thene: "'The spirit is a garden,' said he." Photograph from ColinPurrington.com (snowdrops of gratuitous self-reference)
Zombies, Inc continues to escalate into hybrid sitcom genres; most recently, a) boss randomly offered a job to a kid who teaches boxing & MMA at his gym. This kid (henceforth The Pugilist) appears to be really fucking good at said job, so all's good. b) boss's previous company just relocated to the other side of our block. We ran into them in a nearby bar and everything. The Bond Girl feared it would be awkward & force her to switch $tarbuck$e$ but it's really not, they're cool people, it's all good.

So.

So yesterday someone we know there called My Friend because they were watching The Pugilist and my boss boxing on the roof. This has been happening at 5pm every night for about a week, because idk what is the point of being a rich old white man with a startup if you can't hire your own personal trainer for shits and giggles.

The Cyborg is, in the middle of this, trying to draft a list of corporate cultural principles to post on the wall (...I know. Dude, I love you but you are an actual machine), and we failed to persuade him to c/p rules of Fight Club. And My Friend hung his head in his hands and asked me to name anything, anything, that had happened here that was more bizarre than boss's former employees calling us about Rooftop Fight Club and I came up blank.




Comings and goings; Wolfie quit and without malice we have all been noting how tremendously much more functional the whole show is without him; Curly picked the wrong hill to die on and duly did so, which really depressed all but one of us; in addition to The Pugilist, we are also joined by Tiny Zombie, Tidy Zombie, and the Belle.

Drunk on Friday afternoon three weeks ago, I looked around and decided that if I did write real character portraits of the people I work with the tone would be a little like A Group That Almost Became Historic and it will probably go up in flames about as fast. I'm studying for Series 7, which may even be worthwhile. There is too much other shit I need to not let drop off the map, and am failing, which just makes me look back and go wtf how did I ever SURVIVE in the past much less DO ANYTHING; everything keeps getting easier, just a little bit easier every time something changes.

I miss being able to write. Trying.



I've almost finished Final Fantasy XIII-3, which is all mood and sidequests and no plot and it still manages to get the huge joke better than XIII-2 did. Fun as hell, and I also really like Lightning's character voice in it; it's surer than it was in the base game, even. I've done everything except finished it; stopped to [not] write for a while.

This is not what I meant to not write tonight, but hey.
thene: "'The spirit is a garden,' said he." Photograph from ColinPurrington.com (snowdrops of gratuitous self-reference)
I spent tonight watching opera with Folksy, because it was free and The Diva was doing her thing. She is so good and so beautiful. I think her facial expressions alone may make her very famous one day. I still wish I was better at being friends with Folksy, but I haven't found a way to broach any intimacy. The catch is, he is eerily like [personal profile] aihal, in appearance and mannerisms (but in other ways very much not), so I think my brain just doesn't get that we're not actually friends and can only talk about easy things. Like the everyday terror of being almost married to an opera singer.

And on my way home tonight I found my first real holy fuck what bit of nighttime open ground in this town; it's Cambridge Common Park and it fucking knows it, goddamn. It's also a very long way off my usual beat and finding excuses to visit it will be hard.



This week, wow. Almost every part of this week occurred on Tuesday, between me fucking with words and religion because I'm listless and it's something to do. I got the go-ahead to start studying for the Series 7 exam, although I haven't actually done so yet - need to dig up some free study guides online this weekend. More peculiarly, I am the only person who gets to do this. Because The Cyborg finally fucked up in about the most beautiful way you can when you're 23 years old and completely perfect; he got drunk with our boss and told him that his girlfriend wanted him to move to NYC next year. Kids. Do not have plans. Ever. Especially do not tell your employers what your plans are.

There was other stuff on Tuesday. Huge stacks of money. First ever Zombie lawsuit. Nothing that matters. The Compliance Lady who came in to talk to us about how to become the thing that we thought we were setting out to replace is also an EA, which was cool because no one understands my batshit skillset any more (least of all me) so I hope it was legitimising to everyone involved (especially me).

And I care while I'm being paid to care and then I'm trying to fit the rest around it. I have tulips and an exchange fic and a deck next to my bed, almost human thene things. I am trying, and I should sleep.
thene: Happy Ponyo looking up from the seabed (Default)
of course now I do have time to blog, I'm not feeling it.

highlights reel:
-the part where I yelled at Mr Slime and this accidentally caused him to subsequently treat me in an almost human fashion and I thus unfortunately wussed out of telling him to go fuck himself when my contract wound up last week. He offered to pay me to do more gift tax returns for him and I have developed this really unfortunate fascination with gift taxes and I am a complete sucker and this is why (see two posts down) Ting described this guy as a 'glory hole'.
-the part where I went to NYC to see Jessca & Kate (who were there for a con) and got my metropolitan fix on and bought a glorious new handbag which is GREEN, at Kate's instigation. I did start typing a blog post while I was there but all it says is that walking in Manhattan is always the right answer.
-I live in the ugliest house in Somerville and there is a leak in the kitchen roof and I am really, really happy and so is my dog. There were unexpected flowers in the front garden; daffodils already dying, tulips just come into bloom and a sempervivium. My commute is now under 25 minutes, and we have a guest room, a washer and a dryer, and a tiny backyard for doge to doge in. Huge quality of life upgrades here.
-in order to fulfil extravagant plans, my boss at Zombies, Inc now wants me and The Cyborg to get some kind of securities license; he says he's not yet sure which out of serieses 7, 79 or 82. Any of these is some serious 'never be unemployed or work a shit job ever again' stuff. And I never intended to get into finance and have only done so completely by accident, and this describes at least 90% of my life (the parts that actually work, at least).


things I would actually like to blog about but probably won't:
-the way employment is, lately, being sold to me not as a way for me to make money but as a way for me to have superficial contact with people who have money, as if, should I talk to enough moneycelebs or do enough of their slimy tax returns, somehow my standing in life will eventually improve by sheer osmosis even as the work itself keeps me as far away from said money as possible. I am supposed to be impressed. I can't get over the way that people who would swear up and down that humans are perfectly rational economic actors completely abandon this principle when it comes to employing other humans. Did I mention what a huge gift the recession was to abusers of every variety. <--I'm having trouble articulating how this is related but it so is.
-everything I try to write about loving Zombies, Inc sounds silly. It is; I still get detached and inwardly sneering when anyone (ie. my boss) tries claiming there is anything special about it. There's this alchemy of closeness and knowhow, but that has everything to do with being alive and nothing to do with making money. Ps I still kinda hate my job but I am getting way better at it lately, probably by accident.

