Tag Archives: politics

This Is How We Get Connected

Sometimes, the strangest, least expected things can relate to fandom. This week, I was reminded of that in a big way. Anyone besides me follow politics? Interestingly enough, politics and fandom aren’t really that different. In the case of politics, a candidate wants to win over voters and keep the ones they already have. Bands like Duran want to do something similar. They want news fans and keep the ones who have been around for while. The question, then, becomes how to do that.

Up until recently, I, personally, went with the standard assumptions about how to get voters/fans. In the case of politics, I assume that candidates have to fundraise. After all, I had my candidate fund raise. I know that a lot of people cringe when it comes to fund raising. It seems icky and it really isn’t very fun. But money is needed. It just is. Candidates need money for everything from paying staff, to advertising, to printing materials, to creating literature, to buying office supplies, etc and so forth. Interestingly enough, bands need money, too. For example, creating an album doesn’t come for free. Studios cost money as do producers, additional musicians, artists for artwork, etc and so forth. This is why I never fault Duran for playing private gigs. That money helps with production and touring costs, right?

This week, though, I wondered if the typical way to raise funds and get supporters is the only way. Two events led me to question this. First, early in the week, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign came out with their second quarter fundraising totals. (Campaigns have to declare all of their earnings to follow campaign finance laws.) Her campaign raised $19 million. That is a serious chunk of change. What is most interesting about this amount is that she did not do it in the usual way. She did not seek out donors at big money fundraisers like most in politics do. Instead she got the money from more than 384,000 separate donors with an average of $28. That is a lot of different people. When I heard that, I was impressed and intrigued. Then, I saw a tweet that really made me think. The tweet indicated that Warren made that money by taking selfies with countless number of people. Hmmm….Interesting.

Then, last night, I decided to see the candidate in action myself. (In full disclosure, I have seen her before but when she was campaigning for others rather than herself.) On top of paying attention to her message and how she delivers it, I also watch for how the campaign is being organized. (I would have a hard time supporting a candidate, if their campaign was unorganized.) At the end of the question and answer session, her Midwest director indicated that Senator Warren would stay for everyone who wanted a selfie to get one and that if you were interested to form a line on the right side of the gym. (It was in a high school gym.) Now, I had heard that she was doing this but…I wasn’t certain that she would really stay for each and every person in this incredibly long line. We are talking hundreds of people and this was after a town hall and a convention appearance before that! How much energy could one person have? I decided to line up and find out for myself.

The line for selfies was long and stretched out of the gym and almost out of the high school. My friend and I were towards the back and it took over an hour for us just to make it back *into* the gym. We started questioning if the wait would be worth it. As we got closer to the stage where the Senator stood, I watched closely to see how these selfies were being done. First, her staff was taking people’s belongings so that they would not have anything in their hands to worry about once they got on the stage. They would then hand the stuff back as people exited. Nice. That’s organized and helpful. Then, there were multiple people on the stage taking the pictures. Clearly, there was one photographer connected to the campaign and another person who would take people’s phones to take the pictures. Super cool.

What about Senator Warren herself? She greeted each and every person with a handshake and exchanged a sentence or two. While it went fast, I doubt any person in the line felt it was impersonal or assembly line like. It was a genuine interaction. In my case, she immediately commented on my shirt (one of hers with a positive pro-woman message). Then, I mentioned that I was also a teacher. She was completely impressed by that, too. (She was a teacher as well!) Then, when I look at my phone to check out the picture, I noticed that the photographer didn’t just take the posed photo but photos of the entire interaction from the handshake through the exchange of words to the posed moment. Wow. I think about the previous photos I have gotten with important people and how I wished I had the entire events captured like that. I cannot help but to share the photos here to show you what I mean.

So, how am I feeling about Senator Warren now? I am feeling super pumped, that’s how. Was it just the selfie that did it? No but the personal touch matters. It makes me feel wanted. Her campaign has already reached out to me since then. That matters, too. Everyone wants to feel wanted and appreciated. So, to bring this back to fandom. If Warren is getting supporters and donors simply through quality messaging and personal touches, could a band do the same? What would it do for your fandom if Duran held selfie lines like this? Would it make you more determined to support them? Buy their products? Food for thought.

-A

Hold Onto Your Time

Do you ever wonder what it is like to be Duran Duran after a long album cycle? What to they think and feel after having written and recorded an album, completed promotion in multiple places and followed all that up with a long world tour? Do they feel exhausted after years worth of work? Could they feel proud of what they accomplished? Do they look back to see how many shows they did or how many interviewed they completed? I know that their typical attitude is to not look back, to live in the moment. While I appreciate that, I also wonder if they don’t take stock in the work they just finished.

Why am I thinking about this now? It isn’t like the band just finished a tour or album or something. What brought this on is that I feel like I just got done with an album cycle. This past Wednesday, I turned in my grades, packed up my classroom and officially checked out. On Thursday, I did have a meeting about some summer work I will be doing but I did have some time to decompress. Last night marked the final act of the 2018-2019 school year as I watched the class of 2019 get their diplomas.

