It’s Not All About Love: Thank You Imagine Dragons

Music is an incredibly large part of my life. Though it may seem like a pass time or only something that is subtly playing in the background as I take care of everyday things such as shopping and answering emails, the more that I look back at a normal day, the more I realize how lost I would be without it. It doesn’t just give me inspiration, but it actually is the thing that helps me wake up in the morning and accomplish whatever it is in that I planned on getting done that day. And one of the best things about that is that there is music available for every type of mood or purpose that I need it to be for. When I’m feeling sad and alone, there are songs that assure me that there are people who care. When I’m feeling incredibly happy and joyful, there is music to keep me in that mood. When I’m feeling heartbroken, there is music to ease the pain. And that’s where my point comes in. I’m am incredibly tired of dealing with songs that talk only about love; what it feels like, how to get it, and even what it feels like to lose it. I’m tired of hearing all of that. It seems that any radio station that I turn on these days, it is always some song written by some “pop queen” talking about how someone broke her heart. Which is why I turn my attention to Imagine Dragons. Yes, I did just see their concert here in Chicago yesterday, and yes, it was absolutely breathtaking. But I would like to point out that outside of the fact that their music is absolutely amazing and fantastic, none of their songs are about love or heartbreak. All of their songs are about the individual. Although I absolutely agree that it is not okay to categorize and generalize an entire album into one theme, Imagine Dragons’ new album is all about achieving and doing whatever someone dreams of doing.

I don’t think there’s a feeling that matches an entire concert hall filled with thousands of people singing “I’m on top of the world” at the top of their lungs. One of the songs that headlined their Night Visions album, the song was the highlight of last years concert, as massive balloons fell from the sky on the last chorus, and continues to crowd surf for the rest of the concert. All in all I wanted to say that I was weary before I actually went there. High ticket prices, and not the best seats made me think that the amount that I paid wasn’t worth the night. I could not have been more wrong by the end of the night. The last remarks that my friend and I made that night was “I forgot how much I loved them”. And I’ve never said anything more true. Go to concerts, folks. Live a little. Maybe it’s a lot of money, and you’ll definitely feel it in your wallet, but it will always be completely worth it. Because you’ll never forget the memories you made there.

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How We Make Peace

Acceptance. Tolerance. Peace.

Three things that come immediately to my mind when I think about moral principles that everyone should live their lives by. Of course, there are thousands more, but what purpose does listing principle after principle have if we don’t fully understand the scope that even one of those has on the world. In this case, I wanted to focus on just these three.

Acceptance and tolerance. Things that seem like they would go hand in hand. Now, don’t get me wrong, they obviously do, but what’s more important is how they are completely different from each other. Each one having it’s own realm to conquer, only to later lead to the ever broadening and inspirational idea of peace. The reason that I’m writing this is because of the ever increasing number of hate crimes against people of different races, religions, sexualities, genders, and over all beliefs. Within the past week, I was horrified to see news of beheadings of Christians in Egypt, shootings of jews in Copenhagen, decimation of jewish cemeteries, stabbing of a transgender young adult, and airstrikes of muslim homes and cities in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It’s actually quite interesting to point out that, these horrible and unbelievable crimes against humanity, are reported in the news as any other occurrence. In the simplest of words, we have become so adapted and used to the frequency of crimes fueled by intolerance and hate, that we see it as “regular” news.

Tolerance. Defined loosely as the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. Something that seems so simple, and “natural” to me, is something completely unthought of in other parts of the world. Ideologies of organizations and entire groups of people around the world are based on principles that completely go against this “natural” phenomena. Maybe it’s because I’m gay, and I surround myself with very open minded and liberal people, but I find the fact that so many people around the world don’t want to embrace this absolutely disgusting. Tolerance does not mean acceptance. The world would be every single shade of peaceful and happy if everyone accepted each other for who they are. But that is realistically impossible, and will never happen. What can happen, is if everyone in the world was tolerant of each other. I would love everyone to accept me for who I am, but that isn’t going to happen. I do, however, ask that people don’t treat me differently, don’t view me as a different person, and don’t judge me on how I live my life. That, is tolerance. Acceptance would be supporting me along my life, and hoping that I feel more and more comfortable being who I am in the world.

