Posts Tagged ‘Alady Island’

I mentioned last post that my employment situation has really changed over the past month.  It’s time to start filling in what happened…

The old saying is that it’s always darkest before the dawn.  In a literal sense, that’s bullshit, of course.  Before the dawn, you already have a faint shimmer of encroaching daylight lurking in the east, whereas at, say, 3.00 AM, it’s nothing but night.  In a metaphorical sense, it just means things look worst before things start to improve.  Which is true, if somewhat shallow and obvious, which is why it is cloaked in a figure of speech to sound artificially profound.

It's always darkest before you flip the light switch...

It’s always darkest before you flip the light switch…

My darkest hour was while I was awaiting my Step II disciplinary meeting on March 10th, which is pretty much just as ominous and formal as it sounds.  Giovanni’s is a rather casually run restaurant, and the owners generally prefer a battle plan of ‘We’ll just play it by ear.’; when they go out of their way to follow a procedure, it never bodes well.  I could have just ripped the scab off with a rushed sit-down before or after my shift.  I chose, however, to schedule the meeting for a day off.  Punctuality wasn’t a strong point for me even before I had Piper, and as a sleep-deprived single mom with ADD, I struggle just to be not-that-late, so coming in early for a meeting about my employment fate was not a good plan.  As for meeting post-shift, not only am I usually trying to rush to pick Piper up from whoever’s sitting, but it doesn’t suit the owners’ schedules well either.  I had one other reason for scheduling the meeting on a day off, a manipulative reason on my part.  Jonas Giovanni is kind of a thug, and his Italian temper is a scary thing to behold.  He does, however, have a soft spot for children in general and for Piper in specific.  He was there when she was born, holding my hand when Piper’s father is unknown and my father was unavailable.  I gave Piper her middle name, Jonasina, because Jonas was there.  I wanted the meeting on my day off so I would have to bring Piper along and hopefully put Jonas in a protective mood rather than an angry one.

On my last shift before the meeting, something odd occurred.  I was already on egg shells, dreading the meeting and flustered because I had been late, again, that morning.  Not late enough to get in any additional trouble, but also not helping my case in the upcoming meeting.  Cao Richards came by for lunch, along with two coworkers I recognized and a rather effeminate young man I didn’t recognize.  Ms. Richards, one of my favorite regulars, had strongly encouraged me to apply to be a research assistant for her employer, the Thatchtower Gallery, and conducted the interview herself.  I was supposed to have heard back by mid-February, but instead Ms. Richards had been ducking my calls and avoiding the restaurant for almost a month.  Then out of the blue that Monday she comes in and asks for my section.  That’s already a little awkward, but then she introduces me to Connor, describing him as “our newest research assistant.”

“Oh, it’s very nice to meet you, Connor.”  I’ve stated elsewhere that for servers, hypocrisy isn’t a character flaw but a job skill.  For three weeks, I tried to reach Ms. Richards to find out if I got the job.  I never get through, but instead she brings the man who actually got the job to Giovanni’s.  And requests my section to make sure I have to learn who he is.

Shape: Elvira Shape from Alady Island Skin: Gothic Lolita by Skin Doctors

Shape: Elvira Shape from Alady Island
Skin: Gothic Lolita by Skin Doctors

“I assure you, milady Marik, ’tis I who stand fulfilled by our meeting.”  Oh, my.  Is there such a thing as love at first hearing?  On top of his archaic phrasing, Conner also has the faintest trace of an accent that I simply cannot place.  Imagine an Harvard don being played by Sean Connery and you come close.  His gentle tenor has a hint of ruffle, like a deep plush blanket I just want to wrap around every inch of myself.  My train of thought completely jumps the rails.  Vaguely, I noticed the other two research assistants staring kind of doe-eyed at Conner and realized I probably have the same blankly wistful expression on my face.  I’m pretty sure I blushed as I shook it off, stammered some kind of polite noise, and forced myself to take their drink order.  Only as I’m grabbing two waters and two ice teas at main station does it occur to me that neither Ms. Richards nor I used my last name in the conversation, so why does Conner know it?

I’m busy for the next few minutes, cashing out a couple of tables, taking orders and getting them started in the kitchen, quickly tossing a couple Caesar salads myself so I don’t have to wait for the pantry cook to have time.  Once I’ve dealt with everything urgent, I grab a couple soups for Conner and one of the other assistants.  As I deliver them, I ask Ms. Richards if she has a second to talk.  With a raising of my eyebrows and a slight jerk of my head, I silently add the qualifier “away from Conner, thank you very much.”

Cao smiles, “I have a second, but I don’t think you do.”  She also raises an eyebrow and jerks her head slightly, her non-verbal communication indicating, “There’s a hostess standing behind you, about to give you another table.”  It’s amazing how detailed non-verbal communication between two intelligent women can be.  She also produces her business card with a quick, almost slight-of-hand, gesture.  “You already have the office number, but I wrote my personal cell phone number on the back.  When he learned you already have dealings with some of his gallery clients, Mr. Thatcher asked me to arrange a meeting with you.  I believe he may be considering making another research assistant position available.”

Hair: Ronnie by Tameless Hair Scar: Wicked Scar by Fallen Doll

Hair: Ronnie by Tameless Hair
Scar: Wicked Scar by Fallen Doll

“Which means you and I may yet become comrades in arms,” adds Conner.  I’m torn between irritation that my business is being freely conducted in front of him and the desire to keep Conner talking so I can hear that lovely voice some more.  It’s not often you meet a man who can make a request for his ice tea to be topped off sound sexy.  As I turn away, out hostess flashes two fingers and then four fingers at me.  “I need you to take table twenty-four.”  I nod at her.  “O.K.  I’m on my way.”  Really, with all the non-verbal communication going on, it’s astonishing how loud Giovanni’s gets during the rush…

The rush stays busy, so the rest of my conversation with Cao and her party is limited to what I think of as ‘standard restaurant script’.  “Let me get some refills.”, “Does any one need a box?”, “Did anybody save room for some homemade tiramasu today?” and the like.  There is one interesting moment when I bring the check.  I didn’t bother asking about separate checks before I bring one check and give it to Cao.  It’s the benefit of familiarity.  Although I don’t know whether it is Cao or her expense account being generous, I know that when Cao brings her coworkers to eat, she treats for the table.  The young lady research assistants with her are also used to this; they no longer make even a token attempt to get a separate check or take the tab.  Conner deftly reaches across the table and grabs the bill from Cao’s hand.

“You know my other patron would insist I do the honor,” states Conner, pulling one of those heavyweight black credit cards from a lavender nylon trifold.  Ms. Richards attempts to reclaim the bill, but Conner easily swings the check away from her grabs.

Cao actually sounds a little irritated as she replies, “Carlton and I, however, work with your patron, not for her.  I understand why she wants the privilege, and I hope she earns the right, but it’s only proper I pay this bill.”

“There are many kinds of propriety, madame Richards.”

“But I would hope hospitality is universal.”

Dress: Elvy from Augusta Creations Shoes: Jane (night-colored) by Tesla Jewelry: Heart Bangle by Grumble; Pink Chain Collar by Pekka

Dress: Elvy from Augusta Creations
Shoes: Jane (night-colored) by Tesla
Jewelry: Heart Bangle by Grumble; Pink Chain Collar by Pekka

I took the bill and credit card from Conner.  With my left hand, I also accepted Cao’s card from her.  I then tucked her card into the tip tray and handed Conner’s card back to him, glancing at the name.  “Here you go, Mr. Dreenan.  I don’t want to imply that Ms. Richards has better connections at Giovanni’s than you do, so I’m going to explicitly state it instead.  We know Cao, and Giovanni’s is the sort of place where it is good to be known.”  I dropped a quick smirk at Connor before returning to my formal, I’m-working voice, “I’ll be right back with your card, Ms. Richards.”

Not quite right back, since I loop into the kitchen to call for french onion soup on my way to the computer and refill water at table forty-three on my way back.  I’m busy enough that I again just stay on-script when I drop off the charge slip to be signed, “I just need one copy back with your signature and the other slip is for your records.  Thanks for stopping in today, Cao, and I hope we see you again.” Again, spoken in my I’m-working voice, as I continue on to another table to check off the next task on my to-do list.

When I finally get back to finish clearing the table, Cao has left a note on her charge slip: Don’t forget to call me.  Sooner is better than later.  There was also a small pebble and a note on a twenty dollar bill (which is an over thirty percent tip!) which read, “I’m told this is a good introduction to a waitress.  I would love to be known.  Sincerely, Conner Dreenan.”

The nicest thing about the whole confusing encounter… Well, really, the nicest thing was the sound of Conner Dreenan’s voice.  If you could bottle that sound, you would make a mint.  But the second nicest thing was that trying to figure out what just happened distracted me from what would happen the next day.

