Lancient History

You can take the woman out of her teens, but you can’t take the screaming teen out of the woman

Happy album release day, Duran Duran.

I grew up listening to Country & Western, almost exclusively. In our house, it was Willie, and Waylon, and Merle, Loretta, Dolly, and Patsy. Now and then I’d hear the Eagles or Elvis, but it was solid twang coming out of our stereos, with nary a hint of electric guitar. My mother loved disco, and she would play the Bee Gees and Barbra Streisand’s album of duets with Barry Gibb, but if I wanted to hear Chic or Elton John (and I did, oh, I did!), I had to wait until we went to the swimming pool and hope some teenager was already there with a loud transistor radio.

In sixth grade, a schoolmate came back from her winter break in London and brought a 12″ single by a band called Duran Duran. For whatever reason, our Spanish teacher let her play the album in class, and I was transfixed. Girls on Film. I was less impressed with the pictures of the band. Boys wearing makeup? Ew.

That attitude prevailed until the next summer, when Jamie and I reconnected at camp. She explained the beauty of the Taylor Taylor Taylor Rhodes LeBon quorum, and doled out Roger and Andy as my imaginary celebrity boyfriends. I balked. I didn’t want the short ones! I ended up with John and Andy, if I wanted him. Jamie got Simon, Nick, and Roger. A year later, I would try to pull the same stunt with Karen, for whose fandom I was responsible. She was my Duran Duran Padawan, and just as rebellious a one as I had been. She balked at Roger and Andy, too. I kept John, she got Nick, and we shared Simon back and forth.

Jamie actually owned pop music. I owned a Barbara Mandrell tape and got to play Blondie on the jukebox at the Waffle House. That was the closest to pop I had come. Jamie made me some tapes, and I cherished them like Gollum and the One Ring. (Then, a 7th grade science teacher –swearsies, the science teacher–convinced me that Duran Duran were devil worshippers and I would go to hell for listening to them, and I threw away my precious tape. A couple of weeks later, I decided I would risk hell and bought my very first cassette tape. 7 and the Ragged Tiger.)

The two of us spent our summer at Six Flags Over Texas, pumping quarters into the video machines to watch Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf, and buying trinkets to paint with, “Nick loves Jamie,” and “John loves Lane,” along with the biggest posters we could afford. Jamie made me a tiny photo album filled with pictures she had collected of John Taylor, and I carried it with me for good luck. We were silly, happy, baby-teens. We even figured out how we could tunnel under Reunion Arena to sneak in to see the band. All that was stopping us, in our thirteen-year-old glory, was not knowing how to get a bull dozer. (Wilier fans just hid under tableclothes on rolling tea trays. Wily, we were not.)

For Christmas that year, my mother bought me a casio mini keyboard, and I learned to play 7th Stranger. Badly. Repeatedly. I think my mother regretted that more than the Easy Bake Oven. She could fake eating the “cakes” I kept baking her until I ran out of cake mix (which she refused to replenish), but she couldn’t unhear me in my bedroom plinking away, slaving over the sheet music (I couldn’t read music then) and trying to hunt and peck my way into some semblence of melody. It was worse when I started trying to play Save a Prayer. I’m a vocalist, not an instrumentalist. That is well established. Like the fact that I am an eater, not a chef.

Aside from torturing my parents with my newfound musical tastes, and driving my father mad by wallpapering my bedroom in tear-outs from the magazines kept in business by my fandom, Duran Duran actually led me into some cultural awakenings.

I followed Simon LeBon’s lyrics into the school library, where I scandalized the librarian by checking out Candide and some dirty letters written by Voltaire–I wouldn’t have known they were dirty if she hadn’t told me. Kind of like when I read the Wife of Bath’s tale and just blinked and tilted my head a lot. Huh? Of course, reading Voltaire led me to Rousseau, and then I was off chasing after French Revolutionaries for five years. Interviews with Nick Rhodes sent me back to the library to check out Surrealism and sundry other art movements, and quite honestly, informed my whole outlook on modern art. John Taylor mentioned the books he was reading, so I read them. We have very different literary tastes, he and I. Roger never said anything, and Andy…well, Andy never said anything I thought worth following up on, so I can’t say that he was any influence at all. Also, Thunder stank.

I made friends who were also Duran Duran fans. Some were shocking in their balls out stalking-fanatacism, others practiced my milder forms of worship. In any case, just about every one of those friendships led to something else interesting.

