How to Deal with Everything


Some things haven’t changed. I haven’t posted since March, for starters. So here I go, already weeks then months, but the need to write down something is immense and necessary. I can’t contain syllables, letters, uttered grunts and sighs and inner need to yell and bang some table. It’s all downhill from here, I swear it. The uphill climb of stress and events has brought me to the peak, the apex, the precipice, and I can feel it, deep within the crevices of the joints between my bones, the need to write, write, to keep writing or unenthusiastically implode. The need to express, impress, digress, until I’m -ess’d out and relieved — like a star that’s just about to supernova, all excess and hyperbole and exaggeration that needs to be released in a cloud of light and shiny things.

How to deal with everything? Write about it. The keys listen to you like square-shaped ears, no judgment here but in the little clicks that break the silence. They tell you to go on, urging you like the pop of packing bubbles: the need to pop, then pop again, more instinct than necessity.

When it all feels like too much? Write again. There are poems for this. Lyrics for that. I don’t know how many times you can hear a song that feels custom made for your situation. You’ve been cheated on? There’s a song for that. You’ve left your heart on the doorstep of another lover? There’s a song that specific, I swear it.

And in these last few sentences I can already start to feel better. Dealing becomes a little easier.


ABOVE was written yesterday. And today…well…today I feel light.

How to Deal with Everything

Take risks, take risks,
that’s all it is:

If you love someone, tell them.
If you hate your job, quit.
If you want to be a pirate, raise your sword, your flag, and ARRRGH,

because, Matey,
you get one shot to say how you feel
infinite days to deal
and a heart so strong, it’ll take ten swords
to do it in,

and when you feel down,
there are people there
to lift you,

not like clouds,
but cranes, metallic and loud and…

all you need to know is that they’re there:

morning, after work, the occasional lunchtime call,
and to be fair, you’re there for them, too
despite the days it’s all about you,
because drama, dear,
follows you,
a Facebook stalker, when Pokes were a thing,
not murderous, but creepy as all hell.

But you know what you do well?

Those infinite days are smalling (new word, just deal with it),
your vents becoming summaries,
your feelings on your sleeve and not your Wall.

And you, my dear, you’re writing again. Feeling love between your fingers, like a violinist plucking strings. Because I love you. I love my job. I want to be a pirate:

my pencil, a sword
my feelings, the flag.


New Year Nomenclature

I am very much aware
that there
there in between year 1 and year 2
there was a time when I
was sad or crying,
about my intentions or how I was really feeling
when you said that,
did that,
or just didn’t.

There was a time,
I laughed so hard the car shook
with joke-heavy drops
of happiness slowly soaking into the seats
like cigarette smoke
into even the most resistant hair.

between year 1 and 2
was you,
waiting, floating,
flying without reason,
through similar seasons,
where every day is spring or summer


to have missed the first flecks of snow,
but you cannot miss what you didn’t know,

that I could be so different,
like machinists installed me with
robotic contentedness,

so automatic I forgot
to be sad or to cry
my heart pumped so high
I ignored the fact that I should pop.

And when the moments stopped—

When I breathed again.
I could feel you,
there between year 1 and year 2,
nestled down in runner’s gait,
ready for year 3 through 98,
for the auto-happy,
of which I am very much aware.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Internet, it’s been too long…I think more than two months. But oh, it’s been good.

So I won’t make promises. I won’t say I’ll write tomorrow or a month from now. My only promise: I will write. An occasional postcard in the form of a poem. Like today, sent from the 90s.

8 7 95

I picked up a photograph—
the already ancient kind—
processed when sharing
meant showing you an album
in the form of a book.

Time stamp: 8 7 95.
One look: amazingly content.

And I stood,
hand up to ear, elbows bent
like teapot handles.

No fear of the future,

only upside down roller coasters
at Disney World.

I was 7.

My arm cocked, model-style
like the older girls in my mom’s magazines
yet to be a teen
or even 8 (there were still 3 months til then).

But I knew more then
than I know now.

I knew I’d be older
I knew I was happy
I knew how to erase words
on a typewriter.

(“What the hell’s a typewriter?”)

And now I’m decked with unsure:


Forced mature,
and several years
past seven.

But when I turned eleven,
then fifteen
then twenty…

I did learn plenty.

A picture worth more than a thousand words.
More like a zillion minutes
since August 7, 1995.


Relationship Legos

I was asked in a recent interview how I build a relationship, and I think my on-the-spot answer (though not as beautifully rhymed as my ots poetry) was not lackluster, but could be improved upon if I had more time to think.

