Category Archives: personal stories

I Try to Hold the Rising Floods

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little blog about how I am concerned that my fandom might be dying. In this blog, I explained how I wasn’t falling out of love with Duran Duran. No, I fully expect that I will always be a fan but I wondered if I was on my way out when it comes to the rest. What do I mean by the rest? Would I still want to go to shows? Would I want to talk about the band with other fans? Would I be interested in planning fan events? Would I stop buying Duran merchandise? Would I want to stop writing here? I could go on and on. The basic idea is that I might stop being part of a community of fans.

After that blog, I didn’t think too much about it. I didn’t worry or fret. I just decided to continue with what I needed to get done. After all, it was a busy time of year with my two jobs and planning for Christmas. Since then, though, I have taken some time to just get caught up. This means that I have really cleaned my house. The Christmas presents were purchased or created and shipped off, when necessary. I made appointments and planned out the next month or so. On top of that, I listened to some year end Katy Kafes and updated the day in Duran history that Rhonda and I keep for this blog. Every time I checked off one item from my do list, I felt better. My list isn’t done even with my almost two full weeks off but the list is a lot smaller. I’m feeling less overwhelmed.

Since my stress has eased some, I am better able to examine where things are in terms of fandom. Overall, I feel like things are better. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Kafes and found myself smiling throughout them all. The idea of #DD15 gave me some excitement, no matter when it ends up getting done. Honestly, I think that is part of what has made this so tough for me. I have not had much to be excited about when it comes to my fandom. Now, I’m not new to this gig. I know how it goes. It isn’t like there is going to be something in Duraland each and every day that will thrill me. I know this. I recognize and even understand downtime. Heck, I’ve been so busy that I am almost glad that there hasn’t been a lot. I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it much. It might have even added stress. Nonetheless, I miss having something Duran related to look forward to.

Now, those of you who have been reading this blog know that I do have something Duran related to look forward to. I have a couple of shows coming up in February. My friend, Lori, reminded me that there are less than 50 days until them even. I have to admit that I haven’t given them much thought. Again, I might give the lack of time as the reason and I wouldn’t be lying to say so. But it is more than that. I have missed the friendships that I have grown to associate with Duran Duran and my fandom. It used to be that when there were shows coming up that is all my friends and I would talk about. We became broken records with silly ideas and inside jokes. We had nothing but fun to look forward to. Now, it is different. We don’t talk very much. I wish that we did more, for sure, but I cannot control that. It is hard to develop those funny moments when there aren’t many chances to do so. It seems that we are all busy and have different priorities, for sure. That said, February will be fun. I have no doubt about that. I’m not sure it will be the same kind of good time. It might be more about that escape from reality rather than just letting it all go for a few days. It might be more about the lack of responsibilities as opposed to screaming for band members.

As I type all this, I cannot help but feel older, more settled, less wild. I have worked hard in the last year or so to find that ordinary world that we all crave. I think I have succeeded in that but the one I have made for myself doesn’t have a lot of time and space for my Duran Duran fandom. It felt like something that had to be pushed to the side. Yes, part of that is because I had and have more pressing concerns, but another part is that I didn’t trust that it would be there if and when I reached for it. It began to feel like something in my past rather than my present or my future. Listening to those Kafes made me realize that this feeling wasn’t about the band at all. I still love them to pieces. I look forward to seeing more Duranlive or hearing new music. It had more to do with my life and where I placed fandom in my list of priorities and why. It was still there but much smaller with little reinforcement besides what I got from writing on here.

I’m still not freaking out about any of this. This feeling I have may change. It may grow strong and fandom will take up less and less of my time and my heart. It could also be a situation in which the tiny flame that is barely there might be turned back up to a torch that all can see. Time will tell. Until I know which way for sure, I’ll keep holding the rising flood back from drowning what is left.

-A

Here in lives of misadventure

Ten years ago today, Rhonda and I were on tour.  In fact, we were in New Jersey, having seen the band play first at the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut then in Atlantic City and Montclair.  It was an interesting tour and not at all what I was expecting.  This tour, of course, was part of Red Carpet Massacre era.  It felt to me that there was a major transition both within the fandom and for Rhonda and I. If that was not enough, I feel like I learned some very important lessons during this little tour.

2008, of course,  was no longer the time of the reunion.  Some of the fans from the 1980s who just wanted to see the Fab Five one more time had been there and done that.  They were long gone.  Others who believed that they were going to be there for the long haul found themselves questioning so much about the band and the fandom.  RCM felt very different for them.  Too different for a lot of fans.  Others held on through this tour and slowly peeled away, a year or two later.  Of course, there were fans like us.  We continued to wave the fan flag through this transition from reunion with Andy to the new normal without him.  While it was happening, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  Would I walk away like I saw others do?  On top of that, I even found myself questioning friends and friendships.

