Thursday, September 18, 2014

Becky Bean Writes

I feel like for this to go down the right way, you  need to have this video (with the sound - the sound is the most important part) playing in the background while you read this post.






No, seriously, click it, let the music start, and then read the rest of this.



Is it playing?

Okay, good.  Read fast, it's only 29 seconds long.




Ahem.

Hey there, loyal blog follower!  Boy, are you in for a wonderful surprise!

Well, in case you didn't notice, I'm here to confirm the rumors.  Yes, my website was down for a week.  And yes, any time you typed in "www.blogofbecky.com" you got 404'd.

But!

It was all soooo worth it, because of this.  Look around you - do you see this sexy new website I designed?  Are you SHOCKED AND AWED YET?

It's okay.   Shhh, shhh.  I know you're overwhelmed by how amazing it is. Do you need a moment to be amazed?  I'm going to give you a moment to be amazed. Just sit there and breathe it all in.  Soak in the majesty.

Don't you like it?  Isn't it, like, the best?  Aren't you just amazed and in awe of my totally impressive computer skills?   See that header up above?  It says Blog of Becky - yeah, that's right.  It lets you know where you are, so you don't confused. Look at that lettering. It's all... blue.  Blue, on a white background.  And it's not even centered.  Only stupid people center stuff.

And why is my website suddenly so awesome?

Well, that's easy.

It's because OMG I HATE COMPUTERS AND ALL CODING AND ALL BLOGS AND ALL URLS AND ALL WEB FORWARDING AND EVERYTHING THAT EVER HAD TO DO WITH TRYING TO UPDATE A WEBSITE BECAUSE UIO2375893P12U4IJDkp:ujI*P&#*($&#*OPJFEIL:EWKUH#*((P&%R*#(@OJHELK:HJ#*(%P&@#*(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


PantPantPantPantPant.

Look, I admit it.  I suck at this aspect of computers.  It's actually pretty embarrassing, because I have feeling I might be good at it if I had even the most rudimentary knowledge of the terminology.

The problem is I'm completely illiterate when it comes to web design, and I never actually get around to learning anything about it until OMG I PROCRASTINATED AND EVERYTHING JUST BLEW UP AND I NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW.

I'm embarrassed to say this is not the first time this has happened.

Usually I desperately try to fix it... and in doing so I break it worse.  Then I have to Google a how-to YouTube video on how to fix what I just demolished. And then I have to search the Internet for some kind of free shareware program that gives me the tools to fix it. And then I have to Google a how-to video on how to use that program.  And then... and then....

And then eventually I just get really, really angry and decide SCREW IT spend the rest of the evening finding find funny pictures on the Internet to help me calm down.





Anyways, here's a little back story before I get to my main point:

Part of the reason I went to that writing conference back in August was because in my head I've always considered September 2014 as the official kick-off date for me being a "real writer".

I don't remember if I ever said this, but the whole reason this blog exists is because I needed to get over my anxiety over letting people read my writing.  My words have always felt very personal to me - I enjoy writing.  Sometimes, when the words come just right, it feels like I open up a vein inside me and the words flow like music.

Back before I started this blog, I couldn't imagine anything worse than spilling out your very essence onto paper, showing it to someone, and then having them think it was crap.  It was better just to keep your writing to yourself than to risk being hurt, right?

Wrong.

In fact, even when I was living by the motto I knew it was a crappy motto.  Besides, I always liked the idea of being published.  On the other hand, I'd done enough research to know that getting something out in print is never easy, but your odds of "making it" go reaaaaaaally down when you never actually submit anything.

So, I created this blog.  My first few posts were crawling with so much anxiety it almost pains me to read them nowadays, but I leave them up because it reminds me of how far I've come.  Eventually I really began opening up, and then Mugwump found me and directed actual readers here, and now I've made a whole bunch of wonderful friends from this blog.

(Poor Bean.  Most women have normal friends - friends with names like Michelle, or Kelly.   Me?  I'm always talking about people called Fyaahchild or Mugwump or RedHorse, or whatever.  Bean, I swear they're real, and not just imaginary.  You believe me, right?)

Where was I?

Ah, yes.  So, I started writing, and as people responded I realize - dude.  This is fun.  I would actually like to do this for a living one day.  I even got my first angry troll who went out of her way to make me feel like crap for a bad decision I once made.... and it occurred to me - huh.  Well, that's it.  I was honest about a horrible decision, someone followed me around and rubbed my face in how crappy I was... and I survived.

Surely future literary criticism couldn't be any worse than that?

Even though I knew I wanted to pursue writing, I didn't really want to begin until I had the time to do it right.  Despite the fact I had been blessed with such low-energy, polite children,





I knew I couldn't devote the kind of time and effort necessary to succeed at writing until the DragonMonkey at least hit kindergarten.  Man, how long was that going to be?  September 2014?  Wow, what a long time away.

And then all of a sudden it was actually almost September, and I realized - whoa.  It was time to start making plans to take this writing thing seriously.  I mean, I've been writing this whole time, but there's a difference between jotting down stories and actually approaching it as a business and stuff.

So, I went to a writing conference last month.  Remember?  I took a picture with Diana Gabaldon's butt?  Well, I'm not going to lie.  That was the most exciting moment of the entire conference, and maybe my entire year.

