I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot; Fifty-Eight Weeks In

Thank you everyone for the lovely birthday wishes; it was a beautiful day. It was the rarest of Calgary spring days: warm and sunny, and without the gusting winds that often accompany warmer temperatures. I filled the day with all my favourite things, and had two slices of cake, and all is wonderful. Along with thoughtful gifts from my parents and the guys – and chocolates in the mail from my longtime friend Elise (HI ELISE) and my favourite wine from my favourite winemaker, my friend Brian (HI BRIAN) – my “big gift” was this addition to my garden; the guys have been putting together the raised beds and filling them – three truckloads of dirt – over the past month.

Yes, that’s snow, and I can’t wait to start planting, but wait I must. You know, it’s Calgary.

The biggest gift of all, though, was getting an appointment to get my first Covid vaccination. The vaccine rollout in Canada has been so slow and so plagued by supply issues that my hope was I would get vaccinated in the fall, and – because it’s Canada and second shots are coming a full FOUR MONTHS after the first – was just crossing my fingers I’d be fully vaccinated by Christmas. The bar, it is low. But then last Monday the government announced that they were opening up AstraZeneca vaccines for people in the 40 plus category.

For those of you not in Canada, here is what’s happening; AstraZeneca (AZ) is considered to be the, how shall I say this, bottom of the barrel vaccine. It’s somewhat less effective than Moderna and Pfizer, the other two available vaccines (BUT STILL VERY EFFECTIVE) and there is a very small risk of blood clots. Older adults were refusing the AZ vaccines, which led to a huge glut, and so with cases spiralling out of control, vaccine eligibility was opened up to people 40 and over, whereas previously it was only for older adults, people in health care, and people with high-risk health issues.

My friend Cathryn (HI CATHRYN) tipped me off that a pharmacy near us was doing the vaccinations, so I booked an appointment for this coming Friday, and then the next day she texted me to say that her appointment was cancelled due to supply issues for pharmacies. You guys, there was a huge glut of vaccines, and then after opening up eligibility to the 40 plus group, there was an almost immediate shortage.

Gen X, I love us. We spent our unscheduled and unsupervised youth hanging out at the smoke doors or 7-11, with packs each of cigarettes and birth control pills in our bags. Of COURSE we are going to take the unwanted vaccine. Just shoot us in the arm, please, thanks. Good enough.

All through the last fifty-eight weeks I’ve felt like this whole pandemic is a weird sociological experiment, and the vaccine rollout has only strengthened that feeling.

Anyway, after Cathryn told me about the cancellation, I managed to snag an appointment at the massive Alberta Health clinic at the convention centre downtown, the very next day. The appointment was for 11:50 and I wasn’t supposed to be there more than five minutes prior to my appointment, but I had taken the train and, due to my nervousness about being late paired with my semi-unfamiliarity with the train, was there at 11:15.

Side note: the train, my god, the train. Public transit squicks me out at the best of times, but during a pandemic? Ugh. Going downtown was fine, but coming back there was a fellow passed out, maskless, lying down on one of the car benches, and another fellow, staring out the window and rocking, with his mask hanging onto his ear. Addiction is a terrible thing, and this pandemic certainly has not helped those suffering, but also, being inside a train with maskless individuals whom I am loathe to approach was nerve-wracking at best. Also, the station going home is in the most desolate part of the city; I felt like I was in a weird apocalyptic movie.

Anyway, I needn’t have worried about being early. The lineup was like one at Disney World, winding through plus-15s and various rooms throughout the convention centre, all very well organized and spaced out. All told, it was a 50 minute wait to get through the line into the actual clinic, and then another five minutes until I was processed. I didn’t mind. It’s been so long since I was around people, and I was just so grateful to have the chance to get my vaccine. There were hundreds of people there and almost all of them were on their phones, with the notable exception of one guy, who had brought a Rubix Cube, and so I spent my 55 minutes people-watching. There were so many cute outfits to look at, and also, there were “fun facts” posted on the wall every twenty feet or so, so I spent a lot of time thinking about them. Did you know that walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pistachios are NOT considered nuts? Technically, they are seeds. I know that peanuts are legumes, so what ARE nuts? I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Macadamia? Brazil nuts? What else is there? Also, a blue whale consumes half a million calories in one mouthful, and the French-language Scrabble champion of the world is from New Zealand and doesn’t speak French. He just memorized the French dictionary for the tournament in which he was crowned.

