Heads up, shut down.

It was a very social weekend, he tells me. I read into this and try to pry more details out of him. This friend keeps things to himself effortlessly, so this is about as effective as asking Bellichick for an injury update. (Can any of you tell me how I have been a rabid Patriots fan for 20 years and have not learned how to spell our head coaches name? No?) There is a bit of something there though, so I work on the nail with my screwdriver, unequipped to get the job done. He sums up his non story like this: “I think I might just have my head up these days.”

I know what he means.

There are times when we are aware and everything feels possible. Our town delights us with new restaurants, the act of mulching around a bush feels like a gift to the neighborhood, the people sitting in the cafe look engaged and intelligent, each a possible friend or colleague. Posters show concerts, pop up dinners, pumpkin patches, and fundraising runs. I want in on each of them.

Quick meetings leave to do lists that are evenly distributed, easily accomplished and with community wide pay off.

The row of closed doors don’t represent lives unled, but lives yet to be led. Knock and enter, or just barge in. See what is back there, get messy with it and make something. These are the good days, the heads up days.

Then in a phone call the I come crashing down to earth. The accountant has finally gotten through to the IRS after the shut down and amongst other unsavory details informs me that the interest meter was running during the shut down. I want to howl with the unfairness of it all. I took a risk, tried to create a product to help families, poured time and money into it. The worst part of the audit has been revisiting my efforts. I really tried to make Marble Jar work. Conferences, sponsorships, blogger outreach, many many marketing efforts and product refinement. So many. Now, not only did I lose over $100,000, but the IRS is claiming it was not a business but a hobby. If I can’t prove that it is a business by providing contracts (bank statements and Amex statements don’t count) for each of my expenses then not only will I owe $16,000 for 2011 but will have to go back to 2010 and ahead to 2012, and there will be interest and penalties to pay. This is after I paid over $250,000 in taxes. And for fucks sake this is the worst hobby on earth.

When I quit things early it is a protective mechanism. Quitting is less painful than failing. But this research into 2011 puts me face to face with failure. A piece of me still believes that if I try hard enough I can do anything. I don’t want to disabuse myself of that idea. It is what makes me take risks, and believe in my kids. Its hard to nurture that belief when I revisit an above and beyond effort that failed so spectacularly that the IRS claims it was never a business venture at all.

I’ve got my nose to the door and my eye to the keyhole, but from the outside the reverse fisheye makes everything so small and far away.

Possible has turned to impossible, curiosity to my own kind of shut down. I wonder why any of us put ourselves out there.

We may want in, but staying out seems safer…it might just save us an audit.

It is easier to keep our heads down. I’m just not sure easier is better.

Possibilities, or dead ends?
Possibilities, or dead ends?