Category Archives: personal stories

Step Out Into the Future

This is it.  Today is the day.  I’m sure by now you are all sick to death of me talking about my presentation or presenting at this Popular Culture Conference.  I have a few things that I want to comment on before I head downstairs to the room in which I will present.

First of all, I want to thank all of you.  So many of you have helped me/us with this project that I definitely need to acknowledge that and offer my gratitude.  This past week, when I needed images of whatever, all I needed to do was hop on social media.  I would ask for this, that or the next thing and you all posted exactly what I needed.  If I wasn’t feeling supported, this would have done it.  So, I thank each and every one of you that shared a photo or two or ten of your collections or your live crowd shots.  I ended up with more than I need.  That said, having choices was so nice.

Second, beyond the sharing of photos, I also want to thank people for all of the supportive comments.  You all have such confidence in us/me that I’m overwhelmed.  I am not sure what I did to deserve this but I appreciate it beyond words.  I can only hope that I will live up to these expectations today.  Truly, I want to be able to report back that I did well and that none of you were wrong to have such faith in me.

Now, I know a lot of you are dying to see my presentation.  I did my best to record me practicing yesterday.  While it won’t be the same as watching me give it in person and you can only see part of the visual presentation, I’m hoping to be able to upload it tomorrow when I’m home and share it then.  I do want to warn you all, though.  Rhonda and I don’t beat around the bush and we do not always paint our fandom is the best of light.  That said, we explain what we believe is the cause of our biggest flaw as a fan community.  Our goal, though, was to provide some hope to make our fan community the best place in the world to be.  After all, this week has shown me how awesome, amazing, supportive and loving this community can be and makes me proud to be a Duranie along side all of you.

It has been an interesting experience to be at this conference.  I haven’t had a ton of conversations with others, which I’m a little sad about, but I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  If that wasn’t enough, I have definitely learned a lot from many of the presenters I had the pleasure to watch.  I’m thrilled to be able to share our theory with others who will have knowledge and expertise in the field.  I look forward to see what questions and comments people have for us.  Likewise, I’m hoping that the presentation itself will be a moment of growth for me.  As Rhonda and I exchanged tweets yesterday, one thing became clear.  This theory of ours is one that we believe we could expand into something.  The future awaits and I’m ready to step out to meet it.

-A

Until All This Fear Is Washed Away

Today is the last day of work before Spring Break.  Usually this means sleeping in, catching up on my to-do list, and enjoying time away from teenagers.  I’m never conflicted about break.  I always love it and am thankful for it…until this year.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are lots of things about break that I’m needing and looking forward to.  I cannot wait to sleep in.  I love the fact that I will have time to just think and to write some in order to process some life lessons that I got the last couple of weeks.  But this spring break does not really feel like a time to relax.  Why is this?  I’m sure you all know that I’ll be traveling to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to present our research on female dominated fandoms.  Originally, the plan was for Rhonda and I to do this conference together.  Now, though, it is just me, which frankly scares the hell out of me.

What the heck am I so scared of, you may wonder.  I’m not totally worried about the presentation itself, like you may think.  Yes, of course, I’m nervous about speaking in front of strangers, academics, and other scholarly types.  It is silly, really.  I talk every day.  I present all the time.  This audience, though, will be very different than the usual teenagers that I normally deal with.  This group will be paying attention to me.  They will listen and be focused.  My students don’t know enough (in most cases) to judge.  I cannot say the same about the people who will be in the audience at the conference.  That said, I know that our theory about competition in fandoms is a good one.  I’m confident in our research and our conclusions.  But I won’t lie.  I’m still going to be nervous as heck.  Still, this isn’t what causes me fear as I suspect my professionalism will kick in, like it does at job interviews.

No, my fear comes from a different place.  It is all about the social aspects of the conference.  I don’t do well putting myself “out there” socially.  I tend to be the person who sits back, watches and attempts to observe before I attempt interaction.  This, too often, comes across as me being distant and cold, which I’m always sorry about.  I don’t want the conference goers to see me like this.  I know about this personality quirk of myself and have generally dealt with it by avoiding going to social scenes alone.  Usually, when I go with someone else, I seem more human, more approachable as I’ll talk to the person(s) I’m with.  Let me give you a story.  In 2004, when the Duran Fans Convention came up, I desperately wanted to go.  I wanted to meet other Duranies and express my excitement about the band’s reunion with other people who “got it”.  Well, I didn’t have enough guts to go on my own.  Instead, I dragged a friend with me.  I never regretted that decision as I obviously had a great time and met lots of great Duranies there.  Would I have had that great of a time without my friend being there?  I don’t know.