I love looking at other people’s clothes. So many of us matched our masks to our outfits – once we were in the clinic we were made to swap out our fancy masks for disposable medical ones though – and one lady really killed it with her long purple dress with a coordinating scarf AND mask made from the same material. Madam, I salute you. Some people were in pajama bottoms or sweatpants, some had gorgeous boots, and the woman in front of me had a gorgeous Prada bag. I spent so much time thinking about clothes, what constitutes a nut, and shuffling from floor marker to floor marker that before I knew it, I was being squirted with hand sanitizer and given a medical mask.

The nurse who administered my shot was named Lovejoy, which brought me even more happiness than I thought was possible. Lovejoy! She wished me a happy belated birthday, gave me my shot, and sent me to the waiting area. I felt so well for the rest of the day that I kind of wondered did I get a shot, was this all a dream, but then I woke up the next morning with a very sore arm. Well, like an idiot, I slept on that arm, which is silly but we cannot control our sleep selves. It was easily controlled with Tylenol, and I was fortunate to have no other side effects. As of right now, my arm is sore like a bruise when I apply pressure, but otherwise is just fine.

Outfit of the Week

This week’s outfit is the one I wore to the vaccination clinic. My mom gave me this old-school library stamp tee for my birthday; it was really too cold for a short sleeve, so I paired it with a black cardigan (naturally), jeans, and tall boots.

Prior to my shot I had a cute coordinating mask, but you’ll have to be satisfied with the medical one.

If you get a shot and don’t take a selfie featuring your bandaged upper arm, are you even vaccinated?

Pandemic Reading

Homegoing. Some people are just so talented. Yaa Gyasi is one of those people. I loved her Transcendent Kingdom, and Homegoing is her debut novel. This incredible book follows the lineage of two half-sisters, one who lives a life of luxury in the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, and one who ends up in the dungeon of the castle, sold into slavery, headed for America. An absolutely epic, fantastic book.

The Knockout Queen. Back when the libraries were open, several weeks ago, I picked this up on a whim. Then, I put off reading it because so many of my holds came in, many of which I had been waiting a long time. When I finally picked it up, I was blown away. It is just so good. I immediately put all the author’s other books on my “to-read” list. I can’t tell you much about it without giving things away but it follows two best friends who have secrets. It’s SO well-written, and disturbing, and witty, and original.

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer. Backman is very hit and miss for me, but this little novella about dementia is very sweet and sad.

Kindred. This was written in 1979 and would have been a very important book of the time, illustrating the monstrosities of slavery from the viewpoint of a modern Black woman. However, I canโ€™t say I enjoyed it as I dislike time travel as a literary device. I just canโ€™t suspend my disbelief in order to lose myself in the story, especially one of such seriousness and importance. If you like time travel, youโ€™ll love this. It was fine, but a bit flat for me.

All in all, it was the most amazing birthday week; we are one small step closer to hugging our people. Sending you all love and virtual hugs. xo


  1. Wooooo yay for vaccination! And birthdays! And interesting facts! What a sensible idea to put those in the waiting area.

    There are rumours that people in their 30s might be called for vaccination NEXT WEEK over here, which has caused me great confusion because last week they were talking about calling under 45s some time early next month, so what on earth happened? It has thrown me off entirely because I need to talk to my midwife about whether I should get it and I had assumed I wouldn’t even be OFFERED it until the baby was on the outside of my body. These times we live in are truly a whirlwind.

    Cynics might suggest that the reason AZ is being called the poor relation of a vaccine is because it was produced and distributed in a fairly anti-capitalist way, and the other manufacturers (or their shareholders) are unimpressed and have started a smear campaign. Cynics might think so. I’m not saying I necessarily do, but…

    • I thought I heard pregnant women were eligible for the vaccine, but maybe I’m wrong. You’re right, it’s a whirlwind, who knows.

      • At first they said pregnant people wouldn’t be offered it here, but then they changed their mind. Because they’re going by age here, I thought it’d be the end of July (post-baby birth) before they reached me and am totally thrown by how much faster it’s becoming!

  2. Congrats on getting your vaccine. Beth and I got the J & J, which is also slightly less effective, but it’s what they had on hand. Noah got the Pfizer.

    I envy those raised beds.