Unlike Duran Duran, probably, I want to take time to reflect, to look back, to take some stock in this year. Then, like the band (probably), I want to take time to do nothing. So, first things first, what should I acknowledge about the year? As I mentioned with the band, I would imagine them having a general feeling after a long album cycle. Is that emotion a positive one? Negative? Mixed feelings? Maybe it depended on the album. I, too, have a general feeling. For now, I would have to say that it is one of complete exhaustion but that does not tell the whole story. Why the exhaustion? To put it simply, I left it all out on the table. I gave everything I did 100% of my effort. I didn’t hold anything back. For instance, on top of teaching five classes of high school students, I also campaigned for the majority of the year. This means that I worked 60-80 hours a week for about 30 out of the 38 weeks. Those campaigns were successful. The first one resulted in state wide wins on top of getting 90% of eligible voters in the suburb I organized out to vote and 3% more voters for my candidates. The second one was just as sweet as my candidate had so much going against her as her opponent had more name recognition, more money and more media support. Yet, in both, I proved that organizing on the ground really works.

Teaching wasn’t really easy either. This year, I had big classes. In fact, one class was so big that I had to add desks into my already crowded classroom. On top of that, the group of kids assigned to me struggled, not because of me or my colleagues but because many of them had needs that went beyond the classroom. My school also had a hard year as there was a sexual assault that occurred at school, causing trauma for staff and students alike. As a result, I got involved with some planning to help deal with the immediate affects as well as how to prevent future ones. On top of that, I have found myself on a couple of other committees. One was to fix some systems to help kids be more successful and the other is to fight for better treatment for teachers and school staff. Like the campaigns, I am proud of all of the hard work and believe that the school will be a better place for kids and staff alike next year and beyond.

If all of that work wasn’t enough, I also had scares with my parents. My mom went first when she hit her head due to a fall on the ice. Thankfully, she was fine. Then, more significantly, my dad had to have emergency, life-saving surgery in March. He bounced back better and faster than anyone expected, thankfully. As my parents age, my worry and role in their day-to-day existence increases. Like my work, I cannot complain. As my parents would say, it beats the alternative. I would much rather have them need me than not be around at all.

All in all, this year was an extremely challenging and relentless one. I stayed in the fight the whole way and pushed through it all, successfully. Now, I’m looking forward to having some time to recover. In fact, I have this post scheduled as I have promised myself a do-nothing day. I wrote this blog ahead of time in order to do this. You may have also noticed that I didn’t post a question of the day either. I figured that one day wouldn’t hurt. I’ll slowly start to work on developing a summer schedule next week. For now, though, I’ll take my day and relax with a sense of accomplishment and a smile on my face.

-A

My Finest Hour

Tuesday was Election Day in Wisconsin. While I have worked on campaigns before, this spring campaign marked the first one I have been the campaign manager for. This means that I designed the plan on how to reach as many voters as possible and convince them that my candidate was the one to vote for. The plan was an ambitious one that required a heck of a lot of time and work but I felt strongly that we needed to approach it that way since our opponent had so much going for him. He had name recognition, lots of media attention and support and big donors. We knew that it would be an uphill battle as we braved one of the harshest winters on record to knock on over 4000 doors and spoke to over 2000 people. Tuesday night, we gathered together to see if this plan worked. We managed to get over 35,000 votes to secure ourselves a win!! To say that we are thrilled would be an understatement! The lyrics to Duran’s song, Finest Hour, reminded me that “you’ve got to fight for what you believe.” Indeed, we did and came out winners!

Now, as I settle back into life with only one job, I find myself looking forward to getting more sleep, watching more TV, being a Duranie and more once I catch up on life. I also fully expect myself to have the time to pay attention to Duran Duran and all the happenings of our fan community. That said, I wonder if I will need more than just to slowly integrate myself back into Duranland. You know what I would really like? I wouldn’t mind a little mini-tour to plan for, to look forward to. Yes, yes, I know that we just had one one in February. That is totally true, but I wasn’t feeling the best and too tired to enjoy it as much as I could. Plus, why wouldn’t I want more shows like the ones we saw in February as they were absolutely fabulous?! Okay. So I cannot have that. What would be the next best things? I have two ideas.

Anyone up for a party?

While I would love, love, love to set up a Duranie party, I’m not certain that I could do that super quickly. After all, it takes time to plan for something like that well. So, if I cannot have a tour or a big Duranie party, what could I do? You know what I could do?! I could host an online one, couldn’t it? Rhonda and I have done a few of those over the years. Why not now? Usually, we do these online parties for some anniversary or holiday or something. I like to think of this one being for multiple things. First, it is to celebrate my campaign success and I cannot think of a better way than with Duran Duran. Second, it is to celebrate my return to Duranland. Third, my Duranie anniversary is this month. The last reason is just to do something fun! Who is with me?