I would also like to play FFXIII-3 :(

re. FFEX

Apr. 4th, 2014 07:33 pm
thene: Happy Ponyo looking up from the seabed (Default)
hello world,

I signed up at the next-to-last minute (like, literally 6.58pm tonight) and three of my prompts were recycled and the fourth was me blanking and grabbing a thing that I liked. if you need to ask me what the hell I am smoking, feel free to do so via this post.

LIFE:

Apr. 2nd, 2014 09:03 pm
thene: Happy Ponyo looking up from the seabed (Default)
me: skeezy boss asked me if i could do some gift tax returns for him after the deadline and i said 'maybe' instead of 'no'. he has figured out he can bribe me by giving me delicious gift tax returns to do.
and yes, it will be v nice to have friends again!
Ekaterine: ...why do you enjoy those?
and what is WRONG with you? :/
you're already burning out
me: yeah. i need to be a mature individual and tell him to go fuck himself
i am just still in that mentality of not saying no to work even if it is shit work
Ekaterine: ....you're crazy
craaazy
You need to get out of crazy job mentality, really
me: and this work is not ENTIRELY shit? but it is only WORK, i am confident i could find similarly interesting work without the skeezeball attached to it
Ekaterine: yes, that
and also, if you need sleep and hanging out with people and ...eating that isn't refueling, you should say no to extra work
me: i am like, not sure i am allowed to choose to not be employed by terrible people if those people are relatively polite and are willing to give me gift tax returns
Ekaterine: ...yes you're allowed, you crazy lady
me: eh, after deadline a little bit of here-and-there wouldn't ruin my life much. my getout, however, is that i need to start studying for a series 7 license
so i can feign 'nope busy'
Ekaterine: :/
lady, you don't need to feign busy
you just need to be "hey, I have a life"
or "I don't have time"
and you don't need to clarify to anyone else that it's "I don't have time because I want to go home and masturbate for 4 hours and then write smut"
me: :)
you know me
Ekaterine: I do
that's something I do too :/
I don't have time to do translations for you because I'd rather masturbate for 4 hours
me: :)
Ekaterine: that's something I need to put on a t-shirt and have someone else wear it
me: i thought that is what twitter is for
Ekaterine: ...haha
then someone else needs to twit it, not me :P
I don't need people coming to me and being "wait, you said you were busy? are you really busy or are you gonna be jilling?"
me: ting :)
Ekaterine: thank you for tweeting that
me: ANY TIME
i missed literal years of work, though
being unemployed or underemployed or stuck in immigration
Ekaterine: I know that's why you have ISSUES
but seriously, GET OVER THEM
I can sit here and repeat ad nauseum: "just because people are offering you money for your time doesn't mean you need to accept that offer"
it's like...telling an ugly duckling "look, you don't need to have sex with everyone who is willing to, okay? You have CHOICES now."
me: do i? the problem is, accepting the work does, in itself, generate further CHOICES
Ekaterine: ...to continue the possibly soggy metaphor, you're not a nympho
you don't need to have endless sex options
you have a dedicated sex option and whereas it might not always stroke the spot, it's still worth not having random sex with a bunch of strangers in search of the elusive worldshattering O
me: BUT WHAT IF ONE OF THEM VAGUELY KNOWS SOMEONE WHO IS MS/MR RIGHT
Ekaterine: ...the STDs aren't worth it
careful now, you're starting to sound like a poly nympho
Ekaterine: also, seriously, the amount of bad, soggy, grunting, bad body odor, whambamnothankyouma'am sex you need to go through -- blagh
I'll take the trusted and true option over that
me: i see, i see
Ekaterine: but seriously. You're not starving in the streets. You know you'd rather have time to go to ESB with me rather than do gift taxes for slimeboss
me: okay that is true
just please get rich enough to give someone over $14000 so i can have gift tax returns pls pls
Ekaterine: blink
see, you could give ME that money and I could give it back to you
and that way you could do it TWICE
:) problem solved, amirite?
me: omg
OMG
I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT
thene: PROTIP do not fuck with Minette (minette)
So, there's this guy. We'll call him Asshole.

Asshole worked for a well-known private equity firm. In addition to the wages he received for working there, he was also a partner in two of the firm's investment partnerships, and received pass-through income from these partnerships (more on this later). Asshole quit his job last summer and started an MBA course.

Asshole earns too much to qualify for any of the education tax credits; those credits are awarded to low or middle-income people who put themselves, or their children, through education programs in order to have better lives in the future, and therefore they phase out at something like $100,000 of income /too lazy to look it up. However, Asshole is undeterred. He's going to deduct all his MBA tuition as an unreimbursed employee expense.

Is this legal? Well, that depends. This is what the code says you can deduct:

If the education--

(1) Maintains or improves skills required by the individual in his employment or other trade or business, or

(2) Meets the express requirements of the individual's employer, or the requirements of applicable law or regulations, imposed as a condition to the retention by the individual of an established employment relationship, status, or rate of compensation.


There's certainly types of education that qualify. A few days ago, I deducted a young City of Boston teacher's tuition as an employee expense because it was the best option available to her and her employer (the school system) requires that she get a Master's degree within 5 years in order to keep her job. But MBAs? This has been the subject of multiple court cases, and a lot depends on circumstance, such as whether or not you can prove you were established in a trade or business before quitting your job to do an MBA.

So Asshole presents Mr Slime with a 1098-T that states the total amount he paid to Swank Business School. Foolishly, he also hands over his student account transcript and I notice that almost everything on it is not tuition - no, Asshole, you cannot deduct your health insurance as an employee expense just because you paid it via the school, much less your fucking cable bill what the hell. So I let him deduct the part that was actually tuition paid in 2013 and move on to his partnership income statements.

