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07 June 2010

Recreated In Silico


When I was 37 I got sick, and everything changed for all time. I was being driven to breaking point by my husband of two years; in fact my life up to that time had been unrelieved stress although I didn't understand that at the time. The added weight of marital stress (I quickly grew to fear him and with good reason) was unbearable, and like a fox caught in a trap I gnawed my own paw off to get free. I had a slight mishap in April, became ill immediately and had double vision (which lasted for months) but no clue what it was. I had a show of my paintings in New York the next week, then flew back prepared to not be picked up at the airport (he'd said he wasn't going to).

I got off the plane and strangely, he was there - but I didn't recognise him at first. I was diagnosed very quickly - within days. Within days I was out of my job, out of the house, out my savings, and no longer who I thought I was, since at 37 I hadn't expected to suddenly lose everything that meant "me" to me. I tried to get back into my marriage all summer until finally he, enraged, dragged our marriage bed out onto the lawn in front of the house and with an axe chopped it up into pieces that can only be described as chips or flakes.

Still, I was alive. I was staying with my mother. One day I was talking to my brother-in-law on the phone and explained that everything was taking me so long. "There's one thing you can't put off. You need to file for a divorce." I did that very day, and had to serve the papers myself, which was traumatic. That was, oh, August or September, I think. I counted down the days until, after six months, it became final.

Wa He Lut
Shortly before that point I was hired by Wa He Lut on the basis of my portfolio. They sent me to a basket-weaving camp on the Hood Canal, at a retreat complex, and we learned how to weave baskets of cedar root, sweetgrass, bear grass, and cedar bark. Bruce Miller, Subiyay, of the Skokomish, was one of the teachers, and it was wonderful to learn from him. I created and ran a BIA-funded art program, and had fabulous students. I had to keep detailed files, and send progress reports, to which I'd often add "Hats off to (student name)!" or similar. I dragged a few students around the region to be mentored (Pete Peterson mentored a few).

I started trying various alternate medical treatments. I was on the Dr. Swank diet for six years, which is a difficult diet to remain on. Lucia prodded me into trying apitherapy, which I did for a (three months?) while (most ever stings at one time = 68). And various other things. In a certain amount of physical and mental pain, I had difficulty keeping my mind from bursting into flames. I realised the reaction to the illness was more harmful at that point than the illness itself, and looked for ways to calm my mind. I read about a device that used sound/light to alter brainwaves, and bought one. It helped.

The Journey to Wild Divine
Some years later I read in a magazine of guided healing and meditation software with biofeedback called The Journey to Wild Divine, so I bought it. It was brand new, and as usual I knew no one with any interest in or knowledge of it, but it appealed to me (aside from the graphics, which are like being trapped in a Kinkade). It wasn't always possible for me to get a signal on my dead hand, but sometimes I could.

In 2003 I read that a virtual world called There was going into beta testing, and I joined. Both my parents died that year, and it was another way to distract myself and heal. I made a few clothes and had a little business with my pal Psi. I enjoyed exploring, but I immediately heard about something called Second Life, which I wanted to be in so badly I watched the little video 5746784679568 times. Me: In Second Life you can be a duck. I used to ask people in There if they'd been to Second Life, and many of them had. I had some friends who were a group of English coders, and I asked one which he preferred. He said SL. I had dial up. I didn't even try to join (when I got broadband and joined I met several people on dial-up, so too bad). After six months the There people announced they were suspending everything and would not guarantee There would be around in another six months, so I left and went to Second Life.

Second Life
Second Life was absorbing - full of challenges, interactions, collaborations, the ability to create just about anything and interact with my creations in ways hitherto impossible. A lot of the people in SL had been in There (one day I was tending my DarkLife shop and a mysterious person showed up who showed me a symbol that made me recognise her as my old friend Social). Then, too, one of my early acquaintances, Komuso, was using the biofeedback device from Wild Divine to interact with SL. I met a bazillion interesting people, and top of the list is Enjah, who I'd met in There as part of the Uru diaspora. We quickly became partners in crime.

SL has changed greatly over the years, but what I have taken away from it has been pure gold. Great friendships, a reason to expand my knowledge of digital creation - ever learning, a way to keep expressing my creativity even as my ability to manipulate real life objects waned, a way to push myself in areas that are closed to me in real life, and for a number of years a way to make a small income. My personal situation has contributed to my current feeling of ennui, as my energy level is low, however this may be the low point of the eternal cycle that must wax and wane. For me Second Life is a continuation of my adventure into healing, observation, and creativity, and I have a lot of projects tucked away in my head that I hope I am able to realise digitally. I work more slowly than I'd like, it's true, however the possibilities are still open to me within the world of SL.

Hats off to you, Second Life!

posted by - 7:01 PM

Whilst I would love to go back and change many of the things that you write about here (and kick your ex quite squarely in the nuts. Several times) I thank the fates that I found you in this world.

Still, I'd rather you were well even knowing that would mean I'd never have met you.
Thank you, Burro. I used to think I was just cursed or inadequate, but it's slowly dawned on me that I was born into a very strange scenario during a strange time. The war had warped people and the malevolent post-war forces - like a moribund aircraft industry, continuation of rationing, housing shortages, crushing war debt, general borked economy - sent us across the globe.

The 'rents were young and adventurous, and ready to cast off the gloom, I suppose. I can't blame them, although it ripped the family (both immediate and extended) to pieces.
/me sends a big hug, i am so happy i have you as a friend. and i nominate louise erdrich to write your biography!
The part about the ex chopping the bed to bits is horrendous but would make a GREAT MOVIE SCENE. Actually, your life post diagnosis would make a great movie.

In you, The Osprey Therian, we have one of the most inspiring and creative, fun friends that anyone could ask for. Thank you for all the wild projects, and I hope you will continue to star in many more.
I suppose everyone is in SL for their own reason, but I can't help but think that many who stay in SL for more than a day or two have background stories very similar to yours.

I knew someone for a couple of years in SL who could make one feel like the most important person in the world one day and then less than nothing the next. He saw SL as an on line entertainment. To him it was simply a game and anyone who took anything in SL seriously was a pathetic loser. He found the most vulnerable and created situations that sent many spinning in downward spirals of pain. After two years he said that it had been "an experiment" to see how far he could manipulate people. He created an alt and moved on to find new people to toy with. He lacks the imagination to understand that others may have various reasons for being in a virtual world.

It is good for you to have shared your story. It is a reminder of why it is important for residents to be good to one another.
Wow Molly... what a fucking arsehole he sounds!

He not only lacks imagination, but humanity as well. Tosser.
You had me at "I'll wear stout shoes (with steel-capped toes) and be careful."

I have a feeling that there are many many adventures ahead.

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