Friday, December 18, 2015

It Is The Force That Unites Us

I think I am beyond the point of apologizing for my constant bloglag!

It has been a whirlwind these past few months, between weddings and housewarming parties and spending time with old friends and new.  I am also branching out and taking a coding class to brush up on my skills.  Maybe I'll be able to touch up the ol' blog as well!

The long-awaited Episode VII of Star Wars was released yesterday.  Although I did stay up and attend the midnight release of the much-awaited Episode III ten years ago, I could not quite commit to that on a Thursday night at this point in my life!  I am debating between going to see it this weekend or just waiting until my humongous Christmas vacation, which starts next Tuesday at 3PM!

I have been going through and rewatching the movies to prepare, chronologically by film release, not by Episode.  I just finished the original trilogy, and I must say I am getting ramped up now!

Star Wars to me has always been more than just a film about space battles (although they are pretty awesome).  Like any good science fiction story, it is more a tale of the human condition, and the fantasy technology and aliens take a backseat.  Despite Empire being the fan favorite, mine was always Return of the Jedi because of the story of Vader's redemption.  I even wrote a paper in college about it!  Also, the whole opening scene on Jabba's sail barge is badass.

The rabbit hole of the Internet led me to this extremely well-done video, which cleverly juxtaposes scenes from the first six Star Wars movies with Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator.  Whether or not you are a Star Wars fan, I challenge you to watch this video and not get gripped by the words, which still ring true just as much in 2015 as they did in 1940, and a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prompt This!

Have I created enough unnecessary and impatient build-up since my last post?

My apologies, Internet, but a lot has been going on in my life, and a lot of introspection has been in order.

One of the most important tenets of my life is such:  the unexamined life is a wasted life.  While I feel over-examination at the cost of experience is also a waste, I like to make sure that I am not only comfortable, but happy with my life.  I moved to Rhode Island primarily to freshen up the staleness that had overtaken me in New Hampshire; however, simply relocating isn't going to cut it.  That being said, I have sought out a couple new methods of self-enrichment!

Firstly, I have enrolled in a bellydancing class!  It is a progressive course, which means we actually grow and learn in the course, as opposed to a drop-in repetitive class.  I can't stress strongly enough how much fun this class is!  It is a total blast, and a great work-out for the mind, body, & soul.  After my first class, I truly wanted to quit my job and just become a professional bellydancer.  Realistically, I have a few more classes to go I think...

Secondly, I got a book-on-tape to teach me how to speak Italian when I'm in the car!  With as much time as I spend in the car, for reasons both personal and professional, that is sure to keep me busy.

Thirdly, I found something to keep me actually updating this blog on a regular basis!  It is a book called 500 Writing Prompts, and it is exactly what it sounds like.

500 Writing Prompts500 prompts to get me writing on a regular basis, and plenty of room to write in my answers.  If I did one a day, that would still take me well over a year to complete!  So, spoiler alert, this is my new project to fill up the blog with extra treacle.

I decided to kick this off with an easy one:

Name something that feels right every time you do it.

Swimming in the ocean.  As a claustrophobe, looking out across an endless horizon is about as good as it gets!  I never feel as free or as right anywhere else.  I love to get out past the breakers and float, or stay among them and dive into the waves.  The water has always fascinated me.  In another life (or maybe this one - there's still time!), I might have become a marine biologist.  Space may be the final frontier, but the ocean is the original!  There is still so much down there we haven't even discovered yet.  I know whichever path I may take, it will always lead me back to the giant pond.

We know it's not a Virtual Escape Artist entry without a tangentially-related YouTube video!:

And for fun, I wanted to include this awesome cover that a new friend introduced me to!  For those of you suffering from what I call "Stairway Overkill", here is a really incredible cover of it live from the Kennedy Center Honors, that is sure to breathe new life into your enjoyment of the song:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Check out my fancy new digs!  After 7 years, I've hung up Twirling Towards Freedom and become the Virtual Escape Artist!

This year has been my year of change, the Year of the Goat, the Year of Merry G.  And as much as I loved ol' TTF, I have outgrown it to make room for this new moniker, which suits me even better.

Stay tuned for more of my adventures, as I roll out the next phases of my site re-brand!

Monday, August 3, 2015

It's Official

I'm one of them now!

I will say of all the states I have lived in, Rhode Island has taken the most research and legwork to get all my automotive ducks in a row.  In order to register an out-of-state vehicle, you need all the usual stuff you might expect (proof of address, insurance, driver's license, etc), but you also need a title and a VIN verification.

The Marylanders back home may be saying, "Pfft, that's easy!  You get the title when you buy the car!"  Well, in pretty much every other state in the union, if you have a lien, you don't get your title until it is paid for.  And I'll spare you the details since it infuriates me to relive this, but I called my lender no less than 10 times trying to get them to fax the title over to the DMV, with no guarantee it would arrive.  Faxes weren't trustworthy in 1993, and they still aren't now.  Why do they still exist?  Eventually I got to the right lady at the credit union, who was kind enough to just email it directly to me!

Now, a VIN verification is something I had never heard of until moving here.  This requires a separate pre-DMV trip to a special station where a police officer has to verify your VIN, to make sure it isn't stolen I presume.  The office is only open from 9-2, and the service costs $15.00.  And you absolutely have to do it.

Toto, I don't think we're in Live Free or Die country anymore.

You also have to camp the DMV at least 40 minutes before it opens to get anything done in a timely fashion.  Last time I stood in a line that long wanting to get in somewhere this bad, the guy in front of me was dressed like Boba Fett.

