Away From Keyboard

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The last straw is usually not a big one. It’s tough to predict which one will finally break the camel’s back. I know I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy shit the past couple of years, and I’ve kept going because what else do you do? It wasn’t the big burdens that took me down, the last straw was a small one in comparison.

A few months ago my family was involved in a car accident. My (new to me) car was totaled. We were lucky to walk away with what they call minor injuries. My niece suffered the worst of it with a pretty severe concussion, and the lingering issues are making her day to day life tough even now. Dealing with the insurance bullshit has added another chore to my daily list of Fucking Things To Fucking Deal With. But I’ve been dealing with them, because what else do you do?

I used the insurance payoff for my totaled car to buy the car I’ve been wanting for eons, a Volvo wagon. She’s exactly what I wanted. I felt like I’d found a bright spot in a shitty situation. 

Until the transmission started to slip. Then it started to bang. And now I’m stuck with a beautiful car that has a doomed transmission. 

This has been a final straw of sorts, for me.  This is what finally sucked me down into the spiral of depression and its numbing apathy. I have just stopped. Stopped caring, stopped feeling, stopped participating – I haven’t cared and I haven’t wanted to. The numbness was  welcome.  I’m falling asleep at odd hours and I don’t feel like I ever really wake up. And I don’t even want to.

I’ve dealt with (and written about)  depression before. I know the feel of the dark wet blanket settling over me. It’s not sadness, I know that feeling, too. Sadness is an emotion. Depression is a dulling of emotion, and a deep apathy. The truly depressed don’t even want to fight it; the muting of the senses feels too good. 

I’m working on it, though. I do still care enough to know that my home won’t function with me sleeping on the job. I care too much about the people I love to let myself slip all the way down- even as nice as that sounds sometimes.

So, I keep going. Because what else do you do? 

I don’t know when I’ll be back. I wouldn’t know how to swim to the surface if I could even find in which direction it lies. For now I’m floating near bottom, and the numbness is a relief. For now.

 

Are Those Our Only Choices?

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“Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Hold for Applause

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We Need to Talk

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That Last Step

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Solitary Confinement

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Please click the pic, this one’s better bigger. Like so many good things.

I’ve decided to go back to school, and I’m considering studying psychology. Specifically, I’d like to study the phenomenon of online social communities. I find it endlessly fascinating how much we share, and don’t share, with our online social circles. My ultimate goal is to write a book about this topic, including both my own experiences online and some psychological babble to back up my brilliant conclusions. My master’s degree in English might help with the writing part, but I’ll be starting over on the psychology part. I’m excited about these plans, but I’m no spring chicken. I’m going to be one of those old folks going back to school. I remember being in college and wondering about those ancient students and what could possibly make them want to go to college in their golden years. The world sure does look different through eyes that are 20 years older. Okay- maybe 25 years older. Shut up.

This photo came from thoughts of those plans. I’ve been thinking about how to visually represent the ideas of an online presence. I think that the phenomenon of being so exposed, and yet so closed off is possibly unique to the online world. And I learned a lot about my own online community when I shouted out for naked bodies to pose for me, and they landed on me within mere moments. I could shoot this shot three more times and not run out of people willing to pose for it.

The computer screen has long been described as a window to the world, and I do believe that’s accurate. But it’s so much more. I can’t even begin to fathom the role this window will have in our future lives, or how integrated we might be with them. By the time I get another degree to try to put words to my ideas, my ideas may be totally out of date. But I feel compelled to do this, and at the very least it’ll be an adventure. 

The following folks TPed to me with no clothes and no questions asked, and then patiently posed while I shot this photo. I cannot thank them enough- and not just for the posing. It was a show of community, and I needed that. 

Thanks to:

Marx Dudek

Ruby Velaystar

Teagan Avon

Imnotgoing Sideways

Addy Kotori

Shockwave Plasma

Tymmerie Thorne

Valena Vacano 

Isla Gealach

Frequency Picnic

Nedria Cyr

Charisma Jonesford

Theo Svenson

Isabelli Anatine

Faolan Wylder

Zenovia GossipGirl

Nylon Pinkney

Ewan Mureaux

Katya Valeska

Chance Raynier

Ulaa Coronet

Elle Couerblanc

River Stromfield

Alexi Bianco

Misha Selene

Lelu Anatine

 

 

 

0,0,0

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A friend is letting me use an empty sim for a few days. 15,000 prims and a wide open expanse of nothing makes Whiskey a happy girl.

 

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A Month of Mondays

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Click the pic to see it bigger and better.

An Original Profile

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My SL profile hasn’t changed much since the day Whiskey was created in ’09. In fact, the Real World tab is the same as my original SL avatar, created in ’06. I am an avid profile perv, and a carefully crafted profile says a lot to me. I enjoy the clues and signs that people leave in their profiles, and I’ve always felt that mine accurately represents my virtual self, and in turn, who I am in any world. Our profiles should be a one-of-a-kind  representation of our personal face to the world. Each one a special unique snowflake.

Which is why I was so shocked when a friend accused me of having an alt, because he saw someone with a profile identical to mine.

By the time I opened her profile, she had already changed the wording of the first tab a bit (after being called out by my friend), so that it was no longer word for word a copy of my own. But SL doesn’t change things right away in search, so I could still see part of her profile there and sure enough, there were my own words in her profile. The first life tab, however, was still an exact replica of mine.

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This isn’t the first time someone has swiped my words, I’ve been writing long enough to know that the internet is rife with people who think it’s all up for grabs, theirs for the taking. After all, it’s a just a few words. Most people think that if they change a word or two, it’s no longer plagiarism. And besides, it’s just a profile. It’s not as if she’s stolen great literature, right?

It doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a tweet of 140 characters, a line from a profile, or an entire article- plagiarism is stealing. Period. There is no grey area here.

Plagiarists hate being called out on their thievery. My profile thief was no exception. In fact, her strange defense was that she found it on a website, so really she didn’t steal it from me, she took it from them. So how can I be upset by that? Out of curiosity, I googled my profile, and it is not on any website except for Second Life. But I already knew that. When confronted by the person they’ve stolen from, thieves rarely come clean and admit their wrongdoing. They’re instead defensive and upset that someone would dare question their integrity.

Because let’s be honest, that’s what stealing someone else’s words does, it shows a lack of integrity and honesty. And even someone who lacks those hates being reminded.

I wasn’t going to blog about this. It seemed petty and over-reactive. I asked her to change her profile to her own words, and despite fiercely denying any wrong on her part (and in fact threatening me with public shame for calling her a liar), for a week or so she did change it. But I looked today and she has again changed her profile to something very similar to my own. While it’s no longer word for word, it’s close enough (especially after her complete copy before) that it really irked me.

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Over the years I’ve had tweets, parts of blog posts and even my photographs stolen. Each time there are plenty of people who are quick to offer up that old, stale saying about imitation being the best form of flattery. That’s bullshit, and this wasn’t imitation. Flattery is when someone shows your work to their friends and gives you credit. It’s not flattering to have someone disrespect your hard work so much that they think it’s okay to use it as their own; in fact it’s the opposite of respect. It’s offensive and disrespectful on every level.

And I find myself, each time this happens, doing some deep soul searching to figure out why it bothers me so very much. But I shouldn’t have to defend myself, to explain why it makes me angry to have something that’s mine pinched and used without my knowledge or permission. I have every right to be upset, and the amount of work stolen has no bearing on how angry I should feel. Stealing is stealing. You can pretty it up and make it less shocking by calling it appropriating, borrowing or pirating, but in the end they all mean the same thing: stealing. Claiming ownership of something you’ve no right to.

So it doesn’t matter why it bothers me. It’s not up to me to try to work through my feelings on the matter.

If anyone needs to be doing some soul-searching, it’s folks like Callie Mocha who think that what they’re doing is okay. People who can’t come up with an original idea, and so they must steal the ideas of others.

I haven’t contacted Ms. Mocha again, and I probably won’t. At this point it’s useless, I believe. I tried to be at least civil when I originally asked her to change her profile, but her defensive and accusatory response shows me that reason isn’t chief among her repertoire of social skills.

Tomorrow that could all change. But  not the part about the reason.

Untitled

crushed.

The Water is Fine

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500

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This is my 500th post here at Whiskey Shots. I’d been waiting ’til I had time to write a proper post with all of the expected drivel about what this blog means to me but it looks like  that’s not going to happen any time soon, so this’ll do.

This blog was born years ago when I was living in InWorldz. It has spun 180º into something totally different. I’m okay with that; it was an evolution, just like my life.

I haven’t had time to blog  a series of photos that I took of Chip Midnight’s FemDroid avatar. It’s incredible how expressive this robot can be, even though her face doesn’t move. It’s a testament to Chip’s talent, which makes it easy to tell a complex story with such simple elements.

These photos are available at my Fine Art America print site. Chip Midnight was gracious enough to give his permission for me to sell these prints.

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I haven’t had time to blog lately. Having the wee beastie niece home for the summer, on top of my normal shit to deal with, has made things even busier. My sister has had some issues with the  massive dosages of steroids she has to take to keep her liver from being rejected. We’re still working on getting her healthy, but I can see small improvements every day, even if it is slow going. My mother was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia, so I’m hoping this diagnosis will lead to better treatment and more help for her. And for me.

In the meantime, we still deal with things day to day here, and I try not to look too far back, nor too far forward.

But I feel like I should at least look back at my first post here, as it’s some sort of milestone today. Here’s the first blog post on Whiskey Shots.

I also went to see which was my most viewed post here, and was surprised to see that there was a tie. The posts with the most views were Bullshit (a response to a NY Tmes interview with Philip Rosedale) and An Unpopular Opinion (which I came this close to deleting. I did eventually  have to disable comments after being attacked from every direction possible.)

I hope to get back to actually writing here soon. I’ve got oodles to tell you, and several drafts to flesh out into proper posts. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick with me for 500 more.

Gone

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I Know Where I Am

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“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”
A.A. Milne

Do click through to see this bigger and better.

Mental Block

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Burdens

Weight

We moved constantly when I was growing up. My parents had a habit of giving away all of our furniture and just striking out for greener pasture at the drop of a hat. I owned very little that was mine, and even fewer things that could be taken each move. I was determined to own my own home “when I grew up.” I wanted roots, permanence and stability. I wanted something that couldn’t be taken away. I wanted something that was mine.

It may be no coincidence that I  married a carpenter. I designed my home on graph paper, and my husband built it. It was a simple house, but it was mine. Every square foot of that house was used and loved. My children spent their childhoods there, the yard hosted forts and tents and the most magnificent treehouse. I healed there, where I felt safe and secure. I adored that house more than is probably rational. It was a loving home, and I was so proud of it.

Things here have been so complicated lately. My sister couldn’t live alone, nor could my mom. I originally moved everyone into my house, but managing their houses on top of my own, and living in far too small a space for so many people really took a toll on all of us. And on my house. It was meant to be a temporary situation, but as these things do, it became more long term and I had to face the fact that my home just wasn’t practical. It made better sense to move us all to my mother’s house.

