Anyway, You Can Make that Call

The piano notes were unmistakable as I entered the liquor store. I froze in my tracks.

“Ryan, I can’t believe this. They’re playing some incredibly niche Paul McCartney in here. Like, 2005 Paul McCartney. It’s an album my dad always played — Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. See, this is why Weber is the best.”

I am incredibly fond of Weber Street Liquor. It’s the liquor store for my alma mater, Colorado College. Students frequent this place so often, when school starts back up in August, Weber hangs a banner out front that says “Welcome home, Tigers!” My roommate, Marta, and I were regulars during our college years. Recognizing that we knew virtually nothing about craft beer, we embarked on a beer “connoisseurship.” We’d build a mix-and-match 6-pack (affectionately dubbed a “mixy sixy”) with some arbitrary rule (e.g. select only beers in purple cans). Then we’d proceed to split each beer over the course of the week, rate them out of 5, and write up a review. I would tape a torn piece of scrap paper to the can with our summary, and Marta would plant a succulent in the can. The good old days. read more

A Little Cup of Chocolate

“His last name is just so rare and fun-sounding, I have to believe it must mean something very specific — like, ‘little cup of chocolate.'”

I laughed and shook my head at my dad. We were heading to Colorado to visit family friends in Grand Lake, but first with a stop to the Front Range. There, we’d visit Colorado College, my eventual alma mater (though at the time I was undecided) and link up with my dad’s friend, John (“Captain”), in Boulder. My dad had asked Captain if he knew of any climbing guides who could take me out on some real rock. One of the strongest pulls for me to go to college in Colorado was rock climbing, but as a primarily gym climber, I wanted to see and feel the rocks myself. Captain knew just the guy: Rob Coppolillo. Or as my dad would henceforth refer to him, Rob ‘Little Cup of Chocolate.’ read more

An Adventure of Adventures

I recently caught up with my family friend, John Mann, over a beer in Colorado Springs. He was asking me what’s new, as he always does. I always seem a bit of a mess, too restless to ever stop flitting from one activity to another. I told him how some things had all come to a head this last month, and he responded, “Sounds like you were running so fast, you got caught.” I could not have said it better myself.

Ryan likes to drive me crazy by saying ridiculous pithy statements. He’ll say something like, “What a time to have a time,” in a magnanimous dad voice, or, “Well, I guess it’s about that time we shut our eyes, don’t you think?” I think that despite my exasperation, I’m still slightly amused because these comments aren’t that rare for actual dads to say. As someone who has lots of “dad friends,” I hear these inane statements all the time. Even in my work, I review off-road trail submissions by dads across the country, writing the same practically meaningless comments. My favorite recently: “This trail is an adventure of adventures.” read more

#Sponsored

Ever since working for Clif Bar & Company, I’ve had an obsession with the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. At Clif, I’d read articles daily about flavor trends, new products, and consumer insights. I can’t say why I was so interested, but I got hooked. I’d look for specific releases at the store and tell people about the rise of probiotics and nostalgic flavors.

Concurrently, I was semi-jokingly trying to get “sponsored” by Clif. Really, I just wanted Clif (or any other admirable CPG brand) to send me free products that I would then post about on Instagram through silly videos and pictures. I didn’t want to be paid, necessarily; I just wanted to rep brands I liked and not pay for their products. I do a lot of fun outdoor activities — wouldn’t brands love to see me making posts about their products while I’m jogging down a mountain trail or hanging off a boulder? read more

What do a t-shirt, car, and book have in common?

I was rummaging through the guest bathroom drawers when I found the white t-shirts. Wrapping up a short visit to my grandparents at their condo in Longboat Key, I was checking for any missing items to pack. It was a stack of undershirts. Nothing out of the ordinary – mostly Hanes brand – a few more rumpled than others. I knew immediately that they belonged to my grandfather. In an instant, I was sure I would take one. I inspected their sizes and fits (and honestly, their cleanliness – my grandfather is where I get my tendency to spill food on myself) and settled on a V-neck. Into the suitcase it went. read more

Can you add just a little maple syrup?

New year, same me. 2024 arrived without any bells and whistles, and I’m alright with it. I don’t find myself accidentally writing or typing 2023, mercifully. 2023 was so tumultuous that 2024, in contrast, entered the room calm, cool, and collected.

My new friend, Maddie, introduced me to the idea of your “magnetic” self. It’s a version of you that you haven’t quite reached, but it’s an elevated version — a version you are striving for. We were out climbing with her partner, Eric, who was struggling on his project (a 5.14, the animal that he is). She was explaining how Eric’s magnetic self could be the Eric that sends 5.14 with strength and grace, even though current Eric is doing a messy job of it right now. read more

Buzz or Woody?

