Category Archives: personal stories

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

When the curtains are pulled back: a little thankfulness

Yesterday I wrote about appreciation. I have great appreciation for the fact that I’m starting to have fun with this fandom thing again. I can’t really say how long it’s been that I’ve actually wanted to carve time out to sit down and watch, say…Live from London, or Sing Blue Silver, or even Diamond in the Mind. I’m starting to feel that again, and yes—I definitely appreciate that feeling.

Today, I’m going to write about being thankful, because I am.  Just yesterday, I saw something on Twitter about airline pilots at O’Hare airport in Chicago. They are going on strike over the weekend. Political statements aside here—I feel for the travelers because their plans to get home, or get away, might be entangled in a giant mess.  When I read the tweet though, my mind immediately went back to 2012. I was supposed to fly to O’Hare to meet Amanda and then we were going to fly on to Heathrow so that we could go to four DD shows in the UK.  On Black Friday, I spent a lot of the day on the phone with Amanda. We were freaking out because there was to be a huge public workers strike in the UK, and naturally that was planned for the day we’d arrive. Anyway, I smiled at the memory and tweeted it to Amanda – saying that at least we wouldn’t have to worry about that kind of thing this year.

Amanda is going to DC over New Years, and she’s going to see Duran Duran. She’s going with someone else, and yeah, it’s weird. I’m somewhat wistful about the entire thing.  She’s gone to shows without me before, as I have without her. The difference is, she’s traveling by plane for this one.  Normally, in fact, I can say that since we met – if I’m traveling to see the band, it is with her.  We go together like peanut butter and jelly. That’s not happening this time. On one hand, I want to go. On the other hand, it has been one HELL of a year for my family. It’s been one hell of a year for me. I need to be here and I need to be thankful for what I have, and what I’ve done. But yeah, I wish I were going…but I’m very thankful I didn’t spend the money on tickets at the same time.

For a long time now, Duran Duran was sort of a job for me without it actually being a job. I’m not saying this to complain, I’m saying this to point out my stupidity to others. Lately, I’ve been enjoying doing things, like actually gawking at the band.  I’ve watched some videos. For fun! And…I’ve been listening to their albums. FOR FUN.  I realize that to many of you this is like, well…breathing. It used to be for me, too. I’m getting back to that, and dammit I am thankful.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pay some respects to my touring drink of choice, vodka. (although wine still comes in at a very close second, followed by coffee and then iced tea. Caffeine surges through my veins. ) Time for truth for anyone who might be concerned: I don’t drink often. Even so, when we tour, we TOUR.

I am thankful that I get to have my three kids and husband together with me for a few days this week. That’s unusual for us anymore, and we’re going to one of my favorite places – Paso Robles.  Yes, there will be some wine tasting, but also a lot of laughter and love.

Amanda and I have been friends since 2004. That is twelve years. I wouldn’t say our friendship is necessarily complicated, but our lives certainly are. There have been moments when I haven’t felt as close as others, but I value our friendship. We are proof that you don’t necessarily have to be the same in order to be friends – our mutual respect, love, and loyalty is what carries us. I’m lucky I found her.

I feel particularly thankful that I have met so many wonderful Duranies over the years. Some, if not most, have flowed in and out of my life, their time with me not always a constant. What has been really eye-opening for me though, is that in every case, they’ve had some sort of life-long effect on me. Whether teaching me to be more open-minded, or to embrace the adventures that life has to offer, or even to be more forgiving and careful with the feelings of others, I’ve learned something. Thank you.

I am learning not to take what I’m about to say for granted – but I’m really thankful for those five guys (ok, six or seven guys) who have been, or are in Duran Duran. I may not know all of them personally, but they have also been invaluable to my life in some way.  Even in the few instances that I have been around a couple of them – they managed to give me something to think about for the long-term.  They gave me something to look up to when I was young, something to aspire to when I most needed it, and reminded me that yes – even though they are rock stars, they really are human. I am particularly lucky that they happen to create some decent music, too.

