Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crunching the numbers

Procrastination, my old friend,
I've come to play with you again,
as the paperwork slides onto the floor,
and the towels mildew as they wait to dry,
and the dishes in the sink, higher climb....

You get the point. There are just some things I keep putting off. I'm not proud of this, but I make no claims of perfection. My taxes have been one of those things. My husband's degree was in Business Administration, and his minor was accounting. Over the years, I was the one to pay the bills, balance the checkbook, open and close the bank accounts, all the daily financial stuff, yet the taxes were his fiefdom. I gladly let him handle them.

I am not a number person, and I've known it since fourth grade when suddenly I actually had to work to learn something, instead of it just happening. My former boss and dear friend swears I have a mild form of dyslexia when it comes to numbers. I fairly consistently reverse digits when I'm writing a sequence of numbers. (While processing the loans I originated as a mortgage broker, this came up regularly.) I can say the sequence properly while writing it down and still write it incorrectly. Because I'm aware of this, I am vigilant about checking and double checking any number stuff I handle.

Last year, we filed for an extension. That was two weeks before R. died. When October came around, I was a wide eyed innocent murmuring, "Taxes?" under my breath. I finally got them done, and the experience was good reason for me to procrastinate my 2008 return. Last night, unable to put it off any longer, and unwilling to file an extension this year, I gathered the paperwork for the womanchild and myself and set down to do her return and mine.

I thought hers would be easier, so I did it first. The kid held seven jobs last year. She doesn't start and then quit abruptly. My budding workaholic, who doesn't know the meaning of moderation, usually held three part time jobs at a time. It was still no problem until my calculator died, and I couldn't figure out how to use the one in my cell phone. (Where is the damn decimal point?) The computer was being cranky, so that meant I had to do the math by hand, not a pretty sight. Finally, I got hers done, and she was pleased to get a refund and displeased that I hadn't done this the minute all of her W-2s arrived.

Then, onto mine, where I found I don't qualify as a widow. All other evidence to the contrary, at least, I got a wry chuckle out of that. I plodded through, line by line, worksheet by miserable worksheet. My trusty notebook was covered in old fashioned calculations where I wrote the numbers I carried over to the next column. This morning, I double and triple checked every digit and triumphantly mailed off my return.

This is such a little thing. It's just one of those adult responsibilities everybody has to do. But despite my lack of ability, a reasonable fear based on past experience of messing up numbers, and getting a different set of marriage memories handed to me today, I got my taxes done. Yeah, it's a victory.

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