getting my 90 year old grandparents vaccinated, a short story

I feel like we don’t document the banal hellscapes we’ve all been forced to endure these past few years now. I think most hellscapes become banal over time — humans are very adaptable and will sort of default to a state of neutrality even as the world is crumbling around them.

However, I’d like to share my own little slice of the world crumbling around me.

The first coronavirus vaccine was authorized on December 11th, 2020. My 90 year old grandfather received the vaccine on February 13th, 2021, and my 88 year old grandmother received the vaccine on February 15th, 2021. These are only their first doses.

As far as I can tell, for these past few months, no one told them how they were actually supposed to receive the vaccine. It was all over the news — the vaccine was approved, people are getting the vaccines, sites are opening up. They watch the news.

However, they never called me and said anyone had reached out to them from their doctor’s office or Medicare.

So, I guess I took on the task of getting my grandparents vaccinated from 400 miles away. Every day, I would check the news. Specifically, the LA Times. I still have no idea if their coronavirus content is paywalled, so I checked it as sparingly as I could. I checked a lot of government websites as well.

To my everpresent rage — the demographics of who was going to be allowed to get a vaccine after healthcare workers and nursing care residents were people age 65 and older. I had expected it to be 75 and older.

There is a vast, immeasurable difference between people who are 65 and 75. Namely, the number of people alive. There are 30 million people within the range of 65-75. Do you know how many people there are over 75 in general? Just 22 million.

That means the 2nd wave of who was being vaccinated is 16% of the population instead of just 6%. The difference in access to the outside world for those who are 65 vs those who are 90 is drastic. It’s incomparable. I’m still very angry that people who are just a bit older than my parents — healthy, working people, got vaccinated before my grandparents who can’t drive and can barely walk down stairs anymore.

I know that covid has proven that we as Americans do not care about older residents, but let anyone who says our vaccine effort was a big Biden triumph spit and use this story as an example of frustration.

I’d like to repeat — there was no outreach towards my grandparents from the government about the vaccines. I had to compete with 65 year olds who had nothing better to do than sit in their relative youth and take my grandparents’ slots for the vaccine.

Every day, I went onto myturn.ca.gov and put in my grandparent’s information. Every day, I was greeted with a different experience. Some days, they only had 2nd dosages available. Some days, they said they had first dosages available, but I couldn’t find any. A few days, they’d link out to CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacies but I couldn’t find anything there. Lastly, I stopped checking once I got put on a waitlist. They still haven’t contacted me.

My grandparents have no reliable way of getting to their vaccine other than taking Uber — which is not very good at time restricted activities like a 15-minute appointment. My mom offered to take them, but she asked me to do it on days she wasn’t working. I said I didn’t care, take a sick day, I can’t plan this vaccine around your life. Make it work. I don’t have any other option.

My mom happened to get a message on a group WhatsApp that said CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart were all accepting vaccine appointments. I checked because I always check. Walmart and Walgreens were not, but CVS was. Not only was CVS offering vaccines, they were offering a lot of them. I didn’t care we far we had to drive, it’d been over a month since vaccines for seniors were announced, we need that vaccine.

Keep in mind that it’s been a few days now — remember that official California waitlist I was on? They still haven’t told me about the CVS vaccines. There was no way for me to find out other than meticulously crawling news sites.

I waited in their traffic-locked page for over 2 hours as it refreshed every 30 seconds. Finally, I was let in. Honestly, this was a very complicated form. It was only available in English and Spanish. It took me just a few minutes to fill out, but it was created for a young internet-savvy person. It was not built for a senior audience.

I had to call my grandparents and get their Medicare information. My grandmother said my grandfather was out at the bank and I had no choice but to wait and pray that my slot wasn’t being taken up. During this time, I realized how the saved slot technology was working (I work for OpenTable which is probably one of the biggest companies in the world that uses a timeslot saving logic.) and I opened a new tab for my second grandparent’s appointment.

