Posts Tagged ‘Vaccinations’

This week it seems like some of the all encompassing pandemic air is being released.

Maybe it’s because the Grands have had their first Pfizer shot. Maybe it’s because the numbers in Davidson County are trending down; the community prevalence of new Covid cases is 11.8 per 100,000 with 63% vaccinated! Not too shabby for our Blue dot in a Republican state. Before Bob and I leave the house, we think twice about masking up. Will we be going inside a large public space with lots of people? If so, I sling my happy mask lariat around my neck. But more and more, we are leaving the masks at home.

Our annual doctor visit was scheduled this week, instead of a remote consultation we actually drove to Vanderbilt for a face to face, the first time in two years. Masks were required in the hospital of course. Instead of a stylish pair of boots and long white coat, my wonderful GP was wearing scrubs. She had contracted coronavirus from a patient and had been very sick last year. Like the Bride and Groom, she must shower and decontaminate after every shift to protect her family, so scrubs it was.

I remembered the three words! Now we have to schedule blood work, and a mammogram. Just as the weather is shifting, we need to venture out more and more.

The highpoint of our outings was having dinner with a group of neighborhood friends INSIDE at a newly reopened local restaurant! The tornado that preceded the pandemic had demolished this iconic eatery, and they were finally having a last minute “soft” opening. I wrapped myself in a long puffy coat and we walked there in the dark, turning the corner to see party lights and hear the sound of laughter and bonhamie!

This must have been what it was like for the Flapper going to a speakeasy.

A waiter smuggled our little group into a private area, away from the bar and the noise. It was so so good, sharing food and drinks and stories, getting caught up, making plans for the future. Our masks were down, it was almost “normal.”

But I made the mistake of staying home the next morning and watching the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. It’s happening at the same time as the Ahmaud Arbery trial. Did you ever wonder why one trial is named after the armed murderer, and the other is named after the shooting victim, the man who was ambushed by a father and son. Do you wonder why one jury is not allowed to see a prior video of Rittenhouse outside a CVS talking about how he wished he had his gun so he could kill shoplifters…

While the other jury gets to see a prior video of an unarmed man, Arbery, walking through a home construction site?

This is a prime time lesson on institutional racism. If you are a Black man in this society, you must think three or four times before venturing outside for a jog, a walk, or a ride in your car. Because in some parts of this country, young white boys sling their AR 15s over their shoulders and drive with impunity across state lines to “defend” used car lots, because cars must matter more than people.

Objects in the rear view mirror

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Hallelujah! The Grands got their first jab of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid 19. Sounds like I could write a country song about this day!

“Their daddy piled them in the car, drove for miles to a Walgreens store

Rolled up their sleeves with a great big smile, no tears, all style

They got the Pfizer Vaccine

Gonna help them fight off Covid 19″

Maybe I’ve been living in Nashville too long? But I swear I got all teary when I saw their little red band-aids on their arms. To celebrate, I cooked a big pot of goulash and offered free delivery since the Bride was working all weekend and the Groom was on dad duty. She had made plans for tacos, so we combined our Mexican/Hungarian menu to the delight of all.

Then I read this article about a different kind of immunity. It’s something for your brain that won’t let you end up at the other end of a rabbit hole.

“Here’s the idea: false, baseless, and destructive ideas are mind-parasites. Some are infectious and harm the minds that host them. But minds have defenses — “mental immune systems” — that offer some protection. These are natural systems, and we can study them like we do other natural systems. We can learn how they work and why they sometimes fail. Then, we can apply what we learn to prevent mental immune system breakdowns.

Cognitive immunologists are making strides. We’ve identified the mind’s antibodies. We know the basics of how mental immune systems work. (A healthy mind deploys questions and doubts to ward off problematic ideas; in unhealthy minds, this “mental immune function” is suppressed, misdirected, or hyperactive.)”


My Daddy Jim used to tell me on a drive in the country, that a large field of telephone poles is where they grow telephone poles. And I actually believed him, that phone poles shoot straight up out of the ground in their perfectly round-hewn condition. Because kids believe what their parents say for awhile, like ducking your head in the car when your dad drives under a bridge.

But eventually kids grow up and begin to doubt that a bridge could actually hit your head encased inside a car. They begin to separate their ideas from their parents, along with their music. But not everybody grows up in the same order, some take longer and some never quite get there. If a child grows up in a very strict, ‘my way or the highway’ house, they may never be allowed to wonder or ask questions.

