Tag Archives: fandom practices

It’s a Lonely Burning Question

Our little corner of the world is certainly small, isn’t it? The longer I am a participant in the fan community for Duran Duran, the more I realize just how tiny it really is.

Unlike most other bands I go to see in concert, with Duran Duran I tend to be more involved. (Shocking, right?) I subscribe to their fan club (DuranDuranMusic), and I tend to buy VIP tickets to most shows because I’m greedy and I want the best seats. I can’t lie about that. The thing is, there are quite a few of you out there – many of you reading, actually – that are right there with me!

I am I myself alone

I don’t make it my business to introduce myself to the “who’s-who” in the fan community. I’m not buddies with each and every person who seems to be attached to the band in one sense or another. I’m not somebody who will go bouncing up to someone I’d call a “well-known fan” just because I recognize them and want to make nice. That’s not me. I hate approaching people as it is, unless I’m comfortable and actually know them.

There’s no way I’m going to just insert myself into someone’s evening just because I happen to know they’re friends with a roadie, married to someone in management, or is actually on “the team”. I would be a horrible politician, and it is very obvious that I’m not the greatest at making connections. All one has to do is look at my LinkedIn to know that I fail horribly at networking. I always assume I’m putting someone out, or that I’d be bothering them. I guess I’ve mostly stayed to myself, as much as one can when they write a familiar blog, I guess??

The thing is, and I’m going to be brutally open about this – the “It” list of fans, you know the ones – they tend to be at most of the shows, they always seem to know where and when to be, and how to get places that normal, everyday fans don’t – aren’t really on our reader list. At least, not that *I* know of. They’re not usually people who will even admit to reading this, or any fan blog for that matter. I suppose we might be a bit too pedestrian, maybe too wide-eyed, and probably far too “Fan” like. With a capital F. I get it.

Got to show now, got to move on

In a lot of ways, I’m more of a watcher than a participant. I remember a number of years back when I was in Chicago for a show. A group of us met up afterward and walked to a local bar. When we got there, the place was packed, to the point where we were turned away at the door because it had reached capacity. We stood outside for a bit, trying to decide where to go next. As I glanced towards the windows of the bar, I saw somebody inside. She was waving at me and kind of laughing. I could guess what she was laughing about. There I was, along with a small group of others, proverbially on the outside looking in. She was IN, along with several members of the band, I might add, and we were most definitely OUT. Weakly, I waved back and tried not to feel like a complete loser. Story of my life.

At every single show I attend, I’ll see quite a few of the same people. Over and over again. I silently marvel at how they’re able to be everywhere. It isn’t jealousy as much as it’s curiosity. I know how tough it is for me to be at the several shows I can attend each tour, and I can promise that from here on out – it will be far less than it was during Paper Gods. (Or so my husband assures) How do they manage?!? Even more so, I’ll watch other fans flock to these people, befriend them, and situate themselves near them. I don’t even know their names or who they are beyond their faces, and yet the fan-community-at-large are already Facebook friends with them, at the very least! On one hand, I’m surprised I don’t know everyone’s name by now, I guess. On the other, I am not one of those super outgoing and bubbly people.

Puts my faith in none of the above

The kicker for me, is when I’m online and happen to be reading a Facebook post or reading through a Twitter thread. As I go through it, I realize that most all of my friends are actually connected, to some of those people I mentioned above. They’re not just “social media” connected, but obviously know them. Or maybe I’m surprised by people who have not really been active in the fan community for very long (not that they haven’t been fans – that’s different), but are very connected to the “A list” of fans and people in the Duran Duran circle. Perhaps I’m shocked when I realize that the reason why so-and-so IS at all of the shows is because she’s married to somebody who works for the band. It could be a million other scenarios, because for as long as I’ve been in the fan community, or have been actively blogging – I know very little about the people within.

I know how people behave as a group. The trends and patterns of behavior are easy for me to recognize. I can, and have helped put together some really fun meet-ups and parties over the years. But do I really KNOW people?

Probably not so much. It is strange how one can blog for eight years and yet really still be on the outside looking in, isn’t it?

-R

Shelter of my Heart

There are weeks when I’m pretty sure you’ve heard entirely too much from me. This may be one of them.