I know it’s a day early, but I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving if you’re in the US and celebrate. If you’re elsewhere in the world, thank you for allowing me to indulge!

-R

 

My Astronaut Story

Last month, I began a little blog series in which I took a look at the albums Duran Duran released during the month of October.  After giving facts and statistics about those albums, I then shared about my relationship with those albums.  I discussed Big Thing and Medazzaland.  Today, I turn to the last of the October albums, Astronaut.  I revealed the stats surrounding the album here and now I offer a little bit about myself and this album.

Astronaut represented the Fab Five’s reunion, the return of the five original members.  It represented my return as well.  In the early 2000s, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Duran Duran at all.  I spent my time working, as a young teacher often does.  I remember sitting at my then dining room table on many Saturdays and Sundays creating curriculum.  If that wasn’t enough, I attended graduate school then as well.  I needed to add some teaching certificates in order to continue teaching students with special education needs.  On top of that, I figured that a master’s degree wouldn’t hurt.  Those two activities kept me plenty busy.

Despite (or maybe because) of my schedule, my social life lacked activity.  The city I lived in was new to me and making friends isn’t something I do easily.  Luckily, I had one lifeline, the internet.  Around the time of the reunion, I joined a fandom, but it wasn’t Duran.  It surrounded a little sci-fi teen drama called Roswell.  Looking back, I smile at the focus of my fandom.  It wasn’t super serious but there was something at the heart of the show that I related to.  Perhaps, it was the focus on people who felt alienated despite appearing like everyone else.  I have felt that way my entire life.  The combination between having internet access and admiring a TV show led me to message boards.  These message boards then provided the means with which to meet some people.  These people are, for the most part, still friends of mine (no pun intended).

As the Roswell fandom died down, I discovered that one of my Roswell associates was a Duran fan as a kid just like me.  That’s all it took.  It felt like someone lit a match over gasoline.  The fire caught instantly and grew quickly as we began sharing pictures, memories, and memorabilia with each other.  This led to searching the internet for the current status of Duran Duran.  Luckily, for me, grad school just ended and I found myself with more time and more money.  I spent my time reading every piece of Duran news I could find and my money buying albums I didn’t have.

Of course, part of what fed this fire was the idea that the original five reunited.  To say that I was excited would be an understatement.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard the song, Sunrise.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as goosebumps appeared on my arms.  It was beautiful and it was Duran.  For me, as someone who had been working her butt off for years, I felt like this reunion was my reward.  It felt like the world was adjusting itself back into proper alignment after being off kilter for decades.  For me, the end of the Fab Five coincided with a hard move.  After hearing Sunrise, I felt like the wrong of my move as a kid was made right.

Needless to say, I dove back into the fandom.  Unlike my childhood fandom which centered around watching MTV and buying magazines, now it was all about being online and chatting with fellow Duranies.  In early 2004, before the album came out, I joined and lurked at many Duran message boards, looking for a similar home to the one I had found with the Roswell fandom.  Duran’s official website had one, but it didn’t work for me.  I hated the chaos of how it looked and found it hard to follow.  More than that, it felt unfriendly to people like me, people who had stepped away from the fandom.  The official fan community appeared friendlier in terms of board format but also seemed to be tough to break into.  Finally, I found myself at DuranDuranFans.com.

This tiny message board looked great!  The group there was small but clearly liked each other.  While I wasn’t certain that I could break in there, either, I thought I had a better shot with a smaller group.  On top of that, the board had information regarding a little convention in New Orleans that was to take place in the fall.  I needed something to break me out of my boring, yet somewhat unfulfilling all work and no play existence.  Attending something like this, out of state, pushed me out of my comfort zone but also to a place of growth.

