Tag Archives: fandom

She’s Not Afraid of Leaving

Recently, I had a long conversation with my mother about friendship.  I’m not even sure how we got talking about that but the conversation got me thinking.  As I considered the conversation, I started to think about how my students and how they have met their friends.  Here, the answer is obvious.  They met their friends in classes, through their parents, in clubs and sports.  In fact, they spend a lot of time with their friends, which could make their initial friendships deeper and stronger.  Looking back to my youth, I experienced the exact same thing.

What about as an adult?  I have definitely made friends from work.  In fact, some of my closest friends now are people I have worked with.  Beyond that, I have met people through various political activities and through other people.  Yet, when I think about friendships, I often turn to fandom.  How many people have I met through fandom?  Countless.  You might think that I’m exaggerating but I don’t think I am, especially if I consider online friendships.  While I have not met every Duranie I know in person, I have met a bunch of people through this fan community.  In fact, I would say that the people I have met keeps me here when I might not have otherwise.  It is great fun to go to events and know that you will run into people you know.

This makes me wonder about why friendship within fandom seems so unique.  When I compare my friendships from fandom to other friendships, there is something different there.  For one thing, real life friendships seems to take longer.  There is a lot more surface conversation or small talk with real life friends.  It feels to me that it takes a long time to develop real trust with colleagues, for example.  Yet, I don’t sense that as much from fans.  There does not seem to have as much small talk with fan friendships.  I might even go so far as to say that I think there is more chances for equal trust.  Take my friendship with Rhonda.  I didn’t know much about her when I met her for the first time and we hit it off right away.  In fact, we decided to go to a show together and share a hotel room right after having met in person only once.  How did I know that I could trust her?  I don’t know.  I just did.

Does this immediate connection and trust happen because you share the same passion?  The same love for a band?  Maybe.  It is almost like being members of this exclusive club means that we understand each other deep at the core.  We understand something that doesn’t need to be described but something that defines us in a way.

Then, I wonder what happens when that passion does not remain.  What happens when friends leave the fandom?  Does the friendship remain?  I wonder.  I have friends who have left the fandom.  Am I still friends with them?  Yes, I am, but it doesn’t feel the same.  Why the heck is that?  I don’t have a good answer for this.  Could it be that it feels like a rejection of that something that lies at the core of your being or is it a matter of lack of having something in common?  I don’t know.

What do the rest of you think?  Does fandom breed quicker, closer friendships?  Then, if it does, can those friendships last in the same way if one of the people leave the fandom and the other doesn’t?  If not, why not?  What’s the deal there?

-A

Respecting Fan Spaces

As Amanda wrote over the weekend, she is considering where to take this blog. I’d like to share where I’m at in all of this, for those who may be interested.

The band is on some sort of hiatus, at least when it comes to performing. I don’t know what, if anything, they’re working on. They certainly deserve time off, and I’m not questioning that. However, we write about them. We write about being fans. Without the band doing much, it makes blogging a creative challenge. In and of itself, that doesn’t bother me, but it is something I consider. I tend to split my posts evenly between dates in history and fan issues – but sometimes it can all get a bit thin. I mean, there’s only so much one can write about a performance somewhere or a radio interview. On the other hand, topics having to do with fandom are another ball of wax.

I have found, over the course of the past eight years or so, that people either love us or hate us – and many start out loving us until we write something they hate. Not surprising, but definitely has its annoying moments. Not enough to make me stop blogging, but more than enough to convince me to keep my circle of genuine friends incredibly tight. I’ve learned that writing about fandom can be a double-edged sword. In many ways, it is eye-opening, and feels cleansing (for me) to understand why things happen the way they do. On the other hand, I’m examining something that most everyone has a lot of time, money and emotion tied into. There are always a few fans that are instantly offended, likely because they see a bit of themselves in what we describe and they don’t like it.

I’m going to write the explanation again in case it wasn’t understood before. We are really not judgmental of fans, although yes, sometimes I ask and present tough questions. I’m not shy about it, and I’m not sorry. I have my own opinions on things, and yep, sometimes dear reader, you’re not going to agree with me. I can accept that. Once I write something, a reader is going to respond however they feel. I hit ‘publish’, and the words are no longer my own. I feel good about letting go.