It was too late. Everything on Friday was taken except for 1 appointment that was far away. There was no way we could make it in time. I skipped ahead to Monday and got an appointment close to their house, bright and early.

I kept both tabs open as I waited for my grandfather to come and give me his Medicare information. At first, he gave me his old Medicare ID number. I was so confused and I was getting helpless, I couldn’t see his ID from 400 miles away. I googled medicare cards so I could see an example photo — luckily I saw that the new ID structure was on cards issued past 2018. “Nana, nana, I need your new medicare card.”

I got both of their appointments scheduled, and I got an email and text confirmation on my phone. I once again wondered who on earth this was built for — my 90 year old grandparents take calls, not texts. No one ever gave me the option for a reminder call (even from a machine). Honestly, who the fuck built this? Who is this entitled and young to not consider their target audience? Fuck the tech industry.

Since there was no formal reminder for my grandparents, they called me 3 times over the next few days. My mom called me, too. I had to tell them again and again when the appointment was.

Once they were finally in person and on the day, everything went smoothly. My mom said that the folks there said there was a huge line in the morning, but it had quieted down by the afternoon.

I’m so frustrated at this process. I’m so frustrated at how this has left seniors behind. I’m glad I was able to get my grandparents vaccinated, but not everyone is this lucky.

This is just a benign little slice of the hellscape. It sucks.

phoenix wright: ace attorney

I’ve started playing the first Phoenix Wright game for the Nintendo DS.

I could’ve sworn I played several hours of Phoenix Wright before, but it was definitely a later game because I remember Athena and Apollo… They aren’t in the first game, at least not yet.

It’s a pleasant visual novel romp that pleases me as much as it did as a kid as it does now.

The only weird thing is that it’s fundamentally a light-hearted, funny visual novel about… solving murders. I guess that could be light-hearted. Maybe it’s just the time I’m playing, but murder is a little intense. His boss Mia got murdered really fast, and I was pretty sad, thinking about how young and hot she was. But Phoenix and Mia’s sister move in within 3 days, and it’s a happy ending because the real killer was caught…

It’s also sort of a hellscape. The murders go to trial really fast, Edgeworth is a horrifying prosecutor, the characters seem to have no personal life outside of these cases…

It’s a little jarring! But still, it’s a fun time. I love visual novels and this is the first one I’ve played in several years now.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get all of the traditional PC visual novels (that won’t even run on my Mac) on my phone because Android is most definitely my preferred way of playing games like this. So far, there’s some promising leads but I’m going to finish Phoenix Wright first.

I probably won’t binge through the series, but I am playing about an hour of this first game per day.

sex and the city

I’ve been watching Sex and the City since like everyone else on the planet, I’ve received access to HBO Max.

I definitely grew up in the post-Sex and the City era. There’s been so many clones of it that the original seems familiar despite only ever seeing maybe one episode before.

But somehow, it feels more modern, sexy, and bold than any of the shows it let live. It’s unapologetically interested in wealthy, white, attractive women in Manhattan. They’re a fascinating group that makes this world that doesn’t exist for a vast majority of us seem real. It’s like peeking into an alternate universe.

But instead of gawking at the absurdity, you find yourself nodding along. I’m solidly asexual, but I feel like I’m sitting at lunch with them asking if a morning cup of coffee is worth more than a big dick? Am I the only one who hasn’t had a threesome? Are married people in a war with single people? What’s the math on relationships that Charlotte always seems to know?

Charlotte is by far the funniest character. She’s also played by the absolutely stunning Kristin Davis, and thirst can sustain me for a while. She’s made me laugh out loud several times. Her optimism seems so naive, but isn’t it true that most people do agree with her? She’s probably the most normal one of them all.

I raced through Season 1 and every time I start, I can’t seem to stop. I’m not sure if this is only really intriguing because of the lifestyle difference we have in the face of the pandemic, or if I genuinely find this pop culture piece of history to be good. Either way, I’m having a great time. It’s the best show I’m watching right now.

best friends

Like all of my other friendships, I seem to force an immense intimacy onto people who aren’t exactly the best friends type but suddenly turn me into their best friends.

