Making time

I certainly don’t have any super powers when it comes to time management but I do my best. Every moment of every day I’m doing whatever I can do. Sometimes that is more than other times. Sometimes it’s simply different things than I can do at other times. Sometimes is more than one thing at a time; although I usually find that multi-talking causes more problems than it solves. I just can’t stand sitting around or waiting. I’ve tried being more structured and scheduled in my activities but that doesn’t really work for me; I never know what I’ll be up for from moment to moment. All I can do is make the most of each one and call that, “as good as it’s gonna get”.

Through this process some things do fall by the wayside. Sometimes this means that opportunities get lost and sometimes it means that consequences get compounded but no one said life was perfect. Most of the time I find that life carries on just fine, even if it is a bit flawed.

Of course there are some things that really do have to get done no matter what. Yes, we all need to eat, sleep and shit, three things that seem to be a constant distraction from what I really want to be doing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about bullshit administrative tasks that if they are not taken care of will cause everything else to fall apart.

In this case, I’m referring to my issue with the IRS. I know I’ve mentioned it before but here is a little recap and update. I electronically filed my tax return in February. In March I received a letter from the IRS stating that they needed more information from me and to call their toll-free number. After two hours on hold and an hour long discussion I finally got this matter resolved, or so I thought. They said my refund would be delayed another 6 weeks but I still haven’t received it. Adding to this problem is that my son’s financial aid application also got flagged and so needed additional verification. Specifically, they needed my 2012 IRS transcript which doesn’t exist because the IRS has not processed my return yet. I’ve tried several times to get someone from the IRS on the phone with no luck.

I was telling my parents about this last week, expressing my frustration with government agency incompetence and unnecessary policies which do nothing but compound the problems of an already troubled system. Their response was that I needed to take care of this. Right?!? Like I don’t have enough problems of my own without trying to fix the government’s fuck up.

“I don’t have time for that!”

To which they said, “Make time.”

Make time, huh? That is a fascinating concept. What if we could just make time? We have all these devices that are suppose to “save” us time,  not that I’m sure any of them really do, but what if we could actually “make” time. Now that would be awesome. It could be something like a bread maker; throw in a packet of magical time dust, add some water, a couple golden eggs and an hour later you get an hour of time that didn’t exist before. Wouldn’t that be nifty!

Failing in my attempts to make time I resorted to waiting for a moment to arrive in which I could actually do something about this little IRS kerfuffle. That day was yesterday. I had some time to kill while my daughter was at her summer camp so I spent the day downtown harassing government agencies for not doing their job. Oh, I was nice about it but I was insistent and persuasive. It’s funny how tactics that don’t work at all when hitting on a bartender or waitress will work wonders when dealing with government bureaucrats. Even so, the IRS is still going to take 6 to 8 weeks… fuckers!

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To the limit

I receive a lot of commentary about the way I live my life. Perhaps everybody does. It seems to be in our nature to give advice to others and share our insight about how they could be living their life better. Without a doubt, my life is a struggle and it is my daily goal to find ways to make it work better so I welcome their input even if sometimes I wish that they would focus on their own life; even if there is hardly an issue I haven’t already addressed, I do have blind spots and they can sometimes offer a fresh perspective.

One critique that I seem to get fairly often is that I don’t have healthy boundaries.  Sometimes this comes up when actions I take make another person uncomfortable because I am pushing their boundaries. Hey, that’s what boundaries are for, to indicate when you are reaching the limits of your comfort zone so that you can react BEFORE going into a panic. Boundaries are going to be pushed. But they are are not universal and everyone’s comfort zone is different. Sometimes the critique comes from the belief that I am too open, too free, too trusting and that may be true but open, free and trusting is something that I aspire to be.

The truth is that I do have boundaries, I just have as few as I can get away with. The truth is that I do respect other people’s boundaries but I am probably going to push them from time to time, especially if they have not communicated clearly. Boundaries are products of fear. Respecting them may be an act of love but establishing them comes from fear. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. Boundaries are like a demilitarized zone that keeps two formerly warring states safe from each other.  Establishing a boundary is like putting up a fence on the approach to a cliff that keeps people from falling to their death. These are good ideas.

