Taking the Leap!

I feel like such a newborn, even at four rez years.   I still unintentionally wear boxes on my head, and when that happens, it makes me smile every time (which is nice and funny…because as a newborn that kind of thing used to make me cringe a bit.  I’m very glad to be able to smile and laugh with it now).  I still quite intentionally delight in and marvel at the wonderful creativity inworld and the very palpable sense of a shared experience — maybe community, maybe principles, maybe values, I’m not sure which — that exists across the spectrum of virtual worlds citizens.

And I still feel like a newborn because this is the first year in four years that I am doing the Rez Day jump, a wonderful yet rather unknown inworld tradition that my very wonderful friend Dale learned about, shared with everyone, and participated in for the past two years.  True to every form, Dale soars so naturally in the Rez Day jump.  I don’t know how Dale captured the prejump and inflight photos, but I’m amazed by that.  I found I had to pose in the sky a bit first, twirl a little around, and practice several times before I could finally capture the inflight leap in a photo.

So, with a November 15th rez day, I’m posting my Rez Day jump within my Rez Month.  And every day I am and remain so very grateful for Second Life, our world our imagination and the incredible soul in all forms, in all worlds.  Always.

Four rez years…four pictures!

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 7

7 ~ No Country for Newbies

It wasn’t always like this.  Especially, where you could turn your head to the south and see the bright spot of a another world just over the horizon all the time.  You can’t miss it, floating on the cloud there, like the cloud is the planet’s own personal magic carpet.  That bright spot, that star or something dwarfs it bit by bit every day.  It’s starting to dwarf our sun.  It wasn’t always that way…it’s getting bigger; the sun and the cloud smaller.  Maybe it’s getting somehow more insistant.  And red.  Fuzzy glowy hot red, like it’s searing a huge hole in the sky.  I watch it alot, that part of the sky.  If you ask me, it’s trying to devour all of us and everything in this world.  Someone should keep an eye on something that tries to do that.  See the buildings around it?  Just at the edge of the horizon?  If you zoom out, high and tight into them and study them, you’ll see what I mean.  Brace yourself; it’s startling.  The buildings…see?  Look closely.  Their front facades from rooftop to walkway just sheer off and fall in a straight avalanche, imploding into the ground.  Some of them are a few kilometers tall.  Well, they were anyway.  Now they’re buried in mushroom clouds.  Even the mushroom clouds are tiny compared to that planet or star or hole or something in the sky.  I don’t quite know what to say about that.  I feel an awful lot about it, for sure…I just don’t quite know what to say about what has to be deliberate destruction.  Could it be anything else?  …other than to say that’s one helluva insistent world on the other side of our sky, burning one hot helluva hole in our world here.  Enough to melt down everything created around us.  Takes a lot of heat to achieve something like that on a scale like this.  Such a shame.  Such a distressed horizon over there.   Covered with murky clouds that don’t seem to know their own nature any more once they get sucked up into that bright spot.   You know, I can’t really see the color of that world there.  It’s red and it’s not.  The sky is a big hot mess of debris from it all.  All I know is the color can’t be anything as cooling as a blue.  And I don’t think the planet is Mars…come to think of it, maybe it is Red Mars, but who knows, maybe it is both of those things, blue and mars or maybe it will turn out to be a world with a name we haven’t yet heard.  I’ve heard of a place that already exists like that — with blue and mars out there on the other side of the sky — but I’ve never been there.  I can’t say that I feel the urge to go there on any kind of regular basis either for some reason.  I’ve heard talk of a whole bunch of worlds out there now.  They could very well be a whole universe of worlds sitting out there for all that I know.  Those things just don’t matter too much to me.  It’s nice to know what’s happening, how things are changing or expanding or just becoming different maybe is all that it really is…but I already have my universe.  I already have all of what’s important to me.  Home is in the heart, you know?  That’s a saying, sure, but it’s so true.  And for me, that’s all of what really mattesr.  These other worlds?  Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was curious to hear the stories about them.  I think my curiosity is kind of like the Star Trek thing…you know:   “space…the final frontier.”  That frontier spirit is natural if you ask me.  We’re a people interested in possibilities — no matter what hte world — so to be curious about the horizon is normal if you ask me.   And yet…even with all the curiosity in the world, I just haven’t felt a compelling urge to rush over onto the other side of the sky, is all that I’m saying, despite all the talk from the people who have moved over there permanently.  I know they love it.  They make sure to say that.  And I don’t doubt how they feel.  I suppose if so many of them didn’t have so much torn feelings about this world, I might hear them better.  Not that what seems like anger from some of them isn’t justified in their minds — I’m not casting judgement about their perspectives or their experiences.  I just don’t know what they feel so torn about even when they shout it.  Sometimes it just sounds like all the upset is all about something more, or something else entirely, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what.  The point is, it’s not for me to guess at.  The only thing I can say about it is that it’s not that I haven’t ever personally given another world a chance.  I did.  I traveled to one — probably that very same big red bright spot tearing up the other side of the sky over there, come to think of it.  Wouldn’t that just be too funny. That’d be ironic as hell — or just weird — if the spot that keeps trying to burn a hole into this sky, the same spot that I can’t help but allow to penetrate my mind turns out to be the world that I visited a couple of times on the other side of the sky in this world.  Only thing is, I don’t know for sure if that’s the case.  All that I can say for sure is that wherever I visited was a nice place when I found myself there.  The truth is, it was so similar to this world that it really didn’t stick in my memory as something wild or unusual.  In fact, it reminded me alot of this world in just about all respects.  It felt to me kind of like seeing McDonald’s in every country, you know?  Kinda like an experience that amounted to a commodity, but not anything exclusive or distinctive, huh.  Maybe that’s harsh, I don’t know, but there was an underlying current of that there.  There’s something peculiar about sensing that.  I feel that there really is something odd about that.  But I still went there evenso and entered through the “golden arches”…only there weren’t any literal “golden arches.”  That was just a failed attempt at biting humor on my part.  Not sure what compelled me to go there.  There’s just something significant about the McDonald-izing of the worlds:  drive through happy meals made of mystery meat serving billions and billions and billions of people all over the worlds, I don’t know.  “Just supersize my fries, throw them in a bushel that I’ll harvest on my little flat farm while I foursquare myself to the next franchise, would you?”  Something unnerving about that.  Anyway.  I didn’t think about the other world in a McDonald’s kind of way when I went there.  In hindsight, I have to say I’m glad I didn’t.  I don’t know how I would have viewed any of that experience if I had thought about it like it was a commodity.   I’m grateful so very grateful I was in more of a beginner’s mind when I went.  I try to stay in that place, a beginner’s mind.  There’s always possibilities in a beginner’s mind, and that’s always a nice experience.  I didn’t anticipate much of anything when I visited that other world and that held true even when I returned again.  I think I visited that world maybe only once or twice.  Not often at all.  But both times, I didn’t envision anything wildly different before I arrived.  When I finally did arrive, I found that I was pretty much right about it all seeming familiar.  Before logging in, I set up a name for myself…you know, I claimed *my* name from here.  Heh.  Funny…all this talk about identity and the thing that everyone rushes to stake out above all else is their name.  Well, I did exactly the same thing.  Makes perfect sense, really.  Someone once said to me, a colleague at work many years ago…she said “our name is really the only thing we own.”  She wasn’t talking about anything like a legal form of ownership.  She meant our reputation, our values, our character…all of that bundled up and assigned to us by our names.  Like our names are an executive summary of all of who we are.  Our appearances can broadcast themselves any which way we want them to — and quite literally we can change every aspect of our looks in these worlds — but some things are universal.  Like actions speaking louder than appearance or words.  And without fail, probably without any level of conscious thought, we all watch that — actions, I mean — don’t we.  We assign all our observations to actions.  We all do it.  We judge them, we categorize them, we identify them, and we anchor them to a person through their name.    The tricky part of it though is that someone can try to make you own something about yourself that isn’t you…just because of the way they decide to perceive you…and then slap that onto your name even if it’s not really you.  But some people are like that, forcing their view of the worlds everywhere.  I think my friend, the colleague at work who said all of that, was right.  It doesn’t matter that she said it many years ago.  And it doesn’t matter that she said it in a completely different world, from that First Place world.  The thing is…it’s true in Second Place and All the Spaces We Go.  So yeah, I made sure to claim my name in that other world that I visited, the one that feels and looks alot like this world in many aspects.  Except I have to say…I didn’t see any fronts of buildings sheering off and imploding on the ground, that’s for sure.  At least not yet.  After all, it wasn’t always that way here either.  Heh.  But anyway…I took my time while I was there.  After I claimed my name free and clear, I checked things out.  Somehow I didn’t travel much further than the welcome center, though.  That’s how it was for me here too in the beginning.  Made me feel like how I started out here when everything was a mystery.  Except in this other place there wasn’t some packed community center or welcome center with huge marshmellow characters wearing giant penises, or naked people dressed like Indians wearing mohawks who stood around activating a looping laughing gesture, or merfolk swimming through nothing but the air around people’s heads, or spaceships that flew through the middle of the crowd, all low and slow.  The shapeship always seemed to get everyone’s attention for some reason.  Even more than the giant penises.  Complete strangers would jump up onto the sides of the space ship and sit on the edges as it sliced its way silently in a low glide through the center of the welcome area.  