I don’t even know how many I’ve had — sometimes people have been my best friend for a week, the longest was 4 years.

But people change, they grow apart, and suddenly you meet your old best friend at a party and it’s almost like they blanked out those years you spent together. They act like they never knew you at all.

Maybe they never did know you since you changed so much in the interim…

cyberstalkers

The front page of rmorabia.com is officially private.

This is irritating because I sometimes send posts to my friends when I write something about media.

However, the sins of being a woman on the internet continue to haunt me…

I’ve had three former stalkers reach out to me in some form in the past few weeks. I can’t keep doing this. It’s triggering and traumatizing.

I don’t know how some of them know my full name and how they keep finding me every time I pop up on a new platform. The only way to be safe is to shut everything down.

I refuse to do that… They’re probably subscribed to my newsletter, followed me on Twitter, read this blog, saw my developer portfolio, everything. I don’t know why men get fascinated with women they’ve never talked to, but I hate it. I really, really hate it.

So, I shut this blog down because it’s the last public thing I have that isn’t about work or media. I’m okay with GitHub and LinkedIn since those are just profiles, and Letterboxd and Goodreads are just things I have to live with.

That’s all I have, though. They’ll never find me now. I am a phantom online now.

I hope they all get struck by lightning and die so that they stop stalking me.

fleeting moments and fleeting friendships

It’s the night before the end of winter vacation. I’m holding onto the last vestiges of depth and emotion before the 9-5 grind zaps away all the restless energy I have. This is the last time I won’t be exhausted.

I think it’s interesting to reflect on the number of people who have come in and out of one’s life — some are important for a moment, some are important for years. Oftentimes, that feeling of importance is not mutual.

I think there’s a very particular brand of friendship that I rarely think about. There’s plenty of people that I’ve come across that I know care about me. If I could just return the care… If I could just really unfilter myself, then I would’ve had a friend for life.

But something is missing. Some essential chemistry, some unspoken bond isn’t there. So I slink away over time, chasing someone that feels better.

And yet, I lament how few the number of people who care about me is.

We’re always attracted to a certain kind of person, it just so happens that the kinds of people that I am attracted to seem to be people I have a lot of talkative chemistry with — I want to talk for hours and hours, even if they don’t care about whether I live or die.

It seems really rare to find both in one person, someone I like and actively want to hang out with, and someone who would actually put some effort if I was suffering.

I don’t know, I’d rather just keep having people come in and out of my life — some entering for chemistry reasons, some exiting because of a lack of chemistry.

I’d rather not hold onto this idea of long, caring relationships. It just seems like a fallacy for people who are nicer than I am. It seems like a good path for people who are actually likable as their unfiltered selves.

I’d rather just have brief, fleeting moments with dozens, hundreds of people whose numbers I prune come every new year.

i’m a weeb who reads manga now

So this year, I got into comics. I haven’t really found my stride with comics yet — I find the pacing to be a little obtuse and I don’t enjoy the e-reader experience (neither do I want to haul myself back and forth from the library for books that take less than 2 hours to read).

I tried Batman, Spider-Man, and something a bit more modern — Runaways. I like Runaways the best and I’ll probably stick to this series. But honestly, I just haven’t had that great of a time with the other comics and I feel like I’m still searching for where they fit into my life.

I also got back into publicly liking Japanese stuff this year with Persona 5. The story being so good made me want to try anime again. I’ve had really negative experiences with anime so far and I find it generally unappealing, but I was willing to give it a shot again.

I sat down for a few episodes of My Hero Academia and just found the fact that I have to read subtitles a bit exhausting.

Then I remembered…. Manga exists. All anime is based on manga series… Manga is black and white. What if I could read manga on my Kindle?

