Tag Archives: Taxes

Petulant Frenzy

Zappa fans will of course remember those words: petulant frenzy. In case you didn’t know the allusion, you can just click the link.

The petulant frenzy to which I refer right now, however, is different.

They say that, when karma comes to fruition, it can often be unpleasant. However, there are times at which fruitional karma can put a smile on your face.

I arrived home from work yesterday quite exhausted. I was expecting some things to have arrived by mail, so I eagerly checked the mailbox. They weren’t there; instead, however, I found a letter from the IRS. I thought perhaps this might have something to do with my wife’s recent tax filing; she filed on her own and without reference to my income, and in a community property state like ours, that will not pass the IRS sniff test. So I quickly opened the letter.

What I found was even more of a surprise: they were questioning our 2011 tax return. In particular, the assertion was that my wife underreported her income to the tune of thousands of dollars, and as a result we now owed additional tax. They cited no fewer than four documents that had been furnished by employers to the IRS, none of which had been reported by us.

In April 2012, we filed our taxes jointly for the previous year. My wife was putting up a big stink about even doing this with me, however she did come over to the house with some receipts for various and sundry things that I could report against her various self-employment earnings. The problem, however, was that she did not have any documentation of those earnings. I do not recall why she did not bring them; she just forgot about them or something, but she did not have them. She never furnished them later, either. As a result, I took an extension on our taxes, in the hopes that she would come to her senses before six months had passed. No such luck. It was quite an ordeal just to get her to meet me to sign the tax return, but she did. This was about 2 weeks before she totally withdrew from me, starting the stonewalling that has persisted to this day. This failure to furnish required data has finally caught with her—or us.

Thus, I looked at this letter as a sort of manna from heaven. I immediately reached out to her and asked her to contact me regarding our taxes. Late that night (this timing has significance; I’ll get to that later) she responded, and I read that response early this morning. In her response, she petulantly remarked that she would not call me, and that I had to email the information to her. So, I gave her a synopsis and said that we did need to sit down to talk about this. A few hours later, the petulant frenzy spun out some more. She claimed it was all my fault, that I should just send the document to her colleague’s house, and that she refused to sit down with me to discuss this matter. My response was very measured: I told her that I did not have any of the data, that it was all information she needed to furnish, and that I did not appreciate her tone, or some of the things she said. In fact, I used the word “threat,” because that’s essentially what she was doing; I asked her to refrain from using any such further language, as I found it disturbing. This was not an ultimatum, but rather a statement of emotional transparency. I’ve yet to hear a peep back.

A bit later, I went out to run some errands, and stopped by the post office. My wife had sent me a letter by certified mail that I was not home to receive, and so I figured I should go pick it up. It was nothing other than her amended petition that she resent to me, and at considerable cost. This document was filed in violation of applicable court rules, and as such is essentially legally invalid. I already have a copy of it, and so I just disposed of it. However, in the envelope, she also included some small gifts I had given her; a couple of these were things I had made for her that she had specifically thanked me for just a few months ago. So now, she is trying to rid herself of these things. However, they are things that I can actually use, so my response will be to thank her for being so thoughtful as to giving me those things, as I could really make use of them.

You may have sensed by now that the behavior of the obstinate spouse often functions on the emotional level of a five-year-old. That’s pretty much where she’s at. As for me, I just looked at this whole situation with a smile on my face, and went out to buy a nice card that I’d put in to the letter in which I’ll be sending the tax documents. I won’t be returning those gifts to her—not yet, anyway—but I will begin sending things that I would certainly like to receive. I’ve got the next one lined up already, in fact.

When I got home from my errands, the mailman arrived, and, lo and behold, there was more manna from heaven: mail for my wife. So, I get yet another reason to send her this stuff.

They say that, in these “lone ranger” (to borrow a phrase from Mort Fertel) situations that things always get worse before they get better. I guess I haven’t yet seen rock bottom. My wife does seem very, very unhappy. Her whole life seems to have become one giant sham, and she is apparently working overtime to convince others, and especially herself, that it isn’t. She will likely soon see that a sham is a sham; there’s just no hiding from that fact.

