My blogging to-do list includes my part of a review that I’m supposed to do for today. I’m being a rebel, though, and not doing it. I will do it for the weekend, though. No, instead I want to take some time to celebrate a certain blogger’s birthday. Yep, yesterday was Rhonda’s birthday. When I started to think about her birthday, I realized that I have been wishing her a happy birthday for 15 years now! 15! So, I figured that it might be fun to share a favorite memory of each of those years as a way to celebrate her and our friendship! (By the way, you should probably get a beverage or 10. It got a little long. I got carried away!)
2004-Howl at the Moon
Rhonda and I met in September of 2004 even though we had chatted online a few times before that. As we have talked about many times before, we came together in New Orleans for the Duran Duran Fan Convention. At the time, I really just wanted to meet as many people as possible, not really thinking about meeting my best friend or partner-in-crime. Then, I would go so far as to say that if I had, Rhonda might have been the last person I would suspect. After all, I knew that she was from Southern California and seemed to be from a far different world than my Midwestern, not-that-cool background. That said, by the time we found ourselves at Howl at the Moon on late Saturday/early Sunday, I felt a connection. I have a strong memory of us sitting in the audience, sipping our drinks while singing along with Hungry Like the Wolf. Yep, that song always seems to have been there.
2005-Partying in Vegas
Here’s a story that I don’t think we have ever shared on this blog before. In the fall of 2005, we met in Vegas for a girls weekend that happened to be the same one as the Andre Agassi charity show that featured a (way too short) set by Duran. After the show, we were ready to party as were the thousands of Duranies there that night. At one point, a friend of ours told Rhonda that she knew where Roger was going to be and that she had access to the VIP part of the club. Rhonda had a choice. She could have easily gone with the cool crowd into this VIP area, but she wouldn’t go without me. So, we found a way to both go. To this day, I’m not really sure why. Rhonda has always been the far cooler one between the two of us with many more people in the community seeking out her friendship and company. For some crazy reason that I’ll never get, she has always included me, probably killing a little of her social status by doing so.
In March of 2006, we attended a Duranie weekend gathering in Chicago. Originally, Rhonda had no plans to go but when an unused plane ticket came available, she jumped at the chance. The weekend was super fun from spending a lot of money on weak drinks at the Holiday Club to watching Live from London with a bunch of other fans. One of my favorite memories of that weekend was when we got separated for some reason and Rhonda had no idea where the heck I had gone to. So, she called and ended up leaving a voicemail. The message was a simple one–where the hell are you followed by…”ho-bag”. Did she just call me a ho-bag, I asked myself. She did. From then on, it is a term that we use more often than you might think we should!
In June of 2007, we met up in New York City for the show-that-shall-not-be-named. The best part of the weekend, though, was attending a pre-show party at the Pyramid Club. As we entered the bar, without speaking, we separated to join other groups. (Strangely enough, I wanted to meet up with fellow John fans and Rhonda moved towards the Roger fans.) What was cool about this was how we met new people, which isn’t easy for either of us, but then came back together at the end of the night to dance and laugh before eating a diner before bed.
2008-George Washington Bridge
The fall of 2008 found us on the East Coast, hitting shows in New Jersey and Connecticut. In the process of traveling from show to show, we had no choice but to hit New York City. Fun fact. I hate bridges and the George Washington Bridge has to be one of my least favorites, especially when stuck on it due to horrendous traffic. Did you know that you can feel the bridge move?! Not fun. Thankfully, Rhonda did not laugh at my anxiety too much. The heavy traffic turned out to be helpful, in some weird way, though. Since we had a lot of time to talk, the first ripples of our research began. I remember this weird feeling of being alive, which came from being with someone who is equally curious, who seeks out knowledge and understanding, who gets excited by revelations.
In 2009, we took Rhonda’s eldest daughter, to her first Duran show. While it was super fun to see her reaction, I enjoyed being a part of this mother/daughter moment. It reminds me of how lucky I have been in that she has shared her kids with me. Not only did I get to see Heather at this show, but I was able to share some advice for her son and her youngest followed my footsteps by being born on April 29th. Fun fact. My mom’s best friend has the same birthdate. It seems like a pattern now!
2010-The Beginning of the Blog
Uh…we started this blog in 2010, a million years ago. While we have talked plenty about the blog, I have to acknowledge that it has made us closer and has worked to always keep us connected. I’m forever thankful for this. We are truly the only two people who know exactly what it is like to be us, the owners of this site. I know that I’m constantly thankful that I am not alone in this public journey. Speaking for myself, I know that I would have folded a long time ago but knowing that I am not alone has definitely given me strength. On that note, I have to give another shout out to the birthday woman. Thank goodness that she deals with keeping the computer programming aspect of this going as I have neither the will, the time or the patience to tackle it.
