Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Tax Return as Memoir.

I don’t keep a journal. I haven’t in years, and when I read the old ones, I am acutely embarrassed for/by myself. Odd, perhaps, for someone who likes to write, but I don’t know that I need to keep a running, self-indulgent tally of my many neuroses. I mean, I have to live in my own brain and skin every day, I’m pretty aware of the situation; no further documentation is necessary.

I am also a purger (which is apparently not a word, per Microsoft Word) by nature, at least when it comes to all things concrete. If I haven’t worn something in a year, out it goes. I don’t have my any of my high school year books, and I am absolutely terrible about taking photos. I take them on vacation, because I feel like I should. I take them of other people’s kids, because if I don’t, I feel like the asshole who doesn’t care about other people’s kids. I take them of my pets, sometimes. But really, the photos that I have are mostly donated by people kind enough to share their photos with me. It’s a weird thing for me; if I’m in the moment, I feel like I’m stepping out of it to document it, and somehow that takes away from the moment’s meaning. I’ve kept some old cards and love letters and the like, but honestly it’s more out of a sense of obligation. All this being said, I am terribly, terribly sentimental; but what I carry around in my head ultimately means more to me than any photo ever could, unless the photo makes me look exceptionally thin.

However, there comes a time, every year, when I lovingly, and sometimes painfully, recall all the places I have been, and the people I have been there with during the prior year, and that time, my friends, is tax time.

I am an independent contractor, which means I would be a fool if I didn’t go through my credit card bills and bank statements, and lovingly highlight write-offs, which are then transcribed to an Excel spreadsheet, and forwarded on to my accountant. I am pretty conservative when it comes to this sort of thing, as an IRS audit is not my idea of a good time. However, in truth, some of my “client entertainment” write offs would only be legitimate were I a hooker, and I am not a hooker, I am a real estate agent, which is several clicks lower than a hooker in our current caste system.

However, it’s the non-highlighted stuff that truly tells the story. It’s all in the financial records, and each year I get to relive the prior year. I went to Italy this year, and while there were a few shoe purchases, the bulk of my money was spent on lodging and food. My cat got sick and died this year, but not without a prolonged and expensive fight. There were a lot of lunch, dinner and drink charges within a four block radius not near my home, which are living testaments to someone I clearly loved, and continue to love, spending time with. It’s also a safe bet that said person and I enjoy liquor and are not vegetarians. I spent Christmas in New Hampshire, and got a facial and a bunch of Bloody Marys. I sure do like Marc Jacobs. I got hip to the wide, wide world on illegal downloads, as my iTunes bills went down significantly in 2008. Shopping at Whole Foods is financial suicide. It’s all there, without insight, nuance, or bias, but it’s there.

Should I die, my memoirs could be documented, with painful accuracy, from my financial records. And this stupid blog, of course.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On this Inauguration Eve...

Well kids, it's almost here. It's been a long journey, and an ass-whip of the better part of a decade, but it would appear that change is upon us. I, for one, am thrilled, and am unabashed in my enthusiastic support for our incoming president. It warms the cockles of my cynical little heart to see Americans proud to be Americans again, and to see so much faith and optimism surrounding the incoming administration. When you think about where our national self-esteem was a year ago, it's nothing short of a miracle. The last time we felt this kind of unity was in 2001, and while people rising to the occasion was inspiring, the event which brought us together was beyond devastating.

Obama's pervasive message, as I see it, is one of inclusion and personal responsibility. It's going to be a long road back, and it's going to take a lot of work on the part of every American. Charity begins at home, and if everyone does something to further the well-being of their community, it's all going to add up. I've never been particularly active in this arena, and while I'm not particularly proud of this fact, there it is. I am going to try and change this. All my Obama-mania won't mean anything if I'm unwilling to answer his call to action.

There is an aspect of his message that I can't overlook, and I have to admit, it scares me a little bit. But I can't deny it: I'm going to have to stop making fun of Republicans.

In Democrat addled Chicago, and my bleeding heart liberal addled circle of friends, conservatives are an easy target. They're uneducated, they're racists, they're bible bangers, they don't want poor people to succeed, they're homophobes, they're robots who vote the way Mommy and Daddy tell them to. Yep, I've said it all, and probably so have you. We got to quit this, yo.

