Archive for December, 2010

December 18th, 2010: Express Zenovka

December 18, 2010

Every morning, I groggily make my way to my laptop and open up two browsers. I have over twenty Google accounts, four for WordPress, four Plurk, four Twitter, two Facebook, two Tumblr. I’m probably forgetting some more. Usually there’s one account for real life and another account for Second Life, but sometimes there’s more for both. More browsers makes it easier to check them all.

My life is divided among my browsers.

We Second Life residents often hear “real life always comes first.” It’s a mantra of sorts, a reminder to ourselves and others of how we should order our priorities and commitments.

At some point over these last three years, I decided it was easier to have Express’ accounts in Safari and move my personal accounts to Firefox. I check both in the morning and both again at night, but Safari is my default browser. It gets used all day long, and I can check up on things while I use it.

At some point, I subconsciously chose my Second Life over my real one.

Sure, Safari runs faster than Firefox, and Express has more people to keep track of and more emails to check. But I was the one who chose making new friends online over maintaining my existing friendships in real life. I was the one who chose to devote three years to work that’ll never be associated with the real me.

I was the one who chose to divide my life.

 


Today, like any other day, I groggily made made my way to my laptop and opened up two browsers. I checked email, Plurk, Twitter, and the feeds before heading off to work. Half the office was out, so I took a
half day and started my two week vacation by driving the scenic way home. It’s rare to leave the office when the sun is out, especially at this time of year. When I got home, I opened all six browsers. Then I deleted all my cookies and logged into all my common sites again.

Real Life in my primary browser. Second Life in a secondary browser.

“Real life always comes first.” Nah, scratch that. Just “Real life.”

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Express Zenovka is a software developer who works for a rather popular web site. He’s been a resident of Second Life for 3.5 years, during which time he has tried a wide variety of virtual professions including (but not limited to) fashion blogger, magazine writer, pro surfer, and model. Currently, he keeps himself busy prodding the server for http://ShopaholicFeed.com and making sure Luna Jubilee doesn’t get into too much trouble, documenting his efforts at http://spressie.com.

 

December 17th, 2010: Sesi Ackland – Cont’d

December 17, 2010

Not long after my original two three six five May 27th, 2010 I made the decision to go back to school. I had toyed with the idea of returning for my Criminal Justice Psychology for quite some time but my plans were put on hold for several years due to health problems. Last spring it became clear and I enrolled for fall classes.

The days before school started, I spent long hours in Second Life the few days before school started to stockpile some inventory for my hubby and I’s store, Little Boxes. I knew I’d be overwhelmed by school soon but I wasn’t ready to give up what Winston and I had accomplished in SL.  I figured I could be ahead of the game and our store wouldn’t be affected.

Finally the first day of school arrived and by day’s end I felt as if I’d been knocked over. I was left sitting on the floor surrounded by books, folders and papers, crying. My husband did the best he could to encourage me, I nodded and squeezed out a smile but truly felt within a week I’d be crying “Uncle!” and reworking my schedule. While exhausted and completely drained at night, I managed the first week. I imagined I would have had a little time for Second Life but I was quickly proven wrong but I survived the second week. Eventually I was studying for midterms, writing papers and scheduling releases and events for the holiday rush in Second Life. I don’t remember when I was able to regain focus on Little Boxes again but somewhere along the way I figured it out.

Today is the first full day I’ve had no school, finals are done and my books are packed to take back to school. I imagined these first days out of school to be full of building, I’d be knee-deep in sculpties, textures and vendors but instead I’ve spent time sitting on my building platform completely unfocused and doing absolutely nothing. The chaos of balancing school and Little Boxes has become the norm, my new reality and I believe that is how I’ll spend much of 2011.

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Sesi Ackland is 39, she lives in Chicago with her RL and SL husband, Winston Ackland. Since her last Two Three Six Five Post, Sesi has become a full-time student in the demanding Criminal Justice Psychology Program. When Sesi does find free time from studying and building for her Second Life store, Little Boxes, she can be found watching Dexter or Cold Case Files, which is really just more homework.

