Category Archives: personal stories

The Final Countdown

Tell me that you all aren’t hearing The Final Countdown by Europe playing in your heads….because I hear it in mine.  Wrong band, wrong blog….but I still really like the song! (I can’t help it.  The 80’s power ballads hold a dear spot in my heart and memory.  Sue me.)

It is Monday, April 25.  I have 25 days to go until I leave for England.  (I can also tell you the hours and minutes until my plane leaves…and yes, I really AM counting.)  Today, in the life of Rhonda, I dropped off my middle child – my son – for 6th grade Science Camp.  Science Camp, for those who don’t have kids or don’t partake in such events – is the very apex of being in elementary school here in Orange County.  You start hearing about it in kindergarten, and the big deal is that it’s an overnight thing.  Several “overnights” to be exact.  He left today and returns on Friday afternoon – likely exhausted and sleep deprived, no less.  (kind of like how we are after going to a DD show or two…)  His time finally arrived, and I’m happy to say – he made it on the bus and is on his way!  The even bigger deal about all of this, is that my son is on the Autistic spectrum.  He is extremely high functioning and well on his way to being a superior computer engineer (likely specializing in video gaming) someday.  However, not long ago – my son was a very depressed 7 year old.  We were in the process of getting his autism diagnosis and we were trying to get him help at school – which took forever.  Then he hit 4th grade, and everything seemed to get much, much worse.  He was ridiculed at school, both by his class and by his teacher.  He believed no one wanted him, loved him or cared about him except for me – those were his words, not mine.  His habitual side took over, and he was a child that chewed on everything he could get his hands on, and if he couldn’t chew it, he’d completely destroy it. (including each and every jet we have in our backyard hot tub – that took him 10 minutes to completely dismantle)  If he wasn’t chewing or destroying things, he was taking his anger out on his stuffed animals, completely beheading them, stabbing them and taking the stuffing out of them.  It was after I found those heaped in a pile in his room that I knew we needed help, fast.  After much counseling, a brand new school year with a new teacher and a lot of healing, I am thrilled and so extremely proud to say that he is my “easy” child, and he really, REALLY is.  I am going to miss him so much this week, but I can’t think of another kid that deserves this camp more, and I hope he has a fantastic week ahead.   Next up is my youngest’s third birthday.  Conversely, she is not my easy child right now.  I love her dearly, but she is embracing the age of three in all of it’s splendor.  I especially love when I tell her no and she screams directly in my face – only to have me start laughing in return.  (ah, to be the last of a long line of tantrum-throwers.  There’s not much left I haven’t had done to me, so nothing really phases mom much!)  The other night she had a completely epic tantrum after being told the last Easter Egg had already been dyed and we were finished.  I actually videotaped it for later use.  As blackmail.  🙂   The beauty of this birthday is that not only is it my little one’s special day, but it is also the very special day of my blogging partner Amanda!  Thank you for agreeing to share your birthday with my youngest, Amanda – do you still remember that fateful phone call 3 years ago??    She was actually supposed to be born on my sisters birthday – May 15, but due to an immense amount of stress that I was under (my dad had just been rushed to the hospital, and my blood pressure was through the roof), I had to have her early.  Amanda was the first person I called, both to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her that she was going to be sharing her birthday with my youngest!  Good times!!!

Yes, I realize the blog today has nothing to do with Duran Duran yet.  I’m just counting down my own busy life between now and the day I leave.

I suppose I will close the blog by mentioning that I’ve read in a few places about how fantastic the show was in Chicago this weekend.  Both the show itself…and the show after the show that took place at a local bar.  Amanda blogged about the concert, which sounded like a good one, but she’s conspicuously NOT blogged about the fun that took place afterward.  Our blog has desperately tried not to be gossip rag or a “tell-all”.  I almost wish I WOULD post some of the crazy stuff I’ve seen over the years, and I’m not talking about the behavior of the band, but rather, the behavior of some of the fans.  I think we’ve all done things at times that we’ve cringed about later – but I don’t mind saying that some seem to keep right on doing it, over and over again.  Clearly it’s not enough to crave the attention from the band, but they also crave the attention from the rest of the fans as well – because it is always quite a show.  We sit, we watch, we laugh.  Does this make us mean?  Well, partly no because we don’t post those stories… but partly yes because to be honest – half of the reason I hang around afterwards is to watch the scene unfold.  I could lie and try to take the high road by saying I do it all in the name of social science, but the fact is – it’s entertaining and I am probably not being very nice when I say that, so I openly apologize.  I still promise that I will do my best not to blog about the “guess who threw her breasts at Roger” type stories I hear because that is unkind, but I can’t promise not to grin or even snicker a little at some of the crazy things that happen at times.  I don’t ever intend to be mean, but sometimes I do have to wonder out loud as to why people behave the way they do, and not think that someone, somewhere, is ever going to call them out for that behavior.  If that’s not social science, I don’t know what is!