This conference isn’t like a Duran convention or concert.  I highly doubt that anyone there will be a Duranie.  Likewise, I’m sure that there will not be an all night party in room 7609 in the hotel either.  When I found out that Rhonda would not be able to go, I did what I always do.  I turned to my mom to express my newly created anxiety and she is such an amazing person that she offered to go with me.  Then, my dad got sick and it became clear to me that she is needed here.  No, I have to face this challenge alone.

Now, I could just avoid going.  After all, my writing partner won’t be with me and I worry that I won’t do our work justice.  It will also cost me money and time, both of which are extremely valuable, especially during the school year  Yet, I know that I cannot and should not do that.  I must go.  It is important for our work that I go.  I’m hopeful that I will rise to the challenge and that not only will I present our work well but that I also am able to grow from challenging myself.  This could be really good for me.  It could be really great for us and all of the research and writing we have done.  More significantly to this blog, it could also be good for the study of fandom.  After all, I believe strongly that we captured the uniqueness of female fandom, something that needs to be shared and understood by academics as well as fans.

On that note, as I prepare for this conference, I ask that you all send me strength.  If I cannot have Rhonda with me, then, at least, I could have people holding me up when I really need it.  I hope.

-A

Just a Perfect…Weekend or Two!

I am happy to report that my dad is home!  My mom, my niece and I picked him up this morning.  He is a million times better than he was but it will take him some time to fully get his strength back.  While he finishes recovering, I can start to return to my normal life.  It, too, will take me awhile to get back to normal as everything got pushed to the side.  One of the things that I find happens when something like this takes place is that my mind cannot focus on anything besides my family.  I look forward to thinking about other things besides worry, status updates and doctor visits.

It has been so crazy that I haven’t been able to keep track of days, times, etc.  I have noticed that my partner-in-crime has posted a couple memories on Facebook, reminding me of where we were last year on this date.  Oh, yes, March 18th is one that I definitely want to remember.  In fact, this is one of those dates that my Duranie self should always remember as two incredible weekends happened on this date.

In 2005, 13 whole years ago, I was in Chicago seeing Duran play at the All-State Arena.  It was the first show I ever saw with Rhonda and it led us to where we are today.  I tend to think of that weekend being the first bookend to my fandom.  While I had been a fan before that (duh) and had even seen the band in concert before, that weekend in 2005 changed it all.  In many ways, it was the perfect weekend.  No, it did not feature front row seats or a meet and greet with the band.  Yet, it was so much fun that I became addicted to this fandom thing and to touring.

What made it so fun?  It was definitely a combination of factors.  First, I knew a bunch of people attending this show and called them all my friends.  Most of us were staying at the same hotel, resulting in multiple late night parties.  We ended up closing the hotel bar both nights and still were not ready to call it a night as hotel rooms became gathering places for late night/early morning conversations and laughs. The strong connection carried over to the concert venue as the show was enhanced by engaging looks and acknowledging moments with each other.  Okay, it didn’t hurt that we were in the 3rd row in front of John Taylor, either.  Then, of course, Rhonda and I along with some other friends continued the fun the next day at the show in Milwaukee.  By the end of the night, Rhonda and I were so ridiculously tired that we ended up laughing at nothing for hours.  When Rhonda left that Sunday, we both knew that we had found touring partners for life.  I knew that I had found something so fun that I would do a lot to experience it all over again.

Fast forward to 2017, a full 12 years later, and Rhonda and I found ourselves at another weekend.  This time, it was closer to Rhonda’s neck of the woods in California.  While we might have been surrounded by different friends, it was still an amazingly fun weekend with great shows, late nights, partying and more.  I wouldn’t say it was the same at the weekend in Chicago but it was just as good, including more amazing seats.  My addiction had been fed.  In fact, it was such a great weekend that I thought to myself that if that weekend was the last tour, it would provide the best bookend possible to this touring thing.  It didn’t become that touring bookend as more shows followed, but I would have been more than okay with that.

