“Don’t Take this Personally.” Four new poetry publications in Brief Wilderness–the space between.

These are amazing poems by my friend Patricia L. Meek.

https://briefwilderness.com/2021/03/19/dont-take-this-personally-by-patricia-l-meek/ Sophia’s Door 2017 BREATHE I drove a hundred miles in the rain …

“Don’t Take this Personally.” Four new poetry publications in Brief Wilderness–the space between.
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Budget Crunch Decision Criteria

If I were The Decider at a university facing budget cuts and needing to trim personnel, here’s my hot take on some low-hanging fruit.

1st to go: Person(s) who have either (a) emailed the entire 752 person campus list-serv about a personal issue, e.g. their technological incompetence inability to find the Zoom recordings, or (b) the person(s) who replied all to such an email asking to be removed from the list.

You know who you are.

2nd on the chopping block: At the beginning of this pandemic, very few people were familiar with Zoom/Teams/GoogleMeet and could be forgiven for rambling while on mute. Now, not so much. Equally vile are all the folks who hop on a virtual meeting while simultaneously yelling at their co-habitants without muting themselves.

Oh, to be a meeting co-host and have the POWER to mute those careless miked-up goobers.

My online classes start this week, and I’m sure karma will backhand me for my impertinence and I’ll forget to record the class post-break at least twice. Or maybe I will make a slide that says RECORD THIS MEETING!

Follow me for more easy budgeting solutions.

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Hotel California

Earlier this month, we had a 3 hour faculty meeting from 4 – 7 pm (1600 – 1900 for those who use military time). Needless to say, it wasn’t good news that kept us glued to our seats after hours.

To use Randy Newman’s words from Louisiana 1927: What has happened down here is the winds have changed.

In the best of times, there are hawks and doves and no deficits. This– this is not the best of times. Neither is it the worst of times. It is, however, a time of change. A time of reflection.

As I sit in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, I am thinking about an Eagles song just now: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Which I interpret similar to John Craigie’s I am California:

So drink all my wine, cut all my trees
Make love on my beaches, smoke all my weed
I am California, can’t you see?
Wherever you roam, you’ll always want me

These past 2 years have been an incredible experience. Natural beauty in all of its aspects: ocean waves, mountains, verdant valleys, redwood forests, seasonal fruit, wildfires, earthquakes, and mudslides.

I had so many pre-conceived notions about California before I became a resident. I entertained a kind of west-coast bias that the people here don’t deserve any more than Southerners or blondes deserve their stereotypes.

Monterey, Big Sur, the California Central Coast— this is a magical place. A place where Mother Earth makes herself known, and Poseidon is forever flirting upon her shores. A place where you can steep in the stillness of a redwood fairy circle and see translucent fae wings flashing in the sunbeams trickling through the evergreen limbs. A place of plenty, where the temperate climate and rich soils produce food year round and the ocean teems with life.

Such a place.

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Queen of the General Ledger

Once upon a time, when I worked at Exchange Bank, I told my boss that I wanted to be called Queen of the General Ledger, and so he did.

I have long self-identified as royalty.

Not to brag, but Je suis tres avante garde. And by that I mean I beat Elon Musk to it by a good 12 years.

In filings with the SEC today, Elon changed his title to Technoking of Tesla and his CFO’s title to Master of Coin. No, this is not fake news: https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-gets-new-title-of-technoking-of-tesla-11615813693

Follow me for more great ideas, decades before their time!

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The Weekend

Sleeping in feels great until you discover that there is more light later in the day, which means you can see the inside of your microwave.

Mine looks like the aftermath of a gremlins’ pizza party.

The Gremlins microwave scene is just too gross to share.

My microwave repertoire consists of boiling water for instant grits (AM) or hot toddies (PM), so I’m unsure about how it gets so grimy. Just another unsolvable scientific mystery.

This roadside attraction just north of Monterey is much more interesting than my microwave’s messy interior.

On the brighter side, I ordered some silver polish in case I get the en vie to do some spring cleaning anytime soon. It would probably be more cost effective (time & effort) to get some stainless steel instead of using my grandma’s silver. #FirstWorldProblems

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House Arrest

I stared too long into the abyss… and TikTok stared back.

Why, Blanche!

Californians have been on house arrest for a year now, with no time off for good behavior, wildfires, or mudslides.

If you’re not too depressed to get out of bed off the couch, the good news is that spending at least 2 hours a week outdoors will make you feel better (https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-better-health-during-the-pandemic-is-two-hours-outdoors-the-new-10-000-steps-11613304002.)

I’m lucky that Monterey is overrun with nature: beaches, deer, mountains, forests, raccoons. I saw a bevy of quail on campus this morning.

Callipepla californica aka California quail is the CA state bird. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Click the link for more info on the CA Quail: (https://www.thespruce.com/california-quail-4690899)

Even with a dedicated writers’ night, I can’t find the mental energy to work on any of my longer projects. It seems like every time I have re-charged my batteries and am ready to commence creating, a frustrating meeting or computer malfunction or a power steering pump failure arises to drain the life from my soul.

My current strategy (until I win the lottery) is to see if I can break my tasks down into smaller bites than FINISH NOVEL & SERIES. That’s a bit overwhelming and vague.

I can commit to 10 minutes a day (which is better than no minutes a day) and maybe build from there– ’cause you know Every Little Bit Counts.

