Monday, November 30, 2009

Babysitting Curly-Haired Boy

Curly-Haired Boy is 6 years old already, and he's gotten so much taller than when he was 4. I've had so many fun experiences with this young one, I wondered why I haven't written more about him. Probably because I saw him for the first time yesterday in over a year.

He swung the door open, and I smiled to see his gap-teeth. His hand still on the doorknob, he stared at me, stopped and started his breath, and went running to his mom: "Is that Xiomara?"

I'm the scarf and glasses lady with the ponytail! I thought. I have bangs now; maybe that's it. But I knew that after asking for me for so many months, he just couldn't believe that I was standing in his living room.

"I wore Mets colors for you," I said, pointing at my scarves.

"For me?!"

We went straight into play mode just like old times. After enacting Star Wars duels with red and blue plastic light sabers, we sat on the pink couch on the far-end of the living room. I was wiping away my tears and rubbing my nose where he caught me when he looked me in the eyes and asked, "Is this real?"

"Yes, of course it is," I laughed.

"No, I mean, like is this for real? Are you really babysitting me? Or is it going to be a long time again until I see you?"

Children's feelings are so fragile; and I neglected him. We used to spend so much time together, I'm sure it really hurt him that I disappeared.

"Yes, this is for real. I promise you'll see me again soon."

With a look of satisfaction, Curly-Haired Boy went on to build a Star Wars Amusement Park out of Tinker Toys. I taught him how to create "spinners" out of wooden sticks and round connectors; and I felt so glad to be there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Terrier, a Fly, a Squirrel and a Goose

New York City never fails to provide me with extensive material for photographs. Here are four of my photographs of some of the non-human, non-plant living members of NYC.

Biking Roxie
Battery Park City, Manhattan

Begging Squirrel
Parkchester, Bronx

Fly On Bench
Battery Garden

Disturbed Goose
Morningside Park, Manhattan

All images in this post are Xiomara A. Maldonado's original photographs of animals in New York City. All of these images are copyrighted and watermarked. If you are going to utilize any of these photographs, please credit the artist as follows: "Photo courtesy of Xiomara A. Maldonado. Copyright Xiomara A. Maldonado 2008;" and create a hyperlink to this blog post. Please email me with a link to where my work is used. I would love to see what you do with it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Am Thankful For...

  1. Life: Thank you, God, for my life, for every breath that I take, for keeping me alive in spite of it all.
  2. Family: Thank you to my mom, my dad, my sister, Jasmine, Abuela, Abuelo and all of my family members who support me, love me and often give outstanding advice. I love you.
  3. Girl Friends: Thank you to all of my girl friends. I have beautiful, talented girl friends who have impacted my life in ways that they may not ever know and in ways they do know. I love you, Naima, Krystal, Janene, Maria, Jennise, Leslie and everyone who cares about my well-being. Thank you for supporting me during my spoken word performances, for giving me money and food when I am broke, for reaching out to me when I disappear, for coming to my house when I don't want to leave it, for taking me out for my birthdays, for thinking of me and missing me when we are far apart, for reading my writing and for giving me constructive not cutting criticism, for cooking for me, for sharing your dreams and goals and passions with me, for encouraging me and affirming me, for laughing and talking with me, for comforting me, for giving me kisses and hugs, and for not making fun of my laugh, my clothes, my glasses or my weight.
  4. Guy Friends: Thank you to all of my guy friends for the fun times, great conversation and laughter. You know who you are. A special shout out to David who has been a great source of support. Thank you for sticking by me through all of the shit I've been through. Thank you to all the men who have never taken advantage of me.
  5. Food: Thank you, God, for food that sustains me, for food that I could not live without. Hershey's, thank you for making SKOR.
  6. Writing: Thank you, God, for blessing me with a talent for writing. Please help me to use it wisely. Writing has been my friend, my savior, my refuge.
  7. Music: Thank you, Music, for being there to lift me up, cheer me and comfort me. Thank you for helping me have fun and get through work!
  8. Internet: Thank you, Internet, for providing me with entertainment, social networking sites, intriguing articles and lots of random information. Thank you, Google, for helping me find the answers to my questions. Thank you, Blogger, for providing me with the space to share my photographs, poetry and random thoughts.
  9. Assholes: Thank you to all of the assholes who were and are in my life. Without you, I would never be the person I am today. Because of you, I am stronger, I am wiser and I am more secure in who I am.
  10. Pretty Scents: Incense, candles, perfumes, body sprays and air fresheners, thank you for making my life less stinky.
This post was inspired by Krystal's post, "Today I Am Thankful For." Check out Krystal's Life Happenings.