Truly, I realize how lucky I have been.  Not only is my Dad better and back at home, but I have had the good fortune of having some amazing weekends with friends and Duran Duran.

-A

Two Hearts Beating

I wanted to write about the latest Katy Kafe with Simon for today.  Apparently, it features 20 questions from fans and Simon’s responses.  Unfortunately, I don’t and haven’t had the time to listen yet.  I promise, though, that I will as soon as I can in order to properly blog about it.

So, what have I been busy doing?  Well, if you read the blog last weekend, you know that my dad was pretty sick.  His illness continued throughout the beginning of the week until finally he was hospitalized on Wednesday where he still is.  In fact, as soon as I get done with this blog, I’ll be heading back there.  The good news is that they know what the problem is and he appears to be getting better.  While I’m obviously relieved, this kind of event has shaken me.  Here’s the deal.  I don’t just simply love my parents but I adore them. I look up to them.  While almost every person I know has some conflicted feelings about their parents, I do not.  I benefitted from having my mom and dad as my parents as they raised me and my siblings well.  They sacrificed so much for us and it is only right for me to return the favor now.

While I love my fandom and need it in my life, my parents will always come first.  They will come before anything–my job, my students, myself, everything.  In 1997, I moved to Madison, hoping that this city would fit me.  In 2003, my dad retired and my parents chose to come to Madison to enjoy their retirement.  This has benefitted me on every level.  They, for example, take care of my cat when I’m on tour.  There have been countless times that they have taken me to the airport when I have traveled to see Duran.  I could go on with this list forever.

All that said, I couldn’t help but to think about Simon and how he recently lost his mother.  Then, I think of other band members who have lost their parents.  John’s autobiography, for example, captured his feelings about losing both of his parents.  How do their jobs fit with family?  I just got done saying that, for me, my parents come first and always will.  Does the job of rock star, of musician allow them the same?  I sure the heck hope so.

At times, I have pushed the band to speed up their work when it comes to writing and recording albums.  While I didn’t mean any harm to that, at the time, now I look at it differently.  They need to have the time to spend with their families, too.  This doesn’t mean they ignore their jobs, but it does mean prioritizing.  Yesterday, at school, I pushed through my classes but spent any extra time calling to check in on Dad.  I fulfilled my duties, but my focus was still on him.  Does the band have the same chance?  Again, I sure the heck hope so as life is a pretty precious thing.

On that note, I’m off to see my dad.

-A

Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing

Today’s post comes from the file marked, “Things you’re not going to get to do after all”.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Amanda and I were invited to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to give a presentation on a paper we’ve been working on about the uniqueness of competition within female fandoms. We had to submit an abstract of the paper to the convention committee and in turn we were invited to come present our work. It was, and is, a huge honor to be invited. Academics from all over the world will be in attendance, many of whom are authors of the books we’ve been reading on the subject of fandom. Quite frankly, Amanda and I were geeking out just by talking about the opportunities we’d have to meet people, listen to talks about various subjects, and get our creative juices flowing.

We have been working on the paper off and on since we got word of being accepted, with the intention that I would fly to Madison over the weekend of March 24, we’d work to polish the paper and presentation together, and then drive to Indianapolis in time for the conference. It was going to be a real Thelma and Louise week for us, and we were both very excited.

For Amanda and I, this small victory comes from nearly a decade in total filled with research, observing, writing, and blogging. A lot of people, including my own family, thought we were nuts for doing all of this. I’d been told more than once that this is just an excuse to have fun and waste money. Not that I agree, but the words were put out there regardless, not to mention the countless insinuations.

I felt like having this invitation to present validated the time I’d spent on the blog, the writing, the traveling and yeah, even seeing Duran Duran.  The guilt of doing something that the rest of the family didn’t think I should be doing really tore at me, and continues to this day.  I never felt like I could justify my time or reasoning, and yeah for me, that mattered. I would constantly tell myself that we’d written not one, not two, but nearly three manuscripts (and we’re still working on that third one), and we were not going to give up. Hearing that our abstract for a paper had been accepted was so huge, I couldn’t put it into words. Still can’t. I needed that vindication.