Religion plays a key role in how people shape their lives and personalities. I have never felt comfortable in Church, mostly because of it’s closed views on the world, and (let’s be honest) mostly discriminatory policies against gay people. On the other hand, if I wasn’t strong enough mentally to make my own views on the world, I would look towards the church to teach me what views (they think) I should have. And this is what happens to most people around the world. So that is where the problems start. As a human develops from a child to an adult, they will look to three places to teach them how to live their lives: their parents, their school, and their spiritual and religious guides. It’s how children are raised from a young age that justify how they will live their lives in the future. So what is the solution here.

Stop religiously justified teaching of intolerance. Almost all world religions teach of some higher power teaching the world to love all people. There shouldn’t be any analysis behind that statement. Love all people. This does not mean love all people except the gays, muslims, transgenders, and white people. This means love all people. Obviously if all people would start to follow this principle, we would honestly reach world peace. But that isn’t going to happen.

The last point that needs to be made is that “love all people” does not necessarily mean “accept all people”. I would love to think that it does, but it doesn’t. This statement purely means “be tolerant of people around you”. Don’t hate people for their choice to be happy.

I urge everyone to accept people for who they are. Accept their choice to live their life in a way where they will be happy with it. But if that’s not possible for you, at least be tolerant of them. And only then, will we reach peace.

Answering a Question in Public

A dear old (well, new) friend, Jeff, sent me a question a couple of weeks ago. No explanation, Jeff asks:

How do you know what is next in life?

I actually completely ignored this question when I first saw it. The first thought that crossed my mind, is that obviously I have no idea. No one knows what will come next in life. It’s not possible to know what is next, so while making plans for your future is incredibly important to guarantee success and achievement, making plans and having direct knowledge of what will happen in the future are two completely different things.

Get to the point. I know. How do I know what is next in life? I know what is next because I work towards shaping my life into what I want it to look like. From then on, the answer choice is broadly defined into two different options; one where I did achieve what I wanted, and the other is one in which I didn’t. Obviously something small such as goals set to adhere to a specific workout schedule aren’t as big a goals in how long it will take you too graduate college. You can graduate college with a degree in four years, or in 5 years. Even though your goal was to graduate in 4, you didn’t make the cut, so you were forced into your other option, of finishing in 5.

This is one of the reasons that I don’t believe in people praying for things. Don’t get me wrong, I see no problem, but rather only pluses to those who are religious, to pray for God’s help in accomplishing some goal. But God isn’t going to pop up out of nowhere like Dumbledore and get all of your work done for you.

So how do I know what is going to be next in life? Well, I’m going to go to college. Preferably double major in Theatrical Lighting Design and English Literature. And that I will make a ton of friends in college. More closely, that I will graduate high school with more positive memories than negative, and that I will actually get accepted into my dream school. I want to be happy with the choices that I make now and in the near future. I don’t want to have to look back at what I did and be faced with more regrets than smiles. I will do everything in my power to assure that I am happy. That’s the only rational way to know what is coming in life next. We aren’t future tellers. But we are future setters. And the only person’s future that we have to worry about, is our own.

Never Felt So Good

Until this point in my life, I was never 100% honest with anyone around me. Neither my family nor my close friends really knew the truth about who I was and how I feel about things. To put an end to this vague introduction, I just told a handful of my friends that I’m gay. And I wasn’t surprised to see that all that I heard back from them is positive support, reinforcement, and a general closeness to them.

