Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just Thinking...

It's snowing, just a little now, so nice to see tree branches outlined in crystal white.

I've been thinking about my family research...small glimmers of wanting to start again.   All those stories, just waiting for someone to tell them.   I don't know what to do.  I've collected oodles of information. on all sorts of relatives, recent ones, long-long-long dead ones.  I've collected so much information I don't know what I have, really.  I like hunting for data and I'm good at it. I like trying to be "complete" and I'm compulsive enough and persistent enough to amass huge volumes of information.  I've scanned originals of so much...my image files on my laptop are gigabytes and gigabytes of original records, newspapers, family photos and papers, photographs of dusty books and papers found in local government offices, museum libraries, and archives.  And there it all sits.   I might as well not have done any of it, since nobody sees it, even me.

I was feeling overwhelmed long before I came to Second Life.  I spent at least a year having periodic outbursts online about how I couldn't write...whine, whine, whine, whine.   And every research question multiplies at least ten-fold.  At least for me it does.  More and more questions.  More and more data.  I ground to a dead halt after my last research trip last June.   Stalled.  "out to lunch"  "on vacation" in Second Life.

So much fun to be a student...have a teacher assign homework, small chunks, well-defined problems.  Or to work on a project and be told what to do, respectively for sure, but still, the airship isn't my vision, so he's in charge, definitely, and when he says "that's not important" when I start making things more and more complicated, I don't argue.

I feel like I can set goals, define problems, define what to do sometimes.   I've done that in some jobs, some volunteer contexts pretty much all my life.  But it's always been to serve others...I think that's a key characteristic for situations where I've been a productive problem solver.   When it comes to just me I run into trouble.  Household projects...I'm surrounded by unfinished ones...such chaos.   I've never had "a dream" that was just mine.  Something I felt compelled to do.   Family research is something I started doing because I needed something to occupy my brain, something I could do at home, something where I wouldn't need to commit to others regarding my progress.  I found that I love so much about it...the interdisciplinary framework that's required, the problem-solving, the analysis, and learning about people's lives, getting hints about their stories.   But feeling overwhelmed and unproductive is not fun.   It's depressing.  

I want to feel productive.  Like I'm contributing to this world, some how, some way.  Another thing I lost with this illness.  Feeling like I could contribute.  Be a giver, rather than a taker.

I think if I could figure out a way to start sharing my family research it would help with those feelings.  I know other family members would be interested.  I could feel good about that, sharing with them.  I just need to figure out a way to start.  To put one foot in front of another.   Writing here has helped, I think, to get my head out of Second Life 24/7.  It's since writing here that I've started thinking about what to do about my family research material.   So, perhaps, that would be one way...just pick a person and start writing about them, not requiring "complete" or tight analysis.   I guess that would be a start.  I just have to make sure I don't dig myself another overwhelming hole...I'm already surrounded by too many of them.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

home

I heard the wind last night.  "howling" is a descriptor often used, not sure this quite rose to that gale standard. but always there, insistent, a drone, crescendo, decrescendo, background, then in-your-face, gusting, gusting, over and over, all night long and into the morning, perhaps all day...  this is a March wind, I recognize it, welcome it, the times they are  'changin'...spring skies blue, pale blue shifting between translucent cyan...aqua...sky blue depending upon the sun's shifting light.   how could one ever paint or photograph the sky and capture/express the fluid beauty?

I love that I can hear the wind inside my house.   That I can hear/feel rain drum on the roof, unmuffled by attic space.   I love that when I lie in bed or sit in any chair or stand almost anywhere nature is front and center...the major player in my open, open home.   Feeling the sun, moon, skies, the tall, tall white pines flow through each day, season ... that's me.   It's always been me...my need for...my connection with the natural world.    

In Second Life, the same...open, natural spaces...a simple, partially walled mountain one-room cabin...virtual fresh mountain air...an expanse that seems to go for miles and miles...home-sweet-home...brings me peace...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Barbie doll

I woke up this morning actually looking forward to doing things, Second Life.  Another corner turned, soon hopefully turning enough to get back to where I was, energy-wise, before this cold/flu decked me.  