(Why do private equity funds and venture capital funds operate as partnerships? Because partnerships are not like corporations. With corporations, if you buy stock that costs an amount of money equal to 5% of the company's value, you own 5% of the company, and while there are different classes of stock and yours may not confer voting rights etc, you are gonna get your 5% share of the company's dividends. Partnerships, however, can be rigged however you want. Typically, the people who set up a PE or VC fund put down just slightly over $0.00 and are entitled to 20% of the fund's profits. This is why they are so good at wasting money on shitty things that fail - it's not their money, it's other people's money.)

Partnerships do not pay taxes. (Neither do most small corporations, termed S-Corps). Instead, they pass their income through to the partners, and each partner reports their allocated share of the partnership's profits on their own individual tax returns. The partnership income statements that Asshole turned in each contained a boilerplate statement that the partnership existed to passively make investments on behalf of its members, and that all of each fund's income was therefore investment income (taxed at a top rate of 20%) rather than ordinary income derived from work (taxed at a top rate of 39.6%). Such protestations have, recently, been the source of unending but unproductive wank as they are one of the major reasons that Mitt Romney pays less taxes than you. The PE fund is pretending it does...nothing! It does not manage companies, it does not provide any work in order to generate its income. It just sits back and money just magically happens, like. (Again, this can be completely legit - eg. real estate partnerships that collect rent while only occasionally having to lift a finger to repair something or find a new tenant, or partnerships that make long-term stock investments and don't do much trading).

You see how this applies to Asshole?

Yes, Asshole just made a deduction to his income of almost $20,000 of college tuition in order to 'Maintain or improve skills required by the individual in his employment' which his employers, and he, are simultaneously claiming is not even a real job.

stocktaking

Feb. 9th, 2014 04:07 pm
thene: "'The spirit is a garden,' said he." Photograph from ColinPurrington.com (snowdrops of gratuitous self-reference)
It's Sunday, I clocked 70 hours last week, and I need to work. I took my pile of Mr Slime work out of my bag and I need to do it. But I want to breathe first ok.

We're buying the Ugly House. It's being inspected on Monday. K and me are spending all of our money on it because we were too feckless to get a mortgage approved initially (I have no credit score, but K and M did eventually get approved for a hundred grand - but not until after we put in our cash offer). I am cool with having close to no money left as we're very solvent and our costs of living after the move are going to be minuscule, and Zombies, Inc now appears to be actualfax profitable - so I can at least rely on continuing to take home $500 a week there, maybe more if shit really does get bigtime. In the meantime, I will be one of three owners of this weird, chintzy, far-larger-than-necessary house a few minutes walk from a station that's opening in about a year's time & another station that's allegedly opening in 2019, which will be shortly after K (who is paying for most of this house) finishes undergrad. The Ugly House's peculiar layout includes a bonus extra sitting room/bedroom downstairs, so we will be free to make people visit us.


You only need to be rich once; I still remember the start of the month my father died, when we had $7 left after paying the rent and had to spend $5 of it on gas to get home from taking our change to the bank. I was working two jobs, but M's job had shorted his pay by $200 and were shrugging their shoulders and telling us to wait another two weeks for them to rectify the error. That was three years and a couple of weeks ago. Just think, now I am going to have enough spare income to afford health insurance for the first time since moving to this country.

None of my three jobs provide health insurance. I have never had a job that offered health insurance. I have kind of a lot to say about stuff like this. Taxing Women offered much insight into the Ann Romneys of the world, and how the tax system enables them by providing them with tons of breaks for not working - untaxed family fringe benefits, unearned Social Security credits, being allowed to contribute to an IRA even on $0 of earned income. And as Daisy pointed out, the woman didn't even raise five houseplants; this is on my mind because I did my first Sch H middle of last week, for one of Mr Slime's clients. A Sch H is how you submit Social Security & Medicare payments for your household employees - maids and nannies and such. The client made $200k a year in a job prominent enough that when I googled her I found media interviews she'd done and she paid a nanny $9/hr to bring up her children, because raising children is such valuable work blah blah blah who cares just hide the immigrant woman who lives in your house and looks after your family and don't talk about how much she's worth to you. It's a secret between you, me, the IRS and anyone who wants to listen to me talk about you on the internet.


(After we move, I need to fill the Ugly House with houseplants. Just because.)


no seriously 1% tax returns reek of entitlement, I don't even (and $200k isn't even 1%). They also document some jawdropping stupidity and inability to handle money, hello actual 1% dude who lost $225,000 failing at flipping a house while living in it and therefore rendering the loss nondeductible, and oh i see you are also nursing a $200k capital loss carryover, I am never putting money anywhere near the financial institution you work for, I'm just saying. Mr Slime has been letting his clients deduct their fucking dry cleaning as an unreimbursed employee expense for years, and I had to break it to him that this is really explicitly not okay because the tax code says that the clothing & upkeep deduction is mostly for blue-collar workers: "It is not enough that you wear distinctive clothing. The clothing must be specifically required by your employer. Nor is it enough that you do not, in fact, wear your work clothes away from work. The clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing. Examples of workers who may be able to deduct the cost and upkeep of work clothes are: delivery workers, firefighters, health care workers, law enforcement officers, letter carriers, professional athletes, and transportation workers (air, rail, bus, etc.). Protective clothing: You can deduct the cost of protective clothing required in your work, such as safety shoes or boots, safety glasses, hard hats, and work gloves. Examples of workers who may be required to wear safety items are: carpenters, cement workers, chemical workers, electricians, fishing boat crew members, machinists, oil field workers, pipe fitters, steamfitters, and truck drivers."

I may be kvetching about this particularly hard because I am still embarrassingly bad at manipulating Lacerte, the 'high-end' program Mr Slime installed on my laptop (hint; it's a slowass POS compared to the one I use at Cuddlejob), and fucked up some income apportioning last week; and I am learning some real mormonism here (I decided that in the interests of accuracy I should stop referring to jawdropping but legal tax manoeuvres as 'voodoo'), some of which I want to write real posts about just in the interests of explaining to the world why they should cease to be legal as soon as possible. I should probably get on with the fucking job first, though.