I will say for all the hoopla, once I got in there the actual DMV process was relatively quick, inexpensive, and painless.  Not at all like this video:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chasing Cars

I have wanted to write this post for many years, and never had the courage until now.

I had a friend named Ashley V.


We met in 1st grade and went to school together through 9th grade.  During those years we played softball on the same team and attended most of the same sleepovers.

She had a head full of extremely curly hair, which though I believe she came to appreciate in later years, was a subject of derision from the other kids in class, including me.  We were friends, but for the elementary school years, we still picked on each other a lot!  I always remember her being called "Curly Sue" and proclaiming, "I'm not Curly Sue; I'm Shirley Temple!"  For the record, I would refer to her as "Larry Fine".  Yes, from the Three Stooges.  And yes, I was an awesome child.

In 6th grade, we filmed a video project together for science class about the Bubonic Plague.  She demanded that she would portray Death and I was to be the flea-bitten guttersnipe afflicted with the Black Death.  In the film, she slashes me with a scythe which I manage to "fight off" and escape from, leaving her to address the audience with a cliffhanger:  "This is not The End?"

In the beginning of 9th grade, she, my best friend Jordan, and our other friend Michelle held a joint birthday party at Ashley's house.  Ash invited her ex-boyfriend, who took a liking to me and danced with me for every slow dance that entire night.  A particular highlight of this event, that is still referenced today, was her sucking a balloon full of helium and shouting "Meredith's got a boyfriend!  Meredith's got a boyfriend!" over the loudspeaker. By the way, dear readers, no fairy tale story came of this for young bracefaced Mer!

Ashley and I spent the front half of the day in the same classes in 9th grade, so we grew very close during that year.  One morning she came to 1st period Spanish pretty distraught.  She informed me that her father had taken a job in Ohio, and that the entire family would be moving out there before the school year ended.

Jordan hosted the going-away party, many people came, and our "core" group of girls spent the night.  We all claimed a cardboard star from the leftover party decorations, and wrote each other notes on all the spokes about how we would be friends forever and never forget each other, no matter where any of us moved.  That group of girls is smattered from Rhode Island to Texas now, and I still do talk to some on a regular basis, so I guess it was at least partly true.

To be honest, 2001 was BSM (Before Social Media), so I did not keep up with Ash as much as I could have or should have.  Jordan did, having always been the more "active" and considerate figure in friendships, and would often relay the hellos, regards, and important info between us.

From my understanding, the relocation hit Ashley pretty hard, as you can imagine it probably would for a young teen having to adjust to a brand new life.  I heard tales over the years that she suffered from mental health issues.  I didn't take it seriously, and to some degree chalked it up to emotional teenage theatrics.

I wish I could say she worked through it as she aged, and that we met up last year at our 10-year class reunion, her as an honorary member of our original high school class of course.  I wish I got to meet her spouse and see pictures of her children.  I wish I could say that.

I wish I could say I had reached out to her at any point in our teen years, and let her know that she actually did matter back at home, and that we hadn't all just forgotten what the cardboard star said.  I wish I could say that.

I wish I could say anything but the rest of this post, because the rest of this post is guilt that I have carried for nearly a decade.

One day in 2007, Jordan came to visit me at my part-time job in the mall.  She said she had to talk to me and asked if I could take a break.  We started talking and she told me Ashley had committed suicide.  At age 20.

I felt nothing at this news.  I told her that I already knew this because of comments I had read on Facebook.  I also told her that I couldn't be bothered with this right now because I was at work, and that I thought with all the build-up that she was coming to tell me something important.  This woman is still my best friend today, even though I essentially told her that I didn't care that her other best friend had died by her own hand.  What can I say?  She is a saint, and I need her grace to remind me to find my own.

I left and finished the work day.  I went over to my friend Ben's house afterward to hang out, which was a normal occurrence.  I went home, went to sleep, and woke up the next day perfectly normal.  I had to work again the next night, and before my shift I remember telling my dad the news, since of course he knew Ash for many years as well.

I got on the highway, and a song came on the air.  A song that moved me and brought all of my memories and feelings to the surface to crash through the wall of denial I had built around myself.  I was 19.  Too young to start losing friends.  How could this happen?  What could I have done?  Anything?  Would it ever matter?

The emotions were plain on my face, and when my younger coworker Jerome questioned whether or not I was okay, I ended up breaking down and crying in his arms right there in the backroom of the GameStop.  Unfortunately, at an even younger age, he had recently lost his own best friend that year.  To this day, I'm so thankful he was the one there in that room with me, and not one of the mouth-breathing mallrats with less, shall we say: "social graces".

It is 2015, and still every time I hear this song I think about that moment in the car, all the memories in this story, and how much of a fuck I was about it.  I always wanted to write a post about the song and what it means to me, but I couldn't stomach the idea of revealing how selfish I am.

But I guess 19 is the age of innocence and 28 is the age of maturity:

And an amazing cover, just because I can:

This is not The End?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ocean State of Mind

Welp, I've done it again. Up and changed it all in a few short months. New job, new car, new apartment, new state, new life!

 I've transferred from the Granite State to the Ocean State. I switched it up from the cold, stony, reserved wilderness above The Wall to the bright, beautiful, humid land of beaches, art, and food! Look out world, because everything's coming up Meredith!

Stay tuned for more!

 It was so easy living day by day 
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues 
But now I need a little give and take.... 
 It comes down to reality 
And it's fine with me 'cause I've let it slide...  
I don't have any reasons 
I've left them all behind 
I'm in an Ocean State state of mind