Out of Gum Friday Round-Up

It’s like old times with the rabid anti-abortion protestors coming to town. This is the week that the well-known national hate group Operation Save America is converging on Milwaukee to scream at passers-by and harass women coming to appointments at local abortion clinics. This time, unlike 20 years ago, there will be trained security at the clinics and no counter-protests, no linking of arms and singing We Shall Overcome. Typing that, I wonder if we really sang We Shall Overcome or we just felt it in our hearts but, in any event, we haven’t yet overcome because abortion is still a right in doubt, a provisional right dangling now by the thinnest thread . Happily, Garbage Fyre Fighters from the Abortion Access Front rallying and making fun of the zealots. We here in Milwaukee are grateful for good organizers and strong humor. Hate groups hate humor.

I found a birthday note for Jilly signed by Gram and Gramps stuck in Best American Short Stories, 2008, edited by Salman Rushdie. The book was in a Little Free Library in Milwaukee’s South Shore Park, next to the Best American Short Stories of 2006, 2010, and 2012, all of them ripe for the taking, like peaches in a bowl on the kitchen table. The card is much older than the book and the handwriting is even older, careful and ornate but shaky at the same time. there is this P.S. at the bottom of the card.

I found the poems my first boyfriend wrote me. Please return.

I’m going to keep the note for Jilly, just in case.


I spent part of the week between a rock and a hard place. On the horns of a dilemma, in a fat headache of situational ethics, conflicted and chagrined, all of which I soothed by buying extraordinary amounts of cheese and crackers at Costco along with a forty-pound jug of animal crackers. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof.

Alright. It’s four pounds, not forty. Still.

I won’t say I suffered through the week – there being so much food, wine, and beer laying around – but I sure was consternated. The dilemma came down to dueling principles and I sided on the one that involved having made a personal commitment. I’d explain more but it would be pointless at this point. There are new waves to surf.


Flamethrowers burn out. I’ve seen it dozens of times. A new person appears on the scene from out of nowhere. Maybe a hundred people have been working hard on a problem, parsing it, teasing out solutions, trying to change the world step by painful step. And the new person – always smart and bright and engaging and different – shows up and decides that the process and the people involved in it are all useless. Flamethrowers don’t ask questions, though. They don’t spend time inquiring or gathering data or learning the process by which progress is made, however imperceptible it may seem, they just pour more gasoline on the torch they always carry in their purse and let fly. AOC – as much as I love her fearlessness and her brilliance – is a flamethrower. I hope she stays around long enough to also become a powerhouse legislator. It’s a harder skill to learn and harder still to practice. We’ll see.

I’m out of gum. There isn’t a stick of gum anywhere in this house, on any dresser top, in any drawer, or in any pocket. My house is a gum desert.







2 Comments on “Out of Gum Friday Round-Up

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