There comes a time in every self-employed person's life when you realize all that pretty, pretty money isn't really yours to keep forever. Because the government wants its cut and, come April, it will collect. This brutal revelation should have hit me sometime in late 2010 but, since I'm the first to admit that I don't understand money, especially the way that it can just sit there in a bank vault and magically become more money, my realization was delayed until about two weeks ago. When my accountant told me what quarterly taxes really meant and how much cash I should have on hand, just in case.
"Quarterly taxes" and "just in case" are now officially my two least favorite phrases in the English language. Trailed by "Sorry, we're out of salted caramel" and "We need to talk." Hey, at least talk is cheap.
Anyway, my accountant mentioned a number and I died, people. Collapsed on the cold floor, sightless eyes trained on an unfeeling ceiling. Dead. I didn't stay dead because the dog informed me in no uncertain terms that my death interfered with his dinner. So I fed the dog. Then I created a rigid budget spreadsheet I lovingly labeled Dear IRS: Please Don't Break My Legs.
Despite totally blowing my budget on the very first day (sheriff rooster was worth it) and deciding to move at the same time I'm paying the government, I should be okay. I won't even be that hungry because beans are cheap and, let's be real here, I eat too much anyway.
Another thing I don't understand about money: Whenever I realize I need a certain sum by a certain time, I always manage to have it. Next goal: utilize this talent for things like trips to tropical islands. Don't waste your financial superpowers on the government, Amber.
So I have a plan and a budget and things should sort themselves out nicely as long as I don't need a root canal or suddenly remember an old mafia debt when a ham-shaped man named Frankie pounds on my front door with a wrench to remind me.
No Frankies or root canals have appeared, so I let myself be lulled into complacency.
Until last weekend, when I spent a day in the hammock plowing through The Hunger Games. Suddenly all I wanted in life - more than the smugness that follows being a real adult with a real budget, more than easily handing the IRS a check for thousands of dollars, more than moving into an apartment by the beach - is to go see the movie.
BUT THERE'S NO DESIGNATED HUNGER GAMES COLUMN IN MY SPREADSHEET.
I can't stray from the budget because that would be admitting defeat. And I get so much joy out of seeing how I can shift my habits to make those numbers add up. Yet I must see this movie on the big screen. Oh, how cruel life can be.
While pacing dramatically, I noticed a small bowl. A bowl I never gave a second thought until it suddenly becomes the gateway to fulfilling my deep, dark longing to watch teenagers fight to the death in an arena while I eat popcorn and wonder if I should take up archery.
WHO WINS THE HUNGER GAMES NOW, SPREADSHEET?