Twenty years ago, you’d have found me at Sound Warehouse today, hoping to be the first to get the new album out of the cellophane, bouncing around with other Duranies. Since it is the age of the internet now, I’ve been hearing the first single for a couple of weeks and heard the whole album last week. Instead of meeting up with friends at the record store, I’m watching Facebook explode with the enthusiasm of my wasted youth.

Anyway, cheers to Duran Duran. I don’t care what anyone says, Wild Boys never lose it.



Leslieann, Renae, Wedding-Me, Sarah, Jamie, and Karen.

I’m feeling nostalgic tonight, and enjoying memories of the women who walked me down the aisle.  You’ve already met them, but just in case you missed anyone, these are Leslieann, Renae, Jamie, and Karen.  When Sarah-Mac is old enough for me to feel comfortable posting about her on the internet, we’ll add her to the mix.  Until then, she can be adorably anonymous-ish.

I am a fortunate woman.

Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Karen

8th grade started out as a pretty decent year for me.  I wasn’t the new girl, having attended the same school for two years in a row, and I had actual friends, and was sharing a locker with one of them.  So, when the newest new girl showed up in my homeroom class after Christmas break, I was glad not to be the one having to find her way around, make new friends, and figure out a locker.  Sadly for her, when they tried to put her in my locker, it became apparent that I had gotten my own roommate ahead of time.  That was Karen’s first impression of me.  No room in the inn.

But soon enough, we bonded over the mutual threat of another girl who was determined to make haystacks of us in P.E. class.  Also, Karen introduced me to the Sweet Valley High novels, and I never turn down the chance to make a friend with someone who shares books.  In return, I introduced her to Duran Duran.  She still hasn’t forgiven me.  Discovering we lived near one another, we started walking home together.  Fifteen years later, we were sharing an apartment.

I have known Karen for so long, and so well that I’m having a hard time introducing her.  It’s like trying to describe my arm.  She’s just part of me.  But she is the dedicated, disciplined part.  She is the part that will practice, and study, and rehearse.  She is the part that will do whatever it takes to get the job done, and make it look effortless.  She is the part who will have your Mary Kay party even if she is allergic to the stuff.  She is the part who will come to the hospital just to hold your hand, when hospitals are horrifying to her.  She is the part that takes in stray kittens, even though they make her sneeze.  She is the part who will work hard to make sure you have everything you need.  She is the only person (other than his grandparents) I have ever asked to pick up Thor.  In short, you should know her.

Meet Karen.

First Name: Karen
Age Range (teens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc.): Thirties
Job Title: Administrative Assistant
Industry: Finance

Who are you?: At any given point in time, I am a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a niece, an aunt, a comedienne, a musician, a confidante, a mentor, a friend… Like most women, I don’t fit into one box. Who I am is defined not only by me, but also the circumstances in which I find myself.

At the office, I am a very efficient professional secretary (an outdated term, but accurate, nonetheless). I work hard to maintain a professional and approachable image. My duties demand discretion and accuracy, but also reach into the realm of mentor and cheerleader (and occasionally “camp counselor”) to the other members of the office team.

Off the clock, I am a musician. Sometimes that requires being a clown. Sometimes that requires a great deal of propriety. A wedding requires a great deal more decorum than a concert designed to entertain grade-school children. All of it requires focus and skill – not only interpreting the music, but also interpreting the audience’s mood and expectations.

I have many friends, but I doubt more than two or three would describe me the same way. Those who have known me the longest would probably have the hardest time, as our roles in each others’ lives have grown and evolved over the years.

Describe Your Family: My family started off traditionally enough. Two parents, two older brothers, four grandparents – lots of cousins, some of whom I still don’t know – the standard childhood menagerie of dogs and cats, even a raccoon at one time. Eventually, my brothers moved out to go to college, and my parents decided to become gypsies – not really, but we did move quite a bit during my teen years. I had to make new friends (frequently), then I had to deal with sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews. It was all very confusing; however, in recent years, I have come to discover that my friends have become the family I have chosen, rather than the family I was born to. I’m exceptionally lucky in that some members of my biological family are also members of my chosen family. [Since answering these questions, Karen has become engaged.  I wouldn’t be doing my job as a nosy friend if I didn’t edit him into this picture.]

What does the first hour of your day look like? The very first hour of my day looks very blurry as I attempt to wake up, get dressed and drive to the office.

What does the last hour of your day look like? I typically use the last hour of the day to wind down: I determine what clothes I need to wear (I’m too fuzzy-headed in the morning to make rational decisions about attire); it’s not unusual for me to take a shower or bath before getting ready for bed; and finally, I like to read for a little while in bed before going to sleep.