Cancer. It is something ugly that I dealt with in 2014. But that was then and this is now.
When the big C hit me in January 2014, there was still a Happy New Year Balloon dancing around the house, all cheery and colorful. When I bought it for the kids, it was with the belief and hope the new year would be an even better year than the one before. When that ball drops at midnight and you kiss your loved ones while clinking your glasses, you never think that maybe the new year won’t be that awesome and happy. You want it to be a great one, better than the last. But you just don’t know. I remember when I was diagnosed just staring at that damn balloon thinking how ironic it was because happy new year turned into crappy new year for me. I wanted to take a kitchen knife to that thing several times, but I just couldn’t do it. Call me superstitious.
It was a rough 2014, no doubt about it. But that year came and went, and I spent that NYE with my husband, kids and close friends in one of my favorite places, Disney. I always forget about things at Disney and I was so happy to see 2014 go. So when the fireworks started going off at midnight, I was thrilled to usher in 2015.
2015 was a pretty good year. I finished my treatments, and saw some new places. First time visiting Las Vegas (now I am hooked), Colorado, Seattle and to finish it off, went on a cruise to the Cayman islands and spent Christmas at Disney with my parents. I hoped 2016 would even be better, and it was.
I had a lot of quality family time–my husband, kids and I went to Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon. We then went on another cruise and back to Disney, this time staying in a childhood favorite hotel of mine The Contemporary. It always makes me happy to see my kids at Disney enjoying themselves so much while remembering my childhood there. Nothing compares. I also celebrated my birthday with old friends and new ones watching Duran Duran perform in VEGAS. (I told you I am hooked!). That concert had me on my feet the entire time, I was even jumping up and down for many songs. I don’t dance like that, but there was something about seeing them and the music and what I had been through that just got me. I cried, sang, laughed, screamed like a teenager. The only thought I had about cancer was that I was so lucky to be there enjoying myself and that it was behind me.
One memory about 2016 that stands out is one that I firmly believe was arranged by a higher power.
Let me start this by saying that Duran Duran has not only gotten me through my cancer, but life in general. I am working on a book that goes into more depth on how their music has been my therapy, but lets just say that some of my darkest hours have been made better by simply hearing one of their songs. As I wrote in a previous post, the song “What Happens Tomorrow” got me through the darkest time after my diagnosis. I hadn’t listened to the radio in my car for about a week, I would just drive around numb in silence. One morning, I was really scared and asked for some sort of sign that I would get through it. I decided on the way to work that morning to turn on the radio for some noise in the car, and what came on blew me away. “What Happens Tomorrow” was just what I needed and I know someone from above was giving me the sign I begged for.
So, fast forward to September 2016. I had just gone through my second and last surgery for reconstruction (my 4th surgery since diagnosis) and Duran were playing at a small venue downtown. My husband got me really good seats and my friend Tina came down to see them with me. Side note: Tina is also a survivor, we met through an online support group and have become really close–proof that something amazing can come out of something horrible. When we met, we quickly learned that we both love Duran Duran so we always said we were going to see them together when they toured, never thinking it would be twice!
The concert was amazing, though I didn’t have quite the energy I had in Vegas because of my surgery. But that couldn’t stop me and I didn’t sit down, determined to keep going for my guys and show them the love they deserve.
Tina and I joked that maybe we would run into them downtown after the show, but never really thought it was possible and it never happened. The next day, Tina went back home and I went back to work after my surgery leave. A coworker and I were scheduled to go to lunch, but I tried to cancel, telling her we should just stay in the office and not venture out. It was too hot to walk around, and I was really tired from the surgery and the concert. She insisted, saying that she wanted to treat me for my birthday since we never celebrated. After several minutes of going back and forth on it, I gave in. We went to one of her favorite downtown restaurants in her favorite hotel. Before going to eat, she showed me around the hotel, pointing out the history and the beauty. What happened next blew me away.
While heading over to the restaurant, we turned the corner and right in front of me was John Taylor. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at my coworker, not even believing what was happening. She knew how much I loved Duran and that I had been at the show the night before, so she put two and two together and realized that I was standing in front of one of them. I was speechless and borderline crying. Then Roger walked over from the concierge desk joining our little circle. This was too much–I had met John a couple of years ago, but he was behind a desk signing books and there were a lot of people in line, so it was rushed and not as personal. This was like magic. They were on their way out, so had we not walked around or if we arrived at that spot just a few minutes later, I would have never seen them. I couldn’t even relay how I felt to them and why I was so emotional. I wish I could have told them what their music has done for me and how it got me through. But I couldn’t utter much at all. John could see the emotion on my face and actually consoled me, he must have known the impact they made on me by my reaction. This meant so much to me– they were really nice about the whole thing, confirming my devotion to this band.
