Monday, July 27, 2009

Black Swan (and "How the Lindens Had Me by My Imaginary Walnuts")

(Um, yeah, this picture wasn't turning out, there's a snowman's butt behind my left ear, and I got tired of messing around with Windlight settings, so I made that face to express the horror of my photography skills, gave up and just hit "Save.")

Last night, I snuck over to Black Swan for a sneak preview of all the fabulous creations in Rezzable's latest and *sniff* last fashion show, Swan Song. I ended up pretty much pillaging the vendor area (there's gotta be a better word for "vendor area").

I had to promise not to blog any of my outfits before the fashion show at noon SLT today at Black Swan. If you miss today's event, no worries. Two other fashion shows will take place at 2 p.m. Aug. 2 and at 6 p.m. Aug. 17, both SLT time of course (because really, does any other time zone matter?).

So anyway, per instructions, I'm not showing you my purchases. I'm just saying that I spent a fortune. In my opinion, the designers really outdid themselves this year. There's something for everyone, and all of it is fantastic. Bravo!

Now let's get back to the "I spent a fortune" part of that sentence up there. Although I spent quite a bit, I actually toned down the Black Swan shopping this time. I used to go mad with lust at these shows, snatching up almost every expensive and extravagant gown with the rationalization, "It's not just an outfit. It's an art piece specifically created for a remarkable event, possibly not to be sold again."

And now, three shows later, I'm left with "Black Swan" inventory folders full of, yes, exquisite works . . . but many of which I've never worn. Some of them are gorgeous but impractical -- for instance, where can I wear Eshi's memorable ballerina-inspired creation? It's Second Life, so I guess the answer is wherever I want, whenever I damn well please, but as you can see from my previous post, at heart I'm a "jeans and funny T-shirt" kind of gal.

So last night as I was once again dropping lindens left and right -- albeit this time with a more "will I really wear this dress?" perspective -- I vowed not only to make an effort to wear all these purchases, but to also wear ALL my previous Black Swan purchases during the upcoming weeks, even if I'm gonna be waltzing around covered from head to toe in feathers at times.

Since I can't wear a current Black Swan fashion in this post, in the photo at top I'm wearing Baiastice's B Synergie Black Swan outfit from (I believe) the first show, along with Tuli's Black Swan skin (maybe from the second show). You can't see the skin very well in that photo, so here's a big damn picture of my face to break up this text:


And yep, today was the first time I've worn either of those creations since I bought them. And OOPS I cheated. I AM wearing one of last night's finds. I'm just not telling you what it is.

All this Black Swan babbling leads me to "how the Lindens had me by my imaginary walnuts." (Sorry, I just couldn't put the word "balls" in a headline.)

Whenever I think about killing my SL account as a self-imposed tough-love tactic, (emotions and friends aside) I think about ALL the MONEY I've spent in Second Life and it stops me in my tracks. I'm sure if I did the math I'd calculate that I've spent more than $500 USD at the least to *cringe* around $1,500 at the most.

And then I think, "My God, how can I delete something in which I've invested SO MUCH money??" Particularly in a place where, sadly, we can't donate the fruits of our inventories to a thrift store for new or financially strapped residents. If I killed my Second Life account, I'd essentially be deleting hundreds of real-life dollars worth of purchases.

For instance, the recent brief fling with Jon cost me about $30 USD for his makeover (see previous posts) . . . and then he took off. As much as I miss him, I also wince and think of the money I flushed down the toilet, particularly during these financially strapped times. (Yeah, that's what I get for being a Sugar Mama.) If a $30 break-up causes that kind of financial regret, think how I'd feel if I deleted MY whole avatar!

So YES, for a while I thought, "Wow, the Lindens are smart business people. They really have me by the balls now, considering the extent to which I am financially (not to mention emotionally) invested in their virtual world."

But this morning I figured out a way to justify my accumulated SL spending . . . and even a way to peacefully let go of Emerald Wynn when it's finally time. I only say "when it's finally time" because I can't imagine staying active in Second Life for years and years. I just can't. I used to love my life. It's my mission to one day love it again, so much so that I want to spend every waking moment soaking it up. While many of you have managed a healthy incorporation of Second Life into your real lives, I admit that for me Second Life primarily is a form of escapism, procrastination and, yes, a way to fill some (hopefully temporary) voids in my life. But it also provides me with friendship, laughter and a creative outlet, so it's serving a valuable purpose right now. When I do leave it for good, it will be with gratitude.

