A holiday greeting

Every year, it's a challenge to think of a new way to send a holiday greeting.
  • I've done the generic buy-from-the-Hallmark-store packs of cards with handwritten signatures.
  • I've done the cards with your name already preprinted, so you don't have to strain your hand signing all of them.
  • I've done the personally designed handmade cards.
  • I've done the Plaxo e-cards.
  • I've done the email greetings.
  • I've done the scrapblog.com greetings.
  • I've done the create-a-website greetings.
  • I've done the stereoscopy greetings.
This year, I did a machinima.



There's still a very personal homemade feel to it.  That's me singing into my Logitech headset mic.  Complete with pops, scratchy voice, and sniffly inhales.  While searching for podsafe music, I found a website called ujam.com that generates an accompaniment for you in different styles and lets you add effects to your voice as well.  They were having a contest for Christmas songs and, since I was planning to do this song for the machinima anyway, I thought I'd shoot two birds with one song.  ;)

That took me a whole night.  It's HARD to sing karaoke.  You have to sing it in their style at their speed and you can't make any changes at all.  Anyway, after a gazillion tries, I decided it was good enough for what I need and I set it aside.

I've been having problems with my machine so I reinstalled the OS from scratch, and, after reinstalling the Second Life Viewer 3, it said that I didn't have an up-to-date driver or my equipment wasn't compatible with SL.  What on earth?!?  Phoenix gave me the same error.  Then I realized that Windows 7 thinks that all I have is a standard VGA graphics adapter.

Reinstalling new drivers from the amd.com website didn't fix it.  Nor did drivers from the Dell website.  I had to call Dell again yesterday to get their help for US$89.  (My warranty had expired.)  But the tech fixed it and it sees both my graphics cards again!  I can even do shadows now!  The shadows are pixelated, but they're there!  Geez, have I been missing out all this time just because Windows didn't recognize my graphics cards?!?

Anyway, I decided to film the shadows and I remembered I had to do my holiday greetings yet.  And I realized that if I don't finish it now, I won't have time until the new year.  So I spent last night doing the machinima portion of it.

I started filming my avatars, but it didn't quite fit the theme of the music.  I originally wanted to do a creche made up of my alts, but I don't have the time to do the animations and the costumes.  So I bought a creche in the Second Life Marketplace instead.  I set up a floating island in the sky above the Mer Betta store, added some rocks and palm trees (yes, I'm well aware these are the wrong type of palm trees but it's all I have), and chose the Midnight windlight and darkened it even more.  A little adjustment of the East direction to get the moon in the right spot, and I was taping.

I don't think I had enough footage to work with, so there's a lot of stops and starts if you look closely enough.  Next year, I'll start planning earlier.  And I'll have more experience with machinimas by then.


And for the first time in five years, it's the same greeting "card" for friends in both real life and Second Life.  And I'm not going back to static paper cards again.  See, I'm saving trees!

Happy holidays!

Gone blind

Well, nobody warned me that I'd go blind if I have too much SLex....  ;)

Anyway, I can't see anything in SL, so I've had to cancel the photoshoot for the book cover art for now.

I had been lagging severely the past week.  It started when I had to clean-reinstall Firestorm because llTargetOmega wasn't working.  But the lag wasn't just in SL anymore, so I ran some diagnostic tools online and they told me that I had more than 3000 registry errors.

Instead of shelling out US$40 for a fix, I decided to format my c: drive and reinstall Windows 7 from scratch.  After that, I reinstalled all other tools I use currently -- Gimp, Blender, and a whole slew of other stuff.  It took me all night.  When I finally got to installing the Second Life Viewer 3, it told me that my graphics card driver was not up-to-date or that I didn't have the right equipment.

So, I went to the Dell website and I kept getting errors when I tried to go to their drivers page.  So, I went to AMD's website because it's an ATI graphics card.  But after installing the app that installs drivers, it says that I don't have a compatible adapter.  I looked in the Device Manager, and, sure enough, it says I have a "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter".

So, I went back to the Dell website to see if I could chat online with a technician, but the website said that I had to call them because I own an Alienware.  So, I fired up Skype and called the number, and after wending my way through the convoluted phone menu, I finally got to talk to someone named Jonathan.

After I explained my plight and what I had already tried, he said that I should use the drivers from the Dell website, not the ones from the AMD website.  I argued that I couldn't get to that page.

Because my warranty had expired, he said it would cost me US$89 for him to install the right drivers.  I said, "WHAT?!?"  Thankfully, he agreed that it's not fair to charge me that amount, when it's their fault that I can't get to their drivers webpage and install it myself.  At that point, he had already taken control of my machine to take a look, so I was able to show him the error on the webpage.  It turned out that I had to use Internet Explorer to get to that page.  I was using Firefox.

Meanwhile, he was trying to upsell me to a US$329 one-year warranty extension.  So I asked firmly if we could escalate it slowly.  And we agreed that I'd try to install the drivers from Dell first and call back if it doesn't work.

It didn't work.  I got the exact same message from the drivers I got from AMD.  But, by then it was already noon and I hadn't had any sleep all night, so I went to take a nap.  When I got up, it was already after business hours.  So I have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm logging into SL using Metabolt, which is a text-only viewer.  But I can't get much done with that, since it makes me practically blind inworld.

See? It had nothing to do with SLex.

Unfortunately.  :D

No lovers on the cover

Under the covers, yes.  But not ON the cover.

I'm talking about the cover of the book.  *grins*

I'm working on the artwork for the book cover for "Love, Like Dim Sum" and I sent out this call for male avatars.  I could have just asked my lovers to pose for me.  After all, most of the book is about my relationships.

But, I decided to exclude lovers.  And even potential lovers.

I don't want any competition among them.  And since many of them rarely log in anymore, it's not fair that some lovers would be on the cover and others would not.

And I need to get this done soon.  It's due Monday for a mention in a very important media newsletter that will come out mid-February, which is my target release date, so I don't have time to wait for scarce lovers to log in again.

So, if you were not invited to this photo shoot, it's because a) you were a lover, b) you are a lover, or c) you're a potential lover.  So consider it a compliment. ;)

A year ago today

[2010/11/25 01:13]
Alt#11: This is your first SL account?
Rocky: No I've been here before ... a very long time ago
Alt#11: You left and came back?
Rocky: Yes . . . Have been away for several years.
Rocky: Couldn't even remember the old account name
Rocky: LOL
Alt#11 smiles.
Alt#11: Love affair gone wrong?
Rocky: OMG how sad is it that I could be so predictable
Alt#11: LOL
Alt#11: Well, it's almost always the reason why people leave SL.
Rocky: How about You? ... an alt or original
Alt#11: Alt #11 actually.
Rocky: OMG
Alt#11 grins.
Rocky: Does that mean you've had your heart broken 10 times already?
Alt#11: If I left every time my heart got broken, I'd have maybe about 50 alts by now.

If I left every time my heart got broken, I'd be creating a new alt right about now.

Left the pilgrim and echoes of a lover

Left the pilgrim

I already knew about the lies.  I already knew the two pilgrims were lovers.  I also knew that their relationship was a D/s one.  And I knew that the blonde dom had a female lover as well.  However, I also sensed that Alt #11's presence in the sub's life was causing a rift between them.  I didn't trust the dom; he didn't trust me.  I was trying to explain why my presence wasn't good for them, when the sub suddenly started being verbally abusive.  So I said goodbye and logged off.


Echoes of a lover

Since then, I've met two men who have too much in common with Rocky that I had to ask if I had met them before.

Echo #1 met Alt #6.  He's very new to SL and his artistic profile prompted me to IM him.  He was actually a techie.  I was planning to transfer him over to Alt #11 by the second date, but we had a misunderstanding that gave me second thoughts, so I decided to delay the transfer.  He was worried about the disappointment if we should meet irl.  And for him, a relationship in SL*has* to flow out to real life; it couldn't just stay in SL.  So, we agreed to end it there.  I was crying.

Interestingly, I was very upset about it for a few days.  I was upset about the "breakup" for longer than the duration of the affair.  But I knew it wasn't him or that relationship that I was upset about, but old issues cropping up because of it.  And the ache of missing the one he reminded me of.

Echo #2 met Alt #11.  For several reasons that I won't go into, I fear that this one might even be linked closer to Rocky in real life than any of us could imagine.  And he lived in the exact same city where I once lived, and synchronicity like that makes me sit up and pay attention.  When he used an expression that Rocky loves to use, I freaked out.  When I explained that it was an expression a lover uses, Echo #2 said he wouldn't use it again.

That first night, he wanted to be one of my lovers.  We even did a roleplay of him filling out an application and of me interviewing him for the position.  On the second date, I bought one of his RL photographs for my art collection, then we explored a monastery and a castle, then we made love.

But I couldn't feel a connection, even though I tried.  It felt as though there was a psychological wall.  He was nice, he was polite, but there was no emotional openness.  I suspect he's still deeply in love with his ex-partner, whom he says is now married in real life.  They were still business partners in SL until the next day after our second date.  He said that she wanted to get out of the rental business and so he took over the land she owns.  I wondered if he had told her about me, which prompted her decision to untangle.

