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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Matthew Harris' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
1:38 pm
Tunnel vision
As described in a series of posts, my life has kind of become a type of tunnel vision.
There is so many things that I could be doing, but my life is mostly about clearing the hurdles in front of me...and then I think "I can get through this week, so I am okay", but I have forgotten how many of my long term plans I have given up just because my mind is kind of stuck in a tunnel. I haven't forgotten them out of despair or anything, it just doesn't occur to me on a day to day level how big the world around me is. Its more "Yeah, I can get up early that day and ride a bus to this new location..." and everything else kind of fades into the background.

There is a bigger story to be told, and I hope I can live it soon.
Monday, December 5th, 2016
7:45 am
Waking up early

One of the hardest parts about early morning classes for me is I wake up even earlier than I have to. I have an 8 AM class which means I set my alarm for 6:30 but I woke up at 5:30 and laid in bed for an hour.
The bus didn't take as long as I thought it would so I end up here a half hour early.
All this early morning sunshine and energetic people out running. It should fill me with every but nope.

Sunday, December 4th, 2016
6:12 pm
The Sunday Paradox
If someone was to go back to the first entries of this LJ, in the fall of 2002, they would find college Matthew complaining about being bored all weekend and then trying to do all his homework late on a Sunday night.

And here in 2016, when I don't even feel like I am the same person as I was two years ago, I can see my habits haven't changed all that much since then...it is 6 PM on a Sunday, I am bored and listless, want something to do, but also feel a bit pressured because tomorrow is going to be a long day, that I don't really want to prepare for.

I will probably start "waking up" and wanting to do things in an hour or two...right when I should be getting ready to sleep, because I have an early class tomorrow morning.

I know this isn't an original complaint.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
11:27 am

I finally did the obvious and got an LJ client for my phone. Amongst it's many other advantages, it makes posting pictures a lot easier: like this one!


Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
5:00 pm
December is not settling down
Its getting close to the beginning of summer, and based on the weather here, it is already summer.

I had reason to predict that December would slow down as classes ended and people went on vacation. The thing is, my fellow teachers are leaving as well, meaning I have a lot of sudden classes to teach, for two or three weeks. So it might be until Christmas before things calm down.

So, that is my November and will probably be my December.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
5:08 pm
Things I've done recently:
1. Been very tired

2. Read about Tolkien and Middle Earth on tumblr
Saturday, November 19th, 2016
1:13 pm
I lost my phone and got a new one
So this Tuesday, my phone bricked, totally. I went through all the stages of grief as I realized I would have to spend money on a new phone, and do it in a country where...that could be difficult. But it went easier than I thought and by that evening, I was happily enphoned again.


One minor difference: I didn't install Facebook on my phone.

The past few weeks, Facebook got pretty maddening, and it became such a habit to check it on the Metro, to feel like the little "notiications" that kept popping up meant something.

Lets see how long I can keep it off.
Friday, November 18th, 2016
2:51 pm
Somehow 17 days have passed since I updated
These last two weeks have been a turning point for me.

Well, not a point. A point is a point. They've been a long, not so-slow curve where I find myself pointing in a different direction at the end of them as when I begin.

And I don't think I've slept eight or even seven hours in all that time.
Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
9:34 pm
This road trip was like a lot of road trips
Yesterday, not wanting to spend my weekend inside, I ended up going to Viña Del Mar. With some friends. A co-worker, her girlfriend, and two guys they knew. It was a little easier than going on a bus, and Viña is always good, especially compared to another weekend in Santiago.

I did think, a couple of times, that this is just like so many other beach trips I've taken over the year. The long ride, the conversation in the car that turns irritating because we don't realize we are becoming hungry, the moving around in loose groups next to the ocean, the search for food, the music, the sand, the lassitude...well, its both charming and alarming, how much our lives can just repeat in the same patterns, even in very different contexts.
Sunday, October 30th, 2016
12:50 pm
So many threads
In the last entry, I talked about staying versus going.

The thing about that discussion is, when we pull on one of the threads in that discussion, we pull on other threads.

One of the things about returning to the United States is my first choice of a place to stay would be my mother's house. Only my mother's house is really a rental that isn't quite set up for more than one person. It would be okay as a temporary thing, but there would, from the first day, be a clock ticking. Other than the logistics, this is another situation where I would once again be in orbit in a place that wasn't really mine. There is a long and complicated dynamic there.