Yesterday, I composed a post that wasn’t all that easy to write. Well, I take that back – it actually wasn’t difficult at all for me to write, but I was a little concerned about how some might take it. Writing the words was actually the easy part. It felt wonderful to just put it all out there and be free of the burden. The more uncomfortable portion was knowing that once the words were out there, I really didn’t have any control over how they were read or digested.

Girl, you’re looking beat and cold

Twenty-four hours later, and I realize that I need to clarify a couple of things. First of all, I’m not suicidal. Please know and understand that. I appreciate the concern, but I can 100% promise that I’m nowhere near that point. Yes, I know how to ask for help. I will just say that contemplating the possibility six months ago, and being truly suicidal are incredibly different things.

Second, writing this blog gives me joy. It is the one escape I had last year, and there were some weeks where it felt like the only bright spot in each day. So the suggestion that I should take a step back or take an extended break, however well-intended, is the wrong advice for me OR Amanda. I appreciate the thought, but in this case, it would do far more harm than good.

In my imagination this is how the message reads

I can understand the confusion though. I did write about the tug-of-war between the pressures of real life, fandom and even blogging. That is true. That tug-of-war does exist. When I’m blogging, working on the website, talking with friends about which B-sides should have really been album tracks, or even planning a trip to Vegas – I know there are other things I should be doing here at home. Like perhaps planning the school day for my youngest. When I’m focusing solely on parenting, being a good partner and that kind of thing, I know I’m ignoring my friends and other things I like, and I start wishing for an escape plan. It’s a juggle, and the key is balancing it all, right? That’s a normal, constant thing for everyone – and 99% of the time, I can do it no problem. Last year though, that was different.

Let me try to explain again. Picture walking up a fairly steep hill. It is a trek you’re used to, and you’re used to carrying a large bag with you. It is heavy and you’ve got to go slow, but you can do it. Truth be told, you like doing it because the scenery is beautiful along the way, but yeah – it’s hard.

Then one day, you’re asked to carry not just one bag, but three. Two bags aren’t awful because you’ve got two hands and you can balance, but three requires a little more finesse. Of course, the added bonus is that the bags are really heavy and filled to the brim. You start off fine, but then some stuff falls out of one of the bags, and as you’re bending over to grab that stuff more falls out of the others. You keep trying to pick stuff up but things keep toppling out of the bags. Eventually, your knee gives out and you fall down completely. That was sort of how I felt last year. I was at my lowest point just before summer, I think.

Reaching out

I felt like writing that post yesterday was important not just for me, but for anybody. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression. I’ve never been quite that “low” before. I do have anxiety from time to time, and I’m high-strung (that shouldn’t be a shock to anyone), but again – last year was different. I think when we envision someone who is struggling, we assume they aren’t functioning. We think that when someone is really depressed, they’re unable to get out of bed, or they’re a shut-in, hiding under blankets or staring blankly at the ceiling fan as it spins in slow circles.

So, I’d write. Sometimes, I’d just barely graze the pile of feelings I had steadily growing in the pit of my stomach, just to see if it stung. “Yep. Still burns a bit. That must mean I’m still alive, right?” I’d quickly go back to vague-posts, because it was far safer. I never really had anyone asking me questions, and to be honest – my husband, engineer-that-he-is, never seemed to notice anything any different. Some people would ask if I was alright, but I always played it off brilliantly (or so I thought). “Yeah, we’re totally fine. Just super busy! It’s really hard getting the house ready to sell. Just look at all of those bins. Crazy, huh?”  

You know you’re in deep when you start believing your own B.S. I’m pretty sure John Taylor said that somewhere in his autobiography. If he didn’t, he should have…and if he did, he’s right! You’d think I was trying to masterfully cover up an addiction. I wasn’t. I was just trying to make sure no one knew how far down in the pit of depression I really was. Feelings. Icky.

Calling Out

But anyway, back to the writing thing. I write. I don’t have any real answers here except that for whatever reason – it is far easier for me to get the words out while typing than while talking. I’m gloriously weird that way. I can’t tell you that I’m really hurting, or that I am considering suicide, or that I’m a numbskull because I once fell in love with a rock star…but I can write about it all day long.

A few people with kind intentions thought that the pressure of Daily Duranie is what dragged me down, so maybe taking a step back would ease the pain. Thankfully, I’m really not depressed anymore. I’m not completely back to normal, primarily because I’m still settling into a new house and town – so things are just weird (but I like it). I’m getting there, though. Even if I were still feeling low, I would want to keep blogging. However, if somebody wants to come clean the house, do my laundry, teach my youngest, run my errands, and deal with my husband…I’m totally open to that, and it seems like a pretty good deal to me!

