“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 help when tragedy strikes

Yesterday in Connecticut the world experienced a horrific tragedy: the loss of children.  These are little people who may have gone on to change the world, and their tiny lives have been snuffed out by a man full of evil.  When things like this happen, we all hurt, but what can you do?  You can pray, you can donate funds to help the families with expenses (there will be many), you can send cards/letters of support, or help support a memorial for the victims.   …all of those things will help.

What do you do when it strikes closer to home?

We all know someone, or will know someone who experiences something horrific in their lives: the loss of a parent, spouse or child, and nothing is more devastating.   What do you do?  How can you help?  You don’t know what to say, so you throw out a vague “I am so sorry!  …call if you need anything.” Then you stand awkwardly aside while your friend bumbles through their grief, because the reality is there is nothing you can do to take that pain away.

Now for the good news:  You Can Help!!

With any sudden loss, your life gets thrown into chaos.  Many times someone in the throes of grief and shock doesn’t know what kind of help they need, and if they do, they are hesitant to burden others by asking for help.  Here is a list of ways you might be able to help, some cost a little bit of money, and some cost nothing but your time.

  • Babysit.  Can you watch a couple of kids for a few hours to give both the parents and the kids a break?  Parents have things to deal with, phone calls to make, and tears to shed.  Kids need a chance to be kids: pop in a movie, make some popcorn and provide some much-needed attention.
  • Walk the dog.  Or offer to keep fluffy for a few days if that is a feasible option for your living situation.
  • Offer to be a point-of-contact for updates: there may be a million friends/relatives calling for updates, and that can be hard for the grieving individual to deal with.
  • Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, take out the trash, sweep the porch or whatever outside chores need to be done: there will be a lot of visitors in the days to come and those outside things will probably slide for a bit.
  • Pick up/drop off kids for school/sports/church if you have time or are headed that way.
  • Paper products: seriously.  There will be a zillion visitors.  Things like extra tissues (get the good kind!), paper towels, paper plates, coffee cups, plastic forks/spoons, toilet tissue and guest towels are all helpful items.
  • Food.  Not just meals for the family, but consider trays of finger foods for the visitors.  Cookies, veggie trays, crackers, cheeses, grapes, etc…   For the family, consider meals that will not leave leftovers, delivered in disposable containers.  Healthy meals with plenty of fresh produce will be greatly appreciated.  (Make sure you ask about food allergies and label your meals with every single ingredient!!!)
  • Gift cards: gas, groceries, coffee, spa (who couldn’t use a massage during this time?) pet boarding, movie theaters, etc… There will be a lot of extra expenses for the family, so if you are financially able, any gifts will be appreciated.

While this is a challenging time for everyone, please be there for your friends and family.  Even if you don’t know what to say, it is ok to say “I really want to be here for you, but I don’t know what to say.”  In a time of need, being there means more than saying pretty words.  Offer to pray with/for them, offer your physical assistance and offer your quiet companionship.

Don’t take it personally if you are rebuffed: emotions are running high and there is a lot going on.  Don’t give up, just step back, let them know you are ready and willing to help, then check back in in a day or two.  Continue to love them and remember this will take time for them to recover and develop a sense of normalcy.

Why yes, I do look stunning at night!

We may be the worlds most unromantic couple at night.  Maybe it is the injuries, maybe it is that we are “old”, or maybe it’s the way everyone is and we all just pretend to sleep in a disturbing amount of mascara where wearing silk pajamas and sleeping on satin sheet.

Last night I noticed that while wearing my night guard, my speech has a stunning resemblance to that of the ssssssnake in the movie “The Jungle Book”.  His night guard can’t quite withstand the clenching of his jaw and usually ends up flying out in the night, often to be lodged in my hair or near his feet.

Now that you have that awesome mental picture, please add three body pillows (complete with mis-matched clearance-rack pillow cases) and 4 regular size pillows.  Crowded yet?  Add the special leg wedge for Mitch that holds his pelvis stable while he sleeps.

We top off this lovely image with a CPAP (an assistive breathing device for those with obstructive or primary sleep apnea).

While my bed will never make the cover of any home-decor magazines, it is what allows Mitch to be comfortable at home, and allows me to sleep in the same bed as my husband post injury.  While certainly not the traditional idea of a romantic or relaxing bedroom, it is one of the happiest sights I see: that despite horrific injuries, I still have my husband.

I am blessed.

Vacation: Family Style!

So we set off this week on our first (ever) family vacation. The day included three airports, seven TSA agent, a frightened rental car company employee, two small children, a confused airline employee, a sedated husband and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding, no birds were harmed during our travel.)  We made it to South Dakota!

Twenty-two hours after I left my house, I crawled into bed exhausted.  Utterly, indescribably, exhausted.  Vacations aren’t for moms, in case you were wondering.  Vacations are where moms pretend they are having fun while they give their children the opportunities to see and do amazing new things, like visit Mt. Rushmore and have tantrums in Wall Drug.

First of all packing for 4 people is MUCH more challenging than packing for one.  Especially when you discover that eight of the twelve brand new pairs of undies you got your son are missing.  (Seriously, I went to pack and he only had 4 pairs.  …this is why you start packing at least two days before!)  After solving the underoo crisis I still managed to forget toothbrushes.  We bought new ones, and told the kids they were souvenirs from South Dakota. (Parenting WIN!)

Luckily where we are staying has a washer and dryer, so I didn’t have to pack a whole week’s worth of clothing.  Two large duffles, three backpacks, and a purse were enough to juggle.  Made the kids carry their booster seats-much to their dismay!  Thankfully only had to carry our gear to the curb where TSA met us and took over the duffles and one of the backpacks.  (Bless them!)

Ticketing and security were un-eventful, with the airline being shockingly efficient for 0400!  Security sent us through the front of the line, which still took us forever removing belts and shoes, and laptops and liquids…

I am amused by the fact that other travelers stare at us.  Surrounded by a pack of TSA agents, they can’t seem to determine if we are terrorists or VIP’s.  It can be humorous to watch their faces as we go by, not sure if they should run or ask for an autograph.

Upon arrival in Rapid City (which has the best TSA guys evaaaar!) we checked out our rental car.  The nice girl at the ticket counter was very helpful until she noticed the pack of agents surrounding us, then she got nervous and flustered, as if she couldn’t decide whether or not she should ask why we were being escorted off the property by security.  It all worked out in the end and we drove off in our new Ford Escape for the week.

Our leased vacation home from Black Hills Executive Lodging is unbelievably elegant!  (another post to come on that!) There was even a lovely fruit basket waiting for my famished children when we checked in.  The ladies who manage it are also extremely helpful, offering insider tips for visiting the area.

Off on more adventures today, with a boy who is adamant that he does NOT want to wear pants (or shorts), and the charming British man that lives in the GPS I rented.

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?

Anthony’s injury update…

Physical recovery is hard but acceptance and overcoming obstacles in the aftermath is the greatest accomplishment ever!!

Lately it has been a constant battle with not so great news. If it aint one thing its another right? Well I’ve had some recent inspiration in a seemingly neverending dark cloud of crap.

My husband is running…well a slow jog but still!! Holy snikes!! This is what he wanted and because of all the kind thoughts and prayers he is feeling great, has a new brace to assist him in walking and now jogging. There’s still an extremely long road ahead and most of it we can’t even see yet but we’re hopeful. He’s in good spirits and after all of these Marine Corps balls we are motivated and feeling pretty loved. So regardless of all the issues today is amazing and we are inspired…

My mom is here in SoCal, my girls are smiling and my old man and I are happy!!

Moto today!!