Yesterday and the day before I noticed spring skies outside my windows. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but the skies looked different than winter ones.   Blue, for one, with well-defined puffy white clouds.   Sunset Wednesday, the clear robin's egg blue was tinged with pale pink.   Maybe it's the pastels that make me think "spring skies."   I went out yesterday, the first time since this illness struck, and it was good to feel the sun, gentle cool breeze however briefly.   I didn't see flowers, but I wasn't looking either, late February would be outrageously early for this part of New England.

This morning it's back to grey winter skies, and even ten minutes of large, fluffy snowflakes, a brief reminder of winter, leaving no long-term traces.

I don't want to spend a lot of time writing here today, or thinking about what to write.   I want to rush into Second Life and work on old and new projects and homework.  while I have energy to do that, cause who knows how long the energy will last, I've been crashing mentally and emotionally by 5pm recently.  I *should* spend real world time on real life projects.  I'm going to that week-long institute again in June and I really need to get my head back into the family history research game to take full advantage of it, not to mention getting myself prepared for productive visits to state archives going and returning.  One of the objectives for this blog seems to be working...getting my head more into real life by spending more time there even if it's just writing the blog...I've started thinking about my family research again, mulling it over in my brain, thinking of how I might keep it more manageable, next step is to get started, better start soon it's almost March.

After getting up, I did my Second Life errands with coffee and bread-and-jam ( I remember Frances, do you? ).   Errands mean hitting boards at favorite stores.  Prizes are given if enough hit the boards.  My regular boards include a few clothing stores, more for full perm building related prizes of textures, sounds, animations, templates, etc.  And then I remembered that one of my stores sent out a notice  yesterday about new group gifts...I was too tired to go yesterday, but went this morning, collecting both female and male gifts as I usually do, because women are so lucky, and can wear lots of male clothing and still be feminine, if somewhat eccentric, which is fine with me.   and then I noticed a display of men's shirts.  It is an Italian store, these shirts appeared interesting, artistic, unique to me and I immediately thought of my friend, and wondered if he'd like one, would he wear it, if so, which one would he like, etc, etc, etc.

This is an example of what I mean when I say I'm a different woman in Second Life.   I hate shopping real life, especially malls.   I feel so much pressure to buy, don't know why, but I do.  Book and fabric stores are the exception, because I love handling the merchandise.  I have a really hard time making a purchasing decision in a store, it can be next to impossible...making a choice.  The idea of window shopping...looking at stuff...as a pleasurable pastime -- one of the "curious" passions women are supposed to have, but not me.   Discussing the relative merits and weaknesses...omg why is this interesting to anyone?  Objectively, I guess I can sort of see it, but for others, not me.  whatever floats your boat.

It's like when my family moved to Baltimore County 1960 the summer before I entered sixth grade. Two neighborhood girls came to say "hi" and ask me to play with them.  Barbies.  yes, Barbies.  I remember staring at them, thinking "what am I going to do?  is this what I'm expected to do here?  to fit in?"  

I don't know if I had ever played with dolls seriously.  I don't remember doing that.  I had a Barbie, one of the 1960s original, black pony tail with the black-and-white striped bathing suit and heels.   She also had handmade clothing sewn by my Grandma, a green-blue plaid square dance dress.  I had a knitting spool where I could do the equivalent of finger weave tube dresses for her.  But I don't remember playing much with Barbie.  I remember playing outside, roaming neighborhoods on my bike, roller skates, and on foot through forests, grassy telephone right-of-ways offering hidden connecting highways.  having special hiding places in trees, bramble-fortresses, street games like spud, or hide-and-seek, or capture the flag, or building snow forts, saucer sledding down steep interstate-exit-exchange-under-construction hills.

Inside, I remember board games, card games, reading, reading, reading, playing doctor with my best friend D., reading, reading, reading, creating a school and teaching my brother, assigning homework math problems I had created, reading, reading reading.   I must have done arts and crafts, because one of my most treasured books "Make It Book" is totally worn and in pieces, and so many pages look familiar, but I don't remember making that stuff now.  So maybe I did play with dolls and just don't remember.

