Category Archives: personal stories

The Story Behind the Story

So by now it should be pretty clear that our little post on Sunday was an April Fools Joke.  Anyone who has been reading the blog with any sort of regularity over the past 18 months or so probably knows that I personally have extreme difficulty in even saying the name Justin Bieber without choking. Just imagine what it was like to be in my house on that fateful Sunday….

Originally, Amanda and I had a very different idea. I’m not going to get into that first idea because, well, I’m not interested in being publicly flogged, and I’m a little afraid of karma.  Maybe we’ll tell the the story in our “tell-all” book that will come out when we’re all about ninety years old or so. Regardless, the first idea was completely shelved rather quickly and we had decided to do a silly pictorial. Everyone needs a laugh, right?? If not at the expense of the band, why bother?!  As we were starting to get worried about finding enough photos of a couple band members (It’s simply fascinating as to just how many silly Simon photos there are out there. Does he pay to have a camera following him every single second?!? I just can’t imagine that paparazzi are THAT interested in a member of Duran Duran!), Amanda and I  conferenced via speaker phone. While we were chatting, my husband, who is never short on ideas or opinions (regardless of whether those ideas and opinions are good, requested…or otherwise…), suggested that for one day, instead of being Daily Duranie, we decide to throw our fandom for DD overboard in favor of another. This idea amused me almost immediately. Can you imagine coming to the blog and finding that we’d decided to become Timbaland fans or something??

I can see the men with the white coats showing up to my house right now…coming to take me away….hee hee… (yes, the pun to the infamous 1966 song by Jerry Samuels IS intended)

Of course, none of our friends would quite believe Timbaland, so the question became “Who?” My husband had plenty of really bad ideas, and finally I mentioned Justin Bieber.  From there, the idea morphed into what you should have read on Sunday (If you haven’t read that blog yet, give yourself a smack on the behind and go read it here.) Rather than go to the trouble of changing the entire blog, we felt it would be far more believable for us to set about trying to convince all of Duranland that we should get behind a petition to have the get Justin as an opening act for the US dates in August.

The way the writing worked was that while on speaker, we worked out the wording together, and I typed. Then I went back, read through the blog again for editing. Then I desperately tried to read the entire thing back aloud. The read-back didn’t work very well because I could barely get through a single sentence without laughing. My hand shook as I clicked on “publish”, and then Amanda and I both posted the title of the new blog on Facebook and Twitter. We said our goodbyes, and then sat back to wait.

Facebook is typically much slower to react than Twitter, partially due to the real-time nature of Twitter. This particular Sunday was no different, and for a brief time I worried that perhaps the blog would go completely unnoticed. That has happened before. (Yes, that means that a lot of you are missing some of our very best work. There are actually blogs in our history that have gotten VERY few views – and while I try not to be offended by that, I must say, you’re missing out!) In any case, after waiting for someone, anyone to notice enough to say something on Facebook, I decided to check out the action on Twitter. I was not disappointed.

As soon as I opened Twitter I could see that not only was Amanda online, but she had already begun getting tweets asking if we’d lost our sanity. While she and I really hadn’t discussed what we we would do to handle that particular situation, I think both of us realized that in order for the joke to truly work – we’d have to follow through and defend our work.  After requesting a very large, very dirty martini from my bartender (Thanks to my husband), I set about helping Amanda defend our opinions. It is amazing what a good Grey Goose martini will do to ease the inhibitions while you’re typing the words “Embrace The Beebs”. I really can’t tell you how many times I laid my head down on the table that day, laughing hysterically.

There were a few times that day when I had to admit that yes, it was a joke. There were more than one reader that announced they were going to have to unfollow us, and I couldn’t have that happen.  I can certainly understand why they felt that way. Other than those few instances, we stuck to our story, and I even tweeted the band – who are probably on a hiatus and will never read the blog anyway – just to see what would happen. By the evening, I was exhausted and the best part? We had exceeded our daily tweet limit and could no longer tweet back! I didn’t even realize there was a limit! I apologized to a few of our twitter followers through DM and excused myself for the night, knowing that we’d have plenty to deal with in the morning.

While writing the blog was very fun and reading the reactions and opinions was downright hilarious at times, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that at least in part, our blog was very true, and very realistic. That’s why so many fellow fans believed that we were serious, and that’s why our joke worked. (That and our fabulous acting skills I am sure.) It’s no joke that the band has not experienced a huge amount of commercial success from the album.  It’s also not a joke that the band does have an uphill battle in reaching younger fans. The question of course is whether or not those things are truly necessary in order to continue. I don’t have those answers, and once again I find myself thankful that those things are not a part of my job. I’m simply one of the many Monday Morning Quarterbacks out there, as is Amanda even if she’s the smarter one of the two of us. Speculation is part of my hobby, but I don’t hold any of the real answers. The beauty in defending our blog that day was reading and learning from some of the very poignant and descriptive reasons why the band shouldn’t care about that younger generation, why they should just concern themselves with their own craft, and even why some people feel strongly that certain songs on the album are simply just updated, re-mixed versions of songs like “Girls on Film” or “The Chauffeur”.

So the real story behind the story was that even though we set out to tell a joke, we learned something in the process. Not a bad way to spend April Fools Day, really.

-R

Is this a mid-life crisis?

There is a phrase in the English language that I despise.

 “Mid-life Crisis”

I don’t really even know what that means.  When I think of that phrase, the image that fills my head is one of a balding man speeding down the road in a convertible Corvette. I remember going to dance clubs when I was in my early 20’s. My friends and I would be out dancing on the floor, and occasionally one of us would be approached by what we would consider to be an older man, hoping that we’d agree to dance.  I often wonder if those men were really that old, or if it was just that I was that young. My friends and I would scoff at the idea of some old guy hanging out at a club, hoping to get the attention of a young girl. Naturally we’d laugh and swear we’d never be continuing to hang out at clubs when we’re that age! (whatever age that was…and the lesson there is “FAMOUS LAST WORDS”!!)

When I was really young, I am sure I must have been around ten or so, my grandmother used to come and stay with us for the summer.  My parents both worked and felt my younger sister and I were far too young to be at home alone for an entire day.  This meant sharing my room with my grandmother for the entire summer.  Oddly, she was not a big Duran Duran fan, and I can remember her constantly telling me that she wished I’d take down my posters because she always felt like they were watching her! (Oh, my poor grandmother!)  I’d watch her in the mornings when she’d get up, and it always seemed to take her three times as long to put on her clothes as it did me.  When she would finish,  she’d always turn to me and say a single sentence that has been burned into my head for all eternity.

