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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sometimes The Light's All Shining On Me
Other Times I Can Barely See

Yes, yes, I know. I've been decidedly absent from the blogosphere lately, but I've got a good excuse - well, two actually. Okay, maybe three. Or four. Anyway excuses. Lots and lots of good excuses.

Excuse #1: Work

Things have been busy around the office. I mean BIZ-EE. We just completed our annual audit, and as de facto office manager and bookkeeper, it was my job to deal with the auditor; answer questions (to the best of my rather limited ability - I told them I wasn't an accountant during my interviews, and they hired me anyway, so it's not like they weren't warned in advance); fetch invoices and bank statements and receipts out of dark, dank drawers; scour through virtual reams of checking account and credit card transactions; nod my head in blind impotence as the auditor tries to explain the finer points of the arcane and completely incomprehensible alchemic methodology otherwise known as "double-entry accounting".

You know that sort of not-quite-migraine headache you get from staring at the TV or your computer screen too long? Imagine that same pain starting at about 10:00 a.m. and continuing until roughly 4:30 p.m. three days a week for a month. A pain that even exceeding the recommended daily dosage of Ibuprofin is unable to relieve.

Our Receptionist/Freelance Coordinator (everyone wears multiple hats in our office) just dropped the concrete block-sized final report on my desk a few moments ago. No doubt it contains terse, slightly condescending comments pointing up my sheer incompetence in the area of financial oversight; allusions to the shame I've brought upon the noble profession of Accounting; and dire warnings to all concerned that, in future, I should not be allowed within 30 feet of any version of QuickBooks.

Either that, or it says something to the effect of, "while not every "t" has been crossed nor "i" dotted, in general the bookkeeping here isn't any more or less horrible than what we would expect from such a rank amateur, and therefore in our sanguine judgement you should not jail this individual for fraud, larceny, embezzlement or any of the other crimes and misdemeanors we would normally recommend for such shoddy record-keeping".

Or maybe it just says, "Yeah, we looked at all the records. They're a little sloppy, but that's what we expected, so cut 'em a break, okay?"

I really hope it's the last one.

Excuse #2: Tax Season

As if all that weren't stressful enough, I'm currently smack-dab up to my eyeballs in my annual volunteer income tax assistance program. And so far, it's been one of the busiest seasons since I've been doing it. With a little less than two weeks to go, we've been booked solid on all our appointments; I personally have prepared close to 20 returns; and as Site Coordinator, I've had the added pleasure of dealing with the IRS bureaucracy.

Such fun, no?

Last Saturday we had a scheduled site visit by the Regional Coordinator. I'd previously only communicated with this person via email, and so had absolutely no idea what to expect. And given my recent experience with the auditor, I was expecting the worst.

Fortunately, my trepidation was groundless: she was very pleasant, exceedingly down-to-earth, and genuinely interested in our rather unique service. Doing taxes for artists definitely falls outside of the mainstream of her normal purvue, which consists almost exclusively of sites specializing in tax services to low-income and elderly/retired clients. Interestingly, she pointed out that we are actually one of the largest sites in the entire Puget Sound region in terms of number of returns filed and individuals served. And she wasn't terribly upset by the fact that we were providing additional services not normally covered by our program mandate (e.g. Schedule C's, IRA investments, etc.), since we clearly seemed to know our business. So, all-in-all a rather painless experience.

Now, I just have to get through the next two weeks before the filing deadline, when people tend to become increasingly nervous and desperate.

At least some of them think to bring the cookies, which helps a bit when dealing with panic-stricken taxpayers.

Excuse #3: The Theatre

I haven't had a full day off in over a month. Monday through Friday, it's the job; Saturdays and Monday evenings is the taxes; Sundays have been devoted to putting the not-even-close-to-finishing-touches on our teensy little theatre space. But, I must say, the progress has been steady and we're close to completion of the first phase, which will result in a functional, aesthetically pleasing 40-seat venue. Next phase will be working on the adjoining amenities: sprucing up the dressing room, getting the storage room in order, turning the currently bare-bones "gallery" into a swanky lounge/lobby, and other sundry projects that no doubt will occur to us in the meantime.

It's pretty amazing how much work has been involved in accomplishing the transformation of a 20'x40' empty box into a functional theatre: pipes hung from the ceiling to hold lighting instruments; wiring and conduit to run power to them; replacing heaters; building a tech booth; laying down flooring; UV coating windows; removing aged accoustical tiling and horrid window blinds; scrounging up chairs and platforms upon which to put them (not all of this work was done by us, mind you - sometimes you just have to hire professionals if you want something done right - and up to City code); moving boxes and bags and bins from one storage location to another - and them moving them again.

Still, all the time, energy and effort is paying off: we had our first public performance (a staged reading of some classic works from the French "Grand Guignol" theatre of the early 20th Century) last night (I of course was unable to attend - See Excuse #2 above), but am looking forward to seeing it tonight.

And then there was last weekend's slumber party. Somebody thought it would be a fun idea to have a sleepover in the space, so about a dozen of the stalwarts showed up with the requisite sleeping bags, popcorn, cheesey DVD's, and of course P.J.'s and had a little party until the wee hours, then were treated to a buffet breakfast, courtesy of our new neighbors, the yummy, yummy Crave Restaurant, before holding a monthly company meeting, followed by a reading of a play to cap off the weekend.

Excuse #4: Everything Else

No need to elaborate here, sometimes life just takes precedence over blogging, as it should.

So, there. I've run out of excuses. Good thing too, since you've probably become bored silly reading about them (assuming you've made it this far). But, at least you've got some small inkling of the most recent escapades.

Long, strange trip indeed.

Posted byCOMTE on 11:12 AM

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