I have not been very active for a while. Which isn't surprising: the surprising thing is that after more than 15 years, I still have times when I still feel like writing on E2 as much as possible. There is a blank space on here corresponding to a very active time in my life: before I came to Chile, and then for my first year here. My arrival in Chile, documented almost two years ago, was a jarring experience on top of a confusing past year. So far from everything I had experienced before, scared, and trying to adjust to even small details such as the odd angles of the streets, my old standby, describing my life via an obscure website, seemed to be a thing of the past. Even my usual habit of journalling fell away for a long time.

Then, last year, in June, I realized I had thoughts going around in my head, and I returned to E2. If you have spent time away from here, you know that the seemingly-impossible task of finding things to write about disappeared with the first writeup, and I started to sketch out all the things I had confined to a desk drawer of my consciousness. This had happened in the summer of 2001, had happened again in 2008, to a lesser extent in 2013, and here it was again.

As before, there is a lot of topic drift in what I want to write about. I found, without planning, that many of my writeups centered around my mixed feeling towards the United States, and how the landscape of my country had informed my development. From a distance, and seeing my country in a new light, certain things became the focus of my attention. I wrote about how I had decontextualized rock music in Classic Rock, Out of Context. I wrote about the great American suburbanization in Pre-War and Post-War architecture, at a glance, and about ways that community planning could have been different in Bitter Root Town. And I wrote about my own subjective experience in The Strange Shifting of Time and Space in Outdoors Areas. Later, after realizing that life growing up in the 1980s was not so fascinating, I started looking further back at human history and migrations, and the possibility of Pre-Colombian Contact, and how Egyptians might have circumnavigated Africa. For me, the thematic development is clear, and writing about these things helped my expand my mind, and see connections between things, which is something that E2 has been doing for me since I joined.

The reason that I went into another period of quiescence here is that after writing about these things, I decided to expand it. I have been working, off and on this year, on a "book", which is now reaching respectable novella levels. The book is a geographical autobiography. Rather than inflict one more memoir about being a sad kid, it is focused on the world around me, both the natural environment and the social environment. As such, it does still talk about my personal life a lot, but only as much as is needed to describe places. For me, one of the inspirations for it was a story I wrote on here: Waking Up God, where I tried to describe a surreal feeling of rootlessness. But then I turned that on its head: wasn't my own rootedness, the fact that every single place I had lived had a very specific history, both for myself and for the world, of interest? Of course, for me, I can overlook that. When I was writing that story, I was thinking of it taking place in Wilsonville, Oregon, because to me that is the most perfectly generic suburb I can imagine. But there is many things of interest about Wilsonville, or at least the area. And me dismissing it as just another suburb is not just a failure of imagination, its to ignore the history of the area. Before the apartment complexes and auto dealerships were built, Wilsonville had been home to people of the Kalapuya for hundreds, if not thousands of years. So what I am doing in my book is explaining what is "obvious to me", "standard background", in detail.

It has been easy to write, when I find the time. One of the problems with writing a novel, which is what I thought of as the standard literary form, is that I had to spend a lot of time thinking about plot flow and how the characters fit together. But when writing about my own life...I just write about things that I have been thinking about every day for decades, and that are on the tip of my mind.

My only question about all of this, other than whether I will get distracted and forget, is whether I can focus on the things that are of interest, and whether it will cohere. I don't want to make just a bloggy assortment of anecdotes and statistics, but something that (like geography itself), shows diversity in unity, and thematic development. The process of writing and editing will still take a while, and I won't claim too much credit for what is essentially a long meandering word document, but writing it has at least been interesting for me.

Yesterday I thought, it's Mother's Day, I'm not going to stress like I normally do. So I did some things I wouldn't normally do like put the clothes in the dryer rather than hang them up on the line. Today I wore my red shirt and black jeans into the office since the company's colors are black, red, and white, and I wanted to see if what I had would work for the trade show. I've heard it said that there are three sides to most stories involving you and one other person; yours, theirs, and what really happened. Today was a rough day for multiple reasons. I haven't taken my vitamins recently. I'm purposely taking a break from them to see if I feel as if I really need them, or can get by and perhaps even become better without them. I feel as if there are times when they have helped, times when they have hurt, and I think this is a sensible and reasonable thing to be doing. Starting a new job is stressful, I'm going into week three, perhaps I am more comfortable than I was, but I still don't feel as if I really fit in and maybe that's what this is really about.

I was on the phone with a prospective customer and for a change he was actually really into it and listening to what I had to say. Near the end of the conversation I heard my boss make a comment that I felt was intended for me and it was not complimentary. When I was done she asked who that was and I told her, she called me into her office and told me that I needed to make future conversations shorter. She gave me clear and logical reasons why and I accepted them. They made sense to me and I can see her point of view. What frustrated me about the conversation was her eye rolling that I did not care for, and I also feel as if this is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you fail to train people. There are many ways to fail an employer. There are numerous ways to cheat an employer. We are going to a trade show this weekend, one of the women I work with was sitting there playing around on her computer with Google satellite maps. This is the kind of thing that would really annoy me if I was her boss.

