I have a confession to make.
No, Ziz, I don’t know what happened to your cute Boston sweatshirt. That’s not it.
The confession is that I am disorganized. Very, very disorganized.
Oh, and also INSANE.
I say this, because I just tried to fill out my tax return. Tried. And I actually like
filling out my tax return (this is not why I am insane). Usually, because I am
paranoid, I’ve withheld way too much, and so when I finish, I get a nice, fat
refund. And then I always feel like I’ve won something, conveniently forgetting
that it was my money in the first place. On which I earned no interest. But never
mind! Refund! Jackpot! Take me to Vegas, baby!
Anyway. So when my W2 comes, I immediately sit down and load up the old
Turbo Tax and start getting busy. And in prior years, this has been an easy
Did I sell any stocks? Nope! Got no stocks! No stocks for me!
Did I earn any dividends on those stocks of which I have none? Fool, did you
not hear me? I got no stocks!
Do I have any itemized deductions? Nope! I’ll just take the standard deduction
from Mister Uncle Sam, because it is more than I remember giving to charity,
because I am wicked. And also I have no receipts.
And then, ta da! Done! Electrically filed! Bring on the cash!
But this year was...different. This year I bought a house. This year I got a
mortgage. This year I paid property taxes.
Now, guess what, y'all? Apparently, I can deduct this! Apparently, this is going
to mean more money for me! And, as it turns out, I like money! Woo hoo!
I started doing my taxes, and Turbo Tax – mean, hateful Turbo Tax – started
asking me all these personal questions. We don't even know each other, really.
Sure, we chat, like, once a year. But we've always kept it on the friend level, you
know? Casual. But now...this year, Turbo Tax wanted forms. It wanted
cancelled checks. It wanted a copy of my... settlement statement.
And this is how my confession comes into play: I am such a shitty grown-up. I
am so disorganized. I don’t know where anything is. Nothing. I have shoe
boxes crammed full with everything from old bank statements to those little blue
mailers with coupons on one side and missing children on the other. If it is
paper, I keep it. But I have no idea where it might be.
Now, this alone would not be so bad. I could just settle myself in for a long
winter’s evening of going through everything until I find what I need. But then
comes the part where I am INSANE. I am insane, because every once in a while,
I purge myself of these documents. This, by itself, is not insane. Rather, it is an
act that is necessary to avoid a gruesome, Collier brothers-type death. But I am
stupid about it. I will quickly scan the contents of a box and not see anything
critically important. And then, I will trash it all.
And then, two months later, I will learn that there was this letter? From the tax
commissioner? Which was not just a friendly “Welcome to the neighborhood!”
but rather, a property tax bill? Which is now due. Thanks.
And so I saw the list of documents I would need to complete my return, and
immediately, my heart filled with dread. And my dread deepened when I read
that one form in particular – one form which I apparently must have in order to
claim my deductions, or else elves will come and eat my eyes – does not look
like an IRS form. Which means it would not have looked important. Great.
Y'all, I wish I wasn’t an idiot. I wish I kept pretty, colored-coded folders with
important documents and papers in them. I wish I owned a file cabinet, or even
a DRAWER where I could put my pretty folders. But I don’t, and now I’ve got to
go through everything, TERRIFIED, and when I can’t find the things I need (and I
won’t), I will FREAK the HELL OUT and have a stroke and die.
And I should know better. I really, really should. Because I had this issue when I
tried to get my mortgage. The mortgage company asked for three months of my
pay stubs, and for three months of my most recent bank statements.
Did I have those things? Oh, no. I did not.
So they said, fine. Just show us your most recent bank statement and your most
recent pay stub.
Did I have THOSE things? Nope! Gone! Purged because they did not meet my
iron-clad criteria for importance in a shoe box!
Ultimately, I STALLED long enough to receive a new bank statement and a new
pay stub. Which is just pathetic. It really is. And I was very embarrassed about
the whole thing, and I resolved NEVER to throw away another piece of paper for
the REST of my LIFE.
But did I learn? Oh, no. Nope. Pay stubs? Hmm. Could be anywhere. Bank
statements? La, la, la. Don’t know.
Here’s where things get really bad, as if they weren’t already ridiculous. Most
people keep their settlement statements in important places. Like in lock boxes.
In safes that will protect them from fire and wind and flood and small dogs. I kept
mine in the closet. On the floor. With a stack of papers. That one day, one of
the dogs was sick on.
Now I am sitting here at my office and wondering, in complete seriousness, if I
still have my settlement statement. Did I...dry it off? Did I actually clean dog barf
off this critically important piece of paper and then file it somewhere safe,
chastising myself all the while for leaving it within the range of an untrained,
seven-inch tall creature that is usually spewing some sort of liquid from one of
his various orifices?
Lord, forgive me, but I seriously doubt it.
And this has got me thinking about something else, and I am NOT KIDDING
when I say that this JUST OCCURRED TO ME and I am sort of PANICKING right
now, because PEOPLE, WHERE IS THE DEED TO MY HOUSE? Do I HAVE
that? Did someone GIVE IT TO ME? Was I ENTRUSTED with the PROOF that I
OWN the property in which I reside, the property in which I have put ALL OF MY
MONEY and some money that DOES NOT EVEN BELONG TO ME???
Sweet Jesus in the stable. Y’all just excuse me while I go off and die.
If you find a cold, lifeless body, clutching shreds of dog puke-covered paper
and wearing a cute Boston sweatshirt, you'll know it's me.