…To be continued…

“If you give your employer two dollars worth of work for every dollar he pays you, you will always be too valuable an employee to fire.”  Mr. H., my high school soccer coach, used to say that, and it seemed to work for him.  He occasionally skirted the lines of propriety and took gleeful pleasure in tweaking the administrators’ noses, but no one could deny he poured his heart and his soul into teaching and coaching, so he was generally allowed to get away with it.

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I’ve busted my ass for Giovanni’s, and it doesn’t seem to have earned me any protection.  In my post last week, I mentioned I ended up with a Step I disciplinary action through no fault of my own.  Yesterday I ended up with a Step II.  Technically, this one is my fault.  Piper caught a stomach bug somewhere, so she woke me at one-thirty in the morning throwing up contents of her stomach all over herself, her blanket, and her boppie.  Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep that night, between panicking, cleaning her up, calling the pediatrician’s panic-line, calling my dad to send one of his patrol officers to the apartment with some Pedialyte, and tending to my sick little baby.  Even after Piper’s stomach was empty, she continued to throw up, projectile spitting her stomach acids.  I don’t think I will ever hear any sound quite as heart-wrenching as the gurgling in Piper’s stomach that warned she was about to heave again.  She didn’t even cry, just mewed pitifully with her discomfort as she tried to sleep.  Around eight she was finally able to keep down a tablespoon of Pedialyte.  I was babbling as I tended to her, partly trying to reassure her that everything would be all right, partly trying to talk myself down from my frazzled panic, partly making blind offers of whatever God wanted if he would only help my little girl feel better.  And Piper, as sick and pitiful as she was feeling, gave me a big brave smile, like she knew I needed someone to believe in me and wanted me to know she was my someone.

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away.  Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence...

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away. Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence…

Well, I was in no shape to handle a lunch shift at Giovanni’s, and I couldn’t leave Piper when she was sick.  At nine o’clock, I called Taylor, and mercilessly used her guilt over her role in my Step I to shame her into covering my shift.  I then nestled Piper in my bed beside me and crashed restlessly, waking every so often to give her more Pedialyte.  My Step II is because of what that process didn’t involve, or more specifically who I didn’t involve in the process.  Managers, just because they run the restaurant, feel like they should be involved in solving staffing problems.  Go figure.  (I’m more than a little bitter.  If it was a problem involving a customer, such as their steak was miscooked or there was a hair in their lasagna, most of Giovanni’s managers would say, “I’m busy.  Can’t you deal with it?”  So who knew they would be so territorial about their prerogatives once those annoying customer people weren’t a factor?)  Step II means I lose another shift, to ensure the penalty hits me in the pocketbook; I lose certain responsibilities, like checking coworker outs and processing discounts on the computer, until I’ve “re-earned management’s trust”; I have to schedule a sit-down meeting with Stephano and Jonas to discuss why I’m in disciplinary Steps, whether I still value my job, and where I go from here.  Worst of all, since I’m in Step II, any other violation can, at management discretion, place me in Step III, more colloquially known as ‘Don’t let the front door hit you where the Good Lord split you’ or ‘getting shit-canned’.

I'm pretty sure 're-earning management's trust' will involve more than baked goods...

I’m pretty sure ‘re-earning management’s trust’ will involve more than baked goods…

The threat of firing is bad enough at any time, but I’m still hemorrhaging debt from my maternity leave and I get insurance, both mine and Piper’s through work.  Right now I feel like I cannot afford to work, but I can afford to not work even less.  And the whole gallery thing has proven to me that Piper is a liability on job interviews.  I thought, all things considered, that my gallery interview went well.  I really thought I had a genuine shot at the job, both from the initial interview and from things Ms. Richards said when I served her just before Valentine’s Day.  But she also said that Mr. Thatcher would make his decision Monday the 16th, so there would be two weeks to give notice before March 3rd when the position officially opens.  That was over a week ago, and I’ve heard nothing.  I’ve called multiple times to follow-up, and I keep getting either no answer or voice mail, and no return call for the messages I leave.  Most damning, on Thursday, Ms. Richards came in around five like she was going to get supper, saw me busy in my section, and scurried off to the carryout area.  Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I feel like she ducked me because she didn’t want to answer my questions, which is an answer in and of itself.

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all...

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all…

I’m used to being a little arrogant at work: I’m damned good at what I do, and when it was just me, I was certain I could land on my feet, because if I ever got fired, or lost my temper and quit, I  could find another serving job at the drop of a hat.  But now I have Piper depending on me, and I’m terrified of letting her down.  I don’t have any safety margin if something happens at Giovanni’s.  The lack of sleep and the stress of parenting are wearing me down, so my game is slipping at work.  With Step-III-You’re-Out! hanging over my head, I cannot just trust my instincts and attitudes to carry me through, so my game is slipping further.  I think I’m slightly a control freak, and right now there is nothing in my life that I actually get to control.  I really want to hide under my blanket with a bottle of Patron Citronge until the world goes away and finds someone else to pick on.  I won’t, of course, partly because guilt and affection will keep me in the game for Piper, mostly because I know the world will just wait patiently, picking up ever-heavier blunt objects to smack me with, until I emerge.  God help me, however, because the impulse is so there. I think when I’m done with this post, I’m calling my dad and asking if I can keep my booze over at his house until I feel little better about my life…

Oh, and very little credit to assign for today’s fashion look, as I was digging in the deep, back, dusty part of my closet, and picked a short reddish minidress and accessory kit that I cannot remember where it came from.  Probably a freebie/gift, as it is titled in German and I only shop in English.  (Call me crazy, but I don’t like to buy if I don’t actually understand what I’m buying…)  Still, there are a few very familiar brands in some of the details: Sophia Tan skin from WoW Skins, Updated Jeannie Small B-cup shape from Alady Island, Beatrice hair from Tameless Hair.  Likewise, I’ve worn and posted before about the hearts a flutter headband from {le fil casse} and the ‘pure garbage’ piercings from Ellabella.

I do not believe in the Oracle at Delphi.  The ancients claimed that if you traveled to the temple at Delphi in ancient Greece, a wise woman would grant you obscure and cryptic messages that would contain advice and hints about the future.  The only problem is that I believe the future is unknowable.  God himself gets a pass on that- being omniscient and omnipotent mean He knows the future by definition- but mostly because I choose to table the conflict between free will and predestination as something I simply accept on faith.  Between free will and chaos theory (which allows small actions and choices to steamroller into large effects and consequences) there is no way anyone who falls short of omniscience and omnipotence can know the future.

Faerie under Glass?

Faerie under Glass?

Nevertheless, I do occasionally find Delphic messages about my future on the computer I use to interface with my First Life game, particularly when I dig into the internet history to find what Firsty and Mrs. Firsty are looking up when they think no one is watching.  For example, I learned that Firsty has been researching folklore about faeries, particularly about scary fairies and fairy magic; that Firsty Jr. has been suffering from thrush which I hope will not create a transmission vector to Piper; that Mrs. Firsty is fascinated by red carpet looks for the Golden Globes and Oscars, so I’m likely to head shopping for some red carpet looks myself.  Also somebody there has been looking into the porn industry in the midwest.  There is more than you might imagine, although it is kind of like minor league sports- the porn ‘big leagues’ are fairly concentrated in California, Florida, and to a lesser extent, Vegas.  My pictures for this post were inspired by the information about fairies, and my original working title for this post was ‘I do Believe in Fairies, I do!’ until I became distracted by thoughts about history, the future, and narrative theory.

As I said above, I believe the future is not just unknown but actually unknowable.  The reasoning behind this is a big, tangled ball of thoughts about religion and philosophy and science fiction and narrative theory, and I’m a little unsure about whether I can distill it into something brief and linear and easy to follow, but it starts with the fact that I have an axiomatic belief in my own free will.  I use the word axiomatic not just in the conventional definition that my free will is established or self-evidently true, but in the mathematical sense that ‘I have free will’ is one of the foundation statements from which the rest of my moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs derive.

In addition to free will, I also axiomatically have great fashion sense...

In addition to free will, I also axiomatically have great fashion sense…

For instance, my belief in your free will isn’t automatic.  Computer games and role-playing games provide viable examples of worlds in which only one or some people (the ‘players’) have free will, and the other individuals in the world are merely programmed to react with varying levels of complexity.  I know I have free will because I experience it, but I can only guess for other people.  Even if you tell me that you have free will, I still have to decide whether I believe you or whether you merely claim to have free will because that is how your programming dictates you behave.  I do believe in your free will, by the way, but only because I have another axiomatic belief that the world doesn’t revolve around me, and therefore, as a corollary, my free will is a powerful inductive argument that other people also have free will.

