Category Archives: personal stories

It’s a Chain Cuts Across My Soul

Work has been super busy this week.  This is mostly due to the fact that my students are starting a project next week and I have had a bunch of meetings.  Luckily, I have a student teacher this semester, which helps divide up the work somewhat (and gives some work, too!).  Last night, my student teacher and I left the school after 6 pm after working on some materials.  As we were leaving, she began telling me about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are her go to food.  This, of course, led me to tell her about a hotel in New Orleans that Rhonda and I stayed at in 2006 when we attended the Voodoo Music Festival which served PB & J sandwiches every evening.

The answer to the next question is yes.  Of course, I proceeded to tell her all about that experience, in which Rhonda and I along with others literally stood for hours without food or water while trying to avoid crowd surfers. I attempted to explain that the only reason we put ourselves through such hell was for Duran Duran.  Then, I explained that Duran is more than my favorite band and mentioned this blog.  As I stopped talking, I wondered what her reaction would be as many tend to give weird looks or ask me if I am a groupie or both.  Instead of any of that, she said, “That’s good.”  It was my turn to look confused.  Huh?  She went on to explain about how it must be good to have something else to focus on besides work.  I nodded.

As I drove home, I thought more about what she had to say.  The more I pondered her reaction, the more I realized how right she is.  Is it good that I have Duran in my life?  That I do this blog?  I think so.

I recently edited my Twitter profile in which I described myself as a teacher, an activist and a Duranie, but not necessarily in that order.  During the school year, yes, typically I most often consider myself a teacher first.  I spend a LOT of time, energy and thoughts on my classroom, curriculum and students.  My school day lasts much longer than 8 or 9 hours a day.  Yesterday, for example, I was in the school building from 7:45 to 6:15.  I also had some grading to do when I got home.  On top of that, when public education and teachers become the topic of discussion on the state or national level, I am included in that conversation.  I take it personally as it generally has been my life work and a huge part of my identity.

Lately, a lot of my “free time” (Ha!  I don’t really have much free time but you all know what I mean.) has been spent on political activity, including reading a lot of current events, contacting legislators, planning meetings, contacting other organizations, and more.  I can and am sucked into political activity easily.  This connects with the teacher in me.  As a history and women’s studies teacher, I feel it is essential to be an example to my students about the importance of being engaged in one’s community, city, state and nation.  My undergrad studies focused on social movements as it is something that fascinates me.  Thus, if I’m not thinking of myself as a teacher, I’m thinking of myself as an activist.  While I love both of those parts of myself, I recognize that both suck the energy from me.  They exhaust me, mentally and emotionally.  I have a friend who is constantly saying,  “You are terrible in taking care of yourself.”  She is right.  I am.  I don’t take care of myself, putting my students and community/country ahead of what I need.

This is where Duran Duran enters the picture.  In many ways, being a Duranie is most selfish part of myself.  It is the aspect of myself that allows me to have fun, to take breaks, to escape the world.  I suspect that going on tour, writing this blog, organizing fan events is what has allowed me to give so much of myself as a teacher and a community organizer.  Thus, my student teacher is right.  It is good that I’m a Duranie and that I write this blog.  I am then given the opportunity to pause from my reality even if I think I don’t “need” it.

-A

Lay Your Seedy Judgements: Duran Hatred

Sometimes, I do not understand people and their thinking.  Actually, right now in early 2017, it is a lot more than sometimes.  Despite the increasing frequency, I’m still shocked by things that people think and believe.

Looking back to my childhood fandom, I definitely recognize that a LOT of people hated Duran Duran.  I saw friends and family hate Duran.  Friends at school constantly put them down as not being cool, at least not in comparison to artists like Michael Jackson.  I remember classmates talking about how Duran needed to learn how to dance as breakdancing became the “in thing”.  Lunch times were spend arguing the merits of Duran Duran vs. the rest of popular music.  I never convinced any of my classmates about Duran’s coolness, but I always tried to.  I was a dedicated fan even back then in 1984.

