About that vaccine…

I got my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in New York City on Saturday, an emotional experience. It was at one of the NYC vaccine hubs called PODs, set up by the Health Department. I had been working for 12 hour shifts once a week to help get New Yorkers vaccinated. The PODs were set up in high schools, mine was in the Bronx, and staffed by City employees as well as volunteers. You can find a site here giving vaccines near you.

I anticipated the second shot all day long.

The thought of being protected from COVID-19 severe infection or death was motivating me to work at the PODs. I saw hundreds of people come through to get their vaccines, first and second doses. My role was different each shift, from leading personnel activities onsite, to coordinating the flow of the people on the line from outside to inside the school where the vaccination stations were set up, and then to the waiting room – to be sure the vaccine didn’t cause any bad reactions before going home. Because I was patient-facing at the vaccine hub, I was eligible for the vaccine, and grateful to be.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

The staff like me were eligible for vaccination at the end of the day, after all of the public appointments had been done. I kept thinking that it would not happen, and I would never be protected – an irrational but troubling thought. When my turn came, the POD leader made me an appointment in the online system. We didn’t run out of vaccine. As I pulled my sweater down over my shoulder to expose my upper arm, I felt anxious. The vaccinator was very calm and efficient. He injected what seemed like a lot of vaccine, put on a bandage, and it was done!

I felt a huge wave of relief. The vaccinator wrote in the details of my immunization on my immunization card, which I nearly forgot. that I carry it in my wallet. I hope it will help me in the coming months with travel and access.

I was heading back to my work position, checking in and charging iPads for the staff that they used to screen people on the line, when one of the managers told me, “No. We have to keep our eye on you. Just to make sure you are OK.” So I sat at an empty vaccination table, and felt tired after the rush of anticipation. By 15 minutes time, I could go back to my work. I needed to sit down, and felt more and more tired. That night everything was fine other than being tired, and I thought that I might not have the side effects of the second vaccine.

The following morning I had side effect symptoms all day of fever, body aches and pains, and an upset stomach. I was mostly lying in bed hoping I would get some energy back, but I didn’t until the next day after – when I still had a headache and dizziness. The whole time I kept thinking, “It is so good to be protected” from COVID. And I hope more and more New Yorkers will get vaccinated at the vaccine hubs and other giant sites set up around the city. The more people we can have protected, the better it will be for all of us, and especially for more vulnerable people who are at risk for severe COVID. I am so grateful for the discovery and production of the COVID vaccines. I appreciate the many health professionals and other volunteers working to get the vaccines out of the vials and into arms.

If you haven’t decided on the vaccine yet, I urge you to consider it. The side effects are annoying, but the relief is tremendous. Most people will be over 90% protected from getting COVID, and also protected from severe disease in the coming months or year. Find out more about vaccination here.

I felt a huge wave of relief after getting the vaccine.

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

Veterans Day and Brindle 24

J.J.Brown father photo

On Veterans day I thank all of our veterans and think of their families as well. My father was a veteran of WW2 who joined the army after his brother, Gerald, was killed in the war. His experience had a huge influence on his life and on ours as his family. We heard so many stories, so many memories, and discussions about war and wartime, and the eternal hope for peace. Two of my characters in Brindle 24 are veterans and were based on my memories of my father, Officer Joe and David, both veterans with PTSD. Their friendship grows from that shared past, and was drawn from my father’s personality.

In Brindle 24, the veterans are dealing with a small town environmental emergency. The area is much like the area where I grew up in Greenville, NY, and the struggles are very personal. The veteran David is the father of a teenage girl who is trying to make sense out of the changes on their property and the surrounding hills after fracking comes. He is a strong but tragic character, an anchor in the story. The veteran Officer Joe is a main character who witnesses the changes fracking brings, and the crimes that occur as reactions. His main role is trying to protect the families from the devastation the gas drilling brings.

The Novel
J.J.Brown father photo
Veteran Norman Brown, the author’s father

My father’s time in Japan at the end of the war shaped him in many ways. He remembered walking through the bombed out areas after the atom bombing, and helping bring food to people who survived. He told us stories of his experience whenever he had a break from working out in his garage and the tales became part of my childhood. The PTSD was hard for me to understand as a child, but now it all makes sense. Sudden noises or loud sounds would startle him, and he had no tolerance for fireworks or interest in parades. His memories put the remainder of his life into perspective of being a survivor of WW2.

You can find my book Brindle 24 in online bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Amazon, in print and on kindle and other e-readers. I hope you enjoy the story and the memories.

Bunny Adoption Anticipation

I clicked the box “adopt me” on the NYC ACC Animal Care Center site for a beautiful “boroughbred” rabbit right before the start of the New Year.

Taking care of house rabbits was a delightful part of my life for about 5 years while we had Riley, our dwarf Hotot pictured below, and then his bonded pair, a dwarf Agouti, Clover, who came to us a year later. My daughter adopted them from the Manhattan ACC shelter, and when she moved from our place into her new apartment this fall, the bunnies went with her. I miss them more than I can say.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
– John Steinbeck

Rabbits are fascinating. They run and jump and binky – hop while kicking their legs out. They are biters too, so you have to be gentle and keep fragile things out of their way – bunny-proof your place in a sense. Because rabbits are likely to have families pretty quickly, it was important to have them neutered before we had them bond together. Now Riley and Clover are an inseparable bonded pair. I visit them in their new home with my daughter, where they seem very happily adjusted and comfortable already without me. I miss taking care of them every day. I’m not so comfortable without all of them.

You can’t replace a daughter, but maybe you can replace a rabbit, I thought and looked on the NYC ACC pet adoption site daily for a few months. Bunnies find their way to shelters because they escape or are abandoned. This might be because they grow up, or bite, or are unwanted, or cannot be cared for anymore in their prior home – so it is important to be sure you are ready for a rabbit from the start. The Manhattan ACC shelter usually has about 5 or 10 rabbits at any given time that are up for adoption.

I planned to visit the shelter and adopt a bunny but found this isn’t as easy as it used to be before the COVID pandemic. I had to fill out an application online, wait, email, wait, and eventually found out that appointments were only available when scheduled on the website. The site had no appointments for January and none for any of the other months of 2022 either when I looked on the first of the month. But I checked back, found one appointment for two weeks out, and booked it at once. The email sent to confirm my browsing appointment noted that the rabbit I hoped to adopt might not still be there when I come by. Bunny adoptions are first-come, first-serve.

To browse the rabbits for fostering or adoption you have to have an appointment two weeks out, wear two masks, and be on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, the appointment is cancelled, and they might not book you for another one. You have 30 minutes to spend there and then your time is up. I can’t wait to see how it goes and whether the shelter staff will let me take a rabbit home with me.

“Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
“Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”
― A. A. Milne

Because bunnies are prey in the wild, they tend to be skittish, and they hide when they can. When frightened, they may sit absolutely still so you think they are not there. But they get used to people and become very social – enjoying being pet and playing with toys, especially those made of hay.

I have all new things ready for our new family member now, the toys, the blankets, the pillows, the hay and pellets, the hay basket as a litter box. The day I found out I would have to wait indefinitely to see the rabbits at the shelter, I looked at all the bunny things with an empty feeling, like would it really happen? I hope so and it is something to anticipate, to really look forward to in the New Year.

The Bunny Lady on YouTube is a great source of information about keeping house rabbits and she has new videos that come out every week in case you are intrigued.