-R

Confession time!

I’m sorry the blog is later than usual today.  My oldest is out of school on Spring Break, and we did a rare thing:  we went shopping.  I know that seems hard to believe, but it’s true.  Normally we’ve got the little one with us, which means shop FAST….or we’ll have the men with us too, which means shop even FASTER.  Today we took our time, and now I’m hard pressed to get this blog finished before my husband arrives home to an empty dinner table with nothing cooking.  *gasp*

In my quest to complete the blog, I scanned facebook and the boards for any bit of news to report on – and I found a new video!  It’s posted on Duran Duran’s Youtube channel, and it’s to Before the Rain.  It’s all over facebook and the boards now, but in case you haven’t seen it – here’s the link.

Naturally, I watched the video.  I have to say, Gavin Elder has outdone himself.  Yes, the video is of a photo shoot, but the video really works with the music well.  (the background and perhaps the subjects didn’t hurt either.)   This band combined with black and white video is just stunning.  I love seeing them laugh, and I think it’s interesting to see them all look with such great attention to detail at their proofs from the shoot.  Vanity?  Maybe.  Rock stars?  Definitely.  There was actually a glimpse of what I feel is a very rare thing these days – and that was Nick with a full smile.  Teeth and all.  I miss seeing that these days.  He has such a lovely smile, and yet we really don’t see that very often – just the smallest of grins usually, so it’s a treasure to see a full smile.  I know most of the shots end up on the cutting room floor, but I’m very curious about those white hats – hopefully we’ll see one or two of those pictures at some point!

While watching the video, I was thinking about how entwined the bands career has been with fashion.  I don’t have to recite much of the bands history with their Anthony Price suits and the New Romantic era…or even how they’ve played shows during Fashion Week in Milan to prove my point.  Yet fascinatingly enough, this blogger knows almost nothing about fashion.  That’s right.  I know almost nothing.  I realize this must be a shock, so go ahead and take a breath or two.  I’ll wait.

Here’s the reality:  I know what I like.  I’m casual.  I love denim.  I love t-shirts.  I wear flip-flops or athletic shoes on a daily basis.  I’m pretty sure that if Nick Rhodes showed up at my house, he’d take one look at my wardrobe closet, grab my Duran Duran albums, posters and what-not, and be on his way.  I wear makeup, but on any given day my makeup consists of eyeliner and mascara.  That’s it.   Sometimes I feel as though I’m a big faker who snuck in under the radar of whomever is the big judge of Duran Duran fans.   I have to try really hard when I go to Duran Duran shows, and that begins with telling myself that no, I really cannot possibly wear tennis shoes to the show – even though we ALL know that they are the most comfortable!   (you can’t even begin to imagine my joy when I started noticing, and oh yes, I *did* notice, that Nick started wearing sparkly athletic shoes of some sort on stage.  Bless. Him.)   I try to start noticing what people are wearing, and I do go shopping.  I just have to go against my gut instinct to put on a rock t-shirt, jeans and some old converse tennies and be on my way.

