Tag Archives: personal stories

With Broken Glass For Us To Hold

I’m so sorry that today’s post is so late. I had good intentions to get it done before a meeting I had but that led to a massive headache. Although, to be fair, the headache did not have one specific cause but many. It isn’t like today is any worse than any other day but life has all built up to be a lot. To be too much. Let me explain. First, there is a lot about my job that is headache-worthy, including a schedule for next year that is terrible, more work on my plate, a significant pay cut and the loss of job security. On top of that, no one knows how school will be implemented. I wish that I felt like I had choices, job wise, but I have few, if any. Then, I have spent the week with my parents, taking my mom to and from medical appointments. Thankfully, she is well but it has been exhausting to always be the care giver. If all that was not enough, the fall election is less than 140 days and the pressure is already beginning. Now, I could take all of that but, in addition, I have had a lot of people contacting me about what to do about work, or the political climate, or their own lives, etc. and so forth. Generally speaking, I like being the person that people can rely on, the person people turn to, the person who provides advice. Right now, though, I’m left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I feel like I cannot help any of that as I cannot even help myself. All I want to do is turn away from the world and escape.

I’m even thinking about this escape in my sleep. Last night, I had a dream about the method I have been using to run away from life for the last 15 years or so. That’s right. I dreamt that I was at a Duran Duran concert. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all of the details but I know it as a Duran show as I talked about how many times I had seen them before. In the dream, I went to two different shows as I had a different seat for both of them. I didn’t even mind that my seat for the second show was terrible or that I couldn’t even see the stage really at all. I was just so thrilled to be there. Anyway, I have always known that concerts provide me a break from the everyday hassle of life. They allowed me to get away from my house, my city, my state, and sometimes my country all the while letting my responsibilities to be pushed to the side at least for awhile. I didn’t have to think about my to do list, or how my parents, my students, my campaign was going. No, on tour, it was all about fun and laughing. It was about music and dancing and joy.

I always knew and appreciated the magic of touring. Now, though, I recognize that it was deeper than that. It renewed my spirit and my strength in a deeper way than I even knew. After a tour, I could do more. I could continue to work hard, to give 110%, to fight the good fight. These days, I could use a lot of that as I even more to do, even more to worry about. But, that is not an option. There are no concerts or tours on my horizon. While I am lucky to have friends to chat with via text, email or zoom, none of that is the same as the all-consuming fun experience of being on tour. All of this leaves me sad and feeling less strong, less able to take on the world.

As I finish up the blog, I recognize that I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed, sad, and missing what life used to be like. I know that I’m not. I also can acknowledge that I have it better than many people. I know that. I’m lucky to have good health, a family and friends who care about me, a job, etc. Likewise, I can be hopeful that tomorrow will be better. Until then, I will hide myself away from the world, wishing I could be a concert with fellow fans, screaming, dancing and singing the night away.

-A

-A

Show Me For Yourself

Yesterday marked the official end to my school year. It goes without saying that this was an extremely odd one and certainly one of the most challenging. I’m willing to bet, though, that if I checked out the archives to this blog, I would find similar posts last year, the year before that, five years before that, etc. You get the idea. The end of the school year always bring some introspection on my part and this time is no different. In fact, it might bring more as next year is filled with question marks and concerns on a big picture scale. Then, I have some worries about my position, specifically.

I’m at a weird point in my career. I am probably about 10-12 years away from retirement. Trust me when I say that typing those words are as weird as thinking them. I’m not that old after all, right? In many ways, I wish that I was ten years younger or older. If I was younger, I would have more flexibility when it comes to thinking about my career and if I want to stay in the classroom. I would not lose as much, if I walked away. That said, if I was ten years older, retirement would be just around the corner, which would definitely keep me in place with little thought to switching jobs now. Unfortunately, I am in neither position.

Six years ago, I moved into my current place and took a new position at a high school teaching history. It truly felt like a chance to start over and, for a long time, the positives overshadowed the negatives. I love teaching history and women’s studies, which was added in my second year. My students keep me going with their questions, their thoughts, their passions and even their actions. I have witnessed many students turn their young lives around to being happy with themselves and their situations. Some of my students have followed in my footsteps as far as getting involved in the political sphere. Many have demonstrated their activism in the last few years. I am proud of the work that I have done.

