Half Alive

I’ve never really been a big fan of Halloween.  I don’t boycott it, I give out candy to the kids who come to the door, but it’s just never really been my thing.  I notice some of my neighbours already decorating, trees hung with spiderwebs, skeletons and gravestones on the grass, and I just kind of shrug and close the curtains.  Intellectually I comprehend the thrill of fear, but I just can’t get into it.  Not this year.

The best part of Halloween really is Second Life, and particularly all the themed creations out there that can be used as inspiration.  Take this skin for example, a group gift from Lumae called “Lady Death”.  The minute I saw it I knew it would break my blogging silence.

Half Alive

Fear is a strange thing, unique to each and every one of us.  You have one don’t you.  Is it spiders?  Ghosts?  Flying in a plane?  Commitment?   The fears we know are easy, we can for the most part go through our lives if not avoiding at least preparing to cope with them.  After all, they are as much a part of us as our hair or skin and we’ve had decades learning to manage them.

Unexpected fears are the worst though.  Imagine not knowing you were afraid of something until it’s right in front of your face.  Unavoidable.  Inescapable.  No amount of twisting or turning removes it from view, not even closing your eyes works.  It’s not a nightmare, it doesn’t go away when you wake up, but sleep doesn’t help much either even if you can manage a few hours.  With no prior experience to temper your initial reaction, with no learned or inborn coping mechanism, how would you handle it?

Some of you would do really well I’m sure, some people are just like that.  Grace, class and fortitude under any circumstance.  I’m not one of those people which was a really fabulous thing to learn about myself.  Now I know that if I ever find myself in a Zombie Apocalypse or the subject of an Alien Abduction, I probably won’t do as well as I always thought I would.  I’d cry apparently, then pout, then kick stuff, then eat, and eat some more, then yell at everyone I care about, then cry some more.  Sooner or later though my best quality would emerge, my hidden super power.  Sarcasm.  Hey, we all need a thing, at least I know mine now.

Where was I?  Oh yes, fear.  Wanna try something?  Let’s irradiate the human body and see if only the healthy cells survive.

Sounds legit.  I’m in.

Radioactive

If you think about it too much, which I’ve been known to do, it makes you wonder how many cells survive something like that. What percentage of the body is dead?

Regardless of circumstance or cause, there are countless people who find themselves feeling half dead every day all over the world.  It’s a pretty remarkable moment when you realize you are one of them, don’t worry, you won’t miss it if you are in the bathroom.  Actually, odds are it’ll happen to you while you are in a bathroom, but that’s another story.

The trick isn’t realizing you are half dead, it’s remembering that technically you are still half alive.  Now, if you want to dwell on one side of that equation for a while, please do.  I have.  Shamelessly and without regret.  There is no time limit, no rules, no standard you need to uphold.  There is nothing you have to prove to anyone, I promise.

One day though, the scale will tip.  You will find yourself in the half alive side.  I know that sounds corny but I need you to believe that, because I need to believe that.

Credits:

Skin: “Evie : 2 – Cream / Lady Death”  Group Gift Lumae http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Kassar/34/33/1502

Panties: “RadPanties” from MetaTheodora (now Chariot)  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/MetaTheodora-RadPanties/5575501

Hair:  “Stone Cold Seduction”  Exile (previous Hair Fair Style)

Poses Del May  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Terravia%20Island/217/66/24

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

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

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

Pangloss

One of the first things I noticed when returning to Second Life was that some of the mainland parcels around my home had changed hands. They seem to have put a lot of effort into their plots so I’m not complaining but there were uneven land boundaries between us now. It shouldn’t bug me, but it does, so I set about trying to smooth the transition between their land and mine. Smooth wasn’t doing what I hoped it would, so then I tried to flatten my land, but it still didn’t look right. I decided that I needed to raise the whole parcel and then work it down to match but I’m far too impatient for this one square at a time nonsense, so I pushed all the sliders to the max and started to bulldoze. This is when I learned ( confirmed?) that I don’t know what I’m doing.

As I stood there wondering if there is some sort of 911 emergency terraforming group I could call it became obvious that half of my objects and plants were now buried underground. It seemed logical to me that I’d should move them all first, then fix the land. No problem right? Just go to your land window and return all your objects. Brilliant, easy, one click and… oh my damn, what did I just do?

