Category Archives: personal stories

When It Comes Down to my Soul

Every summer I come up with a long list of projects, things I want to accomplish but cannot when I’m working 60-70 hours a week during the school year.  Typically what happens is that I get about 75% of the way done and then the rest goes undone until the next summer.  For example, last summer I worked on organizing pictures.  I finished organizing them through 2011.  Clearly, I did not finish (and haven’t yet).  This year is no exception when it comes to starting a big project.  Organization is my big focus.  I decided, perhaps stupidly, to go through my entire house and reorganize it.  Needless to say, I have thrown out a bunch of stuff and put other items aside to give away.  This makes me feel good and more in control.  I need that.

In some ways, this summer, this time reminds me of the summer of 2015.  During that year, my mom battled cancer.  This meant that my entire focus was on her and what needed to be done to support her.  This, of course, didn’t mean that everything else stopped.  I still had to pay my bills, go to the grocery store, clean my house, etc.  Life didn’t stop but my priority changed.  Now, in 2018, my priority is my political activity.  It is an election year (maybe the most important in US history), which means that a whole lot of my time is spent gearing up for August through Election Day when voter contact will be frequent.  Thus, I’m trying to keep up on my household tasks while keeping my eye on political stuff and reorganizing my house.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  I chose this and feel like it is what I need to do.  But I do realize that other parts of my life are being pushed to the side.

I’m getting close to finishing this big summer project having just one room and one closet left to complete.  What room and closet is left?  It is my office, which is really my second bedroom.  Now, some of you might know that my office is my Duran sanctuary of sorts.  It is covered with Duran posters, album covers, photos from various tours, and much more.  

In the process of reorganizing this space, I have gone through convention materials, notes from various book projects, notebooks filled with brainstorming and blog ideas.  I smiled a lot as I came across each and every item.  In some cases, my facial emotion reflected the joy that arose from a good memory of a fun time.  In other cases, I felt a longing to finish or to start a project that once came up.  I miss writing and researching in that way.  Yet, I instantly recognized that now is not the time as much as I might want to sit down and write or research some angle of fandom that I hadn’t considered much.  No, my focus is elsewhere.  I get it.  This is how life goes.  Hopefully, it will swing back to this sooner rather than later.

This leads me to think of the blog.  For some reason, this is different.  Unlike more significant writing, this remains part of my daily existence.  I suspect that part of this is the fact that we made a commitment to do this daily.  I follow through on my commitments.  The other aspect is our longevity.  We have been writing this blog for a long time.  It is now a habit, part of my daily existence.  It does not fit in the projects category of my life.  No, writing this blog is like paying bills…although that makes it sound like a chore.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that it is like showering.  Yes, it takes time, but it is time that makes me feel better.  It helps me get the rest of my to do list done.  This task gives me energy and an escape from the less than fun aspects of life.  It keeps me attached to the fandom, to the  Duranie in me that I desperately need when the rest of life gets heavy.  In the past whenever I have pushed some aspect of myself aside, that part always bubbles to the surface, demanding my attention and showing that I was unhappy without it.  Now, I guarantee that this won’t happen.  No, the blog keeps one foot in fandom while I take care of business elsewhere.  For that, I’m grateful.

-A

Time Flies…

One year ago today, I saw Duran play at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California.  Two years ago today, I left for Chicago to begin my summer Paper Gods tour.  As I sit here in my living room, I am thinking about how quickly time has flown by and how much can change in a year or two.

July always represents the middle of summer to me.  I’m no longer trying to grasp a schedule or let go of the baggage that typically follows a school year.  I’m not worried that the next school year is around the corner or that my to-do list is still way too long for my liking.  In thinking about Julys of the past, each of them give a different flavor.  Three years ago, my mom was battling breast cancer and my summer was spent taking her to chemo and trying to clean up my parents’ house to sell it.  Then, two years ago, the Paper Gods tour took up the big focus.  Last year, when I attended the shows in Oakland and San Francisco, I can now recognize how I used those shows in an attempt to grasp any joy and fun I could.  I needed that.  I needed that more than I knew.

In thinking about the two shows and that weekend as a whole, I have fond memories.  I remember drinking wine with Rhonda both the first night in and at a fabulous Italian restaurant for lunch.  Those times weren’t wild and crazy but appreciated.  Then, there were the wild and crazy times dancing at the Cat Club.  (No comment from my friends…)  The shows themselves were amazing despite the little or not-so-little things that didn’t go well.  For Oakland, we managed to be upfront due to the Telegraph Room that I had researched and had contacted both Ticketmaster and the venue itself to get tickets for.  Somehow, I survived that day while having one of the worst hangovers in my life.  San Francisco resulted in middle of the venue location, which served us well, too.  Yeah, in thinking about that weekend, I cherish the little moments like a wave in a hotel lobby or painting shoes lime green.