Oh, and he says it's okay for me to communicate with clients by email, so long as I pretend to be some kind of...unspecified and unnecessary document assistant? and not imply I am actually doing their returns. What the everloving fuck. I'm more qualified than he is - he lists his fucking RTRP on his business card even though the IRS abolished the qualification and I am a freaking EA. Wherever I wind up working next year, I intend to ask whether my name & PTIN will be on my returns; anywhere that says no is getting a firm rejection and I will be telling them why. I think I can allow myself the staggering luxury of self-respect in my future employment decisions. Hope I really can tolerate Mr Slime for two more months. (ETA: while dithering over composing an appropriately misrepresentative email to one client, I have added the letters after my name to my gmail handle out of pure, passagg malice. I may be turning into Esq - who, incidentally, has been a COMPLETE flake this year, but that is another story that I don't have time to write down.)


I am STILL doing the alternate days of hate at Zombies, Inc; I feel great one day, totally cool with flinging all my social energy into a brick wall, enjoying the flow of things, then the next day I just can't even pick up the telephone. I keep trying to push myself a bit harder there regarding the things I find hard. My real problem lately is that I'm now on the same level positionwise as the Cyborg and I even have my own intern now, but The Cyborg is, like, a machine. He has become one with the data. I am struggling to stay ahead of his interns. I think he makes more than me, but not MUCH more, and it is completely unreasonable to pay me anything like what he makes because for the love of god I am pretty sure this company could make money if it consisted of only the Cyborg making the product and My Friend selling it and My Friend at least makes commission. I have never been not good at a job before, but as I try more and stupider things I should probably adjust to this feeling.


Hey, have another link about jobs getting shittier.
thene: Frank at the end of TTS, with his facemask open. (frank)
-I have delirious flu except with totally unfun delirium that just makes my thoughts cut-out midstream. really. you have no idea how long it took to type this.

-so, Friday night, we went to look at a house in Somerville that we'd previously ignored because of how spectacularly ugly and weird it looked in the photographs. Up close, it was even more hideous than we'd thought. It's also huge, the batshit layout is actually amazing, and all the things that are horrifyingly wrong with it are fairly cosmetic. We really, really want to do this. We are trying to do this. It is SO DAMN UGLY no one else wants anything to do with it, which helps, and K intends to submit it as her undergraduate art thesis.

-the new love of my life is GIFT TAX RETURNS; I did six at the kitchen table yesterday morning. I need to write some posts about all the amazing ways in which Mr Slime is showing me how to Make Rich People Richer, The RPG (it is the best RPG, i cannot stop playing, partly because 'work from home' is a nebulous enough concept that it amuses me to see what else I can be doing while also billing Mr Slime for my time; driving to the Ugly House, playing board games, etc.)

-upshots; I had a short shift at job #2 today, made a really basic dinner for everyone, and then spent most of the evening vaguely bored because I finished that book and have forgotten what fun is.
thene: PROTIP do not fuck with Minette (minette)
-i'm annoyingly tired. This may be related to the 'I accidentally 3 jobs' thing. Had first shift with Mr Slime today, did one asshole's return for the sake of learning the program and took another asshole's return home with me to do, like, whenever. Tuesday night, I figure. It's a gift tax return; rare enough that I've never seen one before and Mr Slime admitted he had no idea how to answer my questions about how to do it. I will do it, feel wizardly about this, and then return it one morning before going to Zombies Inc. Due to lack of space at home, I have decided to keep all my Mr Slime-related paperwork etc in my Midnight Crew tote bag.

Mr Slime is still slimy, but I hate him a little less now than I did on first sight. This may be partly because he made noises about paying me more than the $15/hr figure that I had floated with the Useless People. On the minus side, he preemptively shot down my hopes that he'd let me abuse his software for self-employment purposes. Enough friends/coworkers want me to do their shit that I can cover my overheads, tho.

-OH AND my Enrolled Agent shit arrived on Saturday. There was a certificate, which is only surprising in that it's actually illegal for an EA to describe themselves as having been 'certified' by the IRS so i am a bit confused about them mailing me a fucking certificate. What is even better though is the WALLET CARD. I have a CARD IN MY WALLET that says i am ENROLLED TO PRACTICE BEFORE THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE so I can whip this out in social situations when appropriate, ie, never. (I did show Mr Slime, and he said congrats, aw.)

-we are househunting in a semi-serious fashion, hampered by the fact that M is kinda busy, I am really busy, and K's cat are sick. :( We have yet to see a place we liked enough for it to be worth piling out of here, though.

-over at Zombies Inc, I get my first minion tomorrow. I reaaaaally liked her in the interview, so I have hopes that this will be totally awesome. There has been this mildly excruciating back-and-forth about my job title; boss has been WANTING me to have minions since October, and the new business cards (ikr) have me down as a 'Research Manager'. I got bumped to salaried over Thanksgiving in an excruciating fashion - boss didn't tell me, and I got pretty freaked by getting paid for a whole week when the office was closed for half of it, and then had to go ask my boss why I was getting paid too much, excruciation etc. so tomorrow I am going to start using the title on my email sig, thus beginning my slide into the land of startup job title inflation.

-reading House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, and it is SO GOOD, especially if you like clonecest and sexbots and really, really huge units of time. wish I had something to write? I am making another push to finish sep, here and there, but unfortunately sep is both shitty and uncooperative and I wish I had something easier to write.
thene: Frank at the end of TTS, with his facemask open. (frank)
I interviewed for a part-time tax job on Thursday. I left Zombies, Inc at barely after five (a sin, but lately I totally hate myself for packing up at six because staying is accomplishing nothing and still being the first person to leave), headed for Back Bay after getting lost, twice, in Park Street station. I didn't know the street address, but the company's website was reassuringly grey.

hahahahahaha

Swankwass office suites with shiny tiled floors and a doorman who scanned my green card and printed me a paper sticker with my name and photo on it, four elevators and a layout like a maze; shiny, shiny numbered doors, too shiny and far too close together for the offices inside to be anything more than show. I stepped out of the elevator thinking about the kind of people who feel at home in such places - reassured by the shine, paying the rent on its aspirations.