I recently stopped by Ryan’s house to make lunch. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Ryan was still coming back from an appointment, and his mom, Doris, insisted I eat a small bowl of soup before he got back. She had just made chicken and rice with carrots, and she quickly fixed me a bowl, heating it up and sprinkling pepper on top. I couldn’t complain.

Ryan eventually returned and helped himself to soup too. Maybe we didn’t really need to cook, after all. When we don’t eat a meal, we eat kind of a smorgasbord of snacks instead, which I’m always fine with. Ryan proceeded to pull out yogurt and make two bowls, adding honey, granola, and raspberries. Then he opened a packet of Clif Thins, spread both with peanut butter, drizzled some honey on top, and handed me one. A somewhat random lunch, but pretty tasty. read more

27

It was the first week of October that got me thinking.

I had been back in Colorado Springs for less than a week, and I was catching up with my friend Jenny over a trail run and coffee. We had been discussing a variety of things, when she paused mid-sentence and asked, “How old are you again?”

“26. Turning 27 next month.”

“Man, you’re still so young. But I will say — 27 was a hard year. Not just for me, but it seemed like it was difficult for a lot of my friends. It’s something about being 5 years out of college, wondering if you’re on the right path…” read more

Where in the world is Juantonio?

As I settle back into my life in Colorado Springs, it feels as though I’ve never left. All of my routines and rhythms are unchanged. I’m running my trails and climbing at my gym and cooking my staple meals in my kitchen. Life is peaceful, and though I am not racing out on an adventure for the foreseeable future, I am so grateful that I did. Being back has shown me that you’ve got to get out there; home will always be waiting for you when you’ve had enough. Below are some sporadic thoughts I had on the trip — perhaps not full posts unto themselves, but things I noted to write about. read more

Origin Story

Camping makes you vulnerable. I don’t mean this in some sort of poetic way. It’s just a fact that when you’re stripped of all your amenities and are forced to poop outside, you can get a little anxious. Now that I’ve been camping for the past 8 years, I’m pretty comfortable getting back to basics. I’m not the most rugged or extreme. Yes, I’ve done some backcountry trips, but you know how absolutely luxurious car camping is? I could do it forever.

And I almost am. read more

Sometimes I Think It’s a Tuesday

One of my favorite aspects of reading Lord of the Rings is the very niche verbiage Tolkien uses. The best word he uses, in my opinion, is errantry: the quality, condition, or fact of wandering; especially : a roving in search of chivalrous adventure. If I could use a word to synthesize how I wish my life to be … it would be that one.

Sometimes I think that I am so logistically-obsessed that I never leave room for things to just happen seamlessly. In other words, I always think I’m going encounter some sort of snag or hurdle that will hamper my plans. (It reminds me of a great quote from my grandmother, Joan Rita Laico: “I always assume I’m gonna get screwed over, and I usually do!” … but not that extreme.) read more

A Little Worse than a Bloody Nose

When people bring up the TV show Ted Lasso, I always commend it for its approach to mental health. I truly feel it destigmatizes the subject in a way that’s not overbearing but seeks to educate its viewers — particularly the episode in which Ted has a panic attack. As a person who’s had panic attacks in the past, I felt the episode did an accurate job of depicting the sensation of one. How your surroundings can be perfectly harmless — fun, even — but as the individual, everything feels wrong. Your sense of reality gets lost in the fray. read more

I’m Man Enough to Say That’s My Bad

You know those times in life that try as you might, it seems like the universe is working against you? Life feels a little like that right now. I can’t really complain — I’m healthy, (still) employed, and manage to find joy in every day. I suppose the frustration lies in how the effort I’m putting into things seems to prove a little fruitless. Things will turn around eventually, I’m certain. I wouldn’t have made it this long if it weren’t for that firmly held belief: that even though I don’t know how or when, the dust will settle. I will be OK. Waiting patiently for that dust to settle can be a tall order at times, though. read more

I Only Came for Peanut Butter

January 3rd had every right to be a crappy day. It was the first day back to work. Holiday blues were setting in. Resolutions had already been broken (dry January ended for me at 7 p.m. on January 1, when I unblinkingly accepted a glass of champagne). And just the knowledge that it was only day three of arguably the worst month of the year zapped pretty much all motivation out of me.