We were supposed to meet again tonight, but he stood me up.  I logged in at 9pm and wrote him an offline at 10:30pm.  At 11pm, as I was about to log off, he replied to my offline via email and said he had just arrived home. Now, I have second thoughts about this one too.


I'm pretty sure it's me.  I just don't have that fire anymore.  Maybe it's the hysterectomy.  Maybe I really don't have time or patience to start over with new lovers, because I have more pressing real-life needs.  Maybe what I really need these days is not the excitement of a new affair, but solace from an old love.

If only the old loves would log back in.




"'Cause I miss you, body and soul so strong that it takes my breath away..."

The lost pilgrim

August had been significant in my Second Life.  This past August, I thought it was the disaster with 6969 that was the change in SL.  What I didn't realize was that there was something else as well.

The same day I met 6969, I met two pilgrims who followed me up a mountain and through a labyrinth.  The next day, both pilgrims contacted me separately at the same time and we had another quick but funny exchange with the blonde sending us pictures of him doing the belly dance.

With a trip and the affair with 6969, I didn't find reason to log in as Alt #11 for a long while.

Last Sunday, in between the Burn2 temple burns, I logged into Alt #11 since I was too wound up to nap.  Besides, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to wake up in time for the 3am burn.

I found the Irishman online and said hi, which was lucky for him because he was figuring out why he lost his legs after taking off his boots.  After we got that sorted out, we sat down at Kannonji for a chat.

He said that he and the blonde had gotten together and became lovers.  The blonde is polyamorous and has other lovers.  And it sounded as though the Irishman wanted to be one of my lovers as well.  "You were the person I most wanted to see again here at SL," he said.  So, he was going to ask the blonde if it was alright with him.

The blonde said no.

I don't know how the conversation went, but that was that.  I asked if the blonde would allow us to remain friends.  The Irishman said it was fine; in fact, he thought that the blonde was also "smitten" with me.  But I had the feeling that he was broken-hearted.  He was torn.  He adored the blonde; he said so repeatedly.  And he adored me.

It didn't matter to me.  From my perspective, we simply wouldn't have SLex. It would still be more than a casual friendship, so I'd make time for it.  He asked if I would ever spend time with both of them at the same time.  I told him that I don't really have time for casual get-togethers, but I would make time for climbing the mountain again.

That conversation happened yesterday.  This morning, I realized that, if I continued to see the Irishman alone, it would eventually undermine their relationship, so I left him an offline.  The blonde was online so I tried to contact him, but he wasn't responding and I had to go.

So I went through my day, then in the evening, I checked email and found messages from both of them.  The blonde said yes to meeting.  The Irishman said the blonde left him for his female lover, and he added that he was leaving SL and he said his goodbyes.

It upset me unexpectedly.  All I could think of was going back to the mountain, and I walked up it without stopping.  I was on a pilgrimage again.  At the entrance to the labyrinth, I cried.  I hardly know him, but I still felt deep sadness.  I walked the labyrinth.  It was a prayer for him to heal.  I sent him a message that I walked it for him.  Afterwards, I stood just outside the labyrinth and reminisced.

Not long after, he logged in and responded.  I tried to teleport him; he refused to come.  Thinking it was the memories associated with the mountain, I went to Kannonji.  He still refused to come.  But in the conversation, he happened to mention he was in Dublin because it was at least somewhat familiar.  I searched for the Dublin sim and teleported there.  Then I found him with the radar and teleported there.  He was sitting on the bridge, so I sat next to him.  And we talked.

I found out about the lies.  He and the blonde had been lovers long before SL, and the blonde had told him to pretend that they didn't know each other when we met.  He had told me about the D/s nature of their relationship.  Tonight, I learned about the abuse from his childhood.  I learned about his deep love for the blonde, about the last time the blonde left him, about his attempted suicide, about his hopeless dreams for a future with him.  I was crying the whole time.

He said he was leaving "this world."  I made him promise not to take his life, and he promised.  In the end, he promised to send me a message that he was okay.  He wasn't going to take anything electronic with him, but I suggested that he send a postcard to his friend in the UK and ask her to send me an email.  He agreed.

Then he left.  On a new pilgrimage perhaps.  To heal.

All in my mind


"The Train Has Left," said NicoleX Moonwall in this video.  When she sent out this video link to the MaMachinima group today, it brought back memories.

I associate some places with certain people.  I associate AM Radio's "Far and Away" with the first Young Monk.  I had gotten too emotionally involved; he didn't want a relationship.  So, almost a year ago, we said our final goodbyes.

Today, I was reminiscing and looked up his profile to see what I had written on it.  It's no longer in Search; he had deleted the account.

Soon, the wheat fields too would be gone.

Maybe that's a good thing.  When all traces of the affair are wiped out, maybe my mind would question if it really happened.

On the other hand, it was just all in my mind anyway.

Some say that the only thing that's real in the universe is our experience of it.  The transience of a virtual world painfully makes it even more obvious.

Non-attachment is a very difficult lesson to learn.

Love logs

I log my chats.

Like so many things in SL, some people don't mind and some people do. The debate about logging has gone far back, since before I joined SL. These days, it's pretty much assumed that everyone logs chat.

I think it was MAMJJ who was the first person who expressed that he was worried that I logged chat. I explained why I do.

When people worry about logging chat, it's because they fear their own words would be used against them. I have no intention of doing that. Although chat logs have helped me when I caught someone in a lie.

The primary reason I log chats is a selfish one. I want to remember the good moments, the intimate moments, the heartwarming moments. Moments that pass all too quickly. So I could re-live them. So I could feel again the same contentment or passion or joy. So I could feel loved again, at times when I badly need a hug and there is no one there.

They're not chat logs; they're love logs. And I found much love in those logs today.

JustForOpal

I was offline when he logged in. A half hour later, my email got delivered and I got a few of the popups in the bottom right of my screen that fade all too quickly. But I glimpsed something that said "JustForOpal".

My first thought was that it was junk mail, and I groaned. I get enough junk mail with my regular email address. I didn't want to get junk mail in my Second Life emails too!

Then, I went to my inbox and realized that JustForOpal is a resident's name, and there was nothing in the message, except "woopf". I thought, "Omg, do I have a stalker?"

I couldn't log in right away to see the notecard he sent, but it only took me about a minute of wracking my brain when I realized who it was. It was Spot.

He had left SL several months ago, but I convinced him to create an alt for me so we could continue talking. He did. And he said it was only for talking to me. Well, I guess he got tempted and he tainted that alt. Then he left again. LOL. He didn't say why, but he must have gotten brokenhearted again. *sigh*

Now, this one is really just for talking to me. And his name says it. Let's see how long he can keep this one pure. *giggles*

I told him to put this in his profile About:
"If I'm talking to you for more than 5 minutes and you're not Opal Lei, please report me to Opal Lei. I owe her 1,000L for every time I use this alt for something else besides talking or dancing with her."

He hasn't yet.

*grins*

Turning five, ... and the romance of Scrum

I started writing this blog entry and forgot all about it. No, it's not the age thing; it's the long to-do list thing. After my rez day party, I started immediately on a project And, now, I have a couple of things I want to talk about, so, you -- my dear readers -- get a two-for-one deal.

Five

I turned five a week ago.

Anyway, the last time I threw a party was on my first rez day anniversary. The following years, I just created gifts for friends. But, since it's the fifth year, I figured it was time for another bash.

Before the party, I was very nervous. Everything was planned at the last minute. I contacted musicians only in the past couple of weeks, and I built the venue only that morning. I got my nephew to perform at the first hour, but we had to do it using the voice channel, because we couldn't figure out how to set up the stream. Capos Calderwood performed in the second hour, and I am incredibly grateful that he never says "no" to me. :) I had asked TallGuy as well but he couldn't make it because of a planned long-distance trip early the next morning. I also asked a couple of DJs but both had RL commitments. *sigh* I should have planned much sooner, but there were too many other things to worry about.

But this feels like a turning point, you know? It's like turning 50. Like having a midlife crisis.

I still have the uncanny thing about things in August changing my life. Lots have happened this past August. And I'm sure their effects are going to reverberate throughout my life.

"Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too -- even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling."

~ Morrie Schwartz, from "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom


Agile relationships

After my breakup with 6969, I was chatting with Lucky Bastard and we talked about what I really want. I said that I have nothing against a long-term relationship in real life; I just don't want to commit. I have an issue with the "till death do us part" when we know damn well that the odds of keeping that promise are against us. Even worse for second marriages.