December 16th, 2010: Shelly Toonie – Cont’d

December 16, 2010

I’ve decided to let y’all in on a little secret. You and me, we’re close. I feel this is something you need to know..

There’s not really a virtual world and a real world. There’s no “first” or “second” life.
There’s really just the one.

Let me explain; you’ll agree.

In the year 2010, I spent less time in Second Life than I have in any year since 2005. People change and circumstances change and sometimes you really just need a change, and so it was that time for me.

I do feel out of touch a lot of the time, though with plurk and some of my Second Life friends, I keep one toe in that world all the time. Today was no different.

This morning, I logged in to SL and plurk before work and talked about support I was gathering for a single mom with no Christmas for her daughters. Now, let me say right here and now that I never expected anything other than a few (cozy)’s. That’s what we do on plurk, right? We express frustrations, get feedback, commiserate.
Not so today. Today when I opened my “real life” up to my “virtual” friends, I was reminded that we are only limited by the boundaries WE create. Several of my plurk/SL friends sent donations immediately to help this family. They sent them by paypal; they sent them by L$.

There are quite a few people helping out in my “first life” too. A couple of these people are old friends from high school, others are parents of my daughter’s friends. I’m one of those incredibly lucky people that picks up amazing people all through life in all sorts of places and times and once I find them, I put a little “This Belongs to Michelle” tag on them and keep them.

As the day draws to a close, I’m amazed by my friends that have offered to play Santa for a single mother and her two daughters. Notice there’s no qualifier there? That’s because my friends came from one world, the world that exists in my heart. That’s where you draw your boundaries from, within yourself.

Me? I refuse to be limited.

Happy Holidays to you all.

Michelle/Shelly

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Shelly Toonie, owner of Moonshine Designs in Second Life,  is the virtual representative for Michelle. Michelle is a caffeine addicted, mostly introverted, often sarcastic, quiet troublemaker, happily embracing my redneckedness in central North Carolina.

December 15th, 2010: Jadxia Lexenstar

December 15, 2010

December 15th, not one of my favorite days of the year. See, this is the day my mother died, the day I had to go to the hospital with my brother and my fairly recent step-father, say good-bye and turn off the machines on the most vibrant person I had ever known. They all cried and I was just numb, but I had been numb for hours, since the call right before an anthropology final that she was in a coma. Numb through the rushed flight to Utah from Texas. Numb to the hospital. And then looking at that small body, dead due to Hepatitis C, the body that just looked like a shell. Numb for many months afterwards.

Christmas is not my favorite time of year, but my mom sent me a gift, a little boy to make sure I always have a reason to smile at the holidays. And now he is four, really excited about Santa and snow and reindeers and OMG, Christmas lights! He loves Christmas lights. After being convinced to put up *one more* strand of lights, I read the six books he coaxes me into and finally get the elf to bed.

Finally, some time for the rest of my family, my partner Lucius, and the ragtag family we have picked up along the way that call Mists of Haven home. All former goreans, now we are just family, the Pack, the Foxrose Clan. We run around our sim, laughing, picking on each other, dancing the night away and planning future adventures and roleplay avenues. All of us are individuals in RL, with the lives that get replicated across the world. Yet in SL we have found deep and lasting friendships and family we just can’t live without. We back up each other, defend each other, love each other.

SL started out as a class project in cyber anthropology, then it became the way for a single mom & student to have her adult life and interactions. Then a way for me to explore my storytelling and creative sides. Now it holds my extended family, the ones who keep me sane on this lousy day.

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Jadxia Lexenstar holds a degree in Cultural Anthropology, a Texan transplanted to beautiful Oregon. She is the single mother to a too smart four year old, who keeps her delightfully young. The other RL family includes a nephew who lives with her, a fat cat named Harley. Her SL exploits vary, but she is the owner of SkyClad Creations, blogs occasionally on Cookies & Roleplay , bribes her friends and family with cookies, and spends most nights coaxing her partner to dance with her.