Of course, I also remember Top 40 radio DJs that played Duran Duran making fun of them.  That really perplexed me.  Why play the band if you hated them so much, I wondered.  One memory that still stands out for me is hearing a couple of male DJs discussing Nick’s wedding.  They were appalled by the pink attire as well as how much make-up Nick wore.  I didn’t get it then as I had no clue that people judge men who wear make-up or like the color pink.  Now, of course, I recognize that this judgement was based on this rigid notion of gender roles where men are not supposed to like a color that represents the feminine and they definitely should not wear make-up.  That was for women only.  rolls eyes

The stigma against Duran was strong that it carried over to critics and much of the general public, stopping the respect that a band who writes and records quality music should receive.  Yet, decades passed and notions of metrosexuality became more accepted as did the restrictions on strict gender roles.  The world seemed more inclusive and accepting.  Duran, specifically, received more and more critical acclaim as time went on.  I began to read more and more praise about the band and their latest albums.  I believed that Duran finally was gaining acceptance, real acceptance.

This past week, though, proved that this belief of mine was false, that many still hated Duran Duran.  Rhonda and I corresponded with someone about a potential project this week who openly dismissed our idea simply because it was about Duran Duran.  What?!?  Are you kidding?!  Both of us expressed shock by this.  People really still hated Duran?  Seriously?!  After the initial shock, anger took over.  How can people still not see that Duran Duran is a band of quality?  It did not even matter when we pointed out that Duran still sells out arenas and has countless number of fans.  We proved that there are a lot of Duranies out there.  None of that mattered because this person is not interested in Duran.

Days have passed and I’m still furious.  Here’s the thing.  Rhonda and I will continue to shop our project around.  Why?  Simple.  We know that Duran is quality and deserves the respect that we hope to show with this idea we came up with.  I also have to admit that I like the idea of proving this person wrong, too, because I (and the rest of you) KNOW that she is wrong when it comes to Duran.

-A

Is It March Yet???

I slept in this morning as I often do on Saturday mornings, hoping to recover from a very long week.  As I grabbed some breakfast, I glanced at my super long to do list that includes some cleaning, paying bills, grading some paragraphs, and more.  Instead of getting started right away, I opted to ignore the list.  I decided to go online to look for a plane ticket.  Where might I be going?  Simple!  I have a couple of Duran shows to go to next month!

That’s right.  Rhonda and I will be attending the two shows at the Agua Caliente casino and resort in California, during the weekend of March 17th.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to these shows for two reasons.  First, we have seen Duran perform there before in October 2015.  I loved the venue.  It is small, has good sound, and no barricade up front.  I cannot imagine that there is a bad seat in the house frankly!  Second, these shows will take exactly 12 years after the first shows Rhonda and I saw together.

That’s right.  Rhonda and I went to our very first show together in March of 2005.  We went to Chicago to see them play at that the All-State Arena, north of the city.  It amuses me that we will get to see another show on the very same day.  I think back to that show in 2005.  My childhood fandom had been reawakened and I could not get enough.  I remember the day before the show.  My colleagues practically pushed me out the door since they were so sick of me talking about nothing but Duran.  Since that show, I don’t talk about Duran as much at work.  My love has not diminished.  It is more that my fandom  has become just intertwined with everything else that makes up me.  I cannot separate my Duranieness the way I could in 2005.  Now, being a Duranie is part of who I am in such an essential way.

All of that said, it isn’t like my colleagues don’t know about my love for Duran.  Just this week, I participated in a trivia night fundraiser with a couple of colleagues.  When Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer was played in the music category, they were impressed (or frightened) that I could name the song in literally 2 seconds.  Then, my colleagues went on to explain to others at our table about my “dedication” to Duran, including this blog and going to as many shows as I can.  I think the others at the table were a little surprised as I saw a lot of blinking and silence filled the space.  That reaction isn’t new.  I didn’t take that as negative, more like they didn’t know how to respond.  I suspect, though, they were happy with my answer since it helped for our team to win.

Speaking of wins, I got another win when I asked my principal if I could take a couple of days to go to these shows mentioned earlier.  His response, “Sure.”  Nice.  It is nice to be able to move forward with plans.  More than that, having something fun to look forward to is keeping me going.  Now that we have our tickets, our hotel room reserved and I have my plane ticket, I’m ready for the countdown to begin.

What about the rest of you?  Do you have a countdown going for a Duran show or for something else?

-A

All Looks So Familiar

Happy Friday everyone!  I know that I have promised you all a rubric, or means of evaluating Duran Duran concerts and I plan on doing that, but I cannot produce that tonight.  As usual, this week kicked my ass and I haven’t had time to finish the rubric yet.  I expect to get it done sometime this weekend.  I wish I had finished, though, as I am sitting here struggling with what to write about.  That’s weird for me.  I normally have ideas upon ideas.  I blame being tired and feeling old.  I’m so old, in fact, that my niece turned 18 yesterday.  18!  How did that happen?!

