“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!

Breaking down Unit Volunteer roles…FRO’s, FRA’s, Advisor’s oh MY!

Breaking down Unit Volunteer roles…FRO’s, FRA’s, Advisor’s oh MY!

Are you a outgoing, upbeat, self starting, go getter?  Love to be in the center of things & know whats going on?  Volunteering for your husband unit maybe for YOU!

The first or second time you are at a unit sponsored event; it may seem awkward.  Believe me I know how uncomfortable it is being sociable with new people in a military environment which can be a little intimidating even for a people person like me.  You’re new, you don’t know anyone or what is going on with the wives and volunteer program in the unit.  Make sure your Marine make an effort to introduce you to those in attendance whether junior or senior.  It will eventually get easier but a smile and friendly conversation is welcomed & appreciated by all.   Being sociable is definitely better than being the holding-up-the-wall, standoffish, unsocialable kind of girl.  Since this is your new “family” make sure you meet the FRO (Family Readiness Officer) and his or her team.

If you’ve read the Homesick blog post you know how I was when I first moved here & I learned the hard way that there is strength in numbers so introduce yourselves to all of these people.  They will be the ones who will help you in good times and bad for small and large issues. If you wish to volunteer and be active now is the time to get a name and number to offer your assistance via email at a later time.

There are quite a few volunteer positions readily available within the command depending on your availability. Family Readiness Advisors, Family Readiness Assistants, Family Readiness Volunteers, and Event Volunteers are just a few that help out the command and Marines in various ways at various times of the year.

Family Readness Team:

Family Readiness Officer (FRO)  is the one who is basically your liasion for all things Marine Corps.  He/She is a source for unit information, base & local events, base & area resources, ect.  The FRO works with the unit to plan how simple or extravagant the events will be for the most part. Some events can be very detail oriented and some have been plain and simple both have good reasoning to make it easier on the guests or command.  Google can probably help find alot of military resources now a days too but the FRO is available for unit specific inquiries as well.  Need to know when they are having their next unit wife luncheon, going out into the field, on work ups, deploying, ect?  If the FRO can release it & has that information they will let you know.  This person can be outstanding at her job go above and beyond the definition of FRO & sometimes you’ll have a FRO that is complacent and not very gung-ho about doing things other than the bare minimum of whats required.  Try to invigorate that FRO with your energy & bright & new ideas.

Assistant Family Readiness Officers/Deputy Family Readiness Officers (AFRO’s & DFRO’s) assist the FRO’s in any way they need it.  If they need logisitical help planning an event for a homecoming or luncheon they do it.

Family Readiness Advisors are typically the higher up wives of each company as well as the Col’s wife. They basically assist the FRO and aid the FRA’s as well as perform other duties as needed.

Assistants (FRA’s) assist the FRO with the family’s needs of their specific company or squad. Alot of times the FRO is swapped with the job that emails & phone calls she can make FRA’s can too so the job is delegated to her assistants to do.  Example: ECHO Co wives, parents or family members need a phone number or address to the commissary, MCCS, or base stables the company; FRA’s are here for you. FRA’s also assist the FRO with more complex needs depending on your specific FRO’s confidence in your skills and knowledge of the Marine Corps resources and wives requests. There should be 2+ FRA’s for each company or squad in the battalion.

Unit Volunteers assist at events which require numerous people for various activities, games, handing out items, decoration, ect. It is a great position to take stress off of the FRO and isn’t a committed position such as the FRA. Either way there are meetings every few weeks or so to keep everyone in on the happenings of the command and to assist the FRO in pre-planning for events.

You may look at these opportunities above and ask yourself why volunteer?!  Will I impact my husbands job if I screw something up?  Why get out of my PJ’s and go and help alot of people I don’t know and won’t spend that much time with anyways.   Some people complain about the way things work and don’t educate themselves on why it is that way or try and help to modify the situation.  I did the latter of those two.

I wouldn’t be the person I am right now if I hadn’t had been exposed to some very good people after my arrival here.  I let myself be open to the possibilities of helping.  I loved that I could put some of my communication and customer service skills to good use.  I didn’t just say I wanted to help I took the initiative to go to the FRA Intro classes at MCCS (Marine Corps Community Services), L.I.N.K.S courses and took the privacy test needed in order to help with our unit. I made sure to help our FRO at every location and in between as well because there is always something that can be done. I hope every Marine wife knows that this is a family organization and no matter if you’re husband is deployed, at home, WIA, or KIA we are all here for each other and as wives stronger with each other than apart. We gain strength and knowledge knowing what each other is going through especially from the experienced ladies.

