last night i did my taxes, missing only the W2 form from squid (deductions were already taken out from my normal salary, so i didn't think i'd have to pay too much for that portion of my paperwork). once i started it's hard to stop, like watching a movie where i want to find out how it ends. in my case i knew it'd be a horror since with the amount of taxable freelance work i did in the second half of the year,


more days!

i was pretty sure i owed the government a big check. after plugging in all the numbers in turbotax deluxe, i arrived at a figure: $5000. immediately i went into a panic. the money i had left, would it pay for my trip? not only do i have to worry about my living expenses while abroad, but i'm still paying for half the monthly mortgage on my place while i'm gone (my sister and her friend are only paying for half when they move in), on top of a few other bills. it was then i remembered client X (the client notorious for going a whole year before they finally paid me for work i did for them 2 years ago) still owes me money, and then i felt better. when i come back i'm still going to be hurting for cash, but at least i won't be scraping zeroes in my bank account just yet. besides, it'll be the summer once i return, and summer living is cheap.

this morning i went to the bank in harvard square to consolidate my saving and checking account. i was also going to get some traveler checks but at the last minute decided i'd bring all cash, since i like to live dangerously. traveler checks represent a safe option to transport money, but i didn't want to get them in large denominations because i don't want to be left with all this foreign currency when i come back. i still have a few days to decide though, i might change my mind.

i went to the EMS store to check out daypacks. what i really need is a 90 days pack, but they don't make those, and if they did i don't think i'd be able to carry it. my father, who was off duty from work until later in the day, came out to meet me to do some bag shopping. we both really liked the "flipside" daypack ($70), especially how it had a "secret" compartment on the back panel for storing valuables (no way any pickpocket would be able to get their hands in there). it was advertised as 2150 cubic inches even though it seemed just as big as some 1500 cubic inches bags, but i decided to buy it anyway, if nothing else, at least a bag i could compare others to (and then i could return one of them later).

we made a pitstop at the cafe to get some food, before my father drove me out to the REI store in reading. i figured there'd be a better selection of bags but REI was surprisingly low on choices. we both liked the size of the "traverse" ($60), advertised at 1890 cubic inches but looked much bigger than the "flipside" i bought earlier. nevertheless, there were some things missing, like mesh water bottle pockets or a secret back compartment. we figured there'd be better choices (possibly online, or maybe i could buy cheaper in taipei), so left bagless, although i did get a small ultra-absorbent bathroom towel.

back at my place, we tested the "flipside" daypack by loading it up with the things i'll be carrying during my 3 months abroad. verdict: the bag is definitely too small, everything bulges outwards, makes me look like a turtle about to topple over. so i'm going to definitely need a bigger bag. after a search online for something suitable, i figured i'd just get the REI "traverse": although it doesn't have all the bells and whistles (note: the hidden compartment on the "flipside" hurts when i put anything bulky into it), it's the perfect size, relatively cheap, and have these great foamed suspension straps and backing that makes it really comfortable to wear.

the weather today was gorgeous, temperature in the 50's, made me feel like spring was right around the corner. being a seasoned new englander however, i know this is all a ruse! the cold will be back, don't worry, winter isn't over with us yet. the cold can be so pervasive, sometimes even in june i still feel the chill. it'd have been a great day to go running, but i was "running" late again and postponed it yet again. instead, i went into the bathroom to read the latest issue of newsweek then took a hot bath. for dinner, just ramen with some watermelon for dessert. watermelon in the wintertime! what luxury!

the rest of the evening was spent in my bedroom, tweaking my taxes some more, after katrinka sent me a PDF copy of my W2 via e-mail. the numbers didn't come out so hot: after much fiddling, i now owe the government (state and federal combined) $5700. i didn't go into as much panic as i did last night. death and taxes, they just can't be avoided.