I had been juggling a handful of projects prior to Christmas break, and I was absolutely dreading having to catch them, left suspended in mid-air for two weeks. What was my job again? What do I even do for a living? The answers weren’t there. read more

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

Last year, I made one of my New Year’s resolutions “eat more cake.” It had occurred to me that we often reserve cake for solely birthdays, when it’s a dessert worth having on a much more regular basis. I am proud to say that I CRUSHED that resolution.

Other resolutions I actually fulfilled included “do/see more things that blow your mind” and “have an espresso martini.” I failed, however, to have a hair-braiding party, buy more blue potatoes and purple carrots, and explore more national parks. read more

I’m Pretty Good at Giving Toasts

It’s the time of year that every publication posts best-of lists and every app has your personalized year in review. We all feel this need to summarize our year, to look back on the last 12 months with some newfound wisdom or growth. People always characterize their year as “full of ups and downs” as if that weren’t how life simply is. Still, I suppose the end of the year is as good a time as any to reflect, for if life weren’t punctuated this way, when would we?

This year felt very eventful and honestly exhausting compared to the last couple. Obviously, there was a pandemic at play, but in 2021, I did go to the Tokyo Olympics for a month, and that was enough taxing on my body (and brain) to last the entire year. This year didn’t have so many momentous moments per se, but it just had a constant restlessness, more so than the norm. In contrast, I remember 2019 feeling like an actually momentous year: running my first marathon, graduating from college, starting my first real jobs. There were some big LIFE moments that year. read more

We Didn’t Start the Fire

Tomorrow, I’m going to compete in a climbing competition for the first time since middle school. I’ve always been unnecessarily stressed by individual competition, which is why I avoided running track beyond 9th grade and felt genuinely relieved to walk away from climbing competitions when I went to boarding school. There were some climbing comps in college, but I either purposely showed up to them too late (maybe tipsy) or was one of the monitors to set the boulder problems, thus eliminating myself. read more

My Corgi and I, Growing Together

It was a hard week. I knew I was signing myself up for mental and emotional exhaustion this month and the next with all of the activity I had planned. I arrived home on Sunday having been gone since Labor Day. In the time between, I had been from Colorado Springs to Durango to Ouray to Telluride back to Ouray to Colorado Springs to San Francisco to Fort Collins and back again. All of those travels had been well worth it; I reconnected with college friends, ran the sickest race of my life, finally met some of my coworkers in person, and did some adventuring with relatively new, but lovely friends in Colorado. I was set to leave for home in New York on Thursday, with a concert in Boulder on Wednesday, so I planned to hunker down at home for the few days in between. Sometimes life doesn’t care if you have a plan, though. read more

What did you learn today?

In the past two months, I got COVID, ran an inordinate number of ill-conceived and hot miles, traveled to Clif Bar headquarters, dog sat seven pups across three different towns, and limped to the finish line, a bachelorette weekend (though very mellow) in Savannah. I probably spent a week total in my own home in July. And as exhausted as I am, I know that once I settle back down in Colorado Springs, I’ll start bitching about how BORED I am after about a week. I think I’m resigned to living my life in this constant battle between hating and craving routine. I suppose I’m living consciously enough that I care one way or the other. read more

Reclaim Your Joy / Have a Time

I started a post in February and now it’s complete. Better late than never I guess … but also there wasn’t a deadline?

In Colorado, having a car is somewhat non-negotiable. Unless you live in Boulder or Denver, the public transportation is so poor that it can take you up to two hours to get somewhere that takes 15 minutes in Colorado Springs. The Springs is relatively bike-able (nowhere near the immaculately designed Boulder bike paths, but you can get from point A to B), but chances are, you’re not trying to hang out in Colo Spgs all the time. read more

A Certain Softness

The word optimization seems to be dominating my life lately. Optimize your omnichannel strategy to see the greatest ROI. Optimize your supplement and protein intake to repair muscles faster. Optimize your peanut butter to jelly ratio for the perfect sandwich. You get the idea. For a while, I used this buzzword frequently, thinking I sounded knowledgeable when I did so. Now, I find the whole concept dizzying. While optimization isn’t perfection, it is striving for it, in a sense — and that’s why it feels unattainable at times. read more

I’ve Got a Feeling

I’ve been accumulating a lot of thoughts over the past month, fluctuating between waves of feeling so compelled to write and feeling like writing is the last thing I want to do. I’ve always thought that writing was the way I was meant to express myself — that it would express my feelings better than anything else could. I still believe this, fundamentally, but I lately feel at a loss for expressing myself, period. It’s good and bad. Good, in the sense that I truly do feel like I’m living in the present. I’m taking one day at a time, not looking too far ahead, not dwelling on the past. At the same time, my head and my heart seem to be all out of whack. read more

Know Thyself

I lately have felt like all of my thoughts are just recycled. It’s probably because I do the same dang things all the time and am stuck with myself 100% of the time; when there’s little variability in your life, why would your thoughts radically change?