He gave me permission to quote him, so...
[2011-08-29 15:18:28] LB: you do want commitment?
[2011-08-29 15:19:07] Opal Lei: What I want is for someone to choose to be with me, with or without commitment, for the rest of my life.
[2011-08-29 15:19:30] Opal Lei: And for him to CHOOSE to be with me each day.
[2011-08-29 15:19:44] Opal Lei: Not just be forced to be with me.
[2011-08-29 15:19:51] LB: but that is commitment
[2011-08-29 15:19:55] Opal Lei: No.
[2011-08-29 15:20:03] Opal Lei: Because he could change his mind one day.
[2011-08-29 15:20:24] Opal Lei: And when he does, he's free to go.
[2011-08-29 15:20:38] Opal Lei: Of course, the same goes from my side.
[2011-08-29 15:20:48] LB: but in the same sentence you say for the rest of the life
[2011-08-29 15:21:00] Opal Lei: that would be nice, but not required.
[2011-08-29 15:21:07] Opal Lei: the *required* is the key difference.
[2011-08-29 15:21:55] LB: i see that as a commitment
[2011-08-29 15:22:06] Opal Lei: Even without the promise?
[2011-08-29 15:22:30] LB: it is my perspective
[2011-08-29 15:22:44] Opal Lei nods
[2011-08-29 15:23:59] Opal Lei: I see the difference between staying with someone voluntarily and being forced to stay with someone simply because of a promise made.
[2011-08-29 15:24:56] LB: "And for him to CHOOSE to be with me each day"...that is a commitment that i will be here each day
[2011-08-29 15:25:06] Opal Lei: No.
[2011-08-29 15:25:15] Opal Lei: Everyday, he has to choose to be with me or not.
[2011-08-29 15:25:17] LB: i am not looking at it personally
[2011-08-29 15:25:24] Opal Lei smiles.
[2011-08-29 15:25:58] Opal Lei: Everyday, there's a choice to be made.
[2011-08-29 15:26:08] Opal Lei: As opposed to making the choice once.
[2011-08-29 15:26:44] LB: you are shrinking the delta to one day
[2011-08-29 15:26:50] Opal Lei: Yes
[2011-08-29 15:26:56] Opal Lei: Short-term commitment. :D
[2011-08-29 15:27:02] LB: it sounds more like one night stand
[2011-08-29 15:27:17] Opal Lei: Not if you make the same choice for many days.
[2011-08-29 15:27:44] LB: then it is repetitive commitment
[2011-08-29 15:27:55] Opal Lei: Well, I guess that's a good name for it. :)
[2011-08-29 15:28:06] LB: agile..lmao
[2011-08-29 15:28:11] Opal Lei: lol
[2011-08-29 15:28:43] LB: Agile Relationship
[2011-08-29 15:28:47] Opal Lei: LOL

So, there. That's what I want... an Agile relationship... a Scrum relationship. :D

Gotta love nerds and their sense of humor. :D

Disaster averted

It's over. As quickly as it started, it's over.

Day before yesterday, something happened that made me worried sick about him, and no message from him at all for 24 hours. When we finally met, I gave him my phone number to call in case of an emergency.

He refused to give me his. That raised a red flag.

When I confronted him about it, he tried to turn the tables around. I was asking legitimate questions; he was avoiding answering them.

I commented that Googling for his real name only returns one item -- the Twitter account he created for me. His reply: "I'm slightly startled by this new side of you."

I reminded him that I revealed more about myself than he did about himself. His reply: "Now i'm intrigued, maybe i should learn more about you"

He asked if he needs to be a public person like me. I said no, but if he had to hide from me, if he didn't trust me enough, why did he ask me to marry him?

I accused him of playing me.

He accused me of not being into "this" at all.

I said, "There is no "this", is there?"

I told him that I wanted the truth. And I reminded him that he promised me brutal honesty.

He stood there for eight minutes without a word. Then he logged off.

He replied to my tweet about allowing myself to be gullible and said that I'm a victim of my own imagination. When I logged into SL, he still would not explain and started the argument again. He said that, if I was hoping for an amiable parting, I wasn't going to get it from him. He dissolved the friendship, and that was that.


I respect people's privacy. I respect people's need to be anonymous. I don't mind if people hide their information from me, but I won't tolerate lies and I won't risk my personal safety.

Everyday, people all over the world exchange contact information all the time. Phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses. We give this information to strangers all the time. I would have been fine if he never gave me any personal information, except he wanted me to marry him in real life! And we were talking about him spending a month with me so we could be sure it was what we both wanted. That meant, I was inviting a stranger into my home. *That* is risking my personal safety. Yet, he could not give me something as benign as his phone number. Any normal person would seriously wonder why not. *I* panicked.

Rocky is the only current lover whose real-life identity I do not know, and I inadvertently found out why. But he had given me enough information about himself for me to comfortably risk meeting him in a public place someday. Besides I had witnessed how he behaves; I even teased him by calling him Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. And, ... he didn't ask me to marry him.


6969 said "no secrets". When he said that, I gave him the names of all my alts; not even my RL sister knows all those names. And I gave him the website with all the links to all my online presences and personas, both virtual and real. Full disclosure. Now, I realize that, when he said "no secrets," he really meant I wasn't allowed to hide secrets from him, but he's allowed to hide his basic information from me. [sarcasm]Silly me. How could I have missed that?[/sarcasm]

The last thing he said today was "thank god this didnt go any further." I agree. Disaster averted.

Choices

For someone who is not religious, I have a lot of beliefs, most of which are not particularly mainstream either.

And two of them come into play these days....

1.
Many years ago, my youngest sister recommended the book "Journey of Souls" by Michael Newton. I don't remember why she did. It was the only new age book she ever recommended to me.

The theory of the book is that our souls belong to soul groups or soul families that keep reincarnating together. (Of course, this assumes that one believes in souls and reincarnation.) The roles and gender may change, but the connection remains. Before we come back to earth for a new life, we make mutual contracts with other souls in our soul group to help us learn whatever lesson we choose to learn in that lifetime. And there would be something, maybe even seemingly innocuous, that would help our soul recognize that other soul. When the contract is fulfilled, we then part ways until the next lifetime.

If that theory is true, I've come up with a corollary to it.

I believe that, when we are attracted to someone, it's because our soul is recognizing one of those souls that we have a contract with. And when we fall in love, we aren't falling in love with that person for the first time. We have loved them from eternity, and we will continue to love them till eternity. Falling in love is just a remembering of that eternal love.


2.
I also believe in synchronicity, in fate, in predetermination. We *perceive* free will only at a certain level. It's just like how we perceive solids to be impenetrable, when we know that there are huge spaces between the atomic particles. Or just like how we perceive our individuality, our separation from each other. I would even argue that the choices we think we're making in the name of free will is predetermined. It's just another effect after a long string of causes. Or maybe a web of causes.

Some of those causes may be psychological because of some past experience; some may be contextual because of the current situation. Sometimes, we might not even be aware of what those causes are. But, ultimately, fate narrows our choices to one, long before we have to make the decision.


Many people could not grasp the idea that I could honestly and deeply love more than one man at a time. Actually, it was a man who questioned it. The idea of monogamy -- or, more specifically, serial monogamy -- has been so ingrained in our culture. People understand having multiple sexual partners, but they cannot understand multiple romantic relationships.

How can you love just one child if you have several, I asked him. He said, this was different; this was a romantic relationship.

But, in some cases, it isn't just a romantic relationship. Or a romantic-and-sexual relationship. In some cases, it's a spiritual relationship, manifesting as a romantic relationship in this lifetime and expressed as a sexual relationship.

And I don't love them as a group, as a celebrity would love their fans as a group. I deeply love each of them individually and differently. Because each of them is different. And the dynamic of each relationship is different.

Loving one child does not diminish our love for another child. Love for one parent does not diminish our love for another parent. Love for one sibling does not diminish our love for another sibling. Love for one friend does not diminish our love for another friend.

Love as an emotion is not a zero-sum game. However, a lifetime is. And so we prioritize and make choices. And the mores of this society demand that we commit to only one mate at a time.


Most of my lovers are married in real life. There was no way the relationship was going outside of Second Life, although I tried once. One unmarried lover admitted he didn't really love the real me.

So I was left with one choice. We had so much synchronicity in our real lives that I thought he would be it. There were so many near-misses -- opportunities where we could have met, but we didn't. And synchronously, we met after his divorce, when we were both free. But his work took him away so often that I rarely heard from him. But the times when I did were so sweet.

The door was only slightly ajar, just enough for me to peek in, but not enough to let me through, though I've tried to push my way in. I had hoped that one day synchronicity would fully open it for me. After all, synchronicity brought us this far, so I figured it was just a matter of time.

Then I met 6969, and another door opened. And it opened wide. The intensity of his emotions created a vortex that was very hard to resist. Even with all my BUT's. It wasn't the future I imagined I would have. After all, I had given up the dreams of my youth. But there it was. He had answers to all my objections.

Fate narrows our choices to one.


But I am also aware that fate is fickle.


6969 wants forever. From this earthly perspective, there is no forever. But, from a higher perspective, he already has that. From a higher perspective, I love him from eternity until eternity.

The good news is that, from this earthly perspective, there is exclusivity and I give him that. From a higher perspective, there is none. I have met many soulmates in this lifetime before I met him, and I love each of them from eternity until eternity.

