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Right now, I am ramping up toward tax season.  It is like preparing for a two and a half month campaign.  You know things will get busy and then busier and busier.  Meanwhile, you also want to keep up some semblance of a normal life.  One still has to eat, and convenience foods become more and more of a priority.  I have already stocked up on some of them.  The fewer dishes it requires to be washed, the better.  But then again, it probably means more packaging to throw away or recycle.  So it is a matter of finding a balance: whatever saves the most time without making you fear for your health from all that convenience food.

This also means I need to go shopping once in a while.  And in a pinch, there is always Subway.  And while I am out, I’d better stop by the bank.  I can withdraw extra cash at the supermarket, but it won’t do much good to get paid by my clients if I don’t deposit their checks from time to time.

Of course there is also grooming.  I am meeting with clients, after all, and I take much more pride in my appearance now.  No matter how much I knew it was important for business, I found it hard to really care what that guy looked like.  I care about how I look.

I also have to make sure I don’t lose track of paying bills.  It would be disastrous for business to have electricity, phone or Internet turned off.

Church on Sunday is a priority until I get so snowed under with returns that I have to skip it and trust that the Lord understands.  Last year I missed church on the last two Sundays in tax season.  I also completed 41 tax returns and filed 10 extensions from April 1-15.  I am a one person office, so I can’t put some of the workload on anyone else.  Here is how I describe completing 41 tax returns in 15 days: it is like taking 41 college final exams and you have to get 100% on each one to pass the course.

Getting back to church for a moment, I also do my best to attend the Ladies Bible Study once a week.  One or two of the topics will be covered after tax season ends.  But most occur during tax season.  However, I have gone through too much in my life to reach the point where I can attend the Ladies Bible Study.  Now that I can, I want to take as much advantage of that privilege as possible.  More on that in a moment.

Sleep is a luxury, but sometimes nodding off in front of the computer or collapsing into bed half aware of my surroundings is a necessity.  I try to get four hours of sleep a night whether I need it or not.  If I have counted correctly, this is my 25th tax season.  The system has worked so far.  (I can sleep in almost any position, though sometimes I end up with a stiff neck.)

So far, two clients have scheduled appointments, I am expecting information in the mail from two clients, and two clients have started sending me information by e-mail.  And I have been in preliminary communication with a couple of other clients in terms of what they need to send me.

This year should be a breeze compared to last year.  That was probably the most nightmarish tax season I have ever experienced.  First, Congress didn’t pass the new tax law bill until New Year’s Day, even though many of the provisions were retroactive to 2012.  This meant that the IRS was delayed in programming their computers and the providers of my tax software had to work on programming that normally should have been done months earlier.  Furthermore, the IRS made my provider change a perfectly good software platform.  So for much of the tax season, the software wasn’t a tool, it was an adventure.

Finally, there was the reality of my transition.  Many of us transition with an employer.  It is pretty much all or nothing.  Either the employer is supportive and smooths the way with the rest of the staff or they are a problem.  I had about 75 clients (representing 90-100 returns) to come out to.  I had the opportunity to come out to a few of them in person, trying to cover those people who represent the most of my returns.  With the rest (about 60), I had to send out a mailing.  I received an immediate positive response from about a dozen.  Then I got a few of negatives, two very harsh.  Then I agonized over when I would hear from the rest.  The vast majority came back, but there were a couple of glitches along the way that needed to be ironed out.

This year, I know where I stand with everyone.  It will be back to the normal level of anxiety, which only occurs with one or two clients each year who get in touch later than usual.

January also brings the end of the Christmas season.  That was also unusual this year because I was focused on contacting clients in December 2012 and my Christmas cards to non-clients only went out a few days before Christmas.  Therefore, I had four people who received my card after they sent me their card to my old name.  None of them contacted me during the year.

A funny thing happened.  Two of those four were identical twin brothers who were my classmates at Cornell.  One kept me on their list and the other did not.  I suspect that the decision-maker was the wives, not them.  Some years ago, I was in a training meeting of a men’s group and the question was asked, “How many of you are in charge of sending out the greeting cards in your family?”  Out of about a hundred in attendance, I was one of only two who raised a hand … and I was single.

I also did not hear from the other two.  One was expected, but the other was a disappointment.

At the beginning of January, we had a cold spell in the NYC metro area, and they said it was the coldest winter weather in 20 years.  Then it warmed up and the usual pattern means that the worst of the cold weather was over for the winter. You might get a very cold day here or there even into early spring, but the temperatures would bounce back quickly.  Not this year.  We are finishing January with a stretch of at least 10 days where the temperatures are staying below freezing all day.  I don’t mind cold weather, and I find it easier to adapt to than the hazy, hot, humid weather we get in the summer.  But enough already!

I am saving the most important news for last.  Two weeks ago, I had a meeting with the pastors of my church (husband and wife).  It was my coming out to them.  This is the second set of pastors I came out to at this church, and I only started attending there in November 2012.  And the first time, a church officer paved the way for me.  This time, I had to go in cold.

It could not have gone better.  They listened patiently.  (You may have noticed that I can go on and on at times.)  When I did the reveal, they were respectful.  They were supportive.  They indicated to me that my Christian walk and my spiritual fruit were the most important part of who I am.  They admitted that they don’t know everything the Bible has to say related to the topic of transsexuality (I gave them the link to my blog, and I hope they will be reading), but they could see merit in the points I was able to make in one 90+ minute meeting.  They promised that my information would be kept in the strictest confidence, and I trust they will keep their word.

Best of all: I am still welcome at Sunday morning service; I am still on the committee for which I volunteered (community outreach); I can keep coming to Ladies Bible Study!  Furthermore, they have agreed that I can become a member, and hopefully we will be talking about the process of that in the near future.  A course is involved, so it may need to wait until after tax season, depending on the nature and length of the course.

It was days before I stopped smiling after the end of that meeting, even when I would cry tears of joy as well.  God is so good and He has blessed me more than I can say and more than I deserve.  I love Him so much.  And in the situations when God’s blessings came through His people, I love them very much also.

It’s interesting.  It is understandable that we pray for things to go well in our lives and in the lives of people we care about.  But it is during those difficult times that we have the opportunity to see how much the Lord cares for us, and which people are truly there for us in one way or another, to the best they can do in view of their own circumstances.  These are my Christian brothers and sisters: my most important family.  Like any family, sometimes we fuss and squabble.  But I can never thank God enough for saving me and making me a part of this family.  And I understand it far more than I ever did before.

God bless,

Lois

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