Tag Archives: 78-04 Friends of Mine Convention

Trading in My Shelter for Danger

This past week, Rhonda posted here about a little anniversary.  This anniversary was the first day of Friends of Mine:  The Duran Duran Fan Convention in New Orleans ten years ago.  In her post, she talked about so many things that she remembered that weekend and why it was so fabulous.  One phrase in her post caught my attention.  She called it, “life changing.”  I didn’t laugh at her but nodded my head in agreement.  I, too, view it in the same way.  After that weekend, my life was never the same.  Let’s take a look back to see where I was then and where I’m at now.

In the fall of 2004, I was starting my seventh year of teaching.  I was finally starting to feel confident in my abilities as an educator.  At the time, I was teaching special education students at a nearby middle school.   I had recently got my Masters and was ready for some downtime.  While I had friends, both close by and far away, I wouldn’t say that I had many close friendships at the time.  Up until this point of my adulthood, I didn’t have much time.  Teaching was consuming about 50-60 hours per week then I had graduate class work to do, on top of that.  Yet, as soon as classes were done, I was ready to focus on my social life, which is where fandom comes in.  I had some friends from another fandom and figured Duran fandom would be the same.  I was also wanting an adventure and to challenge myself by doing a little of traveling.  Thus, the convention was the perfect place for me to go!

Did I make friends during that convention?!  Absolutely.  Obviously.  Did I make some kick ass memories then?!  For sure!  Without a doubt.  Did it lead me to attend more Duran events and go to more shows?  No question.  It definitely changed my fandom life.  I now had friends within the community as well as a best friend that I didn’t have before.  I now had people to go to shows with and people to “chat” with online.  I embraced those activities of touring and being online, fully and completely.  I went to the shows I could and saved money in between shows, in order to do more.  I spent a ton of time online.  All of that would be enough to be called life-changing, I suppose.  Yet…this one action on my part did more than that for me.  Much more.

Now, because of that convention and the experiences and friendships that followed, my day ALWAYS surrounds fandom.  Every day, for example, I take the time to set up and post the question of the day.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Unlike the post office, I don’t rest on Sunday or major holidays.  Even when I’m on vacation, I have to figure out something to get it done.  The question of the day is just one little aspect of what Rhonda and I have created for ourselves.  We worry about the day in history, other posts, guest posts, polls, the website itself, our social media accounts and more.  That’s JUST with the blog!!  We also committed ourselves to researching and writing a book on the subject of fandom as well as planning events and even a convention.  There is always something else that we are working on that we don’t talk about.  Now, my day consists of some blog work before my paying job, working at work for about 9-11 hours on any given day and coming home to work on either more work for teaching or more work for this.  I don’t have a lot of evenings or weekends to relax.  I made a commitment and follow through on them.

For me, the convention started a ball rolling that I now can’t stop.  I decided to take my fandom to another level.  While so many refer to this as a “hobby” or what I do in my spare time, I don’t view it that way.  I look at it as a job.  It takes that much time and that much personal commitment for me, for us.  It means that I don’t have down time or the time to watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of movies.  I willingly accept all of that.  I am often exhausted and find myself wishing for more time, but I still would choose this.  I almost can’t help it, at this point.  I can’t imagine not paying attention to Duranland.  What would it be like if I didn’t offer my thoughts about what Duran is or is not doing?   I put myself out there everyday in the fan community.  We put ourselves out there every day.

I am no longer satisfied with my whole life surrounding just teaching.  All of this as well as my experience campaigning taught me that I can be more than just a teacher.  (Yet, I believe that this has made me a better teacher, too!)  I could do something different with my life, with my career, if I so choose.  I have many skills beyond developing relationships with kids and family or developing or differentiating curriculum. Beyond job skills, this experience also taught me a lot about fandom.  I have had the opportunity to be both within the fandom and an observer of fandom at the same time.  What I have experienced in the last ten years is unique, for sure.  That said, I am and will forever be grateful that I chose to attend that convention and to “trade my shelter for danger.”

-A

Time is a River

I’m coming out of hiding today to make mention of a very special “anniversary” of sorts.  For those who have known me since the hallowed days of DDF – you might already be aware.  If not, allow me to age everyone properly.