This tour was different from the last time we had seen Duran, which was the summer of 2007 for the fan show.  For that concert, there were three of us but by 2008, there were only two.  Our friend walked away.  I have to admit that I was still feeling sad by that and, honestly, a bit confused.  I didn’t understand why she walked away.  Sadly, this friendship has only grown more distant since then.  When we do talk, it is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, during this tour in 2008, I worried that Rhonda would be next.  After all, she had her youngest during that year.  Will family pull her away?  Like our other friend, I wouldn’t be mad or upset, just sad at the loss.  

So, in the midst of all this friendship turmoil, fandom shifts and transition for the band, we went on tour.  I expected a return to what I had grown used to and a ton of fun.  While I did have a blast, I also found myself learning some really important lessons that, now, I’m grateful for. 

Lesson One:  Attitude is Everything

As Rhonda and I went into our first show, I think we had a sense of uncertainty.  After all, the fan show in 2007 wasn’t great and RCM did not live up to our expectations.  Yet, we didn’t utter those concerns.  It was almost like saying something would reinforce our anxiety.  Maybe, though, we would have been better off to process the possible show results beforehand.  I wonder if, then, we would have sat down in a better frame of mind.  Of course, we had some additional drama with a former friend who made some hurtful statements.  The result?  Our attitudes sucked at that first show.  The band hadn’t even played a note and we thought it was terrible.  

Was the show awful?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Our seats were far to the right, which did kinda suck.  The crowd lacked some energy or was that just our lack of energy?  It is hard to say.  Soon enough, we started to express our disgust at everything, including the setlist, performances, the service of the venue, the crowd, etc.  Seriously, if anyone heard us, they would have thought the show was a complete dumpster fire.  Looking back, though, did we make the show terrible?  Was it our attitude?  I didn’t know until the third show.

Lesson Two:  Don’t Be Afraid to Show What You Want

The next night and show took place at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.  My friends and I wanted to make it special so we got a membership to the Foundation Room where we also ate a fabulous meal ahead of time.  While I loved the dinner, when we checked in, we discovered that our membership would get us early access to the venue.  For a general admission show, this means that you would have a chance to be near the front.  Did this idea interest me?  Okay.  That is a bit of an understatement.  I was jumping up and down.  On the inside.  So…I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t do anything.  I continued to hang with my friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I loved spending quality time with them.  Absolutely.  That said, it felt like we threw away an opportunity to see the show from a great vantage point.  But something stopped me.  Was I worried what my friends would think if I wanted to go?  Would they judge me or make it seem like I cared more about the band than them?  (For the record, that wasn’t the case.  I wanted to see an awesome show WITH my friends.)  All of the above?  As I realized that I wanted this but didn’t say anything made me hate myself.  What was wrong with me?  Was I five?  Still in high school?  Wouldn’t my friends understand?  They were fans, too.  But I said nothing but felt terrible about a missed opportunity and that I let others control me.

Thank Goodness for Three

Good things come in threes, right?  By the time the third show rolled around, I was annoyed enough about how the first two shows went that I knew that something had to change.  Somehow, Rhonda was on the same page or at least went with me in my desire to get a better show.  We decided that we would try to get to the venue for the third show at a decent hour to get a good space for this general admission show.  While I’m not sure we got there as early as we would have liked, it definitely felt better as soon as we staked our spot.  Soon enough, I started listening to those fans around us.  There were a couple of guys a row or two ahead of us who were so excited that they could barely contain themselves.  Instantly, I found myself smiling.  Yes, that is what this is all about, I thought.

Needless to say, Rhonda and I had a much better time at that show than the first two.  I learned to embrace what I want and also to go into any experience with a positive attitude.  It matters.  So often, we talk about fandom from a purely joyous point of view.  Other times, we discuss what the band is doing in very serious tones as we had the chance to save the world.  Even when Rhonda and I discuss fandom, it is usually through the lens of an academic, from a sociological point of view.  Yes, we have turned the mirror on ourselves, but still it fits in with the larger scope of social sciences, usually.  This time, at this moment, fandom has taught me about myself and how to be a better person.  For that, I will always be grateful to this little East Coast Tour of 2008.  

-A

As I walked on, I realized I was going up

Happy Monday! 