Anthem of Our Dying Day

I have been listening to Anthem of Our Dying Day, an old song by Story of the Year, on repeat for the past three hours, thinking of college and Naima who taught me to love rock music and performances. The lyrics are beautifully haunting and emotionally expressive: I am looking to lines such as "The stars will cry / The blackest tears tonight" as possible inspiration for the songs I am going to write someday; and I especially love the way in which Dan Marsala's agonized, wailing voice does the anguished verses justice.

From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day

Krystal and Naima, let's get started on this band. Where's my tambourine?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Top 10 Fave Online Articles

10. Neon Elmhurst Hospital Sign Burns Out Appropriately
Asylum, Nov. 20, 2009
By Jeremy Taylor

It was simply a case of the right bulbs going out at the wrong time. But passers-by couldn't be blamed for thinking a smirking prankster, or something much darker, was responsible when they looked up at the neon sign for Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, N.Y., which then displayed the ominous phrase "I'm hurt." ...

9. What Made Michelle Obama Anxious and Nervous
Politics Daily, Nov. 18, 2009
By Lynn Sweet

First Lady Michelle Obama revisited a stressful period of her youth on Monday, opening up to teen girls at a Denver mentoring event when asked about her views of standardized testing. Mrs. Obama used the question to talk about her own insecurities and anxieties about taking tests, focusing on her time as a high school student in Chicago. ...

8. How Toxic Behavior Leads to Sinful Behavior at Work
Posted on AOL Find a Job, Nov. 2009

By Rachel Zupek, Writer

Have you ever found that the people most guilty of unruly behavior at work are also the ones who are most oblivious to their behavior? Take Fred, for example. Fred is the guy who asks you to "help" him with a big presentation (aka, you do the whole thing). But when Fred is congratulated on a job well done, he takes full credit for the work you did. Or, look at Susan. Susan talks to you for hours on end about herself -- her family, friends, work and play -- but never does she ask about what's happening in your world. ...

7. What's Being Taught In College Rape Prevention Programs?
Jezebel, Nov. 20, 2009
By Latoya Peterson

Asking men to visualize being raped is a graphic way to prove a point-but is it an effective strategy to prevent assault? College campuses around the country are beginning to adopt prevention programs and a new article examines their tactics.

On Sunday, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece exploring the struggles of colleges trying to measure the effectiveness of programs designed to reduce rape and sexual assault. These programs have shifted the focus from women to men - and have stepped up the idea that men can assist in preventing third party assaults. ...

Sex Offenses on the Subways Are Widespread, City Officials Are Told
NY Times, Nov. 19, 2009
By Jennifer 8. Lee

The peak times in which women report sexual harassment or assaults on the subways are the late morning rush, roughly 8 to 10 a.m., followed by the early afternoon rush, 4 to 6 p.m. ...

5. Airbrushed Magazine Photos of Babies Spark Debate
Parent Dish, Nov. 16, 2009
By Amy Hatch

Critics are outraged that some parenting magazines admit to airbrushing images of babies that run on their covers, but industry insiders say that almost every photograph in a magazine is retouched. The hubbub started when a BBC documentary, My Supermodel Baby, revealed that the publication Practical Parenting and Pregnancy retouched a photograph of 5-month-old baby model Hadley Corbett.