When I went back to work the next day, I couldn’t help but share my story with others. I told one person how the song came on that day giving me hope, and then how I ran into them at the hotel. She said that my guardian angel closed the loop for me–that I was given that song for hope and then arranged that meeting to signify the end of my surgery and cancer journey. It made so much sense and I truly believe that is what happened that day.
So 2016 was a great year. I am yet another year out from cancer, and I have memories I will never forget. I am going to spend the final hours of 2016 cherishing these memories.
I will admit tonight won’t be the easiest night–Duran Duran are playing in MD and my fellow Duranie Tina will be there ringing in the new year with them. I tried to make the trip work, but decided that it was too much to try to go. Now I regret it. I wish I could ring in 2017 with Tina and Duran Duran, but I will have to just live through her posts. Now I know how she felt when I met them after she headed home. I have heard they are adding dates in Texas in March, so I will hold onto that. I have to see them again, I’m kind of addicted.
I am seriously going through duranwithdrawals. What a cool year right? Duran Duran released their AWESOME album Paper Gods a year ago, and fans across the US got to see this amazing band perform shows that were so full of energy and life that even I was dancing for the entire show–right after my 4th surgery! I was lucky enough to go to 2 shows on the tour–Vegas and San Antonio. And in between the concerts, watching the Facebook roll calls from all of the cities was so much fun, it really made me feel I was on the road with them.
I, like many fans out there, am feeling depressed now that this North American tour has come to a close. I still have their Facebook page, but that is simply not enough. So I decided I want to share my stories of Duran Duran–how they’ve gotten me through my younger years, bad breakups, how my guardian angel has used Duran Duran over and over to give me signs, how they saved me from the dark hell of cancer.
I tried blogging before, but it never took off. I couldn’t think of things to post every day, so I gave up. So I wanted to start this new site by posting something I wrote a few years ago. Before the shit hit my fan and rocked my world (I’ll talk more about my cancer in future posts) I had one of the best nights of my life. But thankfully it wouldn’t be the last!
This was written after I met JT in 2012, at his book signing for “In The Pleasure Groove”.
Duran Duran has been my favorite band since I was an awkward teenager in braces at 14. I fell in love with them when I first heard “Is There Something I Should Know”. The music caught my ear, but one band member in particular, John Taylor, caught my eye among other things (come on girls, you know what I’m talking about!) While my love for this band and JT has evolved into more of an appreciation for their actual talent vs. hormonal teenage lust, it is still love nonetheless. And I was able to meet him.
The first D2 album I actually bought was “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”. I bought the cassette and practically wore it out within a couple weeks. It really sucked back then when you had to rewind a tape to play a song again! That tape was all I listened to. When I realized that I couldn’t get enough of their songs and was hungry for more, I bought the album “Duran Duran”, this time on vinyl because I knew there might be more pictures of the band and maybe lyrics inside (God I miss that). From this point forward it was all Duran all the time. Sure I liked Tears for Fears, A-ha, Simple Minds, but no one even came close to Duran.
My obsession started with me simply tearing a Duran Duran picture out of a Teen Beat magazine one day thinking “hey, I really like these guys” as I taped it to my wall, to me buying every last poster that was sold and covering every inch of my bedroom walls with their faces. I was spending my hard-earned babysitting cash buying everything I could with their picture or logo on it, from key chains and tee shirts, to painters caps and puffy stickers. I, like many teen girls at the time, even started trying to dress like them, buying a grey fedora and white Capezio shoes.
I owned every Duran video so my fellow Duranies and I could pause them on John and watch him in slow motion. The one video that never failed to make my friends and I scream with hormonal fervor was Save a Prayer, especially the scene where John was seated on an elephant–shirtless mind you–and the elephant was spraying water on him making him laugh. We died and went to heaven every time we watched that clip. I also wore out my copy of the Sing Blue Silver documentary, where they filmed their ’84 tour. As I watched all the other girls screaming and going crazy at the shows, I dreamed of the day I would get to see them in person. I never thought it would come.
The first time I saw John play live was with The Power Station, the band John and Andy formed with Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer. We had nosebleed seats way up in the balcony and couldn’t see the stage without binoculars, but the fact that we were in the same place HE was, listening to him play that bass LIVE, well, it was just too much to take. I can’t believe I didn’t pass out. I actually wore the fedora and those shoes to that concert, what a nightmare look for a girl. I actually thought if he saw me, he would be impressed with my wardrobe choice and think I was simply adorable. Braces, baggy clothes and all.
