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Amie’s Commencement Address May 24, 2011

Speech Text:

President Haynes, Deans, beloved faculty, and distinguished guests, welcome. And to my fellow Cougar graduates, Congratulations! I would like to thank our families, who have worked almost as hard as we have to realize this day. I honor my husband Michael, my children Lauren and Alex, my friends and family who have helped me earn this degree. Thank you.

Five minutes after my last final, I updated my facebook status. It read: after 15 years of classes, 4 colleges in 4 states,12 proud years as a Marine Corp wife, 6 deployments, 2 children, 5 papers and 7 finals… just this week… today… I have finally graduated.

My story is not unique at Cal State San Marcos. Most graduating today have juggled jobs, families, fought for our country, commuted countless miles or even taken one class at a time. For some, today is a beginning; for others of us, this is a victory years in the making. I am proud to be graduating from a university that values both journeys. So, whether you came to San Marcos as a true freshman or started college alongside your own freshman, I congratulate you. Well done!

What do you say to people who collectively know almost everything? It was a bit daunting, but here is some wisdom I have learned.

Life is not all about me. Money, education and esteem are worth little unless you employ them to help others. Put your neighbor’s needs above your own.

Ethical and virtuous behavior should not be what we profess but what we practice. No amount of fortune or fame is worth losing your integrity.

Now is the time to take chances. Trust your instincts, but listen to wise counsel.

Explore the world so you can learn about who you are. And travel now, while youth hostels are still fun.

Dreams are achieved through hard work and time, so have more patience than pride. Stay teachable so you don’t miss new discoveries that lie ahead. Embrace adversity and failure, they fuel creativity.

Attitude is everything. Decide to wake each morning purposeful and positive. Negativity will break a company, a community, a country.

Remember, life is short; don’t just seek a job; seek a purpose, seek your passion, seek to make a difference.

Life is short; don’t waste energy and time envying someone else’s life. Seek to make yours worthy. Surround yourself with people who do the same.

Life is short; don’t wait for a future event to make you happy. Enjoy the journey now. Embrace each day, finish them well.

You have a purpose in this life, don’t settle for anything less. Congratulations Graduating Class of 2011.

To God be all the honor and praise.

Copyright Amie Charney 2011

San Marcos, CA – May 21, 2011 – Amie Charney was selected from the California State University San Marcos Graduating Class of 2011 to give the commencement address at the Saturday afternoon commencement ceremony (May 21, 2011, 2 PM). Charney graduated Magna Cum Laude with her degree in Literature and Writing.

 

By their flair…ye shall know them May 13, 2008

My husband and I were at a fundraiser recently. It is one of the blue ribbon events in our community… if you are somebody, then you are there.

We are not “somebodies”.

My friend happens to be the director of the institute, and needed warm bodies for a few open seats that were left. Always striving to be appropriate, we dudded up in our finest and drove our domestic to one of the swanky wineries in town. We did not valet.

All the way there we shared a grin… we are such posers.

I scanned the silent auction items, proudly writing my bid number down on the interesting looking ones… we were there so early, we got to take the opening bid slots. My husband warns me, if they all hit,  we are eating mac and cheese for a month.

I laugh, we will for certain be beat out… I mean the opening bids were $20. Don’t you know that a charity auction is not for bargain hunters, it is to raise money for their cause…. so, no worries, we will be outbid. This is the upper crust of our fair city’s citizens.

… most that were there…posers. Fortunately for my food budget, we only won two. Unfortunately for the charity, they came in a huge amount under their goal.

So how do we know by looking at people if they are genuine or not. In this day and age of labels…Gucci and Prada… and posers… leased prestige BMWs, no interest loans on mansions, 40 year college loans on ivy league… how do we wade through them and find truth about people…who they really are and what they stand for? I mean, act your wage. Isn’t that a huge contributing factor to the economy going down the drain? People are posing.

This is why I appreciate the military system. By their flair, ye shall know them. I was struck by this on base recently. Simply by looking at the Marines around me, I could tell upwards of ten significant things about them. No words required. Depending on the uniform they are wearing:

1. I know how to address them

2. what their job is

3. the places in the world they have been

4. what kind of education they have

5. how much they really earn

6. where they live (base stationed at)

7. their Job performance

8. How crazy they are (All the services wear different cammies and uniforms from each other, you can spot a Marine a mile away)

9. Merit, heroism, bravery….

10. All the obvious things like rank, last name, unit, schools they’ve gone to, how great of a shot they are (rifle and pistols), how many times they have deployed…and to where….if they fly, what they fly and how long they have been… among others.