Hear me now

I hope this clarifies a bit. I’m sorry this isn’t a feel-good story about how Duran Duran saved my life. In some ways though, I suppose they helped. The moments I spent writing this past year brought some much needed sunshine onto my face. While it wasn’t necessarily a song, or toothy-grins from a band I’ve loved since my teen years that brought me back over the edge – the act of writing certainly helped. I can thank Duran Duran for that.

Let us all hope this is the last post I write about depression.

-R


Cracks in the Pavement

Sometimes, fitting fandom into real life is hard. “Adulting” is tough enough, and squeezing the one true escape I’ve got into all of that isn’t always that simple. I think that’s why there have been times when I’ve conceded and given in to the daily pressures.

I don’t know if I’m the only crazy person out there that sees it this way, or if it’s a common thing. For me, it is as though I immersed myself in Duran Duran for a few years. I wrote this blog, went to many shows (more than I probably had business being at, in hindsight), researched and wrote a paper along with two manuscripts, and spread myself remarkably thin between my husband, children, family, my job at the time, Duran Duran, and friends. At some point, something had to give.

I shed my skin when the party was about to begin

Then late last year, something did. My husband lost his job, and that sent my immediate family into several months of turmoil. I couldn’t ignore what was going on at home, and so my attention turned inward. There’s no pretty way to say this: I was scared. There were a number of really bad things that happened along the way to make the pain even worse for all of us, but my family and I made it, for the most part. He found a great job, and then we needed to think about moving. Who knew that would take six months?!? They say that moving is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, and “they” aren’t kidding.

At the time, I felt like I was constantly pushing a rather large boulder up a giant hill. That wasn’t unusual for me though. Even in the past, when I was focused on researching and writing – something I completely enjoy – I still felt the boulder threatening to roll backward and flatten me if I didn’t keep up the momentum. I know for sure I’m not the only person out there that feels this way. As we all know, one can only push that boulder for so long, and then they give up. So I think in some sense, I just laid down and let it bowl me over last year.

I’m making a break for the shadows

In the aftermath, I found myself in a rather deep and dark place. I did feel rather alone, despite Amanda checking on me – there were some things I just couldn’t/wouldn’t talk about, or admit to myself. I tried very hard to make it seem like I had it together, when really – I wanted to crawl into bed, hide, and never come out. I don’t even think my husband ever really knew how deep and dark I felt. I love the guy, but counseling is not his forté.

When I get overwhelmed, which I very much was at the time, I try to break down lists into reasonable daily tasks. I’m not really a list maker – to be honest even making the list can sometimes overwhelm the heck out of me, which it did with moving. So I lived day to day, knowing the few things that had to happen on that day, and getting them done. It was the way I survived without having a heart attack, and I mean that with every fiber of my being.

Don’t want to be in public

I can honestly say that if it weren’t for writing the blog, I don’t think I would have even thought about Duran Duran during the past year. I didn’t want to listen to the music, I didn’t want to hear a single Kafe (although I did), I wouldn’t even read interviews or things like that – and I don’t know why. Walt would even bring them up, or bring up the blog, and I’d wave him off. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to think about the band. The boulder had already knocked me flat on my back and was down the mountain. I just couldn’t manage. It has taken me an enormous amount of time just to begin reading the Classic Pop magazine that Amanda sent me for my birthday in November. I’m getting there.

There were moments, and if I’m going to completely rip off the band-aid, I’ll say there were weeks at minimum, where I really did wonder if I wanted to continue in this life. I was pretty depressed. Stupid things would make me feel worse – or I should say – I allowed them to make me feel worse. Even as I type the words here, I feel silly about admitting them to the world. Regardless, for me this is healing, and it’s important. It wasn’t just because Walt lost his job, or because I had to quit mine, or because of issues with some extended family. It was because I felt like nothing, and the longer it went on, the worse it seemed to get. I gained weight, I felt gross and ugly, and I felt old! The very last thing I wanted to do was talk to someone, so I didn’t.