That said, I don’t rock the Mom jeans.  Pleats and I haven’t been friends since I was in about the second grade and pleated skirts were all the rage.  I really am against wearing a clothing fashion that I have photographs of myself wearing back in the 80’s (leggings and I broke up YEARS ago), and mostly – I just take a good hard look at myself in my mirror before I leave each day.  That’s about where my sense of style begins and ends, to be honest.  I read something once about how Nick (and I’m sorry if it seems as though I’m picking on him – I’m really not!) admires people for taking chances with their fashion.  My idea of taking chances is god forbid buying something off the rack without trying it on first.  That IS risky when you’ve had 3 children!!!  *gasp*

When I go to a Duran Duran show, I’m amazed at everything I see.  I admire the women who can still pull off purple hair in their 40’s and still look their children in the eye – I have a feeling mine would just laugh.  I wish I were that way….I aspire to be that way.  The hairstyles are amazing – I couldn’t ever pull off anything edgier than the very slight A-line haircut I’ve got going on right now, otherwise my hair would truly be wearing ME.  I love the way women will wear stilettos to a GA show and then look as though they’re still having fun the entire night.  There’s no way my feet would respect me in the morning after being treated that way.  My feet insist on flats, and since it’s the only way we continue to get along – they win.   So I watch and admire from afar.

I really don’t know how I got past the guards when I became a Duran Duran fan.  I’ve never bought a Vogue magazine, much less spent any kind of time pouring over what the latest designer fashions may be.  Never mind the fact that at least for most of my life – finances dictated that I shop from the discount rack.  I’ve learned to love nice things as I’ve grown older, but fashion is still my downfall.  It’s my little confession.  What’s yours?

Reality Strikes Back

Every once in a while I get so engrossed in my own happenings, whether it’s those here in my house, or those in my Duran world, that I really kind of forget that I live in a REAL community with real people.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one guilty of that from time to time.  In my case, I tend to be a bit of a hermit I suppose.  I used to help out at the kids’ elementary school when they were little – so I was friendly with several PTA moms and other people at the school, but now that they’ve grown older I don’t find that I’m at the school nearly as often, and I really don’t run into a lot of moms around town.  My oldest attends a school that is 20 miles away from our house, and since I have a little one here at home, I can’t get involved there as much as I’d like. (maybe next year??)  Like I said, I guess I’m a bit of a hermit.  

As I mentioned, one of the hazards with being a hermit is that I don’t keep up with what is going on in the lives of the PTA members (otherwise known as “gossip”), but I also don’t see a lot of the people I’ve met and befriended along the way.  Several years back, I was a Co-Leader for my daughter’s Brownie troop.  Those of you who know me well probably realize how out of character such a position was for me…and it was.  I loved helping out with my daughters troop, and the girls were fun, but I’m not “THAT” mom.  I’m not the kind of mom that bakes, cleans, sews, cooks, gets the kids where ever they need to be…on time…neat….and in the case of my girls: with their hair neatly braided or coiled in whatever the latest and cutest hairstyle might be.  Oh no.  I’m the mom who is rushing around, yelling at the kids to get in the car, teasing them endlessly about being late and being left on the curb to fend for themselves, and I definitely don’t look like I’ve got it all together.  Regardless, I was a Brownie leader with two other moms (who made THEIR jobs look far easier than I ever did!).   These other two moms were my Godsend in many ways, as I could not have been troop leader without them.  I felt that we became friends, and I trusted them completely.  We ran the troop for 3 years, and then I realized I needed to move on or else I’d go completely insane.  As a result, we parted ways, and as typically happens, we drifted apart.  Occasionally I’d run into either one of them and we’d promise to get together for coffee, but it never happened, and I don’t blame anyone but myself – I should have called but I did not.

As you all know, my time is divided these days between being a wife and mom to writing – both this blog and the book that Amanda and I have been working on.  I’ve also been planning for our UK trip and reveling in the fact that the band is touring.  Admittedly my days are consumed with Duran Duran, at least my mornings have been, and I’ve completely forgotten about the outside world to some extent.  I keep saying that it’s a great time to be a Duranie, with the sales on the album doing so well so far, and seeing that the band is indeed having another moment in the sun.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I received a phone call from the godmother to my children who also lives in our community and teaches at the kids’ school.  She wanted to let me know some news that she’d received regarding one of the co-leaders children.  Unfortunately, this young girl – who incidentally is the same age as my son (around 12, give or take a month or two) – was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  They are doing what seems to be pretty aggressive treatment, and while it’s very early in treatment (she is in the midst of her second week), she’s doing well so far.  This family is wonderful – the father is a pastor at a very large church in our area and as such they have a great amount of support, which of course I’m thankful that they have.  However, I would imagine that they’d gladly redirect all of that support elsewhere just to have a healthy child.   Naturally, I could not have been more shocked, or shaken for that matter.  This mom and I ran a Brownie troop together.  At one point, she and her family lived down the street from me and I saw this little girl grow from a beautiful baby to a toddler, to a gorgeous 6th grader with everything to live for.  It’s unreal to me that she’s fighting a brain tumor right now as I’m typing up a fan blog for Duran Duran.