December 14th, 2010: Syngen Sohmers – Cont’d

December 15, 2010

I am a retail widow.  I both hate and love this time of year.  I love the whole “holiday spirit” that seems to pervade everything.  Being charitable, finding gifts for people you love and care for, coming together with friends and family to chase away the winter blues.  I love that this time of year perks up the economy, and we can afford to do a few nice things for each other when the days get short and the nights are long.

I do not love that because of the holiday retail season, my husband has to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week. (Okay 10 hours on Sunday)  We take the Thanksgiving holiday together, and enjoy it as though it’s the last day we’re going to spend together.  Because it is.  For a very long time.  He doesn’t usually roll his hours back until after the first week in January.

He owns his business, which means he has to work harder than a regular employee and he has a great deal more on the line.  With the slumped economy, we’ve come to depend on this time of year to make payoffs in larger debts we may have accumulated throughout the year, both at home and in the business.  And all of it centered around a holiday that we don’t actually celebrate.

So I don’t get to see him much.  Which I suppose means that my SL friends see me more.  Which is good.  I’m lucky to have a great support network of friends who have pretty consistently understood that this time of year, I’m kind of down.  I’m a little lonely.  And they’re usually pretty glad to perk me up with a joke, or a goofy youtube link, or lolcats pictures.  Or in some cases trolling craigslist to laugh at the personals.

So that being said.  Get out there, get shopping, help the economy, and support my status as a retail widow.  I’m going to watch George Watsky videos.

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Syngen Sohmers is the owner and designer for Sakinah, a Middle Eastern fashion line for both the historical and the halal. She can’t always be found in world, because she hides like a recluse in her workshop to build. IMs always seem to find her, even when she doesn’t want them to. Her Typist is equally reclusive, a writer, living in the Southeastern US with her husband and a 16 pound cat.

Syngen’s previous post was on June 14th, 2010.

December 13th, 2010: Matthew Anthony – Cont’d

December 14, 2010

 

This time of year is so incredibly busy.  Students are taking final exams, gifts for family and friends need to be picked out and purchased, people are traveling to be with their families, holiday cards are being sent, and so many other holiday-related things are happening.  For me, part of that is figuring out how to make a turtle that’s representative of the holidays.

In Second Life, I was one of the people who came up with the Petable Turtles, cute little breedable critters that have been around for about 16 months now.  One of the things we try to do is celebrate each holiday that rolls around with a festive type of turtle that our customers can get.  Let me tell you, some holidays are much easier than others.  For example, Halloween is probably the easiest (in 2009, we turned the turtles into ghosts and this year we put pumpkin masks over their faces).  How would you make a turtle represent Boxing Day, though?  What about the World Cup?

For me, part of the fun and frustration of what I do is coming up with all the crazy little things, including many that most people never see.  On one hand, it’s a great creative outlet for me as a non-artistic person.  On the other hand, it’s often frustrating to have to figure out specific holidays, and beyond that to do it more than once as well come around to them the next year.  We also try to celebrate some completely random things, like National Turtle Day last May or Mario Appreciation Month last March.

So, today has been spent in large part trying to figure out how in the world to make different turtles represent various December holidays. It surprises me every time just how long it takes to not only figure out what to do, but then make it work.  Later tonight, I have to make the transition to writing my part of my family’s annual Christmas letter.  Yep, life is certainly hectic at the moment!

I hope this holiday season brings you joy in both of your lives!

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Matthew Anthony is still 24, still living in Hoboken, NJ, and is still a west Texas boy at heart.  He loves expressing himself creatively through making the most random little things in Second Life, but focuses most of his time and energy on the Petable Turtles.

Matthew’s previous post was on August 26th, 2010.

December 12th, 2010: Bronson Twine – Cont’d

December 12, 2010

I’m not well at the moment.

Some may say that’s always been the case. Some will say that it’s just man-flu. All I know is that I ache in places I didn’t know I had, my nose is sore and red and some alien being has taken up residence in my head. I know it’s there because it’s squeezing my brain to make itself some extra room and it’s leaking mutant goo out through my nose. If the little bugger invites it’s alien buddies around for an evening of karaoke and line dancing, I will not be pleased.