There is this cliché that reads, “Life happens when you are making other plans”.  The words hit so close to home that I’m going to have them on my headstone someday.  Through a series of events we’ll just call “life”, I’ve learned that most of the time, I feel like I’ve got to put the wants and needs of other people first. This is one of those times.

As many know, my husband was laid off from his job in late November. He’s still interviewing and looking for work. The trip to Indianapolis is coming up rapidly. This trip does not equate to a paying job, or even an opportunity to make money. It is a chance to share new perspectives through this paper with academics and perhaps receive feedback. Sure, there’s the potential for learning, and networking, but I cannot deny that for the most part it would be mainly self-satisfaction that I’d be gaining by going.  While perhaps a worthy reason, it is not enough to justify the trip.

Yes, I’m disappointed. Aside from this morning while writing, I’m trying not to even think about it.  My success with that is pretty wobbly on good days, and on bad ones—and there have been quite a few of those lately— I just feel sorry for myself, which is nauseating. There’s definitely a part of me that feels like I’m the one always having to push aside my own wants and needs, which feels a lot like wallowing in my own self-pity, because it IS. In other equally weak and shameless moments, I envision myself sloshing around and slowly drowning in a dank pit of self-loathing, as I blame other influential, extended family members on my decision to remain at home. The peer pressure to be known as a good, caring, and selfless wife within my extended family is real. I want to please the right people by making a good decision. Basically, I’m a people-pleaser who is hopelessly addicted to affirmation from others. Rock on!

The final decision to stay at home from the conference was my own. Enough of that self-serving junk. I’m pushing the unhelpful thoughts aside, letting them go, and moving on.

So, Amanda is going to go and deliver the presentation on her own. As the abstract of our paper states, it is authored by the two of us, and I am continuing to work on it with her. But, it will be Amanda at the convention and I am sure she will do a fantastic job. I have high hopes that something good will come out of this for her, even if I am not able to take an active part there at the convention itself.  I hate that I’m not going, more than I want to admit.

In the meantime, I know many of you are wondering about OUR convention. I am not going to lie, I’ve been side-tracked lately. Surprise!! Emotionally, I haven’t been able to commit myself to more than what’s already on my plate. That said, Amanda and I are going to talk about it, figure some things out, and move forward.  Watch this space, and I appreciate your patience.

-R

Anchoring In This World

This weekend did not turn out how I expected.  It started out like it was supposed to.  I hung out with my niece Friday before taking her to the airport on Saturday.  After that, I planned to attend my school’s musical leaving Sunday open to be super duper productive.  After I returned home from taking my niece to the airport, I ran a few errands and sat down to dinner, thinking I would be heading to the play soon.  Unfortunately, this is when my mother called to tell me that my dad was pretty sick.  My weekend plans shifted instantly to how could/should I help.  After all, my dad isn’t young and struggles with health issues already.  This, of course, is the reason why this blog is so late.  Thankfully, he seems to be a little bit better today but I’m still struggling to refocus on my tasks.

I planned to go through social media to share what pictures, articles and videos that I could find about Duran’s Moscow visit for the BraVo Awards but I simply lack the time and energy to focus on it.  I know…I’m a terrible Duranie.  Maybe someone else could share with me via our social media or the comments section here.

While I don’t have time to look for extensive footage about this appearance, I did see a couple of tweets, pictures, etc. from the band’s official website, Dom and Anna.  When I scanned through social media and saw the pictures, I smiled each and every time.  They made the last 24 hours a little better.  It makes me feel good to know that the band is out there in the universe doing something related to their work.  It provides a bit of comfort to me.  Is that weird?    It is like I have these expectations of what should be around in life and when they are, everything feels normal.  They are my anchors.  My dad has one of those in his life:  White Sox baseball.  The baseball season is a standard.  It is always the same in terms of when it starts, what it will be like, etc.  It provides consistency, continuity of life.  This marker tells my dad that everything is normal and okay.  For me, what makes me feel like everything will be okay?  Duran Duran.  For my dad, baseball has been a part of his life for decades, most of his life.  The same is true for Duran for me.  Seeing them make an appearance means that the world is stable.  Life is stable.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  Am I the only one who uses Duran Duran in this capacity?

