Ordinary World

It wasn’t bad as far as summer jobs were concerned.

It was rock and roll, kind of.

By day, I babysat, and by night, I looked after famous people, or looked after the people who were there to see famous people.

There weren’t many women on the security detail at the summer concert venue where I worked.  The uniform was pretty awful, a short sleeve pinstripe oxford and ill-fitting blue khakis, but I managed to make it mine by wearing a tank top as an exposed undershirt, a wide leather belt, and my ever present Doc Martens.

It was a party, at least when our shift ended.  There was either a keg or a bar or the occasional bonfire on the beach.  It was college.  It was summer.

It was a coveted job.  There were perks.  Most nights, I was assigned a station in vantage point of the stage and got to watch a show while making sure the patrons didn’t block the aisles, or I was assigned a position back stage, and had the perverse pleasure of observing how certain celebrities  behaved off the clock.  There was the female singer who ran into the wings in between songs to take drags of a cigarette held by her assistant.  There was the mega talented musician whose contract stated that no one was allowed to make eye contact with him between the green room and the stage.  There were the drunk wives of rock stars and there were groupies and sometimes, there were both.

It was 1993. Soundgarden was the opening band for Neil Young.   Someone set the mosh pit on fire during the Metallica concert.  Ten Thousand Maniacs performed one of their last shows there together, before announcing the band would split up.

I chatted with rock stars before they went on stage.  And while I was way too cool on the exterior to ever admit how much this excited me, it was all pretty trippy to a kid who had spent most of her formative years as a star struck fan to one band or another.

I started young, with musician love.  The early 80’s brought on an explosion of bands branded for the teeny boppers like me.

But there was never a band that hit me as fast or as furiously as Duran Duran.

Before U2 and Before Nirvana, there were the boys from Birmingham.

I knew their middle names.  I knew their birthdays and their favorite foods. I spent my allowance money on Tiger Beat magazine and stayed up hours into the night to catch the Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf video on MTV.

I had a favorite band member, and like most of the world, it was John Taylor who had won my undying devotion.  I can’t tell you the number of fights I had with fellow JT worshippers over which one of us he’d marry.

While my infatuation with all things DD had simmered years before my 1993 summer job, somewhere inside me, the flame still burned for Simon, John, Nick, Roger, and Andy.

The Arts Center was packed and so was the stage.  The Duran Duran crew arrived with an elaborate set that took most of the day to assemble.  It was a hot late July evening and due to the sold out crowd, security was in full force.

I spent most of the concert that I most wanted to see at the rear stage door, close enough to hear the band, but unable to see them.

On my ten minute break, I ran out into the audience to catch a few minutes of the show, and greeted them while they were in the chorus of this song.

They were glorious.

My supervisor moved me to another post, this time to back stage right.  It would be a long evening at this post, since typically whoever was assigned to back stage had to stay until the stagehands cleared the sets after the show.  I imagined they would be tearing down that set until two o’clock in the morning.

Surprisingly, at 11:30, my supervisor told me to go home.  While I was relieved to not have to stay through the striking of the set, there was a disappointment, to be leaving the venue without as much of a close up glance of the band that defined my childhood.

While heading for the side stage exit, the door to the nearby green room opened. I was in such a hurry to sign out from my shift that I almost didn’t notice the tall, square jawed man who had emerged.  I almost didn’t look up to see him as he approached and almost passed me.

As I walked, I glanced up startled, to find him a mere three feet away.

I was gawking.  I didn’t care.

I’m sure he didn’t care either.  I imagine he was used to it.

“Great set,” I said to him, finally able to speak.

“Thanks,” he said, with a gracious smile, and then continued walking.

There he was, and there he went.

That night stands out to me two decades later for many reasons, for meeting a childhood idol for sure, but it was more than that.  That night was a reminder to me that life is full of surprises, great surprises, and that we should always expect the unexpected, in the best way possible.

Unlike the lyrics of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, there is no ordinary world, except for the one that exists in our minds. Life is extraordinary.  Every minute of it.  There is no such thing as mundane, except for what we make mundane.   For, there is beauty and miracles and wonder and surprises and opportunity all around us, when we’re looking.

