Category Archives: personal stories

My Finest Hour

Tuesday was Election Day in Wisconsin. While I have worked on campaigns before, this spring campaign marked the first one I have been the campaign manager for. This means that I designed the plan on how to reach as many voters as possible and convince them that my candidate was the one to vote for. The plan was an ambitious one that required a heck of a lot of time and work but I felt strongly that we needed to approach it that way since our opponent had so much going for him. He had name recognition, lots of media attention and support and big donors. We knew that it would be an uphill battle as we braved one of the harshest winters on record to knock on over 4000 doors and spoke to over 2000 people. Tuesday night, we gathered together to see if this plan worked. We managed to get over 35,000 votes to secure ourselves a win!! To say that we are thrilled would be an understatement! The lyrics to Duran’s song, Finest Hour, reminded me that “you’ve got to fight for what you believe.” Indeed, we did and came out winners!

Now, as I settle back into life with only one job, I find myself looking forward to getting more sleep, watching more TV, being a Duranie and more once I catch up on life. I also fully expect myself to have the time to pay attention to Duran Duran and all the happenings of our fan community. That said, I wonder if I will need more than just to slowly integrate myself back into Duranland. You know what I would really like? I wouldn’t mind a little mini-tour to plan for, to look forward to. Yes, yes, I know that we just had one one in February. That is totally true, but I wasn’t feeling the best and too tired to enjoy it as much as I could. Plus, why wouldn’t I want more shows like the ones we saw in February as they were absolutely fabulous?! Okay. So I cannot have that. What would be the next best things? I have two ideas.

Anyone up for a party?

While I would love, love, love to set up a Duranie party, I’m not certain that I could do that super quickly. After all, it takes time to plan for something like that well. So, if I cannot have a tour or a big Duranie party, what could I do? You know what I could do?! I could host an online one, couldn’t it? Rhonda and I have done a few of those over the years. Why not now? Usually, we do these online parties for some anniversary or holiday or something. I like to think of this one being for multiple things. First, it is to celebrate my campaign success and I cannot think of a better way than with Duran Duran. Second, it is to celebrate my return to Duranland. Third, my Duranie anniversary is this month. The last reason is just to do something fun! Who is with me?

Of course, I’m hoping that Rhonda would do this with me but she has no idea that I’m even proposing it. (Sorry—Rhonda! It just hit me and I went with it.) Hopefully, we can come up with a good date and what exactly we want to do with it. Social media? YouTube playlist? Something else fun? A contest? A game? What would all of you like for our online party? Stay tuned and watch this space!

Got something to say

My other idea is a simple one. While in Vegas, Rhonda and I mentioned that we both wanted to start writing again. I suggested a little project that we had already outlined. I think this would be a fun one to focus on because it is all about the fabulousness of Duran Duran and would definitely bring me back into the fold. I would love to see us write this and get it out this summer, too. Personally, I think we can do it. It would mean some focus during the summer along with probably a conference call or ten but I think we could do it. Heck, maybe, we should plan a get together to get it done. I like that the possibilities seem endless right now. It is all good.

So, people, as I bask in the glow of victory, I am giving you a little warning that Amanda, the Duranie, is feeling good and ready to have some fun around here once she gets some sleep.

-A

Hold Onto This LIfe of Chains

If someone asked me the soundtrack of my life, I absolutely would say, “Duran Duran,” for more than the obvious.  It isn’t just because I write a blog about being a Duranie or because I have been a fan for so long.  No, I would say that because it seems like so many songs have just hit home whenever I am going through whatever life has thrown at me.

For example, the song, Before the Rain, completely expressed what I was feelings during the winter of 2010/2011.  “On the bomb ticks that is my heartbeat, In every life-flash, In every car crash, I hear the silence waiting to fall,” really spoke to me as I waited for my grandma to pass away.  The life flash lines reminded me of someone’s last breath.  The silence following a death is real.  Do I know what the song means or what Simon was writing about when he wrote it?  Absolutely not.  That is how I interpreted those lines when I was visiting my grandma and talking to hospice about how the end would be.  

