Category Archives: Time

you’re missing

Longwood Gardens (2)

photo credit: melissa firman, may 31, 2010 longwood gardens, kennett square, pa

“Everything is everything, but you’re missing.”
~ “You’re Missing,” by Bruce Springsteen

My friend is missing.

I feel justified in calling him a friend, although others more rightfully own claim to that title by virtue of knowing him better than I do. Truth is, I don’t feel like much of a friend in these circumstances.

Not because I lack the details and the history and the memories that come with such a friendship. It’s true, I don’t have those.  When you get right down to it and become technical, he and I are somewhere between a casual acquaintance and friend. If there’s a definition for that thing for people who have talked writing – Jesus, his phenomenal, amazing, creative, kickin’ some serious ass and taking names kind of writing – and who have talked messy relationship breakups, and who have shared a table at Eat’n Park with a group of other like-minded souls … well, then we are that.

He has been missing for three weeks.

And in that time, there has been the deafening silence, the kind that gnaws with its unknowing as I hit refresh, refresh, refresh on the news sites. What a hell of a news week this has been and I get that, I do, I really do. Others, gone, both here and everywhere: an octogenarian, a 2 year old, nine people in a church, a six week old. It is easy for news stories to vanish, too, because there will be another to replace it. Others more sensational than one grown man gone missing.

Missing takes different forms, I realize, and I begin to think of others slipped away, gone silent. It occurs to me that I haven’t heard from that other friend for awhile; his mother recently died and I wonder how he is doing; Facebook tells me his account has been deactivated and so, thus, there goes another.

A friend’s son is gone and I send a message:  you’ve been on my mind, I say, and that is all. Just love. Just that.

I vow to pay better attention, to notice who has gone silent, who has dropped off the grid. To step in before it is too late and to hold you and you and you and, yes, even you – all of you who I love, all at once, both collectively and singly, because this is what I know of this crazy world: it is a fragile one which has the power to make all of us disappear, poof. And then, sometimes it takes too much time to realize it and then, we are just as lost because they are gone. And we don’t know what this emptiness is like until it makes its presence known, stamping its feet in a tantrum, screaming maybe if I was more cognizant of the missing more often, maybe then I could have said something, maybe a comment would have made the difference, maybe I could have caught us at just the one right, perfect moment.

 

The Sum of My Parts

Mothers Day 2015 - Be Brave

We live – yes, we do – in a reality show culture. One that demands, seduces, cajoles us into telling our secrets for the world’s consumption and criticism.

There’s a vulnerability in doing this, absolutely. Sometimes the entire story is not ours to tell; sometimes people are still alive or too young to understand; sometimes the words of those we once loved haunt us (sometimes you tell people too much, Melissa; you need to learn sometimes you don’t need to share everything with the world); sometimes dusty contracts and unspoken agreements make us hesitant.

We know all this, we live with all this, and so it is often too easy to stay silent, to not hit publish, to go quietly about our lives, albeit with a reminder here and there: a medical professional who asks a common question, the colleague who is just making conversation about do you have kids, that gaggle of moms in the playgroup who relish in rehashing pregnancy details you know nothing about. Even those instances don’t bother you anymore because you’ve learned how to smile and adopt a version of the truth. It’s not that we forget, but rather it’s more of a feeling that we’ve put that away. We’ve dealt with that; we’ve gotten the therapy; we’ve moved emotionally to a much brighter place which – hell, look at that – might even feel like something called …

Acceptance.

Until you read the words from someone who sounds like you, way back then, in May 1985 and in the days, months, years, decades after. Someone probably much younger than you and most likely a teen who is just finding out, who is questioning, struggling, hurting like hell. You’ve lived what she is living because you, like her, are also 1 in 5,000 women with this (MRKH, an abbreviation for Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome) and without that (a uterus). You have something to offer, a perspective to share, a glimpse of a life that – I promise you, girlfriend, I pinky-swear to you – is not defined by one missing part.

Because we are not the sum of our parts.

This thing that looks like acceptance has not come to me easily or overnight, because as we all know, acceptance rarely shows up gift-wrapped at the door. For most of us, it is the sum of many things.

Experiences.

People.

Time.

