Mar. 25th, 2017

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Dreamed I was in this super luxe-luxe-luxe hotel. The bathrooms were like heaven on earth! I was with Lucius, and I was a much younger version of myself.

Some of the guest rooms had terraced gardens leading out from their doorways into the hall, and these gardens were mini-jungles of bright orange bromeliads and other exotic plants. Somehow I knew that the guests in the rooms with the terraced gardens were very, very old people who were close to death. And I thought how much better off these people were to be living in a super luxe-luxe-luxe hotel than living, say, in a condo, isolated and alone. (Quick shot of those condos: similarly terraced gardens but in this big sinister-looking building with huge plate-glass windows that had been built on the site of the old Ebbetts Field stadium in Brooklyn.)

I was very sick in the dream, and wandering around the halls to find a heavenly bathroom that was unoccupied so I could cool off in a heavenly shower.

Lucius felt my forehead: “You’re so hot!” he said, feigning concern.

And then he began to kiss me, and I knew I had to let him kiss me. He was the most horrible kisser in the world: His idea of kissing was to open his mouth for a passive exchange of saliva. But in the dream, I had to put up with it. There was something I wanted out of him, and this was the only thing I had to barter with.

As is so often the case in my dreams, I was simultaneously acting in it and narrating it from a kind of third-person omniscient perspective…

###

I was busy, busy, busy, busy this week.

And I will be busy, busy, busy, busy today though in the social sphere: My kinda, sorta cousins Pearl and Sybil have invited themselves up for the day, and I will have to entertain them.

Pearl is visiting from Albuquerque. The original plan was for me to trek into NYC and hang out with them there. But Sybil decided she wanted to do a road trip. And I get it! I mean, I do: When you live in the city, you seize every opportunity to get out of the city.

And I’m excited to see them.

It’s just that I’m not feeling terribly entertaining.

###

Busy, busy, busy, busy is in some ways a pleasantly nostalgic feeling for me. It’s how I felt throughout most of my productive years as a member of the workforce.

These days, though, I seem to need a lot more time to sit around with my eyes unfocused. I’m perfectly content doing nothing. And if I don’t do nothing for at least a few hours every day, then I begin to develop almost Captain Queeg-like levels of paranoia: Everybody hates me. I can’t do anything right. Every little minor disagreement or jockeying for power in the social minute becomes a Puccini opera: Nobody’s gonna sleep. Not ever! And especially not you, Princess!

###

I did the former social worker’s taxes yesterday for the third year in a row.

The first year, I remember, she was very lucid. We had a long discussion about how awful it is to be poor and aging in the United States.

Last year, she was a bit... off. And poor financial planning had resulted in a big tax debt.

We’re not supposed to offer “financial advice”, but I choose to interpret this as meaning we’re not supposed to say, “Psst! Buy high! Sell low!”

I’ve gotten pur-ty good at looking at someone’s tax situation, figuring out what they might want to do to minimize liability and avoid penalties. The “minimize liability” stuff I generally do keep to myself. But I figure I’m performing a public service to talk about the “avoid penalties” stuff because nobody else is doing it apparently, not even the financial advisors for whose services some of these people are paying thousands of dollars a year.

I mean, c’mon! It’s not rocket science to deduce that if you take a $50 k disbursement for a 1099-R type fund, you need to allocate 15% or so for federal income tax because not only is that extra amount pouring into your coffers but some portion of your Social Security will also become taxable income.

Anyway, last year I had a long conversation with the social worker during which I outlined in specific detail (which was exactly as boring as anyone reading this might suspect) what she would have to do to avoid getting hit with a huge tax bill same time next year.

She actually had a fairly big income, so paying taxes shouldn’t have been a problem.

She was so upset at the end of my talk, she was crying. I walked her out to her car. Somewhat inappropriately hugged her.

This year when she showed up, she seemed completely demented. Like a homeless person or something. I was seriously alarmed. Something was going on with her, but whatever that something was, of course it was none of my business.

And she hadn’t taken a bit of my advice. She found herself in exactly the same situation with regards to her taxes this year that she’d been last year.

I didn’t give her any more advice. What would have been the point of that?

I did tell her, “Don’t be surprised if you get a notice from the IRS informing you that they’re imposing a penalty.”

She gave a little screech. “A penalty?”

I sighed. “The IRS has the right to impose a penalty if you owe more than a thousand dollars in taxes. In my experience, they generally don’t if it’s a one-time slip. But this is two years in a row for you, so…” I shrugged.

I tried to have a melodramatic conversation with Chas about the social worker after we were done for the day, but Chas wasn’t buying.

“It’s gonna happen to all of us eventually,” Chas said cheerfully, meaning feebleness; inattention to buttons, zippers and hygiene; general loosening of associative skills.

Ain’t gonna happen to me, I wanted to say. My long-term care insurance policy is a gun.

But since I don’t actually own a gun, nor do I know how to shoot one – although one of the Sooper Sekrit alphas has kindly offered to teach me – I just shut up.

###

My other memorable client this was a retired cop.

Very hard-boiled.

Determined to trip me up.

After hectoring me for 20 minutes, he finally seemed convinced that despite the purple hair and dangly earrings, I actually knew what I was doing, and he let up for the rest of the hour.

Towards the end of the tax preparation session, he said, “I know I’ve been giving you a hard time. I want to tell you what’s going on. When I go home today, I’m going to have to put my cat to sleep –“

And he began to cry. This hardboiled guy!

So I reached over and grabbed his hand and patted it for 20 seconds or so.

Which was my Inappropriate Behavior With Clients for the 2017 tax season.

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