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Tax Season Anxiety: I'm Secretly Rich

time to hideFor as long as I’ve been required to file, I’ve been lying about my taxes.

Before anyone sics the IRS on me, let me clarify that I have not been lying on my tax returns: I am a law-abiding citizen with a deep-seated fear of the audit. But I have been lying to friends and colleagues—minor, reflexive lies summoned forth to hide the fact that I am a secretly wealthy 20-something.

During my childhood, an envelope of stock certificates with my name on it would appear under the tree every Christmas among the toys. My incredibly generous grandmother was slowly disbursing the stock that she had inherited from her mother to her 10 grandchildren while she was still alive—presumably for estate planning purposes. This pattern continued until she ran out in my late teens, at which point I had amassed a solid chunk. The resulting dividend income, which I dutifully deposited into my savings account four times per year, meant that I started filing a tax return before I could legally drive.

And then came my first tax-related lie: One day when I was a freshman in high school, my father made a passing comment about taxes in front of a friend of mine, who promptly asked me what on earth I was paying taxes on. I stammered an awkward reply about having done some part-time work for a relative last summer, and we moved on.

“When you’re a kid, you think you’ll be a certain place in your mid-30s. I presumed I’d be rich because when you’re middle-class with hardworking immigrant parents that’s the whole point. I also thought I’d be married and potentially own a beautiful apartment in New York. Ha ha. What you spend zero time wondering about is whether you’ll still be doing drugs. You naturally assume you’ll grow out of whatever stupidity you dabbled in as a teen. Even up to my 20s I didn’t realize that job-having, non-fuckup grown-ups in their 30s and 40s still smoked weed. Or did ecstasy. But then I got older and got bored.”#

Eat the Mango (No, Not That One)

maaaango

The end of March is still a dead zone for produce here in the Northeast, but in Mexico and further south to Peru, one of the world’s most diverse and most popular fruits, the mango, is beginning to enter one of its two seasons (the other is in early fall). Even though our neighbor to the south is one of the world’s biggest producers of mangoes—and Florida grows a pretty respectable number and hosts what looks like a delightful festival focused on the fruit—the mango is underappreciated and underused in the United States. This should be a crime! We should all be arrested!

If you live in a place without a substantial Indian or Mexican population, there’s a pretty fair chance the only mango you’ve ever seen is the Tommy Atkins: a large, red-green mango with a giant pit and a fibrous interior that gets stuck in your teeth. The Tommy Atkins is one of those accursed fruit varieties, like the Red Delicious apple, that is an insult to its brothers and should be banished from the planet. The Tommy Atkins is the worst possible example of the wonders of the mango: weak in flavor, egregious in texture, and popular exclusively because it is large, easy to grow, and tough enough to withstand transit.

The Tommy Atkins mango was created by Thomas Atkins in Broward County, Florida from a tree planted in 1922. Atkins was very pleased with his shit mango; he thought it would sell well because it is large and pretty and does not bruise easily. He was right, although it took awhile for the variety to catch on. Throughout the early nineteen fifties, Atkins kept trying to get the Florida Mango Forum to approve it; they did not, citing its subpar flavor and texture, but eventually the growers, rather than the tasters, won out. The Tommy Atkins today is by far the most common variety in the U.S., which is embarrassing as heck.

There are thousands of varieties of mangoes, ranging from giant grapefruit-sized mangoes to tiny plum-sized mangoes, dark purple mangoes to delicate golden mangoes, and flat oblong mangoes to nearly spherical mangoes. The textures range from so creamy you need to use a spoon to so crunchy you need to use a fork (or chopsticks), the flavors from crisp and vegetal to heavy and sweet. Most mango varieties do not travel well, unfortunately, and there’s not much of a market in shipping some of the weirder ones all the way from, say, the south of India, where mangoes are as beloved as apples in New York. That said, if you live in a city, or in a place with a healthy representation of certain immigrant groups, there’s a pretty good chance you can find a mango that’ll totally change the way you think about them.

