Category Archives: personal stories

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

I should be in Tahiti!

Today my best friend from here in “The OC” is at a beach somewhere on Bora Bora in Tahiti.  I’m sure it’s sunny, warm and deliciously non-winter like.  They are staying at a fancy resort where their rooms are huts out over the water, and I can’t wait until she gets home next weekend so that I can sit and salivate over the pictures and descriptions of what it was all like!   I’m only partly jealous because while this is an extravagant vacation, I happen to know just how often her husband is away from home during the year (I honestly think Duran Duran spends more time at home with their families than my friend Dave does with his)…and besides, I spent my vacation seeing Duran Duran while my husband and kids were still here at home!

Yeah….Tahiti still sounds pretty enticing!  Simon, Nick, John, Roger & Dom aside….

Here in California today, it is grey, cool…almost threatening to actually rain (*gasp*), and I am sick on the couch with the flu.  Some winters I’m lucky and don’t get sick very often, but so far this winter is not measuring up.  This flu is particularly bad though due to the fever I’m fighting, and since its the week before Christmas – which in our house is a major holiday – the timing really couldn’t be worse.  Today I was to go grocery shopping for the entire week, including Christmas – and then tomorrow is cookie baking day. My sister arrives on Wednesday, and then after that the week and tasks become a blur through until next Monday.  Instead, my husband took one look at me before he left for work this morning and said “Rest. Stay in bed.  Make me a list and I’ll take care of it.”   Famous last words, although I appreciate his optimism.    Staying in bed and “resting” don’t work with a 3 year old, even though my older two are home on holiday break for the next couple of weeks.  My point is that I don’t even work outside of the house and it still takes me all day to accomplish things.  He’s going to be at work until about 6, get home here around 7pm and then go shopping?  Oh boy and good luck!

So my friends, I do need to get better.  Quickly.  It makes me wonder how the band does it when they’re sick.  I mean, they can’t go around canceling shows whenever they’re ill, although I suppose they power through it the way I need to do this week.  I think it was Dom that said something about having tons of adrenaline.  I need some of that, except I’m pretty sure I used that all up during my trip!  I need to reload.  In the meantime, I’m going to take some Advil (thank goodness for Advil), grab a blanket and try to rest.

Hopefully I’ll have some dreams of being on a beach in Tahiti.  You can pick the band member that will be my personal bartender and bring me drinks!

-R

Careless Memories-Birmingham Show Review and Thoughts

I really wish that Rhonda had to blog today. It will be difficult to put my feelings and thoughts into words. I’m not even sure that I know all of my feelings and words. Here’s the thing. I’m emotional about last night’s show. I knew that I would be, no matter what the show was like. I knew that I would have mixed feelings the morning after. These statements have proven to be true. I am emotional and have mixed feelings about the show. Rhonda and I have been planning this trip for almost a year. It has been almost an entire year in which we were constantly talking about going to the UK to see Duran perform there, in their home country. We built the trip(s) around the Birmingham show. You see, while it was cool to see them in Brighton or Bournemouth, it isn’t the same as seeing them in Birmingham, their hometown, the birthplace of the band. Thus, we put a lot of time, energy and heart into last night’s show.

I’ll back up a bit. We took a train from Bournemouth to Birmingham. This was a three hour train ride and one that I was concerned about at first. I have pretty bad motion sickness but I adjusted without getting sick. The time allowed Rhonda and I to brainstorm some fun activities for the blog! (Coming soon!!!) We also enjoyed seeing the UK countryside, which is quite pretty. Once in Birmingham, we checked into the Hyatt Regency, which is on the former site of the Rum Runner. We are such dorks! Then, we ordered food (our first and only meal of the day!) and some champagne! We had to celebrate. We had come a long way and had been through too much not to! At the same time, we were getting ready as we had people to see and drinks to have as we were due to meet friends in a pub on Broad Street at 4. There, we enjoyed some cider and fabulous company. Our excitement was pretty high when the group of us headed over to the venue together. The whole world could probably tell how excited we were!

When Rhonda and I arrived inside the venue, we were shocked at how big it was! It was much bigger than the venues in both Brighton and Bournemouth. We hoped for a good crowd and, for the most part, we got one as the crowd responded to Duran’s requests to clap hands, sing along, etc. We had a straight shot to Nick in the 4th row. Great seats! The only bummer for me is that I had a big guy in front of me to the side, which, sometimes, blocked my view of John, which is unacceptable! Anyway, we didn’t have to wait long before Duran took the stage.

