Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
In December 2022, I recorded a podcast with interviewer Dr. Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, author, speaker, podcaster, and much more, including serving as an elementary school principal and publishing devotionals for women. She also has coordinated fitness boot-camps for women and has a black belt in Taek-won-do.
I met Katherine at a book signing at San Marco Books in Jacksonville, Florida in fall of 2020, and immediately struck a bond. Meanwhile, we kept in touch through Facebook and our blogs. In 2022, I congratulated her on an article published in Guideposts, and shortly thereafter she contacted me about doing a podcast together, which you can hear below. In the interview we discuss my blog and my forthcoming book, My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir.
Listen to . . .
- my zigzaggy path toward finding the theme for my new memoir, My Checkered Life.
- how I find magic in blogging.
- my encouragement to writers about publishing, marketing, and making connections.
A Taste of My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir
Excerpt from Chapter 39: “Income Tax Deadline Looming and Grandchildren Going off to College”
In my writing studio, the flame on my cinnamon-scented candle flickers, the tongue of fire recalling a flare-up one Sunday evening.
“We have to settle this now. I don’t want to go to bed mad!” Cliff says, sitting on the edge of the blue bed spread in our guest room, where I have been snacking and stewing alone. He wants to get things straightened out after an argument, while I like to simmer before we decide to get back on the same page again.
“Stop with this nonsense,” I had yelled earlier. “You have enough figures to file that stupid IRS report for 2021.”
Cliff yelled back, mimicking my volume but in a lower register. I paused, surprised at his loud response, “See how you like that!” Then he pressed on, “I have to get it right. I can’t fudge on figures! I must substantiate every expense. I don’t want to trigger another audit. You don’t understand.” I stomped off to my writing studio, and he scooted back to his refuge in his corner red chair and ottoman to listen to his audio book, Clive Cussler’s Dark Vector.
Our tiff was tipped off by an accumulation of grievances mingled with fatigue: miscommunication with our children about meeting up to say farewell to two freshman grandsons going off to college and Cliff’s obsessive-compulsive zeal for a “perfect” income tax filing with itemized deductions. “You spend too much time on useless detail. Mike (our accountant) says too many business deductions may trigger an income tax audit.”
We’d been through an audit twice: once in the 1990s, when an IRS agent came to our house, suspicious that our home office for Cliff’s graphic arts business may be a front for drug dealing. “Drug dealing, for heaven’s sake. That’s absurd!” I struck back. The auditor peeked into our closets, looking for evidence. Amazingly, in the end, it turned out the IRS owed us money because of a newly initiated tax credit for vehicles, a deduction that Cliff wasn’t aware of.
The second time, we were summoned to the Federal Building in downtown Jacksonville just before our trip to Ukraine in 2011. The agent, suited in brown plaid with a white turtleneck that obviously choked off blood supply, glared at us. She moved with sloth-like fingers, prolonging the agony. Try to picture Flash the Sloth in the Disney movie Zootopia but without the comedy. Cliff had previously filed IRS reports himself, putting some figures in the wrong slots and claiming roof “cost,” not “depreciation,” a tag acceptable over a longer period of time. Our newly-hired accountant, Intercessor Irene, stepped in to get penalty and interest charges removed. Honestly, I don’t remember major damage to our budget over the whole ordeal.
Cliff as cartoonist is usually laid-back, prone to generating squiggly lines in caricature and impromptu innuendo as jokester. However, with the IRS, his artistic flair mutates into reams of Excel spreadsheets, his tailor-made Tax Organizer with rectilinear entries, shot with color, delineating income sources: pink for Marian the writer, orange for Cliff the artist, yellow for sub-columns, blue for totals, and green for rows of categories.
Since the beginning of our marriage, both our incomes funnel into one pot. We usually discuss larger items. Cliff needing a $300 eight-terabyte storage drive for huge visual files gets my okay. He never fusses over big drains like my cataract surgery with astigmatism correction, which cost $5000 even with supplemental insurance. “It’s worth it. You can’t put a price tag on good vision,” he assures me. I pay our bills online and write out the odd bank check for piano tuning or extra charitable giving. Cliff keeps up with the monthly Quicken accounts, adapting the data for yearly income tax reports.
This argument finally did get settled. Cliff waved his hand toward me with a quick salute, clearing the air, “Okay, things are level now.” That night, we got rest for our exhausted bodies and later leaned into a familiar, friendly rhythm the next day. I hate it when we clash, though, the conflict seeping into my soul like stain into thick fabric, woven into our checkered life.
Still, the sun, that star of fiery love, helps bleach out the blotch, so we can move forward.
See Some Notable Quotes:
“It’s brave to grab your memories by their wispy floating tendrils and wrestle them into a book or a blog.” Linda Joy Myers, memoirist and founder of National Association of Memoir Writers.
“We write to taste life twice.” Anais Nin
What do you most anticipate about reading my next memoir?
What book(s) are you enjoying right now?