It is true that I am not a numbers person except for dates.  I remember so many of them, and those tend to be the ones I respect and honor and measure the distance between here and there. They are mile markers, rest stops on this journey of life which leads me to reflections and blog posts like this one that beg the question of what I’m called to do with this, what it all means, where it will lead.

Sharing this through the writing – a memoir that says what you need to say and also protects others, perhaps? – is something that feels possible (there’s even a working title) yet there’s a holding back perhaps for reasons I don’t know or understand. It is scary as hell and it is easy to tell yourself to wait for the right publication, the perfect time, to listen to the ghosts – sometimes you tell people too much, Melissa; you need to learn sometimes you don’t need to share everything with the world – to live in the what-if’s and the maybes instead of the hell, yes. There’s a sense of not wanting to give it all away at once and certainly not for free; yet at the same time, I believe we are given what we have to help others and to connect amidst the risks that will always be there and the internal chorus of what will they think. This business of life is too damn short, and the timing will never, ever seem right. We would not be here, would not have what we have – these kids, this strength, each other – if others did not take a risk and do exactly that.

I believe in having no regrets, in living out loud, and celebrating our truth. Some days that is easier than others, but it is in the doing that gives us our power, adding up piece by piece to reveal our greatest strengths.

Photo above is of a Bravelet, my Mother’s Day 2015 gift to myself and which benefits the amazing work of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.

James Taylor Showers the People of Pittsburgh With Love

James Taylor - Pittsburgh 11-29-2014 - 2

James Taylor in concert, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA 11/29/2014 ~ melissafirman.com

Peace and love, baby. Peace and love.

That was the vibe on Saturday evening as singer-songwriter James Taylor brought his All-Star Band to Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. There, a mostly Baby Boomer and generally mellow crowd (except for the woman a few rows down who repeatedly hollered “I love you, James!”) sang along to the folksy hits of the ’70s while fumbling with the selfie and videocam settings on their smartphones.

“I’m in my sixties,” a concertgoer announced to nobody in particular as The Husband and I found our seats. “He’s a throwback from my generation.”

Maybe so. But part of James Taylor’s appeal is that his music can be enjoyed by all ages, whether or not those ages realize it. (Case in point: every night, either The Husband or I must sing “You Can Close Your Eyes” to our son. He’s a newly-minted teenager who still calls this “The Goodnight Song.”)

Last night marked the third time that The Husband and I – both 45 – had the good fortune to see the 66-year old James Taylor in concert.  We don’t get out much: this was our first concert since seeing JT’s ex-wife Carly Simon on November 25, 2005 at the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ.

Whether once in a decade or once in a lifetime, a James Taylor concert is a treat. I had wondered how his intimate style would hold up in a stadium environment like Consol, which would be the first time we would see James Taylor indoors.

No worries. Opening with a reverential bow to the audience that almost seemed to be a reflective pause of gratitude, James Taylor greeted the crowd by wishing us a heartfelt “Happy Thanksgiving.”  He might as well have hand-delivered a personalized greeting card to every single one of us. Light the fire, friends, and pour another glass of merlot; the mood was set as if we were in the Taylors’ living room listening to a good friend playing guitar and us singing along and smiling at the backstories that introduced the songs we’d been listening to for our entire lives.

As he opened his first set with “Something in the Way She Moves,” James Taylor took us back to 1968 with his audition song for Apple Records – a performance that he did all those years ago for Paul McCartney and George Harrison. It was an especially fitting inclusion for the evening and would mark the first of several occasions when he would mention The Beatles during the concert.

Although the anniversary went unmentioned by James Taylor, I’m sure there were a few of us in the audience who, like The Husband and I, couldn’t help remembering that November 29, 2014 marked exactly 13 years since the death of George Harrison and who saw the bittersweet ironic connection of George Harrison’s “Something” and the selection of “Something in the Way She Moves” as the opening number on this date.

(Another Beatles connection onstage last night was in the form of All-Star Band drummer Steve Gadd, who performed on Paul McCartney’s “Pipes of Peace” album.)

Especially noteworthy to play in Pittsburgh was “Millworker,” a song about a woman working in a Lowell, Massachusetts shoe mill and written for a musical based on Studs Terkel‘s Working. The lyrics could very well have been about life once upon a time in the Steel City.

