Tag Archives: politics

I’m Thankful For…

I know lots of people who love Thanksgiving.  They love the ritual of a big meal that traditionally includes turkey, pie, and more.  Perhaps, they enjoy the long dinner conversation or the football that always seems to be on.  I cannot say that I’m one of them.  I don’t mind a little football and I like eating but it always seems like a lot of work to me.  That said, the one aspect the holiday that I tend to dig is the idea of giving thanks, expressing gratitude, especially when times are tough.  So, here is what I am thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I’m beyond grateful for my family.  They continue to be my bedrock, my foundation and more.  I have always said that I feel like I won the lottery when it came to my parents, which is still true.  This year was a tough one for my dad, health wise, but he managed to push through and is currently doing well.  In fact, he was still able to help me work on the campaign this year.  Speaking of family and campaigning, my parents, my siblings and my nieces all volunteered to turn out the vote.  This makes me feel extremely proud and I know that it thrills my dad to no end.

Second, after experiencing a lot of losses, finally, my campaign team won one.  This was a big deal for so many reasons.  I feel like a wrong that was done to me and thousands of others like me was finally acknowledged.  The damage might not fixed instantly but at least no more will be done.  On top of that, it gave me hope for the future.  This is something that I have not had for a couple of years now.  I have been living on edge, in preparation of things getting worse.  While I don’t believe that we are completely out of the woods, I now think we might make it out okay.  On a more personal level, I gave a lot of time and energy to the campaign.  I believe that it what I needed to do and action definitely feels better than complaining.  I’m thankful that my work was not in vain.  It made a real difference and I’m proud at the results my team achieved.  In the area in which I organized, we got 90% of registered voters to the polls and increased the vote for our candidates by 3%.  That’s huge, especially in a state in which victories were decided by less than 2%.

Beyond my family and elections, I’m thankful for my friends.  As a kid, my mother used to tell me that I would have lots of different types of friends in my life.  I didn’t know what she meant then but I do now.  I know that there are friends that I have nothing but fun with.  (I’m looking forward to that fun in February in Vegas!)  I have work friends whom I go to when I need advice or some idea to get through the work day, week, month or year.  This year, I had friends step up to help me with campaigning.  Then, there are friends who fit into multiple roles, like Rhonda.  No matter the type of friendship someone provides, I am grateful for them.  Each and every one of you matters a lot to me.

Of course, I’m also grateful to the people connected to fandom.  The first person on that list is Rhonda.  Sometimes, I shake my head wondering what in the actual hell we were thinking when we started this blog but most of the time, I’m glad it is in my life.  Even when I think, “I have seriously no time to blog,” I somehow manage and always feel better after having done so.  It has provided me with more than just a place to talk about Duran Duran (although I love that, too!).  It has given me a place to sort out my observations as well as my thoughts and feelings about fandom and more.  I love all the people that came into my life as a result.  I have made so many connections simply by doing something I love which is not only this blog but going to Duran shows or organizing Duranie events.   It is all pretty awesome!  So I’m super grateful to those who read the blog, participate in the daily questions, complete assigned homework, attend our events, say hi to us when they see us or even want to hang out with us.  Much love to you all.

Last but not least, I’m so glad that Duran Duran is still part of my life. Not only have they provided something constant in my life, they have brought so much joy.  Many of my favorite experiences have centered around Duran Duran.  How many other people have a favorite band that has brought them nothing but fun?  I suspect not many.  Every time I think about seeing them live, I know there is no place I would rather be.  I’m very lucky that I have a couple of shows to look forward to in 2019.

On that note, I’m off to see my parents and my niece for another day of fun.

-A

A moment worth celebrating

Some days are just meant to be celebrated!  I am super behind today already, but I needed to take a minute and congratulate my dearest friend on some VERY hard-fought victories.

A lot of people, including myself – simply vote on election day. We proudly display our “I voted” stickers as though we’ve done something monumental, take selfies and display them all over the net. My friend Amanda takes the process a lot more to heart. She volunteers for campaigns, running and organizing teams of people for canvassing, among a great many other things. In short, she lives, eats, and breathes campaigning. Since 2010, she has been working nearly non-stop to “right” some of the things that have happened in her state. Last night (or early this morning!), election results appear to show that her goal has finally been reached.

My purpose in writing this post isn’t to get into political debate over what anyone else may think or feel is right or wrong…but simply to prove a point that I think has been very lost in this world lately.

Amanda and I kind of sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum, to some degree. I lean more towards right of center. She is most definitely on the left. Yet we still get along, and agree on a great many things. We find common ground because THAT IS WHAT NORMAL, LEVEL-HEADED PEOPLE DO.

