Tag Archives: Chicago

Guest Blog: Sears Center Show 2006

Look another guest blog!  This time it is our friend, Nat, who wanted to share about her experiences at the Chicago Sears Center Show in October of 2006.  If you something you want to write about in connection with Duran Duran or fandom, feel free to send it our way!  -A&R

By Nat Mingo

When you’re in a relationship, you celebrate moments. I’ve been listening to Duran Duran music since the needle dropped on the Seven & the Ragged Tiger album on my sister’s plastic Fisher-Price record player. So, yes, I’m in an active relationship with Duran Duran’s music. It’s SLB’s 60th birthday as I type this. Earlier this week, I was delighted to read an Instagram remembrance post about the band’s show at the Sears Center on October 26, 2006. I was also chagrined because I didn’t remember the exact date. Whoops! I should try to remember this date because it was my first …front row experience!

When Astronaut was released, I was teaching full-time and my funds were minimal. I went to the shows that I could afford. I was glad to be at the shows but felt unsatisfied with my view. I observed very happy fans sauntering to the first two rows. Afterwards, I promised myself that if the opportunity arose, I would try for a “VIP” seat. I was honoring that preteen who wore headphones while delving into the depths of the DD catalog and her hard work since then.

On the presale date, I remember sitting at my computer with sweaty palms while on the DDM site. Anxious thoughts were pervasive: “How does this work?”, “Will I get a get a good seat?”, “Am I a fool for trying this and going alone to a show?” Hours-no minutes- later, I scored a VIP ticket. Yaaasssss!!! I posted on the fan board that I was going alone and looking for meet up with other people. Two big hearted fans from Seattle and San Antonio said they would hang with me. I still appreciate their extended kindness and when fans embrace each other at shows.

I stayed at the hotel and got my ticket from the DDM staff. I opened the envelope and thought, “Hmm, this might be good.” A fan asked me where I would be sitting and when I told her, she walked away without speaking to me. Yikes! It was not a good way to start a show. Luckily, I met the two aforementioned fans and enjoyed spending time with others. We got to hear the band’s sound check and they rehearsed “The House of the Rising Sun” for the Voodoo festival which was a few days afterwards in New Orleans. I was thrilled for this unexpected and not repeated treat. I watched a fan get whisked away to meet the band before the show. When the fan returned, she was dazed but graciously accepted my congratulations.

I remembered walking toward my seat and asking an usher for assistance. She smiled and told me where to go. When I saw my seat and its proximity to the stage, my…heart…swelled. It was a palm to the chest moment. I don’t remember many specific moments about the show. They did play “Hold Back the Rain” which I miss in the set list now. I think we sang “Happy Birthday” to Simon. What matters is that I dared and enjoyed the experience.

I’ve purchased several “VIP” tickets since this show. “To VIP or not to VIP” will always be a question I will ask myself of the concerts I attend. I’ve learned that each show is unique. I’ve learned to have quasi-realistic expectations. No, John has never mouthed, “Hey, Boo” towards me from the stage. I’ve learned to look for the minute interactions between the bandmates and to appreciate a different perspective from each seat location. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be more GRATEFUL that I can attend a concert wherever my seat may be located.

So to the readers of this blog, if you see a woman lip-syncing while awkwardly dancing during “A View to A Kill”, it’s me. Please come say, “hello.”

Hoping to see you at a show,

Nat

Nathalie is a daughter, sister, Auntie, educator, reader, dreamer, Christian, Midwestern, Sci-Fi & Superhero Nerdette  whose favorite band is Duran Duran. She owns multiple copies of most DD albums.  She collects band t-shirts and proudly wears them in her everyday life. 

And Sum Up the Year(s)

I had a plan for my day that included a detail, thought-provoking blog before I headed out to see some teachers at a get together.  Then, I had a couple of phone calls about some family obligations, which detoured me from my plan.  So what now?  Do I continue with the part of the plan that I could still follow?  Do I go with a topic that is worthy of deep thought or do I now shift to something else?  What do I feel like doing?  You know what I want to do?  Watch some clips from the shows that I attended on these dates (San Francisco in 2017 and Chicago in 2016).  Anyone else game for watching some live Duran?  I figure that if I couldn’t be at a show this year then I should, at least, enjoy the band as I can.

