Category Archives: personal stories

Positive Reactions to Fannish Behavior?!

I am pretty open about my Duran Duran fandom.  Sometimes, I question whether or not this is a good thing or not but most of the time, it just feels right to declare my Duranie-ness.  People I work with know that I’m a Duran Duran fan.  Friends certainly know.  Heck, even my students know.  As a student of fandom and this fandom, in particular, I’m always surprised by the reaction I get when people find this out.  I almost always prepare myself for some negative comment or an assumption that I must be a groupie (not that the person saying that really knows anything about that term).  At times, that preparation comes in handy as I know exactly how to defend against a negative stereotype.  Lately, though, I have had the opposite experience.

Right before I went on winter break, I was struggling to get through. My kids were working on intense projects, adding stress to the usual gig.  One of my assistant principals checked in on me and to ask about a particular student.  At some point during this conversation she turns to me and says, “You know when I first met you, I was pretty intimidated by you.”  This statement surprised me since she is my administrator.  She can evaluate me, not the other way around.  I know that I can be pretty serious and often spend a lot of time observing before I interact, which some may perceive as “intimidating.”  Obviously, I had no idea how to respond to that.  As I tried to figure that out, she follows it up with, “But then you appeared human to me.”  She explained after seeing my puzzled expression, “Yeah, when I found out that you follow your favorite band around, I realized that you weren’t so scary!”  Fascinating.  The only interpretation I had was that she saw that I was passionate about something and someone.  I wasn’t just about work but had other interests.  Weird.

Then, the other day at work, my trip to Vegas came up in conversation.  Did I talk about it with my colleagues?  Friends?  Not really.  No, it came up during the Gender Equity (a student organization that I advise) meeting.  In the beginning of the meeting, we always do a check in.  This time, we focused on what we did over break.  Before I could even share, the other advisor to the club and friend of mine mentioned that I went to Vegas to see Duran Duran.  One student immediately popped up with, “Can they still walk?”  Clearly, she thinks that they are older than dirt.  Smart ass kid.  What was funny is that I did not have to defend them.  Other kids jumped in to say that they weren’t that old and how they had relatives a lot older than them capable of doing a lot.  This quickly led to an apology.  Of course, I was not mad at the comment as I figured that the student just wanted to tease me, to give me a hard time.  I appreciate that as I seek any and all means to give the kids a hard time myself so I figure that I’m fair game in return!  It also makes me feel good that students feel comfortable enough with me to be able to give me a little grief.

The last situation happened last night.  As I stopped by my parents place, they talked about what they did on New Year’s Day when they went over to a neighbor to play cards.  During that time, my mom mentioned that they had been cat-sitting and why.  The neighbor’s reaction?  According to my mom, it went something like this, “Duran Duran?!  I love them.  They are great!”  Mind you.  This neighbor is probably 65 to 70 years old.  So, clearly, all generations know of Duran Duran and how great they are.  Did this person ask my parents why I would travel to see a band?  Nope.  Did they think it was weird?  Not at all.  Apparently, they were all cool about me expressing my fandom in this way.

These experiences have given me some hope that there is less stigma over being a hardcore fan.  It is either that or the end of the world is near.  In all seriousness, I love that multiple generations seem to have an appreciation for them.  It makes me think that I’m all right in being so open with my Duranie-ness.


Happy New Year 2018!

I drove home yesterday morning from a wild weekend in Vegas. I’m always tired at the end of a weekend like that, but yesterday I was also stressed (I have been writing that word a LOT lately and I really hope that settles down some in 2018).  But more on that later.

The weekend was fantastic. I saw friends, rocked out with a couple of different bands, and for a short time, forgot all about anything else and lived in the moment. I do have a list of people to thank and acknowledge, so bear with me. I know that we’ve already thanked these people but I’m doing it again because they deserve it!!

  • Thank you to Jason for offering up his Hard Rock Live to us for our Daily Duranie meet up. Above and beyond the call of duty in every single way. I don’t know how to return the favor. We can’t thank you and the management team enough for your kindness and hospitality. You made my whole weekend, and I’m not even kidding about that. (no offense Duran Duran, I’m getting to you…I promise!)
  • Thank you to Noelle Kahn for being a ROCKSTAR and jumping in to help Amanda and I out with selling raffle tickets that night. As we said in our video, logistics at these events are something we tend to forget about. If we’re busy selling raffle tickets and wristbands, it makes it very difficult for us to be good hosts. So thank you X 1000.
  • It was fantastic to meet Durandy for the very first time, and to see Kitty (Gimme A Wristband) again. They continue to inspire and remind me why I do this, even when sometimes I feel like none of it matters to anyone but me.
  • Lisa (I am being vague on purpose, but I hope your feet are doing better than they were on Saturday night when I last saw you!), both Amanda and I want to thank you for your kindness.  I know you probably feel like what you and your friend gave us was just a little thing, but it was not. People will go nuts. However, what we really appreciate even more, are the words of support from both of you. It matters more than I can properly articulate.
  • Lori and Suzie, I adore you both. I’m glad you’re my people and I hope that continues for a very long time…. you get me and haven’t even stopped to have me committed yet. Thank you for just going along with my obsessive behavior and letting me figure it out for myself that it was going absolutely nowhere. It was a good fantasy while it lasted. 😀
  • I feel very lucky to have friends that have my best interests at heart. Those of you who “show up”…whether in person or from afar, matter so much to me. You’re there when I need you, and I just want to look you virtually in the eye, since I can’t always in person, and say thank you. I mean it. You all know who you are. The hugs, the chats, even the quick smiles and waves in passing helped me to de-stress.
  • So glad I got to meet so many friends, readers, and twitter pals!