The convention took place a few weeks before the album dropped.  Yet, many in attendance possessed a copy already.  I took advantage by listening to the album there for the first time.  I loved what I heard.  Looking back and recognizing that this renewed fandom was so adolescent, so teenage crush like that I would have loved the album, no matter what.  I loved that the band was back together, which meant that the music had to be great.  Now, I still enjoy the album quite a bit but recognize some elements that could have been better.  That said, it represents the beginning of the second and more significant chapter in my fandom story.  It always will bring back positive memories.

In looking back on the three albums that Duran Duran has released in the month of October, I’m surprised at how well my fandom story lines up with Duran Duran’s history.  Big Thing represented a period of transition for the band and the same was true in my own life.  Likewise, Medazzaland represented a time in which the remaining members of the band were trying to hold on to their career.  The same might be said for my fandom at the time.  Lastly, Astronaut represented the return of the band from the 80s and my fandom followed right along side.  It will be interesting to see if the same thing will be true when I examine the albums released in November in future blogs.

-A

Don’t worry if you’re confused

My goals with this post today are as follows : first, I want to clarify a couple of things going on here internally, and secondly, I want to explain where we’re headed from here.

I was asked something privately this weekend, and I want to make it clear that Amanda and I are fine. We’re still friends, and we still run this blog together. She and I met in 2004. That means we’ve been friends just over twelve years now. Friendship changes a lot in twelve years. In that time I’ve had a baby and sent one – soon to be two children – off to college. She’s moved, had a parent fight cancer, and changed jobs. I’ve gone back to work, she has volunteered on multiple electoral campaigns…and we’ve gone to over thirty shows together. Lately though, yes, we haven’t spoken much. It’s not because we haven’t wanted to…but because we’ve each been busy and we live in two different time zones on two totally different schedules. As Amanda mentioned yesterday, priorities change. When I started the blog, I could give it nearly all the time I wanted. Now? I can barely eke out the hour or two I need to write on Mondays and Wednesdays, much less Tuesday and Thursday. It is a problem. I’m not giving up the blog because it’s one thing that is for me – it is a source of my joy. But yes, there’s been some growing pains in figuring out how to make it work better. No argument there, but both Amanda and I will find the answers. Thank you for your patience and encouragement.

The blog has run the full gamut: it started as an experiment, got serious, and now we’ve pushed it back into hobby territory. It is back to being a fun thing that we do because we enjoy, not something we do because must. That’s a good thing, overall.  Duran Duran is something we enjoy, and hopefully our writing will reflect that. After all, if it can’t be fun, why do it?  We put a lot of ourselves into writing this each day. This blog isn’t JUST about Duran Duran. It’s about us and how we fit that fandom into our lives each day.  Fandom changes a lot over ten years or more. This Autumn, fitting it in has been a challenge, no doubt there.

Going forward, I plan to write as I always have done. Granted, it is difficult to write blogs about the band and fandom when the band is on a vacation or isn’t doing anything public to speak of. In those cases, you’re likely to find blogs about the date in Duran history, which is absolutely fine. There is a lot of history to cover! Additionally, we are always looking for bloggers. If you are someone who would like to dedicate themselves to writing one or two blogs each week about being a Duran Duran fan, please let us know via gmail. Guest blogs are also welcome.

Lastly, I just want to come out and publicly support Amanda. She and I do not always agree, but I wholeheartedly encourage her to do whatever she feels she needs to do.  This isn’t about whether we’re conservative or liberal; democrat, republican or libertarian. It’s about being human. I know this fight may very well take her away from the blog from time to time in the same way that my family and responsibilities take me away. No matter, this is her home, and I completely encourage and support her right to speak out, even if I do not always share the same level of passion. I’ve been lousy at saying I support her lately – it seems like I blink and another week has already gone by,  so I felt like saying it here would be best.

-R

 

 

 

Fandom is a Luxury

Fandom is a luxury.  It is “great comfort and extravagant living,” to quote the google dictionary.  For some, it is a luxury because it is and always will be connected to money, finances.  People must pay money to own music, to attend concerts, to even own a device in which to hear it on.  While, yes, I suppose there are opportunities to hear music without money, it still seems to me as something that really requires some money.  The luxury of fandom involves more than money, though.  It requires emotional availability and time.