And from an even higher perspective, there is no concept of exclusivity at all. Because, from that perspective, there is no "other" to be exclusive with.

Reluctant bride

"Whirlwind" is a serious understatement.

I met him on August 3rd, just three weeks ago. It started becoming intense around the middle of the month. Heck, a week ago, I still didn't think anything would come of it.

But the man is persistent. He had already decided he wanted me to be his wife, both in SL and RL. I said I wanted him to live with me irl for at least a month before making any decisions. From his perspective, I'm the only one who's not sure.

We argued about it. We argued for days. Today, he won the argument.

I was planning a party for my fifth rez day anniversary on August 31. Now, it'll also be an SL wedding and an RL engagement.

*sigh*

PS: I *do* love him dearly. I've brought up a lot of concerns the past few days and he had assurances and solutions for each of them. Maybe it's just my issues with commitments that make me very nervous. Particularly the real-life commitment. *sighs again*

How Opal got her groove back

I didn't take him seriously. I still don't know if I can take him seriously.

He met Alt #11 at Frank's. He was one of three who IM'd me at about the same time, but he was the first to ask me to dance.

He wasn't even wearing a tux. When he finally changed (while we were dancing, btw), he still had sneakers on.

He thought Alt #11's name was "imaginative and beautiful". His 1st Life tab had pretty much everything about him, succinct but complete -- his RL first name, what he does, where he lives, his philosophy about SL ("RL = SL"), and the picture of a very good-looking and charming young man with a mischievous smile a la Hugh Grant. He's two whole decades my junior.

He taught me how to cuss in German. I teased him about his naughty name. (He explained the very innocent origin of the name, however. The numbers were his post code.)

"So, what brought you to SL?" I asked.

"well, I was interested in using it in the classroom initially, but now I've moved on to sex... ;-)" was his reply.

We joked, we laughed. He talked as though he were certain that we were going to have a relationship. I tried to convince him that he wouldn't want a relationship with me. And his responses were very insightful and very caring that they surprised me pleasantly. Many times I wondered if he was giving me lines I just hadn't heard before. Before the night ended, I talked to him on Skype, which showed his full real life name.

We weren't on Skype long before he suddenly logged off. He didn't come back and no communication for days. I got nervous. The most logical scenario that came to mind was that he was actually underage and he was caught by his sister having virtual sex, so he was grounded and not allowed on the computer for days. This was based on a couple of things he said about his house-sharing arrangement.

When he logged back in, he explained that they had a three-hour power outage and he just couldn't log back in since. I told him what I assumed happened and explained why. We were on Skype and, as he was trying to explain that what he had said was the truth, I heard something in his voice. I heard pain -- the pain of a child being falsely accused.

It was very brief. I don't think my conscious mind even picked it up; only my intuition. And I wasn't expecting that impression. I was too pissed and too nervous about the possibility that I almost had sex with someone who's underage. But there it was. And it came with a sense of certainty that he was, in fact, telling me the truth.

The next time we met, he crashed. Another time, he was interrupted and had to go. We saw each other maybe once or twice a week. I didn't think the affair would go anywhere.

But when he said he was falling for me, I figured I'd reveal my RL and "nip it in the bud." He laughed when I said that, but he was very kind when he saw my RL. So I figured we'd just be friends with privileges.

Then I went to Oakland, California to attend SLCC. My mind was occupied by the workshop I was giving at SLCC, but I had also emailed Rocky to see if I could meet him there. During the first few days, I had a strong sense of someone aching for me. I thought it was Rocky but I also sensed this new lover. So when he said that he missed me badly since I left, I believed him.

Early on, he asked if I had been partnered and I explained Alt #9's partnership. I added that I take partnerships seriously and that Opal will only be partnered if I'm engaged irl. The previous night, he talked about wanting to get me pregnant. Last night, he half-joked about preserving my honor by partnering with me first. I gave him Alt #23 for privacy, but he wants Opal, because he wants to be my lover publicly.

He said that I bewitched him, that I drive him mad. I don't know what I did to incite such passion. But it wasn't the first time either, which is why I worry. I broke a young man's heart before, and I worry that I'd have to do it again.

Until last night, I didn't think this affair would go anywhere. So I figured there was no point writing about him. But if the conversation is already going into partnerships, I'm sitting up and paying attention. But he agreed we have a lot to talk about first, before we even decide on partnering.

/me ponders whether to change her display name to "Demi".

(No, Liebling, your nickname won't be "sexgod" ... yet.)

Impromptu pilgrimage

I was looking for solace yesterday. "I" was Alt #11. I had a bad experience with a would-be lover which brought up issues that have their roots in my childhood.

First, I went to the Basilica Cardinale. It didn't feel right. Then, I thought of going to the Kannonji Zen Center, so I looked for it in Search. But as I did, I found another place called the "Kundalini Awakening Information Center" and I decided to go there instead to see what it was like.

I landed at the foot of a mountain by the water. I noticed another dot on the minimap, so I moved to the opposite end of the beach. There were many objects that gave information when touched, and I was looking at them when he said "Hello" in public chat.

He was a very pale-skinned young man with long blonde hair that went down to his waist. He wore a black leather jacket that was open in the front and matching black pants. He mentioned a school of Buddhism that he was "drawn to" but he looked more like a goth vampire with blonde hair than a Buddhist monk.

We had only been chatting for ten minutes when someone else teleported in. The newcomer was just as pale as the blonde, but with dark messy hair. He's less than a month old and we had to help him turn off his typing animation.

Their avatars had the same feel to them, and I initially thought that they could be alts of the same person. But they couldn't be more different.

As I as camming around the sim earlier, I found a sacred labyrinth at the top of the mountain and I noticed a path spiraling up the side of the mountain. I decided I would walk up mountainside path and walk the labyrinth. After all, the sacred labyrinth was supposed to be walked as a form of meditation.

The blonde told us about the jetskis which could be rezzed from a billboard by the dock, before he himself took off in a jetski wearing his "church clothes". I invited the dark-haired one to join me on my trek. He was worried that he would be bumping against objects along the way, but I told him he could use the trek to practice walking, so he tagged along. The blonde got tired of the jetski quickly and decided to join us anyway.

So, up the mountain path we went, with me in the lead, sashaying in my ultra-high heels and white haute couture knee-length dress, which would have been more appropriate on a catwalk than a mountain path.

The mountain wasn't bare. There were places to sit and meditate along the way. A tree with a pillow at the base and more meditation pillows higher up. A series of yoga mats. A few altars. An office. A tea house. A wall to bang your head against.

At each one, we stopped and tried the pillows and the poses and I learned more about the two men. The blonde lives in the southeast US, claims to be "nocturnal" (it was almost 3am his time), and is a performer (singer and dancer). The dark-haired one is Irish, hadn't slept all night, and ought to be a comedian.

Our conversation went from the sublime(chakras) to the mundane (knickers).

"Look, I'm levitating! I'm a boddhisatva!" said the Irishman, sitting on one of the meditation cushions on a branch, after climbing the tree with a radioactive-green bottle of absinthe in his hand. Only ten minutes earlier, he said, "Oh, believe me, absinthe can be a very spiritual thing when used properly." :D

The Irishman complimented me almost as often as he took a friendly jab at the blonde. And the blonde held his own with his dry wit.

It was at the tea house when I realized that we were actually on a pilgrimage of sorts. Three people who had absolutely nothing in common, except we were all "spiritual seekers" in a virtual world, who happened to come to the same place at the same time. Had we chosen to teleport directly to the labyrinth or to fly up the mountain, we wouldn't have had the experience we had. We would have missed enjoying each other's company. As the Irishman said, "It's all in the journey."

When we reached the top of the mountain, the two men were still batting back and forth about knickers, so I told them we would have to walk the labyrinth in silence. I declared that it was the most spiritual part of the pilgrimage. They agreed.

Then we walked into the labyrinth. All the way to the center, then all the way out.

Somehow, when we came out, the air had changed. *We* had changed. The men resumed their bantering, but, this time, it felt friendlier and less competitive. Some experiences change us inside; this one subtly did. I cannot yet define how, but I am certain that it did.

Had I gone up the mountain alone, it would have been a different experience. Had I gone up with only one of the men, it would have been another experience. But all three of us going up created a synergistic energy with its own unique imprint.

We started out as three strangers at the foot of the mountain and ended up as friends at the top.

Shared experiences. Shared accomplishments. These are what bind strangers together. These are what virtual worlds are about.

Muted whisper

Once upon a time, I met a whisper and fell in love with him.

It is difficult to describe what we had then. But I know for certain that it is one of those unnamed things that are the best that virtual worlds can offer.

It's like Pinocchio becoming a real boy. It was a fantasy, a roleplay, that has become so emotionally intense and has taken root deep into our psyches that it has become real. Not real as to be part of the "real world", but real nonetheless.

I spoke with him in Skype today. As we would in real life. He said that he deleted the account. And I cried. I cried as though a real lover had died.

