“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.

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How to have A Healthy Marine Corps Marriage…

At least once new and seasoned spouses have all asked themselves the same question:  How do I maintain a normal & healthy marriage; if there is one?!  There are no simple or quick fixes and let’s face it; being a Marine Corps wife can compound the challenge. There’s no 9-5 civilian job to mull over.  At the very beginning we discuss funeral wishes, Wills & POA’s when most  couples are still in the honeymoon phase.  Absolutely no one has a perfect marriage but hopefully we can all learn from others’ experiences to obtain or maintain a healthy marriage.

1) Communication. Learning the art of having a solid positive communicative foundation in your relationship is a hurdle you have to learn to jump because issues only get more complex as the years go by.  Active listening means just that LISTENING.  Not nagging or thinking of a come back as soon as they open their mouths.  Fluffy surface stuff like “hi/bye, kiss me, I love you” get you nowhere as well.  I mean deep conversations into the how, why & plan of action for confrontational in-laws, finances, overspending, financial planning, how to raise your kids, ect.  Two people have become one and finding a neutral ground of compromise is a delicate balance.  Compromise doesn’t mean submission it means you can have an honest conversation without feeling slighted or run over.

2) Maintenance.  You get out of your marriage what you put into it.  You don’t overheat your car without getting it checked out; the same concept goes for a marriage. Aboard almost all bases there are counselors & classes like the 5 Love Languages and the 4 Lenses which introduce you to personality types and how to mesh them into your relationship so both parties feel validated, important and respected.  People go to the doctor for regular check-ups & maintenance is the same thing to prevent serious issues.

3) Reality. We live a unique life where it takes tremendous effort to communicate & maintain our marriage due to unaccompanied duty stations, deployments, trainings, ect.  Marine Corps marriage is a huge reality check. Priorities have to shifted because reality is you cant get upset when he isn’t around or remembers to celebrate that second Wednesday in June when you two kissed for the third time under a full moon and you were wearing red heels with your favorite jeans.

4) Salt & Pepper. Everyone knows salt and pepper are always added and additional spices as needed and so should be certain things in a marriage.  Always have undeniable love, respect, support, thoughtfulness, understanding and patience for each other and the spicy romance & extra goodies should automatically follow suit.

We’ve all heard the saying that anything worth fighting for won’t be easy and thats exactly what Marine Corps marriage is.  Marriage is meant to complement your attributes and personality so while you’ll constantly evolve into being a better person and an outstanding Marine Corps spouse because of your Marine remember to enjoy the ride along the way.  A spoonful of sugar will not make our lives easier as much as I’d love it to but leaning on each other for support and following the steps above may help a bit.

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.

Welcome to PCSing (Military Press follow up blog)

When you’re far away from your ‘home’ and don’t know your way around, best places to visit, eat or frequent you can look at this situation either as a nuisance and wallow in the house all day or an adventure. For me I did the first when I PCS’d to the Golden State but then I slowly realized I shouldn’t waste my time in a new place. Mainly I was lonely and disconnected from my surroundings. We’d just moved and Anthony was going on sea trials and work ups away from home for weeks at a time. The kids had school to preoccupy their time and instead of me embracing my quiet time I resented it. So we bought a dog. LOL!

Wyatt Earp

Cutie pie Wyatt Earp was on the morning news broadcast and even though he was a mutt and in a shelter I couldn’t put a price on him. My husband did when he about fainted from the $400 pricetag but I instantly loved him. Wyatt was my world for the longest and then all it took was one Family Readiness Meeting to get me hyped up for the volunteering that was to come. I dove right into the event planning, meetings, training classes, organizing and being an ear to the ground to speak for the families. My FRO was fearless and motivating, she was passionate and outgoing which was just what I needed but didn’t know it at the time. She showed me a lot of what she knew about the Marine Corps & the wife lifestyle. Through her and the other ladies I got to network with within the years since being here I now realize what I have been missing out on.

