It took me nearly eight months to sit down and write a post about anything. The past two years have been fraught with all sorts of RL difficulties, some of which were exacerbated by in-world events I hinted at in some of my past posts. It was a very hard, uphill struggle, but I found the courage to carry on through therapy and all other efforts I took to pull myself up. Now, our (yes, our) life seems like it’s back on track. Getting my life back and getting it back in order was an arduous, painstaking process, and it necessitated a serious offloading of baggage – and much of this baggage had to do with SL. A clean-up was in order.
This is the second time I sit down to blog about a build I’m tinkering with. Last time around, I had turned my attention to the Iona Conservatory by Trompe Loeil. Did it turn out well? Well, the stair steps I made for the entrance left a bit to be desired, but I’ll get back to work on that particular build some time in the not-too-distant future. Ever since then, I launched a two-pronged (for the time being) effort to adapt, customise and optimise builds for a new, public access, sim I am planning and which will, hopefully, be put in place sometime next year. The basis of both projects are builds by well-regarded and award-winning SL architect Apple Fall. Chronologically, the first one I started to tackle was the Country Hall, which was featured in January’s Shiny Shabby event. The second, which is the one I’m currently working on, is the Portobello Corner Store, which was featured in The Liaison Collaborative last year.
Yes, I know: You can really hear the crickets in my blog, as the intervals between posts are now in the region of months. It’s true that I don’t blog anywhere near as often as I used to, as I have neither the time nor the willingness to give my SL blogging the effort I used to. I’m far too busy in RL and, truth be told, the things happening in RL make all the SL-related drama look like the bitching about First World Problems it really is.
I know this will offend a bunch of people, but when people are driven to suicide by the chronic unemployment to which they’ve been “sentenced” by the neoliberal psychopaths in charge, when people in our neighbourhoods become homeless overnight because the “bailout” programmes have made even renting a small apartment untenable, I really can’t be arsed to give much thought to the technicalities and intricacies of SL, Sansar, High Fidelity or whatever. Thus, until further notice, this blog shall remain a mere pastime for me, whenever I feel like blogging something.
2015 was a year with many ups and downs, both in RL and SL, and there have been numerous ways in which RL affected my SL and vice versa – and not always in a favourable manner. At any rate, what matters is that I’m still around, and have managed to improve several important parts of my RL.
One of the things I describe myself as is an amateur builder; although I don’t have any proper 3D graphics skills, I do dabble in modifying all sorts of stuff I can get my hands on, provided it comes with the appropriate permissions. I might want to personalise something and make it fit in with a certain project or look I have in mind, or I might want to make it look more realistic, especially when it comes to scale; either way, I don’t usually leave modifiable things “stock”.
Regular readers of this blog might have noticed I’ve put all my analytical and opinion posts on virtual reality, virtual worlds, and Second Life in particular on hold, opting instead to dedicate my time and efforts to my story titled Arianna, of which I’ve already written three chapters. As I’ve explained in a recent post, events in my SL during the past few weeks have been extremely painful to me.
I wrote my heart was broken recently. That was an understatement. These events destroyed my faith, trust, admiration and love for someone I adored and looked up to. They also opened my eyes to how little regard that someone had for me; you certainly don’t let your new lover hurt, humiliate and insult a “valued and trusted friend and confidante” in front of you. At the very least, you’ll be alarmed by such behaviour and you’ll defend your “valued and trusted friend and confidante” – after all, lovers come and go and friends are forever, right? This didn’t happen in my case.
What happened before that fateful Saturday and afterwards, as I discovered more and more of what has been going on, only served to bring back painful memories from my real life. SL for me is, to a great extent, a form of escapism. I have my own RL problems and stresses; I have my whims, fantasies and desires that can’t be satisfied in RL, and SL largely serves as an outlet, creative, social or otherwise. Because of things that had happened in my RL, I’ve been dealing with depression for many years. I tried to deal with it through sporadic cognitive-behavioural therapy (when my finances allowed it) and by keeping myself as busy as possible. RL circumstances beyond my control during the past few years have not been exactly helpful. What happened recently in SL was the final straw. It was the trigger that brought back all the memories I’ve been pushing away, and the catalyst for the fire to burn more intensely inside me, to burn me more intensely and make the pain even worse.
I’ve been trying to take my suffering in silence. It was one little thing after the other that added and added to the burden on my back. I kept trying to adapt. To fit in. To be and do what would not offend, what would be liked and appreciated. It didn’t work. I was shutting myself up and down, emotionally, verbally… In every possible way. Just to hear a good word; a word of truly heartfelt praise or appreciation. To receive a hug, a smile, or a kiss. I kept trying and trying, but to no avail. And then, whatever little I had, or thought I had, was taken away from me and shattered before my eyes.
I decided I’ve remained silent for too long. If it’s OK for others to hurt me, it’s OK for me to speak of what I’ve been through. In my own voice. I decided to tell my story – my first ever organised and concerted attempt to write a story. Thus, Arianna was “born”. The title was taken from the first name of the first SL account I created, way back in 2006. You could say I am Arianna, and it would be true in so many ways. The story itself is a blend of fictional and real events. It is set in a fictional version of the UK. Obviously, neither Ashworth, nor Dagenhull or Sunford exist. And, unlike Arianna, I haven’t committed suicide. That’s not to say I haven’t contemplated it, though, or that I haven’t been tortured – especially recently – by thoughts of whether people would be better off without me. So, while the suicide that kicks off the story and the exploration of what led the protagonist to jump off the bridge is fictional, the events of Arianna’s life are not. They are adaptations of RL and SL events and dialogues that have really happened. By “adaptations”, I mean I’ve adapted the events to fit in with the environments I describe in the story. Perhaps you could say it’s a mixed reality novel. Well, at the very least, it’s inspired and informed by my existence in both the physical and virtual realm.
I mentioned that this story has very real elements. For instance, in the second page of the second chapter, the reader is presented with Arianna’s suicide note. It’s a real suicide note, from my RL. One I had written ten years ago, but never acted on it. As said earlier, the actions, events, and words that led Arianna to jump off the fictional Ashworth bridge are real. They’re words that were really said; they’re events that really happened; in both worlds: the physical and the virtual. Of course, I have changed the names of the people involved, although some might be recognisable – easily or with difficulty.
The – real or perceived – recognisability of the novel’s characters is something that concerned me as I was beginning to write my story. Would it cause upset? Would it cause gossip? Would it… (add whatever worry or concern you want – legitimate or not)? Would rumours start to circulate? Would it cause drama? Shouldn’t I protect those involved? I thought long and hard about it, considering the past, the present… And what could come in whatever future there can be. In the end, I decided to proceed. After all, it’s my story. It’s my pain, and I need to let it all out. I can no longer suffer in silence. I can no longer keep it all inside me. With every word I write, I bleed, for I relive each instant, each moment.
I know people may get upset with what I have to say, but I need to do it. People around me do what they want, and, as far I’ve seen, without asking if and how I’m affected; this time, I’ll do what I need to do. It must also be said here that, just like my post on the “drop” in D/s relationships (which, ironically, is my blog’s most popular post by far), Arianna is something I wished I would never have to write… But there you have it. And you can interpret it in any way you want, depending on your perspective.
As to my “other” blog work… It will continue. I’ll keep my other articles coming, if perhaps at a slower rate. But Arianna is something I need to do. And if anyone gets upset by it… I’m sorry they feel this way.
Chapters already published: