Category Archives: personal stories

Cause Maybe We Have More Play Time Than Money

Last week, I introduced the idea of lyric day created by using shuffle to find a Duran related song then lyric to use as a blog starter.  Basically, the idea is that I would press shuffle on what music device is closest to pick out a Duran related song.  From there, I would search the lyrics to find a line that grabs me.  Then, I would write a blog based on what thoughts popped into my mind from that lyric.

This week, when I pressed shuffle the first Duran related song that came up was an Arcadia song, Election Day, to be specific.  My first thought was to blog about the line, “She’s moody and grey.  She’s mean and she’s restless.”  After all, I might resemble that remark but it also seemed too predictable.  Boring.  I don’t want that.  Thus, I chose the lyric, “Cause maybe we have more play time than money.”  This line is one that always catches my attention when I listen to it.  It reminds me of the differences between fandom as a kid and fandom as an adult.

When I first became a Duranie, I was very young (8!).  My fandom was simple then, in many ways.  It involves listening to the records over and over again.  Similarly, it included watching MTV as much as possible for any possible video viewing.  Many Friday nights were spent in my family’s “toy room” on the fold out couch watching Friday Night Videos with my best friend.  Fandom then meant simple consumption.  It was about listening, watching and buying.  What I was buying included the usual 1980s memorabilia.  I bought a lot of magazines.  I saved up money for thicker books like “The Book of Words” and “Sing Blue Silver”.  Christmas and birthday lists featured random Duran related items like the Into the Arena board game or Duran Duran pajamas.  My fan community was very super small.  Basically, it was me and my best friend.  We encouraged each other’s fandom by listening and watching together.  Likewise, we shared purchases with each other and tried to find the cooler items.  As kids, we had a lot more playtime than money and money is what we really wanted for our fandom.

Now, as an adult, my fandom is expressed way differently than my kid fandom.  I still like Duran merchandise, of course.  It is a good time and a good night if I’m able to spend it listening or watching Duran but that is rare.  No, my fandom now has to do with writing, like this blog, for example.  Traveling and going to shows is another significant part of how I express my fandom.  Like my childhood fandom, money is still involved.  Now, I have more money to buy those little Duran related items but there is not much of that around.  I often have some money saved up for shows but…there is a lot of time in which there are no shows to go to.  In many cases, that is just as well since I always have a long to do list.  So, now, that lyric feels like the opposite.  I have more money than playtime especially during the school year.

When shows happen, I try my best to squeeze in a show or two depending on when and where they are.  They are simply squeezed in to a super busy existence.  As a kid I focused on money and the cost of what I wanted in terms of my Duranieness.  Now, of course, money is important to get what I want but I also need the playtime and that does not always exist for me.

What about the rest of you?  Which is a bigger deal in terms of your fandom:  money or playtime?

-A

This blog is made from blood, sweat, and tears

Amanda and I don’t use the blog to tout successes very often. We want to write about being fans, and the blogs come from our own experiences. This post is personal, in that aspect.

Not too long ago, I wrote a bit of a review for a musician from Denmark named Michael Kratz. He had released a song back in July that he worked on with Dom. I wrote about it because I am a fan of Dom’s, and kind of forgot about it. Michael contacted me a couple of weeks later to thank me, and then ask if I’d be willing to get another one of his songs early and then blog about it since this new song also featured Dom.

I was overjoyed. I appreciated that Michael really asked for my help and trusted me with his music. I am not an author or a journalist. I am a fan. A blogger. Not many people take that seriously.  I jumped at the opportunity, and listened to the song hundreds of times before writing. (I’ve learned my lesson well, thanks to Duran Duran and our friend Lori Majewski.) I published the blog and hoped it would be taken well.

