Log in

Matthew Harris' Journal
[Most Recent Entries] [Calendar View] [Friends]

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

[ << Previous 20 ]
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:

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.
12:09 pm
Updates: the good
Last Saturday, I ended up climbing Manquehuito, a mountain just on the north side of Santiago:


I had been meaning to do this for a while, and while not that long of a hike (8 kilometers, most of it walking through a suburban neighborhood), it was nice to get above it all, so to speak.
Friday, September 2nd, 2016
11:50 am
Sequence breaking my social development
This is something I've been thinking about for a while, an interesting fact about my life that explains a lot of where I am right now.

When I was about nine years old and moved to near Salem, I was kind of taken out of my normal social development, because in Battle Ground I was just starting to kind of become aware of my world, and in the happy days of the 1980s me and my friends could walk around town. So suddenly I am in a place where I can't walk, where I don't have any friends, and where I am not participating in many things. Those years (8-12) would also be the years that some kids would be developing nascent economic skills, by participating in activities and getting some type of early jobs, as well as just having connections with their community. And I had none of that. During those years, my social skills and knowledge of the world really faltered. In one way.

In another way, looking back at it, I was steps ahead of kids my age because I was aware of the world around me. I had a set of encylopedias that I would spend hours staring at, looking at the maps of all the different places. But many of my inspirations weren't as obviously intellectual: I also loved war books (fiction and non-fiction), and also when I got a computer, I played F-19 Stealth Fighter endlessly. All of this taught me a lot about the world, and even given the narrow focus of some of my organization, I was aware of the world well beyond the scope of my peers, and even of adults around me. And over the years, I've realized that this isn't just a theoretical thing, especially living in a foreign country, where I am meeting a lot of people from around the world, having a background knowledge of the world has really helped me.

Still, it really took me this long to realize that for most kids that age, learning about the world is a matter of learning about what is in front of them, literally and figuratively.
12:02 am
Shown in the light
Today is one of those days where I feel turned upside down and renewed, without a single specific reason to cite for it, except for perhaps exhaustion. I had a 2.5 hour class in the morning, an hour a half substitute class in the afternoon, and a class moved back to the evening. Then I walked home from Santa Isabel, through the wide streets of Providencia, just enjoying the energy of the people around me. And everything feels different, in a good way, today.

I have another post tomorrow, I hope.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
11:58 pm
Beginnings and Endings
Its the beginning of spring here, or rather the end of winter, and the weather can shift between hot and cool. My natural instinct is that cool weather in August means that autumn is on its way, but here it is the last gasp of winter before solid warm weather arrives.

But another thing is that since getting here, I have been in the mood for beginnings, for learning and doing new things. And that is my overall attitude, that I am still at the beginning of things, moving forwards. But now I am about at the halfway point of my trip. Heck, as far as my official "I made it through date". I am two thirds done, because I told myself that six months was the time I could work here that would not result in an embarrassing exit.

I just learned today that the first class I started here would be wrapping up in a few weeks. Which makes sense. But I had considered it kind of the anchor of my schedule, because it was my first class and it was the first thing that made me feel that I really knew what I was doing. But things here are changing.

and...well, I guess I had more thoughts about that, but I am tired, and am sleeping now.
Saturday, August 27th, 2016
6:15 pm
I like it here, but I also don't know how I would return home
One of the things about becoming accustomed to being here, is that I am starting to forget how I made it back in the US.

Partly because I really didn't.

Even though my life here is kind of precarious, I am actually getting along better here. I don't know how I would find a place to live and a job and everything in the US. It seems so incredibly complicated. So one reason I am staying here is just that I am...don't really know what else to do.
Sunday, August 21st, 2016
10:52 pm
Seeing more of the city

It took, I think, almost three months in this country before I really felt comfortable going just about anywhere. (Although not yet, at any time).

This wasn't just a matter of personal safety, although if you have been following along, you would know why that is a factor as well. It was just a matter of most of the world outside my zone felt unreal and uncomfortable, I couldn't quite get traction there. There was a few places where I went, having mastered the mechanics of visiting them, but the fluidity of just walking and observing and being where I wanted to eluded me, until sometime in the middle of July or so. Then, I just kind of started taking navigating my environment for granted.

I started stitching my walks together more, seeing how the neighborhood around me related to places that I would only travel to by train. Last week, in two walks, I went from a place of employment in the industrial district of San Joaquin past the Estadio Nacional, up through the different residential neighborhood until I came back to my apartment on the main street of the city and the country.

This weekend, I took Train lines 1 and 5 to their terminals, in San Pablo and Plaza Maipu. Those names might not mean a lot, and even to the people here my reasons for going there are odd, but I like those places being real, and not just a blur on the edge of a map.
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
11:49 pm
Ain't nothing wrong ain't nothing right
But I sit and lie awake all night

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
3:25 am
Recoleta, headaches, naps, time change
Today I ended up going to Recoleta, a less glamorous comuna just North of Santiago Centro. I had never been there before, at least not beyond its edge, so I wanted to see more of what it is like. Its very busy, almost as crowded as downtown without its historical places, and pretty crowded/dirty. It wasn't terrible though, and I am glad I am seeing more of the comunas of Santiago. But I think the noise and pollution effected me, because when I came home, I had a pretty bad headache. I fell asleep, and woke up after 8 PM. On top of that, they added a time change (end of winter daylights savings time), so it is now 3:20 AM. And, due to lots of caffeine, I am kind of jittery.

Luckily, we have a holiday Monday, so I can enjoy my being awake time.

Tomorrow, I want to make cookies again.
Thursday, August 11th, 2016
10:50 pm
Boredom and stress, mixed
The two weeks before this one were very fast-paced and full, with me teaching immersions and substitute classes and getting kind of tired and falling behind.

This week, things kind of settled down, and today, my morning class was cancelled, and then my afternoon class was cancelled as well. My morning class was cancelled yesterday, which means I don't get paid for it, but today's class was cancelled too late, meaning I did get paid for...waiting around the house. I guess it is a nice break, after such a long week, and I did get a few things crossed off my list today. Next Monday is also a national holiday, meaning I will have even more time off.

So, basically, this is a nice break, but now I am ready for more action.
Sunday, August 7th, 2016
2:20 pm
My trip to Valparaiso
Yesterday I made it to Valparaiso, the first trip in my three months here outside of the Santiago area.
Valparaiso isn't too far from Santiago, being a little more than an hour by bus from Santiago, but it was a pretty big change to see pine forests and small towns and vineyards on the way there, and also to see Valparaiso itself, which is an oceanfront town that has a lighter feeling than Santiago itself.

Oh, and also this was part of a class with a student. We went to the beach together and talked all day.

It was pretty much my perfect day. :)

[ << Previous 20 ]
About LiveJournal.com