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Tax Return Season

  • Posted on February 24, 2016 at 3:53 pm

In the United States of America, we pay taxes every single day. On the money we make, on the money we spend, on everything, just about. These taxes pay for our roadways. They pay for our city ordinances and libraries and public schools. They pay for the indigent health care that is the only health care I currently have. These taxes give disability payments to those who cannot work and welfare payments to those who can’t find work. These taxes give food to those who cannot buy their own.

In short, these taxes help save lives. A lot of people disagree. A lot of people feel we pay way too many taxes. To these people, I ask, what do you expect? What can be done without money these days, and where is the government meant to get that money without our support as citizens. You don’t complain about the tax money when it comes to the properly-paved roads, only when there are holes in them. You don’t complain about the libraries that provide the homeless with places to be during the day, until they close down and the homeless stand on your street corners. You don’t complain about law enforcement, until they’ve pulled you over. To the people who complain about taxes, I say this:

When you check our a book at the library, you’re asked to return it on time, correct? And when you don’t you pay a fee. That fee then goes to the librarians salaries. The librarians who help you find and check out books. That fee goes to the lease on the property that library sits on. That fee goes to purchasing new books. That fee goes to holding classes for those too poor to attend college. That fee is useful. So I never complain about paying the fee on a book I kept out too long. After all, if I didn’t want to pay the fee, I just wouldn’t use the service, would I? Taxes are just like that. If you don’t want to pay the taxes, move somewhere else.

The bright side to taxes comes down to this, however. And this bright side is Tax Returns.

So basically, the idea is, you pay exactly your fair share in taxes. Sometimes, however, because of the way the system is set up, you accidentally over pay! So, the government, after you file your taxes, and they double check their math, sends you a check with your tax returns!

It’s a little like hitting the lottery. I knew a family that when they filed their combined taxes, they got a return of $3000 dollars. My best friend got a return of around $1500. I’m getting close to $1200 dollars back this year. Last year, I only got about $500 dollars back. But what do you do, when you have a ton of money coming to you in one lump sum?

Some people, like a girl I know from work, payed off her credit card debt, and then bought a $300 purse. My best friend paid her son’s tuition for his school, and then bought her husband a giant tv. (and gave me the smaller one! Yay!) I know one friend who is planning to save it until Comicon in the summer, and spend it there. So what’s the right strategy when it comes to using your tax return?

Personally, I intend to make sure my tax return works for me this year. I don’t want to fritter it away on purses or food or anything like that. I really want to make sure I spend this money wisely. So I consulted some articles. Some, like Money Crasher’s article, were filled with a few good ideas, but mostly bland options. Others, like TurboTax’s article, are filled with more whimsical ideas. Personally, I like the idea of funding a business.

For almost a year, I have been considering starting an Apiary. Often, with a $500 start up cost, you can get a decent 3-4 hive Apiary going. Enough to supply honey for a small shop. I’m thinking of it as a great way to make sure I have revenue coming in in the future. A second blade, if you will, were I to use terms from Assassination Classroom. It would be difficult, of course, to run a business, work full time AND attend College. Which is what my plans are for this year. However, it’s going to be worth it.

My other plan is glasses. My own are wearing down, and I can barely see. Glasses, when one doesn’t have insurance, generally cost anywhere from $500 to $1200, depending on your perscription and the frames you chose. I may just ask them to reuse my frames.

In general, however, this is how it always goes. I pledge to myself I will spend my return wisely, and then it’s gone before I know it. Hopefully, this year, my return season goes better than last, and hopefully, yours too. Tell us what you plan on spending your tax return on  in the comments! If you live in a country that doesn’t do tax returns, tell us how your tax system works! I’m very curious.

Writing Anime: Valentine’s Edition!

  • Posted on February 15, 2016 at 1:13 am

It is Valentine’s Day for most of us, February 14th, a day when we celebrate romance and love (and sex) in all it’s myriad forms. From the loving married couple giving each other lovingly prepared gifts, to the cute young lovebirds declaring their affections with homemade cards, to the cute japanese schoolgirl baring her feelings with homemade chocolates. Lately, we also celebrate the other half of that dichotomy, the lonely single sitting on their couch eating chocolates bought with their own money, the friend who gives his single friend a rose so she won’t feel bad about valentines day, the guy desperate for love who decides to do valentine’s blind dates.

