28 August 2012

The terror of tax time

Tax time is a bugger.

The step by step forms, the simplicity of the online layout, all the loveliness of the help button - none of it takes away from the fact that I'm essentially dealing with numbers, and logic and it all just reeks a little bit of maths.

I sucked at maths.  Whether baffled by the sheer logic or the implausibility of ever having to use any of it in real life - I struggled with maths my entire school life.

My basic arithmetic is just dandy. And having a calculator on my phone means never having to rely on my own calculations which is indeed a blessing for everybody but tax time is no arithmetic.  It's a headache.  A big ol' mean headache.

I could pay somebody to do my tax, but theoretically, my tax is simple.  But none of the words or concepts in the tax pack match with the simplicity of my reality.  And don't get me started on family benefits A & B and childcare rebates.... I just fill in the forms and hope to hell that the system can be trusted because I haven't a clue if I'm getting what I'm entitled to or not.  And when I went and asked at Family Assist they guy there knew less than me.  And owned up to not having a clue or caring.  I suppose such honesty in the government is to be applauded at some level.

Sigh.  Anyway, I'm obviously procrastinating.  I'm going back to the e-tax screen and I'm not going to bed until I've cracked it.  Or they've cracked me.

10 August 2012

The lottery of landlords

When we moved to Sydney in 2007 everybody was prolific in their dire warnings regarding the rental market and the dastardly deeds of landlords and shoddy agencies.  We spent a good weekend looking at houses, applied for a bunch, got almost all and moved into the one I couldn't remember but my guy swore by.  We lived there very happily with views of the television towers and the fireworks on NYE (if you hung off the edge of the balcony looking vaguely south).  Our landlord was splendid.  A paradigm of landlordly virture - quick to fix things, relentlessly fair and equitable - educating us about our rights as we went along so that we never felt she was gypping us and when our little family grew by one and it was time to  move - she gave us a glowing reference.

She ruined us.  Absolutely ruined us.

We've spent the last eleven months in a house that seemed okay at the viewing - with a gorgeous big back yard for us to accommodate both the plus one and soon to be plus two.  The place was older but better to be the worst house on the best street and old doesn't necessarily mean crap.

How wrong we were.  Flooding sewage pipes, rising damp, falling damp, possums, mould, drainpipes pouring water in the back door, half the stove plates not working and regularly shorting electrical fuses.  We rang emergency plumber after emergency plumber until at last the landlord paid for the plumbing to be 'fixed', meaning no flooding but a distinctly unpleasant smell should the weather grow warmer.  Our girls were sick constantly, and for every little thing we needed to ring the real estate agent, who would talk to the landlord who would then say no.  Their plan is to knock the house down in a few years so they don't want to spend money on it. 

So we're moving.  And the landlords wont let us out of the last couple of weeks of our lease because they haven't made any money with us as tenants.  Which is the shittest excuse ever. They wouldn't have made money anyway.  The fuses still short, the stove is still broken, mould still grows randomly in the hallway.  The next tenants are not going to be any happier than we are or indeed any happier than the last tenants.  Our real estate agent is perfectly affable but makes their money from the landlord and not the tenant.  We understand that - it doesn't mean the landlord is in any way ethical or 'good'. And how does that ultimately reflect on an agency?

We're moving to a new house, higher rent, dry.  With a private landlord who has been so helpful he's in danger of making our first Sydney landlord look Grinch like.  Which is quite a feat.  And we can't wait.

A toast to lovely landlords and a pox on the others.  

7 August 2012

Over committed, under resourced

When I embarked upon my blog project, I had lists I ran through mentally of things I felt passionately about, things that interested me, small amusements and I envisaged myself bashing away at the keys for half a delightful hour every day honing my blogging skills and indulging in my love of writing.

Oh the power of the imagination hey?

I really should have considered the impending visit of my in-laws, our imminent house move, the two small children under two that I have, a third anniversary, the list of things that I'm trying to get done because I'm a list writer and the little things that actually make up the vast majority of life.  Like the chest infection which actually had me bedridden and indignant with it.  Didn't the world know I didn't have time to be sick?  I had THINGS TO DO.

I have mentally composed the wittiest, decidedly cutting, somewhat poignant blogs in reply to all manner of world and personal events as I rocked my poorly youngest child at three in the morning.  I've even written the odd note on the old iPhone which now makes no sense -  'tall poppy exclusive', 'art critic bollocks'.  I mean really - they are not even ringing a distant bell in a neighbouring dimension let alone setting off anything in my own brain.

So, here's to a refresh, a reload and a rebirth.  My blogging begins anew.