Tag Archives: Touring

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

How to Tour “Right”

Last weekend, one of our friends on Twitter mentioned that he had a countdown going for the Duran shows in September. As I responded, I realized something. I used to do countdowns for tours all the time. I had calendars filled with numbers slowly counting down to when I would leave for shows. Why did I stop doing that? This made me think about all the various touring traditions we have had over the years. We had a ton and for the longest time I couldn’t imagine *not* having or doing them. What were those traditions? Should we bring them back? I wonder how much they added to our experience. Did they make touring more fun? So, here are some of the things we do or used to do in no particular order.

No Sleeping or Eating

When Rhonda and I first started touring together, it was pretty common for us to not get much sleep at all and meals were well…optional. On our first tour, we were up for something like 38 hours in a row and didn’t eat for a full 24 hours. What the heck were we thinking?! Honesty, I think we were too busy having fun to take the time to sleep or eat. Should we bring this back? We still don’t get a ton of sleep on tour and I don’t know that we really want to go back to no sleep. I also like food. So, good idea but…with limits! We are getting old here, people!

IHOP

Again, from the earliest tours, we often found ourselves eating at nearby IHOPs (pancake restaurant for those not in the know). Eventually, we even started to make note of where the IHOPs were in order to be able to stop there. I’m good with having this one or not. I guess I would put it like this. If it works to go or is convenient, then, I’m all for it. I don’t know that I need to go out of my way for it.

“The Menu”

Let me explain this one. On our first tour, we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant when I saw a take home menu. I grabbed it. At first, I just wanted something to look at but then I decided that it would be fun to write down various quotes from the weekend on it to document our fun. We had such fun with it that we kept doing it for years to come. I’m not sure when it stopped but I have realized that I miss it. So, I would like to bring this back!

Tequila Shots

So, for a couple of years it was tradition for us to start our evenings with tequila shots. Here’s the deal. This is one tradition that we don’t need to bring back. While I look back at those nights with fondness, I simply cannot do tequila shots anymore. In fact, I won’t do tequila at all. Now, whenever I have any tequila, it brings on a massive migraine. No more tequila for me, thank you very much.

Videos

This is another tradition that we have kept up, sort of. We definitely film vlogs while on tour. The reason for this is simple. It is far easier to film a video blog on tour. Plus, it is a heck of a lot more fun. That said, we used to do videos all the time just for us. I miss those videos and would love to bring those back.

Leaving Our Mark

There is a bar in Durham, North Carolina that had chalkboards in the bathroom stalls. It may or may not have had some pro-Duran Duran messages in it in the summer of 2012. Likewise, there is a wall near Abbey Road Studios in London where a lot of people have signed their names or left messages. There might be something about the Daily Duranie on there now, too. I’m not going to lie. There might have been other places that we have left our mark. I like this one, too. Let’s bring this one back.

Setlists

I’m not quite sure when and where this one started. Maybe it was Biloxi in 2012 as we sat all day hoping for a great spot in that general admission show. What am I talking about? Simple. We would create our own setlist. At times, it is just the songs we would love, love to hear live. Other times, the focus might be some sort of theme. I enjoyed the heck out of making all of those. It seems to me that we began to back off when people assumed that it was our frustration over the lack of changes in the setlist but I never looked at it like that. It was more about how to give the band a hard time (with love!) even if they never saw it or didn’t get our insides jokes. Should we bring this one back?!

Tour by the Numbers

I feel like there was always a little element of this tradition in my tours. I can tell you that I drove 1984 miles in the spring of 2005 when I attended 5 shows on the Astronaut Tour. I could look up the number of hours we spent on various forms of transportation for the UK tour we did in 2011. Now, I don’t know that anyone outside of Rhonda and I would be interested our touring numbers but I like documenting my life. I think it is the historian in me!

Meetups and Wristbands

At times, we have been pretty busy with planning meetups with fellow fans before a show. Many times, we have also passed out Daily Duranie wristbands. These would be a relatively easy to bring back. Would people be interested in that for Vegas? Maybe before one of the shows?

