Happy holidays!

I just finished my holiday greeting machinima! Barely in time.


I wish I could have done a lot of details better. But, because of time constraints, this is it. :D

Doing machinima is not the same as taking photos. It's a LOT more work. Even so, I still hope to do a lot more of it after I finish the 365 project.

Enjoy!

Sweet little porcupine

Alt #6 met someone on Sunday. Actually, I'm meeting a lot of people lately. But this one wanted to meet again that he actually scheduled the second meeting, which was last night.

He said he wanted to get to know me. And so he did. Well, he got to know just the things that I thought were important for him to know.

I learned about him too, of course. And I realized that there's no way he could understand me. He might imagine that he does, but he had a fairy tale life and one tragedy. How could he understand a life comprised of a string of tragedies?

To his credit, he showed an honest respect for my experiences and how those shaped me. And he understood why I have my "rules" of engagement. Or disengagement as the case may be.

At some point in the conversation, he called me "a sweet little porcupine." And I remembered something I wrote a long time ago, when I was very new to SL. Then I realized that I've become the sculpture that Starax Statosky had built. The woman in the armor.

But there's more. In another post around the same time, I wrote, "when we open up and realize that it isn't safe, we quickly put on an armor. And, more often than not, the armor has long poisonous spikes."

I suppose the spikes multiplied through those years. And I've morphed into a porcupine.

Not a good thing, I know. And maybe someday I'll work on peeling off that spiked armor, but not likely anytime soon. Like a porcupine, my defensive spikes have become part of me.

On second thought, maybe he really understood me anyway. After all, he chose the perfect metaphor.




Is love ever wasted?

If a relationship ends,
because it wasn't what you thought it would be,
because the magic dissipated too soon,
because the other misrepresented their feelings for you,
because their heart was fickle,
was your love wasted?

Would you want to experience it again anyway?

If you knew that an affair could only be brief,
because society would ostracize you for it,
because being together would be near impossible,
because you'd have to break previous commitments,
because you risk losing your security in the future,
would the love be wasted?

Would you allow yourself to be pulled into its depths anyway?

Is love ever wasted?

Damn oxytocin

I warned him about oxytocin, even before we met irl. He said he wouldn't be affected; he worried more about me. I told him that I had to allow it to do its work. Without it, I wouldn't even have agreed to meet him. And I wanted to experience him.

At first, I thought I could control it. The experience was wonderfully comfortable, not uncontrollably crazy.

But when we went back to our normal lives, my insecurities started coming out again. And the doubts came. Strongly. Suddenly, I felt that familiar fight-or-flight panic.

The RP had stopped. I tried to restart it a few times, but each time, the RP just faded or didn't even start at all. Our conversations suddenly shriveled to a very short chat before he fell asleep.

Had he lost interest? Should we even plan to meet again? Am I being played?

Logically, everything seemed fine. He had work issues to deal with, so I expected he would be very busy. But, when we voiced the other night, I asked him anyway. His answer was immediate and sincere.

He said that, before that weekend, the RP was very exciting. But after that weekend, the RP lost its luster, compared to our real life meeting. My heart melted.

I understood what he meant. I had in fact wondered how the RL meeting would affect my virtual sex life. Two weeks ago, virtual was all I needed, virtual was what I preferred.

Suddenly, I've become hungry for physical touch. Not just anybody's touch, but his touch. His hugs. His cuddles. His caresses.

There was a certain quality in how he held me that I didn't expect from someone so young. It felt like a claiming. He claimed my body, without tentativeness as though I was naturally his, and yet without possessiveness either.

Most men flatter with words and gifts. He flattered me with his fingertips exploring my skin, his arms wrapped tight around me, his body pressed against me, his legs entwined around mine. He flattered me in such a way that I forgot who I am.

*sigh*

It was supposed to be just a booty call.

Damn oxytocin. I lost control.


Enjoy now; define later

He made it sound like it was a common occurrence for everyone else.

"This is my first time to read a book with the author lying next to me.... With my hand between her thighs."

No, sweetie, I don't usually lie in bed with everyone who reads my book while they read it. ;)

I suppose it's just one of the possible things to do when you're spending an intimate weekend with someone you meet for the first time in real life.

The whole weekend felt very comfortable and familiar. As though I've done this with him before. Kinda deja vu, but not as mysterious or dramatic. There's just a certain way about how he touched me and held me, that I couldn't have imagined from our SL interactions.

