Tax Time


It’s that self reflective time of year again that always comes before Easter. It’s tax time.

The on-line tax filing program asks its questions politely and directly. I admire that quality. What puts me off, though, is that it refers to me in the third person.

Does Shannon want to contribute $3.00 to the Presidential campaign? It will not change (her) tax or refund.

Who checks this box?  It raises too many questions. Where does the money come from then, if not the taxpayer?  What’s it used for? Flags and confetti? Some party you’ll never be invited to? Shannon will say no.

What is Shannon’s status?

The choices are pretty limited here. Nowhere is the option of Master of her own destiny. So she is left with choosing between Single or Head of Household. She asks herself, “Do I flit or do I swagger?” She’s never been much of a swaggerer. It’s something she’ll have to work on.

Does Shannon have any dependents?

Well, yes, the two she awakens every morning and sends to bed every night depend on her. What about the people she helps out on a regular basis to relieve their domestic burdens? Does the boy in carpool count? And what about the occasional or unexpected dependents?  There was the woman who took her arm so as not to slip on the ice. And other drivers, they depend on her to follow the rules, to stop when she’s supposed to stop, to go when she’s supposed to go.

Can anyone claim Shannon as a dependent?

Probably. There is a lot of kindness in the world. Shannon depends on that. Funny, there is no mention of co-dependents.

Is Shannon blind?

Yes, she is. But she does have moments of clarity.

Did Shannon have any farm income?

No, although she’d like to have a farm some day. Not a hobby farm because it seems to her that farms cannot be considered hobbies. One cannot set down a farm on the floor beside the arm chair or leave the farm on the dining room table before going off to bed. One cannot leave a farm in the shed when they lock up shop.

And what’s all this about railroads? In her whole life she has known only one single person who works for the railroad. She suspects he works alone. It must be a very special job to warrant a shout out on the tax form.

Moving right along, we come to charitable donations.

Did Shannon make any monetary donations to charity?

Did Shannon make any non monetary donations to charity?

This is the part of the form where taxpayers get to feel all righteous, to reassure themselves that they did learn to share when they were in kindergarten.

When did Shannon acquire the goods she gave to charity?

What was the original cost of the goods?

This one is a stumper. Shannon will have to come back to itIn fact, she’s going to log off now.

Are you sure you want to quit?

Absolutely. (It’s too taxing)

Ian at Thirteen


On January 5th, 2002, on a day much like today, Ian was born, bringing breath and breadth to this month that has always seemed lifeless in its bony thinness, in its grays and sharp angles.

I could say that on his birthday flowers nudge their little seed heads closer to the surface. This is what my heart sees and I wish it was so because January is so cold.

Just last night, late, the house was creaking with sneaky footsteps, pausing in the hallway, resuming in the living room, moaning from the rafters.

Finally, Ian and Pook were in bed. Already we were down to seven hours before morning wake up time.

“Mama?”, Ian called out.

“Yes, Doll?”

“Hi.”, he said.

“Hi.”, I said.


“Yes, Doll?”

“Will you go check the house?”

“No.” I said, “There’s an eighty degree difference between the outside temp and the inside temp. Everything creaks with that kind of battle.”.


“Yes, Doll?”

“What was that sound?”

“It sounded like a meteorite and breaking glass.” said Pook.

“Will you come in here?”

There we were, the four of us– Ian, Pook, me, and Betty, who was sprawled and oblivious across the center of the bed. I took a spot at the bottom. The family bed, I thought, just like in the old country. Except I don’t have an old country and this was not very comfortable.

“You guys REALLY have to go to sleep. Right now we’re looking at 6 and a half hours of sleep.”

“I’ll charge my batteries at school. I’ll use my regenerative brakes.” said Ian. I don’t know what this means so I say, “Maybe you can but I can’t.” and I go back to my room.

Midnight passes. Birthday wishes are shouted between rooms. Pook watches Ian carefully, waiting for him to become a tragic teenage mutation of himself.

Pook finally falls off to sleep.


“Yes, Ian?”

“I’m just going to get up and check the house.” This is how he passed from boy to teenager.