Geek

My career is in information technology (IT).

I am not a developer. I support software and the people who use it. I get excited about figuring out how it works, training people, and managing data. What the hell is wrong with me? I think it feeds a few things. It feeds my natural tendency to see the big picture and translate it into practical explanations. It feeds my need to fix, to find solutions, to create order from chaos. It feeds my deep-seated desire for world domination.

Hey, she who controls information controls the world.

Ok, so why information technology? Why is it my career after I devoted so much energy to music, aviation, and my deep desire and talent for writing?

There is a school of thought that classifies people as either right or left brained- as creative beings or logical beings. While I am right brain dominant (creative), I actually operate within both spaces. I can do either. I have a need for both creative and logical outlets. To me this is normal, so I never understand why people are surprised that I work with computers and am a musician that writes.

For the first part of my life, when I was completely focused on the arts, people categorized me as a creative person. They treated me as if I could not comprehend science, as if I were stupid and a flake. When I switched over to the sciences, at 21+, people then categorized me as a tech geek, unable to appreciate the arts, and super smart. While both categories fit me, both assumptions also offend me.

To explain how I came to IT, I must go back to the beginning. My father was a mechanical engineer and worked for Caterpillar for 25 years until his death. He was an extremely smart man. He held nine patents. My mother is also intelligent so naturally all of us kids are smart.

My brother is a strange bird. He is twelve years my elder and expresses an extreme form of logical intelligence. He was doing long division by age three. He is brilliant at math and science but not the humanities. He was the type to pull things apart and put them back together just to see how they work.

They bought him a Commodore 64 in the early 80’s. I would hang out in his room and watch him solder chips onto circuit boards. He would buy textbooks with BASIC code for computer games and sit for hours typing on that damn B/W TV he used as a monitor. I would watch him type code, I asked him to explain the code, and I would read the code. It made sense to me, a beautiful simple logic like music. At age ten, this all seemed perfectly normal.

So, I got to use his PC at a very young age when he would let me. In high school, I took a computer class because I thought it would be easy and it was. My teacher was surprised by my comfort level. He approached me and wisely advised, “You should consider doing this for a living.” I smiled and thought to myself, “No way dude. I’m going to be a rock star!” I was so obsessed with music…

I have resisted working with computers all my life. I like them, they come easy to me, but they are not my passion. Guess what is. When I gave up on the arts in college, I decided that I needed to get a day job that paid so that I could pursue my passions without trying to pay my bills with them. I was afraid that I would eventually learn to hate the arts for my inability to make a living at them.

Aviation was to be that day job and I did indeed finish my first B.S. in Aviation Management. Unfortunately, too far along in my flight training, I knew I didn’t want to fly for a living. They don’t tell you the reality of that industry until it’s too late. I took a hard look at IT but didn’t pursue it at the time. It would have only been for the money which I am philosophically against.

I was also too embarrassed to jump majors again, after being so sure of aviation in the beginning. I started as a music major then switched to an English major then finally settled on aviation. I struggled in college due to a lot of unresolved baggage. My experience at the University of Iowa went so poorly that I had to prove something to myself. I was not lazy or stupid or flakey. This loud, funny girl became very serious. I became disciplined, focused, and driven. I had no faith in my own work ethic until then.

I have a little too much now!

After I finally finished college I moved to Chicago. I volunteered at a fundraiser for a small non-profit and because I worked so hard, they offered me a temp job as the receptionist. I had so much trouble finding a job, I took it. It was my first non-profit gig. Their mission was workforce and small business development, adult literacy, and alternative high school. They provided educational and economic support and opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

After a time, they decided I was too valuable to let go. They cobbled together a permanent position and offered me a raise. It was the early 2000’s and I watched them struggle with their newly installed client management database. Given my need to ‘help’, to ‘fix’, I offered my assistance. Soon my boss said, “You- sit here, do this, figure it out.” My first foray into a large enterprise level relational database. Eventually, I was offered a position managing all the communications and databases for the company.

I was so not qualified.

