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

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
5:09 pm
I had a four day weekend
Well, I guess that isn't that interesting, since the normal weekend is already three days. Monday was the Dia de San Pedro y San Pablo, so we had that off.

A four day weekend can be immense here. I am changing so fast that I can do and see so much in that time, that its hard to remember what my emotions were like one week ago, or two weeks ago.

Friday I went for a long walk along a park that borders a canal. Saturday I tried, once again, to find the entrance to Cerro Manquehue. Monday I went to a new comuna, San Joaquin, to find where I was supposed to start a class today (but where I instead will be starting it Thursday). All of those experiences changed how I perceived my surroundings. They gave a type of expansiveness to it, gradually washing away the cloistered feeling that I felt throughout May.

So with all that said, who knows what will happen in the next week?
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
7:26 pm
So much going on I don't know where to update
Sorry that I haven't updated in 12 days. Every time I think I have an update, something happens. Sometimes something big, sometimes something small, sometimes something good, sometimes something bad. There have been things that have made me feel great about myself, and things that have made me feel terrible. Two weekends ago, I had what I think was one of my first stable, happy times here. Last weekend, I was depressed and shaken. This weekend...looking forward to some fun.

Also, incredibly, I am one third of the way done with my time here. Or so. I have been here 9 weeks, and 18 more weeks is about...four months? Okay, a little less than third. I don't really even understand myself in the first month, it seems like such a jumbled chaotic time. I didn't even know how to use grocery stores. It was, I think, two weeks ago that I bought a pair of Cherokee corduroy pants from a store that sold them for under 20 dollars. All these little things, having sunglasses and a cap, etcetera, are what built me up. I might actually be able to take on the world around me.

My job is going well, or as well as can be expected. It still has a mixture of periods of boredom with periods of stress. I feel that I am doing something important, though.

There is still so many things I need to, want to do. My Spanish has barely moved along since I have been here. I haven't really left Santiago, and really have only been in one area of Santiago. I haven't made friends and socialized as much as I would wish. There is still a lot left to do.
Saturday, June 11th, 2016
12:54 am
Walking out of the city
For the last two weeks, my plan was to walk out of the city. Things, however, came up. (As mentioned)

Santiago actually stops pretty suddenly, at least along its eastern edge. The eastern comunes are a bit less dense then the central city, but they are still recognizably "city" up until they hit the scrubby sides of the Andes.

But from looking at a map, I decided to go and see what the eastern most comune, Lo Barnechea, was like. The journey might have shifted locations, but it reminded me of so many other walks to supposedly unspectacular parts I have taken since I was a teenager. I even had a diet Coke and SuperOcho (2.0) as I follow streets that turn back on themselves and have adequate sidewalks.

And finally, after an hour or so of walking, I get here20160610_172613

And then, it is all worth it!

What other fun activities do I have planned for the weekend...I guess it will be seen.
Monday, June 6th, 2016
12:33 am
Bad weekend magic
Through some type of bad luck, my last three weekends here have always had some type of negative stuff going on that has stopped me from enjoying them. This time, it was getting a cold that has left me with a bad cough.

I also think that without work to keep me busy, a lot of the underlying stress comes out.

Kind of in general, the challenge right now is to be more busy, but not busy in a way that leads me exhausted.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
11:39 am
I stopped counting the days and weeks
A few days ago, I momentarily lost track of how long I had been here. I know that answer now: six weeks ago, today, I was in Panama waiting for my plane.

After my initial experience here, and the overwhelming feeling of desolation and being lost, it seemed so natural to focus on that wall, how the thinnest membrane of time separated a warm experience from a chaotic and empty one. "A week ago, I was walking along Trinidad Beach". But as each thing I did became more normal, I adjusted to being here, and the weeks have flown by. The first few days here were marked by big milestones as I regained my belongings and my bearings, and learned new skills (It was after only 72 hours in the country that I took my first bus), but now I am starting to forget whether something happened in week four or week five.

So this is my new normal, that is good, right?
Monday, May 30th, 2016
11:33 am
Its always raining or foggy when I do this...
20160529_150658

Every time I have gone on a walk, it seems to be a cloudy, foggy or smoggy day.
This Sunday, I climbed up to the top of Cerro San Lucia, a hill in the middle of Santiago. I got this view from the top.

The hill itself is an urban park that was crowded and well-travelled. There was some nice architecture and greenery, but it wasn't the type of park that I am used to in the Pacific Northwest.

