Tag: taxes

Clawing Through the Rubble Heap

cauldron of steam

My laptop is in the hospital.  I’m using Max’s for now.  Yesterday I turned on my computer and it announced that the computer had been shut down improperly and when it uploaded windows all my data and programs were wiped and the settings were returned to something I’ve never had.  It was super spooky.  Please don’t let this be the end of my laptop.  I can’t handle anything else right now.

Yesterday my right foot got really jealous of my left foot and the skin at the base of one of my toes cracked again.  The one that cracked the worst last time.  Apparently my skin can simply crack open at will.  Meanwhile – all this limping around is hard on my calf muscles and my back.

I have renamed myself Gimpy-Sue.

This past couple of weeks has been awful with this past week taking the goddamn cake.  We did get our car fixed for $620 or so dollars.  We opted not to fix something that wasn’t dire yet so it’s limping along just like I am.  I can’t comment on the house sitch.  My mom is really lonely without Nadia.  I have ordered orthopedic inserts for my one pair of shoes and they should get here in the next few days so hopefully my left foot will be in less pain soon.  Max has a very expensive pair of athletic shoes that have adjusted his foot “pronation” to make running and walking in gym more comfortable and he says it’s helping.  He also reports that his new gym teacher is not as much like a “drill sergeant” as his other one was.  So that’s good.  I still haven’t heard from the counselor about the email I sent on Wednesday concerning my plan for homework.  So that’s a nice tense bit of fun coming my way this week.  And today we face our tax situation.  We obviously can’t afford to get them done this year.  Nothing but fun ahead around here.

I’m going to bind my feet with athletic tape.  Or I might just cut them off.

All my garden plans are on hold.

I’m definitely not catching any breaks lately.

I am thinking I might address my kitchen this weekend once I  clean up space for Philip to do the taxes and set him up with all the paperwork he needs (that I can find).  I have completely lost my cooking mojo and I am certain it’s because of a need to clean out and organize my  cupboards  better so I can SEE what the hell is in there.  I have a rack thingy to hang for spices so I think I’ll do that.  I certainly can’t write or work without my laptop and I need to do something to symbolically clean out my head by cleaning out something in my environment.  Since tough times are ahead I need to be eating better and not lose sight of that and to do that I need to have a more efficient and well organized kitchen.

I also need to stay in touch with my future dreams.  Do you all know that I don’t have any plans to become rich?  What I want is enough security to be able to take care of my mom and us.  I want a house that no one can take away.  I want an income that’s big enough to allow us to live modestly much like we are now but enough to buy shoes when we need them and take a vacation (it’s been 4 years since our last family vacation) and I want healthcare that’s good enough that when bad shit happens to us physically it can’t destroy our savings or bankrupt us.  I don’t want a bigger house.  I don’t want much more than we have now.  I want enough money to be able to buy another used (but good condition) car in the near future.  I want to write books that sell consistently.  I want to earn around $40,000 a year as an author.  I want Philip to get raises every year he works and not lose this job because he’s really happy with his work.

That’s what I want.  My dreams are modest.  Except for the part about making my living selling my novels which is always an impossible dream until it isn’t.  You know what I mean?  May as well shoot for the goddamn moon.  I have to find a way to keep that aim of mine steady and clear in spite of the heaps of rubble falling all around us all the time.  That’s life.  That’s what happens.  You have to decide not to be buried.  You have to decide you will keep  clawing your way out of it even if it makes your hands bleed.  So I have to decide this and keep deciding this every single day.

I have to decide that I will not be bullied by life.

Or the people in it.

Or my feet.

As I was writing this a brand new bucket of rubble fell on our heap.  At some point it just gets ridiculous to mention each new bit of bullshit being heaped on us.  So.  Until further notice, just assume that each day brings with it a new pile and know that I will continue to complain just as much as I continue to claw my way upwards and work hard to NOT LOSE.

I only give up once or twice a day.

So what’s being piled on you these days?  Please feel free to complain loudly here – just shout it out in the comments. I’m listening…

Perpetual Awesome

A few days ago my kid said “You know what you are, mom?” I said “No.  What?” and he said “Perpetual Awesome”  Hearing things like that does not change the horror of finding out that I pretty much need a second job to pay for the self employment taxes on my first job because I’m paying 39% of my income to the state and the feds, but you know what it does do?  It makes me feel good.  I wasn’t even doing anything for him when he said it.  It was spontaneous and it made me feel like I’m doing something right in my life.  Something is so much more than nothing, if I’m measuring shit.

