Getting My Pixels Wet

I was scanning through my side bar yesterday and caught a post on Ziki’s blog about a new water and rain sim that opened up called H22O. I love water sims, their empty spaces leave so much to the imagination, perhaps more so than the items placed in them do. In touring you are left to wonder if the separate areas with trees, or wreckage, or ruins are part of a one continuous build concept, or vignettes onto themselves.  Chapters perhaps, parts of the same story. With very little to cast shadows, it challenges you to get creative with lighting and composition. This is the first thing at H22O that caught my eye. It’s haunting isn’t it? And yet, if you step outside the initial and obvious reaction, there is a sense of tranquility to it. Stillness.

A Little Rain Must Fall

A Little Rain Must Fall

Rain is an usual thing, all weather is actually. We sometimes attribute feelings, moods, to weather. Sunny days are happy, rainy days are sad, storms are frightening or chaotic. I suppose in truth they are, or can be, but who hasn’t experienced the exceptions, with rain in particular. I don’t know what spring is like in your part of the world, but here it’s dusty and dirty and brown. Dead. All the residue of snow piles, salt, sand, last year’s garbage, old leaves, stark branches, and things best not discussed in polite company are revealed when the snow melts. For all it’s damp and chill, it’s only the rain that can clean all that away, to bring color, and new life. Rain isn’t sad, it’s a promise.  It’s hope.

Life Saver

A Promise of Hope

Rain can be special in another unique way though, not just the cleansing of the old and encouraging the growth of the new, but it can be cozy, comforting even. It’s rainy days that encourage us to curl up with a book, a cup of tea, and let nature’s rhythm slow us down, pause, spend some time with ourselves in an honest way. If I were at home I’d slip into an old shirt, you know the kind. That one you borrowed one night from an old flame and forgot to return? The one your husband wore yesterday and left on the edge of the bed when he went to work?

I chose this shirt dress called Timm from coldLogic’s latest release for that very reason. I suppose it was probably meant to be a dress, but in my mind it was a shirt, not just any shirt, but that shirt. I don’t have anything like that in Second Life, I don’t mean shirts, I have those, I mean items belonging to others that can serve as mementos. The technicalities of permissions eh? Who knew they’d rob of us that so very human experience of holding something that belonged to someone else, to lift it to our faces and catch the scent memories, to run our fingers along the buttons and travel back to another time.

Angels Among Us

Talking To Angels

That doesn’t mean I don’t have fond memories of people I’ve been close to in Second Life, they are just triggered by different things. Instead of something I can hold, or touch, or own, they are often things I can visit. Places where memories were made. I didn’t realize when I started my visit to H22O that I’d encounter two of the most special to me, a lighthouse, and a piano, but there they were. No pictures I’m afraid, I just couldn’t. Oh I tried, believe me I tried, I wanted to with only the obsessiveness I can put into things, but I just couldn’t capture the right angles, the right lighting, the right mood. As I sat there feeling my frustrations growing, tense because I couldn’t get the perfect shot, I realized it’s because it’s not the right time. The rain is meant to wash those things away, blur them into the comfy haze of yesterday and clear the air for the new growth that is coming tomorrow. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember, I do, and can visit those memories on a moments notice any time I wish. It’s just that… maybe I don’t need to anymore?

It’s a good thing. It is. A new season, a new beginning, a time to look forward. I dug around in my inventory remembering an umbrella I got when Baffle closed, so no matter how much it rains, I’m ready.

I Came Prepared

I Came Prepared

Dress and Belt: Timm from coldLogic
Umbrella with poses from Baffle.
Hair: Genesis from TRUTH
Skin, appliers and Mesh Lashes: Ewa kinder former TDR item from Al Vulo
Eyes: Ellis-Lavender from [LeLutka]
Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands – Casual
Slink AvaEnhance Mid-Height Feet
H220 http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/KSA%20Atlantis/196/159/502

A Drop of Vanity

Have you ever had a bad haircut?  I mean really bad?  Nothing that will work itself out in a week or with some styling tricks, but something that will require either an even more drastic haircut to fix, or 6 months until it’s back to where you started?  I just did.  Sucksalot.  I never thought I was this vain. I’m a pretty low maintenance kind of gal, my avatar actually owns way more shoes and makeup than I do. However, I gotta admit, staring at my hair, running my fingers through and having them come up short of where they should, I realized that I just may be.  Comfort food would have been my first go to, but I can’t really eat my way through the next six months, so retail therapy is required.