I respect Amanda, 100%. I celebrate her victory because she is my closest friend. I wouldn’t set out to hurt her any more than she would me.  I am incredibly proud of her today (although I still would have been proud even if her candidates had not won), and I’m overjoyed that she is able to feel like she can celebrate her hard work. Everyone needs that, and I’m relieved that SHE is relieved.

Sometimes I think our governments, social media, and media in general, are so focused on making sure we see what makes us all different that we forget to notice and comment on all of the things that make us similar. The common ground is there and miles wide, we just need to be willing to find it. That doesn’t mean looking at your friend and saying “You’re the one who voted for the guy I don’t like, so you need to change your thinking and know that I’m the one who is right.” It means listening to one another. It means doing a LOT of listening, and a lot less talking.

Social media is great for talking. Tweeting is really just about who can yell the loudest. There’s a lot of that going on. I’m wondering more about the listening, though. Who is willing to do more of that?

Count me in on that side.

Congratulations my friend. I am thrilled for you, and for your state. I know how much of yourself you put into this election and campaign. It is inspiring to see that kind of hard work amount to so much. I hope you never lose sight of what you’ve accomplished.

Oh, I know this has little to do with Duran Duran. Except that it does. Amanda and I are both fans. Our common ground has ALWAYS been this band. I know of fellow fans who are far more liberal AND far more conservative than I am. Yet when it comes down to it, we all love the band. It’s a great starting point. I strive to remind everyone that when it boils down to it, I really do believe there is more that makes us similar than different, no matter the color of our skin, the loves of our life, or where you fall on the political spectrum. I think that to some degree, we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting that from time to time.

Onward and upward.

-R

You Speak to the Crowd

When Rhonda and I started this blog, we promised ourselves that we would never shy away from topics that might create some sort of stir.  Today’s blog is one of those.  Consider this a warning to you (and to me!).

Yesterday, DDHQ posted a few pictures of John Taylor at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles, a march advocating gun control.  I’m certain that DDHQ knew that posting these pictures would get people excited.  Some people might love it and others…not so much.  Normally, I just look at the posts and move on as I rarely read the comments for a variety of reasons.  Yet, something possessed me to look at them yesterday.  On Twitter, the reaction to the photos and John’s participation in the march was generally positive.  Facebook, on the other hand, was a very different story.

Within an hour or so of being posted on Facebook, comments numbered in the hundreds.  Some loved that John demonstrated and others expressed negative reactions ranging from concern to disappointment to anger.  Instead of responding on the thread, I am opting to respond to some of what I saw here.  This way I can address the negative reactions as a whole rather than individual comments.

A number of fans responding to the photos commented on the fact that John Taylor is British and should not have a say.  Indeed, he is British, but, he is also an American citizen now after going through the process of naturalization.  He lives in the United States, pays taxes and votes.  In my opinion, this gives him every right to speak about what takes places in the U.S.

Others did not appreciate him speaking out because he is a celebrity.  Some expressed concern that by doing so, he was in danger of losing fans.  Let me dissect both of those ideas.  First, I don’t really get the idea that famous people should not express their opinions.  Why does having a certain career mean that they should stop having political opinions?  Is it just celebrities who should stop being political?  What other careers should not express political beliefs?  Should I be silent on politics outside of my classroom simply because I’m a teacher?  Should a lawyer because they might challenge or defend laws?  Should judges?  Now, obviously, in the last examples, there are times when politics should be put away.  For instance, I do not push my students to believe like I do.  I push them to be able to defend their opinions with facts and evidence only.  Likewise, judges need to be impartial when hearing cases.  Other than that, teachers, judges, etc. can have political beliefs outside of those specific cases.  John’s job is to write and perform music.  If we compare John’s job to a teacher, for instance, then some might argue he should keep politics out of his job, and thus his music.  What he did yesterday is not about the music.  It is something he did outside of his job.  He didn’t tell people that they had to agree with him, politically, to buy his music.

The other concern that I saw a lot of people express is that John’s political activity might alienate fans.  This idea makes me sad.  Is that really where we are?  Do we really have to agree completely to be a fan?  Do we apply this for our families and friends?  I don’t know about the rest of you but I definitely know people who disagree with me on various issues.  This doesn’t make me like them less.  Perhaps, the key with me is that I separate what someone thinks about this or that issue from that person’s behavior and treatment of others.  I also believe strongly that I’m not going to love everything done by Duran but that this does not diminish my love for the band either.  Goodness, my love ones do or think things that I don’t like and that doesn’t make me love them any less.  Let me give you an example from Duran’s history to explain what I mean.  Was I thrilled that they worked with Timbaland in order to reach a broader audience and get more commercial success?  I was not.  Does this mean that I shouldn’t be a fan anymore?  No.  It means I don’t like this one thing they did and disagreed with their approach.