That said, Amanda and I are still fans of Duran Duran. We still  function in the community. Much to the dismay of a select few, we haven’t been burnt at the stake yet, and no – the band hasn’t asked us to stop going to shows. We’re not going anywhere. We not only acknowledge our fandom, we celebrate it every single day when we write, and I think this is where it gets sticky because what Amanda and I see as positive exploration, others find offensive. I guess when it comes down to it, Amanda and I are a bit unusual, if not flat-out weird.

We’re even sometimes embarrassed by our own behavior as fans. I’ve written about those moments MANY, MANY times…but somehow, those blogs are easy to ignore. For those who have already dismissed the blog as being a bunch of lies, or that Amanda and I are evil bitches with an ax to grind, I’d imagine that reading something where we admit to being silly or human doesn’t really fit the agenda.

As I told Amanda last week, sometimes I feel as though the blog has run its course. After eight years, it is a good challenge to find something new to write about. I spend a lot of time writing, when I could be researching or writing one of our own projects. While being a fan is absolutely a joy, writing about fandom is my passion. The blog here is just for fun – which I desperately need at times. That is why I want to continue Daily Duranie.

Keeping with that “fun” theme, I must be careful in the future about how topics are presented here, because fans are so emotionally vested, and naturally biased. Like I said, I think Amanda and I are just kind of weird. We enjoy being fans and doing all the “things”, but we also like examining WHY we do all of the things. We’re not afraid to call ourselves (fans, collectively) out in the process. While I don’t have an answer as to why I am able to compartmentalize (and sometimes I can’t – which is another issue for another day), I need to respect YOUR fan space. Point taken.

-R

Convention update

Hi everyone, Rhonda here – not that it’s unusual for me to blog on a Monday, but it’s me. Anyway, I wanted to give a very brief update on convention plans. Many have asked us about it, and I want to be as clear as possible.

First of all, both Amanda and I would like to have a convention this year. Our friend Jason at the Hard Rock worked to get a very nice deal together for us, and we appreciate his efforts. At this point in time, however, we are struggling with two things: Money (for deposits) and time.

The money part is simple: it costs money for deposits, and while a few thousand dollars may not seem like a lot – I can assure you that it absolutely is when it is your money, you’re on a limited budget, and there’s some concern about whether or not you’d get it back.  We have had some discussion about doing a sort of Kickstarter where we offer various ticket packages and other opportunities so that we could earn the money for convention costs. We would offer everything from a way for people to support the convention, to VIP packages for the entire weekend. The hope would be to raise enough money where we could pay the deposits without Amanda and I having to be on the hook financially.

That leads me to the second issue: time. There is never really enough of that.  I’m finding that I have to devote my extra time to other personal family things right now. That may change in the next few weeks, or it may not. This is a time where I’d give my eye-teeth for additional help, but I know that most people just want to GO to the convention and not have to plan one. I just am not sure if I can devote all of the time necessary for it to be a success, and I can’t make that determination just yet.

This is not the update I would have wanted to give several weeks or months back. Life has a crazy way of changing and I sometimes struggle to keep up. I will be keeping Amanda updated with what’s going on, and from there we will make some decisions. That’s really the best I can do right now. No, it’s not where I wanted to be or how I wanted to do it – but it’s what I have to work with right now. I realize that some of you need time to plan for travel and so forth, and I apologize for not being able to give better answers right now.

-R

Why is it necessary? Because studying fans is our passion.

No one really needs to read this blog. In fact, no one ever did. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never coerced anybody into paying any kind of attention whatsoever. We just decided to write and the rest took its course.  We appreciate that our subject matter resonates with people, and we certainly enjoy writing, otherwise we’d stop.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that, particularly when things don’t go well or as I’d planned. Amanda and I decided to write. We also decided to study.  Whether or not people read, or like what we say, is honestly and truly immaterial at this point – although I do get a good chuckle when someone chooses to not only respond, but in doing so also illustrates whatever point we were writing about, with exacting precision. I can’t even bother being outraged. The irony.