Of course, I’m hoping that Rhonda would do this with me but she has no idea that I’m even proposing it. (Sorry—Rhonda! It just hit me and I went with it.) Hopefully, we can come up with a good date and what exactly we want to do with it. Social media? YouTube playlist? Something else fun? A contest? A game? What would all of you like for our online party? Stay tuned and watch this space!

Got something to say

My other idea is a simple one. While in Vegas, Rhonda and I mentioned that we both wanted to start writing again. I suggested a little project that we had already outlined. I think this would be a fun one to focus on because it is all about the fabulousness of Duran Duran and would definitely bring me back into the fold. I would love to see us write this and get it out this summer, too. Personally, I think we can do it. It would mean some focus during the summer along with probably a conference call or ten but I think we could do it. Heck, maybe, we should plan a get together to get it done. I like that the possibilities seem endless right now. It is all good.

So, people, as I bask in the glow of victory, I am giving you a little warning that Amanda, the Duranie, is feeling good and ready to have some fun around here once she gets some sleep.

-A

To Make My Stand

In 16 days, the voters of Madison and Wisconsin go to the polls to vote for races like Wisconsin Supreme Court, mayor, alder, school board and more. On April 2nd, my campaign work is done and I will find out if we were successful. With a little over two weeks to go, I struggle to explain how I’m feeling. Then, it hit me. A campaign is like creating an album. You are probably thinking that my sleep deprivation and cold is wrecking havoc on my brain. While you might be right, I think I can explain this.

Work with a team on a common goal

In order for band’s like Duran Duran to make an album, they need a team behind them. They not only need themselves but producers, engineers, other musicians (if necessary) and so much more. They also need people to create the art and packaging along with the promotion team to get the word out. Campaigns are not much different. There is usually a core group of people working on it. I’m super lucky in that the team I’m working with are great. Of course, we bring in others as necessary with various elements, including media and promotion. I know that over time I have grown close to the members of the team. After all, we are spending a lot of time together and experience all of the joys and frustrations that can happen. I’m willing to bet that making albums are similar. I’m sure that there are days when the music just falls into place or the best lyrics are created. Of course, there are probably other days that nothing is working or that someone criticizes what has been done. It isn’t always smooth sailing as people on the team might disagree with a decision or direction. That happens on campaigns, too. By the end of the experience, it is not uncommon to view the people on the team as family.

Both album making and campaigning have goals. In the case of a campaign, the object is to win, to get more votes than one’s opponent. An album needs to sell a lot of copies like votes. It needs to be thought of as better than the rest to win awards and more.

Both have deadlines

Typically, once an album gets close to being completed there is a date assigned as the release date. On that date, the artist gets to find out if their hard work pays off. A campaign has a definite date, too. Then, we get to wait and watch for results. Election nights can be great or they can be devastating. Many times they can be agonizing as the votes slowly roll in, creating much nervousness. Yet, once the polls close and once the album is released, that’s it. There is nothing you can do to but trust that you did the best you could and that your choices will lead you to success.

It is not always a healthy way to live

I’m willing to bet that Duran Duran is not always the healthiest during their album making process especially during their early days. They probably didn’t get a decent amount of sleep or eat well. There might have been too many substances consumed. Campaigns aren’t that different. I haven’t gotten no where near the right amount of sleep for months now. There are many days, especially lately, in which my eating habits are beyond bad. Sometimes, I don’t eat dinner as I’m too busy running from one event to the other. Other times, I eat a lot of junk food. My “drug” of choice is caffeine. I have had a lot of coffee. I do get out and walk some to knock on voters’ doors but this year that has been tough as the winter was beyond grueling. At one point, my mom fell and hit her head which caused an ER visit. (Thankfully, she is fine!) Another team member cut her finger on ice. I generally don’t get sick (teachers have immune systems of steel) but I’m on my second cold. Needless to say, there has been blood, sweat and tears on this campaign.

At the end, you have mixed emotions

As I count down the days, I find myself having many mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m so excited to not have work so much. I look forward to a lot more sleep and a lot less stress. I have no doubt that the band might feel the same way at the end of making an album. It is the little things that I might be excited for like eating properly or not having to answer hundreds of various messages a day. Yet, at the same time, I’m going to miss the people I have worked so closely with. We have created inside jokes and have shared something powerful in terms of working together towards a common goal. It reminds me of the end of Sing Blue Silver when at the end of the tour the band is so emotional. As they hug and wonder what they will do next year, I’m sure there is a big part of them that is happy to be done, happy to not have the insane schedule anymore while knowing that they will miss it at the same time.

You learn a lot

Despite or maybe because of the process, you learn a lot. Not only do you learn a bunch about how to create the best campaign or album, you find out more about yourself and what you are capable of. You get to know new people and get to know others better. It also makes you feel good knowing that you gave it your all, no matter the level of success.

I can tell you this much. Now that I have realized how similar campaigns are to making an album, I’m going to look at finished albums in new light. While I still might have opinions about the quality of the music, I think I’ll be far kinder and far more understanding and appreciative of the work that went into it.

-A

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