"Writing can't change the world overnight, but writing may have an enormous effect over time, over the long haul." --Leslie Marmon SilkoHere's the wonderful interview!
M.B.(Wilmot) Dallocchio first came onto my radar via my cousin/business partner at Guam Books and Beads, Alison Taimanglo Cuasay (Tasi & Matina). I recall Alison showing me Dallocchio's artwork. They share the commonality of being war veterans and Chamorritas and that made us both instant admirers of Dallocchio's art and writing. I was excited and honored to meet Dallocchio this past March in San Diego at CHE'LU's 5th Annual Chamorro Cultural Fest. The beauty of our meeting is that we are united in celebrating each other's works and I'm thankful that we have connected.
*@ CHE'LU's Chamorro Fest, March 2014. (L-R) Taimanglo, M.B. Dallocchio, Judy Flores, Alison Taimanglo Cuasay.
1. Labels can be bad, but with someone as multi-faceted as you—it helps us understand the many hats you wear. If you could string a necklace with beads that represent what/who you are, what words would be on those beads? (Mine would be mother, military spouse, geek, Chamorrita, goddess in training, writer, self-doubter, dreamer, amateur drummer, karaoke diva, etc.)
Chamorrita, warrior, mother, friend, writer, itinerant artist, surrealist, diviner, globe-trekker, foodie, desert nomad, combat veteran, visionary.
2. Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully in Santa Fe or Taos, New Mexico with my family.
3. Tell us about The Desert Warrior. Contact information? How to purchase your art/book? Appearances?
I wrote a book under my old name, M.B. Wilmot, called “Quixote in Ramadi” and it can be purchased on Amazon (red cover edition). You can purchase my art and books at www.thedesertwarrior.com.
4. You have stunning imagery with your art. What’s your favorite medium(s) for your art?
I like combining acrylic and ink the best, but I prefer to print my finished products on metal. I think my work stands out best on metal for some odd reason.
5. Who are your influences, in writing/art?
Frida Kahlo and David Cerny (Czech artist) are my two biggest influences when it comes to art, but writing is a different story. I really enjoyed “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey as well as books by Carlos Castaneda, Leslie Marmon Silko, Paulo Coelho, Winona LaDuke, and Sherman Alexie.
6. If you could rid the world of one (or two things-or more) what would they be and why?
Indifference and bigotry. Those have been the two most evil sources I’ve seen in my life.
7. You are a native Chamorro from the Northern Marianas Islands from your maternal side. Have you visited the CNMI? What do you miss most about home, the culture?
We used to visit Saipan quite a bit as a kid, but we actually moved to Guam for a few years where I attended Piti Middle School and Oceanview High School (before they moved everyone to Southern High). The parts of Saipan Chamorro culture I miss is that there is less pretension, or there was less pretension years ago. With growing influences of US and East Asian culture, I think people are changing. However, I am seeing a lot more Chamorros waking up to how events around the globe affect them, as it has always been that way since Spain colonized us in the 1500s. I would say that I miss the cooking, but my mom taught me well, but the clear water in Saipan, the persistently calm, ambient environment is always missed.
8. Your book, Quixote in Ramadi: An Indigenous Account of Imperialism has made what kind of impact in the military community? What feedback have you received? Any memorable encounter from a reader?
I have had quite a few people I didn’t know personally who read the book and thanked me via Facebook for telling my story as they could relate to it. My story is not your typical white Anglo-Saxon protestant story of Johnny or Jane going to war or coming home from war. I didn’t glorify war in any sense of the word, and I think it’s a mistake to view death and dying as patriotic or romantic. I have had more interest on the book overseas and with other veterans of color, but after presenting it at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, I think that’s starting to change.
9. Any plans for future books?
I’m currently wrapping up a memoir about coming home called, “The Desert Warrior”. It’s narrated from the point of my return from Iraq and discloses how Chamorro culture and other Indigenous cultures and people helped me to survive after being practically abandoned by VA and other veterans groups who simply didn’t have room for a minority female combat veteran.
10. Would you let your child join the military?
Joining the military is a personal decision and I’m not one to completely encourage or deny one’s vocation. However, I would encourage her to be as educated as possible before making any commitments.
11. What organizations or groups are you affiliated with?
I am still affiliated with “Los Veteranos de Arizona” in Phoenix, and a few veterans’ art projects on occasion. I also support indigenous activism in the Americas. I’m careful about who I align myself with and I tend to do a lot of my work and activities on my own or with my close friends and family.
12. How has life after the military been?
It was a struggle at first, but I found my way through. “The Desert Warrior” will be very detailed on how that was, but in the end and with much perseverance, I’m still standing.
13. Where can we get the latest about you?
Any updates or information is viewable on my website at www.thedesertwarrior.com or my blog www.quixoteinramadi.com.