Breaking open doors I’ve sealed up before

This isn’t a story about Duran Duran saving me, though. I didn’t just hear a song and realize how great I’ve got it, sorry to say. It is a story about me saving myself. I don’t know what eventually started turning me around – I still go through days where I feel like a robot, but they are becoming less and less. I think that getting away from the traffic, pressures, and hectic nature of So Cal has helped. I love my new house, but I also love the peace. I spend more time outside now, and I’m looking forward to springtime. I texted with Amanda last weekend, and on Thursday we’re Skyping, which is something I would have totally said no to a few months ago. Mostly, I’m living and breathing.

I didn’t share this so that everyone could pat me and say “there, there”. I don’t need that, and I would rather that not happen, actually. I shared my story for a couple of reasons. The first being that by typing the words, admitting the truth and clearing the air – it really does make me feel better. The second is because I think sometimes it is easy to assume that since Amanda and I are writing every day, that we’ve got it together. I think it’s easy to see people online and assume all is well. That isn’t always the case. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, though. Amanda said to me last weekend that the community can be very superficial, and she needs something deeper. I get that. Sometimes I do, too. I think we all might.

I’m walking back

Everyone manages “real life” differently. I’m not sure that I’m managing it or if it is managing me, but I’m working on it. I had to be reminded this morning that for most people, fandom IS the escape. It isn’t as though I don’t feel that way, but when you write a blog about being a fan every day – I think it is easy to forget.

I really am looking forward to next month. I do need that escape and to be amongst friends that accept me for who I am. In many ways, those friends have become my family – and I need them. I am looking forward to hugging a few people who are very important to me, and I’m excited to see that band onstage again. That’s a start.

-R


Do Crowds Make You Feel Lonely?

How do you feel?

If you read the blog with any kind of regularity, you may have noticed a couple of Amanda’s blogs as of late. She’s going through a bit of a weird time when it comes to fandom and Duran Duran, and I don’t think she’s alone.

I know I see and experience things a lot differently now than I did eight, ten or even fifteen or twenty years back. My emotions about the band – at least the most basic ones – are still the same. Obviously, I still love the music. I still really enjoy hearing from them, whether in Kafe’s or in interviews. That said, I don’t always get to everything right as it’s posted.

Several years back, my day would stop if Duran Duran posted a new Kafe. Well, I can tell you that I still haven’t listened to the year-end Katy Kafes yet. I was moving at the time, and while I had a moment to glance at each of the year-end lists that DDHQ compiled, I really didn’t have opportune moments to sit and listen to the Kafes. Amanda did though, and shared a few things with me that she heard, and there was definitely some giggling, at least on my end.

How do you deal?

We still get a kick out of talking and writing about Duran Duran. When we actually are able to sit down and talk about the band, there’s still a lot of love and joy there. That’s the point though – we don’t spend nearly the same amount of time talking or laughing together.

Quite a bit of that is due to me, and some of it is a result of not having a lot to actually talk about. We aren’t working on a writing project at the moment. Our energy was, and is, being spent elsewhere. I think that makes up a lot of the “magic” when it comes to fandom: you get out of it whatever you put into it.

Back when I was a newbie in the community, participation-wise, I spent hours online. I chatted with my new friends. We made plans. We giggled a lot. I was sold, hook, line, sinker. The community aspect of being a Duranie couldn’t be beat. I put my heart and soul into it, even before I ever blogged a single word. I loved being a fan, more accurately – I loved being a part of the community.

What do you say?

Shoot ahead about five years to the time when we began Daily Duranie. The blog still carries a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears from me (as it does Amanda’s). Things have changed though. I don’t look at this blog as quite the “end all” it once was. The blog doesn’t take up my entire day the way it once did. For example, I don’t think I’m going to find any sort of a career path because I owned and operated a DD-fan blog. Yes, other people have had success – but I think those people have very different personalities and talents that are far better suited to the industry than mine. I’m open to whatever may, or may not, happen.

Acquaintances smile, but that’s no understanding

At one time, I desperately wanted and needed validation from the band. Now, I don’t just mean a wink from the stage or a quick picture with them. I had ridiculously high hopes that ranged from having one of them write the foreword to a book, to actually being taken seriously instead of being labeled as just a fan. I don’t know how or when that changed, but it did. Obviously, it isn’t something I can prove to anyone just by typing the words in a blog post. All I can say is that at one time, having the band’s respect mattered more than my own personal satisfaction, and now – I’m more concerned with how *I* feel about Daily Duranie than having the approval of someone else. For me, that’s huge.