It’s kind of weird to admit that as a woman in my 40’s, I own a fan blog. Part hobby, part “full-time job that I wish were a paying one”, Amanda and I have operated the blog for seven years now. My own big dream was to have this blog lead to something that I could make into a career. I had no idea how, or what – which has always been my problem – so it is no surprise that Daily Duranie is still very much my “volunteer work”. We pay to host this site, which isn’t super cheap. We travel on our own dime, pay to go to shows, and all that stuff.  I spend a lot of time working on this site. In fact, even right now I should be working on “homeschool” with my youngest, but instead I’m writing and we’ll do school a bit later today than normal. As for money, I don’t want to think about how much we spend right now, because I will truly have a panic attack, so I won’t. Yes, we pay to write about Duran Duran. Does that make us a joke? To some, probably.

I’m pretty unsure of myself on even the best of days. My self-confidence isn’t the greatest. Lately I’ve been battling a case of the insecurities. I read things, and then have a really hard time letting go.  I’ve gotten better about it, but I still have a long way to go.  Additionally, I have a very hard time seeing and admitting to myself the good things the blog has done. It’s easier to see and believe the bad things I read and hear about the blog, and even myself as a person, I guess.

Today though, I received a message that really made a difference.  It turns out that Michael was offered record deals in two countries, and in both cases the label mentioned MY article specifically. The best part is that he wanted me to know, so he messaged me today. I’m still beaming, because it feels good to see wonderful things happen to genuinely hard-working people. I’m sure the blog played no more than the tiniest part in his record deals, but the fact that he wanted me to know warms my heart in a way I really needed.

I know that most people don’t really care about a fan site. Hell, we have a hard time getting anyone—even most of the band’s backing players, to take us seriously enough to even fill out a Q&A so that we can in turn promote them and their own careers—so I get it. By the same token, it is not just fans that read and follow Daily Duranie. We have music producers, other bands, news magazines, radio and TV show hosts, authors, and even record labels following and reading, and I’m proud of that.

Today though, I am so pleased to know that a genuinely kind and incredibly talented person I met as a result of this very blog is in the middle of making his own dreams come true. Michael thanked me for writing, but the truth is, I need to thank him for taking me seriously and trusting me with the product of his own blood, sweat, and tears. That, my friends, is anything but a joke.

-R

Visuals matter: a kaleidoscope of light and color with Coldplay

I went to see Coldplay at the Rose Bowl on Friday. It might seem strange for me to write about that concert, but bear with me. In full-disclosure, Coldplay is not one of my favorite bands. My husband wanted to go to the concert, and given that I spend a lot of my own time (and his money….) on Duran Duran, I agreed.

First, I have to admit that I was pretty freaked out by going. I’m not going to use flowery language—that Las Vegas shooting scared me. I still have a little girl here at home, and both Walt and I were going to this concert. I went so far as to tell my mother-in-law that if something happened to us, to call my oldest right away and have her come.  In some ways, I felt stupid for saying that, but by the same token, none of those 58 people murdered a week ago probably thought twice about going to their festival.  During the two weeks prior to the show, I’d gotten no less than six separate emails from the Rose Bowl, first alerting me to the potential traffic and security measures already in place, and then after the Vegas shooting I received updates and more directions. So when Friday arrived, we left very early and anticipated something akin to airport security. While the line to go through security formed quickly and was lengthy, we had entertainment. A very large screen was set up with a security video playing so that we’d know what to expect and how to handle ourselves as we entered the venue. Once the line started moving, it was very quick and painless. Kudos to the Rose Bowl for that.

I should mention that I had never gone to a stadium show before, unless you count seeing The Beach Boys play following a USC football game a few times. I had no idea of what to expect. My preconceptions were simply that any band playing a stadium show would have to be able to do things BIG, and that most bands simply cannot afford those types of shows.

I don’t think I was wrong. Coldplay had a fairly large stage set-up with a long catwalk ending in a circular stage towards the middle of the field (surrounded by floor seats), and then another small stage in one corner of the field.  There were gigantic lights set up all around the field, and they had three video screens as well. Nothing about the show or its staging was small.

When we first walked in through the gates, were handed a wristband. Once seated, there were instructions onscreen as to how to wear the wristband along with instructions on downloading an app that would work with one of their songs. Walt and I were geeking out over the wristband and how it might work. Neither of us had been to a show that had the potential to be so interactive, so we were anxious for the show to begin.