This child may decide that he doesn’t eat Chinese food because he’s not Chinese because that’s what he’s heard in his house. And when another culture is feared or derided all the time, it multiplies xenophobia and hatred.

What if you grow up in a house that learns to make sushi, and doesn’t mind if your nana brings over pizza dogs for a birthday party even though your family has decided to be vegetarian. With some fish. In hindsight, I could have tried to make pizza fish sticks.

Our generation was the last to suffer with polio and measles. I studied deaf children in college, babies who were born deaf because their mothers contracted German measles during their pregnancies. Infants today are automatically vaccinated for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. But technology has helped spread some pretty medieval thinking around vaccine drives and public health with divisive ideologies; many being steeped in Anti-Semitism as I learned on CNN Lisa Ling’s “The Conspiracy Effect.” https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2021-10-06/lisa-ling-cnn-this-is-life-connects-hate-racism-in-american-history

Never, did I EVER expect to wake up this morning to see Big Bird getting cancelled by a Republican who looks like Uncle Fester. That sweet big yellow bird was telling parents and children to get vaccinated, you would think he was Big Brother telling us how to think. When the problem is too many people refuse to think, to analyze, to engage their brain. Too many have done “their own research” on Facebook. A place that will only amplify conspiracy thinking and science denial if it makes them more money.

We are not fighting a culture war with the Republicans. They would like us to define this gap in rational thinking as simply a cultural divide. But it’s not. There is no alternative view of the Holocaust. There are no chips being implanted in arms. Spreading false and misleading information and insisting we debate with them is insane. Our country must recover from a presidency that fed on conspiracy theories like it was manna from heaven.

We are better than that. Instead of spreading lies about children being trafficked, we can spread the word that vaccinations actually save lives. We can take back the conversation, and we must.

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Some people say it’s much too personal to ask others about their vaccine status; but not me.

We decided to take one last tour of a house in Nashville yesterday. This little beauty had just come on the market, and on Redfin’s realty site you can schedule a same day tour. So Bob and I had lunch, packed up the Bride’s Frenchie puppy Watson, and headed out the door with hope in our hearts.

We are puppy-sitting this week while the Bride is vacationing with the Groom’s family. He’s a handful but an awfully cute and funny one. When he’s not racing down the fence after the ever-present dog walker, he’s chasing the birds away from our feeder.

As we pulled up to this 2,200 sq ft house, a young woman in short shorts opened the door all smiles. At Redfin you work with one real estate agent, but they have associates who only show houses and are on a payroll. We’ve met quite a few associates this summer, all young and in “transition” – one of Ada’s favorite words. Like “peculiar!”

I asked our latest Redfinner point blank, “Are you vaccinated?” Or maybe I said, “You are vaccinated, right…” with Watson in one hand and my mask in the other. She replied,

“Oh no, let me run and get my mask.”

Lucky for me Bob was already down the block checking out the neighborhood. There was a huge modern monolithic house being built two doors down and tons of lawn signs saying, “NO Richland builders!” As you probably know, city developers like to make money, so they tend to buy and demolish one old house on one lot, and put up two “tall skinnies.” Maybe Richland builders are putting up huge/mega/homes with huge/mega garage apartments for the Air BnB market?

Last month we were met by a Redfin agent, in a different part of town, who was also unvaccinated. But at least she had a reason; she said she was fresh off of chemotherapy for cancer. You just can’t argue with that. So we masked-up and walked through the prettiest Southern Victorian you’d ever see. In fact, we were outbid on that very house.

But while strolling through yet another high-ceilinged-fireplace room, this associate mentioned she was planning a trip to Ghana and she had to get a yellow fever vaccine last week. She was a smart, young woman, impeccably dressed, who could somehow live with this contradiction: YES to yellow fever – NO to Covid 19.

Yesterday, as we were leaving our last tour, Bob and I sat on the front porch swing and asked this young woman in shorts why she’s not vaccinated. I may have even said, “If you don’t mind my asking…” She answered like a politician, which is to say she didn’t answer. We pressed, was she waiting for the FDA to approve it, maybe she didn’t have time with all the animals she has rescued at home? She dodged and deflected, finally coming back with routine things about the house.