I’m not going to go into detail about the show as much of it was somewhat of a blur caused by having to been to 3 shows in a row and due to the fact that I was so emotionally escalated. Overall, I would say that Birmingham was a great show and that the band performed well! It was a large improvement over Bournemouth as there were no technical issues of note and that they had a good rhythm the whole show. The crowd was much better as well along with our seats. No songs really stood for me as really, really, really awesome but no songs weren’t fabulous. It was a solid performance.

They did comment a number of times about being “home”. Simon made a comment at the end of Ordinary World thanking the crowd for either taking care of them or watching over them or something. It was actually very touching. That said, it seemed like we were a little like strangers invading someone’s home, some place we didn’t belong. Obviously, this sentiment is silly since there were lots and lots of other fans there from different places other than Birmingham. Anyway, the show ended too quickly for my tastes as I tried to soak it all in. Goodness knows that I probably won’t have that opportunity maybe ever again. I wanted to remember all of it.

After the show, we were looking forward to hanging with our friends and partying it up. While we did spend some time with friends, had some drinks and were up much, much, much later than we should have been, it wasn’t the wild and crazy time that we had envisioned. This is completely our fault as we were still trying to process the show and having our dream of seeing them play in Birmingham fulfilled. I have to admit that there was a bit of a let down and there is today still. This let down has/had nothing to do with the show, the band or the kick ass people we have met and gotten to know (better). It has to do with us. It has to do with having a long time goal met and being left to wonder what it going to be the next goal, the next step. Obviously, today, we are heading up to Scotland to see a friend of mine and to be there for the Glasgow show. We are both glad that we have one more show, something after Birmingham. We need that. After we return to the US, we will continue to write the blog and we will finish the book. That’s a good goal to have, right? It is. Now, our book will be better after this past year and the experiences we have had.

Now, I have to end the blog and see what platform we have to pick up our train. Good times are still ahead!!!

-A

Why Must Everything Be So Complicated?!

So I have been sitting in front of my computer for over an hour now.  During that time, I have been thinking while only occasionally actually using the computer.  You see, fellow readers, the Daily Duranie is once again faced with unfortunate circumstances surrounding our (2nd!!!) attempt at going to see Duran play in their home country.  For those of you outside of the UK, there is a planned strike for Wednesday, November 30th.  My understanding is that it is with the public employees who are angry about cuts to their pensions.  This is a cause I’m not unsympathetic about.  That said, it now appears to be a huge thorn in our sides as the union who runs the border controls (aka customs) will be striking as well.  This will cause huge backups at the airport where most people enter and could eventually lead to cancellation of flights.  So, when do we, the not-so-lucky, the not-so-smart people, fly in?  Yes, that would be Wednesday, November 30th, which is also the day of the first show in Brighton.  Yes, we have tickets for that show.  We have good tickets.

The obvious answer to the problem would be to fly in a day earlier.  Ah, yes, if only it was that simple.  Unfortunately, my job is not so flexible.  In fact, there is a huge procedure to taking days off and I only have 5 per year even with that procedure.  Let me explain the process a bit.  I ask my immediate supervisor.  S/he agrees.  It then gets sent to a different office that also has to approve it.  In this case, it was approved with a condition of finding someone who has my expertise to fill in.  Luckily, I was able to do that.  In this case, I asked for 4 out of the 5 days.  That seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.  We were able to squeeze four shows in like we had originally planned.  Cool.  Great.  By the way, these types of requests must be done in advance, which, of course, brings me to the current situation.

Yes, I suppose I could ask to leave a day earlier.  I would not be asking well in advance, which could be a problem.  Yet, of course, this is a situation that is completely out of my hands.  Therefore, maybe, they would understand.  This would also mean that I use up my last day.  Unfortunately, this is also a problem for me as I have received an opportunity to a conference that I cannot pass up.  This conference has nothing to do with work but a once-in-a-lifetime deal.  Originally, I thought I was in trouble with that because it appeared that it would require 2 days and I only have 1 left of my days off at work.  Yet, after some investigation, I might be able to swing this conference, this opportunity in one day. This would mean that I would fly to that conference the night before, attend the conference and fly back home early, early, early the next day.  I would be late to work but not significantly.  Therefore, I thought that my work would be okay with that.  Problem seemingly solved on that one.

I still don’t know what to do about the flight to the UK.  Should I push my luck at work knowing that I have used 4 days and that the request won’t be in advance?  Is there something idea that I’m missing?  Yes, I admit that I’m being totally selfish here but both of these are dreams of mine.  Serious dreams so, yes, I want both.  Who wouldn’t?!  I just don’t know what to do.  I don’t understand why it always has to be so complicated.  Why?!  Why can’t Rhonda and I just go to the shows without a problem?  Why does it always seem like something gets in our way?!  Maybe we are worrying about a problem that won’t actually be a problem.  Yes, maybe, there are long lines to enter the country at the airport but maybe it won’t be as bad as it has been described. 