So about that show. Yes, we were in the sixth row, and yes, they were great seats. Nothing I’m about to write should get in the way of that fact. Our distractions of not one but two near-fist fights in the aisle next to us, as well as the constant persistence of people trying to get closer to the stage and the sea of people in front of us who insisted on seeing the entire flipping show through their iPhone as opposed to just watching it with their own eyes definitely provided challenges to enjoying the show.  And then there was the family of four – two parents and two very young children – behind me who were very upset when the concert started and everyone stood up. They left after the first two songs, and I felt bad because the wife clearly wanted to stay, but the husband was furious with Amanda and I because we stood up. I saw a lot of the show by peering into the space under the very tall gentleman’s arm in front of me,  as he held up his phone to video. I had to laugh, because in the end, it didn’t matter. I was seeing Duran Duran live onstage over New Years weekend! I am incredibly lucky, and I know it.

I especially enjoyed Hold Back the Rain because I could see the video screen on the wall behind the band, which showed a collage of pictures of a much younger Duran Duran. I won’t even lie about how emotional I felt when I thought about how that was my childhood up on that screen. I still have trouble getting my brain to accept that the people up on that video screen are in fact the same people on that stage…because there’s no way I could ever have gotten even this close (in proximity at a show) to those guys. There’s no way that I could possibly operate a website dedicated to that band. They were the Gods of my teen years. My brain does not compute!

If that weren’t enough, the sound was FANTASTIC. I’ve sat much farther back at some shows and yet the sound has been less-than-optimal, even if it should have been mixing well at that point.  Of course, when you’re in the front, you hear a lot from the monitors themselves and the sound doesn’t mix well at that point either. However, from where I was sitting this time, it was incredibly clear. Louder than heck, but clear. I had the chance to hear subtle things in the music I hadn’t before. Dom’s guitar part in Hold Back the Rain, John’s bass in the same song, even Sunrise and the tiny snippet of Universe Alone sent shivers down my spine. I loved the show, but there was something else on my mind that night.

Right before the show as we stood having a drink in The Chandelier, my sister-in-law texted me letting me know that my niece was in the hospital. She had been going upstairs and suddenly fainted, falling straight back and hitting her head on their tile floor. She is my only niece, and I adore her. It’s the kind of accident that a parent would have on replay in their head forever, because you want to rush to grab them but can’t get there in time. She’s in ICU now with a skull fracture and a slight brain bleed, but the most frightening part is in the process of evaluating her, they discovered an irregularity in her heart beat. It is a little more involved and more serious than I need to explain here, but she is seventeen, and is getting a pacemaker. 2018 needs to be a healthier year for my family. Enough is enough.

After the show, I tried to put my worries aside and enjoy the final evening out. Easier said than done, of course. Even with a couple of distractions, I had made the decision to get up early the next day and drive home. By 2am, my exhaustion took over and I went to bed, even though I still had people I wanted to see.

It is difficult for me to admit, but this time, the show wasn’t the highlight of the trip for me. Before anyone complains, let me explain. That doesn’t mean the show was bad or that I’m slagging off on the band. In fact, it wasn’t at all. It was just that this weekend, I really needed my friends, people who actually know me, not just the Rhonda who runs Daily Duranie with Amanda, or Rhonda-the-Duran-Duran-fan, but ME.  There might not be many people out there like that, but there are some, and I think they know who they are. I have pictures with people I haven’t seen in many years. I received great big bear hugs from wonderful, generous, kind, fans and friends who care about me. Each one filled my heart and reminded me that I belong with this fantastic tribe.

I had time to stop thinking about how awful the last quarter of this year has been and instead, look ahead to the possibilities of 2018. In truth, the band contributed. Simon said nearly those same words before he introduced Ordinary World. They helped me. I think they even helped him. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, but the one thing the New Year seems to do – crazily so without fail each year – is give hope for better things to come. Right now, I’ll take it. ]

Happy New Year everyone. I hope I see many more of you this next year, even if the band doesn’t do many shows.  We may or may not have an idea up our sleeve to pass the time … stay tuned.


And She Wonders How She Ever Got Here

The weekly lyric day blog post is here again.  Once again, it is taking place on Saturday rather than Friday.  The reason, of course, was to cover the brand new Katy Kafe with Nick.  Duran news definitely takes priority.  My shuffle today landed on the song, Girls on Film.  That is not exactly a song that I often pick to describe my life in pretty much any way.  Still, I was able to pick out a lyric when I really examined the lyrics.  I chose the line, “And she wonders how she ever got here.”  While that line has to do with experiences models go through, it sure could fit so much more.

When I stop or take a break from my never-ending to-do list and look around, I’m sometime surprised at my life.  Tell me that I’m not the only one, right?  If someone had told me thirty years ago that I would be teaching high school right now, I wouldn’t be surprised by that.  I would expect that.  What I wouldn’t expect or didn’t expect was that teaching has not gotten easier.  It is just the opposite.  I kept waiting for that magical time when I would not have so much work to do, but that has never happened.  Weird.  Still, teaching seems and feels normal, especially the high school history part.  Very deliberate choices led to this career of mine.  No, it is the rest of my life that leads me to wonder more about how I got here.

I figured that I would be politically active, in some way.  Voting would be a normal part of existence.  Again, what I didn’t expect was to be involved as much as I have been in the last ten years or so.  I didn’t expect to be motivated by a potential presidential candidate as I was by President Obama.  The movement against Governor Walker’s plan to stop unions for public employees was not anything that I expected.  As someone who was/is directly impacted by this, I had no choice but to get involved.  I feel the same way now.  Are the choices I have made ones that directed me to this now?  In some ways, sure.  In other ways, I am just reacting to the world around me.