Maybe we all thought we were going some place.  Maybe we all thought we’d find a completely different world within a world.  I don’t know.  Or maybe it just seemed like a fun thing to do.  Anyway, this new world, the one on the other side of the sky?  Their welcome center was reminiscent of that…just without the big crowds and without the wildly unexpected.  No giant penises, no laughing mohawk naked people, no merfolk flipping their tails, no space ships.  Not sure if they have a world within their world there.  Everyone looked usual, nothing extraordinary.  Hardly any chaos anywhere…really it was all pretty orderly, but it was still fun waddling around, although the shock of waddling wasn’t as strong this time since I’m an experienced waddler now, you might say.  Made me smile, though, still believe it or not.  And cringe too, all at once.  So there I was.  My first day in a strange new (kind of) world and I felt transported back in time to my first day in this world.  When I marveled in the discovery of a changed perspective all the way down to my toes.  I stood there, like I had the first time I was born into these kinds of worlds, deciding on the most urgent things to get:  a new walk, a new skin, and maybe third on that list, new hair.  I can’t say what it is about those three things that just go so against the grain if they aren’t right.  And yet somehow this time around, the not-just-rightness of them all were endearing.  I didn’t mind so much if people in fancy skins and walks and hairs who had obviously been there for some time saw me all new and awkward.  In fact, I probably waddled longer than I needed to just because it was fun to do.  To feel myself step into my legs again in an unmanufactured way.  I almost began to think I had found a country for newbies.  Almost began to think that…but really not so much.  Everything was very well staged there.  I found my new walk, my new skin and some new hair much faster in this other world than I did in the one I was born into here.  I looked around for the unusual and bizarre, for any strange creatures or non-human cultures.  Maybe it was bad timing, but I didn’t find any.  If the owners of that new planet asked me for feedback, I’d tell them they should try to build in some confusion into this new world.  There’s something charming, something that just sings ‘possibilities’ when everything isn’t so perfectly laid out and clearly defined.  Besides, it just seems to me that the unknowing feels more true to the act of creation.  At some level, a world without a manuscript feels more true to itself.  More true to imagination, more true to life, two things you really can’t control.  It always feels a little forced when imagination and living are overly plotted out…but I know the known brings alot of comfort and comfort isn’t a bad thing.  Even to me.  Maybe all of this is my own personal view.  Maybe that’s somehow a value statement that ties itself around my name and owns me, instead of the other way around:  me owning my name.  I don’t know.  Maybe when it comes down to it, we don’t really own anything at all…even our names.  Maybe that planet over there busying itself with tearing at this world and every world around it is just trying to demonstrate something like that:  that even at the height of control the universe doesn’t own anything in it.  Could be, I don’t really know.  I gaze at that gaping hole in the sky with that red bright spot surging bigger every day, tearing down everything around it, threatening to eat all of this world including the sun and all of us.  Can you blame me for thinking it’s a world of intense energy?  Is that what you might think of as “putting it mildly?”  Yeah, I’d have to agree with you on that.  The truth is I don’t know if that world has a good energy or a bad energy.  I don’t really know what kind of value to place around its name or to tie to its identity.  I can’t really tell any more.  I used to think it was good…that it called out in a healthy, exploratory way for everyone to migrate over to it, to visit or not.  But that hole in the sky, it brings alot more than vacuum sunction.  Feel the wind?  I know you can.  But listen…listen closely to that wind.  Listen beyond the pain that you feel from the heat of the thing.  Hear it?  Through that gaping hole?  All those meters away, right at the edge of the horizon that’s being torn open?  It’s not only searin heat pushing itself through.   It’s what sounds like an endless stream of words, words that are just as destructive sometimes, sometimes more than the heat.  Listen and you’ll hear what I mean.  Feel your ears singe not from the air but from the sounds that are meant for nothing more than to strike out at this world.  I could be wrong…if the sounds are meant for something more — and maybe they are — that meaning falls away, sheered off from the blistering heat around them.  The funny thing…we have a kinship with the source of those sounds.  Most of those words come from people who used to live in this world.  They don’t any longer for whatever reason.  I think they try to say the reason…but I think that’s the part that sheers itself away because something changed for them.  It’s not so unusual.  But maybe it’s different for everyone…the things that change for them.  For me, it was learning to walk in a perfectly ordered world and not challenging myself to stay in an uncomfortable place to create.  For them, those who were here and now have fled, well, I don’t know.  But I do know that for whatever reason they still focus on this world even when they aren’t in it any more.  I can understand that in a way.  I can see the allure.  We’re in the First Place of Second Place afterall.  At least for most of us, we are, or at least most of us view it that way.  At least for me and for all of those in my family it definitely is.  I come from a long line of dreamers.  I can’t say I ever really liked the word “dreamer” myself.  Somehow that word got twisted around somehow, and changed from something inventive into something…I don’t know.  Common or something.  Less than.  These days, people make it seem like anything creative is some kind of waste of time, some kind of nonsense fabrication and nothing more.  All watered down and worthless.  Or worse, like it’s an addiction.  Like the way society is set up in First Place isn’t an addiction.  Heh.  Like dreaming and creating aren’t classified as “real” but instead treated as if they shouldn’t matter.   I’d like to ask those people — some of them have been here, some haven’t — but it doesn’t matter where they’ve been or are.  But what I’d like to ask them is:  do they think “reality” is all that “real” in the first place?  Please, have they seen the “reality” of First Place, lately?  Bad Girls Club, hello?  As if that kind of drama happens in everybody’s everyday life.  I suppose First Place has more than its fair share of bad life moments, bad behavior moments, but table tossing and body slams and hurling other people’s property out into the street aren’t things that happen on a regular basis for most people.  Sheering off everyone’s sense of self isn’t the essence of “reality” is it?  Not unless they live in the city, I suppose.  And even then, I don’t know that it’s all that proportional.  But if we’re supposed to accept that the garbage on “reality” shows is real, I must not know what ‘real’ is anymore.  Constant exposure to the worst inside of us, amplified for sale and rewarded by the marketers and all the “practical” people in the world who vote for it with their time, energy and dollars does something to a person.  Does something to an entire society.  Hands it completely over to the sellers who demand that we accept whatever they decide is “real.”  They’re clever that bunch.  They do that — sell the worst possible most manufactured fake as “real” — all while saying “spin sucks” out of the side of their mouths.  When I stop to think about it, you know I realize they’re just trying to win us over by claiming “spin sucks.”  That’s what we want to hear afterall, isn’t it?  What’s the “real” in the real…that’s what we think we’re getting at or going to or something isn’t it?  Well, they get that, the marketers and could care less whether or not they deliver it.  They shout “spin sucks” and turn on their heels to vomit a boatload of made up nonsense at the world and call it fact.  Their idea of reality sells, for sure.  I couldn’t say why.  Seems cheap and sensationalized if you ask me.  And obscenely over the top plotted out:  “set up the cameras at just the right angle, and at just the right moment with just the right lighting to capture that table toss!”.   You think they rehearsed those “spontaneous” dramatics?  Oh hell, yes.  Probably more times than we can count.  But dreams, well, they aren’t rehearsed.  Dreams, there’s something to them that can’t be contained and mass-manufactured or sold like smack straight off of an assembly line.  Like all those so-called reality shows.  I come from a long line of dreamers, so it’s a personal thing, you see.  And I mean the word in its original sense, the creative sense.  My long line, well, it’s in my DNA.  My mother and my father, they were people who could see things that weren’t there and then make those things tangible.  Siblings too.  I’m not the only one who has that knack.  Like I said, it’s in my DNA, and there’s nothing empty or fake about that, I’ll tell you.  Some might say there is.  Or some might say it all amounts to some kind of magic.  I’m not one of those who would say either of those things.  I suppose it’s good to have people who make judgements.  I suppose it’s a helluvalot better than indifference.  But when it comes to saying whether it’s all fake or whether it’s all magic, well,  I couldn’t really tell you where it comes from and wouldn’t really want to try to.  The only thing I could tell you with certainty is that being a dreamer is real.  And so am I.  Funny I’m spending so much time talking about First Place, when what concerns me most is Second Place and that hole tearing at the sky.  Can’t help but wonder if it’s First Place tearing its way through somehow.  Maybe not from that specific planet on the horizon.  But in a metaphorical sense.  I admit it felt unreal in the beginning.  When I saw myself duck waddle.  When I couldn’t even figure out how to turn a corner without walking into a wall.  Somehow I spent most of my time at the bottom of the ocean when I first came here.  All this creativity in me, at least I thought there was and somehow I know there still is, but yet I couldn’t figure out how to make it work at first.  I didn’t have a roadmap.  I just heard about this world and well, the idea of it seemed to speak directly to the creative part of me.  I’m the only one in a long line of dreamers to wake up in this world.  And when I woke up in this world, it was vastly unchartered territory then.  The Wild West of the intertubes.  I was so very naive to it all, I didn’t even know what the word “intertubes” meant.  There were a few people here before I got here.  A few people who must have even more creativity in them than I do, I figure.  Somehow they heard about this place before I even knew to ask what it was.  And now some of that energy has mobilized onto the other side of our sky.  It wasn’t always like this…with the sides of buildings sheering off and crashing into the ground, with pieces of prims clattering and clanking down from the clouds.  It wasn’t alway like this, when the worm turned and imagination started devouring itself.