I loved the colors and how they continued to change with every beat.

The lights went down, and our wristbands lit up! The overall visuals are difficult to describe, but imagine being teeny-tiny and standing on a branch in the middle of a Christmas tree filled with twinkling light, and then having mirrors all around you so that you feel like you’re a part of a kaleidoscope. The lights interacted with the music, changing color with the songs. It was like being a small part of a gigantic party, and that was only the beginning. There were fireworks, not just one time, but several times throughout the show. There was confetti, probably seven times – and I have to say, seeing the confetti shower in something the size of that stadium was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Oh, and then there were the pyrotechnics. Yes, fire!  And beach balls!  It was outrageous!

Loved the brightly colored beach balls (or balloons?)…it was the first time I could stand back and look at them without being worrying about being assaulted by one!

Everything felt huge. From the largest of visuals down to the smallest of details, everything made me feel as though I was one tiny chip of a colored tile in a kaleidoscope. The screens were high-definition, and although we were so far from the stage that I could barely see Chris Martin, if I looked at the screens I felt like I was right there. He was all over the stage, and I appreciated that the band, drum sets and all, actually moved to the circular stage out at the end of the catwalk AND to the other stage in the corner of the field. Talk about using all the room they were given – it was crazy. They had a way of making the largest audience I’d ever been a part of somehow feel intimate, and I probably only knew six or seven of the songs they played.

Then there were the hardcore fans in the front. The cameras were pointed their way many times throughout the show, and they weren’t just happy to be there, they were exuberant. While smiles are not hard to come by at a Duran show, this was different. It was like seeing myself amplified and illuminated by 10,000 watts. Not that there aren’t Duran Duran fans like that, but maybe I need to up my own game.

Visually, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. The intensity of the interactivity made the show for me that night. The one word I would use to describe the concert? Happy. I needed happy. I came away feeling uplifted, light, and carefree. After the week I’d had, or the week that any one of us might have had, it was welcome respite. I’m still smiling, and it isn’t because I suddenly became a hard-core Coldplay fan.

I don’t think there’s necessarily a moral or message here. I just know that prior to this show, I’d always shied away from stadium shows. I don’t like crowds. I hate sitting far from the stage. I felt like maybe I’d be bored. I was none of those things, and I sat up in the stands, away from the floor,  far from the stage. In this case, I think the visuals for me were FAR better than those who sat on the floor or close to the stage because I was able to see the full effect of the wristbands working or the beach balls bouncing throughout the crowd, or the fireworks spraying like fountains of light far above the stadium. I’m not at all sorry I went.

I can’t even begin to think about how much this must have cost Coldplay, but if my experience is worth anything to the band – it must have paid off in spades. Definitely the most uplifting show I have been to in a while, particularly because I didn’t know every word to every song (or any song for that matter). Their set had plenty of quieter moments, but the visuals –  participating as part of a giant kaleidoscope of color and light kept the crowd going. Not an experience I will soon forget.

-R

Girl You’re Looking Beat

Blogging during Duran down time is not easy.  There is little news to respond to and many of the fandom overview topics have been covered.  I am beginning to feel like blogging is like teaching a student who really struggles to learn.  For teachers, that student pushes our thinking to be more creative, to try something new, to figure out something new in order to reach that kid.  On one hand, I appreciate that my job does that.  It keeps me creative and a good problem solver.  Now, I think the blog is kind of like that.  I now have to push myself to be creative when I blog during downtime.  I cannot assume that news will happen.  It is up to me to find something to talk about.

Luckily, I feel like I have up with an idea.  When I cannot think of anything to write, I will simply hit shuffle on whatever music device is closest to pick out a song.  From there, I’ll pick out a lyric that hits me for some reason.  I did that today and got the song, Shelter.  From there, I checked out the lyrics and focused in on, “Girl You’re Looking Beat.”  Yep.  I resemble that remark.

