store, any ticket line – THAT guy, who is sometimes a woman, but always THAT guy – is in front of me. I’m the next person to be served, but…I can’t get past … him. As he always does, he is not prepared – he didn’t go through everything I went through to print out the form or the confirmation email. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have his insurance/prescription card, as the email instructed, so he was the proverbial immovable force. In front of me. Taking the attention of the only staff member available.

Mr. Man couldn’t figure out how to even describe his insurance benefits to the technician, so he had to use a lifeline for assistance. He was talking to someone on the phone about what he needed…tick tock…tick tock…tick tock. The pharmacy technician had been frantically typing into the terminal, and finally…SUCCESS! He found the necessary information for the nice man, who didn’t hear that because HE WAS TALKING ON THE PHONE. The technician had to tell him that he could hang up. After Clueless ended the phone call, there was still negotiation at the register, but finally it was done. He then hunched over at the counter, directly in front of me, to fill out the form. The technician, once again, had to set him on the right path, and instructed him – in the voice one might use with a 6-year old, and said, “OK, you don’t have to finish that right here. You can take it over to a chair, and have a seat to finish it. When you’re finished, just bring it back to me. ” **crickets** **frogs croaking* *crickets*

So, I get up to the counter, finally, and proudly hand over the email and the form. The technician proceeded to ask me every single question that was on the form. I answered him, and kind of gently inserted that all of those answers were on the form. He nodded, and said, “They want us to ask them.”. *crickets* *crickets* He didn’t even look at the email with the confirmation number, but looked it up himself. OK, these are moments when, as my mother used to say, you just have to “give to it”. Not sure where that came from, but I gave to it. Minutes later, I was all checked in, and it was only 10 minutes past my appointment time. I had been early, but found it curious that Mr. Clueless who had been in front of me in the line also had the same appointment time. No worries, though, because there were people who had been there when we both got there, still waiting to be seen.

So, we waited. There were a few forlorn chairs that had been set up, but some of them were a little too close for comfort. I got a chair, kind of isolated, and waited. Then I waited some more. And I waited some more. Turns out, the pharmacist was probably gone to lunch, which I can’t say I blame her – it was well past 1pm and she was the only one giving shots. Eventually, she opened her door again and was back, calling for the next customer. few minutes later, she called my name, and I was ready to rock! I almost dropped my jaw to the ground when I saw her, though. She was the tiniest little woman I have seen in quite a long time. I don’t believe she weighed as much as the fat arm I presented to her for the shot. Heavens. A piece of a woman.

To my surprise, the vaccine I was getting was not the Moderna product, but the Pfizer. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me – depending on who you listen to, either one will either give you a bad case of COVID, cause a blood clot, make your arm sore enough to wish for amputation, or give you headaches. Whatever. I’m going to die anyway at some juncture, so all I expect from this vaccine is that I don’t die from COVID-19. Fortunately for me, the tiny sharp shooter did her job well…I was in and out of there in literally 90 seconds.

I was pretty angry when I left, though, because I am accustomed to getting a sucker when I get my shots. There was no sucker. I was robbed, and left entirely unfulfilled. She offered me a sticker. I offered her a single eyebrow gaze. I left the room, and wandered around the Walgreen’s for the remainder of my 15-minute observation period (during which time nobody observed me, unless the closed circuit cameras are counted). I found so suckers, but did find $55 worth of other crap and an individual pack of two chocolate chip cookies. So, I took my victor’s spoils and came home. No side effects, thank goodness. I cam home and ate a bag of popcorn (the cookies didn’t make it home), and we’re done. What a relief.

Before the vaccine drama, the 11am meeting that I attended was my regular Monday morning meditation/mindfulness group. It’s a small group, fewer than ten people, and we’ve been meeting for a few months now. One wouldn’t think a meditation group would be effective on Zoom, but somehow it works. There is an energy there, and we are reasonably well matched. It’s people from the congregation, so we’re all more or less known to one another. We check in, then have a 20-minute meditation, either silent or guided depending on the sentiment of the group on any given day. Today was silent. I was really needing it, because I had just finished running around like a lunatic trying to get the printer to work, and was going to soon be rushing off to the vaccine appointment.