So, readers.  Help me out.  Help us out.  Help me to figure out a different solution, one that I can’t see.  Allow us (me) get these dreams of mine fulfilled. 

-A

Happy 25th Birthday Notorious!

I must apologize for the SUPER lateness of today’s blog.  Life has been BEYOND crazy for me lately.  On top of teaching full time, I have been volunteering in a political campaign.  This is really more than a volunteer job as it has become so time consuming that I have worked enough this week to make it a full time job!  Of course, I’m also trying to get ready for my trip to the UK, which is coming up quickly!  Cannot wait!!!  Despite my hectic schedule, I have seen a few people mentioned today’s anniversary/birthday.  25 years ago today the album, Notorious, was released. 

I can think back to going to the local “mall”‘s record store after the album was released.  How excited I was!!!!  A new Duran Duran album!  My 11 year old self could *squee* with the best of them at this point!  I so looked forward to this album as it was going to be my oasis in a desert of lameness that I was currently calling home as my family had moved from the Chicago suburbs to this small town in Illinois.  I was “desperate for something new.”  You see this town felt so incredibly backwards to me.  It did not have top 40 radio (where Duran and others were constantly played) and it did not have MTV.  I felt so completely lost there for such a long time.  I clung to Duran then.  Their music reminded me of “home” and the best friend that I had left behind who was also a Duranie.  I didn’t care that no one in this dumb town knew or cared who they were.  They were my favorite band and that’s all that mattered to this opinionated pre-teen! 

Despite my focus on Duran, I couldn’t help but notice that there were changes surrounding the band and their fans.  I knew that Andy and Roger had left.  I was able to shake that off without too much of a problem as Andy never seemed interesting to me then and I had no opinion about Roger.  I was all about John then (I’m sure you couldn’t have figured that out!).  Thus, if John was still in the band, it was fine.  I suppose it was good to have Simon, too, since he had the voice.  Nick didn’t matter to me one way or another.  I was an optimist and was able to ignore all of those articles and interviews surrounding the return of Duran that openly wondered if Duran would still be able to cut it without Roger and Andy.  Didn’t they see that Duran was stronger than that?  Didn’t they know how much the band mattered to me and others?  Of course, they would survive!  They would not only survive but be better off!  I know that is what the guys said many times in interviews during that time period.  Yet, looking back, you can tell that they were trying to convince themselves as much as the rest of the world.  I was, too.  I ignored the little voice in the back of my mind that said that things were not as rosy as I wanted them to be.

I knew that there were changes and I was prepared to accept them.  What I wasn’t prepared for was watching people and friends walk away.  I saw them not believing what the band was saying about being better than before.  I saw how confused they all were by Power Station and Arcadia.  Heck, I remember distinctly having a conversation with my best friend at the time about how she was taking all her Duran posters down because they were no longer cool.  I remember being shocked by this.  I didn’t understand how she could so easily abandon them.  I also remember feeling sad that I would no longer be able to share Duran with her.  We wouldn’t have this interest between us.  It also meant that I now seemed to stand on the side of the road that was marked, “uncool”.  As much as this bothered me, I wouldn’t let go of my fandom.  I couldn’t.  They were helping me survive.

Obviously, a lot of time has gone by.  Duran has seen a lot more changes, including the return of Roger and Andy.  Andy has also left again.  Was Duran better in 1986 than in 1984 or in 1982?  I don’t think so, but they couldn’t be.  They had suffered serious losses of not only band members but also of their managers.  I remember hearing in an interview that they had lost their innocence then.  I think that is true.  They did.  I could relate, though.  I, too, had experienced losses.  I had to leave my best friend and my hometown.  I had left a culture I was familiar with and liked, one that was urban and diverse, to one that was rural and lacked diversity in all forms.  I was also growing up at the time and there is always much hardships then.  Did I really think that my life was better in 1986 than in 1984?  No way.  I did believe like Duran in that I was going to be better.  I thought that, too.  I just needed to survive the new town and I would be better, cooler. 

Duran survived, too.  They survived their losses and have been able to manage at least 25 more years in the music business.  While I don’t know that Notorious is the best Duran album, it is still important.  It marked the beginning of a new era for Duran, one in which they survived and showed that they were committed to keep going.  Thus, Notorious should be celebrated for what it was.  It told the world that they didn’t end and that they were going to keep going for a long time.  It showed that they had weathered this really horrible storm.  They might not be as perfect but they were still there and that is what mattered most.  I discovered the same thing by the time I left that new town of mine.  I wasn’t the same person but I did survive and that is always worth celebrating.   