Then, there is probably the weirdest aspect of my life.  This.  Fandom.  While I always had fan tendencies, I would have never imagined that fandom would be such a huge part of my life.  I figured that there would be bands or tv shows or movies or something that I would like but none such as what I feel for and about Duran.  Even as a kid, when Duran posters made up my bedroom wallpaper, I believed, somewhere in the back of my mind that I would eventually let it go.  I had no idea when that would happen or why, just that it would.  After all, I didn’t know anyone that dedicated to a fandom, for that long.  I had no real examples of it.

Even if I could have imagined myself being a big fan of Duran still, I’m pretty certain that I had no clue that I would express that fandom in the ways that I do now.  Again, I didn’t know anyone who traveled to go to concerts.  Heck, I probably would have thought that was weird, too.  What about the idea of writing a daily blog?  Or a book about fandom?  If someone had told me all of that, I would have asked the person how long s/he had been doing crack because that would be the only explanation.  So, how did I get here??

That is the big question, isn’t it?  How did I get here?  When I think about my adult fandom, the first step in this direction is becoming a fan of the now-long canceled TV show, Roswell.  The show’s focus on alienation while seeking connection with others grabbed me–probably because I was searching for any and all connections in a new city.  This led me to seek out other fans online.  Some of those fans traveled for fan-related events, something that was shocking to me then.  It opened my eyes to the possibility of doing really crazy but fun things in the name of fandom.  More specifically, one of those fans was also a Duran fan who reminded me about how amazing Duran is.  That’s all it took to awaken my fandom once again.  It didn’t hurt that the band had just reunited and a new album and tour was on the way.

From there, I sought out other Duranies online.  That led me to DuranDuranFans, a message board where I met Rhonda, and learned of a fan convention in New Orleans in September 2004.  I couldn’t resist the idea and jumped at the chance to go.  There I met Rhonda in person along with other friends of ours.  The Astronaut Tour of 2005 gave an opportunity to really get to know those fellow board users.  Rhonda and I discovered that we toured well together and could cause each other to laugh and laugh and laugh.  Obviously, then, we knew that we had found our touring partner for life.

Okay.  This tells me how I got to be good friends with Rhonda, but how did we start this blog or think about organizing meet-ups or writing a book?  The answer there is actually pretty simple.  We spent a lot of time talking, thinking and analyzing about what we saw and felt on this crazy fandom journey.  While we were trying to figure out what made fandom tick, we also wanted to help make it better, at least in the small ways we could.  Were we perfect with this?  Far from it.  That said, we did learn a lot along the way.  Now, all of this is part of my life.  I cannot imagine it any other way.


‘Twas five days before Christmas…

…and all through the house, too many creatures were stirring (yes, I mean the cats. And kids. The dog too, I might add) in the very full house. Mama (that’s me) is dressed for the day, along with Papa, but all the kids are still cat-napping (except for the oldest, because her inflatable mattress – yes, we’re really THAT full here – decided to leak. Not good.). I’d love to say something about a long winter’s nap, but the truth is, we’ve been up since 7.  We’re both pretty stressed about a number of things, and let’s face it – who needs sleep anyway?

One good thing about going to Vegas next week, is that I’m going to Vegas next week to see a lot of my friends! I desperately need to see them right now, and yeah…Duran Duran, too. One very strange thing about going on a road trip to see the band at this time of year is that I haven’t thought much about it. I know I should have bought new clothes or something…and as I said the other night on Twitter, instead I’m fully prepared to show up to that fancy Vegas gig at The Cosmopolitan in flannel jammies and fuzzy slippers. I may get thrown out, but I’d be comfortable in the process. 😀

Hmm. Perhaps I’m taking this whole “we’re like FAMILY” thing a little bit too literally. No reason to scare people, I suppose. Although, the idea of wearing flannels and a pair of neon green trainers to a Duran show makes me grin a bit.

The truth is, I’m really stressed out about life right now. I’m fine from moment to moment, but when I start thinking about January and February, or what is coming down the road, particularly if it takes Walt a while to find a new job – I can feel the panic begin to rise.  Sometimes writing the blog can distract me, but this morning, it’s not happening. I cannot recommend this as a good way to go through the holidays, and yet my family has done it before. Seven times, actually.

Basically, I need the diversion that only a great concert and time with friends can provide, but the last thing I can really put any amount of time, effort, pain and/or suffering into at the moment is my wardrobe. I’ll come wearing clothes (you all can thank me later). The band should just be ready to make me forget about reality, if even just for a little while. If memory serves, they’re pretty good at doing just that.



Atlantic City – 2008: Prides gone out the window

On this date in 2008, I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was my very first (and only) time there. In fact, I’d never really spent a lot of time in New Jersey, even though my father was born and raised there in a tiny town called Franklin. I’d been in New Jersey just once prior, for only a couple of hours – long enough to drive by the home where my dad was born, as well as the gravesite of my grandparents. For me, going to Atlantic City was exciting. I don’t even think I’d ever looked at photos from there, so I had no expectations. I kept picturing in my head the glitz, over-the-top glam, tripping the light fantastic of Las Vegas, with an ocean in the background.

Without being rude to those who love Atlantic City, it was very different from the picture I had in my head.

