Work has been super busy this week. This is mostly due to the fact that my students are starting a project next week and I have had a bunch of meetings. Luckily, I have a student teacher this semester, which helps divide up the work somewhat (and gives some work, too!). Last night, my student teacher and I left the school after 6 pm after working on some materials. As we were leaving, she began telling me about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are her go to food. This, of course, led me to tell her about a hotel in New Orleans that Rhonda and I stayed at in 2006 when we attended the Voodoo Music Festival which served PB & J sandwiches every evening.
The answer to the next question is yes. Of course, I proceeded to tell her all about that experience, in which Rhonda and I along with others literally stood for hours without food or water while trying to avoid crowd surfers. I attempted to explain that the only reason we put ourselves through such hell was for Duran Duran. Then, I explained that Duran is more than my favorite band and mentioned this blog. As I stopped talking, I wondered what her reaction would be as many tend to give weird looks or ask me if I am a groupie or both. Instead of any of that, she said, “That’s good.” It was my turn to look confused. Huh? She went on to explain about how it must be good to have something else to focus on besides work. I nodded.
As I drove home, I thought more about what she had to say. The more I pondered her reaction, the more I realized how right she is. Is it good that I have Duran in my life? That I do this blog? I think so.
I recently edited my Twitter profile in which I described myself as a teacher, an activist and a Duranie, but not necessarily in that order. During the school year, yes, typically I most often consider myself a teacher first. I spend a LOT of time, energy and thoughts on my classroom, curriculum and students. My school day lasts much longer than 8 or 9 hours a day. Yesterday, for example, I was in the school building from 7:45 to 6:15. I also had some grading to do when I got home. On top of that, when public education and teachers become the topic of discussion on the state or national level, I am included in that conversation. I take it personally as it generally has been my life work and a huge part of my identity.
Lately, a lot of my “free time” (Ha! I don’t really have much free time but you all know what I mean.) has been spent on political activity, including reading a lot of current events, contacting legislators, planning meetings, contacting other organizations, and more. I can and am sucked into political activity easily. This connects with the teacher in me. As a history and women’s studies teacher, I feel it is essential to be an example to my students about the importance of being engaged in one’s community, city, state and nation. My undergrad studies focused on social movements as it is something that fascinates me. Thus, if I’m not thinking of myself as a teacher, I’m thinking of myself as an activist. While I love both of those parts of myself, I recognize that both suck the energy from me. They exhaust me, mentally and emotionally. I have a friend who is constantly saying, “You are terrible in taking care of yourself.” She is right. I am. I don’t take care of myself, putting my students and community/country ahead of what I need.
This is where Duran Duran enters the picture. In many ways, being a Duranie is most selfish part of myself. It is the aspect of myself that allows me to have fun, to take breaks, to escape the world. I suspect that going on tour, writing this blog, organizing fan events is what has allowed me to give so much of myself as a teacher and a community organizer. Thus, my student teacher is right. It is good that I’m a Duranie and that I write this blog. I am then given the opportunity to pause from my reality even if I think I don’t “need” it.