1. 2014, The Year to Come

    I always find it interesting to take a look at how I’m expecting the next year of life to be and then compare it to how it actually turns out. It’s never the same, but last year’s contrast was really extreme. (Check out my predictions from 2013, 2012, 2011) This coming year holds a lot, a LOT of unknown, so let’s just throw some thoughts out there!

    2014

    From January through April is pretty set: I’ll be in Salt Lake City. Hopefully work continues to go well. I have a new company that I’m going to start working for soon and I’m pretty excited about how that’s looking. Other than that, I guess Jessica and I will continue to explore Utah (and the region in general) and maybe go back to Vegas.

    In May, Jessica and I hope to spend a few weeks road-tripping it around the country. There’s a lot of beautiful nature out here in the west that we’re both really excited to see. At the end of May, Jessica has to head back to Germany for the last phase of her internship before she becomes a pharmacist.

    Right now my plan of action is to apply for grad school in Berlin in April. My #1 choice is to study Media Anthropology at Freie Universität. Hopefully I can get in and start the 2 year program in September!

    If that ends up happening, I think I will probably go home to MA from May to September to continue working to save up as much money as possible for my masters. If I don’t get in, I think I might go to Berlin anyways and try to get a visa somehow…

    And that’s really about all I know! Scary? Yes. Exciting? Definitely.

    6 months ago  /  0 notes  / 

  2. 2013, The Year in Review

    Every website has a slew of year-in-review posts, and my blog is no exception. This is now my fourth (!) incarnation of this post and it’s definitely my favorite to do. (Check out 2010, 2011, 2012) My years never turn out how I’m expecting them to, but that’s awesome. Life is exciting. So let’s take a look back at the year that was.

    2013

    The year started off with a bang. I spent New Years in Berlin with Jessica and a bunch of friends. Scott & Jesse, 2 of my best college buds, were there and we spent the night drinking champagne and shooting fireworks on my friends’ rooftop. None of us had ever seen so many fireworks in our lives as we did that night. Everywhere you looked, it was a 360 degree panorama of explosions. It was magical.

    The next day, Scott, Jesse, and I were off for a 2.5 week trip of epic proportions. We went to Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona, Marrakesh (Morocco), and to a few different locations around those. There are enough stories from that trip to last 50 blog posts, so I’ll condense it to the maximum by saying that it was an incredible time. We experienced so many new things and had many deep conversations. Afterwards, they came and visited Jessica & I in Germany for a bit. Man, that was really a great trip.

    Shortly after that trip, I found myself on another trip. This time, I went back home to Massachusetts to surprise my family as a late Christmas present. I only told my sister and she went and picked me up at the airport. The look on my parents’ faces when I walked in the door was priceless and I will certainly never forget it.

    I spent a nice couple of weeks at home, but during that time, I also found out that I need glasses. A couple of months before, Jessica’s mom saw me squinting at things far away and told me I should get my eyes checked. So I did, and now I’m a part-time glasses wearer. I really started to feel old that day.

    I was back in Germany for just one week before I was already on another trip! Jessica and I went to Budapest for the European Yo-Yo Contest. It ended up being a great time and we were very fortunate to be hosted by my awesome teammate David Bolgarfalvy. I did decently in the contest, but it was more about going back to an awesome city that Jessica and I both love and spending time with our friends.

    Back in Germany, I continued my German courses that I had started in September 2012. Ultimately by the end of it, my German got to be quite good and I got a 1 (the highest grade) on my B1 exam!

    At the end of March, I took Jessica to Cologne as a birthday present. Neither of us had really explored the city much, so we really enjoyed walked around, having some good food, and going for a spa day. Straight off of that trip, we went to the German Yo-Yo Association’s Easter Camp, which was a nice and relaxing weekend with our yo-yo friends.

    In April, I got my visa extended, which was something that was a constant concern for me. My visa initially was set to expire at the end of May, but I wanted to stay 3 months after that. It proved to be not that difficult, which I was very thankful for.