First of all, to be fair, we got to the hotel just hours before the show, and it was daylight. I suppose that yes, there were lights, but it was nothing like Las Vegas. I can’t really describe what was so different, maybe it’s just a little more down to earth? Seedy, even? I’m not really sure. In full disclosure, once you depart from the actual “Strip” in Vegas, there is plenty of seediness to be found. Turn down the wrong street, and you are liable to see plenty of after-effects from a little too much “sin” in the city! For that matter, look a little too closely at the Strip itself, and you’ll see plenty more than you may have bargained for. But somehow, that day in Atlantic City was bright enough to where I didn’t have to look to hard to find the grit. It was December, unseasonably warm (I am not kidding about that – it was warmer on that day in New Jersey than it was in many parts of Southern California!), and yet the crowds had gone away for the winter. I can remember eating lunch somewhere with Amanda and the restaurant was eerily quiet.

Even though we were short on time, I was excited about being there. We had a weekend membership and reservations to eat in the restaurant up in the Foundation Room – which was a splurge at the time. And of course, the reason for our visit? To see Duran Duran.

2008 was one of the toughest years of my life. Not only was I pregnant for part of the year (it was the roughest of my three, naturally), I gave birth three weeks early, which set off a string of events and mishaps that I still take medication to circumvent even today, and my dad died two weeks after my youngest was born. I suppose we could say the year was bittersweet, because I want to be fair to my youngest, but when I think back – I mostly remember the year as being horrific. My little one was the brightest spot. (and continues to be that way even though she drives me crazy sometimes!) So the trip I took to see shows in the east that year was welcome, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the album they were touring.  That’s probably putting it lightly.  I remember that tour as the one where I was the most cynical, and very unfair to the band. I’d also had one hell of a horrible year.

When I share that I stood off to the side for the show at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, and that during the show I actually left the crowd to sit on a couch area in the back of the venue because I felt sick, and that I barely remember anything about being there other than John Taylor correcting me on the clapping rhythm for Red Carpet Massacre, I suppose that says something about me at the time. My head just wasn’t in the game. Or the show.  I don’t even remember much about the after party, other than Roger Taylor DJing while I danced on the small dance floor up in the Foundation Room. I didn’t even know until much later that the rest of the band was there as well, sitting behind some sort of roped off area. Where was Dom, you ask? (just pretend you’re asking!) I honestly don’t know. I don’t even have a clear memory of noticing him onstage at the House of Blues. THAT was how out of it I was at the time, and I think the entire year was like that for me. I think back on how much of a zombie I must have been, and its a miracle that my friends still speak to me.

I was only in Atlantic City for less than 24 hours, because we left early the next morning to make our way to Montclair for the final show on the tour.  I hope to make it back someday, maybe in the summer, so I can see the full-effect.

Oddly, that road trip in 2008 is also the time when Amanda and I decided to embark on the book writing process. I don’t know what that says…but it says something.

Whenever these days come around on my calendar, I think back on 2008. I am a lot different of a person now than I was then. I hate equating that year with so much unhappiness, but it is difficult because the grief was so overwhelming. I was so harsh, angry and judgmental as a fan, and even as a person – I don’t think I realized how much the grief affected me. Yet, I bonded much more closely with my youngest. It was the one thing keeping me afloat, I think.

As I sit here I’m also thinking that it was the first holiday season without my dad, too…and yes, I know that Simon is going through similar this year. I think about that a lot because I know that pain all too well. It is the club nobody wants to join, and I wouldn’t want it for anyone else. In some ways, I think it’s great that Simon is getting out there for shows during this season, because he probably needs to feel that love and affection we have for him. I get that and believe me, when I was really feeling that pain, I wished I’d reached out for more help. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.  In other ways,  I just feel for him, period. There’s absolutely no hiding from the reality and finality. I wish there were.

I always wondered if I was weird, that having so much grief was unusual, probably because when my dad’s parents (my grandparents) died, I don’t remember my dad saying much. I mean, he was sad at first, but after the funerals, he just stopped talking about them. He’d mention them occasionally, but I don’t remember him being sad. Maybe more with my grandma than my grandfather, but I was so young then (I was about nine).  I assumed that once you’re grown, you just come to expect that your parens will die someday and that’s OK. As my friends have also had parents pass on, including Simon, seeing how he reacted to his grief, along with my friends, made me see that it’s OK. I’m not so different to miss him, and I still do. Even nine years on.

As you can read, I can’t really separate the tour of 2008 from what was going on in my own life. I think that’s probably normal for most of us. The tours and things are sort of like the points of interest along the way in our lives. This blog post turned out to be something a lot different from the “short post” I had planned to write, so thanks for sticking with it until the end!

Were you at the Atlantic City show in 2008? Let me know!


When all around you earth turns to fire

When it rains, sometimes, it pours.

Last week was a rough week here. First, this very website went down – and not even with a blaze of glory, but with a White Screen of Death (for those unfamiliar). As that was being fixed (no seriously, AS it was being sorted through a flurry of texts), the family truck dies. That was a little closer to a blaze of glory. In fact, it’s still being worked on, and if you’re at all familiar with how much mechanics charge per hour, your jaw has hit your desk or floor. Mine did too when they gave us the estimate.Those two things happened on Sunday. (It was a long week!)

On Monday, our trailer, which was being towed at the time by our now “out-of-commission” truck, had to be retrieved. Another day, another rental car, or truck in this case. I think that was the day we found out just how far this little fix-it job was going to set us back.

On Tuesday night, our microwave died. I don’t know about the rest of you – but we rely on that little appliance a lot. I can deal without a truck (sort of), but the microwave? Come on now.

On Wednesday morning, I came downstairs to find a small mess around and near my coffee maker. I assumed that when I poured the water in to the machine the night before, I missed and didn’t notice. Nope. The coffee maker has a leak. Seriously???