If you’re reading up until this point, it’s not hard to tell that that last sentence in the previous paragraph made absolutely no sense. Bad grammar and diction is not even the half of it. But I think what’s interesting to point out is that me coming out to my friends doesn’t make sense either. Hear me out. As much as I would love to continue to believe that we live in a society where the LGBT community no longer is persecuted, discriminated against, and generally uncomfortable with their position and role in society, that still remains to be true. What doesn’t make sense is that being a gay guy, I still have to announce to my friends that I’m gay, because I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life hiding from them who I really was. As much as I will probably only experience positive views on my coming out, it still kills me to think that I, and millions of other teens, had to deal with years and years of feeling like they weren’t going to be accepted. There is a reason why Harvey Fierstein once said:

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.

And that’s because no one should ever have to spend such a large part of their life in silence.

In a perfect world, something like telling people that you’re gay wouldn’t be a big deal, and it would be an everyday occurrence. But in the real world, in what we experience every day, it is a big deal. Heck, I’m making an entire blog post dedicated to it. Because to me, it is a big deal. I didn’t nor will I ever get to grow up in this utopian society where it would be something completely normal. I spent all of this time, 17 years to be exact, to finally embrace the meaning of this quote into my life, and finally accomplishing that, I’m happier than I ever was in life.

I still haven’t come out to my parents. Like most people probably know, growing up in a very conservative Catholic family means that being different really isn’t an option. And as sad and horrible that I feel saying this, I really won’t be able to tell them the truth until they will be able to handle it. When? And I know it sounds weird to give it a specific time, but the right time is when I graduate college. In the present, I’m still a young guy, and I’m incredibly dependent on my parents to raise me, put me through college, and be there for when I need them. Loosing them at a time like this really isn’t an option. When I have finally moved into being a self sufficient adult, is when I can tell my family who I really am. Because at that point, they can either support me, or disown me. And I won’t be hurt if they choose the lather. If they choose to leave my side, tears will not be shed, hearts will not be broken. Only the feeling of an absence will haunt not my life, but theirs. Because it’s not my job to accept their definition of how I should lead my life, it’s my duty to find my own. Thanks Harvey.

Lighting Cue 167.3 (Confessions of a Theater Kid)

My name is Konrad. And I struggle remembering anything besides my own coffee order, where the GO button is, and where my cues are. Now, out of season I’m a great student, and basic math doesn’t leave me completely dumbfounded. But when the time comes to sit behind my trustworthy ETC Express 48/96 for more time than I spend in my own home, nothing stays where it should. My other abilities include being able to sing every song from every musical I’ve ever seen, as well as the ability to every task imaginable in complete darkness. If we’re talking about darkness, I own more black clothing than every other color put together. Now here’s my story. The short three months of preparing for seven unimaginably fun and exciting showings of Ghost Bike.

When you’re one of the head lighting designers, it’s somewhat hard to get anything done when you’re arguing with the other head lighting designer. It’s also problematic when there are more new people who don’t know anything than people who know how to do things. So welcome to the first day of the production process for Ghost Bike: the Call-Out Meeting: Basically an open call for anyone who is interested in joining the process to come out and find out about what it takes to create a play, what they can specialize in, and how they can take the first step to joining the process. All the chiefs take a brief time to explain what they do, and await to see how the crowd reacts to their explanation. Lighting Design doesn’t usually get a lot of people to join. What’s more exciting than hanging heavy pieces of metal and then sitting behind a giant keyboard-like panel and putting in percentages and levels? For most people, anything. For me, nothing. Five people signed up to partake in the adventure that is lighting Ghost Bike. This doesn’t seem like many people, but keep in mind that most of the years back, the entire crew compromised no more than 6 people. Now, we have about that many new people. Three seniors, one junior (welcome to my life, I’ll be here all year), and a whole array of underclassmen that are usually there for no other reason than to learn and do petty tasks.