So, I put myself back through school. I learned how to read binary and hexadecimal. I learned desktop support and network design. I learned visual basic programming and SQL. I learned systems analysis and web design. I took two years’ worth of classes in one year, worked full-time, and lost my fucking mind in the process. I did finish with honors. I did do my job better. I did complete my second B.S. in Information Technology.

Chicago is a hard place to try to make it in your 20’s. In 2003, I made a decision to move to Minnesota for better opportunities. I came here without a job but landed one at another small non-profit in St. Paul within two weeks. I was hired to work on the databases and reporting for the grant manager, until they needed an onsite IT person. I was then also doing desktop, software, and network support. Their mission is teen and young adult intervention and they provide medical, mental health, pregnancy support and services as well as an alternative high school and homeless drop-in center.

That all lead me to the University of Minnesota in 2009 where I currently work as a sysadmin. Career non-profit in Information Technology. I never set out to do this work. But I have to have a mission. I have to have a challenge. I have to have a job where I feel I am making a difference in the world. It is all just one big puzzle to my mind. I like puzzles. They exercise my brain.

Not bad for an English major drop-out.

 
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, April 2019

Perfect World

Wake and journal.
A few pages.

Coffee, but all after
I feed the pets.
They won’t wait for me.

Nor will my muse.
Write anyway.

Breakfast.
Morning, raw creation.

Lunch.
Afternoon, read or edit.

Cats won’t let it be past 4.
They get fed at 5, as do I.

Evenings dedicated to jazz, to wine,
To poetry read aloud to a lover,
To dishes, to hot baths, to hot sex.

Paycheck.
Public speaking.

Finished books.
Finished drafts to be books.
Drafts in progress. Drafts to be.

Cycling, cooking.
Music, dreaming.
Dancing, travel.
Dining, friends.

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, October 2017

Usual Early Morning Stuff

It is 5am. I fight with the alarm. I fight with the cat. It is hard to leave the bed soft, fresh sheet, downy blanket hugging me back to slumber. He won’t let me sleep in and the 10-minute snooze won’t either. My choice. I set the alarm. I keep feeding him.

I sit up. I strap on the robe and sandals. I set about the usual early morning stuff. The cats weave around my legs as I pee. There are two cats, but she is much quieter, so I don’t complain about her in the morning. The gurgling coffee pot calls to me from the kitchen. I set about feeding us.

Shredded fish and gravy for them, OJ and coffee and ink for me. He eats, and naps curled in the chair next to me. She disappears again. The coffee has been poured into a weekday cup of average size. I put on a blanket against the chill from the degrading kitchen windows.

I begin to empty my mind of anger or poems or scene sketches for a novel I am months from completing. It is slow at first, unsure of my characters. What if I make bad choices for them? These are someone else’s kids in my care- no? They’re mine? Even worse. The white space fills with black ink, mostly legible, with circular patterns of character self-discovery and bad descriptions.

The paper and ink raw messy dirty dish reality of my kitchen conjures the best times of my life- food and wine and people I love. The space I write and create, the space of warm ovens and cold drinks, of turning spice into curry and flour into bread. It is fertile ground. It soothes my aching soul when the pen digs too deep into the flesh of all that is hidden.

Later the computer will sterilize this but not too much. Only enough to make it appear I am not completely uneducated though my reading list is long and impossible. Writing my flesh then clothing it in gauze. My living room editor life of electronic square blinking screen, cold and efficient, symbol of productivity and work.

The alarm on the stove beeps. The pen and paper are closed. Night clothes come off, day clothes come on, different. Hair different, hot and pasted into place. Breakfast, commuter bag, lunch bag, journal, calendar, coat, hat, boots, mittens… power off, locks on, out into the ally to the street to the bus to the bumper car traffic to the place I spend most of my days, not writing, in a cube farm.