English Monarch Signatures, Ranked

28. Edward VI (1547-1553): edward

27. Philip (1554-1558):
philip

26. George IV(1820-1830):georgeiv

Aberdeen, Maryland, to New York City, March 29, 2015

weather review sky 032915★★★ The thermometer on the glass of the kitchen door said 32 degrees when the seven-year-old got boosted up to read it. Shining ice lay in the junction where the tributary country road curved to meet the marginally larger stem road. More ice sat in the flooded parts of the stubbled fields, which were colorless as the leafless trees between them. The lump in the top of the three-year-old’s hat contained his gloves; his hands, clutching their palm fronds, were cold. The daffodils in the bed alongside the stone church were drooping over. Back by the house–39 degrees now—squirrels dug through the seed hulls scattered below the bird feeders, in front of the bed of snowdrops. Nuthatches and titmice and chickadees came and went, and goldfinches the color of parchment. A Cooper’s hawk, twitching balefully, commandeered a low branch for a minute, then flew off toward the garage with or without something clutched in one foot. The little birds resumed their feeding. The sun falling through the near-closed blinds made the water in the toilet shine like a lamp in the dimness. Forty-six degrees after lunch, at car-loading time. Everything in the drab length of New Jersey was sharp-drawn and distinct, save only the firm new roadway dissolving ahead into a mirage of sky and car paint. Vultures were as abundant as Turnpike exits, naked heads visible at 70 miles an hour, give or take. There was nothing remotely resembling a cloud; a light haze was salient by default. The bulge of the gibbous moon seemed to grow fatter as it came into focus. Trees and balconies gleamed in the city. The layer of dust on the unwashed apartment windows was coppery in the sunset.

Ivy Tripp, the latest album from Waxahatchee, is out next Tuesday. You can stream it here, and you should: It is, at the moment, the best record to be released this year.#

As someone whose dour demeanor and seeming lack of charity has caused him to develop a reputation for negativity I decided recently that I would try to approach all new endeavors with a certain generosity of spirit, i.e. I would assume that everything I came across was constructed out of a sense of sincerity, or at least genuine curiosity, rather than obligation or outright cynicism. As you might imagine (and it does me no credit that I was unable to foresee this inevitable result, but I suppose this is what comes of unbridled affirmation) this was an experiment I needed to terminate almost immediately, as it soon became clear that looking at the current climate of creativity through a lens of good intentions results in an even more frightening feeling about what we are offering up to the world, which is to say that so much of the garbage with which we surround ourselves is only tolerable if you convince yourself it originates from a disingenuous place; the idea that these things do not come from bad faith or desperation or a slavish imitation of what is already terrible but instead are conceived by their creators as worthwhile and positive contributions is so distressing as to make one wish the asteroid on its way over to wipe out our species would put on some speed. That said, I want to find at least a little light in life in the time I have left, so my alternate strategy has been to discover at least one hobby or obsession each week about which I in my normally terrible way—and believe me, as bad as everything is (and everything is terrible and only getting worse) I am a hundred times more horrible; part of why I allow myself to judge so harshly is I have higher expectations of everyone else, knowing that they are nowhere as awful as I—would tend to be dismissive and instead see the good in it. So then, adults who like coloring books: I did not know that they existed until now, but in keeping with my commitment to positivity I will just say that in a world where there is unrelenting horror beamed at you from every direction each day and the last time you actually felt somewhat secure was when you were too young to be allowed to make your own decisions (and before you came to the sad realization that each decision you made would not only be bad but would lead you down a path of choices progressively more poor), I can appreciate the comfort and strange sense of freedom these people must have as they experiment with hues and shades in the patterns provided, providing as they do the pleasant memories of a simpler time when a piece of paper and some crayons were the ticket to a world of expression in which even the existing lines were only suggested guidance. In a strange way I almost admire their ability to do this without a shred of self-consciousness. Good for you, grown-up colorers: I wish I were more like you in that regard. On an unrelated note, this is probably the last attempt I will make at this experiment as well.#

How to Sell Bottled Water to Thirsty Bros

thirsty boy People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Andrea Ayres-Deets tells us more about the thirst for wholesome hydrating water.

Andrea! So what happened here?

I live in Palo Alto and work remotely. So every day at around 1:00 p.m., I usually venture off to one of the various coffee shops around town.

It’s fairly common to see and hear people pitching products, having meetings about their startups, and yelling at one another about code. Invariably, I find myself listening in. Tuesday was no different. As I sipped my coffee, I observed the communal table in front of me—two men were sitting at the end of it surrounded by various coconut waters and water bottles. I counted at least seven different kinds of water.

One of the gentlemen was apparently a water industry veteran. He wore a black pullover sweater with dark denim jeans and had the kind of carefree confidence only someone who had been successful in selling water to people who have the stuff running out of their faucets could possess. He looked like the progeny of Eugene Levy and Harvey Keitel. This was a man with answers, and the dude sitting across from him wanted those answers, desperately. Young tech bro had a startup. He was the founder of a sports drink—water that wasn’t just water, it was more than water!

What's Happening on Ghost Twitter?

A few years ago I made a fresh Twitter account and never used it. It follows nobody and has never Tweeted a link. I have not logged into it in at least two years. I receive at least one email about this account each day, sometimes more. The messages go to a folder I do not check. This is Twitter without people. That’s not quite right. This is Twitter without signals. This is Twitter without you. This is Twitter for Twitter’s Average Human. This is Twitter for… Twitter?

A selection of stories from the last few days:

“The general election campaign is under way, after Parliament was officially dissolved. Journalists waiting outside 10 Downing Street on Monday morning spotted a fox, apparently chasing a duck.#