4. Student Braves Controversy, Refuses to Recite Pledge
Parent Dish, Nov. 13, 2009
By Tom Henderson

"Liberty and justice for all?" Will Phillips doesn't believe that describes America for its gay and lesbian citizens. He's a 10-year-old at West Fork Elementary School in Arkansas, about three hours east of Oklahoma City. Given his beliefs, he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, specifically because that one phrase, "liberty and justice for all," he says, does not truly apply to all. That did not go over well with the substitute teacher in his fifth-grade classroom. ...

3. Lincoln's Letter to Boy Goes on Sale
AOL News, Nov. 19, 2009

In March of 1861, a new president had just been sworn in and the nation was on the brink of civil war. Yet Abraham Lincoln still found a moment to come to the defense of a kid whose schoolmates were picking on him. The letter President Lincoln sent to 8-year-old George Patten is up for sale. The boy, whose father was a journalist, had told all his friends he'd shaken Lincoln's hand. They didn't believe him and mocked George for claiming he'd met the man who was now president. So his teacher wrote a letter to the White House hoping to learn the truth. ...

2. Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious
NY Times, Nov. 18, 2009
By Gretchen Reynolds

Researchers at Princeton University recently made a remarkable discovery about the brains of rats that exercise. Some of their neurons respond differently to stress than the neurons of slothful rats. Scientists have known for some time that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells (neurons) but not how, precisely, these neurons might be functionally different from other brain cells. ...

1. The Food Landscapes of Laura Miner's Photography [food art]
Eat Me Daily, Nov. 12, 2009
By Michelle Mettler

Boston-based artist Laura Miner photographs our most glutinous, mass-produced, and sugary indulgences, creating new and undiscovered perspectives. Using items such as Twinkies and Snowballs, Miner photographs the desserts as they were "assaulted and left to rot." Other work by the artist, such as her food landscape photos, are intended to "capture the geographic essence in the textures and colors of various food items," creating a whole new way to look at food. ...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Aliyah

I'm not sure why the roof called to you.
I don't know why you chose Los Angeles
or if you were really getting closer to Jesus.
I only know I miss you, and I no longer want to
bear the weight of that parking lot.

Today would have been my friend's 23rd birthday. But, a couple of weeks ago, she committed suicide. No one knows why. Depression? Schizophrenia? No one knows. And I have been feeling hurt, angry, confused. I feel lost. Numb. Unmotivated. Depressed. Alone. Her passing has made me think a lot about my own life, my own death, what I want, how I've failed, what my options are.

How does one deal with loss? I cried so hard when I found out, cried cried cried; and the tears didn't dry. Sure, I was dehydrated. Sure, I couldn't eat. Sure, I fought my way through a poetry workshop that I had to teach. Sure, I threw up water and three spoonfuls of the broth of chicken soup five times at my friend's house where we had all gathered to grieve. But the pain didn't go away, and it still hasn't. Accepting that the beautiful, talented, funny, eccentric Aliyah is gone is just too painful.

Today, her family and friends are holding a celebration of her life. I am personally celebrating all the interactions that I had with her--the moments hanging out in a hazy bathroom, the book she lent me, the conversation about The Secret, the sangria and dirty wind.

I am celebrating and crying and wishing that this life were different, that grief and death did not coexist, that I could message Aliyah on Facebook and get a tangible answer.

For now, I speak to her spirit: I miss you. I love you. Your life and presence in this world were meaningful to me. I just wish you were here to celebrate with us today. I will always value your words, smile and friendship. Your friends will always speak your name. Happy Birthday, Aliyah.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top 10 Fave Online Articles

Ever email links to cool or intriguing online articles to yourself? I do it all the time.

Every time I open Mozilla Firefox, I am welcomed by MSN. I often get caught up for hours on the MSN home page clicking on catchy phrases that link me to 'quick-read' online articles. Don't get me started on AOL.

So I am starting a weekly post of links to my Top 10 most recent favorite articles.

These articles may talk about anything from makeup and celebrities to tragic events and miracle stories. The articles often give me advice and some insight into my own life, the lives of others, and the world around me. Some even reference events in my life (see picture above and my #1 article for this week).

