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.