What I imagine I said, because my memory sometimes goes goldfish on me, was that you need to base any relationship with an introduction. Whether business or personal, send an email, make a phone call, do a little intro jig to grab the person’s attention. It’s not a mating dance, but it is important to make yourself memorable. Your colors must be bright. You must put forth your hand to be shaken. You must put your limbs out on a limb.

Enough of my predictably awful attempts at using literary devices.

Part of making this introduction, especially in a business environment, is doing your research. It is more than essential to look up a company if you are about to speak to its representative. If you’re about to meet a manager and can find his work experience on a site like LinkedIn, you might be surprised what he’s done in his pre-managerial existence, and how it may benefit what you bring up in terms of your own experience during the founding words of your relationship.

Once initial communication is made, you must establish a common ground. What do you both enjoy? What type of business are you trying to conduct? What is the actual necessity of the relationship? Whether for a business meeting or installing yourself as a teammate on a softball team, you should find what you share to be a strength. And remember: don’t forget.

If a person doesn’t take to you at first, sometimes you need to let that person go, or give them time to mull over your personality. Letting go isn’t always ideal, but when establishing a business relationship, I think it’s often key to look for alternate personalities within a company with which you may form a better bond (if this is an option).

If you are successful in creating the foundations of a relationship, maintaining contact is then key. Keep in touch, but don’t overdo it. And when you speak to them, don’t make it always about need. There must exist a mutuality in a relationship. Either your symbiosis is obvious in complementary need, or you need to ease up on the asking. A relationship based solely on personal need is never successful. Mutuality breeds trust. And trust (you can ask any heartbroken relationshipee) is the true building block of any relationship, a nucleus of sorts.

Keep in mind that your memory must not go goldfish. If a person talks about his children, remember their names. If she mentions her birthday, remember it. And if a person said something worth repeating in conversation later, write it down. Quotes become famous for a reason: repetition. Remembering the little details shows you care about what they have to say. People do appreciate appreciation. And the old adage is true: treat others the way you wish to be treated.

If a relationship ends, however badly, time can often revive it. Don’t be afraid to be honest. And don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong.

And if a relationship is good, it’ll stay good if you give it attention. Just, well, don’t be an idiot about it. I think that’s it; business as usual.

Damsel in Distress

I miss poetry and singing and rhyme. At work there isn’t much of it, and because I’ve resolved myself to going to the gym every day, watching much too much comedy television, and giving up sugar until mid-February, my mind’s been a little preocupada. But once again, I have identified that I am giving another excuse, when all I really needed was inspiration, found where it always hides: real life.

Damsel in Distress, a poem (with the avoided title, “Liar, Liar, Hearts on Fire.” I think what I ended up with was better)

L-I-A-R: living in altered reality
stepping on the casualty that is my heart
taking baby steps into the dark
on tiptoe

and what you do not know
is how many stabs it took to reach the kill wound
but knowing full well each stab would hurt

knife in, then out,

almost sexual, the blade
the same blade you twirled from one hand to the next
equivocating love, when you meant sex
and that’s what she gave
while you buried my broken heart under a grave,
your knife now duller than a spade,
as you prepare no eulogy.

But if you did, what would you say?
Would you tell them of the way you watched me die?
More court jester, than a princess by your side?
Or would you simply take yourself in arms,
the knife and knave and nymph


Foolish me for thinking I’d at least get an apology,
some semblance, sentence of guilt,
to make up for the grip still on your hilt
hand readied for more action
with another maid you’ve confused for a dragon
fire in her lungs,
fire in her tongue
her heart soon to be in ashes.

Give Me a Break

I need a legitimate break, none of this three-day-weekend business. What I need is a full-on breather. Oh, and to find an apartment. That would be equally splendid. Come on, June, bring on the life experience. Just four more days and I’m all yours.

Until then, a poem. 

An on-the-spot poem about fleeting moments
by Alexa L.

This is the moment when I miss you,
when I forget, for exactly two seconds,
that you’ve hurt me;
when I forget, for exactly two years,
that you’ve wasted my time.
This is the moment, full as the moon
when it’s new.

what we call a lapse
of judgment,
a predisposition toward

Like a leap year this moment comes,
or a scientific occurrence
involving light moving across stars,
connecting the dots of the universe
as you did the freckles on my back
with your fingertips,
tracing lines that curved like heartstrings,
tracing the outline of a target,
the bullseye where you’d later stab your knife.

