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2022: Greetings From My Love Prison
"Mom, Mom, come in here!" I called to her the other day from my library. "I forgot to tell you, and I know you want to know. Guess who the new mayor of Los Angeles is!"
She didn't know and was eager to hear. "Okay, remember when you were mad at Nancy Pelosi and I said 'well who should be speaker then,' thinking you wouldn't have an answer, and you said 'KAREN BASS' and I went, 'oh shit huh, yeah, that would work! Because she's the only damn person in Congress who has the experience to wrangle Democrats'? Well she is mayor of Los Angeles now!"
"KAREN BASS??? I LOVE HER!" my mom said! "I KNOW!" I said back! "Who's the governor?" she asked, and when I answered Gavin Newsom, she said, "UGH I HATE HIM!"
"I know you do Mom, but I am going to remind you: You love him now, because the things he did with California's budget were magic ."
"Off the top of my head, he made every illegal immigrant in California eligible for Medicaid."
"I LOVE HIM NOW!"
A few minutes later, I asked her: "Mom, who is the new mayor of Los Angeles?"
"No, Karen Bass!"
"KAREN BASS??? I LOVE HER!"
Eight years ago, I moved from Los Angeles to Montana to marry Shy, a Wonkette commenter. "We don't have to stay here," he told me. We could go anywhere we wanted! But I was in love with Montana like I was in love with him. (I'm still in love with him.) After a year, after we'd had our heiress, Donna Rose, when I was forty-fucking-two, we remembered I had a 401k, emptied it for a princely down payment of ten THOUSAND dollars, and bought a pleasant house out in the country/on the rez, looking at the mountains and the lake. We started to (very very slowly) make friends with any 70-year-old Democrat we could find. There were three of them. Shy began volunteering at the food bank, where an old man who also volunteered would angrily sneer about the "takers" they served. At the food bank. Some years went by. My dad ODed and my sister sent him to me on the plane. He had no memory of the first several weeks he lived with us. Not much other memory either. When he wanted a driver's license, I stood behind him at the DMV and made eye contact with the lady, shaking my head barely perceptibly: no ... no ... no. Without any sort of fuss, she steered him to a state ID instead. The tribe had a bus that would take elders, tribal or not, anywhere in town. He walked the dogs at the shelter three times a week.
And Trump happened, and the pandemic happened, and the people of Montana lost their fucking minds. They'd always been racist, but now they were letting their freak flags fly. My son's boss at the diner would shout about n-words and gays. (He didn't say gay.) Grown men would see my daughter and my granddaughter in masks out in public — THERE WAS AND IS A PANDEMIC — and look at them with anger, like they wanted to do violence. There was a shooting threat at my daughter's kindergarten, a school that specifically only taught kindergarten and first. The guy wanted to kill all the kindergartners, the "disgusting" kindergartners, the "vermin," the "monsters."
After three days, they let the guy go. I initiated a polite conversation with my neighbor, the state senator, about whether or not we might finally get a red flag law, which had been shot down (sorry) in the previous session. "What good would that do?" my state senator sneered.
WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK? IT WOULD TAKE AWAY THE GUY'S GUNS AFTER HE THREATENED TO MURDER MY DAUGHTER.
For the first time in my life, after Joe Biden won election, I was becoming afraid for our safety. I took the bumper stickers off the Prius, fearing someone would run my son off the road. The locked-up gas station on the highway above town looked for all the world like a militia compound, barricaded perimeter and big armored trucks, and it sure looked like they were arming up. I emailed a Wonkette reader in the FBI.
Sure, I was getting paranoid, because they were out to get us.
Staying was becoming untenable.
And yet we, or I, kept trying to stay. Wasn't it my duty to help fight back in the state? Shouldn't I give aid and succor to my three 70-year-old Democrat friends, and help them try to turn the tide? No, the 2020 election had utterly deflated us. It was fine nationally, but Montana, which had been a surprisingly purple state, Republican but Don't Tread on Me, had elected every weird Republican in the state, up and down the ballot, to stomp us all to smithereens.
"It's not an uphill battle," my husband told me. "An uphill battle we could do. This is trying to fight up a cliff."
I resisted, for a year. I had just added on a dining room and redone the kitchen!
I loved my home. I loved my lake, and Donna's mountains, and Shy's sky. (Donna had, at two, meted out to us the domains of the earth. The day before we finally left, Shy's son's girlfriend's aunt, on Mother's Day, replied to my explaining to Donna that actually those particular mountains belonged to the tribe, that she, Shy's son's girlfriend's aunt, as a tribal member, bequeathed them to her, Donna Rose, as long as she swore her life to defend them.) But the state was also always on fire.
We sold our house for a fortune and we hit the road.
We went back to a city, in our case, a mansion in Detroit — it's a mansion to me — where there might be some crazy people but there sure wouldn't be white supremacists, and we would once again feel safe. My dad had already hotfooted it back to Southern California, railing against my pandemic prison of love. He had been replaced by my good son and granddaughter, who were all in.
We got here in May. My brother scooped up my mom in Oklahoma and brought her to us six weeks later. We had six people, three dogs, a cat and two kittens (the pregnant cat came with the house), and a business. (For several months, until two weeks ago when he fell in love with and moved in with my assistant, Glenn, we had Shy's nephew in the basement as well, making seven.) The electric bill is hell.
My husband, once again, had let me fill up every room in our very large house with my family, and he never bitched a word.
And we are happy, and we are safe, and we love our city, and sometimes the city is a little bit crazy. Sometimes my mother weeps with loneliness and homesickness for her land and sometimes she screams big primal screams about losing her mind, and I take her in my arms and tell her it's okay, she is allowed, I honor her emotions and no of course I don't take offense. Sometimes she talks about maybe she would like to start substitute teaching — she was in the LA Times as one of the top 100 teachers in the district by test score, from her school in what was then South Central LA — and I don't tell her her Alzheimer's would make that a poor fit. I ask the girls to bring her a book to read to them — maybe Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka Bake a Cake . I bake her a cherry pie, and she tells me for her sixteenth birthday, my Grandma Jeannie made her a cherry pie just for her, it is her favorite, and she ate it from the inside out. She tells me this every time, it is why I baked it. She asks who I like for 2024 if it isn't Joe Biden, and I tell her, again, I am Team Big Gretch. Michigan has corrected its course. The self-sorting the pundits bemoan as proof of our polarization is good and right. We are in the place where we should be, with the people we should be with.
And they can't escape my prison of love.