Another reasoned belief is that I don’t believe in predestination.  Free will states I choose, that every choice I make, up until the point where I commit, and sometimes even afterwards, could go another way.  Predestination states that my decisions were known before I made them, that I do not ‘choose’ so much as follow a predetermined script. If I don’t have options, is there really a choice?  If you shove me off the roof of a skyscraper, because of gravity I’m going to plummet downward until I lose an unfortunate argument with the sidewalk.  You cannot say I choose to fall unless I also have the option of not falling.  Personally, predestination denies choice.

So maybe falling from rooftops is a choice sometimes….

So maybe falling from rooftops is a choice sometimes….

So how does the future unfold?  Is time a metaphorical river, flowing constantly from the past into the future?  And what does it mean when certain future points are known and fixed, whether by divine predestination, time traveling fore-knowledge, or reliable prophecy?  Historians argue over whether history is the result of Great Men, individuals who have disproportionate power and influence on the events around them, or whether history, instead, is shaped by societal forces and considerations, with ‘great men’ merely being a product of the position they find themselves in.  Chaos theory provides a third possibility, that social forces may generally hold but that small changes introduced by individual choices occasionally propagate into big changes.

Then there is narrative theory.  Narrative theory is broadly defined as the study of stories, specifically how people make sense of stories and how people use stories to make sense of the world around them.  The world is an incredibly complex place, often more complex than any individual, well, any individual who lacks omniscience and omnipotence, can reasonably grasp all the factors.  Molding events into a narrative, which generally involves ignoring certain details as irrelevant and emphasizing causation, simplifies things and provides a structure.  You can argue that this is a weakness of human thought because it loses part of the picture or that it is a strength of human thought because, despite the risk of getting the story wrong, it enables us to grasp a greater portion of a complex world.  I’ve come to believe that God sees the world in terms of stories, and that the very human tendency to try to force things into a story, even when it is inappropriate or misleading to do so, is part of being made in God’s image but limited by our lack of omni-traits.  (Also, I happen to believe the ‘God’s image’ of Genesis is not the image of a physical body- after all, that would imply God has a belly button, nose hair, genitals, an ass-crack, and sundry other parts that God has no use or need for, not to mention putting a severe damper upon his omnipresence- but instead is a spiritual image, containing such things as the love of story, the ability to create, appreciation of beauty, the notion of fairness, desire for relationships, etc.)  Because of narrative theory, and my belief that God touches the world through stories, I believe that my vague foreshadows and forebodings of the future hint at the story that awaits me.

All this pondering of the future is making my head hurt...

All this pondering of the future is making my head hurt…

I just wish I had a clearer vision of what sort of story it will be.  If I get a vote, I definitely would like to cast it in favor of a comedy or a romance and not a tragedy…

Speaking of tragedy, it would be tragic if I didn’t make sure I included these details of my outfit today: The white dress and wings are part of a free gift from Simply Fae.  The shape is one of many from Alady Island, this modeled after Racquel Welsh.  The Sunday hair (in the shade of ‘autumn’) is branded from Lazy Whores.  To help me look more inhuman and fae, the skin is Pinkie Pie from Niekra’s Dreams.

Muah-ha-ha!  (Or however you envision an evil genius laugh should sound…)  I have achieved the self contradictory headline!  By definition, yellow journalism is exploiting and exaggerating news to create sensationalism and attract viewers, but it is also an idiom that is not really in current or common usage anymore.  I used the idiom because this blog is, among other things, my journal of what’s on my mind and because I’m responding to a photo challenge by WordPress to create a gallery of photos that display the theme of ‘Yellow’.  (More details on that, here.)  So my urge for whimsey and obscure allusions was satisfied, the title is a win there- but since the idiom isn’t in common usage, and folks will just scratch their heads and wonder what I’m rambling on about, I’m actually creating confusion and distracting viewers.  Oh, well, at least I amused myself, right?

SNAPSHOT #1:

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.\\ Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.\\ Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung…

To me, the obvious way to create a theme of yellow was to take a set of pictures wearing yellow outfits, preferably in yellow backgrounds.  Checking my directory (the yellow pages, obviously) didn’t reveal that anyone had set up a scenic location to visit and take pictures that they had specifically tagged under the word yellow.  On the other hand, messing with my camera’s wind lights settings allowed me to exaggerate the amount of yellow in any setting.  Thus, when I found this ‘Love’ art piece that included yellow semitransparent blocks on a beach in Coppelia, I cranked the ambient light and the water to yellow and took this picture.  For yellow in my outfit, I’m wearing a loose yellow top that came from Miss Canning, and some unknown source freebie yellow stockings.  Since I still haven’t set up an ongoing ‘I-bought-stuff-here‘ page, I will also make sure I give credit to My Pretty Pixels (Dany hair in ‘crow’), Alady Island (Shape), Angel Rock (India skin), Loka Designs (the rings and bangles on my left hand), and Grumble, Grumble (the bangles on my left hand and the super cute stiletto sneakers).

SNAPSHOT #2:

Yeah, baby!  Move over Austin Powers, and let me show you how to swing...

Yeah, baby! Move over Austin Powers, and let me show you how to swing…

For my second picture, I went looking for a school bus, but got distracted by a dirty inner city playground.  My second yellow outfit was definitely urban and a little dirty as well…  The yellow dress was a hot little number from JStyle, 99L$ for a fat pack of cute minidresses, blue, hot pink, and yellow.  Since I always enjoy wearing tall boots with a short skirt, I’m wearing some yellow/teal cyber boots from Grumble.  I even found yellow accessories: yellow ‘sparkly’ stockings (same freebie box as snapshot 1’s fishnet), yellow heart-framed sunglasses from Egoxentrikax, and the black Wendi hair (from Tameless Hair) included a color-change headband, which I, of course, set to yellow.  As far as non-yellow, I’m also wearing a silver necklace and some mismatched silver bangles from various other Jstyle outfits.

This playground actually looks a lot like the activity center playground near my apartment, except it would need more graffiti and some empty beer cans and/or discarded condoms to really make the resemblance perfect.  I may allow Piper to go to the playground once she turns twenty-two, but even that may be too soon…

SNAPSHOT #3:

All I’m going to say about looking for schools in my directory is that it seems the vast majority of the listed schools are ‘finishing’ schools, although they are more interested in starting something naughty than in finishing anything.  Lots of canes and spankings and ‘extra credit’ opportunities if you know what I mean.  For myself, I’m not opposed, although I’m starting to really think I may need to home school Piper well into middle age.  (Hers, that is!)  Truthfully at this moment in time, I’m taking the short view.  I don’t care what’s going on in the classrooms, as long as they clean up the mess afterwards and I can find the bright yellow school bus I’m looking for…  Later is a problem for later- that’s why they call it ‘LATER’.

Splattered with color… sounds like a good title for something...

Splattered with Color… sounds like a good title for something…

I didn’t find a school bus at the First Step Elementary School in the Antigua region, but I was just happy to find a school that actually appeared to built for children rather than for naughty adults.  Even more importantly, the art classroom provided a great backdrop for another ‘yellow’ picture.  Since I was in an elementary school, I got in touch with my inner child for my outfit.  Egoxentrikax provided a great outfit, the bright yellow ‘Jumper Bob and Mocassins’ for only 10L$. I also grabbed some source unknown black and yellow wings, because I just associate butterfly wings with fairies and fairies with children.  (I do believe, I do, I do!)  My sunglasses were from Grumble.  (And although I slimmed my shape and lightened my skin tone, I remained with Alady Island and Angel Rock as vendors.)

SNAPSHOT #4:

I was going to continue looking for a school bus for my fourth and final snapshot, but I got distracted by a conversation about heaven and hell and went to visit the heaven and hell gothic dance club, where I noticed the stripper pole was bright yellow.  I’ve also been re-reading Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens recently, so I decided to cite their quote: “It is said that the Devil has all the best tunes.  This is broadly true.  But Heaven has the best choreographers.”  So obviously- o.k., maybe not for most people, but in my mind this was obvious- obviously, I needed to create a yellow outfit appropriate for a pole dancing angel.  I’m not sure which fact is scarier.  That I felt the need to create an outfit appropriate for a pole dancing angel, or that it was actually a pretty easy look for me…

Angels whose clothes have gone bye, a luscious treat for sinful eye...