Fandom is about passion and about having intense feelings for someone or something.  In the case of this blog, we have strong emotions about Duran Duran.  We can feel great joy with new music from theirs and significant worry when one of the band members is ill or has to cancel shows.  Our lives are such that a part of our emotions can and is used up by fandom.  While certainly both Rhonda and myself have had significant events happen in our lives that were/are extremely taxing, emotionally, we have been able to save some of our emotions for Duran Duran and the Duran fandom.

Likewise, we have always been able to maintain some time for fandom.  The question/comment that we most frequently receive goes along the line of “I don’t know how you have time to blog everyday.”  We have made the time.  We have squeezed it in despite our busy schedules.  While our days are filled with lots of obligations, we have made this one of those “must dos”.  We don’t have to and never had to.  The lack of time never locked us out of our participation in fandom.  Sometimes, it made being a part of the Duran fan community challenging but never excluded us.

Now, though, I fear that is changing, at least on my end.  If you have been reading this blog  for awhile, you know that I’m the political one, the one who not only votes for the candidates of my choosing, but also campaigns for them.  If you know that much about me, then you also are aware that I’m a teacher.  I teach United States History and Women’s Studies.  The school I work at is extremely diverse, the most diverse in my city with about equal numbers of whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and even some Native Americans.  Likewise, all genders and gender identities are represented as are all sexual orientations.  We are also a religiously diverse community with all major world religions represented.  I feel extremely lucky to teach in this beautifully diverse community as I know that I learn from my students and colleagues each and every day.

Based on what I just shared, then, it will come to no surprise that I’m struggling with the election results as are my students.  Most of them are terrified about what is going to happen and if they will continue to be safe.  All day on Wednesday my room was filled with extra students looking for additional support and giving it in return.  (If there is any silver lining, it is that unconditional love and support given to and from my students, my colleagues and my school.)  That morning, my attitude was simple.  I wanted to give up.  I am tired of fighting.  Yet, at lunch, one of my students turned to me and said, “Now, what do we do?”  She looked to me to lead her and others as I have done in the past.  I knew then that I must fight on.  They need me.  My community needs me.

What will this fight entail?  I’m uncertain but this much I know.  I will do more than post on social media.  I will actively engage with elected officials and I will work to get strong messages of unity out there.  I will do my part and push others to do theirs.

I’m sure you can see where this post is going.  Fandom is a luxury that I might not be able to afford much moving forward.  My days were already extremely busy.  I used to prioritize my participation here and on various social media sites.  Now, there will be times in which I will put political action higher on the list.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a member of the Duran fan community or that I don’t want to participate in fandom.  I do want to and plan to, as much as I can.  When I am able to, it will be good for me.  Fandom will provide me the breaks and joy I will need moving on.  It will give me strength.  Hopefully, then, someday, I will be able to have the luxury of fandom full time, once again.

-A

Happy Early Birthday Rhonda!

I like to believe that my timing is pretty good.  If I want to be on time, I can be.  This time, though, I’m even a little early.  What am I early for?  I’m early in wishing my partner-in-crime, my fellow blogger and Duranie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Tomorrow is the actual day but Monday’s aren’t my day to blog, typically.  On top of that, I will also be at work for at least 12 hours as I put in a full day and hold four hours of parent-teacher conferences after.  Thus, I’m using my Sunday blogging opportunity to write a little blog, celebrating not only my best friend’s birthday but also to cheer the friendship that we have.