I didn’t really know that California’s had some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever see. Or that you can go to the beach, snow and desert all in one day. There are more things to do outside than probably any other state like kayak in La Jolla Caves, scuba dive, paddleboard, visit islands, take the trains, mountain bike in Lake Tahoe, sky dive, hot air balloon, walk, hike, sun bathe, surf and boogie board just to name a few. Below are some of my new friends who I didn’t go looking for per se but found me or have helped me acclimate to this crazy military life.
Big Bear Lake
Through trial and error (error being Onyx-Paul Mitchell base salon made me look like Dora the Explorer) I found my favorite hair stylist Jessica who lives on Camp Pendleton (& you can find her on FB under Hair by Jessica) & has a sweet Southern disposition and is simply amazing. I would rather go to her to wash and style my hair than to do it myself she’s so reasonable. Everyone knows that stylists can see better in the back than we can when we’re doing our hair. I can’t say enough about her and her attention to detail. If there’s an issue with your style from someone else or otherwise she’s always ready and willing to resolve the issue for you.

Nate is another amazing person we unexpectedly met when looking for a new vehicle. For those of you who doubt me check out Jimmy Johnson Chevrolet because he and the rest of the team went the extra mile to assure our satisfaction with our new buy. He was around our age so it didn’t seem as if he was ‘selling us’ something and it wasn’t such a stiff transaction. We didn’t have us sit in there for 24 straight hours bored to tears and we appreciated his honestly and professionalism. I do know where I’ll be going to purchase from now on.

Ashlyn Strempel I met while going through the L.E.S.(Leadership Education Seminar) she was a quiet, think before you speak type of lady and we hit it off pretty quickly when we both volunteered to be involved with the organization that following seminar. I’ve learned alot about her and know that her knowledge and skills are the most current and proficient than any other realtor around. Military folks looking to use their VA home loans she’s the person who has the latest training for the newest information and laws that will help you understand your benefits and rights as a consumer. Not only is she a really good friend of mine that I would vouch for any day of the week but she’s always been the kind of person who stands by her word which is a huge asset in her line of work. For those looking for the best home locations in and around the Southern California areas check her out. http://www.ashlynrosehomes-properties.com/

Never again will I sell myself short on my surroundings and I encourage you all to get out there, make some mistakes and seize the day, get lost and have fun finding your way back home. Learn something new about the Marine Corps or your new city every chance you get and take LOTS of pictures! 🙂

Making it all work…latest edited Military Press article…

Over the weekend I realized something I wanted to share what I think we sometimes let slip in the back of our minds. Ourselves.
Reluctantly I got my hair cut & styled by a friend. I had been meaning to do it weeks ago but I hadn’t had enough time, my house was a mess, I’ve had a million Girl Scout things to do, the dogs needed a bath & my husband could just cut it right? I kept making excuses until one Friday there was no more running. I was on her block at a meeting & she said I’ll cut it then. Crap. Okay fine. I did & after she was done I felt like a whole new person! Like I’d been pulled off the street and given a total hair makeover. I almost didn’t recognize the face on the hair! I felt girly, alive, frisky & fun. This face needed makeup! But my hair was amazing and I loved it. We all know how a good haircut can make us feel and I couldn’t fathom why I didn’t do it sooner so I could have felt like this before!  By the way thank you Jessica!!!! 😛
Does it seem as if there aren’t enough hours in the day? Are you procrastinating on dieting, working out, spring cleaning, gardening, ect? Well today’s the day I hope you make that to-do list have more checks on it! Get it done. Be motivated and just do it! (ha ha that was not intended to be funny but I couldn’t help but think of Nike when I reread it)
Sometimes your feelings get in the way of your to-do list which is understandable. Say you’re at the beginning of a deployment or in the middle of a deployment in a routine and in both cases there’s a complete lack of energy or stamina to do anything let alone something for yourself. It’s typically mundane tasks, go with the flow and wherever the day takes you. I understand.
Yet I encourage you ladies to do something for yourself out of the ordinary to break the routine. We often times pour ourselves into the kids & especially our husbands but try not to forget you. Save up and splurge on a Burke Williams massage, have someone watch your kids so you can relax & read a book on the beach or get that haircut you’ve always wanted. Whatever it is have fun & embrace the moment.

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?