And so it begins.
Now, for most of you, today is just the first day back to work after the holidays, which, in itself, is pretty much the suck. I know, right? The holidays, with all of their sparkle and glitter and pretty lights and buzzy beverages, and then BAM, it’s back to the drudgery of being told what to do and when to do it and don’t smile like THIS, smile like THAT, and also, can you just not be you, please, for eight hours a day? That’d be great, thanks so much. Here, I brought you this box, you can just put your soul in here, I promise I’ll give it back at the end of the day. NO SERIOUSLY I TOTALLY PROMISE. It’ll only be a wee bit folded and spindled and worse for wear for spending the day in that completely air-tight and too-small space.
But here where I am, in Crazytown, population me and my coworkers, it’s oh-so-much more entertaining from January to April.
Let me explain.
For the past five years, and now, entering the sixth, I’ve worked full-time at an accounting firm. Yes, yes, also part-time elsewhere, I know, I’m the most poor, whatever, that’s not what I’m talking about today. At the accounting firm, we do various things. We audit businesses, for-profit as well as not-for-profit; we do their financial statements, we help them with their accounting needs, things like that. I’m sure there are more detailed and fancier terms for what we do for businesses but listen, I’m not an accountant at the firm, I’m part of the administrative staff, so what the hell do I know. Numbers are involved, let’s leave it there. ANYWAY. Also, on top of that, we do personal taxes, for individuals.
Now, I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever worked with, at, around, through, over, under, above – I’ll stop now – someone involved in the tax field from January to April of the year. If you have, then you know where I’m going with this. If you haven’t, well, let me give you an analogy for what it’s like to work in an accounting firm from January to April every year.
Imagine you’re on a bicycle. You’re on a nice, quiet, country road, and everything seems fine, and you’re pedaling along, and you think, well, I don’t really LIKE this bicycle, but it’s better than NOT having a bicycle. It’s better than WALKING, for example. So I’ll just stay on this bicycle. Then, all of a sudden, MARAUDERS run out from the side of the road and DUCT TAPE you to the bicycle. Then they run away. So you’re still on the bicycle, and you’re still on the country road, but you can’t get off the bicycle. You’re stuck to the bicycle. Ok, you think, well, this is a little worrisome, but I can handle this. I can do this. I mean, I may not be able to get OFF the bicycle. But it’s not like things are all that difficult.
Then the terrain starts to change. Instead of a nice, quiet country road, there start to be hills. Gentle at first, but then steeper, and steeper. Then curves, each more hairpinny than the last. Then you enter falling rock zones, and you avoid the falling rocks, but that doesn’t seem to satisfy the powers that be, so they position people to actually THROW rocks at you as you pass, so you most definitely get hit by some of the rocks. Then you all of a sudden are in the middle of a huge city, but also, the rocks are still being thrown, and there are still the hills, and the hairpins, and also now there are a million OTHER bicyclists, all ALSO duct-taped to their bicycles, who are riding here and there and all willy-nilly around you, so you have to avoid them, and the rocks, and the turns, and the hills. And you start to get very, very tired. BUT YOU CAN’T GET OFF THE BICYCLE. Because of the damn DUCT TAPE. And then a whole crowd of evil needle-toothed clowns comes out, all riding wolverines, and they attack you and start gnawing at your ankles. And, AND, all while this is happening, someone’s telling you, “You really need to work faster. And put in more hours. I don’t know if your commitment level is as high as I’d like. I don’t know if you’re double-and-triple-checking your work. Or working fast enough. Did I mention the not working fast enough? I’ll mention it again, in case I didn’t. You seem stressed. Are you stressed? I don’t like it when you’re stressed. You’re not smiling enough. Can you smile more? Just now when you answered me, you seemed somewhat curt. The next time you answer me, can you be sure that tone doesn’t enter your voice? Also, your body language doesn’t indicate to me that you’re excited about life at the moment, so please work on that. What are you doing right now? Eating lunch? Do you really think that’s the best move for you, career-wise, at the moment?” in Lundburg’s voice from Office Space, only less sympathetic.
Think of how little you enjoy doing your taxes. Think of how stressed everyone gets, just THINKING about taxes. There’s even a SAYING, that the only two constants in the world are DEATH AND TAXES. I’m working in a field that’s related to, in enjoyment levels, DEATH.
So, anyway, yeah, that’s what I’ll be doing for the next four months. We don’t have any holidays between now and the end of April; we have extended work hours for the next four months; we’re not allowed to have doctor’s appointments, sick days, or time off of any type, unless we lose a limb in an industrial accident of some sort (and even then, I think probably it would be severely frowned upon); I occasionally have to work weekends (which, honestly, doesn’t faze me that much, only because all I do is call my other weekend job and tell them I can’t come in, and work here instead – I’m used to the weekend shift); and there’s no set leave-time, not anymore, until the end of April. If it’s getting close to 5:30 and I still have an hour more work to do, well, goodbye, evening news and delicious chicken fingers and green beans that I’ve been dreaming about all day because I pretty much eat the same thing every night because I have the palate of a five-year-old, I’m here until it’s finished.
Also, people start to be VERY YELLY. And one year, a coworker threw a file at my face. We’re cool now – he’s actually one of my favorite people to work with, believe it or not – but he got VERY ANGRY AT ME that I was doing someone else’s job when he came to me with a rush job, and when I asked him if an hour from now would be ok, he HUCKED A FOLDER AT MY FACE and then stormed off. Somehow, my cat-like reflexes got me to move so it only hit me SORT-OF in the face, but also in the shoulder a little. Please note that by “cat-like reflexes” I mean that probably I tripped and accidentally moved so it didn’t hit me in the face. The only thing similar between me and cats is that we both like napping in the sun for extended periods of time.
