Move forward

I’m in this cross roads in life.  I should either get a job or go back to school.  An unalterable fact is that I’m going through physical therapy for my ACL surgery recovery for the next 6 months.  I had to decide fairly quickly so earlier this week I went to my local community college and applied.  It is fairly daunting to go back to school, especially being 34, but if you put all the anxiety behind you everything will work out.  I took a pretest for my basic college skills.  Basic math and pre-alegebra, English reading and English composition.  I did horrible at math and English composition.  I understand that I suck at math, I hated it in school.  But English!? It’s my mother tongue.  I also write constantly in my journal, text, letters, and postcards, but rarely on this blog.  It’s honestly something I avoid trying to be good at, or even average at, because I didn’t need to write well in any of my jobs that I’ve had. (Navy Eval writing doesn’t count.) Regardless of my skills I need to improve on these subjects if I want a better life.  Not just to be good in school or avoid remedial classes.  If that is the result I will accept it.

I bought a cliff notes my review book and I’m going to read some English writing books I had on my book shelf.  My test is in 11 days. I’ll be using this blog to be an experiment of sort for my writing improvement.  I thank everyone and anyone who actually reads my writing, I know I should proofread and organize my thoughts better.  I don’t do it well because I never really was taught how to write a blog.  I usually type in a stream of consciousness way.  The way I usually write letters, postcards, or journal entries. 

I have this feeling that school gives me a new excitement for life.  A new chapter.

 

Learn to draw

This video came on my Youtube video feed.  I feel he should be highlighted for his work and effort.  It’s a long video to watch but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insightful.  There were times I walked away from the computer and I just listened to the sound.  Give it a watch or a listen.

I struggle with what this guy struggled with, learning art.  I went to art school too.  Volen, the artist in the video,  basically wanted to learn about art six years ago.  Fast forward to 2019 and he learned so much on his own as described in his video.  He goes through his processes, mistakes and failures, and what he learned out of all of it.  He explains everything so humbly, as if he was an amateur even though from my perspective he is very good.  He knows there is so much to learn still and he came a long way.  At the end of the video he explains the trap of Youtube and learning from people on the net. As though he was afraid  he was one of those people you shouldn’t listen to.  A self conscious statement but a humble one.  I think because he comes from a place of not knowing anything about art and then becoming very experienced on his own is very encouraging for others.  I believe he should keep posting and inspiring others.  The volume and amount of work he has accomplished is very impressive.

I look at Volen’s work and I realize that if I want to become an artist I have to work hard.  The problem with that is I still think the path is undefined.  I feel like art is so broad that it can’t be taught by just one person.  (Can that statement be used for Jiu Jitsu as well?) For example. He just kept taking classes from different online instructors and sources.  He kept self correcting his mistakes after. There are so many ways to create a picture. I think art school was such a waste because it was a lot of self discovery, and fixing your own mistakes.  It isn’t a black and white test sheet.  I feel like that was the conundrum of art school.  They want you to grow as an artist while completing assignments.  The goal is to learn and grow, not to produce things to grade.  The problem is both teacher and student get lost in that dichotomy.  Maybe the small schools of atelier got it right.  I don’t know I have never been, but I have seen their art and students work. Ateliers are workshops/schools where there are masters teaching apprentices a certain discipline.  I sometimes wonder if that will be a better choice than going back to art school.

This was a good video for me because recently I’ve pondering going back to school.  I was thinking about going back to art school because I was so close to finishing.  No other degree peaks my interest.  Maybe English or creative writing.  I like hedge my bets.  I really enjoy traveling and languages.  So maybe I’ll be an English teacher in South Korea or Spain.  A reason why I don’t go to an Atelier to learn how to draw and paint.  It doesn’t have a degree attached to it.  So I can’t use my GI bill. I want to make the most out of every benefit the military offered me.

What I learned from this post.  I need to produce more volume.  It will be a long road.  Although it seems like the journey is well worth it.

Week 7 Post Surgery

I know, I know. It has been a long time between posts.   It just isn’t on my to do lists.

