“In life we all have an unspeakable secret"

Ande Bliss

Ande Bliss
November 04
Essays, poetry, opinion and short stories. Free lance on line and in print. Favorite quote: "In life we all have an unspeakable secret, and irreversible regret, an unreachable dream, and an unforgettable love.” ― Diego Marchi Personal Website:


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APRIL 18, 2012 10:27AM

I COULD HAVE BEEN A....but then I would have.....

Rate: 31 Flag
My high school year book fantasy picture! 
I Could have been a....
Should have been...
Been there, done that...
What I always wanted to be was a...
Retired men ask this of other retired men
"What did you USED to  do?"
Retired woman (my generation) ask:
"What were you" 
 There comes a time in most of our lives when we look back and think about how our life turned.  Who gave us what advice, which road did we take and why? For me that one thing was doing poorly on my SATs. Believe it or not, I skipped about three pages. It was my senior year and so instead of McGill, my first choice, I ended up at University of Massachusetts. That is how I met my first husband.

In retrospect, I married too young and my career ambitions were put on hold. I was now a MRS. By the time my kids were grown, most of dreams were forgotten and I went to "work". It is now, in my 'elder' years that I am free to pursue my dream. I write. I write 30 -40 hours a week. We've already discussed whether or not that qualifies me to be called a writer. At my age, I really don't care what I am called. I am happy to know the difference between a modem and a router. 

Do you ever think about your own turning point? 

 I think the boxer image says it all. 

Hope to hear from you. 






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Reminds me of Marlin Brando in the backseat of that old car saying "I could have been a contender." Could have would have should have....I go thru it all the time in my mind too. Mostly I am just glad to be alive still tho.
My problem wasn't so much "I could've been..." more like "All I've tried to be..." I've had fair success with everything but inevitably discovered "the worm in the apple" of damn near everything. I've reached the point in my life where I only trust good work, children under the age of six and dogs.
Ande, yes, I heard the "coulda been a contender" line too that Zanelle speaks of. I never thought I'd end up a full-time legal secretary, but here I am, 19 years later. I have had other careers (teaching, acting) and jobs, but never imagined typing and answering phones, etc. for a living. In fact, in high school my worst class was typing (got a "D"). You are a writer now, and that is plenty.
Another Boxer comes to mind.. in the song by that title and performed by Simon and Garfunkle. One of my favorites of all times.
Great song, Ande.
I knew from hs on I'd teach. My regret and my sole one is that I started writing daily late.
I know we're not supposed to have regrets, but my one regret is that I've wasted so much time. As John Lennon was fond of saying, "Life is what happens while you make plans for the future." I love my life, love what I've lived, but I wish I had used some of my spare time more productively. Who knows where I'd be now? Good food for thought. ...
Zanelle....I understand the freedom of age. I still wish I had done things a little better.
Jmac...I once found a worm in a Hershey's candy bar. Stayed away from chocolate for years.
Erica... never liked typing class. But am I glad that it was a requirement. Sometimes teachers know better. too. I started writing too late. But I had to earn money.
(yesterday's blog). is those "what ifs" that can drive you nuts. If I had gone to McGill, I probably would have married my Canadian boy friend. He became a Dr. but died very early. Soooo where would I be? It was the damnable SATs that changed the course of my life.
I try not to spend time thinking about what could have been. I've lived a great life for 75 years...and I am at my happiest right now. Nancy, my wife (without certificate) of over 30 years and I enjoy everything that has to be enjoyed...and I have no desire to have lots more than I actually have. I very, very seldom buy lottery tickets...and my dreams have really never involved having lots of material goods.

I guess I sometimes wish I had made more an impact on life in general, but in a way I've impacted people and situations in ways that will live on after I am gone.