On this date, TEN very short years ago, a little convention began in New Orleans called 78-04: Friends of Mine Duran Duran Fan Convention.  It began on what was a Friday night and went straight through to Sunday, and for me personally it was a completely life-changing experience.

I hear a lot of you right now: Who really says that?!? I mean, it was really just a big party, wasn’t it? Who checks out of their life for a few days to go have fun, only to come back saying it completely changed the whole course of their life?  Believe me, I see the irony there, and I would normally agree with the naysayers out there. Except of course, I was there, and through much soul-searching, I see how the event really did change me.

Maybe it wasn’t so much of a change as it woke up my “inner-Rhonda”. I’ve written about this so many times here on the blog now that I worry it’s lost it’s appeal.  All I really know is that I really do believe that there are moments in our lives where we come upon forks in the road, and the direction we choose makes all the difference. This convention, and choosing to not only attend but to help organize it, really did change my direction. I will always hold that weekend, along with the months of planning prior, very dear to my heart.  So much has changed since that weekend in 2004, and yet I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I met Jessica, Mac, Amanda, Mags, Lisa, Krissie, Carla…and so many others in person.

I spent time yesterday and last night thinking about the convention and specific little things that happened, hoping to come up with a list. Maybe those who were there that weekend will have others to share…but here are some of mine:

*Having Jessica meet me at our hotel room that night. From the very second I met her, I knew I’d done the right thing when I got involved planning the convention and flying to New Orleans to attend.

*Sharing a hotel room with Lisa, Mags, Jessica and Carla.  We all fit and had a great time! This was also, I believe, the first, last and only time that I attended a Duranie event without sharing a room with Amanda (she cannot say the same!)

* Seeing Jessica’s red hair and watching it fade throughout the weekend. I don’t know why that sticks with me so much, but I remember thinking that I wanted to be the type of person that would die my hair vibrant red. (I eventually did not that long ago…and my red streaks faded to magenta right away too. LOL)

*Laughing at Lisa and a few others suck helium and say “Good evening and welcome to our show!” as we decorated for the dance party on Saturday night.  Some might roll their eyes and say “because that’s never been done before”…but the thing is, for me, I’d never seen anyone do it before that night.

* Listening to Mac tell us how Bourbon Street roped her (and a friend) in and tied them up.  I think Mac became my hero that weekend.

* Displaying all of my Duranie pins and t-shirts with pride that weekend. It was the first time in I don’t know how long that I felt comfortable wearing a Duran t-shirt without people giving me strange looks, and if you know me – you know how self-conscious I can be.

*Listening to a copy of Astronaut before it was released *gasp* and declaring that the band “had ruined”  What Happens Tomorrow (compared to what I’d already heard them do live).  That’s right, even back then I was filled with nasty little opinions that I couldn’t keep to myself!

*Standing up and giving a speech in front of the crowd that night. Even though I had been president of my local MOMS club and involved in PTA for my kids school – I was nervous to be standing up there, but it was the very first time I can ever remember feeling like I really did fit in.

* Watching all of the men (both Duranies and Duranie husbands) grab chairs and sit down right directly in front of the screening area to watch The Chauffeur when the video played at the dance party.

*Buying drinks with Amanda at the dance party. I can’t remember if I was drinking gin and tonic or vodka and tonic that night (both are favorites)…but we very clearly started a tradition for ourselves.

*Commenting on Amanda wearing these boots with (what I felt were) high heels all over Bourbon Street. I don’t wear heels – ever – due to horrible neuromas on the bottom of my feet, so I marveled at how she could walk in those things. I was wearing flip flops, which are still my shoe of choice!

* Singing Rio on stage at what was then Howl at the Moon. (I’d say “Thank goodness there’s no video of that”….alas…it’s out there somewhere.)

*Saying good-bye to everyone on Sunday morning. I had such a great weekend, and I secretly worried about whether I would really see any of them again. How do you bond so quickly with people you’ve met in real life only once?  That Duranie connection runs very, very deep.

Thinking about that weekend makes me want to do it all over again. I swore I was done with New Orleans after Voodoo…but I don’t know….

Happy memories, everyone. I continue to thank my lucky stars that I met you all. Despite, time, distance and changes – my love and friendship runs very, very deep.

-R