Childhood Nostalgia in A Quiet Place

This essay may contain spoilers.

We humans are a noisy a-f bunch. In the first few days since I watched John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place in theaters, I couldn’t help but wince at every sound I made: the clackity-clack of the keyboard while I typed this, the glassware clanging when I put them away, and the cascading swoosh of the water as it flowed over my hands in the sink. It’s all… so… noisy! I have serious doubts as to whether I would survive in this post-alien invasion world. Continue reading →

The Dreams We Control

“We gained control of many things.
But we had to let go of others.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver

We’re taught from an early age that our future is what we make of it. We can be whatever we want to be, and we can do whatever we want to do. This dream is instilled in us at such an impressionable young age that even when we break through the illusion as adults, we continue to cling to the idea that we can control our destiny. Whatever we have at present, for those of us who may be suffering, is merely a setback in the grand scheme of Life.

But when you really think about it, the illusion of the dream, a hope for a better way, is what keeps many of us alive.

My childhood dream wasn’t inspired by characters in books or movies, or special Scholastic spreads on astronauts or scientists. No. Mine was one formed by an amazing educator who not only set in motion my love for learning and reading but set the stage for insatiable curiosity.

Miss Duffy (who has since married but will always be remembered in my mind as such) taught us spelling and cursive handwriting. She taught us arithmetic using cubes and sticks, and taught us new words and concepts - like any teacher would. She also taught us American Sign Language, and more importantly I think, she taught us to be explorers.

You see, she was a scuba diver and lover of marine life. What memory I have of being in her classroom is always one with a NatGeo VHS tape on marine animals. Okay, she played other tapes too, like meerkats in the desert and cheetahs and Jane Goodall but my favorites, my dream-forming favorites were the ones about whales, coral, the sea, and marine biology.

I wanted to be a photographer and scientist for National Geographic. That’s what I decided in second grade.

Of course, what innocent choices we make at the age of seven are hardly what ends up transpiring for the majority of us.

I still cling to this dream - of being a National Geographic photographer and writer - but I haven’t achieved this particular dream. Instead, I worked with what I had and made choices that would get me closer if not precisely to that point.

I majored in journalism as an undergrad and came out with a focus in educational issues, specifically as it intersects with race and criminal justice. I desired something bigger so I packed my bags and moved to the Big Apple for my master’s degree in sociology. Again, my emphasis was in education with a focus on race, class, school discipline and the political economy of the teaching profession. Now, here I am at a strange T junction. Left or right? I hustle to make things happen while carefully gauging my decisions.

Throughout all of this is my growth as a storyteller and my love for the platform in whatever presentation it takes: short form, long form, social media, news briefs, academic essays, and more.

I may not be at Nat Geo but I’m coming into the dream that I’ve held onto for over two decades: storytelling.

I love hearing other people’s stories and sharing them, writing the under-reported narratives, and finding connections in systemic problems that aren’t being discussed. I may not have control over who hires me for my next career opportunity, or who accepts and rejects my pitches, but at least I have this one thing: to love and continue to love the power of stories.


p class=”wp-crosspost-linkback”>The Dreams We Control was originally published on Posts by Gina

Would’ves and Could’ves

I felt happy. A little distracted but happy nonetheless as I sat with my mentee during a senior send-off event earlier this week in East Harlem.

I never doubted her abilities to graduate from high school or to get accepted into college. No, it was something else that made me happy as I sat on the dust-smeared, plastic chair in the blue-draped room, the school’s primary color washed under the bright white fluorescents.

Whatever challenges my mentee will face in college this fall, I was happy because she got the mentoring that her more socio-economically better counterparts receive without a second thought. I was happy because I guided another human being through the college application process, gave advice and feedback on essays, and will be checking in with her once a month during her freshman year of college.

She reminds me of me, except I never had a college mentor. It wasn’t even clear that I was even going to college when I graduated high school. It was a cursory footnote, mentioned in passing at school and at home. There was no manual, no map, no guiding person to lean to for advice. It was just expected.

There might have been a one-on-one meeting with the school counselor, who everyone thought was airheaded and out of her depth. No one liked her and I don’t remember a useful meeting with her as a high school student. In fact, I recall dreading any meetings with her because of her daftness and blasé attitude towards my future.

I vaguely remember a school-wide assembly my sophomore and junior years. Gathered at the movie theater that served as the school’s event space, we all sat in the dark room, chatting in hushed tones as the principal, vice principal, and school counselor spoke about college and life after high school. There was college but most of all there was talk about honor, duty, and… shit. Whatever else that was part and parcel of a DoDEA school where military codes of honor and etiquette reigned supreme.

It was a confusing time. Actually, a better description would be to call it a “lost” time.

I remember only the 4.0 GPA and high-performing JROTC students seemed to sail through without issue. Everyone seemed to know, or have some idea, of what was coming next. We didn’t really talk about it. College, and leaving our friends and being scattered across the globe. As military kids this was just an inevitable part of life.

That’s what it looked like, anyway.

As I sat in the bluish gymnasium in East Harlem, and listened to a read-aloud of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” I wondered how different things could’ve been. There are a lot of would’ves and could’ves: Would I have ended up a different university, right after high school instead of having an unproductive gap year? Could I have had a better idea of what to pursue instead of blundering through community college and transferring and everything that followed thereafter? Or, how different would my life outcome have been had my family lived in a “normal,: American life, away from the military apparatus, in some nondescript location in the continental U.S.?

Of course, this pondering does me no good. What’s happened happened. The only thing I can do now is to try to direct my life in the trajectory I want it to go in spite of the challenges and barriers that are up.


Would’ves and Could’ves was originally published on Posts by Gina