I think back to January 12, 1999, and how very different my life is now compared to then.  In 1999, after having substitute taught, I anxiously hoped for a full time teaching job.  Funny enough, the day after my niece was born, I received an offer for a semester long teaching position.  I did not hesitate to take it and did not look back.  While I have had moments (sometimes many moments) questioning this career decision, in reality, I have identified as a teacher since then.  Teaching is a huge part of who I am.  In 1999, I was so focused on teaching that I didn’t even think about fandom at all.  In fact, I had no idea what Duran Duran was even doing!  I know, I know.  For shame!

Part of me looks back and is very sorry that I missed out on so much Duran history.  I could have seen shows on the Pop Trash tour.  I could have seen John Taylor solo shows (which I actually regret more!  I am a bad Duranie!).  Another part of me definitely does not believe that I made the wrong decision.  I needed to focus on getting a job, getting settled, really learning how to be a teacher.  While education classes are great, one does not know how to teach until one actually does it.  I learned that quickly in my first semester teaching.  I had to be intensely focused on the job to get decent at it.  It would take years before I felt that I was a competent or good teacher.  Yes, sometimes, one must be laser focused.

This brings me back to Duran Duran.  I suspect that the band was pretty dang focused on writing and making music during the first months of its existence.  I bet they ate, slept, and breathed Duran Duran for years after the band formed and after each member joined.  If they didn’t, I suspect that they wouldn’t have been as successful as they were.  They wouldn’t be as good.  Just look at how many albums and videos (and quality ones at that!) they created in such a short time span.  They were extremely prolific in the early 1980s.  I think it is pretty normal for people to emphasize their career when it is beginning.  The band did.  I did.

As time went by, teaching became second nature to me.  I began to develop skills to think on my feet in a different way than I could as a first year, second year or third year teacher, for example.  Day-to-day tasks got easier.  I got faster as creating curriculum and knew how to deal with students and parents better.  I learned.  I learned a lot.  I bet the same is true for Duran Duran.  Things that probably once took a lot of time and effort to do now potentially comes easily. For example, I wonder how they felt when they had the first interviews.  If you have seen the first known interview, which I have included below, they look awkward, uncertain, nervous.

Compare that interview to the one Simon did this week on an Italian TV show:

http://www.video.mediaset.it/video/music/clip/la-canzone-della-vita_680332.html

Even with the translation over him, you can tell how at ease he seems.  Likewise, John Taylor also seems relaxed in this interview from this week:

As I became an experienced teacher and got more comfortable with my skills, I found myself with more free time and the chance to do other activities, including this blog!  I didn’t need to focus on my career 24/7.  I could and did broaden my interests and activities.  The same seems to be true for the band.  They do not live and breathe Duran like they once did.  As a fan part of me wishes that they would.  They could produce more music or make more videos.  Yet, I do believe that they should be able to have time away from their careers just like I deserve vacations or any of you do.

Funny enough, even during their time away, they are not that far away from their career.  John did an interview for For Bass Players Only.  Simon was performing for that Italian show, which you can see here.  I sort of feel the same way about teaching.  While I love getting away from the job and being able to explore something new, I know that the teacher in me is never that far away.

-A

A Corporate Retreat? Sign me up!

Do you ever get the feeling that you are working for the wrong company?  I sure do, particularly when I see that the band is in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, to be more precise), which is about an hour and a half from me, and they are doing a corporate show for the WME/IMG company retreat!

First of all, my “company” doesn’t even do retreats. I work for a charter school, and we teach…and wrangle children. (that’s my job!)The best thing we do to team build is have meetings, which quite frankly—I enjoy—because it’s the only time we have to actually talk to one another without risk of a small child coming in to ask for a band-aid or to call mom.  It is never a dull moment, but I love it. I’m also completely exhausted at the end of the day. But, back to those retreats that I’m missing out on and that band we all love…

I noticed on Monday…or Tuesday (the days run together for me anymore), that Anna Ross had posted a photo from a morning hike in Palm Springs. I really didn’t give it much thought, figuring it was from another visit. I mean, how could they possibly be in Palm Springs? Or maybe she was here on her own. I had no idea. Until Dom posted something similar.

I remember seeing the tweet, and thinking –  they are here. (Who am I kidding? I really thought, HE IS HERE. Don’t tell anybody.) In my state. 90 minutes from me. What. The.  (well, I’ll let you think the rest from there.) 

