Tag Archives: friendship

The Kindness You’ve Shown

It took me a long time to figure out what to write about for this blog post. On one hand, I feel like I have a million thoughts rolling around in my brain dying to come out. On the other, I’m exhausted from talking and thinking and feeling. All of that sounds super cryptic, doesn’t it? National events have left me fearful and despondent. While that would be enough to get my mind going, work has been extremely tough. Teaching is super hard work with the best of circumstances but the past two weeks have pushed many at my building to their emotional breaking point, including myself. Without going into too much detail, someone we worked with was arrested for disturbing crimes against our students that has forced all of us to question our judgement, our sense of safety and more. We have been offering comfort and support to both students and colleagues alike at the same time we are all struggling ourselves. This stress has led me to get sick and feel a weariness that is hard to describe.

Last night, as I faced the end of the week, I found myself sitting in my classroom just talking and talking and talking with a couple of colleagues We hadn’t planned on staying late or having an in-depth conversation, in which we shared our frustrations, fears and even hopes for what it could be like. It was like we just needed to be together. In many ways, we have been dealing with our own emotions, silently, individually, and it was time to start letting it all out. Then, after an hour or so, a student stopped by and joined in on the conversation, needing to talk as well about the feel of the building and the world. This conversation reminded me of the best aspects of what I do outside of fandom. At the heart of both teaching and political organizing is the relationship. With teaching, the relationships are both teacher to teacher as well as teacher to student. I’m thankful that I have great relationships with my kids and I’m grateful that I have found colleagues that I can be open with. Both help me be a better educator and person. Then, organizing only works with relationships. I have developed close friendships from fighting for a cause, for a campaign with others.

Interestingly enough, this all brings me back to Duran Duran and fandom. I became a fan as a kid alongside my best friend, at the time. I couldn’t think of Duran Duran without thinking of her and the fun we always had together. Then, of course, as an adult, I cannot separate Duran from Rhonda and other friends. Friendship and fandom go hand-in-hand. Yet, my thoughts about friendship and Duran are more than that.

Making friends has never been something easy for me with a couple of exceptions. As the youngest kid in my family, I always looked to my older siblings to figure out how to do things and I constantly marveled at my sister’s ability to find an entire group of friends. For example, her high school years were spent with a group of kids who loved hockey and musicals. Then, she went off to college and made lifelong friendships with her roommates. One of those roommates lives close to her now and often spends holidays with my sister and her family. Then, my sister and family vacations with the other roommate and her family every year.

Beyond my sister’s example, I also saw the friendship that existed within Duran Duran. While I was attracted to the band for their music, their style, etc., I remember thinking about how close of friends they all seemed. This was obvious to me when watching the videos for Hungry Like the Wolf when the rest of the band searched for Simon or Nightboat when everyone seemed worried about everyone with zombies walking around. Then, if that was not enough, I saw it again in the documentary for Sing Blue Silver. That image at the end of it when a number of band members standing together, hugging and already missing the tour is one that is burned into my brain for all eternity. If they weren’t genuine friends, would they act like that? Fast forward, a number of decades and I still see that friendship. I think my favorite clip to show the genuine love between them is this one:

To me, Duran Duran was like my sister. They had a group of friends that they could rely upon, who they always hung out with. I wanted that my whole life and never really felt like I had it. Yes, I have had some tremendous friendships with individual people but never had a group that I felt like I could fit in to. I always figured the reason was that one-on-one people might give me a chance and try to get to know me but a group never would. I wasn’t that cool or funny or whatever. Lately, though, with everything going on, I have found myself appreciating the friends I do have. No, they might not be a group like my sister has or what the members of Duran have, but they are good people who have given support and will continue to give support. Something tells me that I will need those friendships more and more.

-A

If I Had a Time Machine

DDHQ asked their typical Question of the Week today – wondering what show we would attend if we had a time machine.

At first, I gasped at the enormity of the question. Forty years of gigs seems like quite a few to wade through before settling on an answer. Do I go to the biggest one? Was there one show that I regret not being able to attend more than any other? Hell if I know!!

Suddenly, the answer became clear, which I’ll admit —is strange. I mean, we’re talking about an answer coming to me over the course of composing a single tweet, but it did. As easily as flipping a switch to turn on a light bulb, I knew exactly what I would choose.