At the same time, forces working against this outside of the four walls of my classroom have increased in both amount and intensity, making it difficult to focus on the benefits of my job. I have witnessed non-stop attacks on my profession from politicians and the public. Now, others have added to those voices, including ones with more direct impact. This, as you can imagine, has added stress to what is already deemed a very problematic period of history. That said, what does this mean for my fandom and this blog? How are those connected?

Fandom, like everything else, does not exist in a vacuum. I am not *just* a Duranie. I’m that and so much more. Life affects fandom and fandom affects life. At times, in my life, fandom has become almost all-consuming in that my focus was only on that. At other times, fandom has been placed on the back burner. It feels like this is a time in which fandom is in the background of my life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not leaving fandom. No. It is part of who I am and always will be. It just means that right now, my brain is thinking about other things like my career. I’m certain that once it is safe for the band to play shows again, it will grab a lot more of my attention. Likewise, when #DD15 drops, the music will definitely get most of me! I think this is all very common and normal.

So what about this blog? If fandom is more of a supporting player rather than a starring role in life, should the same thing be said for the blog? I don’t agree. When I think about the fact that we have been doing this for almost a decade, I feel a sense of pride, just like when I think about the successes of so many of my students. On top of that, it reminds me of an assignment my students did this spring. Since we are living in a pandemic, I asked my students to document their lives in some way. Some students chose to just journal. Others created slideshows with pictures. A few chose to vlog or to create a podcast. While the goal was for the kids to document life in a safer-at-home order during a pandemic, I found that my kids veered from that goal, at times. This, in itself, shows that life is not one-dimensional, even during a global health crisis. No matter how often or how little they referenced COVID, they still created a primary source document that could live on beyond them.

The same thing is true for this blog. It has captured not only our experiences, our research and our feelings toward fandom and Duran Duran, it has also captured so much of our lives. I think about writing when my grandma passed away in 2010 or through all the elections I have worked on. Rhonda, too, has written about the trials and tribulations surrounding her life and family. In many ways, the blog is more than the sum of its parts. It has grown beyond its original purpose. I, for one, am glad that we have it still as it has documented our lives and our fandom in a way that I could not have imagined when we started.

-A

Walk the Edge of America

Earlier this week, I had some ideas for blog posts pop in my head. As usual, I wrote them down and figured out when I should write about what. Yet, I don’t think I can right now. I don’t think I can today. This week has been rough for everyone, I think. Even in my own personal life, work related issues have popped up adding stress and this is on top of everything that has been taking place across my country from the continuing toll of COVID-19 to more evidence of police brutality and systemic racism to rising authoritarianism and those who would like to help it along. Even my city, which normally, is the model for peaceful protests experienced violence and destruction of property last night. People are hurting.

All of these happenings have left me shaken. Fearful. Distressed. Normally, I welcome distractions, including and, most especially, ones surrounding fandom. They remind me of what life could be like. Life can joyful and full of fun. I could have the 40 minutes or so of listening to John Taylor interview his guest of the week to forget about the horrors going on around me. Maybe I could focus on new music as I listen to the latest episode of Duran Duran radio with Simon and Katy. Unfortunately, I’m so disquieted that I’m struggling to do anything. I found myself glued to the TV for hours last night as I watched local coverage of…whatever was happening downtown with the police, with onlookers, with demonstrators and with outside agitators. Even now, I keep looking at my to do, trying to motivate myself, but like turning to fandom, I am failing to check anything off. Instead I stare off into space, uncomfortable in my own skin, and more fearful for the future than I have ever been.

So while I desperately wanted to be able to write a blog that would distract myself and maybe help fellow Duranies to escape the world for a few minutes, I don’t think I can. I apologize. Hopefully, by the next time I blog, I won’t be as worried that the country is standing on the edge of a cliff, leading to more social unrest or worse, much much worse. Until then, please take care of yourselves and stay safe.

