“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot”

I had the extreme pleasure of reviewing a local theatre’s Spanish translation of Jose Rivera’s work last month.  I still can not get over how parallel and spot on the entire play was to many military couples past and present.  I wrote this for Military Press where I write my editorial so I thought I’d also put it on here for many more to enjoy!  Thankfully a fellow Wounded Warrior Wife came along for the experience.  When things like this pop up in your neighborhood whether they’re PTS conferences, seminars, meet & greets, panels & lectures please feel free to pop in to chat or volunteer to help run the show.

MOXIE Theatre Review: “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot”

Breathtaking, sensual and surreal love story hits San Diego

By: Crystal Arriaga, Military Press

SAN DIEGO – “There will always be things you do not know about each other.” The quote is true for many couples but especially military couples who are bombarded with deployment & training schedules, seen & unseen injuries, moves, money and kids.

Director Dana I. Harrel creates a raw and stimulating translation of Spanish Playwright Jose Rivera’s work.  With choreographer Derrick McGee, stage manager Ryan Heath and costume designer Alina Bokovikova; all of Jose Rivera’s rich language and passionate detail to the script are transformed into a mind numbing, deliciously exotic and panting experience.  As the play goes on it reveals a young woman who has been through so much being married to her military career minded husband.  She’s endured moves across the world, a combat deployment and now the unseen and often unspoken realities that war leaves on the mind and heart.  Like so many military spouses all of this leaves her wondering, in her own at times hazy fantasy way, if the man who captured her heart is the one who will come through the door this time or is he just another ghostly casualty of war.

The play is innovative & provocative in a Salvador Dali piece of art type way that will have people wanting to stay up late into the night discussing the many layers hidden underneath each another.  The story is so passionate & thought provoking; you feel as if you are Gabriela, the military spouse played by the graceful & emotionally torn Jacqueline Lopez married to the hard-hitting and intensely portrayed Benito, played by Jorge Rodriguez.  This is one play that is anything but conventional.  It delves into what most of us know about military & combat stressors on a marriage but don’t always talk about.  As shown in the performance not everyone can deal with the military wife lifestyle with so many obstacles being hurled at once and I’m overjoyed the stage and costume design was true to a very real and typical military housewife and not another cookie cutter commercial portrayal of a surface only-happy couple.

With so many outstanding small companies in San Diego I implore you to show your support of this captivating performance.


Setting Goals for the New Year-Military Press article

Sometimes when people hear the words ‘goal or resolution’ it’s almost like a scary movie moment.  You’ve seen this before and are screaming at the screen, “No. Don’t do it!”  Although, try not to be too scared, pessimistic or standoffish this year when you create that New Years goal; it can be fun, if you let it.  “Just Do It” and try for something new, crazy, adventurous or financially responsible for the next year.

Let’s start a new craze like bringing the 80’s back, jeggings, Pinterest or Elf on the Shelf but free, less creepy & weird.  My idea is simple; just change your way of thinking about goals.

If you’re idea of goals is 100% negative and you know you’re going to throw your resolutions out the window almost as soon as you say it then don’t go as big.  Realize that you can achieve a small goal while working on the larger picture and your results will seem less daunting.  For instance, try to save $20 from each paycheck to put away specifically for holiday spending for next year.  You’re not saving an extreme amount of money at one time but you’re building up to what will be about $500 or more when December rolls around again.

Also, I’m not guaranteeing that on Dec 31st what you wish will magically be easier to do.  When you promise yourself, “I’m going to run 3 marathons by the end of the year” and you get winded by climbing the stairs; we have work to do.  Some things will need to be accomplished to get to marathon status but it’s absolutely attainable & one day at a time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and anything worth fighting for usually easy but you’ll succeed.  Keep good motivators exercising with you, free financial advisors to keep you on track, find a Jane Wayne Day happening & keep striving for your goals.