Then Duran Duran got back together, well almost. It was only three of them this time–John, Nick and Simon–to do the Notorious album and Strange Behaviour tour. It was 1987. They announced that they were going to be in Saratoga, NY and I died. I couldn’t believe they would be near enough for me to see them! I mean, I had Power Station memories, but this was Simon and Nick too! It was all I could think about! Not only was I going, but my dad, knowing how crazy I was for Duran Duran, arranged for a big, shiny, Wedding Singer-ish limo to take me and four other crazed friends to the show for a birthday gift. We were 17 and not only going to see them, but going in style. With a Chauffeur. We also got seats that were in the 10th row, a far cry from the Power Station show. I couldn’t take it–it totally consumed me. We crafted a banner from an old white sheet and adorned it with their traditional DD logo, a few other Duran drawings and a huge red heart, and we swore that Simon pointed to it and said something to us during the show (of course now I really don’t think that happened-we were delusional). We were absolutely delirious and high on Duran. All night after that concert, my friends and I relived it, playing the songs in the order that they played them, reminiscing about what Simon said and how John looked. We were living examples of what Strange Behaviour looked like! I have to say that even to this day, it was one of the best, most memorable nights of my life. I recently happened upon a You Tube video of the concert. Sigh.
I saw Duran Duran live again in 2005. I was 6 months pregnant, and headed down to Florida to visit my also pregnant best friend who had been there with me in the ’80s through the videos, both concerts, the limo, the screaming (she’s the one in the middle of the Power Station pic with the sweet NECKTIE). We had plans to see the original five back together–it was going to be a special night for us. But her dad passed away the morning I was flying in, so she couldn’t make the concert, which put a damper on what was supposed to be a perfect night. Still, I was on my swollen feet singing every song (knowing all the words mind you) and dancing with my pregnant belly, maternity pants and all, wishing the whole night that she could be there.
Years went by, my babies were born, and I kept up with Duran Duran, buying the albums as they were released just like I did when I was a teenager. I loved all of the songs, despite some of the negative reviews that were out there. I know even the best get slammed every now and then, but I don’t like it when people trash talk my guys! I always wished that John or Simon would write a memoir, so when I heard that John finally wrote one, I was ecstatic. I counted down the days until it came out. I kept reading on Facebook that he was doing book signings, and wondered what it would be like to actually meet him. I felt the same twinges of jealousy toward the lucky people in those cities that I did when I watched “Sing Blue Silver”. I kept checking for San Antonio Texas–of course, nothing. I gave up, but still eagerly anticipated the book release.
When browsing Facebook one day, I just happened to stumble across a comment on a Dallas friend’s post about the book tour. One of her friends mentioned that he was going to Austin, and it sucked that it wasn’t closer to her. I couldn’t believe it.
“John is coming to Austin. Austin is 90 minutes away from me.” I repeated over and over in my head. Then I started making excuses as to why I couldn’t go.
It was scheduled for a Friday night, so that meant I would have to make arrangements at work to get there on time. Then I would have to find someone to come with me–we wouldn’t have a sitter that night, so my husband couldn’t make the journey, and frankly I knew he really didn’t want to see his wife acting irrationally. I couldn’t think of anyone else that liked them like I did, so I wasn’t sure who to invite. Plus I absolutely hate driving, especially in rush hour to a place I am not familiar, it’s completely out of my comfort zone. But excuses and all, I just couldn’t get the thought of meeting him out of my head and the regret I would feel if I missed it. So on a whim, I asked my much younger friend who was only a baby when Duran Duran was at their peak to join me on this adventure. She agreed to come. This was actually going to happen! I went online to purchase my tickets–they weren’t sold out as I feared they may be at this point. And only 10 bucks! How could meeting JT only be 10 bucks???? Fate was on my side because the very next day the tickets were gone.
The day of the signing, I had the nervous stomach that you have when you are about to go on a first date–the butterflies, the near puking feeling. I could barely eat that day, and focusing on work was another issue. The day crawled along until it was 3:00. Time to go!
Nervously navigating my black Honda Odyssey minivan through heavy Austin rush hour traffic while listening to old Duran tunes and quizzing my young friend if she knew this one and that one, I was brought back to 1987–sitting with my fellow Duranies in that black stretch limo headed for the concert, giddy with delight about seeing our guys screaming and signing Duran Duran songs. I felt the same feelings I did as the 17 year old me.
