Happy Sprinkle No. 16: No Good is Too Good

I have a love-hate relationship with pop-punk music.

Sometimes, pop-punk bands produce straight up bangers. Other times, they produce content that sounds sophomoric.

However, at the end of the day, when they do it well, they do it REALLY WELL.

Knuckle Puck (KP) is one such band.

I was introduced to KP a few weeks ago via Spotify. I was immediately hooked by their sound, one that is simultaneouly angry and frustrated, yet beautiful, a vehicle to transport barried emotions and thought to a physical realm.

Perhaps my favorite song by KP is No Good.

Produced in 2013, No Good may be one of the band’s older songs, but it is absolutely one of their best.

Forget being overproduced; the song is emotive and raw, full of frustration and rage as lead vocalist Joe Taylor angrily screams poetically jarring lyrics.

“My mind was a fortress you knew how to rupture…”

“Every word she said, like knives in the back of my head”

“It’s nice to know that I wasn’t worth the seven-digit letdown”

AND, my personal favorites:

“It’s people just like you who make me the pessimist I am!”

“I’m no good, you’re no better!”

Oh man, honestly, this song is like your favorite pair of jeans that hugs and lifts in all the right places.

…It is just too good.

So, without further ado, I give you Knuckle Puck’s No Good:

KP

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Happy Sprinkle No. 15: A Speck of Clarity

While it is not always easy to accept, life has a way of working out exactly as it is supposed to.

We are oftentimes upset when things don’t work out the way that we want or expect them to.

Relationships end; Sometimes, they refuse to start.

Friendships die.

Jobs are lost.

People that we care about are struck by illness, sometimes terminal (twice, in my case.)

That pair of “must have” jeans we saw online are out-of-stock when we finally make it to the actual store.

That pair of shoes doesn’t come in our size (typical for me!)

Yet, I have found that while life can be confusing, frustrating, and sometimes seemingly unforgiving, it has a way of working itself out.

With the people that I have lost came a renewal in my faith.

In the summer of 2015, my best friend, Morgan,  passed away from DIPG, a form of terminal brain cancer. We met in 7th grade through my twin sister. We became quick friends, and from middle school on, we were among each other’s greatest support systems. We were exactly what we needed when we needed it.

As for my colleague Gordon, from day one, he had me hooked. I had only worked with him a short while before I grew to see him as a friend and the closest thing I had to family on the East Coast. We talked about travel and books. We talked about our hopes and dreams. We talked about our past and what we hoped to experience and accomplish in the future.

I knew Gordon had battled cancer in the relatively recent past, so I was not neccessarily surprised when he announced that he had relapsed; his Lymphoma had returned. Throughout his battle with cancer, Gordon came into the office as often as his body allowed. Eventually, it became too much for him to walk down the hallway to fill up his blue Cape Cod coffee cup with water.

It was July 2018 when Gordon took his last breath.

I spoke with his wife thereafter, and more than once, she told me that Gordon confided that if he had ever had a daughter of  his own, he would have wanted her to be something like me .

It is miraculous that I was comparable to a daughter he wished he had, and that he was the family that I needed.

Contrarily, other people are brought into your life not to be your friend, but to be your teacher. Then again, I suppose that you can learn something from anyone.

I met an old colleague, I’ll call him John, a few months after I started at the company.

While I wasn’t immediately attracted to John, that quickly changed.

It all started with a pair of hot red pepper socks that he gave to me after a conference that he attended in New Mexico….I LOVE funky socks.

From there on out, I was hooked. Now, now, now, while I may seem easy to please (I do tend to like most people!), it was more than the socks that caught my attendtion.

Until John was hired, I handled his territory, making sure that there was a line of communication going for his customers.

Once he was hired, he nominated me for a Bravo award, thanking me for my efforts. While I don’t like to be the center of attention, it was nice to feel like my work ethic was appreciated and noticed, especially by a peer my age.

It wasn’t long before we exchanged numbers and were texting pretty regulary.

Yet, despite the stream of texts between us, something was not aligning when we were in person.

Was it that we were nervous around each other? Was it that we were colleagues and didn’t want to cross any lines? Was it that we really didn’t connect? Was it that one of us liked the other more?

Eventually, the texts stopped and we proceeded to parade around the office, basically paying each other no heed, except for the occasional hello and goodbye or awkward head nod of aknowledgement in the hallway.

This went on for over two years. And it was hell. I hated every minute of it. I kept hoping that things would change, that things would turn around. Maybe we could turn a new page and start afresh. That never happened.