Life is a miracle waiting to happen…and with a tiny shift in perspective,  the miracle that’s waiting for you can happen right now.





Ordinary World — 79 Comments

    • Twenty years ago this month and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of those moments when life slowed down. It was extraordinary. And yes, life is always extraordinary. Oh, to remember that more often!

  1. I think you’re right. Life is so extraordinary. I’ve always been about making and finding those moments..and learning they’re not always as grand and obvious as I would have thought.

    You’re going to be so mad at my story but my sister (yes, Lindsay) and I were visiting a Tower Records in Orlando once and we heard a mad commotion. I saw a few men so I waved to them and the waved back and were whisked into a special part of the store. I asked the manager, “who did I just wave to?”

    “Duran Duran.”

    They were there for some event. I ran to tell Lindsay and she didn’t even care. Who did she think she was?! Anyway..I waved and they waved back!
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  2. Lindsay is radio royalty! I would imagine she’s…unaffected? I bet DD would get more excited to meet her than her meeting them! Ha! But not me. I swooned inside when Mr. Taylor gave me a smile along with his one word: “Thanks.”

    And yes, those extraordinary moments aren’t always so obvious. But they’re there!

    • It was such a great moment! It’s fun to look back on it. Here’s to our extraodorinary lives – today and always. xo

    • It was a great summer job. I worked security that one summer and in the office the next two. Perfect for a girl who loved music and bands as much as I did. I never saw that random meetup with JT coming – it always reminds me that you never know what’s coming at us next!

  3. What a wonderful reminder! I would have been so awe struck (although I was into Adam Ant and not so much DD). It is truly amazing what can happen in life with just a blink of the eye. Thank you for sharing one of your moments.
    Carli recently posted…Real Into Reads No. 19My Profile

    • In a blink of an eye. Life brings the best surprises. And I loved Adam Ant! We would have totally listened to music together.

  4. Such a great memory and so fitting with your point about life’s surprises. I’m of the TRL generation and I have TOO many memories of friends running to Times Square afterschool to shriek hysterically at whatever boy band was chatting up Carson Daly that day. One friend even made it to set to meet her idol, Ginger Spice of Spice Girls (um, she’d kill me if she ever read this!). But I remember how star struck we all were and the thrill of possibly meeting people we’d obsessed over who had no clue who we were. There’s a wonder to that and it gets lost as we get older- if we let it. Thanks for reminding us to keep our eyes and hearts open for those experiences! 🙂

    • There is so much awe and wonder in the possibility of meeting those people when you’re a kid. It does wear off when we become adults, but I think it wears off in a “good way,” where we realize that these celebrities are people “just like us” who happen to have extraordinary jobs. But then I remind myself – all of our lives are extraordinary, just in different ways.

      I promise to never tell your friend that you spilled about the Spice Girls here!

  5. That is so cool!! I loved Duran Duran, too. Great memories associated with their music. What a neat job that must have been…I’m not one to be starstruck, but I’m sure it is interesting how some “celebrities” act when the public isn’t watching.

    I like the message, too. I was just thinking yesterday about how my life has been sadly lacking in happy surprises. I probably need to get a better mindset. Perhaps this story will help me with that!
    Julie recently posted…One Nightstand.My Profile

    • It was a great job for people watching, for sure. And it was definitely the right job for me. And yes, life is full of happy surprises. Sometimes a change of mindset is all it takes to remind ourselves of that! Wishing you lots of happy surprises today and always.

  6. How fun Illene. What a great post and story. Like you I get a bit star struck. I’ve never had any close encounters with rock stars — but I remember in college when The Police (they still were a group back then) came on the stage and I saw Sting. I about fainted. Don’t know what would have happened if I ran into him face to face. What an awesome analogy. What do I always assume the only surprises a day will bring will be bad ones? Now I’m looking for my Simon Le Bon moment.
    Jamie@SouthMainMuse recently posted…Knowledge is power — in changing bike tires and blogging.My Profile

    • I loved the Police. I would have fainted over Sting too. I actually had the luck of seeing them perform together in one of their last ever shows together. They were an amazing band. I hope you have your Simon LeBon moment. Every star struck music fan deserves one of those!