Now, there are no shows on the horizon.  There are no plans for fun besides getting together here and there with local friends.  In some ways, I desperately wish that I did have something to look forward to, to keep me going.  On the other hand, part of me feels that it would just be distraction that I cannot afford right now.  In looking at my upcoming calendar, it is filled with political events and activities.  Soon enough, I will be running weekly events to try and reach local voters.  Election Day 2018 is just around the corner.  On top of all that, I have to be available for my parents.

In thinking about the past summers as well as the present one, it is funny that I think of them all through the lens of what Duran is doing.  While there have been some activity with things like private events and documentaries this summer, overall, it has been quiet.  It almost feels like the powers that be understand that as much as I would love to have some fun Duran related plans, that I’m needed elsewhere.  I can only hope then that they will be ready with something amazing just when the time will be right for me.  I have a feeling that it will be the most amazing, special time.  Something tells me that I will really need it then.

-A

Leaving the Light On

Am I really back home?  Am I really on summer break?  I feel like someone is going to wake me up at any moment, telling me that I was dreaming.  Maybe I feel this way since I only returned home yesterday morning.  I only now finished unpacking and getting organized.  As much as it feels weird to be home with nothing that I have to do, the lack of due dates is already appreciated by me.  All that said, I feel out of it when it comes to Duranland.  My insane, end-of-the-school-year schedule and trip to Boston meant that I haven’t been able to do much when it comes to paying attention to any and all news, info, and tidbits surrounding the band I love so much.  Despite that, I do want to touch on a few items, including a purchase, memorable moments in Duran history and my summer plans.

Record Store Purchases

Whenever I visit my brother (or my sister), I usually spend a day visiting a record and/or book store.  My family all appreciates reading and listening to great music (even if we don’t all agree on what makes a “great” album or novel).  Therefore, we enjoy going to places where we can spend hours just browsing for hidden treasures.  This time, we stopped a record store in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a city right on the coast.  We didn’t spend as much time as we might have liked as we wanted to visit an art/history museum there, too, before my sister-in-law had to get back to go to work.  Despite our short time, my brother, eldest niece and I went hunting for good music.  I’m happy to report that I found quite a treasure!

I purchased some 12 inch singles (on vinyl, of course!)!  In fact, I bought 4 of them!  I found the following:  Wild Boys, I Don’t Want Your Love, Burning the Ground and Violence of Summer.  Obviously, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  For me, it made the trip worthwhile!  Of course, when I was making my purchase, the store employee had to make a comment about how I had just “gone for it” by buying all this Duran.  I snorted and made some sort of statement along the lines of, “You have no idea.”  Indeed.

Today in Duran History

I cannot allow this day to go by without acknowledging what this date means to Duran Duran and Duran history!  On this date, back in 1981, Duran’s very first album, debuted.  37 years ago, the Duran story began, at least for the general public.  While the band had been working hard, writing and recording, now everyday people all around the world could enjoy the band, too!

Summer Plans:

Last and probably even least, I have to comment about my summer plans.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have answered the question, “What are you doing this summer?” about twenty-five times.  Sometimes, the question came from colleagues.  Other times, friends or family members wondered how I plan to spend my time.  While the question entertains me in general, this year I found myself smirking almost each and every time.  Why is that?  The question changed a little this year…it isn’t just what my plans are for the summer.  This year, the question came out like this, “Why are your plans for the summer?  Following Duran Duran?”  As I resist the full-blown smile, I comment about how it is quiet in Duranland and that the band maybe is busy getting ready for the upcoming 40th anniversary.  I then list reasons why this is probably for the best.  I can spend time on reorganizing my house.  A big election is coming and I need to spend time campaigning.  I desperately need to save money for whatever the band does do next.

I admit that the question makes me smile.  I like that people I know, colleagues, and friends associate me with Duran Duran.  They don’t think it is a big deal that my life often revolves around Duran Duran and their plans.  It feels like acceptance to me, which is great.  Yet, there is a part of me that is a little sad about my answer.  I love that I have time to get things done that I cannot do during the school year.  I do need the time to save money.  But, I wish that there was something Duran on my schedule.  I know that makes me a bit pathetic but it is true.  I will miss seeing the band and I miss hanging out with my friends.  To get through it, I’ll look ahead to whatever might come next, look back on fond memories and enjoy every little nugget that gets released in a way that I cannot during the school year.  I’ll try to celebrate the little moments until I get to the next big one.

-A

Can You Taste the Summer?

