Posted in personal, RL

“Why wouldn’t I want to be Mistletoe?”

For some people, it’s an evil and sexually deviant world, with nothing positive to recommend it whatsoever, filled with people who only want to take from you and have nothing to offer of their own. A world rife with seductive delights and temptations as though coded by Satan himself. For others, it’s the very Fountain of Youth, an amazing world of limitless potential and power, a step toward a Gene Roddenberry-esque utopian future.

To me, Second Life was neither of these things. It was a Thing I Did. It was the place where I’d log on for eight and sometimes more hours a day. I’d be part of (and sometimes leader of) a community of people. I talked to my friends. I made things, and made some modest amount of money. I was Mistletoe.

And really, why wouldn’t I want to be Mistletoe? Mistletoe was brilliant, creative, talented, ultra-popular, even a little famous in some circles. I mean sure, I’m smart and creative away from the keys too, but what have I got to show for it here? Not as much as in Second Life, that’s for damn sure. In Second Life I’ve organized festivals, owned shops, owned successful pubs, run for office, played music (both as a performer and as a DJ), prepared virtual food that people adore, officiated two weddings, traveled, explored, had whirlwind romances, explored fantasies, raised a hefty donation for a RL charity, written how-to articles respected by many, danced like a pro, made costumes… hell what haven’t I done? I’ll tell you: I haven’t been sick, needed car repairs, been short on bills, wondered what to have for dinner tonight, watched dishes pile up, run out of prescription meds, or been at a loss for what I should do now. Who wouldn’t rather be the former than the latter?

And when my real life got harder, Second Life became more appealing. And when I got more entrenched in my Second Life, my real life became a garden more overgrown from neglect. I couldn’t get together with friends at this date at this time, sorry, I have a commitment. I’m not available to come in for work for this extra shift, I promised my Second Life people I’d be there for a thing then. I didn’t tell my boss that of course. And what was my solution to seeing less and less of my friends? Inviting them to meet me inworld, of course. I’ll get your avatar to look just like you want. I’ll even set you up to make a few lindens selling content that you (actually I) make. It’ll be great! I couldn’t understand why my friends weren’t finding the same joy that I did in Second Life. They didn’t find it as easy to get around, had a harder time with the learning curve, just weren’t feeling it. They left SL and don’t miss it. How could that be?

Finally my RL came to a point that I had to pull away. It was July, and I was having my annual wane in interest anyway. But besides that, we were 3500 miles away from our friends and family, in San Diego. Himself had lost his job. I didn’t have a job at all. We had a hard decision to make, and ultimately that decision was to move back across the country, just three months after packing up our lives and moving to California. That meant a forced period of withdrawal while on the road: detox time. I had real problems to face and had to face them with my undivided attention: watch the road. Stay in my lane. Get the cat into the hotel. Set the alarm to get up early tomorrow.

Fortunately none of my SL people were concerned about my absence; they knew I was moving and looked forward to having me back when the time came. Well and good.

Of course, once I got to my destination back East, I had things to do. We have to find work. We have to sort out commuting. We have to find a place to live. We’re going to have to get furniture. I have to get a new doctor, and a new prescription for the medicine I need in order to keep my bipolar managed. We have bills to pay, a cat to feed, a car to maintain. I want to look into going to school. So my period away from SL got longer, and really, I didn’t mind.

But my SL people started to worry. One e-mailed to tell me so. So I’m here to tell all of you now, this is NOT the time to worry about me. Yes, I’m having RL stress and struggles. So are all of you, I’m certain. What I’m not doing anymore, is anesthetizing myself with Second Life. When I was logging on 8 hours a day? THAT was the time to worry.

Now I’m not saying that everyone in SL is addicted and in denial. No. I’m not saying that at all. Some people can have a cigarette when they go to the bar on Friday and not need another. Some people can have a beer and be done. Some people can go to a casino with five bucks and leave when it’s spent.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are nine criteria for the proposed diagnosis of video game addiction.