Some reading this might say that this is easy for me to say.  After all, I was out marching yesterday, too.  I agree with John on this political issue.  While I’m sure that it does make it easier to me, I can think of other bands that I like, musically, that I’m not in alignment with, politically or otherwise.  Again, I can separate the two.

Beyond all of that, I believe strongly that everyone should be able to speak about what they think.  Therefore, I was totally fine with those fans who came on to say how they love John and the band but disagree with him.  What I was not okay with were some of the comments insulting John or bringing up things like his past drug use. Those kind of comments are never necessary.  There was nothing that John did yesterday that deserved mean or insulting comments.  All he did was express his opinion as an American and a human being.  That’s it.

-A

Rise Above the Sorrow

Five years ago today, Duran Duran played in Biloxi, Mississippi as part of the final leg of the All You Need Is Now tour.  This show was pretty monumental for Rhonda and myself as it was the first time we ever had front row.  We had traveled to the city the night before so that we could hang out with Duranies and have a chance to line up early on the day of the show.  We arrived around 7 and were, indeed, able to secure a spot in front.  Anyone who read the blogs from then saw that our first front row did not go as planned.  No, we kinda stood there, shell-shocked, unable to really respond.  I remember attempting to process the show afterwards over drinks.  I had a lot of reasons that night for why I was so lame during the show but I suspect that I left out the real reason.

The summer of 2012 was a tough one for me.  I had spent months busting my ass to try and get my state’s governor to lose a special, recall election.  I’m sure that some of you stopped reading at that line.  After all, that is only politics and this blog about being a Duran fan.  Humor me, though, and keep reading.  Yes, it was about politics, but it was personal to me.  I won’t go into all the reasons for this but I think that anyone who has ever failed at something that really meant something to them understands my distress that summer.  On top of that, I already had experienced much stress related to this governor and feared the future.  Yet, I had hope that Duran and our little tour around the Southeast would help with my mood.  In fact, I was so determined in this that I pushed for having pre-show meet ups before each concert.  I wanted to dive into some other task.  Then, I could forget my fear and failure.

Did my plan work?  I have already mentioned that the Biloxi show was a failure, in terms of how we responded at the show.  We did better for the rest of our shows, but I never really felt it.  My distraction didn’t work.  I couldn’t shake it.  I remember after our final show in Virginia about how ready I was to go visit my sister and to have the tour be done.  That is not normal.  Rhonda itched to add a show and I didn’t even consider it.  Again, that is not normal.

Now, in 2017, I feel like I’m in a similar headspace due to the political climate.  Again, I was involved in a campaign that lost.  Like five years ago, I fear.  I feel like I get to a spot where I can shake it and then it comes roaring back.  I recognize that this makes me weird.  I get that.  I know that most people don’t feel politics that deeply.  I do.  Maybe it is that history teacher in me that recognizes the drama of current events.  Maybe it is because I have been active in politics.  Perhaps, I worry about my students and their futures.  Whatever the cause, it is a thing with me.

In 2012, I tried to get over the lost by going on tour and failed in my quest.  Looking back, I know that Durham was a great show on paper and that my partner-in-crime loved it but when I think of it I feel an emptiness that I couldn’t get beyond.  This time, in 2017, I have also gone to shows.  I’m sure that part of the reason was exactly as it was in 2012.  I wanted to get over what was bothering me.  I wanted to forget about it.  I needed to experience some joy.  Interestingly enough, the shows I have attended have all been fabulous this year.  I loved each and every one of them.  What was the difference?  I’m not sure.  I guess that is part of the reason that I’m blogging about it today, to try and figure it out.

Were the shows better?  Maybe.  Was I responding differently?  I’m sure.  If I had to determine the difference, I think this time I dove into the shows in a way that I couldn’t let my mind wander.  I also feel like there is more interaction between the band and the crowd.  Maybe that has helped me keep in the game more.  Fandom has been a sanctuary this time for whatever reason.  Perhaps, I just need my fandom differently now.  No matter the reason, I’m thankful that the shows in 2017 that I attended gave me as much joy as they have.  Certainly, Duran Duran has been the sun through a very cloudy world.

