Last Sunday night, I was making dinner and reflecting on this time of year.
In my last post, I detailed how the brutal winter caused me to question my own sanity. From the looks in the eyes of friends and coworkers, I'm not the only one harboring doubts. I also sensed neighbors watching me recently as I compulsively snapped photos of the giant piles of snow. I'd compare them to prove to myself that they were, in fact, shrinking.
My friend John was nice enough to reach out to me recently, asking if I needed his help again this year. Usually, somewhere at the end of March or beginning of April, I sheepishly approach him, asking if it's too late to help with my tax returns. I'm always the last one.
This year, I was determined to do them completely by myself, and not even bother him to review what I had prepared. Before I got started, I discovered my home computer was infected with a virus, apparently in the registry. For many weeks I have been battling this, determined not to bother yet another friend, Richie Two Straws, who always has to fix my computer.
So far the virus is still winning. I'm just happy I have yet to turn on the computer and see the "blue screen of death." However, the battle with the virus caused me to lose sight of my taxes in the first place. Thanks to John, my tax return is complete and he has given it his full review and blessing.
Death and Taxes -- the infamous "only two things you have to do" in life.
I hate tax season. When I was young and single, living in an apartment, it wasn't very complicated, just another pain in the butt thing that I never wanted to do. When I was married, it was worse. My ex-wife would start asking about it on January 2nd, disregarding the fact that neither of us had received any of the necessary documents yet.
Besides, it was her information that was the most complicated. Sometimes she had a traditional job with a paycheck and W-2, sometimes she sold make up as an independent contractor, and sometimes both. This required mounds of receipts and proof of mileage and all kinds of other things that she never had organized. We fought about it constantly.
Those were just symptoms of the underlying problems that brought about the death of our marriage. We started filing our taxes separately three years ago, which made it easier to divorce. It was finalized over a year ago.
Even though the returns are less complex again, I guess I procrastinate because doing them makes me face harsh realities, like retirement. From where I'm standing, that's not going to happen, meaning I will be working until the day I die.
Maybe that's why taxes are due in April. At least it's spring, with warmer weather and signs of new life. Having taxes due in January would be bad. The lawyers would be happy; suicide hotlines would be overwhelmed.
In the past year, I've had little interest in socializing, let alone dating. I worked hard every day, and besides my regular duties I completed a big project. It involved reverse-engineering a tech product that our competition offered but we did not. I finished it just in time to see a fickle client base turn their interest to new technology. Oh well, at least I had a peaceful, drama-free home, and time to write.
In the past week or so, things have been looking up. Neighbors are still watching me take pictures and video, but now it's cardinals I'm trying to capture. Seeing their deep red feathers set against blue sky, and hearing them sing are my all-time favorite signs of spring.
Tyrant winter is loosening its death-grip on spring, allowing the first tentative breaths. I've finally been able to grill out, and I can see a bicycle ride on the horizon. I've even been socializing and flirting with women again.
All of a sudden, there is renewed interest in my tech project. I recently navigated tricky waters and stole a job from that dreaded competitor. I guess all that work and research I did over the last 2 years was like planting seeds, which are just now emerging and starting to grow.
Sunday dinner was almost ready, and the wine ready to pour, when I remembered my ex-wife was facing a big day on Monday. I truly want her to be safe and happy, so I sent a heartfelt text wishing her good luck in her endeavor.
Maybe these are signs of a new life for me, one that will transcend the four seasons.
Now, if I could just remember to actually send my tax return...
Where do you see most RVs? Parked in their owner's driveways for 11 months a year. So instead of rushing out to buy one for $100,000, check out renting it instead. We're told a pretty nice Airstream that sleeps six will set you back $2,000 per week. In general, the rule of thumb has always been to own what appreciates and lease what depreciates. Do you really want to walk past the behemoth in the driveway five times a day knowing it devalues a little more each month with age? And don't forget about the other costs of RV ownership: insurance, maintenance, storage off-site when you tire of it as a lawn decoration.
Our favorite places to shop are thrift stores near retirement communities. Golf clubs and golf carts show up frequently in these shops at a fraction of their original cost. We also comb the classifieds of the retirement community newsletters for gently used cars; you can find some gems with low mileage.
To state the obvious, you can always rent a boat for a day of sailing or a weekend at sea. You also let your boat-owning friends know that you're "thinking" of buying one and ask if they would mind taking you out for the day? Most boat owners love to show off their toys. And you can become the guests they always invite back by going a little overboard with the food and drink you bring. Boat owners we know say the guests they like the most are the ones who stick around long enough after the sail to help clean up and secure the vessel.
Offer your guest room to out-of-town visitors and you'll feel better asking to use theirs. Use a home-swapping service when you visit new places. Trade your plumbing skills with the house-painter's. You sew and your neighbor bakes like a pro; order up a birthday cake and offer to take up a few hems. The one commodity that retirement gives everyone is time. Barter it for the lifestyle you want.
Public libraries rent out not only books and movies, but they also run lots of free programs including lectures. Parks hold concerts in the summer for free. Colleges frequently allow those 55+ to audit classes for free; you won't earn credits toward a degree, but you will learn some new things.
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