My point is that boundaries are different than limits. Limits are real. Limits are not arbitrary and exist whether you establish them or not. Limits are like military conflict or falling off a cliff. To be clear, speed limits, by my definition, are boundaries not limits.

I have always been one to push my life to the limit. I want to see just how far I can take things. I find that the most interesting discoveries are made between the fence and the cliff.  I believe that my life gets better not by creating stronger boundaries but by extending my limits, by pushing myself beyond what is safe and forcing myself to become stronger. How can I feel like I am living life to the fullest if I know that I can do more?

This method of living is not without consequences. This past week has really seen me test my limits. As I am sitting here writing this I am frustrated, irritable, and in a lot of physical pain.  It would be one thing if all this pushing myself to the limit was of my own volition but that is rarely the case. There are always factors beyond my control which contribute to me pushing myself to the breaking point.

A big source of unnecessary stress this week has been dealing with the University of Morris over my son’s financial aid and work study eligibility. My son absolutely qualifies and we did everything that we were suppose to do in applying for the program but his application got “flagged” for further verification.  The verification that they need is information from the IRS about my tax return. I filed my tax return in March but it also got “flagged” for further verification. This has delayed the processing of my return to this date. We can’t get the verification needed from the IRS because they have not processed my return yet. Nothing is going to change regarding my son’s eligibility by this bullshit, unnecessary added verification. The school knows this and believes me but are unable to take me at my word and will only accept the word of the IRS. Personally, I think that I am a lot more trustworthy than the IRS but apparently that doesn’t count for anything these days.

So I’m going to search through my bag of papers to be shredded (good thing I’m not on top of shredding papers) and try to find something from the IRS stating that my return was being delayed. Then I’m going to go rent a lawn mower so that I can mow my lawn because the grass is now too long to do with my push mower. Hopefully I won’t throw my back out. It has been killing me since delivering the big Summer edition of City Pages on Wednesday… well actually since delivering the Best Of edition over a month ago.

Perhaps if I had better boundaries I wouldn’t find myself in this position so ofter. If I created more of a buffer I would be able to better handle these unexpected circumstances. The problem with that is that it would mean cutting out some of the things that I love doing; the things that give my life meaning and purpose. Also, when you have come back from a place where just getting off the couch to go to the bathroom is a struggle, setting artificial limits seems like a step backwards. At least when I hit my limit, I KNOW that I am doing the best I can.

This is big

This is a big deal and I need your help. The art world is under attack. Creative people are under attack. This is nothing new, I’m aware. Society is always scared of new and original ideas. That may not be a bad thing. Some new ideas suck bat turds.

But this is America. We have the First Amendment which protects our right to speak out, to be original and to dissent. The First Amendment supports art. I don’t mind if the American people don’t like my art but the Government is trying to destroy artists. I have a problem with that.

THIS IS BIG! and we can’t let it happen.

We’ve all heard of the starving artist. The fact is that it is very difficult to make a living creating art. Most of us have to finance our own art. Some go in debt, some work odd jobs, but for all of us, being an artist is our main occupation. We write off our expenses of being an artist just like any business would. We all hope that we will make a living off of our art even if the reality is that we never will. We are not doing it as a hobby, we are doing it for the betterment of humankind. Of course we think that has value. It’s not our fault the current economic model doesn’t have a place for us. We still matter.

But we are in a time of recession. The country is hurting financially.  We can’t tax the rich because they have too much power. So who are we going to throw under the bus? I’m here to tell you that it is the artists.

This is a really bad idea. You want to talk about who the job creators are? They are the creative people. They are the risk takers. They are the originals. They are the artists. If we want jobs we need to stick by them. We can’t lay down and let the bus run over them. We need to get on that bus and sit right up front.

We have our ROSA PARKS!

Hi/r name is Venus DeMars!

S/he is one of the most brilliant artists of our time. I’m not just saying that because I play in hi/r band; I play in hi/r band because s/he is one of the most brilliant artists of our time.

