Tag Archives: President Obama

Can You Hear Me Now?

My plan for this blog was a simple one. I wanted to write about the evolution of my feelings about this week’s announced September shows but I cannot do it right now. Don’t worry. I will. Right now, though, I need to focus on how I got on a different path than I had expected. It sort of reminds me of the track, This Is How a Road Gets Made, in which Simon discusses how a new path is formed. While first glance, he might be talking about literally that but he could also be referencing something more metaphorical. I wonder if he knows which it is. Did he then when it came out?

Did the members of Duran Duran know when they ended taking the unexpected path, one that led them in a very different direction than they might have otherwise? Let me give you an example. When John decided to stop attending art school in order to focus on making music, did he know then that this would change his future forever? Of course, not every decision is that dramatic or changes one’s life in an instant but sometimes those little moments build up to make some changes without a real conscious effort to do so. For the band, those could be something like Roger playing drums using pots and pans as a little kid or John and Nick attending their first concert. Did those moments set them down a path?

Why am I wondering this? Why now? I think I’m starting to recognize some of those little moments in my life have actually built up to alter my life in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible fifteen years ago. Did I know that this little moments would matter so much? My answer is a simple, “Heck no.” Yet, now, I cannot imagine what the alternative would be.

What are those little moments? What have they brought me to? I look around and realize that I have found my voice. I don’t obviously mean that in the literal sense. I can speak and do speak. No, I’m talking about something more, something meaningful. I speak up and out about what matters to me. now When I was younger, I always wanted to be that person, the person who is fearless and strong in her convictions. This strength would not aggression or closed-mindedness but one that gets the necessary sentiment out.

So, how did I get here? The first step is an easy one. I got involved in my first political campaign. I finally decided to do more than just talk but tried to get something done. This was in the winter of 2008, during the primary when I chose to not only vote for President Obama but to work for him. Throughout that campaign, I wasn’t sure if I *should* be doing this. I worried. Would people walk away from me? What if they didn’t feel as I did? Would they judge me or think less of me? Throughout that spring, I grew stronger in my convictions. Then, you know what happened to me that really helped? I went to see Duran Duran play in Chicago in May of 2008. In the encore, John came out on stage wearing an Obama shirt. Somehow, that made me hold my head a little higher and gave me some courage to keep going. Of course, John later went on to do a couple of videos supporting him.

Despite having experienced a victory, I figured that it was a one time only thing. I had teaching to do after all. But then, this started. Yes, this. The blog began. Initially, I took baby steps in what I talked about, avoiding controversial things for the most part and certainly not talking about myself. Who the hell would want to read about my life? Yet, I discovered that I cannot separate different parts of me. I cannot just be fan Amanda and I cannot just be teacher. No, they are both a part of me. Then, as I got braver in my topics and experienced…well…push-back, at times. I realized then that I could take more criticism than I thought I could. I never liked it. I still don’t and would still love to avoid it. That said, it is something that made me stronger.

Then, of course, the Wisconsin teacher protests hit in 2011 raising the bar both in terms of importance but also in intensity. Something happens to your ability to speak your mind when you are out protesting in frigid temperatures for hours on end or spending the night inside the Capitol in order to occupy it with your political allies. In the midst of that protest, I had to fight for my right to take a mini-leave from work in order to go see some shows. Refusing to give in worked, at least on a personal note. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for teachers as a whole here. At that point, though, I had realized that people might attack me no matter what I say and do so I might as well work for what and who I believe in.

More campaigns followed, my participation growing steadily along the way until I ran my own campaign this past spring. I could not and would not sit back and be silent anymore. In that case, I let my work behind the scenes represent my ideas and feelings. This brings me to now. In the past month, I have found myself using my voice in a number of different settings. At times, it is within the work setting, taking charge with a group. At other times, it is about my work. I am a teacher. I have been my entire adult life. It has never been an easy profession on a number of different levels. One of the hardest aspects of my job is that so many people think they know what it is like to be a teacher. After all, most people have been in classrooms. Yet, unless you have actually done it, you don’t really know. One of my first jobs out of college was to work at a Sylvan Learning Center, teaching reading, writing, etc. I thought it gave me teaching experience. As soon as I got my first classroom, I realized how wrong I was. It was so different!

