Messy Activism

by Nicole Plyler Fisk

For my birthday, the fabulous Scott Fisk decided to surprise me with a mini-break road trip. I’m always on board with a mini-break road trip, especially when it contributes in some positive way to the causes I hold dear. Since the Sandy Hook massacre, I’ve been on my gun control soapbox, and plan to make myself comfortable and stay there for a bit.

Scott decided we would drive 7+ hours to Seminole, Florida to shop at Frank James’s Lone Star Jewelry and Pawn. James has been in the news, recently, because of his decision to stop trading in firearms, previously half his revenue. He worries about his business being able to survive his decision, but as the father of a six-year old child, he cannot in good conscience continue to sell guns until stricter regulation is passed. He is a member of the NRA and personally owns guns, but he says the wrong kinds of guns are getting into the wrong kinds of hands and refuses to contribute in any way, despite the cost.

The Fisks adore this and set off to personally thank him. Jack and Arina wrote “thank you” notes on the drive.

A's card

We left on my birthday, Friday the 11th, when Scott got home from work. We drove until we were tired, stopping at a hotel for the night and continuing on the next morning. We got to Lone Star Jewelry and Pawn between 3:00 and 4:00, and were pleased to have reached the end of our pilgrimage.

Lone Star Pawn

Imagine our surprise to find it . . . closed.

Flummoxed, we went back to the car and pulled up James’s web site on the internet. “See,” I told Scott, “Open 7 Days a Week!” We looked at the two signs in the window; the “Pawn” sign was on, lit with red lights, but the “Open” sign was dark. We looked in the window, and it was dark inside too.

“Call the telephone number?” Scott suggested. I did. The message said that Lone Star Jewelry and Pawn would be closed through January 14th, for the holidays.

We laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. And then we took campy photos that we plan to send to Frank. In the first, below, Arina is gesturing toward the dark “Open” sign.


In the second, below, Arina and Jack play in the Lone Star Pawn trailer:

On the trailer

Arina decided that we should go to the beach instead. Luckily, the beautiful Madeira Beach was just over the bridge. I told Scott Madeira was the perfect beach for me, since it reminded me of Jane Eyre, whose uncle made his money and lived in Madeira.

Nicole in Madeira

Madeira Beach, Florida is a lovely little seaside community, east of the Gulf of Mexico. We watched the sunset, while Arina swam in her clothes and Jack played in the sand . . .

Arina in Madeira

. . . and watched for planes, one of which flew by several times with a sign:


While Scott and I watched the kids play, we talked about Plan B, because as Fisks (accurately and lovingly referred to as hot messes and shit shows)  we always have a Plan B. We decided that we would put together a package for Frank James (including a copy of this post, the kids’ cards, and a check for the donation amount we had planned to spend) in the mail on Monday. In a way, we reasoned, this is an even better option, since he will be able to get our donation, plus sell whatever we would have bought.

We also remembered that pilgrimages are as much about the journey as they are about reaching a destination, and we agreed that the journey had been a good one. We alternated the time between listening to an audiobook about Churchill and Ghandi that Scott had received as a Christmas present and listening to the kids playing in the back. I immersed myself in a writing project while on the road, and the kids made cards and told stories.

I reminded Scott that activism, especially when I’m involved, always seems to be messy. Example: the fostering dog project, scenes of which include me, running through the neighborhood after foster dog Morven, while attired in pajama pants, fuzzy socks, rain boots, a tank top and fancy corduroy jacket; or, our house, covered in stinky wet dog food after I turned my back on Jack for two seconds.

Life is messy and fun. And, I told Scott what a couple of my girlfriends said about him, that he’s a “stud,” because “civic engagement and making it happen is hott.”

It’s “hott,” even when it doesn’t turn out quite as expected.

Road trip

So, to Scott: Thanks for a wonderfully exciting weekend adventure.

And to Frank: Be on the lookout for a package from the Fisks. We’ll catch you in person next time. 😉