We Tease Because We Love

We have a strange sense of humor. I admit it. Rhonda and I get great joy over laughing with (at) the band. I love finding something to tease one or more band members about something or other. It isn’t like they don’t give us a hard time back. Anyone been in the front when Simon spits water during White Lines? If so, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have been following this blog for awhile, then you might have seen something about pants or shoes. Let me be clear, though. We only tease because we love.

So, what touring traditions do you have? I am looking forward not only to see a couple of shows in September but also to restart some of these!

-A

I’ll Hold on to the MemorY

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

IT’s Too Much

I have to share a funny story. Yesterday, at work, I ran into the staff bathroom as the last hour bell rang, hoping to get in and out of there quickly as I had a meeting to get to with my principal. As I unlocked the door to the room, I discovered one of our English teachers in there. This teacher was someone I worked with last year as we shared some of the same students. If I had to give one word to describe this woman, I might say chatty. I knew right then and there that I would not get to my meeting on time.

As I passed her, she told me how glad she was to see me and asked how I was. I responded as quickly as I could, hoping that would be as far as the conversation would go. Before I could tell her that I had a meeting, she asked me about my summer plans. I sighed a little and gave a short answer, thinking to myself that we still have a whole month of school. I don’t want to think about that now as it would make the end of the year feel even longer. Of course, the conversation continued from there in a direction that I should have expected. “Duran Duran plans?” How do respond to that as quickly as possible. I responded lamely with, “Nope. Not this year.” As I walked out, I wondered what she really thinks about how things work with Duran Duran.

Later in the day, as I drove home, it dawned on me why I was so perplexed by how to answer. I honestly think she was asking me about Duran Duran like I might ask my friend, Laurie, about going to Florida during the winter or how I might ask the kids if they planned to go to any of the water parks at the Dells. She asked me about Duran in a way that made them sound like a location, some place to visit, rather than a group of people. Maybe it is not that extreme. Does she think they are just in a set location that I can always go see them like if they had a residency somewhere or that they are always on tour?

Now, in fairness, this colleague of mine knows next to nothing about fandom, especially musical fandom. She clearly didn’t mean any harm and I didn’t take it as some sort of insult. Obviously, she knows that I like Duran Duran and spend a lot of time doing something connected to the band. I don’t think she knows exactly what. She might know that I see the band play concerts but I don’t know that she really knows what that means. Is she aware that I often have to travel to see them? No clue. Does she any idea that the band doesn’t play concerts each and every day or even each and every summer?

This, of course, led me down another rabbit hole. What if Duran Duran did play concerts all the time? What if I could just go see them play anytime I wanted? My initial reaction was one of simple glee. How cool would that be? Rhonda mentioned getting to the century mark as far as shows go. This type of format would certainly make that easier or more possible. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? I have said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no place I would rather be than at a Duran show. I would be a lot happier with this, wouldn’t I?

As soon as I think all that, the more rational side of me kicks in. Would that really be the ideal? I don’t know any Duranie who wouldn’t like more shows. That said, would it be ideal to be able to go to a show at any time? I’m not so sure and not because I lost my mind. I would worry that being able to shows at any time would actually make the shows less special. Would I cease caring? Would it be so ordinary that it would be no different than stopping for a cup of coffee? It would be boring. Mundane. Then, if that were the case, would I stop dancing at the shows? Stop singing? Would I opt to sit in my chair and fall asleep from boredom?

How would playing so many shows affect the band? Would they grow to hate it? Would they start just going through the motions? I would suspect that they would–not because they are not amazing but because no one can sustain the level of intensity that they bring to shows. The more I think about this ideal world of Duran shows all the time, the less excited I am about that. That said, I wouldn’t complain for a few more shows. That wouldn’t hurt anyone, would it?

-A

Happy Anniversary to Me

In April 1984, the Reflex was released as a single. As many of you know, this song became a number one hit for Duran Duran. For me, this anniversary marks my anniversary of a Duranie. Many of you know my story. As a kid, I listened to a lot of Top 40 in my Chicago suburb and became addicted to MTV as soon as it hit our cable package. My best friend and I liked Duran Duran as soon as we heard them as we often listened and watched together. Yet, there was nothing serious about our feelings for Duran until the Reflex. That song changed it all for me. My like for the band became a love as I found myself not only addicted to the song but to the band itself. My fandom, of course, exploded from there. I couldn’t stop listening to them and bought as much merchandise as I could find and afford. Soon enough, my best friend and I spent most of our time talking Duran. We bought magazines that we shared whatever info we learned and then drooled over whatever pin-ups were included. The rest as they say is history.