Angels whose clothes have gone bye, a luscious treat for sinful eye…

My minimalist yellow covering was a yellow and black bikini from Dark Salvation and some yellow lace wrap from Bitter Bunny Designs.  I’m a big fan of red boots, (I have more boots than any other foot wear, and more red boots than any other color) so I’m also modeling some sexy new Red and Gold boots from Sari’s Creations.  To get my ‘angel’ on, I’m wearing some source unknown free golden feathered wings, my ‘angelic neko’ ears and tail set from Dahllywood (now closed), and a Halo out of the ‘Cheeky Lil’ Angel’ costume (regretfully, also source unknown).  I also grabbed a celtic sword from the Linden Library, just to be the sort of angel that takes no s**t from anybody.  For hair, I went with another do from Tameless, the Hadley.

Looking again at my gallery of yellow, while I looked for some yellow in my settings, ultimately the thematic success or failure of the pictures rested on my wardrobe.  Proving that while there is no I in ‘team’, you can’t have a ‘theME’ without ME.  It’s a narcissistic view, I suppose, but that’s all right, since I’m cute enough that narcissism looks good on me.  I thought I would close with a song since I haven’t posted a song lately.  Coldplay’s ‘Yellow‘ would be the obvious song choice, except I just don’t particularly care for it.  Ditto for Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘.  Apparently I like Gold better than Yellow, because I want to post ‘The Gold Song‘ by the Bouncing Souls.

Matt the Firsty, back to hopefully finish my ‘State of the Blogger Address’.  Back in Part I, I was primarily talking about what’s going on in my life: still working two jobs, just became a home owner for the first time, about to become a father for the first time.  Time management was already the five-hundred-pound gorilla beating up on me; now I’m going to have up my game to deal with his eight-hundred-pound rabid older brother.  Lucky me.  (Brief Musical Interlude: My Luck is So Bad.)  In Part II, I want to talk about what’s going on in Emily’s life.

"Since Firsty's giving me a day off, I'm gonna shop 'til the baby drops!"

“Since Firsty’s giving me a day off, I’m gonna shop ’til the baby drops!”

I suppose first I should talk about the obligatory style card.  After all, Emily’s quirky style sense is one of her defining characteristics.  Today is a casual day:

  • Shape: Nina, month 8 from Baby Bumps;
  • Skin: Jada (april group gift) from WoW Skins;
  • Tattoos: Bad Girl from -UtopiaH-; Starship Lipstick (Blue Purple) from Pink Acid; Pregnancy Stretch Marks from Freaky Geeky;
  • Hair: Jenny, Jet-Black/Red-Tips (Designer unknown, but a freebie from Free Dove);
  • Outfit: Peace Patch Jeans from Alady Island; the shirt is actually the corset and under corset out of the ‘Miss Tick’ halloween costume from Petit Chat.
  • Boots: Red Leather Kicks from Prozak.  (The first thought was Fetish Doll ankle boots, but stiletto heels and swollen pregnancy ankles just don’t mix well…)
  • Accessories: Jackie-O Black Sunglasses, Razorwire Bangles both from Grumble, Grumble; Old Padlock Necklace from Bite & Claw; source unknown Silver Hoop Earrings;

Comfy, relaxed, and still sexy even with a due date that is less than a month away.  Plus she looks like she could still kick somebody’s ass if she needed to…

Second, I’m going to confess straight up that time management is going to continue to be Emily’s bugaboo as well as mine.  If the world ran according to my wishes- and believe me, it doesn’t- this blog would feature a post almost every day.  Instead, I suspect I’ll probably continue along at the current clip of one or two posts every week, suffer a certain amount of chronic guilt that Emily and I aren’t posting more frequently, and occasionally have a brief spasm of productivity when the stars align and I can make the daily posts I insist on thinking of as ‘normal productivity’.

" 'A nice long vacation'?  That sounds like a lovely idea…"

” ‘A nice long vacation’? That sounds like a lovely idea…

If I decide to be not just honest but brutally honest, there are actually good reasons why I should send Emily on a nice long vacation.  A.) The frantic hectic-ness (hecticity?) of my schedule means I have a to-do list that builds faster than I can check things off.  Even as I feel guilt that Emily & I aren’t posting as often as we should, I simultaneously feel guilt for all the things I should be doing instead of sitting down for fun-time.  I spent from 11:00 to 3:30 today raking leaves out of my new yard for two and half hours.  (Yes, it takes me four and half hours to rake leaves for two and a half hours.  Welcome to my ADD world; this is why time management is a gorilla beating up on me.)  I had a chore I needed to finish today- leaf pick up is early the day after tomorrow and tomorrow is a long day where I open one restaurant and close the other- and only completed three-quarters.  I have to confess blogging was the reason I didn’t finish: I was up too late last night finishing last post, so I didn’t get out to start raking as early as I wanted to, and some of that disappearing two hours was spent starting this post.  Even as I write this, I also have a list of other things I could and probably should be doing.

B.) Brutal logic also dictates that Emily isn’t just getting in the way of non-writing activities, but that she is also blocking me from more serious and/or lucrative writing projects.  I would love to break into the fiction market somewhere and try to leverage and bootstrap that break until I could cut back on one or both serving jobs and lean on writing as an income source.  It’s pretty much my fantasy-dream job, even with all I know about how unpredictable and undependable an income source writing is.  If all the busy-ness and guilt I mentioned in point A only allows me time to write 12,000 words a week (and twelve thousand is just an arbitrary number picked for the sake of example; the real number is probably less, not more) than all the words I write towards Emily and her unpaid, small-readership blog subtract from my allowance of words to use for chasing my life’s dream.  They probably subtract at more than a one to one ratio, for that matter, since I also have to invest time into picking Emily’s outfits, taking and editing her photos, and documenting the style cards which are generally tangent to my purposes even if not to Emily’s.

"Wait a minute, I thought a tangent was a man who got a lot of sun…"

“Wait a minute, I thought a tangent was a man who got a lot of sun…”

C.)  Possibly the most damning argument against Emily is that my wife doesn’t like her.  Some aspects of Emily, and of Second Life in general, just confuse my wife.  Others down right disturb her.  And sadly, open-mindedness is not one of my wife’s strong points.  If something confuses her or disturbs her, she doesn’t want to talk about it and find understanding, she just wants it to go away.  Nor does it help that I’m a little hazy myself about what Emily is to me.  Depending on my mood, what I’ve been doing, and my mental state for the day, I may variously describe Emily as a role I play, as an aspect of my personality, as a fictional alter ego, or in the third person.  Because it is simpler to humor her than to make a big deal, I try to be fairly furtive with my Second Life time, going online primarily when my wife is out of the house or asleep.  That plan has yielded mixed results, since I haven’t waved my Second Life in her face, but I think I’ve also allowed her to conclude Second Life is some sort of interactive virtual porn game.  And she has decided that Emily is some kind of trashy slut.  My wife came into the room while I was taking the pictures for Part I of this address, looked at Emily posing and said rather nastily, “She’s got a tattoo now?  What’s next, getting her pregnant?”  Awkward, since Emily has generally been as pregnant as she has for the last four months.  Also awkward because once upon a time my wife wanted a tattoo, and reminding her would not have ended well for me…

So why do I continue to post to Time Well Wasted?  The biggest reason is that this space has become part of my emotional processing.  Many people who only know me superficially dismiss me as cold or calloused.  I’m neither, but if you measure my personality type, with Meier Briggs or a similar instruments, my preference for analytical thought scores off the chart.  I very quickly process words and numbers, but in emotional matters, I’m counting on my fingers and moving my lips while I read.  In general, I push emotional stuff off to one side to deal with later when I have more time to think it out.  If the issue gets forced, or if too many emotional strands build up, my mind squirrels out and I can’t do anything but look for a way out.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used this space to push and probe a troublesome thought until I had it pinned down with words and it no longer dragged at me, or used this space to rehash an event that bothered me so that I knew just how it got under my skin.

Plus, while this little ‘unpaid, small-readership blog’ may not help me reach my dream of being a for-real, money-making, genuine writer, it is a safe place.  I’m honing my skills.  I have visible progress, because I can see how many entries I’ve posted, how many words for each, etc. and each post is small enough that it is within my time constraints (albeit barely).  My dream of being a writer is still a fragile thing, too tender for me to invest a month into a short story or a longer time into a novel, and risk giving up because I get stuck, or get rejected, or get bored.  I’ve had other dreams that didn’t make it, so I’m afraid to really risk this dream by putting it to the test.

