Sports and event marketing calls; it’s that time of year. Rich has left the roost and I won’t see him until well after next weekend but I’m up early planning my Super Bowl party menu. Should I make honey barbecue or spicy chipotle wings for the big game? I’m kidding. I will probably make a pass at watching the game, especially since I’ll have a Chicago (da Bears) friend visiting, and also because they set up giant screen televisions down at Baywalk and you can drink bad margaritas and wander off to buy Merrell sandals or Chicos pants on sale during the third quarter, if you’re so inclined.
And, heaven knows, I love shopping almost as much as I love football. Here at the house, we only have one small television, in a cabinet in our bedroom, because there are better things to watch than television. Mullet jumping by the bay, for example.
In any case, home alone rarely means idle lounging about on lawn chairs for me. It never has. For some reason, I am at my most productive left to my own devices. Also, this "retirement" gig hasn’t exactly panned out the way I anticipated. I’ve managed to have a very full plate between moving our lives to Chicago, docent training at the zoo and managing the addition on this Florida house.
Since I’ve "retired", Rich has curiously forgotten how to answer phones, open mail, talk to the banker, accountant, health insurance company or find anything. (Okay, so that last isn’t new, but still, it ends up on my list.) I’m not complaining, mind you. I like organizing things. I was one of those little girls who played school, store and
post office house, just so I could keep things organized.
A minor digression, but it’s worth it. The year after my parents divorced was one of those memorable years in childhood. My father moved to a different state and then my brother went too, and we moved from a ticky-tacky suburban version of Leave It To Beaver to a flat in the inner city of Detroit while my mother finished her teaching degree. At 11 years I became chief cook and bottle washer for our household of three females. My mother was gone from dawn to dusk at college and I was in charge of my 6 year old sister, getting us on city buses to two different schools and shopping at the tiny middle eastern corner store in order to make dinner. That was the year hamburger noodle goulash reigned. It consisted of two ingredients; ya, you guessed them right. Betsy and I found ourselves essentially parentless in a world where we were the only white kids in a tough town. (Mom! What were you thinking?) But here is one of my clearest and best memories from that time. One day, just before the garbage truck rumbled through the alley, Betsy and I were engaged in (strictly verboten) trash picking. We found some person’s entire lifetime of paperwork, dating back to the 1890s. Obviously, he had died and his family dumped the stuff and there were accounting books, receipt books with carbon paper between the sheets, stamps (one and two cent!), envelopes, pictures, old notebooks and papers, records of every bill he had ever paid. It was endless- there were boxes of the stuff. We had enough to play store and school for years and I remember that the best find was a whole big box of carbon paper and another one of tracing paper. Like clams at high tide, we were in heaven. After that, time passed quickly, my mother finished her degree and got a teaching job at an exclusive private girls school (the one where Gilda Radner and I went to school together and one of my mother’s colleagues would later move east and shoot her diet doctor lover. That one.) and that interlude, complete with boxes of carbon paper and 2 cent stamps, took on a dreamlike quality. Mostly a nightmare, but playing with that musty old stuff was fun…
Back to now. The main thing on my list for this coming week is getting our tax stuff to the accountant. Here’s what I got from Rich before he left: a sheet of paper listing his income and expenditures for the first half of the year when he still had his own company. Here’s what I need to organize:
-paperwork from the sale of two houses and the purchase of one.
-moving expenses, legal expenses, property taxes coming and going
-taxes paid already
-itemized deductions for everything imaginable and then some
-retirement and banking stuff
-travel related to moving-receipts for all that
-MY business income and expenses for the first half of the year
-home office expenses, including utilities- for three houses
-and then, I have to teach the Snarl how to do her own taxes and FAFSA for the first time (and she’ll work hard to make it into one of those things where it’s easier for me to do it myself but I AM NOT CAVING this year)
-and THEN, the other one, who lives in an artistic fugue state, will call and ask, "Am I supposed to file taxes? I don’t know how much I made playing 113 shows I can’t remember…" (The answer is zero. You were paid in bar food.)
You want to know what is, for me, the really exciting side of tax season this year?
You’ll recall that last year I got enmeshed in "the Bud and Jan Show After Death There Are Still Taxes" scenario? The one where I discovered that my mother had declared herself legally blind and stopped paying Uncle Sam because she was just too tired and pissed off about the war, etc. but she didn’t exactly tell Bud? Right.
Bud called a while back and said, "Ya. About these taxes? I’m not sure but I think I maybe should file a return and I’m not sure how to do that. I don’t want them coming after the cottage, ya know." (Ya, sure, you betcha. The IRS is on their way to the tip of the Keweenaw where the UPS guy has to hang your Christmas gift ham in the tree at the end of the drive because the snow is so deep he can’t get within 500 feet of the house. Where the bear eats said ham. Where you had the only part of the land that perks declared a private cemetery, rendering the whole place worthless for resale. Ya, they’re coming for it, Swedish mulching toilet and all. I guess I shouldn’t joke. They probably would and the story would be on 60 Minutes.)
I must have ENABLER flashing in neon on my forehead. These people- husband, children, parent- have IQs well over that of your average bear. The notion of paying taxes should not be such a big mystery. Anyway, I said I would be happy to help him with his taxes but I wasn’t leaving sunny Florida and flying up to Lost Loon Lodge in 15 feet of snow to do it. He would just have to find a pair of shorts, get on a plane and bring his papers down here.
Miracle of miracles, he’s coming. This is the mountain coming to St. Petersburg. I’m so excited and happy! We get Bud for 10 whole days here in Florida. We get him for a Tigers/Rays spring training game, fishing off the pier, walks along the bay to see the manatee. We get him on the first anniversary of my mother’s death. I’m thinking that would be a good day to take a picnic over to beautiful Fort DeSoto beach and share some happy memories.