Something inside me wants to believe that I’m thinking the same things because these thoughts are truly important to mull over. However, I proofread the following snippets multiple times, and all I can confirm is that I’m just getting more self-absorbed. And so I’ve named this post “Know Thyself” simply because that’s all these snippets are indicative of — that I know myself, maybe to a fault. read more

Is This Anything?

I was home a couple weeks ago when I noticed a book by Jerry Seinfeld on my dad’s bedside table. I’m very fond of Seinfeld despite not having watched his show nor stand-up very much. The book is titled, “Is This Anything?” and my dad explained that it’s about Seinfeld’s thought process. When he’s coming up with a bit, he brings up the idea with friends and asks, “Is this anything?” e.g., “What about a bit on how useless cotton balls are to men? Is there anything there?” and the friends will either confirm that there’s something or reject it outright. read more

If that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that moving always sucks; it just can suck a little less sometimes.”

That was my career counselor and dear friend, John “Chief” Mann. I just finished moving a couple of days ago, and we were catching up over beers. I had to agree; I’ve moved countless times over the past six years, usually by myself, and it’s never been fun. The times I have been given help, I’ve actually gotten tearful out of gratitude. I can’t help but getting emotional over a move, between “this is the end of an era” and “oh my God, why do I own so much crap?” read more

Much Love for the Familiar

I’ve been feeling a lot of nostalgia lately, or perhaps, comfort in the familiar.

For instance, I saw a fox while I was out running about a month ago. Looking at it, it brought me back to the outdoor trip I led with my current roommate several years ago, a freshman orientation trip doing trail work on Mount Yale. This trip would solidify our friendship and also reveal to me that the fox is my spirit animal. Ever since that trip, I have seen foxes pretty regularly, and it usually happens while running. There’s a strange connection I feel when I see them. We seem to lock eyes, and it’s almost as if I am Mr. Fox, gazing in awe at the wolf at the end of Fantastic Mr. Fox, the movie. The spell always breaks when we start to run separate ways. read more

A Tribute to the Queen of Good

Millie always brought you a gift when you got home. It could be an old shoe, a book, even someone’s homework.

She loved to ride in the car, though anything above her cruising speed, 35 miles per hour, was too fast for her. With her long eyelashes and eyebrows, I suspected that riding was the only time she could fully see.

Millie was messy, with a constantly slimy beard, burs in her fur, and muddy feet. But she was beautiful. And when you told her she was beautiful, she’d look at you with eyes that said, “I know it.” read more

I Donut Have an Obsession

It’s more about the quest for the donut than the donut itself.

I’m fairly certain that my coworkers all think I’m obsessed with donuts. Much of this is owed to my affinity for Dunkin’, which I talk about incessantly. I can’t help it that I run on Dunkin’ and that I get major points and deals through Dunkin’s app and that I am very serious about getting sponsored as a trail runner by Dunkin’. In Colorado, where the ubiquity of Dunkin’ is abysmal compared to the East Coast, I have developed a Dunkin’ radar. Wherever I am, I know where the closest Dunkin’ is. (There are 4 in the Springs; one in Montrose and north Boulder; several in south Denver, including off exit 196 and also south Broadway … I could continue.) This obsession is undeniable, but it causes confusion. Certainly, when I get my iced caramel macchiato with skim milk at Dunkin’, I am inclined to purchase an accompanying donut, but that’s not always the case. Why? Because I pursue donuts as a quest, not an afterthought. read more

33,433.68

I was reading an article about the deteriorating mental health of young people during the pandemic. It was depressing. Psychiatrists believe the incidence of depression and anxiety is so severe among youth right now, that a mental health pandemic is occurring parallel to the virus. I can’t say I was surprised by what I read, but still, I’d like to think things are going to turn out alright in the end. But then I considered all the times in the past year that things didn’t seem like they’d turn out at all. read more

I Only Say I’m Sorry When I’m Wrong Now, News Reporters, and “A Tool is a Tool”

About a week ago, I was finishing up a run and listening to a playlist I had made a friend for Christmas. Despite being the creator of said playlist, I had forgotten that I put a song titled “I Only Say I’m Sorry When I’m Wrong Now” on it, by Cheekface. The song itself is very deadpan and cheeky (no pun intended), and it never ceases to amuse me. But as I listened to it, bearing in mind that the year was coming to a close, I couldn’t help but feel like it actually had some serious wisdom. The chorus goes as follows: read more

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