  1. Preoccupation. When I wasn’t logged on, I was thinking about SL all the time. I was talking about doings in SL with my husband the way most people talk about their day of work. When I had a job, I was thinking about when I could get home and log on.
  2. Withdrawal. For the most part I’m not dealing much with this. I’m not angry, or irritable without SL. However I do find myself with a LOT of free time and no idea what to do with it.
  3. Tolerance. Meaning, did I need to log on for increasing amounts of time, get better equipment, have more excitement in order to enjoy SL as much as I used to? I can’t say that. I do know that I’d taken on more and more responsibilities and projects and that I must have gotten some payoff from it. Enjoyment just wasn’t it.
  4. Inability to reduce/stop. Do I feel like I should log on less, but find myself unable to do so? Before my so-called “forced detox”, yes. Absolutely. And then I would feel guilty for pissing my day away on SL instead of sending that email, making that phone call, doing those chores. And then I’d log on for the same amount of time the next day.
  5. Giving up other activities. I mentioned that already.
  6. Continuing despite problems. It mentions continuing on even though I’m aware of it causing problems. Thing is, I’m not sure I was aware it was causing the problems of decreased sleep, decreased hygiene, withdrawal from my friends in RL.
  7. Deceiving/Covering up how much time spent logged on. I don’t think I’ve done that. I’ve been pretty honest about it I think.
  8. Escaping adverse moods by logging on. Abso-fucking-lutely. The more out of control my RL got, the more I wanted to be in control of something. That “something” wasn’t filling out the paperwork or going to the bank; it was logging onto the world I could control.
  9. Risking/losing relationships/opportunities. I don’t know. I honestly don’t. I mean sure my relationship with himself is strong, I think he’s just come to accept SL as part of my day-to-day life. But as for opportunities: probably. But is that addiction, or is that part of the depression with my bipolar? I can’t say.

I do know that the YouTube video “IRL/In Real Life” really spoke to me. Each time Anthony says “…and then a new expansion came out” I gave a knowing nod.

So… am I an addict, or am I just looking for an easy epiphany to explain the hole? I don’t know. I can’t answer that now. But I do know that I have LOTS of hours in the day to fill, and that I’m almost 40, no college education, not much of anything that can go on a resume, and not satisfied with that. I’ve GOT to do something different about that, and I’ve held myself back from that for six years now.

Posted in day-to-day, Philomenaville, RL, updates

Again, July

The moon is shining on the East Coast and the sun’s an hour away from setting where I am now. Right about now, all my SCA friends back in New England are gathering around their campfires for music and stories and tales of absent friends. And I’m the absent friend, wishing I was there now. Here it’s traffic and car alarms and motorcycles and piles and piles of loneliness.

Don’t know why I’m saying all this, except it feels like I’ll spill over if I don’t say something.

So back last April, not even a full page of blog entries ago, my love and my cat and I made the trip of a lifetime, towing a trailer behind a little Sunfire from the geographical center of Nowhere, Maine to the city of San Diego. We’d begin a whole new story of our lives. Only, halfway into the first chapter, an unexpected twist in the plot came.

Now, we’re going to pack it up and make the trip of a lifetime, again. We’re starting over, again. We’ve got so much to do, including getting rid of almost all of our worldly possessions (again), planning the route (again), job and apartment hunting (again).

But this time we’re not moving 3500 miles away from the campfires and the stories: we’re going back to them. Or, at least, within a day’s drive. We’re going to a place that himself knows and loves; a place that I hope I can get to know and learn to love. A place where someone as anxious about driving as I am, doesn’t have to drive to get around. A place with rain, and green grass, neither of which can be easily found in San Diego. I never knew how much I’d miss them both until three months without them.

We’re going home to Boston. Maybe I should say shipping up to Boston, like the Dropkick Murphys song.

Additionally, it’s July. If you’ve been along with me for the ride for some time now, you might know what that means. For those who don’t know or don’t recall, July tends to mark the low point in my interest in Second Life. Between having lots to do in RL and just some kind of seasonal cycle of interest, I simply don’t get into it as much. It’s long been my desire in SL to create something that can hold together without me there all the time to do it myself, and damned if the community in Philomenaville isn’t starting to do just that. Mind, I didn’t create that, not all on my own, not by a long shot, and I’m not the only one who maintains it either. And frankly, I like it that way. I like that it won’t collapse without me.

