Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

This is an assignment completed for my Tax and Payroll class this semester at FTCC. The instructions are to follow and lastly my response.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (YTT)

 Subject:  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
 1.  Where you are going in life is often a function of your past, what is going on in your life at the moment, and your vision of what the (your) future holds for you.
 2.  Borrowing a quote from Stephen Covey, the author of many books on success principles, I would like you to "begin with the end in mind". Toward that end, I need you to think/ponder a few questions:
a.  What is it that you want from this course?
b.  What effort are you willing and able to invest to obtain what you want?
 3.  We are all are a reflection of our collective experiences. Sharing our individual experiences can be enriching and thought provoking for the person giving as well as the person receiving. In fulfillment of this assignment, take a moment to reflect on the "Yesterdays" of your life. As well, assess what you are doing today that enable you to reach your "Tomorrows". Following is an outline of the topics you are to address in a short paper:
a.  Background (Yesterday) "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom" (Patton)
  i.  Education
  ii.  Work experience
  iii.  Family situation (i.e. things that may impact upon your class participation, such as being a single parent, etc)
  iv.  Your most valued resource
  v.  Your strongest asset
b.  Why are you here (Today) "Life is a great big canvass, and you should throw all the paint on it you can" (Kaye)
  i.  Why FTCC?
  ii.   What is your major area of study? Why?
  iii.  Your expectations for this course?
1.  Grade & Why?
2.  Work effort you are willing to invest to achieve this goal?
c.  Your Goals (Tomorrow)- "A man without vision will perish"
  i.  This year?
  ii.  Five (5) years from now?
  iii.  Ten years from now?
  iv.  Ultimate life goals?"

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

            I will begin this assignment by again quoting Stephen Covey “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” In the past I was far from seeking understanding and more interested in expressing myself. My current ability to seek understanding could be described as “I seek to understand some of the time” or “needs some improvement” but again understanding is the end goal. I mean this in all aspects of my life. I would like to be a better listener with family and friends, and in my job with customers, coworkers, and management. I want to seek understanding in my education and not just pass my classes but truly learn. Life seems to be less about time and more about energy. The amount of energy you have to complete the tasks you take on at any given time. I can only say I’m willing to invest my energy into this class.
            Story time! I was an awkward child. Honestly I really really was and didn’t make friends easy. I didn’t fit in with the “cool kids” and I didn’t find my gang of outcast and totally awesome counterparts until I was in 6th and 7th grade. So elementary school was a hard time for me. Let me elaborate a little. I took 3rd grade twice and didn’t make friend either year. I brought my stuffed giraffe to school with me for at least 2 years and played with him on the playground. I was once so excited to get invited to a birthday party and then realized the entire class got invited so it was clear the girl’s mother gave her no option. This story is about the moment I understood that friends were only worth having if they liked you for being you. I was in elementary school and maybe 9 or 10 years old. The girls down the street were playing outside and as usual I had not been invited. I went over to them after observing them dedicate a huge amount of interest to something on the sidewalk. I soon discovered it was a harmless garden snake that had them jumping and sending out high pitched screams. The girls were both too scared to touch the snake but one of them had collected a baseball bat from her house and was daring the other to kill the snake. When it became apparent neither girl had the “guts” I stepped up to the plate…so to speak. I was Jim whitewashing the fence for Tom Sawyer*, I was Flick getting triple dog dared to stick his tongue to a flagpole**…I was young. I killed the snake. The girls screamed, and giggled, rejoiced and even invited me to join in their outdoor games. However the prize no longer felt worth the price. I loved animals, I was not scared of the snake, I had no right to kill it…I went home.
            Yesterdays like the one above are far from my conscious thought but always a secure part of my personal foundation. Yesterdays that affect me more directly include my recent education. I have been studying at Fayetteville tech for 2 years and have learned a lot. This was a stepping stone school for me. My job history includes gallivanting off in Alaska as a tour guide, building computers in the factory at Dell and most recently working with credit unions and lending companies in the financial field. I live on Fort Bragg with my husband and our golden retriever Vash (the stamped).
My Best Friend Stephanie!
            My most valued resource is my best friend Stephanie. I met her in the 5th grade and we have been there for one another time and time again. She is a rock when I need her to be. She is beautiful and a wonderful example of how perseverance and continued self-improvement will take you farther and make you stronger! She once shared with me the answer she gave during an interview when asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” Her answer was simple, confident and accurate. “I don’t claim to know where I’ll be in 5 years; however I believe I will make the best decisions with the opportunities handed to me. I believe I will continue to do my very best at everything I do. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years but I know I’ll be happy because I will have worked my absolute hardest to get there.”
            My strongest asset is my ability to improve myself. I hope to seek understanding. I hope never to be too proud to say “you’re right, I was wrong.” To know better the next time is a far better achievement than being right the first time. If you’re always right it’s time to reevaluate. No one is always right.
            I’m at FTCC this semester because I couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. My financial security is important to me and even though student loans are not necessarily bad debt I currently have no debt at all. MyCaa (a program helping Army spouses pay for an associate’s degree) paid for this semester at FTCC. I had enough financial aid to cover my books and next semester I will have tuition assistance through my new job. I am choosing a degree in accounting based on money as well. I would love to make 6 figures a year and support my family, myself, charities and afford to enjoy life. I really enjoy working with people so I do hope the accounting path doesn’t lead me away from the face to face interactions I love. I still believe many doors and paths will be open to me. I love my life. I love God. I love my husband. I love people. I love myself. I love to love!
            I would like to tell you about Bull’s-eye goals. Bull’s-eye goals are simple. Always shoot for the bull’s-eye. Shoot for the very best! If you are going to miss you will still be far closer to perfection than if you were aiming lower. To do the best you can doesn’t always mean you are the best at what you are doing. You are just the best you can be at it. That is all you can expect from yourself. That being said I’m going to get an A in this class.
            My goals are very difficult to define at this moment in my life. I would love to give you Stephanie’s answer to this question because it is the most accurate answer available. However if I must describe where I see myself, this year, in 5 years, in 10 years and my long teams goals I will try. This year I hope to excel at my new job and transfer to a university to begin a bachelors program. In 5 years I want to be out of Fayetteville and have been promoted at my job. I believe my husband and I will have had at least our first child by this point. 10 years from now I hope to have extra vacation for family trips with our children. I strive to be in a strong financial place with my career well underway. Ultimately I would like to open my own business. I would be happy owning a franchise and believe my skills to that point will make me successful. Mostly I dream of early or at least timely retirement with steady income. I would gladly budget now for additional golden years, visiting the kids wherever their adventures take them…seeing the world. “All I want is a little place of my own where I can rest my head.”***
            This time I will quote the wonderful Mother Teresa. She is beautiful in the fact that she really was the change she wanted to see in the world****. How spectacular and rare. When everything is overwhelming and the end impossibly far I remember her worlds “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Carrie Ann Brewer

*Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
** A Christmas Story (1983)
***The Forecast
****“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mahatma Gandhi


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dan Quayle is such a Cutie

I can’t be completely sure of all the details in the following stories. I did call my mother and sisters to ask for clarification on some of the events but it was a long time ago for all of us. I guess it will be good to put into words how I remember things even if there is some fuzziness to the truth of it all.

Dan Quayle
My younger sisters’ kindergarten class had a pet quail named Cutie. The students each got the honor of bringing the bird home for a weekend or extended break and it was a fun part of the learning process. I can imagine many parents were less than thrilled to be pet sitting a farm animal but my parents took it in stride. Again I can’t be sure if I remember correctly but I think that Cutie was a boy. My parents insisted on calling him Dan Quayle. I didn’t understand the political reference but was excited to have a pet for a while. At some point my Dad decided to build Dan a pen out of chicken wire. It was just a circular pen in the front yard about 3 or 4 feet tall and gave the bird room to walk around. My Mother later said she had felt sorry for him because he was in such a small cadge and that’s why they built the pen. Dan got to enjoy the great outdoors! Then he was gone. I don’t know why we didn’t know this winged creature could fly (even if it was only short distances). Why didn’t we put a top on the pen preventing predators from enjoying a vice presidential snack? Why was no one watching him? Whether he was eaten or escaped (and then eaten shortly after) Dan was gone.

A few years later (maybe 2) I convinced my parents that I could get a hamster. I was so thrilled even though he bit me through the hole in the box on the way home from the pet store. I had a pet! I named him Socks even though he had nothing resembling socks on his feet or anywhere else on his body for that matter. I just always wanted a pet named Socks so Socks he was. I really liked him and could hear him run on his wheel late at night from his home down in the dining room. According to Mom I was in Mrs. Blankenship’s third grade class at the time. The class had a pet Hamster named Cinnamon and just like with Cutie the kids each got a weekend to take her home. It was a surprise that Deep Wood Elementary hadn’t put out a red flag on the Konitzer kids bringing home pets but somehow I got a turn just like everyone else did.

I was so excited to bring Cinnamon home and introduce her to Socks. I didn’t know much about how babies where made but I knew it took a mom and a dad and that baby hamsters sounded cute as heck! It was love at first sight. I put Cinnamon in Sock’s cadge and shortly after they were happy as could be curled up like a couple of kittens in the corner. It was adorable! When Mom and Dad discovered them it was back to separate cadges and Socks was devastated. That night (instead of hearing his wheel beg for WD40) I heard him crying and screaming for his love to return. I had introduced him to his princess and then she was ripped away. I felt just awful for my brokenhearted pet.

