Friday, May 6, 2011

Coulda and Shoulda Are Words We Don't Use



Words to live by, chanted by Carol Burnett (well, her character Eunice) during her visit to a psychiatrist on the last episode of "The Carol Burnett Show."


My father used to call my mother the queen of the I SHOULDA Club and, sometimes, the queen of the IF IDA Club.  Regret is a terrible thing.  If you regret a decision and you are able — or are willing — to do something about it, then fine.  But, regretting choices you've made that can never (or will never) be changed is just a tremendous waste of energy.

My mother wastes a lot of energy.  She still regrets buying a new dining room set in 1964.  She hated it the minute she bought it.  She has regretted that dining room set for more than 46 years.  She refuses to replace it, but continues to comment — at every opportunity — that she never "shoulda" bought it.

I, too, waste a lot of energy.


I spend many nights working on my attitude — while trying to fall asleep — by singing the lyrics from "Move On" (from "Sunday in the Park With George").  When that doesn't work quickly enough, I "move on" to "Life Support" (from "Rent")... "Forget regret or life is yours to miss."

I'm assuming that I get to keep my "gay card" for another year by referencing two Broadway musicals (and "The Carol Burnett Show") in one post.

So, what am I working hard to not say "IF IDA" about?  Everything.

Retirement, our move to Spain, budgeting, and reviewing so much history as we go through our things has me rehashing every major move and every major life change we've made over the years.  Twenty-nine and counting, remember?

I've mentioned before: We have retirement income.  I've also mentioned before that we would have had a lot more retirement income had we not made some of our major moves and taken some of those major chances over the years.  So here goes: 1) if Jerry hadn't retired so soon; 2) IF IDA held on to my business and waited for the economy to turn around; 3) IF IDA kept my corporate job; 4) if Jerry hadn't left his position in Santa Barbara; 5) If we hadn't poured all our money into a hotel (right before 9/11/01); 6) if we hadn't poured all our money into a niche market hotel — the same one — with a limited following (right before 9/11/01); 7) if we both hadn't left our jobs at Berkeley; 8) if we had held onto our house in San Francisco; 9) if we both hadn't left our jobs at UC San Diego; 10) if we had held onto our house in San Diego; 11) if we both hadn't left our jobs at Yale...

We left Yale in 1993.  I can then go back to buying the money pit in Connecticut in 1988, renovating it, and then selling it when the market was weak.  Years before that was a move from Boston to L.A. to Washington, D.C. (1982/1983) over a period of seven months — all paid for by us.  If only Jerry hadn't left his huge corporate job in Boston and I my position there to move from Boston to L.A. (and back again). And... then... IF IDA stayed in my position with the graphic design firm in L.A.

And this is when I realize I am nearly back to my mother's dining room set.

So, no more singing Broadway show tunes (well, I lie), but from now on, any time the words "I shoulda" or "If Ida" pop into my head, I will simply chant "dining room set."

I am now healed... mostly.



  1. Financially, you guys are better off than many of us, I'm sure. An you have a loving, long term relationship. We can all play that game:

    If only I had taken that managerial job at UConn Medical Center in 1975 instead of becoming a residential counselor for emotionally disturbed children at 2/3 the salary and no chance of advancement; If only I had gotten my Master's degree in Social Work instead of pastoral counseling in 1979. If only I had kept that State job with a pension for 25 years instead of 2.
    Or, conversely:
    If only I had moved to Arkansas and lost everything in a Tornado. If only I had come out at 20 instead of 35 and died of AIDS; if only I had tried cocaine and become an addict; if only I got my brain scrambled in a car crash.
    I know you are grateful for what you have and the many adventures you have lived through. Celebrate all of it and look to Spain with excitement. Some of us are a little envious, you know.

  2. and I have another for you ----------if only I'd have remained a teacher in the NYC system, I'd be able to retire now (although without my sanity, I'm sure)!

    Don't regret anything - you and Jerry are great and Spain will be a wonderful new adventure!

  3. @FDeF: You're absolutely right. And we can look over our shoulder at you guys, and say, "THEY own their own home." It never ends. So, let's just go with, "Dining room set."

  4. @Carole: Exactly. No regret. Dining room set. (hmmm, maybe a little ditty...)

  5. But it's that very path that makes life, well life right?
    I'm guilty of IDA too but I usually find that everything happens for a reason and those who I think are better off (whether monetarily or not), are looking over their shoulders at me and others.
    Spain! Spain! Spain! What joy is yet to come.

  6. We had an adoption that fell apart horribly in 2002. Because of that, we were an emotional wreck and left with very little money and I was forced to find an adoption agency who charged very little based on our incomes. Seven months later, our daughter Claire was born. She is everything to me and so, thank God, that adoption failed in 2002.
    See, there is always a bright side.
    Your Friend, m.

  7. So did you guys ever move to Spain? I'm thinking about moving outside of Barcelona, simply because I fell in love with the city.

  8. Oh yes, Woulda and Shoulda and Ida, that trio that bedevils us all from time to time. I am very familiar with them and you're right, they can suck up a lot of energy. Especially Ida. I'll remember your mother's dining room set!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way, Mitch. I hope you have a great time in Spain.

  9. No regrets just a few hiccups along the way. You and Jerry are the poster peeps for just get out there and live it. Could you send me some of your 'get up an go' mojo?


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