But come what may, I have all that I need, all that I ever want.  This is my home.  And if this world is devoured it still lives on because for me, the truth is…home really is where the heart is.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 4,045.  Total wordcount to date:  16,215 of 50,000 (not including this notation) 

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 6

6 ~ Romancing the Muse

Statuesque is how Cassandra is viewed when she is viewed at all.  She rarely is.  And yet Cassandra is always there, majestically so.  Even when she sits as she’s doing now, her soft knees bent and straddling the top of the mountain on either side of her, her long legs winding like paths along the rolling terrain until her limbs reach near the bottom where her delicate feet never touch the ground.  She is one with the mountain, Cassandra is, and yet she holds its magic above all within her being.  She is not of contemporary notions or of anything to do with the material.  She wears nothing but her luminous skin, a skin that glistens and shimmers in the air as if it radiates energy from another world.  She wears nothing but her wild brown hair, with its riverbed streaks of reds and honey; it flows and dances in long sheaths about her graceful face, her delicate sshoulders and back.

This morning as every morning, this day as every day, this moment as every moment, Cassandra looks to the east.  She looks as if waiting for the sun to breathe, as if waiting for the star to awaken from its slumber, as if waiting for life to hear.  She watches for a light to shine, for awareness to penetrate because it is then that Cassandra’s energy will travel the long and slender trail of her arm when at last her spirit will extend her long and slender fingers on a slow tender simmering journey.  To release inspiration.

In this morning, this day, this moment, transparent and opaque whites mingle together.  They form lumbering clouds.  They float now into the pinky blue sky, where they grant some shade if only for a moment from the brilliance in the heavens.  He gratefully takes the shade; he has been gazing into the brilliance of the heavens for what seems eons now.  He is a builder who is in the act of creation before the actual action occurs.  He stands nearly intimidated at the foothills of the mountain, but not really intimidated. He would say he is in awe.  It is a huge mountain that his mind addresses with humility, respect, and a deep regard.  It is a crowning formation of the earth that some may choose to disregard as nothing unusual, merely a natural structure to climb and play on, or camp and explore around its grounds.  But this builder thinks differently.  This builder has a different desire.  His is to make something of the mountain.  Something unexpected.  Something enticing.  Something that will cause others to give pause and to react to the heaping towers of earth, even if they still do end up climbing and playing, camping and exploring around.  Something that will cause them to marvel, something that will provoke.  And while the builder stares at the mountain seeking its inspiration, Cassandra keeps her head turned and fixed to the east.  She knows the builder is present, standing far below and yet so easily within her reach.  But Cassandra yearns to know if the builder, if any creator who desires to hear or who desires to see, can cause themselves to make their muse just as easily within their reach as she really is.

“I am right here,” she murmurs.  “I am right before your very eyes, within your very heart.  And yet,” she cast her gaze down her outstretched arm to the palm of her hand that is cradled protectively behind her folded fingers, “It is as if you cannot see me.  It is as if you do not hear me.”

Moments pass by.  The builder shifts his weight.  It is not easy to stand and stare and still feel as if you haven’t yet seen.  Such a gorgeous mountain, such a clean canvas on which to create, like a blank piece of paper with a story yet to be told, like a video of muted people whose narrative remains silent.  Within Cassandra’s hand lay a creation yet to be born.  She draws it forth in every moment, morning or night, while she gazes to the east and lay awake under the canopy of stars pulsing their brightness out from the ink sky to the world below.  Drawing out from the natural and everyday poetic license, drawing out divine inspiration, drawing out the strange and the unusual, drawing out a voice to be heard, a song to be sung, a dance to be danced.

Days pass by and the only new creation at the foothills that the builder makes is a large tree.  A gentle tree, it arches along the path of the sky, creating a canopy of branches and leaves that shoulder the weight of a sunlight harshly broadcasting visions only dreamt about and not yet made into form.   More moments pass.  At last, the builder feels the weight of his own body pulling down his legs.  He pause from his reflection of the mountain to create a sofa and after he does, he throws his tired body into it, arms spread wide as if pleading with Cassandra to enter his open embrace.

The mountain, a thing of great beauty to the builder, soars silently to the heavens.  He wonders if she will ever grant him entry into the mystery she holds within.

Cassandra pauses.  She turns her head toward the builder, as if realizing that he may have heard her that he may have seen her for the very first time, even if only for a little bit.  It is then that Cassandra comes down from the mountain.  With each step, her giant size morphs into her being.  As she walks lightly down the mountain side she grows smaller, with each step all her magic is contained home within her.   Until at last when she reaches the foothills — mere few footfalls away from where the builder sprawls into the sofa — Cassandra is in human form and casts her gaze to the east again to where his arms beckon her.

They say no words to each other.  She, walking along the quiet footbed toward him.  He, gazing and moving his energy out toward her.  He is startled at once and yet at the same time, somehow knowing.  He cannot explain how he is in knowing but he is.  She has lit her brilliance in the far reaches of his mind, so deeply into his mind’s eye that he nearly missed her light every time.  But he caught enough of a glimpse to recognize her in full form now as she moves gracefully, quietly toward him.  He feels enough to know even when words cannot explain how or why. 

To his eye, she is smaller than larger than life, and yet in his knowlege of her, Cassandra remains formidable.  She glides along the ground in all her nakedness, hair flowing in gentle waves behind her, running effortlessly and softly crashing down her back and legs.  He directs all of  his energy to her, his arms willing themselves to extend forward to meet her…to reach far beyond his physical reach, to lift her up as she has so often lifts him up in spirit, to take her in his embrace and inspire her as she so inspires him.  Cassandra and the builder meet, both knowing the other.  One fully aware of all the dimensions of them both.  One yearning to be fully aware of all the dimensions of the other…and of himself.