However, the second most exciting thing was that I had the chance to sit down with a real-live publisher and talk to her about some ideas I had.  I mean, sure I had to pay $30 to do it.  And sure, I had to do it under the guise of "Uh, I write on this super small-potatoes, practically non-existent blog?  And, uh, I write funny stories?  Mostly about my kids?  And, uh, I've got a sort-of book idea?"

I mean, I didn't go in there unprepared.  Oh, no!  I totally sat down for about 30 minutes before the session and jotted down a pitch which sounded a tad bit more professional.  Even better, the two sessions I went to before then were "What is Author Platform" and "The Perfect Pitch" - so when I went in there I actually managed to sound semi-educated about marketing and whatnot.

Still, the idea wasn't really to sell her on a book - it was more to pick her brain.  I wanted to hear her talk about what it might take to transition some of my blog posts into a book - how much harder is it to market than traditional fiction writing?  Where there any caveats?  Did she have any suggestions, etc, etc?  Since I was paying her for her time, I figured she would probably give me an honest opinion about the idea

Plus, I wanted to get my first pitch session over with.  Eventually, some day soon I hope, I'm going to have a fiction book in ready-to-submit form.  When that day comes I am going to be crawling out of my skin with nerves about submitting it to agents and publishers and all of that fun stuff. Why not practice a bit, and get the nerves out of the way?

The money was well-spent because the publisher knew her stuff, and had a ton of useful insight which she shared.  And then she did something completely unexpected:

She handed me her card and said, "It sounds interesting.  Why don't you send me some samples?"

And then I nodded and took the card and walked out of the pitch session going, "Dude.... did she.... did that...do I have a card....  Wait.  What?"

I came home and immediately began scrambling to seem more professional.  I mean, okay.  I didn't want to seem TOO professional.  The potential title I gave her for my potential book, which I came up with about forty minutes before I met with her, was "Quit Peeing on the Dog".  I don't think you can pitch a book like that and then try to sell yourself as hoity-toity and uber-professional.

On the other hand, there's all of this annoying business stuff that comes hand in hand with the business of writing - author platforms, and business plans, and web pages, and social media presence...and....

Yuck.

It sounded... boring, and a little overwhelming.  So, being the dutiful woman that I am, I decided to ignore all of that and procrastinate instead.  I created a Becky Bean Writes Facebook page, and made my real life Facebook page open to the public, and piddled around with my blog - and you can see how well that turned out.

One day, when you grow up, you can succeed at life just like me.  

On the other hand, did you see my new URL?  I picked it out myself and do kind of love it.  It even comes with its own fancy-schmancy email address:  becky@beckybeanwrites.com

Dude, I feel a little bit like an obnoxious kid - I'm handing this email address out left and right.  Is it weird that I'm this excited about not having a gmail address anymore?  I'm practically accosting strangers on the street, like a little kid that just had a birthday and can't stop telling EVERYONE.  Hi, I'm Becky, and I'm "this many" years old.  Shut up.  I know that's a lot of fingers.  Whatever, you're distracting me.  Did you know I have a new email address? It's becky@beckybeanwrites.com.  That's right - it's not gmail.com, or yahoo.com.  Wanna hear it again?  You don't?  Well, too bad.  It's becky@beckybeanwrites.com.  It, like, has my  name in it.  That's because I'm important.  

Last week I even got all excited when they passed around a Kindergarten parent sign-in sheet thingie at the DragonMonkey's school and it had a little space for my email address.  What's that?  You said you want my email address?  Well, stand back and prepare to be AMAZED.

So I started writing in really big letters because I really am kind of obnoxiously proud of it....and that's when I realized... dude.  It's a really long email address.  I had to scratch it out twice because I kept not leaving  enough room for it, and in the end it just looked like the pen vomited a bunch of ink on the paper and then sneezed some really cramped letters that trailed up the side of the page in an unreadable scrawl completely at odds with all the other parent's neat printing and legible email addresses.

Whatever.  They all had yahoo.com and gmail.com and hotmail.com email addresses, so what would they know?

Moving on.

After I bought my new URL last week I tried to forward it.  And when I did that, I broke the old URL forwarding.  And then while trying to fix the forwarding on the old URL I managed to break everything.

And then I got annoyed at trying to fix URLs so I decided that instead of fixing all the redirecting URLs I should change to a new template instead.

And so, right after I broke about a bazillion URLS I broke my blog's template.  And then I tried to upload the backup copy of my old template and I broke the backup template as well.

Does anyone want to hire me as a website designer for their enemies? Anyone?  Anyone at all?  No?

I spent a week straight trying to fix the mess.  Every day after work (I am doing full-time geriatric care right now) I would come upstairs to my office and spend a couple of hours  cussing and bursting out into angry tears calmly trying to fix things.  Last night, after a week's worth tears and anguish, I threw in the towel and begged The Bean for help.

And then The Bean walked upstairs and un-clicked a few boxes and fixed the forwarding in about 2 minutes.

I should have been grateful.  I really should have.  A nice wife would have clapped her hands in delight and then bounced over and hugged her husband with one cute little foot in the air and said something like "You're so smart and your biceps are so sexy!" or whatever it is nice wives do.

I didn't do any of that.