And so my house sat empty for a while. We tried to rent it, and then, with heavy hearts, we tried to sell it. The burdens of the mortgage and the upkeep were as heavy as the weight on my heart. Moving into my mother’s house was the last thing I wanted to do, losing my own home because of it felt like … well, it felt like hell. I’m bitter. I feel as if my mother has again taken away my stability, even though it was (and has always been) my choice to care for her, for my sister, for my family. The irony of my losing my beloved stability in order to provide the same for them is not lost on me.

As of  last week, my house was gone for good. I no longer own a home. I no longer have my own space. I am heartbroken.

Every step I’ve taken has been by choice. I realize this. But we can so rarely see very far ahead when we’re taking these steps; there are so many curves and obstacles in the way to make our vision short. I had no idea that the emergent situations I stepped in to deal with would lead to this. I try not to wonder if I would have still done the same, had I known. I’d like to think that I would, that caring for my family would be more important than even a house. But I can’t say with certainty that I would have.

I still have my house key on my keychain.

I can’t decide if it would hurt more to toss it, or to keep it.

Future Evidence

Ever say something and immediately realize you’ve just incriminated yourself? Maybe it’s just me. Unfortunately, I was being recorded at the time. I fully expect Social Services to show up at my house any minute.

If you’d like to listen to and watch Rowan  and I chatting at SL10B yesterday, here’s the video. I appreciate Mal Burns and Petlove Petshop working so hard to video and post this for us.

And I’m pretty certain this video will be used at a future trial in which I will be the defendant. I plan on pleading insanity.

Nerves of Steel

I don’t have them.

 

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I’m a little nervous about participating tomorrow in a voice interview at the SL10B Auditorium. I don’t use voice much, mainly because the sound of other people mouth breathing into their mic makes my skin crawl, but also because I detest the sound of my own voice. But I’ve come to adore Rowan Derryth and when she asked if she could interview me, I couldn’t say no. After all, she did allow me to wander nude around her house last week.  And then she sent along the schedule of folks she’s interviewing. Here’s the poster, see for yourself:

 

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Holy shit! Then I got even more nervous. Do you SEE those names? And mine seems so odd among them. Yes, I know that people are people and we all put our pants on the same way- hopping around on one foot with our drinks held aloft. But I’ve long admired every single person on that poster, and to be listed among them is incredibly humbling. And nerve wracking.

I’m a decent writer, but that’s only because one has time to think when writing.  The spoken word doesn’t come near as naturally for me. I’m rather goobish, truth be told. And I’m not very adept at talking about “my process” without feeling pretentious and artsy fartsy. I’m telling you all of this so that your expectations are low, no- lower, lower still please- there. When I  maybe get off a good line or two, I’ll do better than you expected.

If you’d like to come listen live, we’ll be at the SL10B Auditorium here at 3pm SL time on Tuesday, June 18th. We’ll also be recording our chat so that we can all play it back later and laugh and laugh. Or rather, you laugh. I’ll cry.

But no making fun of my Southern accent, y’all.

 

Gushing Wackadoodle Zealot

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My original rezz date in Second Life was Dec. 29, 2006. I’ve been around for seven birthday celebrations, but last year was the first that I ever attended. I didn’t have the computer capability to attend events and huge builds for my first 5+ years as an avatar.  I viewed them through the eyes of others, by way of their inworld photos. Because of this, I never felt like I was a part of the celebration. I was member of a very small community in SL, and I never really felt connected to the grid as a whole. With my camera pointed at the floor in order to be able to chat, it was tough to get a feel for how big our virtual world was.

I know how lucky I am to be able to see Second Life, and I mean really see it. I appreciate every day that I am able to log in and explore anywhere and everywhere. There is always so much to see, so many incredible creations to discover. I wish that everyone who uses SL could have a window that’s clear and smooth.

I know I sound like a cheesy fangirl. And I am! I have no shame- I am a huge fan of the world that SL users have built. I’ve been quite vocal about my issues with LL (to the point of being called a Wackadoodle, which is absurd) and I still cringe every time they show their ignorance of the way the grid actually works. Don’t even get me started on their lack of communication with their customers. But when it comes to the universe that lives inside my viewer, I am unabashedly full-on Beatles screaming fan-girl. I still feel a thrill when I log in, and I’m usually disappointed when I have to log out.

This year, I’m not just able to visit the SL birthday celebrations, I have the honor of participating. I’ve heard about the drama and issues of past birthday celebrations, and I’m sure there were plenty of both with this one, too. But I’ve not seen any of those. I’ve had a wonderful experience at SL10B. I’ve met creators who were generous with their time and advice for a total noob builder, volunteers who were patient and more patient, and I can’t say enough about my sim coordinator, Marianne McCann. I’m really proud to be an exhibitionist. (wink wink)

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I’ve been inworld off and on for almost seven years, but I still feel like an explorer every day. If I can’t find something to discover, I can create something myself. Sure, Second Life has its issues but I’m still a fan of the grid, if not its steward. As long as there is a world inside my viewer, I will happily log into it.

Happy birthday, Second Life. While we live, let’s live.

Glass Houses

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Someone Else’s Space

I was invited to exhibit an erotic series at Assis Gallery this month. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about space. Not the final frontier,  but the way our physical space affects us, and how even a virtual space can have such a profound effect on frame of mind. I am always can be irritated and bitchy in my real world space, but when I visit my Second Life home I feel soothed in a very real way. It’s calming to be in “my space,” even if it’s a virtual space. The sets that I create for my photos are sort of my spaces as well. They’re very personal and come from a picture that forms in my mind. When I’m shooting in my sets, I feel the emotion that I was trying to evoke with the final shot. For me, even that virtual space has a very real effect. 