For my Duranie anniversary, I thought I might share the top 5 reasons that I am and will always be forever grateful that Duran Duran and this fandom came into my life.

Stay With The Music

This might seem pretty dang obvious but Duran Duran really has provided the soundtrack to my life in a couple of different ways. First, they have been the music I have turned to from early childhood all the way until present day. This means that the band’s music was there as I grew up, as I formed my identity, grew into adulthood and beyond. Second, their music has often spoke to me, on an emotional level that other artists haven’t. When I think of trying times, certain Duran songs come to mind. As I remember really fun times, different songs pop up. I’m thankful for each and every one of those songs that allowed me to be in the moment, to push through something tough, or to feel more intensely.

Laughing ‘Til You’re Crying

I have learned a lot from Duran Duran. They have been great teachers. A lot of what I think and appreciate came directly or indirectly from Duran. Let me give some examples. First, the band always represented an optimism that I have embraced. In some cases, that optimism takes the form of fun like the idea that they would be the band to dance to when the bomb is dropped. In other cases, it is recognizing that life is hard but that you have to have hope with songs like What Happens Tomorrow. No matter how much I get beaten down, I remain optimistic. Second, the band appreciates art in all forms, including music, visual arts, graphic arts, photography, fashion and more. I have grown up appreciating art as well. (Probably helps that my mom is also an artist.) I also love that the art that they like or produce isn’t always obvious or straightforward. Often, it requires thinking deeply, which I love. Third, the band has a wicked sense of humor that can be seen in videos like Rio. I love how much they laugh when they are around each other. I definitely learned to appreciate the same thing.

Change the Skyline

My natural instinct is stay home, be comfortable. go about my day-to-day routines without any changes or drama. I probably could be a hermit if I let myself. Yet, I know that this won’t and doesn’t bring me happiness. Needless to say, I need to be pushed out of my comfort zone from time-to-time. Duran Duran has done that very thing. Most obviously, I definitely would not have traveled as much as I did/do without going to see the band. I am not a big traveler and really hate flying but I do it to go on tour. To me, the reward is worth the stress of travel. Plus, after every trip, I always feel glad having done so. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I feel stronger, more confident. Beyond that, I started planning Duranie events with my partner-in-crime in order to try to bring the fan community together. I can organize all day, every day but leading events isn’t something that gets me all excited. Again, though, afterwards, I feel pretty badass and find it becoming more and more second nature to me.

Live It Like It’s Our Last Night

If you read through this blog, you will see so many posts that describe amazingly fun times Rhonda and I have had through this blog’s existence and beyond. Truly, when I think of times that I have had the most fun in my life, I immediately think of Duran Duran, events related to the band and their shows. Touring is literally my favorite place in the world to be, especially those two hours that the band is on stage. I have been extremely fortunate to have been to as many shows that I have and really hope that there is a lot more in my future.

To You, My Friend

Last, but certainly not least, Duran Duran has brought me many friendships. As a kid, the band brought me and my best friend closer. As an adult, they played a significant part in connecting me to so many people, including some of my favorite people. In some cases, they are people I am extremely close to like Rhonda who I met at a fan convention in 2004 to people I just met in February whom I look forward to getting to know more.

Duran Duran has made my world significantly brighter, better and more fun. For all of that, I’ll be forever grateful.

-A

REPOST: Lost Souls Diamonds and Gold

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

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

LOST SOULS DIAMONDS AND GOLD

MARCH 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

So Easy to Disturb with a Thought, with a Whisper

Each year as we grow closer to October, there are a few events I can’t help but think back on.  I don’t know what it is about Autumn.  The days remind me of Duran Duran, touring, friends, and even conventions.