Teachers are funny creatures.  On one hand, the VERY last thing that we want to do is to talk school, work, the job.  On the other hand, we are desperate to share, to vent, to get our emotions out of our system.  After all, at work, we put on a game face with the students.  We learn to suppress our thoughts and feelings for the benefit of others, the students.  After awhile, this wears as does the work load both in and out of the classroom.  I’m sure, right now, if anyone would see me, s/he/they would think that I am looking beat.  They would not be wrong.

If work was not enough, the world has seemed very heavy lately.  News like the massacre that happened in Vegas or the suffering as a result of hurricanes and their aftermaths adds to the exhaustion.  Believe me when I say that the news gets to me.  Believe me when I also say that knowing the horror makes me less anxious than not.  If all that was not enough, I am busy planning an event for the political group that I lead and am making plans to pick up my niece from college for her fall break.  Heck, even last night’s book club added to the exhaustion.  Any and all activity feels like so much work right now.  Despite my exhaustion, I continue to move forward.

What is interesting to me is how there seems to be a Duran lyric to describe any time and any feeling.  It feels to me that this is the beauty of their lyrics.  They are left open to interpretation and do put into words that which is intangible, those very complex emotions that we all carry with us.  If you had to pick a lyric to describe you, right now, what is it and why?  I would love to know!

-A

On This Date: The Evolution of my Fandom

For the last few years, I have created a Duran Duran related calendar for myself and Rhonda.  In our calendar, I have listed album release dates as well when singles came out.  I also have included dates that we have seen them in concert together.  On this date, October 1st, there are multiple entries on our calendar.  First, we saw Duran perform 4 songs at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children event in Vegas in 2005.  Then, we saw the band perform at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015.  When I look back at those two events, I realize that there is much about my fandom that has changed and, yet, some things have remained consistent.

2005 featured the reunion album of Astronaut as well as the tour.  For me, personally, fandom really felt like a utopia.  Everyone seemed excited about the band and their future.  Message boards were busy with activity and everyone was either planning or sharing concert plans.  Any negatives between fans were easily pushed aside in my head.  By October, I had seen the band a bunch of times in concert both in spring and in the summer.  Yet, I didn’t hesitate when my friends suggested that we get together in Vegas.  Interestingly enough, that trip represented only the second time I had traveled by plane for something fandom related.  I have never flown in a plane to see Duran (or any band, for that matter) play before that.

That night in 2005, my friends and I attended a pre-show meet-up at a bar there at the MGM Grand where the concert was held.  I was one of many fans there who had traveled to see the band play.  The funny part is that Duran only performed 4 songs that night and we had seats way in the back.  Despite that, I still felt like I was on top of the world that night.  I screamed and sang those 4 songs with all the passion I could muster.  After that, I went and drink and danced my ass off until the clubs closed and breakfast was served.  I look back at that night as an eye-opening experience.  While it was beyond fun, I also saw some of the darker elements of our fan community night.  Some of those less-than-kind features I was a part of and others I just witnessed.  In many ways, that night marked the end of the utopia.

Then, of course, a lot has happened since that night, leading up to that Hollywood Bowl show.  Instead of attending a pre-show meet-up, I planned one.  In both nights, I met a bunch of people and the love for Duran was strong.  When I went to the Hollywood Bowl show, I knew that this could be one of the best nights ever like the Vegas one was, but I no longer denied the reality that fandom isn’t a utopia.  It still gives me the greatest amount of fun that I could ever hope for and it has provided me the opportunity to meet my best friend and other amazing people.  Most importantly, I have learned that my true happy place is being at a Duran Duran concert.  However, it isn’t perfect.  People are not always nice and nights do not always go as planned or cannot always be the most fun ever.

The Hollywood Bowl was a great show and I’m glad to have attended it.  Yet, it didn’t equal the fun of that Vegas show.  It couldn’t.  For the Vegas show, we had the time to go out and party without any care in the world.  For the Hollywood Bowl show, we had to start our drive up to Berkeley for the next show.  By 2015, a priority for us was going to as many shows as we could.  Maybe this is another sign of how my fandom has changed.  In 2005, I was more than content to see just 4 songs, way in the back of the arena.  By 2015, I wanted to get to as many shows as I could and I really wanted good seats.  Does that mean that 2005 was better?  In some ways, maybe, it was.  That said, 2015 was pretty sweet, too, but in different ways.  In 2005, it was all new and fun.  In 2015, I was involved in the fandom in a different way and was ready to do as many shows as I could.  I also had the opportunity to see amazing shows from really great seats.  That makes me pretty lucky!