Instead, I just got really pissy and grumpy that he was able to fix it so easily.  In fact, I didn't just dislike him, I downright hated him. I'd been fighting with it for a week, and he just clicked a few buttons and fixed it in two minutes?  He was a stupid stupidhead, that's what he was.  Stupid, stupidhead Bean.

And then stupid stupidhead Bean actually looked at my gorgeous "new" website and said, "What the hell happened to your blog?"

And I looked at him at him for a moment





before calmly replying, "I was trying to upload a template and it didn't work.  See?  This template right here - I thought it looked clean and professional."

And then The Bean, who sometimes has no sense of self-preservation, looked at the template and said, "That one?  Why?  Your old blog looked better."

And to my credit I didn't go all stabby-stabby on him.  Instead, I just turned off the computer and huffed off to bed, and when he crawled in to go to sleep, do you know what I did? I totally didn't let his ankle touch mine, even though that's how we normally sleep.  HA!  I sure taught him, didn't I?

It occurs to me that I really need to find a better way of dealing with anger other than creating a passive-aggressive space between us in bed.

Also, I probably shouldn't have been so angry at someone who fixed my blog and then complimented the old design of my website - the design I created myself.  Hey, Bean?






So, in case you were wondering about that whole publisher deal, no. No, I haven't gotten anything off to the publisher yet, because life hands me magical things like publisher cards and then I squander opportunities.  I'm cool like that.

I'm hoping to get something off to them in the next week or two.  I have to admit, my hopes aren't really high, especially considering how much time has lapsed- but I am actually okay with being turned down.  I'll be a bit disappointed, sure, but for me?  For me this is only the beginning.  I've given myself 18 months to try to make some traction in the writing world - and getting an invite to submit on my first try feels like a huge win already.

So, there you have it.  Welcome to my new website.

Becky Bean Writes?

Why, yes.  Yes she does.








PS:  Have you ever told yourself you're not allowed to go to bed until you finish a blog post?  And then it's almost 10 at night, and you're EXHAUSTED, because you have to get up at 5:30 to squeeze in one more day of training before your half-marathon - the half marathon you are woefully unprepared for and are probably going to have to walk more than half of?


And then you realize that about 80% of this post has started or ended with some kind of a conjunction, and shouldn't you actually wait until the morning and proof read this instead of just typing it and sending out a rough draft?  I mean, it's a blog post about wanting to be a professional writer, for heaven's sake.  And besides, you forgot to mention how you are working with an actual for-real web designer who is going to migrate your blog over to Wordpress and then create a fancy, personalized new webpage just for you.  How are you going to work that in seamlessly?  You should go back, proofread, fix everything, and then work that line in somewhere so people realize you at least learned from your week of anguish.

And then you realize:  No.  Your alarm goes off at 5:30, so just click publish and go to bed.

And so you do.











Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sorry Guys

You know how some bloggers do all sorts of cool stuff behind the scenes, and then one day they reveal their cool new blog?

Well, I wanted it to be like that, but it turns out I suck at this sort of thing.  So... I'm sorry.  My blog is somewhat broken right now, and will hopefully be fixed tonight, tomorrow.... eventually.

Please excuse the constantly-changing, crappy layout as I fumble my way around.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today is September 11th

Today is September 11th.

Do you know what I'm thinking about right now?

Holy crap, I have to run a half marathon in 10 days. I'm so under-prepared that it's not comical, it's just sad.  I'm probably going to hurt myself.  Oh well... To Finish is To Win, right?

Speaking of winning, or rather not-winning...I didn't get a chance to shower after my run this morning.  In fact, I didn't even have time to change out of my workout clothes before I dropped off the DragonMonkey at kindergarten, Squid at daycare, and then me at work..  I hope I don't smell. There's a shower here - I wonder if it would be weird if I used it?  I mean, I do the laundry anyways, so I could wash my towel, and nobody would be the wiser....

But if I took a shower, then I'd have to get dressed back into my gross workout clothes again... and that might feel even nastier.

Today is September 11th, and do you know what I'm doing this evening?

Well, I am getting off work at 5. I need to pick up the kids by 5:10 at the very latest - the daycare lady has a back-to-school thingie she needs to attend for her own kid.  How am I supposed to leave at 5 and then have the kids out of her house by 5:10? I swear it takes them 10 minutes just to put on their shoes. Maybe I can leave a few minutes early?

Oh, man, I really need to get to WinCo tonight, too.  I haven't gone since I last humiliated myself, and I had to break down and go to Safeway this morning.  I spent $30 and bought got two small bags of groceries.  If I spent $30 at WinCo I'd walk away with at least five bags of groceries.

But wait, crap... I told the boys I'd take them to go see the How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the cheap theaters tonight... do I have time to make it to WinCo and back by the 7pm showing?  Probably not.  Ugh, I wish the day had more hours in it.

It's September 11th, and I really need to do a load of black clothes - we're totally out of socks, and my running pants could probably stand up and run away on their own.  Heck, maybe I have done a load of blacks, and it's just sitting there, squashed, at the bottom of the gigantic mountain of clean-but-unfolded laundry I've been doing my best to ignore.  I hate laundry.  I'm 33 years old and it's the bane of my existence.  That must mean I have a pretty good life... but that doesn't make me hate it any less.