What I do know is that when those two very nice and welcoming neighbor girls offered to play Barbies with me when I was ten-almost-eleven, that was not part of my self-concept....a girl who played Barbies.  that was not "me."  I probably did play with them that afternoon, but my neighborhood playmates were the boys, and we played street games in the alley behind the row-houses, played capture-the-flag in firefly-lit summer evenings, snow-fort wars in winter where I remember being "caught" around the chest by a boy older, bigger than me and thinking 'mmm...I like how that feels'   [huge smile]

I somehow maintained this type of play until the next time we moved, fall of my ninth grade year.  I remember thinking after that move that that was the end of that...no more roaming with the guys (I wonder if there were other gals, there could have been, I'm sure, but my sense is that I was hanging out 'with the boys').   It was a real loss.   I remember how I felt.   Future friends continued to include platonic guys, I never felt comfortable with the "typical" expectations for girls, or what I thought those were.  like playing with Barbies.   or shopping.

Now, when I think of that, I wonder.  as a mother of two daughters.  as an adult who's worked extensively with young women ages ten through eighteen.   I really wonder.  My experience, the things I remember thinking about, how I saw myself, ages 11-14 ... it seems so different than what I've observed in others.   Is it because the times are sooooo different?  That would be an easy answer, somehow I doubt it...human nature doesn't change that much, that quickly.   I bet there were plenty of 1960s young women when I was growing up basically indistinguishable from the one's I've known in the 1990s and 2000s.   I suspect that it's more likely that, for whatever reasons, I had developed a concept of what it meant to be "me" that was at odds with the more "normal" female stereotype.

And yet, with all that history, the facts are these about the Second Life me:

I dress to please a man.
I spend lindens on my appearance and clothing in an effort to please a man.
I spend time thinking about my appearance and clothing to please a man.

Before meeting this man, I didn't do any of the above things...it wouldn't have occurred to me.  It would have seemed weak, insecure, self-effacing.  Real life, too, in most ways.

And, now, having met him, it's all ok.  More than ok.  I like...love...it...him.

There's more, but this is enough to make my humiliating point.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One Moment

Today's is hard.  Finding the words.   But it's important because it's part of a self I'm discovering/exploring.   A quite unexpected part.

Last evening my dear one and I chatted, catching up on our days, current projects, and went dancing before logging and going to bed real life.

[minutes pass as I think of what to write next]

I could describe the setting...this is truly one of the most beautiful places to dance in Second Life, geographically, architecturally, and the dance animations are superb.

I could describe a sequence of events, what we talked about, the dances, the songs playing, the energy ebbs and flows leading up to my point.

But, honestly, none of that matters except to "tell a story" and right now I have little story to tell.  What's all important to me is a moment. Describe it, touch it, capture it, examine it, fuss with it, perhaps gain insight into what's going on with me.

[more minutes pass]   I'll be lucky if I can describe it.  This could be a very long day.

My attention is primarily on our words in our private chat window, I relish our smooth dance moves,  I'm happy-humming, feeling close, synchronized in his arms, dancing as "one," feeling attraction energy flow through me, around me, but this is mainly in the background as I am *almost* fully engaged with our words.

The world stops.   I can't hear the music.  I can't remember what we were talking about.  My mind is a total blank.  I can't breathe.  He has me pinned to the dance floor.  All my attention is focused on him.   All of it.  the world is poised on some balance...waiting...waiting.  I feel so exposed.  vulnerable.  helpless.  quivering.  his.  all his.   yearning, aching, offering

hello woman......

i like u in surrender...

[how does he know what I'm feeling?  somehow this one knows, he always has, or so it's seemed to me]

I've struggled to make some inane responses, mind blank, utterly tongue-tied, vibrating, resonating to him, totally open, totally open.

I can't imagine how he experiences this moment or me in this moment.   I'm so inarticulate, it's all internal, powerful emotion surging through me, like turbulent waters crashing down mountain ravines with winter's thaw.  In real life he would have heard my gasp, seen my eyes open, mesmerized, drowning in his. he would feel the hush, the quivering, the waiting, held breath, the slight arching of my mouth upwards to his, the subtle invitation of my neck, breasts, my groin reaching up ...

but in second life, private chat window banalities...

and then... the moment is over...back to dancing...his choice because I'm still paralyzed...a few seconds after the animation change, I start breathing again, my head begins to clear, and soon we're talking again, and now for me the thrumming sounds strong, insistent, less in the background.

