Category Archives: friendship

If You Leave a Light On…

I am lucky enough to write this blog post on Friday afternoon due to a much-needed and much-unexpected snow day!  Normally, I write the Friday blogs on Thursday nights.  Fridays usually mean work for me followed by running some errands and making my weekend to-do list.  Every once in awhile, I have something to look forward to.  When I’m really lucky, I have something to look forward and the energy needed to enjoy them.  Today is one of those days.  What do I have to look forward to?  I have a Skype conference scheduled with my partner-in-crime.  While some might argue that a “conference” does not sound like fun, I would disagree.  Well, yes, some work will get done (it has to!), but it also gives us a chance to catch up, too!

What is on the work portion of today’s conversation?  Our list is rather lengthy, actually.  Most importantly to many reading this blog, we have some convention tasks to deal with.  Most specifically, we must get a little Kickstarter campaign up and running.  The goal is to get enough funding to meet the down payment for our convention location, the home base for our convention, happening during Duran Duran Appreciation Day/weekend.  This, of course, is key for us to move forward with our planning.  Be on the look-out for that!  The other big topic for us is about the Pop Culture conference we are presenting at next month! EEEK!  Next month definitely makes it sound like it is right around the corner.  We have planning to discuss, in terms of our travel, but, more importantly, our paper and presentation demand our attention, too.  Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to all of it.  For me, none of that feels like work even though it takes time and energy.

Beyond all that, I cannot wait to simply catch up.  I have to admit that I have not been that good of a friend lately to Rhonda or to my other friends.  When I have had a chance to check in, communicate with my friends, find time for them, I just haven’t.  I could describe the reasons for this, but I’m not sure how much any of you really would be interested in that.  I’ll say it this way.  It has taken the vast majority of my energy just to get work related tasks done along with required household chores.  (Let me just ask right now.  Why can’t my cat do the dishes or laundry or pay bills?!  Why is he so useless?  Apparently, he thinks his job is to just be cute!  The outrage!)  Now, I’m hoping that my snow day along with today’s conference helps to push me back to normal.

Once that happens, I’ll be better able to keep up with any and all news in the Duran sphere of the world.  I know that Simon is going to be a grandfather and that they are going to be playing in Dubai soon. Other than that, I feel like I have been in the dark, which is unacceptable to me!  After all, the blog needs me to be somewhat in the loop.  My happiness requires that, too!

-A

The door is standing open

Rarely do I find time to write three blog postings in a single day, but on this Monday, I make the time. For me, this post, which will publish tomorrow afternoon, is about processing, cleansing, and still more processing, I suppose.

A little more than an hour or so ago, I stumbled upon news that another one of our extended Duranie family members has passed. Her name is Lisa Amaral, and I am certain that many of you reading probably knew her. She was a regular on DDM back when it was a busy “crossroads of the world” for Duran Duran fans, and from what I can tell, she was loved by many. To be that kind of person…I don’t know what that is like.

Despite my sadness, I didn’t really know Lisa. We were not friends, and I don’t want to pretend otherwise as I write this. That isn’t the point. I had a great many friends that were close to her, loved her, and are incredibly heartbroken today. Their grief is palatable on every level, and I wish I could hug each one of them.

Back in my teens and twenties, it was fairly easy to delude myself into believing tomorrow would always be there. I only had a few friends that died between the time of middle school and college, and just one that I knew well. It was simple to tell myself that someone dying when they were my age was practically unheard of, unless they were very, very ill. I was healthy, young, and had a lifetime ahead of me.

In my thirties, I lost a few other friends. One that was very close to me in my local MOMS Club, and that was a tragic loss. I started realizing, but trying my best to ignore, that a “lifetime” didn’t mean any particular length. You get what you get.  I watched my own father die from a disgustingly evil disease, but even then, I pushed that thought out of my mind because I was a mom and had things to do. Tours to go see. Bands to meet. Friends to make.

Now I am cruising through my forties. The time seems to have sped up with each passing decade.  I have lost a few very close friends, and seen many family members and other friends battle illnesses that are meant to kill. I am still a major procrastinator.  The saying, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” is one of my favorite. I’m awful.