Crystal’s First ‘official’ Deployment…Anchor’s Away

The summer of 2009 was over and the MEU (ship) deployment was coming fast and I had to do something!  I eventually got the opportunity to volunteer more and more for the Family Readiness Officer of Anthony’s unit. Keeping busy during the deployment was my coping method. Organizing things for and working with others helped me not focus every little stressor during Anthony’s absence that were not within my reach and that I couldn’t control.
Anthony’s unit was going to be part of a Battalion Landing Team or BLT. Not quite like a BLT sandwich but it is exactly as it sounds a big mess of all MOS’s (jobs) put together on several ships to tour the seas for different reasons.
There are several ships in a BLT/MEU situation & some had just sailed and one had to stay back for repairs.  We had been all ready for him to leave.  During departure & arrival times rumors fly & some of them were that they would be gone 12 months and not 6 and another was that the broken ship would not go at all.
I tried to avoid that nonsense & kept a level head & focused on simple things.  Thankfully he was on the broken ship so got additional time together!  We didn’t really know when he was going to have to go but we knew it was coming up fast.
Early one morning Anthony called me after being at work for an hour and said “we’re leaving”. I didn’t really know what to think and how serious to take him since that can mean anything from don’t plan for the BBQ this weekend to don’t make the lasagna tonight.  This time we a couple hours notice of this deployments departure. Right after he called the plan was for him to head home, pick up his gear and us to head back to his work and wait around while he prepared for the bus ride to the ship.
So this was it.  It was our big day and the big emotional roller coaster moment. This was my first time experience since I’d never been to a send off, deployment day, or anything. When I lived in Texas & he had deployed before we typically said goodbye at the airport and I’d go back to my normal or should I say (maybe not so normal) Geo-Bachelor life.  I didn’t know what to expect, how to feel, how not to feel, how to react, how NOT to react, ect. I knew it was going to be sad because of his absence and missing the upcoming holidays. I also knew that I was a semi-strong and independent person and he was just going on a ship for 6 months or so and that I shouldn’t be too overwhelmed or overemotional. I knew we’d have email, Skype, phone calls and mail so this should be a cake walk. Right?!
I may have had a false sense of self because I knew I’d have Stacie, Maggie & all the volunteer work to fall back on.  Thank goodness Maggie went through all of this with me and we both had each other to talk to, vent to, drink wine with and complain about the house falling apart because the men left. I believe the kids were able to cope better since Maggie’s kids and so many other military families kids were going through the same feelings at the same time all in our little military community bubble.
The unit held a send off at the UMA lot (basically a huge parking lot) filled with 7 tons, busses, Marines, family members, kids, dogs and friends not ready to say their goodbyes just yet. We waited for hours and hours while gear was loaded, signs were painted and coffee was brewed. People had started leaving, the tears were falling, and the last kisses for months had begun. I had helped set up, clean up as the evening wore on, painted signs and spoken to all my company wives I knew and tried to assure them they’d be getting the latest information from our FRO and command ASAP.
Anthony pulled me aside and told me that he felt it was time for me and the girls to go home. It was getting late, they were about to leave anyway and there was nothing more for me to do there. All of a sudden that was when the unexpected waterworks hit me.  I didn’t know why I was crying.  Didn’t I just say I was strong?  Damnit.  It really hurt to know that he wouldn’t be coming home with us, eating dinner with us, going to the movies with us and Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. I was sad, hurt, mad at the Marine Corps, and kind of scared. Scared for what? I thought maybe the bus wouldn’t make it, that he’d get hurt on the ship, that he’d not get along with his co-workers aboard the ship, that he’d get hurt on missions when he got overseas, he’d get sick again with pneumonia, swine flu again or bronchitis again. There were so many insecurities I had about the whole situation.

11th MEU

Now I know all of those last minute and unexpected emotions are normal. We’d prepared diligently for the deployment by preparing our families, organizing Wills, Powers of Attorney, passwords, ect.  Yet, I couldn’t control and secure was my husband’s safety and health. To make matters even more emotional the ship stayed docked overnight and I persuaded Maggie to come to the send off with me at a rally point for the unit.
With time though I eased up on my anxiousness thanks to Maggie, the FRO, my RBE (Remain Behind Element) co workers and friends because I think it would have turned into an obsession to know how he is, where he is, what he’s doing, what he’s not doing, ect.
All of these emotions were just the send off….oh goodness Help ME!