As a result of this I’ve not been spending a whole lot of time in Second Life. I’ve popped in to check messages. I’ve popped in to try and blog. But I just can’t concentrate and it bugs me because feeling ill is stopping me from doing the things I enjoy. But I have to keep telling myself that it’s OK. Second Life will still be there when I’m feeling better. My friends will still be there when I return and I can still keep in touch with them via Plurk so they’ll know I’m OK and I can keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

It’s easy for us to let Second Life to become a dominant force in our lives. It’s place where we can be what we want to be. A place where we can create. A place where we can meet fantastic (and not so fantastic people) from all over the world. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to log in every day. I don’t have to blog every day or even every week if I don’t feel like it. Instead of being tied to it I can just enjoy it when it suits me and when I have time. There’s other things I can do that are just as rewarding and on occasion I still have to remind myself of that.

So tonight I’ll concentrate on feeling better. I’ll listen to some music, eat some comfort food and maybe have an early night.

Second Life will still be there tomorrow.

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Bronson Twine is currently curled up in bed with a box of tissues. When he’s not complaining about being ill he likes to blog about pixel clothing and take photos (portraits, because he’s yet to learn how to do anything else).

December 11th, 2010: Gabby Panacek – Cont’d

December 11, 2010

This is the start of Christmas for me, my aunt’s Christmas tree,  Though you can’t tell from this picture, the entire front of the fireplace is loaded with gifts for my aunts, my cousins and their children. We’ve been having our Christmas Brunch on the second Saturday in December for the last decade, and it is the holiday tradition I most look forward to.

Twelve years ago, my grandfather, my father’s father, passed away after a long and arduous struggle with emphysema. My grandmother followed him two years later. They were the glue that held our family together. Ever holiday, whether major or minor, was a reason to gather at Gran and Pa’s, eat, drink, laugh, play and just enjoy each others company. Our last Christmas with everyone in attendance, there were 42 two of us, all crammed into my grandparent’s tiny house…aunts and uncles, cousins, their spouses and children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and a few friends who had no other place to celebrate Christmas.

When Gran passed away, my cousin Christine was worried we would all drift apart, as so many families do, and suggested that we have a Girls Day every month. So, for the last ten years we have done just that. But, Christmas is special. We always have a potluck brunch at my aunt’s house, exchange small gifts with each other and share memories of Christmases past. It is the most wonderful way to begin the Christmas season, surrounded with family, joy, love and the knowledge that no matter what else is going on in our lives, these are the people who will always welcome us with open arms and hearts.

The dishes have been cleared, the wrapping paper picked up and I’m sitting with a cup of coffee looking through the pictures I took this morning and I can’t help but smile.  In a few minutes, I’ll log in to say hello to my second family, my online friends who never fail to brighten my day.

Days like today remind me how blessed I am to have all of these people in my first and second lives. It truly is a wonder.

Happy Holidays.

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Gabby Panacek is still a thirty-something from Southern Illinois who frequently loses her camera and must resort to taking crappy photos with her cell phone. She now lives with two adopted Kitties, Mara and Daisy, who shed continuously and refuse to cuddle on command. She blogs at haphazard intervals and is a serial snapshot taker. You will most often find her standing in a big green box high above Rouge pretending to sort her obnoxiously large inventory while trying to figure out when she became such a hoarder. She still has an amazing partner who keeps her grounded and a fantastic circle of friends who think she can do no wrong (they are an easily fooled, but lovable lot). Gabby is still learning to use her inside voice and remember that her treadmill is not the enemy. She is now counting the number of days she can put off cleaning her house before hosting the January Girls Day.

Gabby’s previous post was on March 16th, 2010.

December 10th, 2010: Rosewhitefox Jupiter

December 11, 2010

So I should feel really badly, but I don’t.

I needed a holiday tree. I only socially celebrate Christmas but I really like the lights and decor in the dreariness that is Minnesota Winter.