I love your fantasy picture, Ande!
Thanks Frank....I like it too. I don't like the expression lucky but rather fortunate. You chose a better path. In Libby's post today, I felt that same pull which I often experience. Simple questions like, what if her mother let her play with the bride doll? Would her life have been different. Not looking so much as what was missed, but rather what if?
Frank....meant to say that you created a better path. It must be satisfying to know that you have impacted others lives. I am not sure if that will the case for me, but I am satisfied with the life I have now.
Interesting point about what retired men v. retired women of your generation ask each other. I love your new avatar photo, too!
You want me to start crying, don't you! Wait...I just read JMac's comment. I'll say what he said.
Thanks Matt. Where did you find your worm?
Whoops that might be too personal. :)
Life evolves doesn't it? I was told at 18 I had what it took that if I worked hard, could ride an equestrian discipline (eventing, if you know what that is) in the Olympics. No longer the competitive fearless rider, I'd be happy for a quiet little quarter horse. (I have a saddle I refuse to sell)

It is great that you now have the time to pursue your writing, we shall all enjoy the reading!
Wld've been so easy to meander, given the topic, but you've kept it tight, neatly narrowing it down to those 3 blasted pages you skipped! Great post; rated.
I struggled in jobs I had no interest in for 3-4 years, mainly to make up for screwing up rather badly in uni. I've since manned up and turned to writing (my dream) full time, but I hope those years (and guilt) don't cost me too much in the long run.
Asia...Ride. How wonderful it would be if you could have your little quarter horse. An attainable quest. We moved to NH because of the horse farms in our area. It is beautiful and serene. My only adventure with horseback riding was in the surf in Mexico. I distinctly remember the young man who lifted me up to the saddle. WHEW. (had to be careful how phrased that!!!)

icyhighs....If you can write one page a will have a book in no time. Me? My attention span is short. I've got at least five things going. But you have the time and the talent. I wish you great success with your writing. There are still paying jobs.
What a wonderful, thoughtful, perceptive piece. I'd call you a writer any day.
Hhhmmmm . . . a definitive turning point would probably have to be moving home post-college graduation after attempting to make it on my own - still don't think I gave it enough of a shot or made the right decisions at the time to make it even feasible - still think I am making turning points though 21 years later - provocative post Ande
Thank you Sarah. I do appreciate your 'attaboy'. Wish I could write really funny stuff. If only Scanner and Con would teach me. When I first started to blog...I kept getting these weird comments from a few of the satire masters. I didn't know what they were talking about most of the time. Now....I'm getting a little better at that. Always learning.
Well Hi there, Lammchops. Missed you. You have so many more years to ride on the carousel. Don't get dizzy though....if you see a friendly face on the way might jump off....carefully. There are so many those "don't let life pass you by". So silly. We have life every moment we breathe. Turning points are a subject I like....way better than missed opportunities. I have written a story called TURNING.One day I'll post it. Need to test it out first. Maybe on Jon. :)
I had to think about your question for awhile before commenting. I have taken some odd turns by choice. Did some things backwards. Married twice by mistake. Loved twice by shear luck and guts. But I cannot say I regret any of it. Maybe not writing more sooner. Maybe taking out student loans I am still trying to repay. Maybe not telling shy Bobby Goers how much I really liked him before I left Minnesota in the middle of my senior year...but I had a great boyfriend I was already leaving behind at the time. I avoid old people who talk about what they did instead of what they are doing. I'm only old on the I told a smart phone salesperson over the weekend.
I try not to think about the would have, could have, should have's but someday soon as my last child flies the nest I am sure the pondering will begin :)
I like this. It's thought provocative. I'll have to come back to this and think about it because I'm not sure if there has been a "turning point" in my life yet......
I try not to dwell on the past because life only goes in one direction: forward. There is nothing I can do to make up for missed opportunities, doors I didn't open, things I didn't try. I can only try to do better tomorrow. Good piece and a good conversation starter. That is my high school fantasy picture as well. R
[r] all i thought of after Marlon B. was the john lennon line about life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. am on the fly but want to come back and read comments and ponder this provocative blog more. thanks, ande! i remember in movie about jean brodie she is so shocked when her "prime" is too soon over.

This from Joni Mitchell comes to mind:

"Tears and fears and feeling proud,
Say "I love you" right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way."

"But now old friends are acting strange.
They shake their heads and say I've changed.
But something's lost when somethings gained
Living everyday."

"I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all."

best, libby
I think about the past every so often, can't change it but it's nice to dream!

