Zoom to the Moon
by Alba Suarez
While writing this essay, my goal was to keep things lighthearted and tell an entertaining story that also shared a bit of my personality and interests.
I hop from the scalding hot concrete sidewalk into my family car, with my parents and best friend Sama, sheltering ourselves from the sticky, humid summer air with the glorious freshness of the AC. We are on our way to the beach. Unfortunately, when you live in New York City, beaches tend to be an hour and a half car ride away minimum, but that’s no problem for me. I came prepared.
As soon as we’re set on our way down the Long Island expressway, I whip out my favorite game, very descriptively titled Things They Don’t Teach You In School: A Crazy Mix of Fun Facts, Random Trivia, and Totally Useless Knowledge. In theory, the structure of the game should involve reading questions aloud and your fellow players shouting answers to accumulate the maximum number of points possible, but my company seems to be less than enthused. I suppose I can’t really blame them for not being particularly excited to hear that the average human produces two pints of mucus every day, but by this point, their brains are likely saturated with my incessant blabbering of fun facts.
Realistically, the majority of people in my life don’t need to be reminded of these random ordinances of their existence.
You see, random trivia has been quite the passion of mine ever since I got my hands on the Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Millionaire board game circa 2012. Ever since, the latest episode of Jeopardy (airing every Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern Time) or any other evening TV trivia game show has never failed to bring out an inordinate amount of competitive adrenaline in me. Where else would I learn that humans shed an average of twenty-two kilograms of skin in their lifetime, and that one out of every 2.000 babies is born with teeth, or that the calcium carbonate found in fish poop reduces the amount of CO2 in seawater and is being investigated as a potential key to success in the battle to lower greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere?
Realistically, the majority of people in my life don’t need to be reminded of these random ordinances of their existence. My mother could live without being told that nail polish was originally used by Babylonian soldiers as a method to intimidate their enemies every time she comes home with a pedicure. My father is understandably aggravated when I remind him that “fatbergs,” rock-hard balls of human waste, are an increasing problem in New York City waste processing plants due to the rise of disposable wet-wipes flushed down the pipes, every time he has to unclog our bathroom toilet.
However, I can say with confidence that knowing these things gives me more than just the satisfaction of being able to impart a bit of knowledge at the most inconvenient times. Take this fact for example: Neil Armstrong’s footsteps will remain on the moon for over 100 million years. Although the moon’s lack of an erosive atmosphere is fascinating in its own right, there is more to it than that. Knowing this reminds me every day that human life may be painfully temporary, but the footprints of the achievements we make have the potential to last for generations. Understanding how short-lived and fragile the human experience is makes wanting to absorb every little tidbit there is to know about the world we call home starts to seem much less bizarre.
I definitely had some trouble working on the podcast, mainly due to the difficulties of recording myself and listening to my own voice as well as trying to sound natural while doing so. I had no experience with podcasts or audio editing prior to this, but my mentor, Zoë, has experience with YouTube, which was helpful through the process. She reminded me to not overly script the episode and suggested that I include background music to help the flow of the episode. Although podcasting did not come naturally to me, I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone for the multimedia component of my piece “Zoom to the Moon,” and this definitely did that.
Meet the Pair
Mentee Alba Suarez & Mentor Zoë Weiner
Mentee’s Anecdote: While working with Zoë, I’ve been able to spend time working on creative projects and writing prompts that helped me stay creative during the pandemic. Being able to spend time on non-academic writing with my mentor has allowed me to find happiness and entertainment in writing again instead of only getting to experience it as something I need to do for school. Zoë is incredibly supportive, outgoing, and she has so much passion for writing that I have been lucky enough to get to learn from.
Mentor’s Anecdote: Alba is one of the funniest, most original writers I have ever known. No matter what the two of us are working on together, she never ceases to surprise me with her ability to think outside the box. Her creative brain challenges me to think differently, and I am so proud of the pieces she’s put together this year. Hearing her responses to the prompts I give her has become the highlight of my week, because I truly never know what to expect, and am always blown away by the words she puts together. Her writing is sharp, thoughtful, and engaging, and I am so excited for her to share it with the world.
Alba Suarez is a junior in high school. Having grown up in a very loud and talkative family, expression and voicing her thoughts has always been incredibly important to her. She loves debating, learning languages and having a random fact at hand to bring up in any situation. Aside from her passions for writing and debate, she loves dancing, listening to music and having impromptu concerts in front of the mirror.