It's taken four hours to write this much, interspersed with real life phone calls and errands.   Time to wrap up.

woman...surrender

These words are key.  This one has an uncanny knack of using words, intonations that strike deep chords in me.

The woman I am in Second Life (with him) seems different than the one I am in real life.  Significantly.  Alien somehow.  I can't think of a time when I consciously experienced myself surrendering to another person, and liking, wanting it.  Yet, I can't imagine being any other way with this dear one.

I suspect of all the things I've thought about because of my virtual experiences, this may be the most enlightening, most significant.

Perhaps future entries will explore my real life coming of age choices versus those made in second life.  But not this entry.  

Suffice it to say, last night when I nestled my head on my pillow, wrapping cozy micro-fleece sheet and down comforter around me, I also snuggled into this moment and welcomed my dreams.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Glow

Turned a corner with this illness.  No longer sleepy-all-the-time, but sniffling, sneezing, coughing.  So, so pleasant,  but nice not to feel like a total zombie.

I spent most of yesterday's Second Life with my dear one, business and personal.    My heart fluttered trying to soar as it always does when I'm with him, but this illness takes that high from me.   I was grateful for the fluttering, though.

I felt welcome calm seeping through me as we talked.  The emotional turmoil, the intensity moves to the periphery, making room for the peace, quiet, and yes, happiness I feel when I'm with him.   My heart fills with love for him, so precious this one.  This happens every time I'm with him.  It doesn't matter what we do or say, really.

I have no idea why he has this effect on me.  Or if/why I am "imagining" this effect.   It's hard enough in real life to know what's real and what's imagined.   Virtual lives top that confusion in spades.   All I know is what I experience, whatever the reasons.  

I remember another one, another time where I experienced similar feelings.    It's been so long it's hard to say definitively that it was exactly the same, but my mind grasps this memory as "the one."

Summer of 1971, a post-graduation cross-country road trip, New York City to California, two couples and two singles, in a rented van, yada yada.  The couples were two classmates and their graduate student boyfriends.  I was one single and the other was a German mathematics graduate student studying in the US for a year.  I think he was 27, but I might be remembering wrong.  I don't remember exactly how I came to go.   I suspect it was my friend(A)'s idea, she could persuade me to do almost anything, even a whirlwind, highly scheduled trip which really isn't my thing at all.  I bet A became an excellent lawyer, like she wanted, all almost five feet of her [big grin].

A potentially awkward situation, four cooing lovebirds and two loners.   ah, the pressure (A did tell me she had matchmaking hopes, a later matchmaking hope eventually evolved via circuitous routes into my real life partner)...but at that time in my life my walls were still firmly in place, as they had been since childhood.   So firm and definitive, that few even tried.  Or I didn't recognize the trying, the signals.  Hard to tell, it was so long ago.  The few that did try, well one I was able to develop into a good friend and we had all sorts of fun exploring NYC and a couple years later I was overjoyed when he found true love, a beautiful young woman who complemented him in so many ways.   So, anyway, I went "on the road" not particularly worrying about A's matchmaking schemes, or peer pressure.  As for J, the German grad student, he wanted to see more of America before he returned home in September.

How does one explain or even understand when two are sympatico?   Shared glances.  Shared laughter.  Shared awe in the presence of natural splendor.   Shared peace, quiet.   How much is real, how much is illusion.   What I remember is that soon into that trip I woke up each morning to a world that glowed brighter, shimmered more sweetly, an inner humming of joy... because this one person was there to share it.   How could that happen with not a word spoken?  Or even knowing whether it was reciprocated?  because I never did find out if it was...and does it matter?  I'm not sure that it does, my feelings were what they were.  I'm pretty sure my heart was flagrant on my sleeve and I didn't care.  I didn't care at all when I took homemade chocolate chip cookies down to the NYC docks, along with my farewell, waving as I watched the ship leave the harbor for Europe.

I've very, very rarely felt compelled to write.   This time was one of them.  I wrote a poem expressing my feelings and had it taped for years where I could see it each morning when I opened my eyes and each night when I shut them.  It wasn't a particularly good poem, but it was mine and I knew what it meant.