So while I'm at it, I have a question for you, and I'd love your feedback: "Are you in Second Life to stay, meaning, now that you're here do you think it'll always be a part of your life?"

On letting go, my thinking is this: I live by Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace plan, and if you're unfamiliar with it, you might want to Google it and look into it. It's helped me significantly reduce my debt and get my spending organized and under control, even now when I'm working part-time.

Per this money management plan, I set aside an appropriate amount of money each month for recreation. When that money runs out, I'm done with recreation. My Second Life lindens come from that budget line.

There were times in the past when I'd spend large amounts of my recreation budget on Broadway shows and expensive meals. Think about it -- a decent ticket to a Broadway show costs more than $100. A lavish meal with friends and lots of drinks can cost $300 to $500, depending on the size of your group. These are extremely pleasurable experiences that aren't permanently tangible but can leave lasting memories and enrich a moment in time.

If I stop thinking of my avatar and my inventory as "purchased possessions" and start thinking of Second Life as a non-tangible (obviously) and, yes, fleeting (in the grand scheme of things) form of recreation -- as is a beautiful play, a thrilling extended vacation during which we make lifelong friends, or an excellent multi-course meal shared with loved ones -- I believe that one day I'll be able to let go of my thousand-dollar SL experience with love and no "OMG I spent sooooo much money there!" regrets and think:

"Wow, what a beautiful trip that was."


Terri Zhangsun said...

Am I in SL to stay? Well, yes and no. For the past year and 1/2 I have been preoccupied with SL spending as much time in it as I could. If I was off from RL work, I would spend eight hours a day in there and more if I could. I would spend more time with my virtual pet as my RL pet laid there on the floor next to me wanting my time. I would log on and be more concerned with sorting inventory or hunting then spending time doing things around the house or spending time with my RL husband.

I think I have FINALLY gotten my priorities straight after all this time. My priorities...I'm not judging anyone else and the time that they spend in SL or their reason, etc. This is about me.

The excitment or rush I used to get from SL is gone. I will still get on now occasionally to take some pretty pics and fix them up in Picnik and use it as a creative outlet but that is it.

I still keep up with the blogs and plurk because there are some people that I like to keep in touch with plus I get bored at work and need something to do sometimes! LOL!

So yes, I will still stay in SL maybe even keep my little house and land for a few more months but will I stay in it like I used to...No...nothing like I used to...not at all.

Emerald Wynn said...

Thanks, Terri. It's really interesting to hear people's perspectives on the place. When I first started SL, I had a full-time job and even a *gasp* serious boyfriend, so way back when, I'd log on some evenings after work when I had free time, the boyfriend and my friends were busy, and there was nothing on TV. Back then it was more of a last-resort, kick back with a glass of wine and mess around with clothes and skin kind of thing. Only after I quit my job and had a ton of time on my hands did I start to get maybe too immersed in it.

I'd like to get back to that beginning place, where it's fun and I love being there and chatting with my friends, but it doesn't take up crucial space in my head, you know? LOL

And yes, like you said, this is just MY perspective of how it affects MY life. I know Second Life means different things to different people. I can only speak to how it directly affects me. :)

Alicia Chenaux said...

I don't see myself leaving SL any time in the future. The only thing that would make me pull away is if I had a baby. And even then, it would just be pulling away, it wouldn't be leaving. [Hey, mama's gotta have fun too.] But since babies are probably not in the immediate future, here I am. :)

SL has enriched my life more than almost anything else I've done. Most of my friends I no longer consider "Just SL" friends. I talk about you guys to my local friends as if you were local too. And luckily, my friends here don't even think about it anymore. To them, you all are just my friends, no different than anyone else. Of course, most of them I met online as well, through chat rooms or forums, so meeting friends in SL makes sense to them, although they don't quite *get* SL.

If I weren't doing this, I would be doing something else that probably wasn't good - like eating too much, shopping for things that only momentarily gave me pleasure and cluttered my house for months or years to come [I once bought 63 eye liners in one month just because I needed to shop. Ask me how often I even actually wear eyeliner.], or I'd be planning my life around tv. I wouldn't have learned so much about Photoshop, fashion, art, other cultures. I wouldn't have reclaimed my love for writing. I've learned and changed and grown so much because of SL.

