This past week, Rhonda posted here about a little anniversary. This anniversary was the first day of Friends of Mine: The Duran Duran Fan Convention in New Orleans ten years ago. In her post, she talked about so many things that she remembered that weekend and why it was so fabulous. One phrase in her post caught my attention. She called it, “life changing.” I didn’t laugh at her but nodded my head in agreement. I, too, view it in the same way. After that weekend, my life was never the same. Let’s take a look back to see where I was then and where I’m at now.
In the fall of 2004, I was starting my seventh year of teaching. I was finally starting to feel confident in my abilities as an educator. At the time, I was teaching special education students at a nearby middle school. I had recently got my Masters and was ready for some downtime. While I had friends, both close by and far away, I wouldn’t say that I had many close friendships at the time. Up until this point of my adulthood, I didn’t have much time. Teaching was consuming about 50-60 hours per week then I had graduate class work to do, on top of that. Yet, as soon as classes were done, I was ready to focus on my social life, which is where fandom comes in. I had some friends from another fandom and figured Duran fandom would be the same. I was also wanting an adventure and to challenge myself by doing a little of traveling. Thus, the convention was the perfect place for me to go!
Did I make friends during that convention?! Absolutely. Obviously. Did I make some kick ass memories then?! For sure! Without a doubt. Did it lead me to attend more Duran events and go to more shows? No question. It definitely changed my fandom life. I now had friends within the community as well as a best friend that I didn’t have before. I now had people to go to shows with and people to “chat” with online. I embraced those activities of touring and being online, fully and completely. I went to the shows I could and saved money in between shows, in order to do more. I spent a ton of time online. All of that would be enough to be called life-changing, I suppose. Yet…this one action on my part did more than that for me. Much more.
Now, because of that convention and the experiences and friendships that followed, my day ALWAYS surrounds fandom. Every day, for example, I take the time to set up and post the question of the day. Every. Single. Day. Unlike the post office, I don’t rest on Sunday or major holidays. Even when I’m on vacation, I have to figure out something to get it done. The question of the day is just one little aspect of what Rhonda and I have created for ourselves. We worry about the day in history, other posts, guest posts, polls, the website itself, our social media accounts and more. That’s JUST with the blog!! We also committed ourselves to researching and writing a book on the subject of fandom as well as planning events and even a convention. There is always something else that we are working on that we don’t talk about. Now, my day consists of some blog work before my paying job, working at work for about 9-11 hours on any given day and coming home to work on either more work for teaching or more work for this. I don’t have a lot of evenings or weekends to relax. I made a commitment and follow through on them.
For me, the convention started a ball rolling that I now can’t stop. I decided to take my fandom to another level. While so many refer to this as a “hobby” or what I do in my spare time, I don’t view it that way. I look at it as a job. It takes that much time and that much personal commitment for me, for us. It means that I don’t have down time or the time to watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of movies. I willingly accept all of that. I am often exhausted and find myself wishing for more time, but I still would choose this. I almost can’t help it, at this point. I can’t imagine not paying attention to Duranland. What would it be like if I didn’t offer my thoughts about what Duran is or is not doing? I put myself out there everyday in the fan community. We put ourselves out there every day.
I am no longer satisfied with my whole life surrounding just teaching. All of this as well as my experience campaigning taught me that I can be more than just a teacher. (Yet, I believe that this has made me a better teacher, too!) I could do something different with my life, with my career, if I so choose. I have many skills beyond developing relationships with kids and family or developing or differentiating curriculum. Beyond job skills, this experience also taught me a lot about fandom. I have had the opportunity to be both within the fandom and an observer of fandom at the same time. What I have experienced in the last ten years is unique, for sure. That said, I am and will forever be grateful that I chose to attend that convention and to “trade my shelter for danger.”