“Don’t ever get old, Rhonda Lynn.  It’s hell.”

 Who could ever blame me for wishing to avoid the whole aging thing??  I had it on decent authority that it wasn’t something I’d enjoy!!  When I think back on those days now, it seems so funny that my grandmother always seemed old to me, yet she only died about ten years ago at the age of 86.  I really hope that I’m more active than my mom or my grandmother in my later years – I want to be able to say I really LIVED every ounce out of my life that’s possible.  I’m sure both of them feel as though they got plenty out of life – and my mom is still alive and kicking.  She’s had a brand new beginning to her life, brought on by my father’s death nearly four years ago.  I’m proud to see her going and experiencing new things, even if it’s with a new “friend”.

I think things must be different for my generation than they were for my mothers generation.  She never went out with friends while I was growing up.  There were no concerts or girls nights out for her.  I never heard her talk much about music, and I know she never really went anywhere without my dad.   She really thinks it’s strange that I have this incessant need to have my own interests, friends and experiences because she never felt that way when my dad was alive.  In comparison, I live for those moments! I cringe when I hear the word “cougar”, or when TV shows make fun of people my age going out, as though once you turn the age of 30, you’re supposed to settle down, never to have fun again.  It’s even worse when the words “mid-life crisis” are thrown around, as if to explain our behavior.  Trust me, this is no “mid-life crisis”.

Yes it really is true, I still enjoy going to concerts. I love getting together with friends for the weekend over music, friendship and the occasional martini.  (make mine extra dirty!)  When I was younger, Friday nights were spent not sleeping, but staying up to watch late night videos, listening to records and fantasizing about what eyeliner Nick Rhodes used.  My friends and I would get excited over whatever band was coming on tour, and while most of the time I had to stand back and watch as my friends would get tickets to the shows – that never did stop my excitement at the prospect!  We’d call one another over the newest songs we’d hear on the radio, we’d try to one-up ourselves over who had the best Duran Duran pictures, the latest news, the “closest encounters”  (I’d typically lose that one…funny how that still holds true!), and the best information.  These things really haven’t changed, although admittedly most of my normal Friday night activities don’t typically include having a girl-talk session with my husband about makeup.  In my opinion, a mid-life crisis is all about capturing whatever youth you’ve got left.  I’ve never let my youth go to begin with, so there’s nothing to capture – it’s still here!

Is this – my Duran Duran fandom and everything that has gone along with it – really a mid-life crisis?  I doubt it, otherwise I started suffering from it when I was ten years old.  My life, and the enjoyment I get out of living, is what keeps me young.  My feeling is that when life stops being fun, I’ll be ready to exit this great planet of ours for whatever Duranie retirement home “in the sky” is next.

Pity those who dare call it a mid-life crisis, for they’ve already stopped living. -R

Duran Duran saved my marriage!

So yesterday marked seven fateful years since Amanda and I, along with many of our friends, saw Duran Duran at the Allstate Arena in Chicago.  Today marks seven years since I actually had the nerve to lie to my husband and travel up to Milwaukee to see the band play at the Riverside Theatre.

What?!?  I lied to my husband?!?  Yes.  Yes I did.  Proudly!

Poor Walt.  I don’t think he really quite knew what he was doing back in 2001 when he bought tickets to see Duran Duran (Simon, Nick & Warren) play at the House of Blues in Anaheim. He opened a door to something I’d long since closed.  It wasn’t as though I was no longer a fan, it was that I’d moved on in life. I had a husband. I had kids.  MTV didn’t really play videos any longer…I didn’t have Roger Taylor occupying my walls….

Of course, after that initial show, I was desperate.  Then the reunion was announced, and I saw the Fab 5 live for the very first time. I made friends, went to a convention, and was virtually hooked.  Wishful thinking “plans” were being thrown around by my friends, and when the Astronaut tour was announced, I think we all had about 48 hours to decide on a game plan.  I knew I could not be at the LA show due to a family vacation, so I tried to figure out what show(s) I could possibly attend.

 At the time, I’d never traveled for a single show, and my husband is the epitome of “moderation”.  Walt is an engineer.  He’s very measured.  Very easy-going, yet very serious when he needs.  Walt doesn’t do “frenzied” or “fanatical” about anything.  He doesn’t have an obsessive personality about anything, and at the time – he certainly didn’t understand the need to travel to see a rock band.  He had a very difficult time understanding that I’d made friends online.  “Online? Rhonda…you don’t even know these people.  You need to wonder why they’d even want to be friends with you.  You have nothing in common with any of them.  You’re married.  You have children.  Yes, I know you went to a convention with them, but you told me then that it wouldn’t be an ongoing thing, that you were just trying to see the planning through.  Now you want to go to how many shows?  This isn’t even necessary!”  He had an even harder time understanding why I would want to go to more than one show on a tour.  “Aren’t they all the same? It’s the same songs night after night!”  So, there were plenty of “discussions” between the two of us.  It was understood that I would fly to Chicago, see the show the following day, and then fly back home on what I think must have been Sunday afternoon.  Never mind that the rest of my friends were going on to see the Milwaukee show the following night – Walt felt that there was no reason to see any more than one show. I had to book my flights so that I was able to take the kids to school before I flew out (he was not very helpful, and I think even he would agree that he did everything he could to make the trip as difficult as possible for me so that I wouldn’t try it again.), and I had to be back in time so that he wouldn’t miss any time from work.

All that was fine and good, except for the small detail of the Milwaukee show.  I really wanted to go!  I was already going to be in the area (it’s about an hour and a half from Chicago), and it seemed like such a small thing.  So, I told my friends to count me in on the ticket, and I’d deal with the consequences later.  Much later.

The truth is, the show was outstanding and I was not wrong in my decision to get the ticket.  Our seats were great, the band saw the signs we’d made for the show, and at one point we’d even gotten a wave from Roger Taylor as he stood off stage during The Chauffeur. (We were wearing light up horns and he saw them.  Yes, we really wore them, and at the time it was fun. Thank goodness that tradition has been left in the past!)  That night also marked the first time I’d ever waited outside of a theater for the band to leave…and the first time we ever attempted to follow them back to their hotel in Chicago!  It was the first time we’d ever gotten a hotel room for the pure purpose of storing luggage (a tradition that I am hoping we’ve kind of left in the past – I require a bit more sleep now than I did seven years ago!), and it was the first…and last time, I ever lied to my husband about a concert….except for that time in New York City for the fan show…. (another blog for another day!)