               ***
A golden ray of sunshine.
The gentle murmur of waves, caressing
The black silence of a star-filled sky
A green-glow ash-tree glen
A solitary mountain staring into eternity
A rainbow at sunrise
     a symphony of love
          a single flower
You are to me all of these.

Yesterday
A shadow, a dream
Doubts of being, of caring
An uneasy restlessness...uncertainty
The chaotic fog of being alone.

Today the hunger is gone
Each moment an infinitude of joy...of children's laughter.
Miraculous life wonder
Peaceful order
A constellation in the sky.

Are you
Were you ever
How I see you...feel you
Perhaps a mirror
Of my needs...growth...my being
Reality...illusion
Substance...dream
The truth remains
You have touched me.

Tomorrow
An ocean separates
The cutting pain of new-found loneliness
Mind confusions of half-memories
Hollow absence, painful presence
Lost, half-being
Searching for those child's eyes
To live for today
With you...my dream of you...the smile of you
Ever gentle
In the shadows of my mind.

(September, 1971)
               ***

AFTERMATH
I was so frustrated with myself for not having reached out to that one.   So stuck in my walls.  So awkward in my virginity.   I decided that was something I could do something about, and I did within the next year, choosing a "safe" math professor (hadn't been my teacher for several years) friend in an open marriage fifteen years my senior.  This time when the signals were given I let biology do it's thing and had a great time.  Safety is another kind of wall, you know, easy to let go when you know there's a net that won't let you fall far.

That glowing happiness though is rare, so rare.  I have it off and on with my real life partner, somewhat muted, but it's been there, just not recently for a multitude of reasons.   I had it when each of my children was born.  Those honeymoons lasted months and months, when they were my entire universe.  I still feel all glow-y when I'm with my adult children, their energies ebbing and flowing around, through me.  and now in Second Life.  I treasure every precious moment of that glow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why get out of bed?

Still tired...so much sleep and still tired. Maybe not as light-headed, but it's only been ten minutes, we'll see in an hour or so, if I make it that long.  And, to answer the question, I got out of bed because I was so bored staying there.

I wake up with no feeling of direction or purpose.  That's how I've felt much of my life, but usually I mask it with busy-ness.  Keeping busy is certainly a way to not think about it.  Being ill has stripped even that surrogate away.  I have no energy to be busy, so I wallow in emptiness.  I really would like something else to wallow in.

What is the meaning of life?

I don't know, why do we think there is one?  What does "meaning" mean anyway?

This question has come up occasionally in Second Life.  If I were really diligent I'd carefully examine all my chat logs and extract the relevant lines to share here.   But I don't have the energy to do that today, maybe another time, and maybe never.  For now, my imperfect memory will have to suffice.  and there's always that discussion of whether it's the impression/memory that's more "true" or the documented "facts"...I generally tend to fall in the "facts" group (at least striving to include them in any analysis) but I'm too lazy to find the "facts" right now.

Once in Second Life, someone asked flippantly, "What is the meaning of life?" and I answered, "The meaning of life is whatever you want it to mean...assuming we're not talking about biological imperatives, which is not what most mean when they ask this question."   The biological imperatives are important...food, taking care of ourselves so we survive, procreation.   Not that  each individual has to procreate, but as a species I suspect this is an imperative, which is why (I think) sex is such a powerful experience and motivator for each of us, independent of whether or not we procreate.

Another Second Life friend told me that the most important thing in life was to have fun.   I told her that the most important thing to me was to connect.   I wonder if we each chose things that are scarce in our lives. I know I did.  My feelings of connections have not been all that many.   I should try to figure out why and if there's anything I can do to change that.  I bet if I felt more connected I wouldn't feel so empty right now.  Not the same thing as direction or purpose, but I wonder if having a general feeling of connectedness would suffice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This Blog

So tired today...I've got a cold/flu of some sort and all I want to do is sleep around the coughing.

A few days ago a Second Life friend told me about her "Morning Page" journals, started after reading "The Artists Way" recommended by a counselor.  I've been feeling the need to do something similar...express somehow the turmoil inside.  It's been building.   I've been so emotional the past few months.  so fragile.   At a local produce store, just before Thanksgiving, someone I haven't seen in a long time asked me how I was doing.  You know, the question we always ask each other, expecting the routine response.   I tried to say "fine" and I couldn't.  My voice cracked, tears came to my eyes, and my friend knew I was not fine at all.  So did my real life partner standing right there beside me, and he never asked, never asked at all.  Or maybe I'm mistaken and he didn't notice (observe that I didn't ask him either).  Either way I felt so, so alone, totally on my own, which I know in the end we all are...alone...but right now at this time in my life that feels especially painful.