"Well, that's just un-BEAR-ably cute…"

“Well, that’s just un-BEAR-ably cute…”

Ironically, my wife’s blanket disapproval and incomprehension of how I feel about writing also helps protect Emily.  Her feelings are understandable- my wife and I have an ex-brother-in-law who dreamed of being a musician.  He earned the ‘ex’ in large part because he neglected his children and failed to be a financial provider so that he could daydream about being a musician.  He didn’t pursue gigs, practice his instruments, or make an earnest attempt to sell the songs he wrote, but he told people he was a musician, he made family gatherings awkward by bringing his guitar everywhere, and bought all the apps that he thought would help him.  Our sister saw more in him than we did, she would have made the sacrifices to help him put his dream to the test if he had followed through, but he didn’t.  I know my wife cringes at my artistic dream because she sees the specter of him, saying all the right words but hiding behind his dream instead of pursuing it.  The irony is that I’m always at my best when she believes in me, because its easier to be brave when she’s got my back.  Whether she intends it or not, the message I receive from her disinterest in my writing and her willingness to distract me from it is that she doesn’t believe in me for this particular area.  That is a confession that it really hurts to make, and I feel unfaithful complaining about someone who means so much to me in so many other ways, but this is probably the one place in my life where I need her most and she isn’t here.  If she was, there would be a lot less need to cling to a emotionally safe place in my writing.  The calculus of finite time holds true either way: I don’t have time for both other, emotionally-riskier writing and also for my small safe blog.

"Actually, Firsty, I have some ideas on how to help your dreams come true.  Talk to me before you get to part III…"

“Actually, Firsty, I have some ideas on how to help your dreams come true. Talk to me before you get to part III…”

Once again, a single aspect of what I wanted to say mushroomed into a longer passage than I intended… apparently Emily is going to get one more night off as I’m going to require a Part III…

P.S.: Spoiler Alert: Oh, and it turns out I have less time than I thought to figure out fitting my writing time around ‘Firsty, Jr’ (due to my privacy policies, that’s the nickname I’m sticking with.)  Earlier this week my wife went to the doctor for a routine “that due date is getting closer” check-up and instead got an unplanned emergency C-section.  Both mother and child are doing well, and I am ecstatically happy.  My luck is definitely not so bad, so here’s a different musical interlude

Road trips are glorious and I have gloried!  My one regret is that I was off the grid for a week.  I didn’t play any First Life.  Rather I set up the story that my firsty was going on a vacation with Mrs. Firsty- (It was their last vacation as a duo before Firsty, Jr. arrives in a few months and they become a trio.  I’ve learned that this apparently has a technical name, a ‘baby moon’, and that many couples view it as a last, best chance to take care of some of the things in their bucket list because babies change everything.)- which explained why no one was seeing my Firsty on his usual sims while I was off traveling.  During my road trip, I returned to my basics.  I didn’t use my cell, or my charge card, or teleport, all of which leave their mark on the grid.  I traveled light, paid cash, stayed in dubious flops.  It was as if I didn’t exist, so there was nothing to distract me from immersing myself in my core essence.  I read.  I wrote.  I reconnected with Norman who I haven’t seen in months, and with a friend, Kayley, that I haven’t seen since we both dropped out of school, me to scrounge for money, her to follow a boy.

Had a great time; wish I was still there!

Had a great time; wish I was still there!

Side note: Following a boy is probably one of the worst reasons to walk away from your old life.  Despite the claim that we women are fickle, nothing is quite as mutable as a boy.  Pretty much by definition, since, never mind age or physical development, what makes a boy a man is when he matures enough to form a life-plan and actually follow it.  Kayley’s boy, although easy on the eyes, was drifting from one pipe-dream to another with no real commitment, and by the time Kayley learned she was part of yet another pipe-dream, she was also stranded in Atlanta with her bridges burned.

Walking the plank?  I'm just not dressed for it!

Walking the plank? I’m just not dressed for it!

The best thing about seeing my brother and about seeing Kayley was reminding myself that when you really have a strong bond with someone, time and distance become illusions.  It had been over two years since I had seen Kayley, or even talked to her (unless occasional random texts or Facebook messages count, which I don’t feel they do) and yet, when I sat with her on her porch, gossiping about what’s new in my life and what’s new in hers, it was like we had never been apart.  Likewise, Norman doesn’t get many leaves to come home from the Marines and see me and Dad.  And yet, he’s always part of our life, even when he’s absent.  When he’s present, he fits right into that gap in our lives that he is absent from, and it’s just like he is always there.  Because of how young I was when we lost her, I don’t have many memories of my mother.  I’m never really sure whether I should envy Dad and Norman for having so many more memories or pity them for feeling so keenly what they lost.  But I always remember one day when she told me that every person is the sum total of all the relationships in their lives, that what makes a person who they are isn’t the D.N.A. in their blood, but the memories in their soul.  As a little girl, I was too young to understand.  Reconnecting with people I haven’t seen for a while, feeling the way those relationships are a part and piece of me, and that I am likewise a part and piece of them, makes that statement clear in a way nothing else does.

So yeah, the road trip to Georgia was absolutely fricking glorious!

Gosh.  Am I art or am I memorex?

Gosh. Am I art or am I memorex? (A strongly processed picture…)

There’s just two more things I need to do to celebrate my return from my road trip.

One, I need to provide the style card for this post.  (Don’t leave home without one!)

  • Shape: Harem Princess DCup from Alady Island
  • Skin: Sweet *3 from *JStyle
  • Tattoo: Vegas, dark, from Infected
  • Hair: Ruby, from Tameless Hair
  • Outfit: Apocolyptic Angel from Pinkmare’s House
  • Shoes: Mesh Cap Toe Pumps, beige/black, from Grumble, Grumble
  • Jewelry: Bracelets from *JStyle, source unknown lip ring.

Two, a few songs from my ‘on the road’ playlist…  Moving Right Along (from the original Muppet Movie, covered by Alkaline Trio); In My Car (I’ll Be The Driver) by Shania Twain (Damn straight!  I’ve got too many control issues to let someone else drive…), and I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar.  (As an aside, neither can I.  Tennessee State Troopers, however, take a dim view of people who can drive 91.  An expensive dim view.  Now I remember why teleporting is a cheaper way to travel…)

Recently I posted a post entitled, ‘The Final Word‘.  I was responding to a writing prompt about those unused conversation-stopping ‘zingers’, and I admitted that between being blessed with a quick mind and cursed with poor impulse control, I had no unused zingers.  ‘Damn the torpedoes!  Full speed ahead!’ is pretty much the way I live my life.  Two more cases to prove my point…

Nightclub #1: Ranger Station … In space, no one can see you dance...

Nightclub #1: Ranger Station … In space, no one can see you dance…

I’ve posted about my coworker ‘Natalie’ before, although damned if I can remember what name I used and I’m too lazy to go back and try to find it.  The snapshot bio is that she is a very good waitress- almost as good as yours truly- but a bitch to work with, because she covers an insecurity complex with dogmatic assertiveness.  Natalie and I clash a lot.  Natalie is a high-functioning OCD, determined to do everything ‘just so’ and to make sure everyone around her does it the same way.  My serving style is much more fluid (i.e. chaotic!) because I believe in reading the customer and tailoring my serving style to that read.  Not only do I not wait tables the same way Natalie does, I don’t even wait tables the same way I do from table to table.  Also, if I get bored, I push the buttons of people around me so I can watch them react.  Natalie has very easily pushed buttons.  Have I mentioned we clash a lot?  Jonas has given her a little authority, made her the head waitress at Giovanni’s.  (And yes, we’ve made all the obvious jokes that she became the head waitress by being the head waitress, although I’m 93% sure that rumor is actually unfounded…)  As head waitress, Natalie actually works a smaller station then the rest of us, but Giovanni’s compensates her for the reduced tips by giving her a higher hourly rate and by requiring the waitstaff to tip her out and pay her a percentage of our tips for the evening.  Natalie does help us all, but she doesn’t believe in keeping us in the loop on how she is helping us or in working with us in how she helps us.  So several times any shift we work together, I greet tables only to find ‘the other girl’ is getting their drink orders or come by to take up their payment only to find they already gave their credit card ‘to the other girl’.  Also, I’ve polished my shmoozing to ensure I sound friendly and get optimal tips.  Natalie is abrupt- not because she dislikes customers or wants to be rude, but because she is briskly multitasking and courtesy falls below efficiency on her list of priorities.  But Natalie is being abrupt with my tables and making me look dumb for not knowing what she’s done.  I feel like her assistance is causing me to get smaller tips, and then I’m required to reduce them further yet by tipping Natalie out a percentage of my tips to repay her for her ‘help’.  So yeah, we really clash a lot.

The other day, as I was making salads for two of my tables, Natalie was taking a carry out order on one of the phone lines in the kitchen.  Listening to her half of the conversation, I realized that Natalie’s phone style was a lot like mine.  We both have better diction and a slightly more formal vocabulary on the phone than we do face-to-face.  We both are more courteous on the phone than we are in person.  (Natalie is, as I said before, brisk and I am snarky and sarcastic.)  We both take pains to say please and thank you in our phone conversations, and rarely say either in face-to-face conversations.  In short, we’re both professionals and we put our individual natures aside to provide proper carryout service.  I could have complimented Natalie.  Probably, in hindsight, I should have.  But we were both working doubles, we’d been clashing all day (I did mention we do that a lot, right?), and those impulses I control poorly were all geared towards maximum snark.  What I actually said was, “Wow, Nat. You sound a lot friendlier on the phone.  Have you ever thought about a career in phone sex?”

