Saturday, September 17, 2011


Here's an entry for another of Chuck Wendig's wonderful flash fiction challenges. This one is entitled, "The Numbers Game." You have to write a story in 100 words or less incorporating three of the five following words:
  • Enzyme
  • Ivy
  • Bishop
  • Blister
  • Lollipop
I chose enzyme, ivy, and lollipop. Here's the story, told in exactly 100 words. It's called "Goodbye".


I look at my watch. Five minutes have gone by, and I'm starting to feel some burning.

I'm in a sticky situation, and I mean that literally. The carnivorous ivy I'm wrapped in secretes a mucousy concoction of enzymes that are slowly digesting me.

My legs are blistering from the acid. I know I don't have much time left. Death has always seemed far away, but I'm nose-to-nose with my own mortality now. Apparently my whole life has been a fucking waste because I've barely done anything, and now I'm going to die. I'm fading.

Black spotted vision, then nothing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Practice Something

Whether it be playing an instrument, taking a class, or working on a side project, practice is essential for success. It's easy to tell yourself  that you need to practice something, but it is much harder to get into the habit of it. Here are 5 ways to start motivating yourself to get into the habit of practicing.

  1. Make practicing fun.
    One thing that makes it really hard to practice is not being able to enjoy what you're doing. Finding a way to enjoy practicing is a great motivator. If you are playing an instrument, try warming up by playing around on it and making up some cool riffs, or playing a song or piece you really like. If you're studying for a math class, try thinking of the problems as logic puzzles or challenges, or finding something interesting about what you are learning. If you can get yourself interested in what you're doing, it's much easier to do it.

  2. Set (realistic) goals for yourself.
    Having realistic, defined goals makes it easier to know what you need to do. When you know what you need to do, you can make it a kind of game to complete everything. Start with small goals. Try going through a set of scales the first day, starting a rough sketch of a painting you want to do, or doing 15 minutes of studying. There is no need to overload yourself. I've seen a lot of people (including myself!) become overwhelmed when they want to do or practice something regularly because they take on too much. Don't let that be you. Take on a reasonable amount of work.

  3. Appreciate your work.
     It's easy to get so caught up in working on your goals that you forget to relax and see what you've done. Every now and then, step back, look at what you've done, and pat yourself on the back. It's satisfying to see what you can do. Also, don't over-criticize yourself. No one is perfect.

  4. Keep track of your progress.
    Being able to see what you've been doing and how close you are to reaching your goals is a huge motivator! This tip has worked really well for me. If you record how long you practice, how many problems you've done, etc, you can see that you are, in fact, making progress. Also, being able to write down how much you've practiced gives you a sense of mastery and makes you want to keep on going. Another good way to track your progress, especially for daily progress, is through checklists. If you make a list of the musical exercises and pieces you want to cover that day, the specific homework problems you want to do in a night, or the milestones in a project that you want to reach that week, you can go down the list and check off each item as you go. It's extremely gratifying.

  5. Just do it once.
    One of the hardest and most important parts of practicing or do something regularly is starting. The first thing you have to do is just try it once. Once you've practiced once and realize that it's not so horrible, you can practice one more time, then one more, then one more. Take it day by day. Slowly but surely, you'll build up steam, and practicing or performing a task that needs to be repeated will become part of your daily life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: 100 Words on the Subject of Revenge

This is for a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig's website terribleminds. The goal is to write a story about revenge in 100 words. Here goes:


I'm sitting on a hospital bathroom floor, staring at the sharp steel in my hand. This got me into this damn place, I think. You'd think that three stays in locked psych units would be enough to get me to stop.

But for some reason, I can't. I'm hooked. I love dragging the point over my skin, feeling that orgasmic rush when the first drops of blood come out. Still, cutting's ruined me. Look where I am.

I'm getting tired of this shit, I think. Fuck you, cutting.

And I dropped the razor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Makes A Synagogue?

This is something my teacher who prepared me to become a Bar Mitzvah wrote to put in the pamphlet explaining my Bar Mitzvah service:

"A synagogue can be made of wood or brick, stone or thatch, glass, marble, or steel. It can look like a bank, an Arabian Night Palace, a New England Town Hall, a modernistic sculpture or a room at Wellesley College [where my service took place]. It need not be a building at all. A tent can be a synagogue. So can a forest clearing or an ocean beach. A synagogue is more than a structure. Rich carvings and beautiful ornaments do not make a synagogue (although they can enhance one). It is the people who come together for study and prayer -- they are the ones who make a synagogue a true house of worship. May the door of this synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for fellowship. May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture. May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity. May its threshold be no stumbling block to you straying feet. May it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness and harshness. May this synagogue be, for all who enter, the doorway to a richer and more meaningful life." -Debbie Fruchtman
 My question now is: can there be a synagogue on the web? I think there can be. There may not be traditional services, but if people can come together for the sake of study and prayer, that is a synagogue. The internet nowadays, with comments and social networking, makes it possible to converse about different aspects of religion and spirituality. I think that online synagogues may already exist, but they are not called such. There need not be services and people wearing yarmulkes and tallitot, but a community and a place set aside for introspection and worship. I think of a synagogue as being like the literal definition of the Turkish word harem (pronounced hah-RAYM, not HEH-rum), privacy or an exclusive place. This was explained to me when I was taking a tour of the Turkish palace Topkapı. Everyone has a harem. A family is a harem. So is a school group, a group of friends, the tour group I was in, and a synagogue. I think that any Jewish community that gets together with love and openness for the sake of study and worship of G-d is a synagogue. With this in mind, we all belong to a synagogue. We are all connected through G-d.