The fastest, most convenient, and cheapest form of retail therapy for me is Second Life, and this weekend did not disappoint.  Sales and Specials and Events oh my!  I’m drowning in happy, until I reach up to play with my hair that is… but, hands on the keyboard and I’ll make it through this just fine.

I was browsing The Dressing Room’s 4th Birthday event and then a notice came in, Spring Sn@tch Sale.  If you are reading this, and if it’s still Monday, stop now and head over to the Sn@tch Mainstore for 50% to 75% off everything except new releases through until Monday April 28th.  I’ll wait for you.

Drop of Vanity

Back?  Ok good.  Sn@tch has an interesting way to price things doesn’t it?  Sales aside, unlike other stores where you pick a color, and get all sizes when you buy, at Sn@tch you pick a size and get all colors.  See those pants up there, nice aren’t they?  Checkered or plaid aren’t usually my thing, but once I saw how my ass looked in the demo, I had to have them.  I got 8 colors in the pack for 135L.  Expect to be seeing me in them, a lot.

I’ve written about Sn@tch before, not just because of the deals, but it’s actually a fun place to hang out.  Shopping aside, if you are the kind of person who prefers to shop in world than the marketplace, this will hit all the high notes, from the VIP lounge to lucky boards, riot vendors to fishing.  That’s right, you can fish for an outfit, takes maybe a couple hours and you can catch all the pieces.  If you don’t, no problem, the Sn@tch group is a great resource to find people to trade with, or to call everyone down to flash mob the riot vendors.  Even just sitting in the store, there is always people around, you are bound to start up a conversation and help each other out by trading missing pieces.

There are other fun details, like a dressing room, a catwalk, even a photostudio, and if you wander the outside, the rest of the mall, you’ll see the theme carries on.  That’s where I took that picture above actually, out front of the store.  I can spend an entire online session at Sn@tch, no need to go anywhere else, chatting, music, prizes, what else could I need?  It’s also great place to tackle my embarrassingly out of control inventory, I can lounge on one of the couches while I wait for my letter to come up or keep an eye out on the riots.  That’s actually what I was doing, rummaging around my inventory picking out items to put together for this look, and what better inspiration than these messages behind me?

Don't Give a Damn

See the necklace I’m wearing, I got that today at Sn@tch too, when my letter came up on the lucky board.  Guess what it’s called?  Drops of Vanity.  Welcome back Serendipity, I’ve missed you.

Credits:

Shirt:  Bad News Crop Top :::Sn@tch::: Spring Sale
Pants:  Lulu Leggings :::Sn@tch::: Spring Sale
Neck Lace:  Drop of Vanity :::Sn@tch::: Lucky Board
Sn@tch Main Store  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Snatch%20City/136/101/29
Skin:  Celestial glow milk -al vulo- available at The Dressing Room 4th Birthday
Poses Label Motion Love Set at The Dressing Room 4th Birthday
The Dressing Room 4th Birthday until May 9th http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Imogen/200/153/27
Hair:  Lory Mesh Hair Aquatic /Wasabi Pills/ former Arcade Gatcha Prize
Makeup:  Bleeding Eyes – Goth Black  ::Para Desings:: free gift
Face Piercings:  Fire In The Water Midnight – .HoD. – former hunt prize
Lashes:  Mesh Eye Lashes – Maitreya V.I.P. Group Gift (old gift)
Eyes:  Ellis-Lavender [LeLutka]
Slink Casual Hands and Mid-Height Bare Feet

Boudoir Bunny

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t take pictures or blog anymore, ok, three times, but still I’ve been asked and it makes for a good lead in. I don’t really have an answer, it’s certainly something I love to do, so it wasn’t lost interest, I think it was at least partially lack of time. The original intent of this blog was to rediscover Second Life, to find new things to do, new places to see, meet new people, and work on my photography skills while I was at it. Now that I only manage to get into SL once every two to three weeks, I don’t get as many chances to explore anymore so I felt like I didn’t have much to share. If I wasn’t sticking to my original purpose, or could only update once a month, should I bother? After great deliberation, I’ve decided that I should bother. Who cares if I only take pictures once every two weeks? Or blog three days in a row then not again for a month? I don’t have sponsors or ads, no commitments, and it’s something I find relaxing so I’ll post now and again when the mood strikes me.