She climbs quietly into his arms.  She bends softly to his movement as he presses his large hands into the luminous skin of her back and waist.  And yet she holds her nature straight and true.  It is for the builder to see and to interpret.  It is for the builder to borrow and to lend the essence of her spirit in order to shape and to create.  Cassandra will not judge his attempts; she will not force her view.  She owns the magic yet feels no desire to master it…and a wise builder, a wise creator who is deep into the listening enough to hear that truth would be so very wise to mirror that truth. 

If Humans only could walk where Muses do.

As she moves, the builder strains to listen as if straining to hear the very origin of all of life.  He thinks he hears something.  His breath, his pulse, his essence in the universe.   His eyes expand in excitement before he realizes, that maybe yes he hears that deeply and truly of his own heart…and maybe yes he hears that deeply and truly of something even more.  It is then that he recognizes what he hears…it is something both at one with himself and beyond himself.  It is then, that he hears Cassandra’s song, lightly echoing along the breeze, lightly singing along his skin, and he wraps himself around her, feeling her as she presses her lithe spirit into his, whispering sensations along moments that stand silently while still urging him to seize the drink and taste in the fullness.  He hears the whispering echos of dreams and imagingings, he sees the edges of creations forming and transforming and all from the will of intent, all for the will of released energy but an energy that follows its own path, undictated by and undicating.  He holds Cassandra, his majestic magnificent mountain fully formed and alive, in the very palms of his hands and realizes suddenly what he must do. 

She embraces the builder lightly, holding him true and steady in her slender yet powerful arms.  It is then that Cassandra’s fingers unfurl, laying themselves to rest spread out and pressing into his broad shoulders where the weight of the sun no longer casts a heavy shadow of dreams unrealized.  It is then that Cassandra opens the seat of inspiration cradled deep within her palms to seep into his soul.

“I see,” he whispers to the universe.  “I see,” he confirms to himself.

Moments pass, then hours, then days.  The builder labors but it is a labor of creation, with the sweet sweat of inspiration seeping through his pores and replenishing his focus.  With each instance of building, Cassandra is present but less in human form.   She drew the creation out in the morning light.  She drew the inspiration out in song under the canopy of stars that pulse their light into the ink sky and and out to the world below.   She lay on the mountain top, statuesque in view when she is viewed at all.  And she is constantly viewed by visitors who flock to see the Muse in the Mountain.  Her knees softly bent and straddling the top of the mountain on either side of her, her long legs winding as functioning paths along the rolling terrain until her lims reach near the bottom where her delicate feet emerge from the mounded earth but never touch the ground.   Cassandra is not only one with the mountain…Cassandra *is* the mountain, holding all of its magic and sharing all of it with the world.  He built her not of contemporary notions.  He built her not of anything to do with the material.  He built her to reflect her spirit, wearing nothing but her shining skin, radiating the energy of the earth as he shaped it and molded it with such wordless caring into her form.  Her crafted her with trails shaped like wild brown hair and riverbeds that flow along rocks of reds and honey.  Inspired by her ever present energy, the builder labored over his creation, crafting her as the mountain top, having her eyes gaze every morning, every day, every moment to the east. 

Cassandra looks eastward, compelling visitors to look there with her…compelling them to question what she studies in all her majestic, magnificent form.  As if waiting for the sun to breathe.  As if waiting for the star to awaken from its slumber.  As if waiting for life to hear inspiration released into the world.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 2,000.  Total wordcount to date:  12,170 of 50,000 (not including this notation)  

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 5

5 … The Steppford Life

The mcmansion boasted a skylight to the heavens.  It was an easy boast.  The estate that resembled something of the White House in both layout, expanse, and architecture anchored itself in the sky several thousand kilometers up.   There was much pomp.  There was much circumstance.  And yet the Greatest Room in the mcmansion found Bradlee standing oblivious to it all, an expression of displeasure inching the edges of itself subtlely out onto his otherwise meticulously contoured face.  No one was present to witness this, which was a very good thing.  It wasn’t every day that anyone in The Steppford Life saw anything even remotely close to a displeased look.

They wouldn’t know what to make of it if they had.

Bradlee dared to think (but most definitely did not dare utter aloud), “How am I to host the most wonderful of festivities of music of fine life of the finest fashion and culture in all of the Steppford Life…under the umbrella of a giant dustweb that has spun itself out and around the skylights and chandeliers on the ceiling of the Greatest Room in my vast and otherwise meticulously designed estate?”

How, indeed.  The piece de resistance for that party was a masterwork Bradlee had just commissioned from a celebrated artist was barely visible:  a sprawling multimedia creation on the ceiling that depicted the earlier days pre Steppford Life when apes routinely banged around on things.  The question of how to salvage the highlight of the entire gathering danced itself in strictly manicured formation behind Bradlee’s precisely eyelashed mind’s eye, just as his actual eyes attempted to will the dustweb into oblivion by staring at it.  He hoped to ground it into a pulp.  Or at the very least, he hoped to stare it into the ground.  Yes, off of the ceiling and several thousand kilometers down to ground level below.   But very politely so.  Yet, politely or not, the universe seemed to be having none of what Bradlee’s mind tried to serve.  And so when he finally accepted that his exercise in mind over matter wasn’t trumping anything at all at least in this case, Bradlee fussed around the meticulously manicured edges of his hair, smoothed down his precisely fashioned outfit, and called up the Search function.

This would be a dangerous Search, he recognized.  But desperate times called for desperate measures.  He steadied his nerves, and typed in “House cleaning services.”  No result.  “Dust or dustweb removal services.”  No result.  “Don’t mess with my flawless party planning services or I will hunt you down and kill you.”  A few thousand results, all of which carried with them what looked to be images of an immaculately groomed face with a presice smile carefully grafted on.  And all of which included in the service descriptions:  “Just kidding with the “threatening” tone!  It’s purely an attention getter…and see?  It worked!  Damn, we’re good!  We’re just too full of flawless party planning win to bother threatening!  Besides, we wouldn’t even know how to begin to threaten!  But if your party involves threats or any type of cleaning or dust from the premises, well, those things can be found in abundance but only on the…ah…cough (excuse us!)…ground level.”

The ground level, Bradlee’s mind echoed all wide-eyed and trance-like.  There was a reason why Bradlee had to steady his nerves.  The ground level was not for the faint of heart.  In the precisely ordered world of the Steppford Life, where appearance and control were everything, the messiness of imagination — which years and years ago had nearly brought the whole world to…well…to…to…well…to SOMEPLACE! — had been strictly categorized, labelled, and — well some might say even — quarantined.  Relegated to a presence that could be found only on the ground level.  That meant that anything you could imagine — and more likely than not, whole scores of things that never once crossed your mind — could be found there.

As for Bradlee’s mind, well it shivered slightly.  His carefully constructed smile nearly flinched imperceptively as he weighed the options.  The party was mere hours away.  Soon a multitude of guests would arrive with their intricately manicured and coiffed selves, wearing expressions frozen into an unnervingly forced smile.    All the blue eyes would arrive together, just as all the brown eyes, all the green eyes, all the hazel eyes, and all the black eyes would.   Don’t even get Bradlee started with the hair color coding system, it had proven to be an organizing nightmare but he had managed to get it done.  And the cross-color coding between hair and eyes and makeup, gah!  It was an organizing chaos of the  ground-level order, Bradlee realized, but no one would ever know that because Bradlee would never admit to that in public.  He barely admitted it even to himself.  Still, it was an organizing chaos that he, in fact, had mastered.   This realization alone strengthened his resolve.  With a rush of guests about to flood the teleport (no doubt in a very sterile orderly fashion!) to Bradlee’s landing point and expect entry into his pristine and vast sprawling estate any hour now, Bradlee did the unthinkable in The Steppford Life.  He teleported down to Ground Level.

