so, as you might have heard, i recently settled a little debate between the irs and me regarding whether or not i had in fact filed my 2003 tax return. (me: of course i have, i always file my taxes, and your stupid electronic system’s braindamage is not my problem. them: oh yes it is, sweetcheeks.) part of the problem was that i would have just redone the goddamn taxes from scratch (having long since lost my TurboTax 2003 disk) except for the minor problem of having mislaid my file folder of tax papers for tax year 2003.

now, as you may or may not recall, in early 2004, i was busily looking for a new apartment, signing papers for one, finding money to pay for the move, packing, and, finally, moving. i in fact moved in april of 2004. i filed my taxes electronically on the morning of april 15 — i recall, because i had insomnia that night, so i gave up on sleep at around 2AM, then got up and did my taxes. (really, you’d think the taxes would have put me back to sleep, but nooooo.) it actually worked out to my benefit, because of course the evening of april 15, everyone’s servers exploded due to those who procrastinated ever so slightly more than i. (not that i hadn’t planned to do my taxes that evening. it was just that, with the insomnia and all, i had nothing better to do than my taxes.) after that, the tax information got packed — i remembered very distinctly putting it someplace specific so that i wouldn’t lose it, in case i needed it. it is to this day a mystery why i didn’t leave it with all my other goddamn files of back tax years.

i never did find that goddamn folder, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the one year i ever had an issue with my taxes?

fast forward a couple of years, and the irs is getting ever more cranky about this strange gap in my taxpaying history, and i cannot find that file. i mean, it’s the file folder with everything — W2s, 1099s, mortgage interest statements, donation receipts, everything. it’s the file. and i have no clue, none — for years running, i have no idea! — what i did with it, despite having made a point to put it some place i wouldn’t lose it. in the end, i started running down the list of everybody i can remember, trying to get duplicate papers for everything — which is a pain in the ass, because you try remembering everyone you might have done tax-related business with five years ago. in the end, i actually stooped to calling the irs (which, honestly, should probably have been step #1, but since i am Denial Girl, step #1 was, well, denial), and the nice lady said “oh, do you still have a copy of your 1040? just send it to us, don’t worry about the rest — everybody sends us your W2 and 1099s anyways.” and since i had filed electronically and had saved myself a PDF — like i always do — i did in fact still have my 1040 (and nothing else).

so i mailed it in, and now, three months later, i’m all good. denial is really, i must admit, an ineffectual approach to this sort of situation. oh well.

but now we come to the life lesson part of the story.

you ever have something in your house that you know what’s in it, you don’t have to look? i mean, you’re quite sure what’s in it, and you don’t have to deal with that (nor do you want to), so you’re not even going to open it?

so i was cleaning my office this afternoon, because frankly it was a fucking mess, and it got so bad i couldn’t stand it anymore (chiefly driven by my attempt to start cleaning yesterday afternoon, which in fact resulted in increased mess), so i went through every bit of paper i had been piling up for a rainy day, shredded everything that looked interesting, pitched every single envelope, sorted the rest, pitched a bunch more crap i didn’t care about, shredded some more stuff, generated a huge trash bag of ripped-open envelopes and the stupid inserts they put in your electric bill and another huge bag full of shredded goodness, and as i was transferring some files from my filing cabinet into a filing box i’d newly emptied of piled-up old mail i didn’t care about in 2006 and sure-hell didn’t care about now, i noticed a banker’s envelope leaning against my bookshelf. now, this envelope was full of correspondance, from a while ago — i’d briefly enjoyed some cross-Atlantic penpal chatter after having been bored one day and putting a penpal ad in SFX magazine, which to this day remains the one and only magazine to which i have ever subscribed which enjoys the privilege of my actually reading every single issue as soon as it arrived, though i digress — and we’d all long since quit writing. by ‘long since,’ i mean, since i lived in hyde park. where i moved out of in early 2004. i thought to myself, well, i’m throwing shit out, i might as well dump that shit. so i unwrapped the closure on the folder, and sure enough, piles of letters and unused airmail envelopes inside, … along with a bright red hanging file folder.

i always store all my tax files in bright red hanging file folders.

yes kids, after four long years of searching, in two different apartments, and after having finally gotten the goddamn mess figured out with the IRS, i have finally got my 2003 tax folder back.

and that is why you should always obey the two year rule, because if you don’t, you assume you know what it is that you’re ignoring, but since you’ve ignored it for years now, you’re wrong, and man, doesn’t that make you feel like a damnfool idiot?

but now, if you’ll excuse me, i have to vacuum and try to forget what a damnfool idiot i am.