The school year is finally finished.  It was definitely one of the longest school years of my career and one of the toughest.  I know that I probably say that every year but this year was different.  Tougher.  Harder.  Let’s just say that I have cried more in the last couple of weeks than I have in months over it all.  Even as I try to celebrate the end, I find myself exhausted, both mentally and emotionally.

All of that said, today I am leaving for a family vacation of sorts.  I’m flying with my parents to Boston to see my brother who lives there.  The best part is that my dad will get a big surprise once we arrive which I’m so looking forward to.  It has been a very tough year for him, too.  Needless to say, I need a break.  There is nothing quite like getting a change of scenery to clear one’s head.  This trip will be good for me.

I made a decision that isn’t typical for me.  I’m taking a real break during this family trip.  I won’t be blogging tomorrow.  I don’t want to deal with any responsibilities even ones that I love.  Instead, I want to focus on the time with the family.  My carry on will be lighter without this laptop.  On top of tomorrow’s blog, I will also be taking a break from doing the question of the day.  So, the blog will be silent on Sunday.  I assume that Rhonda will blog like normal on Monday.  Then, I’ll be back with the question of the day on Thursday and my weekend blogs on Friday.  I think the complete break from everything will be good for me.  I need it.

Part of me feels guilty for this.  The question of the day doesn’t take a long time to do.  The blog should publish something daily, part of me says.  The other part of me says that I deserve to take some time to have a short break.  It will be fine.  On that note, I’m off to  the airport.  See you all on Thursday!

-A

Got any plans for Summer of 2020?

I woke up worrying about the blog today. I don’t even know why. I think this might be a sign or symptom of the amount of stress I’m carrying around these days. Moving is hard. I keep telling my husband that it would be far more motivating if I knew where we were going, like maybe if we’d already bought a house or actually knew what city we were going to end up in. Right now, all I’ve got is a short list of houses I really like in a very wide area going from Camarillo to the south (of Santa Barbara) alllllll the way up to Atascadero and South Paso Robles to the north. (yes, those places are far from Santa Barbara. It’s a long story. Just go with it for now.) Meanwhile, there’s still this  “Boston” possibility hanging in the air. Walt is going out there in a couple of weeks, and at the moment it’s possible that I’ll go along with him. That could change though because the timing is, of course, really bad with family graduations, birthdays, and moves home from college. I find myself asking (very loudly) when am I ever going to find the time to go house hunting anywhere. Thank goodness for Zillow.

No one really answers back. That’s probably best given that most of the time I’m alone while asking.

My last day at work is next Thursday. It’s the little one’s last week at school for summer. I still don’t know where she’ll go to school after what I think might be the shortest summer of my life…and then this morning I woke up worrying about the blog.

The blog is fine. It really is. I’ve felt as though I’ve neglected it a bit lately, right along with my writing. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to actually write this summer. It’s a small price to pay, I suppose, but writing keeps me sane. Blogging will at least continue, book writing may not for a bit. I am worrying for no reason about things I can’t even deal with right now.

I had big Daily Duranie plans for the summer, including a convention that I’m going to have to push out until I’m moved (I can’t plan a convention when I don’t even know where I’m going to be traveling from to get there. Bad timing – so once I know when and where I’m going, I can figure out the rest. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t do it all), and a visit with Amanda. I need to hang out with my best friend. I miss her. One way or another that has to happen. Then there’s a girls trip with Amanda and our other two friends. We need a getaway. I’m still trying to figure out how I can squeeze that in, because we are way overdue for a catch-up. I’m hoping the answers will reveal themselves soon. I don’t do very well without some basic plan, and I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants now since December. I hate it.

Amanda and I did chat on the phone last week. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but I think I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve done so since January. Times have indeed been tough. I welcomed her phone call though, and it was good to hear her voice. She gave me a little shred of hope that life WILL return to some sort of normalcy, because she asked me one question that snapped me back into my typical, Duranie-self.

“Got any plans for summer of 2020?”

Wow. I can’t even plan for next month, right now.  It is a very strange feeling, after living in the same place for twenty years, to know that in 2020, I have no idea where I’ll be living. Where will I be when Amanda and I are planning and plotting? Forget all of that, where is my family going to spend Christmas this year? It is SO weird to know it’s probably not going to be in this house. (For that matter, we just got rid of our 9-ft tall artificial Christmas tree, so….) So no, Amanda, I don’t have plans for 2020. I’m sure I’m about to make some, though!

She went on to tell me about the Katy Kafe with John Taylor and how he gave a full laundry list of ideas they had for celebrating their 40th and so on. I hadn’t even had time to listen to the Kafe at that point last week, so I welcomed her explanation of how it all went down. John talked about having some sort of show in Birmingham, and that was as far as she got before I stopped her. “We are going!”