I cannot regret the decisions that I have made in regards to either time period.  Both have led me to where I am today.  I have learned a lot and have had amazing experiences and a tremendous amount of fun.  What would be cool would be to go to another show on October 1st in 2025.  Then, I might be able to see how my fandom has evolved in 10 years and in 20 years.  I could get a real historical perspective.

-A

I’m Busy Working

I spend a lot of time at work, especially this school year due to an additional class.  While I’m at work, it is not uncommon to have a bunch of students in my room.  In many cases, these kiddos are doing work related to my class.  In others, they are just hanging out or asking my advice about this, that or the next thing.  Some of these kids have been hanging out in my room for years.  It should come as no surprise that these kids have gotten to know me pretty well.  They even know that I’m a “big” Duran Duran fan.  The shock!  The other day, one of them asked to use my computer for some assignment.  When the computer was returned to me, my screen saver had been changed from the standard ocean picture to a Duran Duran group photo.  Well then!

I have to admit that I don’t really hid my Duran Duran fandom from any kiddo, no matter if they hang out with me or not.  After all, when the Rio album celebrated its 35th anniversary/birthday, I played a different track each hour to expose my students (and student teacher!).  I even watched the video for Pressure Off for the first time at work on the large projector screen.  Likewise, I do have a bulletin board by my desk filled with photos that make me happy.  These photos include family, cat, friend photos as well as photos of me with famous politicians.  There are also many Duran Duran photos, of course,

When I realized this, I started to think about a clip on the documentary, Trekkies, about a dentist who’s office is totally Trek themed:

To me, going to a dentist like this would be fun.  I hate the dentist so having something fun about it would definitely help.  Maybe I appreciate this because I like Star Trek.  Would I be as excited about a Lord of the Rings themed office?  I probably wouldn’t be as excited but it wouldn’t turn me off or make me not go there.  Maybe, it would even make me rethink Lord of the Rings.  What about the rest of you?  Would this make you want to go to this dentist?  Would it turn you away?

This brings me back to my job.  My classroom has many posters up on the wall.  Obviously, since I teach U.S. History and Women’s Studies, my posters focus on those except for my corner of the room that has my personal photos.  Some might question me having those personal photos up.  While I doubt anyone would criticize my family photos or the pictures of my cat, they might question all the Duran photos.  They might also question my playing of the Rio album or the Pressure Off video.  Yet, for me, as I have gotten older, I have become less concerned about that.  I’m not forcing my students to be Duranies in order to do well in class.  I’m also not suppressing what makes me happy.  I won’t hid who I am.  I might even argue that knowing that I’m a complex human being with people and things that matter to me makes me human.  It allows for my students to see me as a person.  This helps to develop those essential relationships needed for kids to really learn and grow.

Now, that I’m thinking about this, I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t time to start wearing those Duran Duran t-shirts to work.  That could be fun!

-A

Before We Write the End: New Territory

Today, I am charting new territory. It is the first full day I’m here at home with only one child. I won’t lie, there have been various moments over the years that I’ve fantasized about how it would be with just one. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that it has been 19 years since I have only had one child, since my kids are so far apart in age. The first two are only 2 and a half years apart, but the youngest came along about nine years later. Yes, I’m aware that had we stopped at two, I’d be an empty nester right now. I’m so glad we didn’t. I’m not ready.