    I have no problem with time travel, so I liked Kindred pretty well.

  3. YES! Vaccination! Woo!!! I am so envious of your raised beds. Cannot wait for updates on the bounty you will grow within them!

  4. So glad that your birthday week was wonderful. How great. Oh my gosh, the story of the train. Eek. I used to take the train from the northern suburbs into the city and then change trains to head to the west suburbs where I would live with a family and babysit for them all week long – then do the train trip back at the end of the week . . . by myself when I was a freshman in high school. I saw A LOT.

    You made me laugh at your observations of the outfits, etc. “Madam, I salute you.” So funny. I keep looking at my closet of clothes thinking, maybe next year?

    Homegoing and the Knockout Queen sound really good. I’m ahead of my reading for my book club. Who even am I? I never thought that was possible, especially when it isn’t even summer with my time at the pool to dedicate to reading.

    I do love the raised beds. Now something like that MIGHT convince me to plant something, someday.

    Love the v-neck t-shirt. So cute.

    • I used to take the train when I worked downtown and it was gross then, now with Covid it seems like an actual petrie dish. During Stampede week in the summer, it would just smell so badly of alcohol, urine, and BO. I picked up the Evelyn Hardcastle book on your mentioning it, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

      • Oh, I’m interested to see what you think of that book. It was not like anything I’ve ever read. It was interesting. The characters were well developed and it was really well written, but just so unusual.

  5. Hi Nicole! So happy you were able to get another appointment right away. I was an hour or so later getting mine downtown too.

    Love your t-shirt!

    • Thanks! All proceeds go to the library ๐Ÿ™‚ She also gave me a library puzzle which I’m going to crack open soon. It would have been funny if we’d run into each other.

  6. Glad you had a nice birthday. Sounds like you were suitably (and deservedly) pampered. I am envying all your things! 1) The vaccine (hubby was just on a website called Vaccine Hunter – kid you not). We are eligible but can’t seem to get an appointment yet here. 2) Your library stamp t-shirt (I wish you could join my book club because you are seriously well read, and finally, 3) your fancy garden beds. I just built my own with leftover brick so I feel like a pioneer over here! What will ya grow this year? I’m trying out eggplant, arugula and swiss chard for the first time. I’m literally giddy about my little sprouts ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oooh I hope you get your shot soon! I have tomatoes under the grow lights right now, and I’ve bought a ton of seeds…I think I might actually run out of room. Carrots, lettuce, kale, beets, potatoes, peas, radish…also I bought some plants for a fundraiser so that will be interesting to see what I get.

  7. Trying again to leave a comment here. The WP system won’t take my comments, but I thought I’d try again if for no other reason that to say Happy Birthday.

  8. Yay for a wonderful birthday week AND a vaccine! When do you get the second?

  9. Hooray for vaccines, birthdays and gardening! Hope the snow fades fast ๐Ÿ˜Ž
    I got the J&J vaccine about a month ago and I felt like I finally let out a breath I’d been holding. Now to get my 15 year old vaccinated so I can really relax!

  10. I’m SO happy that you had a nice birthday. CAKE!
    That raised garden is such a lovely gift…really the gift that will keep on giving. Crossing my fingers that the snow goes away and doesn’t come back for quite a while!
    Funny about the (non) nuts & whales. I love a good fun fact!

  11. I have some really pretty masks that I bought early on and lately I’ve been defaulting to medical ones or plain black – I think it’s indicative of how I’m struggling to maintain my optimism at this point. I should put the cute ones back in the rotation.
    Homegoing was my favourite book of the 140 or so I read last year. She is amazing.
    I didn’t love Kindred as much as I admired it, but I’m dying laughing at you not liking time travel – I was talking with my friend Sarah about a show the other day and I said something critical and she said “let’s just never talk about this again so we can stay friends”. I love time travel books and movies passionately, but I get why some people don’t. And I have the same library stamp t-shirt!

    • LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN. I don’t like time travel, or fantasy, or dystopian/ apocalyptic novels. But! That means more for you ๐Ÿ™‚ Did you read Transcendent Kingdom? I thought it was even better than Homegoing, and that is saying something.

  12. Glad you had a great week and got the vaccine! I got mine on the weekend and love that Twitter saying you posted – I got a cabbage patch at Consumers as a kid, LOL! Also, I might need that shirt. ๐Ÿ™‚

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