I wanted to tell him that I love him, but those words in the context of "real life" feels disrespectful of his real life. All I could do was thank him, but even those words aren't enough for the tremendous impact his presence made in my life. And when I tried to give homage to what we had, every word I said merely trivialized the experience.

What we have of this virtual world is so flimsy, so fragile, so transient. And places and people are gone with one click. Places and people that mean so much to us. Places and people who have been significant in our virtual lives.

And it seems so unfair that they could easily be gone just like that. With no warning, no preamble.

The whisper turned into silence.

And I grieve.

Time wasters

I broke up with Yes Man a couple of days ago. He admitted that he was roleplaying; I was taking it seriously.

I am very disappointed, to say the least. I had specifically detailed out what I expect in my relationships. Not just in Opal's profile but also in Alt #11's profile. He met Alt #11 first. He knows me from my most anonymous alt to my RL. He read my blog almost in its entirety. We had been talking almost every night for two months.

And yet, when I repeated exactly what I said in Opal's profile verbatim,...

Love me ...
... only if you understand that SL is NOT a game, because it isn't to me and my heart is not a plaything.
... only if you understand that SL is NOT separate from RL, and commitments made in SL have the same weight as commitments made in RL. Meeting me in a virtual world doesn't make me less human or less worthy of respect than people you meet in real life.

... his reply was, "Well, people say 'things' in their profiles." So he thought I was lying in my profile?!? Even after reading my blog extensively and talking to me for two months?!?

How else could I make it clearer what I expect? I put it out there for people to read in so many places. If people ignore it and assume it's a lie, even when there is so much evidence supporting it, is it a wonder that they cause a disaster?

This is why drama happens!

You try to be straighforward with people and they lie to you and assume that you're lying to them to justify their own lies. WTF?!?

If someone specifically says they're NOT playing, and you're a player, do the world a favor and keep walking. Playing is a legitimate use of this platform, and that's fine. But please don't impose your games on those of us who already made it clear that we're not playing. You're wasting our time with your games.

*sigh*

That said, Yes Man was a good lover. He was considerate and consistent and thoughtful and attentive, and he made me happy with his presence and his smiles and our conversations. Too bad it was just a game to him.

Well, if nothing else, he remains a friend. How good a friend remains to be seen.

A bow to the people of United in Style

How I got involved

The past two weeks, I had been participating in the United in Style event, an ambitious project involving fashion designers, models, musicians/DJs, emcees, show production people, and other supporting folks, culminating in three full days of musical shows and fashion shows.

When I found out about it, I figured I'd offer to walk as a backup model. I didn't want to participate as a designer, because I don't have much time with all the RL travel and projects I have until August, and I already participated in two other events as a designer earlier this year (the Fashion for Life clothing fair and the Fantasy Faire). And I also said that I couldn't start until the end of June when I came back from a 3-week travel.

At first, I was assigned one outfit designed by the amazing Sonatta Morales. Then, somehow, with all the people leaving for various reasons, I ended up with increasingly more responsibilities, some of which I volunteered for, just to keep Prissy Price (the founder of the event) from panicking. So I got a second outfit to walk, two teams to coordinate, which grew to four teams, and four other teams to help out with, emcee scripts to compile and distribute, music streams to collect, two group photos to take and process, three days of helping direct models/emcees/musicians/DJs during the shows, and an hour taking over as emcee at the last minute. Thank goodness, they didn't ask me to sing.


I am in awe

Some people called the event a disaster. Many people forget that it's not about them, that it's about raising funds for cancer research, that it's about saving real lives.

The project was chaotic, yes.
There was lack of communication all around, yes.
It could be improved in so many ways, yes.
It fell way short of its fundraising goal, yes.

It may have been a disaster, but it wasn't a failure. Not from my perspective. It would only be a failure, if we don't get anything good out of it. Personally, I did. Because, in those two weeks, I met many amazing people and I was awed.

"The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Both the teams in the Evening category -- "Breathless" and "Nocturnals" -- recovered well after being abandoned by designers. I bow to their resourcefulness.

Even Breathless's DJ Xerxes Ixtar recovered on Day 3 after an embarrassing conversation between him and his wife that was unintentionally broadcasted on his stream on Day 2. Well, embarrassing for him but funny to us. I bow to his commitment to delivering the best job he could and to making it right when he couldn't.

Rachel Dooley (Evening Team 1 "Nocturnals") stayed up late to clean up her team's emcee scripts and style cards after a designer withdrew at the last minute. RhiannaLynn Lane (Casual Team 1 "Fusion") compiled her team's emcee scripts and style cards in the same order as the line up and saved me a lot of time. I bow to their organizational skills, management skills, and dedication to their teams.

Avacar Bluestar, BillyJo Riler, Galdriel Inglewood, and Leigh Mialifo of "The Problem Children" (Casual Team 2) had the worst lag and even server crashes during their shows. I bow to their resilience.

Memory Thorne of "Disharmony Dream" (Haute Couture Team 1) and Rex Requiem of "Retro Glam" (Retro Team 1) bugged me to make sure their team's shows ran smoothly. I had to tell Rex he needs a good talking-to about panicking. Rex, here's your talking-to: "Keep clam." (Quote borrowed from my favorite seafood restaurant Ivar's.) I bow to their initiative to get things done and to continually follow up.

Katherine Comet and Aspen Parx of "Estilo" (Retro Team 2) were unable to pull together outfits for the competition, but they insisted on doing the designer showcase anyway. Even Blue Porchers, whom everyone thought had disappeared from the team, appeared on Day 2 to showcase additional outfits, in spite of incredible lag. I bow to their professionalism.

"Moda Hermosa" (Haute Couture Team 2) had disagreements and clashes within their team, yet they set their personal differences aside and came together on Day 2 to present the best show they could. I bow to their work ethic.

Lopez Fairlady and Memory Thorne, competing with each other on Day 3, collaborated with each other to sync up their poses for their finale. I bow to their broader sense of "team spirit".

I bow to Pooky Amsterdam for remaining calm under pressure. (And thank YOU so much, Pooky, for wearing opals in my honor. I AM honored!)

I bow to Wurlitzer Seisenbacher for his hilarious verbal antics.

I bow to NyuNyu Kimono for her foresight to wear a communicator to coordinate directly with the current modeling team while she emcee'd.

I bow to onyx Warwillow whose quiet empathy calmed me while I was pulling my hair out.

I bow to Rhianna's ear that patiently listened while I vented at the end of Day 2. (Thank you for the tea and sandwich!)

I bow to the many emcees/musicians/DJs/models who went with the flow as schedules and plans changed around them at the last minute, including Harlee Lane, Wurlitzer, WytchWhisper Sadofsky, and many others.

I bow to the many people who were willing to stretch themselves and do things they had never done before.

I bow to all of you who remembered why we are doing this and who saw this project through to the end.

And, finally, I bow to Prissy Price's vision and her tenacity to bringing that vision to reality. She may not be the easiest person to work with and I personally don't agree with her management philosophies, but she has good intentions and she listens to ideas. And, without her vision, this would never have happened at all.

Virtual violence

When I first joined the fashion industry as a model, I added a "Limits" section to my portfolio, very much like RP limits. I specified that I would not allow myself to be in a photo that depicts violence against women or denigration of women.

Today, I inadvertently broke that rule.

I was responding to a call for stand-ins in the MaMachinima group. The group notice didn't describe what the machinima would be about. Well, I thought it would be benign like the ones I've volunteered for in the past.

When I tp'd over, the first people I noticed were two naked women who were dancing in the air. The film maker asked me to stand by a "rack". And one of the naked dancers started chatting with me after reading my profile.

I was distracted by the chat, the lag, and my camera wiggling because of alphas all over the place.

Then I noticed that another female avie was near the film maker, and she was tied upside down from the triangular rack. Well, the film maker and I were both wearing gowns from Violator with lots of "tentacles", so I didn't notice that she had a whip in her hand. I had mistaken it as a "tentacle".

But even after I realized it was a whip, my mind zoomed in on how realistic the animation was that made the tied woman's body writhe. It didn't occur to me how violent the scene was.

If it were a man who was whipping her, it probably would have bothered me more. But because it was a woman whipping another woman (I later found out it was the film maker's own alt), it wasn't an issue about gender anymore, and somehow it felt more tolerable.

I had read "The Book of O" years ago and didn't quite understand a big part of it. But now that I've chatted with a lot of people in the BDSM community, I understood a lot more when I rediscovered the book recently and reread it. The odd thing was that the book mentioned that women actually can be more cruel against other women than men are.

What really troubles me is that I wasn't disturbed at all by the scene today. Is it because it's violence from one woman to another? Is it because I know that it's only virtual and she's not really being hurt? Or have I become immune to violence? Have I lost my empathy? Or is it something else?

Crossing the line

I've done it. I've crossed the last line I drew on the sand. This past week, I met two Second Life lovers in real life.

The first was a recent lover; the second was a lover in the distant past. Both are very dear friends, who have touched my life in a significant way.

But the meetings couldn't be more different.