Being a four day weekend here I did have a bit of time to get online, mostly because I was inspired to pick up this Daffodil Bunny outfit that is currently a group gift at Boudoir. As has happened in the past, I was happy with the look I put together, but didn’t have a new place in mind that I wanted to take pictures. Normally I would have searched Easter, or bunnies, or checked out the new art installations to find the perfect location to suit it, but I realized that’s been part of my problem. You see, I had this strange rule in my head that every post has to feature a new item, in a new place, with a written post that somehow ties together both. Sometimes I’d visit a place, but have no new look to show or none that suited the location theme. Other times, like today, I’d have a new outfit but couldn’t think of a new place to showcase it in. In both of those cases, if I didn’t have something to write, I didn’t feel like there was a reason to take pictures. Whoever made that rule that all three boxes had to be checked in order to blog really should reconsider… oh wait, it was me, which means I can break the rule right? I hope so, because I did.

Sunny Bunny

I took the picture right outside the store at Boudoir. And why not? It’s a really fun place to visit, not only themed outfits for just about any event or holiday you can think of, pieces that really work well in photography, but furniture, landscaping and buildings too. There is the most adorable Alice in Wonderland furniture and pose set there I have my eye on, but I really don’t have anywhere to put it,  that doesn’t stop me from visiting it in the store though.

I like stores with an inworld presence, not just because I much prefer shopping in world to the marketplace, but I feel like they add something to Second Life. They are part of the community. I do realize that land prices makes going marketplace only attractive to some merchants, but I miss them, and it makes me sad that it seems to be a growing trend. Visiting a store you get an idea about the creator, their vision, the way they use and enjoy Second Life. It adds to my own immersion in a way too I suppose, going shopping, walking about a store, far more than marketplace ever will.

Bunny Tail

There will always be people like me who enjoy the shopping experience in Second Life for it’s own sake, but it’s not just the experience, it’s that the marketplace is incredibly frustrating to me. I hate it, I really do. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t use it enough and so I’m not good at it, but things are never where I expect them to be, I have all kinds of problems entering key words, and then changing categories only to have my keywords cleared out. There appears to be no policing on the key words either, and that annoys me,  I don’t like being conned into wasting my time.  I also wish I could mute or ignore a creator. If I’ve decided I never want to shop at store A, I don’t want store A’s listings showing up every time I search. If they ever make changes to the marketplace, I really hope that’s one of them. Another, which is not only frustrating to shoppers, but creators too, is the multiple listings for the same item if there are many colors. That’s a cute dress, but I don’t want to see 9 ads for the demo, the 7 colors you have, and the fat pack, just show me one and let me pick the color. Right now I can scroll three pages of listing and only really see 3 items, what a waste.

Anyway, shopping in world has it’s benefits, not only did I pick up this Bunny outfit as an in store group gift, but I discovered that Boudoir has gatchas. I did not know this. I decided to try my hand, once, to see what I would get. Score! Check out this adorable swing set, it comes with the trees and arch and everything.

Spring Swing

It’s really cute on my land, which has sat empty since I got a new neighbour who is fond of banlines and circa 2007 iron fences. I know, I know, I’ve heard all the arguments, but I’m a big believer in mainland and I do love living there, although I’ll be the first to admit the neighbours make all the difference. I’ve waited out others in the past, I may wait this one out, or try to sell, but until then I’m just going to reduce my draw distance and enjoy my swing.