Thanksgiving week I even made a list of "topics," doing my usual thing of turning the simplest idea into a major project.  I started writing one but never finished or posted...something else that is typical for me, not finishing.

Maybe, hopefully,  expressing thoughts in words will help relieve the inner pressure. To transfer them from inside to outside.  That's my hope anyway.  In any case, this blog is not in Second Life, so it also represents time spent in real life, sort of.   That's another goal, to reconnect to real life, and perhaps "processing" my Second Life experiences might help with that transition.

It took me hours to write yesterday's blog.   If this is gonna work, it can't take that much time.  It can't be "a production."  So, this is it for today.   I'm going back to sleep.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lost

I've really gotten a bit lost here in Second Life...very lost, if I'm honest with myself.

I look at how I spend my time...much too much time...and what I do.  I seem to have created a 2nd life very similar to my once real life.  I make commitments and take those responsibilities seriously, to classes, groups, a very special airship project, and a dear, dear, dear one (there are not enough "dear"s in the world to express my connection with this one).   I make friends...just like real life there are those one "clicks" with...and try to make time keeping up with those friendships.  Like real life, I have lots of alone, "me" time, when I work on whatever I want to do, learning and creating in Second Life is so satisfying.  and like real life there are "housekeeping" chores, like shopping, organizing one's stuff...and like real life, these tasks are low on my priority list.

So, why?  why have a second life that mirrors so closely my real life?  and also pushes out real life because of the sheer amount of time spent in my virtual one?

I don't know.  So many here talk about Second Life being a place where they can explore their fantasies.  I think that happens for me in selected moments, and it's incredibly enlightening, but it's not because that's what I set out to do.   and it's not what I "feel" like I'm doing when I'm there...exploring a fantasy.

I think one reason is that there has been a major change in my real life in the past few years...major changes affecting what I can do real life.   Health changes...and it's so, so true that good health is wasted on the healthy. (please, everyone, seize each moment of every day and love it, cherish it)   Months of physical pain, not being able to put one foot on the floor pain-free, or grasp anything.  Months and months of so little mental energy that I couldn't  focus enough to read a book, or watch tv.  A long, long time "existing," if one could call it that.  I remember thinking often that I should just die and get it over with.  It was really hard to put on a "happy face" and I'm sure I fooled no one.

The mental energy came back, mostly, but the physical is still far from returned.   At the current improvement rate it will take 20 years to get back to where I was 5 years ago.  I look at those numbers and I despair.  It could be worse, it could always be worse, but, you know what, that doesn't make me feel any better.  Maybe the next time I fill out that doctor's office survey, I'll answer "not at all" to "please rate your ability to handle feelings of depression."  I try really hard to focus on the fact that I am experiencing improvement, that it's change in the right direction, but it takes energy to hold on to that focus, and many times I don't have it.

So there's the obvious, in Second Life I move free!  I run!  I dance!  and every time I do, I feel joy, kinesthetic memories flood thru me and I remember...remember how it feels physically and how much I relish the rhythm, movement, strength, fluidity.   I experience also pain... an ache, nostalgia for those times in real life that I fear may never come again.  In the beginning of my Second Life this nostalgic pain was a faint undercurrent, but it's grown in the past few months.  Tears, hot, salty ones, drip off my face as I write this.  This pain feels a lot like when I've grieved in real life, intense, the drowning, mind-numbing kind...again, the obvious, that I'm grieving the loss of physical mobility.   but I think there's something more than the obvious, because this pain-grief-sense-of-loss has changed, grown in the time I've spent in Second Life.   I think a topic for another time...exploring those feelings.