-A

But I’m Happy to Watch It Fade

Things have been interesting at work.  A couple of months ago, I was really struggling to keep my head above water.  I felt like I was drowning in grading and the pressure to produce “results” threatened to overwhelm me.  It took all of my energy to hold on, to push through, knowing that there was an end in sight.  The last couple of weeks, though, have been almost the opposite.  I’m feeling on top of my work, my grading and able to deal with the pressures placed upon me.  Will it last?  Probably not but I’ll appreciate it while it lasts.

Despite the smooth sailing, there are some significant changes on the horizon.  Every year of my teaching career has included changes. Sometimes, those are small like who is teaching what or what hours my classes will be.  Those are easy to deal with.  Other times, the changes feel radically different.  I am about to enter one of those.  Two of my closest colleagues are leaving.  One is retiring and the other is leaving for a different position at a new program.  This would be enough to shake me but this is adding to another close friend who left last year.  I see my colleagues, my friends moving on.  They are entering new phases in their lives.  I’m genuinely happy for them but I will miss them for a variety of reasons.  On a work level, I’m sad that we won’t be brainstorming how to teach this, that or the next thing.  On a personal level, I worry that I’ll be lonely.  I won’t have people to talk to in the same way.  Of course, I don’t know who will take their places.  Maybe, the new people will be just as awesome but I know that it won’t be the same.

In thinking about these changes, I’m reminded of Duran’s history.  (I’m not sure what that says about me in that I often find myself making parallels between my life and the band’s history.)  I was thinking about how Nick and Simon must have felt when John left.  Did they feel like I do?  Did they conflicted feelings?  I bet that part of them understood the choice that he made as I understand my colleagues.  Yet, I wonder if there was a part of them felt a little abandoned.  I know that I am supposed to take the high road but I cannot help that there is a part of me, a selfish part of me wants them to stay.  Of course, I won’t tell them that.  At the end of the year, I’ll hug them and wish them luck.

Part of my reaction is the fear that I have that my life isn’t progressing the way it should.  Is the goal that I had twenty years ago still good?  Still enough?  Am I jealous that their lives are changing?  Again, I cannot help but to think about Nick and Simon with John.  They chose to stay with the band as they continued to focus on Duran Duran.  This focus is one that they kept for decades just like teaching is one that I had for over twenty years.  Did John’s departure make them question their goals?  Their focus?

I haven’t taken a ton of time yet to process these upcoming changes.  I’m not sure what exactly next year will look like for me at school.  My plan right now is to keep my focus on the goals that I have had.  They might be slowly fading and I’ll have to accept that, but maybe my life will follow in the band’s history.  Maybe, there will something equal to a reunion to create a spark into greatness again.

-A

Help a Fellow Duranie!

Last week, I got word that a distant cousin of mine was in the hospital. Before I go further, I should explain that I don’t know him well, and that after an initial scare, he’s making good progress.  However, he had an aortic dissection, which caught my eye. My mom has an aortic aneurysm, as does one of her sisters – and a dissection is a possible eventuality. One of my mom’s brothers had a massive heart attack two weeks after his 50th birthday, and another cousin of hers died (the mother of the distant cousin I mentioned above) from an aortic aneurysm. So, it’s probably fair to say that heart problems seem to abound in my mom’s family, if not aortic aneurysms specifically.  But I digress.

I think it was the very next day that I saw something on Instagram from a Duranie – someone I have met personally – about an aortic dissection. She was in the hospital, and from what I can gather, she’s lucky she survived. Two of these stories in the same week happening to people I know? That’s crazy! I said as much to this Duranie, who many of you reading may know or have heard of – Amanda Pants.

Amanda is a vibrant, friendly Duranie. I met her during the Paper Gods tour. She has this vibe about her—as though she not just living life, but getting every possible ounce of joy out of each moment—that is engaging and magnetic. She is someone who I really can’t envision bad things happening to, yet I’m certain she’s been through many of the same (or more) struggles that we’ve all had. I only met Amanda and talked with her during a few moments at the shows where I saw her, so my impressions of her are merely just instinctual. She is positive, and has grabbed life by the tail in a way I’ve never been able to manage. If I ever tried to be so colorful and vibrant, it would come off completely fake and wrong—yet on her, it’s natural, organic, and very real.