As we stood in line waiting to get in, the stories started to fly. Here I was with fellow Duran fans, sharing our ‘careless memories’. I suddenly realized that I was not even close to being the biggest fan I believed I was for all those years (surely I spent the most time and money, sweat and tears on this band, right?). We all were the biggest fans. We all did the exact same things–pausing videos to scream, buying anything and everything Duran. We even started to try and one-up each other with our tales, and I found at times I couldn’t win! Some of the girls still had old souvenirs and mementos, mine were long gone. The one thing I had that most of them didn’t though, was that I was still a huge fan, it wasn’t just nostalgia. I actually owned all the newer albums that most of them didn’t. I couldn’t stop singing Duran Duran’s praises. At one point, someone in line said I should do PR for them. (I’m working on that.)
My friend got us seats a few rows back from the stage, then went out to grab some drinks for us so I wouldn’t miss anything. While sitting there alone waiting for him to come out, I was anxious. The story sharing continued with some other women in the audience, but I was zoned out–too busy planning what I would say in my head to really focus on any more trips down memory lane. I admired this person so much and wanted him to know what he meant to me. My friend returned and I downed the cheap house red wine she brought to calm my nerves, spilling some on my precious book. Luckily, it wiped off easily with my sweater sleeve. Whew. I wanted to tell him something witty and funny, because that is what I do best–make people laugh with my stories. I thought maybe I could make a joke, then mention something only a true fan would know, like his solo song “I Do What I Do To Have You” which would indeed impress him. We would have a nice chat, a laugh or two, and he would think to himself, “wow, that girl is cool”. I was snapped back to reality when I noticed a tall dark figure pass the doorway through the lobby area. “It’s him”, I shrieked to my friend who was now laughing at me. When he finally came out on stage, I was bubbling with excitement, fighting the urge to get on my feet and scream JOHN while throwing my bra or some piece of clothing on stage. What the hell was happening to me? I wish I could say it was the wine, but it was something else.
I calmed down and really enjoyed the presentation. The reading was incredible– John was funny, witty, smart and still looking good. Way to go JT! I was very impressed by him, by the road he traveled and where he is today. I forgot for a minute that there was still more to this night–meeting him. Again, I was a mess.
My friend was a trooper the whole night, taking care of me like she was my mother. While in line waiting for the signing, I was progressively growing more nervous and shaky. Whatever cool I thought I had in me was slipping away fast. I tried to pull myself together and kept telling myself that he is just a person, that this is a cool experience and nothing to get worked up about. I then got the idea that I would ask him if he could say a quick hello to the friend that could not be at the concert in 2005 and another friend that couldn’t be at the signing. It was all going to be fine.
I neared the stage and knew that this may not go well at all. When I caught the first close-up glimpse of him sitting behind the desk signing books, I could feel my heart practically jump out of my chest. I was feeling vertigo and would definitely trip up the stairs if I didn’t get a grip. Wouldn’t that be a scene! My hands were really shaking at this point. I was getting the phone ready to take my video but worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it right with my frayed nerves. All I could hear is my friend saying she would get pictures, not to worry. I couldn’t feel my legs, but I was walking, each step closer to ‘the moment’. I was a freaking basket case. As I climbed the stairs all I could hope for is that I wouldn’t fall flat on my face. I reached the top and there HE was, right in front of me.
If a psychic would have told me in 1987 that I would be here in this moment standing right in front of JOHN TAYLOR, I would have just died right there after screaming for about 30 minutes.
I managed to mumble, “would you say hi to my friends Paula and Amy please” and he looked up at me and said “hi Paula and Amy please” flashing that same smile that I remember from all those years ago. Age may have put a few lines on his face, but didn’t take that smile. It was right then that I completely and utterly lost it. “THANK YOU OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I WASN’T SURE WHAT I WOULD SAY TO YOU UP HERE” the words just flew from my mouth in the most high pitched squealing tone you’ve ever heard. I was not talking, someone else was. It was the 17 year old me. I had officially lost my mind. I blew it!!!
“I think you found the words” he said back with another smile.
I tried to get my iPhone to go back to camera mode so I could capture this smile forever, but I couldn’t work the phone at this point. I wasn’t even sure if I got the video. I was quite simply an utter mess. I was even asked very firmly by one of the assistants to leave the stage, you know, to let others get their books signed–this wasn’t all about me. I should have felt like crawling into a hole, but I was too elated for that. I MET JOHN TAYLOR. The embarrassment would come later as I watched the video back on my phone and could hear my squeals of delight.
Is it bad when you’re feeling this good?
Are we all misunderstood?
It’s fine, going out of my mind
Going out of my mind, going out of my mind
Pressure Off, Paper Gods
Note: Little did I know then that it wouldn’t be the first time I would meet a member of Duran Duran, but more on that in another post…