Take New Orleans and the Friends of Mine convention in 2004, for example. My life felt wild and free. I  grabbed on to the tiger’s tail, and was trying to hold on for dear life! I loved the new experiences and how I felt at the time. The memories make me smile.

Beignets and coffee in what felt like the middle of the night, learning to literally reach up for the sunrise, after spending hours in all sorts of late bars with friends of mine. I was getting a crash course in the regular activities of being a Duranie, and I loved every minute. The trip included a lot of self-discovery for me. When I think back, I recognize how much I’d missed out on prior. Going to that convention was about more than just making friends or Duran Duran. I was making up for lost time, and finding myself.  I’m thankful I took the risk and went.

I also think about a certain road trip with Amanda.  Our friend Heather had flown in from Canada, and  I’m pretty sure we nearly killed her along the way. Amanda and I were raring to go and spent most of our “free” time driving and discussing the band.  Poor Heather, on other hand, caught a cold straightaway.  She spent most of our driving time up and down the center of California bundled up in my backseat trying to sleep over our cackling. We went to see the band at the Hollywood Bowl, drove up to their show in Berkeley and then back down to Rancho Mirage in a matter of three days. It was a lot of driving in a very short period of time, which gave this writer a lot of time to obsess and over think.

It is a bit difficult not to wonder what will come next, and when. I have no business even thinking about Duran Duran shows or new albums right now.  Cleaning, packing or doing whatever it is that we housewives should be doing should probably be at the top of my to-do list, not yearning for concerts and tours.  I just can’t help but long for the times when we got together for the sake of celebrating the music.

Part of the allure of touring for me, so to speak, is its simplicity. Instead of my schedule being centered around what child need me to be where and when, it is about what city I need to be in, and how many hours it will take to get there. My time on tour is spent laughing and talking with friends, not worrying about dance classes, homework, or piano lessons. Even now that my son has moved out and his room stands mostly empty, the daily struggles get me down. I don’t like feeling chained to the calendar without having my own plans or things to look forward to. Sometimes I just need a break.

I said as much to my husband at some point over the weekend. He is out-of-town right now, and will be doing quite a bit more traveling for work over the next several weeks. I’m tied to the house, keeping it clean for showings (no it still hasn’t sold), taking our youngest to and from her classes, managing our zoo (the dog and cats of course), and of course homeschooling. Home is beginning to feel more and more like prison. Sure, that circumstance is temporary, but it feels like forever.  My husband gave no response to my comments this weekend, but I feel as though I’ve slipped right back into the role I occupied before I went to that first convention.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’m feeling like this now. Today is the first day in about three years that I’ve genuinely been at home alone. Normally there is always somebody here, or I’d be at work too. Today I dropped the child off at school and came home to a very quiet house, just as I used to do before I started working again. Life has come full circle again, I guess.

I know that it is only a matter of time before my family moves north, and hopefully the touring/appearance/album schedule will pick back up for Duran Duran. They keep saying they’re going back into the studio….right?

-R

Got any plans for Summer of 2020?

I woke up worrying about the blog today. I don’t even know why. I think this might be a sign or symptom of the amount of stress I’m carrying around these days. Moving is hard. I keep telling my husband that it would be far more motivating if I knew where we were going, like maybe if we’d already bought a house or actually knew what city we were going to end up in. Right now, all I’ve got is a short list of houses I really like in a very wide area going from Camarillo to the south (of Santa Barbara) alllllll the way up to Atascadero and South Paso Robles to the north. (yes, those places are far from Santa Barbara. It’s a long story. Just go with it for now.) Meanwhile, there’s still this  “Boston” possibility hanging in the air. Walt is going out there in a couple of weeks, and at the moment it’s possible that I’ll go along with him. That could change though because the timing is, of course, really bad with family graduations, birthdays, and moves home from college. I find myself asking (very loudly) when am I ever going to find the time to go house hunting anywhere. Thank goodness for Zillow.

No one really answers back. That’s probably best given that most of the time I’m alone while asking.

My last day at work is next Thursday. It’s the little one’s last week at school for summer. I still don’t know where she’ll go to school after what I think might be the shortest summer of my life…and then this morning I woke up worrying about the blog.