You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but somehow, I still haven’t. I see friends at events like the weekend in Las Vegas and many times I’m the one standing there…or walking by… hemming and hawing about whether or not I should even go up and say hi. I immediately assume that I’d be interrupting them, or that they don’t really want to be attacked in the middle of a hallway as they’re standing by, waiting for an elevator or chatting with friends. I saw a lot of people I knew that weekend, but very few did I run up to and say hello, or hug, even if I wanted. I was content to either just wave from afar, or say nothing. Yes, I’m shy, but I’m also not very good at approaching people out of the blue.

We don’t know if we have tomorrow. That is a concept I can’t seem to teach myself. I wasn’t friends with Lisa, but I knew her. I knew who she was, and I saw her that weekend in Vegas.  It is unfathomable to me that life can just end without warning in three weeks time, yet it happens all of the time. It’s hard to process that idea.

I don’t like the idea that over the next I-don’t-know-how-long, I will have other friends and family die. I worry that I won’t do the things I should do in the meantime, because it’s easy to slip back into that place where I delude myself into believing I have forever to tell people how I feel. It’s maddening.

For those of you reading who knew and loved Lisa, you have my heartfelt condolences. I am so sorry. A great deal of my friends are posting about their loss, and it is a testament to Lisa that she has so many friends that adore her and are heartbroken.

When these things happen, I always think about how I’m glad I went to the shows I did, or that I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the people I’ve met along the way. I’m grateful for the friends that are willing to put up with me, and for those that push me way the heck out of my comfort zones, too. This time though, I’m starting to think that I need to take more chances with my emotions. I need to make sure the people I care about know how I feel. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.

Rest in Peace, Lisa.

-R

Watch Out For Each Other

Thank goodness it is Friday!  I don’t know about the rest of you but it was a long week on my end.  I couldn’t be more thrilled that the weekend is just a few hours away.  On that note, what Duran related song did I find in my iPod shuffle?!  The first one actually was Faith In This Colour.  Unfortunately, this song won’t work for blogging purposes so I hit shuffle again.  This time I landed on Sunrise.  While my immediate reaction was to go with the line, “The music’s between us,” I opted instead to go for the line, “Watch out for each other.”  Obviously, this song represents the reunion and that line seemed encouraging when it came the band itself in 2004.  Now, though, the line feels a little different to me.  It feels deeper, more personal as it reminds me of friendship.

The line “watch out for each other” reminds me of friendship because, to me, an essential element of friendship is just that.  It means looking out for the other.  It means helping out the other when that person needs it, whether that help is in the form of money, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a bit of defense when the social media world is less than kind.  When I think of this line being applied to the members of Duran, I think it fits well.
Duran Duran has been through a lot throughout the band’s history.  They first had to deal with forming the band and creating the structure  that would follow their careers.  When I think about what I know about that early structure, it includes splitting the royalties equally, trying to find a musical balance and always presenting themselves as a united group.  Even when they split into the side projects of Power Station and Arcadia, I don’t ever remember hearing negatives towards one half or the other.  The only time during the 80s that I remember a tiny bit of criticism is after Andy left.  Even then, though, it seemed small and didn’t last very long.  The band members who remained, on the other hand, seemed even more united.
This united front remained throughout the rest of the 80s, 90s and 2000s.  I don’t remember ever hearing about in-fighting or negativity towards one member or another.  Even when Warren left and the others came back, I saw respect given for Warren and his work in the band.  The same really can be true after Andy left a second time.  John Taylor had the chance to be openly critical in his autobiography but he didn’t.  It seems to me that the “watch out for each other” mentality has been a part of Duran Duran throughout the band’s history, which I think is admirable.  While they may have had fights or bad blood among some of them, they almost always took the high road with each other, at least in the public sphere.
Maybe some of this is the combination between friendship and work.  I think that often creates a strong bond that is hard to break, privately, and impossible to break, publicly.  I feel that way with Rhonda.  We were friends before we started “working” together.  Make no mistake.  We have been working together.  There is nothing like the pressure of trying to pull off a convention together or to look at someone’s writing with critical eyes.  This blog has existed for a long time, too.  At times, we have gotten a lot of flack over this, that or the next thing.  The thing is that we will always defend each other even if that means taking some of the heat for the other.  We watch for each other.  To me, that is friendship and that is loyalty.
Beyond work related to the blog, our friendship is such that we would watch out for each other in other avenues of our lives, too.  I hate the fact that my job takes so much of my time and energy that I don’t get to check in with Rhonda as much as I would like.  Thankfully, I think she understands that it has nothing to do with her and just that I’m busy.  That said, I believe that  she knows that I would be there for her if she ever needed me.  I would drop everything, if needed.  I believe she would say the same for me.  To me, then, this lyric and even the song really does show friendship and our friendship, in particular.
-A

We’re the Ripples: Friendship in Duranland

Sometimes, without any warning whatsoever, this community will make me have a good case of the “feels”.  Those of you who have teenagers will probably know what I mean. The rest of you, well…just keep reading and you’ll catch on.

