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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.

 

Where were you on 9/11? September 10, 2010

My husband and I were talking last night about impact events. An impact event is a moment never lost in the stream of daily minutia. That is why we celebrate and mourn them; weddings, births, deaths, national tragedies…we feel compelled as humans to venerate the day so we never forget.

My parents still remember where they were November 22, 1963, sitting in their school classrooms wondering why their teachers were to choked up to talk. On January 28, 1986 I was home sick from 6th grade, watching television at the neighbor’s house when cartoons were interrupted to watch the live Challenger launch and then explosion. I remember driving to work on April 19, 1995 sobbing in my car when the Oklahoma City bombing was reported on the radio. These days are etched on my memory as vividly as my wedding day and birth of my children.

September 11, 2001 was an impact event felt the world over. My husband and I were in a small outback town in Australia. He was there on deployment, and I had flown to meet him. Our one year old daughter was in Chicago with her grandparents, and we had called in to check on her before going to bed. His mother answered the phone and said turn on CNN, which we did…just in time to see the second plane angle to the building and plow through. I was numb. My mother-in-law was sobbing, clinging she said to our daughter. At the time she had an office in the Chicago Sears Tower. She did not go into work for days after the tragedy, because our world had gone mad and no one knew what might happen next.

My husband and I started to pack. Within 30 minutes a car was sent to get us from our hotel, and sped to the safety of base. I spent the next two days in an underground bunker with 300 Marines preparing for…for who knew what at the time. These incredibly brave men and women were mobilized, horrified, sad, even devastated perhaps…but ready and resolved. I envied them. I couldn’t stop crying and worrying. I envied them because they could do something about it, and all I could do was kneel at the base chapel alter and pray.

They began to mobilize and I had to leave. That was a surreal drive through the outback…by myself…going 120 mph (no speed limits), dodging road trains…trying to get back to Darwin to get a plane into Sydney and then perhaps home. I barely made it to Sydney. I landed at midnight, and Ansett Airlines went out of business minutes after I landed. I was fortunate to get a hotel room in Sydney, there were very few left.

The atmosphere in Sydney was so different from the week we had been there prior. It was somber, reflective and a little frightened. I will forever be indebted, as an American, to the Australian people. They were supportive and loving to what felt like an instant community of refugees. They held memorial services for us in their churches. Everywhere I went there were hugs, tears, offers of support and prayers from complete strangers.

For me, and the many Americans I met there…waiting like me to go home…getting on an airplane felt as frightening as climbing Mt. Everest. I got one of the last tickets on the first plane to leave Australia. All I wanted to do was get to Chicago and hug my daughter tight. The only ticket I could get was into Los Angeles, and then it was unknown when I could get a flight from there…but at least I would be on home soil. I guarantee you, America never felt as much like home to me as at that moment.

It took almost eight hours to get through Sydney airport security…and no one in that line cared. We wanted them to search everything. I was flying United, and the pilot and flight attendants gave instructions through tears. Strangers hugged each other and put down their books to talk with their seat mates. People shared stories, prayed together and even held hands during take off. When we finally landed at LAX, a cheer strangled through tears and sobs, went up through the plane. On man knelt on the terminal ground and kissed it when we got off the plane. We were Americans, in that small microcosm of our country, we were united.

Landing in LAX was like stepping into a war zone. National guard soliders with M-16s and police officers geared like SWAT almost outnumbered the passengers. I literally had left one country a month earlier and returned to a completely different one. Eventually I made it home to hug my baby. I didn’t let go for a long time. I was grateful though…there were a lot of mothers who would never hug their babies again.

Although we will never forget 9/11, the farther away we have moved from it, the more its lessons fade in our minds. That is why we need to venerate the day – listen to the reading of the names, remember to hug your family, pray with a complete stranger, and hold the hands of our fellow Americans in gratitude for the wonderful country we live in.

Always Remember…Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below.

 

What, no shoes? November 20, 2008

clover.jpgAs a special treat for my daughter last week, I took her to the mecca of fur-tastic capitalism for the under 10 set…Build A Bear. Actually, to be specific, Friends 2 Be Made (their doll division).  We were on a hunt for the elusive Jayden, a celery hair fashion doll. Now, I am not completely altruistic in my motives, I am tired of hearing “I have to have it in order to have the Gem Band with my purple, pink, blue and orange jammin’ jewel dolls…plleease.”

