Thursday night.

We ride at dawn. By “we” I mean myself, and by “dawn” I mean 5am, which will actually be two whole hours before the sun deigns to rise. But, you know, poetic license and stuff. With a six-hour drive and a 2:30pm vaccination appointment, this will give me 3.5 whole hours to hang out at the border, get stuck in traffic, and, um, wait in my car, I suppose. I tried and tried to find anything remotely interesting and not indoors about Ashland, but aside from an admittedly nice-looking park, there’s not a whole lot to see there. (And the park might not be a good idea in near-freezing temperature.) To be fair, they do have some cool-looking local stores and such, but those would include mingling with people. Hard pass.

Today was filled with preparation… Canada’s Border Services people told me over the phone that yes, they require a clean covid test to return, but no, it can’t be your basic rapid test: it must be a fancy PCR one. Good news: I found a network of walk-in clinics that can do a very special rapid PCR test for you. Bad news: it’s $170 USD. Ye gods… I was about to brand them highway robbers (despite reluctantly using their service) but one of my fellow Vaccine Hunters confirmed that any covid test in the US, rapid or not, costs around $150.

There are at least two interesting conclusions to draw here. First, people will really profiteer on absolutely anything. As far as I know, each shot of mRNA vaccines costs less than $20 when purchased in bulk. I am convinced that a PCR test (fast or slow) costs about the same, if not less. This is some truly impressive (and disgusting) margin of profit. Secondly, and awkwardly, this really does confirm that money can make your life infinitely easier. Someone who didn’t have a stable job like mine (not particularly well-paying but stable nonetheless) or savings (or a car) would not have been able to execute my plan. This whole adventure will be fairly pricey – especially since I’ll do it twice, three weeks apart. I am, not for the first time and not for the last, well aware of my privilege and how different my life could’ve been.

I’ll get my first vaccine shot in less than 17 hours… There’s still so much that can go wrong. Maybe the mechanics that changed my oil loosened some bolts and my car will literally fall apart during the long 12-hour roundtrip. Maybe I’ll get ambushed by a roaming gang of highwaymen. (You know things in the US are getting back to normal when they have 20 mass shootings in the past two weeks.) Maybe the rapid PCR test will come back positive, indicating that my recent shortness of breath was due to a low-key infection and not general anxiety and high humidity. A million maybe’s… To safeguard my chances somewhat, I’m packing my work laptop; if something really does go wrong, at least I’ll be able to continue my work from some random American motel, eh.

In other news, this is mildly embarrassing, but I forgot how to read books. E-books are easy: load them up on your phone and you’re good to go. An e-book is with you when you eat, when you go to the bathroom, when you’re falling asleep with the lights off, when you go on a walk, etc. A real, physical paper book, though? Especially one on the large side? Can’t do a whole lot with that, or at least not as easily and on the go. I’ve tried and tried, but haven’t been able to get through more than a couple of pages of that old textbook I mentioned. Well, on the drive tomorrow I’ll have to conserve my phone battery (just in case) and do something to kill time, so might as well get some science in me.

In covid news, Ontario really did declare another month-long lockdown – and to my surprise, it’ll actually take effect on Saturday, not Monday. There’s gonna be an awful lot of businesses getting a lot of desperate customers seeking to have their fun tomorrow. For all the restrictions, there’s still no paid sick leave policy, so if some frontline employees feel under the weather, they’re just as screwed. This lockdown might curb the number of new cases somewhat, but without paid sick leave, it’s only a bandaid. I’m curious to see how many public protests this will inspire. (Canadians aren’t very passionate protesters – sort of the opposite of the French.)

Pfizer has announced that it’s 100% effective in kids between 12-15, based on a trial of 2,260 kiddos. That’s pretty amazing.

And on a personal front, my entire family in the US is getting vaccinated soon. My mom already got both of her shots, my younger brother will get his first dose in a week, my Los Angeles sister will get her second dose within a few days, and my New York sister will get her first dose within a few days. We’ll all be 100% vaccinated by the end of April, and I cannot describe how good it feels to know that my family is safe, or as safe as modern science can make them. I might be able to visit all of them (and Vegas – sweet, sweet Vegas) a whole lot sooner than I’d anticipated.

And now, to sleep and dream of vaccinations…

Good night, y’all.