A couple of days ago, I was catching up on Facebook by reading my news feed. I noticed that I’d gotten some sort of video thing posted by Facebook notifying me that Amanda and I have been friends for 9 years.  In actuality, it’s been a bit longer than that – I’ve known her since September of 2003 when I met her in person at the Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans – but the sentiment was nice, all the same. It looked like quite a few of my friends had gotten similar notifications with other people on that same day. One of them caught my eye because the other person (not my friend, but the person she was friends with) had passed away quite a few years ago.

It’s become sort of common for family members to decide to leave Facebook accounts up for people who have passed on. My friend Laurie’s family has done that, and while I make it a point NOT to visit her page (Though I’ve tried over the years, I just can’t yet. The pain is far too great.), many of my sorority sisters still visit and I know the page provides comfort to Laurie’s mom, in particular. This person’s family must have decided to do something similar. Out of curiosity, I clicked on her page because my friend had noted she met her because of Duran Duran. I found something remarkable and wonderful as a result.

This person was a Duranie and she was apparently well-known and loved, even though I myself have no recollection of her (I’m a west coast Duranie who had mostly kept to herself until this blog came about!) Over the years since her passing, many of her friends continue to visit her page, leaving photos commemorating their memories of her. It turns out that my friend had known this person for 30 years, as a result of being Duranies. The notes were sometimes poignant, sad, and yet there was definitely a silver lining to all of it.

This one band brought these people together, and to this day, this one person had given all of her friends and the people she had touched with her life a remarkable gift of something to remember her by.  Everywhere on the page there were pictures of hearts posted by her friends. Naturally occurring hearts, made from the shapes of leaves, clouds, shadows, light, and love. I had never seen friendship look quite so beautiful. Friendship that began (in many cases) over the bonding that happens when you’re fans of the same band.

I hear about that sort of thing every once in a while, but it still makes me take pause every single time. There are people, very VERY lucky people I might add, who have met people in this fandom and have been friends with them since childhood. Here we are, now in the throes of whatever “middle-age” might be, and some can still say they have childhood friends that continue to love this band and go to shows with them. It blows my mind.  I mean that. Days later and I’m still thinking about how lucky this woman was to have these kinds of friends. It’s funny because in some ways these friendships go against everything I tend to see in this community: the in-fighting, the envy, and the insipid bickering and arguing.

I don’t really know if Duran Duran really understands their impact, and I’m not just talking about musically. They brought so many of us together. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that, much less writing words about it. These friendships go beyond what the critics said, or whether or not as kids we knew anything about music. One band brought an entire community of kids together from all across the planet, many of us are still here, and a lot of us know one another and count each other as friends and family.  That’s the real gift for fans. Sure, the music is great and will last forever, but nothing will last longer than my memories of the friendships I’ve made along the way. Not everybody gets that. Some people only have the music – and while that’s a huge, enormous thing on its own, those of us who are really entrenched in the fan community have so much more. We have friendship.  For me, those relationships are kind of the bonus silver lining in all of this, and I hope those of you reading can say the same.

I don’t really think about my own mortality much – it’s a pretty depressing thought.  I will say this though: I will consider mine a life well-lived if one day I have the kinds of friends that this Duranie had, who continue to have her memory so readily available in their minds – and their love for her so palatable that they continue to spread that love well after her passing.

It would have been easy for me to have scrolled right past that little note in my news feed that day. After all, it was none of my business – even though my friend had shared it (which is why I saw it) and in some ways I did feel like I was eavesdropping when I looked at this person’s page. That said, it touched me, and I’m glad I did. I’m still thinking about the love I saw that day. Duranies aren’t an easy bunch. We can be petty, jealous, vindictive and WAY competitive.  But sometimes, the friendships and love speak louder than anything else, and take my breath away.

-R

 

Something to Remember: Friendship and DDAD17

Friendship matters. In a world that is moving far too quickly, with relationships teetering towards collapse, a real friend can be hard to find and keep.