MOH than a Feeling…or How to Write a Maid of Honor Speech, sort of

When Kendelyn asked me to be her maid of honor, she made it clear: “I think you’ll write the best speech.” Now, Kendelyn, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a girl. To tease her like that with your words. To make her feel obligated to create written awesomeness that can translate into spoken; to collect tears with the flip of a sentence, then in the next, make that crowd laugh even a little. Oh, Kendelyn, you chose the right girl. I love to write things that are the best. Cue speech:

Photo of moi taken by Tony Santacaterina (c) 2011

The MOH Speech 
Read out loud on May 12, 2011 to the most beautiful of brides. 

I’ve started this speech over and over, trying so hard to avoid the cliché poetry, the silly rhymes, the cheesy praise of Kendelyn’s sweet personality, beauty, tendency to keep me grounded and sane. I started one version of this speech with a short joke. The fact that I used to be shorter than Kendelyn, and maybe something about the size of her heart being exponentially larger than the size of her body, which you now see stunning the room in that gorgeous white dress. Another version talked about the boys of our past. How she used to listen intently as I complained about one boy to the next, broken heart after broken heart, comforting hug after comforting hug (I still do it now).

In middle school, Kendelyn’s house was a second home. Her fridge, my fridge (sorry, Marla, I was always hungry). Her bed, mine (sorry, Scott, she was definitely mine first). Her house was always an adventure. I remember playing Twister and falling to the floor, hide and seek, sneaking popsicles from the freezer (or maybe that was just me). I remember her mom walking in surprised to see that we were still up at 3 a.m. Us giggling because we were so out-of-it from staying up so late.

I remember high school, and when she moved to Weston. I remember crying because she wasn’t in Miami, then seeing her often because my grandparents had moved into the same neighborhood. I remember Sunflower Circle. I remember the last sleepover we had at my grandparent’s house. How we fell asleep talking to each other, not knowing what the future would bring. Not yet knowing I would move to Boston, or that there was a Scott out there for her to love.

And at her house, I remember music. Eve 6 and All American Rejects. “Think Twice” and “Swing, Swing.” They were songs of our youth and our angst, and despite some of the emo lyrics, they were songs we sang together, out of tune and out loud. We talked through those nights, staying up too late until Nikon fell asleep across our legs like a heavy blanket.

The thing about Kendelyn that makes me honored to be standing before you today, is that she’s been there for me through all of it—the times when I felt like I was drowning—so for once I’m so glad to finally be able to be there for her. Even when she was living an hour and a half away in Connecticut just recently, she made sure we saw each other, my favorite moments involving fireworks being watched from a Connecticut parking lot, or a mystical stack of Legos in what I thought was the middle of nowhere.

And of course we’ve had our inside jokes. Luke Sayers. She being the minkey to my moinkey (please, don’t ask). My absolute love of dogs. And when I needed advice, she always gave it. No jokes at that point. All attention, sympathy, and love.

Speaking of love, Kendelyn is the expert. Since I’ve known her, she’s proved to me and to others that in order to make a relationship truly successful, you must put your heart, your time, your sacrifice toward one ultimate goal: to be happy with the one you love. To spend the rest of your life with them no matter the distance, no matter the struggle. I do really need to learn how to find a man on a cruise and keep him like she did.

She’s taught me that as long as we’re with the one we love, the location is simply the background of a movie. A setting. A prop. The real film is in the romance between Kendelyn and Scott. A romance I am both jealous and envious of, because their happiness makes me want to be as happy.

Kendelyn’s always been an optimist; she’s always faithful, always kind (I can’t speak for her sisters. Sibling rivalry can be hell). But she’s the reason I still have hope in love.

I’m going to end with something that I wrote on June 2, 2003 (so I was 15?) in a personal essay titled, Short and Spunky: The Quintessential “Best” Friend. Please excuse how bad it is, Kendelyn. I was not yet the prolific writer:

“With her small size and unique personality I always know why she’s so great, not just because she shares the unusual qualities I possess, but because she admires me for the fact that I have them. She makes me feel meaningful in life, and isn’t that what friendship is all about? Isn’t that why “best” friends exist? Isn’t that why we can be there in spirit?…Just wait, in fifteen years I’ll still be talking to my four foot nine friend and laughing saying, ‘I’m there with you buddy, I’ll always be there with you.'”

And now that it’s 8 years later, we’re more than halfway there. To my best friend. To the bride. To Kendelyn. I love you.