We have probably written about some aspect or another of our trips to the UK in 2011 countless times. This is a little different, though. When we went to the UK in May of 2011 for the shows that did not happen, we still ended up in Birmingham, mostly because it was too late to change plans. Even though many told us that there was no reason to really go there, I was glad to be there. I wanted to see where the band I know and loved came from. In fact, before we left, I had done some research about where Duran related places were located and wrote up a walking tour of sorts. After all, I figured that this was my one chance to really gain a new and/or deeper understanding of Duran. Well, by the time we got to the city, our traveling companions weren’t that excited, to say the least. In fact, they really wanted Rhonda to push me into forgetting about it. She didn’t do that. No, she supported me in my desire to really see the city. Much like the VIP club in 2005, she could have chosen to be with the cooler people and chose me instead. By the end of the day, I believe that she was glad to have joined me on this tour even if it separated her from the others. On top of that, again, we found ourselves having a unique experience that only worked to bring us closer together.
The summer tour of 2012 was a monumental one in that we finally found ourselves in the front row. Biloxi’s general admission setting provided us the chance to get up early and wait all day to get that coveted spot. For once, we just embraced the idea. We didn’t talk ourselves out of it or tell ourselves that the desire for the front was dumb. Then, as we have previously written about, we weren’t so awesome during the show once we met that goal. This reminded us that we are still learning and to just dive into enjoying shows, no matter what.
Umm…we organized and hosted a weekend long convention in Chicago during the fall of 2013. That alone would make for an awesome memory but there is one part that really made me smile. At the end of Saturday night/early Sunday morning, we arrived back to the hotel from the 80s club via the party bus along with a number of convention attendees. Something told Rhonda and myself that we shouldn’t follow the crowd in. Instead, we ran down the road before heading over to a diner for an early breakfast. The relief we felt after having it all go successfully required some down time.
Over the years, Rhonda and I have visited each other’s houses a number of times. Sometimes, those have been connected to shows or tours and some have not. Rhonda came out to visit in the summer of 2014 in order to finish one of our manuscripts, which we did. Beyond that, though, the time allowed us plenty of time to talk and just enjoy being together. Typically, when we are together, we are constantly on the move to get to shows or to get ready for some event or another. This visit, though, wasn’t about that. It gave us real time. I, for one, loved showing off my life to some extent. Visits like these help give insight that cannot really happen on tour. This is why, at some point, I would love to welcome Rhonda into my classroom so that she could see that aspect of my life or even on the campaign trail.
Desperation results in people flying out to Los Angeles to see one to three songs performed live. Yep. This was me in the spring of 2015. I needed a Duran fix so I did what must be done and flew out to LA to see the band perform at the David Lynch Tribute Show. The night of the show was so fun from getting pictures with some band members, enjoying many drinks, closing down the bar and more. Yeah, it might not have been the most logical move for me, but so fun. I’m forever thankful that Rhonda just went with my crazy plan (as usual). (Let me make it clear–when it comes to shows, I’m almost always the one to push for more shows and not less.)
This memory makes me shake my head. I know that you have all read the story of our interactions with Simon that night at the hotel bar after the show. While I love the heck out of that part, I’m almost more amused by two statements made by Rhonda that night. When we first arrived at the bar, we knew that the night was going to be something…um…interesting, so when the waiter asked if we wanted drinks, Rhonda let him know that he should just keep them coming. She explained that there was no reason for him to waste time by asking. No, he should just keep making them. The result? We were a little tipsy by the end of the night and that was a pricey bar bill. Then, if that was not enough, at the end of the night, Rhonda struggled to take off her earring. No clue why. I even tried to help. I think back to how ridiculous we must of looked, I laugh and laugh.
2017-Lime Green Shoes
Who would ever consider doing this and why?
2018-Post Election Day
I suspect that a lot of people don’t really understand my political activism. Rhonda might not either but I do appreciate that she tries to get it. More than that, she has celebrated my wins. I cannot begin to express how much that means to me. Likewise, she offers sympathy when I lose a battle. That kind of support means a lot and helps me to keep going for the next fight. A good example of what I’m talking about is the blog she wrote the day after Election Day 2018, after I had won a big one. She didn’t care about writing about Duran or fandom. No, she used the blog to congratulate me. I thank her for that. It means a lot.
Somehow, despite all, we are venturing onward with another project. It would be safe to say that we are both excited by this one. Every time we conference (like we will today) I am reminded about how lucky I am to have a best friend that is so smart and committed to doing a good job with researching and writing. How lucky am I that my best friend is not only the person I laugh with the most, have the most fun with but also can work with?
As I look back at these last 15 years, I realize how fortunate I have been to have Rhonda in my life. She has been around for so much, including some absolutely amazing times and moments and some really tough ones. On top of that, together, we have created an amazing blog that has such an overwhelming amount of posts. Our research has taught us a lot about the process, about ourselves and about each other. So, on the day after Rhonda’s birthday, I raise a glass for her, wish her a happy birthday and thank her for all of these memories and countless more! Happy Birthday, Ho-Bag!