The blog is fine. It really is. I’ve felt as though I’ve neglected it a bit lately, right along with my writing. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to actually write this summer. It’s a small price to pay, I suppose, but writing keeps me sane. Blogging will at least continue, book writing may not for a bit. I am worrying for no reason about things I can’t even deal with right now.

I had big Daily Duranie plans for the summer, including a convention that I’m going to have to push out until I’m moved (I can’t plan a convention when I don’t even know where I’m going to be traveling from to get there. Bad timing – so once I know when and where I’m going, I can figure out the rest. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t do it all), and a visit with Amanda. I need to hang out with my best friend. I miss her. One way or another that has to happen. Then there’s a girls trip with Amanda and our other two friends. We need a getaway. I’m still trying to figure out how I can squeeze that in, because we are way overdue for a catch-up. I’m hoping the answers will reveal themselves soon. I don’t do very well without some basic plan, and I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants now since December. I hate it.

Amanda and I did chat on the phone last week. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but I think I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve done so since January. Times have indeed been tough. I welcomed her phone call though, and it was good to hear her voice. She gave me a little shred of hope that life WILL return to some sort of normalcy, because she asked me one question that snapped me back into my typical, Duranie-self.

“Got any plans for summer of 2020?”

Wow. I can’t even plan for next month, right now.  It is a very strange feeling, after living in the same place for twenty years, to know that in 2020, I have no idea where I’ll be living. Where will I be when Amanda and I are planning and plotting? Forget all of that, where is my family going to spend Christmas this year? It is SO weird to know it’s probably not going to be in this house. (For that matter, we just got rid of our 9-ft tall artificial Christmas tree, so….) So no, Amanda, I don’t have plans for 2020. I’m sure I’m about to make some, though!

She went on to tell me about the Katy Kafe with John Taylor and how he gave a full laundry list of ideas they had for celebrating their 40th and so on. I hadn’t even had time to listen to the Kafe at that point last week, so I welcomed her explanation of how it all went down. John talked about having some sort of show in Birmingham, and that was as far as she got before I stopped her. “We are going!”

Sure, John might have lofty ideas. Chances are, nothing he wants to do will actually come to full fruition. That isn’t really the point though, at least not for me. I need something. I need something to give me some motivation to get through what I think has to be one of the most stressful life events: moving.

The weekend before last, Walt and I took every single box down out of our attic. Turns out that he wasn’t lying when he said I was a packrat. Somehow, I’d saved nearly every single thing my kids touched as babies (and what’s weird is that I know I’ve given away a ton of stuff to charity over the years!). I went through box after box, blinking back tears on occasion. It was awful. I’m beginning to come to the realization that not only are we moving, but we’re closing a chapter on the childhoods of my two oldest kids. I am not a fan.  I’m overly emotional at times, downright sentimental at others, and suffering from hot flashes at the same time. God, I love middle age.

So for me, even the possibility of going to London, Birmingham or pretty much anywhere during the summer of 2020 is incentive for me to get my act together, get this house moved and my family settled. I have two years to make it all happen. I want to see friends, I want to go back to places I enjoy. I want to actually live. Right now, I feel like I’m just closing up shop to move on. I’m looking forward to getting past it.

Yes, I know how quickly other fans want to pee in my bowl of cornflakes (I hate cold cereal anyway), but you know – it’s OK to let fans just have some hope. Why not? Is it really hurting anyone?  The same goes with the band recording a new album – does it really hurt anyone to have hope that they’ll record again? I mean, as a fan, why wouldn’t you want to believe that they’re not completely finished?  It’s the one thing I’ve never really understood about people. Hope is a powerful motivator, and you know – I need it. So I’m tucking it into my pocket, and grabbing another box to fill.

-R

Long days are coming up and staying out and playing

It is Lyric Friday…no wait, that isn’t right. It is Lyric Sunday! What was my result when I hit shuffle? Taste the Summer. I call that irony considering that we have now entered the winter holiday season. Christmas is a month away. Despite that, I took a gander at the lyrics and picked out a line that suited me. That line is: “Long days are coming up and staying out and playing”.

