Three hundred sixty-five days. Oh, alright,... And a quarter.

365 days of laughter, of tears, of love, of friendships, of incredible conversations, of music, of art, of science, of dancing, of shopping, of hanging out, of exploring, of learning, of building, of scripting, and of blogging.

I have lived a full life sitting in my office chair.

Here's a toast to all my dear friends, to all my sweet lovers, to every soul that touched mine, to every creative spirit that made Second Life what it was in the past year and what it will be in the following years.

Here's to another 365 days (and a quarter) of laughter, of tears, of love, of friendships, of incredible conversations, of music, of art, of science, of dancing, of shopping, of hanging out, of exploring, of learning, of building, of scripting, of blogging, and whatever else I discover in this world.

I can honestly say, I have never truly lived until I lived in Second Life.

And isn't it ironic?

A sim called "Hell"

Yup, there is one. Nope, no fires. Just huge castles and green grass on a sim surrounded by water. And, to be honest, that's a little disappointing.

Why did I go there? Because I figured they'd be waiting for me.

... forgive us our sins ...

I need your vote!

No, no, I'm not running for president. I'd much rather be dictator-for-life in a virtual country with a population of one.... Oh, wait, I already am. ;)

Anyway, my picture "Looking into the Abyss" has been chosen as one of the finalists, out of 200 contest entries, for the front cover of a book "Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human" by Tom Boellstorff (SL: Tom Bukowski) to be released on April 2008.

It is currently on display in the Elektra Spark Gallery in the Cetus Gallery District (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Cetus/199/68/33), along with the other finalists. You might have to SLURL it again when you get there, because the gallery itself is far from the landing point.

Mine is the one of the blue mermaid, of course. :)

HOW TO VOTE: Simply send IM to Tom Bukowski or send email to tboellst@gmail.com, and say something like, "I vote for Opal Lei's 'Looking into the Abyss'." Be sure to send it before Sunday August 19, 2:30pm SLT. That's it!

Oh, btw, the next time you come by and visit my 512 sqm landlocked country in the northwestern corner of Aglia, check out my new mermaid business. Er, my virtual country's newest export. ;)

Keeping my psychoses

This is a response to some of Xiana's points in her comment to "Sunrise in Aglia". As she had mentioned in the past, she and I disagree on a lot of things. But, hey, we've disagreed since she was born. Still, I'm very proud of her writing and her thoughts. And I love her dearly and unconditionally.

Romantic love is always conditional -- "I will love you if you love only me." Only universal love can be truly unconditional -- "I love you no matter what." Universal love sets the other person free, if necessary. Universal love is not the same thing as martyrdom. Universal love does not sacrifice love of self in exchange for love of other, because universal love is love of all God's aspects, which includes the self as well as the other.

Breaking down barriers that someone puts up to protect their heart is disrespectful of their psychological boundaries. Better to entice the person out of their emotional forts by assuring them that it's safe to come out.

Trying to fix a broken man -- or a broken woman, for that matter -- is like teaching a frog to sing. You'll only waste your time and irritate the frog. First, true change and true healing can only come from within. Second, the other person might not even think they're "broken." They might think it's just who they are.

When I was winding down my therapy with a shrink after my divorce, my shrink said that I could still continue to visit and we could work on my other issues. My response was "No, thank you. I'd like to keep some of my psychoses. They make me an interesting person." ;D

An epiphany

I can be so dense sometimes. Some days, it takes me several minutes before I get someone's witty remark. In this case, it took me several hours. And it wasn't the remark that was so witty, but the delivery of the message was. In fact, the remark wasn't even the message.

You miss subtle things like that when you're busy. And it's only when your mind relaxes that it suddenly clicks. And -- boom! -- there you are, grinning to yourself like an idiot. And, it's even more embarrassing when you're grinning to yourself in public, like in the middle of a serious discussion over a late lunch with a friend.

And so you have to make an excuse about remembering a joke, but then they want to hear the joke, which puts you in a greater predicament because it wasn't really a joke. And besides, something witty doesn't really stand on its own outside the context it was originally delivered in.

I realize that lots of things probably go whoosh right over my head. Probably more so recently. But, hey, I eventually decode the smoke signals. :D

/me hums, "... is keeping all my secrets safe tonight ..."

Proximity by proxy

Lora sold a vanity to a man yesterday. And I wondered why a man would buy a vanity if not for a woman in his life. But he asked Lora for a copy/notransfer version of the cosmetics so that he could put them on a temp-rezzer. So, that meant that he wasn't planning to give the vanity to anyone, but he was installing it in his home for someone.

In SL, there is no such thing as community property, except for land deeded to a group. So, it's as though this man was saying to his sweetheart, "What's mine is yours." In essence, the home and everything in it belongs to both of them even though it might be just in his name. Kinda like some marriages in real life.

It's not so much the monetary value of the object. For something that costs a few US dollars, it's not worth fighting over who gets what in case they part ways. But what struck me was the symbolism of the gesture and how powerful that is.

I met couples who build homes together in SL because they could not in real life. I know a young military man who is deployed in Asia and who once bought a home in SL for himself and his sweetheart, who is in the US. I met a couple from the opposite coasts of Australia who live together in SL.

SL bridges the physical distance. It satisfies an emotional need for closeness, the same emotional need that prompts us to move in with a lover in real life and build a life together. Even though the house and the furnishings are virtual, it soothes the heart of the ache of the physical distance. The sense of closeness is still there. Proximity by proxy.

Sunrise in Aglia

I remember the first time I was aware of the sunrise in Second Life. I was only a few days old. I had purchased my land on the hillside in Aglia and I had just built my home over the Labor Day weekend. It was just after midnight SLT and I was about to log off, when my lover logged in. The sun was rising where he was, just as the sun was rising in SL.

It was an innocent time. A time when we were preoccupied with figuring out how to take a bed out of a box and how to position it. A time when my Friends List had only a few people. A time when SL seemed incredibly huge. A time when each day brought a sense of wonder and amazement in this new magical world. A time before Xcite. A time before sex balls. A time before heartbreaks.

As I approach the first anniversary of my rez day, I sit again by my pond and watch the sunrise and remember.

There was a time when going into people's virtual yards felt like trespassing. A time when I wondered what was down in the valley. A time when I was curious about the people who built these structures. Now that I know every piece of land in my sim, now that I know the layout of the valley like the back of my hand, Aglia feels small and crowded. The view of the valley has different meaning now.

Now that I know how to build, how to script, how to create animations, how to make clothes, how to create sculptie textures, -- now that I know how things work -- very few things amaze me anymore. And I wonder. Could I bring the magic back? Could I still experience that sense of wonder and amazement? Could I still see SL through the eyes of a newbie?

Blessed are the newbies, for they have a time full of magic and wonder and amazement ahead of them.