I was only five minutes late by the time I found Mr Slime. He didn't appear to notice. He then spent the next thirty-odd minutes feeling out my tolerance for jawdropping bullshit, while evidencing absolutely no social skills. Not too unlike the Dingbat, but a somewhat younger, richer, less terminal, and completely amoral variant thereof.

The Dingbat got me used to the CPA firm model; use prestige of qualification to pull in work, and then hire the nearest monkey to actually do it, pay monkey in peanuts, cover rent of reassuring-looking (kinda, when he cleaned it) prime-location facility and have $$$ left over to gamble on the stock market & lose, which is what the Dingbat actually does all day. Mr Slime is not a CPA but appears to have more $$$$ than the Dingbat. Mr Slime, in his tiny, shiny, squeaky little plaza office, wants me to work from home. I can come by twice a week for all the paperwork and then take it home to do the monkeying. His former monkey, he told me sadly, had been monkeying for him for decades, such a shiny shiny professional relationship it had been, but the dear monkey had now retired and so he had asked the Useless People (yeah, still the same agency, because none of the other four I am registered with turned anything up this year) for a replacement monkey. I wondered how many other monkeys he has spun this story at in the last few years. It's about trust, he says. A long-term working relationship, he says. He made a seriousface and bragged about how rich his clients are, mentioned the standard noncompete agreement whatsits that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been considering outlawing, and which he takes to mean that I could not attempt to even contact my clients; the whole point is that the clients won't know I exist. This is high-end professional services, and it's like eating at a fancy restaurant, hence the post title. Some people feel at home in fancy restaurants.

Mr Slime is full of long pauses. I'm not quite sure what it is about accounting and social skills. I asked if he would like to contact my references and he said no, with no further explanation. He quizzed me, between the long pauses, on some really basic bullshit like foreign tax credits and when to use an 8453. He asked if I knew how much the Useless People billed for me - well north of 150% of what I get, I guessed - and if I'd worked for them before; clearly hoping to cut them out of the loop and get me under the table ASAP, as the Dingbat did last October. (We had already established that they had lied to him about which tax software I have experience with, but Mr Slime said he'd let that pass because I was completely upfront on the subject myself and perhaps he agreed with me that new software is a breeze if you know what the results are supposed to look like. Perhaps not). He's going to put his favourite program on my computer (a high-end program, he says; Cuddleboss has told me it's the second cheapest); in turn, I'll be feeling him out for swinging it for personal use once I have my damn EFIN [this is a whole other saga that involves repeated attempts to get the local police to mail my fingerprints to the IRS; doubly absurd as the DHS has like a billion versions of them already].

He asked me the question that Zombies, Inc forgot to even ask - whether I owned a laptop - and a further question that I am troubled by; whether I had children. I looked this up the second I got home - it's not illegal to ask this in Massachusetts (it is in Connecticut and DC), but it would have been illegal to discriminate against me if I had said 'yes'. I am not sure what action to take against someone who sexually discriminated in favour of me in a job interview.



But I'm so doing this. Why am I doing this? Because even when it has obviously zero future prospects other than a couple of experience boxes ticked and, going to guess, I'll get to see some some real accounting voodoo, there is no real downside to spending a couple of months taking $15/hr from a slimeball while wearing pyjamas & cuddling my dog. I was talking about it on Saturday with a coworker I adore; last year we were working together for Cuddleboss in Southie, but Ms Small World also used to work for the Dingbat a few years back, so shared my frustration at the prestige-and-handshake model of tax monkeying. Last year, I was able to enjoy the tradeoff; one job where I never saw the clients, one where I saw so many that one of them eventually hired me for a real job.

tl;dr why not. Downside is almost zero, given that nothing else was biting and I have an absurd level of short-term tolerance for shitty people who are giving me money. It's not what I'd hoped for, for this year, but it's money and grist. I like the tax code, and this will be a good chance to get acquainted with some parts of it I know less well.

But I also like my clients. A lot. They have taught me about America one hour-long appointment slot at a time. They're how I take the pulse of the year. I know what everyone earns and how much they hate their jobs - do you know how amazing that is? Ms Small World wound up switching her college major due to paying attention to her clients' lives. I saw three clients on Saturday, including one of my favourites from last year, who stripped half-naked in my office - I mention this in case you were under the illusion that taxation and random nudity do not coexist; he wasn't sure of his daughter's birthday, so asked me to read it off his back tattoo.

He's the kind of client I'd like well enough for himself; talks enough to make all the awful compliance questions I have to ask people come out naturally, and when he's not talking family, the boomer addicts and the gay restaurateurs and how hard it gets to put on a brave face for his daughter in the winter and why he does so anyway, he tells me about his construction jobs and why urban development in Massachusetts is a dead-end union corruption spiral that leaves you getting by on cash-in-hand work; I just put my finger to my lips and reminded him that he wasn't meant to tell me about that, because America's tax code has generated the grey economy it wanted to generate. But on top of that, he's going to marry the Obama fundraiser who was left unemployed and homeless after the 2012 election and I was just so relieved to hear that she was safe and well.
thene: Frank at the end of TTS, with his facemask open. (frank)
I was the first one at work on Thursday, which never normally happens; shortly later Chelski appeared, and then Small Voice, Spike and the Hat Man. My Friend had said he'd be there, and showed up a little before ten; the Carbomb (our boss) had said he would not be there, but nevertheless came, and was kind enough to buy a couple of pizzas to share.

Between the seven of us, we hold either six or seven nationalities - I'm not certain if the Hat Man holds citizenship in his parents' homeland or not; I know the Carbomb does, and he was the only other American-born person there. The lazyass just-Yanks were all taking extended breaks with their lazyass Yank parents, as was Wolfie (his family moved to the US when he was a child); only Curly had left the country to go visit family, in her mother's homeland.