Granted, I could have gotten into my car and driven out there. I know this. YOU know this. But I’ll bet you also know I didn’t. I couldn’t. No way. First of all, my days are pretty wrapped up anymore. Either I’m teaching at home, or I’m at school. If I’m at school, I have no time to think about anything else for the entire eight hours I’m there. I rush from the second I arrive – usually being bombarded by children from the moment I shut the car door before I even hit the door to the building, until the moment I close the car door to leave. Sometimes even then I get a phone call on the way home.  When I get home, I crash. Hard.  It’s a problem.

Even so, I could have gone out there. What stopped me was the though of how ridiculous I would have looked. (Oh, and yes – my children. And husband! But never mind them…) Yes, I had a reasonable idea of where they were, but stalking isn’t a hobby of mine. I’m terrible at being a fan in that respect, because the last thing I want to do is annoy any of them. I don’t approach (been there, wrote that email, crashed and burned spectacularly…thank you very much), and as a result, I’m the last person who is ever going to “meet” them after a show, or anywhere else for that matter, unless we’re introduced….or unless Simon comes on over for another toast at a bar. When I sit back and think about how long Amanda and I have been blogging and yet we’re STILL saying we don’t really know them, well – it’s laughable (and believe me, we do laugh).  Even so, I was tempted, I’ll admit. Of course I wanted to see them, but on the same token, I didn’t want to look like a fool, which I would have. For sure.

So instead, I tried to enjoy the torture of knowing that they were so nearby, and that they were also very close to where I’ll be seeing them in a couple of months.  Anticipation can be fun. Sort of.

Honestly, seeing the tweets from Dom and Anna – and there were only a few – was nice. It was a treat to have them share where they were, knowing that fans (at least not many) weren’t really a part of what they were doing out there this time. And today they’re headed back home, presumably until they begin the sweep of shows they have planned for spring.

Me? Oh, I’m very much looking forward to a weekend in Rancho Mirage come March, and not just because of the band! You see, for Amanda and I—it’s going to be our own Daily Duranie weekend retreat! I am looking forward to some hopefully sunny weather, a little peace and quiet by the pool, and some quality time with some friends I rarely see. It will all be happening. Soonish.

-R

The Present Will Never Last

This morning, I am traveling to the Washington D.C. area with my friend to celebrate New Year’s.  Of course, this won’t be a common celebration but one filled with some live music by a certain band that we know and love.  Yes, this New Year’s celebration will include a couple Duran shows.

When these shows were announced, I didn’t hesitate to make plans to go.  I never have New Year’s plans and this holiday includes time away from work.  If that wasn’t enough, I also had airline miles.  It seemed like a no brainer.  Yet, as the days passed by and become weeks then months, I began to wonder if I made the right decision.  I could use the money for other things.  The mountain of grading would not get done on its own.  My feelings of despair hadn’t let up much since November.  Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling it much and put off real planning.  Yes, I had a plane ticket, a hotel room, but I hadn’t prepared the binder or figure out any real details.  I kept putting it off.

Then, on Christmas day, I heard about George Michael’s death.  Like so many others of my generation, I grew up listening to George Michael and Wham.  I sang his songs and watched his videos.  Hearing about his loss was like losing a part of my childhood.  Then, when you place his loss alongside the others who died during this year, the grief is almost overwhelming.  When I just think about the musicians lost this year, I am deeply saddened by those whom I will never have the opportunity to see live in concert or hear new music from again.  I was lucky in that I saw David Bowie live once.  I wish I could have said the same for Prince and George Michael.

Suddenly, I realized that I need to get it together.  I have the opportunity to go and see Duran Duran on New Year’s Eve.  I shouldn’t ignore any and all chances to see bands/artists I like.  I certainly should APPRECIATE every single chance I have to see Duran Duran.  If anything that 2016 has taught us, it is not to waste chances and moments to do what you love or to be where you are happiest.  After all, you never know when we won’t have the chance to do it again, for whatever the reason.

Now that I have rearranged my perspective, how can I not be excited and appreciative for this chance?  How can I not look forward to spending New Year’s not only with Duran Duran but also countless Duranies!  While I will miss my best friend being with me and I acknowledge that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I need to focus on what I do have.  I will have two Duran shows and I know that there is no place I would rather be.  Duranie friends will be all around me.  Life isn’t perfect but this trip will be pretty close.

