Taxes or death? I don’t know, it’s a close call

Title: "No, No! Not That Way" Locati...

Title: "No, No! Not That Way" Location: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So taxes are due again.  There’s a reason death and taxes are so linked, and it’s not just because they’re both so reliable.  Though, if you think about it, death only comes around once.  But anyway, if you’re like me and you put things off until the absolute last second and then, when the last second pokes its head in the door and says “Hey, I’m here!” you throw a pillow at it and tell it to go away, then you’ll understand me when I complain to you about my deep and abiding hatred of all things tax-related.

I don’t just hate income tax, either.  I resent sales tax.  I seethe inwardly about restaurant tax.  I mean, these things are supposed to go toward…I don’t know…keeping the roads paved and regulating businesses and stuff.  I’m cool with the businesses getting regulated, probably because I don’t run a business.  But the roads in my area are not particularly well-maintained, which makes me wonder where my money is going and why I’m paying it in the first place.  It’s getting to the point where, when I see footage on television of one of those expensive fighter jets, I’ll shake my fist at the set and scream “You’re welcome!”  Not really, but inside, you know?

But income taxes hold a special place in my personal hell.  All the other kinds of taxes are at least light on paperwork, which is probably why I don’t make more of a fuss about them.  Income taxes, though, I have to get all kinds of receipts and forms and statements for, and then I have to calculate my taxes several different ways so I know what kind of deduction I should take, and then I have to calculate them again because it seems like, even though I’ve got the same information to plug in, I get a different result every time.  Then I give up and go online to TurboTax or some other program and shell out money so that a computer program can tell me what an idiot I’m being and get all the math right.

Charge calculations 4

Charge calculations 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And while we’re on the subject, does anyone out there understand tax math?  It’s not like any other math I’ve ever encountered.  It’s worse than trying to figure out who owes what on a shared phone bill.  It’s like the rules of math get sucked into some kind of IRS wormhole so they get warped and distorted, and then when they come through the other side, 2+2 suddenly does not equal 4.  I don’t understand.

I can face attempted burglary, attempted mugging, drunken groping in bars, crap at work, crap at home, crap randomly around town, and I’m like, whatevs.  You’re gonna have to try harder than that.  But taxes make me want to crawl into bed and wait until my mommy makes it go away, or maybe does it for me like she used to do with my science projects.  She can make an awesome diorama.  But, since I doubt the IRS people will accept a diorama in place of my tax return, I’m stuck in Grownupland with everyone else, with a desk full of papers, a bottle of painkillers, and one of those big, clunky calculators they use on TV when they want to show Serious Calculation being done.  Is it too late to secede from adulthood?

This is how people end up jumping out of planes

Two friends

Two friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was talking with some friends the other day.  We hadn’t spoken in a while, and we were comparing all the exciting developments in our lives.  Friend #1, a gorgeous blonde who compounds the offense by being both smart and nice, says “I just gave birth to my third child!”  This after posting a picture of herself on Facebook with said child while wearing a sheath dress and sporting a perfect tan.  Hate her.  No, I don’t.

Friend #2, a sexy dark-eyed brunette with lips people go through multiple painful surgeries to emulate, says “I just got promoted!  I’m now running the company I started working for when we graduated from school!”  I have her Christmas card in my apartment.  It has a picture of her with her huge, loving, crazy, amazing family all mugging cheerfully for the camera while seated around a truly fantastic-looking dinner table.  Hate her.  No, I don’t.  She sends me cookies.

Friend #3, another brunette with incredible light eyes that show up like stars against her dark skin, confides “It’s been four years since I was widowed.  I thought I would never love again, but I’ve found someone wonderful, and we’re getting married this fall!  It’s been a kind of miracle, the kids love him just as much as I do.  I’m so glad they’ll have a father-figure they really care about.”  Can’t hate her.  Really happy for her.

So then they all ask me what’s been going on in my life.  And there’s just nothing.  I’ve been scrounging around in my brain during the entire conversation, trying to come up with something, and I’ve got nothing.  What do I do?  Make something up?  Tell them about how I read the Hunger Games trilogy in one day?  I’m on the spot, and having a bad hair day to boot, and I blurt out “My blog got Freshly Pressed!”  Crickets.  Well-meaning, supportive crickets, but crickets nevertheless.  Finally, Friend #1 (and this is why I can’t hate her) says “That’s great that you’re still keeping a blog, honey!  I’ve always thought that’s so brave.”

And I thought:  That’s it, I’m going skydiving!

St. Blogger’s Day Speech

This was long thought to be the only portrait ...

Shakespeare 'Chandos portrait' (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was thinking there should be a blogger’s day, or maybe a WordPress online day of appreciation for those who put their close-kept thoughts and most dearly-held opinions online for the pleasure of people they’ve never so much as met.  It takes a great deal of courage to say what you think and invite literally the entire world to read and comment on it.  When you stop to consider it, it’s an extraordinarily powerful phenomenon.

