An Update: Leaving My Second Life Avatars to Other People Via My Will (and Why Cancer Is Still Part of My Life)

By the way, even though my recent cancer scare is over, I am still actively drawing up my list of acquaintances, friends and family to whom I will leave all my Second Life avatars in my will.

(If you have already responded, thank you! And I will be in touch with you before the end of October. So far I have had about a dozen people send me messages, by email or in-world.)

Here’s the alphabetical list for you to peruse. The following four avatars are already spoken for:

  • Nada Nix (my goth girl avatar) I have decided to leave to Jenn (a.k.a. Xiola Linden), the Community Manager for Second Life at Linden Lab.
  • Rose Queen (my Caledon/steampunk/Victorian older woman avatar) is going to Blush Bravin of the Second Life brand Blushed (a.k.a Debi Baskerville in SL and Sansar).
  • Scarborough Fair (my medieval roleplay avatar) I am leaving to Solas NaGealai, co-owner of Silvan Moon Designs in Second Life.
  • Vanity Fair (my fashionista avatar) I have decided to leave to Strawberry Singh. I know that she will take good care of her!

 

And, if you are hesitating because you don’t really know me, except through this blog, please don’t. I still need to find homes for most of these avatars before I shuffle off this mortal coil! Don’t get me wrong—I plan on living a long and healthy life, and reaching a ripe old age, but you never know what can happen! And I would hate to think that all my creative work will go into the pixel bin….

All I ask is that we have at least one good, long, in-depth conversation (via phone, chat, or IM). I simply want to know who you are (and what you plan to do with my avatar) before I leave you one of these avatars, on which I have spent a great deal of time, energy, and (in some cases) money.

And, if you don’t want me to publicize your name, I can certainly honour that request too; just let me know in advance. I’d much rather leave these lovingly-created and outfitted avatars to people who actually enjoy and appreciate Second Life, as opposed to people who never use SL. And I know from my blog statistics that I do get a lot of visitors from SL. Thank you for your consideration. Here’s my contact page.


By the way, cancer is still very much a part of my life. My best friend in real life recently underwent surgery for serious prostate cancer, and he has learned that this cancer has spread and that he will soon have to undergo testosterone suppression therapy and radiation treatment. I feel afraid, angry and sad, and I also feel guilty that I’m OK and he’s not. He was back in the hospital for a  couple of days due to blood clots in both his lungs after his surgery, but he is at home resting and recovering now. Please keep my friend John in your thoughts and prayers.

Relay in Life for Second Life now has a very special meaning for me. Please consider supporting this annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. You can also consider making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society. Thank you!

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I Do Not Have Cancer!

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Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Yesterday, I went to see my urologist for the results of my biopsy.

I do not have cancer!

The doctor told me that it was just inflammation, and that I had no cancer of any kind. He wants to check my bladder regularly, of course, so I have to see him again in six months for another cystoscopy. He also ordered a couple of extra blood and urine tests.

I’m still digesting the news. I guess you could say that I’m still in a bit of shock that everything is going to turn out all right, after all the stress and worry of the past three weeks. What I really feel right now is tired. I feel like I could sleep for a week.

Good thing that I decided to take two weeks of holidays from work. I thought I would need that time to fall apart and put myself back together when I got the bad news, but now there’s only good news! So I am going to enjoy my holidays.

Thank you to everybody who sent me their best wishes and kept me in their thoughts and prayers.

I’m going to take a break from blogging for a little while. But I’ll be back!

Just Breathe…

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Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

I’m taking my lunch break at work to write this blogpost. I’ve simply got to vent!

It’s been a little over two weeks since my life was turned upside-down.

I’m still waiting for the results of the biopsy to see if I have cancer. I keep telling myself:

I might have cancer. 

People die from cancer.

I could die from cancer.

I could die…

I am trying to focus on work and the rest of my life, but it’s been hard. Today is my first day back at work since the surgery on Oct. 3rd (the post-surgery course of antibiotics was almost as difficult as the surgery itself).

The urologist’s office said they will call me to come in when they get the biopsy results (obviously, they don’t give that sort of information over the telephone).

Being an academic librarian, who knows a lot of medical librarians, I’ve been tempted to exhaustively research everything I can about bladder cancer, search the bibliographic databases for citations to the literature, read through all the materials on the Bladder Cancer Canada website and other reputable, authoritative websites, and take copious notes. But there’s no sense doing any of this until I know for sure that I actually do have cancer, and what kind.

Second Life has been my lifeline during this time of stress, uncertainty, and worry; it’s been my fantasy escape from painful reality after work in the evenings and on weekends. I’ve kept myself busy in my off-work hours by designing new avatar creations (here’s a recent example) and trying to match up avatars from my Second Life collection with online and offline acquaintances, friends and family, hoping to find someone—anyone—who can take one or more of them over from me when I’m no longer there to operate them.

I’m not wanting to lose what I have spent so many happy hours over the past eleven years creating, styling, tweaking, outfitting, and unleashing upon the grid. And I’m not willing to leave my artistic creations behind, just to be thoughtlessly erased from some file server after I’m gone, all my wonderfully rewarding creative work just evaporating into thin air…I know, it’s a silly thing to be obsessed about when you might have cancer.

This blog is one of the few places I can actually write about all this, in hopes that you, my fellow virtual world citizens and metaverse explorers, will understand and commiserate. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you think I’m crazy. At some moments, I feel as if I am going crazy. Maybe this is all part of the coming-to-grips-with-it process. I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. I’ve never gone through anything like this before.

As I said before, when I first posted my list of SL avatars:

…I also had a nice long chat with my psychiatrist today, and she made me realize that what I am doing here is simply trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. This is apparently a very normal, human response to a situation like a health crisis.