This blog and website represent a small part of our lives. The blog is our hobby. Conversely, studying, researching and the real writing – not the musing you find here, but the real writing – is the passion.  Most wouldn’t know that, because it is far easier to assume that Amanda and I have nothing else to do with our lives other than wax poetic about Duran Duran. Stereotypes live long and prosper. I get it, but nothing could be further from the truth. We make the time for this hobby. For Amanda and I, it isn’t even about Duran Duran, although the band was certainly what brought us together and we obviously love the music and them as people even if we don’t always agree.  No, for us it is about fandom. Fan Studies. Fannish practices.

Duran Duran is where we find enjoyment. We go to concerts. We definitely put on meet ups and things of that nature. Those events are for fun. They give us joy. We write about Duran Duran here. We celebrate being fans.

Studying fandom though – that is our gig. We want to know and learn why we fans do the things we do. The fascinating thing is that in our particularly fandom – we don’t operate or behave in the same ways that other fandoms might. After years of studying and researching, we think we’ve finally hit on why that might be, so we decided to write a paper, and a proposal to present it at the Pop Culture Association International Conference.  We wanted feedback from the academic community, which we received. Suffice to say, we weren’t wrong.

That conference wasn’t a convention of people thrown together for a weekend of drinking and hi jinx. Professors, grad students, independent scholars and authors came together to test out new theories, receive feedback and make connections. It was a time to watch other people present their hard work and hopefully allow that creative juice to flow. This was not a Duran Duran fan convention, y’all.

Yep, to many of you, that might seem incredibly dull or even a waste of time. To Amanda and I? It is what each of us studied in college. My bachelors degree is in American Studies. I spent my time taking full semester courses on subjects like “A Sense of Place”, “The Culture of Los Angeles”,  “1960’s America”, “1960s Youth Counterculture”, “Spaghetti Westerns”, “Disneyland” (Yes, a full course on Disneyland and how it represented our culture in 1955 and beyond), “Beatlemania”….not to mention several survey courses I had to take along the way. Amanda’s class topics were likely similar, but while I studied American culture, she studied the culture of women in society.  We like studying groups of people and learning why they act, react, and interact the way they do—and how all of that is influenced, or influences, society in general.

For us, the conference was right up our alley. Everyone there was just as obsessed with their field of study as we are with ours – there was someone who studied Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was presenting on that subject. She saw other presentations on topics such as the Use of Memes in the 2016 election, Pop Culture in the Classroom, Handmaid’s Tale in Fan Fiction, Beauty Bloggers on YouTube, and Social Media and activism. I can’t remember all of the subjects I saw on the schedule, but the point is that our study of the uniqueness of female fandoms was not at all out-of-place. I would have loved going, that is for sure.

Amanda and I don’t look at our research and study as a waste of time, but we also realize that it is way beyond what most Duran Duran fans are interested in. We share what we’re working on with you because after nearly eight years of blogging, some of you are personal friends and have asked us to keep you posted. She and I also find it kind of funny that a band brought us together, and here we are. So yes, we share that journey with anyone who wants to read—and apparently even some who say they don’t.

As I’ve said before, no one is making anybody read this blog. We don’t have a traffic “requirement” and we’re definitely not making money here, so if you’re offended by what we write – don’t bother. It’s really that simple.  We know we’re not for everyone, and I don’t think either of us really cares anymore.  We have fun with what we want to do. Amanda and I write what we want. We don’t compose blogs with the intention of getting high traffic to the site, and Daily Duranie is never going to be for the fans who ONLY want to fawn all day long over the sights of Simon, John, Roger, Nick and/or Dom. We’ve done a fair share of that over the years, but we also write about why and how it all happens.  Sometimes, those are hard truths to read.

In reference to yesterday’s video posted by Amanda, someone kindly asked why we felt the need to “point those things out”.  First of all, we posted the video because our readers asked us. We have friends here that have followed us from nearly day one and they were interested in hearing the final presentation.  Amanda spoke as she might to the academic audience, for the most part. She wasn’t directing it at the general public, or our regular reading audience. We didn’t expect everyone to like it, but we posted it for those who were interested. Rest assured, sometimes – we just want to go to a show and have fun, too (and we do).