 So, to get you “in” the doll only costs twelve dollars. Big deal right? Totally do-able, I mean twelve dollars, you can’t even get a Barbie for that much. Then they up-sell you on the extras that your doll simply must have to live a fabulous life. Being a savvy customer, I am wise to their ploys. Between my own guilt purchases, and grandparent’s sprees we could probably host a decent table at a collectors show. We walk into the bubble gum pink and candy blue store. Hannah Montana is playing softly, and the store looks like daylight on a 1000 watt binge.  I steel myself for the saccharine doll salesmen pitch from the teenage doll-ologist.

Bring on your best….we are only getting the doll.

My daughter be-lines for green yarn hair. She knows what she wants…five trees have been chopped down to make the promo mailers featuring “Jayden” that flood our mailbox alone. “Her Perkiness” bounces up to us and asks my daughter what her doll sounds like. My daughter looks up at me, I stand firm. No way! I know this trick, I am not buying the five dollar voice box that sounds like Cheerleader Chuckie when the batteries start dying in a month. Her perkiness looks a little miffed when I say:

 “She doesn’t need one.”

“All jammin’ jewel girls need a voice!” reproof from a teen queen.

I let this slide. It is after all, supposed to be a happy day for my daughter, not a lecture in the cold reality of the world. Her perkiness starts in on the ritual of endowing the doll with attributes like artistic, talented, responsible and my favorite … superstar. She hands my daughter a satin taffeta heart and commands her to rub in on her tummy so the doll will never hunger, rub it on her brain so the doll can be brilliant like she, kiss it to let the doll know she is always loved…and on…and on. Finally, she stuffs the darn thing, and we can go onto the all important wardrobing.

I have already given into my daughter’s protest that you can’t bring home a naked doll. Why not? was my argument. The minute you get it home the clothes come off anyways, I am saving you time and me money. I concede though, but not the expensive one…. the outfit that cost more than the doll. We pick through the possibilities, it takes an hour. The doll has more clothes in her wardrobe than I have owned in my entire life.

Her perkiness has now turned into a personal shopper for our new acquisition, newly dubbed Clover. She trots out Lycra, satin, bags, glasses, dresses for cocktail and for the prom, karate Gui’s and soccer outfits so that Clover can be a well rounded girl. I glare at her. No I don’t think we need the Lycra rock star suit, and we don’t do karate. I find a cute little green satin shirt and capri’s. Feeling a little cheap under the accusatory eye of her perkiness, I turn my back to check out the price tags. I breathe a sigh of relief, we can still get out of there for under $30. As long as I can talk my daughter into it.

My winner argument…if we pick this outfit out, maybe we can find you one to match.

Bingo! We negotiate. She now likes the outfit, but really wants the shoes and guitar that matches the rock star outfit. She barters like a trial lawyer. 

“No shoes”

“But mom” 

I find myself almost agreeing to the plastic guitar that does nothing, not even make a noise. Even Happy Meal toys make noise… I am sticking to my guns.

“But mom”

“No way! You always lose them 10 minutes after we get home, and all your other dolls have never worn their shoes past the parking lot.”

“Mommy, pllleeeease.” Blink, blink.

“Guitar or shoes….not both,” did I just say that?

“Guitar”

I smile. We hug. Relieved that I have won the battle…I think… at least stood some ground. I go up to the register, and look around for her perkiness. She has given up on us long ago. We obviously are not her kind of customer.

She bops up, ignoring me…the one with the credit card…and hands my daughter a “special invite” for Bella Blue’s Birthday party. She is the blue yarn head doll. “You get to sign a big birthday card to her, and even get a special gift if you come!”  

Recognizing me…finally… she tells me that there is even a special party dress for the doll we can buy, only twelve dollars. My arm starts hurting from the entire 60 pounds of my daughter pulling on it….”Pllleeeease.”

“Just the doll today.” I hand her my card decisively. I won!

Her perkiness looks into the box, and looks up at me with a horrified expression…as if I have abused the poor doll.

“Is there something wrong?”

“What,” she says disgusted. “No shoes?”

We finally escape. I feel like a bad doll mom. I let the poor piece of material stuffed with fluff leave the store without shoes on. What will all the other doll moms think of me?