I appreciate that Duran lyrics are open enough to be interpreted and that I can and have connected with them emotionally.  This week, I found myself connecting or reconnecting to another song.  In this case, the song was “Chains.”  In case you all have forgotten the lyrics, I posted them below:

An hour since the sundown
The ghosts are creepin’ in
Are gathering around me
Like starlings in the wind

Dark shapes gather round

Voices like my brother’s
Are whispering to me
But I don’t know these others
Who want to set me free

Come home you’re out of time

But the life cannot let go
It’s a chain cuts across my soul
Anchoring in this world

I put my hand into the flame
Burning but I feel no pain
Don’t speak, don’t speak my name
Hold on to this life of chains

The door is standing open
But I’m too tired to be afraid
My whole life’s in this moment
I’ve been fighting all the way

Just need a little more time’

cause the life just can’t let go
It’s a chain cuts across my soul
Anchoring in this world

This song spoke to me this week on multiple levels.  First, I thought it fit well for my dad.  Early Tuesday morning, my dad woke up in horrendous pain.  It was so bad that by 3:30, my parents called 911.  By 7:30, my dad was taken in for surgery.  Thankfully, surgery was successful but it was pretty scary for awhile.  After a few days in the hospital, not only is he better but he is already back home.  (Yes, he is amazing and he did not hesitate to tell people that he is not a “normal 80 year old” so his recovery would be way faster than expected.)  That said, these song lyrics still fit.  Those first couple of verses could definitely describe death, “dark shapes gather round.”  Being set free could be about no longer experiencing pain or the suffering that life brings.  Yet, my dad fought.  Life could not let go.  He definitely held onto to his life.  Now that we are settling into recovery time, we know that had he not had the surgery, he would have died within a week.  Thankfully, he got the right kind of help and quickly and that he was “anchored in this world.”  

On another level, the song lyrics felt fitting to my own life.  While this week has been my “Spring Break,” it has been anything but.  On top of responding to everything going on with my dad, I had other responsibilities that I had to tend to.  The campaign that I have been managing will be determined on Tuesday.  We had last minute tasks to complete along with the final forums and canvasses to reach as many voters as possible.  If all this stress was not enough, I have had a ton of grading to do due to not doing a lot of work related to school during evenings and weekends over the past month and a half.  As I sat in the Intensive Care Unit waiting for my dad to come up from surgery, while answering messages about the campaign while grading, I truly felt like I had hit my breaking point.  I can handle a lot of stress and working non-stop for months on end but even I have a moment when it all becomes too much.  Then, as I drove home later, this song came on.  I do put my hand in the flame a lot.  I make my life tougher for reasons that I believe in with every fiber of my being.   Sometimes, like now, when I’m really struggling, I question myself and my choices but I know that my choices, my work has not only led me to where I am but I believe has made an impact beyond myself (or so I like to believe!) As I realized this, I know that “I’ve been fighting all the way,” and will keep fighting.  As much as I want to throw it all away when it becomes too much, I know that I’ll “hold on to this life of chains.”  It is who I am.  

As I listen to this song in the car, not only did my heart swell a little as I teared up some, but I also found myself taking a deep breath and sitting up straighter.  I felt stronger just by acknowledging who I am and what I’m about.  For this, I thank Duran Duran for keeping me going and making me stronger in one of the hardest weeks of my life. 

-A

To Make My Stand

In 16 days, the voters of Madison and Wisconsin go to the polls to vote for races like Wisconsin Supreme Court, mayor, alder, school board and more. On April 2nd, my campaign work is done and I will find out if we were successful. With a little over two weeks to go, I struggle to explain how I’m feeling. Then, it hit me. A campaign is like creating an album. You are probably thinking that my sleep deprivation and cold is wrecking havoc on my brain. While you might be right, I think I can explain this.

Work with a team on a common goal

In order for band’s like Duran Duran to make an album, they need a team behind them. They not only need themselves but producers, engineers, other musicians (if necessary) and so much more. They also need people to create the art and packaging along with the promotion team to get the word out. Campaigns are not much different. There is usually a core group of people working on it. I’m super lucky in that the team I’m working with are great. Of course, we bring in others as necessary with various elements, including media and promotion. I know that over time I have grown close to the members of the team. After all, we are spending a lot of time together and experience all of the joys and frustrations that can happen. I’m willing to bet that making albums are similar. I’m sure that there are days when the music just falls into place or the best lyrics are created. Of course, there are probably other days that nothing is working or that someone criticizes what has been done. It isn’t always smooth sailing as people on the team might disagree with a decision or direction. That happens on campaigns, too. By the end of the experience, it is not uncommon to view the people on the team as family.

Both album making and campaigning have goals. In the case of a campaign, the object is to win, to get more votes than one’s opponent. An album needs to sell a lot of copies like votes. It needs to be thought of as better than the rest to win awards and more.

Both have deadlines

Typically, once an album gets close to being completed there is a date assigned as the release date. On that date, the artist gets to find out if their hard work pays off. A campaign has a definite date, too. Then, we get to wait and watch for results. Election nights can be great or they can be devastating. Many times they can be agonizing as the votes slowly roll in, creating much nervousness. Yet, once the polls close and once the album is released, that’s it. There is nothing you can do to but trust that you did the best you could and that your choices will lead you to success.