I really wish I had the details on the next part of the story. No one seems to remember how it happened but we lost Cinnamon. Gone! The second class pet to disappear from the Konitzer residence. Gerbils, hamster, guinea pig and even goldfish around the school must have been spreading embellished horror stories about what happens over long weekends. “It’s true, they replace you with another floppy eared bunny and the kids never know the difference.” Let me really drive this point home. We had actually managed to lose not one but two class pets!

I remember crying in my bedroom while Mom called up Mrs. B to let her know what had happened. I was already an awkward outcast of a messy haired child and I was sure this would seal the deal. Mrs. Blankenship took it well. She was an excellent teacher and she loved me very much. I still keep in touch with her to this day and was grateful for her kindness. She had all the students write goodbye letters to Cinnamon and we had a going away party of sorts to help ease the pain. She handled it very well.

Then you won’t believe what happened. Weeks had passed and then Cinnamon showed back up! A kid from my class (Mom said his name was Cedric) found her in the street on our block. She was alive and as well as could be expected. Mom said this part must have been hard for Mrs. B. She had taught all those kids about closer and saying goodbye and then the pet came back from the dead. It really was unbelievable.

There were no more class pets after that. Socks found life livable again and things went back to normal. Then he got sick. A tumor started growing on his stomach and it was getting pretty big. There was really nothing you could do about it. I’ll take this time to tell parents that dogs and cats really are the best pets for kids. All the others are just a parent fighting the truth…they WILL eventually say yes to the puppy or the kitten. It might take 5 belly-up goldfish but a persistent puppy crazy kid is going to end up with a puppy! Save the heartache caused by the short life of pet store hamsters that are destine to get tumors. Socks was dying. One day it got really bad and I knew the end was near. I was there with him and he couldn’t get up. I held his water bottle for him and he drank and drank and drank till it was gone. I didn’t know if I should get up to refill his water or stay. I can’t remember what I did but it made no difference. He was gone. My Dad worked early hours so he was home but taking a nap. I woke Dad and told him that Socks was sleeping and wouldn’t get up. I knew this wasn’t true. I knew Socks was gone. I wish I had been strong enough to say what I already knew was true. I guess it would just have hurt too much to say it.

My younger sister and I would spend all summer catching lizards and then the rest of the summer catching bugs for them to eat. We caught the bugs by leaving the light on in the garage after it was dark out. They would swarm in and we would snatch them all up and feed them to our “pets” that we kept in a minnow bucket. Knowing now that lizards are cold blooded I wonder if they were miserable with no warmth. It was Texas and hot in the garage so really they might have been too warm. Either way these were our pets for the time being.

One day when school was back in session a strange but sweet dog was running around campus. She was a yellow lab and wonderfully friendly and obedient. She followed us home and after making little to no attempt to find the rightful owners she was ours. We finally had a dog! Her name was Alex (Alexandria) and we loved her to death. I woke up every morning and walked her around the block (despite the fact that I might not really have been old enough to do this safely). We lived in a great neighborhood so it couldn’t have been all that bad. Some mornings a weird car would drive by slowly looking at us. I saw it several times and never assumed it was a child predator looking at me but instead thought they might be looking at Alex. I was worried they knew where she belonged and were going to take her away from me. We took her everywhere. The neighborhood was new and there was a lot of construction around the block. We took her to the sights while we dug through the trash piles for cool scraps we used for crafts. She was the coolest dog. Once on a morning walk I actively tried to get her to chase a cat and she wouldn’t do it. Her bed was in the garage and she wasn’t allowed in the house. One day I opened the door to the house and actually called her to come in asking her to break the rules and she wouldn’t do it. This dog was smart, obedient, sweet and fun, playful but also calm. I know we had basically stolen her but a kid doesn’t think that way. She was perfect.

It was summer again and Mom and flown home to visit my Grandmother in Wisconsin. I was home with Dad and I remember both sisters being there but normally one of us went with Mom so I’m not sure. Staying home with Dad was as cool as going to see Grandma. Dad would take us to McDonalds, buy soda, grill hamburgers and we did other fun stuff too. One night Alex went missing. We didn’t have a fence so she was always on a long leash in the front or the back yard but that night she was gone. We went searching for her and couldn’t find her anywhere. She wasn’t at the construction sights, she didn’t come when called, and she was missing. She didn’t come back the next day. Alex was gone. I have never told anyone the truth about that night. I came home and let her loose. I don’t know if I thought it would be fun and adventurous to go looking for her, I don’t know if I felt sorry for her leashed up in the yard all the time. I know for sure that I thought she would come back. I know for sure that my family really loved her and missed her. I’m so sorry. I was a kid. I was 7 or 8 and it has taken 20 years to admit what I had done. I hate this part of the story not because I carried this with me for so long but because I really believe I loved her most of all. I was a very odd awkward child who would day dream about having friend and companions. She was my friend and I missed her greatly.

