I haven’t written for a while. I will admit I’ve felt somewhat discouraged lately about my writing, so I stopped. No excuses, other than I am having a hard time getting this blog thing to take off. I’ve tried Tweeting the link, posting it on Duran’s FB page, sharing on FB, and tagging with every word I can think of to attract people, but I just am not getting the readers I envisioned. I am not a very patient person, anyone that knows me knows that, so after several posts and no real followers, I started thinking maybe I needed to focus on something that really mattered, something that could help people. When I had the idea of this blog and shared with my mom, she questioned the idea of incorporating Duran Duran into my story, saying that it might limit my audience. But, I held true to my vision and soldiered on for a while. Sadly though, the discouraged feelings really started setting in and that itch and excitement I felt at the beginning faded. I started to believe that maybe this WAS not the best idea, that maybe my writing just isn’t that great and blogging is a waste of time.
A couple weeks ago, I did some heavy soul searching, asking myself what it is that truly makes me happy and fulfilled. Of course spending time with my family and my kids is number one, but also listening to my favorite band and helping others and writing were top on my list. I realized at that moment that I am not writing to become famous or get thousands of readers, I am doing it for ME. If just one person reads it and likes it, that’s all I need. And I decided I am not going to change a thing about this blog, especially the Duran Duran references. This is my way of saying thanks to a band that has brought me joy in so many dark times. I just wish they could read it. Or at least another Duranie. Someone. Anyone. Is there anyone out there, anyone out there…
My blog is unique and won’t be everyone’s cup of English Breakfast. But if I touch at least one person, then I have done my job. And writing is good therapy. So here I am back at it.
On Wednesday, I was able to see my favorite band for the 3rd time this tour. It doesn’t get old. I was dancing my ass off the entire show, while I saw other fans sitting! Not sure how you could spend that much on floor tickets and sit still while there is such energy all around. Duran makes me forget about anything negative and stressful and I am in another world for 2 hours. What a great way to spend an evening with good friends I don’t often see. I want to go again. And again. And again.
I am at a point in my life where I want to make some changes. But that’s not always easy– I’m not 20 years old and single, able to do whatever I want whenever I want. I can’t just pick up and move to the beach, or quit my job to write full time. I realize this, but I also realize that life is too short and you need to be happy. There are a couple of things that are up in the air right now for me and the family, and I have been really hoping and praying this one ‘big thing’ happens for us. I know in my heart it’s right, but life has a way of going in directions that you can’t control. Of course if you’ve read my posts, you know that I really believe in signs and guardian angels. Once again, the other day I was headed to work and I had no idea what song was in queue on my shuffle to play. I was in one of those moods where I just want this so much that it exhausts me just thinking about it. None of the Above is a song from the Wedding Album–the album that brought Duran and I back together after a short break (sorry boys, I can’t imagine life without you now, but for a time I was forced into being a Stones and Zeppelin fan, not that there is anything wrong with that, but they aren’t you). The song never really had any meaning to me other than it was a catchy tune, but on this day as I was sitting in the usual rush hour traffic, I heard some lyrics that summed it all up perfectly. No matter what happens, I am enjoying myself right now and leaving it all up to the universe. Shouldn’t take a health scare to make you do that, but for me that is exactly what needed to happen. I know things will work out they way they should. And I am no longer afraid to be myself. I don’t care so much what others might think like I used to. And it feels amazing.
There was a time I was so afraid
Of everything people around me said
That I wanted to hide my face in the shadows
There was a time on a bed of nails
I was dreaming a plan I thought could not fail
But no power under the sun could pull it together
I can’t take this attitude
Got to show now I got to move on
God knows where I’m going to
Its a lonely burning question…
If I had the choice, I would have cancer all over again.
That might seem completely ridiculous to you, but honestly it’s true.