I recognize that this has nothing to do with Duran Duran as far as you’re concerned. The funny thing is that for me, it does. When we first began writing about Paper Gods, I was moving my oldest to college. I distinctly remember that the day we moved Heather to the dorms. It was a very hard day for me, I remember driving home alone, and crying in the car on the way. I knew my life as a mom would change after that, and it did. I’m still learning where the line is drawn, so to speak. It is very hard to be unceremoniously made redundant, which is kind of what happens when your children leave the nest. I will forever equate the release of Paper Gods with that moment in time.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to pack Gavin up for his move to UC Riverside, right as the Paper Gods tour has wound to a close. I half-paid attention to the band’s last dates in Japan, getting confused as to where they were and when.  Sunday morning arrived here, and I saw a tweet from Dom saying he was back home in London. The finality of it all hit me, particularly since yesterday was our move-in day. We packed up the bins that we’d used for Gavin’s things, and drove him out to his new home away from home.

His move was FAR easier than Heather’s. We were done with his room in less than an hour, and none of us felt like we were going to collapse from heat exhaustion. (props to the air conditioning in the dorms at UCR!)  Unlike my oldest, after he dutifully went to lunch with us and we came back to his room, he was ready for us to go. No tears, no anxiety. He hugged us all and sent us on our way, with no mention of how he wouldn’t see us again until November at the earliest. Gavin was never much for socializing, but not hearing movement upstairs from him is strange, and late November feels like a very long time from now.

We piled into the truck and headed for home. I thought about how weird it is that now I’ll probably always remember that the Paper Gods era ended with Gavin’s move to college. I also thought about how I really hoped I prepared my son for this new territory, and how once again, I’m also in uncharted land myself.

My house is quiet. I can’t hear Gavin in his bedroom. I don’t hear the clicks from his typing on the mechanical keyboard he loves so much. I don’t hear him talking on the professional microphone he uses for his video streams, and I don’t hear his chair banging into his desk. I also don’t see his dishes piled in my kitchen sink or his clothes waiting to be washed this morning. I have one child at home now, who is both looking forward to being the only child for a while, and missing her brother and sister. It’s all new territory for her, too.

The internet is quiet too. The band is probably readjusting back into whatever lives they lead when they’re not rockstars on stage. I don’t know when we’ll hear from them again, although there’s plenty of “real life” going on to fill my twitter timeline, that is for sure. Even so, there’s that feeling of uncertainty that comes with the end of the tour and album cycle. I know they’ve got some sort of idea of where they’re headed, but it will be months, if not years, before the fans have any sort of clue. It’s new territory for all of us.

-R

Show Me My Youth

Yesterday, I found myself in a coffee shop with my former student teacher and a couple of students of mine.  As we sat, chatting, I found myself commenting on the songs being played as they were mostly songs from the 80s.  One of my students asked me how come I knew all the songs.  She assumed that I was someone with a beyond normal amount of knowledge about music.  I explained that I am nothing special and probably a ton of people my age could name the songs, too.

This statement, of course, led to more questions about why that would be the case.  I explained that in my generation we did not the options to pick and choose our music very much.  We had radio, video shows like Friday Night Videos and MTV.  In order to hear our favorite songs, we just had to tune in to one of those and wait.  This meant that we listened to a lot of songs/artists that we did not necessarily like but it also meant that our generation has a more unified cultural experience surrounding music.  We learned all of the songs being played at the time because we were a captive audience.  I explained to the kids that while this sounds terrible, it really wasn’t.  The music gave us something in common–a frame of reference, something to always talk about.  Now, as an adult, I feel like it unites me with others around my age.

As I left the coffee shop, I started to think about what my music would have been like if I had the choices to pick and choose the way kids today do.  Some people could just hear music right away and decide if they like it within seconds.  I have decided that I’m just not that way.  I need to hear songs a bunch before I really know whether or not I like it.  Then, of course, once I do decide that a song is fabulous–watch out because I will listen to it non-stop.  One example of this was Depeche Mode.  When I bought one of their albums as part of one of those Columbia House deals to buy 7 cassettes for a cent or whatever it was, I listened to it once and thought it was weird.  Too weird to listen to.  Then, I had a friend who talked about how cool Depeche was so I gave it a few more listens.  Soon enough, some of the songs got in my head.