Secondly, is it really such a crime to know that (most, not necessarily all) women seek validation from men? Why does that truth bother anybody? Do you wear makeup and dress nicely? Do you comb your hair in the morning? I do. I do it because it makes me feel human, but I also do it because I like hearing my husband say that I look nice. The same goes true for when I go to shows. I don’t mind looking nice, and hey – if the band looks at me and smiles or Dom holds up a sign saying hi to me (at the urging of a friend), I get as giggly about that as anyone else. It’s harmless. That said, I also realize that society has taught me, both directly and indirectly – to look and need those things. Is that a character flaw? Maybe, if I allow that validation to become more important than other relationships and people in my life.

Lastly, and most importantly – I say this at risk of offending some – we write what WE want to write. We have fun here the way we want. Just as the band writes the music they want, we’re going to do this our own way. Come along if you want, we’ll make room!

-R

Presentation Video: Uniqueness of Competition in Female Dominated Fandoms

I am tired.  The last few days were pretty mentally and emotionally exhausting  that also included a very long drive home.  While I need time to process everything regarding the conference, I do know a few things already.  First, I feel confident that I gave the presentation well and that I was thoroughly prepared.  Second, I did receive some useful and not-as-useful feedback, though all coming from good intentions.  That said, I am left wondering if it was worth it in terms of the time, stress and money.  I hoped to feel super accomplished and motivated and that did not happen.  I know that I did learn from the experience, though.

On that note, I know a lot of people wanted to see the presentation.  I recorded me practicing it from my hotel room.  That means that this does not adequately show what it was like to see the real presentation but I do share the ideas and as much of the visuals as could fit on the screen.

-A

 

A Little OCD Much?

I arrived in Indianapolis around 5 yesterday afternoon for the National Popular Culture Association Conference after a long, wet drive.  After having spent days getting the presentation ready and practicing, now was the time to just get going.  I cannot say that I’m feeling exactly 100% about the presentation as I have varied the time it takes to give when practicing between 18-24 minutes but I’m here anyway.

After having checked into the hotel and getting organized, I went down to the 3rd floor where the conference registration was taking place.  There I was handed a program and a name tag along with a special ribbon showing my first time status.  One guy told me that the ribbon was so they all could laugh at me, which made me laugh.  Then I commented that this would feel familiar as my students laugh at me all the time.  From there, I waited for the evening entertainment, Paula Poundstone.  While I obviously knew of her, I don’t know that I watched a lot of her stuff before.  Now, though, I would.  She was hilarious and definitely made me feel more comfortable about being here.

She started her routine by asking about this little conference, wondering how people got here, what they talked about, etc.  She called on some random guy who claimed he was a “trailing spouse” and that his wife was presenting.  What was she presenting about?  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of course!  From there, Paula wanted to know how long the husband knew about her “interest” in Buffy.  He stated that he found out pretty early in their relationship as her house was covered in Buffy memorabilia.  Paula then wondered if this sort of thing was something the “trailing spouse” found attractive.  As you can imagine, the rest of the crowd was hysterically laughing.

From there, Paula found out some other topics that people were presenting about.  At this point, it became clear to her that people at this conference were kind of obsessed about some tiny aspect of popular culture.  As I was laughing, I found myself nodding.  This is true.  It is one thing to have a little conversation or two about fandom.  It is another thing to read countless books about it, write a couple of manuscripts about it, and present about it to a bunch of other geeky academics.  In realizing this, I have to recognize that Rhonda and I have been rather obsessive about understanding fandom and our fandom specifically.  At that moment, I found myself smiling, knowing that I’m around people who are just like me in that they, too, are obsessed about something. They are so obsessed about whatever that they have studied and are excited to present about their learning.  That’s really pretty cool.

I look forward to going to some presentations today.  I’m hopeful that they will help me feel more confident about what I’m presenting.  On top of that, I hope to learn something from my fellow obsessive academic geeks.

-A

Tales of Duranlore

Over the weekend, I heard a Duran Duran song I’d never heard before.

Think about that. We’re in between albums, I think I’ve heard everything the band has recorded…so how is that possible?

It turns out, the song I heard is one of Duran-lore, which means it’s a song that some people have long-held as existing, while others swore it did not. In actuality, it is a song that I believe eventually became Seventh Stranger.  That happens during the writing and recording process. You start with what you think is one song, and eventually, it ends up being something else entirely.