For me, it was probably a very much needed wake up call back to reality.  It’s so easy to live in  this Duran Duran fantasy world at times, communicating with people online, but completely overlooking the people in my regular, normal life.  I do have real friends in my real life that I tend to ignore at times just because the band is active and because these friends here just don’t get my fandom.  The two moms I was a co-leader with (including Jessie’s mom) were among the VERY few that knew/know about my Duran Duran obsession in my home community.  In fact, I was a co-leader at the time the band reunited and we were planning our convention.  They chuckled at me as I excitedly told them about the convention, and probably downright laughed, but with love – not malice, when I told them I was going to Chicago to see the shows in 2005.  Even so, I doubt they could really understand where I was coming from or why the band was so important to me.  I think that’s part of the reason I retreat so carefully from forming close friendships here at home.  There are just some things I’m not comfortable sharing about myself – my “obsession” with Duran Duran being one of them.  I know I’m not the only one.

Interestingly enough, I have never seen a 12 year old young lady quite like Jessica.  I can use her name because she has her own website and blog to keep everyone (strangers, family, and friends alike) updated on her treatment and progress.  People have “liked” her facebook page that have never even MET Jessica, and there is good reason for that – read on.  They are also asking everyone, everywhere, for their good thoughts and prayers.  Yes, this family has an immense amount of faith (much more than I), but I don’t think good faith has to mean of a religious form.  I believe in the power of positive thinking, and even if you don’t believe in God, that doesn’t mean you don’t pass on good thoughts for someone else, which is why I’m reaching out to anyone and everyone who reads this blog.  Take a look at her website (it’s linked below), and if you feel comfortable “like” it.   As soon as I heard about Jessica, or Jessie as we call her – I felt an intense need to do something.  There’s very little that I can really do, to be honest – her family is being taken care of in many ways – but the one thing I *can* do is reach out to my own community of people and ask that you keep this young girl in your good thoughts.  She’s only 12, and she deserves to grow up.

Jessie amazes me because she has more grace in her twelve year old body and heart than I’ll ever have. She is taking this situation and reaching out to people through her journey, both by her blog and by fundraising so that this doesn’t happen to other kids.  She has a slogan that I absolutely love and will learn to live by: Never Ever Give Up (NEGU), and if that weren’t enough, she’s come up with another idea that I think she’s going to use for fundraising called JoyJars. (her middle name is Joy.  She was very well named. :D)  I really can’t wait to see how her idea evolves from here.  I believe somewhere on her website (Her dad puts the content up on the website.  As she puts it, she has the heart and thoughts and her dad types.  :D)  she says that these projects keep her mind on something other than the pain.  To have such grace and energy…I can’t help but aspire to learn to be more like her.

I realize this blog doesn’t have a lot to do with Duran Duran per se, but it has everything to do with our real lives and how we fit it all in.  Sometimes I’m a master at juggling everything.  Sometimes I fail miserably.  Right now I suppose I’m examining the situation, learning from my mistakes, picking the things that are most important back up and trying again, because that’s really all we can do.

-R

If you are interested in reading about Jessica – her website is www.jessicajoyrees.com.

Finding the Person I Used to Be, The Final Outcome (for now!)

The day eventually arrived, and I was about to board a plane to New Orleans, alone.  I remember that day clearly because I was so glad to say good bye to my husband, and yet my heart ached when I said good bye to my kids.  The amount of guilt I felt in leaving them could have filled my house, and yet I knew in my head that I was doing the right thing.  It’s always the worst right before I leave for the airport  (its still that way to this day), but once I’m in the car it’s as though I’ve switched gears in my head and the “mom” part of me is put away on a shelf for later.