And so I decided to play around with that idea, and visit other people’s virtual spaces. Since I needed to shoot an erotic series, why not shoot them in other people’s houses? I sent out a plea via Plurk for landmarks to my friend’s homes, asking for permission to drop trou’ and get all up close and nekid with their space. I was shocked by the number of people who happily offered up their homes, no questions asked. I only needed five shots, but I visited dozens of homes over two days.

I TPed all over the grid au naturel, and I discovered something that I didn’t expect. Standing undressed in someone else’s home when they weren’t there left me feeling surprisingly vulnerable. I walked around all of their rooms, perved their furniture menus and looked in the bedside table drawers- and yet I was the one feeling exposed and vulnerable. I’m not entirely comfortable with my own vulnerability- who is?- and so it was tough to ignore that feeling long enough to set up and shoot these pics.

Thank you to everyone who let me prowl around their homes in my birthday suit. I can only display five pieces at Assis, but took many more than that, so I’ll be working on them and displaying them at my own gallery in the future.

I’m adding the photos below, in case you don’t wish to scroll down to pixel tits all up in your face or your workplace frowns on that kinda thing. This exhibit opens on Saturday, June 15 at Assis Gallery, and the work will be for sale. There’s a big Rocky Horror themed opening party on Friday night. I’ll add details when I know them.

As always, click the pic to see it bigger and better. 

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All Work and No Play

Makes Whiskey a cranky bitch.

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I’m not used to having “work” in Second Life. Things like deadlines, collaborations, building things and people counting on me- I don’t mind these things normally, but lately it feels like that’s all I’m doing inworld. I’m excited about the projects I’m working on, don’t get me wrong. But they’re all happening at once, and they all need to be done yesterday.

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Second Life is where I get away from pressure and work and stress. I’ve missed having my “play time.” Building sets and taking photos makes me happy. It’s my only real fun (cue the violins). So, when I start resenting the work inworld, I stop and take a fun photo. It doesn’t have to be complicated or deep- although even the simplest pieces can be those. Just something to remind me what I love doing. And it helps me to remember that these commitments, these little inworld jobs I’ve been working on, they’re tied into my photos, too.

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But next time I sign on for too much all at once, someone spank me like a bad, bad girl.

 

SL10B Main Stage- A’stra

I spoke with one of the builders of the SL10B Main Stage, and he told me to go ahead and post my pics, as they were pretty much finished building. I cannot tell you how excited I am to show off this build. It can’t be properly captured in photos. It spans two full sims, and the smoke coming from my computer after taking these pics was worth every second. I left these large, if you click through you can see each pic in better detail.

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The guys from Grendels are building this turtle, and they’re calling it A’stra Stage, and their motto is “Ad Astra Per Aspera.” Look it up yourself, I’m not your mother.

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I wish I could have taken the photos that this build deserves. I dare say there will be far better shots over the next few weeks.

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The build is mostly plain prims and sculpties, with some mesh pieces. I took this next shot to try to convey the massive scale, but even that doesn’t really drive it home. Those are full sims behind A’stra. She’s just incredible.

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SL10B Community Celebration opens to the public on June 16. You won’t want to miss seeing this for yourself.

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I didn’t take pics of everything, because you should have some fun surprises. Be sure to check out her tail when you’re exploring.

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Amok Amok Amok!

I have so much to do inworld. Between the Single Frame Stories SL10B build, an upcoming erotic art exhibit at Gallery Assis, and putting my own entries for SL10B together- my head is spinning. So, of course, I spent my evening last night playing with pigs. Because deadlines are just suggestions, really.

 

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In case you haven’t heard, The Arcade is open and the gacha machine that got most of my attention was the OhMai Teacup Piglets. I almost resent how adorable they are, because I am compelled to collect them all and I’m generally not a collector of cute things. But it was a compulsion to have them, and I love them, every single wee one. This is my  entry in the Arcade Photo Contest. Now I guess I better get back to work.

 

Small

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My niece is on summer break now, and already moping around the house with a slow slouch that only a child can manage. I’m a firm believer in allowing boredom to run its course. It’s not my job to entertain, although I do leave random books and art supplies on flat surfaces around the house. She’s at an age where toys aren’t as fun, but the urge to play is still there. That’s a tough transition for a kid.

I was sitting on the back porch this morning having tea and watching the backyard bunnies run amok in the sunrise, when my niece quietly slipped out and sat next to me. We didn’t speak for a while, and then she whispered, “They’re just so small. I thought I was small.” And with that she wandered back inside and picked up a book.

I’d set out Watership Down thinking if she picked it up, it would be good for at least a couple of weeks of peace. I was younger than my niece when I read it, and I can remember precisely how my heart felt when I put it down.

I remember thinking, they’re just so small.

My niece has dealt with a lot. She lost her father when she was only six, and has lived with the real worry of losing her mom for the past two years. She’s dealt with some pretty adult issues, but is still just a kid. It’s a strange dichotomy that makes her both weary and curious at the same time.

I try to remind her to live in this moment, the one that matters the most. And at this moment, she’s mindlessly twirling a lock of hair around her finger and her lips are moving as she reads about the warrens of bunnies and their adventures. She’s got her feet tucked under her and my dog is curled up beside her. She is precious.

And she’s still so small.

I Am Who I Am

I Am

The first prompt for the Single Frame Stories SL10B Challenge was, “Identity.” This is my entry.

I’m thrilled with the entries we’ve received so far. You can see them all here at our Flickr group. And if you’re interested in submitting a story to be displayed at our SL10B build, you can find more info here. To learn more about the Celebration for Second Life’s 10th Birthday, check out their website.

A Bridge Too Narrow

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Bumping it Down

A friend mentioned that every time she opened WordPress, she had to see my last photo, and it was disturbing her. So even though I don’t really have anything to blog about, like many bloggers I won’t let that stop me- but I’m doing it so that Bridget won’t be disturbed by my piggy head anymore. I’m bumping it down.