“I can ride home in the evening, staring at my hands,
swearing by my sorrow that a young girl ought to stand a better chance.
So may I work the mills just as long as I am able
and never meet the man whose name is on the label.
It be me and my machine for the rest of the morning
and the rest of the afternoon, gone for the rest of my life.”

Mixed in with crowd-pleasing classics like “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain,” and “Country Road” were three new songs. The ballad “You and I Again” about midlife love is probably my favorite of the trio. “Today, Today, Today” hearkens back to 1968, James Taylor explained.  And what little I could hear of “Stretch of the Highway” I liked, no thanks to the cacophony of folks returning to their seats and continuing their banal chatter after the 20-minute intermission. I’m hoping that these new tunes in the James Taylor songbook will make an appearance on what I’ve read is a new JT album in the works. (The sooner the better, please?)

Speaking of making an appearance, I had secretly been hoping that offspring Ben or Sally would stop by to say hi to Dad onstage. I mean, it’s Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday season – anything is possible, right?  As it turned out, James was joined by Henry, one of his 13-year-old twin sons, who sang backup on “Shower the People.” Looking as dapper as his father, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear more from Henry in the future.

(While we’re on my secret hopes? I would have liked to have heard “You Can Close Your Eyes,” although we did hear him do that in concert in 2005, so I can’t complain.  And, speaking on behalf of all of us middle-aged concertgoers who have postponed our eye exams and need to upgrade our bi- and trifocal prescriptions, I personally could have used a larger Jumbotron.  I mean, you can’t possibly tell me I’m the only one in Consol whose vision is clearly not what it was in her salad days. I’m just sayin’. But these are minor, minor quibbles.)

The second set (previewed to the audience by James holding up a list written on what he compared to roofing material and joking with the audience about the inclusion of the ever-popular “Steamroller”) was lighter on the storytelling and a bit more on the upbeat hits like the “big city song ‘Up on the Roof,'” “Only One,” and “Your Smiling Face.”

James Taylor - Pittsburgh 11-29-2014 - Up on the Roof

James Taylor performing “Up On the Roof” at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA, 11/29/2014 ~ melissafirman.com

As we left the concert, it almost felt as if Pittsburgh’s late-November chill had actually turned somewhat … well, balmy.

Perhaps it was an aftershock of the backdrop images that accompanied “Carolina in My Mind” and the smiling faces of beachgoers hoisting margaritas to “Mexico” that made us feel toasty. We weren’t imagining it; turns out, according to our car thermometer, it really was about 15 degrees warmer.

It wouldn’t have mattered if it was twenty below zero. These have been some intensely stress-filled months for The Husband and me. For three hours, we were able to forget our worries and cares while enjoying an evening in the company of a longtime friend.

Perhaps that needs to happen a little more often. In the meantime, during these cold winter nights, I’ll be listening to a little more JT than usual.

James Taylor - Pittsburgh 11-29-2014

 

giving up the ghost

Mom-Mom's Halloween Party (3)

“In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.”
~ Laurie Halse Anderson

Moreso than any other, this time of year supercharges my nostalgia meter into overdrive. It’s a combination of reasons: lots of holidays jam-packed into a few weeks, the kids’ birthdays, the anniversary of The Husband’s cancer diagnosis. 

Even without the obligatory #Throwback Thursday Facebook photos, I still remember the kids’ first Halloween vividly – not for its Norman Rockwell qualities, but because it was something more befitting Norman Bates. Halloween 2002 was a nightmare of preparing and feeding 11-month old twins their dinner and cleaning up two food-encrusted high chairs (no small feat, that); a husband coming home from a demanding job; visits from doting grandparents with cameras in hand to document the occasion; neighborhood kids ringing the doorbell, and squeezing two squirmy kids into too-small costumes which, being a one-income family in those days, I had frugally borrowed from a friend.

All of this was a hoax, of course. It was just one big photo opportunity. There was no way we were going trick-or-treating.

We wouldn’t go trick-or-treating for years.

*
Like that first October 31, last night was strange because of what it wasn’t.

At 12, my boy suddenly had no interest in Halloween. No costume, no trick-or-treating, nothing.