Well, his alt, anyway.  (What…did he look like a fool to you?)

Lee rezzed on a patch of triangular and geometric ground and individual circles of water that hovered and wound a path in any direction around any number of structures or things…or beings or something.  He wasn’t entirely sure.  There were things he had never seen before.  Things he would have never imagined.  And truly still wouldn’t imagine because The Steppford Life had wiped his imagination clean.    But he could try to describe some of what rezzed before his eyes, although the atmosphere was very, well, ‘organic’ here.  He shuddered to think how his profile read in the harshness of midday light.  Thank goodness, he sighed, that it was rather dusky at the moment.

Low flying mountains cruised dangerously close to the ground, leaving trails of mist in their wake and somehow managed not to wipe out a couple of buildings shaped like giant hot fudge sundaes.  A wigamarow shouldered roughly up against a whatchamacallit, before the two creations (most likely structures, Lee guessed, or possibly organic in nature?) twirled tightly together as if suddenly transformed into a cyclone before they flung parts of themselves out in all directions, strewn to the margins of the coiling pathway.  People with long snapping ears that braided themselves into a long twitchy tail moved gracefully past with their inkstained paws that painted the ground.  They moved remarkably gracefully, Lee noted.  Winged people, crawling people, flying shapes not at all people but with people type names and people type manner of speaking and people type attitudes all moved about without a care.  Creatures shaped like open cartons yawned their flaps, entirely unimpressed with the packaging of their surroundings.  Lee bumped into one of them, who retailiated by slapping duct tape around Lee’s ankles preventing any further movement.

“What? Hey!”

“Watch where you’re walking or I’ll deliver you straight to the BSDM grid,” the carton threatened.

“No! Oh god no no!  Don’t do that, please.  I’d much rather stay here.  No offense.  Um…where is ‘here’ anyway?  I mean…aside from the…uh…ground level, that is,” Lee muttered rather pathetically.

“Hey, open your eyes dude.  Isn’t it obvious?”  The carton spoke like a hotdog vendor at a ball game.  Lee half expected popcorn to start spilling out of its side.

“No…I can’t really say that it is.  I’m well…I’m new, here.”

“Ahhhh,” the carton flapped its lid back in understanding and its companion carton chuckled its flaps in reply.   Popcorn spilled over the tops of their flaps.  Lee’s eyes bugged out uncharacteristically before he snapped them back into their frozen place.

“Yeah,” the companion said to the Big Box, “a real ‘newbie'” and gauffawed.  “Take a look at the rez date on his profile.  He’s older than I am!”  The Big Box paused for a moment (apparently reading Lee’s profile) and then whistled through his seams.

“First time here in all your years?  Unreal,” Big Box said.  “Why now?”

“Well, uh, my ‘main'”

“ohhhh your main…” the cartons whistled together.

Lee grimaced inside but of course maintained his pristine frozen smile on the outside on his pristine frozen face.  Deep within his core it irked him that he couldn’t fabricate anything at all, including a different story about who he was or why he was here all told so that he could save his very life.  These cartons before him were a motley crew that would deliver no good to him, he was certain of it and the duct tape around his ankles only amplified that certainty.  But the Steppford Life worldview held most creative expression as an act of deceit (except of course for those far and few between artistic creations sanctioned by the Steppford Life Founders…like, for example, Bradlee’s dust covered ceiling mural).

“Yes, then.  Well, my main has a slight…um…(he whispered with a bit of shame)…housekeeping problem.”  He coughed uncomfortably, stunned by his inability to resist the urge to spill his guts to these shady cartons even though he had no idea if they could be trusted in the least.

“I see.  I see,” the Big Box said.  “…and your main was generous enough to send you here to fetch a fix?”

“Yes, in a manner of speaking, yes,”  Lee squirmed.  “I am here for a fix, yes, yes.  Um, which reminds me…where exactly is here?”

“Well, friend, your main was generous enough to deposit you straight into the Chaos Grid.”

“Chaos?” Lee gasped.  The very first grid.  The alpha and the omega.  The bread and the butter.  The soup and the sandwich.  The chocolate and the peanut butter.   The paintbrush and the watercolor.  The world and the imagination.

My god, Lee trembled inside, his heart pounding like a sledgehammer.

“I’m strapped helplessly onto the Chaos Grid (he couldn’t help but italicize the name)…the very grid that began it all?  The very grid that predates the Steppford Life?” he outwardly asked but inwardly shrieked.

“Nostalic, isn’t it?” the companion box said and somehow smiled, then added, “oh…duck!  Now!”

A low-flying mountain careened around a bend out of nowhere.  Lee turned to see what was coming at him, but moved too late.  The low flying mountain swiped right through half of Lee’s body.

He was slightly appalled that his vision of himself had been altered in any way, manner or form.     He felt more than slightly violated.  But he voiced none of this to anyone other than himself.  Instead, he stood there, duct taped at the ankles and all, and mustered up the most pleasant smile he could manage.  He thought he was going to hurl.

“Your aura looks odd, friend.  You feeling okay?,” Big Box said, almost tenderly.  Lee shook his head in tandem with his trembling body.  The head shake indicated a “yes”; the body tremors indicated a “maybe not.”

“Oh friend…you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Let’s go see about the housekeeping fix for you.  I’m starting to want to help you.  I don’t know if it’s pity for your predicament, or if you’re giving me the creeps.”

“yeah…”  The companion box shuddered.

This was no yellow brick road.  This was no lion, or tin man, or scarecrow.  No Dorothy or toto.  This was an alt and two cartons, one big and one small.  Lee supposed they nestled together.  Lee wasn’t sure why he envisioned the boxes nestling together, or what he envisioned they might say to each other when they nestled together.  He suddenly felt like he was intruding and wrestled his thoughts back to their journey.

It was all of a hop, skip, and a jump away before they entered (Lee hopped, his ankles still bound with duct tape) one of the giant sundaes with a cherry on top.  The cherry turned out to be a dominatrix.  She rolled down the whip cream, along the long slope of the banana, and burst out like a projectile nearly landing on Lee’s feet.  She may be a cherry and only ankle high, but she was an explosive one.  And she cracked her stem wickedly at Lee’s shins.  The cartons chuckled quietly before pressing themselves nearly flat against a mound of ice cream when Cherry, we’ll call her, stiffened her stem in their direction.

Lee’s insidse just rolled and coiled and nestled unto themselves.  He had no idea how he had arrived at such a Walt Disney type LSD-ish inspired place of imagination and worse yet, he had absolutely no idea how to get himself out of it.  All that he knew was he needed some kind of fix for the housecleaning problem, and somewhere along the way had found himself bound with duct tape around the ankles, had progressed from wisecracking cardboard boxes to a stemcracking dominatrix cherry inside a giant hot fudge sundae.   Did what he was experiencing now have anything at all to do with the campaign to legalize maryjane?  Or was the crux of the matter the very fact that Lee’s imagination had been sterilized so completely through and through that even on the Chaos Grid he couldn’t find a way to be creative enough to make sense of it all.

“But that’s precisely why it’s the Chaos Grid,” the Cherry snapped, and lashed back and forth at his ankles.

“Please, I beg you, give me the housecleaning fix, please.  Just give it to me.  Whatever it is.  Whatever the cost.”

She spun around like a cyclone, a blur of cherry and stem thrashing out, until she finally popped out of the spin in the form of a fairy, body and all.  With a whip, thigh high boots, an excruciatingly tight looking leather corset, fairy dust wings, blood red lips, severely pulled back sleek black hair.  With a cherry on top.  A dominatrix fairy cherry.

“Do I look like a fairy godmother to you?”

His eyebrows hiked themselves up into an “I don’t know what to make of this” kind of surprise.

“Well…” he paused, fascinating by the entirely implausible.  “……..yes……”

And with that Fairy Cherry waved her fairy dust wand, snarled something in a menacing tone while she licked her blood red lips as her eyes danced up and down along his specimen.  Big box and little box flattened themselves even more deeply into the ice cream wall, slowly slinking themselves out of the sundae.  At last, she stopped snarling and frothing and stared at Lee as if impatiently waiting for him to speak.