-A

Now the Channel Is Open

If you are anything like me, you have a list of things that you must get done even with stay at home orders and global pandemics. My list generally focuses on work tasks (lesson planning and posting along with grading, connecting with students, etc.) and household chores (grocery lists, cleaning, laundry and more). If and when I get through those, which is rare, then I try to find some time to work on campaign related organizing as well as relaxing. Yes, you read that correctly. I have been trying to find time to relax. Initially, it was not much of a choice as I needed to implement some strategies to minimize anxiety. As I have gotten the anxiety under control, I have found that I don’t really want to give up this me time. I don’t really have a pattern. Sometimes, I read or work on a puzzle that a friend gave me for Christmas. Other times, I color or journal. Some nights, it is just about having a glass of wine and watching something silly on TV.

This week, though, after doing some journaling, I let my mind wander. What did I really want to do? Somehow, this led me to watch some of the videos that I have recorded over the years while on tour. I watched, for example, a video that Rhonda and I did in the summer of 2017 in which we summarized some of our not-so-finer moments from the Paper Gods Tour. I laughed and laughed as I watched us get into hysterics over cows and backwards wording merchandise. Next, I checked out some clips we had recorded while driving in the summer of 2012 in the southeast. At some of those, I found myself cringing a bit at how critical we were. (That said, I don’t think I could ever really say fond things about that seventeen minute film that they started the shows off with. So sorry!) After that, I watched a couple of clips from the UK trips from 2011 and felt the rush of sadness over the cancelled shows to the sheer joy of meeting friends in a pub in Birmingham. One memory led to another and another and another.

Soon, I found myself watching live clips. Many of these were from shows that we had attended over the years. I found myself grinning and singing along just like I was there in the audience. As soon as I realized this, I wondered why I hadn’t done more of this during this quarantine experience. This connected with ideas that I had journaled about. Fandom has been a big part of my existence with the usual ebbs and flows. Outside of politics and teaching, it has been the cause of some of my most heartbreaking moments, some small, some not-so-small. In thinking about some of those, I recognized that I hadn’t really grieved some of them and wondered if acknowledging that could be beneficial. That said, in watching those videos, both my own collection as well as clips on YouTube, I knew that fandom has also provided me with some of the truly most joyous, most fun times that I have ever experienced. I am pretty certain that there are lots of people out there who have not had nearly as much fun as I have while on tour. As I sit in my living room on the couch that I live on nowadays, I know that I would give anything to be able to have a show, a tour to look forward to.

I know that life does not always work out like you want it to. Heck, if that was not the case, I would just will away this virus that is causing so much harm. Yet, as I think about the time I have taken this week to just think and feel, there is a part of me appreciates that it has created the time and space to do that. Too often, under normal times, I literally have no time to do any of that as 60-80 hour weeks are not unheard of in my world. I cannot watch videos. I cannot bask in the warm fuzzies of fabulous memories. No, I’m too busy working. While I desperately want things to return to normal, there are some things that I could do without and the lack of time is certainly one. No, instead, I want to be able to break open the memories and just feel, just remember, just be.

-A

Live Audiences

Earlier this week, Rhonda posted a blog entry that got me thinking. In the post, she talked about how some artists have been recording songs or concerts from their living rooms and then posting them on the internet for their fans. She mentioned how Duran Duran seemed less than interested in doing something like this, acknowledging that for our favorite band a show is more than just playing music. It is all about the interaction with the audience, the chemistry that instantly develops and feeds both the band and the crowd.

Every time I see that Duran does not want to do some sort of performance, I feel a little sad as I know that “seeing” the band would give me great joy and take my mind away the world’s current reality. Heck, I get excited enough for their little Twitter chats that I cannot imagine how it would be to “see” them even on a video. Part of me cannot help but to compare them to other artists. For example, I saw a video of The Killers playing their new song from someone’s household bathroom. Not only did I enjoy the song but I loved seeing the joy they had from performing, from doing their job. So, while I did not offer any criticism of Duran or their decision not to do this in any sort of public forum, I found myself thinking it on some level. That said, this week, I had a change of heart on the topic.