Well, at least I had the foresight to name my blog appropriately. Not that I was ever the most technically savvy of SL users, but over the last 6 months I apparently forgot all that I ever knew and am now truly renoobed. The solution, clearly, was to ignore the whole problem and go exploring. Procrastination, what would I do without you?

float

My exploring often starts in Flickr and from there to blogs and this was no exception. There are a lot of gorgeous photos out there, many of you got so good while I was gone, but everything is Halloween and fall themed which didn’t match my mood. I stumbled on one of the pinkest of the pink photos I’ve ever seen by Caitlin Tobias which led me to her blog post.

Now this is interesting, Honour wrote a thought provoking post about this place as well.  That’s enough for me, off to Pangloss I went.

The color of music

I do fiddle with my pictures a bit in postprocessing, but the vast majority of what you are seeing here was done in Second Life. I did experiment with windlights, but Pangloss really is this pink.

I’m using Firestorm lately, although Catznip is still by far the best performing viewer for me, especially in crowded places, but the phototools in Firestorm intrigue me. As you can see, I’m teaching myself about depth of field and focal length.

Night Flower

As a large scale landscape, Pangloss is not just surreal, it’s magical, but I found myself captivated by the tiny details. I want to call them minutia, but that word has negative connotations and these details hidden around Pangloss are far, far from inconsequential. They are what kept me there and taking photographs for hours.

Unfortunate really, I like the word, it feels good in my mouth and deserves a better reputation than it has. If I ever make another roleplay character I’m going to name her Minutia. Although, I do like the play on words of separating a word to make a name, like Mala Justed, or Caris Matic…  See?  This is why I get nothing done.

Orb

One of the most striking features you’ll see if you go to Pangloss, well, other than the flying whale, are these turtles. They are suspended high above the pinkness with ladders to climb up to them. Being the clicker that I am, I had to go up there and much to my surprise, there is a couch atop one of the turtles.

Pangloss

Now that’s strange. Why would anyone put a couch on a flying turtle? We established in the past that I haven’t met a couch or chair that I didn’t want to sit on, and this was no exception. It occurred to me as I essentially sat on top of the world and let my camera roam around that this was no accident, no whim of silliness, it was one of those moments of creative genius. This is Second Life, where the more important question really is why wouldn’t you put a couch on a flying turtle.

Maybe that’s what I should do with my parcel. Forget the terraforming, forget that clump of no copy objects stuck together in my lost and found, I’ve got a magic couch to find.

Pangloss http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Banana%20Island/116/107/30

Now With More Spine

You know the expression ‘Wearing your heart on your sleeve”?  People say that to me a lot and I’m never quite sure what they mean.  To be clear, before anyone links me the urban dictionary, I know what the expression means, but I don’t always know their intent.  Is it a compliment?  A caution?  An insult?

I suppose it doesn’t much matter, because it is true, although as I’ve mentioned here in this blog before I prefer to call myself an emotional exhibitionist.  Sounds a bit sexier don’t you think?  I am an external processor, I think aloud.  I get from A to B by talking or writing it out.  I process feelings and thoughts by looking at them outside of my own head.  I know sometimes it causes people undue amounts of concern when they find themselves witness to it, but it’s really not necessary.  Chances are if I’m talking about something that upset me, or that I’m going through, I am actually perfectly fine.  It’s only when I get quiet that should be remotely noteworthy. 

Which brings me the long way round to my point, this blog has gone quiet for several months.

Been Down This Road Before

The short version of why I haven’t blogged is because I haven’t really been in Second Life since April.  There were a handful of quickie log ins to make a payment, or answer something critical, but that’s about it.  I knew that my spare time and online footprint would be drastically reduced over the summer months due to a few changes at home and work, and some medical situations with my family in my first world life, but I’ll confess, there were a few nights here and there that I could have logged in.   I most certainly could have benefited from the distraction, and having a bit of fun, but just the thought of it knotted my stomach so I didn’t.

You see, there was an unresolved issue that I didn’t want to face, the same unresolved issue that has made me question what to do with this blog. 