My daughter looks at me, what about her outfit? She always remembers that stuff. The stuff that I say hoping she will forget it. But I won, so I am filled with largess. I steer her into the kids gap. We found this great shirt and capris to match…on sale…twelve dollars. I am euphoric. My daughter thinks I am a great mom.

We get up to pay.

“You know, we have great shoes that match this.”

…says her perkiness 2.

 

Calling all Writers… Up for an Adventure? April 21, 2008

Global Domination...One polish at a time

Anyone up for an adventure in writing “green”? Any aspiring or published writers out their looking for a fun, collaborative blog novel?  Are you an artist, photographer, cinematographer looking for a fun way to work with writers? Ok… so I am sure this is not a terribly new concept… but it is definitely experimental for me. I have a great idea for a novel and thought it would be fun to open up the process from conception to completion with my blogging family. We would have a weekly, guided forum with goals. Gather ideas form our adoring readership on characters, plot points, twists…  Not a huge time commitment, just a fun, collaborative process with other writers…and a good way to learn if you are new to the writing game…and mentor if you aren’t. On Meebo we will have real time chat writer’s meetings once a week to discuss all our options and close out the section. At the end of the planning process, we can split research if needed…and then decide if we will all write the chapters together or split them up…

We will use simple formula structure like Book in a Month… it has easily digestible “assignments”.  The goal is to story plan for 30 days, and then write the chapters in 30 days. You can be an author, a collaborator, or a lurker. If you are chosen as an author you would be taking the suggestions and storyboards we come up with and using it to write the actual chapter. If you want to collaborate you can leave suggestions, vote on characters… suggest plot points…participate in online planning meetings if you would like…and yes, you can be both. If you just want to lurk, and track our process…let us know you are a fan and comment once in a while. An over all “Bible” will be developed for plot and character… something that, the author will follow. Then, the draft chapter would be open to the other authors (maybe on a private blog) for editorial review and acceptance.

…. Once the chapters are complete (and edited 🙂 we can publish on Kindle and/or other forms of electric press…. or just release the chapters as they come to all our blogging friends…

If you are interested, leave a comment… I have already reserved the blog under the title of the book, and will be getting it up and running with the story concept next week. If you are interested in authoring the book…meaning writing chapters and participating on a regular basis, let me know so I can tag you as an author. You can leave on comment on this site, on the books blog site or at the book’s email listed below.

So, you are not a writer… perhaps you are an artist and would like to illustrate with drawings, animation or photographs? You make movies or cartoons and care to follow along… we would love it! Let’s see what what the collective can do with a simple plot idea.

Ok, ready? Want to try?

The book is called Manicure Mafia, and you can start writing now! http://manicuremafia.wordpress.com.

You can also contact us at: manicuremafia@gmail.com

Can’t wait to see you, click over now if you are interested!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

American Idols Shout to the Lord

First Off….

Praise God! Christ was preached.

I had to rewind my TIVO several times before it sunk in, then I called a bunch of friends to verify. I have mixed reactions to it…and I have heard downright Pharisee”ic” reactions to it. The bottom line for me is this, American Idol is the biggest venue and “pulpit” on the planet these days. Take it for what you will, but one of the most powerful testaments to the majesty and redemptive grace of the Living God was sung in front of a needy and spiritually dry world. I was praising!

Let’s invite people to jump into this fantastic adventure with us, instead of walling them off with spiritual piety. Christ came to the sick… needy, downtrodden, unloved, unworthy… hmmm…us. When did we as Christians stop making Christ accessible to all?

When God is glorified, it is worship. If we won’t, God will raise up rocks… or tv contestants?

Christian music falls into two categories for me…Worship to God…singing directly to Him in praise and adoration… and Songs about God… Songs about God, stir the heart, talk about how great and wonderful He is, testify into our souls….and can serve as a wonderful evangelism tool. Shout to the Lord, in my mind, falls into both categories…

and who knows if that song wasn’t written…for such a time as this. 

I don’t know the condition of the souls that sang it. I don’t know the motivations of who chose it. (I would have liked to be a fly on the wall in the production meeting when it was selected.) I am not going to “judge” the musicality. Only God, is to judge the heart. What I do know is the Bible says:

Philippians 1:15-18 (NLT)

15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.

And, if you are looking for a great read about making Christ accessible check out Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis…highly recommend it!

I didn’t hear the “Idol gives back” track, so I am just going to lay a shout to the next evenings full version, check it out….and hey, leave a comment…taking all comer’s.

 

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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