Before I ever began blogging, and well before I ever had the audacity to believe I could write a manuscript, I spent most of my days chasing after my two oldest kids. When we first moved to the neighborhood where we currently live, my oldest—Heather—wasn’t even quite a full year old. Gavin came along a year and a half later, and that’s when I joined the MOMS Club. Believe it or not, it’s an international club for stay-at-home moms. Joining the club was the best thing for me because I felt pretty overwhelmed here at home alone. Having somewhere to be each day, whether it was the park or another member’s home for cooking club, or just sitting on someone’s driveway while we let all of the kids play in the cul-de-sac, saved me. I made friends fairly quickly, and some were closer than others, but it still wasn’t enough. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on what I was missing, but it was something.

I stayed in MOMS Club until my oldest was in first grade, I believe, and that’s when I realized I’d moved beyond what they could offer. Playdates and sewing classes bored the hell out of me. What I really wanted was some adult time and a real friendship that went beyond just being moms, and that was beyond the premise of MOMS Club.

Around that same time, I went to the first Duran Duran concert I’d been to in probably seven years. I’ve told the story before, but it was mind-boggling. That reignited a flame I’d thought had long since been extinguished, and I went searching online to see what else was out there. Or who!  I think at the time, I believed I was going to look for information on the band. I  had no idea what they’d been up to since Medazzaland, and I felt like I must have missed something. I joined the duranduran.com message boards and tried to glean as much as possible from the obviously long-time posters there.

For me, dd.com was a tough place. I was very intimidated by the people there, because they seemed to rip everyone to shreds, including one another.  It didn’t seem friendly, and I didn’t want to put myself out there. So I kept searching and eventually stumbled onto duranduranfans.com, which became my online sanctuary.

The story of how I eventually met Amanda has been told over and over, but the truth is, she was somehow exactly who I needed to meet. We are forever bonded by Duran Duran, and now, also by this blog and our experiences. When I met her, I had no way of knowing that she and I were opposite sides of the same coin, or that we would be there to push and encourage one another when needed. Amanda and I are so different in so many ways, you might not even think we’d be able to be friends. It’s just the opposite, though. She is strong where I’m weak, and vice-versa. It is the first real, solid friendship I think I’ve had as an adult.

I’ve run into people over the years who say that they appreciate the ban for the catalog of music, but that we really shouldn’t thank or appreciate them for bringing fans and friends together.  I’m just not so sure. For me personally, it was going to a single concert that led me to find my best friend. It is that same band who continues to push and encourage the two of us to keep going. And let’s face it, if it weren’t for Duran Duran, there would be no Daily Duranie. That alone is worth a thank you, and maybe even a toast!

Since this blog is written daily, we’ve kind of gotten into the habit of appreciating Duran Duran each day.  In many ways, it’s our own moment of zen, now that I come to think of it. In no way can I appreciate them more, though, than thanking them for somehow leading me to an entirely different chapter in my life, complete with a friendship I can count on, and memories I’ll never forget.

See you all tomorrow on Twitter! #DDAD17

-R

 

 

#DDAD17: Party and Appreciate DD This Thursday!

If you are looking for hard-hitting Daily Duranie news today, I’m about to totally rock your world. After much discussion and logistical planning,  we are ready to announce that Amanda and I are hosting an online Duran Duran Appreciation Day (#DDAD17) par-tay!

Amanda and I have been spending a lot of time working while on Skype this summer. It’s the next best thing to being in the same room, and we’ve grown accustomed to this method over the years. I don’t know what prompted the topic one day while we were talking, but I said something about how I wanted to spend just one day this summer watching videos together and acting like idiots online. It’s pretty much what we do when we ARE together (just imagine those long car rides getting to shows). I just want one more day of that before we both go back to work, because no matter what we say now – by October we’ll both be saying things on the blog like “We miss our friends. We haven’t talked to one another in months, etc. etc.”

The thing is, if I had to pick one thing to really appreciate Duran Duran for giving me – it would be my friendship to Amanda. Yes, yes, the music is fantastic. Of COURSE. Many people will focus on that for Duran Duran Appreciation Day, and I think that’s wonderful. But the most important thing for ME has been friendship. And if it weren’t for Duran Duran, I would have never found Amanda.  I know it seems like such a strange thing to thank a band for, but I am pretty sure they get it. I think they’ve seen us enough to know, and I will never be able to thank them enough.  I suspect there might be another blog on that whole friendship thing tomorrow….