One thing that I am often short of here is a sense of expansiveness, both in space and mentally. There isn't many places where I can get outside and feel that I am free, not like in the Portland area where it was a short bus ride to places where I felt like I was mostly having a natural experience. Here, both my time and my space are much more crowded.
Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
7:40 pm
Lost in the mix: it is autumn.
One thing that I haven't mentioned too much during my discussion of my time in Chile is that it is autumn. The magic of the southern hemisphere.

What autumn means here is a little hard to pin down though. Santiago is at 33 degrees S, the same latitude as Los Angeles, which means its climate and amount of daylight don't vary a lot across the year. But it is also at (least) 1700 feet, surrounded by mountains, so there can be sudden periods of...chillyness. The trees that line the street, mostly European imports that are drought-resistant, are slowly losing their leaves. We had daylight savings time, so now it gets dark around 6. The solstice is a few weeks away. Along with my other feelings, I am starting to feel a little winter blues as the hours of daylight decrease. But of course, not that much, because its not grey and rainy, and the days aren't that short, and in a few weeks, the days will get longer.
Thursday, May 19th, 2016
4:47 pm
If this was something in a desk drawer...
20160510_163427

This is, so far, one of the best pictures I have taken of Santiago.

I like it because the city looks vast, but also almost cuddly, wrapped up in the mountains. This is the type of thing, that if you could open your desk drawer and there was this magically little panorama of the city, it would seem just about perfect. And from a distance, that is what it seemed like, this would be my American life, only with options for novelty that I didn't have. But of course, I can't just slide this shut and go back to my life, I am not quite as removed, and this is not just a backdrop.
1:11 pm
Not Chile related (for once)
Ahead: talk of gender relations.

One thing I've just been thinking of the past few weeks is the belief that women are more open to, and interested in, discussing their emotions and feelings. Although I think I've been pretty critical about the many gender stereotypes I've received over the years, its only been in the past few weeks that I've thought about the oft-repeated stereotype that women are emotionally open.

I've just noticed recently how many women I know are cagey and evasive about how they feel, and don't seem to want to discuss it. And this isn't just because they might not want to discuss it with me, like these aren't women who are kind of keeping their distance from me. (Well, some of them are). I've just realized that even with women I work with or are friends with, its often hard to read how they really feel about things.

I don't find discussing my emotions to be a difficult thing. I am open to discussing my own negative emotions (and I have a lot of those), and in general, I like to keep open to my emotions because they are my door to the world. With other men my age, talking about our emotions also seems to be pretty easy. But when I try to have a conversation about emotions with a woman, a wall comes up.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
5:08 pm
"One more straw" comes further and further apart.
During the first few days here, most of my daily activity was just to gain the materials needed for survival. Some of the things I was waiting for, I needed just to leave the country. I was stuck here. But I made the decision to stay.

And since then, I think more and more about "what do I want/need to do today?", and as time goes on these questions have become more manageable and mundane. I have to admit, though, sometimes I hit an energy wall, and don't know what to do next. Sometimes I think about what it would take for me to really pack up and quit...right now, I think the only things that could do that are another assault or theft, having my housing situation go untenable, or losing my job. Or just having this whole adventure become too expensive for me. But I think most things that are going to come up are easy for me to deal with. But some days, yes, instead of feeling like I am on an adventure, I feel like I am on a treadmill.
Friday, May 13th, 2016
4:48 pm
Ask me questions about Chile
I don't know what to say, because I notice little things that might not interest everyone. So here is just a post where you can ask me questions about Chile and I will respond.
1:41 pm
My filter is back on
It was 15 days ago that I had what was the nadir of my experience here. That was my seventh day here, my first full day in this apartment, and after the initial "WTF?" of my rough arrival was over. And I was just staring out the window, thinking "six months of this?" and I couldn't believe what I had gotten myself into.

One of the things I've read about homesickness it that it deals with feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty. Its not so much that we miss home, as that we miss the security of home.

The other side of that, and one I am realizing now, that one of the hardest parts of being in a new place is our filter is off. This is especially the case if (like me), we have something happens to us that makes us more scared and vigilant. But the first week or so, I had to totally reorient myself to a new place. It was the first time in a long time that I was able to get lost. The streets ran at odd angles. The usage of space was different. I couldn't shut off that feeling. It was exhausting.

But now, a few weeks in, having gotten used to the metro and knowing where things are located, and having my house where I've started to feel at home, and in general with my filter reasserting itself, where I don't constantly notice everything around me...and that makes the days go by quicker. I am three weeks in here. Not that I am counting the days until my return, but I've made it through 10% of my time here, more or less.

So that is where I am right now.
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
1:11 am
First class
I taught my first class today.

That was why I am here.