I don’t quite remember how long it was after that show that I finally came clean about the tickets, but I doubt it was long.  The thing about my husband is that he’s very smart.  He sees the anomaly very quickly when things are odd, and so I have little doubt he already suspected that I’d gotten a ticket before I’d even left.  Thankfully since that time my husband has figured out that this obsession isn’t really going to go away, and he also understands why I go to more than one show.  He also understands why I’ve traveled overseas to see them.  Twice.

Since that show, I’ve seen the band “a few times”.  I’ve traveled to see them more than I’ve seen them here in my state, actually.  While I’m the first to admit that my traveling has been expensive, I don’t think my husband really minds much beyond the cost.  When this whole obsession started for me in recent times, I think the one thing Walt was concerned about was that we’d somehow grow apart.  I’d have my fun times and experience things without him, and from there we’d have separate lives.  Oddly, exactly the opposite happened.  I had my own stories to share with him, and I always do.  I love that my conversations include far more than just what goes on here in the house on a daily basis.  It used to be that when I’d have the chance to get out of the house, travel to a show and see my friends, I felt like it was an escape from captivity.  It’s funny, now that I feel like I have the freedom to travel (within reason), I’m much more content here at home, too – and so is my husband.

While I wouldn’t recommend lying to your husband about getting tickets to see Duran Duran, I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to go and see them.  I run into so many fellow moms who ask how my husband is with my traveling to see the band.  To begin with, I don’t go that often.  Twice a year at most – and typically my trips are for long weekends (4 or 5 days…5 is pushing it, my husband says!).   I don’t usually expect the impossible.  I can’t be gone for 6 weeks on a tour, and really – I would miss my family if I did.  (no really, I would!!)  Also, as turnabout IS fair play, I should share that my husband is gone at least once or twice a WEEK these days.  They are typically “day trips” that means he takes our oldest to school, gets on a plane, and is gone until about 11 o’clock at night.  He likes coming home to sleep, even if it’s just for a few hours.  Then there are the extended trips, which means he’s gone for about a week or so.  Those happen 5 or 6 times during the year, and we all hate those due to the time differences.  (His travel is typically to the Far East or the UK/Europe)  So, we’re used to the travel here in our house.  Of course, his is for work..and mine is for research, *coughs* and fun! I always tell fellow moms and fellow wives that it’s important to have your own interests.  Being married does not mean losing your own identity.  That’s a common thing that women seem to forget, especially when they marry young as I did.  I really can’t explain how liberating it feels to be able to share my own experiences and stories with my family.  I think it’s important for my kids, but especially my 15 year old daughter to see that even when you’re married and have a family that a woman really can and should have her own interests that don’t necessarily include the rest of the family.

Did Duran Duran save my marriage?  Interestingly enough, in some respects – they really kind of did!

-R

Do you know what today is?!?

Happy Monday everyone.  I’m sure all of my US friends are recovering from eating/drinking their way through Super Bowl Sunday.  I’m also recovering from a car accident that happened on Friday afternoon.  I was in a three car “fender bender” of sorts.   I was car #3…the innocent bystander that was hit from behind by a car that was also hit from behind.  Luckily my 3 year old and I were not really hurt – I just have some soreness in my neck and shoulders. (that’s what happens when you see what is about to happen to you and you tense up!)  My car is mostly fine – it’s earned itself the right to a new back bumper.  The guy who hit me was a little worse off, I’m pretty sure the frame of his car was bent, and the woman who caused the entire thing fled the scene.  Unbelievable.  It was quite a way to start the weekend and now I get to deal with the annoyance of getting my car fixed in between rushing kids everywhere.  That said, I’m very thankful it all wasn’t worse, and I hope the woman who hit all of us is happy with her decision to leave the scene of the accident and not take any responsibility.  Brilliant.

Today is February 6th, and on this date in 1984, Duran Duran played the Los Angeles Forum.  You would think I’d remember this as being my first Duran Duran show, but alas – it was not.  I remember this date very well, because on this day, my friends and I cried that we would NOT be at the show.  It’s the one real regret I have, and yet I can’t really regret not being there – at the time I was only 13, and my parents absolutely refused to allow me to go to the concert, even after a friends dad agreed to buy us tickets.  My parents were always very protective.  I joke with my mom that I wasn’t allowed to cross our tiny little neighborhood street alone until I was 10.  She rolls her eyes in disgust when I say that – but what’s worse is that it’s true!!

I am trying to remember back when I was that age.  I had a group of pretty close friends, but we were definitely more along the lines of being outcasts than we were trendsetters.  None of us were really into fashion – my parents were especially careful about what I could or could not wear anyway – but we talked about music all of the time.  It genuinely mattered to us whether or not a song or album was on the top of the Billboard charts, and I can remember making sure to spend Friday nights over at my friend Marsha’s house so that we could talk her mom into driving us to the record store on Saturday mornings.  We’d spend hours checking out the newest albums, but even then, our taste was rather narrow: we’d stick to the “alternative” genre.  We cared about what synthesizers different bands used.  We wanted to know how certain sounds were mixed, or why bands went with one producer over another.  We also wanted to know how we could meet Duran Duran.  Who didn’t?  Of course none of us really thought we COULD go meet them.  I don’t really think our world was big enough at the time to imagine convincing one of our parents to drive us into Los Angeles when they were in town to find them. Then again, back in that day – I’m pretty sure none of us knew that they’d been in Los Angeles until they’d already left!  We just weren’t that enterprising or investigative in our measures.  We got our news from the radio.  From magazines, from the TV…and from other kids who had actually gone into LA or the shows to see them!  In many ways I think we felt like we were on the outside looking in much of the time, and yet not one of us took the initiative to do something to change things.  Perhaps we didn’t feel like we really could do much but enjoy the tiny freedoms we had. 
Now that I’m a “grown-up”, I’ve had the opportunity to meet friends who lived in England during this time.  They might not have hung out at the Rum Runner, but they were there when the band was recording at EMI and were there to see the best (and worst) of the 80’s.  Admittedly, when I hear some of the stories, I can’t even begin to imagine the scene.  To begin with, I wasn’t even allowed to walk down my street without telling my mom, and most of the time – I’d be admonished with the “You may NOT leave the front yard, young lady!” line, and even more shocking, I would listen!  Things here in the US (for me, anyway) were just different.  To begin with, we don’t have “the tube” to get us anywhere, at least not where I lived in Glendora, California.  My suburb was middle class (we lived on the poor side of town), none of us had money, some of us had bicycles, but we weren’t allowed out of the neighborhood with them.  Going out on to “The Busy Street” meant certain death – either by a car hitting us – or by my father’s hand when he found out.  It never occurred to us that we should take the bus.  Actually, I take that back – my friend Marsha wanted to take the bus to go to the mall once, and my dad gave me “The Look”.  I never brought that up again.  For us “The City” was 25 miles away – and to me at 13 that may as well have been in another state.  

