Events of the last month have pushed our stress levels to DEFCON 1.
Things were going along swimmingly. I was picking the kids up at Mom’s so that Dom could make an early evening meeting at the church. Then my phone rang. I thought he was playing a cruel joke on me when Dom said we received a notice from the IRS that our 2010 tax return flagged us owing five digits plus interest. He wasn’t joking. Apparently, the IRS can’t read a 1099-R, or they don’t understand their own tax code, or maybe they don’t really care. I dunno. All I know is the mistake was theirs, but the burden of proof was on us. Fine.
Except it wasn’t fine. I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the middle of mom’s kitchen, imagining the IRS to be like Al Capone on steroids, but with glasses, calculators, and comb-overs. And maybe a baseball bat hidden in a briefcase. I chastised myself for watching too much TV.
At any rate, Dom had to rush off to his meeting, and I rushed home to read the nasty lies the stupid, ignorant, egotistical IRS was perpetuating about us. (Dear IRS: I mean no offense…really. I’m sure you’re a bunch of great people. Call me sometime and we’ll do lunch. You’re buying.) Since we now had to provide copies of our return and our 1099-R, as well as a written explanation of WHY THEY ARE SO STUPID, all I needed to do was retrieve the tax file and proceed with copying. That’s when things really went south.
In the process of getting the house ready to sell, we packed up everything we wouldn’t need for the next six-or-so months. It would have been folly to pack the tax files, because we had not yet filed our state taxes. Everything sits on the desk until it is complete, then it goes into the file drawer. Except that when you’re getting ready to show your home to potential buyers, you swipe your arm across every desktop and countertop, sweeping all the contents of clutter into a box or a bag or a basket of whatever sort you can find. Then you stuff the box/bag/basket into your car and carry it around with you for weeks on end. Yes you do. Because you know that if you need yesterday’s mail or the lawnmower key, it’s easily retrieved from the backseat of your car.
Long story short, our tax files weren’t in the house or the car, or at mom’s house with my loose valuables, or at my in-laws’ house with our boxed possessions. I know this because we spent the late evening at my father-in-law’s home emptying two sheds of our boxed stuff, opening and retaping when we found each box to be void of tax files. We decided to print our tax return from the electronic copy, and request another 1099-R from the issuing company. It was a solution to one problem. I would deal with the issue of filing my state taxes later.
We were to spend the next morning with our builder, selecting items for the new house at a local plumbing supply place. Before we got started, our builder mentioned how concerned he was over the potential appraisal value of what we’re building, considering where we are building it. New development in the area kept us hopeful that it wouldn’t be much of an issue now, but we know our home will stand out a bit on our street. Is it a good business decision? Probably not. But it’s more personal than business for me, so I really don’t care. Problem is, the bank cares. They may not give two hoots about my personal decisions, my commitment to the long-term, my half-century of family land or my next-door-neighbor-in-laws. And if they aren’t willing to fund us, we can’t build. It’s a bummer of magnanimous proportions. And it propelled me head-first into a Novena to St. Jude.
We continued with the shopping, half-heartedly selecting a tub and our faucets. The morning rainstorm matched our mood. When the shopping task was complete, we went with our builder to Government Plaza to straighten out our address issue. You know, should this ever become our address, I want it to be right. Da dum dum…
The address issue, which had plagued me for two months, was resolved in five minutes to my immense satisfaction. Score one for the home team.
With final cost estimates in hand, we nervously finally scheduled an appraisal of our plans and lot. Another week went by while I bit my nails and wore out God’s door-knocker. And then on a sunny Friday, Dom emailed me the appraisal, which values our new home at more than we need. I may never come down from this high. Score two for the home team!!!
Speaking of the home team, we are super-stressed about selling our present home. I suppose that is part and parcel of this process, but it’s enough to put me in a straight jacket, what with me being the Type A, anal-retentive, OCD-driven control freak that I am. I don’t do “chill.”
I also don’t do live-with-half-your-possessions-packed-in-boxes. I have borrowed muffin tins, eaten off of paper towels, shared a fork with Dom, and watched him flip steaks on the grill with what equates to bamboo tweezers. I have squeezed shaving cream into a nickel-sized travel container, cheffed-up stir fry in the shallowest of sauté pans, and arm-wrestled the kids for a corner of one of the only two blankets that didn’t get packed.
Don’t even get me started on making the home “show-ready” every. single. time. we leave the house.
Longer ago than I realized, Aaron lost his band binder. This was the notebook that held all of his music and practice sheets and Lord-only-knows-what-other-important-papers. He said it was missing, and we looked around. I didn’t put much effort into looking because I try to stress with my kids responsibility for their own belongings. If they need something badly enough, they need to put forth the effort to find it. If they don’t put forth considerable effort and it stays lost, so be it. (Yes, my tax files are still missing. Shuddup.)
Aaron swore to me that he looked EV-E-RY-WHERRRRRRRE for the binder to no avail. I was convinced it lurked at the bottom of his locker and would be seen on the last day of school when he is finally forced to evacuate for the summer. I just kept on doing laundry, lowering toilet lids and clearing countertops and let him do what he needed to do to find the binder.
It wasn’t until we received a series of phone calls from our school system’s automated tattle-tale that Dom got serious about us finding the binder, or at least some solution to its absence. He asked me to email the teacher and see what to do about replacing the binder and getting our son back on track so he doesn’t kill his band grade in the last quarter. Ohhhhh, alright…. I emailed this lovely lady who reminds me so much of my favorite teacher from middle school, also a band director. J I confessed that we are a tad scattered, what with selling one house and trying to build another, and that I had likely packed Aaron’s band binder with my taxes, and could she please help me figure out how to replace the binder so Aaron could proceed with the learning process in her classroom. She would probably offer me some cheese to go with my whine. I wouldn’t blame her. I hit “send” and trekked into the kitchen to herd the kids into the car. One last glance at all the places my tax files could have been stuffed in a hurry, and my eye rested on a binder in the letter holder on the wall of my kitchen. A child’s binder that no one claimed, and I assumed was a random notebook for holding art, love notes, and other such what-not. Wrong-o.
“What is this binder?” I asked as I plucked it from the metal basket. Aaron’s face lit up. “THAT’S IT!!!! THAT’S THE BAND BINDER!!!!!!! WHO PUT IT THERE??!!!!”
Geez Louise! Not only did I just whine to a teacher for no reason, I AM the reason Aaron didn’t have his binder?!! I rushed to my phone to send out a chuckly sort-of “neeeeeeeeevermiiiiiiiiind” email to the teacher, stating we had found it and with any luck at all the tax files would be next. She sweetly wrote back that she can only imagine the stress we are under with taxes and changing homes and school work, to boot.
Stress?? What stress??