A few things to report on the past few weeks.

Cloth Drawings.

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Purpose of the Drawings.  I want to get better.  I need to work on a portfolio. I think back of Daniel Adel’s Paper drawings.  Amazing. It really is practice.  I went back to drawing instead of water color because to paint you really have to be a good draftsman.

A failed Comic book.  On my birthday I tried to do a 24 hour comic since I couldn’t travel or do anything I wanted to do like Jiu Jitsu.  I wanted to do a comic about my travels in 2017.  It was a good subject.  I just didn’t have enough skill, experience or drawing endurance to complete such a task.  It was a major undertaking.  I learned a lot from the experience.  My curiosity peaked to study the world of comics and drawing more.  I read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud again. Then I read Making Comics. Now I’m reading Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner.  It is a project I still want to do in the future. 

Some provoking questions to ask myself.  What do I want to do with my Art?  Do I want to make beautiful art. Yes. But that can’t be the only reason to make art.  Anyone can make a pretty pictures.   How do I transcend the surface of it?  Story.  Maybe a narrative to connect the viewer/reader with the art. Beauty gets boring.  I like to laugh and have fun. How can I steer my work in that direction?

My friends and family came to visit.  It felt great to get out and experience Houston with my guests.  I have friends here in Spring but childhood friends have a special place.  We laugh and reminisce. They are also very creative and doing different things with their lives.  Its interesting to hear their stories.  We did a myriad of things. We visited the Johnson Space Center, watched a pro wrestling event in a parking lot in Montrose, saw the Fighting with my family movie, ate Texas BBQ at Corkscrew BBQ and tacos at Bigotes.  Larry and Fernando are going to start a pro  wrestling podcast. I fully support them because of their wealth of knowledge and experience of the industry.  I pitched them a travel show where they go to different countries and interview the wrestling scenes in each country. There are subcultures in every country and pro wrestling is no different.  I suggested the countries I’ve visited or want to visit. South Korea, Ireland. South Africa or Mexico.  I can be their camera man  I think its undiscovered territory in the Vloging world.

We went to Nasa Space Center. 

My mother and sister came.  I can’t thank them enough for their love and support.

My mom and I after 1 week post surgery. 

Moved to Houston, Texas 2018

I moved to Houston, Texas.  What inspired me to move to Texas?  A year ago I said I would come back here.  The people I told that too probably didn’t believe me.  Maybe I didn’t believe myself.  Nonetheless, I actually did move to Texas.  It’s still weird change for me.  It was the only way I can see my life continuing.  My life in the Bay Area was stagnant.  I was living at my parent’s house, working and Jiu Jitsu, no real forward progress in life.  It was nice to spend time with family and see my friends, but something wasn’t right, a little off.  I accrued lots of debt from traveling and working as a line cook or barista wasn’t cutting it.  I thought that I better move and start a career so I can carry on with my life.  The only plan I had was Texas.  I researched the school, GI Bill compatibility, welding career salary, cost of living in Texas, Jiu Jitsu school and support system.

I train at Maven Jiu Jitsu in Spring, Texas.  I met the instructor, James, on Guam while I was stationed there.  I felt the quality of his instruction is unparalleled to what I have seen in my years of Jiu Jitsu training.  He is someone who really thinks deeply about the subject.  I’m excited to learn and understand Jiu Jitsu on different level.  The school has fairly young ranks of white belts and a few blues, but that doesn’t stop the place from being a great gym to train at.  My friend, Kevin, whom I also met while I lived in Guam had moved to Texas to train with James.  My time in Texas will be a life experience that I will never forget.

I enrolled in welding school in Houston, Texas.  My tuition is being funded by my GI bill I earned from my enlistment in the Navy.  I will graduate 9 1/2 months from now as a welding specialist with pipefitting.  I finished my first week.  My day is school, Jiu Jitsu, rinse repeat.  I should explain a little bit more about my life but this will be all for now.