Obama has two Republicans in his cabinet, he's hosting a dinner for McCain tonight, he attended a dinner with conservative journalists last week. I'm beginning to realize that he actually meant what he said about this whole reaching across the aisle deal, and, horror of horrors, he fully intends to lead by example. Just who does this guy think he is, anyway?

So, going forward, I am going to try and be nicer to Republicans. I am going to try and give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe that they too are interested in the greater good, they just have different means of getting there. I am going to try and listen to them, and by "listen," I don't mean talk over them and roll my eyes. I mean try and find a common ground. Yes I can?

However, I have until tomorrow to stick to my old ways so here goes: maybe you guys would have been happier with the election results if you hadn't chosen an old curmudgeon and an idiot archetypal mean girl. Maybe you would have won if your current administration hadn't lied to the American people and treated us like idiots. These grave oversights on your part mean that I got the president I wanted in office. Keep up the good work.

OK, I'm done now. Almost.

A caveat: I value the separation of church and state above pretty much all else when it comes to our government, and therefore I don't see my views, or venom, changing when it comes to religious beliefs infringing on civil rights.

Now I'm really done.

Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween PSA.

To all the "ladies" out there who plan on getting their amateur skank on tomorrow evening, I'd like to take a moment to remind you of something; "naughty" is what children are when they misbehave, not a grown ass woman shoving 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag in a cheap, tacky costume she bought at Lovers' Lane.

If you feel the need to be validated by being ogled, at least do it on a night other than Halloween. It's hardly provocative if it's commonplace and pretty much expected, now is it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There is no way I am the only person who has noticed this.

And by "this," I mean the physical similarities between John McCain and Dr. Evil.

Take a look:

I'm not talking about ideology here, either. They just really look alike.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I just got home from a 10 day foray to Europe, and am forcing myself to stay up until 10:00 (the wee hours by AARP standards) in hopes of getting back on US time as quickly as possible. I have many tales to tell and photos to post, but here is one to tide you over (as I know you are all brimming with anticipation).

I swear on my mother's grave that I did not stage this photo in any way. I have no idea whose idea it was to stick a tiny Italian flag in a dog turd, but whoever you are, if you are reading this, know that you have a friend for life in Chicago, and I think you have a bright future in the art world. A visually arresting confluence of national pride and canine waste.

I guess I can't be absolutely sure the waste is canine. That's definitely an Italian flag, though.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oh, Sarah.

Due to a narcoleptic fit, I missed the 20/20 Palin interview last night, so I just finished watching it now on the trusty internets. Despite the non-stop agenda of divert, divert, divert coupled with evade, evade, evade (it seemed like Charlie Gibson just kind of threw in the towel towards the end of the interview, he knew he wasn't going to get a straight answer), I almost felt kind of sorry for her. It seems like she honestly believes that Alaska is a microcosm of America as a whole, and that she is therefore qualified to be in office as vice president. When she brought up the sports arena in Wassila, and the fact that she asked the people of town what they wanted as an exposition of her governing style, I was actually embarrassed for her, and a little touched by her naivete. Not "I'm going to vote for you, sister, you're a dreamer" touched, but more touched in the way one is touched when one watches children mimicking phrases and actions they feel are adult.

And, okay, the moose footage was a cheap shot, even by my liberal, pro-animal rights, anti-gun standings. It was awful. The moose was bloody, and clearly not yet dead, and in a great deal of pain. It worked, though. Look what the mean lady did to Bullwinkle!

I found her words of praise and description of Hillary Clinton as a woman with "grit and grace" to be humorous, because I know damn well that if Hillary had won the Democratic nomination, or if Obama had selected her to be his running mate, she would have been depicted as everything that is wrong with liberalism. I don't doubt for a second that the "if she can't control her cheating husband, how can she control a country" argument would have been trotted out in its full regalia.

Also, call me an elitist (because that's never been a criticism hurled my way before), but I want my nation's leaders to not leave off the "g" on the end of words that have a "g." I want someone who is capable of "leading and governing" not "leadin' and governin'." After eight years of Bush's verbal atrocities, I don't think an articulate, well spoken leader who has a command of proper pronunciation is that much to ask for.