“Here,” she said at last and handed him a dustwand.

He shook his head.  “That’s it?  I came down here…for that?”

“It has a retractable and extending arm.”

“Yippee!” Lee circled his finger in the air.

She smiled briefly.  She rather liked sass.  She was an aspiring mentor as well as a dominatrix, after all.  But really sweet as can be on the inside.  She planted a syrupy kiss on his lips.

“You can thank me later.”

She waved her arms in an elaborate fashion, fairy dust clouding the air so thick that eventually all he saw were glistening sparkles everywhere as if they were in the middle of a particle whiteout until after a while his vision could penetrate the air.  When Lee looked around, he realized he was back in the Steppford Lives, off of the Chaos Grid, and in the Greatest Room of Bradlee’s mcmansion, where Bradlee stood — the picture of meticulously groomed and refined discontent — staring at the dust cloud that surrounded the masterwork on his ceiling.  Snapping out of his mind-over-matter exercise, he eventually directed his gaze and attention from the  dust web and surveyed Lee.

“Is that a fashion statement?”  He glanced at Lee’s ankles.  “Please remove the duct tape.  Subtlely but quickly if you don’t mind.  I don’t suppose you could have ended your touring below any sooner, could you have?  We’re cutting this extremely close.  The guests are about to file in any moment now.  Did you get anything to help with this?” Bradlee gestured toward the mural.

Lee produced the wand.  Bradlee nearly glared.

“It has a retractable arm.”

Bradlee’s eyes nearly blew out of his skull.

“And an extendable one too.”  Lee twitched a bit when he realized he was echoing the Dominatrix Fairy Cherry.  

“Here.”  He handed the wand over.  Bradlee examined it incoherently while Lee folded the duct tape into itself until it was the tiniest of squares, and put it in his pocket out of sight.

Until of course it came out again.

Bradlee held the dust wand up and pointed it toward the ceiling, in the direction of the mural which was a good 25 to 30 feet up.  He extended the arm of the instrument and watched, thoroughly unimpressed (when actually he should have been panicking), as the dust wand lenghtened itself until finally at last its cleaning mechanism was within reach of the giant sprawling web of dust and disorder that surrounded the mural.

With new found respect and appreciation for the humble instrument, he swooshed the dust wand.  And with each pass, he saw the mural emerge until eventually — in no time at all — it was once again so strikingly clear and clean.  But somehow even more.  It was…in fact…as if the painting had achieved a deeper level of dimension.  Bradlee stared in amazement.

“This is amazing,” he said while he stared.

“Hmmm…” Lee mumbled and just stared.

The apes were somehow growing on the ceiling; the femur’s they weilded in their hands like clubs thickening.  Lee could have sworn he saw the tip of a femur swirl.  He could have sworn he saw a glint in one of the Big Ape’s eyes…a glint that seemed to suggest life and presence.  And it was in that moment, that Lee realized his main was backing slowly away from the center of the Greatest Room.  Could it have been the arrival of the blue-eyes cross coded with blonde-hairs that caused Bradlee to move for an exit?  Or the brown-eyes cross coded with the streaked auburn hairs?  Or any combination of the ensuring torrent of Steppford Life meticulously and orderly crafted persons who arrived at the mcmansion at the very point in time when Bradlee backed somehow nearly wobbly away from the ever-expanding multi dimensional now mural…a mural that in fact started to literally bang on things on the ceiling against the walls on the floor across the halls on the furniture on the meticulously orderliness of everything within their big brawny boundaryless hairy messy ape arms reach?

Lee stood transfixed, as if his ankles had been duct taped together.  He stared as Chaos ensued and the birth of the grid reasserted itself into the artificial structure of the Steppford Life.  Somewhere, somehow along the way, a dominatrix fairy who wore a cherry on the top of her severely slicked back hair sidled up to Lee who remained immobilized while the Chaos Grid somehow some way extended its long and historied reach up into the Steppford Life, unleashing its disorder and creation eveywhere all around him.   It was, indeed, quite the life he had not yet lived…

At last, Cherry Fairy grinned a mischevious grin.  “You can thank me now.”

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 3,204.  Total wordcount to date:  10,170 of 50,000 (not including this notation)  

Drawn to

Taking a teeny break from nanowrimo, although I hope to have another entry tomorrow, if not later today.

One of Strawberry’s challenges asked participants to identify their “fix.”   When it comes to inworld appearances, the one thing I’m always drawn to is skin.  I always wear one signature skin that fits me perfectly and that I adore.   I collect skins because I sketch portraits and people in RL.  I find myself fascinated by the artistry in these creations:  how the features are shaped, the skin’s gradiation in color and level of dewiness or matteness.  I tyically wear different skins for fashion photos/weblog entries.   But most of the time, I’m simplying trying them on and admiring the skinner’s technique, occasionally tweaking my features to see if a different portrait emerges.  But it’s never too long before I’m anxious to get back into my own true signature skin; I truly identify with it that completely.

Still, as a sketcher of portraits, it’s fun to try the spectrum of skins, from fantasy to photorealistic.  Here I show the gorgeously ethereal “Yasmin” from Ugly Duck followed by the voluptuously earthy “Taylor” from League.  They create vastly different moods even when I wear the same hair and dress.  By the way, the hair from Magika comes with a hud that allows the hair to be streaked or to be draped between the lips (or not), and also allows the hair to be parted on the reverse side!  There are so many talented creators inworld!

Fashion Details:

  • Skin (photos 1-2):  “Yasmin” Sundancer, from Ugly Duck
  • Skin (photos 3-4):  “Taylor” in medium blonde twilight, from League
  • Dress:  “Sheer Knit” in cocoa from Ce Cubic Effect
  • Hair:  “Cori” in brown from Magika

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 4

4 ~ The Sandbox of Opinions

Mach Force™ levelled his fire weapon at his side.  The sand beneathe his military boots burned even though he couldn’t feel a thing through the soles of his ass kickers.  But he knew the ground was scorched because he spotted waves of simmering air roiling a few feet out and then several more feet out from the spot where Mach Force™ stood watch.  He wore a snarl on his face.  His brows arched into two severe lines before pummelling the flesh at the bridge of his nose.  Damn it was hot, he said to himself and wiped beads of sweat from the side of his brow.  The sun burned down.  It was incessant.  It was determined.  And it wasn’t the only thing that was.  Or the only one.   This was going to be a brutal day.

But Mach Force’s™ eyes were even hotter than the day, which made them even more brutal.  They didn’t miss a thing, and he intended to keep it that way.

“Hurry it up, Clarity,” he urged her in a hushed, but unmistakeably stern voice.

She huffed briefly.  He didn’t know if it was directed at him or if the work she busied herself with was giving her grief.  If she didn’t hurry it up, they’d have a whole world of grief to deal with soon.  He chanced a sideways look at his friend who was crouched at the footbed of a small hill.  Good cover, he allowed himself a second to gloat since he was the one who had scouted out the location for this excursion.  The small hill did the trick and concealed them, but it wouldn’t hide them forever and he knew it.  It was only a question of time.  Like those precious seconds Clarity ate through as she rummaged through a large-ish package.  He scowled.  A question of time, he repeated to himself, and always a question of personal taste in the Sandbox of Opinions, which seemed to be everywhere these days despite how random and fickle they were.

“I’m trying,” Clarity muttered as if she had heard him scowl.  “This vendor is loaded with all kinds of notes and things that keep popping into my view.  I’m closing them out as fast as I can to get to the item.”

“Yeah.  Hang onto a landmark if it gives one to you.  Did it?,” he said in a measured tone after turning his eyes back to the expanse of sand before them.  His lips tightened into a thin red line. 

 “Yeah…,” she paused, sensing something not good in what Mach had just said.  “About five of them and a mess of other things.”

“Grab one landmark.  Pull it front and center.  Screw the rest of the stuff.  Keep your finger on that teleport button,” he directed and clutched his firearm in both hands with serious intent.  Make that preemptive-strike intent if it came down to it. 