So today, we’re going to celebrate writing love! In fact, I have an example for you of REALLY well done romance. Oddly enough, the story it finds itself in, is quite literally, a tragedy. The story? Katanagatari. The couple? Shichika Yasuri and his wielder (this is explained in the series.) Tougame, the self-proclaimed Strategian. First thing I’d like to point out, Shichika is absolutely the youngest of the two, which in and of itself in literature, is rare. I’ll give you a breakdown of the series a little bit before going into the actual relationship.

Katanagatari started as a series of light novels, twelve in total, by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take.  These novels depicted the journey of Shichika Yasuri and his attempts to recover the Deviant Blades. The swordmaster Kiki Shikizaki made 1000 swords in his lifetime, and the shogunate has managed to find 988 of them. HOWEVER, the final twelve are the most dangerous. These Deviant Blades turn their wielders mad, and give them immense strength. Togame has been tasked with this mission.

Shogunate strategist Togame has been ordered to recover them. She first hired a ninja…but the worth of the swords is so great that the entire ninja clan defected the moment they recovered one. Then she hired a swordsman… but he kept the sword for himself after finding it and went rogue.

Her last hope is Shichika Yasuri, the seventh head and last practitioner of Kyotouryuu, the No Sword School. He and his elder sister live on an island cut off from civilization, and as such they need no money. His fighting style doesn’t use a sword, so the famous weapons are useless to him

TvTropes page on Katanagatari

The true story here, however, is how Shichika and Togame fall in love. One of the iconic quotes of the series is Togame’s first orders to Shichika on how he is to conduct himself during the journey. Her exact words I’ll leave for when you to discover, but suffice to say, they’re very sweet, if one thinks about it. Through the course of the series, we see her slowly teach Shichika more about humanity, more about himself, and, without meaning to, more about herself.

Part of what makes this series so well written, however, and this romance specifically, is that while outright STATED that the romance will go down, (“Fall for me!” – Togame) it is also shown in all the small things. There are scenes of Shichika dressing Togame. Scenes of her allowing him to wrap himself in her hair, to learn her scent. Scenes of the two of them holding one another, and depending on one another.

The progression is rational, and slow. Fair warning, however, this anime is a tragedy. So don’t go into this expecting it all to be feel good feelings and love. But then again, when is love like that? And you can see that too, with Shichika growing a little cruel when he thinks Togame has gone to far, and with Togame crying and being cruel herself when Shichika seems interested in another woman. The series makes sure to show the ups and the downs.

Another brilliant thing depicted is how each partner supports the other in times of sadness. Just a warning, there are a few spoilers here, but the series is relatively old, so any look up of it will definitely yield these spoilers anyway. Now that you’ve been fairly warned, I’ll be happy to go into more detail.

Later in the series, we find out that Shichika’s older sister is a little… Well. She’s nuts. She goes and finds one of the deviant blades in order to force Shichika to fight her, and hopefully, kill her. Togame stands by his side (And in fact is way too close to the battle) while he fights the only other person he’s known for his entire life, and at the end, lets him grieve as he needs to.

We see something very similar later on in the series, when in the search of another deviant blade, they meet the Sage. He forces Togame to confront the death of her father, and his last words to her, and it takes a long, long time for that to happen, along with a lot of manual labor in the form of digging. But Shichika is not the one doing the manual labor this time. Togame digs from day until night, and Shichika stays by her side as much as he can, as well as serving as a place where she can rest at the end of a hard day.

I meant literally a place for her to rest, by the way.

These sorts of scenes are necessary to show us the love that has blossomed between them. The trust and the camaraderie between them is more important than any outward romantic display of any kiss or hand-holding. These little moments, they’re more of a love story than fifty shades of grey and twilight put together.