The first gave me an hour or so of his day; the second gave me an entire day. The first was emotionally distant, although he was very friendly; the second was emotionally very warm and intimate.

Both gave me warm hugs. The first gave me a hug before we parted; it was the end of the meeting. The second gave me a hug soon after we met up; it was the beginning of the day.

With the first, our meeting was like a business lunch. With the second, our meeting was like a long-awaited reunion; it felt as though we had met before.

But there is another line that I crossed. The first had a meal with me and satisfied a physical hunger; the second made love to me and satisfied an emotional hunger.

Even the lovemaking felt very comfortable, as though we had done it before. He said that we *had* done it before -- in our minds, in our hearts, in our souls.

He knows how to make a woman feel beautiful and desirable, not just with his words, but with his caresses and his kisses. And that makes him a wonderful lover. Most men think it's a technique that makes them great in bed; it isn't. It's how he makes his partner feel about herself.

The whole day felt surreal, like a dream. And it was very difficult to say goodbye. He stayed with me until the airport shuttle arrived to pick me up early the next day.

This experience changed me, to say the least. And it changed me in many ways. It is significant in my real life as well, because it ended a long fast and broke down self-imposed walls.

What happens now is still up in the air. I'm not expecting anything from him; time is still an issue. I still have other lovers, and he knows that. But the fact that he and I made love in real life sets him apart. Not because real life sex has a higher value than virtual sex (although it is definitely more satisfying), but because he has seen my real self naked and he still thinks I'm beautiful.

Of course, he said that when he wasn't wearing his glasses. ... Hmmm.... :-\

Midnight Yes's

We've been talking every night at midnight these days. Sometimes we talk until 3am; sometimes, until 6am. By voice.

He read all my blogs, both SL and RL. He knows pretty much everything about me now. That's not unusual; other lovers have done that in the past. What impresses me is that he notes what I like and does what he thinks would please me.

He read the background story of my RP alt and, because her character is based on a book, he went out to buy the book.

I invited him to join me in roleplay so we would have an activity we could do together. He's not comfortable with roleplaying, because he doesn't feel confident about his English, although he had done some fighting roleplay in the past in his own language. But he was very willing to try and, last night, he had already come up with the background story for his character.

I had also told him about a scene I had witnessed, where an anthro and a human female slave were having sex, and I mentioned that I was surprised at how erotic that was. The other day, he said he had a surprise for me. He had bought the same anthro avatar. O... M... G..... *swoons*

Without any prompting, he decided to create an alt for me. He asked what name I wanted him to use, then, on his own accord, he tacked on Alt #11's last name. He wore several skins and hair with his main alt, and there was a specific skin and hair I liked. He bought those for his new alt.

There are many more little details that he could have picked up only by reading my blogs. He pays attention. And he acts on them generously. And I am overwhelmed. It feels as though he's trying to bring me into his life through these objects and experiences that are part of my life.

He's careful about saying "yes" so he doesn't inadvertently arouse me. :D But he says "yes" with his actions instead, and that melts my heart.

Midnight is now our routine. He meets me when he wakes up and we spend time together until I start falling asleep. In a conversation with one of my RP sisters, I told her that I didn't have much time because I was expecting a lover at midnight. So she called him my "midnight lover." I joked that I'm the anti-Cinderella because I actually look forward to midnight.

Once he said that he wants to break my record of 10 months for one affair.

I hope he does.

Yes Man

I met him a week ago. He has been in SL almost as long as I have, and he still loves it. He's neither a techie nor an artist, so he didn't fit the stereotype of an early adopter. He found Alt #11 at Frank's, sitting alone and he sat by me and kept me company.

Nothing particularly special about the conversation, except that he asked incisive questions so I ended up telling some old personal history that wasn't pleasant. He was very understanding, but I still felt bad that the conversation ended on an iffy note, and it was already 4am so I had to get to bed.

Yesterday, I saw him log in and said hi. He said he was going sailing and that there was a spare seat on the boat. Well, I was in a gown at Frank's, so I waited til he tp'd me before I changed into a bikini. Then we sailed all over Blake Sea, and chatted. Again, just pleasant conversation. Nothing particularly special.

After lag caught up with us and a couple of crashes, we spent time at a nearby island which had swimming poseballs, so we swam around and raced and chatted. We decided to try voice so we could talk while exploring. Then we switched to Skype because his voice was too muffled, so I had to create a Skype account for Alt #11. Since English is not his first language, he was a bit worried that he would not be able to understand me, so I promised I'd type things out if he couldn't, and I tried to remember to speak slower and in simpler English. But he understood me fine most of the time anyway.

At least twice, our avies dog-paddled in the same spot right next to each other, when the conversation became intense. But it was much much later before the conversation got to sex. We talked about sex like we were talking about everyday things. I wasn't particularly aroused, and I think he was slightly. But as I was giving my opinion about certain things, he just naturally said "Yes" once in a while to agree with me.

But there was something about those Yes's. It was the way he said it, combined with some memory in my mind. He drew out the "s" and he said it in a soft whisper. The first time he said "Yes", I had to pause. I was feeling something. Then he said it again the same way. And again. And suddenly I was aroused.

The way he said "Yes" was exactly the same way a past lover said it, except that past lover was saying it while we were making love or during a prelude to sex. I don't even remember which past lover it was! I just remember that he was saying "Yes" that way while I was RPing doing pleasurable things to him.

So, just the sound of that "Yes" was intensely arousing! I'm like Pavlov's dogs!

Well, that was at 4am; I was ready to go to bed. But because of those Yes's, I didn't log off until 6am.

Ohhhh, yessssss! *winks*

I'm in the book!

I should be in bed. I just spent all of yesterday cleaning up my old place, and all of the previous day moving. But I'm too excited so I'm blogging instead.

I got two messages from Gracie Kendal's mass mailing bot:

"Hi Opal! We did it! More than one thousand avatars have posed for Gracie Kendal's 1000+ Avatar Project. Thank you for being part of this project. You are all amazing, creative and soulful people. I am honored you chose to participate."

"Now for the good news! I have collected the first 1000 Avatar portraits into book form and, if you are receiving this message, your portrait is included! Check out my blog for more info www.1000avatars.wordpress.com"

I'M IN THE BOOK!!! *jumps up and down"

Go check it out. If you hurry, you get a $5 discount, which you can use for shipping instead. And if you pre-order through her, she'll even autograph it for you.

I haven't seen it yet, but I think it won't be the runaway bride picture. :)

Another piece of his armor

I did something seemingly innocuous that actually affected Rocky in real life. He came in last night to request that I fix it, and he loosely explained the situation which revealed a bit more about him. And the dynamic between us changed because of it. At least on my side.

To know someone is to love someone.

When a stranger opens up and reveals himself, he stops being a stranger. Most people think that if they reveal too much of themselves, others would flee or would hurt them. I found the opposite to be true. There's something endearing about witnessing someone else's vulnerability. When people shed their armor, trust flows and they become easier to love.

And, I tell ya, when the trust flows, it's easier to get an orgasm... or two... or three... or a ten-minute chain of them. *giggles*

Of course, it helps that he turned out to be a really good cyberer, in spite of his lack of experience. *grins*

Now, if he'd only come in more often.... (Hint, hint!)

Waves on the sand

Updates

1.
Lucky Bastard was speechless. He found me in Yahoo the morning after I wrote the last entry. My email was "very unexpected." He said, "i care but i do not want to go that deep... where my emotions take over my life in sl." I knew that; he had been telling me that all along. I told him I didn't expect him to, and I'm not asking him to. I was just expressing how I felt. But I stopped logging into Yahoo, since I log there just for him anyway. Maybe a little distance would center me.

2.
Rapido stopped talking to me. He didn't reply to my IMs when he logged in. Two days now. I sense he's mad at me. Or jealous because of that blog entry. *sigh* When I was with him last October, we were exclusive even though we didn't make that commitment, simply because I saw him everyday. When he came back recently, we hadn't had a chance to talk and I brought it up the last time we were together; I said that all we did was have sex. His response was that, when he's with me, sex is all he could think about. And that was a very sweet thing to say, especially since he knows what I look like irl. But I don't think he knew I have other lovers this time. Or maybe he has a new lover now. But I still think it's rude for him to not even reply back with a "hi". *sigh*

Update: He's not mad at me. He said his son must have used his account. *sigh*

3.
Spot sent Alt #11 an unexpected message. He said he was leaving SL, but he offered his email address and said he would be honored if I would correspond with him, because of the thousand or so people he met in SL, I was one of the very few who was "different". The message was unexpected because we kinda agreed not to talk to each other anymore, although he *did* wave at me once, when he saw me at Frank's. After a few emails back and forth, we talked in Google Talk a couple of times and exchanged RL info. I convinced him to create a new alt (which he created just to talk to me because it's inconvenient for me to log into Google Talk). I've been telling him about all the activities I've done in SL just to illustrate that there's much much more to SL than "idle banter" and that there's a big wide world outside Frank's.