Nightclub #2: The Castle … elegantly naughty.

Nightclub #2: The Castle … elegantly naughty.

Then there was yesterday morning.  I’ve said before, I’m a better person when I get good sleep.  My A.D.D. doesn’t act up as much.  I have more patience for dealing with the people around me.  (More patience for dealing with customers, which in turn means better tips, better income.  Also better patience with co-workers means less time wasted on activities like clashing with Natalie, less needless drama, etc.)  When I’m well rested, I make fewer inappropriate or counter-productive statements.  It’s partly that after a good night’s sleep, I have better (still not good, but better then otherwise!) impulse control and partly that I have nicer impulses when I’m well rested and patient.  Unfortunately, two things factor against me.  One, I have an awful lot on my plate.  Two, I know I need about eight hours of sleep from night to night, but I also know I can cheat and get by on less for one night with very little side effects.  So each night I tell myself, tomorrow I’ll get that good night of sleep, and I end stringing together night after night of only almost-enough sleep until I’ve wrung out my energy stores and I’m operating at about 50%, getting through my days on energy drinks and ego.  But there is no better feeling then the morning after I hit the wall.  Two nights ago, I barely made it out of Giovanni’s.  I feel sorry for Katie, who was closing with me and pretty much had to do her portion of the close and then a goodly chunk of mine.  I did make it home, but I never even ate, just wiped out on my couch, still in my dirty uniform.  I woke up with the television screen flashing a message about what did I want to do now the DVR recording was over, so apparently I fell asleep after I started the playback.  The crash, hitting the wall because I’ve worn my energy to a nub, that scratchy feeling on my eyeballs when I’m to exhausted to stay awake and don’t yet have the option to sleep- those parts aren’t fun.  But that first post-crash morning, when I wake up recharged and hungry.  When I have drive, and knock a few chores off my to-do list.  That’s wonderful.

Instead of barely making it into work on time, I cheerfully sauntered in with ten minutes to spare.  I had already done some overdue laundry, been to the library, cooked a real breakfast and cleaned up after myself rather then just shoving the dishes into the sink for later, handled a few bills on line, and cleared up my schedule for later this month so I can take a road trip to see my brother at Base Albany.  I was whistling some Green Day and Billy Talent as I came in to work.  Brenda, a gossipy older waitress who works mostly lunches, immediately drawled, ‘Well you’re extra chipper this morning, Emily.  What have you been doing this morning?”

I’ve known Brenda long enough to know she was looking for some juicy tidbits about whether I had finally developed a love life she could speculate about.  On a different morning I would probably told her it wasn’t any of her business or told her a salacious lie to see how long it took to spread through the restaurant.  I might have given my generic answer, a dead pan claim that I’m living the dream, usually followed by “and trying to wake up” or “or maybe I’m living the nightmare.  It’s a thin line sometimes.”  Instead, I just grinned, twirled once before I set my purse in the cubby, and told her, “I just spent the morning being awesome.  I’m a Marik; it’s what we do.”

Nightclub #3: Saints & Sinners Biker Bar… bet you only need one guess which I am...

Nightclub #3: Saints & Sinners Biker Bar… bet you only need one guess which I am…

Of course, there is something else this Marik does, namely fill out a style card for every blog post.  Today is not the day to end that trend…

  • Shape: Pregnancy5Milania from Alady Island.  (Between the corset and the mesh, you can’t tell how pregnant I am, but I’m just starting the third trimester of my sympathy pregnancy…)
  • Skin: India High Caramel M6 from Angel Rock.
  • Tattoo: Bad Girl by -UtopiaH-
  • Hair: Lucy in Sable from Truth
  • Outfit: Kairi Denim Jumper and matching Purple Corset from Sugar & Cyanide.
  • Accessories: SC-Lime piercings from K-Otic; Nerdy Glasses from Envious; Super Stilettos from Grumbe, Grumble.

Hey, it’s Matt, (a.k.a. ‘the firsty’).  Once again, I’m briefly kidnapping Emily’s blog.  Sometimes, when I’ve done this in the past, it’s been a way to push my writing a bit and do something different from how Emily generally writes this blog.  Other times, and this is one of those, I have something specific I want to write about, something that I can’t or won’t filter through the literary conceit that Emily is real and I’m her imaginary alter ego rather than vice versa.  I won’t poke or prod that conceit here today.  It would only be repetitive and off-topic.  Plus, Emily makes much more sense within the context of a long time social role-player with access to an elaborate virtual world.  Without that context, almost everything I can say about Emily is crazy or creepy or both.  Think of Emily as a filter or prism inside my mental toolbox.  Emily has exactly my knowledge base, no more and no less.  However, if I look at life through the Emily filter, I see it a little differently, just as looking at a photograph through colored cellophane or through 3D glasses or through a magnifying glass may hide or reveal different aspects of the photograph.  Pushing the analogy a little further, sometimes you choose to look through a filter, and sometimes you may do so unintentionally.  When Emily was writing her last post, with the subject of secrets as ‘What’s on My Mind’, it clarified some thoughts about some secrets I have here in First Life rather than in Second Life.

Remember, Firsty, I can hear every word you say...

Remember, Firsty, I can hear every word you say…

Emily may hate secrets, but I’m actually secretive by nature.  I would generally use the words ‘private’ or ‘reserved’ rather than ‘secretive’, but that is a potato po-tot-o distinction.  (As an aside, that is a figure of speech that works much better as a figure of SPEECH than as a figure of writing.  *Sigh*)  I am mildly nosy, whether I’m looking at the world through Emily’s eyes or my own.  It’s a natural outgrowth of curiosity, self-centeredness, and low self-esteem.  Not only do I collect information like a magpie collects sparkles, but I also have a nagging fear that any conversation that excludes me might be about me and my failings.  Ironically, the same low self-esteem helps fuel my privacy and reserve.  I worry that if I reveal some fact-X about myself, I will lose the affection and regard of those who learn it.  In addition, I know I possess both the cultural tendency towards self-absorption and the geek tendency to obsess.  I generally get excited about whatever topic-Y is in the front of my mind.  I can expound equally readily about the Dr. Who episode I just watched, a explanation I read once about transfinite numbers, or what I think the Cincinnati Reds need to do to fix their season.  I tend to bottle it up, however, because high self-awareness and low self-esteem remind me that whatever audience I have may a) not give a rat’s ass about whatever topic-Y or fact-X I’m currently geeking about, or b) care about topic-Y but consider my opinions and stories about topic-Y to be irrelevant and a waste of their time.  The net result is a sponge-like approach to secrets and gossip… I do my level best to soak up any secrets and gossip around me, but don’t release any of them until I’m squeezed for the info.  (Note to self: that metaphor extended well… file it away to use in later writing…)  Emily’s complaint about not being mentally organized enough to keep track of who is ‘cleared’ for various secrets is true for both of us, although the filter effect changes how we process that.  Thinking as Emily, it is simpler to be open than to create mental complications about who knows what.  Thinking as myself, I just volunteer nothing until I feel confident and comfortable.

I’ve commented before, both in First Life and in Second Life, that Emily has a bright and cheery personality while I tend towards the melancholic. It still surprises me, however, to see that in black and white before me.  My default for sharing information is that everything is forbidden until it is permitted, a negative and pessimistic view of the world.  Looking through filter of my ‘inner Emily’, everything is permissible unless it is forbidden.  Forgive me a brief psycho-therapy moment, but I think I just realized a big portion of why I love Second Life.  I don’t talk about Second Life much within First Life, because talking about my imaginary alter ego, particularly a female imaginary alter ego that I use the third person to describe, does sound like I’m creepy or crazy or both.  I generally quietly apologize for Emily’s gender with a brief the-temporary-became-permanent and brush it under the table, saying I keep Emily around for her blog.  True but incomplete.  Since I’m melancholic and have low self-esteem, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that sometimes I wish I was someone else.  Not that I wish I wasn’t me, but that I wish I was a new and improved version of me, a me 2.0 so to speak.  Let me be clear on one point.  I had something else on my mind when I created Emily, so she does NOT represent me 2.0, or a feminine version of me, or some sort of subconscious shadow-me lurking in the depths of my id.  However, some of the traits that have become part of Emily are the sort of traits I wish I had.  I enjoy my chance to ‘try on’ Emily’s optimism and her brash belief in our shared dream of becoming a novelist, and hope that, if I practice being a little bolder and a little more shameless, I will develop an aptitude for that sort of thing in real life.

