As my time comes to an end here in Brazil I started to realize a couple of things.
1. I’m tired of being in Rio. Cariocas have worn me out and I miss the familiar places and faces of the DMV and, of course, my family. I miss the hell out of home for most part of every day. I miss driving in a car, and having money, and being able to go out and get tacos and vent in my own native language without have to think about conjugations and pronouns every time I open my mouth. I miss being able to have deep conversations with someone about the practically of fixed blade knives over folded, the most effective way to choke someone, and or the best way to execute a high crouch. I miss being able to get mad and tell people how I REALLY feel because lord knows you can’t really tell someone off in your 3rd language without sounding like some kind of spastic Donald Duck. I miss common sense. Logic. Free night and weekend minutes. The dollar store. The beltway. 95. Petworth. Hoodbridge. The $200 something dollar fine for riding on the HOV. I miss all the familiar places like Malcom X park, Azteca, or the baseball fields behind WaWa.
I used to say that Americans lacked culture and values. It was all about McDonalds and money… But now I would kill to be walking through Bus Boys and Poets running my fingers over the brand new books before sitting down to poetry with a peanut butter sandwich. I want to chill with people that know who Meth and Red are, laugh at the same jokes, and who understand why I get pissed off every time I see a Redskins hat in Rio because SERIOUSLY why the hell is there so much Redskins apparel in Rio?!?!
Gabriel, Marcos Vitor, and me with Professor Nogueira
after fighting int he PRVT event in the Cantagalo Favela
After 3 years of being away from home, I’ll never say we have no culture again.
2. I don’t want to leave Rio. I miss home, but I don’t know what to do with it. I didn’t want it when I had it so I’m not sure why I’m going back. Except that I’m tired of new people and I want my black belt. I assume there are still people expecting me to come back and get a job teaching again… they don’t know me very well. Have a salary was great, and I loved my kids (I was a teacher in D.C.), but its exhausting going to work everyday just to watch a broken system failing more and more as the days progress. Don’t get me wrong, its exhausting trying to deal with the outright corruption that’s rampant in Brazil, but at least I can explicitly see the importance in what I do. I know that if I don’t get up and go to work (lies I stay in bed but I am working) that 5 people won’t have money for food for their trip next week and 16 kids won’t fight next month and no one is going to print out the bill for the internet (not that we are going to pay it anywhere near on time anyway).
Filming with Academia Gorila from Poland in the Cantagalo Favela
This girl turned out to be one of those assholes that I trusted,
trained, and paid to work with me... you live and you learn
At my old job the principal sent me on a 3 day quest for books they never ordered to teach a curriculum no one ever wrote because the teacher quit/was fired… but then re-hired as the director of education in another branch of the school!
I could still be teaching in D.C., and you know, paying those student loans that I owe, but I’m not. I started a blog, that turned into a business that is benefiting a lot of people where I live. I learned to edit videos, subtitle videos… had to learn a language to do that, write articles, translate interview, translate private lesson, hustle private lesson, hustle favela tours, harass photographers for high definition photos for print, organize international charity tours, smuggle supplements into a country, smuggle merchandise out of a country, pass guard like a boss, produce something that appears to be a legit financial statement, deliver kimonos to the north side (I don’t care how favelada I may seem I keep my ass on the south side), and orient black belts and UFC fighters who want to come train in Rio…. And I’ve managed to do that all while making an estimated 300 dollars a month.
I worked with Deus Fight Co to design the TKP logo and now
Shoyoroll is selling TKP shirts for the European Charity Tour
that Thomas Oyarzun is doing for the project.
I don’t know what I’m going to do in the U.S. or where i'm going to live. I definitely plan to hit up Renzo Gracie’s in PA and hope they are still gracious enough to let me train there for free (I most definitely have kept both my t-shirts and my rashgaurd with me here in brazil) and then once I can’t take the suburbs of Philly anymore… its off to sleeping on couches and training MMA in VA.
3. I’m not staying home. There was a point when everyone wanted to know when I was coming back. “When I feel like it” was always my answer. I wasn’t lying. Now I feel like its time to come home, but I don’t know what I’ll do and I don’t know where I’ll stay. I do know I’ll keep moving till I find it though… and despite my desire to get my black belt. I have no intentions of messing with that winter business.
I recently read a quote by a Swedish musician:
“I will never lose the love of arriving. But I was born to leave.”
Unfortunately that seems to be my present predicament.
I don’t regret it. Like I said, everyday I can see the impact of my actions on the lives of others, but notably, being alone fucking blows I’m tired of doing everything for myself and for other people. I’m tired of not being able to trust people and finding out people I trust are actually pretty big assholes while the biggest assholes in my life are more often than not more helpful than friends.
So the fourth and last thing that I’ve learned in Brazil is
Photo by Josue Wong Baez
4. Trust no one, tell no one, and cover your ass at all times.
I just mind my business and train BJJ.