Sunday, March 7, 2004

Measuring Life With Coffee Spoons

A rainy Saturday, my husband and daughter are out of the country. I have a babysitter for the twins. There is no excuse to put it off any longer. Time for an intimate Saturday preparing the past year's tax returns. Time to re-acquaint myself with depressing amounts of minutiae...medical expenses, charitable deductions, 1099-Divs, 1099-Ints, property tax, mortgage deductions, figuring cost basis on employee stock investment plan stock that was purchased in intervals over a two year period at a previous job... the little cramps start to develop in the muscles of my neck and shoulders. I despise this sort of activity. Not that I am, in general, offended by the idea of paying taxes or that our tax returns require any great amount of sophistication. I resent having to spend a day concentrating on things that should not be important. The sun comes out in the afternoon and I want to see how far the daffodils my daughter and I planted in the fall have come up; I want to watch my boys playing in the yard; I want to read some more of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. I do not want to be going through sheafs of financial statements, listing, summing and dividing purchase prices. The reductive nature of these forms repels me. I do not want to be squeezing the past year into blanks, where my identity is my social security number, name, address and birthdate, and my relevance is relegated to financial transactions. There is a morbidity to the detached perspective of this ritual, like falling asleep and dreaming of coming back as the executor of one's own estate. And realizing that nothing itemized on those sheets of paper has much to do with what we care to bequeath.

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