Really, Duran Duran was no different even as a kid.  I probably heard a song like Save a Prayer at least twenty times before I got it in my head and decided it was fabulous.  It even took awhile before I would call myself a Duranie.  I liked a lot of their songs before I knew that I loved the band.  The same thing is true with new music of theirs that comes out today.  Sometimes, the first few listens don’t do it for me.  Whenever I try to respond too quickly, it doesn’t go well.  I think Rhonda would probably say the same.  This is one of the mistakes we made with the Paper Gods album.  We wanted to review the songs so badly, we forgot that we need time.  Now, in thinking about that conversation with my students, I have to wonder if the need for multiple listens is common among my generation.

My original belief that I am glad that I grew up when I did stands, at least when it comes to music.  While I am sure that there are a lot of songs and videos that I wished that I could have skipped to get to the next Duran track, I’m glad that I couldn’t.  I believed that I found a lot more songs and bands that way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

-A

Sets You on a Path

Do you think you are always aware of turning points in your life?  I think there are some days that are significant enough that you know that they are a big deal.  Then, there are days that you look back and recognize them as essential to determining your path, after the fact. For me, I look back at the 2004 Friends of Mine Convention in New Orleans as being one of those days.  It was just supposed to be a fun event to attend.  Turns out that it changed my life.  After all, I met Rhonda that day.  Beyond getting a best friend from it, it changed my fandom.  I probably would have a gone to a few shows during the Astronaut tour and that would have been it.  Maybe, my fandom would have continued through 2006 or even 2007.  I’m willing to bet that it would have faded without her.  (For the record, I’m sure she would say the same.)  I doubt either one of us would have gone to as many shows as we have and certainly there are lots of places we would have never visited with going on tour there.

What has made me think of this?  Today, my sister, brother-in-law and nieces are in town.  The occasion is one of those life-changing days for the eldest niece.  Tomorrow, we move her into her dorm at Beloit College.  She will no longer be under her parents’ roof everyday.  College will bring independence and growth.  Her learning will include academic, social and life-skills.  I’m super excited for her as I believe that she chose a school that is right for her.  Yes, I’m also thrilled that she will be close to me and her grandparents.  I believe that she is demonstrating a lot of bravery to go to school super far away as her parents live in North Carolina.  Will going to college change her life?  Of course.  It should.

When I think about this niece, I recognize another one of those life-altering days in my own existence.  My niece was born at night and I received the phone call about her arrival way past my bedtime.  After crying in joy with my family, I made a decision not to work the next day and I planned to be sick in order to sleep.  Instead at 6 am the next day, my phone rang.  The principal of a school I often worked at called to offer me a permanent job, rather than the temporary teaching gig I had been doing.  I enthusiastically accepted.  At the time, I believed that this was a step on the path that I had planned for.  Instead, it led to a fork in the road, which included graduate school and teaching students with special education needs for 14 years.

Therefore, in thinking about my niece, I cannot help but to think about my teaching career.  This, of course, just makes me feel old and tired especially as I gear up to another school year.  It is funny.  I’m really back to the original plan in that I now teach United States History and Women’s Studies.  This year, in fact, I will be teaching an honors US History.  Will this year be another major life turn or will not represent anything that significant?  I don’t know.

It is sort of funny, though.  It seems to me that what my niece is feeling today is a little how I feel about my school year and even about the band.  Does my niece have an idea of what college is going to be like?  Of course.  She even visited this school before, including staying in a dorm already and attending some classes.  She also knows a lot about what the college experience was like for her parents and her aunts and uncle.  But there is a lot that is unknown.  Likewise, I have faced a lot of school years.  I know what it should be like but…there are always changes which make me nervous.  For example, I have new staff I’ll be working with and I’m not sure how this new class is going to go.