You truly can get a whole snapshot of who they are the moment you are observing them. Those are not silly things, like what kind of phone they use or car they drive…they are significant things about who they are as people.

These are just observations. I am not advocating everyone start wearing little emblems of themselves everywhere…although if you think about it, we already do…. there is just no governing body to regulate and police proper, honest display of them.  It would be an interesting social experiment though… wearing patches and medals to tell the story of who you really are….

1. Spent all my food money on this Prada Bag and am living on top raman now.

2. This BMW is really leased….or better yet, my other car is a enterprise rent-a-car

3. Living on my parent’s couch once my no-interest loan comes due on my gated 6bdrm.

or perhaps…

1. I just got back from refuge relief in Tanzania

2. I just helped build houses for Habitat.

3. I love my children.

My husband is laughing at me as I write this. I am the girl who won’t even wear the nametag at church…I like to force people to say hi and ask my name. I like to force myself to remember theirs. (Plus I get creeped out by people looking at my boobs all the time…squinting to read the nametag)

I can’t help thinking how differently we would look at the people we meet if this was the case? Would we get to know people better or ostracize them more…if they wore their truth on sleeves and collars. What would yours say… let me know?

 

 

 

 

 

A Marriage Turns Nine April 14, 2008

The Second Wedding

Nine years has flown by. I joke that we are still newlyweds – If you take out the four years worth of deployments we have weathered.

Michael holds the distinct honor of being the only man in his family to have been married twice…to the same women…within three weeks of each other. I had been planning what we dubbed “the big wedding” for about four months when the Commanding Officer (CO) of Michael’s squadron told us they were depolying to Kosovo…at the end of the week…and it was Wednesday.

We are a part of the F-18 jet community, my husband is like “goose” on Top Gun (His opening line at Pat Obrien’s in New Orleans where we met…a whole other story). That community is pretty accepting of fiancee as a status, but to the Marine Corps… unless you are married… you are persona non grata. If he had died or was injured, you would get no notification, benefits…anything.

Which takes us to the “Oh my word… we better get married quick..your going to Kosovo wedding”

Which makes me a war bride… I get a kick out of that.

I, like most girls, dream of their wedding…and this was not it. We were only three weeks away from “Martha Stewart Perfection”, and I wasn’t about to blow it on a judge. We got word Wednesday morning that they were ramping up for a Friday departure. I whirled into action, by noon I had our pastor and photographer set for five, the jeweler racing from Hilton Head with the rings, the florist putting together a quick bouquet and boutonniere, a hair appointment and a decorating force (the squadron wives) ready to transform the tower where Mike proposed to me. The hardest sell was dry cleaning. In Seattle, where I am from, you can have your clothes in an hour… it’ll cost you….but you can get them. In South Carolina, they have 7 day martinizing. So trying to convince them to clean Mike’s suit in less then 7 hours was a miracle almost of Genesis proportion. I arranged the restaurant down the street for a little reception, got a cake, brought my boom box with the sampler wedding music CD, and we were set.

The only challenge…Michael had no idea. And the groom was up in a really fast jet, only God knows where, with no way of telling him he was getting married at five. The Corporals and Sergeants were on the lookout for him the minute he landed….which was about 4:15. In which they informed him to get home, put the suit on and show up for his wedding. Fortunatly he is a man of action and takes orders well 🙂

It was a great wedding. The photograph still hangs over our fireplace. We were surrounded by surrogate family, and even managed a first dance and cake smash. We decided not to tell anyone except our heartbroken parents, thinking perhaps we would still be able to pull of the “Big One” later. The next morning we went to turn in paperwork, and got the news…

…the squadron is NOT going anymore…

shock… what do you do now?

…which leads us to the second marriage of my husband. We made it to our wedding day, May 8th. It was everything a Southern Girl at heart could ask for… Big and Glorious.

He did deploy to Kosovo, two weeks later.

And yes, I make him celebrate both dates.

