living underground in the real world

tax day

I just paid my annual income tax.

And my quarterly sales tax.

And my mortgage.

And the mortgage for the land.

And my property taxes.

For home, and for the land.

And my student loans (only 19 more years to go!).

And my kitchen rent.

And my two sets of utilities at the kitchen. (Walk-in fridge + other utilities)

And my utilities at home—the electricity, the oil tank, the propane (it’s complicated.).

And the propane at the kitchen.

And my cell phone bill.

And my home phone + internet bill.

And $1k of chocolate–I’m almost out.

And my annual CSA share.

And (hopefully) the last snow plowing bill ($50 a pop to plow the driveway).

It cost me $50 yesterday to fill my car with gas.

The cats are almost out of food.

The refrigerator is leaking a little, and I can’t figure out why.

The car is a month overdue for an oil change.

I’m about a year overdue for a haircut.

And shit, I think I need to get the water tested again for the kitchen. Every quarter, $200 or so to make sure the water is potable.

I’m sure your list is just about as long. I don’t have a car payment, credit cards, cable bill, medical expenses (knock knock knock knock knock), or kid-related expenses.

So I pay my insane taxes, and I grit my teeth, knowing my tiny business is paying much more, proportionally, than giant corporations with tax lawyers looking for loopholes and lobbying congress until they pay far less than their fair share. That hurts.

But revolution is, as it always is, a job for another day.

Today I’m paying bills, the most anti-revolutionary task imaginable.

Transitional times are hard. I’m in one. If my TV star client hadn’t placed a large-ish order for chocolates this week I would be crying under the table right now. I knew things were going to be tough right about now—post-shutting down the meal delivery, post-Valentine’s, pre-Easter/Passover. And, on top of everything, it looks like ol’ Miss Secret Project is finally [that link will only take you to photos of cupcakes] happening, which means a whole other round of money woes is just about to begin. I’m excited/scared/overjoyed/terrified/can’t wait/can’t stand it.

So I’ve just got to make more. Here’s the thing: if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you probably get paid a salary. I get paid in $15 truffle box increments. Most people I know make money with their brains. If they’re clever, they can make a lot of it. I’m both clever and have a pretty good brain, but my money is directly related to my hands, my legs, my body.

This I like a lot.

It feels honest and sane. It feels timeless and exciting.

As an anarchist, my greatest pleasure is that I own my life: how much money I make is based on how much work I can wring out of my own body. There is no ceiling to my income, since when things are ultra crazy I have the best helpers in the world I can call on. That’s a great feeling. But right now, in between Valentine’s and Easter/Passover, things are pretty slow.

Despite the nervousness, I’m enjoying the slowness. I’m getting some shit done (coming tomorrowish: a dress I half-made!), and I’m deeply thankful for a partner who is making enough money that I don’t have to be too worried, but it sure is a weird way to live when you’re 33.

No health insurance, no savings, useless parents who couldn’t bail me out of a pothole in the road, no safety net.

Only making money because I don’t count my own labor as an expense.

Talk about working class.

But I’m clean. No tax lawyers ensuring I weasel out of paying my taxes, no lobbyists working to ensure my industry is unregulated. Today I’m pretending, as I’m so good at doing, that keeping myself clean somehow makes society cleaner as well. That perfecting my business means perfecting the world.

And anyway, usually the careful work of balancing $15 boxes sold and $300 electricity bills paid works out. But soon I’ll need a little more on the black side of the balance sheet. My business has grown in the tiniest steps imaginable for the past nine years, but this year I’m pushing it to grow a lot. I’m not so good at that, but it’s good to stretch a little.

The question I’m trying to answer with my life is this:

Is it possible for a single person to make enough with her own labor (since I shut down the meal delivery, I’ve been working solo) to live a healthy, middle-class life in America today?

The answer is obviously no, unless I were to market my chocolates to a much more upscale crowd that I currently do or were to start making some insane luxury items that appealed to a cult audience and commanded hundreds of dollars.

People do things like that.

I sell $15 chocolate boxes.

I like selling $15 chocolate boxes. But without Jacob I wouldn’t own a house, I wouldn’t have bought the land. And the same is true for him. Love shouldn’t be a capitalist concern, but the truth is of course that us being together sure does make things easier.

But oh well. I’m a silly woman, doing an old-fashioned job in a world that is seemingly falling apart all around me. There are earthquakes and tsunamis and not 200 feet from the cafe I’m sitting in, the main artery in my tiny town is flooded and my bestest girlfriend is stuck at home, floodwaters on either side that will hopefully recede today, but maybe not. Jacob’s mother-in-law in Hawaii couldn’t go to work yesterday because a tiny tsunami flooded her commute.

Springtime in Upstate New York.

Earthquake season in Japan.

Tsunamis on Kaua’i.

I’m just me.

I’ve got to keep my head down and keep pushing, keep chipping away at my little corner of the world until it looks exactly like my own version of revolution. What other option do I have?

Life is really hard for all of us, not so hard for me comparatively at all.

I’ve got some amazing chocolates planned for April.

Keepin’ on keepin’ on.

10 Responses to “tax day”

  1. Jordan

    I think your wrong about your money only being your hands/body.. I think the feminist chocolate line is brilliant!
    Are you taking credit card orders over phone yet? Whats the number again? I have been waiting for a reason to spoil Me with your chocolates!

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Thanks for the compliment!
      For reals though, this post wasn’t a beg for orders! :)
      That said, yep, credit cards over the phone are no problem, and the number is 845-255-8VEG.

      Reply
  2. hannah

    This resonated with me. Feeling the pressure, yet also managing to feel grateful for what you have. Taking some needed time off, appreciating it to the ‘enth’ knowing you’ll be out there again, soon enough, face to the wind. If I didn’t live in another country, I’d try to scrounge up the change for a box of your chocolates. Instead I’ll have to settle for best wishes!

    Reply
  3. Jen

    I spent a lot of time dealing with my taxes today and then being angry about how owners of tiny awesome businesses get screwed while giant corporations get all kinds of loopholes, so I enjoyed reading this. Nice to know I’m in good company, I guess?

    Reply
  4. msredmond@aol.com

    Hi, I am a vegan baker in the Uk and recently started up a bakery from home and your blog makes so much sense to me! Thankyou! It is lovely to hear of someone in the same boat as me trying to run a small business and only being able to do as much work as one person can do! my blog is http://www.deerlybelovedbakery.blogspot.com
    Keep up the good work,
    Kayleigh

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Hey! Thanks for getting in touch–what an adorable blog!! I love it!

      Reply

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