Sure, John might have lofty ideas. Chances are, nothing he wants to do will actually come to full fruition. That isn’t really the point though, at least not for me. I need something. I need something to give me some motivation to get through what I think has to be one of the most stressful life events: moving.

The weekend before last, Walt and I took every single box down out of our attic. Turns out that he wasn’t lying when he said I was a packrat. Somehow, I’d saved nearly every single thing my kids touched as babies (and what’s weird is that I know I’ve given away a ton of stuff to charity over the years!). I went through box after box, blinking back tears on occasion. It was awful. I’m beginning to come to the realization that not only are we moving, but we’re closing a chapter on the childhoods of my two oldest kids. I am not a fan.  I’m overly emotional at times, downright sentimental at others, and suffering from hot flashes at the same time. God, I love middle age.

So for me, even the possibility of going to London, Birmingham or pretty much anywhere during the summer of 2020 is incentive for me to get my act together, get this house moved and my family settled. I have two years to make it all happen. I want to see friends, I want to go back to places I enjoy. I want to actually live. Right now, I feel like I’m just closing up shop to move on. I’m looking forward to getting past it.

Yes, I know how quickly other fans want to pee in my bowl of cornflakes (I hate cold cereal anyway), but you know – it’s OK to let fans just have some hope. Why not? Is it really hurting anyone?  The same goes with the band recording a new album – does it really hurt anyone to have hope that they’ll record again? I mean, as a fan, why wouldn’t you want to believe that they’re not completely finished?  It’s the one thing I’ve never really understood about people. Hope is a powerful motivator, and you know – I need it. So I’m tucking it into my pocket, and grabbing another box to fill.

-R

During This Deafening Silence

Sorry for my absence last week!  My husband was laid off late last year, and spent five incredibly long months looking for a new job. Some people find jobs quickly, but in the tech industry, his work is far more specialized and it just takes longer.  Unfortunately in his business, reorganizations and layoffs are normal. For the past twenty years, we have been lucky. His job changes—we think there have been at least seven—never required a move, and we’ve lived in the same house in So Cal. Two of our three children were born nearby, and for all of them, this house is “home”.

My husband started a brand new job this morning in Santa Barbara, which is about 150 miles from our current home. Over the summer (I sincerely hope it’s over the summer!), we will be moving because the commute from the OC to Santa Barbara is insanity, obviously.  He drove up this morning, leaving our house just after five (that is AM, thank you). He just texted me at about 8:45 my time to let me know he’d gotten there. That’s an hour longer than it should have taken him, thanks to typical Los Angeles traffic. There’s no way he’s going to be able to keep up that pace for long, not that we ever thought otherwise.

So, last week, I began the slow and steady process of packing, getting the house ready to sell, and moving. The funny part is that I still am not sure where we’re moving quite yet. It could be north of Santa Barbara, but it could also be the Boston area since a good portion of his team are located there. I just love surprises and not having any idea of where we’re going. (This is such a lie I can’t even type it without laughing)

I do find the timing and the uncertainty amusing. After all, we’re in-between albums, aren’t we? None of us have any idea when a new album will drop…or IF a new album will drop. (To clarify, I have no reason to suspect they wouldn’t go back to the studio!) We don’t know if that band will ever tour again, although right now I feel pretty positive they will. (No hate mail, please) I’m just glad that if my life is about to be turned upside down, we’re doing it now…and I’m willing to bet that on the next Duran Duran album, there will be at least one song that I’ll identify with that describes this period of my life, because THAT is how good this band is. They get it right even when they have no idea who I am, or what I’m about, or going through.

Each of us have our own lives going on during the time when Duran Duran are killing us with silence. I tend to think in terms of “pre <insert album title here>”, “post <insert album title here>”, or even “in-between titles”. I’ll probably always remember this time in between as the period where my life closed one chapter and began another (and yeah, that’s pretty poetic). The joys of moving.

I listened to Paper Gods today as I was driving home from dropping Gavin back off at his UC Riverside dorm. It’s an hour from our current house, which isn’t awful as long as there isn’t traffic. I hadn’t listened to PG in a while just because I was trying to give it a bit of a rest after having it playing on repeat for over a year. I can still remember how it felt to stand in the audience at the Hollywood Bowl and seeing them play the set live for the first time. I don’t know if the album really is a favorite of mine – I found that it took me quite some time to really bond with it in any sort of way – but I will say that the tour was a lot of fun. Those memories will stick with me in the same way that the memories I have of this house will linger with me forever.

-R

 

 

Ten Years Ago Tomorrow

Ten years ago tomorrow, I saw Duran Duran play in Chicago.  This show was part of the Red Carpet Massacre Tour and the only one of that leg that I saw.  They played at the Rosemont Theater, which I really enjoyed.  The size of the venue was great with an amazing view from any seat or so it seemed.  While that show was weird in some ways, it also sticks out as one I always want to remember.