So, that fateful day in February was one of great sadness for me.  I knew the band was in my state, relatively close to where I lived, but I had no way of seeing them.  I can remember begging and pleading with my parents to allow me to buy the ticket (and back then tickets weren’t about $10.00 for nosebleed seats!), but there was simply no chance. I don’t know if it had more to do with money – my parents truly did not have extra cash to go around at this point – or if it really was that my dad felt that at 13, I had no business going to a “rock concert”.  More likely than not, both issues took precedence over my teenage angst.  If that day weren’t horrible enough, the next day was even worse: I had to go to school and hear story after story from those girls who *did* attend the show.  Naturally, these girls were not really in MY circle of friends (although my friend Karen did go – she was one of those with a $10.00 ticket and I remember her telling me they were practically in the back row, but she still wouldn’t have traded a second of the show!), and I also remember one telling me that her parents sprung for $100.00 tickets through a ticket broker, and they had front row.  Front row. (Do you hear harps and angels singing or is that just me?)  I suppose I should then mention my complete disgust with this girl and how her parents threw away so much money just so that she could be mere feet away from Nick Rhodes (she was a Nick girl!).  Disgusting.  Of course then I went crawling back to my group of friends whining and crying about how unfair life was, and that I didn’t think I could possibly live a good life since I wasn’t allowed to go to the concert.  Oh the dramatic scene that must have been!  (And I wonder where my oldest gets her dramatic flair…gee!)

Each February since that date, I take a minute and remember where I was on that day, and how far I’ve come since.  Still haven’t quite gotten those front row seats yet, but I’m still a fan. That’s pretty remarkable on it’s own!  I’ve seen the band in a couple more states than I ever really thought I would – not to mention a country or two.  Perhaps NOT seeing the band on that date in February did more for me than I would have thought at 13.

Oh, and I’m having a pretty amazing life thus far.  Plenty more to come, I’m sure!

-R







You mean that band is still around? Really?

This morning I was in Target, picking up the usual: milk and that sort of thing.  I was in line – a very long line I might add, and my cell phone rang.  My ringers are personalized depending upon who is calling, and this person has a DD ringtone assigned to them.  (Those calls get answered first, especially when it’s Amanda’s ringtone I hear!  Other calls, such as the ones with just a regular ring, typically get ignored, and I’m not even kidding.  All of my kids school numbers – as in the office number for their schools – are assigned to Reach Up for the Sunrise because the chorus is so loud it nearly makes me jump out of my skin…so I know to pick up immediately!)  Anyway, after the call, a woman behind me asked if my ring tone was Duran Duran, to which I smiled and said “Yes”.  That’s when she said “I loved them back in the 80’s, but they aren’t even together anymore.”  Well, my eyes about bugged out of my head at this point, and I took the time in line to correct her.  She was shocked, and even more so when I explained that they have several albums out that she should really look into getting!  (Her fascination ended at The Wedding Album. *sigh*)

I don’t know about anyone else, but this happens to me quite a bit, and mainly because of my ringtones!  I’m pleased to help out the band with their grass roots marketing, but also completely annoyed that people have been living under a rock for the past 20 years.  I have many friends from high school who have found me on Facebook, and one of the first questions they ask me, obviously after scrutinizing some of my pictures and things, is whether or not I’m still a Duran Duran fan.  Some are nice about it, but a lot of them try to tease me by saying “What? You’re still into them?  Aren’t they dead yet?”  (Yes, people REALLY say that…)  After which I take a deep cleansing breath and attempt to answer their questions as nicely as possible.  Sometimes, I even succeed.

After my excursion to Target, I came home, knowing that I needed to blog and that I didn’t really have much of a topic in mind.  That’s happening a lot lately.  I’ve got tons of book ideas, but the blog is tougher right now.  There’s not a ton of Duran news, and what news I do have doesn’t really affect me to the point where I have an urge to write.  It’s either feast or famine sometimes.  Anyway, I hopped onto Twitter to see if something would get my creative juices flowing, and I saw the #questionsIhateanswering topic trending for Los Angeles.  My answer?  The topic of this blog.

It’s not even that I hate answering the question,  it’s that it is even a question at all.  I can’t help but be frustrated that such a fantastic album like All You Need is Now has gotten so little notice from the general public, and what’s more – I’m completely annoyed with my fellow 30 and 40 somethings out there that they haven’t stayed more in touch with music in general.  It’s sad that once we hit the age of 30, 35 or 40 we stop paying attention to what’s out there.  Granted, I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s no wonder that our demographic no longer seems to matter to anyone but ourselves, and that’s incredibly sad.

One person commented back to my rantings on Twitter that she’s over it.  She just loves the band for what they give us (I’m totally paraphrasing here, my apologies), and the rest of it just doesn’t matter.  Most days, I would agree.  Today…I’m missing that mark.

-R

Game Day Thursday!!

That’s right, today is another fantastic edition of Game Day!  I’ve got another word search for you puzzle people out there!  This time, you need to complete the puzzle and then give me the theme I used!

In addition, I must send out a hearty “WELCOME BACK TO TWITTER” for a Mr. John Taylor out there.  I daresay that you were very, very missed.  I was actually beginning to get a little concerned for the safety of myself and my fellow Duran fans out there….(remember, we eat our own for breakfast!)

Finally (yes, it’s a short blog today), I wanted to give a follow up to a blog I’d done nearly a year ago now.  In another life, I was in fact a Girl Scout Leader with a couple of other moms in my neighborhood for my eldest’s Girl Scout Troop – she was about 7 at the time. (she’ll be 15 in 11 days…not that I’m counting)  The other moms and I became good friends while we were leading the troop, and we had a standing “tradition” of meeting for coffee while the kids were in school in order to do our planning, and it was something that we all grew to look forward to doing together.  Naturally, once our girls got to about the 4th grade (I’d say the girls were between 9 and 10), their interests changed and no longer wanted to be Girl Scouts, so our time as troop leaders ended. (thankfully)  While we were all glad to be through with the work involved, we missed our coffee mornings.  I still see the moms from time to time, although not nearly as often as I wish – and in March of last year I received the news that the younger daughter of one of our children had an inoperable brain tumor.  She is the same age as my son and had been in his class over the years. One never expects to hear this sort of thing, so yes, it was very shocking.  Our daughters used to play together, and while they’ve grown apart and no longer even go to school together – I just never ever gave something like this happening any kind of thought.