In 2005, I did something that was so far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed for myself – I still think about it from time to time. I boarded a plane headed for Chicago. Once I got there (late night on St. Patrick’s Day, no less), I took a shuttle bus to a nearby hotel (The Doubletree near O’Hare) that was christened the Duranie Dorm. Inside, I was immediately greeted by people I hadn’t seen in six months. I don’t think I can properly describe the warmth, happiness and pure joy that spread like a bright light – going from the pit of my belly through to the ends of each of my fingers and toes. In that moment, I felt every bit of the Duranie magic that I have longed for in the years since. I was a part of the crowd: wanted, welcomed and included.

The following night, Amanda, my friend Jessica and I went to the All State Arena. First, we attended the VIP cocktail party – which by the way, was much nicer than they are today. I don’t mean that the food was better or that the drinks were fancy – it wasn’t that. It was the energy of the room. This was before the days of a fan hierarchy, before we were all aware of ourselves, so to speak. We were all there as fans from the 80s, looking to make good on a promise to ourselves to see this band play new music live. It didn’t matter who knew them, who had met them, or who had photos with them as much as it did that we were all there together in that room. Rather than listen with jealous ears over the tales of previous chance band encounters, most of us listened with thoughts of “could that really happen to me?” Our hearts and souls may have even answered that question with “Maybe. You never know.”

Once we heard the beginning sounds from Clear Static, the opening band – we raced down to our seats in the third row, right in front of where John would later stand. I still can’t quite believe I was there. Nearly fifteen years later, it feels like it was all a dream. We stood, danced and cheered for Clear Static. and then—we heard the heartbeats indicating that the band, the one we came to see, was in front of us.

I can distinctly remember being so nervous—I mean, John AND Roger were directly in front of us, smiling away—I couldn’t make my camera work. I fumbled with it, my hands shaking. Third row was so freaking close!! The rest of the show comes back to mind in teeny bits and pieces, so fragmented in my memory now that I can never be sure if it was something that happened that night or one evening later in Milwaukee. John grinning at us, Roger twirling his stick, and some guy playing guitar over in the far corner of the other side of the stage – trying to hide in the wings and not draw attention to himself (This was one of the shows when Dom stepped in for Andy while he was gone).

Afterwards, we squealed, talked, celebrated and basked in the afterglow. I’ll never forget it.

For me, my fandom isn’t defined by the things I didn’t have the chance to do (oh sure, I still think about that 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour from time to time), but by the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. That night, and really – the entire weekend – was magical.

In many ways, I think that in the fifteen years since that show, I have continually tried to recreate that experience. It was the first concert I went to with not just one friend, but many. I had never traveled to see Duran Duran, or any band for that matter, so that was a first for me. The fan community felt far more like a warm hug than the rabid, cannibalized mob it tends to morph into whenever the band has been present in the years since. I can’t say times were so much better, but my own experience as a fan was shaped by that gig. I’d gladly do it all again.

-R

Do Crowds Just Make You Feel Lonely?

I was working on something a bit earlier that reminded me of how lucky I am to have found a place in this fan community.

It was a survey, and one of the questions had to do with where I found or created my current friendships. I answered that all of the friends I currently count as “close” are a direct result from Duran Duran.

How do you deal?

My circle of friends is small. It’s always been that way for me. Even back in grade school, I would have three or four good friends that I hung out with. I knew plenty of other people, but I wasn’t close with them. They were acquaintances, no more than friendly faces in the halls, I suppose. I think that when I moved on to college and joined a sorority, it was a culture shock. My house (small by most measures) had about seventy active members. I felt lost much of the time. There were about five of us who were in the same pledge class that grew close, but there was always drama of some sort. I ended up quitting about a year before I graduated, and once that happened – the rest of the sorority membership stopped speaking to me. It was bizarre, but taught me a lot about “friendships”.

Once I graduated, I didn’t keep in touch with anyone from college. A year later, I was married, and moved out of state. My friendships, so to speak, were all work-based. I guess I didn’t mind, although I have to admit that not having friends at my wedding seems weird now that I think about it. Even so, I didn’t mind not having a close friend that wasn’t my husband until I became a mom, and about that time was when AOL was “the new thing”. I joined online mom groups, and communicated with people that way, which really helped! Eventually, we moved back to California and those online friendships drifted. I wonder whatever happened to the women in that group. All of our kids would be Heather’s age now (she’s nearly 23). That is crazy to think about.

What do you say?

