My quick-‘n-dirty business cards arrived via VistaPrint today. I ordered them after attending the blogger gathering at the Golden Gopher last week and I was practically the only one who didn’t have one to hand out. So I went home and whipped one up via VP’s handy cardbuilding tool — even used a photo I snapped exiting the Gopher of the defunct Italian Kitchen restaurant frontage across the street as the card’s background graphic:

bcard2 copy.jpg

Of course, the risk I run is that literal people will think I operate a business called Italian Kitchen. Whatever. All I care about and that is that they were cheap and easy and painless and now I have a not-your-every-day calling card where as yesterday I didn’t. Ta. Da.

Speaking of business, let’s talk about the freakin’ collection notice I get in the mail yesterday from some agency in Youbetcha Wisconsin telling me I owe the City of Los Angeles $157 and change. It doesn’t say for what honor I have of owing my native metropolis said amount, just that I do and that I’d better pay up and fast. Not that I don’t have some idea it has something to do with the business license I set up a couple years ago when I had delusions of some sort of full time freelance writing career, but I let it lapse in 2005 in part because I never received anything from the city offering to renew it and also because I didn’t do a thin red cent of freelance work in 2005.

So I’m wondering why I’m getting taxed $157.12 on a freelance income of Goose Egg. Typically I call the City’s Finance Office, which is listed as the creditor on the collection notice and — get this: they don’t have any idea who the hell I am. The lady on theother end of the line gives me some song and dance about accounts of less than $1,000 are automatically referred to these outside (way outside!) agencies. But I ask her why the hell didn’t the city first send me a freakin’ notice of money due? And before she can answer I say and besides why are you taxing me anyway since I didn’t make a taxable dime freelancing last year???

And all she can tell me to do is contact the agency — which I do and when I tell them I don’t owe squat they tell me to call the city again. Greeeeeeaaaaaaaat. Fortunately when I call the city I get a much more helpful and knowledgeable person who takes the time to find me in the system and to explain that the money I owe is not tax so much as it’s basically the renewal fee for the license. One that I never really needed in the first place. And certainly didn’t in ’05.

When I ask why oh why didn’t the city send me a renewal notice she punched some buttons on her computer and said it was because the city didn’t know where I was. I had to laugh out loud that the city I live in couldn’t find me but some Green Bay Packer-lovin’ bill collector in Beerbatter Wisconsin was able to paint me with a laser beam probably in between bites of his brat and kraut sammich.

Sheeesh!

Anyway, it was nicely offfered to waive the $47 penalty portion of the amount and mutually decided that my best course of action would be to come down to City Hall and settle up the amount in person. Right before hanging up it dawned on me that I might be on the hook for mo’ money for the current year and sure enough after punching a few more buttons she basically said she was glad I asked because indeed there was another delinquent bill getting ready to be shipped via the Polar Express to Badgerland.

I told her howsabout we make my information more current since it’s obvious your office probably still thinks I live in the valley or something (close, they had my address on Del Mar — though I’m pretty sure I sent in a letter notifying them of my current Silver Lake addy when I moved in with Susan almost two years ago).

So essentially I’m on the hook for a couple hundred bucks — then I can cancel the license if I want. The good news is that I may have a use for the thing after being so long dormant. My friend Rodger Jacobs was kind enough to email me yesterday to say the editor of a trade mag he writes for on occasion is always looking for new penners and would I be interested in potentially gigging for the publication. I believe I responded with a diplomatic version of hell yeah!

Thank you for the assist Rodger and here’s hoping it pans out. And at least now I have a bizcard to hand to the editor if we ever meet. That and a current city license to operate a keyboard or a ballpoint pen.

Now I’m off to the downtown YMCA to swing a tennis racquet for the first time in about 10 months. No license required.