Later on that day, I also found out that my last living uncle on my dad’s side passed away. My uncle Joe was 92 and had lived a long, full life. Like my father, he was Sicilian, and the family tales of his possible-Mafia involvement were semi-legendary. We never knew for sure, because he kept those cards very close to his chest (and I appreciate that simply because I didn’t want to be involved). However, I will say one thing about my uncle: he was the one person (after my dad died), I could call if I needed help. I knew and trusted that about him, even if I did not see him regularly. He lived in Florida and each year we exchanged Christmas cards. He’d tell me he was coming out that summer, and I’d smile, knowing that there was no way he’d make it. He meant well, and most of all – he was the last vestige of family I had left on my dad’s side. I will miss having that little bit of comfort. I think I’m still coming to terms with what it means and how I feel, particularly because I didn’t have time to really process it because of what I’m about to share next.

Next was Thursday. The piece de resistance to the week was coming home to find Walt’s rental car sitting next to the curb. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I knew. I always do. I gathered my things, took a deep breath, ushered my youngest into the house and asked, “Were you laid off?”, already knowing what the answer would be.  “Yep.” , was the reply, coming from the kitchen.


In the US – we say “laid off”, elsewhere you might call it “being made redundant.” In other words, he is now unemployed, which is a disaster with two kids in college who both need their tuitions paid this month.

What a WEEK.

So forgive me again for waxing nostalgic, as I take a minute or more to remember back to a much happier time. On this date in 2011, I saw Duran Duran in Glasgow, Scotland.

I don’t know that I’d say I’ve done a lot of traveling outside of the US. I feel lucky to be able to say I’ve done a little, that trip to Glasgow being a highlight. Many American people that I know or grew up with have never been outside of the country at all. To give the tiniest bit of insight, I think my parents were pretty average people. My dad had a white-collar job, but it wasn’t terribly high paying, and my mom was a secretary once she went back to work when I was about ten. We had most things we needed, but very few things that we really wanted, I think.

Vacations were a luxury, and the most we ever did for a family vacation was go camping – and that didn’t happen until I was in high school. Until then, my parents would take a two-week vacation from work each summer, but we didn’t really go anywhere, and that was not unusual for the parents of my friends, either. I flew on a plane with my parents exactly once, and that was to go up to the bay area to see family one Thanksgiving.  My dad considered flying to be a luxury, and not one we could readily afford. I had aunts, uncles and cousins – siblings of my father and their children, as well as the same on my mom’s side – that I never met because they lived across the country from us. I didn’t travel outside of California until I took a special trip to Washington DC in 8th grade, and after that I didn’t go on a plane again until I was well into college.

The idea of traveling to see a band is still pretty “out there” to many people, I guess. My friends from high school are surprised when they see my posts, not because I go to see a band (they’re used to that part now!) but because I’ve gone some crazy places to do it. One of my friends commented that the farthest she’s gone from home has been to Arizona, which is where she lives now. That’s pretty shocking to ME. There’s an entire world out there to explore, and yet a lot of the people I know would be satisfied to just see the capital of our country. That is why when I say the US is a big place and many people don’t travel outside of their general area, I say it with confidence.

So for more, one of the shows I’m most excited to be able to say I attended, was Glasgow. We weren’t even really supposed to be there! It wasn’t a part of our original plan at all, but when these tickets came up, Amanda and I agreed we should just do it. We took a train from Birmingham into Glasgow, which in and of itself was a fantastic trip. Then we stayed with Amanda’s friend in Edinburgh, and even spent time in that city before going to Glasgow for the show. I loved every minute of it. The winter markets, seeing ice and snow on the ground (yes, I’m from California and to me that’s a novelty!), going to a Scotch club and just walking around – memories I will keep forever.

And then there was the show.

It was our last show on that little mini-tour, and while I know the band likely had no idea who we were (Except for Dom – by then he was probably concerned I’d never go home!), I would swear they played with extra energy that night. Hungry Like the Wolf was ridiculous, as John and Dom came right to center stage and played off of one another. Amanda and I nearly had strokes! I reveled in the show, turning around to watch the crowd clap and respond. To say I enjoyed myself would be an understatement. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to top the experience I had at that Glasgow show.

So, when things are down, like right now, I tend to think about those moments. I don’t know if anything like that can ever happen again. I’d like to think so because otherwise, it’s all pretty hopeless, but you never know. I treasure the memories.

The other day I was chatting with someone online, and they mentioned that the nicest people they knew from the US were those who had traveled abroad. I understand what they meant by this. It is very easy to remain complacent and somewhat naive about the world we live in when we aren’t able to see HOW one another actually lives, There are a plethora of reasons for this, but I think when we rely solely on media for our information, it is very easy to make assumptions without verifying using our own eyes and experiences. My own eyes were opened much wider after my first visit abroad, and every time I get the chance to go somewhere new, I learn more.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hoping for a better week!


I’ll Hold On To the Memory

This morning, good ole Facebook reminded me of what I was doing and where I was six years ago today through the following picture:

Duran Duran in Birmingham - Tweet
Our infamous tweet before the show in Brume

Yes, six years ago today, Rhonda and I were seeing Duran Duran play at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.  Funny enough, every time I think about it, I have to pinch myself to remind me that this really did, indeed, happen.  Looking back at that show and that tour, two big ideas come to mind.  First, the phrase “all you need is now” pops up, the idea of just living in the moment.  Then, there is the significance of that trip and place for my personal fandom.

In 2011, we went to the UK twice.  Of course, the first trip, in May, did not go as planned to say the least.  Simon lost his voice and the shows we held tickets for were canceled.  We pushed through, made the best of the situation, and ignored the worry that we had seen the end of Duran.  Thus, when the shows were rescheduled, we didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance to go back.  Looking back on that decision, I cannot remember pondering the decision very long.  I  didn’t debate the pros and cons of doing another UK trip.  Normally, when shows are announced, I go through the internal checklist.  Is the date one in which I can attend?  If it is during the school year, can I take off?  Do I have the money to go?  Will someone be around to check in on the cat?  That time, though, those questions weren’t really even asked.  We leaped before we looked, definitely.