I suppose to some extent it comes down to wanting to be noticed. It is slightly intoxicating to be noticed out of a crowd by someone I admire. That feeling is also addictive, which is why I believe so many fans wait for the band for hours on end. They too, want that moment. Once they get it, they want it again and again. They’re willing to go out of their own way to get it, too. True confession time: I’ve fallen into that trap myself. It is far too easy to fool myself into believing any sort of attention or recognition is paramount to anything else.

At one time, I looked at fandom with some sort of starry, wide-eyed innocence, it just isn’t the same now. Granted, part of me misses feeling that excited sort of buzz that happens whenever I talk about Duran Duran. The thing is, when I really sit and think about it, that feeling is still there. It isn’t my love for the band that has changed. It’s my feeling about the community.

After a while, you keep falling off the same mountain

Fandom still interests the hell out of the both of us. I just don’t feel quite as connected to other fans these days. I don’t know if that’s the same for Amanda. In a lot of ways, I feel like an island out here in the middle of nowhere. I admitted to Amanda that those feelings of listlessness certainly contribute to my not feeling like I can organize a full convention. It is hard to give back when you feel like you’re mostly alone.

Amanda herself said that she looks to her political activity for the same sort of boost she once received from the fan community (and I don’t mean as bloggers – I mean just as fellow fans). I have to believe this is part of the journey, rather than feeling like we’ve just reached the end point.

-R

PS – I was alerted that there are some links online that seem to be generated from Daily Duranie leading to a site impersonating us that gathers personal and financial data. Here is the real deal: we don’t gather personal or financial data. That’s not who we are, and that’s definitely not what we’re about. You have my word on that. We have never interviewed a band member (other than Dom). If we did – we’d be shouting from the rooftops, and everyone would know. Word to the wise: if it looks too good to be true (no, we didn’t interview Simon!), it definitely is! I apologize for the confusion.


These Are Days of Hit and Run

I’m sorry today’s blog is a bit late. I knew I would only be able to stave off illness for so long and then it would come to get me…and it did. It was a very long night, so today’s post will be a bit short.

In the stream with everyone

Yesterday, there was a little drama going on in one of the fan groups. Someone had questioned whether or not it was time for a change in backing vocalists.

I will say that I’ve been around a long time now, and I don’t think I’ve seen a group jump on somebody quite so fast as they did yesterday. That might say everything that fan needs to know, actually. (Unfortunately, the person also chose to post their concern in three separate threads, worded slightly differently each time…and I don’t think that helped)

People have said things about other touring members as well. Dom, Simon W…even Chastity back when she was doing percussion. It is a topic of conversation. I don’t necessarily agree that anything needs changed, but it is still a reasonable topic. I don’t know what about this particular post set everyone off, but something definitely did. Surely there must be more to it than I was able to see.

On a wandering river

We fans are funny. Things are taken incredibly personally. Just look at a few of the statements below. I see some version of these nearly every day on one Facebook group or another, or even on Twitter.

You don’t like the Red Carpet Massacre album?!? That means you’re obviously not a good fan!

Wait a minute. You think Warren is a better guitar player than Andy? How can you call yourself a real fan – Andy was there first!

How can you not love Paper Gods? As a fan you have a responsibility to love and support everything they do…otherwise you’re just a fan of their older albums.

Going on together

I could go on and on. Maybe some who are reading even agree with some of those statements, too. You certainly wouldn’t be alone. There was a time when I would get my hackles up whenever one of those “hot button” topics would arise. Sometimes, I’ll still feel the hair on the back of my neck come up when I see things posted. I think though, I’ve gotten tired of arguing. Everyone is going to feel however they’re going to feel, and like what they want to like. The trick is finding a way to just shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well!” Otherwise, I’m spending a lot of valuable time being angry within the very thing (fandom) that I chose to participate in. Why bother?

Don’t get me wrong, I still have strong opinions about plenty of Duran Duran topics. Don’t we all? I just don’t know if I see the point in having heated debates with people I typically do not know, from areas of the world I’ve never been. I end up feeling less-than-happy while participating in something that is supposed to bring me joy.

-R


As I walked on, I realized I was going up

Happy Monday! 

I can already tell how this week is going to go, because today I needed to update WordPress, which is the editor, along with the engine that makes our website work (kind of).  This new version of WordPress is significantly different, and there’s a bit of a learning curve for it. I can hardly wait for Amanda to try it out this weekend. Or tomorrow morning when she posts the daily question! EEK!