The other thing is, we’ve hosted similar parties in the past. They’re always at weird times because of the time differences around the world, and more often than not they’re during the week because Duran Duran Appreciation Day falls during the week most years.  As result, most people can’t really join in for the entire time.  Ultimately it dissolves into Amanda and I, drunk by 2pm my time…tweeting away with no one answering and yet we’re cracking ourselves up.  It is either amusing or maddening, depending upon your patience level.  The fact is, WE have a total blast being idiots, left to our own devices, and so this all comes down to the two of us.  As our good friend Patty once told us, “If you’re not having fun, it’s time to go.”

With all of that in mind, we invite you to join us in an afternoon/evening filled with Duran Duran videos, trivia, merriment, friendship, and joy.  The best part is that this will cost you nothing, and all you need in order to join in is a reasonably decent internet connection.

Beginning at noon PDT time (that is: 2pm central, 3pm east coast, 8pm UK…and so on), Amanda and I will be on Twitter, watching a specially compiled Daily Duranie video play list, making jokes whenever possible, drinking vodka tonics, and basically cracking ourselves up.  We would love to have fans from all over join us, or pop in and out as you’re able.  All you need to do in order to properly celebrate the day is find us on twitter at @dailyduranie, and use the hashtag #DDAD17. We’ll let you know when we begin the special playlist, and if you join late, we can accommodate that by throwing out the names of the videos we’re watching.

On another note, originally someone had suggested doing a Google Hangout and doing drunken Duran Karaoke. While this was an amazingly fun idea, the logistics aren’t that simple. Hangouts only accommodate up to 10 on a video call, and really – isn’t the point to be able to WATCH? I wish I could say we had the hookup to be able to host such things here on our site, but according to my IT guy – we are not a Fortune 500 company, and our yearly operating budget is “slightly smaller” than that. So videos and Twitter it is!!

(He means we operate in the red, which is true.)

So, check us out on Thursday, 12pm PDT, 8pm UK time.  We don’t currently have an ending time because we’re not sure how long this will go. If people are still around and willing to chat with us at 5pm (8pm east coast, 1am UK time), we’ll stick with it. If it’s 8pm and we’re still at it, fine!  If not, we’ll close shop, take some Advil, and sleep it off!

Hope you can join us, even if you’re just gonna pop in and out at your leisure!  #DDAD17

Cheers!!

-R

Lost Souls Diamonds and Gold

One of my favorite scenes in Duran’s Sing Blue Silver documentary is when John Taylor is woken up to do an interview.  During that interview, he comments about how the tour (he is referring to the 1984 one) was “never an assured tour”.  I always took this to mean that the band didn’t really know how the tour was going to go.  Would the fans show up?  How would they react?  No matter how many times I see that scene, I find myself shaking my head.  How could they not know?  Of course, the fans would show up and love it!  Duh!

Yet, this past weekend, that quote floated through my brain quite often.  After all, I, too, felt that way before this past little mini-tour of ours at Agua Caliente.  I didn’t know how it was going to go, which was weird and felt very odd.  In the days leading up to going, I found myself struggling to get excited in the same way that I normally do.  Yes, I looked forward to it but it wasn’t the usual jumping out of my skin in excitement.  Was I losing my Duranie touch?  Looking back, I think it had more to do with me.

Life hasn’t felt very friendly lately.  I lost a lot of motivation for many things and to be honest, my friendship with Rhonda felt strained.  I couldn’t pinpoint anything specific but we were distant from each other due to lack of time, lack of effort, and lack of understanding.  I knew this going into the tour.  In fact, I told some people that I fully expected this to be my last one  This wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t have fun or because my love for Duran would end.  I just thought that maybe it had run its course or it would seem like too much effort.

As the weekend began, I told myself to have no expectations other than having fun.  The weekend didn’t have to be perfect (whatever that even means) to be great, I figured.  If you read or watched our blogs last weekend and beyond, you are well aware that the weekend definitely exceeded my expectations.  The shows were so much fun.  While, yes, I grumbled and complained about the lack of Planet Earth, I didn’t let that tick me off (too much).  I figured that it gave me permission to give them a hard time back, right???  I sang.  I danced.  I screamed.  It was glorious.  Yes, I wished that we had at least 18 songs and, yes, I wish that Sunrise or Careless Memories or Planet Earth was on the setlist.  Instead of complaining or wishing for something else, I appreciated the heck out of Only in Dreams and Is There Something I Should Know?.