Sister Karamazova; or, signs of hope

Many, many years ago, in fact, back in the late 20th century, I was an undergraduate student at a university in southern California. I was a big Dostoevsky fan back than, had read nearly all of his works, and was working my way through many other Russian authors as well: Tolstoy, Turgenev, Lermontov, etc. I happened across a book in the library one day that was a scholarly tome about the usage and symbolism of names in the works of Dostoevsky. I had some fairly good competence with the Russian language, as I had already studied it for a year of so, but nothing that would have enabled me to make the discoveries that I found in that book. I had no idea, for instance, that the surname Raskolnikov, the main character in Crime and Punishment, actually means something like “the one who splits things asunder,” or “schismatic.” (Incidentally, I had also forgotten that his forename is Rodion — my nom de plume for this blog, although I’m not schizophrenic, as was poor Raskolnikov!) I also recall learning that the surname Karamazov, as used in The Brothers Karamazov, means something like “black smear,” and that this smear implies negative qualities, such as sin. It was kind of a revelation for me: Dostoevsky was actually broadcasting the qualities of his characters through their names, both first and last; such details are mostly lost on the foreign and/or uninformed reader.

I’ve spoken about the cloud of blackish grey energy that seems to hover over my wife these days. Actually, it’s been there for the better part of the last six months, but it seems to have gotten steadily worse since the beginning of the year. It was the experience of this darkish cloud that came to me during my morning spiritual practice. I was doing tonglen, which I’ve written about before, and my subject for this meditation more often than not is my wife. I relate directly to the energy of my situation with her, and the situation of her own being. What struck me the most about my experience this morning was the general energetic tone. Sure, there were the emotions, and they were not surprising: I sense that she is feeling guilt and nervousness, and is more than a little fearful, and also is quite tired from everything she has put herself through. But the tone was really interesting. It was like a black smear, a block, or a smudge of incredible negativity. This is the cloud she carries around with her, and that’s what came through. The main difference is that it wasn’t diffuse, it was really kind of solid and heavy. It must really suck to have to lug something like that around with you 24/7. Shortly after wrapping up that session, the name Karamazov popped into my mind, relating directly to that block of darkness. Thus she came to mind as Sister Karamazova.

She had texted me early this morning to say she wanted to make arrangements to collect the dog, but that I shouldn’t drop her off at the house that she was at last week. Well of course, she never moved in there in the first place. She hasn’t been there since last Wednesday, most likely. She had also asked about taxes, so I texted back to tell her that we would need to chat about that. She then texted back to ask when she should call, and my response was vary simple: “You can call me pretty much whenever; if I’m busy it will go to voicemail, but otherwise I’ll always answer if you call.”

Wouldn’t you know she’d call when I was in the restroom? I know, TMI. I checked the voice mail, and her energy was vary odd. She sounded really charged, and not really in a good way. So I called her right back, and I got that same energy when she picked up. I called her by one of the nicknames I have for her, and we started to chat. We discussed the tax situation, and she agreed to sit down with me next week sometime. I told her I had just filed an extension, since I felt it both unwise and unethical to sign the return on her behalf. I don’t have power of attorney, anyway. I made it clear to her that I felt that it would be no different from lying, except in this case it would also be against the law. I told her I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and she did not disagree.

We continued to chat a bit, and she told me that she was indeed at the home of this student of hers; the student’s mother is an acquaintance, but not much more than that, yet she feels comfortable staying there for the night. She thanked me for the picture book I’d mailed her last week, and I told her she was welcome, that I’d seen it and thought she’d like it. I asked her if she had read it at all, and she said she had. Hmmmm, you know, I never thought I could actually detect a lie over the phone, but I could tell from everything about the way she answered that question that she did not have the book in her possession, that she has not seen it yet, and that she certainly has not read it. I didn’t ask anything more about it.

She then brought up the dog, and we arranged a plan for me to drop her off at the acquaintance’s house tomorrow. She told me that she has another session with the “energy worker” tomorrow, and I offered to give her a ride. She declined the offer, and I told her that it really would not be a problem. She said, “I’m not comfortable with that,” to which I said, jokingly, “what, am I some kind of poison?” This caught her a bit off guard, and she said that she is trying very hard not to be dependent on other people, and she really would just prefer to ride the bus. Funny that she doesn’t want to be dependent on me, but being virtually totally dependent on the adulterer is somehow okay. We did come to an arrangement, though, and I’ll be swinging by tomorrow morning to drop off the dog and to take my wife to a nearby bus stop.