“We’re about to be inspected and evaluated.”

Clarity Context™ moaned a soft “oh shit” and moved a landmark into clear view, while she discarded everything else from the vendor.  Except the outfit.  She couldn’t wait to put it on, at least some of it.  If they ever got a chance.

“How do you know,” she whispered, sounding nearly hoarse.  Her heart pounded suddenly.  She worked frantically and finally transferred the items to her inventory.  She cruised her arrow anxiously to the “recent” tab and scanned the series of new folders until she found “Cool New Outfit.”  Who cared about the unimaginative name.  These days, the only names or phrases worth any kind of value were trademarked.  Like Clarity Context’s™ and Mach Force’s™.   Trademarking names was a lucrative business, the brainchild of some ambulance chaser in response to the display.name uproar.  He stoked the fear, manufactured it into hyseria, entirely altered the cultural landscape of what was acceptable and what was not, put a price tag on it, tied it into the legal system, and became filthy rich.  Trademarking had become the new “tattoo”; just about everyone was trademarked somewhere now.  The longer the trademarked name was held, the more value it had, the higher its yield tended to be.  Shit — she grumbled on the topic in an effort to distract her panicking more than anything else — the really smart ones trademark their names and the first pithy-sounding catch phrase that flies out of their mouths on the very first rez day.  Should a pithy phrase occur to them…if not, they played the odds and grabbed at anything they thought would take hold. 

She and Mach trademarked in name only.  But in this moment they were distinctly different because her trademarked friend had gone into stealth mode.  Meaning he was still there but far too quiet…as if he was busy trying to conceal his very energy.  Mach Force™ had a thing about protecting his content, including his very essence or anything that involved his identity.  Call him funny that way, but he took that kind of stuff personally.  From what she could gather from the bits of his personality and character that refused to be quieted even by him, Mach had moved rapidly into stealth energy mode.  This lit a hot little fire under her hot little haunched backside.  She quickly wore the jacket layer from the “Cool New Outfit” folder and finally looked up to find out what it was that had ratcheted up Mach’s intensity.  It took only seconds, but it felt like hours, and yet she gasped immediately. 

“Oh no,” she barely said.  The jacket rezzed slowly, but she couldn’t care less and wasn’t watching it.  She knew she liked the outfit from the minute she saw the vendor and wouldn’t feel any differently about it on her body…even in parts.  What captured all of her attention now loomed larger than life and in plain sight on the plateau of a hilltop not too far away.  She stared there, gaping her mouth at the Display-a-Tron, a monstrous Welcome sign larger than a theatre screen that periodically and randomly showcased the photo and names of the Sandbox visitors.  An image came into view, flickering and morphing around the edges.  She caught the beginnings of a blurred name with the picture.  There was a TM symbol after the last name.  The guy was impressive looking.  Handsome and hot, she could tell.  Gentle and tough as hell, both, she knew even though the image was still fuzzy. 

Clarity recognized that look of brilliant awareness anywhere.

“I know because,” Mach growled, “I’m being paid.” 

Not now, he fumed internally.  Yeah, he enjoyed getting paid whenever his name was used without his consent…or used beyond the extensively limited allowable parameters.  Were there still people in this hyper culture of “trademarketing” some called it, who believed that any terms of use they didn’t understand amounted to “grey area” and meant the same thing as “royalty free”?  Normally, Mach Force™ smirked all the way to the nearest exchange terminal at how much that “grey area” racked up his receipts and account balance.  But not today.  Today in this precise moment, trademark violations annoyed the hell out of him for no other reason than the blue message window that indicated a transfer of funds had occurred was royally obstructing his view.  For only a second.  But as Mach Force™ and Clarity Context™ discovered, that one second cost a helluvalot. 

In fact.

An arm, for starters.

“Damn!” he ground his molars down into the back of his jawbone, felt his torso wrench to the side so hard he nearly dropped his fire arms, which would have been the end of it all for them.  Clarity jumped instinctively for him and applied pressure on the wound.  The side of his bicep wore a particle hole that spewed out steam mixed with what amounted to his own blood.  Which was entirely what his eyes began to do…steam in anger with blood pounding behind them.

“Damned greedy newborn,” he growled.

“Or alt,” she whispered, her voice shaking more from anger than fear.

“Not seasoned enough,” he said just as another round of attack tore at them from midway in the Sandbox. 

“Shit!” Clarity shouted and collapsed to her hands and knees.   Smoke and blood spewed out of her thigh.  She clutched her hands forcibly around her quad, rocked forward from shock, and cursed, “shit shit shit shit!  Damned good aim for being unseasoned!” she bit off before a torrent of obscenities flew out from her lips.

“Meant to wipe out that fugly jacket,” the newborn yelled.  “Public court of Sandbox Opinion says:  IT SUCKS! and your tackiness is an assault on my person!”  The cocky punk started to walk almost casually over to them, so certain was he that he had rendered them helpless.

“You okay,” Mach whispered in a half breath, his lungs flooded with concern and adrenalin.  Still clutching her thigh, Clarity nodded her head yes. 

“Teleport,” Mach’s voice whispered as it teetered on the edge of a bark.  Clarity rocked a bit again, shook her head violently no.

“Dammit!  Teleport!” Mach barked quietly at her.

“No way.  Not without you.  I’d never say this to you in a million years under normal circumstances, but take your eyes off of me and nail that bastard.”

That was all Mach needed to hear.  Clarity was just as tough as he was and stubborn to boot when she wanted to be.  Like he was.  A perfect fit, he thought, and for the first time this brutal day, he smiled a little. 

He watched as the cyber punk walked nearly mockingly toward them.  If his physical movements didn’t ridicule, then his display name definitely did:  “Mach.Force” worn over the born and trademarked name “Fuck™ Off.” 

Not exactly the best way to greet anyone, especially someone like Mach…no matter how very “money” the trademarked first name might have seemed to be.  The clueless punk was about to learn how expensive both the lame attempt at an insult and the full-on attempt at outright greed really were.

“Here,” the punk whipped out a rocket launcher.  “Let me put you out of your fashion misery.  You and your boyfriend.”

Before the kid could fire anything off, Mach yelled, “What the Fuck™!  What the fuck™ did you say?  I didn’t catch a FUCK™-ing word of anything you FUCK™-ing said, FUCK™-head.  WTF™!!!”

Mach kept the tirade going, showcasing the kid’s trademarked first name at every turn.  It was the literal.  It was the implied.  It was the intention.  And every which way it all went cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching on top of the fuck™-head until his screen was covered in a gazillion blue drop down message windows.

“Nail him!” Clarity urged, shouting over the racket of what must have been another attack on someone else in the Sandbox when she overheard “Forget editing your appearance!  Try editing this!”  Guns boomed loudly somewhere in the distance until at last Clarity thought she heard a body fall.

Mach swung his firearm up, grimacing through the pain in his bullet-holed arm, and shot off a round that tore straight and true into the distracted and disoriented kid who Mach knew was frantically closing a gazillion bue message screens to clear his line of vision.   Too late.  The punk staggered, shock flooding his expression.  His eyes spread themselves open while his body was riddled with steaming and oozing particle holes.  He teetered around like a drunken punching bag that finally had had all of its hot air knocked out of it.  Before he took another step, Clarity passed a landmark onto Mach.  He accepted and held it open in view on his screen, off to the side.  Then the punk fell forward with a thud, his face planted into the sand, his display.name and trademarked name buried in the dust.  But even though the kid was silenced for good, somehow he turned the tables on Mach.  He must’ve fallen within range because suddenly, Mach was swamped with an infestation of blue message windows that indicated his account balance was growing relentlessly before his very eyes.

He clicked on the “okay” button with hypersonic speed but he still didn’t see the next bullied up opinion in the form of a dragon who approached them.  Edit™ This didn’t waste a breath.  He/She/They inhaled viciously, expanding an already humungous chest and lined up not only their view but their mouth on Mach and Clarity.