Seeing her, or at least part of her, in a hospital bed, complete with newly minted scars from surgery, was a total, unwelcome, surprise. But the good news, as she put it, was that she didn’t die on Saturday. She survived.

The next photo I saw from her was of a lot of prescriptions. I’ve seen the piles of drugs my brother-in-law had to take each day, and this was pretty similar. I’m lucky, as I only have my blood pressure medicines and an allergy pill to take each day. Yet, I still struggle to afford them while my husband is out of work. Don’t even bother talking to me about Affordable Healthcare. Insurance for my family, even with my husband out of work, is over $1800 a month. COBRA insurance is exactly the same. Walt brings home less than that in unemployment each month, and like everyone else in the world, we still have other bills and our mortgage to pay, much less have money left to feed ourselves. The numbers don’t compute. Sure, this is temporary for our family, assuming he gets a job soon. Not everyone is quite so lucky. Can you imagine having to take ten or more medicines each day? (and keeping them all straight? I struggle with remembering if I’ve taken my blood pressure pill!) Even better, can you imagine paying for them all?

When I saw that a friend of Amanda’s had set up a Gofundme for her, I felt like I had to do something. Admittedly, right now I am not in a situation where I can help financially, but I can certainly get the word out. If you’re able, I know she could really use the hand up.

No, this really isn’t Duran Duran news. I hope that those reading can see their way clear to helping if they’re able.  A member of our Duranie family is sick, needs help, and I’m putting it out there. I wish I could do more.

If you didn’t see the link above and want to find out more or even help, click below:

GO FUND AMANDA PANTS!

Good luck and get well soon, Amanda!

-R

Time Machine…John Taylor Solo

On this date in 1986, John Taylor’s song, I Do What I Do, was released in the UK.  I like looking into Duran Duran history.  Maybe it is the history geek in me but I think that knowing what happened in Duran’s past makes now, the present day, more meaningful.  Plus, it creates a much needed personal perspective.

It is hard to believe that John Taylor’s first solo song was released 32 years ago.  32.  Looking back, this was the time that Duran was in that weird place.  After all, 1985 saw the two major side projects of Power Station and Arcadia.  It felt like there was a lot of guessing, speculation about whether or not Duran would really come back together to be a band again.  This solo song, I think, just fed that.  Interestingly enough, as a kid, I didn’t think about any of that.  I just thought that this was my chance, my moment to hear John Taylor!  As much as I loved the band and Simon’s singing, I was a John fan.  I soaked up each and every time I heard him or saw him in the spotlight.  I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen with the band.  I read and saw many interviews in which they said that everything was cool and that they were coming back together eventually.  The young me trusted that.

Of course, now, we all know that the band did get back together but things weren’t quite the same as Andy and Roger had left.  We also know that this song of John’s wasn’t his only one.  No, he would go on to write and record many more songs in various solo albums.  In fact, he has so many solo songs that I now am a little bit more discerning when it comes to his work.  I have songs that I love, love, love, others I like and some that don’t tend to get as much playtime.  I have the luxury of choosing among all of them.  In 1986, I didn’t.

You know what is funny.  On the surface in 1986, I was certain that Duran Duran would be fine.  I remember trying to convince others to hold on to their fandom a little while longer.  In thinking about that, I now recognize that part of it for me was the need to keep something consistent.  In 1985, my family moved.  While I only moved an hour or so away, it felt like I had moved to a different planet.  My old home had MTV and Top 40 radio along with a best friend whereas my new one did not.  Kids in the new town had no idea who Duran Duran was.  I desperately missed my best friend and the old life I had.  I guess I needed Duran Duran to be one of those consistent parts of life.  They were like the lifeline to the old world.

When I think about the song, I Do What I Do, I have strong memories of me listening to the song over and over again through newly acquired headphones.  I remember being bummed about this, that or the next thing, and turning up the volume to the maximum, hoping to shut out the world.  Looking back, I appreciate that John Taylor released this song then.  I didn’t know it then but I needed something to help me get through a challenging time in my childhood.