I spent most of yesterday lounging on the futon in the game room watching Max play Skyrim.  Have you seen or played this video game?  It’s unbelievably cool.  I don’t like video games but this one is something else.  The art and design of the landscapes, characters, and things that populate this game is incredible, gorgeous and I found I was jealous that I wasn’t one of the people who made it.  The music is also fantastic.  This is quality time spent with my kid.  Perhaps to some parents quality time means cooking in the kitchen or doing something “real” or old fashioned but my kid loves it when I watch him play video games which is his big passion in life aside from reading.  It makes him feel good.  He got to explain all the strange plants and potions his character was acquiring – the game has lots of mushrooms in it!  There are books you can buy or steal that you can actually open and read.  Yep. This game has books with actual content in them.  The level of thought and programing and detail in this game makes it a true work of art.

Philip brought back a few books for Max from the comic book store in Portland.  I caught Max still reading at 12:40 am.  I couldn’t scold him.  It was a Saturday night and my kid couldn’t put his book down.  I woke up late this morning and the first thing I see when I walk down the hall is my kid reading.  This is another indication that we’re doing something right in our life.  Yes, our kid plays hours and hours of video games a week, sometimes in a day, but he also reads and reads and can’t put his books down and doesn’t like to go anywhere in the car without books.  He’s a reader.  He hates going to the library though.  He doesn’t like browsing for books either.  We discussed his aversion to going to the library in his last therapy session and he said it isn’t because of all the people but because he finds the library overwhelming and he can never find anything and there’s just too much there.  The solution is to preview the library catalog online and make choices for what he wants to check out ahead of time then we help him find them.  It was agreed that he needs to go to the library himself so as not to encourage agoraphobia in him.  He must keep going out in the world, we just have to find ways to make it more comfortable for him.

That’s not about developing crutches but about developing solutions.  I say that because when I was a lot younger and making life choices to reduce my anxiety and nightmares I came under a lot of criticism from people who didn’t know crap.  I stopped reading newspapers or watching the news when I was eighteen years old.  This decision significantly reduced my nightmares (from pretty much every single night to maybe every other night) but others implied on more than one occasion that it was a crutch to not read the newspapers, that to not be able to read them made me a lesser citizen of my country and that I shouldn’t be allowed to vote if I didn’t stay informed.  I countered that the media didn’t do much to “inform” me of anything worth being informed of and mostly filled my head with hyperbole, lies, and fear which wasn’t useful at all.  It sunk in though.  This idea that I should fix myself so I could read the newspapers again and that I wasn’t good enough as I was.  That being broken and limited made me inferior and that to “cater” to my mental illness was to encourage me to be more weak.

My psychologist, Dr. Jay Judine (RIP), said that was complete and utter bullshit.  He explained that the only way my not reading newspapers could be considered a “crutch” or a negative avoidance is if I personally felt I really needed to be reading them, that I really WANTED to be able to read them but didn’t feel I could.  Get the difference?  If my life is good and rich and fine without reading newspapers and not reading them also improves my mental health, it isn’t something in need of fixing, it means I’ve found a solution to improve the quality of my life and everyone else can go hang themselves on their own issues and leave me the hell alone.  So I learned to evaluate what in my life and what about myself needs “fixing” or needs help or intervention not based on comparison to other people and what they think or need or want but based on what is important to me.

If not going to the library prevents Max from reading books, something he greatly enjoys, then finding a way for him to use the library in the greatest comfort is important.  How we accomplish it is not.  If picking out all the titles he wants ahead of time in the comfort of his own home makes it easier for him to go to the library to get them, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Incidentally, this is also one of the main ways to decide if your issues are in need of addressing, to decide if you need to be professionally assessed and treated for your mental quirks and challenges.  You could be very much like me in all your anxieties, maybe even have the anxiety levels I do, but if you’re comfortable with the way your life is – if these anxieties don’t get in the way of what you want, if they don’t destroy relationships or impact your ability to function – then it doesn’t matter that we’re anxiety twins, you don’t need help.  That’s a major criteria for diagnosis – how these mental challenges impact your daily functioning.  Mine impact me a lot.  They impacted my ability to parent my child when he was a baby – I spent most of my day just meeting his most basic needs but wasn’t truly present for him – that was a problem that needed addressing.  I didn’t want to miss his whole childhood under a cloud of depression and anxiety.  Getting treatment (both therapy AND medication) made an enormous difference in my quality of life and therefore, my child’s.