An interesting thing happened by the end of our conversation, though. Her whole tone had changed. That sharply edged energy I had heard, which is really a sort of charged, neurotic karma energy, had softened into something far more genuine, open, and positive. I was able to joke around with her and to even get her to revert to a tone of voice I’ve heard almost nothing of for six months now. This is significant. Very significant. I already know that my presence can soothe her demons, but now I also know that the sound of my voice over the phone can do that as well.

I came away from that conversation with a somewhat odd feeling, but I didn’t realize what it was until an hour or two later, and then it struck me: she cannot take much more of this. She is watching her path crumble. She is not finding the happiness she thought would be there. She is almost certainly beginning to realize that the problems are not external, but rather internal. There is no amount of avoidance of or separation from me or others that will change this internal discontent that she harbors. It must be excruciatingly painful. Right now, I’m sure all she’s doing is distracting herself from this existential crisis. But at the end of the day, the crisis is still there, and it’s getting worse. She looks at me and sees that I’m not in any crisis at all, not fundamentally. She looks at the adulterer and sees… well, I don’t know what she sees, but I’m sure that pretty soon she will see nothing more than an adulterer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she is seeing that already. I am beginning to realize that my counselor was right, and that he and I sense the same things because energetically it’s just out there. It’s a meltdown waiting to happen, and it is coming.

And I think it’s coming soon.

Trust

It was another interesting day. My wife and I had arranged to meet today to work on our taxes. Really, this should be priority number one, and in past years I’ve always just taken care of it while she just did whatever she wanted. Generally speaking, I have no problem with that. But this year is different. This year she’s trying to ditch me and walk out on our 7-year marriage, so I’ll take every opportunity I can to connect.

I left fairly early for the grocery store to pick up a few items — a few flowers for the house, some green bananas for my wife, and so on. She texted me while I was there to say that she was waiting for me at a coffee shop not too far from where she is currently staying. This alone speaks volumes to me: she could have just waited for me at the house she’s currently “living” in, but instead she took the opportunity to get out and hang out in a somewhat sterile-looking coffee shop. It was clear to me yesterday that she did not seem to happy with her current living situation, and the fact that she’d leave to go someplace else helps to confirm this suspicion somewhat.

I drove down to the coffee shop and found her sitting at the far end. It’s in a recently built apartment building that hosts a bunch of shops on the ground level. It’s a fairly large space that is a bit austere: concrete floors, functional furniture, but not a whole lot of warmth. It’s not an unfriendly place, but not exactly the kind of place you’d want to spend a lot of time. There are a lot of hard angles and sharp corners. This is one thing if the architectural theme is modern and austere, with cool colors of grey and blue and lots of translucent surfaces, but this place rather incongruously uses dark browns and other colors that are somewhat earthy and rather unfriendly to the place. My wife did not see me as I entered, and I walked all the way up to her before she saw me.

She looked up and smiled. Not just any smile, but a big, warm, very genuine smile. You know, the kind of smile that says “I’m really glad to see you.” I ordered a coffee and sat with her while she Facebooked, or whatever she was doing on her computer. Then we left for the house.

I had bought some bagels yesterday in preparation for this morning, with the idea that we could have breakfast together. Montreal-style bagels, no less. (Please click the link if you don’t know what these are.) No such luck — she ate some banana bread at the coffee shop and wasn’t hungry — but she did eat one of the green bananas I’d bought. I’m sure she notices these details, by the way. You know, that I keep things around the house that she likes, like green bananas. I had my breakfast and let her do more Facebooking, or whatever she was doing on her computer, and changed the flowers in the house. I put some new daffodils in her office, and she thanked me for them.

I just looked at her, and then I kissed her on the cheek. Twice. There were no complaints.