 

Day 135. Porto, Portugal

Surfing, Jiu Jitsu and Family

Bruno, our surf instuctor, helping out Svenja with standing up.

A few days after the Copenhagen Camp I ended up in Porto, Portugal. I wondered what I would do when I got to Porto. From the start of my trip I knew my family was coming to Portugal. I had to decide what to do before I met them in Porto. My options were I would either walk another Camino from Porto to Santiago, hang out in Porto for a week, or…. wait for it. Go to a surf school.

How long does it take to not be self conscious in a wet suit?

Porto will be an unforgettable chapter in my trip.  I learned to surf and met other beginners from all parts of the world. I trained Jiu Jitsu in the afternoon and nights after surfing. I drank and hung out with cool people whose couches I could use in the future. I was reunited with my family and I had old fashion family vacation.

Food brings people together. Argentina, USA, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, and France.

I booked the camp when I was in Vienna after talking to Tina, from Leipzig post, who described her love for surfing.  I thought that I should try it out. One should push themselves outside of their comfort zones. How else can you grow as a person? I found Surfivor on Google.  A great place with very comfortable accommodations. Bruno and Albert are very good surf instructors.  It seems they still have a lot of enthusiasm for it after many years. There were plenty of beginner students just trying it out.  Most nights the students ate dinner together and drank together. This experience has made me really enjoy surfing.  I will continue to surf in the future.

Gabriel from Romania. He just finished the Camino Frances.

I get my recommendations where to train from the BJJ Globetrotter Facebook Group.  I simply remember or search where people go to train on the forum. So far every place I’ve trained at has not disappointed me. I account that this is also a very open community that loves the sport and showing people their love for Jiu Jitsu.


Focus Jiu Jitsu in Porto, Portugal was one of the best places I’ve trained.  Manuel Neto, the head instructor, was very friendly and welcoming.  Focus has Jiu Jitsu three times a day Monday through Friday with one class on Saturday. The location of the gym is located inside a bigger gym/crossfit/MMA place about three blocks from the beach.  I rented a bike and it took about 15 minutes from my hostel.  A large amount of higher belts, one them just came back from Worlds and was awarded Black Belt. The facilities are clean, showers and a large mat space. The majority of population of Porto could speak English and the gym was no exception. I will definitely return to this place in the future.


My family visiting Porto before they attend a wedding in Lisbon was my favorite part.  I love Jiu Jitsu and surfing, but I enjoy spending time with my family.  It’s a good recharge from the months of travel I’ve been through.  There were many times on my journey where I get homesick.  I would call my sister and see how things are doing back home.  I did this more on this 4 months of travel than my 7 years in the Navy.  I took them to the restaurants that Tiago, the surf camp owner, recommended to me. They enjoyed the Francesinha, Restaurante Ababia do Porto and eating at the grilled fish street. We spent roughly two days in Porto together but I instilled them the love for Porto that I felt.

After 4 months of traveling I am reunited with my family.

My plan is to come back for a month to Porto maybe next summer. The surfing, Jiu Jitsu, and the amazing Portuguese food are a few reasons why I will return.  I’m already planning my return to Portugal.  I want to continue surfing when I return to California so I will be better when I come back.  The lifestyle is very similar to something I imagine myself I would be when I grow older.

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Day 95. Bratislava, Slovakia

A summary of Bratislava. I arrived on a Monday and I left on a Monday.  I stayed in a Botel. I attended my first Polyglot Gathering. I also helped the event as a volunteer. I went on a tour of Devin Castle and a wine tour. I added a few more friends to my Facebook network. It was incredible new experience.

My room mates badge with the flags that represents that languages that he speaks.


I took a bus from Vienna Erdberg to Brastislava Einsteinova.  The worst part was if I just stayed bus till the end of the line I would have been closer to my hotel.  Since I got off a bus stop before the end I had to walk an extra 30 minutes to my accommodation.  Lesson learned for Bratislava.  It wasn’t a big deal, it could have been avoided if I possibly knew German or Slovak.  The growing pains of traveling, its almost impossible to not a make a mistake, cultural or logistics during travel.

