Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Meet...M.B. Dallocchio, The Desert Warrior.

"Writing can't change the world overnight, but writing may have an enormous effect over time, over the long haul." --Leslie Marmon Silko


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.

Here's the wonderful interview!

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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day


My father passed away seven years ago. His legacy has touched many aspects of my writing, coming through in my blog posts, demanding a major role in my romantic comedy, Secret Shopper and creating ripples in many of my short stories.

To say that I miss him is a major understatement. There are so many reminders and echoes of my father, Tedy Gamboa Chargualaf in my everyday life. Not to mention that my son looks like him, in stature, in his handsome face, in his kind heart and also at times in his stubbornness. I’m reminded that my father is absent in my daughter’s life at major milestones like her Kindergarten promotion this week or the fact that she finally has one of her baby teeth loosening. I know he would have loved her, so I remind my children (my son was 1 ½ years old when his ‘Tata Tedy’ died), that they are extensions of this great man I love.



To honor my dad this father’s day, I just wanted to share 7 memories, some sweet, some sour.

1. I’m a Mermaid.

Massachusetts. I was the ultimate tag along. My dad was going fishing. I wanted to go too. I was about four years old. The pond, scummy and green looked otherworldly to my little girl eyes. My father went about his business of fishing as we sat in a tiny boat. He dropped tiny red balls in the water around us to attract fish, which was absolutely fascinating that I just had to dip my face in the water to discover where these things went and what they did. Along with heading into the water face first, the rest of my body followed. I had a few seconds of floating in a beautiful sea of green water, dotted with red. I’m sure it was cold, but I don’t remember that now. My father, with one strong arm, lifted me out of the water and put me back into the boat. His face was mingled with relief, horror and anger. But, in my memory I detected amusement too. My little dip into the unknown ended our fishing trip.

2. Pillow Rides!

Massachusetts. Sitting squarely on a pillow, my father grasped each side and offered my brother and I turns on a magic pillow ride. I remember soaring so high I could touch the ceiling and being in awe of my father’s strength.

3. Death Stare.

Guam. Red light. A man in a taxi stared at me while we waited at a traffic stop in East Hagatna. I was 13. I began to slink into my seat, trying to disappear. My dad, aware asked what my problem was. I told him it was nothing, but then he looked around us and found the man. At this point, I was completely on the floor of the car, both embarrassed by the unwanted attention and afraid of my father’s wrath. He told me to sit up, and in a flash flipped the bird to the man and yelled some choice curse words. The man mouthed, “Sorry,” and put his hands up in surrender. Green light.

4. The Second Love.


Guam. My first major heartbreak. A relationship of nearly seven years ended and my parents let me react the way I needed to, anger, sadness, hunger strike, desperation, chocolate binging. But, when I packed up two trash bags of my ex’s gifts and placed it by the back door, my father said, Atta girl. I never liked him anyway. Don’t worry, in this family the second love is the one that’s real.” And, he was right.

5. Common Nonsense.

My father gave tough love. And, in those times he questioned our maturity he would always say, “Wow. My kids are so smart, but sometimes you have Common Nonsense.”—his word play on our lack of common sense.


6. I’m Going to Knock You Out.

Guam. I don’t condone violence, unless it’s for survival, but my father grew up a fighter. Of course, being a family man tamed him, but my mother would share stories of my father’s shenanigans during his young Army days in Korea. When I was twelve, we were at a neighbor’s barbecue. A man, whose ‘common sense’ was soaked in the many beers he drank, set his sights on my dad. He sat next to my father and touched his arm. “Wow, you are strong.” He said derisively. My dad shoved the man, nearly knocking him off his chair and warned him not to touch him again. The drunk persisted. Then in an instant, my father had punched him in the face and he crumpled to the floor. “I told you not to f’ with me.” It was the only time I saw my father violent first hand. I was upset all day because we left the party, but also afraid that the man and his teenage sons would want retribution. We lived on the next street over and as they pulled their limp father into the bed of their truck, the son told my father he would come back for him. My father wasn’t ruffled and nothing came of it.


7. College Classmates.


University of Guam. As I was finishing my education/English degree at UOG, my father started taking courses too, already a Chamorro teacher at John F. Kennedy High School. “Would you mind if we were in the same class?” He would ask shyly. “You won’t be embarrassed?” It was interesting to see his concern, but I was an adult then and proud that my father was brave enough to step into the college realm to better himself. “I won’t be embarrassed!” I told him. “I would be proud! Just don’t ask me to do your papers for you.”