Tis the season. The season for making wish lists, anyway. Every year since childhood, my parents would ask that I write out a wish list. “What do you want for Christmas this year?”, my dad would ask. I’d rattle off a few things, and then my dad would ask the question, “Are those things you need, or things you want?”
To be fair, my list usually had some of each. In my family, we didn’t always have a lot of discretionary income. Shopping indiscriminately wasn’t an option. School clothes shopping was a once-a-year deal, and I knew not to ask for a lot outside of that. I never felt deprived, but I knew plenty of kids who had far more, and some with far less. My parents tended to stick to the “need” portion of my list, with a few things I wanted sprinkled in for good measure. This was something I learned to accept and work with over the years. Duran Duran items were regularly found up near the top of my wish lists from the time I was about ten or eleven, and they’re still on them today. Some things don’t change
Justifying the need for whatever Duran Duran album would occupy my wish list was something I did out of necessity . I’m not quite sure whether or not my parents actually bought the stories of why I needed the music or the book or whatever I might have been requesting. At the time, I would look at my parents in all-seriousness as I’d explain that, I didn’t just want Seven and the Ragged Tiger, or Notorious, I needed it! “It’s for my collection!”, I would say emphatically. Since money was scarce, I wanted to be sure my parents understood. I’d forgo the sweet-smelling clear plastic Hello Kitty and/or Twin Stars bags, erasers, pens, or pencil cases. Those were things I wanted in order to fit in at school. I needed Duran Duran to feed my soul.
In a weird twist of fate, it turns out, I really did need Duran Duran. Had I not continually asked for those albums, posters or books, I might not have kept quenching the immediate thirst of my inner fangirl. Without that youthful foundation as a fan, I’m not sure that I would be so zealous about fan studies OR Duran Duran today. What in the heck would I do without blogging and research?
Over the weekend, I thought a lot about how I’ve arrived at this point in my life. My parents, while wonderful people, weren’t necessarily encouraging me to go off and become a blogger. Never mind that we didn’t even really have PC’s, and later the internet, until I was older, anyway. Who knew I’d still be a fan and studying about it as I nudged my way towards the age of 50? Certainly not me. I guess that’s why remind myself that I need to be very careful of how I support and encourage my own children. You never know what seemingly nonsensical hobby will turn into a career some day.
Daily Duranie isn’t a viable source of income at this point, but just having a group of people give Amanda and I the chance to present a theory at an academic conference has given me a shot of confidence I needed. It has also presented a challenge that I am looking forward to meeting head-on. It is one thing to propose a topic and write an abstract, it is another to create a 15-minute long, engaging presentation. I am excited to begin.
Considering the big picture, everything I’ve experienced and done so far in my life has led me to where I am right now. None of it is bad. I needed the experiences, both good and bad, to be able to go forward from here.
No, I’m not a rock star, talk show host, or music journalist. I’m not a photographer, archivist, music producer, or publicist. I am a passionate researcher, blogger, and fan. The small amount of personal satisfaction I’m feeling happens because I love what I do so much that I’m just not willing to fail. Finally, at the age of (nearly) 47, I may have figured out what people have been telling me to do for years. “Do you what you love and are passionate about doing. Do something that you are not afraid to sleep in your car in order to be able to keep doing.”
At one point a long time ago, I put “find a career” on one of my wish lists. If I remember right, it was just after or just before I graduated from college. I had no idea what I wanted out of life. Nothing excited me. Nothing interested me. I just felt like I had to get a job and figure it out. I did, and I wasn’t very good at the things I tried. They were boring, and the people I worked for weren’t very smart (to be brutally honest). I quit some of them, and was—yes, fired—from a lot of others. Each year, on the copy of my wish list that I keep for myself, the words “a career” have been on it. While silly, it serves as a reminder to me to keep looking. At some points in my life, it has been a “want”, particularly while I’ve had children at home. At others, it has been a “need”, like now. Personally fulfillment from something outside of my duties at home is something I crave.
Researching and writing on fandom niggled at something deep within me. I couldn’t name it or explain what was driving me, but I read everything in sight. Boxes were constantly arriving here from Amazon. My husband started asking if I was assembling some sort of library. Fandom enthralled me. Reading and theorizing about why I was so besotted with this one silly band from the UK sparked an interest I didn’t even know I had. At the beginning, I nibbled on theories explaining why my heart went “ZING!” every time I thought I heard chords from “Hungry Like the Wolf” in public. Now, I devour theories deciphering why we—yes you, dear reader—and I, interact the way we do. The more I learn, the more I realize there’s so much I don’t yet know. I love it.
Today as I comprised my wish list for the upcoming holidays, I smiled as I erased one wish off of my list. To most people, an unprofitable blog and one speaking engagement does not equate to a career. That’s fair. I’m getting there, though, and failure is not an option.