My Botel on the Danube

I stayed in a Botel, not quite a hotel, not quite a boat on the Danube River.  It was the more economical choice when it came to lodging options for the Polyglot Gathering.  It’s location was the selling point.  It was about a 10 minute walk to the bus stop and it was a 10 minute walk from the city center.  It was very convenient for the conference.  Many other attendees or polyglots were also staying there.  My roommate was from Lithuania, he spoke many languages. We mainly conversed in English and Spanish, the only languages I can converse in.  Having a roommate made the experience better and put my whole anxiety at ease.

Richard Simcott

My first Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava, Slovakia.  I felt very intimidated because I only spoke two languages, and one of them wasn’t at a high level.  There were people there that spoke 4-5 languages fluently, then there were Rockstars in the community like Richard Simcott who can speak  as many as 20 languages.  I felt at awe when I was walking around and seeing all these people I watched on Youtube.  By the second day I realized that these people are just human beings, like me.  I started talking more as I got over the intimidation factor.

Devin Castle


Audrius and I


I helped as a volunteer since I got there a few days before the event started. As I wrote before I was apprehensive of my language skills so I decided to volunteer to help get over my anxiety. By being a volunteer you see more behind scenes and how things operate from a stage left point of view.  It’s something I learned in the Navy, by being behind the so called magician’s curtain we can see that some things aren’t that special or magical. I met other people that spoke only three languages, a few didn’t even speak English, they were from Slovakia.  I even saw Esperanto exist on a working level with the volunteers.  I enjoyed volunteering and had more one on one time with the other staff.  I was glad that I was able to help such wonderful event.

I took some tours that the organizers of the Gathering had set up.  The first day was non-stop talks in the morning and afternoon, it felt like school. My tour of Devin Castle was in the afternoon of the second day, it was a good break from the talks.  It was good to meet and talk with the other people from the Gathering in another setting. I didn’t want to go to Slovakia and not see some historical monuments. Another was a wine and old town tour. On the afternoon of the third day we walked around the old town and heard the history of Bratislava. Which ended in drinking wine in a cellar near the center. I enjoyed the tours more for the socializing with the other attendees than hearing the history, though it was interesting. I was engaged with a lot of interesting conversations about languages and where people are from.

Last night at the Slovak Pub.


I ended up connecting with more people in the end. I was able to open up more by the end of the conference. I think the tours were a good icebreaker to meet other people, especially when wine is involved.  I practiced as much of my Spanish as possible, usually when I practice Spanish it’s with native speakers. I hope meet all the people I talked to at future events.


If you are a language learner or if you are wondering about attending one of these events?  I recommend it and I plan on going to the next one.  Whether you only speak one or 13 languages, everyone is welcome.  As long as you have an openness to learn and speak. Where else would you meet people who are as passionate about learning languages, travel, food, and cultures. I’m glad I was able to stop by in Bratislava for this conference. I’m incredibly fortunate to attend all the events I wanted to do this year.

 

Farewell Picnic the Monday after the conference.

Langfest- Montreal, Canada.- August 25-27, 2017

 

Polyglot Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland.- October 27-29, 2017

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Day 90. Vienna, Austria

My time in Vienna

 

 

Orlando Neto and I

A summary of a week in Austria. I shaved my beard and started growing it again.  I met some cool young travelers at my hostel. I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna. I met some cool Globetrotters that shared stories of the Globetrotter Camps.  I ate some Schnitzel, drank some beer and attempted speaking German.

 

 

Walking back from the gym to my lodging is one of my favorite parts about traveling.

I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna with Orlando Neto.  I trained six times there. We went over some techniques from sleeve grip from butterfly/sitting guard to a couple combinations. i.e arm bar, turnover. On another day we drilled a Fireman’s carry take down. Then open mat the last three sessions.  The people there were really friendly, like most gyms. I enjoyed the diverse culture of the city, it showed very much in the gyms demographic.  There were Germans, Italians, Brazilians, Croatians, South Africans, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and I probably left out a few. Most classes that were taught by Orlando were in English. I had a really good vibe from the gym.