This week I found myself back at work. No, I have not entered my school building but I have attended a heck of a lot of staff meetings via the internet. Many of these meetings focused on how the heck we are going to not only engage our student online but reconnect, relationship wise. In thinking about this daunting task, I found myself frustrated. Sure, I could post a question on something like google classroom to start a discussion. I could ask students to record a message to the class. Maybe, I could even hold a zoom session and invite students to join. All of these methods seem…less than adequate. Would any of these ideas equal what happens in a classroom when we are there face-to-face? No. Part of the classroom experience is being there all together. It is about reacting to each other’s facial expressions and body language. It is about having a shared experience that brings us closer to together. While comments can be made in an online setting, it is not the same as being truly together.

In thinking about this, I finally get how the band must feel. As I try to lesson plan, I am fighting this longing to pull all of my kids together, to be in the same room. I want to see my kids, to hear their voices through something other than a computer speaker. Without their presence, I am struggling to get excited, to really care about teaching. I always knew that I did the job for the kids but now I feel it deeply, in my core. I’m truly missing them terribly and finding this alternative to be unacceptable. I need the kids as much as they need me. Maybe this is how Duran Duran feels about their crowds. I know that I could stand up in my living room and talk about World War I (the next unit I was to cover) while recording myself but it would be far less enjoyable than if I had a bunch of teenagers in front of me. (Yes, I know how crazy that sounds!) How will I know if they really get what I’m saying if I can’t watch for confusion or see the moment when an idea clicks with them? It seems to me that the moment of understanding when the light bulb goes off is equivalent to when an audience screams for joy or claps loudly. It is the purpose, the point of doing the job. If Duran performs without an audience, they don’t have that reinforcement and feedback, just like I won’t without a group of kids.

So, I get it. While I still understand people’s desire to see Duran perform something, anything, I also get why that is hard for them to do. Unlike them, I have to force myself to attempt to despite the fact that it feels so wrong. Another reason that I have to hope that this pandemic ends sooner rather than later. Nine weeks of distance teaching will be nine too long for me.

-A

I Won’t Cry for Yesterday

Simon might not cry for yesterday but I will. In fact, I spent a lot of yesterday crying and consoling others who were also crying. In this case, we shed tears over losing our candidate for president who suspended her campaign. Yet, I feel like this day of grief is no longer the unique, extremely rare event that it once was. Rhonda said it well yesterday–the world is off its axis or something like that. I have been feeling that for a long, long time.

Looking back, this feeling for me started at the end of 2010 with a significantly bad campaign loss followed up by the death of my grandma and beloved cat. I barely bounced back when 2011 hit me with a new challenge in the form of a proposed law taking any rights at work that ended up passing despite the consistent protest of hundreds of thousands. This directly led to changes at work that have made teaching so much harder, so much more stressful, so much less joyful. Still, I bounced back. Then, my father was diagnosed with a significant autoimmune condition followed up with my mother being diagnosed with cancer. (Thankfully, both are doing well.) Through all this, more and more stress was added at work followed up with the worst election results I could have imagined in 2016 along with rejections for our writing. With each event, I grieved. I raged. Then, I pulled myself back up from the dark hole of despair to keep going, to keep fighting. Now, it feels like the hits are coming more and more frequently whether it is concerns about my own health or being smacked in the face by reality when it comes to putting women in positions of power.

It used to be that I wished for moments of joy and for fun. For a long, long, long time, Duran Duran provided that. I look back at 2011 and as much as I’m shattered at thinking about the loss of my rights, I also think immediately about traveling to the UK twice. Those amazing trips counteracted the crap that was state politics and the hits on my profession. I could survive and push through because I had something amazing to pull me out, into the smiling warmth of sunshine in the form of fandom. In fact, Duran Duran has been that beacon of pure joy for so long that I assumed it would always be there. Having this blog and having shows and tours to look forward to have helped me to right my emotional ship for so long. I’m sure that some will say that a band shouldn’t do that or that fandom shouldn’t take on that role. Maybe not but it did. Of course, along with my fandom came friendship, most significantly, my friendship with Rhonda. I could not separate Duran Duran, fandom, this blog and her.