I grew frustrated, even resentful of the way things turned out, often sweating through my clothing on the way into the office out of sheer anxiety.

While I never grew accustomed to our dynamic, eventually, I came to terms with needing to reach outside of my immediate work group to get to know other people.

As time went on, I befriended some of the best people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Not only do they make the work day more tolerable, but they add positivity to my life.

Who knows? Had it not been for the dynamic in my work group, perhaps I would not have become close with the people that I did, and perhaps my old colleague would not be where he is, hopefully happy and finding fullfillment at his new job.

In the moment, experiences of loss, grief, confusion and frustration can make you question life. They can make you question yourself. They can make you question God.

But then you see how each of these experiences has been intricately woven into your web of life, feeding you and breathing air into your lungs, helping you to grow into the person that you are today, and you realize, that amidst all of the confusion, all of the hurt and worry, all of the stress and anxiety, that there is a speck of clarity:

We are a part of something much greater than ourselves.

 

Happy Sprinkle No. 15: Sam I Am

I work as an inside sales consultant for a publishing company. It is not a bad place to be. From my experience, most of my colleagues are kind, hard working, and oftentimes, passionate about what they do. It is a pleasure and a blessing to be surrounded by such people.

Now, I tend to like most people. But, this colleague, we’ll call him Sam, tops them all.

Sam is in charge of delivering our mail, sorting mail and sending mail. In professional terms, he is the Facilities Specialist.

I don’t remember how it started, but somewhere along the way, we started doing the rocket ship “handshake” every time he stops by my desk with mail or when we see each other in the hallway.

It goes a little something like this:

Each person slowly brings their fists together, as if they are doing a “fist bump”. From there, fists connected, one person raises their pointer finger upward and  the other person releases her closed fist so that her fingers are pointing downward. It’s just an upward motion from there, the pointer finger acting as the head of the rocket ship and the downward pointing wiggling fingers mimicking the fire shooting out of the end of the rocket.

Of course, you can’t forget the sound effects! Usually, I am the one to unapologetically make the swooshing sound that is supposed to resemble the roaring fire.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “ok, Allie, how old are you? Act you age!”

But my colleague Gordon would have smiled and shook his head and say, “Allie, you live for these moments, don’t you?”

I’d laugh and say “you know me so well.”

Happy Sprinkle 12: What I like about you

WhSunflower Gatheren my best friend passed away over two years ago, her family printed a postcard of her “favorite things” list. That got me thinking about my life and the things that make me who I am.  So, here is a list of  some of the things that me tick:

Good music/concerts: Jack Johnson. Paramore. Young the Giant. Four Year Stong. Maggie Rogers. Fleetwood Mac. The Story so Far. Foster the People. The Lumineers.

Listening to people speak about their passions. Their voice gets all warm and fuzzy and it basically makes me swoon with happiness.

The family dog, Sheldon- He always knows just what to say, and he is always there to lend a listening ear. He is just the best. He also gets this crazy glint in his eyes before he jumps up on me and it is absolutely amazing and it makes my heart happy.

My nana- She is always, always there for me, and she always smells of her Miracle perfume that she has worn for as long as she has been my nana. She is just the best.

Dark Chocolate! Don’t even think about feeding me white chocolate. White chocolate is an abomination to the chocolate world. I mean, it isn’t even chocolate!!

The smell of freshly brewed coffee- It could be the middle of summer, but the warm smell of coffee always makes me feel cozy and nostalgic and Christmasy!

Thunderstorms/rain- I love everything about rain: its’ sweet, earthy smell. The pitter-patter of rain drops splashing onto shingles. Getting caught in a sudden rain storm drawing my senses to attention. There is something so romantic about rain.

The color red: Red has been my favorite color since I was a kid. Not sure why this is, though. I do really like the color, but I think it might also stem from wanting to share something in common with my dad. I also used to wear these sparkly red shoes all of the time as a kid. I called them my “Dorothy shoes” becasue they reminded me of the shoes Dorothy Gale weares in the Wizard of Oz.

Driving with the windows down and the music up- Living in New England for the past few years, I don’t own a car. Most days, I don’t miss driving too much.  But then I think about the hot summer days when I would wear my shades, roll down the windows and blare the radio or whatever CD was in the car, and I’d give anything to experience those moments of freedom.

My early mornings watching the news and sipping my coffee-  Coffee and the news, two things that I couldn’t stand when I was growing up, have now become my simple pleasures in life.