 

Me, Tina and Eda on a ferris wheel in Prater.

I stayed at the Meininger hotel on Rembrandt street. It was a clean, modern hostel with wifi everywhere in the hotel. As a normal European hostel experience you meet many young travelers solo or in pairs. You exchange info and back stories. Solo travelers tend to flock together and go out together. That’s one of the best parts about traveling solo in Europe, there’s always people to go out with.  There was Tina, a German on holiday, Chase, a Canadian doing Erasmus in France, Elie, a Frenchman traveling around Europe, Michelle, a Penn college student coming back from birthright from Israel and many more people.  My life seems to gravitate towards being around a motley crew people.  Or do I gravitate towards being around several different types of people that have distinct backgrounds than my own?

 

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It’s customary to take pictures in your Globetrotter Gis. (Not sure if that’s true.)

 

Repping hard at the Dinner table.

 

 

I met Ähn and Karla, German BJJ Globetrotter veterans, at the open mat at the gym. They showed me around parts of Vienna.  We had several conversations about Jiu Jitsu. I rarely have these types of conversations outside of training, it was very enjoyable.  They shared stories of all the camps they attended and funny stories that happened during the camps.  I’ve never been to a Globetrotter camp. After meeting these two it gives me a great impression of the camp’s attendees.  I hope the rest of the globetrotters I meet love to have fun, eat, and train. I can’t wait until the Copenhagen Camp.

A good part of being in the military that was easy was not really worrying how you style your hair. There were  hair regulations and dress codes.  It was easy to adhere to those rules. I’m out of the Navy now, traveling the world, unemployed with no hair regulations. I’ve had the same hair cut for the last four years and I was not allowed to grow a beard except when I was on Leave.  I grew it for two and half months. No one would really understand this unless you were a male in the American Military.  I decided to start over and cut it all off again.  I’m searching for a balance.

 

Prater in Vienna, Austria

 

 

Day 69. Seoul, South Korea Part I

I enjoy stories.  I believe every good story has a great beginning.  The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start.  We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from.  There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish.  Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto.  She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.

 

Yun-Jin and I in cool looking ponchos.

We ran into each other the next day on the Camino.  We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think.  It was a long day.  But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history.  There was scattered rain along the path.  At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours.  An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream.  I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together.  I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.

 

We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place.  I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace.  During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany.  It was mostly just of the three of us.  It was an interesting crew.  Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew.  I’ll take that reference.

 

A Korean picnic on top of a mountain.

Fast Forward to seven months later.  I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour.  I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin.  Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary.  It was an amazing experience.  After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture.  Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.

 

Some where in Yeoeuido-Dong.

 

We did many activities while I was there.  I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant.  We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free.  We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm.  There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater.  Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong.  There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.

The wall near Dongdaemon.

Currently I’m in Guam.  I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia.  I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.

How to get to Seoul:

Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.

A “Korean” picture for the memory.

 

Day 1. The Unknown

I have a lot of emotions in me.  I’m about to embark on a year of travel. This type of travel has been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  It seems to big of a task to undertake.  I’ve chosen a handful of countries to see and maybe I’ll see some more later.

Last night I was especially anxious because it is actually happening. Why?  Is it that I’m going to a continent I have never visited?  Or the long time frame? Being homesick? The inevitable return home? The unknown?

It’s that unknown feeling. That feeling of not knowing. It hits your stomach so profound that it only happens a few times in my life.  Like when you approach a girl you like, when you have a big test, or when you are about the compete in your respective sport.  I don’t get that feeling anymore.  You would think I would get that feeling in the military, but alas I probably felt it twice. The moment before you enter boot camp and my first day at dive school from the fleet. Now when I think of it,  I smiled during those times of unknown. I search for the feeling again.

I invite the adventure.  For whatever comes out of it.  I’ve wrapped my head around the scenarios of what could possibly happen to me.  I will continue because I would rather do this than not living out my dream.

More to come…