It's September 11th, and thirteen years ago I had to force myself to move past the cold queasiness that burned a leaden hole in my stomach.  Today I continue my annual tradition of boring things, and every year it's easier, .

Don't get me wrong - I fully support the memorials and the remembrances and the honoring of the people who died that day.

But for me?








For me, every September 11th is all about mundane, boring, inconsequential tasks.  I know my passive-aggressive indifference doesn't actually accomplish anything, but it makes me feel better. I consider it my way of giving a giant middle finger (or two) to everything Al Qaeda did that day.

What's that?  Oh, that's right.  It's the anniversary of that day again, isn't it?  That day you killed yourself and murdered thousands of innocents in a spectacular fashion in order to try to get some kind of point across?  Huh?  I'm sorry, I can't really remember what that point of all that was, just that all those deaths were really sad.  Hey, do you have any gluten-free flour I could borrow?  My barn owner's husband is sick, and he's Celiac too, and I want to make him a loaf of zucchini/blueberry gluten free bread.  It's amazing - you should try it...

Oh, crap, that's right.  I can't borrow flour from you - you aren't alive anymore. You died trying to send some kind of message of hate which was supposed to drastically alter my way of life, didn't you?  I totally forgot about you.  Whoops.  How embarrassing for both of us.  Anyways, would you look at the time?  If I'm going to make that loaf of bread I really need to stop by Safeway and grab some Bob's Red Mills gluten-free flour.  I bet it's going to be $6 for the world's tiniest bag.  There goes this week's grocery budget.  Man, I wish I had time to get to WinCo today.


In case you're curious, here's the Blueberry Zucchini Bread recipe  - I shamelessly stole it from allrecipes.com.  It's amazing, and if you want to make it gluten-free all you have to do is substitute in gluten-free flour instead of regular flour.  Also, you definitely want to add some xantham gum to your gluten free flour - it makes everything bind together so it's nice and light and fluffy. Just check the side of the bag for how much to use - there's a chart there.

Also, if you're super sensitive, make sure you purchase gluten-free vanilla extract.  I don't know what is in there that makes some people react, but it can cause problems.

I made two delicious loaves with this recipe.  I can't recommend it enough!

Blueberry Zucchini Bread
recipe image
Rated:rating
Submitted By: LAUJRA
Photo By: dabblingdiva
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Servings: 12
"Blueberries and zucchini baked up into delicious little summertime bread loaves!"
INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries
DIRECTIONS:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans.
2.In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini-loaf pans.
3.Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Allrecipes.comPrinted from Allrecipes.com 9/11/2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends Become Public Accountants

I thought I'd talk a bit about what it's like to be the wife of a Certified Public Accountant.  I keep seeing links via Facebook or Google or whatever about how accountant jobs are amazing, and lucrative, and #2 or #3 on bestest jobs ever!  It offers great pay, great hours, and tons of flexibility!


And then I quit typing because I started trying to remember exactly what the heck those links said.  



But then I got distracted, because, you know, ADHD + Google equals awesomeness, and I found these pictures:



No, Google, that's not what I meant by "CPA flexible job"... 
although I bet Bean kind of wishes it was like this at his office.


And then, because I could, I googled "sexy accountant".

And it turns out that sexy accountant is totally a thing people daydream about, but only if the accountant is a girl.  It took me a lot of scrolling before I found this:





And yes, he is pretty sexy, but I don't know.  I'm no expert, but I don't think he's really an accountant.  If counting a giant stack of ones with a pensive look while showing a lot of skin makes you an accountant, then that means I was an accountant when the Bean and I met, and not a cocktail waitress.

Anyways, where was I?

Look, I'm not a CPA.  In fact, I can't imagine me ever being an accountant, unless someone hired me to deliberately screw over an enemy by haphazardly trashing their books.  If you came to this post because you want to know about the ins and outs of the daily life of a CPA, then Google led you astray.

What I can tell you about is what it's like to be the wife of a Certified Public Accountant.  I know all about that.

Well, I mean, I think I know all about being a wife of a CPA... I mean, I'm still married. I think? His name is Bean, and he's... uh... he's got brown hair?  And maybe his eyes are brown?  I mean, he did come home last night.

Well, I mean, I hope he did.   I definitely remember someone coming home last night, although I can't tell you exactly what he looked like, since he crawled in after I went to sleep and then dragged himself out of the house before I woke up in the morning.  I hope it wasn't a weirdo  breaking into my house.

Oh well.  Even if it was a weirdo, the dog didn't bark at hi,  he didn't steal the covers or the TV, and he kept my feet warm. I guess it doesn't really matter.

All joking aside,  I haven't actually seen the Bean during daylight hours in days... maybe weeks.  I got so lonely for him that I waited up for him the other night, and the two of us sat down to a lovely dinner at a little after 11pm.

And by "lovely dinner" I mean he heated up some top Ramen and I ate a bowl of cereal, because we're both just so stinking exhausted that the idea of cooking makes us want to cry.

If your spouse is looking into being a CPA, here's some of the down-to-earth details to help you understand a little more about it.  Also, Bean, yes, I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of the technical details wrong.  I suppose I could ask you to proofread it before I send it out... but it's busy season, and if I put one more thing on your plate I think you're going to go postal.