San Francisco 2017:

I figured it might be good to start off with Wild Boys as it is one of the first songs played!  Holy JoSi in the beginning, too.  Dang.

Next should definitely be a song that I was thrilled to hear live one more time, which is Sunrise with a bit of New Moon on Monday thrown in!

Oh, how I miss Simon’s dancing and his shoes and so much more.  A truly awesome version of Hold Back the Rain!

Chicago 2016:

I had to include my favorite song, didn’t I?  If the song wasn’t fabulous enough, it has both JoSi and DoJo.  sigh

When I think about the summer of 2016, I cannot help but think about being in the spit zone at most of our shows.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the following clip:

Ah, man, here’s a great clip of Rio with those freaking beach balls that I cannot stand.  Yet, as I sit here, I’m finding myself missing them.  What the heck is wrong with me?

Now, I just feel like a big ole sap missing the band, missing my friends, missing good times.  Days like these, when I let myself remember, when I allow the waves of memory to take over, must keep me going until the next time.

-A

Memories of Spy Bar, 2013

A few years ago, I took a short trip to one of my favorite cities: Chicago. Duran Duran wasn’t even playing, but I did spend time with my best friend Amanda, who happens to live a couple of hours to the north. Amanda’s birthday is the 29th of April, same as my daughter’s (which is the strangest twist of fate!), so we celebrated her special day a bit early, AND…..we did happen to go see Roger Taylor do his DJ thing at SpyBar. Oh yeah, there was that, too.

Hard to believe that happened five years ago today!  Not only did we dance to Roger Taylor (I can truly say my inner thirteen year old was grinning from ear-to-ear that night!) but we also celebrated his birthday, once the clock announced it was past midnight, making it the 26th of April.

The night was crazy and fun. We had gone in with several others and gotten a VIP table with bottle service.

I think Amanda and I danced most of the night, and I’m not even going to lie when I say I don’t think either of us really knew what we were dancing to most of the time. It didn’t matter. We had a blast anyway.  Then we went out for much-needed pancakes afterward, because who doesn’t need carbs at 2 or 3am??

I miss times like that, particularly when life seems to continue to throw a series of blows – one right after the next. But, memories like SpyBar make me smile, and no – it isn’t because we “met” Roger. In fact, we didn’t!  There was a velvet rope surrounding the DJ platform that we didn’t dare cross, and even when Amanda attempted to toss him one of our Daily Duranie wristbands – he basically threw it aside.  Chances are, he didn’t even know what it was or who threw it. We stayed on our side of the rope and had fun anyway.

I’m not complaining that the band thinks they’re going to go into the studio this year but they don’t know when. Who really knows how long it might be before they tour again? I’m not mad that they’re taking time and doing their own thing this year, or doing corporate shows when they need. My life is so screwed up at the moment that I couldn’t necessarily get myself to a show even if it were in my own backyard. (Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but I think you get the point!)  That doesn’t mean I don’t miss all of the fun that comes along with the gigs and road trips and live music.  Sure, I could (and will) go see other bands this summer, but there’s something special about seeing Duran Duran with my friends.

Life is simpler on tour. Or at a DJ gig, as the case may be!

-R

 

 

Chicago Theatre in 2007, were you there?

On this date in 2007, Duran Duran performed at the Chicago Theatre. This was one date included in their Red Carpet Massacre tour, and I’m pretty sure my partner-in-crime was there!

The Chicago Theatre is a gorgeous venue in the heart of downtown Chicago. I have my own memories of seeing the band there for the All You Need is Now tour, a few years later.

Thanks to setlist.fm – here’s what they played!

The Valley

Red Carpet Massacre

Nite Runner

Notorious

Planet Earth

Falling Down

Skin Divers

Tempted

Rio

Ordinary World

The Reflex

A View to a Kill

Sunrise

The Wild Boys

 

So, were you there?