The entire way from security to the gate at the airport I kept looking around me as though I’d forgotten something – that’s another issue when you’ve had small children – I’m convinced that for the rest of my life, if they aren’t with me I’ll feel as though I’ve left something behind.  Once I got on the plane though, I felt settled.  Even a bit peaceful!  I don’t think I’d had the opportunity to read without someone interrupting me since before I got married – and as a result I’m pretty sure I finished an entire book on the flight to New Orleans.  (I’m a quick reader!)

Once I’d landed in New Orleans, I had another small worry – and that was finding a way to the Hotel Monaco.  I hadn’t wanted to rent a car or anything since I wasn’t going to be really going anywhere aside from the hotel, but I knew this meant I’d have to get a taxi for the 20 minute drive.  I’d never hailed a taxi alone before, which is ridiculous when I think back on it.  The thing is, since I’m from Southern California, there’s really not a lot of opportunity to take a taxi.  My little area of the world is easily a good 1 and a half hours from downtown Los Angeles OR downtown San Diego, and so that means I’m really in the suburbs.  Taxis aren’t really plentiful here, and as a result I am used to driving.   In any case, I hailed my cab (it was evening when I landed) and got myself to the hotel.  At this point, I can’t remember if I was the first to arrive in our room – I was sharing a room with another committee member in New Orleans that I’d grown close to – and I seem to think she’d gotten there first and either left me the key at the front desk, or I’d called her and she met me in the room.  Regardless, my biggest memory of my first night in New Orleans was finally meeting a fellow Duranie in real life!  To understand how I felt, I need to give you yet another small glimpse into my life at home.

I know I’ve mentioned I’m from Orange County California.  I live in a fairly new area, and I would say that a majority of the moms in my neighborhood are your basic stay-at-home PTA/soccer moms.   They are apt to drive luxury SUV’s, wear Ugg boots and (at the time of this story) Juicy Couture tracksuits, and hair extensions.  I, on the other hand, am not.  Yes, I do (did) have blonde hair, but that’s about where the similarity ends.  I always felt out of place when standing next to my fellow OC Moms, because while they’d be talking about volunteering in class or the latest PTA functions or Starbucks gossip – I would be thinking about getting home to read the Duran Duran boards, or chatting with my online friends.   My life as a Duranie, especially at this point in my life – was kept well under wraps.  I didn’t share any of that with my PTA mom friends, and while they would take joy in handling a class party or being the mom chosen to paint scenery for plays – I would run from that sort of thing screaming!  Don’t get me wrong, I did my “mom” duty – I was even a girl scout leader for my daughters Brownie troop, but I did that mainly for her, and as soon as I could offload that duty, I did!  It’s just not my thing.  I’m not the mom who played Barney or Preschool music CD’s in her car…I’m the mom who played(s) Duran Duran.  My kids knew the words to Planet Earth before they learned their ABC’s, and I’m not kidding.  🙂    All of that aside, I was also desperately lonely.  None of my friends here are into Duran Duran.  My husband doesn’t mind them, but there is something very odd and unsettling about attending a Duran Duran concert with him in tow.  I mean, how does one yell “I LOVE YOU ROGER!!” when their husband is right there within earshot?!?  It takes a little bit of the fun out of it at times.  I always wanted a female friend that I could giggle with, or commiserate over the lack of tour dates and so forth.  Which brings me back to that fateful meeting…

As soon as I saw JTDuran standing there (that’s her screenname), I knew we’d be friends forever.  We are very different in many, many ways – but there’s something very comforting about that.  At that point, she was very much the unsettled side of myself – the side that I wanted to get in touch with, but was almost afraid of setting loose from her cage.  🙂  She’ll say and do things that I would only dream of, and I still envy her to this day at times.  We’ve stayed friends since that weekend, and I have no doubt that we always will.  Along with JTDuran, we had several others in our room with us that weekend, and in every case, as I met each one I realized that I’d been given such a wonderful gift.  No longer was I alone out on a limb.

The main thing I want to convey from that weekend isn’t the story of the actual weekend, as it turns out.  It was a great time, absolutely.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time talking and laughing as I did then.  I learned a lot about Duran Duran, and I learned a lot about the fan community in general, and all of that was amazing.  The thing is, none of that is really the story.  The STORY, is finding myself again.