On top of that, leaders within the profession can make the job easier/better or the opposite. This school year has proven to be an extremely difficult one. In fact, it has left a lot of teachers and students really hurting. I could not stay silent. In the past month or so, I have found myself in communication with a number of different reporters who are trying to tell the story about life in my school district. It is a risk to be open, to share, but I learned to use my voice so I did. After all, it could lead to positive changes in the future and how can that be wrong?

-A

Ten Years Ago Tomorrow

Ten years ago tomorrow, I saw Duran Duran play in Chicago.  This show was part of the Red Carpet Massacre Tour and the only one of that leg that I saw.  They played at the Rosemont Theater, which I really enjoyed.  The size of the venue was great with an amazing view from any seat or so it seemed.  While that show was weird in some ways, it also sticks out as one I always want to remember.

I didn’t go to the show with Rhonda, which always feels weird.  I went to the show with another friend and tried my best to make the show feel as normal as possible.  A group of us went out to eat before hand, which always works to get people excited.  Then, the show featured a few highlights that I would like to acknowledge here.

First, this show featured the Electro Set.  Does anyone else remember the Electro Set from 2007-2008?  When I first heard about it, I believed that it was going to suck.  I mean…really…the band was going to stand together in the front of the stage all playing electronic instruments?!  It seemed…boring, at least on paper.  Then, I went to one of the Red Carpet Massacre shows on Broadway and I saw the Electro Set in person.  To say that I was wrong would be an understatement.  I was in awe.  It blew my mind.  Seriously.  Needless to say, then, I was super excited to be able to see it again in Chicago.

While I couldn’t find a video of the electro set from this particular show, I did find one from another show.  If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it.  If you have seen it, you should watch again and remember how cool the Electro Set was.  I am probably not alone in saying that I would love for the band to bring this back.  Everyone I know who saw it loved it and everyone who didn’t see it in person wants to.

The other highlight is not the fact that Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins appeared to perform The Chauffeur.  While I’m sure that many people loved that, it didn’t excite me all that much.  I had really liked Smashing Pumpkins then I saw them live.  I was unimpressed.  In fact, I was so unimpressed that I left before they finished, which I never, ever do.  So, his appearance didn’t cut for me.  No, the other personal highlight was the fact that John Taylor came out for the encore in an Obama t-shirt.

To refresh people’s memories, the spring of 2008 meant that the United States was deep into presidential primary season.  The political parties were busy trying to figure out who the nominee was going to be.  Not only had I decided whom I would be voting for, but I started volunteering for the Obama campaign a few months prior in February.  By May, I was starting to work pretty seriously for the campaign.  My friends at the show knew this so when John Taylor came on stage in the t-shirt all of them turned towards me, all excited for me.  Clearly, I wasn’t expecting this at all.  I would have been fine if John did not support my favorite or didn’t agree with me, politically.  Yet, it made me feel…proud in my decision to work for the Obama campaign.  I loved having these two very different worlds of politics and fandom come together.

Most of the time I try to keep my worlds separate.  Usually, I say the reason for this is that I don’t want to alienate others, which is true. More than that, though, I worry that I would be rejected.  When I’m with my political people, I avoid the discussion of fandom.  I worry that they wouldn’t get it or that they would think I was weird for loving a band so much.  I definitely try to tone down the politics when I’m focused on fandom because I truly believe that some people that I call my friends in the fan community would hate me because of my activism.  At that moment when John Taylor showed his support of Obama for the first time, I felt safe.  I could be completely me and still be liked and accepted.

I liked that feeling.  I hope that by remembering that show and those memories that I feel that way again, at least for a day or two.

-A