Now, even that aspect of my life has changed. It used to be that when Duran shows were announced or any Duran news would come out, Rhonda and I would instantly contact each other. “This is a Duranie alert,” one of us would voice to the other. We would especially use that for shows that we might be able to attend. This Tuesday, in the midst of finding out some test results on my health and a frustrating all day meeting at work, the band announced some shows. Two shows. In Vegas. There were no messages exchanged between Rhonda and myself. At some point, we might have responded to a tweet or two but no grand announcement with a debate about what we thought about given shows. This isn’t because we are angry with each other. We are not. It isn’t because we don’t love Duran Duran. We do. I think part of it that we are both so wrapped up with what we are up to that fandom is on the back burner. I also think it is because it is one more part of my life that is no longer what it used to be.

I look at my life like sand on the beach. For a long time, the part of the beach that was mine was untouched by the ocean. I built a career in the form a sand castle school and found people to surround the world I created. Everything seemed good. I had my people. I had my career along with my family and friends. I could push for something more fun, more joyful, to reach for the stars to fulfill some dreams. Rhonda and I could do some research and push to write a book begging for publication. I could think about expanding my social circle. Then, slowly, the ocean started to creep into my section of the beach. At first, it just washed away some of the sand-created school building. Then, the loved ones in my area began to fade with more and more splashes of water. All this means that I’m no longer reaching for the stars or trying to improve my beach. It is about keeping what I have, saving what is left. Now, in 2020, it feels like I have just a tiny sliver of what I did. I spend all of my energy not only saving that speck of sand representing me but also to make myself okay with the new normal as each loss of sand brings more grief, more frustration, more heartbreak.

So do I cry for yesterday? Absolutely. I miss the way things used to be when it came to Duran announcements. I miss feeling secure, feeling appreciated, feeling powerful at work. I miss thinking that the world was on the right track, moving towards progress. I miss feeling normal. I miss focusing on what could go right as opposed to spending all of my time making myself okay.

-A

When I Should Be Feeling Just Right

Have you ever thought what it would have been like to be Duran Duran in 1982? 1984? What would life have been like to be so popular that there was mass hysteria from fans wherever you went? What was it like to have press and the media following you around all of the time? What about a schedule that just didn’t stop? From what I have heard/read, they didn’t get a lot of sleep and certainly didn’t get many days off.

When I was younger, the idea of having an intense life like that appealed to me. I remember thinking in college about how I would do better and be more successful if I found that one thing to focus on. After all, I grew up reading about how passionate Duran Duran was about their career and how that translated to success. My goodness, who hasn’t heard the story about how John and Nick mapped it out in that they would be playing Hammersmith by 1982, Wembly by 1983 and Madison Square Garden by 1984. I looked up to this goal-setting, this focus, and certainly the work ethic I saw. Internalizing that, I believed that this is how success is made.

Then, of course, as the years have gone on, I don’t see quite the same level of intensity. The band does not work seven days a week for 52 weeks a year. No, they take more breaks than they did in 1982 or 1984. I know that this bothers some fans. Heck, it has bothered me before. I remember the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods in which I wrote countless blogs about how the band needs to hurry up, get to work and get some new music out there. I wasn’t saying that to be a jerk. No, it came from my love for the band. I figured two things. One, if they hurried up, they would have a better chance to capitalize on the momentum they had created with AYNIN. Two, that extreme work ethic proved successful in the past so why wouldn’t it now? Whenever blog posts like that were written, there would always be push-back as people didn’t see the urgency that I felt at the time. Interestingly enough, when people disagreed with me, the reasoning had to do, most of the time, with the idea that you cannot rush art. They need time to create. Very few people commented about how they deserve to *not* have to work all the flipping time.

I admit that I never really considered that side of the argument then. I struggled to see the big picture because I was so emotionally invested. My desire to continue the wave we were on with AYNIN shut out other considerations. Now, though, I see things differently.

As most of you know, ’tis the season for going back to school. In Madison, the kids return the day after Labor Day. Typically, this would mean that this week and next would be spent getting one’s classroom ready, including setting up, planning lessons, etc. This year, though, I have been at work every single day for the past two weeks. Is my classroom ready? No. What about my lessons? Ha. That’s funny. Nope. No way. Instead of all that, I have been busy working on a number of committees. One is to plan special sessions for our incoming 9th graders on their first day. That will be completely over soon. Another one is to implement a new plan, policy and procedure for students late to class. The bulk of the work for that is almost done. The last few are ongoing committees that will meet periodically. While I’m proud of the work that has been done, it has been rather intense or extreme.