I can already tell how this week is going to go, because today I needed to update WordPress, which is the editor, along with the engine that makes our website work (kind of).  This new version of WordPress is significantly different, and there’s a bit of a learning curve for it. I can hardly wait for Amanda to try it out this weekend. Or tomorrow morning when she posts the daily question! EEK!

We’re moving, moving, moving

Up until now I’ve had to be pretty vague about my plans for the last half of December. Planning was a bit up in the air, and I didn’t know how or when things might happen. As most know, my family has been in the process of moving….for the past six months. I know, it’s been the longest move EVER. (Oh believe me, I know.) Well, the time has come, *cue Sunrise*, instead of music between us – it is a sea of plastic bins (not rubbish bins, storage bins!). We move next week! Tuesday and Wednesday, the furniture will be moved out of my house and then we move in to the new house that weekend. 

Timing is incredibly tight. The man in the red suit absolutely MUST visit on Christmas Eve, because our ten-year old still believes in the wonder of the holiday with all of her heart. I love that innocence about her and I refuse to let her down, one way or another. We get the keys to the new place on the Friday before Christmas at 6pm. That gives me three days to pull it together and make magic happen. I’ve got this. Probably. 

So where is my family headed? We’re moving from a suburb in Orange County about five hours north to the hills on the west side of Atascadero. We will be 15 minutes south of Paso Robles, and 20 minutes from Morro Bay – we timed it just the other day! Here in the OC we are in a tight neighborhood, and up there we’ll be in an enclave of ranches, where populations of chickens and goats outnumber humans. Down here, people collect Teslas and BMWs. Up there, folks are more concerned with what kind of coop you’re using for your chickens or what kind of small tractor or mower works best for clearing land. I’m not panicking. My nails are bitten down to the nubs, and my shoulders feel like bricks, but I’m fine. Probably. 

A holiday break 

So that leads me to this: I’m taking a little time off from blogging. Not because I need a vacation or because I’ve fallen off of the bandwagon (HA!), but because of logistics. So this will be my final week of blogging until after the new year. Assuming all is well (and it will be!), I’ll be back writing on Wednesday, January 2nd. If you don’t think you can manage that long without hearing from me, check me out on Twitter. Oh believe me, I’ll tweet the insanity. S news?

Studio Update?

Meanwhile, I heard that Duran Duran is finished in the studio until springtime, so those of you who thought 2019 might be a good year for a new album will likely be waiting a bit longer. I’m still going with 2020 as the possible target, at least for now.

Limitless Idolization

One more thing before I leave you for today – I saw that a fellow Duran blog is ending. Headfullofchopstick, artfully written in a way I can only envy, has published its final post. Fandom is a strange, wild trip. I won’t fault anyone for choosing to step off the path, nor would  I judge the reason why. There is a lot of talk about idolization, faith and glorification within fan studies. Unfortunately, many fans buy into all of that and more, at the risk of losing themselves in the aftermath.

The one thing I know from my own experience as a fan is that in order to last here, I needed to have my feet, head and heart planted firmly elsewhere. I love Duran Duran, and by that I specifically mean the music. Sure, I’ll say on occasion that I love the band members, but it’s different. I don’t know them that well. The love I have for friends and family is on another level entirely. Sometimes, I fear that some fans mix the two, at the peril of anyone else who happens to be in the way.  I too, recognize the crossroad. There isn’t anything, including being a die hard Duran Duran fan, that should be controlling or confining unless you allow it to be so. 

I wish Ruth well. 

-R 

We believe in the cold grey lights we dream

Hi everybody! I’m sorry I wasn’t around yesterday to post. I heard that there’s yet another reason to visit Florida in February (besides sun and warmer weather if you’re looking to escape winter!) – Duran Duran is playing in Miami Beach!

While Duran Duran announced a new show, I was busy and mostly unplugged yesterday. In just two very short weeks, my family and I will FINALLY relocate from the very busy OC, to a much smaller and peaceful town about five hours north. Yesterday we went to inspect our new house and do paperwork, which was joyful. The outside temperature was only in the 50s at our new house, even by midday, which only made me MORE excited to get up there permanently!

While I have been packing and worrying about how I’m going to make this all work (We’re moving just a few days before Christmas – and my youngest still believes in Santa!), I’ve also done a bit of reminiscing. We’ve lived in this house for so long that I can’t really imagine otherwise. It will be strange to be somewhere that my two oldest haven’t lived before, and my anxiety has been on overdrive, thinking about ways I can make the move seem less traumatic. Why? Because that’s what you do when you’re me, I suppose. I’m great at making lists in my head at 3:30 am.