I mean, I might as well do something with these links instead of letting them languish in emails I send to myself and rarely ever open again.

My TOP 10 FAVE ONLINE ARTICLES begins today.

10. Subway wants your breakfast business
Wallet Pop, Nov 11th 2009 at 5:00PM
By Tom Barlow

In our homeland of the obese, the lunch and dinner business is saturated, so fast food retailers are looking to the breakfast market to make better use of their retail locations. ...

9. The Savings Experiment - Paper Towel Smack Down: Which leading brand gives the best bang for the buck?
Wallet Pop, Nov 2nd 2009 at 4:00PM
By Andrea Chalupa

If you're like me, you like to eat Nutella at your desk, out of the jar and offer your spoon to any busybody co-worker who walks by, looking disgusted. ...

8. The Savings Experiment - Can modern coupon clippers beat savers of the past?
Wallet Pop, Nov 9th 2009 at 1:15PM
By Julia Scott

Coupon clipping is soooo in. But if you've never done it, the whole process is kind of mysterious. How does one become a coupon diva? Watch our video savings experiment, then follow the simple five steps I outline and you'll be saving a bunch in no time. ...

7. Paperless Wall Street Gets Ticker Tape Bailout
Sphere, November 5, 2009
By Buck Wolf

Add this to the many problems confronting Wall Street: There's no ticker tape for a ticker tape parade -- and a shortage of open windows. ...

6. First U.S. marijuana cafe opens for business in Portland
Daily Finance, Nov 15th 2009 at 10:15AM
By Tom Johansmeyer
Cancel your flight to Amsterdam – the U.S. just got its first marijuana cafe on Friday. Located in Portland, Ore., the Cannabis Cafe shows how attitudes have changed. ...

5. Apology for Kids Shipped From Britain
AOL News, November 16, 2009
By Jill Lawless, AP

CANBERRA, Australia (Nov. 15) - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a historic apology Monday to thousands of impoverished British children shipped to Australia with the promise of a better life, only to suffer abuse and neglect thousands of miles from home. ...

4. It's prime time for colorful meteor shower
MSNBC, Technology and Science/Space, November 16, 2009
By Robert Roy Britt
One of the best annual meteor showers will peak in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, and for some skywatchers the show could be quite impressive. ...

3. Is Sexual Abuse By Women on the Rise?
Sphere, November 16, 2009
By Willem Marx

Are there more "female sex beasts preying on children," as the British tabloid Daily Star put it recently? ...

2. Woman's Health Horror: 'My Vagina Fell Out'
Sphere, Nov. 6
By Buck Wolf

Allison Henry isn't the first to suffer from a horrifying medical condition that few women talk about. She's just one of the few brave souls willing to come forward, so that others will have the courage to seek help. ...

1. Hundreds Line Up For Charmin(R) Open Auditions to Work in Times Square for $10,000 Salary
Holiday Job-Seekers Showcase Their Love-of-the-Loo in Hopes of Working in the Charmin Restrooms
AOL News, posted: November 16, 2009
New York, Nov. 5, PR Newswire - Source: P & G

Today, Charmin, America's favorite toilet paper brand, held open auditions in NYC as part of a national job search to find five outgoing and enthusiastic people to work in Times Square at the Charmin Restrooms this holiday season for a salary of $10,000 each! Hundreds of holiday-job-hopefuls lined up to take part in the "potty-pandemonium," each trying to convince judges that they enjoy going to the bathroom so much -- whether it be to catch up on reading or just enjoy some "me time" -- they never want to leave. ...

Saturday, November 14, 2009


She writes on slips of paper
to fold into time or timelessness,
and, upon the weighted shadows
of old London Planes, she wishes
she had seen the bombed trains
of the seventies, the mad collage
of crude art maturing into style.

Boldly she steps behind the barricade
and down the shale stairs crumbling
by the River's Side. Pressed against
the gate, her camera captures
multicolored subway walls,
painted tags and spray cans.

If only she could crawl beyond,
go the way those sans abri go,
to touch the block and bubble letters...