So um, to stop writing a novel in your comments, yeah - I think I'm here for the long haul. :)

Emerald Wynn said...

Good point -- if I weren't doing this, I too would probably be blowing money on things I don't need and watching too much television. Second Life got me writing on a regular basis again, even if it IS just this silly blog. For a while I never wanted to write anything again EVER.

And I spent a ton of time playing "The Sims" before this. At least I'm interacting with real people now and not just managing and coming up with creative ways to kill off a fake family.

It has really changed the way I think about at-home recreation. I'm not sure if anything will ever quite compare, if we're talking about staying inside.

Ari said...

I've rambled about this in my blog, but SL to me was a huge 'point of reference' when I changed countries 2 years ago. In fact, I first downloaded it when I knew we were going to move, six months before that. But when so much was changing, my 'home' on SL was still there. I wonder if this is part of it for you too?

Then I learned how to build, and it felt like it was a hobby that had been waiting for me forever. Loved it. And, er, yes the clothes too. And MOST of all, the friends.

Yes, there are periods when I get completely sucked in (ooooo new build! Must just texture this, tweak that...).

I still put RL work first, though, and still *have* an RL in general, even if I do rush through a few things so I can get back to throwing prims around at times.

I can't see me leaving in the foreseeable future. I've 'grown up' a bit in SL (over some things) but still wallow in adolescent glee / despair at times too. But all in all I think I've taken a little (hey, I said a LITTLE) distance.

Cristopher Lefavre said...

Am I in SL to stay? Yes, I think, IF I manage to finish the process of making SL a part of my one life, like blogs and facebook and internet banking is now.

Really living a full Second Life is like burning my candle in both ends. I end up feeling discontented with both lives, not really being present in either but allways worrying about things happening in the one I am temporarily disconnect from.

I hope I can stay to create, make friends and just have fun, without it being too serious and all-time involving.

Amie Adamski said...

I don't know if I'm in SL to stay. I have been going on it less and less this summer but I have been so busy.

I will graduate in December so hopefully I will be able to find a full time job and other things in RL may take me away from SL so I figure I have less than a year before I either stop completely or don't come online everyday.

I don't know in a year it may be different, I may be online more because I can't find a job :)

Emerald Wynn said...

LOL Welcome to my world, Amie. :D

*waves up at Ari and Christopher*

Quaintly Tuqiri said...

Actually I suspect my relationship with Karl is the main thing keeping me in SL right now, and if the relationship were to go bust for whatever reason, I might not log into SL anymore. I do have friends in SL (like you ;)) but due to time zone issues hardly see them, and in the end although I still consider them "real" friends there are other modes of communication apart from SL itself, if we were willing to use those.

When I first started SL, yes, I was a little too into it, but at that time I was going through something similar to what you are now. I'm a lot busier these days and happier with my life and as the void has shrunk, I no longer need SL to fill it.

Having said that, I can see SL always being a part of my life, but a very minor part, something I'd only log into when I have a little free time and do not want to indulge in my other hobbies, or when I want to meet a particular SL friend. Right now, I still log in for at least 30 minutes every day, but sometimes I leave my avatar standing in my garden and go do stuff in Firefox, then come back and log her off.

Jordyn Carnell said...

Hi Wynn, I like the question you raise and decided I'd post my thoughts on my blog. (scheduled it to go life on 8/4/9 that's why it's not there if you go before then.)

But yes, I expect I'll be around for a long time.

Emerald Wynn said...

Thanks, Jordyn. I look forward to reading your thoughts. :)

- Em

Anonymous said...

For someone who clearly thinks they have the gift of the gab or pen, you missed the whole point your original message to Lemania was not critical.
You actually pointed out facts that perhaps hurt you personally i can understand that we all can.

Lemania was gracious enough to reply and apologize.

It was your next reply via blog that did the trick,you do really know how to hurt people!

You did an injustice to a really lovely soft heart ed woman and no its not hero worship...just stating facts,and if her partner and friend was incited to anger i dont blame her at all!I
She was defending the honor of a wonderful woman.
shame on you!