*AHEM*  Can we get to the secret?  Please?!

*AHEM* Can we get to the secret? Please?!

Apparently I have even less aptitude for sharing secrets then I suspected, as I managed to spiral away from my intended revelation into a bout of introspection.  I could probably spin the introspection even further… My apparent openness in trying to dissect and pin down my own thought processes would seem to contradict the statement that I prefer to keep my cards close to the chest, and I can gnaw on that sort of self-contradiction for paragraphs and paragraphs.  I’ve lived inside my own head long enough to recognize when I’m procrastinating.  It’s my nature to fret, to worry at my thoughts and endlessly re-parse them until they are just so.  As Emily would say, sometimes it’s best to rip the bandaid off quickly.

I’m going to be a daddy.

Let me just leave that statement out there briefly.  My wife and I are having a baby.  We’re right on the border between the first and second trimester, so Little Whatzit should make an appearance between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  It’s so early in the pregnancy that we still have another six to eight weeks before we can even learn the baby’s gender and give the poor thing a proper pronoun.  We’re just now starting to tell our families.  We were trying, so we’ve known what the test said for a couple of months, but we wanted to know everything appeared healthy and on-track before we spread the word.  Last week we got to hear Little Whatzit’s heartbeat for the first time and earlier this week we got to see the first ultrasounds, which remind me of famed pictures of the Loch Ness Monster emerging from the fog.  It looks like the baby is going to be a healthy little Whatzit, and the sound and pictures make Whatzit real in a way that a pregnancy test doesn’t, even a pregnancy test accompanied by a truly brutal case of all-day sickness.  (Like countless mothers before her, my wife is learning that morning sickness is lousy at punching a time card.)  But now it’s real.  It’s really real.  I’m going to be a daddy.

So, Firsty, how exactly am I related to Little Whatzit?

So, Firsty, how exactly am I related to Little Whatzit?

This is the big reason why my posting frequency has suffered over the last few months.  I’ve always had to juggle my time for writing and Second Life around three work schedules, two of my own and also my wife’s.  (My best writing time is when I’m off and my wife is working… It’s harder to write when we are both off, both because we like to grab what us-time we can and because my wife disapproves of Emily.  As I said above, an imaginary female alter ego sounds creepy or crazy or both.)  Add doctor’s visits and a house hunt into the mix… it would be brutally hard to find time for what is essentially a hobby/game even if my wife did approve.  And who knows what will happen once Whatzit is born… It’s hard to argue a baby will create more free time in my schedule, but there will be times when I’m at home with Whatzit while my wife is working, or when we’re at home together but each left to keep ourselves entertained so I don’t know what will happen.

I don’t know what will happen is a big theme in my life right now.  Friends and coworkers keep asking me if I’m excited.  I am excited, in my low-key, melancholic, over-intellectualized and introspective way.  Little Whatzit is no accident; my wife and I made the conscious decision to try, particularly since the biological clock was starting to tick a little louder.  I’m curious to see what sort of little person we are creating.  I’m hopeful for the future and looking forward to loving little Whatzit.  My wife and I both came from good, happy, functional families, and I’m confident that we absorbed a lot of good parenting advice from our parents.  And mixed in with all of that is a knot of solid bowel-clenching terror.  There is going to a little person who is absolutely dependent upon me, who is counting on me both to provide her immediate needs and to train her and mold her into the sort of person who can take care of herself and leave the world a better place when she’s done with it.  That is an awesome responsibility and all my doubts and insecurities are latching onto that single point.

I remember the first time I ever rode a roller coaster.  I was thirteen years old, and my eighth grade class went to Kings Island on one of the last days of school.  I got in line for the Vortex, which was still new and at the time the biggest badass of the Kings Island Coasters.  As the line slowly crept forward, my fears and nerves kept getting worse.  My mind and bladder played tricks on me, trying to convince me I needed to use the bathroom so I would leave the line.  I knew I probably wasn’t going to get flung out of the coaster and die, but my imagination kept painting terrible pictures of failure… I would throw up from airsickness… I would pee myself… I would scream and whimper like a little girl, losing all chance that any girl in my school would ever date me…I would lose my glasses or my wallet or my soul from a pocket and have to stay until after the busses left and park the closed to get them back.  Even once I was through the line and on the coaster, as the cars slowly clacked to the start of the first drop, I was chanting “Why am I doing this?” as a mantra and wondering if it was really too late to get off.  The actual ride was an adrenaline rush, of course, and I spent the rest of the day cheerfully waiting through lines to try other coasters and repeat the experience.  Now I love roller coasters.  (Although I still fear them too, and battle the same nerves on a smaller scale with the first coaster of the season every year.)  I’m sure you see the metaphor coming here.  As my wife and I expect, we are in line for the roller coaster.  I want to do this, but my imagination is still painting terrible pictures of failure.  The cars will take there sweet time clacking to the top of the first hill, and once it starts… well, there will be ups and downs, and it will be over too fast, and I will probably at some point nudge my wife on the shoulder, waggle my eyebrows, and say, “Wanna do it again?  Huh, huh?” wherein I will do the same fears anew but on a smaller scale.  Right now, I just need to breathe deep and get ready for the ride…

Dammit, Firsty!  Now I want a Whatzit too!

Dammit, Firsty! Now I want a Whatzit too!

Well, I’ve been verbose as usual, but there are still two things I should do before I sign off.

Emily would want me to include a style card.

  • Shape: AladyPreg6Milania from Alady Island
  • Skin: Ethereal from Sexy Mamas
  • Hair: Wendi from Tameless Hair
  • Outfit: Baby Cropped Hoodie from Freaky Geeky, Tartan Bellbottoms from Blue Blood, Fringed Ankle Boots from Grumble, Grumble
  • Tattoos: Pregnancy Stretch Marks from Freaky Geeky, Love Me Face Tattoo from Grumble, Grumble
  • Other Accessories: Teal Spiked Bow Headband from Grumble, Grumble, Earring and Ring from Random Calliope, Lip Ring and Belly Piercing both Source Unknown

Also, because music plays a big part in helping me breathe deeply, I always like to include a song.  Last night, while I was still fretting about not being ready to be a father, about wanting more time, my wife and I went to the ‘Love Worth Fighting For’ event at a local church.  The speaker was Kirk Cameron, who is a truly amazing speaker, but we were even more impressed by the musician Warren Barfield who both spoke and performed.  Not by his music per se- he’s talented, but doesn’t play the genre of music I generally listen to- but just by how real and authentic and sincere he and his faith were.  This is the sort of guy you just want to hang out with for a while.  But the first song he sang was like it was chosen just for me, because it was the message I needed to hear right then, the answer to my doubts about whether I’m ready to be a father yet.  This is ‘The Right Time’ by Warren Barfield.

So, how do you like them apples?

So, how do you like them apples?

WHAT I’M WEARING: I needed something easy and casual.  Any jokes claiming that I am easy and casual receive no bonus points today.  Not only are they too obvious to be clever, but I’m letting my sense of humor take a vacation day.  I’m not depressed or sad or anything, just tired.  I feel stretched thin and in need of a recharge.  So I quickly threw something together from my closet, and headed out in search of a restful, mellow adventure, something relaxing and uplifting and not too stressful.  And yes, I’m familiar with the hobbit definition of adventure: A nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable thing that makes you late for dinner.  I don’t want to be late for dinner…

  • Shape: ChildGirlAge15 (AladyIsland) (Gee.  It’s so lovely to be twenty-five and told you have the body of a 15 year old…)
  • Skin: Jessy  (*JStyle)
  • Hair: Paloma/Black5 (Dark Mouse Hair)
  • Outfit: Valery Dollarbie Top (Egoxentrikax), Jeans from the Summer Glam Complete Outfit (B-C Creations), Red Leather Kicks (Prozak)
  • Accessories: Summer Glam Clutch (B-C Creations) (part of the same complete outfit as the mesh jeans.), Nerdy Glasses (Envious), Rose Tattoo (Prozak), Razor Wire Bangle (Grumble), Red Blush Makeup (LC’s World of Fashion), Lip Ring, Silver Earrings (source unknown).

    Sitting and resting and watching the world… This is my kind of adventure!

    Sitting and resting and watching the world… This is my kind of adventure!

WHERE I’M AT: My article title and place to visit were inspired by the Event Newsfeed, so I’m here experiencing Time Out.  The Taxi is here.  The description from the news feed is, “Timeout is fun and unique.  It is quiet but dynamic.  It is calming but frightening.  It is for lovers but adventurers.  Timeout is a high quality sim with beautiful scenery and many interesting spots.  It is an addictive sim with the best Irish Pub in Second Life for the perfect pint.”