  1. Accounting is split into two fields:  Private vs. Public.  Private accountant people have lovely boring jobs, with lovely boring 9-5 hours.  They max out pay-wise at about $100,000... maybe $125,000 a year?  That's the super high end of the field, though... usually it pays a lot less.  I have no idea what the starting pay is.  All I know is that they start out paying more than public accounting, but the end game is also a lot less money.

    If you're looking for info on private accounting, look elsewhere.  This info is all about public accountant CPA.
  2. Public accounting is further broken down into two fields:  Tax vs Audit.  Audit people travel around and, well, audit people.  Tax people mostly stay in their own office and deal with taxes.  Shut up - I know that's common sense, but I had no idea what accountants actually did when I first started this whole gig.
  3. The Bean is a tax accountant, so all I know about audit accountants are the negatives - mainly, why he didn't want to become one.  The reason why is simple:  Travel.

    If you are are going into public accounting to get your CPA and work in audit, you're gonna travel.  It sounds exciting at first, but what "travel" means is, "Hey, get on this plane, and go live in the cheapest hotel room we thought we could get away with, and then go audit this company and hang out with total strangers for 2-3 weeks, pawing around in all their stuff while they kind of resent you.... and then right about the time you start settling in, we'll let you go home and relax and then you get to go somewhere else and see the inside of another office building in a different city.. hooray!"

    You won't actually get a chance to sight see, because of the hours.  And speaking of hours...
  4.  Don't worry - there won't be any over time unless you really want it.







    Ah, sorry.  I crack myself up.

    Look, I don't care what the firm you're looking into is saying. They can claim to care about family all they want... You are going to overtime, and you are going to have lots of it. You are their slaaaaaaave. You will live and breathe that company during busy season... which, technically is only supposed to last 3 or so months out of the year, but for some reason it's really like 8 or 9 months out of the year.

  5. Salary vs Hourly:  Look.  GO WITH HOURLY.  It's rare, but there are firms out there who offer it.  GO WITH HOURLY.  Why?  See post above.  Many firms claim they'll max out at 45 hours a week.  It's so not true.  But they'll offer a really nice salary compared to the hourly places... I'm here to tell you the hourly places pay better.
  6. Tax accountants can mostly be divvied up into three fields:  large corp, mid corp, and start-ups. You also have tax guys who individual returns, but that's kind of a different thing.  I'd tell you more, but it's super boring to talk about.  There's a reason I didn't find any pictures of sexy male accountants, you know?
  7. There are only two busy seasons, and those revolve around the two big deadlines:  March 15th and September 15th.

    The first tax deadline for businesses is March 15th - this is a soft deadline.  Basically, your spouse is gonna work like crazy to try to get everything completed before March 15th, and then somewhere around March 13th they are gonna get really fatalistic and start saying things like, "Oh well.  September, I guess."  Then they file an extension, and life goes back to normal.... until late July happens, and all of a sudden everyone realizes HOLY CRAP THERE'S LESS THAN TWO MONTHS TO SEPTEMBER 15TH.

    Busy season #1 lasts from about the last week of January through March 17th or so.

    Busy season #2 lasts from about the third week in July through September 16th. There is no extension past September 15th, so just... just try not to be pregnant, or have a newborn, or have anyone die around that time.  It's super inconvenient to have to face those things by yourself, you know?
  8. I was joking about "only two busy seasons".  Once your spouse gets done with those deadlines they will be dragged over to help the floundering individual tax accountants.  It doesn't matter if they're business tax vs. personal tax (deadline of April 15th) - they'll get sucked over there anyways.  And once those deadlines are passed there are these things called "provisions".  I don't know exactly what a provision is, but roughly translated it means "HAH, you thought busy season was done, but you guys seemed too relaxed so now we're just going to invent some imaginary deadlines three or four times throughout the year so tha you don't actually get to relax. Ever."
  9. Hours:  Even during the slow season the hours are kind of crappy.  It's like... everyone wants to stand out, and the only way to stand out is to work really long hours.  I get excited when The Bean gets off work at 6pm.  HOLY CRAP.  6?  THAT MEANS HE'LL BE HOME BY 7.  DUDE.  BOYS, COME OVER HERE, I'VE GOT GREAT NEWS!  YOUR DAD'S COMING HOME EARLY!  YOU'RE GONNA SEE HIM FOR AN ENTIRE HOUR BEFORE BED!  I KNOW, I'M EXCITED, TOO!
  10. CPA Test:  In order to get your actual CPA license you have to pass the CPA exam and work for 1 year at an accredited (or whatever) accounting place.  The CPA exam is divided up into four parts, and you have to wait a certain amount of time in between each test.  Only... only they have these magical "black out" months where nobody is allowed to take the exam - and, of course, those are the months where it would be perfect for you to take the exam.