I find looking back isn't productive, at least not for me. I've trained myself to look ahead. Far far ahead as in, "How To Make A Killing In The Afterlife." (That's the title of the book and 12-disc dvd series I'm going to be hawking soon on late-nite TV.) Once I get there I'm going to get a bunch of angel investors to fund my start up plans to turn that oft overlooked expanse of undeveloped real estate known as Purgatory into an exclusive gated community with a nice mix of condos, free-standing homes and pied a terres. (I don't know what a pied a terre is but I like the way it sounds so there'll be a bunch of them.) Also a giant theme park like DisneyWorld with better everything, like the rides (no seatbelts - you can fall out and NOT DIE!!!). Anyway, I'm pre-selling prime lots now so if anyone wants to get in at the ground level as in before they put you in the ground, I'm taking reservations. And of course deposits. Oh and Purgatory has a negative connotation so I'm changing the name - it'll be called Margaratory. I've channeled Frank Lloyd Wright and he's on board to design the floor plans. PM me for this month's early bird specials!
Dear OS friends,

I do not go back and sob or sigh...I often only wonder why?
( just made that you can tell :) :) ) and I need a girls night out. My ahead days are limited. I live in the now. Looking back is an exercise in futility but sometimes I wonder if...
Tinkerbell. Dreams are interesting. We need not beat ourselves up about the past. It is fun to wonder what if I'd married Tim instead of Tom.
Libby....I loved Miss Jean Brodie. Yes, collapses in itself and then we are older. I have looked at clouds from both sides now..a wonderful song. Humming as I write.
Trudge...honored that you decided to come along. I've been writing on OS for about 6 months. Please do follow and comment. does go forward. I am one for not being stuck in the past. But we can learn from it.
I love life...says it all. I do, and you do.....
Lunch are in the midst of a very difficult time. Just putting one foot in front of another is an effort. No time for looking back or turning. You are doing great. Thank you for joining in on this discussion. is true that a lot of old people talk about what they did.
Once I wrote something about my parents. Mom was 95, Dad was 100. They really didn't have much to look forward to (grammar !)
looking back was better and kinder. I asked their friends to see them as lovers, as dancers, as hikers, as young. Truly remember that when you are diminished by age and infirmity it is hard to think about a future. Sometimes all you can do is get up, get dressed and think about the past. When I refer to a turning point, I am referring to an event or events that changed the course of your life.
Dwelling on the past is different.

Thank you all for your comments. We can keep going as long as you wish.
No such thing as a could've.

If you had it to do over again, you'd presumably do it based on the same information and conditions you had at the time, conditions which led you to your decisions in the first place. I haven't figured out how to plug present knowledge into the past.

It's not that you didn't have a choice at the time, it's that the reasons you made that choice can't change. Except over time.

The past is useful for lessons about the future. Dwelling on what you did only makes sense in the context of learning lessons for the future.

So, if we had it all to do it over again,

we'd do it over again.

Help the next people, and help ourselves looking forward. Or not. But those are our options.
Whatever path I turned on back when was fine.
I only have today now to deal with.
So I continue to write.
I only look back to remember where I came from...
A fun indulgence sometimes.. looking back, pondering turning points, but really- I'm ok with most of it and do find myself looking forward although I'm running out of time. Damn
Kosh...With much respect... I disagree. We cannot put present knowledge into the past. But we can take past experience and plug it into the present. COULD indicates possibility.
Since we can't go back and change what was...and we can think about ..if things had been different, I could have done such and such. Ah, a light bulb goes on. That is how inventors work.

