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Torrey Maldonado: May 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being A Multi-Sport Endurance Author

I feel like a triathlete.

Wikipedia says a triathlon is a "multi-sport endurance event" and is split into different segments.

Sounds like my life. An endurance test. Split in parts. For starters, I'm a: public school teacher, debut author, husband, new dad, "more than an uncle", brother, son, etc.

Whew! Saying that list is tiring. Imagine fulfilling those roles at once! It feels like I'm in a "multi-sport event" and I see how it affects my energy when carefully carved out times to finally watch shows I DVRed morph into me nodding into sleep from exhaustion. As a first-time published-author, these are my debut days and I sometimes call my present-reality my "Debut Daze".

Yet you know how people support triathletes by handing them cups of water, Gatorade, energy packs and bars when triathletes move from one event to the next?

Well, people and life are amazingly showing up for me.

Here's a list of some of what's recently energized me and kept me going:

  • Secret Saturdays made the Association of American Publishers' 2010 children's recommended reading list!
  • Another great, recent librarian review!

  • On May 6th at the East Harlem Cafe, I read alongside Sofia Quintero, Elisha Miranda, and the legendary Nicholasa Mohr. After, Nicholasa pulled me to the side and said, "I love what you did. You got it. You have a natural speaking style that makes listeners respond to you. Don't change." Okay, Nicholasa is one of the best known Nuyorican writers, has earned a spectrum of awards including The NY Times Outstanding Book of the Year, and has been a writing giant since the 1970s to now and she's telling me that? Right after talking with her, I wanted to grab the nearest person next to me and yell, "Yes! That really JUST HAPPENED!"

  • On May 18th I returned to my hometown and spoke at the same Red Hook Public Library where years ago I asked James McBride (the author of The Color of Water) to sign that book as I told him how I planned to join him as a novelist to put where he and I were born and raised--Red Hook Projects--on the map. On May 18th, a dream came true when I took my turn to stand at the podium where McBride once stood and I read from Secret Saturdays!

So when I feel like my life is an exhausting "multi-sport endurance event," those memories give me my Red Bull wings and make me zip through my days humming the song "(Ain't Nobody Gonna) Break My Stride."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On the heels of Mother's Day...

Living in a housing projects can be bleak.

My mom often contrasted my days in Red Hook projects by heavily exposing me to life beyond its grayness, grumpiness, and grittiness.

Having taught in a middle school for nearly ten years, I see why she did that; there's truth in the prhase which hangs near my classroom desk. A saying that I coined is on it and reads, "Mostly, kids will be what they see. The right role models are crucial."

At times, distinguished places were too far for my mother to bring a young me. That's when she did the next best thing: she pointed those sites out to me in magazines or newspapers and advised me to someday visit them.

My mom reveres (and still reveres) El Museo del Barrio.

Nestled on 5th Avenue between 104th and 105th streets in Harlem, NYC, El Museo's face has changed yet my mom's message about El Museo never did.

When I was a middle school student, she held up a New York newspaper and said, "Look at this. If we didn't live in Brooklyn, I'd get you involved here. Respectable people associate with it."

Shortly after my Vassar College graduation--where I became the first person in my immediate family to move beyond a high school degree--my mother told me, "Get involved with El Museo. They do good things."

I wanted to make that happen yet didn't know how.

It's funny how life plays out.

Last night, my mom's constant dream for me to collaborate with El Museo came true.

On Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, this place of "respectable people" who "do good things" featured me as its guest author.

Last night's reading from Secret Saturdays was a huge success. Lots of people, many laughs, great discussion, and a moment where I said, "My mom and I sometimes couldn't afford subway money yet tonight I drove a car that I own and brought my mom to a place she has always warmly admired in her heart. My mother is sitting here with us now. Mami, please stand because you are as much tonight's honored guest as I am in this room filled with love and 'respectable people' who 'do good things'. Ma, we finally made it to El Museo del Barrio."