Written 3 April, 2007
Important Phone Call
I was standing on the beach at Pele with Sweetie and Milky Choche when I got a phone call.
It was an important call.
It was important because it was from Sandra, my dearest RL friend.
And it was important because she was working on her speech to introduce me for an award I’ll be getting next week and wanted to question me about my life.
The call had been pre-arranged, although we had not specified a time.
Sandra is concerned—probably rightfully so—with the time I spent in Second Life. She fears I’m cutting ties with my real life friends for what she thinks of as imaginary friends.
She isn’t happy when I multitask when I’m on the phone with her, and I’m a born multitasker. My loud AT-style keyboard lets her hear every keystroke.
And I don’t want to disrespect my best friend by multitasking when I should be paying attention to her.
I was finding it hard to suspend my SL activities when I got phone calls, so I came up with a strategy. When I got a phone call, and especially one from Sandra, I would tell those present and with whom I was in IM that I was away for a phone call and wouldn’t be around for a while.
That worked fine.
Until Sunday, when Sandra called.
It was a bad time for me.
First, my Sweetie was present.
Second, we were being ridiculous and silly, which means we were in an impromptu Icarus Society Meeting.
And third, I was an emotional wreck because of the weekend’s drama.
At best, I would have had a difficult time being vibrant on that phone at that time.
And Sweetie and Milky didn’t make it any easier
They didn’t know it was an important call. It’s on me, not them. I didn’t tell them. I only said “Phone.”
So I was distracted as I talked to Sandra, and every time my eyes strayed to the screen, it was hard to yank them away.
Sweetie and Milky started by telling one another how great I was.
Then they started pushing my av around.
I turned on movelock and tried to concentrate on the phone call.
Because if I hadn’t I would have wound up in the bottom of the lagoon.
I was still being bumped, so I did the Death animation and my av pitched onto the sand. That, I thought, would do it.
I was trying not to look at the screen, but I was tied to my desk by a land phone line, and I couldn’t quite do it.
And even the briefest glance was too much, for I speed read and as taking in everything that had been said.
I hadn’t been dead for 15 seconds before Zubi claimed my shoes. She told Milky she could have my jewelry.
Then they staged a mass suicide. About this time Doug Streeter showed up. He promptly changed his av to female and “died.”
Then they called 911 and did CPR.
Then they did the full ER routine.
“Another round of epi!”
“Charging 360! Clear!”
Again! Charging 500! Clear!”
“Checking. Still no pulse.”
And finally they pronounced me dead.
“It’s useless. I’m going to call it.”
“Time of death, 4:28 pm Linden time”
I was doing my best to attend to Sandra, but it was just impossible considering my mental state and the circumstances.
Finally, she rang off, and she was not happy with me.
The phone call settled several things for me.
First, it affirmed my commitment to my real-life friends. This is something about which I had been thinking, but about which I had done very little.
I came to the decision that when a friend calls when I am deep in Second Life, I will ask them if I can call them back. Then I will say my goodbyes in world, log off, and walk around for a couple of minutes before ringing them back.
It’s the least I can do for friends.
The second thing the call accomplished was to make me think about my lives—both of them, and about what I want to spend my time doing.
Between 1999 and last August, I had a part-time job as an editor of a magazine published by a small nonprofit. It was stimulating and enjoyable. I’m a natural editor, and the magazine stimulated my intellect and gave me an outlet for my creativity.
And it paid really well, too.
But funds got tight and I eventually left over a question of journalistic integrity (I was in favor of it).
I was burning to do something, and wanted to launch a new one.
If I had just done it, I would have perhaps four issues behind me, but I took it to another nonprofit with which I’m associated.
By the time the idea had been vetted and we were ready to move forward, I had found the intellectual stimulation and artistic outlet I had been seeking.
The directors of the second nonprofit were more than patient with me when I told them I no longer had it in me to single-handedly produce a magazine. We decided instead that I would update the agency’s website. It needed doing, and it would force me to learn to design websites, which is something which I have long wanted to do.
I got off to a good start, but when I had computer trouble, I let that fall by the wayside too.
After working through in my mind that phone call, I’ve come to realize I would prefer to limit my outside activities to my job (of necessity), involvement with a conference with which I have long been associated, and continued participation as a board member of the second nonprofit. And finding something to supplement my income, as money is tight just now.
My writing of late has been limited to this blog, but it’s great practice and I’m convinced it hones my writing skills.
But a novel, a sequel to my unpublished tale of a boy from the Black Mountains of North Carolina (ca 1830s) is congealing somewhere in my head.
For some time, I’ve owed it to myself to make the above determination, and to my friends to give them the attention they deserve.
I’m clear on what I want for myself now.
And I’m determined to rebuild bridges with my real-life friends.
I hope I haven’t lost Sandra. She is a light in my life.