Anyway, that move back to California and to a new community allowed isolation to set in firmly. While I don’t think I noticed at first – I’m pretty content being alone – eventually I did. I joined a MOMS Club, tried different things, but nothing really stuck. Heather went to school, Gavin started preschool, I volunteered a lot, but I didn’t have a super close friend for a long time. I waved to other moms at school, went back home and did laundry. I became a Girl Scout leader, and tried to befriend my co-leaders, but not even that felt natural. I didn’t know anyone who was really like me.

It wasn’t until the reunion that I really got involved in this fan community. I don’t know how I missed it before. Regardless, I do believe in destiny to some extent, and I also believe that life has this crazy way of showing you what you need, as long as you listen. I found a group of friends here. There aren’t that many – I mean, yes, I know a lot of people. I know OF a lot more. But my truest friends—the people who know me, recognize that I’m a bit of a hot head and like me anyway—are remarkably few. I can count them on about one hand.

Last year, we moved away from the neighborhood and area that I called home for 21 years. The only part of the move that was difficult for me was saying goodbye to my coworkers and quitting my job. I didn’t ever fall in with the group of neighborhood women down in our cul-de-sac that planned playdates and went to dinner once a month or did group dates with their husbands. I just never felt like part of that crowd, so moving didn’t bother me.

You might find something to last

Despite the ease in moving, I find myself in the sort-of familiar position of isolation. My youngest goes to school, and our neighborhood is made up of retirees for the most part. There are younger people here, but finding them takes effort. So, I did something I swore I’d never do again, and that’s volunteer for the PTO. (Parent Teacher Organization – not sure if they have these in the UK or elsewhere, but basically they help the school staff in a variety of ways!) Our PTO was incredibly cliquey back in my old neighborhood and once I got out, I insisted I’d never go back. I went to a meeting last week at our new school though. We’ll see….

Then there are my Duran friends. These are friendships I treasure. No, I don’t see them that often, but to think that the only reason I met any of them was as a result of this band. Well, it’s a gift, really. Say what you will about fandom, or about traveling to see a band, but it’s given me some fantastic memories, and friends I treasure. I don’t ever feel isolated when I’m online talking about Duran Duran, that is for sure.

-R

Something to Remember

The night I stood near the stairs at the House of Blues in Anaheim back in 2001, I could not have imagined the turns my life would take. I would have never guessed that I’d meet friends online, eventually see Duran Duran more than fifty times, or even write a blog. There’s no way I could have looked into a crystal ball and known that I would go to the UK, or that I would log more miles in road trips to see the band than I would in family vacations. (Yeah, that’s kind of crazy – even I have to admit!)

You are forever

The truth is, this community is my family. There are times at each and every meet-up when I look around the room—whether it is a small gathering or a giant group—and I marvel at how far I’ve come. I don’t mean the social ladder (I’m still as awkward as ever!), I simply mean that in 2001, I knew next to no one.

I can remember sitting in my seat at the Pacific Amphitheater in 2003, watching people sitting in the closest rows to the stage file in. Sometimes they’d claim their seat, and then run up to a group and begin throwing their arms open to bear hug everyone. Other times, they wouldn’t even make it to their chair before they’d be bombarded by smiles, waves and even the occasional collective squee (haven’t used THAT word on this blog in a long time!). I remember being perched, stiffly upright in my own chair back in row T, wondering how it could be that all of those people knew one another.

I knew very little of online fan communities back then. The one thing I did recognize in the moments before my preteen dreams came true that sultry July evening, was that I wanted in.

All I understand

During the 16 years since those first fleeting moments of awareness for me, I’ve gotten far more involved. Many others have done far, far more than I have, at least with regard to meeting the band, photos, or even traveling and touring. My fifty-some shows don’t seem like such a much when I run into folks who have done nearly a hundred gigs or more. I know of people who miss nary a single show on a tour, whether USA or elsewhere. I learned very early on that I cannot, and should not, attempt to size myself and my experiences up to those of others. There is always someone else who knows, or has done, far more. Fandom is not a quantitative science.

What I do know is this: you are my chosen family.

I don’t write about it very often, but when I was in college, I was in a sorority. Hard to imagine—but that’s neither here nor there at this point. One of the few quotes drilled into me since Bid Day, is “Family is blood, but you choose your sisters”. There’s actually eleventy-thousand (Sure it’s a real number, if you want it to be!) different versions of this quote. This is the one I remember. I still roll my eyes when I think about it. That probably tells you all that you need to know about my life in sorority.

I had the wrong family back then, I guess. Who knew I’d find the right one at the ripe age of 33? Fifteen, nearly sixteen years later and I’m still here, feeling more connected than ever!