Then, there was everything surrounding the shows.  I loved having drinks with friends, seeing people I only see at Duran functions and being reminded that everyone connected to Duran makes a community, a family of sorts.  I got to know people better and I got to meet people for the first time.  And, yes, I was reminded of why Rhonda and I tour so well together as we were the last ones standing on both nights.  Perhaps, there is also a lot less vodka in the resort after we had been there (along with our fellow vodka drinking friends!).

Of course, Rhonda and I had a chance to talk as well, which was much appreciated and needed.  I feel confident that the conversation reminded us both to be supportive of each other even if we don’t always understand the other’s choices.  Since then, things have felt very normal, which is so nice.  So much has not felt normal for me for a long time.  I have been focusing on fighting to keep the normal as I feared that many changes, significant and negative ones, would be coming down the pike.  While I don’t regret that and embrace that part of myself that must fight back, I must also remember what is part of my normal, what I am working to keep.  My normal means that Duran Duran and fandom plays a significant part.  It includes touring when and where I can.  Having fun is necessary to keep going during the less than fun times.

The weekend, the mini-tour, reminded me that I can wear more than one hat at a time.  In fact, it is required.  I remembered how much fun touring is and why my friendship with Rhonda matters as much as it does.  It gave me motivation to keep working on a dream, in one way, shape or form.  I don’t know that I can say that the weekend was perfect or the best tour, but it really was damn good.  Even better, it didn’t even end before I started to plan for the next one.  That is the ideal way to be, isn’t it?  Lost souls diamonds and gold, indeed.

-A

…And We’ll Remember

Twelve years ago today I drove to Chicago to join my new Duranie friends for a weekend of fun and Duran Duran.  While I had met many of these new friends months prior in New Orleans, the weekend in 2005 was the first time I would attending a Duran show with any of them.  When those Astronaut tour dates were posted, we made plans quickly, including deciding to gather in Chicago to not only see the show, but to buy those more expensive VIP tickets.  I purchased those tickets for myself, Rhonda and another friend of ours.  In reality, I had no real idea if I could trust them to pay me back, but they did.  I had no clue if I could really hang out with them for an entire weekend or whether or not Rhonda and I would share a hotel room without a problem.  I took a leap of faith.

By 5 am on March 20th, 2005, I knew that it Rhonda and I were able to not only go to shows together but could travel “on tour” well together.  During that weekend, I laughed more than I had for an entire year, I swear.  I had so much fun that I wondered if it shouldn’t be illegal.  I almost questioned my grip on reality because it exceeded every expectation I had.  The joy I felt was pure and fulfilled me in a way that I wasn’t even aware that I lacked.  To say that the weekend changed my life would be an understatement.  Everything changed after that.

When I look back at the 12 years that have transpired between then and now, I almost cannot believe it and I certainly wouldn’t have believed it then.  Rhonda and I have shared so much.  We have traveled to the UK twice together.  We have seen shows ranging from Glasgow, Scotland, to Toronto, Canada, to New York City, New York to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, to San Diego, California and more.  Beyond those shows, we started this blog here.  The Daily Duranie became way more than just a simple, little blog about Duran Duran.  It became about fandom and about us and about our fan community.  The blog has become a part of us and who are are, both as individuals and as a pair.  I think ending the blog would feel like cutting off an arm or at least a finger.  I would miss it.

Beyond the shows and the blogging, we also organized many fan meet-ups and a weekend long convention.  We have written two full manuscripts and have come up with many more ideas.  The love that we had and have for a band blossomed, bloomed into real action on our parts.  We have criticized widely for our approach, our questioning, our criticism.  We have also been praised by our dedication (or insanity).  We have been accused of being too negative by some and thanked for keeping the fandom going.

Rhonda and I met in New Orleans in September of 2004.  While that weekend included some amazingly fun activities as well as an acknowledgement that we were kindred spirits when it comes to Duran Duran, it didn’t create the domino affect like that the weekend in Chicago in March of 2005 did.  A convention is a one weekend off event.  It is not something that can be easily replicated.  Shows, though?  They happen more often.  Tours provide us the opportunity to relive that first weekend over and over, at least to some extent.  That first touring weekend started a snowball of fandom that has grown even as it has changed.  It solidified the beginnings of a friendship that has meant the world to me.

