Interview with Trista Merrill

This is the first of a series of interviews by Annie Livingston and Amanda Reed. Our first subject is Trista Merrill, the head of the Honors Studies department at Finger Lakes Community College!


Trista Merrill

Interviewers: Annie Livingston and Amanda Reed


Why did you decide to teach? How did you come to teaching at FLCC?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school as a kid and I always wanted to be the teacher.  One of the things that inspired me was the movie Dead Poet’s Society with Robin Williams. In that movie, the teacher’s ability to excite students to be that thrilled about something they normally would not be was such a huge inspiration for me, and I had a variety of college professors and high school teachers who were the same way. I was so passionate about the things I loved, like reading and writing, that I wanted to be able to excite others about them as well.

I came to FLCC because I had grown up in this area and when I came back through, I was looking at SUNY schools around to see who had opportunities. I realized that there was some really good community colleges around here, and I saw that FLCC was hiring. About a year after I finished my doctorate I ended up here teaching.

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Posted by Erin Brewer in Interviews, Student Work

Moment Flash – Nicole Aruck

We have another Moment Flash entry up for reading tonight; the author of this work is Nicole Aruck!

Thousands of miles away,

Yet, it feels like you’re here.

We sit underneath the stars,

Watching the Red Moon.

This night I hold dear to my heart,

As for once, we can share the same sight.

Three years down the road,

Time goes so fast.

As we are starring at the moon it all comes back.

The moment we met forever changed my life,

I wouldn’t take it back,

As you are now a big part of my life.

The crazy thing is,

We have never even met.

Talking on the phone every night,

You get to know a person well.

You are my best friend, lover, and some could say my better half,

The Red Moon that I see is just a reminder of that.

Keep me close to your heart darling as we are miles apart,

I will be there shortly,

To kiss you goodnight.

Author: Nicole Aruck

Posted by Erin Brewer in Moment Flash, Student Work

Moment Flash – Caitlyn Sprague

Welcome back; today’s our next Moment Flash installment! Our author for this installment is Caitlyn Sprague.

I am sitting in a lawn chair, staring around the fire at my family. The fresh summer woods and smell of our camp fire permeate the air. To my left my two girls are playing with rocks and sticks—the way I played as a kid with my sisters, using our imaginations and playing outdoors from sun up till sun down. My parents, sister, my fiancé and I sit circled around the fire sharing funny stories and memories. Summer is winding down and fall is creeping in, causing the air to be cool and crisp. Our hoodies and the fire keep us warm. The sun is sinking lower in the sky. It is a perfect day, and how could it not be? Here surrounded by nature and my family. It is quiet, it is peaceful.

Author: Caitlyn Sprague

Posted by Erin Brewer in Moment Flash, Student Work

Moment Flash – Annie Livingston

We of The Finger are back with our third installment of the Moment Flash series! For those who are new, the Moment Flash consists of flash works approximately 150 words or less that capture a moment in time. Tonight’s work is written by Annie Livingston.

I walk along paths lit by lanterns, ferns, and a sliver of moonlight,
towards voices in the distance. The wet stones are slippery and cold underfoot. Steam from the springs rises up and dusts my bare arms and back, making them tingle with cold.

I reach the pool where my friends are, appearing as shadowy figures. I wade into the water, and the warmth surrounds my feet instantly, making the rest of my body crave it too. I wade in up to my hips, then chest and shoulders.

Feeling brave, I take a deep breath, the moist air dampening my lungs, and dip my head under. Underneath the water is so peaceful. I should be afraid here, in a dark hot spring, miles from any city, but I have never felt safer.

Running out of air, my head breaks through the water’s surface and I look up to the stars.

Author: Annie Livingston

Posted by Erin Brewer in Moment Flash, Student Work

Moment Flash – “12 ¾ inches”

Welcome, and welcome back! Tonight we’re publishing the second installment of our Moment Flash series, written flash works that capture a moment of time in 150 words or less. Tonight’s piece, “12 ¾ inches”, was written by Connor Keihl.