The idea of candy, on the other hand, now that was a different issue. Despite getting a stellar checkup from the dentist last week, that he was quite interested in. Since The Girl went trick-or-treating with a friend, my little Mr. Wonderful brokered a Shark Tank worthy deal where he acquired a percentage of her candy.

“I think I’d just rather stay home,” he announced, very matter-of-fact.

He wasn’t upset. Nothing was wrong, he insisted. He just … was done with the whole thing.

That’s it? I wanted to say. After we worked so hard to get here? 

A part of me felt cheated.

*
We hung out at home last night, seemingly no different than any other ordinary Friday evening, despite The Girl being out with a friend. We ordered our regular pizza, we watched Shark Tank, we puttered online.

And my seasonal wave of nostalgia threatened to overtake me as I scrolled through Facebooked photos of costumed kids, their doppelgangers appearing at my door almost instantaneously, smiling and chanting trick-or-treat, politely saying thank you as I handed them a bag of chips.

There were a few good years when that was us.

When all the best laid plans worked.

When my boy decided he no longer needed to ask every neighbor their birthday and then record it (along with their address) on a notepad, as if he was impersonating a census-taker. When he didn’t need the social stories to ease the transitions, to explain that we weren’t going to be staying at every house for an extended visit.  When we didn’t need to only visit houses where people “would understand the situation.” When we didn’t need to have a stash of gluten-free casein-free treats when he got frustrated at not being able to have something everyone else could eat.

Halloween was a nightmare until one year it wasn’t, and it was added to the ever-growing list of Things Our Boy Could Do.

*
When one kid decides he doesn’t feel like going trick-or-treating anymore, and the other kid is out with her best friend.
And you’re left holding the damn bag of your life, wondering where the years in between disappeared to.
– my Facebook status, 10/31/2014

I’ve written before about my increasing awareness of the passage of time. Often, I’m caught off-guard, in the close encounters with reality I’m not prepared or ready to have.

Such was Halloween 2014.

Stay little for a little longer, I wanted to tell my boy. You’re not too old for trick-or-treating. 

Enjoy that childhood you worked so hard to have. 

Maybe I was the one who needed the talking-to, I thought. If autism – and life – has taught me anything, it’s that things happen when they’re supposed to, not always when we want them to.

And the sooner we give up those ghosts of what should have been, the sooner more doors tend to open.

 

 

#SaveDallas (and a piece of our childhoods)

Growing up, Friday nights were sacred.

I don’t mean that in a religious sense, although my parents did an excellent job giving me and my brother a solid upbringing in that regard. Friday was Pizza Night, followed by our family’s weekly pilgrimage to the Neshaminy Mall. As an engineer who spent his days off immersed in some home improvement or gardening project, my Dad always seemed to need something at Sears for the weekend fun ahead.

By 9 p.m. sharp, we were home in front of the TV, the channel tuned to CBS. (Yes, I’m old enough to remember when entertainment consisted of only three TV channels.) Nine o’clock was when the weekend really got started, ushered in with that distinctive “Dallas” theme song accompanied by glimmering skyscrapers, grinning-but-guilty-as-hell oil barons, and their glamorous, shoulder-padded women.

“Dallas” in its heyday was iconic, escapist, legendary, and fun. Who among a certain generation doesn’t remember the infamous “Who Shot J.R.?” episode? We loved to loathe J.R. and his conniving, scheming ways with money and women. There was, it seemed, no end to the “Dallas” drama.

Until …it ended.

We grew up, went on with our lives, had families of our own, and were content – sorta – with the occasional “Dallas” movie. J.R. and Sue Ellen and Ray and Donna became akin to the kind of cousins once so constant in your life but whose names you’re damned if you can remember at family funerals.

Then, like a mirage out of the desert of decades of economic recession and collapse, back-to-back wars, and political scandals run amok (and that’s just in any given week), along came “Dallas” in 2012, like Bobby Ewing appearing Lazarus-like in the shower, back from the dead.

This latest incarnation of “Dallas” has, for three seasons, been one of the most brilliantly acted dramas on television, thanks to the indisputable talents of Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Ken Kercheval, Judith Light, and of course, the late Larry Hagman. Combine their star power with the energy of “Dallas” newcomers Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo — and the dead-on, true-to-the-original writing of Cynthia Cidre and team, complete with meticulous research and sly references (“Dallas” fans, you see what I did there?) from the ’80s — and you’ve got one hell of an explosive show.