I don’t think I’d truly been comfortable in my own skin since I was in middle school, to be honest.  That’s an odd statement just because of the fact that middle school is about as unfriendly of a place as you’ll ever be, and yet during that time I think I was the most “myself” I’ve ever been.  My friends during that time were all huge Duran Duran fans, and while I had many other aspects to my character and personality – I’d be crazy not to admit that being a fan was a huge part of it.  The friends I had at that time gave me the comfort and space to just be myself, and I did.  In high school, we drifted apart, I gained a boyfriend or two, and things just changed.  I still loved the band, but that part of me was kind of put up on a shelf for later, so to speak.  After that, I never really found friends who had the same love for them that I did, so I learned to just keep that part quiet – and as is the case when you ignore anything that makes you a part of who you really are – I think you become someone else, as though you’re playing a part in a play.  That convention weekend reminded me of who I really was.  I had the comfort of being able to talk all about the band without getting sideways glances from anyone, because let’s face it – they were all understanding exactly what I was saying!

One of the best things to come out of that weekend, and there were really plenty – was that I met some of my closest friends ever.  One of those friends is my writing partner, Amanda.  I’d exchanged posts with her on www.duranduranfans.com – but I really didn’t know much about her until that Saturday night of the convention.  The committee had planned a dance party – complete with dinner and videos, and it was great fun.  I think we all could have continued to dancing to every single song in the band’s catalog – but eventually the party ended, and a bunch of us decided to continue out after the party, and so we did.  Somehow we ended our evening at Howl at the Moon on Bourbon Street singing Rio.  Wow.  That must have been quite a site (and sound).  I can only imagine, and I still don’t know what in the hell I was thinking getting up on stage like that.  Insanity.  I remember Amanda that night because she was wearing these really cute boots with a heel that would have killed me.  I could barely walk in my own flat shoes much less navigate a heel, not to mention the pain involved.  Regardless, that night began our friendship, and touring has never been the same since.  (then again, at that point, I’d never even gone to a show with friends!!  Another story for another blog!)  Amanda is the one person I call with an Official Duranie Alert – and I can always count on her sharing my exuberance, my frustration, and my flat out annoyance at times over whatever the band has done, is going to do, or never finishes to my satisfaction.  😀   While my husband will say “Why do you even care?”  Amanda will say “What the hell is the problem with that stupid band?”  (or something similar)  It’s a beautiful friendship and was well worth the wait to find!

I would have never guessed that at the age of 33 I’d have rediscovered part of my personality again.  It’s not really that I’ve changed so much here at home, though.  I’m still mom, I’m still married (a miracle given some of the crazy things I’ve requested from my husband over the years), and I’m still a stage mom for my oldest when I have no other choice (it’s my least favorite chore – right up there with cooking!).  In addition to all of that though, there’s another facet of me that I’m still polishing and perfecting from time to time.  It’s the part of me that I really don’t “share” with my family, but it’s every bit as important because it’s who I am.  It’s really nice to have the sense of accomplishment that came with planning and carrying out the convention, and it’s shown me that yes, it’s OK that I have interests that don’t have anything to do with my husband or my children.  Even my husband has grown used to the idea that Duran Duran and I are kind of a package deal.  He rolls his eyes a lot, and I’ve learned where his line of tolerance is. (although I do try to cross it often just to keep things interesting!)

We’ve never had another convention since that first one in 2004, at least not one that I’ve been a part of or planned, and perhaps that window has been shut for me as far as being the planner goes.  It’s a lot of work, and while I would gladly help to see another one take place, I could never put the time in now that I did before. I’ve moved on to other projects with every bit as much determination, however.  This blog is part of that, and although I admit there are some days when I can’t even put a sentence together much less come up with a decent topic, it’s been good for me as a person.  If I’ve learned anything from all of this – it’s to encourage my children, my girls most of all, not to leave themselves behind once they are married or are moms.  It’s important to have balance, and that’s something I intend to continue.