There are perks to this, believe it or not. I make a decent salary for four months, what with all the overtime. This year, I’m going to actually not fritter it away, and save it up, and buy a new damn computer, because my computer right now is the equivalent of Fred Flintstone’s car, and I think I could get information faster if I went to a library and looked it up than waited for the pages to load on the damn thing. I mean, you don’t have time to SPEND the money, but you MAKE the money. So that’s nice. Oh, also, nail polish. All the sparkly nail polish. Priorities, I have them.
Also, it’s nice, because you don’t have time to think about anything else at all. Like, you have troubles? You go into tax season with all these worries, like, personal shit and forever alone and nuclear winter and psychokillers and whatever? NO TIME FOR LOVE DR. JONES. Your brain is so fried from the 8-to-11 hours a day you’re working that you get home, you cram some food in your pie-hole, and you fall asleep, sometimes actually in your bed, sometimes on the couch, one time standing up the shower (I don’t recommend that, I almost drowned like in that urban legend about how turkeys will drown because they’re too stupid to close their mouths in a rainstorm.)
Also, it’s kind of nice that I’ve randomly picked up, even though I’m just administrative staff, random tax knowledge, like, did you know that if you itemize, and your career is listed as “actress” on your return, you can write off things like tanning, teeth-whitening, and leotard purchases? You TOTALLY CAN. I know! That is a fun thing to know, and it entertains me to no end that I know it. (I would also assume, although we don’t do taxes for any, that if you were a stripper, you could write off pasties and body glitter.) Oh, also! If you win like, say, $10,000 from the lottery in a year, you have to claim that, BUT, if you LOSE, say, $7,000 in scratch-offs in the SAME YEAR, because, oh, I don’t know, you have like a weird scratcher addiction or some such shit, you can WRITE OFF THOSE SCRATCHER PURCHASES AGAINST THE LOTTERY WINNINGS. Shazam! It’s like the most awesome, the shit that’s aggregated in my mind over the last five years.
However! Here are things I CANNOT do. Your taxes for you! Give you detailed tax advice! File your taxes for you once you’ve done them! Find out for you why you haven’t gotten your refund yet by calling my top-secret contact at the IRS because I DON’T HAVE ONE OF THOSE!
Listen, I’m not a CPA. I don’t CLAIM to be a CPA. It’s like, if I were a receptionist at, say, a doctor’s office, would you ask me to do a tonsillectomy for you? No, you probably would not, unless you were a total dumbass. Because I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO DO THAT FOR YOU. Or, if I were a receptionist at, oh, I don’t know, a lawyer’s office, would you want me to represent you if you went on trial for strangling all the neighborhood kittens? Again. No. The answer should be no. I DO NOT HAVE A DEGREE IN THAT.
I am happy to listen to your tax issues (well, maybe not “happy”, but I won’t stab you in the eye if you start talking about them, probably), but if the answer you need is harder than, say, “File on time!” or “If you itemize, you can write off job-related purchases!” or “Save your receipts!” or “You THINK you’re getting away with something by lying to the IRS but they are SUPER-SMART so probably don’t do that” probably talk to someone who knows more than me. Or? Do what I do and GOOGLE THAT SHIT. I’m seriously getting a tee-shirt made up that says Google That Shit. Possibly also with glitter on it. And maybe a rainbow unicorn. You do know that you can get the answer to about 90% of the world’s problems via a judicious use of Google, correct? I mean, listen. We charge a lot of money to do someone’s personal income taxes here. Because we’re very, very good. Do you really think I’m going to do your taxes for FREE? I mean, I’m not qualified, anyway. But if I could DO taxes, I’d really deserve to get paid for that shit, no?
And, AND, on top of tax season, I’m stage managing a show for a month in February, working my other jobs, and trying to not drown with all of the other shit I have going on.
OK, so all of this to say: I’m going to be insanely busy for the next four months. So busy, in fact, that sometimes, this blog’s not going to get published during the day; and, as it gets closer to that looming April 15th deadline, maybe not even at night. I might not be timely responding to your tweets. I might not be timely responding to your comments on my blog, your Facebook comments, your emails. I might weep uncontrollably if you are a., mean to me, b., not mean to me but I think you’re being mean to me and I’m misinterpreting, c., nice to me, d. in my general proximity.
So be patient, my little cheese curds, I promise I’m trying my best, and if you don’t see a blog entry from me now and again, I apologize in advance. If it helps, I’ll be thinking of you THE WHOLE TIME.
In more enjoyable news: I randomly wore all black today, so I think people think I’m either in mourning or I’m a ninja; I just started a book that seems very promising; the mentoring I’m doing at the theater seems to be going well; The Nephew said the word “miserable” the other day, and that’s a FOUR SYLLABLE WORD, for those of you playing along at home, so OBVIOUSLY, he’s totally brilliant and probably a baby genius, but not like those weird ones in that baby genius movie that were talking because I hate when babies talk except I like those commercials for that investment firm where the baby talks when I’m in the right mood; I have on nail polish at the moment that’s obviously meant for strippers and whenever I look at it I giggle and think probably someone should put ones in my g-string; I paid my rent and STILL have enough money in the bank to buy groceries (and by “groceries,” I obviously mean “wine”); and Dumbcat stopped jumping on me at 3am and yowling like he’d conquered a dastardly foe, so that’s nice.
Happy Tuesday which feels like a Monday, minions and minionettes! May your January treat you like a June in which you are on vacation sipping fruity drinks with umbrellas, and may the evil clowns mounted on wolverines not gnaw at your ankles too badly at any one point this month!