I hold forever

It’s true that the fan community can be a roller coaster. People still drive me crazy with their impossible expectations and insipid, constant need for validation. The competition, particularly between women, but also between men. (bring up guitar players and watch a few of them try to one-up one another! They mention interviews from 30 years ago, or suggestions that they know music better than the other guy!). I won’t lie—sometimes it is maddening!

However, even more often are the moments when I can see just how connected we all are to one another. I can’t help but smile. The older I get, the more I appreciate the uniqueness of this community. We have a very special bond.

Try much harder, until the truth is drawn

There are the times when a great male friend of mine takes a few seconds out of his day to post a countdown to Vegas. Not only does he mention seeing the band, but also seeing one another. He cares just as much as I do about getting everyone back together again for a weekend hangout!

What about the friend who lets us all know how another mutual friend is hanging in there with an illness? Then there is the pain, worry, concern, and genuine fear we share over this same person. Some of the people I’ve chatted with have only met this fellow Duranie once or twice. Others only know of her online, and yet we are all hoping, praying, and/or sending positive healing vibes her way. In this day and age, as divisive as we seem to think, we are all pulling for her. We care about one another.

Lastly, there is the sheer, utter joy I feel when standing in a crowd filled with other fans. I just don’t believe the band has any way of knowing just how moved the crowd was when they played Seventh Stranger. It wasn’t even so much the song, as it was to look around and see every set of eyes fixed on the screen. They too were intently watching the same video, mouthing or singing the same words, and experiencing Simon at the age of 60 singing along with Simon at the age of what – 26? It was knowing that most everyone in that crowd had the same overall past as I did with Duran Duran. We share in that journey together.

The very thing you’ve been searching for has been yours all along

And that knowledge— was WILD that night. That’s why I cried. Sure, seeing Andy play onscreen while watching Dom play Andy’s part expertly onstage was touching. Seeing the band grin, knowing they’d knocked us virtually off of our feet by playing Seventh Stranger, made me smile. But the tears came from knowing that it wasn’t just me in that audience that knew the background. It wasn’t only me who had grown up with Duran Duran in the 80s. It definitely wasn’t just me that has had the majority of her life set to a soundtrack made possible by a single band’s back catalog.

I choose this family. I will choose it again, and again, and again. The one drawback, if there is such a thing, is that during times of crisis, I cannot get to my people very easily. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy as to hop onto a plane to get to the east coast. I’m not quite as able to deliver proper goodbyes, or even hellos, in person. I am thinking of you. If positive vibes are real – then you should be feeling that healing energy in the strongest amounts possible. The people I include in my smallest, tightest circle, should be well aware of how I feel. (and if you are not, you should inquire within!)

I choose you.

-R

Until the Truth is Drawn

Something to remember

The other day, my oldest sent some pictures to me. She was dressed in her cap and gown, and had a photographer friend take some pictures using her university campus as the backdrop. Naturally, I marveled at how it was even remotely possible that she will be graduating in just under two weeks. (actually now it is nine days away, but who’s counting?)

I did what any parent might do. I tweeted a couple, and put them on Instagram too. I’m proud of her. College isn’t easy. Working while attending doesn’t actually make it any less difficult, either. Heather majored in dance, focusing on teaching and choreography. She likes being in charge, and quite frankly – she’s my bossy one – so it makes sense to me that she’s settled into this role for her career beyond college. While many of her peers within the College of the Arts at Cal State Fullerton focused on being on stage as much as possible, Heather likes being the one designing what goes on up there. Her cap that she’ll wear at graduation says “Work hard in silence and let success be the noise”. That’s exactly my Heather, and so I chose that as one of the photos I tweeted.

Picking through the pieces

Not long after I did my proud mama thing, plenty of my friends responded with notes of congratulations, including a fair number that couldn’t quite get over the fact that she’s already graduating from college. I feel the same. After all, I can distinctly remember trading messages in a chat room with JTDuran, Tracye, Mags, Nasty, Tarcia, Robin and many others while trying to keep the peace between Gavin and Heather. Those two children were either sleeping, fighting, or banding together to create chaos. (Sometimes, I actually miss those times. I must be losing my mind!)