Flickering white and red, soaring through waves of blue and white. Left foot twitches, spinning backwards, crossing the right. Black leather meets my body, hugging the inside of my left arm and breast. Long legs leaping over the neatly groomed green. Spinning completely around, my back to them all, because who knows? Today I might be Willie fucking Mays. The flickering red and white has grown in its descent. My left arm twists to the right, reaching in desperation, hoping its long length will make up for my tired legs. Black leather soars, its web extended wide, but twelve and three-quarter inches aren’t long enough today. The score: 3-0 at the end of the first.

Author: Connor Keihl

Posted by Erin Brewer in Moment Flash, Student Work

Moment Flash – “Your Words”

This year, we’re starting a new series of writing – the “Moment Flash” series. Here, all the works published are approximately 150 words or less – it’s a moment of time, captured in writing. This is the first entry of the series!

I continued watching the tiny, nondescript screen of my phone, waiting for a reply with bated breath. He wasn’t acting like himself in these conversations, and hadn’t been all night; his expressiveness was, admittedly, a little disconcerting. My heart had been beating harder than usual, a blend of long-lingering romantic devotion and a more sudden, platonic concern. Saying you were sick of betrayal, tired of your downtrodden life, outright pleading for me not to leave by name – my actual, birth name, not the pseudonym I typically present – how was I supposed to react? What were you truly trying to say? The next message arrived, split into thirds due to sheer length. An echo of a previous message I sent, “…I value you more than words could ever express accurately.” The lines he was skirting during this entire conversation were crossed; I could no longer ignore the implications.

Author: Starr Cole

Posted by Erin Brewer in Moment Flash, Student Work

Woman, Witch, Warrior

Today, we’re bringing in another Honorable Mention piece from Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall Essay Contest!

In “Woman, Witch, Warrior”, Jillian Bond proves that the person who inspires you the most doesn’t necessarily have to be real, as she speaks about identifying with, and learning from, Hermoine Granger of the world-famous Harry Potter book series.

Woman, Witch, Warrior

Author: Jillian Bond

I was nine years old when my hazel eyes and soft finger tips brushed the spine of a book that would eventually alter and change my life. The name of that book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know what you may be thinking, how could that conventional book series that thousands, if not millions, have already read, mean that much to me? How could a series about a magical world and problematic teenage wizard who always happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, really change my life? How could some lifeless words splattered across a page, actually influence a living, breathing, existence? Here is where I must hold myself back from exploding with Harry Potter knowledge, feelings, and trivia I have gathered for many years, and break it down to the main reason, my scientific hypothesis, behind why this series greatly affected me. It wasn’t until I was re-reading the books for the second or third time through when it hit me with why I was so gravitated to such a long and in-depth fantasy series. Sure there was magic and wizards, owls and a sport on broomsticks, potions class and a whole crew of phenomenal characters; but there was something, someone, that just made that series become more than a name on a list of books I read as kid. There was a spark among the glowing lights of the written collection, an illumination sharply radiating amidst the shining wands of the characters. A light brighter than all the others that just seemed to call out and guide me, and that shining spark was the 15 letter name Hermione Granger.

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Posted by Erin Brewer in Queen of the Fall - Contest, Student Work


Today, we’re introducing one of the Honorable Mention pieces from Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall Essay Contest! The contest focused primarily upon these questions – Who did you look to as your childhood icon and why? What did they represent, and what does that say about the person you’ve became?

In Laura Helker’s “ˈmä-mē”, Helker looks into the similarities between herself and her mother, and how they’ve affected her both then and now.



Author: Laura Helker

Mom. Me. Mommy. The endearing term we use as a child, while dependent on her for our every need. Until we don’t, and she becomes just mom, and I am just me; we are two different people. Or so we think.

In my youth, I didn’t consciously idolize anyone. I went to church three times a week, and I learned bright and early that the Ten Commandments said not to worship idols. To me, that meant each kid who wanted to be Michael Jordan or part of Jem and the Rockers was blatantly breaking the law. I didn’t want to be like anyone. I didn’t even know who Laura was; how did I have the right to break the law and want to be like someone else? Except I did, I just didn’t know it yet.

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Posted by Erin Brewer in Queen of the Fall - Contest, Student Work