Was that wise of us?  Probably not.  After all, I had struggled with work to be able to go the first time.  Then, during the same month of the trip, I had the chance to go to an Obama White House holiday party.  Would I be able to do both?  I assumed that I would for some crazy reason.  In hindsight, everything worked out and worked out easily.  It wasn’t anything like the struggle I had in May to be able to go.  Was I lucky?  Beyond.  It almost felt like it was meant to be.

What lesson did I learn from this trip?  The message I received, I think, is that, at times, I just have to go with my gut.  I shouldn’t think everything to death or assume that it cannot or should not happen.  When there is an opportunity for something amazing, I gotta go with it.  I am all for having responsibilities and being responsible, but…  (Seriously, people who know me know that I’m hyper responsible.  Is that from teaching for over 20 years?  Maybe.  Campaigning for political candidates?  Possibly.)  Was it super weird for me not to think about my obligations?  Yes, but it is good for me–not only to be able to enjoy some crazy good times but also to let myself live a little.

Both trips meant a great deal to me.  On the first trip with the canceled shows, I gained an insight into the band and my fandom that I would not have had otherwise.  Rhonda and I had to make the best out of an extremely disappointing situation.  While I don’t know that I would say that it was the most fun, it was the most eye-opening.  The extra time meant that we could walk around Birmingham and get a real sense of where the band came from.  That humanized them in a way that I didn’t think possible.  They were no longer just celebrities but people, humans.  This idea was reinforced by seeing them outside of their studio when they were open about the situation and how they were feeling about it.  I felt honored to have been there.

Fast forward almost 7 months later and the dream was finally fulfilled.  We got to see the band play in their hometown.  I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.  While the show was not the best I had ever been to, it was monumental to me.  As a kid, I remember thinking about how exotic Birmingham sounded to me.  My family was not well off and any vacations we took typically took us to a nearby state, if that.  We never traveled by plane (I took my first flight at 17!) and I didn’t know anyone who went overseas.  So Birmingham sounded so unusual to me.  I couldn’t even imagine what it was like and I never expected to find myself there once, forget about more than once.  What did I discover about the city?  It really felt like a lot of the industrial northern cities here do.  As someone who grew up in the south side of Chicago, it felt almost familiar.  I realized that I actually liked it and would love to spend more time there, which is not what I expected at all.

Six years have gone by.  My fandom grew stronger from those trips.  One thing is certain.  I’ll hold on to those memories for the rest of my life.


Seen Better Times than Right Now

Beginning with the very moment our newly minted self-hosted site was public and visible, I knew a time would come where it might go down unexpectedly, or would crash. I take the recommended measures of backing everything up on a weekly basis. In fact, I have a program that does it automatically. I also try my best to keep the site updated. That said, there is always a little niggling of fear hiding in the farthest recesses of my mind.  What would I do if the site went down?!?

I’ve only taken the very basics of website design and maintenance classes, and I still have to ask my son and husband questions like, “Remind me again what FTP stands for?”  Yes, I was able to get this site transferred, up, and running, thanks to YouTube. HOWEVER… I am the first to admit I have a lot to learn.

On Halloween, WordPress released a new version, and I immediately updated. When WordPress releases a new version, all of our plug-ins to keep the site looking nice have to be updated. Some of those plug-ins release updates right away, and some take a bit longer. I update as I’m notified and it’s a very simple process – two clicks and I’m done. Since I am on the site all week, I keep the site running without a problem. Last week though, I was not online much. I had blogged ahead of time, and because I was so busy, I didn’t check-in much after Wednesday morning. Thursday was Thanksgiving, then my family packed up and left for a camping trip.

All was fine until Saturday morning when I noticed Amanda had tweeted something about a white screen on the website. I looked myself and sure enough, the site was blank. That’s odd, I thought. I figured it would sort itself out and that it was a host issue – something I can’t really control. I went about my day because dang it, I was wine tasting and looking at property in the Paso Robles area.

Then yesterday morning, I checked again and the site was still blank. That’s when I became very concerned. The site is down. What in the hell am I supposed to do from here?!? I tried to push the thought out of my mind and enjoy the morning before we left. I kept thinking about it, knowing that I was going to have to fix it, and I had no idea how. Good times, right? Then Amanda sent a text right around noon, as we were leaving. She was nervous, and I was pretty much captive as I sat in the passenger seat of my F350 while my husband towed our trailer and headed for home. I didn’t know what I could do from the middle of nowhere, but I started reading websites to see if I could troubleshoot the problem.

Given the very little I know about websites, the one thing I kept considering was that maybe I’d missed an update for a plug-in. That will make everything go haywire, and maybe that’s what the blank screen was about. I didn’t know for sure and kept reading. There were a lot of very scary things that it could have been – like we had reached our memory limit, or perhaps a database failure – two things I didn’t even know could happen. Their symptoms though were a little different from what I was seeing, so I was hopeful it was just the plug-ins.

So I sent Amanda articles to read via text message, and in the meantime, since I was not at home, I didn’t have access to the fifty different passwords it requires in order to get into our freaking server and control panel. I’m glad it is so heavily guarded, but holy hell there are too many to know! We were sending codes and new passwords and learning different emails – it was a genuine mess and a very long sordid tale, and Amanda kept saying she didn’t know what to do and I was firm in return, “You HAVE to do this. I am in the freaking middle of NOWHERE.” 