Lots of things happening all at once, keeping me busy busy busy. Busier than normal, anyway. My sister is slowly improving, but any improvement is hopeful. My niece’s last day of school is Friday, and a long summer of keeping an intelligent 12 year old entertained is looming ahead. I’m going to casually drop a copy of Watership Down on a table somewhere. That should keep her happy for a week or so.

Inworld I’ve got a piece in a group show opening this weekend at Palais Orleans Gallery Complex.

Love & Other Bruises Poster - dates (s)

Sponsored by LUMIPro and curated by Morgana Nagorski. “Love & Other Bruises is about love… lies… deceit… selfishness… indifference… jealousy… betrayal… infidelity….  Love gone bad, if you will.”

There are 20 artists involved, all of them amazing. You can see the whole list here

The show runs 25 May to 21 July 2013. Opening events at 6:00-8:00pm SL time on Saturday 25 May, and 10:00AM-12:00PM Sunday 26 May.

I’m pretty up front about my aversion to openings, but I might pop in. Regardless, the show is impressive and different from the norm. Go check it out. 

Another exciting project in the works is the Single Frame Stories exhibit at the SL10B celebration. More details to come soon, but I’m thrilled that we’re going to be a part of the fun! I’m definitely NOT a builder, so putting together the display is a huge challenge for me. I’ll post progress pics when I have something worth showing. So far our exhibit consists of half my inventory rezzed on a platform as “inspiration.” Keep an eye on the Single Frame Stories blog for information about submitting stories for display in the exhibit. 

When I need a break from that, I work on my new house. Finding the right blend of cozy and modern that my roomie and I both want isn’t always easy, but we’ve found some lovely middle ground so far. These are progress pics. We’re nowhere near done yet. And with the Home and Garden Expo opening tomorrow, I’ll probably go back and change everything, anyway.

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And I’ve also got half of a photo set up, but haven’t had time enough to really work on it. It’ll likely just stay on the back burner ’til after SL10B. In the meantime, enjoy this shot that I took of Aemeth Lysette after she volunteered to be my model.

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It’s intimidating to make art with someone who is an incredible artist. I had the shot set up, and Aemy come dressed perfectly for it without even knowing what I was setting up. Kismet. Be sure to go check out her blog.

So, there ya go. Happy now, Bridget?

Pig-Headed People

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Loyal to the Nightmare of My Choice

I loved being a teacher. One of my favorite teaching techniques was to inspire intelligent debate among my students. The trick is to debate the topic without getting personal. This isn’t always easy, but it’s an important life skill that good instructors teach while they’re teaching literature or science or math.

The Heart of Darkness always inspired heated debates. Was it racist, or meant to be anti-racist? What does the river symbolize? Is Kurtz or Marlow the hero of the story? Classrooms full of teens have long debated these questions, and in my class they did so without name-calling, anger or personal attack- mainly because I was there to stop such things and to guide my students in constructive discussions between differing opinions. They were kids, and they were learning how to discuss without degenerating into angry insults.

Most of us learn these skills but somewhere along the way, we forget them. Nowhere is this more evident than online.  Intelligent debate is virtually nonexistent. (See what I did there? Virtually non… nevermind.) It’s easy to find passionate, animated, strong opinions – and those are good things and shouldn’t be mistaken for rude or angry. But there’s a line between passionate and pig-headed, and it’s similar to the line between debating the topic and attacking the debater.

It’s hard to want to engage in what has become an increasingly strident, angry, confrontational and personal war waged by people who use insults as compensation for a lack of intelligent opinion. Clearly these folks were never my students.

These days, I just keep my own pig-headed opinions to myself.

 

The Lunatics are Running the Asylum

Invisible-final

 

For the Single Frame Stories challenge prompt, “Invisible.”

This is my own CT scan.

Artist’s Statement

YapShowSign.jpg

 

 

I have this show opening today at Kelly Yap Art Gallery. Kelly has long been a supporter of the arts in SL, providing gallery space and studio space on her mainland parcels. When she approached me about doing a show, I decided I wanted to do something different. And so E-SCAPES was born.

I wrote an Artist’s Statement for the show. I explained why I chose landscapes, what they meant to me, and how I made them. I used artsy words like Alternative Process, Chroma, Organic and Contrast. I talked about isolation, accessible and evocative. I discussed why I went against the norm of conventional landscape photography and included centered objects, midpoint horizon lines and tossed the rule of thirds out the window. It was an artsy paragraph.

I sounded like a real ass.

I created these landscapes because I wanted to. Because I feel compelled to create things that make me feel connected to something. That’s the bottom line. I chose landscapes because I wanted to challenge myself to evoke emotions without using any figures. I like them. I hope you do too.

That’s my artist’s statement.

 

e-scapes collage.jpg

Stop by and check it out. I’m on the 2nd floor of the main gallery, so be sure to peek at the other artist’s who’ve opened today as well.

I don’t very much care for openings, so I’m not scheduling one. But I’ll occasionally stand around the gallery all awkward-like and toss around artsy terms. I’ll call that a soft opening.

(That’s what she said.)

Kiss Off

No, not you. The Song. I’m working on a series of landscapes for an upcoming show, and they’ll all be named after Violent Femmes lyrics. Here’s a teaser photo:

LandscapeI Forget What Eight Was For

(click the pic to see it bigger and better)

I’ll post more info here when the show opens on the 15th of this month.

I love shooting landscapes, but in typical Whiskey fashion, I want to shoot my landscapes, not someone else’s. I managed to set up this shot when a friend let her sim go, and I got to play around with it on the night before LL made it go poof. I wish I’d had more time; playing with an empty sim and 15,000 prims made me tingle in happy places.