Reminds me a little of what Amanda and I have experienced with writing a manuscript. We started with one thing, switched it up and came out with a completely different version that we are now working on which will become something altogether new. Trust the process, so they say! Let’s write a book, it’ll be fun…

ha ha ha

Back to the case in point, I’ve seen a great many things written, asked and implied about this particular song. I’m not posting the link here because my point here isn’t to anger the powers that be or disturb the masses. I don’t honestly care whether the song is real or fake (although based upon the stories I’ve been told – I wholeheartedly believe the people who took the time to explain and share with me). What I find far more interesting is something I’ve titled “Duranlore”.

I grew up in the USA, and as I’ve said before, my world didn’t extend much beyond Glendora or Covina, California. Public transportation where I lived was something you didn’t take unless you wanted to get mugged, or had no other choice (meaning my mom wouldn’t let me step one toe onto any bus!). So I didn’t have the experience of going into Los Angeles or hanging out anywhere outside of my little neighborhood. It comes down to the fact that I’ve got no great 1980s fandom stories to share. From what I gather, that wasn’t the case for my friends in the UK.

I hear so many great stories, or lore, from my friends there. They had a much different experience when it comes to Duran Duran back in the 80s. To me, they were exotic and completely untouchable.  I couldn’t relate to them. They were very enigmatic and otherworldly. They didn’t seem real. I suspect that half of my curiosity about them, even as an adult back during the reunion tour, came from the fact that I’d never even been anywhere near them. I suspect that may be the case for many other fans as well. Yet my friends in the UK knew them and are still familiar faces to the band. They were frequent sidewalk-outside-the-studio visitors.

I can’t help but be envious. I don’t know what that level of recognition or having that type of history feels like.  In contrast, I spent my days between albums going to school, watching MTV, doing normal kid things, I suppose. I didn’t really think or hear about a Duran Duran album until news came out about it on the radio, on MTV, or in one of those teen magazines. That isn’t to say I didn’t spend time being a fan. My albums received ample play, but that was about as close as I could really get to experiencing the band.  In all honesty, my “story” with Duran Duran really didn’t get started until much, much later in life.

Not so for my UK friends. I am always equal parts amazed, impressed, and envious, that so many of them have known one another since childhood.  They met from hanging outside of the studio (or band members homes)!  I love that. They have an entire story that I can’t even relate to, or be a part of, because they met when they were so young and grew up with this band in a way that was impossible for anyone outside of England to really understand. When I say I’m envious, that’s the truth. I’m not jealous of them—I wouldn’t want to take any of that away from them—I just wonder what it must have been like. So, I tend to ask them a lot about it whenever I get the chance.

When I saw the link to this song over the weekend, I listened with the same sort of giddiness I do when I get a new Duran Duran song. The thing is, the song has been around for a while. It’s not new to YouTube, and I know there have been questions about it before. I certainly had questions of my own, and in many ways I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard it before. So many die-hard fans have – it’s one of those songs “everyone” knows about. Here I am, Ms. Blogger-lady, and I hadn’t yet. Awesome.

Those who remember Kitty will know that she posted it on her now defunct website, Gimme A Wristband. John has said in the past that the song isn’t Duran Duran (although I am not an expert in sound engineering, it sure as hell sounds like Duran Duran to me). Katy has said this song doesn’t exist (which to be fair, it really doesn’t anymore because the song eventually became something else anyway). Yet my friends, who were there at one of the (many) places the band recorded Seven and the Ragged Tiger album – know it’s real. It is one of those songs that, the more it’s denied, the more it has become something of a treasure. My friends were able to tell me the story behind the recording itself. The quality of the recording is, well, not good – it’s been cleaned up quite a bit so one can hear it – but it’s still pretty muddy sounding. There’s a reason for that. It was recorded through a drain pipe.

That’s the good stuff right here. Imagine a kid taking the time to bend down, and getting what had to have been a horribly distorted recording of a song coming through a drain pipe, just because she was a huge fan! Yet the story doesn’t surprise me one bit, given the fan in question.  I can’t imagine that she actually thought she’d be answering questions about that song and the way she recorded it thirty years later!

I went back and forth about whether or not I’d write about this song here on the blog. It comes down to this: for me, the true importance isn’t about whether the band says it’s real or fake, or what song it is…or was at the time. I wasn’t there to confirm it all, but I believe the people who took time to explain to me how it is that they have a recording of a Duran Duran song that was never released. It doesn’t matter what DDHQ has said in the years since, because they weren’t even there at the time.