Afterwards, feeling so good I walked home from Manquehue.
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
9:11 pm
This is almost normal
Right now it is about 14 days to the hour since I landed. Exponential math plays a roll here again: the first three days seem like a whirlwind of emotions and activity, both full of detail and also compressed into a blur. Since I've moved into my apartment, things have taken on a routine of sorts. Despite lingering anxiety and discomfort, I kind of live my life by a schedule now. There is a routine in getting cookies and reading NBA stories on my phone.

So that is my report for now---I will post more about the country in upcoming entries.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Friday, April 29th, 2016
4:30 pm
Today was my first happy day
Today was my first happy day. Not totally without worry and depression, but a day when I enjoyed things without thinking "oh shit". I got wired money to pay my rent and now I feel like I really belong here. I also have enough money to walk around and buy food.

I found a roommate almost miraculously and having someone to live with makes me feel useful again. Like I am not a beggar or a hanger on carrying scraps of paper around in a plastic bag. I am part of things. I can observe and appreciate the culture around me without being afraid. I can well and truly begin to do what I was supposed to do.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
11:22 pm
Four complete days
Its been four complete days since I updated, and in that time, I wouldn't even know where to begin to describe the emotional ups and downs that I have had. The good news is, every day that I have been here, I have gained back some of my needed things (including my credit cards and passport) and learned a new skill (I've been riding the bus and not getting lost)

On the other hand, I've had some pretty tremendous bouts of just feeling incredibly lost and homesick and scared and worried and just wanting to run away. I also haven't really honestly worked out which of my feelings are adaptive, telling me real things about my situation, and which are reactive, just me being scared and wanting to go back to feeling "normal".
Friday, April 22nd, 2016
9:55 pm
This is only the second day, but much better
You know sometimes you wake up from a nightmare, and you have that happy time when you shake yourself awake, and think "its not really that bad"

Well, I´ve had that, only instead of that I am like "yeah, that really happened, and is still happening"

Okay, but lets not think about that too much. Because I also have the power to actually do things.

Today I saw the side of Chile that I wanted to see. I walked down Providencia, and visited the Parque Metropolitan, a large park built on a series of hills. I visited the bohemian neighborhoods of Santiago like Bellavista, and got to see people living their lives, got to experience some of the energy. It certainly recharged me, at least for a while! Being up on the hill also helped me get away from Santiago´s tumult, and it was nice to be somewhere without voices. Not of, course, that I mind the voices, but it was nice to be in nature, without the constant reminder of what a wall to understanding that the voices can be.

Hmm...I guess this doesn´t sound as optimistic as I thought it would at first. The days kind of cycle, (all two of them), and sometimes it is energy and optimism, other times it is "well, what now"

I guess I am just going to take this one day at a time.
Thursday, April 21st, 2016
5:19 pm
Big updates on Chile
So, Chile:

First thing, I am safe. And staying at a comfortable home.

But, my first experience in Chile, getting out of the taxi from the airport, was being mugged by a group of five people, who stole everything. My luggage, my laptop, my wallet, my backpack, my clothing. I then spent three surreal hours with Chillean police officers who were very kind and helpful but who didn´t speak much English. I was lying wrapped up in a pink blanket across three uncomfortable plastic chairs in the Providencia Police station when my employer showed up to take me away, and I am now staying with him.

This is...well, I guess one thing is, its really easy for me to look back at how I was thinking 24 hours ago, when I still had everything, and think that if I had done one thing different, I would be without a care now (Although, of course I would have cares). Time is a continuum, but not a good one. And a big part of it is second-guessing myself. But apparently this is a rate thing, and I just happened to...have bad luck.

I hope I have better luck going forward.

I will keep you all posted.

(I was loaned a laptop to use)
Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
11:26 am
Panama
The seven hours I am spending in Panama seem to tell me a lot more about me than they do about Panama (especially since probably at least half the people here aren't Panamanian).
Airports are the same the world over, and the biggest difference here is that it's even more expensive than San Francisco Airport. Which causes some grumbling on my part, in both my stomach and the mind.
It's pretty modern, but I can see some crumbling of the facade, sometimes literally. There is a bright plaster mark on the wall right in front of me.

And what this says about me is that there are understandable limits to my engagement. I am in a new country for the first time since 2003, but mostly I want now is to get somewhere where I can sleep for real and go to a grocery store.

More updates to come.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
8:50 pm
At SFO
I'm at SFO where I am currently sitting on a little booth with faux marble and electricity, and dealing with the fact that my airline counter didn't open on time and that my cellphone tried to update all my apps as soon as it sniffed wi-fi

Also I'm at 28% battery life which is slowly going up.

So, the point is, lots of little things to nettle me.

And a lot of big things to think about.

Okay going to go check on the Copa Counter


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

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