That left those of us without much Christmas spirit, much reachable family, much that mattered more than stretching out transience and running the timeclock (all but one of the hourly-pay people were there).

We are a generation of mercenaries.

When we were in Pittsburgh, M's uncle said (pertaining to his son, who had just finished a specialised career-related undergrad degree and was therefore working at a Verizon kiosk in Chicago) that one trait of our generation that he kinda admired was that we held little abiding loyalty to our employers; I told him that we never even got offered a deal that would warrant loyalty. It was only later that I thought of soldiers - I have gathered that both nations and corporations used to want soldiers, before deciding that we were cheaper and less of a liability. I used to love the word 'mutineer', but it doesn't mean anything any more.

We sold ourselves rationally, in used dollars; M and me settled in the available country that had actual jobs (albeit shitty ones), as did the parents of Wolfie, the Hat Man and My Friend; Curly's father's homeland (where she grew up) is getting gradually eaten by religious weirdoes, Chelski's is busy tearing up its political system on the evening news, Small Voice says hers is so sketchy that her young married friends flatly refuse to give birth there; they all came over on F visas for college (as did Spike) and are now angling for H1Bs. The Carbomb noted how many of his employees from companies past had asked him to lie through his teeth for their H1Bs, got them, and then quit. We're not soldiers. Intermingling is common; out of all thirteen of us who work at Zombies Inc, only the Cyborg and Small Voice are dating someone of their own nationality - I think the Hat Man, the DJ and Spike are single, although in a sitcomlike fashion the latter two are visibly attempting to climb in the pants of completely oblivious coworkers of their own nationality.

London is, oddly, another shared touchstone; Chelski, Spike and The Bond Girl all did a semester of college there, and My Friend and Chelski's girlfriend did some high school a little further down south, I guess because their parents were working there. These are global cities - the places people go to learn and work if they possibly can, if they have any way to afford a chance. The first thing I did when I came by some money was pack up and move to Boston. Back in GA, I knew people - a client, a coworker's husband, a memorable butch I met in a bar - who hadn't come by money so had gone with the more literal option of getting a PMC job in Afghanistan. And up here, every ad in every bus is pitching either private education or paid medical trials; our generation are all either indentured or selling flesh, and a very lucky, elite few of us have been able to shortcut to a place where we stand a chance of breaking even at it.

As we ate together, our boss announced that we'd make $1.2m next year and told me to divide that by seven; a hundred and seventy grand, and he said that's what we would each be taking home next year because he was going to fire Wolfie and Curly and all the Yanks. The reality is that he is not firing Wolfie, Curly and the Yanks, and at present he doesn't even draw salary for overseeing this whole delusion although he owns the vast majority of it, but holy shit it's amazing to hear someone even joking about treating you fairly.

(Later, My Friend showed us a conference video that included a spot from the former CEO of one of our client companies - a man notable for raising a few million in venture capital financing and then literally spending it all on hookers, blow, and - a trifling expense - Zombies Inc products. He got fired eventually, but it's a nice little story about the startup economy and how effective VC due diligence & management expertise actually is.)



Background oddness; I am not the only one who bestows obnoxious nicknames upon my fellow Zombies, but unlike me, my boss does not keep his to himself. After tagging me as 'the druid' or 'the pagan' for weeks (also sometimes 'the viking'), at the party he finally outright asked me if I was a Wiccan. I'm not, and I'm bad enough at talking about it even when sober - I told him I was esoterically minded and mentioned a couple of specific things I dig, and left it at that. Because I am completely socially hopeless it took another few days of mulling before I even figured out the screamingly obvious reason why he asked me that; because he is. Or something like. There've been hints before - he talks about astrology in a way I mistook for mainstream. Over Thursday's pizza lunch, he was talking about pre-Christian monasticism in Ireland; I am now pretty sure he is Celtic recon, in addition to being one of those baffling Americans for whom pretending to be Irish is their actual ethnic identity.
thene: and the space is filled with stars (centuries)
-there are all these people doing wind-down end-of-year posts and I am still full-tilt not ready for 2013 to stop. It's the 22nd, baby, lights back up and speeding downhill again. It being Wintervalmas is just making my job obnoxiously hard and stressful. However, I get four days off; the 24th, 25th, 31st and 1st. I get paid for this shit. Wow.

Wintervalmas errands accomplished today; baked a completely disastrous cake, banked some investment returns for tax purposes and started the EFIN registration process (which I apparently should have done like 2 months ago). I am the best xmas.

I've also been manoeuvring for a part-time job; I am going to be training n00bs for cuddleboss as of January 6th, and there is hope of a CPA firm job in Cambridge that I imagine starts late Jan/early Feb; not totally sure about this as the Useless People were meant to set me up an interview and haven't yet done so. I'll call them tomorrow and scream at them or sth.


-I keep wondering how much to write down; in any new environment, my instinct is to write shit down because I need to hang on to how weird everything is when you first see it, before you learn to skip over those gulfs of reason that you're going to be dodging around, day and night, for the rest of forever. Being paid a living wage, having somewhat humane working conditions - I need to register my shock at these things before it goes away. There's no reason behind it; Zombies, Inc is not yet breaking even, although it probably will in 2014 - someone just decided that my job was worth money, just as someone decided my previous jobs were not. (My Friend remarked over lunch a few weeks ago that in 2014 he expects Zombies, Inc to pull in about a million bucks and become a stable, reliable workplace, at which point he will completely lose interest and quit.)

The big wheels turning in my head the last few months have mostly been Thene Learns Basic Social Skills; nothing new to anyone else, I guess. Seriously while all jobs are highly specific social-skills factories, this (as of the end of September) is the first one where I've been paid to get people to talk to me rather than it being an incidental, value-added thing that sometimes happens while doing my job. Plus, I've never worked anywhere so sales-oriented before so my base reaction is 'I AM SURROUNDED BY FUCKING WIZARDS, I MUST LEARN THEIR WAYS.' The rent-saving startup ethos of everyone (except our boss, and also Wolfie and Spike because we ran out of space) being piled into one room does help build the neural net; just listening to My Friend talking is one of the highlights of my day tbh, and I feel like I get to see everything in its full dysfunctional glory. The list of things (eg. the most fruitful sales strategies) we don't tell our boss about has escalated to the point where the Cyborg was thinking of getting into an internships arrangement with his fraternity to get some unpaid, work-from-home-for-college-credit datamonkeys - so Zombies, Inc would have employees we hadn't told our boss about. This hasn't happened. Yet.