No, the point that sticks in my head is the fact that these kids were so into Duran Duran that they spent their spare time (and probably some school time too!) sitting at the studio. They met one another, they became friends, and they experienced the same sort of fandom that many of us had to wait until we were adults to fully experience and enjoy. Think about how so many of us will wait hours in a hotel lobby just to be able to say hi to the band. Then think about the people we’ve met while waiting.

It is from these same friends of mine (ha ha ha) that many of the stories of how Duran Duran’s history all really happened and unfolded comes from.  With all due respect to management, for the die-hards, it’s not about the “story” that they want out there in the general public. After all, that bio and image is a highly polished veneer that is expertly applied to the raw, organic reality.  I think the real “stories” or Duranlore, particularly those that fans are most interested in, come from the fans who were actually there. They aren’t the ones who need to project a certain impression, or put on airs because the reality doesn’t match the pretty PR image that gets albums sold.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely a place for the image created by a hard-working management team, and I have ample respect for that. But there’s also the reality that comes from fans who have been there since day one, or close to it. Rarely does a management team stick with a band from beginning to end. Some fans do, though, and some lived close enough to actually see it happen. The tales of Duranlore these fans share aren’t always pretty, and they’re certainly not polished, but yet – it’s the oral history of people who, in spite of it all, are still fans forty years later.

That says something, doesn’t it?

-R

Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing

Today’s post comes from the file marked, “Things you’re not going to get to do after all”.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Amanda and I were invited to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to give a presentation on a paper we’ve been working on about the uniqueness of competition within female fandoms. We had to submit an abstract of the paper to the convention committee and in turn we were invited to come present our work. It was, and is, a huge honor to be invited. Academics from all over the world will be in attendance, many of whom are authors of the books we’ve been reading on the subject of fandom. Quite frankly, Amanda and I were geeking out just by talking about the opportunities we’d have to meet people, listen to talks about various subjects, and get our creative juices flowing.

We have been working on the paper off and on since we got word of being accepted, with the intention that I would fly to Madison over the weekend of March 24, we’d work to polish the paper and presentation together, and then drive to Indianapolis in time for the conference. It was going to be a real Thelma and Louise week for us, and we were both very excited.

For Amanda and I, this small victory comes from nearly a decade in total filled with research, observing, writing, and blogging. A lot of people, including my own family, thought we were nuts for doing all of this. I’d been told more than once that this is just an excuse to have fun and waste money. Not that I agree, but the words were put out there regardless, not to mention the countless insinuations.

I felt like having this invitation to present validated the time I’d spent on the blog, the writing, the traveling and yeah, even seeing Duran Duran.  The guilt of doing something that the rest of the family didn’t think I should be doing really tore at me, and continues to this day.  I never felt like I could justify my time or reasoning, and yeah for me, that mattered. I would constantly tell myself that we’d written not one, not two, but nearly three manuscripts (and we’re still working on that third one), and we were not going to give up. Hearing that our abstract for a paper had been accepted was so huge, I couldn’t put it into words. Still can’t. I needed that vindication.

There is this cliché that reads, “Life happens when you are making other plans”.  The words hit so close to home that I’m going to have them on my headstone someday.  Through a series of events we’ll just call “life”, I’ve learned that most of the time, I feel like I’ve got to put the wants and needs of other people first. This is one of those times.

As many know, my husband was laid off from his job in late November. He’s still interviewing and looking for work. The trip to Indianapolis is coming up rapidly. This trip does not equate to a paying job, or even an opportunity to make money. It is a chance to share new perspectives through this paper with academics and perhaps receive feedback. Sure, there’s the potential for learning, and networking, but I cannot deny that for the most part it would be mainly self-satisfaction that I’d be gaining by going.  While perhaps a worthy reason, it is not enough to justify the trip.

Yes, I’m disappointed. Aside from this morning while writing, I’m trying not to even think about it.  My success with that is pretty wobbly on good days, and on bad ones—and there have been quite a few of those lately— I just feel sorry for myself, which is nauseating. There’s definitely a part of me that feels like I’m the one always having to push aside my own wants and needs, which feels a lot like wallowing in my own self-pity, because it IS. In other equally weak and shameless moments, I envision myself sloshing around and slowly drowning in a dank pit of self-loathing, as I blame other influential, extended family members on my decision to remain at home. The peer pressure to be known as a good, caring, and selfless wife within my extended family is real. I want to please the right people by making a good decision. Basically, I’m a people-pleaser who is hopelessly addicted to affirmation from others. Rock on!