It wasn't perfect. He had his insecurities (that I know about) and I have mine (that he doesn't know about). It didn't have the emotional intensity of my RL meetings with other lovers. After all, we had been lovers in SL for just two weeks. But it was very nice anyway.

And we each agreed we'd like to do it again. The question is whether it would be worth the expense, the time out of our busy lives, and the long drives (three hours for me and five hours for him, each way).

We continue to be lovers (and RP spies) in SL, but what are we in real life? Close friends? Booty calls? Cuddle buddies? Lovers? Whatever it is, it is definitely only short-term, for many reasons. So, maybe it doesn't really matter what we are.

I'll just enjoy it now and define it later. :)


DISCLAIMER: I don't encourage people to take the risks I do. I knew Agent A's RL identity before he knew mine. There were things he said about himself and things about the way he behaved towards me that made me believe I could trust him. I've met other lovers alone before, and each experience proved to be wonderful. But I have known them for much longer. So, meeting Agent A (someone whom I met inworld only a couple of months ago) was very risky from a personal safety standpoint. Please understand that, just because I do it, it doesn't mean it is wise, even though it turned out fine. Evaluate your risks carefully.

Nine years and more firsts

It's almost anti-climactic. It's about 5pm Pacific Time as I write this, and I just realized Opal is 9 years old today.

August may yet again prove to be significant in changing my SL. However, at the moment, things still feel uncertain.

It didn't help that my external hard drive crashed and it had most of my files. I kept meaning to back up them up online, but life happened and I never found the time. Now, it feels like I lost an arm.

I've had to recompile some data and download others from email and other sources. But the originals, like textures in high resolutions, might be gone. I'm at the mercy of Seagate's Data Recovery department.


The possible good thing is that I lost my to-do list too. And it was particularly long. So, this mishap somehow feels like a fresh start. I may have lost an arm, but I've also lost my shackles. The tasks are still there to be done, but, if I can't remember them, then my priority list is shorter. Somehow, that also helps me focus on what's really important.

Trying to find my bearings and getting organized again after that mishap lost a lot of time that I would have used in more productive things. So I missed the opportunity to release appliers for Yabusaka's mermaid tail at the same time the tail was released. And I didn't have time to recruit more service providers to create listings in AvaHyr.com, which I established in July. Both of these are still high in my priority list, in addition to my real-life job search. So they'll still happen, but in a more relaxed schedule.


And then there's Agent A. He became "Agent A" when he said "psst" and the spy roleplay started. I met him two months ago, and I told him that I preferred he remained my friend for a long time than be a lover for a short time. He agreed. Besides, I was still recovering from Wolfgang. But the RP kept going in that direction; blame it on my nature. :)  So, a week ago, I changed my mind.

This might sound typical for me. But not really ...

Because of one detail.... Next week, I meet him in real life. This would be the first time I'd meet a lover irl while the affair is going on in SL.

And another detail.... Just call me Stella, and I'm getting my groove back.




Learn to be lonely


I don't remember how it started. Maybe it was an ad about the "Phantom of the Opera" being in San Francisco from mid-August to early October. But I'm having this obsession about the Phantom again the past few days. I've seen the movie, but not on stage. (I might have seen it on stage many years ago, but I can't remember for sure.) And I've always loved the music. 

Anyway, I went searching for the album on Amazon Prime, and I found this song at the end. It was supposed to be played when the credits rolled at the end of the movie, but I don't remember it. For some reason (or reasons), it got my attention this time.

First, it didn't fit the rest of the album, which were mostly operatic, whereas this is more modern, more folksy even. I love the guitar plucking. And I love the words. And I'm surprised that Minnie Driver can sing!

Anyway, the song is very tender, very sweet. But not saccharine-sweet. It's not your typical song that encourages false hope and fake happiness. It's about facing reality, about learning to deal with the life you're dealt, about depending on yourself. And about finding genuine satisfaction in that.

"Learn how to love life that is lived alone."

Someone who is too afraid of being alone is easy to take advantage of, easy to manipulate, easy to use and abuse. Or that someone might be the one taking advantage, manipulating, using, and abusing, just to make someone stay with them. And that's how we create unhealthy relationships that invariably end up with heartaches at best and lost lives at worst.

Deep inside, we're all children of the wilderness.... Learn to be lonely.

Unconscious biases in SL



I just watched this. Highly recommended. Howard Ross talks about how our unconscious biases affect our interactions and our world.

This discussion is very important in a very diverse community like Second Life. And I would love to have this conversation extended and applied to virtual communities, especially because our unconscious biases are working on artificial stimuli, like fabricated avatars that differ from our real selves in varying degrees.