Outfit: Corset, chest flowers, headpiece with ears – “Daffodil Bunny” – In Store Group gift from Boudoir
“Spring Swing” Gatcha Prize from Boudoir
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Boudoir/123/215/22
Hair: “Genesis” – Truth Hair
Skin: “Celestial china red fairy” – Al Vulo – available at The Dressing Room
Shoes: “Flirt Cross Strap Mules” – Sax Shepherd Designs
Lips: “Hypershine Lipcolor Raspberry Wine” – Previous group gift from Mock Cosmetics
Manicure and Pedicure: (.vix) – Bright Solids
Eyes: Ellis-Lavender [LeLutka]
Lashes: Previous Group Gift from Maitreya
Slink Casual Hands and Slink Mid height Feet

Souvenirs of Other Worlds

I’ve been reading a book lately called “Other Worlds Than These”, it’s a collection of short stories about parallel universes from authors like George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Carrie Vaughn, Orson Scott Card and many others. As a book it’s ok, some stories better than others, but it’s this forward by Lev Grossman that I can’t get out of my head.

“When I read The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, it didn’t so much as introduce me to the idea that there was another world as confirm my already grave suspicions on the subject. Even at the tender age of eight I was – as I suspect you were, and are, if you’re reading this book – one of reality’s natural critics. Oh, I knew that the real world had it’s good points. One must be charitable after all. Candy, for example, and cats, and hot baths. But by and large the material was just a bit thin. The jokes weren’t funny, the catering was uneven, and the less said about one’s fellow players the better. I had a powerful urge to see what was on in the next theater over”.

If that quote didn’t strike you as familiar, as something that’s rattled about your brain unspoken until just now, the rest of my post probably won’t make sense. You see, it feels like he’s talking as much about the 8 year old me as he is himself. There weren’t enough stories to fill me, my appetite for elves, magic, space, time travel, anything new, anything different, seemed insatiable. It wasn’t just books either, soon I didn’t need others’ words to feed me, the stories came from inside me. The tree in the backyard hosted a mysterious race of fae when I looked at it out my window at night, that cardboard box from the time we got a new fridge became a time portal that took me, more than once, to Camelot.

Fast forward several decades, and I sign up for Second Life. I see now that it was just another new adventure, new experience, new world. Some might say new escape, but I don’t always like to use the word escape because I don’t mean it to imply that there is something wrong with one’s current life or world or experiences. It’s not so much about getting away from anything, it’s really more about getting to something more.

Getting to my point here, in an unusually round about way even for me, when I discovered Second Life it wasn’t just the concept of an alternate world that held the appeal so much as the people in it. Why? Because it seemed to be filled with others like me. People who had read the same books as me, liked the same movies as me. People who knew what a Drow was, who were fascinated with Steampunk, who saw beauty in Cybernetics, others who could rattle on about the history and characters of Star Trek, or Middle Earth, or Narnia. I met people with the same sense of humour, who understood the same references, who spoke the same language in a sense. I discovered that there were others out there with the same larger than life imaginations, insatiable appetites for words, and the ability, ultimately, to suspend disbelief.

To this day, I’ve yet to find any community or group that has so many people who enjoy what I enjoy, who are fascinated with the same wild ideas, who like to talk about the strange, mysterious, and magical. There are people who get me in ways that are hard for me to find in a coffee shop, family reunion, or work place. I wonder now if it’s not coincidence that I found so many kindred spirits in Second Life. I wonder if there is something about it that appeals to that part of us. Probably, I mean I don’t think that’s any kind of radical theory, so the question is… what is that part of us that draws some to Second Life? Imagination?

bohopancake

If you’ve read some of these stories about alternate universes, parallel worlds, time travel, you know many are sprinkled with warnings. There is the danger that by simply being part of them, we could bring about change. Not only is there a risk of changing the people we encounter in those worlds, change the society itself, but we must also consider that by even being a guest in those worlds we are forever changed upon our return.

Another common thread in these types of stories is the warning about bringing something back from those worlds into ours. Luckily there is less risk of bringing something back from a Virtual world into our real space than there is say, if we time travelled to ancient Rome… or is there?

My theories on that were blown completely out of the water when I first came across the work of Aemeth “Cake” Lysette. She does drawings of Second Life avatars, she did the one of me shown above, and you can see more of her work on her Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/aemeth/ and her blog http://aemysays.wordpress.com/ or her store https://gumroad.com/ashurcollective.

