Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Functional Adult's Decor

I have this one blog I read.  (Okay, I read a lot on the Internet.  Just go with me here.)  This blog is formidable.  Formidable and formidable, in the French, which to the French means just so great.  I'm kind of obsessed with it, because the couple that writes this blog feels like what I could be if I lived in a parallel universe where I really was a functional adult.

The amazing blog in question is called Young House Love; it's a home decorating blog by a young married couple. They and I have certain similarities and certain differences:

Similarities we share:
  • In late 20s
  • Married
  • Blogging
  • Went to college (I think)
  • Lives in a residence
  • Wishes home to be unique, personal, tidy, and attractive
Things true about them entirely untrue of me:
  • Has small child (!!!!)
  • Extremely energetic and hardworking
  • Have blog with at least one comment during blog history
  • Self-employed
  • Owns their own house
  • Has a home that is unique, personal, tidy, and attractive

I dare you to take a look at the projects they accomplish on a routine basis and not be impressed, if only by the sheer number of colors of spray paint they own without being taggers.  They are incredible.  They are Canonically Adult – so Canonically Adult that just reading their blog makes me want to lay down on the couch with admiration.

Though sometimes, it inspires a more motivated response.  One day, I mused, why can’t I do this?  Why can’t my home be precisely this classy and chic?  Why can’t I…

Okay, upon review of the various projects they do, I’m definitely not laying tile. That’s out of control.  And I’m not reflooring anything.  I could probably spray paint something to a different color, but I don’t have any fun but wrong-colored things laying around my house.  I could go buy something!  But stores are usually closed by the time I get home from work, and I sleep through all the garage sales on the weekend.

I then began listing all of the obstacles to my own home looking as whimsical, sophisticated, and clean as theirs. That took too long.  So I stuck with just the living room:
  • Important decorating elements of living room include two stuffed dinosaurs, a Lego TIE-fighter, a remote-controlled car being driven by a Lego Stormtrooper with a Lego Darth Vader riding shotgun, a model sailboat being sailed by a small green stuffed owl

  • Also there is this reindeer skin that Husband brought back from Finland one time, which I worry will make Santa angry if he sees it in the event he can fit through our tiny fireplace
We call it Dasher.
  • Said fireplace has pink stains on the brick from time red Christmas candles dripped everywhere
  • Various cobwebs that I can’t reach, and don’t want to try lest spiders leap out at me
  • Contains a 6-lb bucket of Red Vines from the last time my mom and dad drove down to visit, and my mom felt that she needed Red Vines for the trip down, so she bought this bucket at Costco.  She apparently did not feel a similar need for the trip back up, since it is still here.  Friend K eats them occasionally when he comes over.  Also, half-empty box of candy canes next to it.
  • A picture I just leaned somewhere because I have nowhere to hang it
  • Cracks in one wall from the few years when the landlord refused to acknowledge the roof was leaking, and the wall swelled up with water
  • Totally inexplicable water damage on the ceiling
  • Husband won’t let me repaint the walls because he hates calling our landlord about anything, mostly because the landlord usually doesn’t answer unless we threaten not to pay the rent until he calls us back

These were some formidable obstacles, the mere listing of which exhausted me to the point I needed several episodes of The Big Bang Theory for rescuscitative* purposes.  But over the next few weeks, I occasionally saw an opportunity to make something a little nicer in the house and took it.  I finally hung up the picture frame that had leaned against an end table for four months.  I tried to hang up my work clothes as soon as I'd changed out of them - or, I tried most days.  And after we had a bunch of champagne corks left after a party, I put them in a Mason jar and put that in the bathroom.  It looks kind of pretty.

Yay.  Decor.

 As the above, minuscule steps show, I'm hardly a reformed home guru now.  As I type this, I am looking at two plates piled up next to my computer with PopTart crumbs on them, a Heineken coaster (brought by Husband from Germany six years ago), a lip gloss, and what I think is the install CD for my webcam.  But maybe there is some small hope for me yet.  
Maybe I'll convince Husband to let me paint over the cracks in the living room walls yet.  And actually do it, too. 

*  A real word.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Functional Adult Gets the WORST Headache

Ways dealing with a headache is different, now that am functional adult:
  • Have own laptop
  • Have husband to bring juice / water / other fluids
  • Do not have mom to bring juice / water/ other fluids.  Or to make special foods of sympathy and concern.
  • Need no one's permission to lay on couch all day, groaning occasionally
  • Have Kindle to attempt to read, rather than old-fashioned book
  • Will have to drive self to doctor and miss work to do so
Ways dealing with a headache is the exact dang same as before was functional adult, legal adult, or imagined adult (i.e. teenager):
  • Head hurts too much to read anything, be it laptop, kindle, or anything
  • Caretaker has additional things to do other than pity me / provide juice
  • Still hate everything and everyone on TV because they are not curing my headache
  • Considering medical feasibility of head transplant
  • Of necessity, whine about headache to whoever out in Internet-land will listen
  • HATE HATE HATE HATE headache

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Functional Adult Does Her Taxes

Last year, after the taxes were done, I took them to H&R Block for the "free second look" they were advertising on the television; commercials full of people getting extra money back from the government!  Huzzah!  Only after I went there, they tried to get us to pay more taxes because they didn't recommend we deduct more than a certain amount for charity lest we get audited.  Which: 1) huh?  2) If I did get audited, I wouldn't care, insofar as I am not cheating on my taxes and 3) NO THANK YOU PAYING MORE MONEY FOR NO REASON.  