-A

This blog should come with a warning…

My apologies to those who have tried to post a comment lately, only to pour their hearts and souls and have that comment taken to the great beyond and eaten as though it was yesterday’s leftovers.  Blogger should be spanked.  Take heed my friends, as Rhonda will be looking into “other arrangements” for the blog as time permits.

Time?  What’s that, anyway?  Lately I have had very little of that particular noun.  It seems I’m always off running, and if not running, driving.  Let me share a little story from yesterday evening with you though, simply for your laughter and enjoyment.  My oldest was at a show for one of her friends last night and the plan was that my husband was going to go and pick her up while I got the little one into bed and lit a fire under our son, the video game addict, so that he would go and have a little quality time with some water and soap in the shower.  He’s 12 and sees absolutely no reason to be clean, deal with any kind of hygiene, or leave the computer for that matter.  It’s a joyous age, I must say.  As I crawled out of my youngest’s bedroom having read 4 books to her, finally convincing her that yes, it was imperative that mommy now be allowed to go upstairs herself; I knew I’d saved the tough part for last – I had to get that boy into a shower.  I wearily made it upstairs and told him he had 30 seconds to get himself to the shower or else he’d have to sleep outside in the back of Dad’s truck because he was too dirty to be in my house.  He sighed that sigh that only 12 year old boys can muster, and walked into our room.  One thing about my son, when he’s resigned himself to doing something, he wants to get it done.  Fast.  That’s a lot like me, and so I get where he’s coming from and stay out of his way.  The next thing I know the boy is calling me to the shower, and saying “You’d better look at this.”  I look down at the spigot to see that the water is not coming out of the spigot as much as it’s coming out from the spot where the spigot meets the tile.  Then he switches on the shower with bravado, and the water starts SPRAYING out from the wall.  Then he looks at me with that “Seriously mom, are you kidding me?” look that I tend to give my children.  *sigh*  After cursing quite beautifully (and with my very own special bravado, I might add), I tell him to take a shower downstairs.  My husband comes home and I announce that he needs to come see the shower – and naturally he’s following me asking me what I’ve done “now”.  Really?  REALLY?  I turn on the water and he very quickly realizes that there’s trouble afoot.  Then he quickly untwists the spigot off the wall – hey I didn’t even know it DID that – and announces that the pipe has completely rusted through.  Oh joy.  He has some genius master plan that involves going into the wall through our oldest daughter’s bedroom closet (she is not amused) and fixing the whole thing himself.  I was issued a stern warning not to use the shower (um, I’m thinking that’s not going to be a problem since the entire spigot and shower knob have been pulled off the wall….but whatever, right?) until he fixes it.  He was also thoroughly offended that I dare suggest we call a plumber, and perhaps even our insurance company.  I see trouble coming with a capital T.  I might not have much time, but trouble?  Absolutely!!!  I will keep you updated!

After all of this insanity I chose to go for a brisk walk this morning.  I live in a fairly hilly area, so a good walk will work some of this stress off in most cases and today was blessedly no exception.  As I was walking this morning I was thinking about what I needed to blog about today, and I remembered a thread I’d read yesterday.  Some very kind fan out there brought up the possibility of Duran Duran being nominated for a Grammy for All You Need is Now.  This person rightfully feels that the band pulled off an amazing album, and that perhaps now is the time.  I have to tell you that when I read that thread, my immediate reaction was “Absolutely not.  They don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever getting a nomination!”, and I meant it.    Bands who are nominated and especially those that win a Grammy are typically “accepted”.  They get radio play, people know their work (new and old), and while I don’t know if critics always love them – they are talked about.  They are commercialized “establishment” types of bands, and quite honestly – that’s never been Duran Duran.  Even back in the 80’s when, for a relatively short time things were super hot for them, they were never given more than a nod or two by “the establishment”.  We all know they were never a critical favorite, and while they might have gotten quite a bit of airplay back in that day – that was *gulp* nearly 30 years ago at this point.  The punchline to this joke is that All You Need is Now is probably one of the very best works of their career.  Mark Ronson did a fine job with the album, and I would expect to hear him be nominated one of these days – but not for his work with Duran Duran.  The very same reasons why Duran Duran will likely never be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would enter in here – and once again, I don’t think it has anything at all to do with the quality of their work, whether that’s current or their back catalog.  I know the band has stood up and said that they aren’t sure whether they’d ever really seek that sort of acknowledgement out simply because it’s so mainstream establishment – and by wanting that acknowledgement you’re sort of giving credence to the idea it must matter, and I would have to agree.  While I feel as though the band does deserve quite a bit of acknowledgement and accolades for the work they’ve done as well as the innovation they’ve brought to the industry, I don’t know that winning a Grammy counts for much more than stroking the collective egos of those whose career depends on such things.

I’m off in search of new pastures for this blog!
-R