Now, of course, that line refers to summer when the days get longer and people often have more time to stay out and up. As a kid, it definitely meant playing outside with neighborhood friends longer as there was no school to attend and no homework to complete. Yet, that won’t fit for right now. So, how can I use that line? I know! I have a little trip planned in about a month that will equal long days in that I won’t sleep much. We definitely will be staying out and playing! Ah, yes, Rhonda and I will be traveling to the city of Las Vegas to see a certain little band play a show on December 30th at the Cosmopolitan. I suspect that for us those three nights there will definitely include some playing.

Yes, this is what touring means to me. It definitely includes late nights. Over the course of our touring “career” Rhonda and I have logged some very late nights. On our first tour together, in March 2005, we managed to be up for 38 before separating to go home. Sunrise marked that weekend, I think. On that Sunday of our marathon tour, we ended up at the mall as Rhonda had a couple of hours to kill before her flight. As we walked around, we swore we heard Sunrise playing. Was it? Maybe. Could it have been an auditory hallucination brought up due to being sleep deprived? Possible. It may us laugh then and it makes us laugh now. I remember driving home that night and making phone calls to anyone who would talk to me to keep me awake on the drive. It was brutal but worth it. The lack of sleep thing hasn’t changed much. Although, I don’t think we have been awake all night since 2011 after the Glasgow show. We stayed up simply because we were afraid that we felll asleep we would miss our early morning fight. Plus, we were giddy from the show. Will we reach up for the sunrise this upcoming trip? No clue. If we were going to, Vegas is always a good location as they are open all night long.

So what about the playing part? Will that happen? As a kid, summer playing meant riding my bike around the neighborhood, hanging out at the park or swinging on my homemade swing in the backyard. Somehow, as an adult, it has come to mean something different. For Rhonda and I (and our friends), it often means finding some place to hang out. Ideally, this place serves vodka tonics and plays some music. On really great nights, that music including Duran and their peers. Our last tour, in Oakland and San Francisco, included some nights at the Cat Club where they featured Duran after the show. Rhonda and I danced that night until we couldn’t dance anymore. Such fun!

What does Vegas have in store for us? Well, I will tell you one thing. There will be a Daily Duranie Meet-up! The details are still getting completely finalized but I can tell you all this. It will be taking place on December 29th, the night before the Duran show. It will definitely focus on my adult version of playing! So, mark your calendars and make plans to join us! Then, watch this space for details, an event page and more. I know that Rhonda and I are looking forward to celebrating with all of you then!!!

-A

I’m Thankful…

Yesterday, Rhonda wrote a heartfelt blog about what she is grateful for during this Thanksgiving holiday so I figured that today might be my turn. Like Rhonda, I’m very thankful for my family. I’m lucky in that I have amazing parents. That fortune is increased by the fact that they live near me so I am able to not only enjoy them as people but benefit from all the little things they do to help me out. As they get older and need more and more of my assistance, I want to always remember that they deserve my love and care even when my patience is thin and I have more on my plate that it seems like I can handle. This year, my nearby family grew when my oldest niece arrived in Wisconsin to attend college here. To say that I am overjoyed by having her close by is an understatement. Like with my parents, sometimes, this has means that she needs me for some purpose, but I would gladly sacrifice my time in order to have her close. After all, she and her sister have spent their formative years in North Carolina far away from me. I missed many of the big moments and countless small ones over the years. Now, though, I get to be a part of seeing her finally come into her own and reach adulthood. She has become an amazing person who is getting smarter, more confident and stronger with each passing day. This Thanksgiving, in fact, I got to spend it with her and a couple of her fiends, which was fun.

On top of my personal family, I have to acknowledge my work family. It isn’t easy being in education these days. Heck, it wasn’t easy being a teacher 15 years ago but the last 7 or so have been especially difficult for reasons that I won’t go into on this blog. Let’s just say that we are being asked to do a lot more with less and have very little holding us up in terms of outside supports. The job requires more of my time, energy, and emotions and the kids are getting tougher too (through no fault on their own). Throughout it all, my colleagues have been there for me. When things were getting really bleak, I had colleagues checking in, giving me stuffed animals to represent strength, offering to help and more. Truly, when I think about what keeps me going in teaching, a lot of it has to do with them. Of course, the other factor is the kids. While I struggle to reach them all, there are a number of students I have gotten to know pretty well over the years. Being a part of their struggles and their successes also keep me moving forward. I’m truly the lucky one to be their teacher.