-A

It’s a Chain Cuts Across My Soul

Work has been super busy this week.  This is mostly due to the fact that my students are starting a project next week and I have had a bunch of meetings.  Luckily, I have a student teacher this semester, which helps divide up the work somewhat (and gives some work, too!).  Last night, my student teacher and I left the school after 6 pm after working on some materials.  As we were leaving, she began telling me about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are her go to food.  This, of course, led me to tell her about a hotel in New Orleans that Rhonda and I stayed at in 2006 when we attended the Voodoo Music Festival which served PB & J sandwiches every evening.

The answer to the next question is yes.  Of course, I proceeded to tell her all about that experience, in which Rhonda and I along with others literally stood for hours without food or water while trying to avoid crowd surfers. I attempted to explain that the only reason we put ourselves through such hell was for Duran Duran.  Then, I explained that Duran is more than my favorite band and mentioned this blog.  As I stopped talking, I wondered what her reaction would be as many tend to give weird looks or ask me if I am a groupie or both.  Instead of any of that, she said, “That’s good.”  It was my turn to look confused.  Huh?  She went on to explain about how it must be good to have something else to focus on besides work.  I nodded.

As I drove home, I thought more about what she had to say.  The more I pondered her reaction, the more I realized how right she is.  Is it good that I have Duran in my life?  That I do this blog?  I think so.

I recently edited my Twitter profile in which I described myself as a teacher, an activist and a Duranie, but not necessarily in that order.  During the school year, yes, typically I most often consider myself a teacher first.  I spend a LOT of time, energy and thoughts on my classroom, curriculum and students.  My school day lasts much longer than 8 or 9 hours a day.  Yesterday, for example, I was in the school building from 7:45 to 6:15.  I also had some grading to do when I got home.  On top of that, when public education and teachers become the topic of discussion on the state or national level, I am included in that conversation.  I take it personally as it generally has been my life work and a huge part of my identity.

Lately, a lot of my “free time” (Ha!  I don’t really have much free time but you all know what I mean.) has been spent on political activity, including reading a lot of current events, contacting legislators, planning meetings, contacting other organizations, and more.  I can and am sucked into political activity easily.  This connects with the teacher in me.  As a history and women’s studies teacher, I feel it is essential to be an example to my students about the importance of being engaged in one’s community, city, state and nation.  My undergrad studies focused on social movements as it is something that fascinates me.  Thus, if I’m not thinking of myself as a teacher, I’m thinking of myself as an activist.  While I love both of those parts of myself, I recognize that both suck the energy from me.  They exhaust me, mentally and emotionally.  I have a friend who is constantly saying,  “You are terrible in taking care of yourself.”  She is right.  I am.  I don’t take care of myself, putting my students and community/country ahead of what I need.

This is where Duran Duran enters the picture.  In many ways, being a Duranie is most selfish part of myself.  It is the aspect of myself that allows me to have fun, to take breaks, to escape the world.  I suspect that going on tour, writing this blog, organizing fan events is what has allowed me to give so much of myself as a teacher and a community organizer.  Thus, my student teacher is right.  It is good that I’m a Duranie and that I write this blog.  I am then given the opportunity to pause from my reality even if I think I don’t “need” it.

-A

Give Me Strength: Giving Appreciation

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I spent the day with my parents where we ate a full vegetarian meal, watched Star Trek Beyond and played some games.  It provided me necessary down time and the comfort of being with those who provide unconditional love and support.  Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday but I do appreciate having the time to stop and appreciate what one has in life.  This year, this feels more important than usual.

So, what am I grateful for?  I’ll start with the obvious.  I’m thankful for my family.  I have always felt very fortunate to have parents, in particular, who support me in so many ways.  Last year, at this time, my mom was finishing treatment for cancer and this year, she has been cancer free.  My father, who has a chronic illness, has been able to manage it better.  I’m thankful, then, that they are as healthy as can be and still able to be there for me.

This year, I also learned to really appreciate my job.  I often complain about the daily grind of education and teaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  Teaching is exhausting and requires far more work than a full time job.  I wish I could change that time commitment on top of all of the district, state and national demands and criticisms.  That said, my colleagues and my students have renewed my spirit in ways that they may never understand.  Now, I feel like we really are a big, weird dysfunctional family trying to make it through each day, each week, this school year and beyond together.

Of course, I am very grateful for my friendship with Rhonda.  While we may not live close to each other or are able to speak everyday, I know that she is supportive of me.  She may not always understand all of my choices or me of hers, yet, we still support each other.  At the end of the day, that foundation matters a lot.  It can overcome whatever challenges pop up–whether those are busy schedules, differing viewpoints or something else entirely.  Without this friendship, so much of what I have done in the name of fandom would have never taken place and I would have had a LOT less fun over the years.