On the surface perhaps you might just admire her artistic vision, her skills, her style, but if you know me at all, you know what I’m like, I had to toss the idea around my mind until it was coated in cinnamon and sugar and tickled all those taste buds that live along the moist edges of my imagination. I chose those words on purpose you know, the food references, because this idea is really just that delicious. A real life drawing of a virtual world avatar. Doesn’t that give you goose bumps? The walls are crumbling, the rules are broken, we’ve not just crossed into an alternate world, put our mark on it, but we can bring something back with us.

When I read that she was taking commissions, I had to have one. It’s not often I say that, although there are many things I own virtually that I enjoy, that are fun, that I use often, that I admire, I can’t say that I’ve ever needed something the way I needed this. Perhaps it’s because my time in SL is waning, it’s possible that I needed something tangible in my day to day life to remind me of that place, those times, the person I am when I’m there. Whatever the reason, I wanted, needed one of Aemeth’s works, a drawing of my avatar.

psypancake

There was one problem, which look to ask her to draw? I have so many avatar looks, and I don’t even mean alts although I have those too, but as you can see from my pictures I change everything about my avatar, from hair to skin to clothes on a pretty regular basis. I change it for my mood, for the event I’m attending, for the company I’m with, but mostly for the photoshoot or blog post I’m trying to do. If I could have just one piece of art, just one image to represent who I am virtually, what I do in Second Life, what it means to me, which would it be?

I shared this struggle with a friend, asking his opinion on which I should chose, and he helped me narrow it down to two that are most commonly “me” when I’m not working on a photoshoot or blog post. The looks I most commonly choose to represent myself as when I’m on my time. Two wasn’t very helpful though, because as much as I wanted this portrait, I am still sort of frugal and would only treat myself to one. That’s when he stepped in and offered to commission two, so I could have both.

It seemed indulgent to have two, selfish, of not just his money but also Aemeth’s time, but in the end both agreed this was the best way. If a portrait would be that special thing, that artifact, that magical token I can take back to my world with me on the days or weeks when I’m not in this virtual one, my portal to alternate worlds, it had to capture all facets of me.

They are perfect. They are me in ways I don’t have words for, although, now that I look up, I apparently tried to use them all just to be safe.

The Calm Before The Burn

Can you guess where I am?

Burn2 2013 Geometry

Where geometric shapes are found next to haunted mushroom forests?

Burn2 2013 Haunted Shrooms

Where artful guardians welcome the sunrise alongside stages with electronic music and light shows?

Burn2 2013 Sunrise

Where people from every walk of life and background gather to dance, drum and celebrate fire?

Burn2 2013 Temple

In Second Life, it’s called Burn2.  It not only embraces all the principals of the real life Burning Man Festival, but it brings it’s own unique twist.  Where else could you set up your tent next to an alien crash site?  Where else could you hop on a hot air balloon guided tour?  Where else could you stroll casually along, and as the music stream changes with each camp you meet what will become your future family.

If you’ve followed my blog and project the last few years you may remember my first year at Burn2  where I met Gypsy and the Happy Clams and then when I   became a Lamplighter.  I can’t believe it’s been two years, in a way it’s an anniversary of sorts.  A benchmark in this blog, in my relationships, and in my Second Life.

The one thing I notice about both my first year at Burn2 and my second is that each came at time when I was often absent from SL or having a lull in my creative energy.  However, both year’s events were followed by a flurry of activity, new adventures, and friendships that have stood the test of time.  I have a great deal of faith the same will hold true again this year after getting a sneak peek at the build tonight.

It wasn’t just that chaotic perfection that is the hallmark of Burn2.  It wasn’t the fond memories, the chance to see new works and take new pictures.  It was when I walked up to the lamplighter’s camp.

Burn2 2013 Lamplighter Camp

I caught my breath when I saw it. My fingers tingled, my heart raced, I had that crazy expression that was half smile yet my vision was blurred from tears. My friends know how much Burn2 has meant to me over the years, that being a lamplighter has been the highlight of my Second Life, but truly it’s been of the most difficult thing to describe or write about.

How do you describe the wind?  How to you explain water?  How do you help someone understand sound when they can’t hear you, or write about a flavour they’ve never tasted?  I know what Burn2 means to me, but it won’t be that for you, it can’t be and I realized why tonight when I read the notecard at the Lamplighters camp.