and all the social connections I make in Second Life, well it's the same dynamic.  Real life changes meant I couldn't continue the commitments I had (I was able to keep one by the skin of my teeth).   At first, I relished increased "me" time, developed personal research projects, but after months realized I was lonely for real human contact, in spite of extensive online interactions. So a 2011 resolution was to "get out more."  Physically I had improved enough so that it was feasible (sort of) to consider getting out of the house as long as getting out wasn't cast in concrete...that I could decide not to go if getting out of bed that morning I knew it was going to be a "bad" day.  Very difficult to make any "real" commitment to activities out in the world.   I did it though...joined a local society, went to some meetings, some conferences, and was even able to go to a week-long genealogy institute last June.  and then a wonderful trip to Hawaii's Big Island last October.  I cannot remember when, if ever, my (real)life partner and I spent time having fun, just us.  Hopefully that's because my memory is faulty, but I have a suspicious feeling that it might be pathetically true, for the most part. These events were touch-and-go though, lots of anxiety over whether I could "do" it (lots of telling myself if it didn't work out I could just turn around and "go home"), guilt over being a "burden."  It wasn't easy, I sure wish I could have approached these experiences with more peace and equanimity, but I couldn't.  Totally exhausting, and Second Life was/is always there, where it's deceptively easier to connect socially, do things, and the hardest thing one has to deal with is lag.

I think a lot about "connecting" in Second Life...like why it happens, just because I find interpersonal and group interactions interesting in any life.  The fact is that I definitely have found people in Second Life with whom I *feel* like I *connect.*    What those words mean to me is also a topic for another time I think, but bottom line is that I suspect Second Life connections may end up being a tremendous source of frustration for me, because how far can they really go?  what are they really based on?  wouldn't it be better to spend time nourishing real life connections?  aye, there's the real-life-rub, isn't it?   Again, this reflects my concept of "relationship," what I find meaningful, which may be probably different from others.  or maybe it's a question of balance, that if my real life were more robust, then the expectations/needs brought to my virtual life could be designated as "fun," "entertainment" and it would all be "good."

My real life is missing human contact, I think, I know...again a topic to be explored another time.  Second Life will not help with that in any way...and my neediness is a terrible burden to bring to virtual relationships.

So it seems that the "fantasy" I'm "exploring" in Second Life is similar to my once-real life.  How totally boring compared to those exploring their gender identities, or their furry/fae/supernatural natures.  And it looks like it's because it's easier than real life right now, or reminds me of "the good times."   The problem is, that all this time spent in a virtual world does nothing, or very, very, very little, to change my real life for the better, even if it's a lot of fun (for the most part).   Life isn't something that just happens to us, you know.  or at least, it's unlikely one gets the life one wants by waiting for life to happen.  

When I first started getting "lost" in Second Life (meaning that my inner life became more and more dominated by 2nd Life thoughts, even during time when I was doing things real life)  I thought it was because of my addictive tendencies for virtual environments.   In many ways that's true...that's why I went off exploring initially...but the "getting lost" seems a bit more than that, and I'm not quite sure I understand the dynamics yet all that well.   Recently I've described it as "taking a vacation" from real life...and that's true too.   Enjoying moving virtually (and, oh, the dancing, yes the dancing!), meeting people from all over the world, having interesting conversations, finding a few I especially care for, one quite deeply, and *ignoring* the real life projects that surround me, ones I had expanded to the point of being totally overwhelming...well this has been a great vacation if one thinks escapism is the way to go.   I'm not sure how this virtual vacation helps my real life.  I think it shows how much I'm willing to put myself in escape-mode, and that's very, very sad.  

I need to figure out a way back.  I remember a discussion I had with a political science professor decades ago, pretty much about this kind of issue (the course was about alienation in society)...making changes in one's life.  and I said then (I remember this clearly) "just do it.  if you want to be different, if you want things to be different, start doing it, act, the actions bring changes in attitude, self-concept."   Wasn't I just so clever (perhaps even smug in my certainty) when I was eighteen?  "Be the change you want to be"  or whatever the quote is. I remember how he wanted to explore that idea (I can remember his first name, Marty, isn't that interesting? tall, lean, I vaguely remember a whitish/grayish neatly trimmed beard, I think)...and I remember thinking "isn't this obvious? why is my comment even interesting?"   Now I wonder what life-crisis Marty might have been experiencing then.  Because, I'll tell you from where I'm sitting right now, more than forty years later, it feels hard, darn hard, to "just do it."