Nostalgia by Numbers

I started, tried, and gave up on, doing my own taxes this year. Too much thinking, too many little scraps of paper, too few rubber bands, certainly not enough desk space. After several hours on Turbo Tax, broken occasionally by cigarettes, a game of tennis at the Prospect Park bubble, a Corona, and more cigarettes, I gathered receipts and bills and all the rest and put them back into the tin Ikea box and called it quits. The many fine rewards of freelancing are paid for in part by the nightmare of filing your 1040, 8829, 203-IT, and enough itemized deductions to make your fingers bleed (if you’re lucky).

I went through receipts and credit card bills for all of last year, and it was unnerving. Like reading over a year’s worth of e-mails or web-site posts or whatnot. All of 2003 was spread out before me in the sparse language of dollars and cents: invoices, payments received, unemployment checks, dinner receipts, equipment repairs.

I spent $27.82 for a lunch Bonita Diner in Williamsburg. It was March 27th but a splendidly warm day. I was wearing my one and only good suit, a charcoal grey laser-cut Dolce & Gabana number that my mom had bought as a sample. I remember walking through the air of smug weekday Williamsburg hipness, self-conscious in my yuppie garb. But I was somewhat smug myself since I had undoubtedly cashed an unemployment check sometime that week.

On November 11th I bought Chris, who wanted help on a furniture website, a $6.00 glass of Bollini Pinot Grigio at Art Bar. We were both depressed and floundering. His mother had died, and his finances were a disaster. We had eaten at Tortilla Flats earlier, which ended in some minor drama among our other friends. A cruel winter was just around the corner.

I put a $95.00 dinner on my Visa at Starfood (incredibly overpriced, but tasty) in the East Village on September 26th when I begged John to design a website for a project I had taken on. I was drowning in work after I had spent the first six months of the year walking everywhere to save on subway fare and kill time.

I spent $25.32 at Sam Flax in midtown after an interview with a PR firm that went spectacularly well. I realized afterwards that if I wanted people to pay me more I should present my work in folders that hadn’t been with me since college. I was again in my Dolce & Gabana suit. It was April and I couldn’t wait to tell my boyfriend the good news. We were to break up a few weeks later, and I would subsequently have a total emotional meltdown.

I spent $349 with him the previous January 27th when we bought a new mattress at Ikea in Elizabeth New Jersey. It was most likely the coldest day of the year, and we narrowly avoided frostbite strapping the thing on the roof of his car. On the Polanski Skyway, the wind was blowing under it so much it looked as if the entire car would be lifted off the road into the Hudson River. The mattress I was replacing was so old and cheap I could feel the coils invading my dreams. That and I wanted to get rid of the years of chi that it had collected and start fresh with him.

Just a few weeks ago I returned that mattress to Ikea. It was sagging terribly. I had taken to sleeping curled tight up against the wall where the mattress was still firm. I remembered that’s how I would sleep as a kid every night, the wall giving me this strange comfort. I exchanged it with the same model this time around, not wanting to invest the time or money on anything else. And once again I needed new chi.

All this receipt-induced nostalgia coupled with Valentine’s Day made it a pretty crummy weekend. Single and severely pre-menstrual I cried during the Prom scene in She’s All That, which was playing on the Superstation yesterday morning. You can only imagine the waterworks I had in store when Philadelphia (which I had never seen) came on a few hours later. Luckily some friends dragged me out of my gloom for red wine and arguments about the new Nets stadium.

The only good thing about a crummy weekend is that it makes me look forward to going into the office. Am I actually sorry it’s closed tomorrow?

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