Nile Rodgers also has been battling cancer, and last year he had blogged about losing Bernard Edwards – he’d mentioned something about finding the silver lining in Bernard’s death, and I blogged in turn about it.  You can read that blog here.  Jessie’s battle with her brain tumor made me think about that blog again because for the past 10 months, right after she was diagnosed, Jessie was painting her own silver lining.  She took a devastating diagnosis and turned into something that would quite literally change the world.  She formed a foundation labeled NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) that concerns itself with spreading joy (which happens to be Jessie’s middle name) to children who are diagnosed with cancer.  In addition to that, Jessie wanted to do something special for each of the 50,000 children who are diagnosed each year with cancer.  Basically she came up with the idea to put joy in a jar.  Each week she and her dad would work in the “Joy Factory” (their garage) and stuff special small presents and goodies in jars that she would then take to hospitals and pass out to the kids in the oncology ward.  This was all done while Jessie herself was in radiation and chemotherapy treatment.  Never once did I ever see or hear her complain – even when she lost her hair, her eyesight, her hearing or control over half of her body, and in the last few months when she really lost the ability to smile – you could still see her try to smile as best as she could.  Jessie simply refused to let the cancer beat her spirit.  I have said many times that her parents should be very, very proud.  Jessie taught me more about grace, and wisdom in this past year than I learned in the 40 years prior.

Sadly, last Thursday morning Jessica’s body lost its fight over this horrible disease, and last night her family hosted a celebration service at the church where her dad Erik is a Pastor.  It was the most beautiful celebration of life that I’d ever seen – and what’s more – it’s brought our tiny little neighborhood community together.  Since the day Jessie passed away, people have been tying blue and white ribbons to the trees lining our streets.  Signs have popped up all over with messages ranging from “NEGU” to “We Miss You”, and just last night balloons were   also tied up so that when the family drove from our neighborhood to the church, there were balloons forcing smiles the entire way.  It was a glorious way to remember such an amazing little girl.  It’s amazing what a 12 year old is capable of teaching grown adults.

The reason I bring this up here is because yes, the experience of knowing Jessie has absolutely changed me.  I wasn’t even that close to her family or her mom during the last few years, but I kept in touch with Jessie’s progress, and my heart ached when I learned that she’d passed away because I know just how much Erik and Stacey will miss her.  No parent should ever have to bury a child.  Two songs continue to come to mind as I think about NEGU, JoyJars and Miss Jessica Rees:  [Reach up for the] Sunrise….and All You Need is Now.  If there were ever a lesson in those songs….I get it loud and clear.

For those interested in learning more about Jessie and her causes:

Jessica Joy Rees

NEGU

Jessie’s page on Facebook

Have a great weekend everyone, see you back on Monday!

-R

Why I blog

Last night, I exchanged a couple of emails with my husband.  He is in Las Vegas having a very grueling week at the Consumer Electronics Show.  Excuse me while I play a sad, sad song on violin for him….  Anyway, I shared some family news with him, and mentioned my blog regarding Andy’s new website.  My point to my husband was despite not earning an actual salary for writing, I really enjoy writing and blogging.  I wish that I would have recognized this years back and done more writing directly after college, but at the time I suppose I had more living to do (babies to have, children to raise, a husband to properly train…etc.) before I could spend time writing.  He in turn said that he could understand why I enjoy it so much.  This was a first coming from my “dollars and cents” husband, but it also made me really think about why I love this “job” of mine.  Yesterday afternoon on Facebook I had updated my status to say that if this was as good as my “career” ever gets – I’m good right here.  This is true.

When I was in college, I wrote on a daily basis.  Much of it, if not all of it, was in the form of essays for class.  My major was American Studies, which required a lot of reading, critical thinking, and writing.  You might think I studied about American history – and while that would partially be true, most of my work was centered around our culture, and what makes the American people tick.  Here’s the truth: I decided on that major purely because it was so easy for me!  The writing seemed to come easy, and where my classmates would do two and three drafts before writing a final copy – I’d do ONE draft: the final copy, and turn it in for good grade. It never occurred to me to become a writer – I just knew I had to get a real job after college, so I did, and then I became a mom.  It wasn’t until I met Amanda and started joking about writing a book (never again will I joke about such things) that I started thinking that maybe I really could write again.

My style here is very, very casual.  That’s done on purpose, and it’s ALWAYS a first-draft/final copy thing.  I don’t have time for anything else, and I want the blog to seem as though I’m chatting with you as opposed to trying to teach you something or trying to sound smarter than I really am.  Hell, most of the time the readers – you guys – are teaching ME.  I’m as “real” in...real life as I am here, and yes, I’m every bit as opinionated!  I know that there are times that you don’t agree with what I’m saying, and there are times when I know going in that I’m going to get slammed for something I’ve written.  Sometimes, I even welcome that.  Anyway, when I write the blog, I try to keep in mind that most of you want to read something less formal, that I’m trying to sound like I’m talking to friends, and I hope that comes across.

I can’t explain the gratification I get out of blogging, but I’m going to try, and in doing so, I’m going to share a little story.  I know I’ve mentioned that I am a trained musician.  I played clarinet from the time I was about 8 until…well, I still play now but I don’t take formal lessons any longer. I always believed that I would go to college, major in music performance, and then join an orchestra.  I don’t know what happened when I got to college (I really do know what happened but that’s another blog for another day), but for whatever reason, I changed course. Trouble was, I had no idea what else I was good at or what I enjoyed.  I spent a lot of valuable time trying to fit myself – a round peg basically – into square holes.  Something was always missing and I struggled at everything.  Recently, as in two years ago now, I finished a secondary degree in Gemology of all things.  Yes, I’m a scientist now.  (I’m laughing as I type that.  Scientist my ass…)  Even as I studied Gemology, I realized just how ill-fit I am for that sort of thing. I finished the program and did well, but I still don’t feel fulfilled.  The part I enjoy most about gemstones is the appraisal process, and that’s because in some really fun cases, I have to actually research where the piece came from (meaning jewelry), and I write.   Shortly before I received my diploma, Amanda and I started writing our manuscript, and then I had the brilliant idea to write a daily blog.  What in the hell was I thinking??

Originally the plan was to do short blurbs each day.  Spend a half hour max on each topic.  Uh-huh, sure.  It always sounds better on paper (or computer screen) than what it ends up as in daily practice.   I’ve been writing for about 45 minutes so far today, and I’m missing out on my only exercise time.  AGAIN.  I’ve got to get better about that because I really do like getting out, walking/running and listening to my iPod.  It clears my head, and as a writer – I need that time.  As a mom, my KIDS need me to have that time.  I digress.  The reality is, once I start writing for this thing, I have a hard time stopping.  Sometimes the words come easily and I’m finished before I know it.  Other days, I know what I want to say, but I can’t formulate the sentences.  Still other days, I know exactly what I want to say, but if I do, I’m going to offend a lot of people.  (smile here)  Then there are the sheer golden moments, and that’s what I experienced yesterday.

