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.