But the thing is, in solving any of my issues, there is a lot more issues to look at. They just keep going! So, by default...I stay doing what I am doing.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
12:37 pm
Should I stay or should I go?
Since I have some new readers, and also as an update:

The job I am at is commonly a "one and done" type of thing. People come here, work for an academic year, and then usually go home at the start of summer vacation, around Christmas. When I first got here, I was counting the days until I could leave. But now I've become accustomed to life here. One more day, one more week, and one more month all fly by quickly. So it isn't necessary for me to leave right away.

The thing is...I have a sense of purpose here. I am doing something here. Like pretty much everyone, any single day of work can be miserable...but in the aggregate, I feel myself growing and being better. I guess I don't really have to explain that, its kind of self-explanatory why working in business with smart people feels more productive to me than living on my mom's couch.

On the other hand, my life here is precarious, due to pay, hours, and how difficult it can be to live here. I figure that I would rather leave BEFORE I get a month long case of pneumonia. Leave on a high note. So I go back and forth between wanting to stay and wanting to go.

Its not a very original story, I know.
Friday, October 21st, 2016
5:46 pm
This is not exotic and lyrical
I have a continuing mission in this city to see as much of it as possible, copying what I did in Portland.

It took the first month or two to see the obvious tourist districts. Now I am going further afield, to places that perhaps don't have a lot to obviously recommend them, but which give me a better picture of what this city is like. Today I took the Metro to Los Pajaritos (The Birds), which is an intermodal Metro/long distance bus station, and then walked back to Universidad de Chile, where I boarded the metro back home. Perhaps inconsequential, but it gives structure to my day. It also, minor experience by minor experience, opens my mind to where I am.

But, of course, looking at this picture, its easy to be disappointed that in the same country as San Pedro de Atacama and Torre del Paine, I visit this:

20161021_144849
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
5:00 pm
Job hunt: ongoing
Even though I am here, and am going to be here for a bit longer, I haven't stopped looking for a job in the US, because I would just as well hit the ground running when I return, instead of turning back into BASEMENTMODE.

Looking for a job, especially in my field, can be pretty exhausting and frustrating. This has to do with technical ways of how education works, and the pool system. They don't actually hire for jobs, they hire for pools, and if they need an instructor and you are in the pool, they call you. But when applying for a pool, you don't know if, even after getting in, they will call you or if your resume is behind 40 better qualified people.

And yet, I am still doing this because I want the momentum. Going back with nothing will not be too encouraging.

But yeah, its not a fun process. The job I just applied to, along with the normal stuff, also required a cover letter and a philosophy statement. And there was also problems with URLs and forms and ugh

I somehow managed to only finish it a little before 5 PM, so there is my day off.
Monday, October 17th, 2016
3:26 pm
I spent the weekend walking around the city
During the week, I always think about what my plans for the coming weekend would be. Especially since I normally have three day weekends, it gives me a lot of time to get out. I can go to the ocean in about 90 minutes, if I choose to. And it always seems like a great thing to do, while I am sitting at home.

Then the weekend comes, I stay up late, get up late, and move slowly, perhaps a fitting reward for the hectic pace of the week. But then I want to do something.

This weekend, I went on two walks in the city. First to the BioBio market, a series of buildings filled with small stalls, mostly selling clothing, electronics, games, toys, and other hardware. From there, I walked across the southern part of Santiago Central, during a rare rainy day. (It doesn't usually rain here from October to March). It was good to see part of the city that I normally wouldn't, and the rainy day gave everything a soft, dreamy quality.

On Sunday I went to Parque Quinta Normal, another place I hadn't been yet, and also to the adjacent Museum of Contemporary Art. Then I walked back through the city, through narrow streets.

One thing that is interesting about walking here is how much bigger distances feel. On my bicycle, or even on foot in Montana, I would think of 3 miles into town as just being a brief jaunt. Here, I walk and walk and feel like it is a pretty long walk, and then I check later on google maps and it is only two kilometers. I guess that is because the streets are more crowded and there is more to see.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
7:47 pm
Back into the blender!
It looks like I haven't updated in two weeks. Not because not much has happened, but because too much has been happening, although most of it isn't of a lot of consequences. I've started some new classes, and they aren't really challenging, but they are difficult. Mostly procedurally, the details of that are technical.