So far, so good. We sat down to start with the taxes by sorting out the receipts from the past year. Then I started to work on the spreadsheet where I could keep track of all these things, and she went off to practice a bit. She came back out after a while, and then suddenly got a phone call. She went into her office to get her phone and then promptly disappeared into the bathroom. You know what that means: it was a call from the adulterer. Guess she had to go hide out so that she could answer it by text. She left her Facebook open on her laptop, by the way, and that laptop was sitting right next to mine. I could see clearly on the screen on her profile page “In a relationship with [adulterer’s name].” Seriously, do these people have no shame? I guess if you’re going to broadcast it to the world, then you might as well just go the whole hog, right? This just means that there will be massive humiliation for her when the affair does come crashing to an end.

From this point on, her energy shifted and things deteriorated somewhat. She had asked me earlier to give her a ride on my way out to work, but now she suddenly decided to take the bus and go shopping. Yeah, right. I do know that she had some students to teach, but I suspect there was nothing more at play than a meet-up with the adulterer. I told her that I would not be done with the taxes before tonight, and that I’d need her signature. She got a bit testy and said that she couldn’t be back until after Monday (well, why the heck not?!) and that I’d just have to sign for her. Yes, that’s right: please go ahead and commit forgery on a government document so that I can commit adultery. This is really how her mind works. She then got ready to leave. That familiar black cloud of dark energy had descended on her and followed her out the door and down the street, much like the cloud of dust followed Pig Pen around in those old Peanuts cartoons.

Heheh… Pig Pen. More like pig sty, if you’d ask me. That’s what she has created for herself, and that’s where she is, wallowing in the filth.

So here’s what I think. It’s clear to me at this point that all the goodwill I have built with my wife over the last 5+ months is still there. I could see that in her smile this morning, and I could feel it in her demeanor and her energy yesterday. It’s also clear to me that she is confused, troubled, and deeply unhappy. This is not riding on the surface, though. It’s repressed and probably comes to the surface every now and then. She doesn’t want to feel guilty about the things she’s doing, even though she knows they’re wrong, and so she’s broadcasting her immorality to the world. Yet at the same time, she has to hide those broadcasts from me. I mean, if you were really so certain of your rectitude, wouldn’t you just not hide anything at all?

Not possible. I make her hide this stuff. She could get the whole world to listen to her and try to convince them that she’s not wrong. But the one person who will not listen is me. I simply will not allow her to breathe a word of it, and that must eat her up inside, day after day. I cannot let her speak of this to me, because I cannot let her clear her conscience and try to legitimize that which it inherently illegitimate. And I’m the one person in the world that she needs to buy into it more than anything else.

How will this all pan out? I have no idea. I mean, I know the affair will end, and I do think at this point that it has the potential to end in a rather spectacular fashion in the very near future. But it’s anyone’s guess if it will. I think she is riding on this line between wanting to maintain the affair and its narrative and having to deal with the fact that she still has feelings for me. I’m clearly the better person in this equation, too. Maybe I cannot offer all the things the adulterer can: a house in the boonies, a sole-proprietorship of a business, or a common spiritual tradition that is probably as geniunely held as an act of cultural graverobbing. But there is at least one thing I can offer that he can’t, and it’s far more powerful: trust.

I was teaching a student this afternoon, a 9-year-old boy with a lot of cognitive and neuromotor issues: ADD, eye tracking problems, short-term memory deficits, and so on. He is a highly intelligent boy, though, and very genuine. I asked him a couple of prompts today to get him to do some conceptual processing, and the second one he chose (at random) was, “What is trust, and how do you know that you can trust someone?” His answer was startlingly insightful and mature. He said (and I paraphrase), “Trust is when someone tells you that they’re going to do something, and they promise to do it, and then they actually do it. When they do this at least a few times, then you know you can trust them. But if they say they’re going to do something and then they don’t do it, then you can’t trust them.”

Wow. Notice that he said “a few times.” That is key.

My wife knows she can trust me. I will not betray her under any circumstances. I will not abandon her, ever. When I promise to do something, I do it. This extends to my marriage vows: I promised to honor and cherish her for the rest of my life, and I’m going to do that. Yet she also knows that she cannot trust the adulterer. He is a liar and a cheat. You cannot trust someone who lies (e.g. to his own daughter, which he did) or who violates other peoples’ trust. He has broken into marriages before, just like he broke into ours, and I see no reason why he wouldn’t do it again.

So yes, the affair will end. And I’ll be here, well positioned, waiting for that to happen.