All of the reminiscing has reminded me that not too many years earlier, I was in the height of my glory as a Duran fan. I had gone to the UK with Amanda, as she wrote earlier this week. My time there was fabulous. I saw so many new places, met lots of new faces that have now become dear friends. The experiences were both enriching and inspiring. I think about the shows fairly often. The memories are wonderful, comforting, and still manage to make me smile. Even more so though, I think about the travel we did while there. We were trains a lot. We saw quite a bit of the countryside, experienced winter markets, and tried new things. I fell in love with England and Scotland on that trip, and I really want to go back.

I remember walking through Bournemouth, which is a beautiful little town (as is Brighton and everywhere else I’ve visited so far). We walked along the shops and grabbed dinner with friends.  I can’t even remember the place, but the food was yummy and I was finally starting to relax. It began to rain at some point and so I bought an umbrella (I melt in rain, of course). It was zebra-striped and I had it up until last year, when it broke. I have no idea why I remember that so well, but I do.

Another memory I have from the trip was in Glasgow, after the show that Amanda described on her Sunday post. First of all, my blood is Californian, and I wholeheartedly admit that I froze from the second I got off the train in Edinburgh to the time I got back to California a few days later. I just could not get warm. So, one of my memories is of the cold weather. The arena where the show took place felt like it had its air conditioner on, as opposed to a heater, and I wore my big ski jacket until after the band came on stage, and I still remember shivering as the band busted through “All You Need is Now”.

Then after the show, we’d walked over to a hotel nearby, where there seemed to be a large gathering of Duranies. We grabbed seats and drinks, knowing it would be our final hurrah for that trip. As we sat and sipped, we look out the window and saw it begin to snow. Giant, fat, frosty flakes rained down, and while our driver worried about getting home – I remember thinking how magical the night seemed. I love that memory. I didn’t grow up with snow or even cold weather, so for me it was something out of a dream. Kind of like the rest of that trip, to be honest.

I need to break out of my reverie and get back to shopping online, wrapping, and packing!

-R

 

 

 

I’m Thankful For…

I know lots of people who love Thanksgiving.  They love the ritual of a big meal that traditionally includes turkey, pie, and more.  Perhaps, they enjoy the long dinner conversation or the football that always seems to be on.  I cannot say that I’m one of them.  I don’t mind a little football and I like eating but it always seems like a lot of work to me.  That said, the one aspect the holiday that I tend to dig is the idea of giving thanks, expressing gratitude, especially when times are tough.  So, here is what I am thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I’m beyond grateful for my family.  They continue to be my bedrock, my foundation and more.  I have always said that I feel like I won the lottery when it came to my parents, which is still true.  This year was a tough one for my dad, health wise, but he managed to push through and is currently doing well.  In fact, he was still able to help me work on the campaign this year.  Speaking of family and campaigning, my parents, my siblings and my nieces all volunteered to turn out the vote.  This makes me feel extremely proud and I know that it thrills my dad to no end.

Second, after experiencing a lot of losses, finally, my campaign team won one.  This was a big deal for so many reasons.  I feel like a wrong that was done to me and thousands of others like me was finally acknowledged.  The damage might not fixed instantly but at least no more will be done.  On top of that, it gave me hope for the future.  This is something that I have not had for a couple of years now.  I have been living on edge, in preparation of things getting worse.  While I don’t believe that we are completely out of the woods, I now think we might make it out okay.  On a more personal level, I gave a lot of time and energy to the campaign.  I believe that it what I needed to do and action definitely feels better than complaining.  I’m thankful that my work was not in vain.  It made a real difference and I’m proud at the results my team achieved.  In the area in which I organized, we got 90% of registered voters to the polls and increased the vote for our candidates by 3%.  That’s huge, especially in a state in which victories were decided by less than 2%.

Beyond my family and elections, I’m thankful for my friends.  As a kid, my mother used to tell me that I would have lots of different types of friends in my life.  I didn’t know what she meant then but I do now.  I know that there are friends that I have nothing but fun with.  (I’m looking forward to that fun in February in Vegas!)  I have work friends whom I go to when I need advice or some idea to get through the work day, week, month or year.  This year, I had friends step up to help me with campaigning.  Then, there are friends who fit into multiple roles, like Rhonda.  No matter the type of friendship someone provides, I am grateful for them.  Each and every one of you matters a lot to me.