This weekend I’m supposed to relax and do some fucking off at the beach, because after that, we won’t have much fucking-off time at all.

Posted in mesh, rant, SL 2.0

The Sky is Falling (again)!


In other words, the same thing that was said a hundred times before in Second Life.

So, Linden Lab is working on a new virtual world and most of the buzz I hear calls it SL 2.0 and of course that means THE END IS NEAR!!! for the Second Life that we all know and love (to hate).

There are so many things that can happen between now and then that I think it’s just ridiculous to panic about it. And just ask my husband, I’m really good at panicking about uncertainty in the future. I dreamed up some of the most colorful nightmare scenarios you’ll ever hear just before we packed up and moved across the country last April. And I’ll say what he said: if you have a nightmare scenario, it’s good to talk about it and get it out in the open, because it helps you see just how unlikely it really is when you hear it out loud.Do you really, sincerely, think, that the virtual world that’s been operating for 11 years now, is just going to close up unannounced in a few months and leave you without your land, your money, or your stuff? I don’t.

It’s likely that things will change. It’s likely that some things will become obsolete, or that some things that already are obsolete will be replaced. But the sky is not falling, any more than it did with mesh, or alpha layers, or merging with the Teen Grid, or Zindra. It’s foolish to not enjoy what you have today, out of fear that you might not have it tomorrow. In fact in my opinion it’s all the more reason to enjoy it today.

Posted in building, SL11B

On SL11B: Groove to your groove

So, the SL11B sims are all closed to exhibitors now, and now it’s time to wait. I’ve been working on the Green Guide, and I’ve thought about it and talked about it (not releasing any information as to its content of course!) and I’m glad that it’s being met with positive feedback.

In my real life, I’m not very confrontational at all. If I see something that is stupid, unless it’s outright harmful, I tend to just live and let live. In fact there are those in my RL who suggest that maybe I “let live” a little too much. It’s not the same on the Internet, of course. On the ‘Net, if something is bullshit, I’ll call it bullshit. If something looks ridiculous, I’m likely to say it looks ridiculous. Mind I’ll say it in such a way as to be about the act and not the person: if an avatar has spindly little t-rex arms and a waistline that would be impossible to support internal organs, I’d say precisely that, I wouldn’t say the person behind the avatar’s an idiot or even wrong for having what one grouchy old elf might consider a ridiculous form. I think Lola meshtits look absurd no matter who’s wearing them, but I’m 100% behind your right to have them. You like them? Then groove to your groove, man, and wear the shit out of those. Don’t worry about what someone like me has to say about them. But welcome to life, first or second: no matter what you do, you WILL hear someone say they don’t like it.

That’s just an example, of course, with the Lolas. Getting back to SL11B, or any exhibition, or anything that isn’t your own sim-on-a-stick at all, really: you put it out there, you may just hear someone say they don’t like it. It may really hurt. It may make you cry. Do YOU like it? Then groove to your groove.

Now, that all having been said, I’m not releasing a list of “exhibits that missed the mark by miles at SL11B.” Though, mind you, some did. It just doesn’t seem productive of me to make a public display out of what didn’t gel with my own personal opinion. And, this Green Guide is only my opinion of what really kicked ass this year. You may say “How could you even LIKE that?” and that’s your call too.

But it’s likely that someone, not me, but someone, may say awful stuff about your work. If you can, step back and look at just how much they’re saying is really a representation of themselves, not of you. And or be hurt and cry. And then move forward, building what you like, grooving to your groove.

One last thing, regarding SL11B. If something really wows you, maybe make your own list saying so. And, tell the builder him/herself what you like about it. No harm in that.

Posted in building, SL11B, travel

I admit it.

I’m snooping at SL11B. My build is done, I’ve got time to kill, so I’m sneaking a look around the grounds.

But it’s not enough that I’m snooping, oh no.

I’m also taking notes.

I’m Landmarking those builds that I especially like, that I want to visit again, that I want to show my friends when the gates open on June 22nd. I’m compiling a list of them. I’m thinking of calling the list the Green Guide, kind of as a homage to (or else outright theft from) Crap Mariner’s map that he published last year of SL10B. Builds he didn’t like were red. Builds that were good-but-not-great were yellow. But the ones that he really liked, he marked as green on his map. This will be a list of what I would mark as green on my map, if I felt like making a map. And I don’t.