  7. Teenage-me is so jealous. 🙂
    I have loved lots of music over the years, but Duran Duran hit me fast an furious, too. I knew lots of little factoids and stayed up late into the night watching TV hoping for a glimpse of an interview or one of their videos. (My crush was Simon – so you and I wouldn’t have argued over JT!)
    So true that you never know what is around the bend, what extraordinary surprises wait for us. I love that John Taylor and Duran Duran were a part of that realization for you. 🙂
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    • We would have been PERFECT together you and me. My favorite “stay up late with” BFF for sure. Or, you at your house and me at mine, on the phone while watching MTV and waiting devotedly for their next showing of Rio or Hungry like the wolf. And yes, Simon for you and John for me. No fighting that way!

  8. My first record, (well after the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie) was a Duran Duran album, because my babysitter shared your love for them and I, in turn, loved anything my babysitter loved (Days of Our Lives was also on the list). For me, it was Bon Jovi and I just saw them in concert for the first time two Februarys ago. I LOVED it!

    My summer jobs, painting houses for my dad and working for an ice cream shop, which did actually have me rubbing elbows with a few famous athletes (how long did it take me to realize that Philip Houssis was in fact Mark Philippoussis and that was just his last name), were not nearly as glamorous!
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    • Your babysitter and I would have been best friends, for sure. I too was a huge “Days” fan in Jr. high and high school. And I love Bon Jovi. How could I not? I’m a Jersey Girl. I never met John BonJovi but I did run my shopping cart into him (by accident!) in Whole Foods a few years ago. I uttered a polite excuse me, sorry and slumped away.

    • The posters are still on the walls in the basement of my mother’s house. Love Love Love LOVE! We would have been BFF’s, Ashley, but we already know that. But now, we would have been Duran Duran BFF’s – that’s like a whole other level of Bff-dom. xo

    • I love concerts and when I was younger, I went at them fast and furiously. There were so many, and I loved every one of them. I have only seen Bon Jovi once – which is a crime, given I’m a Jersey girl. But I do love them. And Duran Duran – yes! How I love me some of them!

  9. Oh my GOD that is the most awesome summer job EVER. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, and I totally would NOT have come up with any words. I would have squeaked and died of amazement.
    Jester Queen recently posted…Look HomewardMy Profile

    • One of my friends on Facebook made a comment that she was surprised how, someone like me, who was never at a loss for words, couldn’t think of anything more to say to JT than “Nice set.” But really? I’m lucky I didn’t squeak and die of amazement myself! And it was the best ever summer job. Lots of stores. So many stories…

    • At one point, my knowledge of Duran Duran trivia could have excelled what Google could pull up. Probably not so much anymore. But yes. Birmingham. That’s one I never forgot.

  10. Oh my GAWD!!!! I had NO idea you used to have that cool job, Ilene! What an amazing experience to learn first hand, how famous people act close up in real life. I bet you ROCKED that job too…

    What a dream come true. And isn’t it truly amazing that it comes full circle with your text? Never an accident these things… never. 🙂
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    • That job was awesome. There was a new band in there every night and some kind of drama or excitement or someone new to meet. It was a lot of fun. Especially for someone who stalked I mean, loved as many bands as I did!

    • Oh, I knew what you meant! Speaking of stalking, I mean loving, I have saved that Tweet as a JPEG and plan to keep it forever!

    • You never know who’s going to walk into a Kmart! I’m sure you met all kinds, just as I met all kinds at the Arts Center!

  11. Swoon! Swoonity, swoon! Not only did I love John Taylor, but I always wanted to take a picture of him to the hairdresser so I could get my hair cut like that. It’s good that I didn’t because a 14 year old girl in the back end of Brooklyn really can’t pull off rock star hair.
    Jen Anderson recently posted…A Conspiracy of AuntiesMy Profile

    • Jen, we would have been the bestest bestity BFF’s ever…except for the fact that we’d both have argued over which one of us was going to marry John! And I wanted his hair too! Fortunately, for me, my hairdresser made me settle for a bad perm – because I don’t think the rock star hair would have gone over well in these parts either.