Because I am working on this blog and my book, I’ve been forced to reflect on the last couple of years of my life and pull out memories — some bad, some good. I’ve been thinking of all the people I’ve met and grown close to because of this crappy disease, thinking of how much more I am enjoying life than I used to. Cancer also taught me a lot about myself–what I truly want to do in life, where I want my life to go. Right before I was diagnosed, I was in a classic RUT. I was so tired of being a spectator in life, a Facebook junkie, that would peruse other people’s lives and wonder why mine wasn’t fulfilling. I would see what other people were accomplishing, whether it was running a 5k, or landing a great new job. I wanted MY thing that made ME interesting. But I just couldn’t figure out how or what I truly wanted. And how to get there.
I have a great husband and family. I adore my kids more than anything in this world. I have a decent career and we live a comfortable life. But I still felt something was missing. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and a blog, but just wasn’t feeling the story. All the soul searching I was doing wasn’t getting me anywhere. Then BAM. Cancer came and while it was living hell, it changed so much in my life. For the better. As I sit here writing and writing and writing, I know that had to happen for this to happen.
Now, I want to make sure I note that while I’m happy about where my life is headed and a lot of it is because I went through a health crisis, I do not want that nasty C thing back ever again. And I don’t plan on it coming back. I despise the word cancer and what it has taken from so many people I care about. I hate the PTSD that I have to endure on a regular basis. Yes, cancer survivors have PTSD. And it sucks.
When I found out I had “nasty C thing”, I sat in bed and searched frantically for blogs, sites, anything I could read that would help. I stumbled across breastcancer.org and saw that there were chat boards where you could discuss things with other women in your situation. This was new territory for me, reaching out to complete strangers, but I needed to talk to someone that actually knew what I was feeling, not someone giving me advice or trying to comfort me with words that actually made things worse. Like the one time someone at work said, “My cousin had breast cancer. She died. But that was because she waited too long to get it checked out and she was advanced. But you-you caught it early!” (Yes, someone did actually say this to me, believe it or not. But I know she meant well…)
One day on the breast cancer site, someone posted that she was brand new to the site and starting chemo in March. Perfect, because that was going to be me too. Brand new to this hell ride with the chemo exit fast approaching, I started chatting with her. One by one our chemo group started to grow and it was becoming more difficult to keep up with the posts, so someone suggested we branch off to a private group in Facebook. And we’ve been friends ever since. From across the globe as far as New Zealand, and all over the US, women connecting and helping each other. We were talking each other off ledges, giving each other advice, listening. Only knowing each other through the world wide web, through typed messages and emoticons, we were still building a special bond just the same. As of today, some of us have met, but many of us have not. But I feel like I’ve known these women forever. I would have never had honor of meeting them, had I not had cancer.
We were doing this little thing in our group where we featured one person for a week, and that person would answer a questionnaire and share photos etc. It was a way for us to get to know more about each other on a personal level, vs only talking about “nasty c” This was so cool, because it truly showed how different we all were. One girl– an avid motorcyclist, one an environmentalist. There was a new mom who was pregnant while going through chemo. A world traveler. Some of these women had such amazing and interesting stories, that when I posted mine, I felt that it was a little, well, boring. Of course I mentioned my love for Duran Duran in my post, I had to. Tina reached out to me immediately when she realized we shared this love in common.
I met Tina about a year after we started chatting in the group. She was visiting San Antonio, so we went to lunch. I had only talked with her online at this point, but it was like lunching with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in ages. I now understood how people could online date and fall for someone without meeting face to face! She was so much like me and I knew if she could ever meet my other friends they would click too. I knew this was more than a support group member, this was a lifetime friend. After meeting in person, Tina and I would talk a lot on the phone when either of us was having a bad day, or a PTSD moment, or just needed to vent. She had also been a recruiter, like me, so when I was having job issues she was the ear I needed, and she kept me sane.