The final decision to stay at home from the conference was my own. Enough of that self-serving junk. I’m pushing the unhelpful thoughts aside, letting them go, and moving on.

So, Amanda is going to go and deliver the presentation on her own. As the abstract of our paper states, it is authored by the two of us, and I am continuing to work on it with her. But, it will be Amanda at the convention and I am sure she will do a fantastic job. I have high hopes that something good will come out of this for her, even if I am not able to take an active part there at the convention itself.  I hate that I’m not going, more than I want to admit.

In the meantime, I know many of you are wondering about OUR convention. I am not going to lie, I’ve been side-tracked lately. Surprise!! Emotionally, I haven’t been able to commit myself to more than what’s already on my plate. That said, Amanda and I are going to talk about it, figure some things out, and move forward.  Watch this space, and I appreciate your patience.

-R

I Need This Blood to Survive

Last night, when I sat down to write this blog post, I had no idea about what I was going to write about.  Instead of beating my head against the wall trying to figure out something super clever, I sought out my old favorite of picking out a song then a lyric.  The song that popped up was, obviously, Notorious.  This song is often thought to be about the media’s treatment of the band, which makes sense if you glance at the lyrics.  Yet, for some reason, some of the lyrics have made me think about something far more personal.

Whenever I hear this song, the line I chose for the title, “I need this blood to survive,” is the one that grabs my attention the most.  Before I think about what it might mean for me, I just like the idea that something is so desperately needed that it is like blood, something that one cannot live without.  It isn’t just wanting something a lot.  No, it is more than that.  A lot more than that.  It is about something essential.  Required.

When I think about what I need, I don’t think about what I actually need to survive.  My brain does not turn to food or water or shelter.  No, my mind immediately thinks about fandom, which is pretty funny, really, when you think about it.  Why would fandom be something I need?!  Isn’t that a little ridiculous?!  I ask myself these questions all the time.  As I go through those questions, I realize that I could actually survive without Duran Duran.  I would still have a pulse and my heart would still beat, but I don’t think I would have a shot at real happiness.  I wouldn’t have something to provide me nothing but joy.

There is something special about fandom.  It can be pure.  It can be magical.  Fandom definitely demonstrates a uniqueness that I find nowhere else.  I contrast fandom with teaching.  Believe or it or not, I do experience joy in teaching.  Let me give you an example from yesterday.  After school, I ran into a student I had last year.  After asking about how 10th grade is going, conversation turned to last year.  I remind the student that he came into my class with an attitude and a negative assumption that I would just focus on “white man” history to quote the student, which would make the class “boring as hell”.  At first, the student denied ever saying that but soon enough, he chuckled as he agreed that he did question me a lot in the beginning of the year last year.  I then asked, “So?  Is that the kind of history I taught you?”  He laughed some more and responded casually with a, “Nah, Ms. Pustz, you were cool.”  Interactions like that do bring me joy.  I have fun interacting with my current and former students.  I like sharing experiences with them.  That said, it is not pure joy.  No, there is far too much work and too much ridiculousness to be like that.

Now, some might argue that fandom doesn’t really result in pure joy either.  After all, fans can try to take each other down.  I have seen times where fans or groups of fans spend a lot of time tossing insults back and forth at each other.  Certainly, those moments do not equal pure joy.  But you know what does?  Duran live.  That brings me nothing but bliss.  I’m in my happy place when I am watching, singing and dancing at a Duran Duran concert.  During those two hours or so, all of my problems and concerns get pushed to the side.  I cannot help but to smile the entire time.  You know what is weird?  That euphoria that I feel during a show often carries over to my real life.  It provides a shield of sorts, a layer of protection so that real life stress doesn’t quite get to me in the way that it could.  It isn’t perfect.  It doesn’t push all the bullshit aside but it helps.  It doesn’t last forever, but I will take what I can get.  I need it to make the rest of life a bit more bearable.