Mach scrambled on his monitor to clear the screen, keeping the landmark open and ready, listening with every cell in his being to Clarity say to the dragon:

“Glad to” and she fired off a round from an assault weapon that she had unhoistered from the side of Mach’s thigh.  Her voice cut through the commotion of the dragon imploding around them.  She pulled herself upright onto Mach’s side and barked, “Teleport.  NOW!”

They landed safely in a music venue with all visible wounds healed, but they instantly heard an argument that was growing increasingly heated.  They glanced silently at each other, acknowleding that they both heard the distant rumblings of the court of Public Opinion.

“Home,” Mach Force™ whispered tenderly.  They wrapped their hands together.  He added, “I’m eager to see this new perspective of yours.”

And so they teleported home.  Into their shared view of the world, with shades and gradiations in experiences and perspectives — sometimes seeming very different — but nothing so extreme as the likes of some views in the Sandbox of Public Opinion.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 2,246.  Total wordcount to date:  6,966 of 50,000 (not including this notation)  I had to laugh a bit when I saw the Sandbox newsletter in my email from SL.  I planned to use the sandbox theme in this entry before I even knew about that SL message.  Funny how some words seem to echo in the consciousness.

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 3

3 ~ She, or He, or We? 

One day, in fact today, Joey woke up from under a tree that had arched its presence up and out into the sky from the gently sloping grounds of a small hill.  The tree hadn’t been there a couple of days before.  But the tree was present today and fully formed, and Joey was glad to smile up into its vast canopy of leaves.  Joey blinked a little before tugging at the mind to ease itself more fully out of its slumber and into the day.  A bit of grumbling hummed out from someplace between Joey’s ears, somewhere behind Joey’s forehead.   But the complaining about stepping into the day really wasn’t all that much.  In fact, it was kind of humorous.  Joey thanked the tree for the good energy.  The tree was, in fact, gorgeous.  A gigantic Oak the likes of which made Joey’s mind shake off the cobwebs of sleep and made Joey’s attention traverse the heighth and width and magnificence of the life that exploded gently forward.   For someone who had just woken up, it was pretty amazing how alert Joey felt in this moment.  

You see, the sky shimmered with possibilities.  Every day was a clean canvas on which to paint a life story.  Or at the very least, a day-in-the-life story.  The thought made Joey smile.  The thought must have made the sky smile as well, because at that moment the sun glided softly across the sky’s canvas, creating a pool of warm watercolors that swirled and folded the sunset gently into itself.  It was morning still, fairly early morning, but the sun in this world moved quickly no doubt by with excitement to light the possibilities.  And beside that, it clearly favored the Muse of the color spectrum.  

Time was indeed relative, and time did nothing to stop Joey from standing at last.  It was, in fact, encouraged.  Something had flickered across the way, Joey had noticed…just at the furtherest dip of the swirling sunset.  Beyond the big Oak with the swaying branches that rustled up a billowy rustic dance in the air.   Beyond the wide edges of the river that flowed from the shore where Joey had awakened and across to the other side where more trees had sprouted.  None quite so large as the magnificent Oak, but unlike the magnificent Oak, one of the trees on the other side of the riverbed seemed to sparkle.  A bend in the knees, arms casually up shoulder height and Joey flew effortlessly in the air until landing under the gently glistening particles of the sparkling tree.  Words danced delicately out with each chorus of light.   Somehow pure energy itself sings even when soundless.   The words expanded softly out toward Joey who stood a bit mesmerized, at first.  Then a bit transfixed soon enough.  Especially when the words formed a complete thought and in their soft display said “Hello, Joey.  I couldn’t help but notice that you enjoy trees.  I hope the tree I made for you brings you much joy.”

And indeed, the sparkling tree did.  Joey smiled a gentle smile, revealing a generous heart, a wise soul, wizard an artist a universalist at heart.  Joey knelt on the edge of the grounds and scripted a note on the surface of the water tips that pulsed softly into the riverbank:  “Thank you…that’s so sweet of you!  I couldn’t help but notice your magnificent tree.  Its reflection sparkles so beautifully in the water.  You must enjoy water a great deal to place your gorgeous creation so near its mirror.  I hope you enjoy the pool of glistening particle light I made for you to thank you and to bring you pleasure.  I hope it brings you much joy.  …by the way…what is your name?” 

Then the ground beneathe the sparkling tree beckoned to Joey.  If it could speak in words it would have said:  “come…rest!”  How idyllic and tranquil to sit beneathe such a wonderful creation of such wonderful meaning from an unknown yet, Joey was certain, wonderful soul.  It was the perfect day-in-the-life story to paint on the sky’s canvas, and indeed, Joey had noticed that time had seemed to gather steam.  The sky’s colors had morphed into deeper jewel tones against a starry midnight blue sky, indicating it was nearing the afternoon hour.  Joey sighed with contentment, leaned into the base of the treetrunk and soon enough, invited dreams to seep in. 

And so they did.

“Hmmm,” Terry muttered in thought.  Terry was right in the middle of exploring the southern reaches of the riverbed and was half decided about journeying beyond the targeted milepost but something embraced Terry’s mind and so Terry decided against flying into the neighboring sims further south after all.  The day was making progress reality and Terry decided to do the same.  The need to return to the Home Parcel embraced Terry’s mind.  “Had Joey seen the tree yet,” Terry wondered with excited anticipation. 

It was a pleasant route, the route back to the sparkling tree that Terry had created for Joey.  Route 1, in fact, was the name.  Simple, direct, a perfect notion in terms of melded hearts, Terry thought, and nearly immediately was almost surprised that the thought of melded hearts had made its presence known.  Well, to another deeper degree, Terry was really *not* surprised at all but instead flush with complete excitement that the thought of melded hearts had been born.

More than a thought, it would seem…much more than a thought, Terry smiled inside.  A smile can make everything sparkle from the deepest insides to the outer most reaches and beyond.  A smile as heartfelt as Terry’s was now can dazzle.  And so when Terry approached the parcel of Home, the bright light that danced from the sparlking tree to the glistening particle pool of water along the riverbank and back again didn’t alarm Terry because Terry’s smile was just that big and just the wide and just that genuine.  And just that wise because soon enough Terry realized there was more to the glistening particle light than any amount of smiling – even Terry’s smiling – could generate.  Moving now with rapid purpose and confidence, a quietly powerful and delightful individual Terry was soft-footed to the extreme.  More silently than a whisper, Terry moved and not out of stealth but instead out of grace and oneness with the universe.  To be present.  To be aware.  It was in that state that Terry discovered the particles glistening in song about and into and around and with a pool of light.  A pool that grew increasingly brighter because of the increasingly deeper smile on Terry’s face when Joey’s words danced before Terry’s eyes. 

A glide of form, a turn of grace, and Terry soon gently walked in the midst of a rolling meadow that undulated with bursts of color and life.  On the tips of each petal from each flower in the meadow crafted with such care by Terry, Terry wrote:  “The pool of light is gorgeous.  It reflects the essence of my heart and soul…even before you created it.  But especially since you did.  And most especially of all … because you did.  ❤ Terry”    Then the meadow that rested its greenery along Terry’s feet and calves urged Terry to sit and listen to the sounds of the breeze and the waters, and the leaves swirling and the birds chirping.  And so Terry did and when Terry did, dreams were invited to seep in.  And so they did.

Days went by and each day brought a new creation, crafted from gentleness from caring and shared from Joey to Terry, from Terry to Joey.  When Terry’s Home Parcel soon grew completely full into a magnificent sparkling meadowland with protective sparkling trees abounding and dazzling sparkling pools of light on the water and the land in the skies and the heavens, Joey and Terry created beauty together in the same way — with tenderness, with openness, with generosity, with caring, with surprise and delight…and particle notes — on Joey’s Home Parcel all around and with and into and about the Magnificent Oak Tree.

And through it all days went by.  And Joey and Terry had yet to meet, had yet to form any notion of appearance or identity.  And yet…so very much yet…in spite of that set of unknowables, Joey and Terry knew all that they needed to know.

From that first day, that first beginning to always, they had invited love to seep in.  And so it forever will.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 1,420.  Total wordcount to date:  4,720 of 50,000 (not including this notation)