    Starting in March and continuing to May, I was hiking a lot in preparation for doing the Way of St. James, an ancient pilgrimage in Spain. Most people start at the border of France and Spain and hike all across the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula to Santiago de Compostela, where it is believed that St. James’s remains reside. People have been doing this journey for millennia and I got all hopped up on it. In order to qualify to receive a certificate of completion, one has to walk a minimum of 100 km (62 mi). Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do the whole 1 month trail, so I did 1 week on the trail, in which I hiked 215 km (134 mi). Although it was challenging, it proved to be a life-changing experience for a number of reasons, and I’m really glad that I did it. I can’t wait to go back to Spain and do the whole thing.

    In June, I celebrated a number of occasions: my birthday, learning how to drive manual, a lot of my German friends graduating, and being done with my German courses. Additionally, Jessica and I drove to Berlin for the Berlin Juggling Convention, the location that we met 2 years prior. Again it was awesome to hang out with our friends and again, I won the yo-yo contest attached to the convention.

    July was another month of travel for me, starting with going to Scotland with my friend Gregor to hike the West Highland Way. What started off as a drunken St. Patrick’s Day deal, ended up becoming yet another incredible journey. On the way there, the airline lost our bags for 3 days, but we hiked with grocery bags anyways. We were very fortunate to have beautiful, sunny weather and by the time our bags came, we camped all the rest of the way. At the end of the trail, we climbed Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. Man, what a trip.

    Less than a week after arriving back in Germany, my mom and a friend of hers came to visit. My mom had never been to Europe before, so I was really excited to expose her to new places, cultures, and foods. We started off a couple of days in Marburg, where I was living, then went to Prague, Barcelona, Strasbourg, and back to Germany to Jessica’s hometown. It was a whirlwind 2 weeks, but everyone had an amazing time. My mom and her friend already can’t wait to go back to Europe.

    In the first half of August, I did a couple of nice 1 or 2 day hikes in Germany, and then also had to get ready to leave. My visa was set to expire, so I said goodbye to all of my friends there and headed towards home. But I didn’t go home right away. I stopped in Iceland for 1.5 weeks first.

    Iceland had been a dream destination of mine after seeing Sigur Rós’s documentary, Heima, my freshman year of college. I geared up for a 1 week hike through the harsh and barren Icelandic wilderness, but it didn’t quite work out as I planned. I made it to the starting location of the hike in the rugged interior, but stormy weather kept me from doing the long hike. I did a few day hikes around that location, which was incredibly beautiful and otherworldly. I had a few times that I genuinely feared for my life on that trip, but I made it through and learned a lot in the process. I ended up spending most of my time in Reykjavik rather than on the trail. Iceland is a really beautiful and cool place to be, but the unpredictable weather might prevent me from going back there in the future.

    From Iceland, I went back home to MA. It was really nice to go from freezing Iceland to the beaches of the North Shore one day to the next. It was also really nice to spend time with my family. Being back in the States also meant that I was finally allowed to work again and no longer had to watch my life savings hemorrhage. I found some freelance work editing wedding videos with a few companies that I continue to work for to this day. It felt/feels good to have some cash influx again.

    In October, Jessica came to visit me in MA. She had never met my family (other than my mom) in person before, so this was a really cool experience for everyone. I was able to show her the beauty of New England in the fall and we spent a lovely time all around Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

    At the end of October, we flew to Salt Lake City to begin the next phase of life. Jessica has a 6 month internship at the University of Utah, so I decided to come along. We spent the couple of months learning the city, making friends, going to see a live performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show for Halloween, starting up a local yo-yo club, and hosting/going to some little parties. Work has been going well and we’re both pretty happy here.

    The second half of December made things eventful again. First, my good friend Scott came to visit for a few days. We hadn’t seen each other since our trip at the beginning of the year, so there was (and still is) a lot of catching up to do. My parents came to visit afterwards, starting on Christmas Day. We had a great time showing them around and exploring some new places together. The day my parents left, I woke up to a text from our friend/neighbor Qin asking if Jessica and I would like to go to Vegas for New Years. We booked a room, packed our stuff, and 3 hours later, we were on our way. We spent our time walking up and down the Strip, eating amazing food (Helloooo Korean barbecue buffet!), gambling a little, and hanging out with friends. New Years in Las Vegas is something that everyone should do at some point in their lives. It was amazing.