It is not always a healthy way to live

I’m willing to bet that Duran Duran is not always the healthiest during their album making process especially during their early days. They probably didn’t get a decent amount of sleep or eat well. There might have been too many substances consumed. Campaigns aren’t that different. I haven’t gotten no where near the right amount of sleep for months now. There are many days, especially lately, in which my eating habits are beyond bad. Sometimes, I don’t eat dinner as I’m too busy running from one event to the other. Other times, I eat a lot of junk food. My “drug” of choice is caffeine. I have had a lot of coffee. I do get out and walk some to knock on voters’ doors but this year that has been tough as the winter was beyond grueling. At one point, my mom fell and hit her head which caused an ER visit. (Thankfully, she is fine!) Another team member cut her finger on ice. I generally don’t get sick (teachers have immune systems of steel) but I’m on my second cold. Needless to say, there has been blood, sweat and tears on this campaign.

At the end, you have mixed emotions

As I count down the days, I find myself having many mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m so excited to not have work so much. I look forward to a lot more sleep and a lot less stress. I have no doubt that the band might feel the same way at the end of making an album. It is the little things that I might be excited for like eating properly or not having to answer hundreds of various messages a day. Yet, at the same time, I’m going to miss the people I have worked so closely with. We have created inside jokes and have shared something powerful in terms of working together towards a common goal. It reminds me of the end of Sing Blue Silver when at the end of the tour the band is so emotional. As they hug and wonder what they will do next year, I’m sure there is a big part of them that is happy to be done, happy to not have the insane schedule anymore while knowing that they will miss it at the same time.

You learn a lot

Despite or maybe because of the process, you learn a lot. Not only do you learn a bunch about how to create the best campaign or album, you find out more about yourself and what you are capable of. You get to know new people and get to know others better. It also makes you feel good knowing that you gave it your all, no matter the level of success.

I can tell you this much. Now that I have realized how similar campaigns are to making an album, I’m going to look at finished albums in new light. While I still might have opinions about the quality of the music, I think I’ll be far kinder and far more understanding and appreciative of the work that went into it.

-A

And I Cut So Far Before I Had to Say

I am so stupid. Well, I don’t really mean that but I do sometimes wonder what the heck I was thinking. Then, I question why I feel the way I do and remind myself of what is logical. I’m sure all of that was clear as mud. Let me explain.

These February Duran Duran shows were announced in the fall. It was the heart of the campaign season as I remember getting the tweet notification on my phone while I was working at the temporary campaign office. As soon as I saw that Duran was playing in Vegas, I texted Rhonda and returned to reporting numbers and keeping track of volunteers. While I was all for going and was excited that she, too, was all for it, I couldn’t think much about it. I was drowning in campaign materials. At the time, I assumed that the election would be long over so going wouldn’t be a problem.

Fast forward to now. February. Months later. While THAT election is over, another one is looming. As I have shared on here before, I’m working on a campaign for a local candidate. On Tuesday, there will be a primary. My candidate will make it through as there is only one other candidate still in the running. (The third candidate dropped out.) The results next week will give us the best idea of where the race stands as polling is not an option for a campaign of our size. This makes me nervous. Has my campaign plan been effective? How much more do we need to do after that to either stay up or catch up? This weekend is full of activities to reach as many voters as possible. Likewise, there are campaign events on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. While I’m already feeling pressure to get everything done and to be effective, this adds some significant stress.

Beyond the worry about Tuesday’s result, I find myself also concerned about work. My students are about to start a big project that needs a little of time on my part to get it organized and to get them started. I am concerned that I’m so distracted that I am going to forget some key pieces. On top of that, my students have been…well…not super angelic. I worry that my room won’t be in one place when I return or that there will be massive bloodshed spilled. (I am exaggerating…slightly.) Of course, things are also piling up at my house. Bills have been sitting on my coffee table for far too long. The dishwasher is over flowing and my cat wonders if I sometimes don’t like him because I forget to see if he needs food.

Despite the need to deal with any and all of the above, what do I want to do?! I want to write up the agenda for the tour or see what needs to be done when it comes to transportation to the hotel. I want to watch Duran video’s from the show in Miami. Questions like will there be merchandise are wanting my full and undivided attention. Alas, I push through all that to get back to my to do list as I wonder if I should even be going on tour right now. The campaign only goes until April. My students could definitely use a more focused, less exhausted me. On top of that, I am concerned that the guilt over having gone will result in less fun and me not being able to really be in the moment. I don’t want that.