      • Oh no, I was in live with a different band member each day of the week. I could’ve saved John for the days we weren’t going to see each other. I even crushed on Nick once, even though the makeup totally blew my mind. Now, I’m kinda bummed that my husband is so not the guy to pull off guyliner.
        Jen Anderson recently posted…A Conspiracy of AuntiesMy Profile

        • Guyliner can be kind of hot, right? Like vintage Ray Liotta. Yeah, we could have worked something out on rotation as far as John goes. I’m all about compromise!

    • So many memories with concerts. They were a huge part of my growing up years – although I guess I’m still in those growing up years, but you know what I mean. Here is to life being extraordinary! xo

  12. This is one of my all time fave posts of yours Ilene! Loved it! I was totally in to this story, having loved so many of the same groups. I LOVE the song Ordinary World and am now singing it out loud! And as I try to make my way…
    What an awesome job!
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    • Thank you my friend! I love that song too! I ran to it on my iPod yesterday and was thinking about this post and the associated memory. We will have to get caught up on all the bands we loved as kids – I’m not surprised we have this in common! xo

  13. All I kept thinking while I was reading this was, “OMG, OMG, OMG!”. My blog tag line is “Born to love food, fitness, family and Duran Duran” so this absolutely hit home with me.

    I’ve never met them either (and it’s Simon who still does it for me – sans the crazy ass Salvador Dali mustache he was sporting awhile ago) but got the thrill of my life going to the fan concert at Terminal 5 in NYC last June where I was second row. I seriously don’t want to leave the earth without meeting SLB and one day I know I will.

    Glad to find your blog (2 friends recommended I read this post)!
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    • Yay Melissa! Yay for meeting you and yay for meeting a fellow DD enthusiast! They bring back the best of my childhood memories and have segued into being a part of some of my best memories today. And I do hope you get to meet them. I think when someone has such a great affect on us in such a positive way, it’s a gift for us and a gift for them to get to tell them in person how much they/their art/music means to you.

  14. Duran Duran. Heh. I can see you at the concert, giving that steely-eyed, no nonsense look at anyone thinking about misbehaving. I can remember when MTV first began, and we would watch those amazing music videos. Now I can’t get “Hungry Like the Wolf” out of my head. . .

    My first real concert was seeing Aerosmith in Madison Square Garden in NYC when I was a young and naive 18 year old from rural New England. I was shocked as I walked to my seat to see bottle after bottle of booze, and the haze of pot hung heavy in the air.

    Re you almost walking right by your idol: Isn’t it funny how we are so focused on other things in our lives that we often miss people, things or events that are important to us?
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    • Absolutely, Kim! I was “this close” to walking right by the man – the man I was set to marry! (ha ha ha). It’s a lesson in keeping our eyes open to what’s in front of us as, right? And AI can only imagine you at MSG with the Aerosmith people. Oh, you. xo

    • Thanks, Meredith. It has been so much fun reliving this on the blog. And it was a gift for *me* to find the lesson here, as well.

  15. Miracles do happen when we are not expecting it – that’s why they are miracles! To open our hearts and minds to the world around is in another way. Since having my children, I have learned to expect the unexpected and treasure it all. You don’t know how intense the words “I love you mommy” are until you have waited 5 years to hear them! Awesome post as always my dear!
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  16. I remember Duran Duran well. I loved the video for Hungry Like the Wolf. It was one of the few times where I saw someone who looked like me being the focal point of a sexy singer in vids. The nearest concert venue for me would’ve been an hour away. I’m sure you have some awesome memories from that.
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    • That was such a great video. Those were the fun, decadent MTV band days of long gone. But they are great to recall through memory.

    • About the uniform – LOL! That uniform was crazy and rather unflattering. I’m glad you were next to me though. I could have used a friend with me to bear witness to that amazing moment. Would have loved to have been able to share in real time!