    Anyways, it's the bane of your existence, because HOORAY! YOU GRADUATED SCHOOL! YOU'RE FINALLY DONE WITH STUDYING.... except you're not.  In fact, it felt like the CPA exam was more frustrating than any class The Bean ever took, because trying to cram in studying in between deadlines was more stressful for him as well as the family than any midterm and finals he ever had to take during college.  The CPA exam is comparable to the bar exam.  The best way it was described, by someone who took both tests, was that the bar exam's material is an inch wide and a mile deep, whereas the CPA exam is a mile wide and an inch deep.
  11. Vacations:  If your company lets you, take them in October or November.  December's also pretty laid back.  So is May, and a little bit of early June.
  12. Labor Day:  The most aptly named holiday ever.  Your spouse will be laboring while everyone else is enjoying a lazy three-day weekend right before school starts.  At least the money's good?
  13. Valentine's Day:  That day in the middle of the first busy season where everyone on Facebook either posts a picture of hearts and roses or a funny picture about being single and hating Valentine's Day.
  14. April 11th:  My wedding anniversary that I will never, ever, ever get to celebrate ever again, because WHAT KIND OF IDIOT GETS MARRIED TO SOMEONE STUDYING TAX ACCOUNTING ON A DATE WHICH OCCURS FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE INDIVIDUAL TAX DEADLINE? I should have gotten married on the 16th, instead of choosing to get married on a Friday because I liked the bristly way "11" looks.  Stupid Becky.
  15. Fixed Assets:  Fixed assets will be the bane of your spouse's existence.  I'm not even sure what a fixed asset is.  I mean, the Bean has explained them to me before, but I always tune out about three words in and start daydreaming about how pretty Morgan horses are.

    All I know is that businesses never get them right, and if you say the term it sounds like you're listening.  Seriously, all you have to do is say it with a rising inflection at the end.  Not only do you sound smart, but you sound like you're paying attention.

    The Bean:  "Somethingsomething, boring, somethingsomething, was gonna be home at five but then waa-waa-trumpet-sound-Charlie-Brown's-teacher-makes something."

    Me:  "Fixed assets?"

    The Bean:  "YES.  Somethingsomething, fixed assets, somethingsomethingsomething!"

    Me:  "Beer?"

    The Bean:  "I love you."

    And people say marriage is hard work. Pah.
  16. Firm Fun Days:  This is the firm's way of deliberately flipping you off and letting you know how much they resent you.  Okay, maybe that's not REALLY the purpose, but that's what it feels like.  Did your spouse just spend 97 hours straight with his coworkers to meet the tax deadline? Have you not seen him before 10pm in weeks?  Well, then, in order to celebrate the end of them being gone all the time... the Firm is immediately going to steal them for yet another evening. Because nothing says "thank you" like making you sit at home all night. Alone. AGAIN.
  17. Drinking:  DUDE.  Accountants are partiers.  I'm serious - this isn't a joke at all.  I mean, you would expect cops, or firemen to get off work and go party hard.. but accountants?  It was just a total shock to me.  I'm not saying they get themselves booby tassels and hats with motorized propellers on top... but it's definitely more of a drinking culture than I was anticipating.
  18. Money:  The money's good.  I mean, there's a reason everyone puts up with all of that stress over something as boring as excel spreadsheets, right?  Here's the thing, though:  You're not gonna make money at first.  I know the figure varies, but most places are going to offer you a starting salary between $40 and $45k a year.  I know that sounds like great money, and it is totally awesome money when you're 23.... but to a person in their 30s with a family and a ton of financial aid debt, it's not that great.  Plus, if you (the spouse) are planning on working, you need to find a job to accommodate a single parent's schedule, because that's essentially what you're going to be several months out of the year.

    Anyways, eventually you're going to make money.  You'll get your yearly raises, and your promotions, and while it's a slow start at first, after the first few years the money begins to add up fairly quickly.  Still, I think it's a game the firms play - or rather, gamble at.  Most public accountants drop out before they've been there five years.  There's a high turn-over rate, especially at the 2-3 year mark, where you're doing the job of someone whose been there much longer, but you're still making pretty crappy money.  Five years may not seem that long on paper... but it's a long, long time when you're dealing with constant stress, lack of sleep, and looming deadlines.

    The thing is, after ten years?  You're making bank. And by bank, I mean you're making BANK.  I have no idea what a partner actually makes... but I'd guess (and this is an educated guess) that it's in the $300-500k a year range?  Of course, you're not going to make partner just on hard work alone - you have to have great business savvy and really stand out, but still.  I wouldn't be surprised if most of the people who have 10 years experience make $150-200k a year.  That's not bad for a four year degree.

Anyways, that's all I can think of right now about being a CPA... or rather, being a CPA's wife.  And seriously... if you're a business?  Get your crap together and figure out those fixed asset thingies.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Guess What I Got For My Birthday?

This is the saddle I use to ride Caspian:






It's the best kind of saddle:





 It's a loaner from my mom until I can save up for a saddle I really want.  After that I'll sell it for what she paid for it:  $200.  Cordura saddles are kind of magical - they're lightweight, never seem to get scuffed, or age, or anything.  Even better, the saddle mostly fits Caspian, and it doesn't hurt me, and it's not too small.  Win, win, win.

Unfortunately, it's also the worst kind of saddle - something about the flat way it sits on his back makes me feel completely unbalanced, like I am about to fall off at any moment.  I've never ridden in a saddle that made me feel more unstable - I mean, even when you're bareback, you can at least sink down into their back a little bit.  Not this saddle!  This saddle makes me feel like I'm balancing on top of a comfortable piece of plywood on top of his back.  It doesn't hurt, but I feel off balance.