So, as you are all reading this, I should be on my way.  Hopefully, my flight will be uneventful and then I will be able to enjoy a city that I have had the good fortune of spending some time over the last 6 years or so.  Then, I will be ready to party and put an end of a year that was filled with sorrow and disappointment.  With everlasting hope, I, along with thousands of Duran fans, will welcome 2017 doing what we love–singing, dancing, screaming and clapping for a band and music we love so much.

-A

To Lighten Up Your Mood

Do you listen to music to match your mood or to change it?  For example, do you find yourself picking upbeat, dance music to get you moving in the morning or to join you on a workout?  Or is it a situation in which you are angry so you pick a song to scream out your frustrations?  If I was asked this question, I would definitely state that I’m more of a find a song to match my mood kind of person.  Perhaps, this is one of many reasons that I like Duran so much.  I appreciate that they have songs to match every mood.  There are a lot of artists out there with catalogs that all sound the same, in terms of tempo, feeling, etc.  Duran isn’t like that.

It may come as no surprise to anyone reading this who knows me that I have not been feeling particularly upbeat, happy, joyful lately.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that my mood swings from anger and frustration to deep sadness.  Underlying all of that is a strong, unbreakable feeling of anxiety, worry, fear.  I have not even been playing a lot of music in the last month as everything I might choose seemed off the mark.  Again, the goal I have is to match the music with my mood and no songs in my library includes all of those emotions.  I find songs that express the anger but not the sadness or vice versa.  Forget about finding music that really expresses the fear I have.  Because I do love music, I have not given up as I attempt to find the right songs or the right combination of songs to match my moods.

The other morning, I attempted once again to find just the right song while I got ready for work.  I decided to go for shuffle and hope for the best.  Duran’s Paper Gods came on.  Instead of skipping it, thinking it wouldn’t match my feeling, I opted to turn it up.  Soon enough, I found myself singing along.  I noticed that my brain stopped thinking as I let the music wash over me.  I remembered the joy of seeing the band on stage during this past summer.  Then, the next song that came on was a remix of Wild Boys.  I continued to listen and sing along.  I wanted to keep listening but I had to leave for work.  As I locked my house and moved down to the garage to drive to work, I realized that my negative outlook returned but that for a few minutes, while listening to Duran, the cloud lifted.  The songs did not change my mood but offered some relief.

As I drove to work, I allowed my thoughts to turn to the upcoming shows in Washington, DC at the end of the month.  I understood in a new, more concrete  way that I needed these shows.  Now, when I say “need”, I recognize that I won’t die without them.  Duran shows do not equal food, water, shelter or other essentials.  Of course not.  Yet, having the chance to experience some real joy will not only give me a reprieve from the harsh reality of life right now, which is more than welcome, but will also help me get a boost that I need to keep fighting the good fight.

Music is powerful.  It can say what we can’t say ourselves otherwise. It can also sway your mood or provide you with the necessary escape.  More than that, music brings joy which all humans benefit from, but especially when life is throwing a lot of challenges your way.  This week, I was reminded of the power of music.  Add on the fact that Duran’s music also has music for every emotion and the power intensifies.  Right now, at this moment, I am thankful for Duran and their music and really looking forward to those shows.

-A

Its a New Religion: Rio and the Self-Titled Debut

I’ve noticed that Amanda has been telling her own stories regarding each album lately, and so I’ve decided to join in.  Perhaps you’ll decide to share your own – and we certainly encourage that!

I’m going to start with the first album…and actually Rio… since that seems to be the best place to begin! This is going to require some memory on my part.  I cannot guarantee I’m going to get the chain of events completely accurate, but it is how I remember it!

As I’ve mentioned previously, the very first time I heard Duran Duran was on KROQ. What you don’t know, is that I stumbled onto the station by accident, really. I’d overheard girls—popular girls— talking about KROQ at school. I had no idea what it was, or why the station was cool, but I was desperate to fit in. If I remember right, I’d heard the call letters way before I knew what the number was. I never actually asked anyone at school because I was too shy to bother. It was just one of those things I kept in the back of my mind, and once I finally saw where the station was located, I ran home to find it.