This leads me ot appreciate Duran Duran and my fandom.  During this summer, Rhonda and I were able to attend a number of shows.  While I felt like I appreciated them then, now I really do.  I distinctly remember a moment at one of the shows this summer when I realized very clearly that there is nothing that brings me joy like being at a Duran Duran concert.  It is where I am the happiest.  Duran represents fun and good times.

The majority of my life is such that I’m serious a lot.  I work more than I should.  I focus my energy on being politically active.  No, those tasks don’t bring me joy in the traditional sense but what they do bring is immense satisfaction.  They bring a real purpose to my life.  I feel fulfilled when students really learn something and when they become politically active themselves.  The high that results from fighting in some sort campaign cannot be easily explained.  I cannot walk away from that aspect of myself.  Yet, Duran, fandom and fun provides the necessary infusion of energy and joy that keeps me going.  I need both in my life.

I then look forward to the two trips I have coming up to Washington D.C.  At the end of the year, I’ll venture there to see Duran Duran play a couple of shows and I will get the burst of energy and good times that I need.  Then, I’ll return to the city a couple weeks later to march in the Women’s March on Washington.  I am grateful to all that will make both happen from my colleagues, to my friends, to my parents, to Duran Duran and to other activists.  I appreciate them all.

-A

Fandom is a Luxury

Fandom is a luxury.  It is “great comfort and extravagant living,” to quote the google dictionary.  For some, it is a luxury because it is and always will be connected to money, finances.  People must pay money to own music, to attend concerts, to even own a device in which to hear it on.  While, yes, I suppose there are opportunities to hear music without money, it still seems to me as something that really requires some money.  The luxury of fandom involves more than money, though.  It requires emotional availability and time.

Fandom is about passion and about having intense feelings for someone or something.  In the case of this blog, we have strong emotions about Duran Duran.  We can feel great joy with new music from theirs and significant worry when one of the band members is ill or has to cancel shows.  Our lives are such that a part of our emotions can and is used up by fandom.  While certainly both Rhonda and myself have had significant events happen in our lives that were/are extremely taxing, emotionally, we have been able to save some of our emotions for Duran Duran and the Duran fandom.

Likewise, we have always been able to maintain some time for fandom.  The question/comment that we most frequently receive goes along the line of “I don’t know how you have time to blog everyday.”  We have made the time.  We have squeezed it in despite our busy schedules.  While our days are filled with lots of obligations, we have made this one of those “must dos”.  We don’t have to and never had to.  The lack of time never locked us out of our participation in fandom.  Sometimes, it made being a part of the Duran fan community challenging but never excluded us.

Now, though, I fear that is changing, at least on my end.  If you have been reading this blog  for awhile, you know that I’m the political one, the one who not only votes for the candidates of my choosing, but also campaigns for them.  If you know that much about me, then you also are aware that I’m a teacher.  I teach United States History and Women’s Studies.  The school I work at is extremely diverse, the most diverse in my city with about equal numbers of whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and even some Native Americans.  Likewise, all genders and gender identities are represented as are all sexual orientations.  We are also a religiously diverse community with all major world religions represented.  I feel extremely lucky to teach in this beautifully diverse community as I know that I learn from my students and colleagues each and every day.

Based on what I just shared, then, it will come to no surprise that I’m struggling with the election results as are my students.  Most of them are terrified about what is going to happen and if they will continue to be safe.  All day on Wednesday my room was filled with extra students looking for additional support and giving it in return.  (If there is any silver lining, it is that unconditional love and support given to and from my students, my colleagues and my school.)  That morning, my attitude was simple.  I wanted to give up.  I am tired of fighting.  Yet, at lunch, one of my students turned to me and said, “Now, what do we do?”  She looked to me to lead her and others as I have done in the past.  I knew then that I must fight on.  They need me.  My community needs me.

What will this fight entail?  I’m uncertain but this much I know.  I will do more than post on social media.  I will actively engage with elected officials and I will work to get strong messages of unity out there.  I will do my part and push others to do theirs.

I’m sure you can see where this post is going.  Fandom is a luxury that I might not be able to afford much moving forward.  My days were already extremely busy.  I used to prioritize my participation here and on various social media sites.  Now, there will be times in which I will put political action higher on the list.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a member of the Duran fan community or that I don’t want to participate in fandom.  I do want to and plan to, as much as I can.  When I am able to, it will be good for me.  Fandom will provide me the breaks and joy I will need moving on.  It will give me strength.  Hopefully, then, someday, I will be able to have the luxury of fandom full time, once again.

-A

All Over You As They Say: Tomorrow is Election Day!

