I don’t even want to go into my office.

Sometimes I think of the plants (probably dead) and the books (waiting to be read )and feel sad. Most of the time I just feel an antimagnetic repulsion. Some dense air pushing me away from Main street, towards coffee shops and cafes.

It was a place of calm and focus and then one day it has morphed into a place I can’t step foot in.

You know what this means?

A career change.

I spent an hour this morning at 156 Saint Paul street in the shell of the restaurant I built. I was meeting with the new owners to consult on colors, finishes, and table layouts. It was one of the first times I have been back there and felt joy. Earlier visits left me feeling dim. I never missed The Waiting Room, but being in the space as something else wasn’t pleasurable. This next incarnation, Verita, has a great shot at changing that track record.. I gave them a bit of money both to feel part of things, and because I think there is a much better than average shot that they will succeed here.

I sat with my friend Amy on the newly built benches, and we talked about our futures.

I told her that by whatever internal measures matter to me, I have never had a success. She quickly countered that The Waiting Room had been a success. When I told her it lost LOTS of money she said that hadn’t been her impression, and she has a deep background in the restaurant industry. But in fact it did. With no creative accounting it lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In fact I have been paying to work for over a decade.

If I had been a strictly stay at home mom my family would be in a different tax bracket.

I used to feel that part of the privilege of having money was being able to use it to create things, make jobs, build community, care about aesthetics over bottom lines. So I acted that way. I gave servers health care. I paid dishwashers a livable wage. I paid illustrators and musicians to make backgrounds for apps. I commission art for the walls of my restaurants and offices. I did business the way I wanted it done. Where everyone, except me, got paid well, and very little got left on the cutting room floor.

Two s corps and 5 llcs later I have very little to show for it.

The bar top from The Waiting Room has made it through 5 restaurants. So that held up.

I have 2 soon to be 3 apps in the app store. Used by tens of thousands of people. Sweet.

There are two nonprofits out there that are not fundamentally different from where they were when I started. Perhaps an email newsletter is still hitting people’s in boxes. I’m pretty sure I see it.

I still feel incredibly lucky that I don’t NEED to go out and get a job. I can live in a beautiful house, enjoy my kids, volunteer on a few boards and buy organic food. Thank you dad, the VT real estate market, and the Chinese Art Market. I live a life of privilege. I just had hopes that that privilege would benefit the world outside my property. I really believed that by now I would have built something.

I have friends that say that I quit on things too soon. Taking a cold look at things there is only one possible project that I quit on too soon. Most of them I probably shouldn’t have started.

So this is whats next. I’m sending myself to career school

I am going to talk to people that love their work. People that have built things, and people that maintain things that others have built. People that work 100 hours a week and people that work 10. I am going to talk to lots of other people as confused as I am. I am going to follow some people around at their jobs. I am going to look at products that are out there in the world and see how I would improve them.

Each week I cam going to schedule at least three of the following:

  • an interview
  • a job shadow
  • examining a successful companies marketing campaign
  • tweaking a product design or delivery
  • running numbers on a business
  • other stuff that I think of.

My work is learning more about work. And it should cost me less than the last decade. So that is good

 

 

 

 

 

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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