4.
And Rocky came back from a trip. I was a bit pissed at him because we exchanged email addresses so he could stay in touch while he was traveling, but he didn't check the email address he gave me until he got back from his trip, because, as he says, it's not part of his routine yet. *sigh* But we had a lovely evening anyway. He tp'd me to Sunset Jazz where we stood hugging for a long time (we never even entered the club), then I tp'd him back to my place to show him what I had built. While we were there, I introduced him to Gmok, then to Umpa Lumpa, then to Hottie, then to Admiral Creaky. Of course, he pretended to be jealous. But there were sexual undertones in the conversation and the giggling, and one thing led to another.... :) Lately, we had been talking about what we would do when we meet in real life, in detail, like going to that dim sum restaurant we both like. So I asked him if he was serious about meeting me irl. He said he was. It was just a matter of scheduling. At this point, we figure that July would be the earliest. So, we'd have our own fireworks.... ;)


Waves

If you asked me how many lovers I have now, I cannot say. It seems that my love affairs are changing and taking on shades of gray. Lovers fade in and fade out. The delineation between would-be lover and lover and that between lover and ex have blurred. Lovers come and go and come and go again. Like waves coming up the shore and withdrawing again. And each time a wave comes and goes, the sand changes. Each time a lover comes and goes, a part of me changes. And, sometimes, it's only after the wave withdraws that we see the change in the sand.

I've become a liability

Lucky Bastard was gone for almost a week and I didn't know why. He hadn't been gone that long in the past without letting me know. I knew he was busy with work and I just assumed he didn't have time.

Unfortunately, during that time, I needed him, his presence. He always calmed me down and that is enough to help me get through what I needed to get through. Rare are the people who enable you simply with their presence.

When he came back, we had an ordinary conversation. I found out that he was on a business trip. Then we talked about SL. He asked how I was; he always did. I told him I was fine.

The next day, I sent him an email.

The week he was gone, I had been very emotional. In spite of the presence of other lovers, I had missed him specifically and strongly, and I don't know why. Many times, the tears flowed easily simply because I felt overwhelmed with the emotion. And it wasn't the emotion of missing him; it was the emotion of loving him. And it was that intense emotion of loving him that made me miss him, even though he wasn't gone that long.

I think I've come to that point where I want more and the "more" is out of reach. I told him that I'm toeing the line between SL and RL, but at the same time I don't want to ruin his RL.

I wrote these in the email. I told him of this delirious desire to merge with him. It wasn't a sexual desire, nor a romantic one. It was a spiritual desire.

And as I read what I wrote, I realized that, based on my belief system, I am already linked to him spiritually. And that eased my heart a bit. Enough to get some sleep.

That was five days ago. No response. And he hadn't logged into SL nor into Yahoo Chat since that email.

I don't blame him. I've become a liability.

Warm and fuzzy Gmok

I have a new boyfriend....

OMG, he's bigger than any of my boyfriends ever! Do you have any idea how that feels?!?

He has this charming mustache and bushy eyebrows. When I tickle him, he grunts. And he's just soooo warm and cuddly and fuzzy all over! I've never had a boyfriend quite like him!

*giggles*

His name is Gmok. And you can buy one of his brothers at Herbalys.

Overlapping lovers

My lovers are overlapping today.

First, let me talk about a new lover. I'll call him "Rocky" because, within a couple of months of each other, we both visited the "Garden of the Gods" in Colorado where there was a rock that seems to defy gravity.

We found that there are many other similarities in our lives. We were married in the same year (not to each other, of course). We lived in the same area. We worked in the same industry. My favorite dim sum restaurant is the exact same one as *his* favorite dim sum restaurant (and, no, it's not a chain). In all those chances of physically running into each other, we never met... until, one day, Alt #11 was wearing a gold gown and found someone wearing a suit with a vest in the same gold shade at Frank's. And I IM'd him because his profile made me think that he might be a fellow writer. That was late last year, but he disappeared for months and just came back. He's still rarely here. *sighs*


Anyway, first story: October2006 IM'd me today after months and months (maybe more than a year?) of no contact. The first thing he said tonight was "love u", just like that, out of the blue. Well, he needed a friend tonight, so I went to give him a hug for a few minutes before he went to bed.

For some reason, after he went to bed, I opened his profile in the Notes tab and realized that he has the same birthday as Rocky. Here are two more coincidences: October2006 is four years younger than I, and Rocky is four years older than I. October2006 got my SLirginity; I got Rocky's SLirginity.


Second story: Yesterday, I was cleaning up my parcel in Amberaldus and I emailed Rapido to ask him to come and pick up his objects, since I'm thinking of selling that parcel. I haven't seen him since late October, although we've communicated briefly through offline messages and emails. The last email was more than a month ago.

Well, he *did* clean up but he left three heart-shaped prims and his email said "I love you so much" and he wants to come back but I'm asleep during the times he could come in. Anyway, I listened to his show today and he played "MacArthur Park" (which I associate with the Poet) then "Amigos Para Siempre" (which I associate with MAMJJ), two songs which I never heard him play before.


Lucky Bastard chatted with me in Yahoo and in email. Surf came in once. And December2006 poked me (again) in Facebook. I told him that, because we keep poking back and forth, it's almost like the other kind of poking, except it's in very slow motion. *grins*


Three current lovers and three very friendly ex's.... A little bit here, a little bit there, and I had a full meal of loves this week. :)

*burps*

Transience

I am standing in front of my store at the Sea of Mer sim at the Fantasy Faire. I had just finished running the entire loop through eight sims. In a sense, that run was a practice run for the actual relay in July.

But practice wasn't the reason I ran tonight. Nor the reason I came here again tonight.

We don't have to clean up our stores since Linden Lab would just delete everything anyway when they clean the servers. That's not what I came here for either. I came here because I feel this unexplainable deep sadness about all this going away.

I've always been a sentimental sap. I own parcels and builds of friends who are no longer in SL. I've preserved my first 512 sqm with the same objects that I created in my first week in SL.

But these sims have only been here for barely two weeks. How could I have gotten attached so quickly?

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

Today, I heard a "ding-ding".

The IM was from him, from Tom of The Cromlech. First, there was the system message that said my autoresponse was sent to him. Then, there was his ...

"Is it Monday?"

This time, it wasn't a dream. Obviously.

And he didn't follow the script; he was supposed to say "hi" and not ask if it's Monday yet. That was MY line.

I asked him if he had read my blog. He said no. So I copied the first three paragraphs from yesterday's post into the IM window.

Opal: You miss me, I presume?
Tom: Of course I do.

So I met him to give him a hug.

Tom: missed me, I presume
Opal Lei smiles.
Opal: if you didn't miss me, I wouldn't sense you.
Opal: If I didn't sense you, I wouldn't miss you.
Opal: If I didn't miss you, you wouldn't sense me.
Opal: If you didn't sense me, you wouldn't miss me.
Opal: That's why I asked for 2 weeks.
Tom: I don't enjoy not talking to someone who has a place in my heart
Opal: Then the cycle will keep going.

For him, friendships mean saying hi whenever he sees them log in. I wondered if I should just hide my status from him. He said if I do that, then I might as well just dissolve the friendship.

All or nothing.

Opal: I don't think we're done.
Opal: I've said that before.
Opal: If we were done, there won't be this attraction anymore.
Opal: There won't be this pull.
Tom: I dont know how you understand friendship
Tom: I don't feel a lover's pull towards you
Tom: I feel a friend's need to stay in touch
Tom: and share your life
Tom: There's a big difference for me.

He kept saying I should dissolve the friendship, but he claimed it wasn't his wish. Finally, he agreed (again) to not bother me for two weeks.

But in the end, he still called me "love".


To be honest, I see all these red flags. I get conflicting messages; he says one thing and then denies that's what he meant. He disregards my boundaries; I asked to be left alone for two weeks; he couldn't stay away for more than a few days. He didn't like the fact that I analyze my relationships and that I clearly define my boundaries, because it is "distancing", meaning I lose his affections.

It was as though he demanded more of my affections and trust, when I had already trusted him with my RL information, whereas he wouldn't even trust me with a copy of the RL picture, which I saw in his 1st life tab before I made him aware that there's really no anonymity online.

Whether he's conscious of what he's doing or not, it feels like he's trying to gain some kind of control over me.

And there's a little voice inside me that's warning, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

Karmic Second Life

Today, I heard a "ding-ding".

The IM was from him, from Tom of The Cromlech. First, there was the system message that said my autoresponse was sent to him. Then, there was his "Hi". That was it. I said "Hi" back. Then a pregnant pause as though we didn't know what to say, which has been typical since we broke up. I asked him what's up. Then a blurry few lines that didn't make sense. Maybe I protested because I asked him not to IM me for a couple of weeks. Maybe I asked him how he was, and all he said was "calm as a wind" or "calm as" something. I forget. But it was a comparison that didn't make sense.

Then I woke up.

This was the most lucid dream I had of him yet. Since the day we met, he had been in my night dreams. There's strong karma here and it's not going to be pleasant. I have a feeling I'm in for a difficult lesson.