Tomorrow marks a day I have been awaiting for over 500 days now.  It is Election Day, and that means the end is nigh. No, I don’t mean the end of the United States or the world… I mean Decision 2016 will finally come to an end. I don’t know what will happen in the days following, but I do know that the political ads on television, radio, and other media will finally end. That alone is worth celebrating. For what has seriously been over a year now, celebrities of all kinds have voiced their feelings, concerns, and even a certain amount of vitriol on every type of social media. Musicians, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran, have used their own on stage soap boxes to comment on our election, regardless of where they’re from, or their right to vote (or not) in our elections.

I have no shame in writing that the idea for this blog came from Lori Majewski. She asked on Facebook if fans mind seeing musicians making political comment. The answers and opinions were widely varied, as you might have expected.

As I’ve commented before, my views are unlike many other DD fans. I vote as a Libertarian these days, because I lean conservative when it comes to fiscal (money) issues, but I am also socially liberal. I am not here to tell you how to vote – only to admit how I vote so that no false assumptions are made as I continue writing.

I pondered Lori’s question as I read some of the replies posted. On one hand, I really believe music and politics go hand in hand. Throughout history, music has been used within cultures to describe, create, and foster social change. That doesn’t happen without people willing to put their opinions out there. Punk didn’t just “happen”. Gospel music didn’t just come out of nowhere. Someone had to come up with the words, thoughts and feelings.

I believe music has the potential to change people. It is what I believe to be the great common denominator. Music brings people together, and it is the essence of what is truly good. Even when the message isn’t one I necessarily agree with, I recognize that there are many others out there who probably need that message communicated.

Additionally, music has been used to make people aware. I think about Bandaid, USA for Africa, LiveAid, FarmAid, even Rock the Vote.  So in one sense, yes it’s OK with me if a musician I admire makes political comment. I expect it!

However, there is also a part of me that dreads seeing it. This comes into play when I see celebrity after celebrity trying to tell me, the voter, what is the “right” way to think or feel. I really dislike the parade of musicians and celebrities that come out in favor of one side (and in the US – I don’t think it’s any shock that they’re mostly Democrat). They use their celebrity draw to influence the vote. I’m equally bothered, if not more so, when the musician or celebrity isn’t even from this country. Should they even have an opinion? I suppose it’s a slippery slope. Yes, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. It would be wrong of me to insist that they never voice it. But, I’m still bothered by it, whether or not I happen to agree with their stance. As I said—it’s a slippery slope.

For me personally, it is rare that I find a celebrity or musician who I identify with politically. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I disagree with not only most of my friends, but also a lot of the musicians I admire. I think there is a real risk of turning people off when you wear your politics on your sleeve, but more and more often—I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. This particular election cycle has been ugly. I’ve seen celebrities fire right back at hate and anger with their own hate and anger, whether they’re talking to someone who was once a fan or not. It is a little jarring to see a celebrity tell someone to F*** off on social media, because that someone was rude, and there is plenty of that going on anymore. It’s like we forgot how to be kind to one another, regardless of what “side” we’re on.  In our own community there has been a little of that, which has been equally disturbing.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Katy is outspoken with regard to her feelings for Trump. She has her own Twitter account and is not afraid to use it. Some fans haven’t always appreciated her candor, and voiced that opinion in return. She has since changed her account name (can’t blame her), but some fans really believe that people like Katy should keep their opinions to themselves because they represent the band. I have to wonder if it’s really that people believe that political views from people like her should be kept private, or if it’s really just that fans don’t like the message she’s conveying, so therefore it shouldn’t be said.

Ultimately, I am more concerned about the state of my country after election day. Tomorrow, someone is going to be elected the next US  President. Immediately following, we’re going to have to undo a lot of damage left in the wake. I’ve seen many of my friends say that they’re not sure we’re going to go back to being nice to one another. Many others say that they don’t really want to just be nice again, because they feel very strongly about the positions one candidate seems to convey – and if someone agrees with him even enough to vote that way, they want no part of that person. I have seen the other side say nearly the exact same thing, that there’s no going back.

I think that attitude is just sad. The candidate is one person, regardless of whether or not you agree with those views. I voted for neither of the main candidates. I usually don’t. If I said I wasn’t going to keep talking to people based on the way they voted, I’d be out of friends by now! The people who are voting come from several million different walks of life, with millions of difference circumstances. It isn’t all black and white. The last thing we should be doing is ignoring one another and assuming it will all go away with election day. That’s the thing with music. It speaks when some of us just cannot find words. Maybe it is time we start listening.

