Monday, April 2, 2012

My (not-so-) Secret Love of Accounting

Portrait of an Accountant by ~Spanishalex on deviantART

Growing up, I was an art kid. The kind that doodled on everything and carried a sketchbook everywhere. Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that art kids don't like math - aren't good at math. Creativity and structure don't go together (silly, right?), so why even bother?

Then my junior year of high school, I had Mr. Long for Algebra 2. Mr. Long didn't smile, he didn't crack jokes, he glared at the classroom like he wanted to eat us all for breakfast. At least for a couple months. After midterms, he knew which students were trying and which students were going to blow off the class. From that point forward, he gave everything he could to those of us who tried, singing songs about logarithms and the quadratic formula. And he did something I never thought possible - he taught me that I could do math, I was good at math and I liked math.

I still do. Neat little numbers in neat little formulas. Plug in the right numbers to the right formula and you get the right answer. It's perfect and infallible and reliable. Art is so subjective. Right for me is wrong for you (and yet how often do we reduce writing to a formula? But that's another post.) Math is either right or wrong.

Unfortunately, I chose a career path that seldom requires more than basic addition and subtraction. Occasionally I get to play with statistics. Those are fun days. But for the most part, my love of numbers remains a fond memory. (Although I did discover that the 5x table is an excellent rhythm for rocking babies to sleep.)

The one exception to this is tax time. Sure, I hate owing taxes as much as anyone, but I LOVE actually doing them. I load up TurboTax and plug in all my numbers and watch it spit out pretty answers. We have a crazy complicated tax situation with a business partnership that needs it's own return, a couple W-2s, a few 1099s, charitable contributions, schedule C, health insurance paid out of pocket. It's madness I say. And it keeps getting worse each year. (*Fingers crossed for just two W-2s next year*)

But with all that insanity, I love the challenge. I love making it work. I love that sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing. And I love that, like Mr. Long taught me long ago, I'm actually good at math.

It's amazing how one person's faith can change you.

What about you? Do you have a secret hobby that doesn't quite mess with your public image? Have you ever had someone's belief in you push you to try something outside your comfort zone?


  1. I love Math (majored in it), but I HATE doing taxes. ...too many forms, even if they are computerized. :)

  2. I always hated maths, struggled from the outset but loved art and writing. However having grown up, there are aspects of mathematics that I do enjoy and like you, hubby's tax return is one of them. The British system might be easier than yours, but I enjoy the calculations and working it all out!

  3. Considering everything, I guess writing is what doesn't 'mess' with my public image. Usually when I tell people that's what I like to do, they look surprised. I think they expect me to favor critiquing movies and/or being in a garage band (although I would LOVE to be in a band), so it takes them off-guard to think I'm not all music and movies.

    -Jen McPeek,