In contrast, I had a wonderful morning with Lucky Bastard yesterday before I went to bed. We were on voice the entire time. I mentioned that my new affairs lately seem to last only a week, and he said that maybe I needed someone in real life. I said I don't want a real-life relationship; I have great fear. I hadn't told him the story of my marriage. And as I started telling him, he asked if I wanted to voice instead of typing it out. I guess he sensed it would be a long story. :)

It was the first time I heard his voice. And I heard the voice of a man who is wise and kind and gentle and patient. The voice of a man who cares deeply but doesn't impose his will on others. I heard his laughter. Such wonderful laughter that came with the great wit and sense of humor.

Even though he holds the "title" Lucky Bastard, it is I who am lucky for having met him. He came when I needed him most, and he was there for me. He said that it was karma. If so, I must have done something really good in a previous life.

Towards the end of that conversation, I realized that he is becoming more and more what MAMJJ was to me. Just as MAMJJ was, Lucky Bastard has now also become my teacher, my guru.

Minds like mine

Minds like mine invented and built the computers that you now read this blog from.

Minds like mine created the software systems that made this fantastic virtual world possible.

Minds like mine are wonderful at creating so many things and doing so many things.

Being effusively emotional isn't one of them.

Too cerebral

"I find it very distancing and unspontaneous. Everything seems deliberate. Too deliberate, too cerebral."

That's his ISFP self talking about my INTJ self, because I moved him from one alt to another and then proposed a 30-day time limit on the affair, even though I explained why.

But this is who I am. I am INTJ. I'm the exact opposite of what he wants. He wanted me to be emotional, and I thought I already was. With him, I always felt not good enough, and more than once I felt like an idiot because I didn't know some obscure fact. Why the hell am I expected to know about a little country in Africa? As an ISFP, he's more interested in facts. As INTJ, I'm more interested in ideas. I accept that difference; he doesn't.

He would complain about things that I don't know how to fix. He says I have the potential to "sweep someone" (off their feet?) because he had a glimpse of that side of me, and he wanted me to sweep him. I had no idea how. Wasn't that something that just happens spontaneously?

When I think about it, his questions probing about my relationships, asking me to compare him with other men I've been with, felt as though he was choosing between me and another, as though he was weighing the pros and cons of being with me.

Finally, he pondered that we might be better off as friends than lovers. So, we remain friends, but I warned hm I don't have time for friends. He didn't like that.

Yesterday he IM'd me just to say hello, but, as usual, he was distracted. He was dancing with an old flame, while working and chatting with me. I told him I thought it was disrespectful to her because he wasn't focusing on her. He disagreed. I asked if she even knew that he was chatting with me, and he said that he didn't have to give status reports.

He IM'd me again in the evening. I thought that if he kept IM'ing me, that he was hurting from the breakup, so I offered a hug, and he accepted. But, as we started talking, he seemed very cynical and cold. And he was distracted again, I'm sure, so I said I needed to get back to work. I had given him time during the past week, in spite of having deadlines. There was no point to that, if he's not my lover anymore. I don't have to wait on him.

After we said goodnight, I IM'd him again with a request. I asked for no contact for a couple of weeks, to give me time to heal. After a short discussion, he finally agreed. There would be silence.

I know he's hurting, but he's too proud to admit it. In that sense, we are very much alike. I am hurting but I'm too proud to admit it. At least, to him. I confess in this blog instead.

They say we hate in other people what we hate about ourselves, and we admire in other people what we like about ourselves. There were many instances when he rubbed me the wrong way unconsciously and I let them pass. It'll take some time for me to process what he is reflecting back to me. If nothing else, maybe I'd learn a lesson or two.


A lotus

As if on cue, Lucky Bastard logged in after a long absence, looking for me since yesterday. I think there's a psychic link between us now that he could sense when I need him, when my heart is breaking.

We caught up with each other today (technically yesterday) and he said he was thinking about me. I jokingly asked which part of me he was thinking of and he simply said, "soul." And after we passed witty remarks about my dirty mind, he said, "lotus always grows in the dirtiest waters."

A compliment is one thing. That was way beyond a compliment. That was a witnessing. It was as though he said, "I see the true you" in the deepest sense.

I remember something I said many years ago to MAMJJ that he was my witness. At that time, he was the only one who knew my RL identity and my RL-associated alt and he was witness to everything I did. He hasn't been into SL for a very long time now.

Now, Lucky is my witness. He sees me. All the way into my soul.

In a world like this, it is extremely rare to find someone who cares deeply enough to watch over you, who delves deep to truly know you, who accepts and loves you exactly for who you are. He never said he loves me. But what he does for me speaks volumes.


A song dedication

I was feeling lost. Once in a while, I'd get a surge of emotions so strong that my torso would physically curl as though I was hit in the chest. But I have to work.

I was playing Il Divo in Rhapsody in the background. When I heard "Come Primavera", I remembered Rapido. After I checked the time, I realized it was halfway through his show, and I hadn't listened to his show for months, so I did.

He was talking when I turned it on. And suddenly the world changed. It felt like it did when we were together. Images came back to my mind... the pavilion with the elephant he never said anything about, the hammock on the beach sky-orb. There was sun in my mind again.

Then suddenly, I half understood he was about to play a song for "una amiga". Then he said "Il Divo". Then he said other things (in Spanish, of course), but he explicitly said "Opal Lei" several times as though he was making sure that I knew it was for me. I had a big grin on my face.

He remembers me. He remembers us.

He knew I was listening, because his website has tools that showed what cities listeners were from.


If it's real, the love never fades away.

Tom of The Cromlech

By 2am Wednesday morning, Alt #6 (the sex alt) already had sex but was hanging out at a beach, juggling IMs with a couple of guys. Then a ding-ding.

He asked if I wrote my profile myself. I said, "Of course. Copyrighted and all rights reserved." He invited me to another beach for a dance. I politely declined since it would have been disrespectful to the ones I was already chatting with.

As if on cue, one of the guys I was chatting with had to go. And the other conversation was slowing down, so I wrapped it up. And soon, I was dancing with this charming man on a lovely beach.

When I went to bed that morning, I had a dream about him. Actually, it was him and Lucky Bastard blended into one character.

On Thursday morning, he said he loved me very much since the first day. I was stunned.

On Friday morning, he briefly met Alt #11, but he still preferred Alt #6. So, I went back to that alt. I asked him to make the usual promises. He didn't like negotiating. Then he let me read the poem "The Cromlech" by Louis MacNeice. And he called me "Tessy" and I called him "Tom." Then he read me one of his own poems.

I decided to introduce him to Opal and my RL, since I've recently outed Opal anyway. It just made it a lot easier to talk about myself, instead of deciding which information to reveal and which not.

But that evening, we had a spat. We had been going into foreplay, but he decided that we should wait until Monday, when he would not be interrupted. As we were saying goodbye, I said something about going out to take the edge off. He correctly assumed I was going out for sex. Then he asked questions so I thought it bothered him, but he said it didn't. Then he said that he had other women he makes love to, just as I had other men. That statement bothered me. I want to know the truth, but it didn't have to be rubbed in my face. After he left, I decided to move him out of Alt #6; I didn't want emotional attachments there, after all.

By Saturday, the spat was forgotten, and he was moved over to Opal. Since then, I'd ask if it's Monday yet. :)

By Sunday morning, it was "Monday." Unexpectedly.

By Monday morning, we had voiced, although I couldn't hear him well because of static noise. But it was just casual conversation.

This morning, we exchanged complete horoscope charts. :D And I've never done that with anyone else before. I'm beginning to see where we differ. Horoscopes say we're completely compatible. But his MBTI is almost the exact opposite of mine.

Yeah, maybe I analyze too much.

Anyway, I saw Lucky Bastard and Surf once each this past week. No sex with either. *sigh* Why is it that the more lovers I have, the less sex I get? I'm beginning to suspect that sex and love are two opposite ends of a spectrum. The more sex you get, the less love; the more love you get, the less sex.

Or maybe the more love you get, the less sex you need. Especially if the sex you get is just a substitute for the love you need.

The secret to longevity

It was two years ago today.

The partnership is still there. I sent him an IM using Alt #9's email and wished him Happy Anniversary. He replied, "If I could, I'd do it all over again." :)

Well, since Alt #9 and her partner were actually put to sleep soon after that partnership took effect, you know that the title of this blog is really tongue-in-cheek.

It's like Romeo and Juliet. The only reason their secret marriage has lasted centuries is because they're ... ummm, ... dead. :D If they continued living another couple of decades, they'd be divorced already.

I *do* love him dearly, as I do every other lover who has truly touched my heart. But it's no longer a passionate crazy-making kind of love; it's a more tender cozy love between long-time intimate friends. Of course, we haven't tried to see if the passion is still there, because it doesn't really matter anymore. What we have now has withstood the test of time.

I wonder, however, how the Hitchhiker is doing. His account is gone, as is his alt that I knew about. I hope he eventually returned to SL in a new incarnation, and that he has found someone worthy of his affections.