When I meditate intentionally, I do my best to get control of my breathing, or at least to be aware of it, mindful of it. When I can do that, I go places. My mind does gear down a notch, and I am more in my body but in a different place spiritually. This morning, I was able to come down a bit from the previous near hysteria quickly, and immediately I felt that I was in contact with my paternal great-grandmother. I have been in contact with her quite a bit during these sessions; she is my father’s grandmother who committed suicide. I cannot locate her in any genealogy records, but I am still looking. From the small bit of what I’ve been able to find out about her, she committed suicide not long after she birthed my grandfather. The account I have says that she killed herself after her partner (husband? boyfriend?) left her, and that would have been my grandfather’s father. The story gets hazy there, because he had a different name than ours. His name is one that I’ve only found associated with a Jewish family in New Orleans, upper class, and the name that matches the name on the account I have was a wealthy Jewish lawyer who immigrated from Bavaria or Germany. If he was actually my grandfather’s father, he abandoned this woman and my grandfather. I think he may have already been married to someone else, though…and perhaps my great-grandmother was a mistress or something. Regardless, he left them.

My great-grandmother was, apparently, despondent over this and began threatening to kill herself. People in the family brushed this off, because they had experienced her previously as cheerful and fun-loving. Unbeknownst to them, however, she made a will that stipulated my grandfather, who was still in diapers, should become the custody of a family nearby. After she died, my grandfather was legally adopted by that family, and was given their name. That is the name I carry. Even knowing that bit of information explained a LOT about how we came to be, because that name is not terribly common among people of color.

From what I remember of my grandfather, the few times I met him, he was very withdrawn, and didn’t seem terribly happy. He had grown up in New Orleans, in his adoptive familiy’s home, and I don’t have any evidence of his biological father being involved in his life. When he became an adult, he married a very attractive woman, and they had five children – my father and his siblings. My father was the youngest, and shortly after he was born, his mother died. I don’t know the cause of death, but I remember my mother talking about something to do with her brain, either an injury or a disease. My father never talked about it; I’m not sure he really knew her. After becoming a widow, my grandfather moved to California and married again. He started a new family out there, but he left his New Orleans children in New Orleans with his sister. Curious, because his sister had five children of her own, so they were a mashed potato family of ten. My grandfather sent money. I would love to know if he sent more than money to his California family.

So, all that to say…there was always this sadness with him, my grandfather. He was distant and detached, not unkind, but not connected somehow. It seemed that he came into the world with the sadness and grief of his mother, then before he was walking, graduated into grief of losing her. When he married and had begun to surround himself with his own family, he became a widower, so there was more grief and sadness heaped onto his shoulders. It seems that he somehow passed on some of that to my father, because when i recall what I saw in my grandfather’s face on those occasions when I was in his company, I saw the same thing on my father’s face. Both of them lost their mothers before they were old enough to know they had her. Both of them were left without a firm connection to the person who got them here. I don’t think either of them recovered from that while they were here.

So, my great-grandmother is somehow connected to me. I am fascinated with her, and have connected with her in meditation several times. A couple of sessions ago, I connected and I remember floating up my frustration at not being able to find records of her, and desperately want to know more about her life. I remember saying that I wanted to know where so much pain came from, and the answer that came back was, “You know exactly where that pain comes from. You know that pain. It will end with you.” Hmmm. I have gotten the last part of that message before I even knew about her, when I was connecting with maternal ancestry. Totally different part of the family, unknown to each other. Same message. It ends with me. I’m not entirely sure of how to articulate that, but I have a certainty that it’s true. Perhaps that is why I have been so focused on my own recovery and movement through all the pain, all the turmoil, all the angst. I can’t stay there. That generational wound has to heal.

When I connected with things earlier today, the message wasn’t so much relative to the pain, but it was about where I am spinning right now. It was about family, and connections, and progeny. I have no children. I’ve never wanted to have children, since I was eight years old and stood up and said I was never doing that. Everyone just laughed, but I knew that I was serious. And that’s been true for me. The message this morning, though, had to do with me giving birth, although not to a physical being. I was made to understand that I need to produce, give birth to something, maybe art of some kind, or movement of some kind.

I have been feeling that I am on the brink of something, on the verge of something, and so that seems to be affirmation of that. Perhaps gathering my thoughts in writing like this is part of the plan, I don’t know. Writing is helping me to clarify my intentions, gather my thoughts, remember why it is that I came here. It is saving my life. I don’t go as deep down the rabbit hole as I used to, and when I contemplate birthing something, giving birth to something, I am excited. That’s not a bad thing, I don’t think. Maybe I’ll be giving birth to me, the real me, the me that isn’t obligated to be what anyone else wants me to be. The one I’ve forgotten at times, and ignored at others, but who is still here under it all. We’lll see.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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