Sorry for the delay in doing a convention write-up. I didn’t get back to LA until late Monday night — I ended up kicking it in New York for a couple days after leaving West Virginia — and I’ve spent all week recuperating and getting back in gear. Here’s the first of at least two (probably) write-ups about Driving Miss Crazy 2012.
The DNC was a blast, and for all his crankiness and disdain for humanity, Cole is actually quite a caring and concerned individual. He needs to face it already: he’s a softie on the inside. (Plus, he grows a mean tomato.)
I must admit that when I told my mom – who is white for all of you have been trapped under something heavy for the past year and a half – that I would be going to West Virginia, my mom said, “What the fuck do you want to go to West Virginia for?”
After I explained that the Balloon Juice community had been so kind as to donate money (and buttons and one very peculiar bumper sticker) in order to get John and me to the convention, mom was on board. I also explained that when I agreed to go late that whatever-night-it-was, I was 100% convinced that Cole would call me the next morning and sheepishly say in his best Lumbergh voice, “Um, yeah about that trip to the DNC…,” and I would say, “I knew it!” and then we’d have a big laugh.
By the time that I woke up the following morning, I saw that Cole had already posted a fundraiser – even though he said that he would probably be waiting until the morning to post about our slapdash plan. (I’m fairly certain that had he not put up that post while drunk, we would not have gone.)
I know there was some concern about a white man and a black woman traveling in the south, but realistically, Charlotte is not particularly deep South, and having grown up the daughter of mixed race couple, and having been in several mixed-race relationships myself, I was not at all concerned. I never once felt that, “oh dang!” moment that black folks sometimes feel when they look around and realize they’re in West fucking Virginia.
My total comfort in my surroundings notwithstanding, I was going to get a couple jokes in. As I waited for Cole and Heather to pick me up outside of baggage claim, I fired off a text message to Cole: “Look for the black person!” There really were no other black people waiting for anyone to pick them up, but that’s neither here nor there.
A few hours later after I’d paid homage to Tunch, I was sitting in Cole’s (or “JG” as his friends and family call him) living room with a group of his friends. I looked around and I was one of three black people in his house. Three! Right there in his house! (or “hizzy,” if you like.) It was me, his friend Donna, and her bouncy and adorable little girl. And, as a bonus, a couple of his closest friends who are gay (and live on a farm) were also there, and I don’t know about you, but I sort of consider gay people to be a little bit black, insofar as black is a zeitgeist, and not just a racial description. More often than not, there’s a fine line between gay and black. Laugh if you must, but when you’re finished laughing, exclaim “girrrrrl!” with a modicum of attitude, and you might start picking up what I’m putting down.
As for Cole’s family, his mom and dad literally live around the corner from his house, and frankly, his family’s closeness makes me wish I lived around the corner from my parents. I was pretty jazzed about meeting his mom and dad, and Cole had informed me that the feeling was mutual. He had remarked to me about a week before my arrival that he felt like he was preparing for a visit from Prince Harry, because, apparently, his dad forced him to clean his rug (not a euphemism!), and his mom bought him new towels for my arrival because his towels weren’t up to code. (I do love a good towel!)
I chatted with his parents for only a short while before, alas, they had to return home to take care of several dogs. (Cole’s father returned the next morning with a plate full of warm cinnamon rolls – I wanted to hug him but it seemed inappropriate, since bringing over breakfast cinnamon roll seems like something that routinely occurs in the Cole family. It’s all cinnamon rolls and shenanigans. For example, as we were on our way to Charlotte and driving by Cole’s parents house, Cole honked the car horn with gusto and then immediately called his mom to ask if she had heard him. Like I said, they’re close.) Oh, and I briefly met his sister Devon. She was super nice, really pretty, and looked like she could outrun Paul Ryan in a marathon.
All in all, Cole’s got a nice life set up for himself out there in Bethany. It’s country/college professor living, and reminded me somewhat of Oberlin. My dad was a professor, too, but at UPenn, which isn’t exactly conducive to country livin’. Still, the collegiality Cole shares with his friends, a couple of whom are also colleagues, is familiar.
As for Charlotte, I didn’t have as much of a profound experience in terms of being surrounded by a diverse crowd, since I am black (surprise!), half my family is white (seriously, you should know this by now), and where I live in LA is very mixed (as is my group of friends). Cole seemed very much in his element at Murder Hotel, currying favor with our neighbors by offering them red cups full of rum and loud opinions about the relative merits of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His joviality and booze generosity worked in our favor, too, because the next night after partying at a bar with Rebecca Schoenkopf and Jim Newell of Wonkette, we ran into our neighbor Craig — to whom we had given a large red cup of rum the previous night — right as we were drunkenly trying to find a cab to take us back to the Murder Hotel. Craig had taken off time from work to volunteer at the convention, and he was kind enough to drive us home from the bar after stopping at McDonald’s first. In all likelihood, Craig would have given us a ride even if we hadn’t shown up at the Murder Hotel the night before with boxes of booze, nonetheless I think as between forgetting pants and booze, it was a good thing that Cole forgot his pants.
Aside from the speeches and the road trip itself, my favorite bits were meeting bloggers, media folk, and Twitter denizens; people with whom I have traded barbs, laughs, and quips over the past couple years since I crashed into the political blogosphere like a lost and somewhat inebriated Kool-Aid man. I spent a lot of time networking, talking to people about Team Uterati and lady-business, hanging out with Team Blackness, and contemplating lighting myself on fire in the hopes that Cory Booker would see me and put me out. I also did my first on-air segment for HuffPost Live, which was pretty damn fun.
None of it would have happened without you people (not in the racist sense.) To those of you who donated to get us to the DNC, I cannot thank you enough. It was an experience I will never forget. And generally speaking, although I’ve had my ups and downs here, I have grown to love this place.
It is safe to say we had a great time in Charlotte.
And by “we,” I mean me and my girls, obvs.
Oh, and John, too. I guess.
***Here’s a link to a Storify of my tweets (most of them anyway.)[cross-posted at ABLC]