Of course, I’m also grateful to the people connected to fandom.  The first person on that list is Rhonda.  Sometimes, I shake my head wondering what in the actual hell we were thinking when we started this blog but most of the time, I’m glad it is in my life.  Even when I think, “I have seriously no time to blog,” I somehow manage and always feel better after having done so.  It has provided me with more than just a place to talk about Duran Duran (although I love that, too!).  It has given me a place to sort out my observations as well as my thoughts and feelings about fandom and more.  I love all the people that came into my life as a result.  I have made so many connections simply by doing something I love which is not only this blog but going to Duran shows or organizing Duranie events.   It is all pretty awesome!  So I’m super grateful to those who read the blog, participate in the daily questions, complete assigned homework, attend our events, say hi to us when they see us or even want to hang out with us.  Much love to you all.

Last but not least, I’m so glad that Duran Duran is still part of my life. Not only have they provided something constant in my life, they have brought so much joy.  Many of my favorite experiences have centered around Duran Duran.  How many other people have a favorite band that has brought them nothing but fun?  I suspect not many.  Every time I think about seeing them live, I know there is no place I would rather be.  I’m very lucky that I have a couple of shows to look forward to in 2019.

On that note, I’m off to see my parents and my niece for another day of fun.

-A

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

I am lucky to be the Monday through Thursday blogger because each year, right around this time, I am able to take a few moments and share my gratitude.

Today is Thanksgiving here in America, and while the rest of the world goes on about their Thursday, I will be cooking for my family. This will be our last Thanksgiving in this house, and I think for that reason, it will be particularly special. My two oldest are coming home, and it will be a quiet holiday here at home. I’m writing this ahead of time – on Wednesday – and will begin the marathon cooking session as soon as I’m finished.

Admittedly, cooking is something I don’t particularly love to do. I’m told that I’m very good at it, but then again – the people who say that are also somewhat dependent upon my cooking skills in order to eat.  <big grin here> I do my best and get through it, but I won’t lie – I’m looking forward to the following day when I REFUSE to cook, and force the family to fend for themselves.  This year though, I’m genuinely enjoying the challenge of getting an entire turkey dinner with all the trimmings ready with one oven and a microwave.

I want to say thank you to everyone who takes time to read our posts. We’ve been writing now for over eight years, and while we’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve been so lucky to have people support us. There have been many times when I’ve felt like I’d lost my way, lo and behold someone – whether it was a friend or someone I’d never met – would take a second to tell me that something I’d written really  hit home. I’ve needed those boosts now and then, and I can’t thank you enough.

My small but steady and loyal group of friends continue to keep gratitude coursing through my veins. I am not one of those people who have thousands of friends, but the few friends I have are those I can count on, and I do. You know who you are, because you’re the people I text first when something goes right, or when life begins to implode. It has been a roller coaster year, and I’m grateful that even when I feel like I’m at wit’s end, you send reminders that vodka is the reason for the season, or that we are going to have the “breast” weekend ever in February. I belong to the best tribe.

Amanda, I’m so grateful for our friendship. This past year has sucked. Royally. There were times I felt completely paralyzed with fear, shock, and stress. I couldn’t even be a friend to myself, much less to other people, and you just waited patiently for me to return to normal. Most others might have walked away and you didn’t. I won’t forget that. I miss skyping, Vodka Fridays, and writing though, and once I get settled, maybe we can pick that back up again. We also have a mini-convention to plan, so there’s that too. Goodness!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Duran Duran and the DDHQ team. They’ve been patient and forgiving when I was anything but positive – something that I’ve learned from, and won’t forget. We really do try, along with an entire army of Duran fans, to keep the conversation going and the fandom growing. However, when it comes down to it, you are the reason(s) I started writing, and the reason(s) I keep going.

I’m going to go get started on the cooking. Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends, and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

-R

Finding time for myself – Audible to the rescue!

I’m sorry the blog is a bit late. It is hectic as usual, and I’m typing as quickly as my keyboard allows (my “s” key doesn’t like to work) because I’ve got yet another realtor showing my house today.

Amidst all of this hustle and bustle, I’m having a very hard time finding space and time to breathe. Anyone else? A few weeks ago, during a particularly trying time, I woke up in the middle of the night with what I can only describe as the worst headache I’ve ever had. I felt horrible. My head hurt so bad that I was nauseous, and I was having panic attacks combined with my allergies on overdrive. It was terrible, and the worst part was that I had done it to myself.

I’m a stress case, pure and simple. I worry about everything from selling the house to making sure Thanksgiving dinner is everything my family is used to, never mind that we’re in the middle of negotiating a contract to sell it. I worry about remembering to do Elf on the Shelf for my youngest. (Why did I ever start that?!?) I bite my nails over thoughts of someone falling down the spiral staircase that is in our new house. That is, if we actually can close escrow on the new house. Anxiety, anyone?