Your build might be in the Green Guide. Or it may not. It may not have a hope in hell of making the Green Guide.

I can tell you why a build did not make the Green Guide:

  • I simply haven’t seen it yet.
  • It wasn’t started, or else not close enough to completion, at the time I snooped the parcel.
  • I couldn’t find my way into your giant box of nothing.
  • I found myself asking, “What’s the point of this?” and not seeing anything that could answer.
  • It was an obvious advertisement.
  • It was a tacky build. I know tacky’s in the eye of the beholder, but this is my list, so guess whose eye is doing the beholding.
  • It had a giant, long stairway or ramp… that led to nothing. Or else, led to something that could just as easily have been on the ground.
  • It used a bunch of Aley’s freebies and wasn’t a build made by Aley.
  • It had a list of instructions longer than my arm, just so I could see the build.
  • It didn’t function the way it was supposed to.

Now I’m not going to publish a Red Guide, I’ll leave that up to the evil robot. I’m also not going to leak the Green Guide until Opening Day (the 22nd). From now until then, I’ll keep snooping, keep landmarking, and keep compiling. Good luck.

Posted in SL11B

Overheard in SL11B Exhibitor Chat

This is something I find rather aggravating.

[Exhibitor]can anyone tell me the exact theme of this years SL11 please? So I can name my parcel
[Staff 1]: yes it’s on the website
[Staff 1]: where you applied..
[Exhibitor]: erm okay …………
[Staff 2]:
[Staff 1]: the empires of the mind are the empires of the future
[18:38] Mistletoe Ethaniel: Other way ’round I believe

Look, I know people get asked the same question 800 million times. I know it must be frustrating. But if you’re going to point out that the person who applied should know the theme by now, I may suggest that the person who accepted the application of someone who didn’t know the theme may have some share of responsibility as well. And I may suggest that the staff who quote it (in fairness, they may not be staff, I’m just guessing) should perhaps know it as well. Until they do, perhaps they could look it up on the website.

Posted in building, community, day-to-day, I wrote this, Philomenaville, roleplay, roleplaying, rp, updates

How to Improve Your Community in Two Words

Philomenaville is coming along swimmingly. I’ve sent in our application to have a presence at SL11BCC and am waiting to hear on that. Some buildings have been moved around and shifted about. The outdoor freebie market is gone, replaced by a thrift market for people to sell leftovers from gatchas (is it gatcha or gacha? Anywhoodle.) A welcome center is being put together in one wing of Town Hall, a meeting area in the other. The park is sporting a cool new Conservatory building which contains the prettiest damn dance machines you’ve ever seen. The trolley is running well and is no longer spawning additional trolleys (they were everywhere!). We’re gearing up for our first ever dance in the Conservatory this weekend (Saturday! 4PM! Join us in Bushside!) and we’re also gearing up for some RP event type stuff in a week or two. It hasn’t been without some pains in my ass but all in all, it’s going really well.

One thing that hasn’t been going well is that the Friday afternoon Social Hour at the Cafe has been a flop. And the more I talk about it with other people the more I think people just aren’t really sure what to do, or else are bored by the idea of all meeting in one spot without there being any music or anything. It’s not like it’s a town meeting mandated by the Mayor or anything. What do you talk about for an hour? So it annoys me when people don’t show up, but at the same time, if I wasn’t running it, I wonder if I’d skip it too. So I’m hopeful that Saturday afternoon dances at the Conservatory will fill that social void a little better. There’s music. There’s watching yourself dance. There’s lighthearted interaction. People are just more likely to show up.

And really, that’s the secret to making a community work, I think. It’s not me planning the events; it’s everyone else SHOWING UP. It’s not Thaddeus initiating group chat; it’s everyone else SHOWING UP. It frustrates me that I can’t make more people show up so, listen, whatever community you’re in, if you want to make it better, richer, more enjoyable… SHOW UP. You don’t have to be an event planner, you don’t have to be a prolific builder, you don’t have to be a dazzling conversationalist, just show up. That’s all.