-R

Sometimes I’m caught in a landslide: Memories of Sears Centre 2006

I remember going to the Sears Center in 2006. It was the grand opening for the arena, and Duran Duran was playing. I arrived at Chicago’s Midway airport in the middle of a rainstorm. Traffic was horrendous. It took Amanda and I, along with my sister and another friend, what seemed like forever to make the trip from the airport to the Marriott nearby the arena that would serve as our hotel room for the night.

We were late getting to the hotel and even later to get ready. We had to grab dinner pretty quickly. If I remember right – we were rushing our poor waitress at the hotel’s restaurant to “please hurry, we have tickets to Duran Duran!” In our haste to get from the car into the venue, Amanda and I both left our cameras behind. At the time, we thought this was a travesty.

The show was outstanding. Amanda and I danced like crazy from our what – 9th row? – seats. The arena was beautiful, and the band was on fire. Just days prior, like perhaps two or less, the band had put out a statement announcing that Andy would no longer be working with the band. It was a tough time for all Duranies, regardless of where one sat on the issue. Questions swirled throughout the community, “Who would be the guitar player?”, “Could the band still go on?”, “Whose fault was it that Andy quit?”, “What would happen next?” The band seemed to answer many of them that night. It was a strong show, and this was not a band that was going to just lie down and die.

Amanda and I were enthusiastic, even through sadness as the Fab Five came to a resounding halt. Again. While our cameras were useless to us in our car, my memories of this show are so clear. It remains one of the best shows I’ve seen. Likely, this is because I didn’t view a single second of the show from a viewfinder or phone screen.

Along with my sister and another friend, Amanda and I truly plotted like crazy for this trip to happen. Originally we were just going to go to the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, and had the entire trip planned.  My husband had even given me his blessing to go! Somewhere along the way, Duran Duran announced this show at the Sears Centre. Sure, I could have skipped the show and gone straight to New Orleans, but that is pretty much the same thing as telling an alcoholic they should skip the vodka and just drink the mixer.  (My apologies to the teetotalers and members of AA out there…but you get my point, don’t you?)

Emails flew fast and furious between the four of us in the weeks leading up to this date in Chicago. Tickets were secured for the Sears Centre even though rearranging my travel plans without more pain to my wallet seemed impossible. I begged, borrowed, and pleaded with my husband to just let the trip be my birthday gift (a regular tactic of mine). Finally, between the genius of my sister and Amanda, plans came together. As a result, there we were, sitting in traffic on the I-90, screaming at cars to let us pass because we were on our way to see Duran Duran. Good times.

The next day proved to be crazier than the day before in Chicago traffic, but that’s pretty much how traveling to see this crazy band goes. I only regret the shows I haven’t gone to, not the ones I spent following this insanity.

…And you all wonder why I continue to bring up vodka on this blog. Gee, I don’t know!?!

Good memories of the Sears Centre.

-R

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

Remember when Roger used to DJ?

On this date in 2013, I was in Chicago…and so was Roger Taylor! I was there visiting Amanda, and we had the good fortune to be able to see Roger DJ at SpyBar in the city. He called his set “Do It In Heels”.  I purposefully ignored that directive, because let’s face it – I am really bad at following directions anyway.  However, we did call ahead to get a table!

Amanda loves this picture…as do I.  I look positively angelic compared to Miss Grey Goose next to me!  I’m not even sure if you can see Roger in this photo…but I don’t think so. Clearly we didn’t care at the time. WOW.  Good thing we don’t still behave like that, right Amanda?

Right???

Moving on…

I will openly admit that had Roger not been the DJ that night, there is about a 0% probability that I would have gone to that club. While I spent a fair amount of my time at clubs in college, I had kind of given up on them. I’m not really down with most of the club music, although some of it is fine (particularly when being played by Roger. I’ll just own up and say that here).  In hindsight, it was a fun night. I hung out with friends, I danced, and yes – we drank. Surprise!

The one memory that stands out from that night is that we tried to hand Roger a wristband. Ah yes, one of our infamous Daily Duranie wristbands. The platform/table that he was at was quite a bit higher than the ground, so we had to kind of toss it up there. Amanda couldn’t quite get Roger’s attention, and so she asked the guard who was standing there to tell him it was for him. Roger saw it and kind of  tossed it aside. Not the best reception we’ve ever gotten for one of our wristbands (hey, we’ve even given one to Nile Rodgers and he wore it!), but in fairness to Roger – he probably had no idea who we were or what we were doing. Maybe next time!