A lot of my stress is unnecessary. I have to learn ways to combat the tension. Cortisol – the stress hormone – flows freely through my  body. I’m sure it is why I can’t seem to lose more than four pounds right now, and why my feelings tend to taste like M&Ms.

I’m in this weight loss program, probably from my M&M consumption, and every single week my personal coach asks me about what I’m doing for myself.  At some point, I realized I needed walks as part of my self-care routine. I can’t decide if I really wanted to walk or if I really just needed to give her a good answer. I know I need to sort my thoughts, or even just breathe, but walking? Not so fun.  While I know I benefit from the exercise and fresh air, my frontal lobe also screams that it would prefer to lie on the couch like a beached whale and eat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups while reading a book.  This is a problem.

I really don’t love exercise. I hate that feeling of wanting to quit that comes right before the adrenaline kicks in and I feel fine again. I am not a runner – in fact if anyone ever sees me running they should immediately call the police because I am definitely being chased. I’m not a cyclist or a spinner – the idea of riding a stationary bike in a class filled with people who love to “challenge” themselves makes me want to hurl.  But this stress…

Last week, I had a real “A-ha” moment, and I don’t mean from watching the video for “Take on Me”. I was thinking about how I needed to take my walk, but that I really wanted to read instead. I don’t have time for both in my day – it’s literally do one or the other. For whatever reason, I remembered something Simon talked about in his last Katy Kafe about joining Audible.

When Simon talked about subscribing to Audible, I shrugged it off, thinking that I never have moments to myself to listen to a book. I’m never in the car alone, Walt absolutely hates it when I wear earbuds and listen to anything here at home, and I couldn’t think of any other time I’d use it. Until now.

I listen to music when I walk. It is the one time I can listen to whatever I want without someone complaining or giving me their two cents. I like it, but it doesn’t make me stop thinking about the fact that I’m walking, or that I’m a little out of breath from walking up a hill. The idea of listening to music doesn’t make me want to get up and walk, either. Reading though, that’s a treat for me. I almost never get time to actually read a book, unless it is one I’m reading for school in order to teach the youngest. What if I combined walking with listening to a book?!

A light bulb went on in my head. I immediately subscribed to Audible and found my first couple of books. I went on a walk, and for the first time, I found myself almost sad when it ended. The deal is this: I can only listen to my books when I walk, and this way – I’m very eager to walk each day! So far, it’s worked like a charm. The book lets me forget about the boxes I need to fill, or the dishes I need to wash, and even the vacuuming that I have to get done. I spend about 35 minutes escaping, and it is wonderful! I feel good about getting a couple of miles in, and even better that I’m getting a chance to read whatever I want! It is heaven!

I don’t know how much time I’m going to have to walk during the next 30 days or so, but I’m going to do my best. Dealing with stress IS hard, but having just a little time to breathe and be away from the madness has worked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still worried about things, but I’m managing. I’m hanging in there, and I am learning to love my exercise time, too!

I’d encourage anyone to try it out – but even if reading isn’t your thing, don’t give up on finding something to let yourself breathe every now and then. Thanks for the tip on Audible, Simon!

-R

Notorious Memories

If I remember correctly (and if my home-created Duran calendar is correct), the anniversary for the release of Notorious (the album) must be near.  Again, if my math is correct, this means that the band’s fourth studio album is turning 32.  Ouch.  I have colleagues younger than that (who like to remind me of that fact a lot!).  It is an album that marked some significant changes within the band’s history.  As we know, it was first album of the three (John, Nick and Simon) after Andy and Roger left.  It is also the first album recorded in which the band was managing themselves.  For many of us fans, it ushered in a new phase of our fandom.  No more was Duran Duran the “biggest band” in the world but one fighting to maintain its popularity despite these changes.  In thinking about this album, I have some memories that capture a lot about my life and my fandom.

Buying the Album:

In late 1985, my family moved from the south side of Chicago to a small town in Illinois.  My old place had Top 40 radio and MTV along with a best friend who loved Duran Duran as much as I did.  The new place didn’t have any of those.  I remember meeting a neighbor girl the first week I was there.  I asked her about what she thought of the song, A View to a Kill.  She had no clue about what I was talking about which signaled to me that I was in trouble.  By the time 1986 rolled around, I desperately wanted any sign of home.  The new Duran album was just the thing!  I remember going with my mom to the town’s mini-mall which had a Disc Jockey record store to buy the album.  As Mom drove home, I quickly opened up the vinyl, anxious to just hold the album in my hands.  I loved the cover but was sad to see that there were no lyrics included.  Still, I couldn’t wait to go home and listen!