We’re moving, moving, moving

Up until now I’ve had to be pretty vague about my plans for the last half of December. Planning was a bit up in the air, and I didn’t know how or when things might happen. As most know, my family has been in the process of moving….for the past six months. I know, it’s been the longest move EVER. (Oh believe me, I know.) Well, the time has come, *cue Sunrise*, instead of music between us – it is a sea of plastic bins (not rubbish bins, storage bins!). We move next week! Tuesday and Wednesday, the furniture will be moved out of my house and then we move in to the new house that weekend. 

Timing is incredibly tight. The man in the red suit absolutely MUST visit on Christmas Eve, because our ten-year old still believes in the wonder of the holiday with all of her heart. I love that innocence about her and I refuse to let her down, one way or another. We get the keys to the new place on the Friday before Christmas at 6pm. That gives me three days to pull it together and make magic happen. I’ve got this. Probably. 

So where is my family headed? We’re moving from a suburb in Orange County about five hours north to the hills on the west side of Atascadero. We will be 15 minutes south of Paso Robles, and 20 minutes from Morro Bay – we timed it just the other day! Here in the OC we are in a tight neighborhood, and up there we’ll be in an enclave of ranches, where populations of chickens and goats outnumber humans. Down here, people collect Teslas and BMWs. Up there, folks are more concerned with what kind of coop you’re using for your chickens or what kind of small tractor or mower works best for clearing land. I’m not panicking. My nails are bitten down to the nubs, and my shoulders feel like bricks, but I’m fine. Probably. 

A holiday break 

So that leads me to this: I’m taking a little time off from blogging. Not because I need a vacation or because I’ve fallen off of the bandwagon (HA!), but because of logistics. So this will be my final week of blogging until after the new year. Assuming all is well (and it will be!), I’ll be back writing on Wednesday, January 2nd. If you don’t think you can manage that long without hearing from me, check me out on Twitter. Oh believe me, I’ll tweet the insanity. S news?

Studio Update?

Meanwhile, I heard that Duran Duran is finished in the studio until springtime, so those of you who thought 2019 might be a good year for a new album will likely be waiting a bit longer. I’m still going with 2020 as the possible target, at least for now.

Limitless Idolization

One more thing before I leave you for today – I saw that a fellow Duran blog is ending. Headfullofchopstick, artfully written in a way I can only envy, has published its final post. Fandom is a strange, wild trip. I won’t fault anyone for choosing to step off the path, nor would  I judge the reason why. There is a lot of talk about idolization, faith and glorification within fan studies. Unfortunately, many fans buy into all of that and more, at the risk of losing themselves in the aftermath.

The one thing I know from my own experience as a fan is that in order to last here, I needed to have my feet, head and heart planted firmly elsewhere. I love Duran Duran, and by that I specifically mean the music. Sure, I’ll say on occasion that I love the band members, but it’s different. I don’t know them that well. The love I have for friends and family is on another level entirely. Sometimes, I fear that some fans mix the two, at the peril of anyone else who happens to be in the way.  I too, recognize the crossroad. There isn’t anything, including being a die hard Duran Duran fan, that should be controlling or confining unless you allow it to be so. 

I wish Ruth well. 

-R 

So today my world it smiles….and inspires

Not gonna lie, I’m in a mood…and I’m sick of fan squabbling.

I have a friend named Alana. (Hiya Alana!!) She is battling cancer, and she’s having a rough time. I worry for her.  Her battle is far more important than anything I’m going to deal with today or tomorrow, that is for damn certain. I don’t talk to her every day (in fact, it’s been a while), but I make a point to say a prayer for her every night. It isn’t much, and goodness knows who is really listening to my nightly rambles – but I try. I met Alana because of Duran Duran, oddly enough. We are both fans, and she came to a meet-up we had in North Carolina. I loved her (and her awesome hair!) immediately. She’s warm and friendly and kind. She’s the type of person you WANT to be friends with because somehow, you hope she’ll rub off on you and make you a better person.

Well, maybe that’s just me. I can admit my obvious failings and the need for inspiration and guidance!

