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.

Belinda, a Shelter Rabbit Adoption

I adopted Belinda, a Dwarf Agouti female rabbit yesterday from the Manhattan ACC in Harlem.

Belinda at home 1/22/2022

Hoping to adopt, I browsed the Animal Care Centers of NYC, ACC website every day for a month to look at all the rabbits, and I “hearted” Belinda early on. When I finally clicked on the “adopt me” button around New Years, I was directed to AdoPets. The online application was extensive, including giving my landlord’s contact information and a personal reference, and then it took three weeks to be approved. By then I had a scheduled a timed appointment at the shelter two weeks out to visit the bunnies. I had a big hole in my heart left when my daughter and her two adopted bunnies moved out of our place and into their own apartment a few months back. Giving another shelter bunny a home with me seemed like the right next step for us.

The shelter modified their rules because of the COVID pandemic to ensure people were double-masked and socially distant. They were very careful. This meant standing outside in 20-degree weather until there was room enough in the shelter to enter without over-crowding. A young couple and small child were in front of us with a very quiet big dog. When my daughter and I finally were let inside, it was about a 45-minute wait along with 5 other people and three big dogs before we could go up to the bunny room. In the interim, we heard that the big dog who had been waiting outside ahead of us was a surrender, to be left at the shelter because of an intolerant landlord. That was heart breaking to the family and the other people waiting beside them. The Mom began crying and the dog looked miserable and very shy, waiting to be surrendered. I can’t imagine going through that and my heart went out to them.

All the cages in the rabbit-room were full, with no room for any new rabbits to take shelter. One of the rabbits was pending adoption and the others were adoptable and waiting for their new homes. Several rabbits were very large and black, a few were very large and white, and then there were some who were multicolored and smaller – about 12 in all. One was only a few months old and had a fluffy orange coat. Belinda was being shy in her small cage and when the shelter staff opened it, she didn’t want to come out. I talked to her through the bars, and then through the open door. When she inched closer, I pet her forehead very slowly which she enjoyed, leaning into it.

Rabbits would normally cover a lot of ground in one day, and jump, and run miles even, so I imagine it is difficult to stay in a small cage. Belinda was found on 138th Street in NYC along with another bunny two months ago, also a female, and people who saw them called the police. They brought them to the shelter. The other rabbit was now in a foster home, and that’s all the staff knew about Belinda’s past.

“The way rabbits live makes more sense to me than the way people live.”

– Marty Rubin

Adopets sent me an email as we were waiting, prompted by the shelter staff who was showing the rabbits. I was able to pay the fee and check out online in about 5 minutes. There was an added fee for Belinda not being neutered yet, and I had to promise that I would do that when they arranged an appointment, then the fee would be refunded. They are serious about neutering the rabbits, but their vet was way behind on procedures. A shelter volunteer took Belinda out of the cage gently, trimmed her nails and let her walk around in a pen of about 4 feet long and 3 feet wide for a few minutes. When the staff was about to move Belinda to our carrier, we were asked to stand outside of the room.

They brought Belinda out to us in the carrier, with a lot of hay, because it was so cold outside last night. The whole process really did take only about 30 minutes, which was the length of the appointments. When we left, no one was in the waiting room. We called car service carrying Belinda, and soon enough were at my home in Queens. My daughter stayed a few hours to watch Belinda explore her new surroundings before returning to her own apartment and her own two adopted bunnies.

Belinda’s exploration was very gradual. First, she would put her nose out of the carrier, but quickly retreat. Then she would put out part of her head, and again retreat. Eventually she stepped out but then turned and ran right back into the carrier. After about 20 minutes she walked around the room leaning forward very cautiously and curiously sniffing the rugs, cushions, tunnels, toys and hay. By later that night she was dancing – hopping and binkying – unmistakable signs of rabbit joy.

This morning Belinda is exploring the rooms of the house, hopping around and binkying, then looking for things to chew. She is very friendly and circles around me and comes up to me often to put her head down in a way that asks for forehead pets. She ate hay and Timothy hay pellets well, and she looks healthy. She seems happy, exploring away, and I can only hope that her new home is a place where she feels free.