Now, on the anniversary of that date, I wonder what will come next.  Will the snowball of fandom continue to get bigger?  Will it stay the same in size while totally changing shape?  What about Rhonda and myself?  In many ways, our friendship has been tested a lot.  We have faced rejection, been ignored, the receivers of some insulting and hateful comments over the years.  Beyond that, we recognize that our “real” lives are often pulling us in opposite directions while we continue to work together and to be friends.  I don’t know exactly how we will navigate the next twelve years, I just know that I hope we can continue to do it together.  After all, we aren’t done with Duran Duran yet.

-A

With you my friend: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  Coincidentally, I’m at home today, and my youngest is sick – I think she’s got the flu. I am not planning to go on strike (I’m a mom and that just doesn’t really work), but I had planned to casually work in a little reading about some prominent female historical figures today. She’s sick though (and still sleeping!), so that will have to wait.  Meanwhile, the blog awaits…

So, here I am, eight days away from picking Amanda up at LAX, and, like before every other trip or weekend away I’ve taken, I’m beginning to worry that I shouldn’t go. Now, of course, I *am* going – so Amanda doesn’t need to be concerned about that, but I put myself through this torture every single time. I’ve been planning this weekend for a while now, and I carefully set the time aside, saying to myself that I wouldn’t let a single thing get in the way. I should have just started laughing as I thought that to myself, because inevitably, something does. In this case, it’s a few things – and now I have to leave those things to my husband while I go off and have fun.  (Truth: I will have fun.  Untruth he seems to assume: I won’t think about my family the entire time.) I’m already worried about missing a couple of things and I haven’t even left yet. Sometimes I really wonder why I plan these trips because of the amount of worrying I do before I go.

I’ve been majorly stressed out lately. Things are really crazy at work, and things are even more so here at home. My oldest is going through serious heartbreak, my son is waiting for college admissions decisions, my youngest is getting ready for Certificate of Merit testing for piano, amongst quite a few other things. As much as I worry about going, I know that I very much need to go, and this is really normal for me. Just ask Amanda.

Speaking of Amanda, I’ve gotten so caught up in work and stuff going on around here that I haven’t even really thought about the things I need to do to get ready for the weekend.  I don’t even think Amanda and I have really talked much about the trip at all, which is crazy! Normally by now we’ve carefully planned each minute of each day, and this time, I feel like we’re both just gonna show up and let the weekend unfold however it does. In a lot of ways, as much as it’s really different from what we’ve done in the past, where we’ve obsessed over most details, maybe we both need a little spontaneity.    The last six months have been so strange. I went from talking to Amanda nearly every week to talking with her only a few times since August. I don’t check-in nearly as much, although from time to time we still trade texts. Sometimes, I only know what is going on with her from what she writes here on the blog! I feel like I’ve been caught up in a vortex: homeschooling, working, eating, sleeping, cleaning house and repeat, without a lot of anything else.  On one hand, it has actually helped my blogging, because I don’t take it all so seriously.  I write what I want to write and I don’t think about much else.  On the other, I have no idea of what is going on outside of the little bits and pieces I catch in between what’s going on here with me.  I’m looking forward to a weekend where I don’t need to think, and I can just sit and gab with friends!

In 2005, I flew to Chicago on the 17th of March. I landed at O’Hare around 9 or 10pm, I think, and then took a shuttle to what was then the Doubletree near O’Hare. We called it the “Duranie-dorm” because it was the hotel that had a group rate for Duran Duran fans coming in for their show the following night at what was then called the All-State Arena. I walked in to the lobby and fell into a chorus of hugs and laughter from women that I had previously met in September at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans. I had never felt so welcomed in my life, and I mean that. I can remember standing there fighting back tears (I rarely cry), because I hadn’t felt that kind of acceptance, friendship or love in a long time. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and while I didn’t really think much about celebrating that night – I stayed up and practically reached for the Sunrise with this group of friends. Amanda was in that group of women that night, and we’ve stayed friends ever since.

I am so lucky.

Twelve years later, and this time, Amanda and I will be arriving at the Agua Caliente resort, ready to see Duran Duran on stage and mingle with friends. There will not be the same group of women waiting for us. Many, if not all of those women, have since moved on. While I think our exuberance for the band isn’t exactly the same now (for example, I’m probably not going to be sporting those same light-up horns I wore in Chicago and Milwaukee at the show in Rancho Mirage), our love for this band and their music is pretty damn strong.   Through thick and thin, we’ve managed to be Duran Duran fans, remain great friends, and even write a blog for six years. You want to talk about the strength of women today? How about that??