Kim Fehlis told me that Tabby was a stupid name for a cat. Maybe she was right but I had named him myself. I was in 5th grade and I had talked Dad into getting me a kitten. Dad smoked at the time and spent a lot of time in the garage so I would sit on the step and talk with him. Somehow I had worn him down and then he performed the miracle of convincing my mother. We went to the shelter and picked out a 5 month old skinny Tabby cat. After a much too short interaction in the greeting room we put Tabs back in his cadge and left to fill out paperwork. When I placed him back in the cadge he put his paw up to my hand though the bars and I just knew this was my cat. I chose a name for him quick because I was terrified one of my sisters would pick a name first and if it stuck there would be no changing it. Kim could scoff all she wanted (on a side note she later had a cat named Kitty).  Tabby was the very best most wonderful cat in the whole entire world. I wanted him to be a dog so bad and trained him to walk on a leash. He hated that leash and won the battle when I realized he would follow me wherever I went without it. When I would walk in the evening people would say “is that a dog or a cat?” I loved that. He came when called, drank out of the toilet, slept in my bed and made me so happy.

Tabby is an old man now. He doesn’t have much time left in him and the vet says he’s sick. He is safe and well cared for at my parents’ home in Texas. Next week I’ll be traveling back home for job training in San Antonio. I’ll have a chance to visit Tabby and I know I’ll be saying goodbye. I have been away a long time with my adult life so I can only hope that he will remember me. Even if he doesn’t there is one thing I know for sure, I’ll never forget him.

Carrie Ann Brewer

I took this photo of Tabby on 35mm and was so proud of it! I was always taking photos of Tabby.

Tabby and I the week of my Sister's Wedding

Tabby the Day I left for North Carolina

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Do I have a vagina?"

My older sister was packing her things for a trip to visit me in North Caroline when she asked "do you have a blow-dryer or should I bring mine?" My reply was crude but got the point across when I simply said "do I have a vagina?" Luckily the inappropriateness of this didn't affect my sister and she  understood that I did indeed own a blow-dryer.

This post is meant as an introduction of sorts and it the first blog I have ever posted...since live journal anyway. So why am I talking about a blow-dryer and who cares? Well I don't know for sure if anyone cares. About 7 months ago I heard that people who write in blogs are more successful than people who don't. The why can be explained by the following story.

I once called a good friend of mine up on a work night just to chat. The normal "hello's" and "how are yous" were exchanged and I asked her what she was up to. The answer was that she was blow-drying her hair. This was exciting because she must be up to something fun so I asked her where she was going. Nowhere. "Then why are you blow-drying your hair?" Her answer was simple "Just getting ready for work tomorrow." The fact that I had to ask would have been embarrassing but things like that don't normally faze me. If I had just showers in preparation for a work day I would be air drying on the sofa watching reruns of Seinfeld and drinking a glass of wine. I am not glamorous.

Mandy (my blow-drys her hair before work friend) is glamorous. No one would ever ask her is she owned a blow-dryer. They would know without question that she had a blow-dryer, straightener and curling iron. They would also hope that she would use these tools on them as they are useless in the hands of air drying amateurs such as myself. She is the kind of girl who has a large pallet of eye shadows (and not the cheep kind). Glamorous! She is beautiful, kind, ladylike, fun as hell and I can listen to her stories for hours. Facebook features several photographs she had a photographer friend take for a party she was having (this in itself paints a picture of New York style glamor I know nothing about). I would love to have those photos hanging in the entryway to my guest bathroom but alas I'm too self conscious as I'm sure my husband would make unintentional comparisons when he spots me in the mirror alongside her gorgeous face. (Also when sending the photos via internet to Walgreens for printing a copyright imprint foiled my plans)

The moral of the story is that I'm not glamorous. I have made several attempts to pull off glamor on a one night only basis but the results are never glorifying. I wore no makeup to my prom. I got married in a courthouse. I have been known to get a dirty pair of pants from the basket when no clean ones are to be found. I have never been to a ball although the opportunity came and went. I didn't have my first pedicure until I was 25. I drive a ford pickup. I only shave the upper half of my leg about 4 or 5 times a year. My dog is larger than a bread basket. And I love to air dry my hair.

So there you have it. Me. This is not one of those nutshell things but just a simple introduction. May no ones hopes be set too high. In an effort to become more successful I hope to continue this blog for all to see. I know little of interesting cult topics like B-Movies and Vinyl Records so you won't find much of that here. If I continue to "blog my way to the top" it will be by writing about myself. So buckle up.

Carrie Ann Brewer

Special thanks to Mandy my wonderful friend. I'm so happy to have met you! You always make me feel loved and special. Your glamor is more than skin deep and I'm lucky to have a friend like you.

Much love