    And that’s that! Putting it all down, makes me realize just what a crazy/awesome/crazy awesome year I’ve had. It will certainly be hard to top, but I guess I will just have to try my best in 2014!

    6 months ago  /  0 notes  / 

  3. In the course of the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel. A lot. I’ve been residing in Germany, learning the language, and living entirely off of my high school and college savings. I have the travel bug. I’ve got it bad. But fortunately, on this continent it’s easier and cheaper to get around. Therefore in the past year I’ve spent time in around 35 different cities in 9 different countries on 3 different continents. I’ve discovered my passion for hiking and hiked the Way of St. James in Spain, the West Highland Way & Ben Nevis in Scotland, and all around my home city in Germany. Next month I’ll enter into my 10th year of playing yo-yo and the influence on that in my life continues to be huge.

    This video is a collection of my past year. It is by no means exhaustive of all of the places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, and people I’ve met, but it’s not a bad start. Working on this video has inspired me to want record more of the little beautiful moments that life has presented me, so I hope next year’s video will be even bigger and better.

    Here’s to living life!

    —————

    Video is by Jeff Coons. Check out his website: jeffcoons.info
    Music is by rxn. Check him out on SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/rxn-1

    11 months ago  /  0 notes  / 

  4. Anonymous said: i saw your sexism letter and thank you for that, but , how many female throwers are in the pro scene today? -from someone who just found this website-

    It’s hard to give you an exact number, but there are definitely more female yo-yoers in the scene today than ever before. Eastern Europe and Russia in particular seem to be churning out yo-yoers like crazy these days, and I’m pleased to say that there is a strong female representation. There is a female division at the European Yo-Yo Contest that will be happening later this month, so turnout for that might be some sort of indication.

    In short though, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say somewhere between 100-200, but who knows really. I could be way off.

    (View the original post that sparked this question here: An Open Letter to the Yo-Yo Community)

    1 year ago  /  0 notes  / 

  5. My favorite albums of 2012

    Music has always played a huge role in my life and that was certainly true for 2012 as well. I started doing this list last year and I’m excited to expand and continue it this year. I highly recommend checking out all of these albums; it’s not too late! So, without further adieu, here are my favorite albums of 2012 (in alphabetical order):

    Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

    Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE

    (Download for $4)

    Frank Ocean. You know him, you love him. I’m not sure how much more I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said. It’s just one hell of a solid and unconventional debut R&B album without a prerequisite of its listeners needing to be R&B fans.

    Glocca Morra - Just Married

    Glocca Morra - Just Married

    (Stream for free)

    This is a sweet album that throws all sorts of stuff at you but still has you tapping your foot and singing along until the end. Jangly guitars, yelling, hand claps, harmonies, time shifts, thought-provoking lyrics, horns, gang vocals, etc, etc. Indie punk for people who want more.

    Hop Along - Get Disowned

    Hop Along - Get Disowned

    (Stream for free and download for $10)

    Any time a song from this album comes up on shuffle, I have to stop what I’m doing and pay attention. This album is one of those rare works that isn’t really doing anything new, but is, at the same time, totally new. It’s an album that came about 20 years too late, but also right on time. Frances, the frontwoman (writer, singer, guitarist), puts every song in front of your face and says, “This is me. Take it or leave it.” I’ll gladly take it, and put it on repeat.

    Mumford & Sons - Babel

    Mumford & Sons - Babel

    (Buy for $13)

    This is the follow-up to Mumford & Sons’s revered 2009 album, Sigh No More. And, it’s basically more of the same. But, unlike The xx’s new album, that’s not a bad thing. Babel is an incredibly well-devised folk album that’s extremely accessible. As proof, take a look at just a couple of its Grammy nominations: “Best Americana Album” and “Best Rock Song.” It seems like no one really knows how to deal with this powerhouse of a band.