If we’re depression or anxiety twins but you function pretty darn well and don’t feel the need for help or assessment – I think that’s great.  I’ll still recognize you as part of my tribe.  Don’t be offended.  You can’t be wired just like me and not be in my tribe – you just don’t have the name tag.  And I’m not eager to give you one if you don’t want one or need one.  But I still know neurologically challenged people when I meet them.  I suppose if you were offended by me considering you a part of my strange mentally ill tribe then we aren’t bound to be good friends anyway.  My tribe, diagnosed or not, is full of the most amazing, talented, bright, cool, kooky, weird, genius, and interesting people in the world.

I realize that I’ve been talking about mental illness a lot lately.  I’m definitely trying to keep momentum up on my informative series but being in such crisis right now as I obviously am in – it’s an important topic for me personally.  I have started using my blog to spew again, as I used to do in the beginning.  Catharsis.  Without being able to afford therapy I must seek it in whatever way I can.  My fiction writing has completely stalled, as I mentioned a post or two ago.  It may be because my head is such a mess and there’s so little light in there.  I need some light to write in a pointed manner.

Spring cleaning has been helping too.  We have unloaded at least 3 boxes full of books, 3 boxes of Max’s Hot Wheels cars, 3 boxes of bathroom stuff (unused soaps from the store stock that I don’t use because the fragrance is too strong and other non-creepy bathroom stuff), 3 boxes of clothes, 5 boxes of fabric and crafts, and at least 3 boxes of miscellaneous house crap that might be useful to others.  All these things to both friends and to families in need.  I’ve got a long way to go.  I’ve been letting go of things I didn’t think I was ready to let go of.  I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t need so much stuff.  I need my tools (kitchen and sewing and preserving tools, for example) but I don’t  need nearly as much stuff as I have.  Not only do I not need it, I don’t want lots of stuff.

On the other hand, in place of the many books I’ve given away and sold – I have discovered a series of cookbooks I intend to have ALL of.  I already mentioned it – the Culinaria series.  I find it so inspiring – the photographs, seeing a culture through its food traditions – this is the first time in a very long time that I’ve coveted things as strongly as I covet these books.  I’d like to have them all in hardback  but I can’t afford that.  The Powell’s credit that Philip generously gave me will allow me to get the Culinaria: Greece in used hardback and the Culinaria: Russia and the Culinaria: Hungary in paperback.  Perhaps someday I’ll replace the paper ones with hardback but I can’t wait to get my hands even on the paperback.  I feel like a kid collecting Barbies.  (I was a serious Barbie collector).

Today is Sunday.  So much better than Friday or last Tuesday.  I cleared my work schedule so that Friday I could go to the CPA (poor dude has to face our hysteria and anger – he did it with complete compassion and grace) and meet with a couple of friends, so that Saturday I could hang out with my kid all day, and so that today I can cook.  I’m going to make a mushroom side to put on Stitch and Boots and I’m going to work on a secret pet project involving marshmallows and bacon, because I need something really silly to amuse myself with.  You know you wish you were in my kitchen with me today!  I may also be making biscotti and a stir fry of cabbage OR perhaps I’ll finally try to make Aloo Gobi.  Whatever I do in there – I’m just going to play.  My kitchen is my playground.

I hope you all have something good and silly planned for today to lighten you up before facing yet another week.  Let go and have fun!