The meetings have been mentally exhausting leaving me with little energy or brain power to get anything else done. Then, I have had plans in the evening all week. Many of those are fun but added to my current workload leaves me with little down time and precious few minutes to do anything else that I want or need to do. In the past, I have accepted some of this as the normal path to success. After all, Duran Duran lived and breathed their work for years and it equaled big time success. Heck, I have even been known to seek out more vigorous work with campaigns. Right now, though, I see and feel things differently. I would love a little less extreme. There should be time to do what must be done for work without giving up time to work on our research project or time to get my household chores done.

I have no doubt that the amazing work ethic and extreme focus helped Duran Duran in the early 1980s. I don’t question how it has also led me into success at my jobs. Now, though, I long for a happy medium, a nice balance. I cannot criticize how Duran Duran worked on Paper Gods or the current project as I feel like I get it in a different way now. Intensity is not always the way to go. On that note, I’m off to work for another meeting. I kid you not.

-A

I’ll Hold on to the MemorY

This is not my typical blog. I wish that my writing partner had this one to write as she is so much better at this sort of thing than I am. I’m much more comfortable with facts, analysis, and statistics not because I’m unfeeling but because that is far safer. On top of that, my friend and her loved ones deserve the highest quality of blogs. That said, I’ll do my best for her and her loved ones.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, our friend, Alana, lost her fierce battle against cancer at the end of the week. The outpouring of love and grief on social media for her shows just a fraction of how much she meant to the people who knew her. I suspect that everyone who ever met Alana loved her and wanted to be around her. She was one of those special people who was just genuinely warm, friendly, and supportive. People were drawn her because her presence made everyone feel comfortable and safe. Even someone like me who cautiously watches people before opening up to them immediately knew that Alana could be trusted. It was obvious that she was just such a good egg.

I don’t remember exactly when we talked for the first time or actually met in person. I don’t think it was long after that first time that Alana’s presence in my world and in Duranland was felt. I know that it must have been fairly quickly after we started this blog. There were many times in the first few years that Rhonda and I weren’t always so sure about what we were doing here. I’m not even sure we really had a plan and so we often seemed to be wandering aimlessly, uncertain about ourselves. Yet, when we were really questioning continuing there was Alana offering her support and her encouragement. Even years later, after she had been diagnosed, she still supported us either through comments or through donations. She was so good as dropping in with some inspirational statement at just the right time that I began to wonder if she wasn’t psychic in some way. She just knew when she was needed.

Duranland needed her, too. This fandom of ours is not always easy. There is an inherent competition that continues to burst on to the scene despite any and all attempts at stopping it. Too often fans seek more of everything, including more knowledge, more insider information, more contacts with the band members, more photos, more VIP tickets, etc. Alana was the antithesis to that. Don’t get me wrong. She loved Duran Duran and loved being at shows and with other fans but she never tried to one up someone else. She was someone that we should all try to be more like, myself included. I think back to a general admission show in Biloxi, Mississippi in the summer of 2012. When Rhonda and I decided to go to this show, we decided to go all in. This meant getting up at the crack of dawn to wait in line, all day, in hopes of getting up close. Somehow when we got into the venue, Rhonda and I did, indeed, make it to the front, holding on to the front rail for dear life. Who was right behind us in more than one way? Alana. I remember turning around and seeing the huge smile on her face. Yes, she was thrilled to have a good spot to see the show for herself but she was just as excited for us, for having our first front row experience.

After that summer, with encouragement from people like her and others, Rhonda and I jumped in to plan a convention that we held in Chicago in October 2013. Again, Alana was there the whole time keeping our spirits up when things were tough with the planning and at the convention itself to help us celebrate. The night before most attendees arrived, a group of us went out to Neo, a club that I loved, for their 80s night. We danced and danced in between getting drinks and trying to explain to people there how all of us from such different places would be together in Chicago. As Planet Earth played, I remember this feeling of pure joy spread over me. I was at home, doing what I loved with my people, people who understood and accepted me. That feeling is not one that I have a lot but I knew then and I know it now that Alana had a lot to do with that.

