Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some Thoughts on Fashion

(see more funny dog pictures)

As you may well remember from how I embarrassed you all in your teen years, my sense of fashion is not always in line with the current trends...

What you may not know is that I actually tried a lot of that female stuff -- make up, shaving legs, hair curlers (in my case to straighten out the curl), wigs -- and it just wasn't for me. Mainly, it took way too much time morning and evening to deal with make up and hair styles that my hair just wasn't designed to be.

Alas, in the 1960's my hair was way too curly to tease and paste into beehive hair sculpture. Then in the 1970s, when long straight locks partly covering the face (ala Veronica Lake of old movies) were all the thing, I couldn't do that, either. And forget the smooth, gleaming pageboy style: mine was too curly!

On my twentieth birthday, I actually went into a department store to the make up counter and took all their advice and bought a bunch of stuff, which I tried diligently to use. But that only lasted about two weeks.

At that time, I was in college studying for a biology degree, which meant I had lots of 3 hr science labs, and was in class from 8am to 6pm four days a week. Plus half days Fridays and Saturdays. There was just no time in my schedule for regular meals, let alone make up! If I hadn't been living at home, where Mom fed me a decent dinner every night, I don't know what would have happened to me.

I know that you girls were sort of shocked about my not shaving my legs, but back when I would have learned how to do so, we had pretty lousy equipment, which meant hours of work every week, and pain -- plus, there was the issue that as a field biologist out in fields a lot, it pays to be able to feel what's crawling up your pants leg before it bites you! Without hair on your legs, you can't feel 'em.

Eventually, I looked up from my books and microscope long enough to notice women's lib and other liberating ideologies and realized that shaving body parts (which is very extreme these days, compared to back then) is sort of kinky.

I mean, the desired effect seems to be that a woman should look like she is prepubescent -- that is, like an 8 year old. Except that she must have big boobs, so the image would be lactating child. How weird is that?!

And it turns out that I have very sensitive skin, in addition to being too busy and too lazy to invest the hour or two every day to applying and removing all that paint. And by my 30's I was also allergic to most perfumes.

So, I have been spared much labor and expense, LOL.

I did, in my 40s, actually get my ears pierced. Most painful experience of my life, bar none (including childbirth, because that only lasts a few hours). It took six weeks before I was pain free, and the first couple nights I couldn't even sleep for the throbbing ears. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I had actually developed an infection! And to think, I was assured by everyone that it either didn't hurt at all, or would only sting a bit for a few days. Hah!

For about a dozen years I wore lovely ear rings, but once I quit working, I felt no need to put on jewelry, and mostly forgot about the holes in my ears. And even if I did want to start wearing jewelry again, there is the memory of all that pain to deter me from trying to reopen the holes...

The current fashion of punching holes in other parts of the body does not entice me. Too much clinical biology, I guess, to want to encourage infection (which I see very often in young people who either didn't do the piercing correctly, or fail to maintain a good standard of cleanliness).

The comedian George Carlin says it well (from his book, Brain Droppings): "...the piercing movement is off to a good start, and I like the idea behind it: self-esteem through self-mutilation. I've always said, when in doubt, punch a hole in yourself."

Perhaps good self-esteem and personal hygiene go hand in hand, and many of the folks most pierced show other evidence of very poor self-esteem...but I'm only going by what I see on the street. What is amazing to me is that this generation of teens has people in it who are into the clothing options from MY teen years! Hippy, flower child, goth, beatnik, etc. The only changes they seem to have made is to make it a bit more extreme than my parents would have allowed, and to add electronics.

But maybe kids in Ann Arbor are from wealthier families than my friends and I were, LOL. Not only did our parents have say over what we wore, they also refused to buy all the coolest fashions for us. We were deprived of expensive clothing and shoes that we would just outgrow in 3 months -- and, we were required to take care of the clothes we did have!

And grunge was not tolerated, unless we were painting the barn or cleaning out the basement. Your family had a community standing that must be maintained, and one inflexable rule was that children must not give anyone cause to think they or their family, were "shif'less and no 'count."