One thing is certain: the "Obama doesn't have enough experience to run this country" view should be a dead issue going forward.

UPDATE: Here's the much anticipated Tina-Fey-as-Sarah-Palin footage. My expectations were high, and still they were exceeded.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh look out, you rock and rollers...

The next line of the song which I am referencing is, "pretty soon now you're going to get a little older." It's as if David Bowie is singing to me, and not in the way he's singing to the Asian chick in the "China Girl" video, much to my chagrin.

Here's the thing: if I were to die tomorrow (I don't want to, but I guess you never know), and my life were to flash before my eyes, I am pretty sure I'd have regrets. Not so much in terms of things I have done, as much as in terms of things I haven't done. For example, some things I might regret might be never going to graduate school, never knowing what it's like to be somebody's mother, or not having been more philanthropic.

Conversely, if I were to think about regrets I wouldn't have, here are a few I guarantee would not make the list: wishing I had spent more time in bars, wishing I had drank more, or wishing I had done more drugs. Because, friends, I have done a shitload of all three. To be clear, I don't regret any of it. I just know that I have done plenty of the aformentioned troika.

I went through a phase where I became really, really scared that I was going to be the tragic old person at the bar that doesn't know they are old, or doesn't think it's odd to be hanging out exclusively with people ten to twenty years one's junior, even though everyone else is well aware of the inherent tragic quality of this character. I know this statement might sound a bit judgmental, and I try not to be, but in all honesty, chasing the dragon of one's bygone youth ain't pretty.

A brief time line of this neurosis would be as follows:

Age 22: not old and not worried about it.
Age 25: too hopped up on God knows what with God knows who to care.
Age 30: slightly worried, resolve to live life in the fast lane with a seatbelt on.
Age 35: officially freaked out.

Now, two and a half years after my 35th birthday, a change has come about, and it has come without warning. I find the idea of going to a four o'clock bar pointless. Getting hit on by a 22 year old dude at such a place used to be flattering, but now I just take it as a testament to his severe inebriation. I don't have the constitution for reckless drug intake anymore. I don't even like staying up super late, because I find myself unable to sleep past 10 AM, no matter what time I go to bed, and I really need at least 6 hours of sleep to function at all (and preferably more). Then there's the small issue of the fact that I have a mortgage to pay in an economy that has devastated my profession, and a nightlife is expensive no matter how many people in the bar industry that you know. I'd be interested to see how this trajectory would have played itself out were we still in a Clinton-era economy. Sadly, I'll never know. These days, I'd usually rather just have a few friends over and drink at home, or if I am going to venture out, a non "scene" is almost always preferred.

In spite of my best efforts, I've become a bit of an adult. It's something I've wanted for quite some time. However, now that it is upon me, I have been caught utterly off-guard.

I do still like to drink, though. I like it a lot. That's something, right? Unfortunately, I still like to smoke, too. Hopefully that will be the the next thing to go, as opposed to, say, my hip, or my memory.

In unrelated octogenarian news, I've been making some headway in my ill-gotten (illegally downloaded) Pimsleur "Learn To Speak Italian I" course. All this downtime means I can actually prepare for my trip. This is one of those times I am really glad I live alone. I can't even imagine how annoying it would be to hear me saying "arrividerci" and "molto bene" over and over again whilst getting ready for work in the morning. It's annoying to me, even. I can also hear myself draining the beauty out of the Italian language with my flat, nasally Midwestern accent, yet find myself powerless to change it.

Finally, I want to go on record saying that I will kick any woman I know in the snatch for voting McCain/Palin because Sarah Palin is a woman. Seriously. If she winds up in office, she's going to singlehandedly set equal rights back about 50 years. She's going to make a (bigger) mess of things, and then people are going to say "look what happens when there's a woman in charge," which isn't really fair, but, sadly, that's how a lot of people still think. Okay, I won't snatch-kick unless the Republican ticket actually wins. But if it does, watch your hoo-ha if you're voting GOP this November.