Procrastination (But I Digress)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of the Year

So each year, I do my taxes about six or seven times--dry runs, if you will, to see if I can shave anything off of my estimated tax payment that I make four times a year. If you think you hate seeing the number on your pay stub, try actually writing a very big check in April and then again just two months later in June. June is the month of my birthday, but for the past 15 or so years, it is my very poorest month of the year, because I don't have time to save up for my taxes. The government does this so that we don't have to make a payment in December--we have four months from September to January, so June has to bear the brunt. I think I am digressing.

So this year, I was very lazy. I didn't do my taxes at all until today. It is not that I haven't thought about it, but I was certain that I was underpaying my taxes, so there was no chance at trimming any off and I guess I was afraid to see how much I was going to owe. But today is the end of the year, so no more excuses. It's not so very bad--it's not good, mind you, but it's not so very bad.

This is a year in which I cut back a lot of expenses, including deductible expenses. That makes my taxes a little easier to figure out, but not nearly as much fun. I have a drawer that is just for deductible expense receipts. It is overflowing, so I was pleasantly surprised as I started to tally them up, until I looked at the dates. I hadn't cleaned out the drawer from last year. This years receipts were pitiful. Not a single .14 cent mile for charity. Pitiful.

Each morning as I plot my day, I try to find something to look forward to in the day. The other day when I plotted, I realized that it was the end of the year--I was so looking forward to the end of the year accountings that I do. But when I got into the office, I realized that taxes were more important than my end of the year accountings. That was almost as depressing as donuts (which, while I like them, I just don't eat them any more on principle) instead of chocolate chip cookies (which I love and no principle stands a change against) as the Friday goodies. Now that I have done the tax calculation, I just can't get excited about the accountings anymore. Math is not my friend. I'm mad at Math.

Existentially, as I get older, I realize that more and more of our everyday ups and downs are not logical, they are the ooze out of our subconscious morass--molasses if you will. Nope, no more math for me today. Except my banking. It is the end of the year. And maybe a little accounting on a report for a client--I've been promising and it is really fun. Ok, maybe I'll just take a peek at the accountings--they are chocolate chip afterall.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Do You Say

So Blockbusters is right next door to my favorite pizza place and I only get a cheese pizza which is either too popular or too unpopular, because they never have one already made and I am told there will be a wait. Luckily, I love shopping at blockbusters which always has a sale of three to five dvds for $20. I go through the tapes on the table, like I am looking for the bargains in a basement sale. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs (for like a day and a half) was at a shoe store. They had large tables of shoes just thrown up there by size (a table for each size), so if people looked at one shoe and then it got tossed back on the pile, it got separated from the other shoe. I spent my time working on the floor, by helping people painstakenly go through the table shoe by shoe looking for the mate in the correct size (sometimes shoes got tossed on the wrong size table). Looking through all the tapes on the tables at blockbusters reminds me of that feeling of looking for gold in garbage.

So pizza is pretty cheap and my diet is pretty much in the crapper, so I'm eating a lot more pizza and I've already purchased all the movies that I want (and then a bunch--I have so many movies that I cannot work up the enthusiasm to even watch now that I own them). So I saw a movie I really like, but that I probably won't watch again. But I really like that movie and I know just the person, who will love it. So I bought it. Now I know what you are thinking--danger, danger, danger Will Robinson. Giving someone a movie or a book and telling them they will like it is the kiss of death, the black mark, the guarantee that they will never read or watch it. Well not other people of course--they respect and admire my opinion, but ME. It doesn't matter how much I like or respect the person who makes such a recomendation to me--kiss of death. So how can I expect anyone else to take a recomendation from me? I shouldn't. It should be against my own personal law or code of conduct. But... it is such a good movie. They will really, really like it.

Anyway, the movie sat on my shelf for months and then over a year. I never would do that to the person I was thinking of--I would never ruin such a perfectly wonderful movie for them. I suggested that they would like the movie and then concienciously shut up about it. About six months later, in a germane conversation, I let the recomendation come up once again in inoculous conversation and then dropped it, secretly sending out mental messages "see it--you will love it soooo much."

And then I was talking to someone who loves movies just as much as me. She's much younger and there are so many many movies that she hasn't seen. My all time favorite movie that she will absolutely adore was on sale at blockbuster and as I bought it KNOWING that I was violating my core personal law and code of conduct and KNOWING that I was going to leave this perfectly wonderful movie on my shelf for months and years just like the other one, I handed over my credit card.

So it is secret santa time of year. I'm broke and need to look around and come up with a gift for a party. There they are: two perfectly wonderful movies--unopened, new even (it was a really good sale at blockbuster--these were not even previously viewed). I found a Christmas gift bag (brand new) in my office drawer (I have no idea why it was there) and I have tissue paper in my craft drawer (probably enough to last one or two more Christmases). So I put together the gift. The time for the party arrived. My gift bag represented well. It was picked early and picked by someone I knew would love these movies. I felt like Rudolph taking Santa to the Island of Misfit Toys--putting the perfect gift with the perfect person. The joy, the satisfaction....was short lived. She touted these movies to every stealing santa and I stole them to make her happy.