-R

Before I forget – thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes left for me on Facebook and Twitter. It has been a strange birthday this year – my daughter is at school and there’s been no time to really celebrate, so your message brightened up my day and I truly appreciate them. Thank you!!

Some Days Are Strange to Number

Some days, some things just make me laugh.  Sometimes, the laughter happens right away.  Other times, there needs to be some space between the event and the giggles.  Tuesday morning was one of those days…

I arrived at work/school early on Tuesday.  I had much to do, including copying four handouts to start a brand new unit for my US History kiddos.  As I mindlessly stood by the copier at 7 am, I thought through my game plan.  I had to find a colleague to cover me at 9 am so that I could buy tickets to the National Harbor Duran shows.  Once my class was covered, I could seek a quiet classroom to refresh my DDM and/or Ticketmaster page frequently as I anxiously waited for tickets to go on sale.  Then, I would quickly type in the password and seek the tickets of my choice.  Of course, the perfect tickets would pop up instantly, almost placing themselves into the shopping cart without me even clicking a button.  The process would be nothing but smooth sailing.  I could then return to my classroom, having been gone for less than 10 minutes.  Yeah…those copier fantasies can be intense and terribly inaccurate.

Still, the plan seemed on track when I found my colleague and friend across the hall.  I begged her to cover my first hour class and even told her to give treats to my students if they were good since I had brownies and cupcakes with me.  She readily agreed.  Perfect.  Nothing could go wrong, I figured.  I had coverage.  I had a plan.  I had the seating chart printed.  I logged into my computer and the necessary sites.  I was all set.  

At five to nine, my colleague stepped across the hall to take over as I sought her quiet classroom to begin my incessant refreshing.  As I started to refresh the Ticketmaster page, I noticed that sometimes I would get a countdown clock and other times I did not.  Cue self-talk as I reminded myself that it would be fine and that I had done a million presales before.  There was no need for my heart to be beating that fast.  None, whatsoever.  Finally, the countdown reached zero, the page indicated that it was loading and loading and loading and loading.  What the hell?!  Do I need to refresh the page, I wondered.  Finally, after what felt like hours, I refreshed, revealing the ticket sale page.  I put my request in.  Denied.  Grumble.  Grumble.  Okay, I thought.  No big deal.  Stay calm.  Refresh again.  Up pops crappy seats all the way to the side and far back.  No thank you.  Refresh again.  Same result.  

“Are they kidding me?” I said out loud to an empty classroom.  Could the tickets already be sold out, I asked myself?!  Nooooooo….refresh again for the sixth time.  Then, Ticketmaster asked me to click on pictures with mountains.  I did that and when the page appeared it stated in big, red ugly letters that they could not fulfill my request.  I felt the blood pressure rising.  I didn’t understand.  What was going on?!  Deep breaths began.  More waiting.  Then, the dreaded bell rang indicating that I could pursue this no longer as 2nd hour awaited.  Damnit, I muttered as I crossed back into my classroom and my role as teacher.

As sweat popped up on my forehead, I frantically searched for my team teacher.  Where was she?  Was she coming to class?  Could she start the class so I could keep…attempting to get tickets?!  Finally, she appeared in the door frame.  Relief.  I begged her to start the class while I explained the situation.  She nodded while directing me to her room, to try on her computer.  That might work, I thought as I turned around to leave.  Unfortunately, ten minutes on a different computer  proved to be no more successful.  Swearing under my breath, I marched back into my classroom, knowing that I could not stay on Ticketmaster all dang day.  Teaching demanded my presence.

As I walked in, I noticed that I had another laptop to try Ticketmaster on.  I logged in while my colleague finished going over the political vocabulary.  She wandered over to my desk to ask how my pursuit was going.  I quickly explained the situation to her before jumping up to lead the students through some notes.  As I waited for the kids to jot down ideas about the political parties, I glanced back to see my colleague refreshing the page as I had done.  Involuntarily, I let out both a partial smile and a partial sob at the same time, thinking about how lucky I was for colleagues like that.  Thankfully, my misery ended when I received word that the friend I am going with acquired tickets for us.  I desperately wanted to collapse in my desk chair, exhausted, but I still had a room full of freshmen to teach!  Someday, this band really might kill me, I thought as I resumed the political science lesson I was presenting.

By now, you all have realized that unlike my counterpart, I will be attending the shows outside of DC around New Year’s.  Will I miss Rhonda’s presence?  That is a given.  It feels weird to go to any show or any Duran function without her.  This is even more significantly weird and sad is because it involves traveling and staying in hotels.  Yet, the shows made too much sense for me NOT to go.