Like many that Alana touched in some way, saying goodbye is tough. I wish I had more time, more fun, more Duran experiences with her but feel so lucky that I got to call her my friend.

-A

REPOST: Lost Souls Diamonds and Gold

I admit it. This is the busiest, most stressed I have ever been in my entire life. Part of me loves the heck out of campaigning and part of me really longs to sleep, eat like a normal person and not be gone for 14-15 hours a day. While I love my campaign team to pieces, I also miss those times when I can just focus on fandom, Duran Duran, and fun. Interestingly enough, I had a conversation this evening with my intern about being yourself. (Yes, I have an intern. No, I cannot pay her. Yes, she is a former student. No, I’m not sure what that says about me.) She vented to me about not knowing exactly what she wants to do with her life and how she feels like she has to choose between various things she loves. The assumption is that she has to choose one to focus on. The reality is, I told her, that she can love more than one thing at a time and the goal should not be to choose just one thing but to have all things she loves be a part of her life. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can love all equally, all the time. One thing might be more important for awhile before something else takes center stage. At least, this is how I live my life. So, yes, right now, this campaign is sucking up 90% of my attention and love. That doesn’t matter that I don’t love fandom. I really, really do.

To that end, I thought reposting a blog might be good. I thought I could find one that seemed important or meaningful or fun. I ended up finding one I wrote after a mini-tour in 2017 and how after the tour, I felt like everything was back on track, in terms of my fandom. I have no doubt that I will write something similar in the weeks to come. For now, here’s the blog from two years ago.

LOST SOULS DIAMONDS AND GOLD

MARCH 24, 2017

One of my favorite scenes in Duran’s Sing Blue Silver documentary is when John Taylor is woken up to do an interview.  During that interview, he comments about how the tour (he is referring to the 1984 one) was “never an assured tour”.  I always took this to mean that the band didn’t really know how the tour was going to go.  Would the fans show up?  How would they react?  No matter how many times I see that scene, I find myself shaking my head.  How could they not know?  Of course, the fans would show up and love it!  Duh!

Yet, this past weekend, that quote floated through my brain quite often.  After all, I, too, felt that way before this past little mini-tour of ours at Agua Caliente.  I didn’t know how it was going to go, which was weird and felt very odd.  In the days leading up to going, I found myself struggling to get excited in the same way that I normally do.  Yes, I looked forward to it but it wasn’t the usual jumping out of my skin in excitement.  Was I losing my Duranie touch?  Looking back, I think it had more to do with me.

Life hasn’t felt very friendly lately.  I lost a lot of motivation for many things and to be honest, my friendship with Rhonda felt strained.  I couldn’t pinpoint anything specific but we were distant from each other due to lack of time, lack of effort, and lack of understanding.  I knew this going into the tour.  In fact, I told some people that I fully expected this to be my last one  This wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t have fun or because my love for Duran would end.  I just thought that maybe it had run its course or it would seem like too much effort.

As the weekend began, I told myself to have no expectations other than having fun.  The weekend didn’t have to be perfect (whatever that even means) to be great, I figured.  If you read or watched our blogs last weekend and beyond, you are well aware that the weekend definitely exceeded my expectations.  The shows were so much fun.  While, yes, I grumbled and complained about the lack of Planet Earth, I didn’t let that tick me off (too much).  I figured that it gave me permission to give them a hard time back, right???  I sang.  I danced.  I screamed.  It was glorious.  Yes, I wished that we had at least 18 songs and, yes, I wish that Sunrise or Careless Memories or Planet Earth was on the setlist.  Instead of complaining or wishing for something else, I appreciated the heck out of Only in Dreams and Is There Something I Should Know?.

Then, there was everything surrounding the shows.  I loved having drinks with friends, seeing people I only see at Duran functions and being reminded that everyone connected to Duran makes a community, a family of sorts.  I got to know people better and I got to meet people for the first time.  And, yes, I was reminded of why Rhonda and I tour so well together as we were the last ones standing on both nights.  Perhaps, there is also a lot less vodka in the resort after we had been there (along with our fellow vodka drinking friends!).

