Reflections on some recent reads.

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Image by HaticeEROL on Pixabay.com

It’s been awhile since I shared some thoughts on what I’ve been reading. Today I have for you a poetry collection, two memoirs, and a book that resulted from a series of Twitter posts.


The moment is almost here — 923 minutes as I type this sentence.

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Inauguration of President Bill Clinton, January 20, 1993 ~ Photo credit: Melissa Firman

Eight years ago this week, The Husband finished his radiation treatment for thyroid cancer. Among other things, this entailed following a low-iodine diet and, in somewhat of an irony given current times, he had to be quarantined in our bedroom for a solid week.

Towards the end of those long days, the kids were bouncing off the walls with eager anticipation of seeing their dad. The Boy started a countdown of sorts, tracking the minutes until the nanosecond when it would be safe for dad to emerge…


because even in the deepest darkness there is always some light to be found.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Here’s wishing you and all you love a happy and healthy New Year. That sentiment certainly takes on a deeper meaning now that we’ve seen the merciful conclusion of a year unlike any other, does it not?

There was way too much heartbreak, devastation, suffering, injustice, grief and ruin in the past 12 months. For all of us. Our family has not been untouched by the darker side of 2020. And the great tragedy, for all of us, is so much of it could have been…


In this anthology of short essays, poems and interviews, 91 authors respond to the pandemic with their diverse perspectives, insights, humor, and heartbreak.

Book cover for Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 edited by Jennifer Haupt
Book cover for Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 edited by Jennifer Haupt

We are beginning to see the first titles emerge in what will undoubtedly be a bumper crop of books reflecting on and attempting to find meaning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As difficult as this time has been (and continues to be), there is some comfort to be had in knowing that others are sharing this experience.

And that’s what Alone Together and its editor, Jennifer Haupt, succeeds in doing so well. Ninety-one authors (91!) respond to the pandemic by offering their diverse perspectives, insights, humor and heartbreak through short essays, poetry, creative nonfiction pieces, and interviews. (Apparently the print version…


It’s appalling to even contemplate that they may have intended to infect their opponent mere weeks before the election. But I believe that was exactly the mentality at play.

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Image by Mahmut Koyuncu from Pixabay

It feels like the intensity of mental whiplash wrought by this current news cycle is at a level impossible to withstand. As I write, the President* is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with the coronavirus — the same ailment, we’ll recall, that he has spent much of this year trumping up as a hoax, an illness that “affects virtually nobody”, a pesky bug that will disappear “like a miracle”. …


Nobody is coming to save us as we are drowning in our floods, burning in our fires, dying in our relentless pandemic. We are the ones who need to honor Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s legacy and life today.

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Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay

“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Late Tuesday night, or maybe early Wednesday morning, I was trying unsuccessfully (again) to fall asleep when out of seemingly nowhere, I felt this sudden, gripping, seizing certainty:

We were going to lose Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election.

It was jolting enough to keep me awake for another hour or so. I tell you this not to proclaim myself as a soothsayer or to say this was…


During pandemic times, the Food Network’s Chopped has been making my reality much more palatable.

Image is a knife on a light brown wooden board pointing upwards toward the right.
Image is a knife on a light brown wooden board pointing upwards toward the right.
Image by Iris Hamelmann from Pixabay

Friends, I’ve been chopped.

Allow me to explain. Something I didn’t anticipate during these quarantined times — besides, you know, the need to be quarantined because of a freakin’ pandemic in the first place — is my increased television consumption.

In my pre-COVID life, I watched very little TV. So embarrassingly little that I never knew what the hell my coworkers were talking about when they discussed the latest plot twist of whatever show they all watched. …


Discovering the deliciousness of spring onions, garlic scapes and pea shoots.

Photo of spring onions, ground coffee, garlic scapes, pea shoots, lettuce and a jar of Southern chow chow.
Photo of spring onions, ground coffee, garlic scapes, pea shoots, lettuce and a jar of Southern chow chow.
Photo by author: spring onions, ground coffee, garlic scapes, pea shoots, lettuce and mild Southern chow chow from week one of our CSA

During the early days of the pandemic, I was extremely anxious about potential food supply issues. Purchasing a CSA share from one of our local farms here in Western Pennsylvania felt like a bit of an extravagance (we’re a one-income family these days) but helped to somewhat ease my mind. If you’re not familiar with the CSA concept, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture which means that you sign up and pay in advance to receive a portion of a farmer’s harvest during the growing season.

Which is what…


Reflections on today’s front page of The New York Times memorializing 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19.

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Screenshot of The New York Times front page, 5/24/2020

I contemplated just leaving the photo of today’s New York Times front page up there without any words because, honestly? If you’re remotely close to anything resembling a decent human being, that list of names should render you speechless while feeling a somersault of emotions. That’s my reaction, anyway.

Of course, the first person I thought of — and looked for, even though I know his name isn’t there — is my father-in-law. My understanding is that the names listed are compiled from newspaper…


From The Stones to New Kids on the Block to Alicia Keys, many artists have released new pandemic-themed songs to soothe our battered souls.

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Image by whoalice-moore from Pixabay

I’m listening to my Release Radar playlist on Spotify as I type and I gotta tell you, there are some amazing kick ass new songs that capture these strange days so perfectly.

Music, art, writing — it’s what’s going to save us, you guys.

Some of these were clearly written for these times. Others — like The Stones’ “Living in a Ghost Town” weren’t but their lyrics are beyond apropos. I read somewhere that Jackson Browne’s…

Melissa Firman

Writes about books, GenX, politics, life. Currently working on a memoir. www.melissafirman.com

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