I didn’t go to the show with Rhonda, which always feels weird.  I went to the show with another friend and tried my best to make the show feel as normal as possible.  A group of us went out to eat before hand, which always works to get people excited.  Then, the show featured a few highlights that I would like to acknowledge here.

First, this show featured the Electro Set.  Does anyone else remember the Electro Set from 2007-2008?  When I first heard about it, I believed that it was going to suck.  I mean…really…the band was going to stand together in the front of the stage all playing electronic instruments?!  It seemed…boring, at least on paper.  Then, I went to one of the Red Carpet Massacre shows on Broadway and I saw the Electro Set in person.  To say that I was wrong would be an understatement.  I was in awe.  It blew my mind.  Seriously.  Needless to say, then, I was super excited to be able to see it again in Chicago.

While I couldn’t find a video of the electro set from this particular show, I did find one from another show.  If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it.  If you have seen it, you should watch again and remember how cool the Electro Set was.  I am probably not alone in saying that I would love for the band to bring this back.  Everyone I know who saw it loved it and everyone who didn’t see it in person wants to.

The other highlight is not the fact that Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins appeared to perform The Chauffeur.  While I’m sure that many people loved that, it didn’t excite me all that much.  I had really liked Smashing Pumpkins then I saw them live.  I was unimpressed.  In fact, I was so unimpressed that I left before they finished, which I never, ever do.  So, his appearance didn’t cut for me.  No, the other personal highlight was the fact that John Taylor came out for the encore in an Obama t-shirt.

To refresh people’s memories, the spring of 2008 meant that the United States was deep into presidential primary season.  The political parties were busy trying to figure out who the nominee was going to be.  Not only had I decided whom I would be voting for, but I started volunteering for the Obama campaign a few months prior in February.  By May, I was starting to work pretty seriously for the campaign.  My friends at the show knew this so when John Taylor came on stage in the t-shirt all of them turned towards me, all excited for me.  Clearly, I wasn’t expecting this at all.  I would have been fine if John did not support my favorite or didn’t agree with me, politically.  Yet, it made me feel…proud in my decision to work for the Obama campaign.  I loved having these two very different worlds of politics and fandom come together.

Most of the time I try to keep my worlds separate.  Usually, I say the reason for this is that I don’t want to alienate others, which is true. More than that, though, I worry that I would be rejected.  When I’m with my political people, I avoid the discussion of fandom.  I worry that they wouldn’t get it or that they would think I was weird for loving a band so much.  I definitely try to tone down the politics when I’m focused on fandom because I truly believe that some people that I call my friends in the fan community would hate me because of my activism.  At that moment when John Taylor showed his support of Obama for the first time, I felt safe.  I could be completely me and still be liked and accepted.

I liked that feeling.  I hope that by remembering that show and those memories that I feel that way again, at least for a day or two.

-A

You’re Going to Find Out

On Monday, Rhonda wrote a blog highlighting her biggest personal moment with Duran Duran.  (If you didn’t read it, go here.)  Since then, I, too, took time to think about mine.  Is mine like Rhonda’s in that my moment is a return to the fandom?  Is it the time that I met Rhonda and other fans?  Maybe it was something like one of the trips to the UK.  Like Rhonda, I think that I could choose any of those and would be right on in doing so.  Yet, I tend to think of my fandom journey to be in parts and each part has a big moment.  Thus, I have to decide which part matters most to me.

Part one of my fandom definitely has to be fandom as a kid.  This is when I fell in love with the band in the first place.  In thinking about that time, the big moment has to be when I fell in love with the Reflex.  It pushed me from casual fan to Duranie.  If that hadn’t happened, I doubt I would have still been a fan today.  Therefore, that is definitely a worthy moment.  Biggest personal one, though?  I’m not sure.

The next part of my fandom surrounds the reunion and returning to being a loud and proud Duranie.  I know that I have talked about this a lot on here but it is worth sharing a little again.  Around the time of the reunion, I found myself overwhelmed with the beginning of my teaching career with grad school on top of that.  To say that I didn’t have a lot of extra time would be an understatement of epic proportions.  I heard rumblings of a reunion but put blinders on as I kept telling myself that I didn’t care.  Interestingly enough, as I finished grad school, I found myself watching the silly TV show, Roswell, religiously.  I appreciated the escape with it and the outsider as hero theme.  My lonely self sought out others who were as into the show as I was.  This lead me to message boards and eventually to meeting other Midwestern fans.