Of course, Rhonda and I had a chance to talk as well, which was much appreciated and needed.  I feel confident that the conversation reminded us both to be supportive of each other even if we don’t always understand the other’s choices.  Since then, things have felt very normal, which is so nice.  So much has not felt normal for me for a long time.  I have been focusing on fighting to keep the normal as I feared that many changes, significant and negative ones, would be coming down the pike.  While I don’t regret that and embrace that part of myself that must fight back, I must also remember what is part of my normal, what I am working to keep.  My normal means that Duran Duran and fandom plays a significant part.  It includes touring when and where I can.  Having fun is necessary to keep going during the less than fun times.

The weekend, the mini-tour, reminded me that I can wear more than one hat at a time.  In fact, it is required.  I remembered how much fun touring is and why my friendship with Rhonda matters as much as it does.  It gave me motivation to keep working on a dream, in one way, shape or form.  I don’t know that I can say that the weekend was perfect or the best tour, but it really was damn good.  Even better, it didn’t even end before I started to plan for the next one.  That is the ideal way to be, isn’t it?  Lost souls diamonds and gold, indeed.

-A

My Heart It Screams

I flew home a week ago from Las Vegas to Chicago. On the flight and the bus ride home, I had some time to think. I put Duran Duran on shuffle and just let my mind wander. As I listened and thought, I found myself writing down some ideas.

The Music’s Between Us

I must have listened to Duran Duran for about 30 minutes when I made a realization. I put ON Duran Duran’s music. Now, I know that sounds dumb. Of course, I would listen to Duran, right? And I do and have been but it has been a really long time since I just spent time listening to Duran Duran. Really listening. Over the course of the past year, I haven’t been listening to Duran much. At times, I would play a song or two when they would come up on shuffle, but I rarely sought out a particular song or album. I don’t know that I can adequately explain why this is but if I had to make a best guess, I did it to avoid feeling sad. I missed them. I missed the fandom. I missed Rhonda. After the Paper Gods Tour ended, I knew that it would be a long time until they came back. I promised myself that I would be patient (unlike how I was after All You Need Is Now). Then, life happened to get in the way of my usual fandom. This pushed me to separate myself even more from fandom. Now, though, I found myself seeking out Duran. Is this a sign that I’m through that time period that feels like a black hole. I hope so.

What led to this change? Every time I see the band live my love for them and the music is renewed. Those shows in Vegas went by so quickly. I found myself desperately wanting to bottle up the feelings I had so that I could open it later when I needed it between these shows and the next ones. Interestingly enough, as my plane began our descent into Chicago, into a high wind warning of 50-60 mph gusts, I found myself really thinking about my life. This turned a little…uh…morbid as the plane really struggled and I began to think this might be my last, I honestly thought myself, “Well, if this is it, at least I will go down listening to Duran,” which actually gave me some comfort.

We Are Forever

You know what else I loved outside of the shows themselves? I loved seeing people I haven’t seen since the last show in whatever city as we would greet each other with hugs and genuine smiles. I remember walking quickly into the venue on the first night so late after spending time with a fabulous group of people, thinking to myself that this really is like a family reunion as we come from all over to be together and to celebrate. Then, before Rhonda and I could get to our seats, we must have been stopped like every other few feet to either greet more old friends or to meet new people, new friends. That kind of joy wrapped me in a warmth that I didn’t realize how much I missed it until it came back. Then, after the show and hanging out, we returned to our room only to find confetti all over our bathroom floor. Clearly, we were all bringing a bit of the show with us. What did we do? We did what we always have done. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore. I had missed moments like that and hope to have more of them in future.

The past couple of years have been tough. I have worked myself pretty hard, doing what I believe is best for a number of reasons. I have always hoped and still hope that the future, though, contains more of the best moments of last weekend. I don’t think they came as easily as they have in the past, but I’m hopeful that we can get back to that. Heck, I would love to see the emotional challenges of the past couple of years bring something even better. I can envision it. Maybe it will be a UK Trip in 2020. Perhaps, it will be some time, energy and focus on finishing a book project. If we are really lucky, it could be both.

As I look back to last weekend, I’m struck by how much emotional growth can and does happen while on tour, drinking vodka tonics and making fun of Simon like when John needed to bring him a setlist on Friday night’s show. I, for one, feel lucky to have had the moments I had here and look forward to the next time.

-A