A Rebirth of Wonder

It’s Friday. That’s when I join Tammy – the research assistant – in the waiting room. We work in the Yellow Clinic at the Zablocki VA Medical Center. When I arrive, she’s already set up – with the folding table, foam board sign and plastic bowl of mint Lifesavers.

The TV’s in the corner – on all the time. What’s on today? Cops? An HBO documentary about UFO sightings, a golf tournament? I think about Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem from the Beat era: I Am Waiting.

 I am waiting/for my case to come up/I am waiting/for a rebirth of wonder 

Everyone here is waiting – for lab results, a blood draw, for their appointment, a prescription…for pain relief… Spouses, sons and daughters wait too. There’s conversation. My wife always tells me to drink more water … I can relate! I nag Maurice about hydration constantly. Once our Labrador retriever stole chocolates from under the Christmas tree … I can relate… I know what an unsupervised Lab will eat.

A couple arrives – the husband on foot, his wife in a wheelchair. She wears a teal-colored wool coat. He goes to the desk to check in. She wants to get up, to use the ladies’ room, but finds that her coat’s gotten bunched up in the wheelchair somehow. Tammy and I study it. Tammy’s a nurse, with wheelchair skills. She figures out how to free her. She has the woman lift up, and we tug at the fabric. The woman thanks us. Smiles.

While she’s gone, Tammy sits by her husband to explain our project to him. The wife comes out, sits back down. She sees them talking and turns to me. Smiles… I can’t leave him alone for a minute. When he turns to her, she tells him about her small adventure with the stuck coat.

Eventually he’s called and they both go in. It’s a while before they come back out. She comes out ahead of him. She rolls up by us and Tammy asks if they were able to help her husband.

She tells us they took X-rays, will see what they can do. He’d been wheezing and not feeling well at all. She smiles at us, again, says: He forgets that he’s 93.

Meanwhile, he comes and stands behind her chair, holding her scarf and beret. Smiles over here at Tammy and I. He’s 93 years old? Just now, he could be a high school boy, who looks at his date and can’t believe how lucky he is!

He could say here’s your hat, hand it to her. But he drops it lightly, backwards onto her head, goofy and winking. I can hardly breathe! I think about Maurice. We have over 35 years behind us already. Yet – at 62 and 69 years old, we could be their children! What will two, three more decades bring? We already know how time will have its way with you.  Those two must have seen plenty of losses by now. But affection that deep…that’s the stuff of poetry…

and I am perpetually waiting

for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn

to catch each other up at last

and embrace

and I am awaiting

perpetually and forever

a renaissance of wonder

-Sue Blaustein


“And Our Next Storyteller Is…Sue Schoeppel!”

Oh, God.  I am a MORON.

Well, not a classic moron making epically bad decisions like driving drunk, buying cute shoes that hurt (um, just one pair but they’re really cute), working at a publishing house and turning down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (twelve did!) or going into an abandoned house alone to look for my missing friends when Michael Meyers had escaped yet again – it’s like eleven times now, right?  Okay, I did buy an iPhone X, but it wasn’t my fault; I was lured.Continue reading ““And Our Next Storyteller Is…Sue Schoeppel!””

Matching Campaign!

Last week, we announced our very first ever matching grant campaign! Because of a very generous anonymous donor, we are matching funds throughout December. We are set to raise $3000 by the end of the campaign which is December 31st AND WE’VE ALREADY RAISED $500!Continue reading “Matching Campaign!”

StorySlam: Misunderstood

StorySlam: Misunderstood Noncompetitive

It was an exciting night for Ex Fabula’s first noncompetitive StorySlam of season 10. The place was packed to a sold out crowd at The Sugar Maple and it seemed as though all of BayView came out to join us. Misunderstood was the theme and the Tellers came to deliver!Continue reading “StorySlam: Misunderstood”

Meet Sam

Farewell Carolina, Hello Sam
Maybe you’ve met Carolina? Carolina has been Ex Fabula’s Community Connector, and leading our fabulous volunteer crew for the past two years through the Public Allies Americorps program. Carolina’s term is coming to an end and she is off to Chile soon to live her best life. We are so excited & happy for Carolina’s new journey, and she will be missed!
So, we have some big shoes to fill right? We searched high and low for Carolina’s replacement and we found Sam! We’ll let him introduce himself…

Continue reading “Meet Sam”

Generations StorySlam Kick Off


Generations StorySlam season 10 opener held at Garfield’s 502 this past Friday was everything we hoped for! The spot was filled with new and returning faces, Garfield’s staff were servin’ up delicious food and our volunteers were happy to assist. Our MC’s David Lee and Nelson Lopez kicked us off with humor, excitement and anticipation. Here’s a recap of the night!Continue reading “Generations StorySlam Kick Off”

Meet Our New Marketing Maven!

Meet Ex Fabula’s new Marketing and Communications Associate!

Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI with roots in Mexico, Nicole is Chicana-first generation Mexican-American. Nicole has made it her life’s mission to preserve cultural practices and traditions by activating safe spaces in her hometown where people can connect to their experiences and identities. Whether through dance, visual art or written word, most of Nicole’s work reflects exploring identity through oral and visual storytelling.Continue reading “Meet Our New Marketing Maven!”

Storytellers on stage

Guest Blogger Shares Their “On The Road” Experience

Guest blogger Tamara Burkett attended the curated “On The Road” StorySlam on October 19th at the Milwaukee Historical Society. The event was presented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wilde Subaru.

Here’s her take on the night.  You can read more of Tamara’s thoughts on her blog, which has a whole section of travel stories to check out as well!

Continue reading “Guest Blogger Shares Their “On The Road” Experience”

Rochelle stands in front of a mic, onstage at Turner Hall Ballroom

Discovering that I Didn’t Know the Whole Story

by guest blogger Rochelle Fritsch

Two years ago, I walked into the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion thinking — and knowing – I was in the right place at the right time.

Race and Privilege Stories. That’s I was there for, along with others of Ex Fabula’s inaugural Class of Fellows. This group of ethnically and racially diverse people were committed to sharing personal stories about race and privilege with the community.Continue reading “Discovering that I Didn’t Know the Whole Story”