I remember trying to find 106.7 on the radio dial. Back then, as I’m sure many will remember – the dials were touchy. I didn’t have a digital display telling me what station it was on, I had to go by this orange little hand that would move as I turned the dial on my radio, and it wasn’t completely accurate. So I’d fidget with it, get it to tune in, and then wait to see if I had the right station.  Finally I must have gotten it, because Rodney on the ROQ was on, and he was introducing this band that he swore we’d hear more from.  The band was Duran Duran and the song was Planet Earth.

I liked the song immediately, but at the time I was far more astounded that I was actually listening to the right station, the one everyone else – or at least everyone who I thought mattered – was talking about. I went back to school and reported it to my group of misfit friends. One of the girls in this group knew all about KROQ and Duran Duran. This is where my memory gets wonky, because I can’t remember how long it was between that time and when they really became popular. In my head it wasn’t that long, but I’m not sure.

What I can tell you though is that I didn’t buy a Duran Duran record right away. Instead, I heard them a lot on the radio – but it wasn’t the first album I was hearing. It was Rio, and it hit BIG here. By then, it wasn’t just KROQ playing them – it was every station. I want to say that Marsha – the girl in the group that had already known who Duran Duran was – invited me to go with her to buy their album at the record store.  This was a major thing for me because I didn’t really own much in the way of music beyond KTEL records: a few Shaun Cassidy albums and a copy of Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog.

We got to the store (Wherehouse records!), and I remember looking at the Duran Duran albums…but here is where my memory fades again. You see, my very first DD album wasn’t their self-titled one. It was Rio. I bought Rio first, only to find out later that there was an earlier album. (which I then bought, of course!) I can’t remember if the first album was there on the shelf with Rio and I just didn’t know what it was (obviously when I’d heard Planet Earth I didn’t know what album that was from or much else about the band). One might wonder why I wouldn’t have bought both if I saw them, and I can only guess:

  1. I must have only seen Rio?
  2. I only had money for one album and had to choose?
  3. (and this is the one I’m leaning towards because of my memory) The stores only HAD Rio at the time because that was the album that was huge on the radio, and it was later that we got the self-titled one with Is There Something I Should Know on it rather than To The Shore)

I know that it wasn’t long after I’d bought Rio that I then either bought the first one or it was given to me for a holiday or birthday or something. I also remember seeing Carnival in the stores around this same time, but…in my frugal thinking back then…I couldn’t understand buying an album that I already had all the songs from. Yes, I’ve spent time kicking myself (at least up until I actually bought Carnival myself).

At first, I can tell you that I liked Rio far more than I did the first album. To me, the first album was “weird”.  I liked some of the songs on it – like Planet Earth and ITSISK, but I wasn’t a big fan of GOF. What’s more, later on I discovered that one of my KTEL records had GOF on it. It was actually a song on the B side that I tended to skip!!  (Ha, that’s a true confession!)  Clearly, in the years since that initial purchase I’ve changed my mind! But yes, it was probably Rio (and HLTW if I’m being honest) that made me fall for Duran Duran.

My favorite song on Rio was New Religion, although Rio ran a close second along with yes, HLTW.  When I went back and got the self-titled album, I can remember being incredulous that it came out before Rio because it wasn’t until after Rio came out that we heard ITSISK. I just wasn’t aware of the chain of events, I guess.

So, my favorite song on the first album was – yes – ITSISK. I wasn’t aware until years later that the real first album didn’t even have that on it, it was just pressed that way for the US. Live and learn, I suppose.

Someday I’ll have to tell you about the first time I saw their videos with my friend Marsha.

-R

 

My Seven and the Ragged Tiger Story

Last weekend, I blogged about Duran Duran’s third studio album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, which you can read here.   In that blog, I listed the facts of the album, including who was on it, the singles, the videos and more.  While that certainly provides the Duran Duran history, it does not describe how fans felt about that album.  Thus, I wanted to take time to share my story, my feelings about the album.  Then, I invite all of you to share your stories, too!

In 1983, I turned 8.  I lived in the suburbs of Chicago where I had everything that I could hope for, including a best friend and activities to keep us busy.  When my best friend and I hung out together, we always had the radio on, most specifically B96, the Top 40 radio station.  If we were in the “TV room”, then MTV played in the background.  For some reason, both of us preferred to have something on in the background while we played “store” or whatever else we did for fun.