I looked this up on YouTube and it turns out the Kindle is pretty awesome for this. The Paperwhite is a tad bit small, but it zooms in quite nicely and handles the black and white really nicely. Arguably better than the cheap yellowing novel paper that manga is printed on in the US.

I downloaded My Hero Academia, Spy X Family, and a few others to start with. I was pretty excited about Spy X Family — the premise is that a spy makes a fake family, but unbeknownst to him, his fake daughter is a telepath and his fake wife is an assassin. Hilarity ensues.

Hilarity has ensued!

It’s really, really good. The scan I have is sharp. It handles the black and white really well. The length of the volumes in manga seems to have a better pacing and feels a lot more natural.

I read through the first 5 volumes (about 200 pages) of Spy X Family and found the art, writing, pacing, and display on Kindle to be really pleasant. I’m really enjoying myself reading it.

I love the idea of continuing to have a vast majority of my reading on a Kindle and being able to choose between journalism, comics, and books depending on my mood all from the same portable and eye-friendly device.

I’m going to keep reading manga for sure and I plan to stop reading western comics after I finish Runaways.

So, apparently I’m a reading weeb — from playing visual novels to manga. But, I don’t watch anything Japanese. This is such a weird outcome to trying something new in 2020. I’m glad I did, though. It’s interesting the way that one idea leads you to the next — and only the combination of my favorite game of 2020 and forcing myself to read comics has led me to this new actual hobby of mine which is manga.

The only problem I have with manga is that I can’t read the weekly Shonen Jump (the latest manga in a magazine format) on the Kindle. It’s only available on the phone app or on the web. I don’t want to read comics on my phone anymore. So, I basically just have to buy anthologies of manga instead of keeping up with the latest and greatest.

It’s definitely a compromise and not what I originally wanted out of comics — which is an experience of following things along week by week or month by month. However, I’ll compromise. It’s okay to just read collected volumes instead.

phir se ud chala

ud ke choda hai jahaan neechein

main tumhare ab hoon havaale

ab door door log bag

meelon door ye waadiyan

Why do I hate this movie, yet I’ve seen it three times?

Why did I cry every single time?

Why does a part of me still hate that I haven’t met my junglee jawaani partner in crime?

Why have I never met someone who uses daaru as a perfume — an excuse to dance like no one’s watching at the club?

Why have I never felt the safety they felt in this movie?

Why do I love the soundtrack so much and listen to it almost every day?

Why does it remind me of everyone and no one at the same time?

Why do I wish you’re listening to it even though I know you’re not?

Anyway, I love this song. If you ever see me spinning in circles in the road, trying to catch sight of something that isn’t there, I’m probably listening to this.

I’m always trying to catch sight of whatever this soundtrack made real and vivid. I haven’t found it yet.

best of 2020

2020 has been a really interesting year for …a multitude of reasons, but it’s extra interesting specifically because it’s been a chance for us to revisit great older things, a chance for us to appreciate slower-paced things, and a chance to find supreme joy in very simple things.

My media choices for this year have clearly reflected that. I got obsessed, absolutely obsessed with at least one thing from every major category this year.

Film: Humko Dewaana Kar Gaye (2006)

I watched this little known, achingly mediocre movie 6 times this year — I want to get one more viewing in before the end of the year, just haven’t had time. I won’t rehash why I love it so much since I’ve already written about that in its own post.

I think it’s pretty interesting how my top movie of this year isn’t some mind blowing thriller or a social drama that speaks to my soul — but a simple film with good chemistry and people just hanging out. All I want in life right now is exactly what they have in this film. I want to be swept into someone else’s world. I want to hang out all the time.

Song: Haan Mein Galat from Love Aaj Kal (2020)

So, this one isn’t an older song… It crashed into my life with a bang in January and nothing topped it.

However, if you look at my favorites overdose playlist on Spotify, a ton of older songs were rediscovered in a new light this year. Here’s a list of those added to my favorites list:

There’s dozens and dozens of other songs I had brief fascinations with that just didn’t make it to my favorites list. Everything just hit different since there was so little new music coming out. I’d be listening to a playlist or a Daily Mix and something would itch somewhere inside of me, and suddenly I’m in love with some random old song.

