Another Chance: A personal statement
By: Nicole A. Calvo

A week ago, I turned 45, an age when most women either feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction or feel a certain amount of frustration or anxiety about the next half of their life.  Coincidentally, on three separate occasions, co-workers and friends asked me: “What would you do over again in your life if you could?”  I suppose they never meant any harm in the asking, but in all honesty and after much thought, I do not want to do anything over again in my life.  I certainly would not want to relive my teenage life with all the angst of being self-conscious and awkward.

Thankfully, you grow out of all those feelings as you mature and realize that life is much more complicated than having the right clothes and make-up to impress your peers.  Or to start again from the beginning of my career as an educator; as my first day on the job as a second-grade teacher was abruptly stopped by a Category 5 typhoon which devastated the roof top of my classroom.  Even for something as tragic as this was, I continued the path of a teacher for another fifteen years, because as an islander who has lived through the howling wind and driving rain of such destructive storms, one becomes stronger and more resilient when the glorious splendor of the sun shines, once again, in paradise.  So, instead of reliving or redoing my past, I would much prefer to be given another chance to do something with my future.

A typical day for me, begins with a brisk walk along a sandy, tropical beach surrounded by lush green coconut trees and the most breathtaking sunrises against sky blue heavens with the purest of white, fluffy cloud formations.  These images of my natural surroundings make exercising seem effortless and pleasant even to the most apprehensive jogger.  What in heaven’s name would anyone want to have a second chance to do with this ideal scenario of my morning exercise routine; well I would like a chance to RUN and not just walk.  But for some reason my body just refuses to move faster and telling people that you run three miles a day sounds a lot healthier and sexier than walking three miles a day, I’m just saying!

Another chance to do something would be a Sunday evening family meal at my childhood home. This would normally consist of preparing a three to five course dinner to feed a small army of about forty people: my mother, five siblings, their spouses and twenty-five kids in tow.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I am single and childless, with all those kids running around and screaming at each other, I never heard my biological clock ticking!   To sit down at a dining table for no more than four people on a Sunday evening without cooking for the masses and being able to hear myself breathe is another chance I would love to experience.

My third chance… although I enjoy life on this small, yet beautiful tropical island, there are times that I need to take a sabbatical from this everlasting paradise. Because of its very remote location in the western pacific, travel by air is a must to experience the hustle and bustle of city life or the vast, openness of country living.  But being a world traveler, although it sounds exciting and adventurous, can be a complete strain on your psyche and overall well-being when the flight time is over three hours long and you’re notorious for having motion sickness like I do.  Even as a child, I could get sick from just sitting in the ocean while making the waves push me back and forth.  Luckily, my mother never allowed me to go in the water after eating, which I do not think was to prevent me from cramping as I swam but to stop me from “Chumming” the water.  So, to fly across the Pacific Ocean turbulence free, at the speed of light and without the fear of using a certain paper bag found in the front seat pocket is another chance I would like to be afforded.

Finally, I would like to live the next half of my life writing!  I have had two careers in this earthly existence, the first, as I mentioned earlier, was as an English teacher and the second and current one is with a non-profit organization that deals with the preservation and perpetuation of my indigenous language, culture and heritage.  With these professions, I have always written or edited grants, essays and proposals.  Although, those types of writing are more technical and business oriented, I have in the past, kept a travel journal every time I was fortunate enough to whisk away to a foreign land with friends, so that capturing the sights, sounds and smells of a famous city or a national landmark was properly documented in writing and not just from snapping a few pictures as most tourists do. So another and probably my last chance that I would want to have an opportunity to accomplish, is to write and eventually publish a novel or a collection of short stories; some of which I have already written in its most fundamental form.  About what and for whom is not a necessity now for me, as I’m sure that my life experiences and future opportunities will bring a rather exciting element of the unknown for me to take a chance on!

Copyright © 2015 - Nicole A. Calvo - All Rights Reserved

A Pursuit of Happiness:
Dreams and Aspirations from a Second-Class United States Citizen

By: Nicole A. Calvo

In the age of tweets, Instagram’s, and hash tags trying to write something profound and inspiring can be as easy as LOL, OMG or BFF; or as enduring and memorable as “Bye Felicia”, “Becky with the Good Hair” or “Turn Down for What?” All of which, I’m still struggling to understand or even decode. So, as a Gen Xer, watching market trends shift to fit the likes and approval of Millennials and Generation Z has been disheartening to say the least.  It’s a bit like turning 40 then having Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair bequeath people in their “50’s” the new “It Crowd”.  Or having your hair dresser give you the perfect “pixie”, then reading that one of the Kardashian’s is sporting a “lob”.  Somehow, social accolades always escape me.  I’m perennially right on the outskirts of the hip & cool or have just missed the mark of being part of what’s trending. On the list of “What’s In” vs. “What’s Out”, I pretty much always fall in the latter.  
Sadly, it’s not just social and technological scenes that I have fallen on the “outs” with but political as well.  The hoopla of this year’s U.S. Presidential Elections that have the nation running at a fevered pitch is something that I can only read about, see online, hear on talk radio or discuss at dinner amongst friends.  Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns just seem like an untouchable and unreachable conclusion for me.

            “What? You think I can do more, like participate in the election by going and casting my vote for the next president.” 

In a perfect world, that’s exactly what I’d do, but for now that’s a pipe dream for me!  Oh, I am very much over the eligible voting age, and yes I’m a U.S. Citizen since birth.
“So what’s the problem, you ask.”

Would you believe me if I told you that people living in Guam, although we are citizens of the good ole U.S.A., cannot vote for our President.  The place of my birth and my dwelling for the past 40 some odd years, although a U.S. Territory and a tropical paradise that proudly uses the moniker “Where America’s Day Begins” to attract tourists and visitors from around the world to its pristine, sandy beaches and gloriously captivating sunsets – is excluded from the 15th Amendment- the Right to Vote, the 19th Amendment- Women’s Right to Vote and even the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which secured voting rights for racial minorities.

            “That can’t be right, not in this day and age, you say!”

In this second decade of the 21st Century, in a country: where a statue named Liberty stands tall and erect, whose native son became the first astronaut to walk on the moon, who has a local company with the image of a fruit on it and is the apple of many an eye and whose president is the leader of the Free World, there remains hundreds of thousands of its citizens who are in fact second class.  Oh, that Congress would make an amendment to the Constitution or a President to enable an Act for the people living in the Territories to be given the right to vote.  Although I’m not a constitutional scholar or a career politician even this simple resolution to such an injustice seems like a distant dream and perhaps easier said than done.
At the birth of this great Nation, 240 years ago, the following was written:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.”
When it was presented on the first Independence Day, I’m sure that our forefathers did not envision a United States of America that has, in its collective, territories and a district (Both incorporated and unincorporated) whose citizens are unable to vote for the president of their nation.  Somehow, those of us in Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands are just exactly like the people of the 13 Colonies; pleading for our rights to vote and be heard. 

So, this November, my fellow Americans that can in fact cast a ballot for the next President of the United States, PLEASE EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE. If not for you then do it for us, your fellow countrymen and women who do not have that same right – a pursuit of happiness that continues to evade us!

Copyright © 2016 - Nicole A. Calvo - All Rights Reserved