As all of you know, both radio and MTV frequently played Duran Duran in 1983.  By that point, they embraced songs and videos from the Rio album.  Both my friend and I liked those songs and videos we heard from that album, but they still were more in the background rather than in the foreground for us.  Age mattered.  Duran Duran released Seven at just the right time.  Union of the Snake premiered first.  I enjoyed it but it didn’t grab me.  New Moon on Monday, though, began to really burrow its way into my brain like any good ear worm.  More than the fabulous chorus, I recall watching the video for New Moon on Monday and loving it.  (I still love it.  It is my favorite video, by far.)  I loved the storyline and thought the guys looked great!

Oh, yes, by early 1984, my interest grew to officially liking the band. Discussions between my friend and I surrounded the band for the first time.  We started to spend some of our money on books, magazines and any other merchandise we could find as we debated which guy we liked best.  Initially, I liked all of them with a slight pull to Simon.  I liked his main character role in the New Moon on Monday video.  Yet, I also liked the friendship aspect of John and Nick during that same video.  I was slightly conflicted!

Then, the Reflex premiered and changed everything!  The conflict ended as I fell hard for a certain bass player after watching the video over and over and over!  There was just something about John Taylor during that video that got to me.  Not only that, I loved the song.  Loved it!  My best friend adored it as well.  We were so ridiculous that we called each other on the phone each time that the song came on the radio or appeared on MTV.  We couldn’t get enough and our parents allowed it for some crazy reason.  Clearly, we were officially Duranies from then on!

From that point, our fandom took on big roles for each of us, individually, but also for our friendship.  Instead of playing store or swinging in my backyard, we now watched MTV all the time while we poured over teen magazines, memorizing each and every fact.  Our bedroom walls featured nothing but Duran Duran posters.  We lived and breathed Duran Duran.

So, while many Duranies claim the first album or Rio made them serious fans, for me, it was Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

-A

Give Me Strength: Giving Appreciation

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I spent the day with my parents where we ate a full vegetarian meal, watched Star Trek Beyond and played some games.  It provided me necessary down time and the comfort of being with those who provide unconditional love and support.  Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday but I do appreciate having the time to stop and appreciate what one has in life.  This year, this feels more important than usual.

So, what am I grateful for?  I’ll start with the obvious.  I’m thankful for my family.  I have always felt very fortunate to have parents, in particular, who support me in so many ways.  Last year, at this time, my mom was finishing treatment for cancer and this year, she has been cancer free.  My father, who has a chronic illness, has been able to manage it better.  I’m thankful, then, that they are as healthy as can be and still able to be there for me.

This year, I also learned to really appreciate my job.  I often complain about the daily grind of education and teaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  Teaching is exhausting and requires far more work than a full time job.  I wish I could change that time commitment on top of all of the district, state and national demands and criticisms.  That said, my colleagues and my students have renewed my spirit in ways that they may never understand.  Now, I feel like we really are a big, weird dysfunctional family trying to make it through each day, each week, this school year and beyond together.

Of course, I am very grateful for my friendship with Rhonda.  While we may not live close to each other or are able to speak everyday, I know that she is supportive of me.  She may not always understand all of my choices or me of hers, yet, we still support each other.  At the end of the day, that foundation matters a lot.  It can overcome whatever challenges pop up–whether those are busy schedules, differing viewpoints or something else entirely.  Without this friendship, so much of what I have done in the name of fandom would have never taken place and I would have had a LOT less fun over the years.

This leads me ot appreciate Duran Duran and my fandom.  During this summer, Rhonda and I were able to attend a number of shows.  While I felt like I appreciated them then, now I really do.  I distinctly remember a moment at one of the shows this summer when I realized very clearly that there is nothing that brings me joy like being at a Duran Duran concert.  It is where I am the happiest.  Duran represents fun and good times.

The majority of my life is such that I’m serious a lot.  I work more than I should.  I focus my energy on being politically active.  No, those tasks don’t bring me joy in the traditional sense but what they do bring is immense satisfaction.  They bring a real purpose to my life.  I feel fulfilled when students really learn something and when they become politically active themselves.  The high that results from fighting in some sort campaign cannot be easily explained.  I cannot walk away from that aspect of myself.  Yet, Duran, fandom and fun provides the necessary infusion of energy and joy that keeps me going.  I need both in my life.

I then look forward to the two trips I have coming up to Washington D.C.  At the end of the year, I’ll venture there to see Duran Duran play a couple of shows and I will get the burst of energy and good times that I need.  Then, I’ll return to the city a couple weeks later to march in the Women’s March on Washington.  I am grateful to all that will make both happen from my colleagues, to my friends, to my parents, to Duran Duran and to other activists.  I appreciate them all.

-A