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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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Just sharpen your pencil and the numbers will magically fall into place. Or not.
Just sharpen your pencil and the numbers will magically fall into place. Or not.

When tax forms make grown women cry

I have come to a point in my life where I feel like I should really have my "stuff" together. I'm not in college, I'm approaching 30, I have a full time job, a car loan, rent, etc. and I feel like I should really be on top of my game in all life's aspects. A small fraction of the time I do feel that way, but then tax season hits and I become a bumbling moron.

Actually, that's not true. I really become an expert procrastinator. I hate doing taxes. It's like my worst high school math class nightmare. I instantly break out in a cold sweat, biting my cuticles and wishing I had someone to cheat off of. I hated doing taxes when I only had one W2 to fill out and the whole process took no more than an hour, but 2010 was a whole new story.

I had a number of W2s from 2010 and a couple 1099 variations, that I'm now fairly certain were made up for the enjoyment of the IRS to keep track of how many times I Googled "how to file multiple versions of 1099 forms for Dummies." It's a joke. I've used Turbo Tax for years. They spell this stuff out exactly the way I need it, like I'm five years old. There are nice little pictures to help you with your word association. "Oh, there is a house by the part that asks about home ownership... That makes sense!"

I like that there are easy to answer questions. Like my taxes are doing the work to get to know me, not the other way around. "Come on, 1040, can't you at least buy me dinner before you totally screw me over?" But after realizing that Turbo Tax and its numerous copy cats are all a bunch of rip off (setting you up to think you can file for free, then hitting you with a ridiculous fee to complete your state return) I was highly motivated to do my own taxes this year. That's what strong, independent women like me do, right?

Upon discovering I had less than a week to complete said taxes, the first thing this strong, independent woman did was call her mom and dad. They seem to know how to fix almost everything else, why not this? Well, o…

Riviera Maya is perfect for eating, drinking and lazing around.
Riviera Maya is perfect for eating, drinking and lazing around.
The resident iguanas are everywhere.
The resident iguanas are everywhere.
Not even sunburn can spoil a week of fun in the sun.
Not even sunburn can spoil a week of fun in the sun.

Mexico's Riviera Maya makes for a week of fun in the sun (and water)

I don't mean to brag, but I spent last week in Mexico. The Riviera Maya area to be more specific, and it was awesome. We flew out of chilly Chicago in the wee hours of the morning, had a quick layover in Atlanta (where we saw Fantasia from "American Idol" in the airport) and arrived at the Cancun airport by lunch.

It had just rained, which made me nervous. No one likes to come back from a foreign country known for its sun-drenched beaches with nothing to show for it. Luckily, the rain passed and by the time we were outside at the resort shuttle, it was hot and steamy.

The drive from the Cancun airport to the resorts is strewn with people living in complete squalor and the sad irony of that fact wasn't lost on me. As you pass into the security of your resort, it's odd to think just on the other side of the brick wall and well-manicured palms are people that have next to nothing.

Mile after mile, mangy dogs lie under laundry drying on a line running between the trunk of a tree and a pathetic excuse for shelter. It made me feel incredibly sad and incredibly lucky at the same time.

I made myself (and my mother) a promise not to get sunburned while I was there. I failed. The first day was great; we had all afternoon to lie in the sun and I was diligent about slathering myself in sunscreen.

The next day everyone else decided to get up and go to the gym. I wanted to see the rest of the resort and try to get some nice photos so I put on my walking shoes and my iPod and ventured out, camera in hand. There are iguanas everywhere down there so they figured highly in my photo shoot.

When I got back to the pool, which we had decided was our central location, I was ready to lie out and soak up some sun (after a healthy dose of SPF, of course). Before I had a chance to sit down, one of the resort workers forced me into doing some water aerobics; I figured this couldn't take more than 15 minutes and grudgingly obliged. Forty-five minutes of making an ass of myself in front of…