I guess what is amazing for me now is I am officially...eight days away from "not humiliated day". In eight days, I will be celebrating my six month anniversary here. That is kind of the window for what I thought would be a successful trip. Or perhaps six months after the beginning of my employment, which would be in early November. In either case, I am getting to the point where I've accomplished my main goals and everything else is gravy.

Also going through another period where I feel mostly wrapped up in the day to day.

I guess that is an observation I have made before.

And also, as I may have observed before, I have yet to feel really comfortable here. It has been six months, my Spanish has gotten better, I know the city, I know some people, but I don't really feel like it clicked for me.
Friday, September 30th, 2016
9:32 pm
I don't feel like doing things here as much as I feel I have a ticket to punch
I don't feel like doing things here, as much as I feel like I have a ticket to punch.

Before I came here, I heard about all the different parts of the country, and so far, I've managed to only see Santiago, and Valparaiso.

I still feel that I should see the Atacama desert, and Puenta Arenas, and Torre Del Paine, but its almost like this feeling that I am expected to go there and need to punch my ticket so people will stop asking me.

I don't really know what I am interested in doing or seeing here.
Monday, September 26th, 2016
5:04 pm
Three months?
September was a hard month for me. Not terrible, but hard.

It also kind of highlighted for me that as great of an adventure this is, my life here is really dependent on a lot of things continuing to go right. Like, with a full class load, I can just maybe break even (and still use my savings to pay for my student loans). So while I was thinking of leaving earlier, now is kind of the time when I feel I can start to count down to leaving.

Still don't know what I am going to do back in the US.
Monday, September 19th, 2016
1:43 am
Return to Viña Del Mar
Today, I decided I had to make something of the National Day weekend (well, I went to a Fonda yesterday, so that is also something), so I headed on a bus to Viña Del Mar. This is my second trip there, and my first solo. When I was originally coming here, back in April, I was wondering whether I would make it to the coast on my first weekend or second. Well, it turned out to take a bit longer.

The trip was, as my trips are, padded with anxiety and delays. In the morning, I took some time getting ready to go, and then once I made it to the terminal and got my ticket (with some trepidation), the bus took an hour to leave the city. And then, right before we got to our destination, it broke. We waited around for about 20 minutes, with me worrying that I was missing some vital information because of the language barrier, when a bus from another company picked us all up and took is the final few miles into town. And then, I finally kind of allowed myself to drift, to let my feet get into the rhythm of walking, and to stop worrying about time, at least for a while.

Viña Del Mar is a modern town, and a very wealthy one, for the most part. It is a resort town on the ocean, and it has wide, straight streets that all meet at right angles. It has lots of trees and feels very green (for Chile). Its the type of place I have been walking forever. Of course, it was almost 4 PM when I got to Viña, so my time there consisted of walking down the obvious beachfront path for about an hour, before turning around, and boarding the 6:30 bus back to Santiago, which took me home in about two hours.

It is, I suppose "what I should be doing" here, and I do feel good to be learning and exploring. I have to admit, though, and this might be a disappointment for some, that there is a feeling of expansiveness and freedom that is still missing.

But: rather than think of all of that, we can also just look at this picture of the ocean. 20160918_165537
Monday, September 12th, 2016
7:34 pm
Still tired, still sick
It is now eight days after my really sick day, and I am still tired, and unaccountably depressed and lethargic. Also, unusually for me, I have a loss of appetite that is really bothering me. Well, its not bothering me, but it should be.
Thursday, September 8th, 2016
12:16 pm
Updates:the bad
After I got home from Manquehuito, I was understadably tired. The next day, instead of recovering, I got worse. I got a fever and a hacking cough, and for the first time, I had to call in for work. I managed to work Tuesday and Wednesday, but I am still tired, really sick, and I've been scared because sometimes I have felt I could barely even breathe. I am hoping I feel better by this weekend.

The air here is pretty polluted, and I have gotten used to it, and its made me forget what clean and clear air is like. Just one of many things I look forward to in the United States.
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