It’s easy to get discouraged in 2012.  We’re almost all accustomed to instant gratification via email, text, television, Google, Skype, credit cards, ect and sometimes have forgotten it takes time to achieve some big steps and goals in life.  If you want a more communicative marriage, to start college, get a job, buy a horse, work on your Masters degree, have a baby, invest in the stock market, buy a house then you’ll have to do some homework and fight for what you’re working towards.  Marine spouses are no stranger to adversity and this year doesn’t have to be one of them if you set your mind to achieving a new goal out of 2013.  Whatever it is you intend to do always remember to think of others before yourself, love your Marine unconditionally (your kids too maybe), send handwritten cards because they mean more, volunteer when you have the time but do not forget yourself in taking care of everything and everyone else.

Happy New Year my Steel Magnolia’s of the Marine Corps!

I swear I wasn’t stealing!

I was set up!

We all went into the Dollar Store together & came out. Of course as soon as I got to the car someone had forgotten that we needed something.

There I go unwillingly but spot those always present fake bouquet of flowers on the way in grab a bunch and go inside the store.

Grab my other stuff and notice while in the checkout like it was a bit thin and spotted missing buds. The cashier politely says, “ma’am you can just get another one.”

I walk out look through the various flowers, cock my head to one side halfway satisfied at my choice and stick in it my plastic bag.

Immediately I feel eyes on me and feel a bit awkward because I realize I just stashed flowers in my bag from the outside. I should be walking slightly faster than normal. I had my receipt but felt like I’d been spotted in one of those “what would you do shows”.

For some reason when there were NO people going into the store there were half a dozen on the way out. It’s late why aren’t these prying eyed judging people at home?! I swear I wasn’t stealing!

I get back to the safe haven of my car. My fears were confirmed and laughter erupts inside as my family had been watching my every move. I literally produce the receipt thankful I took it not knowing I’d need to show to the jury. :/

Not nice family. Moral of the story: Next time make Anthony go back inside and be secretly accused of stealing.

If anyone wants an old man and two pre-teen girls they all can cook and clean.

Dramatic Auditions: the line starts over there.

Sadly those who most need to apply this will believe it applies to everyone else.  I saw this constantly in the family readiness groups, and now watch it transpire daily with the families of wounded warriors.  Unless you are auditioning for Jerry Springer….

Don’t make drama.  Seriously.  No one else has time for it and you aren’t making yourself look good by bashing anyone else or having a public display of dysfunction.

We have all been wronged.  Deal with it.  If it is a criminal problem, use the proper authorities to take care of it.  Otherwise start acting like an adult and get on with life.  You are going to do stupid things.  Yes, I said it: you WILL screw up.  Intentionally, unintentionally, directly, indirectly, you will do things you regret.  …and so will everyone else.

Think about it.  When you accidentally turn in front of traffic you feel bad, but if someone else does, they surely meant to cut you off, right?  If Linda ignored you at the last family readiness meeting, it must have been because she was mad at you, right?  (Never mind that she was just diagnosed with a frightening medical condition…)

My point is that if you don’t know what is happening, don’t create a reason.  Sometimes people do things that are irritating, stupid, or downright cruel.  If it is something you can work out without causing yourself more harm, then do it.  If it is something inexcusable or something that you cannot get passed, move on.  Don’t keep living it.

If whatever is happening is intentional, do your best to move on or extricate yourself from the situation, and then get on with life.  In the scheme of life it really doesn’t matter that Linda made snarky comments about your hair, or that Enda intentionally stole your assigned parking space.

Deployments come and rumors start.  Joan’s husband might be sleeping with the neighbor’s goat, but is that your business?  Edna might just be a horrible person, but does telling everyone about it make her less horrible?  If the rumors are about you, live so that no one believes them: don’t compromise yourself.  (The only exception to this is if you legitimately suspect there is a crime such as child or domestic abuse, in which case, please report it to the authorities, see that there is follow-up, and then keep your mouth shut.)