Yesterdays blog was a little different.  I don’t typically do interviews on the blog because I didn’t study journalism, I don’t know how to properly ask “smart” questions, and above all else – I’m not pushy. I had to incorporate what Kitty was trying to convey into my normal blog format, and so it was a little challenging, but I enjoyed the writing!   I can promise Duran Duran that this is one fan who will never bug them for an interview.  I just glean the information I need for a blog from wherever I can, try to blend into the background, and go away quietly without causing an uproar.  Daily Duranie doesn’t do gossip, we don’t do tell-alls, and we don’t write love notes to the band.  Well, not every day, anyway.  The whole reason why this isn’t a news blog is because I simply cannot do news.  I’m not sure about Amanda, but I’m guessing she doesn’t either.  Besides, you all have Salvo (Durannasty) and Kitty (Gimme A Wristband) for that – they do a great job, much better than I would ever hope to accomplish, and I know my rightful place in the Duranie world.  The funny thing is that when we started the blog, I don’t think either Amanda nor I really knew where we fit in!  The only thing we knew was that we were studying fandom for the book.  We like the idea of trying to understand why we fans behave the way we do.  Why are we still fans after 30 years?  Why do we compete against one another?  Those are the questions we focus on for our manuscript.  We just started blogging as a way to learn how to interact with the fan base beyond friendship, and figured we’d find eventually find where we fit in.

What I decided with my blogging was to just be myself.  I stumbled around for a bit, but eventually realized that what I wanted most was to bring fans together.  There is so much in our community that is divisive, whether it’s due to fighting for show tickets, fighting for attention, fighting to prove we’re the number one fan…arguing over whether or not there should be a paid fan club, then of course BEING in that fan club…it’s all overwhelmingly negative at times until there’s a moment or cause that brings us together, and those moments are remarkably few and far in between. Blogging is a funny thing because each day, I feel as though I put a little bit of myself out there for people to read and know.  It’s bizarre because I never know how something is going to be taken, and I never know what will genuinely strike a chord with someone.  I just write whatever I’m feeling at the time and hope for the best….which brings me to the blog from yesterday.

Amanda and I both get notes and emails at times saying how someone really loved what we wrote, or that we “get it”.  I think we do get it purely because we’re fans just like anyone else.  Those notes are what keep us going, and to this day when someone thanks us, I feel like I should ask them if they know I’m just a mom.  I’m nobody special!  The key is, and I’m obviously speaking for both Amanda and I when I say this “We love what we do.”  I don’t know who said this – but at one point or another in my life I’ve heard people say that if you’re doing something you really enjoy, it never feels like work; and if you’re doing something that you really are passionate about, typically you’re very good at it; and finally, if you’re doing something you really love, a monetary salary doesn’t even begin to outdo how you already feel about your work on a personal level.  I never understood ANY of that before now.  I figured only people like Oprah knew what all of that nonsense was about. Work was work.

Yesterday’s blog was really my love for writing coming through, combined with a sheer passion for music.  I have loved Duran Duran, and every member of Duran Duran, since I was 10 years old.  I’m 41 now.  That’s a long time – and as I gleefully tell my husband at times, “I’ve loved Duran Duran longer than I’ve loved you!” (Yes, I have bitch tendencies at times.  Don’t we all?)  I love that he’s told the record labels and managers to basically kiss his ass and he’s going to do it his way, as it should be done.  What I love more than even that though, is blogging and sharing those thoughts with all of you, because you get it.

The best part of the writing yesterday came when I’d realized I’d been working for a few hours and yet none of it felt like work.  It was fun!  I felt good about what I’d written, and that the points I was trying to get across came through well.  Then of course Andy himself mentioned it on Twitter, and for me – that was a big bonus, of course.  Andy was one of my childhood heroes, I continue to have great respect for him, and I really do believe that website is the beginning of something great.  A revolution, I hope.

So why do I blog?  I love it.  I may never earn a real paycheck, and I may never get the front row seats, meet the band, have my “Kodak” moment with any of them, but this blog brings fans together.  I see that, I see where it has its place in the fan community, and I know that when I write, people enjoy reading.  That’s enough for me.  I’m good right here.

-R

Creating Balance

Happy Happy Monday!  I’m attempting to write this while watching the Rose Parade on TV this morning.  I don’t mind mentioning that it is a gorgeous day in Southern California – it is supposed to hit 80 degrees F today here in Orange County – which is unusual for this time of year.  Definitely not winter-like, even by California standards!  Its a somewhat bittersweet day for my house because my husband actually had to work today (his company is one of the few that works today, they don’t care about the Rose Parade or the football games – not surprising given that its an engineering company, and most of those guys are not sports fans at all!), and its the last day of winter break before life gets insanely busy once again.  I’ve actually been dreading January because for the rest of this month, I will live and breathe musical theater.  My oldest is performing in “No No Nanette” at the end of this month.   She plays the part of Flora, and their technical rehearsals will begin tomorrow night.  I have to get started doing the jewelry and accessorizing for their costuming (which I hope has finally been decided or else I’m going to be throwing jewelry on the girls as they go out on stage for Opening Night!).  She somehow has to fit school term finals and studying in with the demanding rehearsal schedule, and my husband will be gone all next week in Las Vegas for work.   Never mind that her birthday comes later this month.  She will be 15, and I will be one year closer to completely losing my mind.  (We begin driving at 16 here.  *gasp*)  It’s going to be a very busy month!!