Similarly, I feel the same way with Duran.  The end of the Paper Gods era is quickly approaching.  I have been through this before and have a general idea of how it is going to go.  Typically, I would expect about three years before seeing an album.  Yet, like my school year, there is a huge unknown in that 40th anniversary.  What will happen as a result of that?  I don’t know.  Maybe they don’t know.  Will there be “new” music in some form either from brand new tunes, tweaked old demos, rarities, or some combination.  Could people hope for tour dates?  I don’t know.  I will point out one thing when it comes to tour dates.  My spring break aligns with Rhonda’s, shockingly enough.  Right now, she is planning on coming up to my neck of the woods to visit then.  Therefore, if the band wanted to do something exciting in the Midwest during the last week of March, we would not complain.  Hint.

In thinking about the future, I think it is important for my niece and for myself to remember to take things as they come.  One day at a time.  Maybe, one of those days will again be a life-altering one.  Time will tell.

-A

Rise Above the Sorrow

Five years ago today, Duran Duran played in Biloxi, Mississippi as part of the final leg of the All You Need Is Now tour.  This show was pretty monumental for Rhonda and myself as it was the first time we ever had front row.  We had traveled to the city the night before so that we could hang out with Duranies and have a chance to line up early on the day of the show.  We arrived around 7 and were, indeed, able to secure a spot in front.  Anyone who read the blogs from then saw that our first front row did not go as planned.  No, we kinda stood there, shell-shocked, unable to really respond.  I remember attempting to process the show afterwards over drinks.  I had a lot of reasons that night for why I was so lame during the show but I suspect that I left out the real reason.

The summer of 2012 was a tough one for me.  I had spent months busting my ass to try and get my state’s governor to lose a special, recall election.  I’m sure that some of you stopped reading at that line.  After all, that is only politics and this blog about being a Duran fan.  Humor me, though, and keep reading.  Yes, it was about politics, but it was personal to me.  I won’t go into all the reasons for this but I think that anyone who has ever failed at something that really meant something to them understands my distress that summer.  On top of that, I already had experienced much stress related to this governor and feared the future.  Yet, I had hope that Duran and our little tour around the Southeast would help with my mood.  In fact, I was so determined in this that I pushed for having pre-show meet ups before each concert.  I wanted to dive into some other task.  Then, I could forget my fear and failure.

Did my plan work?  I have already mentioned that the Biloxi show was a failure, in terms of how we responded at the show.  We did better for the rest of our shows, but I never really felt it.  My distraction didn’t work.  I couldn’t shake it.  I remember after our final show in Virginia about how ready I was to go visit my sister and to have the tour be done.  That is not normal.  Rhonda itched to add a show and I didn’t even consider it.  Again, that is not normal.

Now, in 2017, I feel like I’m in a similar headspace due to the political climate.  Again, I was involved in a campaign that lost.  Like five years ago, I fear.  I feel like I get to a spot where I can shake it and then it comes roaring back.  I recognize that this makes me weird.  I get that.  I know that most people don’t feel politics that deeply.  I do.  Maybe it is that history teacher in me that recognizes the drama of current events.  Maybe it is because I have been active in politics.  Perhaps, I worry about my students and their futures.  Whatever the cause, it is a thing with me.

In 2012, I tried to get over the lost by going on tour and failed in my quest.  Looking back, I know that Durham was a great show on paper and that my partner-in-crime loved it but when I think of it I feel an emptiness that I couldn’t get beyond.  This time, in 2017, I have also gone to shows.  I’m sure that part of the reason was exactly as it was in 2012.  I wanted to get over what was bothering me.  I wanted to forget about it.  I needed to experience some joy.  Interestingly enough, the shows I have attended have all been fabulous this year.  I loved each and every one of them.  What was the difference?  I’m not sure.  I guess that is part of the reason that I’m blogging about it today, to try and figure it out.

Were the shows better?  Maybe.  Was I responding differently?  I’m sure.  If I had to determine the difference, I think this time I dove into the shows in a way that I couldn’t let my mind wander.  I also feel like there is more interaction between the band and the crowd.  Maybe that has helped me keep in the game more.  Fandom has been a sanctuary this time for whatever reason.  Perhaps, I just need my fandom differently now.  No matter the reason, I’m thankful that the shows in 2017 that I attended gave me as much joy as they have.  Certainly, Duran Duran has been the sun through a very cloudy world.

-A