Anyway, when I began hearing from those old friends, I started thinking back. Is it really possible that it’s been 16 years since I first began trading messages with them? For more than one of them, I’ve known them online all that time—and yet we’ve never met in person. We watched one another’s babies be born, grow up, go off to college, and now, they’re starting to graduate. I’ve seen my friends get married, divorce, move and/or travel the world – whether in person, or through the magic of the internet. Some of these women are among my most trusted allies, and we’ve never been in the same room.

What do you have at all

So often I hear fellow Duran fans speak of the atrocities done to them by others (fans). I hear about the faux pas, missteps, and even the ridiculous sense of competition. Somehow though, even through that crazy minefield, I was lucky enough to find women that could get past it all. I don’t know if it’s really such a surprise to hear that many of them aren’t quite as attached the fan community as they once were, though. Sometimes, you just get tired of the nonsense. The real friendships though, they last.

My good fortune to stumble upon a message board filled with women who shared good humor along with discussion, and exchanged life experiences right alongside music continues to pay off. My children – once preschoolers, are now college students. One is about to graduate and move into the “after-college” stage. I’m lucky there are friends to share the heartaches and triumphs, graduations, future marriages and babies; and even the gray-hair, hormones, and mid-life challenges. Whether I see them yearly, on occasion, or have never even met them in person – they matter. Call me crazy, but fandom doesn’t seem so terribly cutthroat when I think of my Duran Duran circle of friends. In fact, I’m grateful.

-R

We believe in the cold grey lights we dream

Hi everybody! I’m sorry I wasn’t around yesterday to post. I heard that there’s yet another reason to visit Florida in February (besides sun and warmer weather if you’re looking to escape winter!) – Duran Duran is playing in Miami Beach!

While Duran Duran announced a new show, I was busy and mostly unplugged yesterday. In just two very short weeks, my family and I will FINALLY relocate from the very busy OC, to a much smaller and peaceful town about five hours north. Yesterday we went to inspect our new house and do paperwork, which was joyful. The outside temperature was only in the 50s at our new house, even by midday, which only made me MORE excited to get up there permanently!

While I have been packing and worrying about how I’m going to make this all work (We’re moving just a few days before Christmas – and my youngest still believes in Santa!), I’ve also done a bit of reminiscing. We’ve lived in this house for so long that I can’t really imagine otherwise. It will be strange to be somewhere that my two oldest haven’t lived before, and my anxiety has been on overdrive, thinking about ways I can make the move seem less traumatic. Why? Because that’s what you do when you’re me, I suppose. I’m great at making lists in my head at 3:30 am.

All of the reminiscing has reminded me that not too many years earlier, I was in the height of my glory as a Duran fan. I had gone to the UK with Amanda, as she wrote earlier this week. My time there was fabulous. I saw so many new places, met lots of new faces that have now become dear friends. The experiences were both enriching and inspiring. I think about the shows fairly often. The memories are wonderful, comforting, and still manage to make me smile. Even more so though, I think about the travel we did while there. We were trains a lot. We saw quite a bit of the countryside, experienced winter markets, and tried new things. I fell in love with England and Scotland on that trip, and I really want to go back.

I remember walking through Bournemouth, which is a beautiful little town (as is Brighton and everywhere else I’ve visited so far). We walked along the shops and grabbed dinner with friends.  I can’t even remember the place, but the food was yummy and I was finally starting to relax. It began to rain at some point and so I bought an umbrella (I melt in rain, of course). It was zebra-striped and I had it up until last year, when it broke. I have no idea why I remember that so well, but I do.

Another memory I have from the trip was in Glasgow, after the show that Amanda described on her Sunday post. First of all, my blood is Californian, and I wholeheartedly admit that I froze from the second I got off the train in Edinburgh to the time I got back to California a few days later. I just could not get warm. So, one of my memories is of the cold weather. The arena where the show took place felt like it had its air conditioner on, as opposed to a heater, and I wore my big ski jacket until after the band came on stage, and I still remember shivering as the band busted through “All You Need is Now”.

Then after the show, we’d walked over to a hotel nearby, where there seemed to be a large gathering of Duranies. We grabbed seats and drinks, knowing it would be our final hurrah for that trip. As we sat and sipped, we look out the window and saw it begin to snow. Giant, fat, frosty flakes rained down, and while our driver worried about getting home – I remember thinking how magical the night seemed. I love that memory. I didn’t grow up with snow or even cold weather, so for me it was something out of a dream. Kind of like the rest of that trip, to be honest.

I need to break out of my reverie and get back to shopping online, wrapping, and packing!