It shouldn’t have worked. These things rarely do. These days, when everything old is new again, such efforts are usually embarrassing at their best and abyssal at their worst.

Not “Dallas.” Because nothing with J.R. Ewing’s imprimatur is a failure.
*
Ours is a low-key, cheap date kind of family.

On the rare occasion we eat out, most likely you’ll find us at Pittsburgh’s standby, Eat’n Park. It’s affordable, I usually have a decent coupon for the Soup and Salad Bar, and everyone in our picky-eater family gets what they like.

We’re not athletically-inclined or outdoorsy, so our leisure-time family activities usually involve the four of us akin to islands in the stream of life in our house: hanging out together in the same room but pursuing our own thing: reading a book, playing Minecraft, listening to One Direction, writing a blog post.

The exception?

“Dallas.”

My husband shares my original “Dallas” love and affection, so naturally we tuned in weekly to see John Ross, Christopher and the latest generation of Ewings. At times, they proved to be just as good – dare I say, sometimes better – than the originals. They did their homework; you could tell, for example, that Josh Henderson as John Ross was a student of Larry Hagman as J.R. That look, those sneers, that’s art taught by the master.

Proving the adage that history really does repeat itself, our kids soon put down their iEverythings and joined us – just as my brother and I did when our parents watched “Dallas” in our suburban Philadelphia family room. All these years later, “Dallas” is still among the few things that – as our kids slip into the coveted teenage demographic market – we’ve been able to bond over as a family.

Just as in the ’80s, the magic was there a second time.

As our kids asked questions about the original “Dallas” and we nostalgically filled in the pieces about J.R.’s nemesis Cliff Barnes and the shaky branches on the Ewing family tree, those explanations segued into stories.

Stories about our own personal Cliffs, those former middle school arch-enemies now turned Facebook friends, filled then with as much drama as anything on must-see-TV.

Stories about parents and grandparents who watched “Dallas” alongside us and who – because they died before our kids would be born – became alive again in our retelling.
*
On Friday night (of all nights!) TNT announced the cancellation of “Dallas.”
The show, experiencing a viewership decline, wasn’t attracting the younger viewers advertisers fiercely covet.

What “Dallas” has is a decades-loyal fanbase that is showing its passion on social media with links to petitions and hashtags like #SaveDallas that have attracted the attention of the cast. For we are all Ewings. We are all family.

You may think that I – and thousands of others – need to move on, to get a life. Here’s what I know about that:

Life is vastly different than when J.R. was shot. Our lives – all of our lives – have challenges. At 45, my husband and I have experienced cancer, infertility, long-term unemployment, parenting a special needs child, and a loss of nearly 20 years of steadfast retirement savings in the economic recession. We face the same or equally challenging day-to-day situations as many people who grew up in the ’80s, believing they would do better than their parents but now wondering how the hell they’re going to make it to retirement – or, more likely, next month.

Somehow, with the magical blending of the nostalgic old and the electrifying new, this present incarnation of “Dallas” gave us …something.

A connection to our past and a reminder of a simpler time.

A salve to our world-weary spirits.

And a reassurance that in the end, family is what matters most of all.

 

 

 

Remembering Farrah, and Her Role of Many Lifetimes

farrah-burningbed4

As it was five years ago, the news is all about the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death today. Farrah Fawcett also deserves to be remembered, too. Here, then, is an encore of my tribute blog post from June 26, 2009.

With the passing of Farrah Fawcett yesterday, it’s easy to remember her for the 70s icon that she undoubtedly was. But it is her later work, first the play “Extremities” about a woman who fights back against a rapist and the 1984 groundbreaking (and controversial) movie “The Burning Bed” that I believe to be her most significant.

Her portrayals of women affected by violence and domestic abuse allowed others to become educated and aware of the signs of domestic violence. This was in a time when domestic violence was talked about in a whisper, if at all. “The Burning Bed” was a controversial movie for the heavy issues contained within.