Then I got all defensive on behalf of bloggers, thinking about the random vicious comments people make on blogs just because they can do it anonymously, and about all the blogs that are so passionate and into which people put so much work, but that are virtually ignored.  Then, predictably, I got to adapting Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V in my head, which is the kind of thing I do when I get bored.  And then, of course, I had to type it out and share it on my blog!

So here you are, fellow bloggers, readers, and commenters:  my St. Blogger’s Day speech for you (it helps to imagine Kenneth Branagh delivering it):

And WordPress Holiday shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the ‘Net,

But we in it shall be remember’d–

We few, we happy few, we band of bloggers;

For he online that comments on my blog

shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

this blog shall respond to his comments;

and bloggers on WordPress now a-bed

shall think themselves accurs’d they weren’t online

and hold their bloghoods cheap whiles reading those

that blogged with us on WordPress Day!

The Little Blind Girl’s Staycation, 2012-2012. RIP.

Part of gravestone in Sighişoara (Schäßburg, S...

Part of gravestone in Sighişoara (Schäßburg, Segesvár), Evangelical Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Monday, after a long and full life, the Little Blind Girl’s staycation was laid to rest after passing away peacefully in the LBG’s sleep.  LBG’s staycation is survived by its sister, the Christmas holidays, its brother, Thanksgiving, and its children, Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July.  Those who knew and loved the LBG’s staycation remember with fondness the many household chores accomplished during its lifetime and the hours of catching up on sleep it provided, not to mention the lengthy list of very bad movies it took pride in consuming en masse.

Perhaps most memorable about the LBG’s staycation was its remarkable and inspiring battle with Workiscalling Syndrome.  Twice during its life, the LBG’s staycation was threatened by relapses of this debilitating disease, resulting in stays of an hour or more in the office.  With the support of friends and colleagues, however, the LBG’s staycation was able to overcome Workiscalling Syndrome and return home to indulge in its favorite pastimes, eating Doritos and playing Angry Birds.

The LBG’s staycation’s circle of mourners recall the good times lounging around in pajamas at two in the afternoon, watching the world go by and thinking about all the people in offices wearing suits.  We know the LBG’s staycation is in a better place, perhaps Hawaii or St. Croix, and we wish it well as it goes to join that Great Vacation In The Sky.  Go in peace, LBG’s staycation.  You will be missed.

In defense of not waiting

Cliff jumping in Busan, South Korea circa 1993.

Cliff jumping in Busan, South Korea circa 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Warning:  inspirational thoughts ahead!

I got stuck in line in the store the other day, waiting to check out.  I always think it’s a little funny to look around at everyone’s purchases and wonder what’s going on in their lives that led them to select a baby bottle, a pair of spaghetti tongs, and a phillips-head screwdriver for their purchases that day.  Of course, I’m usually holding something like a coin-sorter, a pack of pens, and an extra-large energy drink, so who am I to talk?

Then I went home and cooked a meal on the stove.  This is rare for me.  I’m a microwave girl.  I can estimate microwave times like my mother’s mother could estimate how much sugar to include in a recipe; I just know, without really knowing how I know.  I don’t need the back of the box to tell me.  So the whole stove thing was taking way too long for my post-modern impatience.  “Patience is a virtue,” I reminded myself, just like I did while I was waiting in that interminable line in the store.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t think patience is always as much a virtue as we seem to think.  I would like to stand up in defense of not waiting.  Most of the good things in my life I have because I grabbed for them before I let myself get scared of trying, or before someone else with more guts got to them first.  My most precious memories are of seizing the moment, even if I didn’t have any particular reason or need to, and getting as much out of life as I could right then, without waiting.  A lot of the time it wouldn’t have made much difference to wait a little longer, but when it does matter, it matters so much.

Because sometimes things happen, and people are taken from us, or opportunities are unexpectedly lost, and if we didn’t go for it before, we’ll never get another chance.  The future is so uncertain in this ever-changing world.  I’m not old, but I’m not young, and here’s what I’ve learned:  if you see something you want, go for it right then.  Don’t wait.  If you think to yourself, “My husband is completely fantastic.  I can’t believe I’m this lucky,” tell him right then.  If there’s a girl you like, or an activity you’ve wanted to try, or a project at work that’s got you scared but intrigued, go all out after it (or her) right then.  Don’t wait.

Skier carving a turn off piste

Something on my blind bucket list (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going blind, very slowly.  I’ve got a whole list of things I want to do before I completely lose my vision.  I’m proud to say that my list isn’t as long as it might be if it weren’t already part of my nature not to wait.  There are things I was able to do years ago that I could never do now, that I’ll never be able to do again.  But I’ve done them.  I don’t have to put them on my list of regrets, because I didn’t wait–I just did them, because I could, because they were there.  It’s one of my rules:  if life leads you up to a great big cliff, don’t wait for a parachute:  just jump.  Right then.  Figure out the parachute on the way down.  Sometimes you’ll go splat, but sometimes you’ll learn to fly.