As I ponder how I’m going to get my family fed, kids to their activities and perhaps some rest inserted into my daily schedule, I can’t help but wonder what surprises that band is going to throw at us this year.  It’s funny how just two weeks ago I couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next from them, and now as reality is sinking in I’m almost dreading the news of more US dates or whatever else they have coming our way.  It’s really a double edged sword at times.  I wish I could drop everything, but at least for me – that’s not really an appropriate option, even if I *could* consider anything and everything I do for the band to be “research” and/or “work”.  (I hear my husband laughing….hmm….)  I know as I type that there’s someone out there amongst you that cannot wait to remind me how lucky we are to even have the option available to go and see them.  Of course that is true, and I’m not about to argue otherwise, no worries there.  I’m just trying to describe how it really IS to be a Duran fan in my every day life.  I always feel as though when it comes to the band and something they’re doing  – an appearance, a show, or even taking time for myself to listen to an album, a webcast, see a DVD that a friend has made, or whatever else is going on, I’m having to rob Peter to pay Paul.  Even when it comes to writing the blog, in order to give the blog time it means taking the time away from doing something else to get it done.  Some days, I have no trouble justifying the time, and others….*sigh*

I’m sure I must not be the only one out there with this trouble.  If it’s not the time, it’s the money, am I right?  I try to remind myself that I consistently give my kids everything I have to offer.  They come first, and I never forget that.  Except, my husband reminds me, when I go to shows or have gone “on tour”.  I’m not sure he’s being honest about that because when I’m gone, I’m still checking in as best as possible – and I’ve even had to call home literally while at a show waiting for the band to come on stage so that I could give my darling husband instructions as to where to drive in order to pick one of the kids up or where to take them to the doctor for a scheduled appointment. (never mind that I’d already left those directions for him on the counter at home before I left…)  Its always something!

The give and take of being a Duran fan along with everything else I am to be for everyone else is not an easy balance.  Sometimes I feel as though it all flows smoothly, and other times, it’s a very bumpy ride.  I have to learn how to create more of a balance in my life for myself, and once again I am sure that I’m not alone with those feelings.  That doesn’t mean that I’ll be attending every single Duran Duran show (Um, no.), but I need to stop feeling guilty just because I want to take a day to work on the blog site or work on the book rather than say, do laundry or dust my furniture.  I want to treat the book as my work – just because I happen to dearly love writing doesn’t mean it’s just a guilty pleasure, and I also need to train my family to respect my time as well.

Famous last words, right???

-R

The Daily Duranie’s Year End Lists

Sometimes, the band directly influences us and today is one of those times as we are following in their footsteps by doing our own year end lists!  It seemed like a good way to wrap up the year and all that it was! 

Rhonda’s list:
Best Duran Duran Moment of 2011:
Hearing the opening notes of Secret Oktober in Brighton and realizing that yes, they were really playing what I thought they were playing!  It was the only time I heard it for the entire tour…the only time I’ve ever witnessed it played live…and it was a dream come true.  I know the band couldn’t possibly have known how much I wanted to hear that song – but I owe them a million thanks for doing so.  Dream. Come. True. 

Best Personal Moment(s):   Hmm…I have several:
Watching my 3 year old dance on stage for the first time (she was a Bumblebee, and yes – she was the absolute cutest one ever!)
Seeing my son play clarinet with his junior high school band – it was surreal seeing him play after having done so myself for so many years. (and he plays MY clarinet from when I was a kid, too!)
Watching my oldest do her first musical – Anything Goes.  I loved watching her come alive on stage and seeing for myself that yes, she really does belong in musical theatre.  Very proud moment. 

World Events:
I don’t know that this really counts as an “event” as much as it was a natural disaster, but hearing about the earthquake and damage from the earthquake in Japan always sticks in my mind.  My husband traveled there quite often for work, and exactly one week prior – he was there and would not have been able to make it back home had the earthquake hit at that time (even more frightening was that he was originally scheduled to be there that week but had to move up his trip due to scheduling).  He hasn’t been back to Japan since the earthquake and tsunami.   I guess that I don’t like thinking about the political things that go on, mainly because we as humans can control a lot of that – even if we choose not to – but natural disasters like earthquakes and things we simply have no control over.  Its how we respond to those things that interest me most.

Album of 2011 (gee, I wonder….)
This really doesn’t even seem like a fair question.  While yes, the digital version of All You Need is Now was available on iTunes in December of 2010, the regular version didn’t come out until March – and so that’s what I’m counting.  Hands down for me, this is the album of the year (if not the decade).  It lived up to everything I’d hoped it would be, and the music and lyrics have added to the soundtrack of my life since then.  Did any other albums even come out last year???  😀

Single of 2011:
This is the toughest question for me out of the whole lot because I really don’t have ONE single that sticks out in my head as being best.  I really dislike conventional radio, and by nature of the beast I find that many times, the “singles” that are out there suck.  I do love the entire AYNIN album, but I don’t know if one single really made the year….except for maybe the title song, because in all honesty its how I’ve tried to take each moment of this past year.  I tend to be someone who is always planning ahead for the next thing or worrying about what I did yesterday.  This song in particular reminds me to enjoy the small milliseconds I have and to enjoy the now.  Lesson learned, thanks to Duran Duran.  Who knew the band would still be teaching me at the age of 40 or 41?

Favorite movie of 2011:
So here’s the reality:  I don’t go to the movies very often.  As in, I think I might have gone to see a movie in a theater about 5 times this year, and most of those movies were for my youngest.  So, with that in mind, my favorite movie this year was probably The Lion King in 3D.  My two older ones were fairly young when the original came out, and due to this being released in 3D version, I was able to take my youngest to see the movie.  She loved it, and I still get teary eyed.  (Yes, I really am just a sap!)  I think it comes down to the fact that I am Mommy first, Duranie second.  (Don’t ask where “wife” fits in because I don’t know that answer.  I think it depends on if I’m at home or at a show!)

Best Gig of 2011 (they say non DD – but I think we should each pick our very favorite show):
I saw a few different bands this year.  Most of them were quite good, but for me two gigs stand out above all others, and I really can’t split hairs enough to choose between the two. 
*Duran Duran, Brighton:  Standing there and realizing I’d finally made it and the band was standing in front of me, IN the UK…playing not only Secret Oktober but also Mediterranea??  Unreal.  I still get the shivers when I think of that show.  Isn’t that the high we all want??

*Duran Duran, Glasgow.  I’ve been to a couple of shows this year that really stood out in terms of sheer energy, but Glasgow completely blew me away.  I’ve never felt so much energy at an arena show – and if that was the best that it ever gets for me, it was enough.  Oh, and watching John and Dom right in front of me during Hungry Like the Wolf didn’t hurt much either.  😉

Most looking forward to in 2012:
I don’t even know.  I don’t even know if I dare say!!  I guess though I’m most looking forward to seeing friends again.  I’m hoping to get back out on the tour with Amanda – who knows where we’ll end up(!!), and I’m really hoping to make my way back over to the UK for the DD-UK convention.  I also have a few friends here that have *gasp* nothing to do with Duran Duran whatsoever that I’m looking forward to spending more time with…I’m hoping to get my portion of our book written, and I’m looking forward to going on vacation with my family for two weeks in August.   Even I need time to disconnect from the computer and cell phones for a while!  😉 

Amanda’s turn:
Best Duran Moment of 2011:
While I definitely could echo Rhonda’s in hearing Secret Oktober and I did think that was absolutely one of the best Duran moments of all time, it is hard to just pick one.  That one was definitely up there.  Honestly, I will never forget seeing and hearing the band come on stage and start Before the Rain in Brighton.  It was one of those magical moments that worked to erase everything that had gone wrong before and every moment of stress.  The lyric about “traveling to the place where all loose ends go” seemed so fitting at that moment.  Collectively, we tied those loose ends that night.  Another moment that deserves mention is Leopard (no, not Bournemouth, Rhonda, but…) in Glasgow.  It seemed like literally everyone in that venue was in sync and it created such energy.  Amazing.