Part of me says that I should just cancel. I’m too all over the place to get myself in a state where I feel like I could leave everything behind for a few days. I even wonder if that is the mature, professional thing to do. Then, I stop this line of thinking. The candidate I am working towards knows that I won’t be around. She supports me going. My household chores will wait and I have a great sub coming in for me at work. They might even do better with her than with me. I need to stop this sense of guilt from even forming. After all, don’t I deserve a break? Am I not worthy to have fun sometimes? I think it is fair to say that I work hard (and a lot). Even during my snow days, I worked. I have worked each and every day since November except on Christmas. I need this break. I will be better off for having it. I will be a better teacher and a better campaign manager.

So, why do I have to battle this line of thinking? Is it that women are taught by society that we have to take care of everything and that when we do something for ourselves we are being selfish? I definitely think that is part of it. I feel bad because being on tour is about me, my good times, my enjoyment. Could it also be that a part of me has bought into the notion that fandom isn’t important or that there would be something wrong with me if I’m too into it? That could be, too. I’m only human. I could have internalized all that. I also think part of it is simply that when I get involved with something, I care about the outcome a lot. It is what makes me a good teacher and a good organizer for political actions/movements.

All that said, I’m going to be done worrying. Yes, I have a massive list of what needs to get done before I leave Wisconsin on Thursday morning. It will be an intense week, but I am pretty sure that the reward at the end will be worth it.

-A

The Lights Turn On

Today is the final day of my “vacation.” I put vacation in quotes because it has not really been a vacation in the traditional sense. No, I did not go to work, at least at the main paying job. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t work. In fact, I took one day off. One. Christmas was the only day that I did not do work for school, for my teaching career. I had a lot of grading to do. It was important to get as much of this grading done as possible for a couple of big reasons. First, the end of the semester is quickly approaching. This means that not only will I have to enter quarter grades but I will soon be giving finals. I will have to grade those, too. Second, I have an extremely busy schedule coming up as I am also working for a campaign for the spring election. This means that I have lots of tasks to do and many meetings and events to attend. Next week, for example, the only days I don’t have campaign related activities are Monday, Thursday and Friday. I’m already tired. Am I sad that this break is coming to an end? Extremely. I could have used a day more or five just to chill.

On top of grading on top of grading, I did get my house really clean, which felt so good as it had been months since that has happened. I also got some other household chores done like cleaning the coffee pot. More importantly to this blog, I finally purchased a plane ticket to Vegas. Of course, I practically have to sell a kidney in order to afford it but I assure myself that it will be worth it. And it will.

This weekend in February literally happens right after the primary here in Wisconsin, which marks the half way point of this campaign I’m working on. What a perfect time to get away! I am hoping that it act as a reward for the hard work so far and give me the break necessary to regroup, recharge to finish out the job. Why do I need a break with shows? Why couldn’t I just take a day or two to relax? Well, did I mention that I spent my entire winter “break” working? That should answer that question. If I am at home or anywhere near home, I will work. It is in my nature to do so. Therefore, I need a serious intervention to get me to stop. The only thing that will do that is a tour or in this case, a mini-tour.

I am not sure exactly why tours or mini-tours provide the complete escape for me but they do. Is it a change of scenery? I don’t think that is it. I have gone to visit friends or family out of state and I still take grading or other work with me. Is it being surrounded by friends? Again, I don’t think that does it. If I was really worried about getting tasks done, I would work on them even around friends. I have done it before. If I had to make a guess at what does it, I would say it is the whole thing. I am away from home, sure. I am also with friends but in a setting in which the band is playing. I have heard many interviews in which John Taylor has said something along the line that when they are on tour it is all about the show. This is a sentiment that I can relate to. When I’m on tour, it is all about that. It is like something all encompassing. My senses are filled with sights and sounds related to having fun, seeing my favorite band, and more. My thoughts become fixed on to fandom related activities and ideas.

Therefore, I’m looking forward to the real break in my working action. If that was not enough, I’m anxious to reconnect with my friends and work on meeting and getting to know others. Speaking of that, it appears that we will be in town on that Thursday night. I’m sure that we will be partying it up somewhere. Watch this space along with our social media to see where and when, if you would like to join us!

-A

I Try to Hold the Rising Floods

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little blog about how I am concerned that my fandom might be dying. In this blog, I explained how I wasn’t falling out of love with Duran Duran. No, I fully expect that I will always be a fan but I wondered if I was on my way out when it comes to the rest. What do I mean by the rest? Would I still want to go to shows? Would I want to talk about the band with other fans? Would I be interested in planning fan events? Would I stop buying Duran merchandise? Would I want to stop writing here? I could go on and on. The basic idea is that I might stop being part of a community of fans.