Fast track to about two weeks later: The start of production. The first assignment that I, along with my co-designer, Mary, gave out was to read the script. Surprise Surprise, a solid half of them did not read more than a page of it. How can someone work to design a whole play from the grounds up, when they haven’t laid the foundation to even starting: reading the actual script. My new least favorite member, Shannon, gave no response to my question of why didn’t she read the script other than “why would I do that?”. At this point, I was weary of assigning cueing work to any of them. Working as the head designer, any mistake that would occur would go down on me. Anything light that was improperly hung would be my fault. Any missed cues or confusing cueing would be no one’s fault other than my own. But “the show must go on”, or in this case, the production process must go on (?). Every crew member was assigned a list of scenes, and after the next production meeting, created became the treasure of the Lighting Designers: The Preliminary Cue List. The basic planning was done, all that had to be done now was a couple of edits, changes, and additions to what has already been done.

In the meantime, the more fun tasks where left to Mary and I. That included lighting rentals, new equipment, and creating the rep plot. Welcome to the education system of America, where god forbid the arts be sponsored with nearly enough money that they would need. Instead, welcome to my school, where we paint the gym every summer, because athletics are more important than anything else. Most of the working equipment has been scraped down to PAR 64’s, a rather useless light, purely for the reason that you can’t focus it to a defined area or anything. Most spotlights that we own, Strand Coolbeam’s, are older than me, and a true miracle happens when they actually work. Meetings with the director, an outside lighting designer (thanks Jake), and never-ending phone calls to every rental place affiliated with the school took up more time than I ever thought it would. Where can we get the better deal, where can we save money, and how can I use the least amount of money to make anything and everything work. The hardest thing with going through this process, is that for whatever trust issues, no one ever gives me a budget for which I have to fit inside of. What would be my proposed rental list is nothing more than a “wish list”. Instead of  being trusted with figuring out what I need and what I can get, I have to rely on what my director, who has no idea how to design the lighting, thinks is rational to use for this production.

For those interested in the technical side of theater, rentals came out to:

  • 4 Elations 5R Pro Platinum
  • 8 Leko Source 4 19-50 degree
  • 4 6′ Phillips ColorBlaze
  • DMX Splitter
  • Hog 4 PC Lighting Console
  • 2 CityTheatrical Dry Ice Machines
  • more cabling than my heart could ever desire

With this, we were ready to start with everything that we needed to do before programming and tech week started. The excitement was only to begin.

Thanks for reading guys, I will be writing about this entire amazing process for the next couple of weeks. Like and comment what you think, I really appreciate it! Have any questions or comments, shoot me an email at konrad6566@gmail.com!

This is the End

Today is the last day of class before the Holiday break. Do you know why I know that it’s the last day of break? Because I have not had, a single thought, all day. My brain experiences: “Gee, I wonder what…F*CK TODAY IS THE LAST DAY”.

Everyone needs a well deserved break. There is a difference between working and going to school. Being in school, your brain is not focused on doing tasks, but rather on learning and memorizing new ideas, facts, and innovations. Maybe students aren’t as physically tired as people who work. But mentally, nothing can compare. There is nothing more stressful than knowing that you are in the prime time of your life, yet you know that if you make one mistake being a student, you could throw your entire career away for the rest of your life.

With that being said, everyone deserves a great break, and I hope everyone gets some deserved rest!

Thanks for Being the Person that You Are

A couple of days ago, one of the many new internet famous vloggers, also known as “youtubers”, Connor Franta (My personal favorite, but that’s besides the point) posted his coming out video. Even in what seems as a time when society is more accepting of LGBT community than it ever was, Connor shows that even though he leads a life where in some respects he preaches being honest about yourself and accepting of others, many still feel that coming out for who you are is still not as accepted as it should be.

Fighting back tears, Connor talks about how he regrets having to live 22 years of his life in denial of the person that he really is. Being afraid of what others think, and if society will accept you is what most people fear when they consider coming out. And people shouldn’t fear coming out. Being honest about who you is not for other people’s benefit. Being honest about yourself is only for you. At the same time, I have to admit that people should in some aspects fear coming out. Yes, it is 100% for the better, and there is not a single better choice that someone could make. But you will always find people who will judge you and discriminate against you because you want to be who you are. To this day, corporations like Chick-fil-A publicly announce that they don’t support homosexuality. My response to that? I have no response. I will lead my life the way that makes me happy. My choices have nothing to do with other people, and just because other people like to overstep their boundaries and push their opinions on me, doesn’t mean I will do the same.