I thought it would mean double the gifts, but he got wise to me. On our first anniversary he gave me diamond earrings. On April 14, 2000 I opened the beautifully wrapped box, and saw one blinking at me. The card read, you get the other on May 8th. Outsmarted again 🙂

I have been blessed. My husband is the most considerate, kind, loving and supportive husband anyone could ask for (and he looks crazy sexy in those flight suits). I know there is a God and that He loves me every time I look into Michael’s face. God blesses us, even if we feel unworthy of it sometimes. You are irreplaceable honey, and truly I am at a loss to imagine my life without you… we are epic.

There is a famous movie line that says “You complete me.” It is WRONG. Part of the reason our marriage works is that we came into it two complete individuals, and we enhance each other. I am the delightful color that livens Michael’s black and white life, and he grounds me. Together we have grown, and God willing, will continue for many decades to come. Nine years feels like we are still just beginning our journey together. I can truly say that I love him more today, nine years later, than I did on that South Carolina tower…

Honey, here is one to add to the soundtrack of our lives. After nine years, this is what marriage means to me…

Across a crowded room
I know you know what I’m thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we’re lying in the quiet
And no words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift
I have been blessed
And I feel like I’ve found my way
I thank God for all I’ve been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed. from Blessed by Martina McBride

Blessed by Martina McBride

Michael, I love you.

 

 

 

 

The Few…The Proud…and the comforters of Job April 12, 2008

American Soldier by Toby Keith

Patriotic Medley

If I hear another talking head say….”We support our troops…we love our military service men and women…they are our national treasure!”… followed by how wrong the missions they embark on are, how wrong it is that they are defending our country in another, how terrible it is that we are sacrificing “our boys” in a war that is simply no longer popular….. I WILL PUKE. Consider this blog that: Word Puke.

I am the proud wife of a Marine. My husband…my family…is serving our country now, and has for the past twelve years. Out of those twelve years he has deployed five times, four have been served in combat. He has flown over 2300 hours, and has 17 air medals (many with valor) amoung the other commendations to his credit. He has done so willingly, modestly, without complaint because he loves his family and his country. Our family…my children… have sacrificed milestones, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths …time…peace of mind…for this country; for you. We are not alone. There are thousands more who have, and are, defending our freedom with life, limb and time. They are patriots. A patriot is “one who loves their country and supports its authority and interests.” They go when called upon to defend life and liberty; you and me. Through their bootprints and our tears, we have earned the right to be called citizens of this country… not only because we were privileged and blessed by God to have been born here, but because when called, they answer and we support.  

Unbelievably, there are those that feel the need to put a hand on my shoulder to commiserate and comfort me for our sacrifice…

“Tell your husband thank you for his service…but you know, I just don’t support anything he is being made to do right now.”

Like they expect me to support their position?

No. Hell no.

I tell them, isn’t nice that my husband is “over there”, that my family and many others are sacrificing peace of mind and time…so that you have the freedom…the right…. to think and speak that way. You see this nation has forgotten that WE send the military. We DO. They serve us. They defend us. Whether you voted for Bush or Gore… whether you will vote for McCain or Hill-bama…. we the people, send the military. The majority speaks, and though we may be divided… become one once they do.

So don’t try that post-Vietnam politically correct… we must at least appear to love the Marine on the front line even if we don’t support anything they do…crap. You see for all intents and purposes, they are the mission. Hard to seperate… near impossible. Those that wear the uniform, and the military families that support them, consciously put the interests of their nation above their own personal interests and comforts. My husband, those that serve our country, are models of what civic virtue should be. They recognize that with rights come responsibilities. With what generation have we lost this basic equation?

We have instead become a nation of pompous, entitled brats that don’t feel the need to serve the country we owe our freedom and liberty to. I think that if you desire to exert control over the fate of our country then you should be prepared to sacrifice for the life of it. Perhaps, this is the downfall of a volunteer only force… we don’t ask our young men and women to truly defend our liberty anymore. Instead, we have become a nation that feels free to spout unsupported, politically correct…yet often incorrect tripe without any forethought to the consquences that may follow… just to fill a 24 hour news addiction.

….at least, that is how it appears on the surface. You see, I fall into the camp which believes that the politicians, the media, those that think they control public opinion and polls…are sorely out of touch with who American’s really are and what they believe. I think if they would come from their high towers and talk to you, and me….for the most part, they would be shocked that we don’t think like they do…have never thought like they have…and never want to.

So why do we allow them to control the public forum and yell louder than any from a bully pulpit? When do we get to regain the sanity…and majesty that this country really is about?

I am, 

a Proud Marine Wife

 

 

 

 
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