Finally, triumphantly, Amanda got it sorted. The problem was a stupid plug-in, which she deactivated. Presto! The website was once again visible and working. Amanda saved the site! She says she can’t do the website stuff, but I have news for her: YES YOU CAN, BECAUSE YOU JUST DID IT. 

The thing is, we are not Duran Duran. We don’t have a team of people ready and able to do the work. We ARE the team. Our lives are not glamorous, and sometimes, shit goes really wrong. That was never clearer than this weekend.

And then…without much warning, my family truck dies while driving south on the 101 from Paso Robles. The funny thing is that normally, we take the 5 home, which…if you’ve ever seen our Daily Duranie tweets when Amanda and I are driving up north from my house, you know it is desolate and in the middle of nowhere. That central valley is hot, dry, and empty.  Along the 101 though, is fully populated. It’s town after town, with many more services available.

All was fine, until it wasn’t. We were on the highway, in the right lane but still ON the highway, and the truck announces that it is done. Finished. Not going any damn farther. Never mind that my entire family was in the car, along with our dog Gizmo and a 31-foot trailer in back of us. We kind of glided up the off-ramp as I started wondering how long it will be before we were hit or something terrible happened. (I think in terms of worst-case scenario, because typically in my life -that’s pretty much what happens!) Just as the truck made it to the top of the ramp, we saw that it was a gentle downward slope from there, and so we were all yelling, “Come on truck!”. Our hope was that the trailer made it up and over the top so that the momentum pushed us down the hill to a safer spot, and as luck would have it, there was a huge pull-off spot in front of us. We coasted down the hill, Walt parked the truck, he and Gavin jumped  out, opened the hood, and I started wondering how we were going to get home.

I asked Heather where we were, and she told me we were in Orcutt, California. A bell rung in my head. I know someone! My touring buddy, Lori, lives there, and so I text her. She answers back, and not only is she in the city, it turns out she’s housesitting at her moms, which is honestly right around the block from where our truck has stranded us!

Graciously, Lori picked me up so that I could get to a car rental agency. Thank goodness there were no photos, because I was mess. Our plan was to have our truck towed to a nearby Ford dealer, and the trailer towed to Lori’s mom’s house. (It is a pain in the ass to figure out how to get that damn trailer home, I have to tell you!) So, we made it home.

It was quite a weekend, I must say. When things like this happen, I can’t help but wonder if anyone in DD has these kinds of mishaps. I can’t imagine John Taylor and Gela breaking down in the middle of nowhere (and surely not with a trailer!) Or Simon troubleshooting a website. (Maybe Nick, though!) All I know is that today I am doubly grateful to be at home, in my house, struggling to get a blog posted.

The site still isn’t working perfectly. I’m having trouble getting it to edit properly, but I think that’s a WordPress thing and not a site thing. I hope. I just don’t think I can handle another White Screen of Death for a while!


Long days are coming up and staying out and playing

It is Lyric Friday…no wait, that isn’t right. It is Lyric Sunday! What was my result when I hit shuffle? Taste the Summer. I call that irony considering that we have now entered the winter holiday season. Christmas is a month away. Despite that, I took a gander at the lyrics and picked out a line that suited me. That line is: “Long days are coming up and staying out and playing”.

Now, of course, that line refers to summer when the days get longer and people often have more time to stay out and up. As a kid, it definitely meant playing outside with neighborhood friends longer as there was no school to attend and no homework to complete. Yet, that won’t fit for right now. So, how can I use that line? I know! I have a little trip planned in about a month that will equal long days in that I won’t sleep much. We definitely will be staying out and playing! Ah, yes, Rhonda and I will be traveling to the city of Las Vegas to see a certain little band play a show on December 30th at the Cosmopolitan. I suspect that for us those three nights there will definitely include some playing.

Yes, this is what touring means to me. It definitely includes late nights. Over the course of our touring “career” Rhonda and I have logged some very late nights. On our first tour together, in March 2005, we managed to be up for 38 before separating to go home. Sunrise marked that weekend, I think. On that Sunday of our marathon tour, we ended up at the mall as Rhonda had a couple of hours to kill before her flight. As we walked around, we swore we heard Sunrise playing. Was it? Maybe. Could it have been an auditory hallucination brought up due to being sleep deprived? Possible. It may us laugh then and it makes us laugh now. I remember driving home that night and making phone calls to anyone who would talk to me to keep me awake on the drive. It was brutal but worth it. The lack of sleep thing hasn’t changed much. Although, I don’t think we have been awake all night since 2011 after the Glasgow show. We stayed up simply because we were afraid that we felll asleep we would miss our early morning fight. Plus, we were giddy from the show. Will we reach up for the sunrise this upcoming trip? No clue. If we were going to, Vegas is always a good location as they are open all night long.

So what about the playing part? Will that happen? As a kid, summer playing meant riding my bike around the neighborhood, hanging out at the park or swinging on my homemade swing in the backyard. Somehow, as an adult, it has come to mean something different. For Rhonda and I (and our friends), it often means finding some place to hang out. Ideally, this place serves vodka tonics and plays some music. On really great nights, that music including Duran and their peers. Our last tour, in Oakland and San Francisco, included some nights at the Cat Club where they featured Duran after the show. Rhonda and I danced that night until we couldn’t dance anymore. Such fun!

What does Vegas have in store for us? Well, I will tell you one thing. There will be a Daily Duranie Meet-up! The details are still getting completely finalized but I can tell you all this. It will be taking place on December 29th, the night before the Duran show. It will definitely focus on my adult version of playing! So, mark your calendars and make plans to join us! Then, watch this space for details, an event page and more. I know that Rhonda and I are looking forward to celebrating with all of you then!!!