Love Story

I don’t have much to say tonight, so I’ll leave you with the below poem. It was originally written on July 11, 2010, but indeed life—much like poetry—is created in a series of edits; my heart, its red pen.

Love Story
by Alexa L.

A limp
Kisses in the dark
Phone calls and flashing lights
Will you be mine?
Duh, of course I will.
I’m yours
for a little while
I’m going to the Navy.
Phone calls
Car rides
Please, don’t do this.
A vase breaks
a heart breaks
Please don’t go.
Condoms, text messages, phone calls
I hate her, I hate you.
I’m alone but I know you want me lonely.
Forgiveness, a paper rose, I love you
I wouldn’t dare to turn back time.
Singing in the dark,
a brush of skin
Text messages, therapy, forgiveness
I’ll always love you.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK.
Kisses in the dark
I’m sorry.
It’s OK.
No, I mean it.
I know.
Car rides, airplanes
Distance, fear, guilt
But I still love you.
But I love you.
No answer
No answer
No answer
It’s over, spell it backwards.
Love, love, love
Song lyrics
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
A visit. A kiss
with someone else.
Are you happy now? I’d do it again.
Skyscrapers, second chances
I missed you, but I’ll never trust you
Pictures. Sickness.
A scarf, a bus.
A phone call.
Two years.
Two years.
Two years?
A heart.

Master in Ceremonies

MOH money, MOH problems. What, what.
So sorry to the people who await my (usually) weekly writings. When I say I’ve been busy, part of me thinks you wouldn’t actually believe me. But last week I acted as Maid of Honor to my very close friend, Kendelyn, and yesterday, well, I’ll let you figure out from the photo below.

An on-the-spot poem written just for me (because my friends are cooler than your friends):

Well, damn.
You’ve gone and made us all look bad now, haven’t you?
I don’t know how anyone could beat that.
I’m not sure I want to try.

However, it is OK.
I don’t have to try and beat that.

I’m so much better at being average.

So, while you are writing award-winning articles about dictators,
Or getting that exclusive with the next Picasso, Warhol, or Da Vinci,
I’ll be at home, painting or playing my guitar.
Maybe I’ll take some pictures,
Maybe I’ll build a bookcase to keep those paintings, pictures and CDs.

Just remember that everyone you’ve met still thinks you are awesome,
And even if you have to work for TMZ, we all love you.

from J.d. Hillier

Now-Master of Arts in Publishing, Emerson College

An on-the-spot poem about graduating
by Yours Truly (a very fine person, indeed!)

Finally, a little freedom
to sink my toes in mud or beach;
to travel places, rest in each
and feel a little bit less weary.

When I hear the fated query
at the end of winded speech,
“Are you ready for the world?”
This they ask with face so cheery.

While my vision, so-long bleary
is much clearer in its reach:
“No longer learn, but maybe teach.”
I will live a life less dreary.

Finally, a little freedom
like a young boy in a peach,
with the universe at reach,
I feel a little bit less weary.

And if you haven’t read it yet, my piece Pub and Marriage: A Noir Short Story in Publishing Terms was published in (on?) Inspired Mag earlier this month. 


Moments as quick as shoulder shrugs.
The hurt, something longer—like a hug.

The bad, the awful, cuts deep, but my gosh does it make for amazing inspiration. In my memoir class, story after story is about a suicide in the family, estranged relationships, alcoholism. I mean, life is teeming with tears, bruises, slaps and scars. The Icarus. The Edna Pontellier. The myths, the fiction, based in the most basic truth of life that there exists sadness, that there will always be falls. That death, like skin, is a guarantee in our existence.

Life would be immensely boring without fear and failure. If we don’t bleed, we don’t experience the world. Writers hold knives to their skin to seek their stories. We slice into ourselves, exposing the organs, plucking at them with game tweezers until we feel that buzz so familiar to childhood’s Operation. If only my heart could look so plastic. To be smooth like the arms of a Barbie doll. To feel nothing when you pull my arms from their grooved sockets, my hand in a constant grip despite the pull.

My advice? Use the bad times and make them words, full and fit and alive.

An on-the-spot poem about depression, alcoholism, and suicide:


An on-the-spot poem about a sad thing that happened:

I could feel your love
like cotton candy
painting the wind 
in alternating bubble gum pink
and blue
like the Boston sky
in summer
into clouds,
so dark,
like Boston snow
two days after 
onto streets.