I Am A Concert Fanatic, And I Am Not Ashamed

I Am A Concert Fanatic, And I Am Not Ashamed

"It's okay to love something maybe a little too much as long as it's real to you."
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I still remember the experience of my first concert like it was yesterday. It was the final show of the OP Presents Tour; the headlining act was my then-favorite band, Boys Like Girls.

I’d been counting down the days for what felt like forever. I remember the rush of adrenaline I felt as my cousin, my sister, my mom and I joined the long line wrapping around the venue. I remember listening to the chatter of the people around me, observing them and picking out the band tees and worn-out Converse low-tops that matched mine exactly. When you’re thirteen, all that seems to matter is fitting in and feeling like you belong, and for the first time, I did. Some had brought warm blankets with them, a sign of true dedication, since they knew they’d be waiting for several hours out in the November cold. And then, finally, feeling my heart skip a beat as the line started moving.

Seeing my all-time favorite band burst onto the stage was more thrilling than I ever could’ve expected. Being part of that crowd, that group of hundreds of strangers, united by our love for the music; hearing my favorite songs played live right in front of me and singing along; feeding off of that energy shared by everyone in the room—it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. And of course I’d taken a gazillion pictures and videos so that I could relive it all over again the next day.

After that first concert, I caught the bug and I was hooked. I even traveled to different states a few times for those special shows with killer lineups that I just could not miss. To this day, I have probably been to at least thirty concerts, and the looks of surprise I get from people when I tell them this never gets old. I have to explain to them that concert-going isn’t just a hobby, but a lifestyle for me.

Now that I’m a junior in college, I don’t get the chance to attend concerts nearly as often as I did in high school. But I still consider my love for live music one of the most important parts of me (and of course I still snatch up tickets whenever I do get the opportunity!). Those seven years of road-tripping to see my favorite bands, of waiting in lines in the summer heat at Warped Tour to get photos with them, of decorating t-shirts with their lyrics and album art and getting tons of compliments on them, were a defining period of my life. One of the best and most memorable parts of it was the overwhelming sense of community and solidarity it brought, especially at the smaller venues. In my normal, everyday surroundings, it was pretty rare to find even one person who felt as strongly about certain bands as I did, and some people even made fun of me for how “obsessed” I was. But once I was there, at the show, surrounded by people who understood, I felt right in my element. I probably spent hundreds of dollars on tickets and mercy during those years, and I do not feel one ounce of regret. Having those experiences helped me figure out who I was as a teenager and brought me so much happiness and wholeness, and now I have amazing memories to hold onto forever. Now, one of my adult goals is to become financially secure enough to travel to shows and music festivals all over the world.

I know that concerts will always be a huge source of happiness and comfort for me, and it feels pretty special to have developed an interest in my early teens that has stuck with me into my twenties. For those reasons, I feel absolutely no shame in my concert history, and acknowledge the nostalgia I feel even for bands I no longer listen to or care for. My taste will probably continue to change and evolve as I get older, but I will always owe my passion for live music to those early days and they will always mean the world to me. I plan on being an avid concert-goer until I can’t walk anymore, and if people want to call me crazy for that, I’m okay with it. Because, in the words of Gerard Way, former frontman of the beloved emo band My Chemical Romance, being at a show is all about “singing your heart out, and knowing it’s okay to love something maybe a little too much as long as it’s real to you.”

Cover Image Credit: Ariana Leo

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Romeo, Juliet, And The Time They Were Reckless

It needs to be said.

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Oh Romeo, Romeo. Where art thou Romeo?

Well, he is off committing suicide because he thinks you're dead.

Can we discuss the fact he was in love with Rosaline (you know Juliet's cousin) a little before meeting Juliet? I mean if my 16-year-old brother comes around and tells me he's 'in love' with a 13-year-old, I'd probably have to check him. That's an eighth grader with a high school junior. Personally, I am not a fan of it. They meet and *BAM*, they're in love. They court each other, marry, then die. In FOUR days. All of this happens in FOUR days.

Then the whole "If you die I die" thing, is anyone else not mad that he didn't stop to check if she was breathing? My dude grabs a mirror and puts it under her nose. It doesn't make me mad, that young people fall in love. But if I think about it now, the dude I thought I was in love with when I was 13 was a jerk and boy, am I glad my parents said: "You're too young, wait until you're 15." And then, "No, you're still too young," when I was actually 15.

Dude I get it, but can we all collectively agree you have to wait for more than one to two days shipping before you go off and have a clandestine wedding. I get it, young and reckless and in love and ready to give it all. I have seen it, read about it, and can't say been through it I think about most of my actions, but I still get pissed off with this play.

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