I still want to expose myself to new music, but this year’s music just hit on a different level.

TV Show: Wizards of Waverly Place (2007-2012)

This could be simplified as the year of Disney+. I first fell back in love with Disney Channel 2 years ago. I randomly started Liv & Maddie and instantly fell in love with Dove Cameron, started watching the Descendants movie, and then Disney+ happened. I almost exclusively watch Disney Channel content on Disney+.

I’ve still never really seen Star Wars, I don’t like Marvel, Nature documentaries hold very little appeal for me, and the only Pixar movie I loved is The Incredibles.

Wizards of Waverly Place is new to me, I had never seen it growing up because it didn’t come on ABC Kids (the Saturday morning channel). I didn’t have cable growing up.

It still feels nostalgic to me because I was definitely watching its contemporaries (at least the early seasons) — Hannah Montana, the Original Suite Life, and the end of Kim Possible and That’s So Raven.

I watched a ton of Disney Channel Original Movies on DVD as well — Starstruck (I’ll never admit this is one of my favorites), Princess Protection Program, Avalon High, Read it and Weep, Twitches, and most importantly — High School Musical.

I feel like Disney+ is finally a chance to catch up on everything from Disney Channel that I missed. I like just about everything on the service, as long as there’s no Indian stereotype as a recurring character (BYE Jessie, BYE Phineas and Ferb, I will never love you).

I’m starting to appreciate sitcoms more at this age (as long as they’re good sitcoms with a wide range of characters!), as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been seriously watching Friends since December 31st, 2019 — the day it left Netflix.

Video Game: Persona 5 (2016)

This is also a new game. It’s something I always wanted to play. I have vague familiarity with the Persona series from playing a few hours of some Shin Megami Tensei game and Persona 3. This game didn’t surprise me — it felt familiar yet extremely modern.

I have a whole tag about Persona 5 that you can read here. However, I’d like to spend a moment talking about why this is nostalgic for me. This is the first turn-based JRPG game I’ve played on my PS3/PS4. It opened up this whole new world of possibility — there can be modern feeling JRPGs.

It also re-awakened something that I’m fairly private about, but a very significant hobby in my life nonetheless. I read a lot of visual novels and interactive fiction. My favorite ones of all time are Digital: A Love Story and G-Senjou No Maou. But, I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on these sorts of games. I just find them to be really imaginative and the focus on relationships is really interesting to me from a gameplay perspective.

The Persona series is the only really mainstream representation I’ve seen of that sort of game since 999.

Being able to publicly enjoy a game that strikes all of these nostalgic points for me — a turn-based JRPG with visual novel elements is a return to my roots. It’s everything I love in gaming.

Book: The Gallagher Girls Series

This is an interesting one. For me, binging this series brought a lot of confidence in my reading ability. I sped through some of these in 1 day. They’re really quite short and quite easy to read, but still, it feels really good to finish a book in 1 day.

I wanted to get back in touch with the fact that I like middle grade books, I like spies, I like a fast pace and a fun story. This was just a good time, and a great reminder that reading doesn’t have to be hard. Reading doesn’t have to eat at me.

I have a small tag about this series here. Honestly, it isn’t a very good book series. I had a good time, though. It’s probably geared towards an audience that’s just a little too young for my taste, but I still love the concept of “girls who go to high school and are also spies.” I just wish it was a little bit more Kim Possible, where the high school stuff overlapped more, but it started to lose that in the later books once the main character became the chosen one and whatever.

I’m hoping 2021 has more new stuff in store, but honestly I feel really good about my experience with media this year. I had a good time. The ability to just freely explore this year has been really interesting and really calming. Part of this was because of covid, but it was also just mostly because I was finally settled into a city, job, and lifestyle that I’m comfortable with. I hope I get to relax this much next year as well.