-R

Finding the person I Used to Be, Part II

As the convention planning continued to chug along, I grew more and more excited by the prospect of going to meet all of these people I’d been working with for the last several months.  Interestingly enough, throughout all of the planning, I hadn’t considered the idea that although I’d committed heart and soul to bringing the convention from an idea to a reality, there wasn’t much of a chance that I would be able to attend…at least not without creating World War III in my house.  At this point, I’d never traveled by myself anywhere, aside from a trip home to see my parents when we lived in Chicago.  I knew that I very much wanted to go to the convention, but the idea of talking to Walt about the idea of spending my (his) hard-earned salary to go on a trip…by myself to meet people I’d never truly spoken to…sounded like it would be as much fun as going and volunteering for a root canal.  So I did what anyone else would have done in my position would have:  I planned to go, and figured I’d deal with my husband later.  Priorities, people!  My husband, however, is a very smart man.  He picks up on the small things…he picks up on the omissions of word, the missing details…and the fact that I was on the planning committee for a convention dedicated to fans of the band I loved best in the world.  He definitely noticed I’d forgotten to mention that I was planning to attend.

It wasn’t that long into the planning process when, one night after I’d excited relayed the details behind the committee’s decision to have the convention in New Orleans, and the hotel we’d chosen, (Hotel Monaco, sadly which after our convention was badly damaged during Katrina and never reopened)  my husband looked pointedly at me and asked the question I’d been dreading:  “You’re not actually thinking that you’re going to this thing, are you Rhonda?”

After a couple deep breaths, I explained that I really WAS hoping to go – but only if he thought we could do it.  It’s very tough for me to go anywhere these days, but back in 2004, it was even tougher!   We had two young children at that point, my husband had just been laid off by one company and hired by another…and I’d have to find some way to get the kids to and from school along with having someone watch them while my husband was working during the day.  I was determined though, and while it was very, very clear that I was walking a fine line with my husband, he didn’t say no.  That said, it didn’t make home life any easier.   My husband just didn’t understand my fascination with not only message boards, but working so hard at planning a convention even though I wasn’t being paid.  I guess that to me, my “payment” was the enjoyment I received from feeling as though I was part of a group.  I loved the fact that I was working, so to speak, with other adults.  Once again I have to say that there was something very desirable about having this be one thing that was all for me.  I didn’t have to share the message boards, the friends I was making, or the convention planning with anyone….but on the same token I loved talking about everything I was doing, even though I knew that to some extent, the very things I enjoyed doing were putting quite a wedge between my husband and myself.  I suppose at the time I just felt that the sacrifice was worth it.  I needed this for me.

It was with great joy that I was able to go back to the planning committee and give my own personal commitment for attending the convention.  I couldn’t imagine doing all of the work and not being able to go and see how it came out for myself, so I was thrilled by that respect.  On the other hand, however, I was nervous, if not downright scared.   First of all, up until that point, I’d never left my two children for more than a day to go somewhere by myself.  My husband and I had taken vacations without the kids before, but only for a couple of days, and as I said – we were together.  I kind of felt selfish for wanting the time to myself, and especially when I thought about the fact that it wasn’t just an overnighter to go to a MOMS Club event or a scrapbooking convention or something that pertained to being a mom.  No, this was solely MY thing.  I couldn’t even justify a good reason for my attendance other than saying that I really wanted to go!   I suppose I really shouldn’t have felt as though I had to justify my reasons for going, but that’s never been the way our family has worked.  My husband comes and goes as he needs for work, never giving me more than day or two notice of his travels – and most of the time it’s a LOT less – which completely annoys me, but he always says the magic words…”It’s my job.”  Somehow that’s supposed to make it all OK.  I’m not sure that it ever really does, but it’s the life I lead.  I make it work.   I don’t work for a salary outside of the home, so therefore none of my travel is ever really necessary or justified (don’t get me started about traveling for the sake of book research…that comes MUCH later.)  So, as time passed I worried about every last thing that needed to be accomplished while I was gone, and I have to say – I had a lot of sleepless nights during the summer before I went to the convention.  I tried very hard to make myself sound “cool” online and not talk about my worries behind leaving my kids, but I knew that in order for my marriage to stay on the same even keel I was used to, I had to make sure everything ran as smooth as silk in my absence.

to be continued tomorrow….

Finding the Person I Used to Be

As you all are reading the blog today – I’ll be on a short vacation.  My husband and I are taking a long weekend for ourselves, sans children, up in Napa Valley.  Napa is probably my very favorite place on earth.  Yes, I thoroughly enjoy wine and so it’s my own personal version of what Disneyland should really be like, but it’s also a place for my husband and I to dream about what kind of life we’d like to have at some point after he retires and our children are grown (we would love to own our own wine bar), and I can’t help but love the beauty of the area.  So, I’m pre-writing this blog for posting while I’m gone, and I’m crossing my fingers that major news doesn’t erupt – because I will be happily sipping wine somewhere in the valley without my cell phone!  