More to come!

Haiku

Haiku

The mind flies freely
while the body is anchored.
I cannot quit you.

A Second Life Haiku

 

I’m not a fan of the meme, but I do enjoy a good challenge. Strawberry Singh posts a meme-along every Monday, but prefer to think of this week’s as more of a challenge prompt. It makes me feel better about participating. Check out the other haikus in the comments of Berry’s blog post.

Invisible

aisle-of-men

Is This Your Dream or Mine?

Arched

Choose

doors

I Don’t Want to Be a Fashion Blogger

fashion1

I joined Plurk a few months ago out of idle curiosity. I fully expected it to be a hotbed of drama and not my cuppa social media. Twitter has always been my style, sarcastic and sardonic and the perfect place to admit an urge to chain your family in the basement. (I said URGE. I would never.) (Shut up.)

And while Plurk does indeed have more than its share of “drama” it’s also a pretty neat place if you’re picky about your timeline. I’ve met some interesting folks from SL I might have never found otherwise. I’ve discovered creators who are making some amazing things and places to explore inworld. Turns out Plurk is a great place to learn about Second Life.

90% of my timeline is made up of SL fashion bloggers and fashion creators. I have to admit I don’t frequent many fashion blogs, because most of them cover the same events and post the same items and I can see the same dress only so many times before my eyes bleed. Far better writers than me have written in depth about the relationship between bloggers and creators, so I’m not going to rehash that here. But I do wish there was more variety and diversity represented in fashion blogs. And I wish that the SL market wasn’t completely event driven like it is.

Most of the “review” blogs that I really follow are home and garden, because that’s my real weakness in SL. But as a photographer meself, I know that those fashion blog posts take a lot of time and effort to put together. There are bloggers who slap a look together and throw it out there just to  meet a quota imposed by an event or creator, and those are immediately apparent to anyone who sees them. But the bloggers who put a lot of thought and care into their posts go through a lot to create them. Those who include SLURLS to the stores of the items? They’re heroes in my book.

I challenged  myself to do a fashion post, but I’m not a very good fashionista. My skin is 4 years old, if I’m wearing shoes they’re probably my 5 year old Kboots, and I change clothes only a couple of times a month. My SL photos aren’t about the clothes, so I tend to keep them very simple and neutral. I don’t shop much, except maybe for hair.

So part of my personal challenge was to go shopping. I was all geared up to put a look together, to find pieces and parts from different stores and create an entire EN-SEM-BLEH all by my lonesome. I logged in, checked my $L balance, and de-scripted my avi to prepare for shopping. But then I had to TP … where? I buy my clothes from a few select stores, but I wanted something new. I opened a fashion feed and every single post was from the new Fameshed event that opened just today. le sigh

Now, I know better than to attend an event on Day One. Even if you can get in, you’ll deal with lag and undelivered purchases and have to rub up against the unwashed masses. Ew. But I tried and wonders never cease, I TPed into Fameshed. My super-duper-mega-sweet new computer handled the lag like a champ, and I only had to hover over the person loitering at the landing point for three minutes before I could move.

I shopped. I’ll be honest here, I bought some home items. Then I remembered what I was doing, and I turned my attention to the clothes on the walls.

I was uninspired. Now, wait. Hold up. The creators are great! Most of the items are good quality and probably very fashionable. But I’m not young, nor very hip. I don’t want to look like a 15 year old Lithuanian model. So much of the fashion world these days doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s just all so flowery, so twee, so Zoe Deschanel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (But there is.)

And holy sticker shock, Batman! I’m prepared to shell out the Lindens for nice, original items.  But the stuff at Fameshed was pricey. A few stores were more expensive there than in their own stores for similar items. I really, really didn’t want to spend so much on something I would likely not wear much after this post. My intricate ensemble was looking less and less likely. And I was running out of inworld time.

fashion-2

I spotted this dress from Zaara from across the room. I love the style, I tend to always wear black, and HELLO BIRD PRINT. This dress is something I would wear on my real world body, minus the sleeve frillies. I’m not stepping very far outside my comfort zone here, and no one would call this an entire look, but it was a start.

I bought the dress, congratulated myself with a few more Meshworx chairs, and TPed to my photo platform.

And then I realized I needed shoes. My Kboots weren’t going to cut it, and wearing the GOS bare feet would be a cop-out. I own a pair of Baby-T heels, but they’re eons old and really, I was trying to embrace the spirit of my challenge. So went to buy shoes.

I started at Slink, because I wanted to support a worthy cause. But everything there was so… pointy. Yes, that’s a technical shoe term. I’m not a big fan of heels, and they all just seem so complicated. I tried, I did! But in the end I TPed to GOS because I knew I wouldn’t have to spend any time matching skintones, at which I am lousy at best. I bought the least pointy heels in the place, and even though everyone and their father owns a pair of these in SL, I still like them.

By this time my $L balance was depleted and my time was almost gone. So I didn’t even bother changing my hair. I love this hair. I have an asymmetrical cut in real life right now that looks just like this, and it’s ridiculous how much it thrills me to find it inworld. But I needed a location for the pics.

The outfit is supposed to be the star of these shots. But you can see above that I failed miserably. I’m just not a good fashion photographer. I loved the pattern of the shadows on the walls, the shape of the door, the lighting… I composed a pretty picture, but you can barely see anything that I’m wearing. Fashionista fail!

So I snapped some quick shots on my photo platform and called it a day.

fashion4

Sorta.