Is That All You've Got?

You may recall, or if you skip down a few posts you’ll see, an SL friend of mine Mabb Dilweg passed away suddenly in March.  Her death touched many people, even those who never had the opportunity to meet her in SL.  In a moment of shared grief, in an attempt to feel less helpless, a fundraiser was put together to fly her partner Shane Fairlock to her home.  We knew he wouldn’t make it in time for the funeral, but hoped that the trip would still give him closure.  The fear of never being able to say goodbye is one that I think most people who form online and long distance friendships can relate to.

In April it became apparent that the fundraiser would fall short of it’s goal.   I know that quite a few people, both privately and publically in the SLU forum, began to ask questions about what would happen to the money and suspicions even began to be voiced.  At the time he assured me that he was holding out hope that he could still put together enough from other sources, that he just needed a little more time, but in the event he couldn’t make the trip we discussed other options for the money that was raised including giving it to her family or donating to the zoo that Mabb loved to bring her grandchildren to.

That didn’t happen.  Six months later, he either is still holding it or he spent it.  Will it forward it on one day?  Perhaps.  Stranger things have happened.

There is a lot I could say here, but I don’t know how necessary that is.  If you are at all curious what Shane’s version of the story is, it would probably be best to ask him.  I could give my version, but it differs dramatically from the various accounts he’s given Mabb’s other friends so I don’t even know what the truth is anymore.

I do know this, as weeks turned to months, without even the courtesy to update all those who loved her, and who donated, the silence became the elephant in the room.  So much so that the very idea of logging in and seeing Shane on my friend’s list, knowing I had to either confront him or ignore it as if nothing happened, seemed like more stress than I needed or wanted.  I needed an outlet, an escape, but due in large part to this situation Second Life was no longer that for me.

The Bigger Person

I’m angry.  Not about the money I donated,  I’m angry at myself because in my own need to channel my grief, to do something constructive, I projected my fear of losing people I care about onto this situation and I overinvested emotionally.  I know better, or at least I should.  I’m angry that I let my reluctance to confront him and address this issue keep me from Second Life at a time when I probably needed that outlet most.  I’m angry that I let my uncertainty about how to proceed with this blog, not knowing if I should address this issue or not, keep me from taking pictures and writing.  I dreaded having to talk this out with people, I felt guilty, I was embarassed, so I withdrew from many of my friends rather than risk the topic coming up.

Not anymore.  I finally, with the help and heavy prodding of some friends, logged into Second Life, said my piece to Shane, then deleted him.  It’s done, I’m taking my Second Life back. 

I still have a lot of thinking to do,  I need to examine what part I played in this and find a way to prevent it from happening again.  It’s not the first time a friend let me down, not the first time I misplaced trust, not the first time I got hurt, not the first time I dreaded the idea of confronting a person or situation.  People are so quick to say “don’t let it change you” and I appreciate both the sentiment, and the good hearted place it comes from, but I do think a few changes are in order.  People warn me against becoming bitter, urge me not to build up walls, but from where I sit those both seem like viable options.

I don’t know where my Second Life will take me now and it’s possible that I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve on this adventure,  but I know one thing for sure… this time I’m packing a little more spine.

I'm Back

Outfit : MetaTheodora Star of Venus Ballgown, Gloves, and Nipple Covers (head piece not shown)
FEET!!!!! Slink Female Feet (AvEnhance) M – Mid (a blog post dedicated entirely to my new feet is in the works)
Below eye piercing: .:ellabella:. Helene’s Tears – silver
Above eye piercing: – .HoD. – Fire In The Water Prt. 1 – Midnight
Skin: -Belleza- Ellie Gacha 5 (old Arcade Item)
Hair: Wasabi Pills Lory Mesh Hair Aquatic (old Arcade item)
Make up: -Belleza- Eyeliner 1
Collar: Hello Spacegirl – Ilia Collar (long) M (black)
Eyes: [LeLutka]-Ellis-Lavender/M
Lashes: Maitreya V.I.P. Group Gift  Mesh EyeLashes (old group gift)

Mesh spine attachment is part of the [StG] Neuropuppet RLV Slave Unit on the marketplace.