To make it simple, here are a few points to make sure your romance doesn’t fall flat, or worse, turn into a farce.

  • Show the small moments. The things that aren’t ROMANCE per se, but are, in fact, companionship.
  • Make the romance about the PEOPLE, not the sex.
  • Make memories for them. Beautiful memories that we as the reader can share in the intimacy of.
  • Try not to push your version of romance on them. Let it grow. Let them be people.
  • Above all, make sure that there is story to surround the romance. Even in Romance Novels this is paramount.

Remember, the story in and of itself is about the people, and if these people happen to be in love, show us that! In love, show-don’t-tell is essential. So go out there and tell the best love story you possibly can!

 

Monthly Writing Update – Feb 2016

  • Posted on February 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

So, I’ve decided that, since I have trouble keeping up with one post a week, much less two, I’m going to switch to a Monthly Writing Update, which will generally be published on the 5th or so of every month. As always, this will include my writing progress, writing goals, reading goals, and various other goals that I feel like sharing with you guys. I hope you don’t mind the change in format, but honestly, I feel like this is a bit more… uh. Honest.

Writing Progress:

The Knight of Kuryle – Rewrite – 5,605 words – five chapters re-written

All other writing projects are on hold until I can get this done.

Posts written:

Weekly Writing Update – 1/11/16

Ab Ovo – A Review of a Literary Term

Writing Anime: Colorful – About POV changes mid-story

Writing Anime: Land of Gods and Monsters – About Magic Systems

IWSG – 2/3/16 – About Giving yourself a break.

Books Read:

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

February Goals:

Do Taxes

File Fafsa

Four more Blogposts this month

Rewrite 5k more words on book

Read another book – Not sure which one yet.

IWSG – 2/3/16

  • Posted on February 3, 2016 at 6:48 pm

We're here for you.Today I’d like to go into the idea of scheduling and how it can often go wrong. You see, I have fallen in love with a method called Bullet Journaling, and it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever had to keep me organized. (Not that even bullet journaling helps entirely, I’m an unorganized mess, and I know it.) So recently, I’ve been using this method to plan out my blog posts for the month, and it’s been… Well, sort of working.

My goal for January was in fact, SIX posts, not five. But I only managed five of them. However, I’m not counting this as any kind of loss! No, not at all. In fact, this is a major win, considering for the last six months before january, I hadn’t really posted AT ALL. You see, that can happen sometimes. Life gets in the way, and you just CAN’T sit down and write.

For those of you who are hardcore writers, people who want to make this a career, (and don’t get me wrong, I do want a career as a writer.) you know how easy it is to fall into a slump. Into that chasm and catacomb of ‘Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ or ‘I can’t do it today, so maybe next week.’ And everyone’s advice is the same, WRITE IT OUT ANYWAY.

While most of the time I agree with this, I’ve also found that it can cause massive anxiety and fear for me, if I know I can’t do something, and still try to force myself to do it. Sometimes this anxiety can act as a catalyst, pushing me to greater heights. Other times, however, it can trigger something even worse. A deep depression. A ‘Woke Up Bad’ day. Or a level ten panic attack.

These sorts of things are to be avoided at all costs.

So I have given myself permission to say, ‘I can’t do this.’ Specifically, I schedule things for specific days of the week. And if it doesn’t get done? That’s okay. I don’t move it to the next day. I don’t make it follow me like some ghost rattling it’s chains of regret. I leave it. I move on to the next day’s list. Sure, I make sure it’s in next week’s list, so that it gets done EVENTUALLY. But I don’t stress over it.

Using this method, I’ve been able to keep up (mostly) not only with my writing, but also with my housecleaning. It’s a miracle, just being able to say, ‘Yeah I didn’t get to it. That’s okay.’ I never realized before how FREEING it is to just be able to say that, and move on.

So my number one tip to all you insecure writers out there? Give yourself permission to move on. Don’t let moving on turn into a slump, of course, but still. Know that you are human, and forgive yourself for your minor failures. Because honestly, only you have that power, and you should excersise it whenever possible.

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