Tag Archives: Pop Culture Conference

Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing

Today’s post comes from the file marked, “Things you’re not going to get to do after all”.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Amanda and I were invited to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to give a presentation on a paper we’ve been working on about the uniqueness of competition within female fandoms. We had to submit an abstract of the paper to the convention committee and in turn we were invited to come present our work. It was, and is, a huge honor to be invited. Academics from all over the world will be in attendance, many of whom are authors of the books we’ve been reading on the subject of fandom. Quite frankly, Amanda and I were geeking out just by talking about the opportunities we’d have to meet people, listen to talks about various subjects, and get our creative juices flowing.

We have been working on the paper off and on since we got word of being accepted, with the intention that I would fly to Madison over the weekend of March 24, we’d work to polish the paper and presentation together, and then drive to Indianapolis in time for the conference. It was going to be a real Thelma and Louise week for us, and we were both very excited.

For Amanda and I, this small victory comes from nearly a decade in total filled with research, observing, writing, and blogging. A lot of people, including my own family, thought we were nuts for doing all of this. I’d been told more than once that this is just an excuse to have fun and waste money. Not that I agree, but the words were put out there regardless, not to mention the countless insinuations.

I felt like having this invitation to present validated the time I’d spent on the blog, the writing, the traveling and yeah, even seeing Duran Duran.  The guilt of doing something that the rest of the family didn’t think I should be doing really tore at me, and continues to this day.  I never felt like I could justify my time or reasoning, and yeah for me, that mattered. I would constantly tell myself that we’d written not one, not two, but nearly three manuscripts (and we’re still working on that third one), and we were not going to give up. Hearing that our abstract for a paper had been accepted was so huge, I couldn’t put it into words. Still can’t. I needed that vindication.

There is this cliché that reads, “Life happens when you are making other plans”.  The words hit so close to home that I’m going to have them on my headstone someday.  Through a series of events we’ll just call “life”, I’ve learned that most of the time, I feel like I’ve got to put the wants and needs of other people first. This is one of those times.

As many know, my husband was laid off from his job in late November. He’s still interviewing and looking for work. The trip to Indianapolis is coming up rapidly. This trip does not equate to a paying job, or even an opportunity to make money. It is a chance to share new perspectives through this paper with academics and perhaps receive feedback. Sure, there’s the potential for learning, and networking, but I cannot deny that for the most part it would be mainly self-satisfaction that I’d be gaining by going.  While perhaps a worthy reason, it is not enough to justify the trip.

Yes, I’m disappointed. Aside from this morning while writing, I’m trying not to even think about it.  My success with that is pretty wobbly on good days, and on bad ones—and there have been quite a few of those lately— I just feel sorry for myself, which is nauseating. There’s definitely a part of me that feels like I’m the one always having to push aside my own wants and needs, which feels a lot like wallowing in my own self-pity, because it IS. In other equally weak and shameless moments, I envision myself sloshing around and slowly drowning in a dank pit of self-loathing, as I blame other influential, extended family members on my decision to remain at home. The peer pressure to be known as a good, caring, and selfless wife within my extended family is real. I want to please the right people by making a good decision. Basically, I’m a people-pleaser who is hopelessly addicted to affirmation from others. Rock on!

The final decision to stay at home from the conference was my own. Enough of that self-serving junk. I’m pushing the unhelpful thoughts aside, letting them go, and moving on.

So, Amanda is going to go and deliver the presentation on her own. As the abstract of our paper states, it is authored by the two of us, and I am continuing to work on it with her. But, it will be Amanda at the convention and I am sure she will do a fantastic job. I have high hopes that something good will come out of this for her, even if I am not able to take an active part there at the convention itself.  I hate that I’m not going, more than I want to admit.

In the meantime, I know many of you are wondering about OUR convention. I am not going to lie, I’ve been side-tracked lately. Surprise!! Emotionally, I haven’t been able to commit myself to more than what’s already on my plate. That said, Amanda and I are going to talk about it, figure some things out, and move forward.  Watch this space, and I appreciate your patience.


So Do You Hear, Do You Hear My Wish?

Tis the season. The season for making wish lists, anyway.  Every year since childhood, my parents would ask that I write out a wish list.  “What do you want for Christmas this year?”, my dad would ask.  I’d rattle off a few things, and then my dad would ask the question, “Are those things you need, or things you want?”