Breweries- I don’t know a whole lot about beer, other than I enjoy drinking it. Porters and stouts, if you must know, but please keep those IPA’s away from me. It just baffles me that people can actually tilt one of those back. Regarding breweries, I live in an area that is basically a brewery breeding ground. I love how each brewery has a distinct feel to it and it is fun to try new concoctions.

Sunglasses and shoes– I have a slight obsession with sunglasses and shoes. I constantly complain about having too many shoes, but then how am I supposed to say no to the rare pair of size 4 or 5 shoes that actually look like they are made for an adult gown-ass woman and not a toddler? You see, I have no choice, I have to grab them!

Rustic pottery/mugs- I love mugs that look homemade and like they were just talken out of the kiln.

Toasted, (i.e. slightly burnt) cinnamon raison bagles with plain cream cheese- again, one of the greatest simple pleasures in life

The first snowfall– yes, it is very, very magical

Retro BMW’s

My brother- My brother, Chris,  is one of those people that you just know that there is something special about him, and you can’t help but to admire him. He is unabashedly himself, and he pours his heart into the things that he loves the most, i.e. swimming and horseback riding. I rememeber when he was little, my horseback riding teacher would call him down to the ring. He would climb on the horse, and I would walk next to him on the ground, leading him around the ring like the proud sister that I was. Yet, despite my love for him, I am not sure if one would describe us as “close”. In my opinion, we are as close as he allows us to be. I try to text him, try to reach out to him to see how he is doing and what he has been up to. Often, my texts do not get a reply, or he stops responding after one or two messages. I know he is busy, and sometimes I doo egg him on by doing “sibling love” type of things, but I would love to have more frequent conversations with him. But then, there is that rare moment when he sends me the first text, telling me about his swim meet or a concert or asking me a random question.  I live for these moments, because they let me know that he cares. My brother will always be one of the most amazing people that I have ever known.

Travel- Despite my anxiety in new and unfamiliar experiences, I love to see new places. When I travel, I often feel moments of sheer amazement as I realize that this is what life is all about: remembering and being thankful for where you come from, but being open to color your life with the smells, tastes and sights of new places and people.

 

 

 

Happy Sprinkle No. 10: A Weekend on Cape Cod

Today, my heart is full.

I spent this past weekend on Cape Cod helping at an estate sale.

About three months ago, my colleague, whom I had grown to see as family, passed away from Lymphoma.

He had been everything to me.

He was my mentor when I needed professional advice. He was my friend when I needed one the most. He was my family when I had none.

He is my guardian angel.

He and his wife had a second home on Cape Cod. Over the past five years, he spent many weekends there, doctoring it up and making sure it was the perfect Cape getaway for he and his wife and their guests that rented the home via AirBnB.

The Cape Home carries a piece of his heart.

After he passed away, his wife decided to put the home on the market; she no longer had the love of her life to share it with, and she had enough on her plate with taking care of their year-round home and finishing her doctorate degree.

The house sold in a matter of days. She is set to move out of the home by mid-November.

The estate sale was for this home.

It was a difficult couple of days.

It is emotionally draining, selling the belongings of a deceased loved one:

Handing off the books whose pages he turned with his hands, the cothing that covered his back, the tools he used to build his home, the paintings that touched his very soul.

Yet, through it all, I met some of the most wonderful people.

His wife, one the most intelectual and spirital people I know.

His sister who, until the last week of his life he had been estranged, so spirited and loving.

The Cape Cod residents that came to the sale, some of the most kind and conversational people I have ever met. I could have talked to some of them for days and I felt like I knew them for much longer than only a mere 30 minutes.

This past weekend, despite the emotional and physical difficulties of it, was a gift.

It was Gordon (my colleague), bringing myself, his wife and his sister together to help us to grow and to heal.

It was a reminder that through all of the things that make life confusing and difficult, sad and frustrating, there are other things, bigger things, that make life so beautiful and worth living.

 

 

Happy Sprinkle No. 8: Authenticity

Today, I am thankful for people who make me feel unabashedly like me.

There is something so special about sharing yourself, all of yourself, with another person, without the fear of being judged, ignored or otherwise.

There is something to be said about spending time with someone who makes you feel safe and comfortable, yet more alive than you have ever felt before.

There is something so heart-warming about someone softly tickling your back because you mentioned once that is one of your very favorite things in life.

I don’t know where this is going, but I am glad that I am giving it a chance to grow into something beautiful.