In other words, since I’m feeling rushed and frantic in both of my lives, this is just what the doctor ordered!  So far I haven’t found the parts of Timeout that are supposed to be dynamic or frightening, and I’m perfectly OK with that.  I’m wandering around, enjoying the facts that the scenery is beautiful and that I am beautiful within said scenery, resting, and writing on my blog and on a few short story ideas.  A calm, pretty backdrop.  Lovely weather to sit and think.  Plenty of benches and pretty trees.  This spot is idyllic and ideal for me.

OK, I think I found the frightening part of Timeout...

OK, I think I found the frightening part of Timeout…

WHAT’S ON MY MIND: I hate secrets.  I really do.  I hate other people’s secrets.  Mostly, I admit, because I’m nosy and curious, but also because I’m not always good with subtle social cues, and if I know what’s going on, I can act accordingly, but if I have to rely on non-verbals I’m probably going to piss someone off and not know why.  (And possibly even fail to notice.)  I hate having my own secrets.  I don’t have the sort of mental organization to keep track of who knows what and who is allowed to know what.  I’m not a good enough spontaneous liar to keep a secret properly hidden.  (I simultaneously worry that I’m not a good enough liar because I don’t what to say when the lie is ‘off the cuff’ and that I’m too dishonest because I lie very easily once the proper lie to tell has been decided.  The conflict between those two worries is fairly obvious.  Welcome to the tangled mess that is my mind.)  But the worst is having to share a secret.

Right now I share a fairly big secret.  If it were my secret only, I would probably blurt it out and be done.  I’ve always tended to just throw it all out on the table and let the chips fall where they may, even when that isn’t such a good idea.  Moreover it is a fairly ‘open’ secret by this point- only a very small cabal is supposed to know, but two of the cabal members, including the one who most wants to keep it secret, are lousy secret keepers.  I am reminded of Luke, a gossipy former boss, who’s half-joking line was, ‘Don’t worry.  I told everybody not to tell anybody.’  Everyone who gets the secret also gets to know why it’s a secret: it’s a time sensitive matter, involving a probable future outcome.  If a less probable outcome should occur instead, the cabal would rather not have to keep rehashing how or why the plans fell through.

I got to witness something similar while playing First Life.  My firsty works two jobs, one of which is for a very popular family owned restaurant.  The family was looking into starting a second venture.  They didn’t openly discuss venture 2, which lead to a great deal of curiosity and speculation among employees and customers.  A few details leaked into the gossip pool anyway.  A couple employees from the restaurant were used in filler roles in the business the family was going to buy for venture 2.  A few contractors, who are also customers at the original restaurant, were approached with jobs and/or for estimates.  As the start up date drew closer, the family bragged a little bit about the process with some of the favored regulars.  Then the deal fell through, went sideways, crashed and burned, pick whatever idiom you like.  What had once been the best-laid plans of the family ganged aft agley.  (If you are neither an eighteenth century Scot nor a fan of Robert Burns’ poetry, just accept what started as best laid ended as f–ked…) For nearly a month, customers have been asking for details about a new venture that is now on indefinite hold and with a schedule anywhere between imminent and impossible.  It was already irritating the first time, so after a month of the same…  I certainly don’t want to repeat such a hassle with my secret.

The one silver lining is in the word ‘time sensitive.’  Before long, and probably sooner than later, secrecy will be a moot point.  At the rate I’m posting these days, probably within my next post or two I will be free to tell all and sundry what’s on my mind rather than dance around the issue.

But I wanted ninety-nine RED balloons!

But I wanted ninety-nine RED balloons!

WHAT’S ON MY RADIO: I’ve just been shuffling through my iPod, looking for songs that fit my mood.  I found these…  Mama Said There’d be Days Like This by the Shirelles, Welcome to The Family by Avenged Sevenfold, a cover of Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle by Guns N Roses, and No Son of Mine by Genesis.

The Hair Department at My Pretty Pixels.

The Hair Department at My Pretty Pixels.

WHAT I’M WEARING: As I started putting my outfit together, I was thinking red carpet.  Haute couture.  Cutting edge elegance and style.  As I accessorized, however, I ended up with a look that reminds me more of a silver age comic book heroine, fighting crime in an outfit defined by its bright primary colors and utter impracticality…

  • Shape: AngelieJolieDCup from Alady Island.  (Is it really supposed to be modeled after a famous actress and adoptress?  I can’t tell, but also don’t really care.)
  • Skin: Angelina from Mr. Bloch.  (OK, I do care.  However, even with a shape and a skin supposedly modeled after Angelina Jolie, I don’t think I look like her.  Or even particularly close.  So I’ll just pretend to sound jaded and uncaring, OK?)
  • Hair: Brandee in Shamrock Green from Tameless Hair.  (The bright green hair is really where the look started to devolve from the red carpet…)
  • Dress: Yanru Club Gown in Red from LC’s World of Fashion.
  • Boots: Classic Red Thigh High Boots from <P3>  (Boots only suitable for a mistress or a super heroine/villainess… And my inner geek-girl tends to distract me before I can put together a good mistress style card…) 
  • Other Accessories: Dolly Makeup from Blue Blood, Red Collar from *JStyle, Plain Lace Stockings from Sugar Emporium, Kalma Tattoo from GrungeInk, source unknown ‘Bollywood Earrings’ and piercing ring.

    The kids' department at *Fierce Designs*

    The kids’ department at *Fierce Designs*

WHERE I’M AT: Still landmark sorting/hopping.  The most interesting landmark was about a dozen copies of an defunct landmark that once lead to a skybox shop and now lead to a fall of several hundred meters.  And the landmarks all just had the name of the shop, so I had to check each one looking for a landmark to the shops new location, so I popped in, started falling, popped back to the top of my fall, continued falling, over and over in one horrific loop.  I’ve had this dream before, by the way.  It doesn’t end well.  (Unless, of course, you think red is a pretty color for ground cover…)

Warhol's House of Mirrors and RLV Traps.  Be warned...

Warhol’s House of Mirrors and RLV Traps. Be warned…

WHAT’S ON MY MIND:  Much and nothing.  I’ve got a couple fiction projects that are coming well, but not in any place or condition to share.  I’ve gathered some tidbits of juicy gossip about First Life, both about my firsty and about some of the other avatars he is routinely required to interact with, but if you aren’t playing First Life near me, they are meaningless tidbits.  And if they aren’t meaningless, than I have even less permission to share them.  I’ve read a few really good reads recently, but I try to avoid the geek trait of giving long winded after the fact play-by-plays.  To my mind, the ability/compulsion to obsess over something fictional- be it Star Wars, Dr. Who, Twilight, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, or Fantasy Football- is the definitive trait of the geek.  I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if I am a geek or not when I actively fight my obsessive tendencies and when I geek shallowly in many geek fields rather than with excessive focus on one.  I’m good for geek trivia, and I generally speak the lingo well enough to convince a non-geek that I’m a geek for most geek-obsessions, but I can’t keep up with the true dedicated geeks.  The final score is I feel like an outsider wherever I go… Normally, I’m surrounded by non-geeks, and I feel isolated because I’m struggling to keep my inner geek bottled up.  Occasionally I get to hang with some true geeks, and I still feel isolated because I really just can’t get that obsessively consumed by something that isn’t real.  My individual geek-dom is for the concept of ‘story’, whether it is told through performance art (theatre, movie, TV), through words (novels, short stories, poems), or through collaborative efforts (games, role-playing, etc.)  I’m concerned with the quality of the story, the shape of the story, how to create one myself.  When I come out of the movie theater, I want to dissect what I just saw, but almost always for how the story was told and crafted and rarely for what the story was.  I think the isolation is that I’ve yet to find a fellow ‘generalist story geek’.  I’m like the Trekkie at Star Wars convention- I can’t mix well with the mundanes who aren’t geeks, but my obsession doesn’t match up with any of the geeks around me either…

Still at the house of mirrors.  Apparently I didn't heed my own warning...

Still at the house of mirrors. Apparently I didn’t heed my own warning…

WHAT’S ON MY RADIO:  Since I blundered into an angelic transformation, why not a few angelic songs?  She’s An Angel by They Might Be Giants… Angels by Within Temptation (I’ve explained elsewhere I’m too fickle to have a favorite song, but at this moment, Angels is a strong contender to be the favorite song I don’t have…) I’m Sailing Away by Styx.  (Well, I thought it was an angel song, but to my surprise, they climbed aboard a starship and headed to the skies…)

Augusta Creations.  Lot's of gifts that can be picked up here...

Augusta Creations. Lot’s of gifts that can be picked up here…