Yesterday marked the official end to my school year. It goes without saying that this was an extremely odd one and certainly one of the most challenging. I’m willing to bet, though, that if I checked out the archives to this blog, I would find similar posts last year, the year before that, five years before that, etc. You get the idea. The end of the school year always bring some introspection on my part and this time is no different. In fact, it might bring more as next year is filled with question marks and concerns on a big picture scale. Then, I have some worries about my position, specifically.
I’m at a weird point in my career. I am probably about 10-12 years away from retirement. Trust me when I say that typing those words are as weird as thinking them. I’m not that old after all, right? In many ways, I wish that I was ten years younger or older. If I was younger, I would have more flexibility when it comes to thinking about my career and if I want to stay in the classroom. I would not lose as much, if I walked away. That said, if I was ten years older, retirement would be just around the corner, which would definitely keep me in place with little thought to switching jobs now. Unfortunately, I am in neither position.
Six years ago, I moved into my current place and took a new position at a high school teaching history. It truly felt like a chance to start over and, for a long time, the positives overshadowed the negatives. I love teaching history and women’s studies, which was added in my second year. My students keep me going with their questions, their thoughts, their passions and even their actions. I have witnessed many students turn their young lives around to being happy with themselves and their situations. Some of my students have followed in my footsteps as far as getting involved in the political sphere. Many have demonstrated their activism in the last few years. I am proud of the work that I have done.
At the same time, forces working against this outside of the four walls of my classroom have increased in both amount and intensity, making it difficult to focus on the benefits of my job. I have witnessed non-stop attacks on my profession from politicians and the public. Now, others have added to those voices, including ones with more direct impact. This, as you can imagine, has added stress to what is already deemed a very problematic period of history. That said, what does this mean for my fandom and this blog? How are those connected?
Fandom, like everything else, does not exist in a vacuum. I am not *just* a Duranie. I’m that and so much more. Life affects fandom and fandom affects life. At times, in my life, fandom has become almost all-consuming in that my focus was only on that. At other times, fandom has been placed on the back burner. It feels like this is a time in which fandom is in the background of my life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not leaving fandom. No. It is part of who I am and always will be. It just means that right now, my brain is thinking about other things like my career. I’m certain that once it is safe for the band to play shows again, it will grab a lot more of my attention. Likewise, when #DD15 drops, the music will definitely get most of me! I think this is all very common and normal.
So what about this blog? If fandom is more of a supporting player rather than a starring role in life, should the same thing be said for the blog? I don’t agree. When I think about the fact that we have been doing this for almost a decade, I feel a sense of pride, just like when I think about the successes of so many of my students. On top of that, it reminds me of an assignment my students did this spring. Since we are living in a pandemic, I asked my students to document their lives in some way. Some students chose to just journal. Others created slideshows with pictures. A few chose to vlog or to create a podcast. While the goal was for the kids to document life in a safer-at-home order during a pandemic, I found that my kids veered from that goal, at times. This, in itself, shows that life is not one-dimensional, even during a global health crisis. No matter how often or how little they referenced COVID, they still created a primary source document that could live on beyond them.
The same thing is true for this blog. It has captured not only our experiences, our research and our feelings toward fandom and Duran Duran, it has also captured so much of our lives. I think about writing when my grandma passed away in 2010 or through all the elections I have worked on. Rhonda, too, has written about the trials and tribulations surrounding her life and family. In many ways, the blog is more than the sum of its parts. It has grown beyond its original purpose. I, for one, am glad that we have it still as it has documented our lives and our fandom in a way that I could not have imagined when we started.