-A

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Wedding Album: My Story

Duran Duran’s album, The Wedding Album, turns 25 years old today.      I always love to celebrate significant moments in the band’s history and this one is no exception.  Yesterday, I had the chance to commemorate the significant anniversary through videos, interviews, performances, etc.  Today, I prefer to think of my own relationship to this album.  I know that sounds weird that I would have a “relationship” with an album, but I feel like I do with each of Duran’s albums.  Each one has meant something a little different to me and I get to acknowledge it on dates like one.

The Wedding Album came out in the winter of 1993.  At that time, I was finishing up my high school career and getting ready to attend college.  February, in fact, marked my acceptance to Kalamazoo College through a personalized phone call.  The end of high school and the beginning of college is a huge transition for most people and I was no exception.  While college tends to represent the end of childhood, this time period felt more significant to me.  At that time, my siblings had moved away as my brother was in grad school in Iowa and my recently married sister was getting ready to move to North Carolina.  My dad was not living at home, either, as he was working in Georgia.  As I got ready to leave home, it wasn’t just the house I would be leaving.  It would be leaving my house, my town and even my state as my parents prepared to move at any time.

For me, this meant that I turned inward.  The rest of the world just happened around me with little attention given by me.  To say that I was self-absorbed would be an understatement.  What does this mean in terms of my fandom?  Pretty simple.  My Duran fandom was the furtherest thing from my mind.  I had no idea that Duran had even recently a new album.  My home town did not have radio that captured any music I cared for and I had stopped watching MTV as it moved towards reality television.  Therefore, I missed the fanfare surrounding the song, Ordinary World, for example.  Now, I wished I hadn’t but I did.

Thankfully, my friend was not as ignorant to the comings and goings of Duran Duran as I was.  Somehow, someway, she not only heard the album but had purchased a copy of it.  When she told me about it, I was still too self-absorbed to really let that news sink in.  In fact, it didn’t really register to me until she suggested that we go see Duran in concert.  That caught my attention.  As a kid, I desperately wanted to see Duran Duran in concert.  I would have sold a kidney if it could have convinced my parents to let me go.  When the band played the Chicago area in 1984, I was simply too young and my parents were not going to go with me.  No way.  Then, when they came back in 1987, I had moved further away from the city.  This would have required my parents to drive significantly for me to go.  Again, no way.  By 1989, I didn’t even try.  In 1993, though, I was finally old enough to go on my own.  Thus, when my friend suggested going, I jumped at the chance.  I figured it would fulfill my childhood dream.

Unfortunately, by the time we got tickets to the August 1993 show, the seats left were less than desirable.  We ended up about five rows from the very back all the way on the left hand side.  Still, I had a lot of excitement going in and begged my friend to play this new album on the way to the show.  As I listened, I wasn’t sure that it felt like the same Duran to me but I was willing to give it a try.  Even now, I distinctly remember my friend giving reviews of each and every track as we listened.  The album finished as we pulled up to the arena and I was determined to have fun.  Now, readers of this blog will know that as much fun as I had (and I had a ton!), it didn’t feel like I expected it to feel.  I’m not sure why.  The fact that it wasn’t the Fab Five?  Where I was in my life?  No clue.

After the show, I did, indeed, grab a copy of the album but didn’t really bond with it then.  I know for so many Duranies that this album took a hold of their hearts immediately but that was not the case for me.  No, it took time for me to bond with it.  Like many others, it took appreciating Ordinary World for me to connect with it.  Interestingly enough, it did not happen until after I had graduated from college.  In the fall of 1997, I moved to Madison, hoping to find a home since my childhood home ceased to exist in the traditional sense.  Like so many others after college, I had a lot of random jobs before my career got going.  One of those jobs included working in a shoe store, which played music all the time.  That fall, once again, featured a transition for me.  Instead of going from high school to college, it was about finally being an adult.  When I heard Ordinary World one day at the store, I finally got it.  I needed to find my new Ordinary World.

Interestingly enough, from that moment, I tried to pay more attention to Duran that I had in a long time.  In many ways, while the Wedding Album isn’t the album that made me a Duranie or the one that I love the most, it definitely helped keep me going through a huge transition in life.  It also really kept my fandom alive.

-A