We always said if Duran Duran went on tour we would meet up again and see them. At first, there were hardly any tour dates, so the likelihood of going was slim. But then we got word that they were adding dates for North America, we immediately got on the phone and started the planning. We decided Vegas was a good choice. Austin was near me of course, but it was too close to one of my major surgery dates and I could NOT risk not feeling well enough to go, so that was out. And Vegas was my birthday weekend, another bonus. It just was meant to be. I immediately called my best friend and “sister” Paula who has been with me through thick and thin and a Duranie since the 80s and pitched the idea to her. I thought how amazing it would be for her to meet Tina and have this weekend with such special friends. She was in. She was in need of a girls weekend like I was, so it didn’t take much convincing. And remember, she was not able to go to the 2005 concert because her dad passed away, so this would finally be our night to shine.
This trip was planned in January and I could hardly stand the anticipation for the months leading up to it. I searched high and low online for the right shirt we could all wear and I found it, “Duran Crazy” it said with John’s picture splashed on the front. Perfect, I thought as I placed 3 in my Amazon Prime cart. We all had to match after all!
This trip meant so many things to me.
A long awaited weekend getaway with an old and dear friend, my Bestie. We had done mini weekends in Florida before, but this was different. We were going somewhere away from kids and obligations. And it was a long time coming. We needed this time to reconnect, to bond.
It meant a reunion with Tina, who I considered a dear friend but had only met in person once, just for that lunch. Only this time it wouldn’t be a 2 hour conversation about our cancer experiences it would be FUN.
It meant a reunion with another member of our support group, who just happened to be in Vegas at a conference at the time, someone that Tina hadn’t met in person before.
It meant a trip down memory lane–Paula and I were going to see an old high school friend from the good old days, simpler days when life’s biggest challenge was picking which bar you would go to–would you stay in town and go to Joe’s and sing Wham at karaoke, or would you venture out to Albany where the bars were a bit cooler and people more interesting? Kent was a blast and I knew we would have lots of laughs again. And we’d meet his wife, also a Duranie!
This trip meant a new beginning.
When I got off the plane and waited for my luggage, I heard the loud dance music playing, signaling I wasn’t just anywhere, but in VEGAS. Right there as I watched the bags going round and round the carousel, I got emotional. I was excited to see Paula and get the weekend started, I was excited to see Tina and introduce them, and I was excited to see my boys. I had to fight the urge to bawl as I pulled my bag off the belt.
Tina had brought her cousin Samantha and all of us immediately clicked. It was like we were all old friends that hadn’t seen each other in a long time. As we clinked our champagne glasses and toasted the weekend, I forgot all about cancer. ALL ABOUT IT.
When we got to the Mandalay Bay, we were all beside ourselves. All decked out in our shirts, buzzed on drinks and high on seeing Duran, we were having the time of our lives. The opening act was incredible, Chic put on one hell of a dance party. The songs “We are Family” and “Good Times” pretty much summed up the weekend. And Nile Rodgers talked about his cancer diagnosis and how he was told to get his affairs in order. But he survived and has been cancer free for 5 years. Filled with emotion I screamed out in support. F U cancer!
When the lights went down signaling that Duran Duran was about to start, I was still out in the lobby area coming back from the restroom. I went into full on panic mode. I couldn’t miss the opening song! I frantically pulled my ticket from my purse, and ran to the first entry point I saw, not even checking to see if it was my section. Nope. “Your section is down that way,” the attendant said pointing down yonder. He could see how distressed I was, so he let me in and I ran at top speed to get to my seat. JUST IN TIME. The thunder and lightning effects started and the lights finally came on to reveal DURAN DURAN.
I sang at the top of my lungs. I screamed. I cried when they played Ordinary World, Come Undone and Save a Prayer. So many emotions and feelings came over me at that show and it was the most amazing feeling. I was saying goodbye to the past and “nasty C” and hello to my new life. I was reliving some of the good times of my past through songs like The Reflex, and creating new memories and letting go with new ones like Pressure Off. This was my movie soundtrack.
I’m not gonna sleep tonight
Till the morning fills the sky
No one’s getting left behind
This is our time
This is our time!
We’re gonna live this night, yeah
Live it like it’s our last night
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…