-A

How We Get Connected

The lyric, “This is how we get connected,” from Last Night in the City is one of my very favorites.  It is the essential idea behind fandom and fan communities.  Being part of a fandom can be very different than just being a “fan”.  Let me explain what I mean by that.  I am a fan of a ton of different things.  I really like vanilla lattes so I’m a fan of them.  My closet is full of boots as they are my favorite type of shoes so you could say that I’m a fan.  I enjoy the TV show, Designated Survivor so that makes me a fan.  That said, I’m not a part of any fandom related to any of those.  No, to be a member of a fandom, I believe, means reaching out to others.  It means making connections.

I remember when I fell for the TV show, Roswell, at the end of the 1990s.  Initially, I sought out online information to find spoilers as I was impatient about what was going to happen.  Soon enough, I found a message board in which fans spent time talking to other fans about the show.  I never really thought about doing something like that but after lurking for awhile, I decided to try it.  Not surprising to anyone reading this blog, but I really liked it.  That fandom and message board came at the very right time in my life when I needed to make connections with others.  It helped to ease a sense of loneliness and isolation I had from having moved to a new city where I knew no one.  Likewise, before joining that board, part of me really believed that I was all alone in the love for a little TV show and more.  Once I started chatting with people, I loved it and soon enough feelings of sadness were pushed to the side.

Then, of course, I fell back in love with Duran Duran.  This time, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to find other fans.  I had learned that making and having those connections were essential both for my outlook on life but also made being a fan fun.  Initially, those connections formed at a little message board called DuranDuranFans.com.  Over time, those connections and other, newer ones moved over to social media.  First, it was MySpace then Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Now, though, the chatter on social media is different.  It is a lot less about Duran Duran and a lot more on current events and politics.  This shift happened over time but partly as a result of less conversation about Duran and more concern about the current state of U.S. at least with the people I am connected to.

I do miss chatting with other fans about Duran Duran.  That said, I’m thankful that we have this blog so that I can still express how I feel about what is happening with the band.  In many cases, responses on Twitter or Facebook to blog posts remind me of those initially formed connections as people are simply talking about Duran and nothing else.  Back when I first joined the Duran fandom, post reunion, I needed that connection with other fans a lot.  Realizing that others loved the band as much as I do helped me to embrace my love for the band in a way that I wouldn’t have done if I remained a lone fan.  My fandom grew much deeper as a result.

Now, it is different.  It is no longer about forming connections but about keeping them.  My fandom is as secure as it ever has been.  It isn’t going anywhere.  That Duranie card will never leave my possession.  Those initial interactions with other fans have either become deeper in which a real, genuine friendship has formed or they have faded over time.  In participating in social media now, I do want to maintain those friendships.  Absolutely.  Yet, just like my Roswell fan self of the 1990s, I need to know that I’m not alone.  In 1999, I feared that I was the only person, especially the only adult, watching and enjoying the heck out of a TV show.  When I joined in on the message board, I understood that I wasn’t.

Something similar is true now, too.  I still worry that I’m all alone in how I’m thinking and feeling about what is going in my country.  When I see others say or feel like I do, I am comforted.  It allows me to not feel so alone.  I feel stronger with more hope.  That matters a lot to me.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to maintain my connections from the Duran fandom.  The opposite is true.  I want those friendships to be strong and I still want to discuss any and all happenings with the band.  I wish that there were more opportunities to do that.  Maybe there are and I’m not just aware of where.  Where do all of you talk about Duran these days?

When I was a kid, I remember thinking that I needed to choose one clear identity.  Was I going to a dorky person obsessed with bands and clubbing?  Was I going to be a serious teacher dedicated to helping her students at all hours?  Would my entire life be focused on political activism?  Throughout high school and college, I found myself picking one and attempting to dive into that one aspect fo myself.  For awhile, I would be extremely happy but over time, I found myself frustrated and missing a different element of my personality.  Now, I recognize that I am and need to be all of those things and can be simultaneously.  I can’t and shouldn’t try to hide part of who I am even if that makes me unpopular or uncool.

Therefore, I need to be able to connect with others for a variety of reasons.  My teacher friends allow me to vent or express concern over my job.  Political associates make me feel supported and reassure me that I’m not crazy.  My fellow Duranies remind me of good times and the band that I  love.  I need all of those connections.

-A