After that blog, I didn’t think too much about it. I didn’t worry or fret. I just decided to continue with what I needed to get done. After all, it was a busy time of year with my two jobs and planning for Christmas. Since then, though, I have taken some time to just get caught up. This means that I have really cleaned my house. The Christmas presents were purchased or created and shipped off, when necessary. I made appointments and planned out the next month or so. On top of that, I listened to some year end Katy Kafes and updated the day in Duran history that Rhonda and I keep for this blog. Every time I checked off one item from my do list, I felt better. My list isn’t done even with my almost two full weeks off but the list is a lot smaller. I’m feeling less overwhelmed.

Since my stress has eased some, I am better able to examine where things are in terms of fandom. Overall, I feel like things are better. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Kafes and found myself smiling throughout them all. The idea of #DD15 gave me some excitement, no matter when it ends up getting done. Honestly, I think that is part of what has made this so tough for me. I have not had much to be excited about when it comes to my fandom. Now, I’m not new to this gig. I know how it goes. It isn’t like there is going to be something in Duraland each and every day that will thrill me. I know this. I recognize and even understand downtime. Heck, I’ve been so busy that I am almost glad that there hasn’t been a lot. I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it much. It might have even added stress. Nonetheless, I miss having something Duran related to look forward to.

Now, those of you who have been reading this blog know that I do have something Duran related to look forward to. I have a couple of shows coming up in February. My friend, Lori, reminded me that there are less than 50 days until them even. I have to admit that I haven’t given them much thought. Again, I might give the lack of time as the reason and I wouldn’t be lying to say so. But it is more than that. I have missed the friendships that I have grown to associate with Duran Duran and my fandom. It used to be that when there were shows coming up that is all my friends and I would talk about. We became broken records with silly ideas and inside jokes. We had nothing but fun to look forward to. Now, it is different. We don’t talk very much. I wish that we did more, for sure, but I cannot control that. It is hard to develop those funny moments when there aren’t many chances to do so. It seems that we are all busy and have different priorities, for sure. That said, February will be fun. I have no doubt about that. I’m not sure it will be the same kind of good time. It might be more about that escape from reality rather than just letting it all go for a few days. It might be more about the lack of responsibilities as opposed to screaming for band members.

As I type all this, I cannot help but feel older, more settled, less wild. I have worked hard in the last year or so to find that ordinary world that we all crave. I think I have succeeded in that but the one I have made for myself doesn’t have a lot of time and space for my Duran Duran fandom. It felt like something that had to be pushed to the side. Yes, part of that is because I had and have more pressing concerns, but another part is that I didn’t trust that it would be there if and when I reached for it. It began to feel like something in my past rather than my present or my future. Listening to those Kafes made me realize that this feeling wasn’t about the band at all. I still love them to pieces. I look forward to seeing more Duranlive or hearing new music. It had more to do with my life and where I placed fandom in my list of priorities and why. It was still there but much smaller with little reinforcement besides what I got from writing on here.

I’m still not freaking out about any of this. This feeling I have may change. It may grow strong and fandom will take up less and less of my time and my heart. It could also be a situation in which the tiny flame that is barely there might be turned back up to a torch that all can see. Time will tell. Until I know which way for sure, I’ll keep holding the rising flood back from drowning what is left.

-A

Here in lives of misadventure

Ten years ago today, Rhonda and I were on tour.  In fact, we were in New Jersey, having seen the band play first at the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut then in Atlantic City and Montclair.  It was an interesting tour and not at all what I was expecting.  This tour, of course, was part of Red Carpet Massacre era.  It felt to me that there was a major transition both within the fandom and for Rhonda and I. If that was not enough, I feel like I learned some very important lessons during this little tour.

2008, of course,  was no longer the time of the reunion.  Some of the fans from the 1980s who just wanted to see the Fab Five one more time had been there and done that.  They were long gone.  Others who believed that they were going to be there for the long haul found themselves questioning so much about the band and the fandom.  RCM felt very different for them.  Too different for a lot of fans.  Others held on through this tour and slowly peeled away, a year or two later.  Of course, there were fans like us.  We continued to wave the fan flag through this transition from reunion with Andy to the new normal without him.  While it was happening, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  Would I walk away like I saw others do?  On top of that, I even found myself questioning friends and friendships.

This tour was different from the last time we had seen Duran, which was the summer of 2007 for the fan show.  For that concert, there were three of us but by 2008, there were only two.  Our friend walked away.  I have to admit that I was still feeling sad by that and, honestly, a bit confused.  I didn’t understand why she walked away.  Sadly, this friendship has only grown more distant since then.  When we do talk, it is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, during this tour in 2008, I worried that Rhonda would be next.  After all, she had her youngest during that year.  Will family pull her away?  Like our other friend, I wouldn’t be mad or upset, just sad at the loss.  