One of these fellow fans mentioned Duran Duran in passing one day.  That is all it took.  I had free time by then as I had finally gotten that Master’s Degree and needed something to obsess over.  My Roswell internet searches turned to Duran Duran ones and to Duranies, which eventually led me here.  That moment, that one mention certainly was a big moment in terms of my Duran fandom.  The biggest?  I am sure that I could make the case for that, for sure.  While that one comment got me back to Duran, I’m not sure I would vote for it as the biggest.  Stick with me here because my biggest moment, I think, will explain why this one didn’t matter as much.

After that reminder, I found Duran message boards and made the decision to attend that Duran fans convention in 2004 in New Orleans.  This, of course, is the event in which I met Rhonda and so many other fans whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends.  From there, this led to going on tour, seeing a bunch of concerts and so much more as part three of my fandom.  I might even say that this led to so much fun that I’m still getting over it.  Yet, despite all that, I’m still not sure that I would pick the convention as the biggest.

In 2008, my fandom took a turn for the fourth segment of my fandom journey.  It ceased being nothing but fun.  I noticed fans behaving in ways that made me curious.  Heck, I found myself doing things and thinking things that normally I wouldn’t.  At first, I tried to ignore observation of myself and others and just have fun, which wasn’t always easy for a variety of reasons (Red Carpet Massacre division, anyone?).  At the end of 2008, Rhonda and I decided to go to a few shows in the Northeast.  During that tour, I lost a friendship as this person made some decisions that felt like she  placed fandom over friendship.  I was hurt.  Friendships mean the world to me.  As someone who struggled (and struggles) to make friends, I appreciate each friend.  When I have strong, loyal friendships, I feel stronger and more confident in everything I do.  When it feels like I don’t matter or don’t matter much to a friend, it feels like being stabbed in the gut.

I had a choice then.  One option could have been to walk away from fandom.  After all, a lot of the fun had left with the Astronaut era.  If I had chosen that, then, I think the biggest moment with Duran would have been attending that convention.  Yet, I chose something different.  I sought out understanding.  I wanted to “get” or comprehend this former friend of mine.  I needed to understand myself, too.  The idea was simple.  If I could understand fans better, then I could figure out how to make it fun again.  This decision, of course, has led Rhonda and myself to research fandom for years.  We have written about our experiences and our research with the goal of one day getting something out there.  The moment that Rhonda and I came up with the idea of researching and writing about fandom took my fandom to a new level.  It led to this blog, much research and more.  Frankly, it increased whatever commitment I had to Duran.  I cannot see just walking away now or ever.

-A

My biggest personal moment (2018 edition)

DDHQ asked a very interesting question this morning. “What is your biggest personal moment with Duran Duran?”

Rather than try to think about the most mindblowingly huge moment I’ve ever had with Duran Duran, I decided to read through the responses. I wasn’t quite sure what I would read, but I was curious.

So many people attribute things like marriages, births and yes, even divorces to the band. Others wrote about meeting their best friend, or seeing the band live for the very first time. Quite a few wrote about meeting the band, and some have even had opportunities to interview one or more of them. Still others recalled career changes, or major directional changes in life. I sat back, kind of overwhelmed, really.

What would be my own answer?

I’m not exactly sure I have one. I mean, there was that time I regained consciousness hearing Hungry Like the Wolf in the background. That memory always comes to mind first with questions like this because I was giving birth to my youngest, and I’d flatlined on the table – which is absolutely RIDICULOUS (but it’s a true story), and that damn song, combined with a baby – MY baby – crying, is what I first heard when the medicine they’d given me to counteract whatever the hell was going on with my heart at the time finally took hold. No, I can’t even have a baby without a little drama.  But really, was that a huge moment?

Yeah, I guess it was. For me, anyway. (I have a very dry, slightly inappropriate, and always sarcastic sense of humor that doesn’t always come across well in print unless you know me personally. Read that here.)  But the band wasn’t even there!! (Thank goodness, actually.)

What else do I have? I did meet Amanda because of Duran Duran. There’s that. She’s very important to me, obviously. I can honestly and truly say that if it weren’t for her, and my loyalty to her, this blog wouldn’t still exist, not to mention that our friendship keeps me going. She and I met at the Duran Duran fans convention in New Orleans back in 2004. I’ve known her for nearly fourteen years now!

I saw the original lineup for the first time back in 2003. You’d think that seeing all five of them together would have completely changed me – I mean, they were a huge part of my childhood, and apparently much of my adulthood, as it turns out. But in those moments as I stood back in like, the 16th row or something, all I could think about was how “out of it” I really was. I saw all of these people hugging one another and talking before the show. It was the first time I’d ever really paid attention or seen anything like that. I wanted to know how they knew one another. “Do fan clubs still exist?” I thought to myself as I waited for the band to take the stage.  I wanted to be a part of something like that. Even so, was this one of my biggest moments? Probably not.