I haven’t heard too much about Roger doing many DJ gigs in the years since. I suppose it might be one of those things that is difficult to concentrate on or do when you’re touring the world and recording albums.  It is also a very different kind of lifestyle, and I suspect that Roger has changed some since then.  Overall, it was a fun night, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to see him do something different.

Were you at SpyBar Chicago that night?

-R

…And We’ll Remember

Twelve years ago today I drove to Chicago to join my new Duranie friends for a weekend of fun and Duran Duran.  While I had met many of these new friends months prior in New Orleans, the weekend in 2005 was the first time I would attending a Duran show with any of them.  When those Astronaut tour dates were posted, we made plans quickly, including deciding to gather in Chicago to not only see the show, but to buy those more expensive VIP tickets.  I purchased those tickets for myself, Rhonda and another friend of ours.  In reality, I had no real idea if I could trust them to pay me back, but they did.  I had no clue if I could really hang out with them for an entire weekend or whether or not Rhonda and I would share a hotel room without a problem.  I took a leap of faith.

By 5 am on March 20th, 2005, I knew that it Rhonda and I were able to not only go to shows together but could travel “on tour” well together.  During that weekend, I laughed more than I had for an entire year, I swear.  I had so much fun that I wondered if it shouldn’t be illegal.  I almost questioned my grip on reality because it exceeded every expectation I had.  The joy I felt was pure and fulfilled me in a way that I wasn’t even aware that I lacked.  To say that the weekend changed my life would be an understatement.  Everything changed after that.

When I look back at the 12 years that have transpired between then and now, I almost cannot believe it and I certainly wouldn’t have believed it then.  Rhonda and I have shared so much.  We have traveled to the UK twice together.  We have seen shows ranging from Glasgow, Scotland, to Toronto, Canada, to New York City, New York to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, to San Diego, California and more.  Beyond those shows, we started this blog here.  The Daily Duranie became way more than just a simple, little blog about Duran Duran.  It became about fandom and about us and about our fan community.  The blog has become a part of us and who are are, both as individuals and as a pair.  I think ending the blog would feel like cutting off an arm or at least a finger.  I would miss it.

Beyond the shows and the blogging, we also organized many fan meet-ups and a weekend long convention.  We have written two full manuscripts and have come up with many more ideas.  The love that we had and have for a band blossomed, bloomed into real action on our parts.  We have criticized widely for our approach, our questioning, our criticism.  We have also been praised by our dedication (or insanity).  We have been accused of being too negative by some and thanked for keeping the fandom going.

Rhonda and I met in New Orleans in September of 2004.  While that weekend included some amazingly fun activities as well as an acknowledgement that we were kindred spirits when it comes to Duran Duran, it didn’t create the domino affect like that the weekend in Chicago in March of 2005 did.  A convention is a one weekend off event.  It is not something that can be easily replicated.  Shows, though?  They happen more often.  Tours provide us the opportunity to relive that first weekend over and over, at least to some extent.  That first touring weekend started a snowball of fandom that has grown even as it has changed.  It solidified the beginnings of a friendship that has meant the world to me.

Now, on the anniversary of that date, I wonder what will come next.  Will the snowball of fandom continue to get bigger?  Will it stay the same in size while totally changing shape?  What about Rhonda and myself?  In many ways, our friendship has been tested a lot.  We have faced rejection, been ignored, the receivers of some insulting and hateful comments over the years.  Beyond that, we recognize that our “real” lives are often pulling us in opposite directions while we continue to work together and to be friends.  I don’t know exactly how we will navigate the next twelve years, I just know that I hope we can continue to do it together.  After all, we aren’t done with Duran Duran yet.

-A

Duran Does It Better!

