We did the FAFSA last night. That is the form for requesting government assistance for college costs. In order to fill out this form, I first had to calculate our taxes.

There may be people who enjoy filling out forms. I can imagine someone enjoying it. The pristine page with the tidy little lines and boxes, the satisfaction of putting the right answer into each one…

Yeah, well. That’s not me.

Forms give me a headache. I have to read the directions over and over. Sometimes muttering to myself.

“If the number from line 7 is smaller than the result of line 48 on Worksheet B, put the number from line 7 on line 13 and go ahead to line 16.”

This is not the sort of thing that should be sprung on someone who can’t follow sewing patterns with confidence.

I surround myself with calculators and pencils, as though that would help.

Forms induce uncertainty for me, as well as confusion. Under normal circumstances, I would have no trouble averring that I have not, this year or indeed in any year, received alimony, child support, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or a railroad pension. If you just came up to me and said, “Did you have any foreign income exclusions last year?” I would answer readily. When it is on a form, though, and I will have to sign my name to it, I find myself reading over questions like these feverishly. As though I might have gotten some nontaxable interest disbursements without noticing it.

I think #1 son, whose FAFSA it was, caught some of this from me.

He read out the parts about being married, single, widowed, divorced, or remarried as though there were some uncertainty about his status that I could help him with. He read the part about selective service out twice.

It’s done. That’s the good news.