So, in the midst of all this friendship turmoil, fandom shifts and transition for the band, we went on tour.  I expected a return to what I had grown used to and a ton of fun.  While I did have a blast, I also found myself learning some really important lessons that, now, I’m grateful for. 

Lesson One:  Attitude is Everything

As Rhonda and I went into our first show, I think we had a sense of uncertainty.  After all, the fan show in 2007 wasn’t great and RCM did not live up to our expectations.  Yet, we didn’t utter those concerns.  It was almost like saying something would reinforce our anxiety.  Maybe, though, we would have been better off to process the possible show results beforehand.  I wonder if, then, we would have sat down in a better frame of mind.  Of course, we had some additional drama with a former friend who made some hurtful statements.  The result?  Our attitudes sucked at that first show.  The band hadn’t even played a note and we thought it was terrible.  

Was the show awful?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Our seats were far to the right, which did kinda suck.  The crowd lacked some energy or was that just our lack of energy?  It is hard to say.  Soon enough, we started to express our disgust at everything, including the setlist, performances, the service of the venue, the crowd, etc.  Seriously, if anyone heard us, they would have thought the show was a complete dumpster fire.  Looking back, though, did we make the show terrible?  Was it our attitude?  I didn’t know until the third show.

Lesson Two:  Don’t Be Afraid to Show What You Want

The next night and show took place at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.  My friends and I wanted to make it special so we got a membership to the Foundation Room where we also ate a fabulous meal ahead of time.  While I loved the dinner, when we checked in, we discovered that our membership would get us early access to the venue.  For a general admission show, this means that you would have a chance to be near the front.  Did this idea interest me?  Okay.  That is a bit of an understatement.  I was jumping up and down.  On the inside.  So…I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t do anything.  I continued to hang with my friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I loved spending quality time with them.  Absolutely.  That said, it felt like we threw away an opportunity to see the show from a great vantage point.  But something stopped me.  Was I worried what my friends would think if I wanted to go?  Would they judge me or make it seem like I cared more about the band than them?  (For the record, that wasn’t the case.  I wanted to see an awesome show WITH my friends.)  All of the above?  As I realized that I wanted this but didn’t say anything made me hate myself.  What was wrong with me?  Was I five?  Still in high school?  Wouldn’t my friends understand?  They were fans, too.  But I said nothing but felt terrible about a missed opportunity and that I let others control me.

Thank Goodness for Three

Good things come in threes, right?  By the time the third show rolled around, I was annoyed enough about how the first two shows went that I knew that something had to change.  Somehow, Rhonda was on the same page or at least went with me in my desire to get a better show.  We decided that we would try to get to the venue for the third show at a decent hour to get a good space for this general admission show.  While I’m not sure we got there as early as we would have liked, it definitely felt better as soon as we staked our spot.  Soon enough, I started listening to those fans around us.  There were a couple of guys a row or two ahead of us who were so excited that they could barely contain themselves.  Instantly, I found myself smiling.  Yes, that is what this is all about, I thought.

Needless to say, Rhonda and I had a much better time at that show than the first two.  I learned to embrace what I want and also to go into any experience with a positive attitude.  It matters.  So often, we talk about fandom from a purely joyous point of view.  Other times, we discuss what the band is doing in very serious tones as we had the chance to save the world.  Even when Rhonda and I discuss fandom, it is usually through the lens of an academic, from a sociological point of view.  Yes, we have turned the mirror on ourselves, but still it fits in with the larger scope of social sciences, usually.  This time, at this moment, fandom has taught me about myself and how to be a better person.  For that, I will always be grateful to this little East Coast Tour of 2008.  

-A

As I walked on, I realized I was going up

Happy Monday! 

I can already tell how this week is going to go, because today I needed to update WordPress, which is the editor, along with the engine that makes our website work (kind of).  This new version of WordPress is significantly different, and there’s a bit of a learning curve for it. I can hardly wait for Amanda to try it out this weekend. Or tomorrow morning when she posts the daily question! EEK!

We’re moving, moving, moving

Up until now I’ve had to be pretty vague about my plans for the last half of December. Planning was a bit up in the air, and I didn’t know how or when things might happen. As most know, my family has been in the process of moving….for the past six months. I know, it’s been the longest move EVER. (Oh believe me, I know.) Well, the time has come, *cue Sunrise*, instead of music between us – it is a sea of plastic bins (not rubbish bins, storage bins!). We move next week! Tuesday and Wednesday, the furniture will be moved out of my house and then we move in to the new house that weekend. 