It was a role that many other actresses might not have felt brave enough to take on, but which Farrah did. And by making a contribution to erase the stigma of rape and domestic abuse, she became a champion for women whose voices were silent. Finally, they were beginning to be heard.

They were heard on the hotlines, and “The Burning Bed” was reportedly the first such movie to include a toll-free domestic violence hotline at the closing credits, that of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which continues to be available for people in crisis at 800-799-SAFE. Anyone can call them and be referred to a shelter nearby. Farrah later became a board member of NDVH, and identified with the issue of domestic abuse.

There’s no way to measure how many women Farrah touched by her portrayal of a battered wife. But if she saved only one life, or inspired only one woman to seek help and find her way out, then Farrah becomes more iconic in a way that deserves our remembrance, honor and gratitude.

Book Review: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and TedMary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic
by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong 
Simon and Schuster
2013 
298 pages
Narrated by Amy Landon 
11 hours, 22 minutes 

As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

There’s a good reason for that.  When this groundbreaking sitcom premiered in 1970, I was not quite 2 years old – not exactly the target audience. But I was a stubborn enough toddler (or so I’ve heard) that, had I understood what “MTM” was all about, I bet I could have made a pretty convincing case to my parents to let me watch it. 

Instead, I saw it during its resurgence on Nick at Nite in 1992, when I – as someone with my first job out of college – could appreciate it much better. (Never mind that I usually watched Mary and Rhoda while my fiance watched sports with his best friend in the other room, but that’s besides the point. I was happy, he was happy, and we’ve been married ever since. We must be doing something right.) 

It helps to have some knowledge of and appreciation of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” when reading Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, but this isn’t your usual television/celebrity retrospective. Sure, there’s a decent amount about the actors, which was interesting. But this is mostly about the women who wrote for the show and why having a team of female comedy writers was so groundbreaking in 1970.

In today’s anything-goes television environment, it’s almost quaint to remember just how revolutionary “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was. The idea of Mary being divorced and having a career was – to put it mildly – a hard sell to network executives. The CBS execs replied with, “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.

Yeah. Those were the good old days, right?

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted explains how the writers and producers got around that (some reviews suggest that the book should be called “Jim and Treva and Allan and Susan,” for the writing and producing team that made the show happen). It also explains how having a female writing team significantly shaped the issues portrayed on the show – as well as the edgy ones on future shows produced by MTM Enterprises.

Ironically, my childhood dream was to grow up and be a screenwriter for “St. Elsewhere” – the critically-acclaimed medical drama that, like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” also saw its share of firsts and also was produced by Grant Tinker’s company MTM Enterprises, named for his then-wife, Mary Tyler Moore.

(In high school, I entertained the crazy idea of sending Mr. Tinker an unsolicited script. I talked about this a lot. Now, after reading the story about how superfan Joe Rainone would write detailed, weekly letters to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” cast analyzing each week’s show and how Marilyn Miller from Monroeville, PA (just outside of Pittsburgh) wrote a spec script for MTM and became a writer for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” I kind of want to kick my own ass.)

Regardless of my lost dreams, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted was entertaining – and the audiobook proved to be a good choice as I lived vicariously through the characters on my way to and from my real life, slightly-less-exciting-than-a-scriptwriter-but-hey!-still-a-writer! job as I listened to this on my commute to work.  I enjoyed this for the inside stories and especially the focus and perspective on the writers. I was glad that they included what they – the writers and the actors – have done since “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” went off the air.

It was also so goddamn nostalgic, almost sad to a point. So many magnificent shows of television’s Golden Age of Comedy are referenced in this book as well as how the show that almost wasn’t going to be on the air wound up inspiring so many others.  The end of the book gives a nod to Mary Richards’ “cultural daughters” like Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon of “30 Rock” and “power ensembles” as found in “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “The Office.” Truly, Mary Richards’ influence and that of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is more far-reaching than anyone probably ever imagined.

Still, although we have indeed come a long way (baby) from the days when a writer couldn’t pen an episode about a New Yorker who was divorcing someone who was Jewish with a mustache, it makes one wonder if all the hard fought gains are truly appreciated by the talent we have today. Probably by some, yes. But I think the further we get away from television’s Golden Age, and the less communal our viewing experience becomes, the fuzzier those golden days will seem.