-it's the intellectual curiosity suck, as ever; proximity is enough to make you want to understand a thing, even without the added $$$$ incentive. And bonus, I get to write about this shit. Double bonus, the Cyborg mandates that our team spend the first 30 minutes of the day reading the day's industry news so we know what the hell is going on out there. (That I get paid for this makes me think of all the smarmass tax clients I've had who write off a WSJ subscription as an investment expense every year. When we were roadtripping in 2011 I picked up a lot of different newspapers in motels, and I can therefore pronounce the WSJ America's most vapid shitsheet. But seriously, I am now on the mystifying level where knowing my shit is allegedly worth company time.)


-I gave cuddleboss back the SEE textbooks that she lent to me back when she'd decided she wanted to take the CPA exam instead; she's since changed her mind because the CPA exam is a huge bitch. She said she was way happy for me having like letters after my name and a proper 9-5 job but was also a) pissed that I wasn't an unemployed bum who would be able to work for her full time, and b) jealous that I passed my shit before she did when she'd got through part 1 of the SEE last year. I seriously love her, definitely one of the 2 best bosses I've ever had. (The other was Dani K, the ex-marine & Arthurian fangirl who watched Fox News at work and dreamed of moving to Cornwall one day. So confuse.)


-I've never worked at a place swank enough to have an an office party before. It was dinner at boss's house, which makes a sort of social sense as boss is literally twice as old as his oldest employee (that would be me), and his son cooks for a living; I am just not going to speculate on what it is like having to cater for your overbearing parent's party where the guests are all younger than you (I think) and your proud hostess stepmother's barely older (I don't judge, because o for the love of god), but everything was completely delicious.

As I had never been to such an occasion before, I had never had a chance to confirm the rule that someone has to get completely wasted and show their crotch to all of their coworkers en masse; I guess I can only be grateful to have learned that this is true without having to be the person who did it. It was an unfortunate and very inebriated hallway yoga accident, and she was wearing the tiniest dress, black tights and disappointingly plain underwear. She also says she's forgotten most of the party. We have therefore silently agreed to memory hole the entire incident.

My boss also used the occasion to tell a friend of his that I wrote good, "even better than me!" he said. DUDE. YOU CANNOT WRITE. YOU CAN THINK, YOU HAVE GREAT IDEAS SOMETIMES, WHICH HAS FOOLED YOU INTO BELIEVING THAT YOU CAN WRITE, BUT YOU LITERALLY TYPE WITH TWO FINGERS AND YOU HAVE NEVER MET AN APOSTROPHE YOU DON'T WANT TO MUTILATE. IF GHOSTWRITERS DIDN'T EXIST YOU WOULD HAVE INVENTED THEM.

yes:

Dec. 12th, 2013 11:11 pm
thene: PROTIP do not fuck with Minette (minette)
-today I passed the last SEE exam and then came home and paid the $30 application fee to get letters after my name. I am weirdly way more chill than I was after either of the other two; after studying so long for this section, actually sitting the exam was fairly reassuring, whereas the other two I just jumped into as fast as possible and pantsed my way through. Huge 'what now' feeling. I want to go back to reading fiction instead of studying - miss it. eventually I may start writing horror things inspired by my job, idk.


-also today, we confirmed for the first time that the Zombies, Inc product my team makes does, in fact, work. This is not as bad as it sounds I swear to god - the product is meant to be a cheap way for people to do a thing that usually a), takes about a year and b), fails at least 80% of the time, even IF you do it the incredibly expensive way; so finding out about six months or so after getting clients that that our cheaper way can really work for them is p cool.
thene: Fang, Vanille and the space between them. (awakened)
I have presents sat around not getting mailed; there are no blog entries to not write. Not decorated because everything is a mess. I should, because I like it and it would feel like accomplishing something and Christmas is the only season Boston looks good in. We've had some thin snow to set the mood.


Life is better? I feel less overwhelmed, and am definitely running into fewer of those social nightmare moments, or more likely am ceasing to find them as nightmareish because much like any other thing people can do the best way to learn social skills is to do them for a living; and yesterday, my boss looked me up and down and asked "who are you today?" He meant, he said, that he saw the layers of things I wear in winter as costumes, and last week he'd got at me about the dowdy browns and greys; but yesterday it was a good question as I was wearing a dress of my mother's and the reason I was in his office was to talk about the ghostwriting. best lines from Sound Mind: You will never be one person. This will never be one world.

Tomorrow I am going to the Latino Tax Professionals Boston Regional CPE seminar day with my old boss. Neither of us are Latina and I don't even need CPE credits, I just want to and she got us in for free. On thursday night I will fail an exam (ngl I actually feel pretty confident about it but at the same time I wouldn't feel down about it if I did have to take it again).

In January something I line-edited/rescued from complete structural disaster after the two credited writers (neither of whom can write) started arguing about what the hell the point was is going to be in a magazine that I guess is mistakenly still thought to be reputable. Allegedly millions of people are going to look at the unspeakably shit, I did not do nearly enough to it, first few paragraphs and then skip the rest because it is terrible. My name is on it, in tiny letters at the bottom. I'm unsurprised at how easy it is to ghostwrite after a decade in fandom; I'm a little more surprised that I get enough recognition for being good at it to keep on getting told to do it. i mean, who even cares about good writing and since when did being good at something mean you got to do it <--this has never been more apparent, really. I've gone from being underpaid for things I am great at to being overpaid for things I am shit at.


overwhat? C reminds me of that sometimes; there's nothing normal about no one earning anything. I remember the recruiter I spoke to (who never did squit for me aside from giving me this) who said that she knew the recession wasn't really over. In a very real sense, I did get out of the recession in 2013; I (accidentally) found the full-time, permanent job I'd been looking for since I finished university in 2006. I recently read something that points out that the recession began in 1974 and is not yet over - the real recession in terms of people continually earning less and less money. You do get older, you turn experience and happenstance into ways to make an inch or two more elbow room for you to get by, and it's all done by scrambling over the people coming after you. For a lot of people there's still a recession on. For a lot of other people it never really happened, other than as a vague dream that temporarily dropped the stock market and threatened their possible, maybe, future unearned income, and now the Dow is back up it may as well never have happened. this will never be one world. I cannot get over the disconnect here; I don't get not being a temporary worker at the same company for 4 years, not pulling 50 or 60 or 70-hour workweeks 'part-time' any more. I may even bother to get health insurance some time in the next year.