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Parking Lot 101

Last century when I was a drug dealer pharmaceutical sales representative, we had to take a driving class because we drove company provided vehicles. Because most accidents happen while backing up, they encouraged us to “pull-through” in parking lots where space was available.

PULL-THROUGH!

If you park further away from the entrance, pulling through is almost always possible. Not only do you reduce your risk of accident, but you also get some extra steps it. WIN!/WIN!

When I can’t pull-through, I often will back into my parking spot. This strategy makes it easier to get out if there’s an emergency.

My 1st world pet peeve is when I am trying to back into a spot and the places ACROSS from me are not aligned with the place I am backing into. This is even more of a problem when the sun is angled just right for my backup camera to be worthless.

Actual footage of me trying to park some mornings.

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Do Re Mi

It ain’t what you’re thinking.

DO RE MI isn’t Julie Andrews and THE SOUND OF MUSIC’S primer for musical notes. It’s the simple truth about a House in California— “it’s the land of milk and honey, but you better have good money…..:

The median house price in Monterey County in January 2021 was $821,000– $481/square foot

Woodie Guthrie wrote the following lyrics, which are included on his 1940 album Dust Bowl Ballads:

If you ain’t got the do re mi boys you ain’t got the do re mi
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas
Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee

California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see
But believe it or not you won’t find it so hot
If you ain’t got the do re mi

Nothing’s changed in nearly a century. Salinas is still East of Eden (this makes Eden Monterey), and you can take a vacation by the mountains or the sea, and live in paradise… if you can afford it.

I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to buy a house here (housing in Monterey County has gone up at least 20% since I started my job in Monterey– 12.4% in the last year), and I can’t bear to leave. I toured an “affordable” condo in my neighborhood (it was a 2 br/2ba for $550k); the second bedroom didn’t have a light fixture and the outside storage couldn’t accommodate a shop-vac.

What to do?

I love my job. I love my students. I love the weather– it’s hardly ever above 80 degrees here.

I DO NOT MISS the heat or the humidity of the Deep South.

I DO MISS granite counter tops (those are available in houses above $1.5 million), a full-size, quiet dishwashers with stainless steel tubs (mine is the size of a trash compactor). I miss my pantry and I miss a French door refrigerator with a bottom freezer.

More to the point, I miss my family.

I miss my kids, my parents, my brothers & sisters, aunts & uncles, and nieces & nephews. I miss Mark. Covid has rendered me desperately lonely in this land of paradise.

I love the ocean and the mountains. The air here is so clean, so fresh. I can smell the ocean from my house and hear seals barking year ’round. Majestic redwood forests are 40 minutes away, north or south. Orange groves, almond orchards, and wineries surround me, and yet….

There is no boudin, no andouille, no crawfish boil. Drive thru daiquiri stores and indoor dining are a dream.

I’ve traded Tiger Stadium for Pebble Beach and am abivalent. There is no winner here.

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Good Ideas

I have no shortage of really interesting “high concept” stories in my head. What I’m missing are the characters to tell the story for me.

Characters are hard work. You have to invent whole persons out of nothing more than the functional brain cells in your own head, and then befriend them. Once you’ve become BFFs, possessing intimate knowledge of their needs, dreams, and desires, then you must TORTURE them. For without conflict, a story is boring.

Exposed in her support undergarments was not the worst of it for Bridget Jones.

This is to say nothing of the difficulty of plotting. So, I won’t.

It’s easier to write what you know, which is a dilemma for me, since (to my knowledge) no accounting novels have made it to the NYT Bestseller list. The Smartest Guys in the Room and The Big Short were close, but they are really about Finance, a much sexier subject.

Stories I haven’t even thought about writing:

The Little Debit Who Could: the story of a debit masquerading as a credit that toppled a financial empire. This definitely has the makings of a best seller.

General Ledger Island: sit right back and you’ll read a tale, a tale of a fateful trip… when the mighty comptroller learned to double-dip.

With any luck, I’ll be able to finish the current work in progress before moving on to the next shiny, sparkly idea. But, I’ll make some notes, just in case.

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Hoist With My Own Petard

People warned me about Monterey before I moved here. It’s cold, they said.

Fantastic! I said, for I had been hot my whole life (there are numerous historical blog posts to attest to the accuracy of this statement).

Oh, how the karmic thermostat has turned against me.

A figurative, not literal representation of my living quarters. (Photo taken in Dallas, TX 17 Feb 2021)

Before moving out west, my summer uniform was a pair of Nike running shorts and a tank top, now it’s a pair of leggings and a long-sleeved top. Pre-Monterey, I had a single sweater I bought in 2001 and maybe wore every other year. Post-Monterey, I’m the Bubba Gump of sweaters: spring sweaters, summer sweaters, fall sweaters, woolen winter sweaters, little old lady librarian sweaters.

[I did a regression discontinuity test and there is a significant increase (p < 0.0001) in sweaters, pants, scarves, and beanie caps in the post period.]

For Christmas I ordered myself some cashmere sheets and a down comforter from The Company Store. Luxurious bedding solved my problem of waking up with a headache because I was cold and tense all night long by replacing it with a different one: the warm and cozy covers are too comfortable.

There is a solution, but it involves programming my thermostat weeks before the time changes.

Changing the time gets on my last nerve.

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