Either fix it or leave it, but engaging other people, and causing more stress for yourself is not a resolution.  You cannot “win” at drama.  Proving you are right is not helpful if you injure yourself or others along the way.  I see a lot of wives who want to “prove” they are right by getting everyone on their “side”.  Ladies, we are not in middle school, and this is not a popularity contest.  Take care of yourself, and let everyone else worry about their own issues.

Anna is Back!

For those who missed me, I apologize.   If you didn’t miss me, lets pretend you did, so I can feel needed, okay?

If you don’t know who I am:

I have been a Marine wife for almost ten years, and I have known my husband almost ten years and two weeks.  (yes, do the math, it is what you are thinking.)  I have two active, and busy kids who are almost old enough to brush their teeth without coating the bathroom in toothpaste.  …alas, maybe next year.

And here is a random picture of my dog. Mostly because I am lame about collecting photos of myself. …and my dog is super cool.

My husband was horrifically injured in 2006 and left active duty in 2007.  We have moved multiple times since then, experienced the uniqueness of VA healthcare, buried too many of our friends, and been blessed with a tribe of supporters who really understand the concept of “leave no man behind.”

Follow me while I share what I have learned, what I am learning (Splitting wood takes muscle.  Splitting wood without splitting your foot takes skill…) and the things that I do that you would think I should have learned by now.

Friends & Sister wives

Yes I said it. I have sister wives & friends. It started out as a joke but then upon looking at it more closely we’ve found slight differences. I think we all have them in one way or another. Nothing extreme or anything she’s just that supportive shoulder to lean that you click very easily with without hurtful drama; like a sister. Sometimes it can be just one and sometimes it’s a fluid cluster with wives coming and going as the Marine Corps sees fit. This Marine wife can relate to your plight more so than civilians and even your own family sometimes. So you see she’s more than just a typical friend she’s a sister wife.

Friends are great and everyone has lots of them whether they are acquaintance friends, high school facebook friends, twitter follower friends, work friends or neighbor friends. Friends might say hi and ask a rhetoric question expecting an empty answer. You & this friend don’t really have much in common but you’re cordial. A sister wife would know if something is up with you. She tries to pull you out of a funk when the guys leave for training and stops by for coffee to cheer you up every morning. A friend would ask to stop by chit-chat and leave. A sister wife knows your schedule so she drops by & doesn’t have to but will (after coffee of course) help you clean your house before the hubs gets home from out of town just because she knows you’re trying to do 1 million other things. The saying “it takes a village…” applies here but not only with kids because when you’re on the verge of emotional breakdown a sister wife will take your kids for the evening so you can run a warm bubble bath and relax before biting everyone’s heads off. If anything but having a sister wife will give you an excuse to visit your friend in Hawaii when you have to PCS to Arizona.

All of us are in this for a few years and some shorter than others so I see people’s apprehension in getting close to folks you’ll move away from eventually. Like the Marines though your support system is only as strong as those standing to your left and right beside you. Ladies being the only one in your support system is lonely and you’ll need life lines every now and then even if it’s just to vent. Regardless of the wife drama stigma out there please mix and mingle out there with some remarkable new life long Steel Magnolia sister wives.