A lot of companies say that they want a candidate with such and such qualities or characteristics, but in real life, that's just now how it works at most places. I can't think of a job where my work ethic has ever been questioned. I am many things, but from an employer's point of view, lazy is apparently not one of them. I do little things that waste time at work and I fully and readily admit this. The thing is, this is never the problem I get into trouble for, what gets me into trouble is working hard and ignoring the culture many others have adopted such as calls the woman who sits next to me makes to tell her husband that he needs to pick up dog food. At some point this tolerance is cool and it's great that they don't sweat the small stuff. What gets me is working hard without training, trying to figure things out on my own as best I can, and then getting into trouble for doing my actual job. I am seriously so stunned I'm still questioning if I heard her accurately. Most of my day is spent leaving messages for people who never call me back. Then I get an actual person, am very upbeat and enthusiastic, and I get into trouble for talking too long about actual work?

I have much to learn about the company and the industry. I am accustomed to being a top sales person and making the kinds of mistakes new people do. I'm practically an expert on being the new person what with the number of jobs I've had and schools I've attended. The interaction made me wonder if I am really a good fit for their company and if I need to be searching harder for something that is a natural and better fit. One issue I struggle with, and perhaps is running through your mind right now, is the idea that I have a job, this is what the corporate world and jobs in general are like, and I need to stop being a special snowflake and just land next to others in this frosty chill we call employment. Today I got home and laid down for a while. I couldn't fall asleep, I didn't sleep well last night, and that bothers me. I don't know why this is, but having the right amount and type of B vitamins seems to play a role in processes like sleep and hunger. I'm bored at work. I'm underwhelmed. I'm not learning something new as fast as I would like to be, but other people feel as if I am picking up things quickly so that is strange to me and I wonder if paradoxically, both things are simultaneously true.

Today I received an email from our design person that had a proof of my business cards. I saw that the number under cell phone did not match mine and sent her a reply email. She replied back telling me that the number I saw was a company cell phone and they wanted me to use that. This was something of a shock to me because when I first started I had been told that the company no longer gave cell phones to sales people because <fill in reason I can't exactly remember, but made perfect sense at the time>. I accepted this and didn't think anything of it since I don't travel for work and I have a phone of my own that I don't mind using for business purposes on occasion because I feel like it helps me get my job done, and in my mind somehow balances things like me occasionally checking my phone for texts which is obviously not what I am being paid to do. I think I know in my heart that this is not the job for me, but there is an outside possibility that I am being too hasty in planning my departure. I don't know if it's me, them, the combination, or something else like a communication braekdown. The husband makes a lot of sense to me, his wife who is my boss, really doesn't, and that's hard for me.

Other personal news: I finished the book I had been writing. I can't remember when I started, sometime in April, but I chose May 1, as the date to file all chapters on so I could easily locate them when they were needed. I planned on 20 chapters and finished with 19. I'm happy to have that sense of completion and closure. Today I am also sad because it feels as if something that kept me going is gone. I know it isn't really, I have other books I need to finish, I think I'm mad at myself for getting so off track and writing multiple books that I stopped and started, but I also know the creative process is far from linear even though that is how it seems to appear to me when I think about it. I feel as if I should do and be more, I feel like I didn't say what I wanted to, failed to convey text or dialogue that explains why the book is called what I titled it, and am now faced with the challenge of finding an editor. I know how to write, it's a constant improvement process, but content generation is fairly easy and almost mindless in a sense. I almost never have what is known as writer's block although I have been there as I think many of us have. Typically it's because I don't know how to solve a particular problem, am depressed, or have something else happen that derails me like losing my computer.

I told a friend that I was alone, lonely, sad, scared, bored, and broke. It feels as if I have worked very hard on many things, and not really reaped the rewards and benefits that accompany my efforts. Today I am disenchanted with my new glass containers that have a side flap that refuses to stay snapped shut, my new lunch bag seems like a foolish expenditure even though I can see the practicality of it for Chicago and other outings, I'm discouraged, and it feels dishonest to work at one company while actively looking for other work. Sometimes I don't have my own best interests in mind and can too clearly see things from someone else's point of view. I ate too much and now I'm angry with myself for that. I wonder what is wrong with me and then think about how far I have come over the years. Work has been good for me in many ways. It was wonderful to be able to leave at 2:00 today. I arrived just in time to pick up my daughter and just having her sit next to me in the car provided some measure of company even though she had her earbuds in for the entire trip. I'm almost done listening to The Power of Habit and would strongly encourage anyone who may be curious to check into it as it has changed my mind, life, and heart.

More on my mind, but I told my mom I would be stopping by to borrow her suitcase and a red shirt for the show. I really am fortunate and blessed, I read an article on things Oprah said and they helped. She said you don't have to love your job, you just have to keep showing up, so for now, that's my plan and that's what I'm going to keep doing. 

Xoxo,

J

P.S. I really wish I could figure more of this kind of thing out, but I'm still optimistic.

j

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