TAXES AND TOKENS
By: Lauren Anderson
True to form, I waited until last minute to do my taxes.
Because DUH. I hate it.
And one of the *perks* of being an actor is you almost never get a satisfying tax return because you’re paid mostly in 1099s. Which means not only do I have to force myself to get receipts in order and do paperwork (shudder), I also usually end up owing money too!
But that’s only if I did a good job booking gigs. So by the end of Tax Day, I’m usually sad because I owe money, or sad for the reminder that I didn’t make any money to begin with. Sheesh.
It’s a multi-hour lesson in “WHY THE F DID I CHOOSE TO DO THIS FOR A LIVING?!?!?”
And the answer is always Joy/Compulsion/Vocation/Calling. And you can’t really deny that stuff. Just like you can’t deny your taxes. (Trust me, I tried back in 2008 and almost went to jail. But that’s for another blogpost.) So every year I force myself to sigh and snuggle up with Turbo Tax for another trip around the e-File.
But I always end up putting off the things I hate until the last possible second. I mean, why do today what you can wait until tomorrow and do in a rush? UGH.
I’M WORKING ON IT.
Because we’re on a learning curve here right? A lifelong learning curve to put procrastination aside and tackle the seemingly un-tackle-able. And it usually begins and ends with taxes.
This used to include exercise, but with slow and steady effort and reward, that familiar feeling is changing for me. And I’m happy to report that working out is now something I no longer associate with taxes, as something to hate or put off doing. That’s an itty bitty win! And I’ll take it.
This is itty bitty, but it’s also big time, cause I procrastinate with everything I don’t like to do. If I have even the tiniest remote passion I can always get the job done. But if I know it’s gonna suck from the jump– I like to pretend it’s not happening. A personality flaw not uncommon, but I’m not keen to admit either.
Just about the only thing I can wait on is saving the best chip in a bag for last. That famous psychological marshmallow test they gave kids back in the 70’s? I could do no problem. I can delay gratification like nobody’s business. I have surprisingly great long game– if I do say so myself. (And I just did.)
That’s because I know (or have faith) that gratification WILL EVENTUALLY COME.
But there’s no gratification in taxes. Just a yearly slog into hell. As inevitable as death. Without any of the pageantry or poetry—only paperwork.
And yet I solider on. Because I guess if I’m being really honest, I believe in taxes. (And I really don’t want to go to jail.) I like highways and schools and parks. And because I enjoy them, I feel it’s only right to pay for them. I just wish I didn’t have to reconcile it all at the end of the year with a box of receipts. (And yes, I am aware of all the helpful tools and apps out there to aid this.)
But like I said– I’M WORKING ON IT.
So cut to this weekend.
In a strange Minnesotan turn of events, we had a blizzard in April. We had to cancel a show, I spent 2 hours trying to un-stick my car from a snowdrift with only a broom, and I was forced to miss a wedding of my lovely friends.
And then I was essentially locked up in my tiny apartment for 2 days–longer than is recommended for people with my mental, er, fortitude.
Just about the only upside– after about 6 hours straight of watching a weird British Architectural Remodeling show, and I had my fill of Victorian gusset talk–I finally convinced myself it was time to tackle the taxes.
It’s now or never.
But not without proper reinforcements. I brewed a pot of coffee. I turned on some Rolling Stones. (It just felt right ya know?) I tied my hair back in a pony tail ala Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket fame… and got down to business.
“No no. This won’t do.” I thought. “This could get ugly. I need some good luck charms. I need to surround myself with good juju.”
I got up from my computer and put on one of my trusty sweatshirts from a place I love, with patches of pink elephants that I’ve collected over the years. “Yeah, that’s good.” I thought. Elephants are my power animal. They’re good luck. I’m comfy, and I’m ready.
But it wasn’t enough. So I grabbed my newest brooch (a gift to myself for my birthday!) of a beautiful cricket, and I put it on my sweatshirt. Cause ya know… why not?! Just like Madeline Albrecht, I too use jewelry as my personal arsenal.
Besides, Crickets also have powerful animal symbolism. Known for being SUPER good luck, and for bringing wealth and prosperity. I thought, “If ever there was a time I needed some wealth, luck, and prosperity—it’s now. This little guy can only help.” And I think in a way it did.
But I didn’t stop there.
Right before I sat down in my chair to tackle the taxing taxes, I grabbed my Solcana hat and popped it on my head. I felt instantly stronger. Fortified to take on the hard stuff. Because that’s now what I associate with my gym.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t take a minute to think about this. Gyms used to give me hives. I used to fear them MORE than I do my taxes. But not anymore. Now I reach for it. I– dare I say— enjoy it!
It’s like wearing that hat means I EARNED it. I worked hard to be able to wear this cap and not feel like an imposter. The Solcana colors represent strength to me now. The strength to get really friggin vulnerable and recognize where I need to grow. The strength to do something scary. And just straight up, un-f*ck-with-able STRENGTH.
When I’m wearing my Solcana swag, it’s like a little reminder to me that I CAN DO IT. I can do anything, if I just go slow and trust myself. If I don’t give up.
I can attempt something challenging and come out the other side. The gym taught me that. I’m still learning it on a daily basis, but it lives in me now more than ever before.
Not just having survived something either! Although that is a huge part of it. But usually, I come out the other side for the better. And I rejoice in the ability to fight another day.
I am happy to report that I finished my taxes in a timely fashion (two and a half hours) and it wasn’t too costly this year… thank god. I think the tokens helped. (And the audit meter they have on Turbo Tax…) Because they kept me in the right frame of mind.
* * *
Say what you will about Tokens or Talismans. But I think sometimes I really benefit from attaching myself to something greater than myself, (or outside myself) to channel strength or that extra push to get me through. What ever the “through” might be.
Whether it’s a brooch or a sweatshirt or a lucky ribbon to tie your hair back– these little things can make or break you. They can help. It’s all what you put into it right?
Like, a motorcycle is just a bike, until you decide that it represents the freedom you crave.
A cast-iron skillet is just a thing used to make food. Until you make so many meals for your family that it becomes a way to show love.
And ring is just a ring, until you decide that it is the ring you will wear to represent a marriage.
These are all symbols. Talismans. Tokens.
To help us fight the bag moods, the bad days, and even sometimes the bad guys.
And sometimes it’s just the thing to buoy you through the mundanity of Tax Day.
But as I clicked “FILE” on my federal and state returns, I caught a glance at myself in the mirror. And I swear the ‘S’ on my Solcana hat reminded me an awful lot of the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest.
Coincidence? Probably. Or not.
After all, the Symbol is what you put into it right?