I bring up Alana not because I want the world to know her business, but because sometimes, I need to remind myself that our fandom is filled with people like Alana. She’s quiet, well-liked amongst her friends, but she’s not necessarily the most well-known Duranie out there. She isn’t loud, and doesn’t really ever complain. I know for sure she doesn’t sit back in jealousy when she sees a photo of her favorite online with another fan. It is doubtful that she makes a note of how many times so-and-so has had the good fortune to run into Simon. I’ve never so much as heard Alana even grumble about missing a concert, much less complain openly about how other people always seem to be able to go.

I’m definitely not like Alana. I’ve done more than my share of complaining. I’ve whined about how the same people always seem to be lucky. You know the ones, they always seem to get front row. They go to shows over and over again with what seems to be a limitless bank account.  These fans know people, and they’re invited places that most of us couldn’t even dream about. Some fans are lucky, and damn if they don’t seem far luckier than I’ve ever been. I am by no means a perfect person, much less a perfect fan. The thing is, lately, whenever I start feeling the negativity rise to the surface – I remind myself that friends like Alana are fighting real battles. They’re worrying about things that I can’t even wrap my head around. The last thing I should do is throw my own negativity into the world when friends of mine are fighting REAL battles and never once complaining. Try a little gratitude on for size, Rhonda.

I’m pretty fortunate. I’ve done a lot of things that I never thought possible. I’ve met people like Alana – and there are a lot of them out there. I have a family and friends who love and put up with me. Every time I start to feel that green haze of envy come over me – hey, it happens from time to time – I remind myself of all of those things. I think about the fact that writing this blog has genuinely saved my life. Yes, many fans out there have had far more face time with the band than I have. There are people out there that have been able to turn their fandom hobbies into real careers. I could be jealous about those things. It’s easy to slip into the “Why not me?” mindset. I’m a mom, and a damn good one at that. It’s the one thing I know I do incredibly well.

I’m not perfect. I will openly and loudly admit that I’ve rolled my eyes more than once when I’ve seen the same people win contests, go to shows, be in front row, etc, etc. I don’t know why the world works the way it does. Spending time trying to figure it out, or poking holes in fan theories seems petty – yet I know I’ve engaged in those practices more than once.  I know I still slip from time to time, too. I’m no hypocrite – I’m not even remotely close to perfect here. People can change, and I’m working on it. I only know that I spend my time in gratitude for the Alanas in my life far more often than worrying and complaining online about why someone else is going to shows all over the country or is getting front row tickets. I’m a lot happier that way, too.

I’m closing this blog in a much better mood than I started, hence the title of the blog.  Maybe there’s something to that whole “gratitude” thing…imagine that!

-R

Fandom Made Me a Happier Person, Too!

I apologize for my tardiness with today’s post. The past 24 hours have been rather unkind. My home, which was spotless on Saturday, now looks as though it has been hit by a hurricane. There is a film of dust everywhere, combined with layers of plastic, tape and yes, paint.

Speaking of which, I have a PSA for anybody who ever plans to paint, or spoil themselves and have their house painted. Always remember to pull out blankets, pillows, and perhaps a few outfits, because otherwise all of your belongings – like maybe your entire house – will essentially end up piled like a life-sized Jenga game into the center of each bedroom, and then shrink-wrapped in plastic without any way for you to retrieve your personal items. I have it on good authority that you will be left wondering at 11:30 that night how you’re going to get your ten-year old to finally go to sleep.  Maybe your significant other will end up folding an old down throw blanket into a cushion and sleeping on the wood floor, perhaps your son will sleep on an office chair, and maybe you’ll be stuck on your couch, without a blanket or a pillow.  Oh, and god forbid you have a stomach virus while all of this is going on. Yeah.

So yep, the blog is late, and I’m tired.

Today, I ran across an article that I think every Duran fan should read. This article, titled “Fandom Made Me a Happier Person – And There’s A Very Real Reason For That” is posted on bustle.com. It outlines some fantastic “side effects” to participating in a fandom.  I replied to the person who originally tweeted the link to the article on Twitter to say that 99% of my experience in this fandom has been positive.

Yes, Amanda and I have examined some of the less-than-positive aspects to certain fan practices. That’s part of studying fandom. However, she and I would be among the first to jump and shout about the good things we’ve experienced and discovered simply because we happened to be Duran Duran fans.

I’ve written about many of these things before, but just the very idea of having some interest that is mine, and mine alone, has been empowering. I’ve traveled, I’ve made lifelong friends, and I’ve even challenged myself to leave my very comfortable “box”, in search of pushing my own boundaries a bit. I’m far from perfect or finished, but I’m much happier!