Perhaps things have changed. Then again, maybe not. Much of the muttering I do sounds a LOT like what I heard my parents and grandparents growling, back in the day...

Maybe I'm just caught up in the generation gap, just like my parents were, just like their parents, and their parents, and theirs...


Friday, June 27, 2008

Second Thoughts on Second Life (followed by thirds & more, no doubt)

Well, I have now had some time to familiarize myself with the medium, the machinery and the process of developing a new 'sense of self' -- which means learning to fit into a self image that cannot be the same as what I see in the mirror each morning. No small task, at my age! (But I do love the hair!! And the swirling dresses...)

Because, it seems to me, having struggled to feel even slightly comfortable moving arms and legs that are not attached to me in real life, that really, whether the body is in Second Life or first life, it is just another avatar.

And as far as our brains can see and figure it out, life is ALL Second Life. We are who we think we are, and whether we act in the real world or a simulation, the brain/mind thinks it is the same.

Case in point: dancing. I do not know how to tango, and have never had the chance to learn in real life. It may even be impossible for me physically to do so at this late a date.

But I regularly go dancing in Second Life with my husband, in lovely dresses, great hair, and with a skill and grace not matched in the real world.

When we finish, as far as I can tell, my brain (and my heart) thinks we really went dancing! True, I'm not as tired, and my feet don't hurt as much as they surely would, if I had been wearing such silly high heels, but I feel wonderful!

And we are not limited to going to a dance hall or party. We can go some place lovely and private -- and not practical for dancing in real life -- such as the beach at midnight....

This phenomenon makes me wonder how many other activities and learning could transfer in the same fashion. (Considering the popular notion that the 'game' is supported largely by cybersex, one could worry some!)

It can be particularly valuable, I think, for shy people to practice social skills. How about a place to try out public speaking, hone our political/sales pitches, try out a new fashion statement? Living out one's fantasy life is surely the most popular activity in Second Life, and not everyone has always wanted to be a madam and run a brothel, LOL.

And, of course, it is immensely popular with folks who are physically, socially or emotionally limited in real life. Hey, you can walk, run, dance, hold leadership positions in a group or business, and even fly in Second Life! You can be six feet tall and a hunk -- or a windup doll, troll, elf, fairy, knight, dragon, robot -- or even a piece of furniture!

You can fly a plane, sail a boat, drive a train, lead a dance group, open up your own coffee shop, even make a nice income in real life designing and selling clothing or furniture used in Second Life.

The most exciting aspect for me at the moment (apart from playing dress up in lovely clothes and hair, of course) is the shear variety of humanity available for interaction. At any one time, there are upwards of 50,000 people on line in Second Life. These people speak lots of languages, are different ages and backgrounds and nationalities, but they gather in interest groups, some of which overlap with mine.

Dancing, chatting, making music, taking in a concert, listening to a speaker, exploring a new park, building a house, (going shopping!), giving a poetry reading...the activities are endless (and not all about sex). Lawyers and psychiatrists have office hours. Self help groups convene. Yoga, Tai chi and other religious and meditative activities are available, often in special gardens or buildings designed for them. All of this 24 hours a day (barring computer and internet glitches, of course).

So, if you are fan of New Orleans jazz, for instance, you can get together at a jam in the French Quarter, without having to travel or pay much attention to time of day. You can talk to a Dane, a South African, a street musician from NOLA, and you have expanded your horizons tremendously.

That is just SO cool!

Granted, I do not hang out or visit most of what's happening in Second Life. I am not interested in everything that goes on. But then, I'm not interested in most of what many people do in Real Life, either. Hey, I don't even watch TV -- let alone race cars, write new computer code and scripts, go hunting, run for congress, go to bars or rock concerts, run a bar or organize rock concerts, climb mountains, jump out of planes, or engage in sex with strangers!

But I do love to go dancing with my honey out on Cape Cod SL....