Over the years, Rhonda and I have written many, many blogs covering Duran Duran presales, concert tickets and VIP packages.  In some (okay..maybe…many cases), these posts have been critical of some aspect of Duran Duran concert buying details.  Likewise, many fans have also expressed frustration over the process during the last ten years or so.  I remember a LOT of complaining (with good reason) about the use of Ticketmaster, for example.  Ticket prices have also been a big discussion over the years as have VIP packages and what they include.  Many Duranies express frustration that meet and greets are no longer a part of any VIP package.  Others wish that they got more for the money, in terms of either merchandise or parties or whatnot.

Usually, when the topic of fan clubs and presales happen in the world of social media, I hear fans discuss how this band or that band does it better because…These fans offer alternative methods to how Duran sells their concert tickets.  As time has gone by and ticket prices continued to increase, I had to wonder if these fans weren’t right.  Maybe Duran Duran needs to learn from other bands?!  Then, this week forced me to rethink this.

Rhonda blogged earlier this week about Depeche Mode’s method of presales where fans chose their city to buy tickets for and move up in line based on how many albums they purchase, how often they post on social media, etc.  She expressed extremely valid concerns about this system.  I agreed with many of her points but still planned on participating in the presale.  Depeche is one of my favorite bands and I always try to see them when I can.  That said, I don’t travel to see them so the idea of picking one city worked for me.  I did not do much else to improve my spot in line.  I purchased one album and that was it.  My schedule did not allow for more, even if I had wanted to do more.

Soon enough, the presale date rolled around and I found out that I was in the second group.  Okay.  I could live with that.  The presale time came around and I was prepared to buy ticket for a few friends and myself.  I asked for the 4 tickets and I got somewhere around the 20th row.  The ticket price?  With fees, they ran about $175.  Uh.  No thanks.  I do not mind spending money for concert tickets (that’s pretty obvious with Duran, right?).  I do have a problem of spending a lot of money for not great seats.  I thought I could do better.  Later in the day, when I had a bit more time, I decided to search on the map to see what was still available for the fan presale and for how much.

I’m posting the map here to explain what I discovered:

First, let me tell that I have seen Depeche Mode here (Chicago) many times.  Most recently, I had row M in section 104 back in 2013.  Those seats cost $119.  This time, I found that row M in section 103 was a VIP seat.  In fact, row MM in section 204 was also considered VIP.  How much are those VIP tickets and what do fans get for them?

***FRONT ROW PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Front Row reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***HOSPITALITY PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***GOLD HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 

***SILVER HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) premium Price Level 2 reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening

Right away, I noticed that none of these VIP packages include meet and greets.  I also realized that most of them do not describe what a premium seat means.  I think back to Duran’s VIP packages during this Paper Gods tour and I know that Ultimate had front row.  Gold packages included seats in rows 2 through 6.  DDHQ made it clear where the seats could be, at least in terms of rows.  Depeche doesn’t give any information.  Now, how much are these?  Some of the seats I found were:  Section 103 Row M for $585, Section 102 Row A for $950, Section 204 Row MM for $300.  Wow.  Yesterday, I saw prices for the Hollywood Bowl.  Prices for the front sections there ranged from $865 to $1495 through Ticketmaster.  These are not prices through a ticket broker.

Now, I’m sure that some of you are saying that Duran tickets are expensive.  Sure, they are.  The tickets for next weekend, for example, cost about $350 for second row center with some merchandise.  The Hollywood Bowl show cost $445 for us in October of 2015.  This price included second row center seats, merchandise and a party.  Depeche is clearly charging twice that for their packages there.

After seeing all of this, I have to admit that I’m glad that *my* favorite band is not Depeche Mode.  I couldn’t afford to go to many shows, especially VIP, that’s for sure.  The presale process would already limit where to get tickets and the price guarantees that it is just one city.  Perhaps, their team assumes that fans are only going to one show so maybe they will go all out for that one concert, in terms of tickets.  I don’t know.

Later this morning, I will attempt again to get tickets through the public sale.  I will not be buying VIP tickets, but I will try to get the best tickets I can for a price I can feel comfortable with.  Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to see Depeche up close.  This little experience taught me that Duran does the whole concert ticket thing pretty well, in comparison.  Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say.  Duran does it better.