But the H&R Block accountant was suitably impressed and surprised at how well the taxes were done - even before their "professional" "help."  Since then, I’ve been feeling pretty darn smug about my ability to get the taxes done and get them done right without the help of some fancy-pants accountant.*

*Note: I don’t think H&R Block is actually that fancy-pants; I saw no celebrities in their local office when I was there.

Of course, when I say “My ability to get the taxes done,” I do of course mean “Husband’s ability to get our taxes done,” because he did all of them last year while I was going through my thrice-yearly freakout about studying for finals, which involved a rigorous process of dressing like a hobo whilst wildly paging through textbooks.

This year, I have no finals.  So I instituted a new  practice of vaguely assisting Husband as he plugs numbers into TurboTax.  You could argue that since I have a degree in economics, I ought to be the one doing the taxes, but since he has a degree in mechanical engineering, which means he could build a computer, which means that it makes sense that he use the computer to do the taxes.

Plus, he’s the one earning more of the money, so it’s mostly his fault we have to pay them anyway.

Assisting wasn’t so bad, at first!  Mostly because it consisted of consisted of my sitting on the couch next to him reading this article and laughing out loud.  Pretty hard.

Husband:   I’m trying to concentrate here.

Liz:  I’m sorry but this is HANHAHAHAHSNORFHAHAHA.

H:  Seriously, I’m trying to figure out this form.

L:  Okay.  I’m sorry.  Snerble.

*five minutes later*

L:  laughing silently to herself

H:  Okay, now you’re shaking the couch.

And then I went and got some rice going in the rice cooker.

Despite the initially easy-going nature of the process, it got frustrating once the rice was in the cooker.  I recount the process of going through this year's possible charitable deductions:

H:  Did we donate any money to School this year?

L:  Yes.  $25.

H:  Do we have any record of that?

L:  I thought they were supposed to send you something in the mail?

H:  No.  You’re supposed to keep the receipt.

L:  *astonishment*

H:  *sighing* Do you know WHEN it was?

L, mentally:  It was right after that one girl kept e-mailing me to give to the class gift, and I was like dude, I’m not even ON campus today, and then I finally gave and then she e-mailed me AGAIN and I was like I JUST GAVE TODAY ARE YOU SERIOUS?

L, aloud:  No.  May?  June?  Just skip it.  It’s $25.

H:  Did we give anything to that other School Public Interest Fund?

L:  Yes.  $67 dollars.

H:  Any chance there is a record of that? Or a date?

L, searching her gmail account for “donate,” “donation,” “donated,” “doughnut,” and “donut,”:  Uhhh… no. 

This is the (okay, not the ONLY) problem with taxes.  It’s this bizarre system that requires you to keep a million pieces of random paper around your house, which is ludicrous in an electronic universe.  I need a robot butler who scans this crap in for me and saves!  In searchable PDFs!  In a folder labeled “Stupid Receipts You Will Need For Tax Time, Gosh I Hate This System Too!”

… or I guess I could buy myself a scanner.  And scan the stuff.  And make the folder.  Which I had literally never thought about before now.  Huh.  That would make a lot of sense.

Though it wouldn’t cure the tax code’s various bizarre distinctions.  For example:  why can undergraduate students deduct the cost of text books, up to $2000 (or whatever) but graduate students count?  Why would earning an extra $500 bucks make me pay $4000 more in taxes – wait WHAT?  Why does TurboTax keep asking us if we have a farm or a railroad?  How many times can I tell you that I am not a farmer?

Oh, sure, these are first-world problems.  But I am at the unfortunate intersection of first-world problems and the absence of fancy rich person resources to throw at them that years of watching movies has led me to believe I ought to have.  I just pay $19.99 to get a logo of a cartoon woman who will “chat” with me to explain why suddenly this program is calculating that I owe more in income tax than I earned last year.  I don’t have a great, shady-looking but totally legit guy with a Rolex to make me some somehow-legal tax shelter in the Caymans.  Even if I could manage to get myself to the Caymans, I would have no tax shelter in which to stay.  Both me and my taxes would be stuck outside in the tropical rain. 

And as the preceding paragraph reveals, despite the afore-mentioned econ degree (which involved taking several classes on tax policy taught by very renowned professors), I don’t know that I actually have any idea about taxes in a practical sense other than that the payment thereof gives me less money to spend on, er, Us Weekly and ... blogging clothes?  Hypothetically speaking, of course.  If anyone knows if having a blog means I can deduct sweatpants as a work expense, LET ME KNOW.