Things I learned from 8-year-old boys on Thursday morning


“I need a peachy color,” he says.

“You can make peach if you pencil really lightly with pink and orange,” I answer.  And it occurs to me that somewhere along the line I learned about mixing colors, but he hasn’t yet.  How many millions of things do we take for granted now, so much so that we can’t remember a time when we didn’t know them?

“Will it be dark enough?” he says.

“It will be once you put the second layer of color on it,” I say.

“Hey! That works!” he says, and I feel so proud, as if I’ve explained cold fusion to him.


The longest half hour of your life could be sitting side-by-side with an 8-year-old boy who has recently learned to burp at will.  The longest and the grossest. Oh, he claims it’s his breakfast disagreeing with him, but I inform him that I, too, was once 8 years old, and I know the difference between an involuntary eruption and a forced one.  It’s a skill I once possessed, truth be told, but like many skills, you gotta use it or lose it.  (I think I’d be pretty disappointed in myself if I had kept it up.)

Also, apparently it’s cool to only excuse yourself once every 5 burps, and then only when your reading tutor gives you the stinkeye and clears her throat pointedly.


According to my source, the time before there were dinosaurs was the time of dragons.



According to that same source, time travel is not only possible, but feasible.  He’s pretty sure a person can build a time machine.


You can’t start sentences with “And.”  And while that’s not actually true, I was simultaneously surprised and not that that old chestnut is still being passed on to children.  I debated explaining it, but I figured my second-grader wasn’t really up for a discussion of linguistic history and habit, and my second-grader’s teacher would not appreciate my meddling in the boundaries that are probably more useful than harmful for a beginning writer.


There is little that compares to receiving an entirely unexpected hug from a little boy whom you didn’t think you were reaching at all and who has seemed indifferent to the entire venture you’re engaged in.

How to do your taxes


In my younger days, I started working on my taxes almost as soon as I received my W-2s.  And then one year rolled around where I’d started a new job and took all my allowed exemptions without really thinking too hard about it, and found myself with a big tax bill come the following spring that I had to put on a credit card.  Pretty much from that time, I’ve waited until late in the tax season to do my return.  If I’m going to have to write the government a check, I’d just as soon do it at the last minute.  But it’s been a busy few months, between projects, tutoring, my dad, and music, and April 11th is pretty late to get started, even for me.  Getting the taxes done was my sole goal for the day, and I wanted to share with you my most excellent process in case you, too, are hanging on until the last minute.  Nothing fixes procrastination like more procrastination:

8:33 a.m.  Think about getting started right away on taxes, and decide to go back to bed anyway.  Before I lie down, laptop placed on the desk on which I will work on the taxes.  That’s a start, right?

9:04 a.m. Decide I’m not going to fall back to sleep.  Too much thinking about the stuff I have to do, and too hungry.  Grab phone.

9:44 a.m. Finish farting around on phone and decide to shower.

9:45 a.m. Skin check in mirror.  Plucking eyebrows suddenly becomes a priority.

9:48 a.m. Get in shower.

10:00 a.m. Get out of shower to look for shaving cream.

10:00:30 a.m. Get out of bathroom to look for travel bag shaving cream because I’m out.

10:19 a.m. Finish shower.

10:20 a.m. Update this ultracompelling live blog.

10:22 a.m. Check Facebook and email while I’m on the computer.  Open several tabs of stuff I’ll read later.

10:28 a.m. Stomach growling.  Step away from the computer to get dressed and do my hair.  Got a gig tonight.

10:40 a.m. Go to secretary desk to get tax documents.  Realize that I will now have to sort through the pile I’ve slowly created inside the desk by cleverly opening the door half-way and throwing stuff in, hoping elves would take care of it.  Fucking slacker elves.

10:45 a.m. Pile sorted.  New smaller pile of tax-related crap that may or may not be for the 2013 tax year.

10:46 a.m. Make toast.  Cinnamon-raisin toast, if you must know.  Smells heavenly.

10:47 a.m. Resist the temptation of watching the Scandal episode I recorded last night while eating toast.

10:50 a.m.  Where’s my iPod?  I can’t do taxes without tunes!

10:53 a.m. iPod playing, starting, naturally, with The Beatles’ Revolver album, because the first song on that album is “Taxman.”

10:53:30 a.m. Marvel at how many commas I loaded the previous sentence with.  Could be a personal best!

11:06 a.m. Eat toast while sorting smaller pile into even smaller 2013 and 2014 piles.

11:07 a.m. Little blue light on phone is flashing, and like Pavlov’s dog, I must see who contacted me and read email RIGHT NOW, because I’m mentally feeble and cannot resist.

11:15 a.m. Stop to research what, if any, veterinary expenses, are tax deductible.  Ponder getting Rocky a service dog vest so his ear drops will be magically morphed into legitimate deductible expenses.

11:28 a.m. Finally fire up TurboTax.

11:28:30 a.m. Make more toast.  Decide the last batch was a little overcrisp, and turn the dial from 4 to 3.5 dots.  Who knew that the international standard unit of measurement for toast doneness was dots?

11:33 a.m. Right.  Taxes.  Starting.

11:34 a.m. TurboTax remembers me!  Yay!  And I save $40 this year because I don’t have a business this year.  Thank dog.

11:53 a.m. Soda break.  Getting up from desk reminds me why I’m retired; my back is already stiff after just one hour sitting in an office chair.

1:03 p.m. While tallying medical expenses, discover that it costs me nearly $6K a year just to remain upright and reasonably functional via chiropractic and MFR.  Shit, that’s depressing.

1:27 p.m. Facebook break because I finished the deductions section!  Or rather, I’m waiting to hear from Scott whether he bought glasses last year so I can get one more deduction in.  Will realize later when Scott finally gets back to me that I totally spaced the fact that I was waiting on him for glasses info and filed without it.

1:28 p.m. No Facebook break is complete without checking email as well.  Discover in my email that someone named Eric Hansen is playing at Lovin’ Spoonfuls tonight from 6-8.  That’s funny, because I’M playing at Lovin’ Spoonfuls tonight from 6-8.  But my name isn’t Eric Hansen.

1:30 p.m. Phone calls ensue.  As do Facebook event updates.  As does the lamentation that I’m having an excellent hair day and there’s no one to see it except the dogs, and they are honey-badger-like in their indifference.

1:53 p.m. Discover after 2 hours of tallying receipts, I’m better off with the Standard Federal Deduction.  Le sigh.

2:10 p.m. FILED, and done! Time to celebrate with lunch, and maybe that nap I didn’t get earlier.  And Scandal.