So, on this International Women’s Day – I am going to think about my friendships with other women, and how together we really are stronger. Yeah, sometimes the road to get to where I need to be is tough. However, I know that I need my friends, now more than ever, and I’m looking forward to revitalizing that bond….and how better than a weekend with Duran Duran??

-R

No One’s Getting Left Behind

This has been a big week for us.  Perhaps, you heard that we started a little message board.  If you missed that piece of news, you can get all of the details on this post here.  We are a couple of days into it and I am already thrilled that we decided to go ahead and do one!  Of course, as Rhonda explained in her post, the point of a message board is to not only foster communication and dialogue about our mutual interest in Duran Duran but also to create a real community.  I have found in all facets of my life that connections between people really matter.  At work (teaching high school), relationships mean everything.  Studies have shown that students are more likely to work harder and learn more from teachers they feel that they have a connection with.  I know that my job is far easier and more enjoyable since I have people I work with that I am friends with.  Look at Rhonda and myself.  We work really well together.  Would we, if we didn’t have the close friendship that we do?  I doubt it.  Yes, we might respect each other but I think we work harder since we not only feel some obligation to ourselves but also to each other.  This need and importance for connections even mattered on the campaigns I worked on.  Everyone in the Obama campaign, for example, from the top down to neighborhood team leaders worked to develop and keep connections while keeping focused on the goal.  This strategy really worked at President Obama won handily twice.  I’m sure the friendships between the members of Duran matter, too.  What is my point?  Connections can and do matter.  They really matter with fandom, too, and I am already seeing many connections being formed and renewed on our new, little message board!

Once upon a time, Rhonda and I frequented a little message board named DuranDuranFans.com where we met and met many others whom we now call friends.  While we both spent time on duranduran.com’s then message board and on DuranDuranMusic’s message board, the one on DDF felt like home.  Why?  Simple.  The connections were richer, deeper there.  It felt less competitive and less judgmental than other boards.  Instead, the atmosphere was one of support and friendship along with a heavy dose of laughter.  I’m already getting that sense on our new home.  I’m seeing people from DDF coming back and reconnecting.  I’m also seeing friends from other boards doing the same.  This makes me beyond happy–for them, for the band and for myself!  I hope that everyone who comes to hang out finds lots of great friends!  I still think it is pretty funny that I technically “met” my best friend on a Duran Duran message board.  Wouldn’t it be cool if others could say that about ours?!

I truly do believe that the increase in quality and quantity of connections really work to keep fandom going!  Obviously, message boards are such in that they create tons and tons of topics to discuss all the time.  In this case, the discussion will almost always surround Duran Duran, in some way, shape or form.  The members think and talk about Duran each time they log on.  Thus, Duran is always on members’ minds.  Beyond that, frequently, message boards can be places in which excitement is reinforced!!  For example, I can already see how our excitement for the UK fans and those going to the UK for shows will be increasing in intensity from here until the end of November.  Then those fans will take all that energy to the shows with them and sending it back to the band, making better, more enjoyable shows for everyone!  The better and more fun people have at Duran events, the more likely they will go to other events, right?  Simple.  Give the fan/customer something of value and they will keep coming back over and over again!  That can only help ticket and album sales!!  It is a win win!

I’ll be really honest here, too.  I think the message board is also a win for me.  If more fans stick around longer, then I hope that will encourage Duran to stay around for as long as possible, too!  I don’t want to imagine a time in my life when I’m not blogging, doing fan events, talking about Duran, buying their music and other products and touring.  It would be like going from technicolor to black and white.  My life would be very dull.  So much of my life surrounds this fandom that having it end would be like cutting off an arm.  I would be missing something very significant!  On top of all that, I’m really looking forward to connecting with people myself.  I LOVE making Duranie friends and I don’t get to do that much as much as I would like in the world of social media now.  For example, I keep my personal twitter locked down–not because I’m that private of a person but because I teach TEENAGERS.  I don’t want my students to see what I’m tweeting about!  EEK!  Talk about scary!  That said, if any/all of you want to follow my personal twitter (@apustz) feel free to send a request.  I welcome Duranies!  Anyway, I’m hoping the message board will provide another area for me to wave my Duranie flag and get to know people!

On that note, I’m off to go check the board and see what people are talking about!

-A