-R

 

 

 

Fandom to Friendship

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a long time.  Instead of my usual grading and campaigning in between household chores weekend, I’ll be heading to Chicago after work to spend time with a group of women.  These women have been friends of mine for almost 20 years.  During this weekend, like most of our time together, I suspect that we will spend a lot of time just lounging in front a TV, watching something completely ridiculous while snacking and chatting.  Maybe we will go out to eat but we might not want to move from the living room.  Sure, I might bring some grading with me but it still will be relaxing as heck.  I’m hoping that it renews me a bit as I finish the first month of work and start moving into the last month of election season.

Where did I meet these people?  Funny enough, we met on a message board (fan forum) over a little TV show, Roswell.  When we first started getting together, we watched a lot of episodes or other Roswell related material.  We talked about all things Roswell fan community related.  Needless to say, we had such amazingly fun times that the show Roswell will always have a special place in my heart.  Yet, time has passed and we have moved on from the show since it was canceled in 2002.  (Although, the show is being rebooted in the spring of 2019!).

I remembered being worried in 2002 about how this little friendship group would be after the show ended.  How long could we continue to be focused on Roswell?  How many times could we rewatch the episodes?  I feared that once the show and everything connected with it got old and tiresome, we would stop getting together.  Maybe,  our friendship would slowly fade.  I worried about this because I have seen it and felt it from other friends both before and since.  When I was a kid, my best friend was just as into Duran as I was.  Then, she moved away and soon said goodbye to being a Duranie, too.  This marked the beginning of the end of our friendship.  We never had a falling out and never got angry with each other, but we lost this very important connection.  As an adult, I have experienced something similar with people who were once part of the Duran fan community and who are not now.  Our friendships hang by a thread.

For those friendships, I guess there was not much of a foundation outside of fandom.  On the other hand, the friendship between this group of women goes beyond fandom.  It may have brought us together, initially, but our love for each other has kept us friends long after our fan connection has died.  When I think about fandom, that is really what I hope is true for all the friendships I have made.  I wouldn’t want Duran to be the only thing that keeps me friends with people.  I hope our connections run deeper.

-A

Whatever I’ve Done to Receive

Over the course of the almost eight years or so that Rhonda and I have been writing this blog, we have written many times about the positives of fandom.  I think back to all of the blog posts I have written that focused on the pure joy I have received at various Duran shows or at other fandom events.  It is common for me to point out that my favorite memories and best days of my life include those days when my entire being is surrounded by fandom.  I might describe an amazing moment like hearing the first few notes of Secret Oktober in Brighton, England, and realizing that this is really happening.  Perhaps, I would describe the ridiculously fun times when I have found myself on a stage at a Howl at the Moon singing Rio with my fellow fans.  It is even the little moments like exchanging messages with your blogging partner while watching a brand Duran Duran special online.  Yet, this week, I am reminded of why this all matters when you boil it down.

My parents have been visiting my sister in North Carolina for the last couple of weeks.  My dad did not seem himself on the morning of their flight there but he has some significant health issues.  No one thought that much about how he was acting.  Unfortunately, throughout their visit, he had not shown any improvement.  Finally, after consulting his doctor, they took him to the hospital where he is has been receiving treatment for pneumonia.  Thankfully, he has been improving with the goal of him being discharged later today and returning home early next week.  I cannot say that this week was the easiest for me as I worried about him greatly while needing to get myself ready for the upcoming school year.

After all, my parents are my rock.  They are my go to people.  When something goes wrong or I’m experiencing frustration, I look to them.  When I was a kid, I might have sought them out for their advice or words of wisdom.  Now, it is more of a situation of having them be my sounding board.  There is no judgement with them and they understand where I am coming from.  Truly, I have always felt incredibly fortunate to have this type of relationship with them.  So many friends of mine have very complex relationships with their parents that includes both love but also utter frustration.  I have none of that.  Now, though, as they age and struggle more with their health, I am facing a new problem.  What do you do when your go to people are the people you now need to process about?  Who do you seek out especially when you are terribly in asking but often needing the support?  I don’t have a good answer to that other than I’m working on it.