No, if I really had to pinpoint a moment – it would have to be the show I saw at the House of Blues a couple of years prior. I know that Amanda and I have written about our biggest moments before, and perhaps my answers have been different each time (would not surprise me), but as I answer this now with a bit more wisdom and history behind me – it was that show which changed everything.

I’d gone about ten years in between Duran Duran shows, I believe. I’d graduated college, gotten married, moved to and from Illinois, and had two children during that time. (I’m tired just from writing all of that!) My ears would perk up any time I’d hear their name, or a song came on the radio – but in a lot of ways I felt like I’d moved on. Also – becoming a wife and mom changed me. I’d kind of forgotten who I was in all of that, and instead, I was just a shell of a person.

I really can’t remember what I was like back when my two oldest were very small, but I think about myself as though I must have been on autopilot. I fed them, clothed them, cleaned the house, and made dinner. I drove them to and from school, did my chores, and in some sort of a last-ditch effort to find some sort of fun out of all of the drudgery (and yes, with parenting there can be a lot of drudgery, particularly if you’re isolated as a stay-at-home parent. Not everyone is cut out for that, even if you WANT to be), I joined the MOMS Club.

I feel like maybe a lot of people are not familiar with MOMS Club, so let me explain. It is an international support group for moms, specifically stay-at-home moms, particularly due to the isolation thing I mentioned above. The idea is that a lot of clubs or groups don’t allow moms to bring their kids along – which makes being involved very difficult. So the MOMS Club solves that by insisting that every single event on the calendar (planned by local chapters) be kid friendly.

That’s all fine and good, but sometimes, moms just want to get out. Where’s THAT group??

After a while, not even MOMS Club sufficed. I think it boiled down to the fact that I wasn’t necessarily very happy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my kids. I loved being a mom…it just wasn’t enough. But, if you talk to me (even now) for any length of time, it will become very apparent that I wish that I’d given myself the chance to have a real career. I still do – and that’s one of my deepest, darkest secrets.

Now, if you’re wondering how that has anything to do with Duran Duran, stay with me.

It was during this period of time that I went to that Duran Duran show at the House of Blues in 2001. I didn’t even want to go at first, but my husband convinced me. (I didn’t want to spend the $65 a ticket. I laugh about that now. If only I knew what I would spend on tickets several years later….)  I didn’t even want to stand in line for a good spot that night, opting to go eat before the show. I stood near the steps in the back, figuring that I’d head to the bar during the show. I mean, it was just Simon and Nick at the time, with Warren I guess, but I didn’t care. I figured I’d see them, lament over how they weren’t the same, and then go home.

Instead, something very bizarre happened to me that night. Simon came out on stage, grabbed the microphone, and I had an out-of-body experience. It was like something woke up in me and I was getting a glimpse of myself back at 13. I liked it. I can barely remember much of the show, but I can tell you that I have never felt anything like it. I came home, found duranduran.com, read the message boards, and never looked back.

I met Amanda in 2004. We immediately joked about writing a book. We’ve written a few manuscripts and we haven’t stopped – someday, something will get published, or we’ll die trying. I do have a job now – one that I love, but it’s not really a true “career” since it’s just part-time. I also have this blog, which has kept me alive (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word).  I’m still working on the career thing, but I feel like I actually have a life now, which is a start.

Yes, I’ve met the band. I’ve gone places, seen great shows, done amazing things, and have great friends and memories. But none of that would have happened without that show in 2001 at the House of Blues in Anaheim. I am forever grateful.

-R

Happy Birthday, Amanda!! (2018)

So, yesterday was crazy. Not only was it my daughter’s tenth birthday – celebrated with a big family get together, including lots of cooking, cleaning and general merriment – but it was also Amanda’s birthday.

The day did not go by completely unnoticed. I certainly posted my good wishes on all sorts of social media, but it wasn’t quite the same. I didn’t have a chance to post a birthday blog for her, and goodness knows a birthday cannot go by without that happening. So, today is that day.

Happy Birthday Amanda!!

Friendships ebb and flow, particularly when they are conducted from a long distance, such as ours. There are some periods of time where we have spoken every single day, but admittedly for the past year or so, those conversations haven’t happened as regularly as I would have liked. Most of that is my fault, and I acknowledge that. It isn’t that I have forgotten about our friendship, found someone else, or have felt like our connection has faded – in this case, it is truly because life has gotten incredibly complicated and busy. Amanda knows that right now, I’m not quite sure if I’m coming or going.  Yet, her friendship remains steadfast, and it is one constant I can count on. So this post is for Amanda, and I’m writing to her.