I’d only done half the work of posting a fashion blog. But I had laundry to do, phone calls to  make, and family in the basement to feed. So it took a while before I could come back to finish this. I edited and cropped my pics, and made my knees work with the rest of my legs in photoshop. I got the pics all ready and sat down to write this post.

And then I remembered the credits. The whole point of the fashion blog is to feature the items. What was my hair called again? Was it Tram or Lamb, because let’s be honest, they look the same. I had to log back in and copy all of my credit info. What a pain in the ass.

 fashion5

By this time I don’t really even feel like critiquing the the items. The dress fits great, but only if I wear my emaciated “mesh shape.” That’s not Zaara’s fault, but it’s a complaint I voice often. I like my curves, and clipping them for mesh is frustrating. The dress is incredible, though, and I actually really love it. I think I’ll wear it.

The shoes are a snap to color, and I will admit they make me feel sexy. But I still prefer my bare feet and these will likely only see the windlight of day when I break out this dress.

I had such big plans, ya’ll. I was going to do layers, and jewelry and possibly even make up. I was gonna buy a BELT. I was going to rock the fashion blog and introduce small, undiscovered creators. But I managed a dress and a pair of shoes, and both came from very well known designers. I pretty much failed my own challenge.

Jesus, it’s tedious. And time consuming. I often spend several days putting together a set for a photograph, but I love that time and it passes so quickly! I could work on my sets and windlight and angles all day, and never tire of it. I hope that’s how the good fashion bloggers feel about what they do, too. I hope they love it, because I hated it. You won’t catch me doing this again anytime soon.

fasion3

 

 

But I do love the details of this dress.

Here’s what I’m wearing:

Skin- Curio

Shape- Whiskey’s Too-skinny Mesh Shape

Hair- Tram C407 

Dress- Zaara Chiatra Chiffon dress (from Fameshed) 

Shoes- GOS Lolita Espadrills 

Eyes- IKON Ardent 

Necklace- Olive Folded Golden Paper Letter Necklace (from Arcade) 

All poses from Flowey (Flutter Memel)

Location: The Legion Project 

 

 

Peace

Peace

Come in peace or leave in pieces.

Ideas and Thanks

dead ideas

I am the Champion Grand Master of murdering ideas before they take flight. Self doubt and fear are my weapons of choice.

Whether it’s writing or big life ideas, or even my funny little SL photos, I can shoot down an idea faster than you can say, “Lickety my split.” I justify this killing as part of the creative process- I call it being selective. Or weeding out the bad ideas. But they aren’t all bad ideas, some of them are just risky, or too personal, or perhaps too difficult to consider. And often it boils down simply to fear of sucking.

I was talking to a friend about my gifted laptop. I wondered how I could possibly thank someone for such a gift. Her answer sent me down a path of thinking that brought me to this post. She told me that the best way to thank him was to enjoy the hell out of the laptop. To use it to make art, to write, to help others, to Get Shit Done. She’s right.

And I’d like to take that a step further- I want to stop killing the good ideas, to stop being afraid. I want to stop letting self doubt be a part of my creative process. It has no place there. I need to take risks and push harder and write the hard shit. Recognize my fears, acknowledge them and then do it anyway.

I want to allow gratitude to be a catalyst for letting go of those weapons, and start Getting Shit Done.

And let that be my thank you.

Gifted

Reaction

Some feelings require an orchestra.

My entry for the Single Frame Stories challenge, “reaction.”

I’ve been gifted this week. While most people who know me might call me a bit  “touched,” I don’t mean I’ve been mentally gifted.

I have a few thank you notes to write. These are more difficult than I expected. I do claim to be a writer, after all. How hard can it be to say thank you?

I’m writing a letter to the donor who gave my sister a liver, and another to her family. The first one is really for me, as she was not a living donor, and the second letter will be given to the transplant team and passed along if the family wishes to receive it. I’ll never know if they read it or not. The donor is totally anonymous to us. I’ve written her imagined biography a dozen times in my head, but we’ll never know anything for sure.

I hope that when she is well enough my sister will write a letter as well. But my sister and I are very different people, and we express ourselves in pretty much opposite ways. Maybe she’ll surprise me. Maybe this transplant will turn things around for her and she’ll see the world through the eyes of someone who was given the gift of life. That’s what I hope for her, for my sister. That she will appreciate every moment as if it is a precious gift.

I also need to write a thank you letter to the person who donated a computer to me this week. The day after my sister got her liver, I got a laptop that kicks all kinds of ass. It was a gift from a friend who didn’t believe me when I said I’d be just fine with not taking SL photos anymore. I had myself convinced that I didn’t need to take pics, that going back to seeing SL through low graphics was better than no SL at all, and that  I wouldn’t miss making my little photo sets. But I did miss it, and I would have missed seeing Second Life.

I’m  not sure what it is about building sets and taking photos that makes me so happy, but it does. So I will.

Right after I finish these thank you notes.

Siren Song

Siren-Song

Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

― Margaret Atwood

Mixing Metaphors and Organs

Tunne;

It’s been my experience that the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel isn’t sunshine or a train- it’s a carrot. A metaphorical carrot, of course. It’s the light that keeps you moving forward, plodding like the donkey with that goddamn carrot hanging just beyond his reach.

Of course, also in my experience, the carrot is attached to the nose of a train that’s coming right at me.

For more than two years, the light at the end of this tunnel has been a liver transplant for my sister. We knew that it was pretty much the only thing that could save her life. It’s been such a long tunnel that most days we couldn’t even see the light. And plodding forward in the dark after a carrot that’s just a rumor is hell.

On Sunday we caught a carrot made of light that’s attached to a train and shaped like a liver.

On Sunday, my sister had a transplant.