In order to seek some emotional support, I decided to post about it on my social media.  I figured a lot of people especially on my Facebook would respond.  After all, like everyone else, I have cousins and other family who are my “friends” on that platform.  A lot of my high school friends got to know my parents quite well so I knew that they would reach out.  Current colleagues might also feel some sort of obligation to offer their kind thoughts and any assistance with work that I might need.  The one group that I didn’t really consider was the group that I would define as “Duranies”.  A number of people whom I have met and gotten to know because of being a fan of Duran Duran reached out.  Many of them just offered positive thoughts but a few went farther than that.  Six years ago, around this time, I, too, was in North Carolina.  Rhonda and I toured the southeast part of the country, which included a show in Durham.  This tour gave us the chance to meet fellow fans from that area.  Well, a number of those North Carolina or nearby fans offered to provide more than just emotional support.  They volunteered to go to my family there, if they needed something.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

Fandom has definitely brought me fun.  It has given me hours, days and even weeks of escape.  I love that about fandom.  Yet, I’m most grateful for are the people who have come into my life through my fandom.  Some fans remain casual acquaintances but some speak directly to my heart by being willing to help those people that mean the most to me.  At the end of the day, so to speak, this is what I will be most grateful for.  I cannot begin to appreciate the friends I have made enough through the Duran Duran fandom.

-A

Memories of The Belasco Theatre 2016, or “GA lines aren’t that bad”

A couple of years ago on this very day, my husband kindly drove my friends and I up to LA for a show at the Belasco Theatre. It was a very warm day for it only being May, but we found a shady spot to spread out, and wait the day away in the GA line.

By contrast, today it is raining, and cool – at least by “Los Angeles-in-May” standards. Oh, and Duran Duran is NOT playing today. Yes, there is that, too.

I remember the day outside The Belasco well. Despite my plans to sit down and relax, I found myself up and walking around, talking to everyone I knew. The hours seemed to fly by as I chatted away with fellow fans from all over. I am one of the first people to say that I don’t like GA shows (I really don’t), but I have to say that standing (sitting) in line with everyone all day is not all that terrible. In a lot of very bizarre ways, it’s like a giant pre-show party.  You see people you haven’t seen in a long time, you gab about the band (of course), music, other shows you’ve attended, and maybe someone goes on a food run.

While sure, the waiting can be monotonous, and sure, I suppose it can be a bit cutthroat when you have people around you who are more concerned with being at the rail and loudly asserting that no one dare get in front of them than they are with making (and keeping) friends. I find that many times, those people are the minority, and in the end, don’t need to make a difference in my evening unless I allow it. For the majority of people who are there to have a good time, even if they end up in second, third row or beyond, I can think of far worse ways to spend a day.

The weird thing is that I did know a lot of people in that line at the Belasco!  It was a stark contrast to even a few years prior, when I went to a show at the Mayan Theatre. That show was also GA and required many hours of waiting in a line, yet I really didn’t know that many people then. I kept mostly to myself, talking with my husband and a couple who stood behind us, although I did say hi to the few people I recognized.

Everyone I know who isn’t a huge fan of a specific band the way I am always asks me how I can keep going to shows. They don’t mean financially – although my husband has certainly asked me that very question over the years! Ha ha! They just can’t understand why someone would want to see the same band fifty or sixty times, or more than once during a tour. The thought of going to fifteen shows during a single tour blows their minds. Yet, as we all know, my experience is tame compared to some who have gone to twice or even three times as many shows.

My answer is always the same: it isn’t purely about the band. In some ways, my life might be a lot easier if it were ONLY about Duran Duran! For me, seeing my friends is everything. I don’t live near them. Sometimes, weeks go by without even a single text…and those are just my close friends. There are many people that I just don’t keep in that close of touch with, yet I do consider friends. I see them when I go to shows. I look forward to seeing and hugging those people as much as I do seeing the band. After all, Duran Duran is only on stage for about 90 minutes these days (give or take). What in the hell do I do with the rest of the time while I’m away from home?  I talk to my friends. We get together. We go to lunch or dinner.  We do video blogs. (this is true…and we’ll do them just about anywhere, right Amanda?)  We have vodka tonics or sodas in to-go cups with lids that don’t fit! We try to squeeze in as much time together as we possibly can during the time we’re gathered.

 

 

I don’t know how I missed out on all of that for so long. The Belasco show was in 2016. The Mayan show was in 2011. Before the reunion, I’d only gone to a few Duran Duran shows, and I definitely didn’t know anyone from the fan community. In a lot of ways, I think I’m making up for lost time, now. When I think to my friends in the UK or even a few on the east coast – I can’t help but be a little envious. They grew up together. They spent their teenage years going to shows, waiting in the GA line (and yes, even waiting for band members outside of studios). I spent mine doing anything but all of that. I didn’t meet my touring buddies and best friend until after I’d already grown up, gotten married and had children. So now, I don’t miss an opportunity to go and be with them. It is a truth that is sometimes difficult for my family, but it is something that I don’t want to give up.