Hi/r wife, Lynette Reini-Grandell is a brilliant poet and writer and educator. The two of them are being told by the Minnesota Department of Revenue that their life paths are invalid.

Pretty much every dollar they make they spend making the world a better place but because they don’t make a profit the government wants to shut down their artistic careers and prevent them from doing all the good they do. Making art is expensive. Building a career is expensive. Both of these artists work very hard and both generate significant income from their art, just not quite as much as they spend to produce and promote it. That is not uncommon in the art world. It’s also not illegal for a business to lose money.

Maybe you don’t care about them. Maybe you have no fucking idea who they are, but if you care about me, if you care about any other artist anywhere please read their story and share it with your friends. This could happen to any one of us. It does.

What is happening can not go on in silence. I still believe in the First Amendment. I still believe in the power of the people. I still believe that our voices need to be heard. It’s time to rise up and let the government know that we NEED ART!

Please read and follow Venus’ blog

Please read and share Jim Walsh’s article on MinnPost.

Please read and please repost. If there is more you can do, please do that. This is going to take a movement. We can’t lose the arts!

How did I get here?

… waking up before 8 am on a Thursday morning with a half drank beer on my nightstand and four days worth of blogging to catch up on.

I didn’t mean to go to bed so early last night. It would have been nice to get some writing done but I was exhausted when I got home from work. I didn’t get home until 9:30 pm, much later than usual. That’s because I had met a dear old friend for diner after work. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity since I hadn’t seen her in far too long. We live in different cities but as it turned out yesterday we both found ourselves in Lakeville at the same time.

You see, I was running late after over-sleeping. I had been up drinking and talking on the phone until 3 am the night before. That was actually my second two hour phone conversation of the night. All that after spending two hours and forty-five minutes, mostly on hold, dealing with the IRS to prove that I am who I say I am so that I could get my tax refund. It was while I listening to the same 60-second hold music loop over and over again that I first decided to crack a beer.

After dropping off my daughter at her mother’s and picking up some things I needed from Target I returned home to find a cryptic 4883C letter from the IRS telling me that they needed more information to process my return accurately. A quick Google search gave me a little more information about this leter and let me know that I would probably be on hold for a very long time. I’m all for fighting identity theft so I really felt for the woman at the other end of the phone. She has a challenging job to do and probably deals with a lot of stressed out and irritated people.

Earlier that day I played Monopoly with my daughter. Monopoly is an evil game and I hate that I am so good at it. This was even more evil. It was the Star Wars edition. My daughter chose the Princess Lea piece so being her father I had to choose Darth Vader. I would rather have been C-3PO. He’s so gay. I think my daughter enjoyed the game but I took no pleasure in taking all of her money. At least it wasn’t real money. They were imperial credits after all.

When daughter got up Tuesday morning we called my son, her brother, to wish him happy birthday. We had meant to do this the night since that would have been his actually birthday but we got distracted. Pretty shitty, huh?

Monday had been a long day of running around. I had taken my daughter to her therapy appointment. Yes, even my amazing daughter can benefit from therapy. I just wish that her therapist was closer to either her mother’s apartment of my house. But no, my daughter lives in a third ring northern suburb and the therapist is in a third ring southern suburb. That was not my idea.

Before that I had to pickup materials from one of my delivery clients. We had arranged to meet in south Minneapolis so it was fortunate that I woke up in south Minneapolis. How did that happen?

Oh yeah… Sunday! Sunday was a fun day as Sundays are meant to be. It ended at the 19 bar as many nights do when I’m hanging out with my bff. We arrived at the bar by Pedi-taxi. I totally want to do that. I’ve been trying to figure out what other kind of work I could do to make money and I think biking people around downtown would be right up my alley. We were coming from a fund raiser at Hell’s Kitchen for one of my Harmony Park Kiddie Village friends who is raising money to be a Student Ambassador in the UK.

Before that we had a lovely diner at Cafe Maude in Loring Park. Neither of us had ever eaten there and my bff wanted to take me out after I took her to the Opera. We saw Hamlet; so many murders that day, not to mention the huge murder of crows in Loring Park.

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