    Old Neighbors - Dishwasher

    Old Neighbors - Dishwasher

    (Stream for free or download for free)

    I’m pretty sure this album is just a demo from a band that will never produce anything more, which is really a shame. Upon first listen, it doesn’t seem like anything all that special. But, once you really dig in, there’s all sorts of hidden gems scattered throughout. Punk music for thinkers.

    Purity Ring - Shrines

    Purity Ring - Shrines

    (Download for $5)

    Hipster music. Yep, got damn hipster music. But good hipster music. I don’t really know how to describe this album because it’s not too much like anything else I’ve heard. You’ve got some electronic music that occasionally borders ever-so-slightly on dubstep in the background with a pop singer going on about various strange and sometimes gruesome topics over it. It sounds like I should really hate it, but somehow it defies all logic and is incredibly addicting. I’m still scratching my head as I bop along.

    Spraynard - Exton Square

    Spraynard - Exton Square

    (Download for $4)

    This is the only band that’s a repeat from last year’s list because I firmly believe that Spraynard is one of the best bands in punk out there right now. Exton Square is just an EP, but it already shows the band pushing their style and quality forward. Reminds me a bit of what Blink-182 did with their self-titled 2003 album. The opener of this EP, “Can I Borrow a Feeling?” stands out amongst the best pop punk songs I’ve ever heard. If this is a sign of things to come, then it seems like 2013 is going to be The Year of Spraynard.

    Sundials - When I Couldn't Breathe

    Sundials - When I Couldn’t Breathe

    (Stream and download for free)

    Sing-a-long pop punk that’s simple and fun. Easy as that.

    Title Fight - Floral Green

    Title Fight - Floral Green

    (Download for $7)

    According to Wikipedia, Title Fight is a hardcore band or a pop punk band or an emo band or a post hardcore band or an indie rock band or maybe just no one knows what the hell they are. And it really doesn’t matter because in September, they released one of the best albums of 2012. Floral Green, along with all of their albums, is the kind of music that begs for repeat listens in order to try to be fully understood. I still don’t think I’ve totally got it, but all I need to know is that it’s always a good time to throw some Title Fight on the stereo, crank the dial to 11, and just feel it.

    You Blew It! - Grow Up, Dude

    You Blew It! - Grow Up, Dude

    (Stream for free or buy for $10)

    When I listen to this album, I feel like I have my ear pressed to the basement door and am hearing music coming straight from the heart. It sounds like it’s just not meant to be heard by anyone. It’s too personal, not just in lyrical content, but in the way that the music is presented as well. To me, this achieves what every emo album hopes to achieve.

    1 year ago  /  6 notes  / 

  6. 2013, The Year to Come

    Life has a lot of surprises in store. When I was writing last year’s version of this post (and to a lesser extent, the year before’s), I was pretty much in the dark. I didn’t really have any idea what my year was going to look like. And this year’s version is going to be very similar to that. There’s a lot of things that are still very up in the air. But that’s what keeps life interesting, right?

    2013

    At the very least, I know that my year is going to start off with a bang. I’m going to be in Berlin celebrating New Year’s. Fresh off of those shenanigans, two of my LA roommates, Scott and Jesse, and I will be heading off on a trip to Palma de Mallorca for 4 days, Barcelona for 3 days, Marrakech (my first time in Africa!) for 4 days, Girona for 1.5 days, and then heading back to my home of Marburg where they will stay for a couple of days before making their way back to LA. Should be awesome.

    Two weeks later, I’ll be off on another trip for 2 weeks. One week after I get back from that trip, my girlfriend Jessica and I will be going to Budapest for a long weekend for the European Yo-Yo Contest. Then there’s a two month rest before (hopefully) heading to Istanbul for the European Yo-Yo Meeting.

    In April/May I’ll be moving from Marburg to Montabaur, to Jessica’s parents house. She’s going to be doing the first half of a year-long internship there. We have plans to do a good amount of weekend-tripping while we’re living there because of the town’s close proximity to a lot of cool places.

    But during all that time I’ll also be continuing to learn German at the language school I’m attending. My visa goes until the end of May. I have the opportunity to extend it for another 3 months, which I will be applying for when the time comes. If that works out, I’ll be staying in Germany until the end of August.