Timing is incredibly tight. The man in the red suit absolutely MUST visit on Christmas Eve, because our ten-year old still believes in the wonder of the holiday with all of her heart. I love that innocence about her and I refuse to let her down, one way or another. We get the keys to the new place on the Friday before Christmas at 6pm. That gives me three days to pull it together and make magic happen. I’ve got this. Probably. 

So where is my family headed? We’re moving from a suburb in Orange County about five hours north to the hills on the west side of Atascadero. We will be 15 minutes south of Paso Robles, and 20 minutes from Morro Bay – we timed it just the other day! Here in the OC we are in a tight neighborhood, and up there we’ll be in an enclave of ranches, where populations of chickens and goats outnumber humans. Down here, people collect Teslas and BMWs. Up there, folks are more concerned with what kind of coop you’re using for your chickens or what kind of small tractor or mower works best for clearing land. I’m not panicking. My nails are bitten down to the nubs, and my shoulders feel like bricks, but I’m fine. Probably. 

A holiday break 

So that leads me to this: I’m taking a little time off from blogging. Not because I need a vacation or because I’ve fallen off of the bandwagon (HA!), but because of logistics. So this will be my final week of blogging until after the new year. Assuming all is well (and it will be!), I’ll be back writing on Wednesday, January 2nd. If you don’t think you can manage that long without hearing from me, check me out on Twitter. Oh believe me, I’ll tweet the insanity. S news?

Studio Update?

Meanwhile, I heard that Duran Duran is finished in the studio until springtime, so those of you who thought 2019 might be a good year for a new album will likely be waiting a bit longer. I’m still going with 2020 as the possible target, at least for now.

Limitless Idolization

One more thing before I leave you for today – I saw that a fellow Duran blog is ending. Headfullofchopstick, artfully written in a way I can only envy, has published its final post. Fandom is a strange, wild trip. I won’t fault anyone for choosing to step off the path, nor would  I judge the reason why. There is a lot of talk about idolization, faith and glorification within fan studies. Unfortunately, many fans buy into all of that and more, at the risk of losing themselves in the aftermath.

The one thing I know from my own experience as a fan is that in order to last here, I needed to have my feet, head and heart planted firmly elsewhere. I love Duran Duran, and by that I specifically mean the music. Sure, I’ll say on occasion that I love the band members, but it’s different. I don’t know them that well. The love I have for friends and family is on another level entirely. Sometimes, I fear that some fans mix the two, at the peril of anyone else who happens to be in the way.  I too, recognize the crossroad. There isn’t anything, including being a die hard Duran Duran fan, that should be controlling or confining unless you allow it to be so. 

I wish Ruth well. 

-R 

We believe in the cold grey lights we dream

Hi everybody! I’m sorry I wasn’t around yesterday to post. I heard that there’s yet another reason to visit Florida in February (besides sun and warmer weather if you’re looking to escape winter!) – Duran Duran is playing in Miami Beach!

While Duran Duran announced a new show, I was busy and mostly unplugged yesterday. In just two very short weeks, my family and I will FINALLY relocate from the very busy OC, to a much smaller and peaceful town about five hours north. Yesterday we went to inspect our new house and do paperwork, which was joyful. The outside temperature was only in the 50s at our new house, even by midday, which only made me MORE excited to get up there permanently!

While I have been packing and worrying about how I’m going to make this all work (We’re moving just a few days before Christmas – and my youngest still believes in Santa!), I’ve also done a bit of reminiscing. We’ve lived in this house for so long that I can’t really imagine otherwise. It will be strange to be somewhere that my two oldest haven’t lived before, and my anxiety has been on overdrive, thinking about ways I can make the move seem less traumatic. Why? Because that’s what you do when you’re me, I suppose. I’m great at making lists in my head at 3:30 am.

All of the reminiscing has reminded me that not too many years earlier, I was in the height of my glory as a Duran fan. I had gone to the UK with Amanda, as she wrote earlier this week. My time there was fabulous. I saw so many new places, met lots of new faces that have now become dear friends. The experiences were both enriching and inspiring. I think about the shows fairly often. The memories are wonderful, comforting, and still manage to make me smile. Even more so though, I think about the travel we did while there. We were trains a lot. We saw quite a bit of the countryside, experienced winter markets, and tried new things. I fell in love with England and Scotland on that trip, and I really want to go back.

I remember walking through Bournemouth, which is a beautiful little town (as is Brighton and everywhere else I’ve visited so far). We walked along the shops and grabbed dinner with friends.  I can’t even remember the place, but the food was yummy and I was finally starting to relax. It began to rain at some point and so I bought an umbrella (I melt in rain, of course). It was zebra-striped and I had it up until last year, when it broke. I have no idea why I remember that so well, but I do.

