Dangerous Compassions


Ming and I got our first vaccines.  It was a weird vaccine experience.  Ming took an unconventional route to the convention center.  I thought we might end up at the Unconventional Center.  But we did get there, eventually.

But he was late for his appointment, and that made me nervous.  Honestly, I was already nervous.  The way Ming even got the appointments was weird.  Ming was trying to get a second shot for one of our community members.  So he was on the phone with some health department people, and he got appointments for us, sort of as by-catch.

It felt really sudden–a vague, someday possibility–then wow, we had appointments for the following day.  Not long to fret.

Fretting: Did I really want the vaccine?  I had some questions.  Ming is the designated shopper and out-goer of our family.  Maybe it was silly for me to get it, as my exposure to anyone besides Ming is super minimal.  But then if Ming got it, I would get it.  I don’t really enjoy this kind of hamster wheel thinking.

Getting there, to the convention center, the signage was poor.  Cops were directing traffic in the parking lot, poorly, and Ming had to turn a way that made no sense.  He dropped me off–I headed for the building without him.  Slightly afraid I would never see him again, like one of those bad dystopia dreams.


I found the right entrance to this mega convention center.  Yes, it was like a bad dream.  I used to dream often of post-apocolyptic dystopian violence.

You enter the building, and everything seems ok.  But gradually, you realize you’re trapped, and they’re killing everyone.  A concentration camp dream.  Don’t ask me why those were my most common dream, for such a long time.  A gym, a train, a subway station, a huge evil mall no longer a mall.  Anywhere we were obeying and it got more and more–don’t ask questions, don’t object, omg they just killed Kenny.

It felt like that.  Back to real life–I am no longer talking about dreams.  I had been hiding out for a year, mostly, and then I’m in this huge, huge building with unfathomably hundreds of people.  We were in a huge line that went the length of the building then snaked back on itself.  I think the line was around an eighth of a mile, so then with doubling back, at least a fourth of a mile.

Four ladies behind me were speaking a type of Chinese and standing too close.   But most of the people were alone.  Some were on their phones.  A few read books.  A few spoke angrily about the long wait.


At the entrance to the building, there was a choice of the regular line, or the disabled line.  I went into the regular line, not thinking too much about it, but I had no idea I would be in that line for more than 35 minutes.  I have some chronic pain that I don’t usually talk about.  One of the most painful things for me is standing for a long time.  Dancing and walking are way better for me than standing.

So the pain was sneaking up on me, and it was dawning on me how long this line was.  Why did it make sense, to have so many people in this line, when there’s a pandemic, and we were supposed to be avoiding people?  The way the line snaked on itself, we were not that far from the people going the opposite direction.  How could I think of better ways to do this, but the people who were entrusted with our well-being and did this for a job didn’t think of this?

I felt uncomfortable, starting to get scared.   Then we passed through a part of the building that was dimly lit.  The convention building was being used not for its intended bright purpose of capitalism–to attract convention goers, who will then spend money on hotels, gambling, and shows while they’re here.  The convention center was being used in a makeshift, inept, medical way.  So I don’t know if the light had just burned out, or if someone made a mistake.  But it was feeling more and more nightmarish, to me.


That’s when Ming arrived, saying, “I brought your water bottle.”  He handed me my orange water bottle with its pink lid.

“Oh, thank you, honey,” I said.  “Did you get my txts?”  I had txted him, telling him to get in the disabled line, because he would fall asleep in this line.

“Some of them,” he said.  He was looking through his paperwork.  Was he going to stay with me, or go back to the disabled queue?  I wondered if the women behind us would object to him cutting in line.  They said nothing.

I held Ming’s hand and asked him to carry the water he had just handed to me.  Then I asked him to carry my bag, as my pain got worse, from standing there.

When we reached the place where the line curved back on itself, I felt optimistic.  I got chattier with Ming.  Things seemed more possible, like maybe we would get out of this alive.

It reminded me of being in the hospital.  I had relinquished some of my power, allowing myself to be treated in a really uncomfortable way, in hopes I would get a result that would be helpful to me, and protect my life.


I was writing this blog post yesterday afternoon and started getting really paranoid.  Sleep deprived, I started feeling scared more, of the vaccination experience I had survived.  I was lying in bed, writing, and asked Ming, “Am I ok?”  I was talking to him about my dystopian dreams.

“Why do I dream like that?” I asked.  It was weird, that my night mind was so obsessed with post-apocalyptic dystopias.  Was I a Jew before in a concentration camp, or some other person subjected to such, by an evil regime?  Was it a metaphor for family trauma I had endured?  But why would my night-mind do this same metaphor over and over?

I didn’t want to say that my dreams might be a vision of the future.  Well, it’s the present, for kids in cages, and other border crossing refugees who are stuck somewhere, in red tape limbo, without family and even basics of what they need.  Is Biden going to stop that stuff, here?  I haven’t heard.  God, I hope so.  Yeah, can we melt all the ICE?

“Did you dream like that?” I asked Ming.

He said yes.  Well, not anymore.  I realized it’s been a while for me too.  I’m 44, and it’s been around four years I don’t really dream like that.

“When you dreamt like that, were you in your 30s?” I asked.

Ming pondered.  “Yeah, actually,” he said.

“Wow, maybe it’s a 30s thing,” I said.  Ming and I do have some weird things in common.

the actual shot

The lady who vaccinated me was nice.   She was a small white woman.  I wanted to ask her if she was a nurse or CNA or what.  She communicated with me really well.  “Ok, here’s the alcohol wipe,” she said.  It felt cold on my skin.

Then she pinched my arm a little bit, grabbing the muscle she wanted to jab, I guess.  “Three, two, one,” she said.  And there we went.  The needle was in.  It hurt no more than a regular injection.  I didn’t feel warmth as the vaccine entered me–didn’t feel much of anything.

I was half-listening to Ming as he hammishly interacted with the vaccine giving person, at the other end of the long table.  Ming asked if they needed volunteers, and I was like–please, honey–no.  Also, narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder, so they had to call someone over, since he’d answered yes to one of the vaccine screening questions.

chair area

We were instructed to wait 15 minutes after the vaccine in this chair area in the corner of the huge, huge vaccination room.  They wanted to see if we passed out, got itchy, or got lightheaded or dizzy.  The lady said I could raise my hand, and someone would come and help me.

Walking to the chair area, I was laughing because I imagined a mat placed where people tended to pass out, as we walked to the chair area.  The magic vaccine passing out place.  Blump!  There you go.  Crumpled patient.

One time when Ming gave blood, he saw someone do that.  And once during grad school, I was walking on campus, and someone passed out right in front of me.  I saw her begin to fold, recover, and begin to fold again.  I caught her as she was hitting the ground.  She was very light.

“Should I volunteer here?” Ming asked.  We were in the chair area–I was sitting, and Ming was standing, of course.

“No!’ I said.

“Why not?” he asked.

“You already have too much to do!”

“Yeah, but they’re going to need to keep doing this.  The volunteers will get tired,” he argued.

“Yeah, we wouldn’t know anything about that!” I said, snide.

change of mind

Then I decided, if he really wants to, maybe he should.  He hasn’t used his nursing license in an official way, in a long time.  And if it would be fun for him, why not.  Just for a few weeks, maybe.  If the shifts were short.  Beats conscription.

vaccinated lady

I sat in the sun for 20 minutes or so, that afternoon, enjoying life.  My muscles were sore, and my lymph nodes hurt that night.  But physically, the vaccine was easy.  Ming’s arm swelled up a little, at the injection site.  But mine is normal.  I hear the second vaccine dose is harder–I’ll let you know how we do, later this month.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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