What I wanted to talk about was a turning point when you actually did something that changed the direction you were headed. Now, in my case, IF my parents had decided I should take a year at Jr. college...(feasible) and re-take my SAT exams, I may indeed have gone to McGill. I will never know. However, I might be able to influence one of my grand take an extra semester, should a similar thing happen in their academic life. We learn from the past. Not get stuck there. I always appreciate your advice and opinion, so thank you for leading me here. I'm looking at this differently.
When I was struggling with work and raising two kids by myself, my mom said that she wished my life was easier. All I could think of at the time was that then it wouldn't be my life. I'll just keep my missteps, mistakes and bad decisions. I probably learned from them all.
Mission, you are correct. We can't mark every tree. It is good to remember. Sometimes repeat. Sometimes forget. Not getting lost is paramount.
Tr ig. That is why moments count. The sky is dark tonight.It might rain. I know that and so I think I will cover the furniture. One time I didn't and it hailed. All of the furniture was ruined. Does the past help us to understand the present. Yes it does. We are today, because of who we were in the past. I am a compilation of earlier me.
Oh, Ande, you ARE ! And one of my favorite, too. What an interesting open call. Were I not taking a break for a while, I would have replied this one. Just one thought to leave you - we are still making turning points, for every road we take leads us away from one that is left untaken.
R♥'ve got it. Thanks. We are who we are because of our earlier selves. The best teacher is the past.
If I had married the Canadian Dr. I would be a widow. My children would not have born. Others might have been. What ifs can be interesting they need not be negative.
Fusun....If I had married the Canadian Dr. and lived in Montreal, we might be neighbors. And yes we turn every day. I was hoping someone would comment on that. And dear you...did.
my turning point came
when i decided not to die
living, i figured
wasn't Wally Lamb fiction
living, i've discovered
is the artist's artistry
Chuck, I want to answer you while, hopefully you are still here.
I quickly went to Wally Lamb .....will read. Thank you for that.
As for living. How wonderful you found something to make rain clouds dissipate and your sun...shine. These few lines came from a deep place and add much perspective to this discussion. Thank you so much for writing.
Don't tell me you are 50.

However I agree....It is a glorious age. I was in my best shape ever. Worked out at a gym, had a gazillion dates and was rolling along in a size 4. Had my own apartment, decorated in my own taste. Great job. Then wouldn't you know fate came along and kicked me in the ass. Twice. In succession. Now I jump when the phone rings after 8 PM.

Youth is another subject. We can't get here without it.
We should talk about that. I wrote a piece a while back on OS about morphing into maturity. It is about this insidious thing that happens each day...3 AM to be exact. That is when your hair turns gray, your skin wrinkles and stuff starts moving around. Believe think you have to get up and go to the bathroom..Not so. Its when you morph. :) Let us live a long time...and be happy.
I never wanted to be a boxer, but I could have used one. When I was working after college, there was still a lot of sexual harassment going on. No laws just yet then...
Oh helll yes! I was a daring shoplifter when I was a kid; no use whatsoever for the things I lifted, but oh what a charge the game provided, especially the times I came very close to being caught, but outwitted them. But I cannot lie; I learned long ago that my body language gives me EVERYTIME I try, so I just don’t try.

Years later, I thought I wanted to be a cop. I always passed the written and physical exams with flying colors, but utterly failed the interview process (which most times included lie detectors) when, invariably someone would ask me if I had ever stolen anything. Uh! Well there was this time that I; and when I and then I, etc…..

No copping for me. Nope! As I grew older and reflected on this chain of events, I realized that I was far too inattentive to my surroundings to be a cop and had I been successful in evading the interviewers, I surely would be dead now.

So to all of you wannabe cops – shoplift like crazy and save your own life :-)
It is a blessing to have the clarity to write such relevant thoughts. Excellent piece, Ande. Write! R
I had already made some not so great decisions by getting married very young and decided to go back to school for pharmacy in my late twenties, the schools are not everywhere and the one near me did not take community college transfers sooooo, I went a different course and found something I like, I seem to be good at and brings satisfaction which I don't think I would have found, both my brothers are pharmacists and I have seen it up close; not for me. Anyway, my path has led me many places and taught me so much. I feel fortunate for my misdeeds in some ways, I have a wonderful son for that marriage. Now, onto the next phase: my fifties, what next?
I planned three times : a house, and two daughters. I don't dare push my luck further :-)
Interesting, and interesting comments, thanks Ande.
Bernadine....You yam sumpin' else!

Boomer...had a cop in the family. It is steely work. Hard. Glad you opted out. But stay away from the penny candy store.

Thoth... I have five sons now....but there is always room for another.
I think, perhaps, you learned sensitivity from a mentor in your life.
Have you written about that? Thank you, as always. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rita...Fifty is good. Very good. You sound like me...are you sure you are not a younger me someplace else? Hopefully I learned from my own misdeeds, but once in a while I like to walk on the wild side. As I said, I have a short attention span. :)

Kim. Are you sure? I picture you in the Bush... Out back? Not the way back. "Where exactly that line is located, and exactly what is the Australian Outback, depends on the individual person..."
Ande, the bush.
When I was 32 my best friend died. That was my turning point. No more 'what if's.' I left the ad agency & 'went bush.'
The house is still out there, but the girls & I live mostly on the East Coast.