Are we perpetuating those biases by the avatars we choose and design? By how we interact with avatars that make us feel uncomfortable either by what they represent or by their quality? Do we judge people by the avatars they choose? In what ways?

I am Filipina in real life. Short, brown-skinned, dark hair, dark eyes, overweight, disproportionate.

I chose Opal to be tall, fair-skinned, redheaded, blue or green or teal eyes (depending on my mood), hourglass-shaped.

Knowing that, how do you perceive me now? (Honesty would be much appreciated.)

Forgiveness week

Forgiveness, Part 1


Last Saturday, I got pissed at my brother-in-law, and my sister said I was mean in my email. But I felt justified for being mean. But I don't like being mean. The anger didn't go away, so I wondered what else was bothering me.


The last time I spoke with Wolfgang, I told him that I got bad luck the last two times I spoke with him. But I felt an inner push to at least wish him a happy birthday. So I did.

He was dancing with someone when I pinged him after a brief exchange in email. But he kept talking in IM, even after a number of times when I thought I already ended the conversation. There were very long pauses. I thought he was focusing on his dance partner, but in the end he said he already stopped dancing "a long time ago".

Of course, we argued. And I became really pissed when he misspelled Opal's name twice. He said he wasn't trying to provoke me. Then we talked about one of his alts, because I thought he was changing her character from sweet and tender to dominating and manipulative. For some reason, that hurt me. Like he was killing her. So I told him that.

He said if he was going to use her, it was inevitable that her character would change, because he doesn't think that aspect of him would come out with anyone else. Then after a pause, he asked me (I thought, tenderly, wistfully), "Do you want to see her?"

I said, "I don't know." I worried that the old emotions would just come back again. He understood.

Finally, I told him I had to go to try to get my OpenSim account ready. He came for a hug; then I left.


I felt much lighter.

It took a year for me to finally really forgive Impy. That forgiveness came when he held me in a cuddle when I was grieving about Wolfgang.

So I'm surprised that it didn't take that long to forgive Wolfgang.

But grief comes in waves. Maybe this is just one of the dips between the waves of pain and anger. Who knows?

Volunteer, Like Dim Sum

Kat Lemieux, founder and head of the International Spaceflight Museum asked for volunteers to attend the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference. I said I'd go.

When I signed up, I also signed up to volunteer for the conference as camera operator for the presentations and as parcel manager at other times. So, I was double-volunteered. (Well, you know, ... Two birds with one stone.)

I saw many people there who are already in my friends list but I haven't talked to in ages! And I made more friends!

Selfie at the VWBPE closing party

Forgiveness, Part 2

Last year, I met someone at a friend's wedding. From the start, he already pissed me off because I thought he was rude to my friend. But, because he bought my book that same day, he became a customer, so I had to be polite.

Long story short, he pursued and I ran away.

Then I was surprised when I saw him again this week. I suppose it made sense for him to be there, but I was surprised anyway. Actually, I initially just thought that the name sounded vaguely familiar. But I was seeing so many vaguely familiar names throughout the week, so I didn't think much about it.

Then I suddenly remembered who it was.

I said hello. He was surprised I did, because he remembered our last conversation being "negative". I said that I just remembered feeling pressured. He apologized. I apologized. And that was that.



All in all, it's been an odd but nice week. Somehow, it feels like this week is life-changing in some way. I don't know how or why. But, for once, being around people felt really nice. Maybe because I was around people who energize me. And maybe because I've forgiven the people who didn't.

A dance outside time

We had our anniversary dance tonight -- me and mfpwtff.

All we did was dance and talk and talk and talk. We chat in our main alts too, occasionally, but there's something different when you take your exclusive alts and devote a certain time just to each other.

There's a different kind of honesty between us now. A different kind of trust. A different kind of raw. And it's surprisingly gentle and smooth, like a ripple on a quiet lake. And it is soothing to the soul.

We talked about relationships, about alts, about projects. We caught up with what's going on in our lives. Then we talked about more abstract things, like death and bucket lists.

It was a quiet talk, a gentle rhythm, but continuous. It was a dance outside time.



Towards the end, he talked about how my book was the catalyst that made him put a great effort on being a better man. He described the moment when he read a passage. There were other coincidences that day.

I thought it was ironic, because much of my book was about my lovers. Their relationships with me gave me the insights that became the book. And, yet, he was telling me that he got something significant from the book. It's like the blessing, the gift, whatever it was, boomeranged back to him.