Since we started the blog, we’ve had several requests for some of our own personal stories to be posted.  I’ll admit that at first, I scoffed at the idea mainly because that wasn’t the real purpose behind the blog.  We wanted the blog to be about the news of the day/week/etc and how we see it from a fan perspective. It seemed to be a bit more like gushing to post our own personal stories.  That said, from time to time – we’ll go ahead and post what we feel we can share.  In the case of me, my stories are far and few in between, really.  I’m no different than most other fans – I’ve seen them at concerts, never truly met them in person aside from a signing – and I’ve mostly just heard things from lucky friends who have had much better opportunities!  
With that in mind, my first story is about the first time I really had “in real life” experience with the fan community.  In 2004, I was a lurker on duranduran.com in the fan forum.  Once in a great while I would post, but mostly I read the posts and kept to myself.  Another fan had created her own website dedicated to Duran Duran and a message board forum to go with it, and wanted people to check out the functionality of the boards.  I felt I had nothing to lose – so I went over to the board. (duranduranfans.com – still in existence today)  I liked what I saw, and I especially felt comfortable because at the time it was a small board (in population) and I could post without being ridiculed or judged.  As time wore on, I found myself coming to the board more and more often.  It was a friendly place and plenty of new people seemed to be posting as time passed.  Not long after joining the board, a fellow poster brought up the idea of organizing our own fan convention.  I have to say that at the time it seemed like a very daunting task, but I was curious as to how it could be done, and I was excited by the prospect of meeting new people – especially new people who loved Duran Duran.  So, I agreed to help out.  I’m really not sure how it all got accomplished – I think the person who was in charge (I am omitting names on purpose) put her heart and soul into making sure the convention became a reality and that probably made all of the difference, but we came up with a time, city, venue and plenty of activities to keep people interested.  
In the meantime, my home life was slowly unraveling around me.  My husband, who is truly not an obsessive fan about anything other than his career, wasn’t thrilled about my sudden interest in a fan community.  I suppose that to him, it all happened overnight.  One day I was happy to be a mom and housewife, and the next – I was spending all of my “free” time online planning a convention with people I’d never met.  There were many “talks” of the time he felt I was wasting online, and it got to the point where I felt my husband was more like a father or a jailer than he was a partner.  There was concern that I was pouring money into making the convention happen (which I was not.  I never spent one single penny on planning the convention beyond the electricity to run our computer or the internet connection), and even more concern that I had virtually NO idea with whom I was trading posts with online.  The discussions we had regarding the convention, the fan community, and my involvement went on for many months (years) beyond the convention….and remained a bone of contention for quite some time. 
You would think (and really, you really would think!!) that the tension at home with my husband would have made me pause and reconsider my involvement.  At what point does it all become “not worth it”?  I suppose that for me, it has come very close many times.  The truth is, I needed to plan that convention.  When my husband and I first married, within months we were moving to Chicago – and certainly not by my choice.  I think from then on, I felt as though my life were not completely my own.  Then when we became pregnant with our oldest and it was agreed that I would give up my job to stay at home with her (which at the time was the soundest decision that could have been made given the time requirements of my job at the time), I think I felt like I’d completely lost my own will, my own purpose.  For anyone who has been a mom before of a human child (as opposed to puppies, kitties, etc.) – they are pretty darn demanding.  It no longer matters whether YOU are sick, or YOU are tired – it’s all about the baby.  My goodness, you even lose your own name when you have a child – instead of being called the name you’ve had since birth, you’re suddenly given the generic name of “mom”.  Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is beautiful, and the bond between a mom and child is something that can be truly amazing.  That said, there are real tradeoffs with becoming a mom, and it’s part of my story. Between a baby and a husband who travels constantly for work, it became very clear that my purpose was to handle the house and the child.  I know I could have gone back to work – but I also know that it would have been a nightmare.   So my career became being a mom, and somewhere along the line I forgot all about Rhonda and who she was.  Planning the convention was a step in the direction of finding that self I’d left behind.
….to be continued…