Yes, work does take up a lot of my life. Just last week, I calculated that I worked 58.5 hours, which didn’t even seem so bad to me until I realized that it was more than 18 hours OVER what it should have been. It was like I worked an extra 2 days. No wonder I’m super tired all the time! While I wish my job wasn’t so time-consuming and stressful, there is a part of me that is proud of the work that I do. I believe that I’m a decent teacher. My kids, generally, learn from me and, more importantly, become more passionate citizens of the world. That is all I can ask for. If that wasn’t enough, I’m still involved and working, politically. I have to keep fighting to make the world a better place, both in and out of my classroom. I’m grateful to those people who work along side with me, telling me that I’m not alone and to keep going.

Beyond all the fabulous people at my jobs, what really helps to keep me going is my fandom. First, this blog helps on a daily basis. I love that it forces me to stop and think about something other than work or politics. Every morning I do the question of the day. It makes me sit down and take 10-15 minutes in the morning to clear my head, which probably saves my sanity and my students first hour. Then, on the weekends, when it is my turn to blog, I can take longer to think about all things Duran. During many weekends, it is my break, my time away from grading or household chores. While it is something on my “to-do” list, it isn’t really a chore. I look forward to it and I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to write about or how I’m going to write about this topic or that. There is always a corner of my brain thinking about Duran, fandom and this blog. This also means that I allow myself to check in with Duranland during the week so that I can comment in future blogs. I might not always have time to respond or make comments but know that I’m always watching (as much as I can) and thinking about what I see, read and hear related to this fandom. Again, this probably keeps me sane. (No comments, Rhonda!)

Beyond the time spent during the week on my Duran fandom and blogging, there are the times I go on tour. I truly cannot think of anything that makes me more happy. Touring is the one time that I can (and do!) push everything else to the side. When I’m on tour, I’m not thinking about anything on my to-do list. I’m not worrying about my parents or about kids at school. No, I can take a break and just HAVE FUN. People will always ask me, “Why are you going to another show? Don’t they just play the same songs?” The answer to that is yes. They typically play the same songs. While the setlist matters somewhat, it isn’t the big reason. No, it is about that fun that I have. Of course, I wouldn’t have fun without the people with me. In 2005, I discovered the best touring partner around. Sometimes, when I think about it, I cannot believe that Rhonda and I really tour so well together. We trust each other when it comes to money, buying tickets, reserving rooms, etc. We approach traveling in similar ways and have the same general philosophy when it comes to partying, staying up late, etc. More importantly than all of that, is that we enjoy spending time together. We know that when we are together we will laugh and laugh and laugh. Truly, I get more laughter in during a touring weekend than I do all month long. I swear! I will always be grateful to have her in my life—not just for fun touring but also because we share this blog, planning meet-ups and conventions and writing. I couldn’t ask for a better fandom partner. Rhonda and I have also been extremely lucky with the friends we have made. In a little over a month, we will descend onto the city of Las Vegas with our friends, Suzie and Lori. Much like touring with Rhonda, they are easy people to tour with who are also a lot of fun. Let’s just say that we all appreciate our vodka! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have another opportunity to hang out with them this year. So lucky to have found them.

Of course, none of this would be possible with the band that started it all. From the first time I heard their music until now, Duran Duran gives me such joy. When I hear their music, I’m reminded of good times, great experiences, and the most fun I have ever had from the little moments of my youth to the silly times of today. I recall the joy of getting a new album, putting up a new poster or tuning into MTV to catch a new video with my childhood best friend. Now, when I think of my fandom, I think of the lovable teasing about fashion choices or giving cheers in a hotel bar. I am reminded of leaving notes encouraging the playing of Planet Earth while watching closely the stage location for every JoSi or DoJo moment. Overall, I am grateful that this band entered my world and refuses to leave even after three plus decades.

-A