In looking back at a friendship that began in 2004, I recognize that we have shared quite a few emotions and a number of significant events together.  I believe that strong emotions and significant experiences help to solidify friendships so that they can endure the up and down nature of life and relationships.  This blog, then, will attempt to shed light on some of those feelings and events.
Excitement:
One thing is for sure—a lot of our friendship has been fueled by our shared excitement for Duran Duran happenings.  Looking back, this began in December of 2004 when a flurry of phone calls took place surrounding upcoming tour dates supporting the reunion album of Astronaut.  I still recall the feeling of pure joy in calling Rhonda mid-day later that week to report that I indeed was able to acquire VIP tickets for us for the Chicago show in March 2005.  Of course, this type of activity has been repeated countless times since.  The most recent being when the band released the video for Last Night in the City, inspiring repeated viewing and a little video review, which you can see here:

Joy:
In many cases, those feelings of excitement translate to pure joy when the anticipation becomes reality.  For us, over the years, generally, the joy has come from screaming, singing and dancing at a Duran Duran concert.  It might even come when we squee over DoJo.  The first one was in Chicago and the last one was in Chula Vista, California, with shows in between in various locations like  the Northeast, the Southeast and even the UK.
Chula Vista
Chula Vista
 Curiosity:
Of course, our fandom has been more than video releases and concerts.  A lot of our fandom has been about talking, thinking, discussing about all things Duran.  I think of countless examples of times that we have watched or listened to something together.  Last year, for example, we exchanged a series of text messages as the lyrics to different songs on Paper Gods sunk in.  When we really paid attention to the lyrics of Last Night in the City and realized that the words described how we feel on tour, then the album began to take hold.  Years earlier, we viewed the brand new video for All You Need Is Now together, squeed in delight and picked apart the images we loved the most.  Sometimes, our need to discuss take place at strange times like when the video for Girl Panic came out.  I couldn’t wait to talk to Rhonda about how smart the video is so I called her from my classroom during my brief lunch hour.

Worry:
While our friendship has often surrounded fun and good times, we have also experienced moments of extreme worry.  We grieved when Andy left for the second time, for example.  Another instance was when we felt for that we were facing the end of Duran Duran when Simon lost his voice in 2011 and the UK spring tour had to be canceled.  There we were in the UK, having flown for four shows and getting none.  Instead of staying away from all things Duran, we ventured out to the band’s studio where we witnessed Simon explain that he didn’t think he was going to be able to sing followed by John’s look of devastation.  Like others there, we put on a brave face.  Rhonda and I did what was logical.  We went for ice cream to drown our sorrows in dairy and sugar.
Ice Cream makes it all better
We did what any heartbroken American would do. We had ice cream.
 Hard Work:
Unlike almost all of my other friendships, Rhonda and I took a very brave, but risky step to do more than just be friends.  We decided that we would work together.  Sometimes, this decision brought us closer together when we faced challenges and bonded over a shared realized that only we could understand what we experienced.  Other times, we pushed and pulled against each other, wanting to dig in our heels about something or another while at the same time reaching for compromise.  I look back at some of those moments and realize that the push and pull always brought out the best in us even if it wasn’t always easy.  Yet, we weren’t afraid to have those little disagreements, knowing that our foundation as friends was strong.  Clearly, we have worked well together on this blog, with fan events, with a convention and even with writing, despite any and all setback.  Truly, I didn’t just gain a friend but someone that helps me bring out the best in me.
Very proud
Very proud
Fun:
The thing is that a lot of friendship surrounds fun.  Sometimes, our hard work has led us to celebrate.  At other times, it is simply being together that brings fun, whether in person, on the phone or via Skype.  Luckily, many of our in person good times have been at Duran shows.  I won’t lie.  We have held many “all night parties” and enjoyed many “cocktail bars”.  At the end of day, there isn’t much better than having a vodka tonic or two and laughing over some ridiculous quote that one of us had uttered.
Durham drunk
Appreciate:
Looking at all of these emotions that we have experienced together, I also have to appreciate the little moments.  I look back at all the times we were in a car driving to or from a show.  Those moments were filled with listening to Duran while creating what we thought would make a great setlist.  Other little moments that I have enjoyed include going to art museums together, dancing to 80s music at a club, or simply talking or exchanging emails.
Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist
On this day then I celebrate our friendship and the person, the friend who puts up with me and who has shared all of these emotions with me.  My world would be a lot smaller, a lot less fun and a lot less happy.  On that note, then,  I wish her the happiest of birthdays and many more to follow!  I also hope that all of you wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
-A

