After a life enduring the constant eyerolls of friends and family who had long grown tired of debating political minutiae, at last, here was a place where, at any hour of the day, like-minded news junkies whose obsession matched (or heck, even surpassed!) my own were always willing and ready to engage. To find such a place, finally, was a relief, a respite, a granted wish, a ... well, you know. You've been there too.
It didn't take long for that to change, though. It's impossible not to be exposed to so much more that Daily Kos offers. Brilliant satire. Outstanding recipes and what-to-make-for-dinner suggestions. Pictures of the cutest and funniest cats on the whole damn 'tubz.
I discovered early, and to my great delight, that there were other people on the planet who were as easily irked by a misused apostrophe as I. And they were right here at Daily Kos. I became fluent in a whole new language—rich with history and always evolving. Pooties. Bojoed. Don't falme me pleas. [Verb] my fucking [noun], kos! An outsider can be lost trying to follow along, but thankfully, this community is always eager to teach its language—with all the necessary links, of course, to catch you up to speed.
I fell in love with this place. I wanted to spend all my time with my new love, excited to see it each morning, sad to tear myself away at the end of the day. You leave the last comment. No, you leave the last comment. No, you.
And nobody at Daily Kos had to know why I was here, or what, in my real life, I was trying to escape. For those minutes or hours when I could be Angry Mouse, I didn't have to be me, Kaili, whose real life was falling apart. Those days when I wanted to run away, those nights when I couldn't sleep—I could just log in and check out. I know some of you have been there too.
But Daily Kos isn't just a place to escape from real life. I didn't know that then. I do now.
Last year, when my husband died, I learned that Daily Kos is a community that will love you, help you, protect you—not just in some anonymous political squabble on the internet, but in real life.
On the day of my husband's non-funeral funeral (he would have hated a funeral, so I had a birthday barbecue instead), I posted an obituary I'd written, in bits and pieces, during that first week after his death. I wrote it just because I needed to write it—for myself, for him. I shared it here because I hoped people would say kind things, as I had seen in other obituaries here. It was an ugly time, and I needed kindness.
When I returned from my husband's non-funeral funeral, I found two things: the delivery from the mortuary containing the box of my husband's ashes, and hundreds of comments and poems and images and songs of compassion for my husband and for me.
I sat by the fire, The Box beside me, reading thousands of words of unbelievable kindness. I had shared my grief with this community, and the community shared it with me.
And that was only the beginning.
My friends from the SFKossacks offered their help. In real life. It wasn't an anonymous person on the internet who gave me a condolence bag of chocolate; it was a real person who really cared. (And also, by the way, was a genius, because condolence flowers aren't edible. But chocolate always helps in any situation.)
The Kossack in Seattle who helped me find a home for my two cats I'd left with my husband and who now had no home? That wasn't just a "tipped and recced" gesture. That was a real person doing a real favor that really helped me in one of the worst and most desperate moments of my life.
When someone from my real life dared to come to Daily Kos and start saying very personal, very hurtful things about my husband and his death and our marriage, my Second Amendment buddies were on it. And they were not going to tolerate attacks on their "Illustrious Rodent." (Hey, what can I say? That's the name they gave me.) And then, privately, they offered their help—if there was anything they could do, just say the word.
When I found the free grief counseling available to me in my real life to be less than adequate, there was The Grieving Room. Every Monday night, I know there is this place I can go to vent or cry or joke or ache or just lurk and not feel alone. There is no judgment; there is only compassion. I found my "widow friend" in The Grieving Room. Her husband died shortly after mine, and so we have found ourselves on this similar journey, experiencing our various and tragic "firsts" and anniversaries and cycles of grief together. And though we are very different women, there is no one in my life who understands and forgives some of the things I've felt and said like my widow friend from TGR. I am so grateful for her and for this community within a community that led me to her.
There was the day that I got the email. The email. The one asking if I wanted to work for Daily Kos full time. To which I replied, "Yes. Also, hell yes." After everything I'd endured for the past year, and the years before that, here, at last was my I-wanna-be-a-writer-when-I-grow-up dream come true. Thanks to Daily Kos.
At last, something good had happened. I had a reason to get out of bed (sometimes even at o'dark thirty). I had a license to rant and snark—for a living! Few moments in life have ever been as joyous and fulfilling as the first time I wrote a "why Sarah Palin sucks" post because it's my job.
Yes, I came for the politics. But I stayed, and survived, because of what Daily Kos is: a wonderful, funny, compassionate—and yes, even occasionally dysfunctional—community.