Which brings me to the main thing that I wanted to say, and that is that I’m gay. Surprisingly, this is also my “coming out” video. I have never told anyone that I was gay. I also never even thought about saying it to other people. I’m not ready to announce it in front of all of my friends. I know that they won’t judge me, and they will all like me exactly as much as they like me now. But for anyone who is in the same situation as me, you know that even though you know nothing bad will happen when you do admit it, you’re still scared to death to actually do it.

I hope some of my friends actually do see this. Maybe it will be easier for me if they just find out. But most of them will never see this. That doesn’t mean that I will continue to stay “in the closet”. I don’t have to announce it on social media and tell everyone, but if someone comes up and asks me “Are you gay?”, I’m not going to say “Phhh, no” anymore. I’m going to look straight into their eyes and say “yeah”. The only thing that could happen after that is that person either accepts me for who I am, or doesn’t. And if they don’t, I’m going to be glad that they aren’t in my life anymore.

People, don’t be afraid of accepting who you are. Unexplainable level of respect to Connor for outright telling everyone on the internet who he truly is. But not all of us are ready to announce it on such a level. Accept who you are first, and then tell those people who are willing to listen. There will always be someone 🙂

Share this post with someone who needs it. The courage comes from seeing other people succeed. Trust me.

Thanks for the Inspiration

Being the most annoying person ever, I decided that I should do something in the hopes that something that will never happen will happen. (Did that sentence even make sense?) I am really bad at blogging, mostly because I stress that there isn’t anyone out there listening. And why should they be? There really isn’t a defined point to me blogging. It hits no specific topic, nor does it focus on anything particular for more than one or two posts. Continuing with my temptations to write about things that I plan to do in my life, I have decided to write a book.

Yes. Let’s actually see if that will ever happen. Who knows. Maybe it actually might. In the past two weeks I realized that my life is fairly interesting. I work in one of the best theater companies in Chicago, I have an unnatural obsession with theatrical lighting equipment, and let’s be honest, there is only a short list of things I wouldn’t do for free musical tickets. The shenanigans I hear and see everyday is worthy of me talking about them. But an almanac? No, that sounds too formal. More like, an educational diary? But not really a diary? Okay, to be completely honest, I have no idea what this “book” is supposed to look like or how it’s supposed to be structured or anything. All that I know is what I want to write about.

This book will almost 100% never be published. But I could almost care. There are so many self publishing methods available to people nowadays, I don’t have to worry about dealing with agents and publishing companies. I don’t want to become a millionaire. I don’t want to become a famous author that will have book signings and paparazzi follow him. I want the satisfaction that I set out to accomplish something and did it, as well as the knowledge that I have my work out there in the real world. I want my friends to see what I can accomplish. I want to family to see what I can accomplish. I want to see my self achieve something great.

This blog has really helped me focus my writing. I really like writing and communicating my thoughts to readers and other bloggers. Maybe I’m not attacking giant political or socioeconomic issues in my posts, but I’m writing about what I want to write about. And that’s the best part about being a writer. Thanks to everyone who reads my blog and is on WordPress. You can actually inspire people. You can help people dream.

A New Type Of Feeling

Maybe it’s a mid life crisis. Do younger people get those? Like people who aren’t even in their twenties? I guess that would in itself take out the “mid-life” part away. Unless of course someone is making a cruel joke about them dieing young, but I’ll pass on those tonight. There are far too many things on my head to worry about than back humor jokes. Which, if you haven’t noticed, are everyone’s absolute favorite. Why did the little boy not come to school? Because he got hit by a bus. Why haven’t I found the time for anything? Why do I not have the energy to do anything or to talk to anyone? I might likely have mono. But I’ve been watching my hygiene, and I’ve been quite annoying about it for the past two weeks, meaning the symptoms would how shown up by now.