Rather than rattle on about how tough things have been lately – I like thinking about the things we’ve done along the way. Weirdly enough, remembering all of those times we laughed ourselves silly has kind of helped me during these past few months when the darkness has gotten SO dark that I couldn’t even really see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

There are the times that come to memory first – like when we first met and somehow ended up on a small stage at Howl at the Moon singing Duran Duran songs. What about the day we were sitting at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and calculated that we’d gone 27 (pretty sure I’m exaggerating) hours without eating at one point that weekend? Or when we were at Voodoo Festival and you had to go on a search for sunscreen with Sara. Yeah, that was also the night when Simon just HAD to go and ask if we had time for one more.  I also chuckle when I think about Toronto. I have one word for you: “Really?”  “REALLY?”  That memory always makes me laugh.

What I really like thinking about most though are the moments we haven’t necessarily talked about a lot. Like when we drove to Milwaukee that very first time and I was making signs as quickly as we could think of things to say. I think about how you and I love going to the Art Institute in Chicago, and how oddly – we both love modern and contemporary art. The weirder, the better!  I remember how in England (I have so many great memories of England, many of which really don’t even include the band at all, which is probably a shock to some) we sat on that train listening to John Taylor, watching the English countryside go by. That’s one of my favorite memories from that trip…right along with the first night in Brighton when Duran Duran played Secret Oktober.

Remember when we saw the band in LA at that David Lynch thing and we got there a day or so early? We stayed at the Luxe, which has this fantastic patio bar area, so you and I decided to have a pitcher of sangrias in the sun? It was glorious sitting there, relaxing and talking away. That day didn’t have a lot to do with Duran Duran at all. It was a simple afternoon, and I wouldn’t trade it, even for “Late Bar” live in a set!

I remember driving during that Southeastern US road trip. We spent SO many hours in the car that time. It was a weird tour for us (they all are, though. I don’t think any of them ever go how we think they will, and at this point I don’t know why when drama happens while touring, we’re still surprised. I believe that someone might call all of that careful planning, “expectations”, which I have on good authority are just future resentments. <insert grin here>. But you know, I look back on that tour and think about how differently I saw things then. I remember the heat and humidity, and going for pancakes at IHOP that last night because we were so sick of drinking we didn’t even want to bother!

Remember when we went to lunch with Kitty in England?  It was after we saw the band going into their rehearsal studio on the “tour that wasn’t”, and I asked the waiter about how big their pizzas were, and he made some comment about how as an American, I’d probably think they were small. Funny that he assumed I wanted a big pizza when in fact I was worried it would be too much – then he brought it out and it was bigger than my head (AND the plate it was on!).  I still remember having to take the bus and learning how to use the tube (for those reading – we don’t have them where I live in Orange County!) I don’t know why that still makes me chuckle, but it’s those moments that I think about when I’m feeling myself get down.

We have made good friends along the way. Some have stayed, others have drifted away, and still others have been a gift of late. I treasure those people. I will never ever forget ordering that big fishbowl cocktail in San Francisco (never ever again. Stay away from the group cocktails in the future) and laughing about it the entire weekend, or the Cat Club – which was a blast. We did not really see or speak to a band member the entire weekend, but I think we had more fun than we’ve had in a long time, just dancing to Duran Duran songs and videos. I’d do it again in a hot minute. I remember laughing at you one of those nights at the Cat Club for reasons I don’t need to disclose here, but it was joyous all the same.  Our friends have stood by us, bought us tickets when the two of us couldn’t get the Ticketmaster gods to work in our favor, and listened to us go on and on about blogging and fandom and who knows what else. (well, I do know, but there’s only so much I’ll say here!)

I have tried to sum this up in a few different ways, but the fact is – I want to celebrate you and our friendship. I don’t want to think about the bad stuff because as soon as I’m done writing, it’ll still be there. In this moment, I want to focus on the joy. I am so glad you were born and that I can still count you as my best friend! Despite our differences, we are incredibly similar, and I love how we’re two sides of the same coin.  As I think back on all the things we’ve done, it is impossible not think about all that we have left to still do. I think there must be corners of the US we haven’t visited yet – so the band had better get on with it!  We still have things to do!!

A very happy birthday to you, my friend. I hope you had a wonderful day. I thought of you lots yesterday, believe it or not. The good news is that for all intents and purposes, Walt IS back to work – and that means I need to plan a trip to see you. Soon.  I picture a week during the summer where we do nothing but watch videos, hang out, have some vodka tonics, and maybe do some writing if we are so inclined.

I am so lucky (no really, right now I am definitely the luckiest) to call Amanda my best friend. I am well aware that we are not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s fine, because we’ve got each other.

-R