My Medazzaland Story

Last weekend, I shared some facts and statistics regarding Medazzaland, an album released in 1997, which you can read here.  Then, I asked people to share their stories about the album and many people did.  I enjoyed reading each and every one.  Thinking about these albums as I have and reading others’ stories have got me thinking about what makes an album special to fans.  Before I dive too much of that large topic, let me share my own Medazzaland story.

1997 was a year of significant transition for me.  The year began with me having just finished student teaching, which didn’t go especially well.  Part of me thought about switching my chosen career while the other part dug in, determined one day to be a successful teacher.  With that in mind, I graduated from college and spent a great deal of time sending applications to school districts across many Midwestern states with no luck.  Apparently, school districts aren’t terribly desperate for Social Studies teachers, at least they weren’t then.  With that, I moved back in with my parents who had moved to Bowling Green, Ohio, a town where I knew no one.  I did what many recent college graduates did and found whatever job I could in a local gift shop doing retail.  I hated every minute of it and my pathetic income didn’t help.

By the end of summer, I desperately tried to find a solution to my misery as I mourned the loss of college and dreaded never finding a teaching job.  Finally, my brother suggested moving to a education friendly town and getting my foot in the door through substitute teaching.  I visited Madison and fell in love.  The city fit me perfectly, in terms of size, personality, politically, etc.  So, I did the most insane thing I have ever done.  I moved from Ohio to Madison, Wisconsin without a job, a friend or family member anywhere near by.  I took a massive risk.  Despite Madison being a good match, life posed many challenges beyond that year.  To say that I was lonely would be an understatement.

How does Duran Duran fit into this?  They didn’t much.  Did I know what they were up to?  To be honest, I didn’t know much.  I paid attention during the Wedding Album and tried to through Thank You, but found it challenging with college.  In 1997, I did find out that  the band had released new music.  I distinctly remember seeing them on the Rosie O’Donnell show, which, if I recall correctly, was when I discovered that John left the band.  In thinking back to that interview and performance, I remember thinking that the song Electric Barbarella felt like Duran, sounded like Duran, which was good.  See for yourself here:

Yet, the loss of John hit home in a way that surprised me.  I didn’t mourn the loss like I would have in 1985 or 1987.  No, if he had left then, I would have been crushed.  Devastated.  In 1997, though, it stopped me from embracing the new material the way that I could have or should have.  I thought to myself, “Yeah, new Duran.  I should look for it.”  Then, the next thought that popped up was a reminder that John wasn’t a part of it anymore.  I could dismiss it then as not worth my time.  Did I buy the album then?  Absolutely not.  I bought it when I cheered on the reunion in the 2000s.

Looking back, I’m surprised, on one hand, that I didn’t embrace the band then.  I really could have used the comforts of an old friend.  On the other hand, I always knew that I was a big John fan and finding out that he wasn’t in the band stopped Duran from being the comfort that they once were and would be again.  Perhaps, part of the problem was the lack of contact with other Duranies.  I knew very few people in my new town and did not have a computer then.  Before that, I was too focused on passing comprehensive exams and looking for a teaching job to even look into anything related to fandom.

How do I feel about the album now?  I have to admit that I have never embraced it like many others have.  There are songs that I really like on the album.  Yet, as a whole, it feels unlike the Duran I know and love.  Is it the John factor?  Maybe.  Is it because it came out in a pretty challenging period of my life?  Possibly.  That said, despite how I might feel about it now, I recognize and hope that one day I love it as much as I do other albums.  You never know.

-A