I’m Thankful…

Yesterday, Rhonda wrote a heartfelt blog about what she is grateful for during this Thanksgiving holiday so I figured that today might be my turn. Like Rhonda, I’m very thankful for my family. I’m lucky in that I have amazing parents. That fortune is increased by the fact that they live near me so I am able to not only enjoy them as people but benefit from all the little things they do to help me out. As they get older and need more and more of my assistance, I want to always remember that they deserve my love and care even when my patience is thin and I have more on my plate that it seems like I can handle. This year, my nearby family grew when my oldest niece arrived in Wisconsin to attend college here. To say that I am overjoyed by having her close by is an understatement. Like with my parents, sometimes, this has means that she needs me for some purpose, but I would gladly sacrifice my time in order to have her close. After all, she and her sister have spent their formative years in North Carolina far away from me. I missed many of the big moments and countless small ones over the years. Now, though, I get to be a part of seeing her finally come into her own and reach adulthood. She has become an amazing person who is getting smarter, more confident and stronger with each passing day. This Thanksgiving, in fact, I got to spend it with her and a couple of her fiends, which was fun.

On top of my personal family, I have to acknowledge my work family. It isn’t easy being in education these days. Heck, it wasn’t easy being a teacher 15 years ago but the last 7 or so have been especially difficult for reasons that I won’t go into on this blog. Let’s just say that we are being asked to do a lot more with less and have very little holding us up in terms of outside supports. The job requires more of my time, energy, and emotions and the kids are getting tougher too (through no fault on their own). Throughout it all, my colleagues have been there for me. When things were getting really bleak, I had colleagues checking in, giving me stuffed animals to represent strength, offering to help and more. Truly, when I think about what keeps me going in teaching, a lot of it has to do with them. Of course, the other factor is the kids. While I struggle to reach them all, there are a number of students I have gotten to know pretty well over the years. Being a part of their struggles and their successes also keep me moving forward. I’m truly the lucky one to be their teacher.

Yes, work does take up a lot of my life. Just last week, I calculated that I worked 58.5 hours, which didn’t even seem so bad to me until I realized that it was more than 18 hours OVER what it should have been. It was like I worked an extra 2 days. No wonder I’m super tired all the time! While I wish my job wasn’t so time-consuming and stressful, there is a part of me that is proud of the work that I do. I believe that I’m a decent teacher. My kids, generally, learn from me and, more importantly, become more passionate citizens of the world. That is all I can ask for. If that wasn’t enough, I’m still involved and working, politically. I have to keep fighting to make the world a better place, both in and out of my classroom. I’m grateful to those people who work along side with me, telling me that I’m not alone and to keep going.

Beyond all the fabulous people at my jobs, what really helps to keep me going is my fandom. First, this blog helps on a daily basis. I love that it forces me to stop and think about something other than work or politics. Every morning I do the question of the day. It makes me sit down and take 10-15 minutes in the morning to clear my head, which probably saves my sanity and my students first hour. Then, on the weekends, when it is my turn to blog, I can take longer to think about all things Duran. During many weekends, it is my break, my time away from grading or household chores. While it is something on my “to-do” list, it isn’t really a chore. I look forward to it and I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to write about or how I’m going to write about this topic or that. There is always a corner of my brain thinking about Duran, fandom and this blog. This also means that I allow myself to check in with Duranland during the week so that I can comment in future blogs. I might not always have time to respond or make comments but know that I’m always watching (as much as I can) and thinking about what I see, read and hear related to this fandom. Again, this probably keeps me sane. (No comments, Rhonda!)

Beyond the time spent during the week on my Duran fandom and blogging, there are the times I go on tour. I truly cannot think of anything that makes me more happy. Touring is the one time that I can (and do!) push everything else to the side. When I’m on tour, I’m not thinking about anything on my to-do list. I’m not worrying about my parents or about kids at school. No, I can take a break and just HAVE FUN. People will always ask me, “Why are you going to another show? Don’t they just play the same songs?” The answer to that is yes. They typically play the same songs. While the setlist matters somewhat, it isn’t the big reason. No, it is about that fun that I have. Of course, I wouldn’t have fun without the people with me. In 2005, I discovered the best touring partner around. Sometimes, when I think about it, I cannot believe that Rhonda and I really tour so well together. We trust each other when it comes to money, buying tickets, reserving rooms, etc. We approach traveling in similar ways and have the same general philosophy when it comes to partying, staying up late, etc. More importantly than all of that, is that we enjoy spending time together. We know that when we are together we will laugh and laugh and laugh. Truly, I get more laughter in during a touring weekend than I do all month long. I swear! I will always be grateful to have her in my life—not just for fun touring but also because we share this blog, planning meet-ups and conventions and writing. I couldn’t ask for a better fandom partner. Rhonda and I have also been extremely lucky with the friends we have made. In a little over a month, we will descend onto the city of Las Vegas with our friends, Suzie and Lori. Much like touring with Rhonda, they are easy people to tour with who are also a lot of fun. Let’s just say that we all appreciate our vodka! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have another opportunity to hang out with them this year. So lucky to have found them.

Of course, none of this would be possible with the band that started it all. From the first time I heard their music until now, Duran Duran gives me such joy. When I hear their music, I’m reminded of good times, great experiences, and the most fun I have ever had from the little moments of my youth to the silly times of today. I recall the joy of getting a new album, putting up a new poster or tuning into MTV to catch a new video with my childhood best friend. Now, when I think of my fandom, I think of the lovable teasing about fashion choices or giving cheers in a hotel bar. I am reminded of leaving notes encouraging the playing of Planet Earth while watching closely the stage location for every JoSi or DoJo moment. Overall, I am grateful that this band entered my world and refuses to leave even after three plus decades.