Half a Week in the Rear View Mirror

Highlights from the last few days:

  • Tax man (the Feds) have notified us that there was an error in our filing last year and we owe them $2800 in self employment tax (that’s on top of the taxes we paid on the dollars I earned).  As it stands that means I’m paying an almost 40% tax rate on a very small income.  Obviously we now must meet with our CPA to help us clean this mess up.  (He didn’t do our taxes last year, we did)  The state is also expecting us to cough up the remaining $1200 we owe them from last year but didn’t finish paying because we started paying our mortgage again.  The last two years have been like this: we can afford to pay our taxes or we can afford to pay our mortgage, but not both.*
  • I learned that sharing such details out loud and then asking the wrong questions about the situation with the wrong people (people not my CPA) can result in people freaking out and me having the worst day ever.  I am calling Friday a lost day.  It was so bad that for the first time in a long time my kid kept coming into my office where I was trying not to cry to give me spontaneous hugs and to ask me if I needed cheering up.  His version of cheering up is to watch thirty episodes of Avatar.  Which we did.  The last time he was worried about me he cheered me up by picking me flowers from the garden with my mom.  He’s really a sweet kid to the people he respects and loves.  I’m just sorry to have caused my son to worry about me.  Kids should not have to worry about the well being of their parental units.
  • We took two boxes of books to Powell’s in Portland and made a little over a hundred dollars which I then spent on two very expensive cookbooks I’ve been coveting (Plenty and Culinaria China).  2 boxes of books turned into 2 books isn’t bad!  I also gave a box of fabric to a friend in Portland.  That’s 3 boxes of crap out of my house!
  • Spent over an hour in the Powell’s cafe reading Culinaria China while drinking a decaf latte and watching the partiers drifting by wearing various combinations of green attire (it was St. Patrick’s Day) and being silly.  After the previous day’s disaster of emotions I really enjoyed my quiet respite in my favorite environment.  My guys were off selling CD’s and eating the perfect french fries down the street.
  • I discovered that my kid hates crowds as much as his father does.  He had a grade B** panic attack which was set off by us going to The Kennedy School for dinner before heading home.  It was crammed full of people.  Crazy amounts of people in stupid green hats collecting in doorways and in the hallways.  There was a two and a half hour wait for a dinner table.  Needless to say, we left.  But not before getting trapped in a packed crowd to hear the bagpiper play near the front entrance.  My child, by this time, was pushing at people to get out of there and was ranting about the pointless stupid holiday and how much he hates it when everyone wears green.  He was still ranting about it five minutes later as we sped away in the car.  He ranted so effectively that he got Philip’s anxiety ramped up and I had two people in the car with me in panic mode.  I am skilled at bringing panic levels down.  At last we headed home in peace.
  • We were very lucky that our favorite pub in town was relatively quiet and there was a booth available for us when we got there.  We had a lovely dinner at Golden Valley (paid for with the money Philip made from selling his CD’s) during which we played one of Max’s favorite games: ask him lots of questions about the video games he plays.  It was a good ending to a long day.
  • I got a cold on Friday.  It is good to note that this is only the second cold I’ve had this season.  Last year I had at least six.  Or at least, it felt that way.  So Sunday I made soup and couscous.
  • I am still stubbornly trying to get Baby Girl Six started and it is stubbornly not revealing itself to me.  I think it may be a first person perspective story but I can’t find the rhythm or the voice.  I may have to shelve it and work on something else for a while.  I also considered giving up this whole writing fiction gig.  For about five minutes.  Then I considered just publishing Cricket and Grey on my own and trying the traditional route for The Winter Room.  For about five minutes.  I also realized that the names of these books might not be right but anyone reading this blog will get used to them and then it will be an annoyance to them to see it change.  Then I realized this is one of those small details you worry about when your writing has completely stalled.
  • For the first time in a long time I admitted out loud (to Philip) that if it weren’t for him and Max I would be planning my suicide right now.  He understood.  I won’t do it, of course.  I would never do that to the two people I love best in the world.  But it’s very revealing of my mental and emotional state that I’m even thinking about it.  It isn’t even a wish to do violence to myself.  It’s a quiet ardent desire to not exist.  I’ve actually been thinking about this incessantly for months now.  But I wasn’t calling it a wish for death and I let myself remain in denial about how bad things have become in my head.  The fact that I’m saying this out loud to you is evidence that I’m not going to act on my desires.  (In case you were worried.)  I can promise you that if I really was going to kill myself I wouldn’t announce my intentions to anyone.

So here we are.  It’s Tuesday.

*Please note that this piece of information is being shared only for an illustration of how much the universe still hates me and is NOT an invitation to discuss my taxes in depth.

**Grade A involves hyperventilating and passing out.  Grade B is working up to Grade A.