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

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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:

20160903_153032

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
IMG_20160818_154039

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. :)

20160806_141141
Thursday, August 4th, 2016
5:07 pm
Zoom!!!
Wow, I haven't updated in a week.
My schedule has been picking up a lot, which means I am making enough money to cover rent and food, and also that I am constantly busy. Being constantly busy has made me less worried about not doing everything right. Its not like I am phoning it in, but sometimes just showing up is what I need to do.

My roommate also went on vacation in Spain...giving me some solitude.

Oh, and I also got a private student!

It really is just...zoom. Zoom. Zoom.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
1:54 pm
July has gone pretty well
July, overall, has gone pretty well. I've kind of slipped into "normal" mode here. Its been a lot of little things...buying some clothing, and some comforts of home (like an electric kettle), that makes me feel that I am living here, and not just camping out. I discovered a few foods I can make easily and cheaply. I've been eating a lot of egg salad sandwiches. :)

I didn't realize it for a while, but through May and into June I was still in shock. Now I am operating my regular life. I am not worried that if I do one thing wrong, my life here will fall apart.

I feel almost homey at times. Things are still tiring, I am still worried about a lot of things, but in my day to day life, I feel comfortable enough.

And I made it through the darkest part of the winter.
Sunday, July 24th, 2016
1:09 pm
Somewhat lacking: camaraderie, excitement.
I know that life can't always be a non-stop rollercoaster, but I've been a little disappointed by the lack of romance in my life in Chile.

Well, both types of romance.

But even the romance of being in a foreign country, in a big city, and having other people in the same position as I am, seems to be missing. Like I thought I would have a crew, we would take time exploring, getting to know each other, being a team. Its not like people have been unfriendly, but I don't really spend a lot of time with people from work, and I haven't really felt a connection, where there are people I can depend on. And, I haven't really felt that "let's go" attitude here. Its one of the reasons why I feel like I am marking time, and not living life to its fullest.
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
4:20 pm
Another week gone by!
It has been another week gone here, quite surprisingly!

There are a lot of little victories in a week. For example, I bought an SD storage card for my phone, so I can now take more pictures and play WwF. That is pretty exciting!

Also this past week: I had my observation, and a meeting to discuss it, which went mostly well. I also found my visa paperwork was in order, and that I can move forward with it this week.

I also, kind of just because, ended up taking the #5 line to its end, where it meets with the #4 line in the south of the city. I didn't get out of the train (just yet), but I did see more of the city.

All of this is nice, but I do have to admit that it isn't exactly Strategic Transcendence. Like, for three months in a foreign country, I should have some more...extraordinary experiences? I haven't really gathered a circle of friends around me, either. Its cold out, I spend time indoors.

But I am also okay with that.
Sunday, July 10th, 2016
7:37 pm
Its winter
Remember a few weeks ago, well, maybe almost two months ago, where I mentioned that one of the many things going on here was that it was autumn?

Well, now it is winter, and despite my long time in Montana, its actually cold here. It doesn't rain, but a gloomy of blanket comes over the city and reduces everything to a chill. There isn't central heating or insulation and most buildings (including ours) have lots of windows. So it gets pretty cold! Together with the shorter daylight, it makes going outside a lot less fun.

I look forward to the weekend, but then on weekend days like today...I don't actually do much.
Friday, July 8th, 2016
1:24 pm
The day is going surprisingly well
I had a hard time sleeping last night, worried about what is happening in the United States. And then, when I have trouble sleeping, I start worrying about the next day, whether the next day is going to be terrible.

But I got up this morning and felt less terrible. I managed to fight the ever-ending battle against Chilean cruft, (they give a lot of receipts and stuff here), and catch up on the laundry that got delayed while our bathtub was clogged (the washer drains through the bathtub) this week. Then I am going to mop upstairs.

Okay, this isn't the action packed adventure of visiting a foreign country that people might have been hoping for, but...hey, every day that I manage to live in a foreign country, and do SOMETHING, feels like a success to me!

Also, my job is kind of ridiculous sometimes, because while I am living like a college student and worrying about my laundry, I am also working with the top level executives of some of the largest companies in the country (which are almost always branches of multinational corporations).
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