I pointed out that Bob was a real doctor, if she had any questions, any questions at all… She didn’t. She was still all smiles and nice as could be, but I was acutely aware that she was endangering me, my grandchildren, and the rest of the planet. Spoiler alert, we didn’t bid on the house but not because of her; it just wasn’t our perfectly imperfect house.

I thought about that country singer’s analogy of neighbors running with buckets of water if your house is on fire. People who refuse to be vaccinated, because they listen to Fox news and flirt with conspiracy theories, are not only voyeurs to our collective suffering. They are pouring more fuel on this fire. Don’t show me hospital confessions of people gasping for breath and begging finally for the vaccine. I don’t have the time or the inclination to watch people dying from their own stupidity or misinformation.

Oh, is that going too far, am I getting too personal?

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First Ladies’ wardrobes are always scrutinized – Michelle’s sleeveless tops, Hillary’s pantsuits, and even the twice impeached and disgraced former president’s wife, Melania couldn’t catch a break. An impoverished Slovenian immigrant, with her four inch heels and designer dresses, nothing could stop her smile from turning into a smirk. People thought at first she was being held in the White House against her will…

Maybe she’d fallen into a kind of Britney Spears spiral; a pre-nup/conservatorship? But hey, “I really don’t care, do U?”

Because this week I got to meet Dr Jill Biden with the Bride! I only had a day’s warning, FLOTUS was leaving Jackson, MS and heading to Nashville to thank all the healthcare workers for their exceptional work this past year and to keep the spotlight on vaccinations. My name was approved and on the secret service list. The instructions were – no bags, just a photo ID and there was free beer if you had your COVID vaccination card!

What to Wear? It’s hard to get your fashion mojo back after 14 months of yoga pants and tee shirts. I usually wear slippers (outside and in) and the occasional sneaker for walking Ms Bean. But the Bride helped me pick out an outfit; a cute gingham top, black Eileen Fisher pants and gold huarache sandals. Of course my pants had NO POCKETS, so I slipped my driver’s license inside my bra.

I had to go through a metal detector. The place was surrounded by police and secret service guys dressed in jeans. I met the Mayor, The City Clerk, the Chairman of the TN Democratic party, and all my daughter’s doctor friends. Some came from work in scrubs or their white coats, and we all gathered around a table to wait for Dr Jill. I managed to get a small dermatologic consult from a woman whose husband may be considering a run for public office – but that’s another story.

First of all, Dr Jill is adorably short and looks just like a Jersey Shore girl, blonde bangs and all. She was wearing a bright red jungle print dress with zoo animals peeking out of a black blazer, and kitten heels. She spoke eloquently, in a Pennsylvania voice that resonated with my ancestors, about having empathy for those people who are still on the fence about vaccines.

And then this morning, I read on Twitter that “FLOTUS was not only booed in Nashville,” she wore a dress that looked like a salad had spilled all over it! Well come on, I mean that picture of a floral dress was nice and a little busy, but she wasn’t wearing it. This is a perfect example of how misinformation can spread like wildfire. Yes, our crowd booed when she brought up the statistics for TN, we sure did BOO because TN is ranked 48th in the nation for adult vaccines!!

Dr Jill may have been caught off guard because she said we were booing ourselves, but really we were booing a Republican-run state that was slow to plan for this virus and never made a mask mandate! If you were to look at the stats for Davidson County, where we have equal parts musicians and medical workers, 49.8% of adults are vaccinated.

Brad Paisley followed our First Lady, singing a new song and talking about growing up in West Virginia, where he said neighbors would show up with gallon jugs of water at a fire before the fire truck even arrived. He made the analogy to Covid, that we all have to do our part to stop the spread of this virus, to control the death toll. I’m not a big country music person, but I have to admit he stole my heart.

Rumors are swirling again about Melania. It seems she didn’t bother to show up for her husband’s 75th birthday party at his golf club in NJ. Poor Don, the man personally responsible for 40% of Covid deaths in our country, because he was all about his image:

The report, published by the Lancet Commission, excoriated Trump’s handling of the pandemic and general approach to public health. “He expedited the spread of COVID-19 in the US,” the authors wrote.

“Many of the cases and deaths were avoidable,” they said, adding that “instead of galvanizing the US populace to fight the pandemic, President Trump publicly dismissed its threat (despite privately acknowledging it), discouraged action as infection spread, and eschewed international cooperation.”


I’m proud to have a loving family in the White House, and a First Lady who would rather wear zoo animals than hunt and kill majestic elephants.

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