March 13, 2001


Well, my taxes are done ... and it isn't even April 14th yet!

That's the good news.

Plus, it looks like I'll be receiving a modest refund this year. Not as spectacular a refund as some years, maybe: I won't be running right out and buying that IBM Thinkpad Notebook ("That's because you're making more money now," David pointed out, trying to soften the blow).  But hey: a refund is a refund is a refund. I'll be able to whittle down that Christmastime credit card debt some more ... just in time to blow it all on the honeymoon!

That's the other good news.

The other-other good news is that somebody else did my taxes for me this year. (And before you start composing that huffy e-mail all about how I, as an *empowered woman* of the 21st Century, should know how to prepare and file my own income tax return,  I do know how to prepare and file my own income tax return. I also know how to give myself an orgasm, change a flat tire in a rainstorm and cook my own breakfast on Sunday mornings ... but it's still nice when somebody else does this stuff for me, occasionally.) Basically, my contributions to the filling-out-the-tax-return process this year were supplying vital bits of information (daytime phone number, job title, Social Security Number, toothbrush color) ... digging through my purse for the good ink pen ... signing on the dotted line ...

... and -- of course -- throwing my annual *I Hate Everybody and Everything and the Whole World Sucks and Then You Die!!* Tax Day Temper Tantrum.

And that's where the bad news kicks in, I guess.

For reasons that I have never understood -- and may never be able to fully articulate -- for a few dangerous and explosive moments, each year on Tax Day, I fall apart emotionally. It doesn't matter whether I'm doing my taxes myself, or whether someone else is giving me a hand with them.  Furthermore, it doesn't matter whether or not the 'someone' giving me a hand is someone I can actually tolerate. (See: The Oregon Boyfiend Years.) It doesn't matter whether things are going smoothly as I process the paperwork, or whether I hit one snag after another. It doesn't matter whether I file online or in longhand. It doesn't even matter whether or not I'm getting money back. On Tax Day, ALL of my most unlovely qualities make a brief but thoroughly-predictable appearance: impatience, ingratitude, frustration ... unreasonable anger, directed at no one in particular and everyone in general ... paranoia, self-absorption, self-doubt ... Sneezy, Dopey AND Grumpy, combined. Plus I swear like a truck driver, and -- during the drinking years, anyway -- slam anything slammable, throw anything throwable and generally conduct myself like the posterior end of a donkey.

For about ten minutes.

What is it about Tax Day that sets me off? I have no idea. I've never been able to pinpoint the trigger ... although it dates back to the earliest years of my first marriage, when anything money-related was a source of hugely volatile emotions (mainly because we never actually had any) and EVERY day was like Tax Day around our house. I suspect, however, that this is another one of those delayed-growth issues: a perfectly normal adult situation that most people learn to deal with, early in life -- processing the complex emotions surrounding money -- unless of course they keep themselves pickled in a marinade of cheap chablis for twenty years.

In other words: this is another one of those areas where *I* still have some catching-up to do.

Last night everything was going just fine. We were actually sorta having fun, spread out on top of the bed in our jammies, going through all of the tax stuff together ... until David asked for the Tots' Social Security numbers. I got up to retrieve the notebook where I file this sort of information -- still feeling very calm, very relaxed, very happy that my taxes were finally being taken care of -- thinking Wow! Maybe this is the year that Tax Day won't end in tears! -- when I realized that the notebook wasn't in its usual spot. A cursory search of the closet, the bookcase, the computer desk turned up nothing.

Two minutes later I was slamming closet doors open and shut, throwing stuff all over the floor, swearing a blue streak ... and every single one of my Unlovely Personalities was manifesting herself in vivid, vainglorious Technicolor.

  • "I need to find that fudking notebook!!" I shouted. "And I need to find it right now!!!"  That was Impatient Secra talking.

  • "I can't believe this is happening!" I snapped. "I just wanted to finish the damn tax return and go to bed early for a change!" That was Frustrated (Still-Sleep-Deprived) Secra.

  • "FUDK!!" I shrieked. "FUDK! FUDK! FUDK! FUDK!!!" That, of course, was Unreasonably Angry Secra ... the scariest one of the bunch. You wouldn't want to run into her in a dark alley at midnight. (Unless you're armed with a tranquilizer gun.  Or a Tobler Chocolate Orange.)

  • "Isn't it interesting," I muttered sarcastically, "That this stoopid notebook can be kicking around underfoot for months, but the instant *I* need it, it disappears?" Paranoid Secra, convinced that everything happens TO her.

  • "I should have just prepared my own damn tax return," I moaned. "This sort of crap never happens to anybody but me."  That -- in an unscheduled *duet* -- was Ungrateful AND Self-Absorbed Secra, simultaneously.

  • "Why do I even bother?" I whined. "Something always, always goes wrong." That was Self-Doubting Secra talking. In a lot of ways she's the most annoying of them all, because she knows damn well that she's making progress ... but she thinks it's more *fun* to pretend she isn't.

Seven and a half minutes later I had mercifully run out of steam (AND out of alter-egos). I never did find the missing notebook, but later in the evening I called my ex-husband in TicTac, and he read all three of the Tots' Social Security numbers to me over the phone. (Ironically, it turns out that we didn't even need the SSNs for my tax return. So I threw this whole big tantrum for nothing.)

I should point out that the entire time the Tax Day Tirade was going on, David sat on the bed, out of the line of fire ... not saying a word ... quietly finishing my tax return.

"I'm soooo sorry," I said when it was all over, burying my face into his shoulder. "I feel like such an idiot."

"Well, honey," he said tenderly. "That's because you are an idiot." But then he went on to add that the level of my idiocy -- at least, as it applies to Tax Day -- seems to be dropping. "You shaved thirty seconds off the tantrum this year," he pointed out encouragingly. "Next year, let's see if we can squeeze the whole thing in under five minutes ... whaddya say?"

I am engaged to marry the greatest human being on the planet, I swear to god. He loves me even when I am at my absolute unloveliest.

And that's the best news of all.

one year ago: ask my mom

throw a rock