Another memory I have from the trip was in Glasgow, after the show that Amanda described on her Sunday post. First of all, my blood is Californian, and I wholeheartedly admit that I froze from the second I got off the train in Edinburgh to the time I got back to California a few days later. I just could not get warm. So, one of my memories is of the cold weather. The arena where the show took place felt like it had its air conditioner on, as opposed to a heater, and I wore my big ski jacket until after the band came on stage, and I still remember shivering as the band busted through “All You Need is Now”.

Then after the show, we’d walked over to a hotel nearby, where there seemed to be a large gathering of Duranies. We grabbed seats and drinks, knowing it would be our final hurrah for that trip. As we sat and sipped, we look out the window and saw it begin to snow. Giant, fat, frosty flakes rained down, and while our driver worried about getting home – I remember thinking how magical the night seemed. I love that memory. I didn’t grow up with snow or even cold weather, so for me it was something out of a dream. Kind of like the rest of that trip, to be honest.

I need to break out of my reverie and get back to shopping online, wrapping, and packing!

-R

 

 

 

I’m Thankful For…

I know lots of people who love Thanksgiving.  They love the ritual of a big meal that traditionally includes turkey, pie, and more.  Perhaps, they enjoy the long dinner conversation or the football that always seems to be on.  I cannot say that I’m one of them.  I don’t mind a little football and I like eating but it always seems like a lot of work to me.  That said, the one aspect the holiday that I tend to dig is the idea of giving thanks, expressing gratitude, especially when times are tough.  So, here is what I am thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I’m beyond grateful for my family.  They continue to be my bedrock, my foundation and more.  I have always said that I feel like I won the lottery when it came to my parents, which is still true.  This year was a tough one for my dad, health wise, but he managed to push through and is currently doing well.  In fact, he was still able to help me work on the campaign this year.  Speaking of family and campaigning, my parents, my siblings and my nieces all volunteered to turn out the vote.  This makes me feel extremely proud and I know that it thrills my dad to no end.

Second, after experiencing a lot of losses, finally, my campaign team won one.  This was a big deal for so many reasons.  I feel like a wrong that was done to me and thousands of others like me was finally acknowledged.  The damage might not fixed instantly but at least no more will be done.  On top of that, it gave me hope for the future.  This is something that I have not had for a couple of years now.  I have been living on edge, in preparation of things getting worse.  While I don’t believe that we are completely out of the woods, I now think we might make it out okay.  On a more personal level, I gave a lot of time and energy to the campaign.  I believe that it what I needed to do and action definitely feels better than complaining.  I’m thankful that my work was not in vain.  It made a real difference and I’m proud at the results my team achieved.  In the area in which I organized, we got 90% of registered voters to the polls and increased the vote for our candidates by 3%.  That’s huge, especially in a state in which victories were decided by less than 2%.

Beyond my family and elections, I’m thankful for my friends.  As a kid, my mother used to tell me that I would have lots of different types of friends in my life.  I didn’t know what she meant then but I do now.  I know that there are friends that I have nothing but fun with.  (I’m looking forward to that fun in February in Vegas!)  I have work friends whom I go to when I need advice or some idea to get through the work day, week, month or year.  This year, I had friends step up to help me with campaigning.  Then, there are friends who fit into multiple roles, like Rhonda.  No matter the type of friendship someone provides, I am grateful for them.  Each and every one of you matters a lot to me.

Of course, I’m also grateful to the people connected to fandom.  The first person on that list is Rhonda.  Sometimes, I shake my head wondering what in the actual hell we were thinking when we started this blog but most of the time, I’m glad it is in my life.  Even when I think, “I have seriously no time to blog,” I somehow manage and always feel better after having done so.  It has provided me with more than just a place to talk about Duran Duran (although I love that, too!).  It has given me a place to sort out my observations as well as my thoughts and feelings about fandom and more.  I love all the people that came into my life as a result.  I have made so many connections simply by doing something I love which is not only this blog but going to Duran shows or organizing Duranie events.   It is all pretty awesome!  So I’m super grateful to those who read the blog, participate in the daily questions, complete assigned homework, attend our events, say hi to us when they see us or even want to hang out with us.  Much love to you all.

Last but not least, I’m so glad that Duran Duran is still part of my life. Not only have they provided something constant in my life, they have brought so much joy.  Many of my favorite experiences have centered around Duran Duran.  How many other people have a favorite band that has brought them nothing but fun?  I suspect not many.  Every time I think about seeing them live, I know there is no place I would rather be.  I’m very lucky that I have a couple of shows to look forward to in 2019.

On that note, I’m off to see my parents and my niece for another day of fun.

-A