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, February 2018

Single, White, Professional, Female- in Kansas City, April 2018

Wednesday April 18, 2018

I have an airline trip confirmation sitting on my kitchen table- MSP-MCI at 1pm. I have traveled a lot to Kansas City in the past five years, always on business. I sometimes get it in my mind to extend the trip and take a couple vacation days, but it never works out like that. I tried to mix a business/pleasure trip once in Chicago. It was just weird. I keep a very clear break between my professional life and personal life as it should be. This is how I know I could never work from home.

I woke up at 3am for no reason and foolishly waited until 4:30am to get up and write. My mind is full and I have learned that the only way to get back to sleep is to get up and write it out. My head will stop racing once I can express and record my thoughts- just in case I need to come back to my great ideas later. I rarely come back to them. I am going to take a nap, otherwise I will be the zombie arriving at gate 58. The cats don’t know I am leaving yet. My carry-on luggage that I bought on the street in Istanbul, Turkey is not packed and the dishes aren’t done. They won’t be happy at this time tomorrow. Continue reading “Single, White, Professional, Female- in Kansas City, April 2018”

Paris With You

It is privacy
Neutral territory
Away from
Day to day

At once fun
Exciting, other person
But not how
One behaves

When bills, are hungry
Tired, after work
Lack of sleep
Headache

Still, to travel well
With someone new
Reveals what
You crave

Adventure
Shared experience,
Rendezvous
Next May

Neither fall in love
Nor divorce
Your boring,
Sexless marriage

Good trip
Good fuck
Does not equate
Happiness for ages

Think of the children
Consider your wallet
You’ll always have
Paris

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, February 2018

What is yours?

What is yours?

It is an hour before. With pen and paper, you sit as you always do wherever you are. A bartender stares at you when you order a beer and asks, “How cute are you?” You think, ‘No, you can’t have my number’ but say, “Thank you.” Writing and editing in a bar keeps men away. It’s easier to figure out what you’re after. It’s not them.

What is yours?

You look at your pens as if they belong to someone else, borrowed, unwanted so you picked them up. You look at your journal as being second hand, disregarded by its owner, so you picked it up. Where does this come from?

You bought each. You chose each. They are your tools of self-expression, of deliverance from a muddy mind and heart. This is your pen box. This is your ‘unlimited’ access to paper and ink. This is where the fire glows.

What is yours?

Your glasses. Your handwriting. The box of half used tissue. It is your tears that they wipe away, no one else. You are driving a meat wagon too that others seem to think they have some dominion over. They have no power over you, none that you don’t give them.

You have chosen the life of a worker. You pursue other activities once all your energy is spent. You can barely participate in anything else. You have no companion. You were not a good one.

What is yours?

This pain. This sorrow. Longing for a lifetime, for approval from someone wholly incapable of accepting themselves. Why are you surprised that they cannot accept you as you are? Why do you concern yourself with the behavior, the absence?

You carry so many heavy things. The wall of silence pressed down upon you for so long that it stole your words, your tongue, your expression. What are your rights of passage? Who celebrated with you? Who ensured that you knew that you mattered?

Now when people look at you and say, “Get over it,” they do not understand that the eruptions into the light are new. You have not dwelt upon this. You have been silent, silent, so silent. Your words are backed up, a packed colon of blackened pain. Your hopes feel unreachable.

What is yours?

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, November 2016

1st World Problems

Long distance running
To where, exactly?
Persistent roar
Dissatisfaction

Expressed through
Various media
Punctuate an otherwise
Mundane life

“Ain’t nothin’ going on but the rent”
Wisdom from a black woman’s mouth
I do not understand
Explain it to me

Yes, nothing going on

Work and home
Work and home
Weekend and beer
Work and home

Punctuated by anxiety
Of my friends and family
Set on uneasy ground
Sold self-dissatisfaction

Told to blame their neighbors
Different ones
For whatever their current
Woes may be

I cannot change the world
I can only change myself
Only in small ways

I can focus on the
Gaping maw of greed
Ever hungry for what
My flesh
Can and will produce

Or, I can

Sit by a hospital bed
Hold the hand of the helpless
Tell the people I love
I love them so

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, August 2017