In MA I now earn over twice what I did in GA; M's pay has jumped by 50%. We make more than the US median household income now. I still remember being 16 and thinking, having worked for nothing for years because that's what women have to do (God says so), that it would be alright once I was out of the asscrack of Lancs and could have a job because even if I got very little, say £12000 a year, it would be enough that I could make a few choices. It seemed so realistic. This is the first year I have actually made that much and most of it was from investment income gambling, although that won't be the case next year. My pay is a bit over $30k a year now and this feels alarmingly much and is only open to further escalation due to this very odd bit of sideways luck that let me slink into the finance industry via a young company with big ideas. I am still finding it p hard to accept that I am getting paid so much more for doing things that, well, anyone could do if I can.

The people in the office across the hallway from us are a socialist group who are backing the $15 minimum wage campaign. I sponsored a Walmart striker over Thanksgiving. Once I'm done with this fucking exam I need to finish reading Taxing Women, which is a look at the structures America chose to implement to keep women working for nothing.
thene: The Joy is facepalming at you. (facepalm)
-not been blogging because stupid things have been happening far faster than I can keep up with. this post is also long )
thene: Fang, Vanille and the space between them. (awakened)
the finance industry is really just the terminal form of consumer culture, where your cache is determined solely by how much money you have to throw at brand-name trend items. It's one of the two reasons I keep looping West End Girls; if, when, where, what. I'm not detached from it in any way - total sucker here for the moneyceleb circus, at least within in the 9-5 coma where I am getting paid. But what I've not yet shaken off is that guilty feeling regarding relationship-forming. I still get flashes of pain whenever someone is nice to me on the phone, especially if they're one of the rare ones who're chasing something other than money.
thene: The Joy is facepalming at you. (facepalm)


^i love this album and this song in particular. Anyone who likes lesbian robots should listen to it. Link for readers who cannot see embed.

I need to post this post as it just keeps growing as I've begun to feel like talking again, and while K & M persuaded me to get a twit lately it's not the best medium for me and sometimes just leads to dragging people into injokes without warning. Mostly I just retweet cute dog pictures.


tl;dr work )


I'll stop this post now for the sake of posting it; definitely not exhausted the backlog of work-related ranting. Your cast, if I continue to rant about this job, are The Bond Girl (originally my manager; she has recently been adopting, via cellphone, a persona in which she is a TA for an entirely fictional finance class at a university several hundred miles away), The Cyborg (currently my manager, although not currently a cyborg), My Friend (not currently my friend, it's just this vocal tic he has), Folksy, Small Voice, Chelski (really! he likes them so much he did a study abroad in London just to go see them every weekend!), Wolfie (I'm still not sure what he even does all day), The DJ, and, idk, I guess I will have to refer to our boss as The Carbomb because that would convey the right combination of put-on American Irishness, hot air and people screaming. I like many of them but Folksy is the only one I suspect of being actually interesting. He's marrying an opera singer next year.

I think I want to rant more about how the things I do get assigned money values and why those values are inversely proportional to the raw effort required and what the financialisation of everything might have to do with that; about rebuilding one's neural reward systems; about that feeling of relief at being able to stop struggling, if only for a brief and unknown breather that isn't a breather in that it's hard for me in ways it shouldn't be, but at least I can stop jobhunting and I have some faint hope of never having to go back to school, at least not just in order to be on this not-just-scraping-by, which is all I really needed. Other things are looming instead; thinking about building some real-name-internets because there's now industry fluff out there with my name attached so why not, eg. if I'm feeling far enough away from the tax industry to talk about how broken it is and how the tax code itself creates that brokenness. I am still going to finish the EA exam, though it would be hilarious to put letters after my name that do not pertain to what I am doing for a living.

what you do is, you hand out jigsaw puzzle pieces, and everyone gets one, and sometimes they swap them without realising.

shut up

Sep. 16th, 2013 06:04 pm
thene: "'The spirit is a garden,' said he." Photograph from ColinPurrington.com (snowdrops of gratuitous self-reference)
-on the 33rd floor (not of Happiness Ltd) sat on a piano stool and looking down at Boston, at the labyrinth next to the merry-go-round. The sea intrudes more than I tend to realise. Close to the glass, I can hear it talking to the stones. Quincy Market and piers-turned-parking-lots, cruise ships headed east.

Today I have been staffing a conference. Earlier, there was a panel about Europe, and when someone asked me the way to Europe I just pointed out across the harbour. /not big or clever

maybe people believe in benevolent gods because it's hard not to love somewhere at this height.
thene: PROTIP do not fuck with Minette (minette)
[15:35:21] fireholly99: http://images.4chan.org/cgl/src/1377060262947.png /cgl/ is having a Lolitas With Guns thread
[15:37:27] thene a: yesssssssss
[15:37:59] thene a: omg so adorb
[15:38:13] fireholly99: not much more, unfortunately :(
[15:38:13] thene a: the scope is so kawaii
[15:38:52] thene a: i love the serif-style tripod, it's totes victorian and ever so modest
[15:38:59] fireholly99: http://images.4chan.org/cgl/src/1377060129310.jpg
[15:39:27] thene a: omg is that real vintage?
[15:39:49] fireholly99: i seriously wish lolita firing squads were a thing :(