But.... but.... but






So, I use it, even though my very first "let's see how fast he can stop" at the Mugwump Clinic resulted in me somersaulting over Caspian's head.  The saddle keeps me honest - I always feel a little bit like I am about to fall off, so I don't push things.  In other words, I don't pick fights with Caspian I don't feel like I can win.

On the one hand, it makes me feel like a wimp.

On the other hand, it has forced me to work on my basics.  And I need to be honest - after so many years of borrowing horses, I have a lot of basics that need to be worked on.

Here's the thing I'm proud of:  after a year of riding in it... I finally feel steady and secure.  In fact, the other day when Caspian spooked at some invisible critter and tried to squirrel out from underneath me... I stayed on.  Easily.  It felt a little bit like the cheesy finale to a Hallmark movie - by golly, I finally had my seat back, and I had my crappy saddle to thank for it.

Still... that didn't keep me from drooling over saddles every chance I got.  I mean, let's all face it:  We all have a saddle or two (or three?) we'd love to own one day.

And then I turned 33.... and my favorite birthday gift this year was very boring in the grand scheme of things.  There was nothing to open.  There was nothing to touch.  My boys were not very impressed at the idea of a concept gift.  I think they thought I'd been duped.

And what was the gift?

My parents' gift to me was to offer me an interest-free loan so I could pick out the saddle of my dreams.  I'll be paying them back monthly.

I have to admit, when they offered me this gift, it felt a little bit like when I discovered I was going to own Caspian - wait.. What? Now?  This dream's coming true now?  But... but I'm not ready yet!

I'm not very good with making big decisions like this - I tend to daydream about things forever, without actually taking any steps to achieve them.

And now I live in Oregon, with a nice vehicle, and a nice  house, and a sexy, sexy beast of a horse:


When some Craigslist guy throws a "nice horse you can trust" at the last minute into a deal with a horse trader, and that horse trader then dumps the barely-gelded horse on your 60 year old parents, 
you aren't supposed to get a horse this nice.  I used up all my horse karma on this deal. 
I acknowledge it, Horse Karma.  You owe me nothing.

And now I'll be getting the saddle I've always wanted.

You know, I just realized I need to come up with new aspirations, because I'm pretty sure I've achieved all of them.


Anyways, enough backstory.  Here are the details:


I'm ordering a Specialized Saddle - a 17 inch Eurolight.



 My saddle will look almost exactly like this, only it will have cages on the stirrups so I can ride with tennis shoes, and the main saddle color will be dark oil, instead of brown.



Why Specialized?

I'm going with a Specialized because I hate saddle shopping.  The underside of Specialized saddles have removable shims which you can add or remove to adjust the saddle fit.  I figure I have the best chance of this saddle fitting Caspian, and eventually another horse if/when that time comes.
If you're confused because you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't owrry - I'm going to take tons of photographs and do a very boring "look at my saddle" blog post when I get it, so I'll just show it to you then.

Anyways, Specialized has several different types of saddles, but as far as why I chose the Eurolight option, well....If all the cool people ride a Eurolight, then I want also!

I'm being serious.   I have quite a few internet friends who are riding in a Eurolight, and they do way more miles than I ever will, and if the saddle is holding up for them and they're still happy....

And, well, if Funder and Aarene and Ruth and Llytha are gonna jump off a bridge, I wanna jump off that bridge, too.  After all - they've probably put a lot of thought and effort and hours of research into choosing the best bridge to jump off of.  I'm not following them out of a desire to be cool - I'm following them out of laziness.




I wish I wasn't investing in a new saddle.  What I really wanted was a used 17 inch Eurolight... but either they don't exist and I just gave a fake company a whole bunch of money, or nobody ever sells one. I know there are no used 17 inch Eurolights because I've been looking for one for two years - I've been searching Craigslist nationwide, and been stalking endurance sites, and looking on Facebook tack pages, and nope.  Nobody sells them.  EVER. I almost considered squeezing into a 16 inch.  It would almost fit at the weight I'm at right now, and who knows?  I  might get all trim and fit and one day wish my saddle was a 16 inch.  I used to ride in a 15, after all.....

But between you and me, if there's anything more depressing than out-fatting your saddle, I don't know what it is. Believe me.  I know.  I'd much rather get a 17 inch and have to use sheepskin and bucking rolls to make it smaller than get a 16 inch than to have it be too small on a day when I'm feeling fat and depressed.


So, I'm happy to tell you that after weeks of waiting, the saddle finally arrived in the mail the other day:



Yaaay.  A "saddle".



Why is there only a weird saddle tree with only some unfinished leather stapled on it, instead of a saddle?  Well, the first answer is that Specialized really ought to consider going back to something other than staples cuz staples are kind of chintzy,  but that's not really what we're talking about,

The real answer is that I've decided to go a little crazy. 

You know how they tell you not to count your chickens before they hatch?

Well, I've counted my unhatched chickens.  In fact, I haven't just counted them... I've named them, and sewed them little outfits, and built them little houses, and....

And you get the point.

Here's where I decided to be very, very unwise.  Before I say how I've been unwise, and before you guys start rolling your eyes at how dumb I am to customize a saddle I've never even tried on my horse....

You need to look at these pictures:

1890s saddle that had been burned in a fire.


 "Burned" 1890s saddle, fully restored.