Sometimes, we all get so focused on the small, insipid annoyances that go along with socializing within a small community that we forget the broader, far more positive, payoffs. I have to thank Kelsea Stahler, the author, for the good reminder. Check out the article (linked in the text above!)

-R

People stare and cross the road from me

What constitutes crossing the line?  Where exactly are your boundaries for what you will or won’t say online?

Mine fluctuate based on the circumstance, I suppose.  Amanda and I have been known to give one another a rough time, even mock-threatening to leave one another stranded on the side of a road somewhere, but that’s because we’re friends. (Makes you think what we might say if we weren’t, I guess!)

Does the band count amongst the people I know?  Sure, I’ve “known” them for many years, but I don’t really think any of them would be able to pick me out of a lineup.  (Then again, given the situation – perhaps that’s best!) I don’t think any of them know me by name. Maybe they do, but I really wouldn’t count on it. The math – thousands of fans, bloggers, fan sites vs. four of them….doesn’t quite make for the best odds. It’s understandable.

I’m a fan of Duran Duran. That does not mean that I am a fan of every single thing that anyone included in that precious inner-circle, such as roadies, friends, management team, wives, children, significant others, life partners, siblings, distant cousins, and so on, chooses to say or do. Just because someone decides to enter into a relationship with a band member doesn’t mean that they’ve decided to stop being human and stop responding to life the same way you or I might. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t afford them some grace, understanding, and kindness, and privacy, if you ask me.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I’m asking the tough questions today: where is YOUR boundary? When do you realize your internal filter is flagging you down to stop and think?

The answers here are difficult. It is rare that I’m genuinely concerned for Duran Duran or even their friends and family because someone decided to slash and burn them on social media. After all, they pay a team of people to handle that sort of thing for them. They’ve got security, and likely – none of them care what somebody like me or even you thinks of them. Why should they? On the other hand, I do worry about fellow fans – the people who might be doing that slashing and burning – at times.

As I said recently, it’s not the line that is being crossed, it is the escalation of severity.  I know a lot of people who have gotten into arguments with fans. For that matter, I myself have had the occasional run-in with a fan or two. It happens when people are passionate about something. What I don’t see very often though, are those same fans going directly after people in DD’s inner circle.

I worry that sometimes, we are too quick to call someone “batshit crazy”, rather than hold out a hand and be the person to help rather than hurt. And let me be the first to say the obvious: sometimes people cannot be helped. I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely not perfect. When someone goes from just ranting at fans to ranting directly at a band member, wife, or girlfriend – it’s worrisome. But what do we do? Do we make sure to point out that we’re not friends with that person, that we know of them but don’t like them? Do we message them and ask if they’re OK? Or do we do like most of us would – and just sit back and watch the drama unfold?

Sometimes, I feel like this community thrives on the drama. Rather than offer up support to people on the fringe, we pass out the popcorn and sit back on the sofa to watch. After all, the 24-hour news cycle was created for those who like to watch the train wreck. But at what point do we recognize that there are actual humans involved? This community isn’t so big that we’re all anonymous faces to one another. Many of us at least recognize one another, even if we’ve never formally met. Are we so heartless and so cynical that when someone steps outside of that ever-so-vague boundary that we give them a gentle shove over the edge of the cliff?

I’m no innocent here. I’ve certainly had my own moments of being a couch potato with my bag of popcorn, watching a couple of community members go back and forth on the message board. As I’ve watched, I’ve also ended up feeling awful. I took the easy way out. It is easier to be silent and let the masses do their thing without getting in the way and becoming the new target.

Half of the problem is that the boundaries are more personal suggestions than written in stone. Not everyone abides by the same rules – and let’s face it: the rules for some are different from others. I’m not here to tell anybody where the real boundaries are – your guess is as good as mine.  It is also very difficult to say what someone’s true intentions might be, particularly online.

I just keep thinking that with all of the reading I’ve done about fandom, there are some actions that indicate something far different besides just crossing a boundary or being an overzealous fan. It’s like this – the difference between love and hate is very subtle. Both emotions require a lot of passion. Indifference—that take-it-or-leave-it area—is easy. It requires no effort. There are some people who start out adoring someone, perhaps unreasonably so, and for whatever reason, end up hating them. Or hating their choices with the same amount of passion that they once loved. What happens then?

Food for thought.

-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