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

Image for post
Image for post
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. I’m glad I took a photo because it makes me smile every year when it shows up in my Facebook memories. …


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

Image for post
Image for post
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 avoided. Not all, but a significant amount. …


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 has only 69 and there are another 22 in the e-book and audio editions. My copy was an e-book from the library.) …


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.

Image for post
Image for post
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.

Image for post
Image for post
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 some divination (although, as my husband and others can attest, I have had similar prognostications in the past, but that’s for another post.) Rather, for all of us who actually give a shit about things like democracy and equality and women’s rights and the perilous fate of America and what it means for our future and our children’s future, I interpreted my fear as an expression of our collective nightmare. With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last night, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and with its special significance, it is now our reality. …


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 I did. I spent considerable time researching various options and local farms while eagerly awaiting the start of our CSA. I chose an organic, family-owned, local — as in the next town north of us — farm. I can spread out our payments throughout the season and pick up our share a few minutes from our home. …


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

Image for post
Image for post
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 obituaries. Well, there isn’t an official newspaper obituary for my father-in-law. You know how much those damn things cost for a few lines? It’s criminal, really. And I believe that we’ll never know officially if his death was counted among those occurring at Pennsylvania’s nursing homes because apparently people disagree on the data and fingers are being pointed and whatever, blah, blah, blah. …


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.

Image for post
Image for post
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 “Downhill from Everywhere” was 10 years in the making and is a response to climate change. The positive impact this global shutdown has had on our planet is astounding, inspiring and undeniable. (Well, I can think of at least one person who will continue to be a denier. …


While thousands grieve the loss of their loved ones, Donald Trump is playing musical chairs on the Titanic.

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

An essay written by my 18 year-old son, William Firman, a high school senior and aspiring political science major.

For the first time in a while, every aspect of our lives faces a standstill. Schools across the country will be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Our brave healthcare workers — not equipped to handle the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic — are now risking their own lives to do their jobs. Millions of working families who put bread on the table are seeing their only lifeline cut off, having to file for unemployment. …

About

Melissa Firman

Writes about books, GenX, food, middle age, culture, politics, life. Freelance editor + book reviewer. Currently working on a memoir. www.melissafirman.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store