She snap snap snaps the shutter;
and when she turns, she folds
her words, stacks them
in her dark space.

Copyright © Xiomara A. Maldonado 2009

All images in this post are Xiomara A. Maldonado's original photographs of Riverside Park in New York City. All of these images are copyrighted and watermarked. If you are going to utilize any of these photographs, please credit the artist as follows: "Photo courtesy of Xiomara A. Maldonado. Copyright Xiomara A. Maldonado 2008;" and create a hyperlink to this blog post. Please email me with a link to where my work is used. I would love to see what you do with it.

*edit - the version of the poem below is recently revised:

She writes on slips of paper
to fold into time or timelessness.

Upon weighted shadows of old London Planes,

she wishes she had seen the 70s— bombed trains,

mad collage— crude art maturing into style.

Boldly she steps: behind the barricade;
down shifting shale stairs
crumbling by the River's Side.

Pressed against the gate, her camera
captures multicolored subway walls,
painted tags and spray cans.

If only she could crawl beyond,
go the way those sans abri go,
to touch the block and bubble letters...

She snap snap snaps the shutter;
and when she turns, she folds
her words, stacks them

in her dark space.

Copyright © Xiomara A. Maldonado

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Voice of the City Part I: Signage in N.Y.C.

Have you ever seen the voice of the city? I have.

Times Square, New York, New York

New York City overflows with signage, words that compose the voice of the city.

Bronx, New York. Every New Yorker knows these buttons no longer work!

What is signage? "Signage" refers to "graphic designs, as symbols, emblems, or words, used especially for identification or as a means of giving directions or warning" (

A sign on Riverside Drive and 116th Street warns pedestrians of pesticide on the tree pits and curb lines along this median. Children and dogs beware!

Whether I am traveling within it by foot, car or train, the city speaks to me on a consistent basis, telling me where I am, what is around me, and what to do.

Carter Hotel, Times Square

On the Upper West Side, for example, a big white plaque attached to a movable metal gate asks me to please cross the street to use the other sidewalk.

Upper West Side

A small green plaque in Riverside Park informs me that I am looking at a Little Leaf Linden tree.

This bright red octagon in Chinatown clearly commands cars to STOP and forewarns them that cars on this street are only allowed to travel ONE WAY.

A banner in the Seaport last year revealed the location of the environmentally hazardous "New York City Waterfalls" project.

Beekman Street

Signs change over time, especially when civilians make their voices heard through the city streets by plastering store signs with stickers.

Essex Street

Vintage signs are especially fun! Look at this old Lower East Side Luncheonette sign bearing the Coca-Cola brand logo.

Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, New York, NY

Even as a native New Yorker, I often seek help from signs for directions. In the train station, for example, long black signs tell me which trains are available and if I am going downtown or uptown.

103rd Street & Central Park West Train Station

This M14A bus stop sign reminds me I am finally back home on the Lower East Side.

M14A Bus Stop, Grand Street & Jackson Street, NY, NY

Other signs are less helpful, like this fallen one in Battery Park City, that points me to the sky.

Battery Park City, New York, New York

Although I often utilize and read the signs that are posted along and under city streets, I realized only recently just how important these signs are to the identity of the city.

Corner of Morningside Park

I have had a similar experience with concrete--as often as my feet travel over those grey surfaces, sidewalks often go unnoticed.

Kim's Video Store, 116th & Broadway (Now Ricky's NYC). Pun intended.

But such signs are a hallmark of the city. They represent the city's voice and history and ought to be paid attention to, which is why I am sharing this post on the Voice of the City with you. I hope you enjoyed it!

161st Street-Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY. This photo is RIFE with signage.

All images in this post are Xiomara A. Maldonado's original photographs of signage throughout New York City. All of these images are copyrighted and watermarked.

If you are going to utilize any of these photographs, please credit the photographer as follows: "Photo courtesy of Xiomara A. Maldonado. Copyright Xiomara A. Maldonado 2008." and create a hyperlink to this blogpost. Thank you.