I’ve engulfed my past two years at school around a singular social group. I’ve cut people, activities, and hobbies for not only these people, but also for the feeling of acceptance in this general place. What exact place I’m talking about, has no importance. But everyone there is willing to accept anyone for who they are, all that they ask for is to dedicate some time to it. I, being the jumpy and overly exited person jumped in head first, ignoring all the “no diving” signs. What signs? The signs that have thought me in life not to dedicate yourself to one single things more than is necessary, because it always will turn against you. These specific people or place has not turned against me, but rather quite the opposite: In the past 6 months it has opened up to me more than I would have ever thought would be possible in such a short amount of time.

In order to find myself comfortable in this place, I changed. For the better, or maybe for the worse? Who knows; Only the people who I have lost and forgotten about in the process would say for the worst, while only the people who I have newly met and became close with will say for the better. For every negative, there will always be a justifiable positive to contradict it. The challenge, hence, arrises to find that positive. But, what I have been feeling for the past month or so is an absolute lack of the positive. It has been months since I woke up almost giddy with excitement, knowing that within the next two three hours I will see practically all the people in my social life that I love. Month after month in the past couple of years I spent coming home from that place only to look at my watch and calculate how many hours until I can go back. How many hundreds of times did I stay longer than everyone else to make sure that I was on time with all of my work.

And now, all that I can think about is how in the end none of it was worth it. I still love all of my friends at this place, but I don’t feel any necessary desire to see or talk to them anymore. The people who I worked with side by side are no longer my best friends, but rather people that I pretend I am completely fine with every time I sit with, even though I know that at least half of the time, I don’t want to be there with them. Is this depression? Definitely not. Is this sadness? A little bit. Is this regret? Never. So what is this feeling? I don’t know.

All I know is that at this very exact moment, I don’t want to go back to this place for a couple of months. And lastly, you might want to know where this place is? I’m not announcing, but beware the Scottish Play in this sanctuary.

Greek Life? I’ll Pass

Penn State University prudes themselves on having one of the largest Greek presence on campus in the United States. And while many see this as a larger opportunity to hopefully get accepted into a fraternity out sorority, I see it as the worst choice one can make.

Many people would disagree with me on the usefulness of frats and sororities. Yes, networking is one is the most appealing things about Greek Life, add well as make quick and good friends.

But what are the real things that you have to give up our pay in order to actually participate in one.

1. Let’s start with fees. Jenny Pettitte don’t realize how much unnecessary money goes to bring in Greek Life. Monthly fees ate at the lowest that I’ve seen, at 300 dollars a month. This doesn’t include what you’re already posting to live on campus, but does it cover anything other than the fact that you can tell people that you belong. Every time I hear someone say they were a member of some frat or sorority, the only thing that goes through my mind is “I paid thousands of dollars throughout my college career so that I can feel better about myself”.

2. The hazing. Oh, did you think that disappeared in the 90’s? That it doesn’t exist anymore? You could not be more wrong. Although Greek organizations don’t literally physically haze people anymore, you are hazed in other ways. Was there a party in the house? Guess who’s cleaning up? That’s right, it’s you. Someone has to take the consequence or fall for something, guess who’s doing it. You are.

3. The limitation. Yes, it’s your first year of college, and you probably don’t have any friends. And joining a frat or sorority is an easy way to make friends. All the people who are in the same house become metaphorically your “brothers” or “sisters”. But by limiting yourself to only becoming friends with those people, you’re losing the opportunity to meet so many amazing people that aren’t interested in Greek Life.

In the end, it’s everyone’s Penn choice whether or not to join Greek Life. But just remember that with every thing you do, there is a consequence. Make sure you make the right choice.