I’ve been writing everything down, because it happened so quickly and I know none of us will remember it all. I want us to remember that I almost hung up on the transplant call because I thought it was a wrong number. And my niece writing a message to the surgeons on my sister’s skin in Sharpie marker, only she wrote it in the wrong place and they never saw it. I want to remember the nurse calling my sister’s room hours into surgery to tell me, “The organ is in.” and the heroic willpower that kept me from replying, “That’s what she said.”

We’re not out of the tunnel yet. My sister has already had some complications and will be in ICU for several more days. Transplant recovery is long, especially for someone who has been so weakened by cancer treatments.

But for the first time in a long time, and I’ll deny it if you ever tell anyone I said this, I can almost believe that it might be sunshine at the end.

At this point though, I’d settle for a carrot.

Later!

selfie

One last pic before my laptop goes in the shop. It’s been dying a slow, painful death and it’s time to see if it can be salvaged. I’m leaving my future in the hands of the geek squad. Wish me luck! I’ll see you on the other side.

Fear

fear

This blog is almost four years old.

I started blogging to share my experiences in InWorldz. I’d left Second Life and I was enjoying  a new virtual world. I wasn’t afraid to blog, not even controversial topics.  I blogged because I loved writing. I blogged for me.

I don’t know what happened between then and now to make me so goddamn fragile. I mean, I know what’s happened in my world since then, and it’s a LOT. But in the rest of my life I’m strong and confident and don’t give a flying fuck if Joe Blow and Jane Insane don’t care for me. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and they’re not mine. I don’t lose sleep over this.

But I’ve stopped writing here, and if I’m honest with  myself (and I try to be honest with me above all others) it’s because I’m afraid. It’s fear that keeps me quiet.

It’d be easy to say that fear has no place in my decision making process but hey, some fears are legitimate and prevent Bad Things. My fear of spiders is a good, valid fear that keeps me from getting eaten by the little demons, just as my fear of basements keeps me from being consumed by the undead. No one could argue that these are irrational fears.

I’ve been trying to flesh out what it is that I fear so much about writing here. I don’t have a fear of someone disagreeing with  me. By all means, disagree! I’ve learned a lot from people who disagree with me, and since I have an open mind, sometimes I’ve even changed my thinking after hearing them out. There’s nothing to fear about a difference of opinion.

I don’t fear criticism. Real, genuine criticism is invaluable. Thoughtful feedback helps me; I’m not afraid of it.

I don’t fear comments, readers or discussion. I welcome those.

I hate to think of myself as common, but I think my fears are common ones. I fear being judged, and I fear being misunderstood. And I have no control over either of those.

In the grand scheme of things, this blog is very little. If you’re reading this, you’re part of a very small minority. Personal Blogs just aren’t all that. And one written by an anonymous avatar carries even less weight. So what am I afraid of?

Recently I posted a blog about a sensitive topic. I carefully expressed my personal opinion without attacking anyone and I thought I did a good job of qualifying it as my own personal opinion. To my surprise, my post provoked responses that twisted my words into things I never said or even insinuated. My post was misconstrued and my words were used out of context to turn them into something completely different. I was judged, and my words were misunderstood.

As dozens and dozens of comments were left here, I became furious. My first instinct was to fire back a scathing response and  explain my position with a few insults about manipulating my words to really drive it home.

But I didn’t; I resisted the temptation. I never responded here, nor on the several other blogs that took my words and used them in a way I never intended. I never once spoke again  about the topic. And the truth is, no one asked me to. It took me a while to realize it, but what was written in the comments and other blogs wasn’t about my opinion. It was someone else’s view of my opinion–through their own filters and perspective. It had nothing to do with me or even what I said.

Had I tried to explain my position further, they would’ve still picked on what they wanted to hear and not necessarily what I wanted to say.

I felt angry that I was misunderstood.

After more time, I realized that my feelings of anger and not wanting to be misunderstood were based in fear. I felt afraid that I was perceived as not smart enough, rational enough or  informed enough to present my own personal opinion.

Reflecting on my fears, I realized that being understood, to me,  means being appreciated or at least accepted. I wanted validation- and seeking validation is a dangerous path. The more you seek it, the harder it is to find.

I also know that that my feelings about being misunderstood came from wanting to control the way my opinion is perceived. I expected my readers to understand my words the way I conveyed them and not the way they perceived them. And this too can be a dangerous thing for a writer.

And so I shut down. I stopped sharing here, from fear of my words being misunderstood or misused again.

Shame on me.

I don’t blog for you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that you’re reading this, and I appreciate you. But I blog for me, because expressing myself in written words is the most natural thing in the world to me. I write because I need the release, and not because I need the validation.

It took me a while to remember that. I’m glad I did. I still have that fear of being misunderstood or judged, but the fear is smaller than the urge to write.

If you’re reading this, thank you. If you’re judging me, keep it to yourself.

One Flew East

One-Flew-East

It’s very rare that I can’t choose between two shots of the same scene. Usually the right angle or lighting is so obvious and just jumps out at me. Today I couldn’t choose between two angles, so I’m posting them both. I think I prefer this one. For now.

One Flew West

crownest

I’ve been reading Ken Kesey.

Human Nature

childs-pose

Ghosts of Past Lives

Ghosts-final-

This is a series of poses that Flowey and I collaborated on for Pose Fair. You can check them out yourself when Pose Fair opens on Friday!

PG Picture

Flowey-4

Happy to show off another of Flowey’s poses for Pose Fair. Every photographer should have a poser maker at their beck and call.

Allow Me to Retort

flowey-3

One of the best things about collaborating with Flutter on these Pose Fair poses is that she let me name them. The name really has nothing to do with the pose, it’s just one of my favorite quotes from Pulp Fiction. I say it all the time. And then I proceed to retort.

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