A little while after the album came out, I called my best friend.  At this point, not only had I moved away from the south side but so had she.  We vowed to keep in touch and I was determined to do just that.  So, I called her, hoping not only to reconnect but to hear what she thought about the album.  My hopeful mood was quickly swashed when she told me that she hated it and decided to take down all of her posters because they just weren’t that “in” anymore.  While she insisted that it wasn’t just the album that caused her to make this drastic decision, I couldn’t help but think that she had lost faith.  I felt even more isolated and fears about losing her grew.  Where she chose to move on to the next thing, I opted instead to hold on for dear life.

Buying the Single:

Of course, before the album even came out, I wanted to purchase the single for Notorious.  One day, I saw it with its completely dark cover except for the title sitting on the shelf in the town’s newly opened Wal-Mart.  I believe that it cost a dollar and some change.  As soon as I saw it, I begged my grandma who was the one with me to buy it for me.  She refused.  Completely crushed.  How could my grandma not understand?  How could she be so cheap?  Why couldn’t my mom be with me?  All of these questions flashed in my mind and more.  Eventually, I was able to get the single.  Funny story. I shared this little story at my grandma’s funeral.  I’m not even sure why.  I guess the simple answer is that it is a very strong memory of mine.  I’m sure that says more about me than her!

How I Feel About the Album Now:

I cannot help but see Notorious as a marker for transition.  It was for the band and it was for me.  It is funny to think about how my life sort of paralleled the band’s.

Throughout its 32 year history, my thoughts and feelings about it have gone up and down.  Sometimes, I loved it like when it first came out.  Then, I grew frustrated with it, probably partly because of what it represented.  Now, I think I can see it with a more objective lens.  There are songs that I love and some that I tend to skip over, much like how I view a lot of their albums.  That said, I’m very thankful that they created it.  Why?  It helped them get over the hump of significant changes.  If they didn’t make the album, I wonder if they would have been able to really continue.  I think it also helped me get over my personal hump of moving to a new place and finding a new normal.

-A

I Know I’m Going Nowhere

Am I the only one who laughed at Rhonda’s blog on Wednesday in which she discussed becoming a “top fan” of Duran Duran on Facebook?  I laughed hard while I read.  I cannot disagree with the sentiment that becoming a top fan does not really change anything or signal success.  Even though I know all that, I couldn’t help but to think, “That will never be me.”  Nope.  I’ll never get top fan status.  It used to be that this would bother me but I think I have accepted more of who I am and how I express my fandom.

So, I don’t really respond to Duran Duran on Facebook or Twitter.  I’m not totally sure why.  I could give a few possible reasons.  First, I have a job that does not really allow me to be on social media when I want to.  I cannot exactly tell my students to teach themselves while I check the latest.  Even when I have planning time (or time to prepare for class without students present), I don’t feel like I can just respond to social media much.  Take yesterday.  Rhonda and I exchanged tweets during my lunch.  This meant that I didn’t get an assignment graded like I had hoped.  I’m cool with responding to friends or family but to tweet  to or in response to my favorite band seems indulgent.  Besides, it isn’t like the work goes away if I don’t get it done during work hours.

Of course, that doesn’t totally explain it.  I could give the argument that I work a lot.  I do.  That is not a lie.  During campaign season, I work 70-80 hours a week.  Not kidding.  So I can certainly use that as a reason or excuse or whatever.  That isn’t the whole deal either, though.  A part of it goes beyond the lack of time or the strictness of my job.  No, it has everything to do with me.  I don’t respond to the band’s social media because it is easier for me that way.  What do I mean by that?  Simple.  I cannot get rejected and that matters more than the alternative.

Here’s a true story.  I have always been an outsider even with my Duranie status.  Some of you might be confused by that.  Even in 1984 when Duran was at the peak of their popularity in the US, it wasn’t cool to be a Duranie where I lived.  At that time, I lived on the south side of Chicago.  In 1984, Michael Jackson was king.  No one could compete against him in my neighborhood and in my school.  Yet, I dared to stick out that way.  Then, a couple of years later, I found myself in a different place and different neighborhood.  Did that help?  Nope.  People in my new hometown did not accept Duran either.  For my old town, it was that they weren’t as cool as Michael.  For my new one, they weren’t manly enough to be embraced.  Did I switch to become a fan of someone else?  Absolutely not.