Best Personal Moment(s):
Like Rhonda, I have several because I cannot choose.  I just returned from visiting my family in North Carolina and it was absolutely wonderful to be with my nieces for Christmas.  I wish that they were closer on a daily basis and wish that I could see them everyday as they are two of the funniest, smartest, sweetest people to ever cross my path!  On a different note, I was invited to one of the White House’s Holiday Receptions this year due to my political activism.  The invitation was enough to treasure but to hear the President thank me and other activists was pretty monumental.  It is nice to be recognized and appreciated for working hard.

World Events:
Some famous politician, which I can’t remember right now, uttered the phrase, “All politics are local.”  While I think this is, generally, true all the time, this year really proved it to me.  As a teacher in Wisconsin, I not only witnessed a pretty serious attack on my profession and many other similar ones, I also became part of a pretty significant response as over 100,000 people took to the streets to let our voices be heard.  This type of response was echoed in many other parts of the world, including in places as far away as Egypt and as close as Michigan and Ohio.  Even though we are no longer occupying our Capitol or protesting on a daily basis, we are still working to recall our governor and those who stood with him.  No matter what people may think of our politics, the grassroots response is something to be proud of and to be in awe of.

Best Album of 2011:
This is obviously a no brainer here.  As a Duranie, the full version of All You Need is Now made my heart swell.  Duran’s soul had been returned and they reminded all of us why we fell in love with them in the first place and why we aren’t leaving any time soon.  This album is the best of the year and one of their best, ever.

Single of 2011:
I find this category sort of strange and silly since we have constantly discussed the end of traditional singles on this blog.  Do singles even matter?  Assuming that they do and assuming that Duran sort of had three, depending on how you define it, I would have to choose the title track from AYNIN.  I love the general message but I also love the specific message to us, the fans.  We should stay with the music and let it play a little longer. 

Favorite movie of 2011:
Like Rhonda, I don’t watch a ton of movies.  I don’t take the time to do it and I certainly don’t spend the money to see any in the theater.  One movie I enjoyed seeing this year (don’t think it came out this year, though) was the King’s Speech.  I watched it on the way from the UK in May.  As a special education teacher who has had many students with speech and language impairments, I found the movie fascinating.

Best Gig of 2011:
I’m supposed to choose?!  Oh gee…I honestly can’t choose any from those 4 UK shows that I saw.  Yes, I would agree with Rhonda that the energy, the everything was working at Glasgow.  That was one show that will keep me coming back for more and more and more just in hopes that they come close to the performance we saw that night.  The crowd was equally as fabulous and it was everything that a show should be!  That said, I can’t forget about Brighton, Bournemouth or Birmingham.  Brighton’s show was one that I didn’t think that they would be able to top EVER.  They were on fire that night.  If people thought they were good in Chicago in October (and they were), they were 10 times better in Brighton, at least!  Simon, for example, seemed 10 times more energetic.  I couldn’t get over it!  Of course, that show will always be remembered for Secret Oktober.  That, my friend, was worth the wait, the expense and more.  Birmingham was also special because we finally got to see them there, in their birthplace and Bournemouth was something unique, too, because Rhonda made me laugh during Leopard.  Who does that?!?

Most Looking Forward to in 2012:
I, obviously, hope to see more Duran shows!  I also hope to hop over the pond once more to join my friends in celebrating the band and our fandom at the UK Convention!  I cannot wait!  As a John girl, I cannot wait to get my hands on that book of his!  I am sure to devour it in one sitting and then will read it again for all of the details!  Speaking of books, we must finish ours and get moving with everything else that we have planned!  Beyond Duran, 2012 is a presidential year.  Thus, I will be plenty busy campaigning not only for that race but also for US Senate, US House Rep and, hopefully, governor here.  I am hoping that the results will be such that I will have much to rejoice.

Now, we would LOVE to read your lists!  How would you summarize your 2011?!  With that, we wish everyone a happy, healthy and Durantastic 2012!!!

-A & R

Catch ya on the other side!!

So this is my last blog of 2011. I must admit that the notion seems odd to me as I’m still having to remind myself not to write “2010” as the year when I fill out checks and paperwork. I’m really going to be challenged to remember 2012! This has certainly been quite a year. There are some years that I can look back with certainty and say it was a good year, or a bad year. 2011 was a bit of a mixed bag for me, and at the very least I can say it brought many surprises and emotions. I suppose it was a very full year.

Technology did not disappoint for me this year. Thanks to social networking I found my long lost four best friends from college – in fact we just got together again here at my house last night. It was a very loud, very late night! I love that our world is much smaller today than it was even a few years back, and in the period of just a few minutes I can check in with Amanda in Wisconsin on email, post a message for a friend on the East Coast of the US on Facebook, see what people in the UK are tweeting about on Twitter, and chat with a friend in South America over instant message….never mind answering a phone call from my mother who lives 3 miles from me here in California. I would say that the world has gotten much smaller and more active for me in 2011.

On a personal note, I don’t do resolutions. I need more than the empty slate of a new year ahead to motivate me, and I guess I prefer to see time as flowing from one year to the next rather than having definitive beginnings and ends. I’ve never done well with the idea of time passing, and I suppose to some extent the idea frightens me. I don’t like feeling as though time is something I’ll eventually run out. So I focus on goals and having to-do lists. I finished quite a few things on that list for 2011, and I even changed the blog so people could read it without going blind…go me! Next is to do a redesign and move it to WordPress, along with adding more content. I could spend many more hours on the blog than I have each day, so progress is slow, but it will grow in time. I want to completely finish the first draft of the book, as well. I’m hoping to find more time to play/practice clarinet as well. There are a couple of home projects I want to accomplish this year (painting my room and the upstairs hallways) as well. Once again, I have the hope of going to the UK on my list AGAIN this year…as I’m hoping to attend the DD-UK convention. My husband is SO overjoyed! Which reminds me….I need a job…or I’m going to start selling off household contents on eBay!

I wish everyone a very Happy 2012!!!

-R