Yesterday, I had a student and parent at my desk at school. I was looking something up for them on my computer and they noticed my mousepad. It is one of my prized possessions these days – Amanda had it made for me. It is filled with pictures she and I had taken at various Duran Duran shows. I always smile when I look at it, even during the toughest days at work, and lately – there have been quite a few. Anyway, they wanted to know who those people were (the student, who is in middle school and is now one of my very favorites thought that one of the men must be my husband. HA). I explained that they were Duran Duran which of course led to a full discussion of how many shows I’d been to, who was my favorite band member, and of course – this blog – which I honestly try NOT to publicize at work. The question asked by the parent was simple “how long do you think you can really keep going to these shows and not feel silly?”

My answer? “How long can Simon and the band keep going?  They’re older than I am…and I’m not going to give up before they do.”

Note to the band: YOU’RE NOT DONE YET!

-R

 

The door is standing open

Rarely do I find time to write three blog postings in a single day, but on this Monday, I make the time. For me, this post, which will publish tomorrow afternoon, is about processing, cleansing, and still more processing, I suppose.

A little more than an hour or so ago, I stumbled upon news that another one of our extended Duranie family members has passed. Her name is Lisa Amaral, and I am certain that many of you reading probably knew her. She was a regular on DDM back when it was a busy “crossroads of the world” for Duran Duran fans, and from what I can tell, she was loved by many. To be that kind of person…I don’t know what that is like.

Despite my sadness, I didn’t really know Lisa. We were not friends, and I don’t want to pretend otherwise as I write this. That isn’t the point. I had a great many friends that were close to her, loved her, and are incredibly heartbroken today. Their grief is palatable on every level, and I wish I could hug each one of them.

Back in my teens and twenties, it was fairly easy to delude myself into believing tomorrow would always be there. I only had a few friends that died between the time of middle school and college, and just one that I knew well. It was simple to tell myself that someone dying when they were my age was practically unheard of, unless they were very, very ill. I was healthy, young, and had a lifetime ahead of me.

In my thirties, I lost a few other friends. One that was very close to me in my local MOMS Club, and that was a tragic loss. I started realizing, but trying my best to ignore, that a “lifetime” didn’t mean any particular length. You get what you get.  I watched my own father die from a disgustingly evil disease, but even then, I pushed that thought out of my mind because I was a mom and had things to do. Tours to go see. Bands to meet. Friends to make.

Now I am cruising through my forties. The time seems to have sped up with each passing decade.  I have lost a few very close friends, and seen many family members and other friends battle illnesses that are meant to kill. I am still a major procrastinator.  The saying, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” is one of my favorite. I’m awful.

You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but somehow, I still haven’t. I see friends at events like the weekend in Las Vegas and many times I’m the one standing there…or walking by… hemming and hawing about whether or not I should even go up and say hi. I immediately assume that I’d be interrupting them, or that they don’t really want to be attacked in the middle of a hallway as they’re standing by, waiting for an elevator or chatting with friends. I saw a lot of people I knew that weekend, but very few did I run up to and say hello, or hug, even if I wanted. I was content to either just wave from afar, or say nothing. Yes, I’m shy, but I’m also not very good at approaching people out of the blue.

We don’t know if we have tomorrow. That is a concept I can’t seem to teach myself. I wasn’t friends with Lisa, but I knew her. I knew who she was, and I saw her that weekend in Vegas.  It is unfathomable to me that life can just end without warning in three weeks time, yet it happens all of the time. It’s hard to process that idea.

I don’t like the idea that over the next I-don’t-know-how-long, I will have other friends and family die. I worry that I won’t do the things I should do in the meantime, because it’s easy to slip back into that place where I delude myself into believing I have forever to tell people how I feel. It’s maddening.

For those of you reading who knew and loved Lisa, you have my heartfelt condolences. I am so sorry. A great deal of my friends are posting about their loss, and it is a testament to Lisa that she has so many friends that adore her and are heartbroken.

When these things happen, I always think about how I’m glad I went to the shows I did, or that I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the people I’ve met along the way. I’m grateful for the friends that are willing to put up with me, and for those that push me way the heck out of my comfort zones, too. This time though, I’m starting to think that I need to take more chances with my emotions. I need to make sure the people I care about know how I feel. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.

Rest in Peace, Lisa.

-R