Then I reminded him of something I said when we were still together. I told him that, based on my experience in SL, men over 50 tend to treat women differently, with greater respect and understanding and care and tenderness. I think he laughed then, so many years ago. He didn't see how a few years could make a big difference. So, I told him to ping me after he turns 50.

When I reminded him tonight, he remembered. And he agreed. He treats women differently now. And he's a sweeter friend because of it.

We're kinda in the same place these days. He has seductresses tempting him; I have suitors wooing me. But we're both not ready to "settle" down. It's not because we want to have more "fun". He's actually looking for an honest-to-goodness RL relationship, and it sounds like he doesn't want to compromise. And, these days, I'm learning to give myself the love that I've been giving away too generously.

After our 3rd anniversary, we thought we'd do this dance annually, but for some reason or another, we missed the 4th and the 5th.

Well, in spite of our record, we're planning to dance again next year. And I'm looking forward to that. :)

Deserving

Something has been sticking in my mind the past few days. It was a conversation I had with W not too long before we finally split up.

I said that I usually leave when I think I don't deserve the other person.

He laughed and he said he usually leaves when he thinks the other person doesn't deserve him.

Nothing surprising about that. He always admitted that he is egotistical.

I didn't say any more about the subject.

Soon after, after a long heart-wrenching decision, I left him, even though he didn't want me to.

I left him because I don't deserve him.... I left him because I deserve better.

Two drifters ... off to see the world

I don't remember exactly when I purchased my first plot in Dunbeath, but the picture below was taken on June 2009, so it was probably around that time. That pelican chasing after a (mermaid) tail has been there until today.


I cleaned the parcel today and I will abandon it back to Linden Lab before end of day tomorrow.

I had been thinking of moving a long time ago for several reasons, but none of them were compelling enough.
  • Most people purchase in the Marketplace now. Unlike furniture and buildings, there's really no value in looking at another flat picture of a mermaid tail on a prim versus looking at the same flat picture on the web.
  • I don't sell enough to pay for my monthly tier anymore.
  • The sim just north of me turned from a beautiful Japanese landscape visited by beautiful geishas in kimonos into humongous skyboxes stacked one on top of each other. So, no matter what elevation I put a platform at, one of these ugly skyboxes is always in my view.
But what attracted me specifically to this area is the river and the neighboring parcels.
  • I love the energy of a wide river running between two steep hillsides. There's something romantic about that configuration.
  • My neighbor to the east (behind the trees in the picture below) is a recreation of Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" house. The parcel was "claimed" in December 2007, but I don't know when the home was recreated. I just realized now that most of the prims show Alex Bader (Skye Studio) as the creator. Must have been one of his early projects.
  • Across the water is a fishing town where I took the second photograph of my 365-project.



On a personal note, I have many sweet memories associated with this parcel.
  • The first time Impy met Opal inworld was under a tree near the top of the hillside.
  • My alt and Wolfgang's alt partnered here under a gazebo that I modified from the lighthouse. I wanted to replace the gazebo and the lighthouse for a while now, but Wolfgang showed some sentimentality about the gazebo at one point, and that's unusual for him, so I kept it. But that's not a strong enough reason to keep it anymore.
I'm doing a lot of things impulsively these past couple of months. It's as though my mind has finally taken command after my heart broke. "We're cutting our losses," it says. "Sentimentality be damned."

I'm keeping the good memories. But I'm cutting myself free. I'm preparing myself for the next phase in my virtual life, whatever that phase may be.

/me sings, "Two drifters... off to see the world...."



PS: I moved my store to a rented parcel in a homestead. It saves me a few dollars a month, although I have much less prim allowance. But I like the space and the flexibility.

Why you don't love me - an open letter

This is probably the first of a series of postmortem / detoxification / whatever-you-want-to-call-it entries. Or it may be the only one.


Dear W,

I know why you don't love me.

You don't love me because, since the beginning, you've tried to mold me into something I'm not.

I loved my freedom, but you tied a leash to my neck.
I brought you light, but you desired my darkness.
You wanted me to wear the accoutrements of a woman of the night.
The short skirts, the low necklines, the high heels.
The stockings that you loved.
You called me a hippie like it's an insult.
You cursed my intuition.
You mocked my imagination.
You enjoyed the pleasures that my love brought to you, but you rejected its intensity, even if the intensity itself created the pleasures.

Maybe if you opened your eyes and saw me for who I am, instead of trying to mold me, maybe you could have loved me as I love you.

Or maybe not.