As someone who is single, with few single friends near me, holidays like New Year’s Eve create a lot of personal anxiety.  Immediately after Christmas, I begin to wonder, each year, what I should do. Should I make plans, should I try to go somewhere, do I not try to make plans, do I stay at home.  In many cases, I can find a friend or two to hang out with but not always and usually last minute.  The holiday always acts as a unwelcome reminder that I’m single and don’t have a family.  It can be very lonely to be single during the holidays.  Yes, of course, I could always spend time with my parents, who are nearby me, but that usually doesn’t feel great despite how much I love my parents.  Thus, I’m thrilled that I not only will I not have that anxiety but that I have amazing plans.  I never thought I would see Duran on New Year’s.  Talk about a party!

The other reason that I am thrilled about going is that I love DC.  As I’m sure many of you reading this know, I’m a very political person and January marks the end of Obama presidency and the beginning of the next one.  As someone who worked for the Obama campaign and who has met the President and the First Lady, there is something special and affirming about going to DC during this transition.  It is like two really significant aspects of myself are coming together.

Now, some may argue that I am crazy for spending this money to go and maybe I am (although tickets weren’t any more expensive than some of the summer shows I went to).  Yet, this is an extra I can afford.  For me, it is worth it as I can think of nothing else that makes me happier than being at a Duran show.

-A

 

I Made a Break: Fun Memories

Things are pretty serious in my life right now.  My time is generally spent on teaching related tasks or on campaigning for this year’s presidential election (and my state’s senate election).  Right now, my students, at work, are finishing up a tough unit on Reconstruction, or the time after the Civil War.  We discuss some tough issues, including lynching, segregation, and sharecropping.  On top of that, we connect the past to the present with issues surrounding the criminal justice system.  The unit is heavy with its seriousness and emotionality.  When my teaching day is done, I turn to politics, filled with issues surrounding democracy, sexual assault, etc.

I generally embrace intensity.  As many have pointed out to me, I’m a pretty serious person.  Sometimes, I’m so serious that people can’t ever imagine me having fun or being silly.  Yet, as I point out to my students, there are times for both.  Now is the time to be focused on big issues.  That said, this doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to fun times ahead.  I always do.  This week, though, reminds me of fun times in the past.  I need those reminders.  They boost my energy, my will to see things through.

What fun memories popped up this week?  The first one surrounds a little convention that was held in Chicago three years ago now.  I can’t believe that Durandemonium was three years ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel that long ago.  Where the heck is time going?  Is it on fast forward???  For those not in the know, Durandemonium was a convention that Rhonda and I planned with some friends.  The event went from Friday to Sunday and featured various activities, including watching A Diamond in the Mind at a movie theater, a banquet/dance, Duran games, dancing at an 80s club, author panel and more.  Want to know more?  You can find out about it on our convention page here!

Maybe the convention memories make me smile because the event marked something that we spent a lot of time planning and organizing that went off without any major problems.  It was a success, in our eyes.  I appreciate those moments when you plan and plan and plan for something and then it works out.  It is one of the things that I treasure about political campaigns.  All the work comes down to one day and one result.  When it goes well and your side wins, there is no greater feeling.  The goal is obvious with campaigning and the result is clear.  This is the opposite of what teaching is like.  There I have no real end goal besides all of the little steps of progress, which happen at different times for different kids. Teaching requires a lot of work over ten months instead of just a few with most campaigns.

Plus, there is the obvious.  Durandemonium like other Duran conventions was filled with Duranies and non-stop focusing on Duran Duran.  Being at a convention means that my laser focus becomes about the band.  I don’t have to multi-task.  I can push aside the rest of the world.  The same is true with Duran shows and tours.  Five years ago today, Rhonda and I saw the band play in Chicago.  The weekend went by way too quickly and the show was a little strange for us because we weren’t sitting together but it provided us that escape from our regular day-to-day existence.  If you want to read our review of that show, you can go here.

In thinking about my current life along with Duran tours and conventions, I realize that I do truly live with intensity.  I like having events that suck up all of my thoughts, time and effort.  Perhaps, this gives some insight to why touring really works for me.  Yes, I do need significant breaks from my real life in order to continue to do my job and fight in the political arena and touring does provide those breaks.  In reality, though, it gives me something else just as intense, something all consuming.  When I’m on tour, I don’t pay as much attention to education issues or to politics or even to other popular culture I like.  It becomes all day, everyday Duran.

My conclusion is pretty simple then.  I have a few more weeks of serious, real life, big issues.  After that, I could use some intensity of the other sort.  You know something surrounding Duran Duran and fun…

-A