Oh me, oh my, where did it go awry?
Before I get started: it's been another hard week for BIPOC folks. Police brutality continues to be an issue we can't ignore. Racism is a white people problem, and as white people ourselves, we will not be silent on the issue. Here are some actions we took this week, and we invite you to join us:
- If you're white, make some noise. Do some reading. Amplify the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and AAPI people around you. Believe what they say. They know the effects of racism better than we ever will.
Last weekend, I sat down to do my taxes. And more than it has in any other year before, it made me cry.
I love being a self-employed musician. And. One of the aspects that brings me the greatest challenge is taxes. On the one hand, I can write off a lot of stuff -- coffee with a colleague, drinks at a show, concert tickets (aka, professional development) -- because those purchases are often necessary for me to do my job properly.
On the other hand, in order to do that, I need to keep track of receipts. *shudders* And mileage. *wretches* And make sure that information is ORGANIZED in a coherent way. *passes out*
As is evidenced by my physical reactions, these things are not, as the kids say, my jam.
For a long time, I had some rather bizarre spreadsheets tracking this information. A few years ago, I started using the Quickbooks Self-Employed app, and that has really made my life easier. This is not an ad for it (you know, unless they want it to be -- sponsor us, Quickbooks!). But I just have to tell you about one aspect that has changed my little ADHD life: you can snap pictures of receipts so that you don't have to keep them, and it reads the receipt, making a pretty good guess as to the details of the purchase, so you only have to edit it.
An app that does half of a tedious task for me? Yes, please!
So in The Time Before, each week, I would designate a period of one of my work days to go through the receipts crowding up my wallet, snap photos of them, and then gleefully throw them in the recycling bin. I would also flip through my calendar and calculate mileage for all the places I had gone for work that week: rehearsals, coffee dates, gigs, recording, etc. That way the backlog was never particularly significant, and April wasn't a scary month.
And then, COVID happened.
My "work days"? Gone. Childcare? Gone. No more working at coffee shops. No more space. And on top of that, ya know, the world was imploding, people were dying, and just going to the grocery store was a four-hour endeavor involving lots of hand sanitizer and at least one panic attack each time. Add to that old trauma, barely-managed ADHD, and the near-complete loss of the music industry for the year? Yeah, I wasn't super diligent in tracking tips on Venmo along the way.
So here we are, April 2021, and I know that I have a month to plug a year's worth of information into Quickbooks. I sat at my desk on Sunday evening, and started searching through Gmail, PayPal, Venmo, and Google Maps for all the necessary details.
Somewhere around hour three-and-a-half, I was flipping back through 2020 in iCal to take note of the handful of times I left the house to trek the 40 miles to Dann's for a backyard livestream. I found the week in March where the show I was music directing went from rehearsals five nights a week to nothing, the week where my daughter's birthday party was missing, the week where there were reminders about emailing this person or that venue about rescheduling a gig (lol).
Moving further into the year, my calendar filled up with picking up packets of work or Chromebooks from the school, but only at designated times for everyone's safety.
I found details for millions of friends' livestreams, lists of causes to donate to, and scheduled Zoom call after scheduled Zoom call.
Cancel this. Cancel that.
GoFundMes for funeral expenses.
More and more therapy appointments.
By the time I got to October, I was crying.
There was something so potent in seeing the tangible evidence of what the last thirteen months have been for me, what they've been for most of us, all laid out like that. I was deeply unprepared for the wave of grief that came up just trying to seek out quantifiable data for the IRS.
We're all going to need time, so much more time than we really think, to heal from all of this. And the "opportunities to heal" -- like crying into your Macbook while looking at Google Maps -- will probably present themselves at VERY inconvenient moments.
That's ok. Take the moment.
I didn't finish my taxes on Sunday. I've realized I'll need a little more time. It's going to take more of me than I initially thought to get it done.
Let's give ourselves and everyone else time. We've lost enough already.