I have no idea what you can use a leather box for.  All I know is that I want one now.






Are spiky arm bracers "in" yet?  No?  Can someone let me know when they are?  
I feel like every trip to the grocery store would be made 200x more awesome if I could wear spiky arm bracers as I go up and down the aisles. 





I love that they can make the metal parts to match the scrollwork - the idea of getting custom conchos is a bit appealing.  




 (This is saddle is, I kid you not, 7 inches.  IT'S A LITTLE BITTY SEVEN INCH SADDLE.)



















 Aarene - these are normal boots that had attachments sewn onto them to morph them into
 Kraaken pirate boots. I'm not even into pirate paraphernalia, and I wanted a pair.  What a cool concept - get the boots you find comfortable, and then just add an attachment to make them neat.



" 'I love you Sorsha?' I don't love her, she kicked me in the face! I hate her... Don't I?'" 
Okay, I know it's not REALLY Madmartigan's helmet... but I love it all the same.  
For the record if you don't love Willow, then you're not a friend of mine.





There's two pictures of this leather bracer because it's the item that's responsible for this whole foolish idea.  

 Now do you see?  Do you SEEEEE why I decided to be foolish and pay someone to tool a saddle that I've never even sat in, let alone placed on my horse?  I mean, when you're dropping more money on a saddle than you've ever spent on a horse, what's a couple more bucks, right?

  Leather Art and Design.  It's a company based out of St. Helens, Oregon, and when I saw that picture of the bracer on my Facebook feed one day, something in my heart kind of went THUMP THUMP, and I realized... huh.  It's not that I don't like leather and leather tooling... it's that I don't really care for the traditional western florette stuff. 

So... I asked Specialized Saddle to ship me undyed, untreated leather, and they did.  Last week I dropped the box off at Leather Art and Design and asked them to come up with some kind of design to put on the saddle.

Well, I take that back - when I first approached them about the idea, they asked me to bring them some ideas of things I liked, so they could get a feel for what I was looking for.

I balked at first - it's not that I have no taste.  It's that I have too much taste.  If you took a Punky  Brewster outfit and then vomited a bunch of gypsy scarves and leather bracers and carhartt vests on it, I'd probably squeal like a schoolgirl and buy three, but only if it came with teal-colored leather high tops.  Planning the minutiae of a leather design is SO not my forte.  Still, both Laura and Erik from Leather Art and Design insisted, so like the dutiful woman that I am, I immediately created a Pinterest page and began pinning. 

And Pinning. 

AND PINNING.  

I was so proud of myself when I came in with my board full of colorful, swirly designs.  "Look!  I really like the look of this gypsy stuff - it's so cool.  And there's this steampunk stuff over here that's totally awesome.  And then there was this kind of, I dunno... medieval looking stuff? I've got a bunch of pictures of that, and OH!  LOOK!  I loved this celtic type stuff..."

I looked up at Erik, who was looking a little horrified.  "Those are all very different designs."

"Yeah, I know, but they're all REALLY COOL, aren't they?" 

"Well... I think you should pass on steampunk for a saddle, although it's up to you....  How do you feel about baroque, or--"

"Yeah, but LOOK!  It's got all these little gear shift thingies, and the swirly designs, and OH, look at this - it's got a little "V" thingie that you could maybe put on the back of the saddle, the, uh, cantle?  Pommel?  I dunno.  And I love the swirly knots and the squiggles over here, and that border thingie with the lines over there?   Or whatever.  Oh!  Look at this elvish archer costume.  It's so cool!  I love how it looks....AND LOOK AT THIS, IT'S A LITTLE BITTY STEAMPUNK R2D2.  If you get bored, you could always stamp one of those in somewhere, I don't really care where.  He'd be my saddle friend.  And I could be all, 'Hey R2D2... wanna canter?  Beeep beeep boop?  Yeah?  You do?  Well..."

I trailed off and looked at Erik, who by that point was no longer even looking at the screen.  In fact, he looked almost green as he stared down at the innocent little leather pieces he had in front of him, probably trying to avoid imagining the desecration I was describing.. 

I took one last look at the mismatch of disjointed items on my magical Pinterest board of ideas.

And then I looked at the classy, gorgeous items around the store, and the way the designs on everything just flowed together so nicely.

"Hey, Erik?  Why don't we just go with our original plan?  Where you do whatever you think is cool, and I'm sure I'll love it, no matter what it is."

I swear, I've never seen anyone so relieved to not have to put a tiny little steampunk R2D2 on a saddle.

But guys, between you and me, it would have looked awesome.

Anyways, now I'm in a holding pattern - after they create a design, I will give them the "okay".  They'll stamp it into the saddle, at which point I will mail the saddle back with 400 types of insurance on the package, just in case... and then Specialized will finish the leather, assemble everything, and mail it back to me. 

It's gonna look so awesome.  Of course, between the extra tooling and the shipping and the wait times, I probably won't get the saddle until I'm 47, but I'm hoping it's totally worth it.  And I swear, if the saddle doesn't fit Caspian, I'm gonna have to sell him.



I think we all know I'm totally lying about selling him.  Also, yeeeees, no helmet, but... 
but John Norling Photography was there, and his daughter had a cape, and... 
and now I have a picture of me on a unicorn, and it was so worth it.