To be fair, my list usually had some of each. In my family, we didn’t always have a lot of discretionary income. Shopping indiscriminately wasn’t an option. School clothes shopping was a once-a-year deal, and I knew not to ask for a lot outside of that. I never felt deprived, but I knew plenty of kids who had far more, and some with far less. My parents tended to stick to the “need” portion of my list, with a few things I wanted sprinkled in for good measure. This was something I learned to accept and work with over the years. Duran Duran items were regularly found up near the top of my wish lists from the time I was about ten or eleven, and they’re still on them today. Some things don’t change

Justifying the need for whatever Duran Duran album would occupy my wish list was something I did out of necessity . I’m not quite sure whether or not my parents actually bought the stories of why I needed the music or the book or whatever I might have been requesting. At the time, I would look at my parents in all-seriousness as I’d explain that, I didn’t just want Seven and the Ragged Tiger, or Notorious, I needed it! “It’s for my collection!”, I would say emphatically.  Since money was scarce, I wanted to be sure my parents understood. I’d forgo the sweet-smelling clear plastic Hello Kitty and/or Twin Stars bags, erasers, pens, or pencil cases. Those were things I wanted in order to fit in at school. I needed Duran Duran to feed my soul.

In a weird twist of fate, it turns out, I really did need Duran Duran. Had I not continually asked for those albums, posters or books, I might not have kept quenching the immediate thirst of my inner fangirl. Without that youthful foundation as a fan, I’m not sure that I would be so zealous about fan studies OR Duran Duran today. What in the heck would I do without blogging and research?

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about how I’ve arrived at this point in my life. My parents, while wonderful people, weren’t necessarily encouraging me to go off and become a blogger. Never mind that we didn’t even really have PC’s, and later the internet, until I was older, anyway. Who knew I’d still be a fan and studying about it as I nudged my way towards the age of 50? Certainly not me. I guess that’s why remind myself that I need to be very careful of how I support and encourage my own children. You never know what seemingly nonsensical hobby will turn into a career some day.

Daily Duranie isn’t a viable source of income at this point, but just having a group of people give Amanda and I the chance to present a theory at an academic conference has given me a shot of confidence I needed.  It has also presented a challenge that I am looking forward to meeting head-on.  It is one thing to propose a topic and write an abstract, it is another to create a 15-minute long, engaging presentation. I am excited to begin.

Considering the big picture, everything I’ve experienced and done so far in my life has led me to where I am right now. None of it is bad. I needed the experiences, both good and bad, to be able to go forward from here.

No, I’m not a rock star, talk show host, or music journalist. I’m not a photographer, archivist, music producer, or publicist. I am a passionate researcher, blogger, and fan. The small amount of personal satisfaction I’m feeling happens because I love what I do so much that I’m just not willing to fail. Finally, at the age of (nearly) 47, I may have figured out what people have been telling me to do for years. “Do you what you love and are passionate about doing. Do something that you are not afraid to sleep in your car in order to be able to keep doing.”

At one point a long time ago, I put “find a career” on one of my wish lists. If I remember right, it was just after or just before I graduated from college. I had no idea what I wanted out of life. Nothing excited me. Nothing interested me. I just felt like I had to get a job and figure it out. I did, and I wasn’t very good at the things I tried. They were boring, and the people I worked for weren’t very smart (to be brutally honest).  I quit some of them, and was—yes, fired—from a lot of others. Each year, on the copy of my wish list that I keep for myself, the words “a career” have been on it.  While silly, it serves as a reminder to me to keep looking. At some points in my life, it has been a “want”, particularly while I’ve had children at home.  At others, it has been a “need”, like now. Personally fulfillment from something outside of my duties at home is something I crave.

Researching and writing on fandom niggled at something deep within me. I couldn’t name it or explain what was driving me, but I read everything in sight. Boxes were constantly arriving here from Amazon. My husband started asking if I was assembling some sort of  library.  Fandom enthralled me. Reading and theorizing about why I was so besotted with this one silly band from the UK sparked an interest I didn’t even know I had.  At the beginning, I nibbled on theories explaining why my heart went “ZING!” every time I thought I heard chords from “Hungry Like the Wolf” in public. Now, I devour theories deciphering why we—yes you, dear reader—and I, interact the way we do.  The more I learn, the more I realize there’s so much I don’t yet know.  I love it.

Today as I comprised my wish list for the upcoming holidays, I smiled as I erased one wish off of my list. To most people, an unprofitable blog and one speaking engagement does not equate to a career. That’s fair. I’m getting there, though, and failure is not an option.