And if a second register opens up while you’re waiting in line, don’t wait for someone else to get there first.  Elbow that old lady out of the way if you have to!  But, from time to time, it can be worth waiting for a meal cooked in the stove rather than the microwave.  Sometimes, you can wait.

Wait…what??? (Obligatory post-Freshly Pressed blog entry)

Bambi (character)

Bambi (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There I was, peacefully putting away my groceries (all healthy, worse luck.  I think my doctor reads my blog) and chatting with my mother, who was in town for a visit.  She went off to do something else, and I sat down to check in on my blog.  I pressed the stats button…

I recently got a new pair of glasses.  I thought maybe they had malfunctioned.  I’d had how many page views?  Suspicious, I took off my glasses, rubbed them, put them back on…yep, same number.  I checked out the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress and, sure enough, there I was!  With a blog post that I’d put about five minutes worth of thought into and basically consisted of me blowing off steam about my new diet and exercise plan!

Though, come to think of it, that’s probably a pretty universally interesting topic–not diet and exercise, which are just universally torturous, but being annoyed and frustrated by them.  Yes, I cunningly picked this topic of common interest, came up with a nifty list, inserted a colorful visual, all with an eye toward getting Freshly Pressed…no, I didn’t.  But it’s still fun that it happened!  I had the following conversation with myself after seeing my tiny little blog up there with the big boys:

Little Blind Girl:  Oh, wow, this is so cool!  Look at all these page views!  Look at all these comments and all the new followers!  Thanks, WordPress!

Voice in Head:  Wait, they picked this post?  I have, like, fifty other posts that are way better.

Little Blind Girl:  Oh, don’t be a buzzkill.  This is awesome!  I want to do a backflip, except that I’m pretty sure my body doesn’t bend that way anymore.

Voice in Head:  I’m just saying.  You wrote a sonnet to Johnny Depp, actually in iambic pentameter, and they go for this one?

Little Blind Girl:  This was a good post!  It may never get included in an anthology of insightful, provocative essays, but it’s not bad for an evening’s work.

Voice in Head:  You mean twenty minutes’ work.  Thank goodness I proofread.

Little Blind Girl:  Yeah, I kind of feel like a mother who tells her kid to wear clean underwear in case he gets in an accident and has to go to the emergency room.  “Now, blog, I’m going to make sure you don’t have any typos, just in case you get Freshly Pressed.”  “Aww, come on, Little Blind Girl, that never happens!”

Voice in Head:  Until it does.

Little Blind Girl:  Exactly.

Voice in Head:  So we’re just ignoring the fact that you’re having a conversation with yourself?

Little Blind Girl:  Just like always.

Voice in Head:  Right, then.  Hey, don’t you have a policy about responding to every comment on the blog?

Little Blind Girl:  Yes.  (Pause)  Why?  How many comments are there?

Voice in Head:  Fifty eight and counting.

Little Blind Girl:  ….

Totally worth it.  Thanks to all the people who read, liked, commented on, and followed my blog, new and old readers alike!  And a special shoutout to my favorite comment, which was by laurenwhitney91:  “you are insanely hilarious. thank you for being you!”  Seriously, that’s the comment!  Best comment ever.  I love being Freshly Pressed!

Also, for those of you who read the hilarious blog The Waiting:  welcome to the world, Miss C.  You’ve got a really cool mom.

How many calories can you burn playing Angry Birds?

weights

weights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to tweaking my diet, I have to start a more intensive exercise program.  To this end, I’ve been looking at guides of promising-sounding activities and how many calories they burn, and I’ve noticed some serious omissions, really a complete lack of any activity I’m at all likely to perform.  To rectify this alarming deficiency, I would like to contribute my own list of everyday exercises that you (and, more importantly, I) can do at home or in the office, with a loose estimate of how many calories they’re likely to burn:

Little Blind Girl’s List of Everyday Exercises

  1. Banging your head against the desk/table/wall for five minutes:  15 calories
  2. Walking down to supply closet, forgetting what you went there for, walking back to office, then remembering and walking back to supply closet:  25 calories
  3. Doodling on legal pad while not really listening to tedious phone conversation:  20 calories/half hour
  4. Losing important file and cursing profusely while stomping around looking for it:  15 calories
  5. Losing important file and trying not to curse profusely because boss is around:  40 calories (note:  not recommended for extended durations)
  6. Searching for keys in the morning:  20 calories
  7. Transferring items from one purse to another (may qualify as weight training):  10 calories
  8. Throwing pen across room because it refuses to write smoothly:  5 calories, if you include walking over to where it fell and cleaning the mark off the wall
  9. Panicking over missed deadline:  15 calories
  10. Reading blogs when you should be doing work:  60 calories/hour

I am shocked that these have not yet shown up in the lists of common activities on the exercise sites.  Next you’ll be telling me that caffeine isn’t a vital nutrient!  We can’t all be professional athletes; get your exercise where you can, that’s what I say.  This list would make for an interesting exercise log, don’t you think?