I forced myself to give the first movie to the person I had originally purchased it for and tried to be offhand and casual about it. I don't think he was fooled, but I may be reading much more understanding into his lukewarm reception of the gift than was there. I gave myself a pep talk--hadn't I watched Shawshank Redemption even though I was sure I would never like a prison movie--wasn't it the most wonderful movie of all times. Didn't I overcome my prejudice and watch American Project X (not sure I got that title right) even though that actor is scary as hell (of course I didn't watch it until after I watched Fight Club--another OMG I never thought I would watch that movie) and liked it and was a better person for having seen it? This hard and fast personal law and code of conduct should be a suggestion--a policy--a rule that can be broken rather than letting perfectly wonderful movies go to waste up on my shelf.

The other movie is going to be a Christmas present and I really hope she likes it. I will probably have to live with the fact that I may never know. It is a far far greater thing...yeah, well, anyway.

P.S. Heard two good jokes and I don't want to forget them: Lines heard in a Book Store "My daugher really likes that writer Ann Frank--does she have any other books out?" and "Where is that 'A Christmas Carol?' That was one of Shakespear's best."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

So I am lukewarm about the Office Christmas party this year. It is at a place that I know I don't like anything on the menu. I've been to 20 years worth of luncheons explaining my ridiculous palate. Last year I sat in the back and fending off--"look they have steak, you like steak" and my personal favorite "no, we only have diet pepsi". I did not "win" the target gift card in the gift exchange (I think I got starbuck or worse, a set of coco mugs--that might have been two years ago). One co-worker smugly explained that she refused to participate in the gift exchange, because she took that money and donated it to her church. Oh and by the way, she continued, why didn't I also do that? Only a couple people ever drink at these things and so only a couple of people get very jolly. [I mean, really, if you go to a bar where a lot of people drink, then you don't have to and it is easy to get swept up in the jollyness of it all, but if only two people out of 20 take a drink, then not so simple to whip up jollyness, but I digress.]

One year, I took my department separately out to my favorite prime rib place. It was lovely (and very expensive). Another year, just my department went to a slighly less expensive prime rib place and well, our jollyness was a few notches below the first place. So two years ago, I decided that our department "party" would be a deli plate at the office with games. No one, I mean no one (not even me) wanted to be there. Do you know how hard it is to generate jollyness when no one wants to be there. Anyway, department holiday parties are a big flop, so now we only have an office party for the whole office--with a gift exchange--a stealing santa gift exchange.

The year we started the stealing santa gift exchange, we were supposed to exchange a Christmas ornament. Never mind that it is not politically correct to be all Catholic, all the time (in my head anyway--the managing partner is Catholic and the rest of us can just live with it.) Anyhoo, no one liked the ornaments (and lets face it I'm the only one who even knows the managing partner is Catholic, so everyone else probably just assumed we would want to be more politically correct. John is a silent, pondering kind of guy, so mostly he just sits back, looking comtemplative and people assume they know what he wants and they do it and it is usually fine.)

Soon the gift exchange became white elephant mixed with really expensive stuff. Not fair by a mile. Then we tried just gift cards--also strangly, no fun. $19.95 gift certificate from the dollar store sounds funny, but it really isn't. So we plod along and here we are. For the last couple of years the best gift is the super large stuffed animal (Caitlyn would have loved it) or the target gift card. I never got any of them. I was planning on getting $20 gift card to itunes, because Vons is supposed to have a sale, four $10 gift cards for $34--such a deal--except Vons doesn't have a four pack of $10 gift cards--they have a three pack or a ten pack or $25 card--no four packs. I thought I misheard the commercial, but sure enough it was on again. THEN the office manager sent out an e-mail, remember that the gift exchange is $25. Crap. I am so broke this year. Even $20 at itunes is pretty over the top. Games are only $1.99. When I didn't know how to text message a few years back, we didn't have anyone young enough who knew. If I can't use the gift cards, what makes me think anyone else can? $25 ugh.

But I don't want to be a party pooper--I want to spread jolly--I want to lead the jolly parade. This is Christmas--be of good cheer--ho, ho, ho. So ok, no one likes games--I created a firm trivia game. It is fun and silly and no one will have time to tell me how much I'll like the green thing with funny looking spikes on it, if I would just try it. So the trivia game is already written. I have to go to the party. I could give $25 to charity, but I really don't want to give Ms. Smug, the cosmic satisfaction (although I did just get a calender from St Vincent de Paul--Meals on Wheels with an envelope each month--that sounds like a great New Years resolution--I can do that).

So just when I thought I was painted into the corner of running out to target to buy a $25 gift certificate that I will never win in the gift exchange, someone sent me two bottles of wine. It is a christmas gift from an attorney that I refer cases that I can't take (for whatever reason). It has been a few years since I got one of those (the recession and all), so I really wasn't expecting it. The receptionist was very jeolous and right before I could say--you take it, I don't drink wine, she said, now you have your gift for the gift exchange.

I love it when a plan comes together. (Great line from the A-Team--I have got to rent that movie). Merry, Merry Christmas Janet.