  17. Wow. Star-struck. I loved Duran Duran, too, and I *still* love that song … which they now seem to play on the radio all the time–the acoustic version, that is. And it still makes me cry.

    When I lived in LA, I saw celebrities a few times … but never ones that I personally admired. In college, though, I had the pleasure of helping to organize the Indigo Girls’ visit to campus, and THAT was pretty fabulous. I remember not being able to see much of them because I was back stage running errands, but knowing that I was a part of making it possible for their music to reach the thousands of fans that had gathered felt amazing.

    The miracle waiting to happen. If we choose to participate. 🙂
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    • That is so cool that you were part of organizing an Indigo girls concert. I will always love them. And yes, Duran Duran? I will always love them too and especially that song. I can’t wait for them to have a permanent strip production in Vegas. I am so there!

  18. We are so alike, it’s scary! How cool to have that job! JT made me swoon. LOVED him. Ordinary World is my all time favorite Duran Duran song with Hungry Like the Wolf a close second.

    “Still I can’t escape the ghost of you
    What has happened to it all?
    Crazy, some are saying
    Where is the life that I recognize?
    Gone away

    But I won’t cry for yesterday
    There’s an ordinary world
    Somehow I have to find
    And as I try to make my way
    To the ordinary world
    I will learn to survive

    These words spoke to me in some of my darkest days.
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    • Ok, now I’m going to think of you every time I hear Ordinary World. Isn’t it amazing how much a song can speak to us, and how one song to speak to many in such different ways? Hugs, my friend. xo

  19. Those were the days – My DD moment took place in the 80s. We were on a school trip visiting the Eiffel Tower, when Rolling Stone Ron Wood walked by. A bunch of us followed him…right to where DD were filming their video for “A View to a Kill”. We FREAKED OUT. There were the directors, Godley and Crème, Roger and wife Giovanna, and JT. Still hard to believe to this day.

    • Oh my gosh! First of all, what a school trip. Second of all, what a life moment! Ron Wood, DD, the directors, AND watching them shoot a music video? Score! You must have had the best time telling that story when you got home!

  20. Oh my gosh! I was that girl, too. You were so cool. I’m sure I would have said something so incredibly stupid and creepy it would have sent him running for the police!!! HAHA. Thanks for keeping your head and letting the rest of us live through this post.


    • Oh, Missy, I don’t know how cool I was. I was awestruck, for sure, though. And a little frozen for words. But I’m glad I got to meet him, even for a few seconds. Such an idol of my childhood! I’m glad you got a vicarious moment through me. Let’s hear it for the boys from Birmingham!

  21. 1984- Being one of the few male Duranies I knew and a ‘serious’ bassist (I had spent the better part of two years learning every bassline on Rio, Duran Duran and SatRT (They were pretty intense and frankly the girls loved that I could do something JT does. Win/ win )) my mom bought me tickets to D2 @ MSG in NY. I took the guitarist of my band and we both swore, we wouldn’t scream, we would study. We were too cool to be screaming maniacs. I wanted to see if JT used a pick, did he use pedals etc… all the details! Needless to say after the first “Please please tell me now…” I lost my voice, never sat down and succumbed to the hysteria.
    2011- Saw them in Tampa and I basically did the same thing!

    • I’m impressed that you were able to learn every bassline on those songs. JT is an amazing bass player, so yeah, I’m feeling that “win/win” of yours! 1984 – I didn’t get to see them at MSG but I was close by for that tour – in the Meadowlands. It was years before I saw them again. Actually 1993 at the PNC Arts Center where I worked was the next time and then 2005 the most recent. But I lost my voice every time too and will again next time. I am definitely hoping for a next time!

  22. I was born Duran, and i ll be Duran forever, i love my teen´s era favorite band Duran Duran, i didn´t live the beatlemania but i have Duran Duran, the best band ever!, thanks for share your memories of Dr. Martens days, and Duran Duran of course, they came to be here ever !.

    • Lucky you Mr. Duran! For the name and for being able to enjoy the band the way you did through your teen years! Here’s to wonderful music and the memories they create for us, now and always!

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