Category Archives: personal stories

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…