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A phrase came to mind as I completed this year’s taxes. It’s one of very few Bangla phrases I know and usually save for bad restaurants. It translates to “They slapped us in the face and took our money.

This was a frustrating year to pay taxes. I just didn’t want to do it. Who does, knowing the money could actually go toward a wall ordered by a born millionaire who didn’t have to pay his own taxes for 18 years? Wouldn’t it be nice for those of us who do pay taxes if we could indicate where we want at least a percentage of our dollars to go? Filing would be more engaging than stressful, more fulfilling maybe.

But it’s done. I’ll have my reward now.

Does anyone else reward themselves for doing their taxes? This year someone special (ME!) is getting hiking boots. I’m tired of slipping on boulders in old running shoes. Lyme disease-spreading ticks are supposed to be at an all time high this year in the Northeast, which they say every year, but I’m treating myself to more insecticide, too. Chemicals!

Since filing was especially annoying this year thanks to the electoral college’s president, I’m also baking me a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf. They say pumpkin isn’t in season right now. I’m going to share a deep dark secret. Our pumpkin that we got back in October is still on our mantle. It’s fine. I keep waiting for it to liquefy or reveal itself for the alien pod it is. I check it for rot every day and every day it’s fine, a little lighter like it’s hollow inside. I’m not baking the actual pumpkin. We kept it up over the holidays by our leg lamp and hung streamers around it for New Years. We put a hat over the curled stem for St. Paddy’s and now there’s a bunny on top. Maybe the fountain of pumpkin immortality is the corner spot on our mantle? We’ve come so far together, been through so much. The pumpkin is a part of the family. It’s like the lazy aloof cat we can’t have because of allergies.

With all the distraction of taxes and rewarding myself, I completely forgot about April Fools’. So when my little sister I called I answered with the first thing that came to mind.

“I cut off my little toe.”

She screamed, “What?” Then there was a glorious stunned silence, followed by “How?” And more horrified questions. My answers were just vague enough and I said I’d send her a picture because if I did cut my toe off I would take a picture for my Dead Stuff newsletter.

The picture was a drawn toe with “April fooled you” written, but I guess it took her a while to open because she thought it was a picture of my real severed toe. She called my dad before I got to him so for a little while both of them thought I’d cut off my own little toe and was sending around the picture. For good measure I included my other two sisters in the horror.

I got them. It’s funny how effortless it was to make my family to believe I cut my toe off. Good times.