Soon enough, though, I stopped trying to voice my opinion about music and bands.  I learned that all it would get me is dismissal at best and ridicule at worst.  Fast forward a couple of decades.  I assumed that life might be different.  I posted on message boards and started writing here.  Soon enough, I saw that I could not compete.  I wouldn’t respond in a way that was witty enough or smart enough or worse…I might come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.  None of this would get me accepted by other fans.  Even here, I have always known that I’m not as cool as Rhonda.  People have a harder time to relate to me.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  My priorities are very different.  Outside of fandom, I’m a teacher and an activist and that feels right to me.

I could respond to the band’s social media but I figure that it would just leave me open to criticism or mockery.  I don’t need that in my life.  It would get in the way and make me feel crummy about myself like I couldn’t measure up.  Nope, it is easier and better to simply not play.  This allows me to save my self-esteem and to get my work done, work that matters a LOT.

In the past, I would feel badly about that.  Am I a big enough fan?  I would worry.  Should I be doing something else to prove it?  How will the band and their team know about me?  (How ridiculous that I even thought that.)  Now, I’m giving myself a break.  Yes, I know why I don’t respond.  I accept it but I also have to be okay with not being a well-known fan.  I know how much I love the band.  I don’t need to be out there on the band’s social media to prove it.  I accept my secondary fan status and that I won’t get some badge on social media.  I understand that there are not a lot of other fans who want to friend me or follow me since I don’t talk about the band much.  I am not cool and am okay with that.

-A

What is your most prized DD possession?

Sometimes, I have to borrow writing topics from “the experts”. Today is one of those days, as I try to untangle myself from the weekend and get moving. (Is anyone else struggling with the idea that Thanksgiving for the USA is next Thursday?!? How’d that happen???)

Over the weekend, and it might have even been yesterday – DDHQ asked fans for their most prized DD possession. I didn’t see many replies, but the few I caught were memorabilia like tour programs or signed CD’s.

When DDHQ sends out these questions, it takes me a few minutes of thinking before I settle on an answer worth tweeting. This time though, gut instinct took over and I tweeted right away. My answer wasn’t very exciting compared to those who tweeted signed photos or books or CD’s. My prized possession isn’t even my vinyl copy of Astronaut, signed by all five original members, although it’s a close second.

My most prized possession is the Encore CD set of the first time I saw all five original members onstage together in Costa Mesa, California in 2003.  I keep it hidden down deep in my sweater drawer and it is the one CD that isn’t already packed! I don’t really know why I’ve attached so much sentiment to one single thing. It isn’t signed, I rarely play it, and I didn’t even meet the band that night.  I suppose though, it has everything to do with why I’m a fan.

When I listen to the thunderous applause at the beginning of the concert, I know that I was one of those voices. We sat way back in the 16th row that night (“sat” is probably not the right word here. I jumped up and down. Shook like a tuning fork, even, but I didn’t really sit.), and I’ve never felt so much joy emanate through my body as I did that night. I couldn’t replicate the feeling if I tried, and I have. The memory of the concert that night still makes me smile and feel all tingly. I think it is that concert “high” that I still chase to this day.

Sure, the fact that all five were on that stage, playing together, is a wonderful memory. I am so grateful that I was able to be there and witness it. Andy was there, and I nearly came out of my skin when Roger stepped away from his set at the end of the show. I can remember seeing him walk to the front of the stage with his tongue hanging out of his mouth from exhaustion. I stared at John and Simon for most of the show, periodically pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming the whole thing. It was amazing and I could hardly believe I was there. Finally, after so many years! My heart still swells, just thinking about it.

There was something else that night though. I watched the audience before the band took the stage. People knew one another in the front. There was a lot of hugging, laughing, talking, and even some happy tears. I was so curious about all of that, because I knew no one aside from my husband, who was sitting next to me. It was an odd feeling. While I was overjoyed to be there like any Duranie might, I also felt just the slightest bit left out. I knew that whatever was going on with the people in the seats closest to the stage – I wanted to be a part of it.

There’s no question in my mind that my Encore CD from that show is  still my most prized DD possession. It is a memory from the show that changed everything for me. The friends I’ve made, the times I’ve had, and even the few encounters I’ve had with the band themselves – are in direct result from that show. I’m so grateful I was there.

There are plenty of moments from my Duranie life that I hold dear. I have fond memories of seeing Duran Duran (Nick, Simon and Warren) at the Anaheim House of Blues a couple of years prior. I felt that I’d left Duran Duran back in my childhood, only to have that “fan feeling” roar right back to life once again. That show in 2001 made me realize that I was still a Duran Duran fan, but it was the Costa Mesa show in 2003 that convinced me to participate in fandom. I wanted to meet people, make friends, and get involved.

Obviously, I took it a little farther than I’d planned. I’m funny that way.

-R