We don’t require volunteers, or any structured commitments. Anyone who wishes to contribute time, talents, or resources is welcome to do so, but not required. All we ask for is simply this: when you are at one of our events, participate! Cheer us on, get a drum, dance with us, even walk with us in our processions. This is, after all, the true spirit of the Burn.

Yes!  That’s it.  That’s what Burn2 is, that’s why it’s different for every person, because it’s about participation.  Whether you come to try out some of the fun vehicles, or listen to your favorite DJ, or see some new art, YOU are as much part of the experience you will have as the camps and entertainers are.

In cooperation with the BURN2 core we set a schedule and route for our nightly lamplighting processions. As you know, Burning Man is not a spectator event. It’s about participation! And so, in Second Life too, all are welcome to join in with us in the processions. In a very real sense, we bring the Burning Man/BURN2 community together.

I wish I had thought to describe it that way.  Burn2 is not a spectator event, not at all.  You can come, walk around and see things, that’s of course welcome and encouraged, but to truly experience Burn2, to understand what I’m trying to convey, you can’t just watch, you have to talk to people, to try things, to dance… you have to Burn.

Following the procession, we assemble with all who care to participate; at The Temple, The Village, Center Camp or elsewhere, and spend the hours of darkness, dancing, drumming, socializing and celebrating fire and community.

We love to inspire the sense of community that the Burn brings, through our drumming, dancing and welcoming others to simply share in our joy of being and doing together – this is the very essence of the Burning Culture.

We invite you to join with us in our processions and drumming events, to celebrate the spirit and fire of Burning culture.

The lamplighters gather every night at 7 pm SLT at their camp http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Burning%20Man-%20Deep%20Hole/1/21/24 and the procession will drum and dance it’s way across the playa lighting lamps.  If you’ve never experienced this, and I don’t mean just watching, if you’ve never tried to dance or walk as a group in Second Life towards a common purpose,  laughing until your cheeks hurt, being part of community with this much joy, please do come.  You won’t find another experience like it.

How do I know?  Well, once again, I’ll defer to the excellent wording in the Lamplighters package.

There are no bystanders at BURN2 – Welcome Home!

More information about Burn2 can be found on their website http://www.burn2.org/

Be sure to check the calendar of events http://www.burn2.org/calendar

Colour Key

I planned to write a post about my new mesh hands and feet this week, in fact it’s all composed in my head, I just have to type it and log in to take a few pictures.  I suppose you could read it, if I had chairs in my brain, but I’m guessing that my words would be projected in reverse on the walls of my skull so that wouldn’t be much help.  My Saturday morning coffee in hand, I sat down to catch up on blogs and saw this post on Inara Pey’s blog and my original plan went out the window.

The Web

I’ve always been a huge fan of Rebeca Bashly’s work, but more than that she’s inspired me to do two previous blog posts about The Tower and The Inferno so I was confident this would be no exception.  This newest exhibit,  Colour Key, has a very vague description “It is all about human nature, breaking your spine to find answers that are under your nose.” and that was somehow freeing.  Without a clear idea of what the artist hoped I would think or feel or learn from her work, I let my mind and camera wander freely.

Will You Carry My Key

I got lost in Colour Key, quite literally.  It’s huge, a tall building with scaffolding and you can easily wander into dead ends.  The trick is to look for the keys that you can click on to teleport to the next part.  At first I wondered why I was having such a hard time navigating around, and then I quickly stopped being concerned about it.  A few dead ends, followed by a few full circles, and you end up looking at this work in a new way, or at least I did.  How often do we find ourselves repeating the same steps, or stuck in a box with no exit?  It’s only when you look at it differently that you can see the way forward.

Reflective

I allowed myself a fair bit of creative liberties here, with  windlight, color and framing the pictures.  I always feel a bit guilty about that, uncertain if my job is to capture the work as the artist meant it to be seen, or to try to present what she invoked in me.  I’m hoping these do a combination of both, but I encourage you to visit Colour Key for yourself to see what it says to you.

This last one has the eerily sensuality that I often find in Rebeca Bashly’s work.  Whether it’s my own fascination with the stories of Succubi or projecting something else that’s going on with me right now, I knew exactly what these ladies were saying.

Kiss me.

Kiss Me

You can find Colour Key here http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA6/58/37/373