How to avoid offending another mil spouse…

Things to really think about while reading this article: Are you a supporter of the Marine Corps? Do you take offense when someone says something ignorant about the Marines? Do images of these guys with seen and unseen injuries limping off the battlefield and the photos of flag draped caskets bring a tear to your eye? Do you support your husband no matter what and would advocate for his job in the Marine Corps and your patriotism? Overall people are patriotic to the core. This is our homeland, our military, our land of the free because of the brave and all that right?
Well, let me introduce y’all to a good friend of mine which y’all may see below referred to as Pacheco’s wife aka AnnaLeigh. She is not so new to the circle of friends in my life but new to this blog. She is a young, beautiful brunette & thin like most of us long to be, but also has very quick wit and a short temper for ignorance like most wives who been through what she’s been through.
We became acquaintances under dire circumstances when I was still a family readiness assistant & personal assistant to the newest Family Readiness Officer. She’d called me as her point of contact to tell me it was rumored around good ol’ Facebook & the ‘watercooler’ that her husband was missing limbs and they only found his head in combat yet she hadn’t heard any news from him or Headquarters Marine Corps in Virginia. Cue the expletives! Idiotic, insensitive individuals is what I will say about this situation. This is what everyone meant in those trainings, seminars and meetings about the deployments in saying ‘loose lips’; these individuals should have kept their mouths shut about things they had no idea was true or not; when in fact her husband was absolutely fine. Drama! This is the main reason why most wives are apprehensive to be friends with other wives due to this ignorance and complete disregard for others privacy and feelings.
Her husband, Jason put Anthony on the Blackhawk out of Afghanistan when he was injured so we have always been thankful and appreciative for him in our lives. Coincidentally after she’d talked to her husband about the rumors, just 10 hours later while on patrol he did happen to step on an IED, incur a TBI and lose his right leg and part of his pinky finger. We became actual friends when our lives took an unexpected hard right turn almost at the same time. Between the sometimes simultaneous doctors’ appointments, red tape of injuries, trying to figure out a way to forge on in the Marine Corps and get our guys better; our lives seemed to mirror in more than one way.
So you can see she is just as awesome as her husband and has been through more than her fair share of obstacles! She dealt with unruly in-laws overstepping and overstaying their welcome while she’s trying to reunite with her husband after being in a combat zone and experiencing a horrific incident, this is enough to break anyone! Not to mention both of them were adjusting to the injury itself and those obstacles, the medications, surgeries, opinions, therapies, prosthetics and all that comes with being in the hospital more than being at home. She’s been his rock and he’s been so motivated to get back to where he belongs with his men that he was actually given that opportunity by the Commandant and Sgt Major of the Marine Corps and will leave soon to go back to Afghanistan.
The other day there was a unit function to honor the Marine Corps birthday. She was sitting alone while her husband and mine were running around somewhere and a random wife approaches her. The young lady polite enough and possibly with innocent intentions said, “Hello there, who are you here with?” AnnaLeigh said she was there with her husband, Jason. This wife must not have known who AnnaLeigh was because she then sarcastically and in typical high school girl fashion said, “Well…it must be nice…” Full of self restraint and grace AnnaLeigh responded, “Yeah, it is nice.” The inquisitive lady said, “Has he ever been to Afghanistan?” AnnaLeigh once again with the patience of a saint informed her, “Yes, he has. He went last year and lost his leg but he’s going back again soon.” The young woman was speechless and had to have found herself, embarrassed and outdone so she simply walked away.
Now how AnnaLeigh kept it together I will never know, I wasn’t present to witness this teaching lesson. But I do hope that young lady has more forethought from now on to actually learn a person’s story and not be so quick to be a smartass and stick her foot in her mouth before she disrespects those she doesn’t know from Adam. Especially a Wounded Warrior Wife who’s been through so much in just a year’s time. I hope that narrow-minded person learned a bit of respect for those who are left behind here whether they attend a mostly deployed unit’s event or otherwise. Just because these guys appear 100% on the outside does not mean there are not scars there at all & are invisible to the naked eye. Jason and Anthony both wore pants to that event but they are full of scratches, scars and pain no will ever know but the men they fought with and those closest to them. The Wounded Warriors and their wives shouldn’t have to explain or justify any of that and neither should anyone else who is left behind after a unit deploys. Everyone has a story whether they are asked to tell it or not.The stares, the probing questions, the ignorance is just a glimpse of what Wounded Warrior wives deal with often from strangers even other military spouses, who don’t understand or know our whole story.

We’re taught to love one another and be kind. Would you have judged a book by its cover in AnnaLeigh by having her husband at an event? Would you have been so quick to judge and respond with a snark comment without knowing her story? Do you think that young lady learned to look outside of herself and her situation and maybe won’t be so ignorant to the facts next time?