    Regardless, whenever my visa is up, I’ll be going home to work for some time. In October/November, Jessica will be coming to the States to live and finish up her internship time. Right now she has secured a spot in a program in Salt Lake City. I’ve never been there or even to that part of the country, so if we end up living there, it will certainly be an interesting experience.

    While the first half or so of the year seems to be pretty much locked down, the rest is so open-ended that I’m really interested to see where this all goes. So, here’s to 2013 being a great year!

    1 year ago  /  0 notes  / 

  7. 2012, The Year in Review

    2 years ago, I started doing these year-review and year-ahead posts. It’s always really interesting to take a look and see how I thought my year would go and how it actually ended up turning out. It’s also a great way to summarize and see how far I’ve come in just a year’s time. This year’s post is certainly no exception.

    2012

    Looking back over the past 2 year-review posts (2010 & 2011), it’s easy to see where my life was focused and what it revolved around: college. 2012 was my first year of post-college life, which also makes it easy to see how small all of those seemingly big things actually were… But I digress.

    Only 1 month after finishing my last college class, I found myself on a plane to Germany. I was off to live with my girlfriend, Jessica, in Marburg. But, before that life could start, we took a quick jaunt to the European Yo-Yo Contest in Prague. It was a really interesting experience and was one of the coolest contests I’ve ever been to. I competed in the international division and got last place. (Hey, I was competing against world champions!)

    After the contest, I began the process of trying to find a job in a country where I (1) had hardly any connections and (2) didn’t speak the language. Yep, I’m crazy. Needless to say, that didn’t pan out. I spent nearly 3 months searching for and applying for anything and everything I could possibly find. I was averaging about 5-10 applications per week and… nothing. Not even a single interview. Dang.

    But, spending those 3 months with Jessica was just great. It really showed me that I was in the right place and doing the right thing even if my employment situation was trying to tell me otherwise. We had a lot of fun, including a trip to Berlin, experiencing German Karnival, going to a spa for the first time, and hanging out at the German Easter Camp.

    But, there is a maximum amount of time that a non-EU resident can live in the EU without a visa. And that is 3 months. And then I would have to wait at least another 3 months before I could go back. Double dang.

    So, April saw me heading back home and furiously applying for jobs. Thankfully I landed a whole bunch of freelance work with a ton of different companies. I was editing and doing graphics for local news broadcasts GoLocalProv and GoLocalWorcester, teaching high school students at the New England Film Academy, creating videos for Dr. Donald Pelto, handing out samples of frozen yogurt for Sweet Scoops, and doing yo-yoing performances for Duncan Toys, just to name a few. I was working anywhere from 40-80 hours a week (usually around 60) from May to August. It was nuts.

    When I got back from Germany in April I went to the Rhode Island State Yo-Yo Contest. It was a fun little competition. I got 2nd place in the X division and had fun hanging out with the old New England yo-yoers again.

    In May, there was Senior Week. This was my last hurrah as an undergrad. Even though I was already graduated and had the diploma at home, I still hadn’t felt like I graduated. The week of being back in Boston, partying with my college friends, and then having the graduation ceremony, walking across the stage, and shaking the president of the college’s hand sealed the deal. It was the closure that I needed.

    And, throughout the time of working my ass off, I managed to do some fun things as well. I went to the American Craft Beer Festival with my sister Sam for my birthday, went to Gloucester with my family for a long weekend, hiked Mount Wachusett, and took a trip to one of my favorite cities, Montreal, with my mom and my friend Katelyn. That last one was a really big thing for me. The past 2 years I’ve been globetrotting, much to my mom’s jealousy. She has the same wanderlust as I do, but hasn’t been able to take advantage of it like I have. This was my first opportunity to share an amazing experience with her in a foreign country. It was great. (Okay, I know Canada isn’t exactly foreign, but Quebec feels like it to me due to the French.)