For days I planned to stop at a lot that was on my way home. After a quick run through the local coffee place for my standard soy latte, I did.

I got to the lot and there were some good looking trees, but the bonus was that the boys were better looking. I milled around looking for something not too big but not too tiny. I have 11 foot ceilings so large is totally an option, but I don’t want to have to climb to decorate.

I batted by eyelashes and attempted to bargain down the $40-90 trees, but the cutie boys just weren’t having it. I don’t know if they were gay or under orders, but I’m hot, so there is no way they could have really resisted my feminine wiles. I was getting bored so I decided to not shop local and head to the nearest Home Depot.

Seems everyone and their uncle’s dog had the same thing in mind; not to mention the impending snow storm that was being predicted. Upwards of two feet was coming and EVERYONE wanted their tree.

The Home Depot Employee was outnumbered and woefully inadequate at his job of using an electrical hacksaw to make a fresh cut on trees and bag them in recyclable netting before asking if one needed help tying their tree to their vehicle.

I went about my task of finding a tree. Under $18 for an eight foot tree! Sold! I found a great Scotch Pine that smelled like a dream. I impulse purchased real mistletoe, paid for my goods. When the boy asked me if I needed help, I mustered my best farmgirl gumption and said, “Nah, I’ve got this.”

I grabbed my tree after loading my coat pocket with the mistletoe and made my way to the car where I stuffed it in the trunk and tied the trunk down to make my way home among the masses. The snow started shortly after I got home. Now I sit watching the 16 plus inches continue to fall outside of the window where my holiday tree with blue lights shines out into the dreary Winter night.

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Rosewhitefox Jupiter is really Tasha-Rose, a knitting nerd and admitted SL addict. At the publishing of this two three six five she is busy digging out of two feet of snow at her home in the city where the Metrodome caved in. She doesn’t go any place without her Blackberry, Camera and iPod. Her three kiddos are 8,5 and 2 and two of them even have their own versions of SL that they like to play. The apple doesn’t fall far does it!? In SL, Rose has been there done that and is now living a quiet existence with her partner, Tommie Deed. Rose loves fashion and being silly and can often be found dancing at the silliest contests she can find.

December 9th, 2010: Rosalie Tenenbaum

December 10, 2010

My Thursday morning is one of the few mornings I look forward to in the week. For a young adult working three jobs which all revolve around the care of other people (whether disabled or young), sleeping in is like a godsend. On Thursdays, I normally wake up around 10am to a very affectionate Siamese kitten I fondly call Emma, though today my wakeup call was at 10:45. It wasn’t a kitty-lovins’ wakeup call either. This was an actual phonecall.

It was my father. What was he calling about now? Oh, my bank called him. They never got the paycheck I deposited on the 3rd. They didn’t even have the envelope I’d so delicately put the paycheck into.

“You’ll need to go see Carol,” he said in a stern voice, or at least my tired ears had heard the voice as stern. “You’ll need to ask her if the check went through and if she can get you a copy of the check or to stop payment and give you a new check if it didn’t.”

“I’ll see her tomorrow,” I said as I looked down at my animal covered bed. I really didn’t want to leave them right now, not to mention get ready for my day.

My dad sighed that sigh, the one where you know he disagrees with your decision but knows he can’t control you – yeah that sigh. “You should really go in today.”

I did the next best thing – said goodbye to my dad and dialed into work. Carol is my work’s financial manager as well as my mother’s best friend. I sometimes call her Aunt Carol because she’s such a cordial, but familiar person to me. I was almost immediately connected to Carol. She said my check had cleared – which made me slightly uneasy to know my check cleared and I never got the benefits of it – but that she needed to call Wells Fargo for a copy.

So much of me wishes I could say it was all handled this morning, but it wasn’t. I am still without my money and now, I feel rotten about banks in general. All before noon.

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Rosalie Tenenbaum is a 22 year old Californian who often goes by Jessie or Jessica. She is currently in school to be a preschool teacher while working daycare at a gym, babysitting twins, and caring for a disabled adult.