-A

With you my friend: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  Coincidentally, I’m at home today, and my youngest is sick – I think she’s got the flu. I am not planning to go on strike (I’m a mom and that just doesn’t really work), but I had planned to casually work in a little reading about some prominent female historical figures today. She’s sick though (and still sleeping!), so that will have to wait.  Meanwhile, the blog awaits…

So, here I am, eight days away from picking Amanda up at LAX, and, like before every other trip or weekend away I’ve taken, I’m beginning to worry that I shouldn’t go. Now, of course, I *am* going – so Amanda doesn’t need to be concerned about that, but I put myself through this torture every single time. I’ve been planning this weekend for a while now, and I carefully set the time aside, saying to myself that I wouldn’t let a single thing get in the way. I should have just started laughing as I thought that to myself, because inevitably, something does. In this case, it’s a few things – and now I have to leave those things to my husband while I go off and have fun.  (Truth: I will have fun.  Untruth he seems to assume: I won’t think about my family the entire time.) I’m already worried about missing a couple of things and I haven’t even left yet. Sometimes I really wonder why I plan these trips because of the amount of worrying I do before I go.

I’ve been majorly stressed out lately. Things are really crazy at work, and things are even more so here at home. My oldest is going through serious heartbreak, my son is waiting for college admissions decisions, my youngest is getting ready for Certificate of Merit testing for piano, amongst quite a few other things. As much as I worry about going, I know that I very much need to go, and this is really normal for me. Just ask Amanda.

Speaking of Amanda, I’ve gotten so caught up in work and stuff going on around here that I haven’t even really thought about the things I need to do to get ready for the weekend.  I don’t even think Amanda and I have really talked much about the trip at all, which is crazy! Normally by now we’ve carefully planned each minute of each day, and this time, I feel like we’re both just gonna show up and let the weekend unfold however it does. In a lot of ways, as much as it’s really different from what we’ve done in the past, where we’ve obsessed over most details, maybe we both need a little spontaneity.    The last six months have been so strange. I went from talking to Amanda nearly every week to talking with her only a few times since August. I don’t check-in nearly as much, although from time to time we still trade texts. Sometimes, I only know what is going on with her from what she writes here on the blog! I feel like I’ve been caught up in a vortex: homeschooling, working, eating, sleeping, cleaning house and repeat, without a lot of anything else.  On one hand, it has actually helped my blogging, because I don’t take it all so seriously.  I write what I want to write and I don’t think about much else.  On the other, I have no idea of what is going on outside of the little bits and pieces I catch in between what’s going on here with me.  I’m looking forward to a weekend where I don’t need to think, and I can just sit and gab with friends!

In 2005, I flew to Chicago on the 17th of March. I landed at O’Hare around 9 or 10pm, I think, and then took a shuttle to what was then the Doubletree near O’Hare. We called it the “Duranie-dorm” because it was the hotel that had a group rate for Duran Duran fans coming in for their show the following night at what was then called the All-State Arena. I walked in to the lobby and fell into a chorus of hugs and laughter from women that I had previously met in September at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans. I had never felt so welcomed in my life, and I mean that. I can remember standing there fighting back tears (I rarely cry), because I hadn’t felt that kind of acceptance, friendship or love in a long time. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and while I didn’t really think much about celebrating that night – I stayed up and practically reached for the Sunrise with this group of friends. Amanda was in that group of women that night, and we’ve stayed friends ever since.

I am so lucky.

Twelve years later, and this time, Amanda and I will be arriving at the Agua Caliente resort, ready to see Duran Duran on stage and mingle with friends. There will not be the same group of women waiting for us. Many, if not all of those women, have since moved on. While I think our exuberance for the band isn’t exactly the same now (for example, I’m probably not going to be sporting those same light-up horns I wore in Chicago and Milwaukee at the show in Rancho Mirage), our love for this band and their music is pretty damn strong.   Through thick and thin, we’ve managed to be Duran Duran fans, remain great friends, and even write a blog for six years. You want to talk about the strength of women today? How about that??

So, on this International Women’s Day – I am going to think about my friendships with other women, and how together we really are stronger. Yeah, sometimes the road to get to where I need to be is tough. However, I know that I need my friends, now more than ever, and I’m looking forward to revitalizing that bond….and how better than a weekend with Duran Duran??

-R