    At the end of August, I was off again for Germany. This time Jessica and I figured out that I could get a visa for just simply taking a German language course. That way I could stay without restrictions and learn the language at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone, as they say. And it’s been a very enriching experience. German certainly isn’t an easy language to learn, but I’m enjoying the process. Of course I’m also enjoying living with my lovely girlfriend as well… :)

    Aside from that, this year’s yo-yo contest season was good to me too. I competed at the German National Yo-Yo Contest in Leipzig and placed 1st in 4A and 2nd in 5A and 2A. Two weeks later I headed to Vienna for the Austrian National Yo-Yo Contest and placed 2nd in the International X division and 4th in the International 1A division. Going to Vienna was yet again another fun time thanks to friends there.

    So that brings us to now, the end of the year, where I just spent my first Christmas away from home. Jessica’s family was all too generous and extremely welcoming. It was hard to be away from my family of course, but I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Christmas in Germany is just lovely.

    Looking back at the year, it’s really amazing how different it turned out to be than what I was expecting. This was my first year that I lived the majority of it outside of my home state, never mind outside of my home country. All there is to say is: Man. It’s been one hell of a ride.

    1 year ago  /  0 notes  / 

  8. Anonymous said: I think you're really attractive and I have a really extreme yo-yo fetish and I've been stalking your life for about an hour and you grew up like 15 minutes from my house and I think its really cool that you drink tea. I wish you would be my boyfriend but I know this sounds really creepy. I really, really like yo-yos. I also like your post on sexism that made me so happy you have no idea at all whatsoever. I like you.

    Wow. I’m flattered. I don’t think I’ve had a secret admirer since I was in 7th grade. But… a yo-yo fetish? Is that, like, a thing? As in, are there porn websites, forums, and blogs out there for the yo-yo fetishists of the world?

    Also, do I know you, mystery person?

    1 year ago  /  0 notes  / 

  9. An Open Letter to the Yo-Yo Community

    Dear Yo-Yo Community,

    Over the past years, it has come to my attention that we have a big problem within the community. This problem is: women.

    When I got into yo-yoing in 2003, I could have counted the amount of female yo-yo players on one hand. Today, with the international scene as big as it is and the power of the internet bringing us all closer together, it seems like there are more female yo-yo players than ever before. And this is a great thing.

    What is not great however, is the treatment of these women within the boys’ club called the “yo-yo community.” I’ve had these thoughts rolling around in my head for quite some time, but today I saw something that put me over the edge and willed me to write this. On Facebook, a yo-yo player (who will not be named) wrote,

    "I tried to grow tits, so I’d get sponsored more easily"

    This status update (at time of writing, approx. 3 hours after it was posted) had 10 likes from male yo-yo players from the USA, Germany, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the UK and 3 supportive comments with several likes each. Therefore, the issue in question is not limited to one country or one sub-community, but specifically one gender from one community. Perhaps this is not reflective of only our community, but of society as a whole. But I’m not here to make broad sociocultural deductions. My concern lies within our small, tight-knit yo-yo community. This “problem,” “issue,” and “concern” that I’m referring to already has a name and that name is “sexism.”

    That’s right yo-yo community, I’m calling you out as a sexist, immature boys’ club. And it’s not just for this one instance, it’s for a long line of injustices committed against several, if not all, of the wonderful female members within our community. For example, at EYYC this past year, I can remember the way that the guys made sick sexual jokes about Ann Connolly (who’s arguably the face of the female yo-yo community) and how uncomfortable she looked in many situations. I can remember at that same contest how Jessica Noll (a yo-yoer in the community for 13 years and also my girlfriend) had “Yo-Yo Bitch” chanted at her the moment she stepped on stage. The list goes on and on.

    Guys, women are people too. They are not objects. They have feelings just like you and I. The way that you’re treating the women in our community will do nothing but drive them away. So be respectful. In fact, for all human beings, just simply follow The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    2013 is quickly approaching and it’s time for a change. Whose side are you on?

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Coons

    PS: Please share this around, translate into your language for others to read, etc. Sure, this may bring me flak, but if it inspires just one person to re-evaluate their view towards women, then it is worth it to me. Thank you.

    1 year ago  /  13 notes  /