And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Control.

The need for control, and the effort to maintain the illusion that you are in control of your own life, master of your own destiny. Things like cancer teach you that you don’t really have control. Shit happens. Things get fucked up. You get hurt, physically and emotionally. Eventually, you die. After all, everybody does.

I want to scream at the universe, shake my fist at God, rail at the unfairness of it all.

But instead, I breathe.

You just breathe. You keep breathing. You live through each moment into the next, breathe through each moment into the next, aware that life is a precious gift. You move forward, come what may.

Thanks for letting me vent. There will probably be more of this (a LOT more of this) over the next couple of weeks as I wait and worry and breathe. Thank you for listening. I’m off to see my psychiatrist this afternoon, and she might have some more good advice for me on how to cope.

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.: I had another very useful chat with my psychiatrist today, who did have some good advice. She suggested that I might want to start doing some preliminary research on bladder cancer to better prepare for that upcoming meeting with the urologist. It’s one way to keep my mind purposefully occupied, and it’s also a way to prepare myself better for any medical discussions with the doctor. So I guess I’d better start reading through all the information on that Bladder Cancer Canada website after all…I also decided to post an introductory message to their discussion forums:

Bladder Canser Canada 11 Oct 2018
Bladder Cancer Canada Discussion Forums

Cancer, Death, and Virtual Worlds

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Photo by Marcel Scholte on Unsplash

Yesterday, I found out that I might have bladder cancer.

I’m going to have surgery on October 3rd. The voluminous paperwork I filled out yesterday said it was for a “Transurethral Resection—Bladder Tumor”. I underwent all the standard pre-operation routines: EKG, chest X-ray, bloodwork. (Yes, I had to pee into a little cup.) The urologist who is operating on me will be doing a biopsy to see if I indeed have bladder cancer. (Thank God for Canada’s universal healthcare system.)

This is all happening so fast that it is making my head spin.

And, well, obviously, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my own mortality.

I actually don’t have a lot of material possessions. My biggest purchases in life have been my computer and my car. And I don’t have a will yet; I’ve been putting it off, and putting it off, and putting it off. Nobody wants to think about death and dying. But now it’s time to start to think about who I want to leave my possessions to.

Ironically, over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading the book Living and Dying in a Virtual World. Reading about how people deal with the death of someone they knew from Second Life. And, as Strawberry Singh herself wrote very recently:

…I was recently reading a post on RyanSchultz.com about a New Book on Second Life: Living and Dying in a Virtual World by Dr Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden. The book takes readers into stories of love, loss, grief and mourning and reveals the emotional attachments and digital kinships of the virtual 3D social world of Second Life. If you are interested in reading it, it’s available on Amazon (this is an Amazon affiliate link).

Reading about this book got me thinking about how often I’ve heard it happen that people create friendships and relationships in Second Life (and other virtual worlds) and then one day one of the friends just disappears. They never login again and their friends are left wondering what happened to them. People usually start to assume the worst and think that they’ve passed on, and sometimes that is the case, but regardless, it’s always heartbreaking.

Recently I’ve been very busy in the real world so my blog posts have been a bit sparse. If I don’t blog for a week or so, a number of you reach out and check up on me, to make sure I’m okay. It’s very sweet and actually pushes me harder to find time to login and blog again. Juggling both lives can be hard for a lot of people but I never want to give the impression that I’ve suddenly left SL without a word or something worse has happened to me in the real world.

I thought I would take this opportunity to make you guys a promise, a birthday promise. I promise that if I ever plan to take extended time away from Second Life, for whatever reason, I will always do a blog post and let you guys know. I’ve already been doing this, when I go on vacation or if I have a family emergency come up. If you notice that I have disappeared for a while, maybe a week or two or maybe even three or more and you haven’t heard a word from me, it’s most probably because real life has me so incredibly busy that I just haven’t had a chance to login. I will definitely be back, as soon as I get the chance, I will be back! Now the promise: if something were to happen to me in the real world where I will never be able to return, I have asked both my husband and my brother to let you guys know, either through my two best friends in Second Life (Zaara Kohime and Winter Jefferson) and/or this blog. My husband and brother have all of my passwords and Winter also has access to this blog and can write posts here.

So, like Strawberry, I am making you the same promise: I will not just disappear from Second Life one day without letting everybody know what happened to me. I will set something up, and I will do the same thing for all the other virtual worlds where I am a frequent visitor. I don’t have details yet, but when I do, I will post them here on my blog.


Earlier this year, and quite obviously, not knowing that all this was going to happen to me, I wrote a blogpost about how I want to leave my Second Life avatars to other people when I die:

Here is a photo mosaic of all the avatars I had created during my first five years in Second Life. (I created this photo mosaic back in 2012, as a sort of ceremonial way to wean myself off SL and move on. Of course, that didn’t really happen! I took a long break and came back in 2016.) Many, if not most, of these avatars I have since deleted, but I have kept the rest of them.

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I understand that it is currently against the Linden Lab Terms of Service (TOS) to give your SL avatar to another person. I believe that we need to make an exception. I would take great pleasure from knowing that some of my Second Life avatars, on which I lovingly spent so much time and money, would live on after I die. It would be a kind of digital immortality.

Of course, I understand that Linden Lab does not want avatar accounts to become a commodity, something that is bought and sold on the marketplace. I was surprised to find that there are even some places online where people actually sell their old avatar accounts, especially those legacy accounts created with a proper first name and last name; this might even be one of the reasons why LL is bringing back avatar last names.

I would never want to sell one of my avatars; I find the very idea repugnant. But it would give me great pleasure to be able to freely give one of my avatars as a gift or a legacy to a friend or family member. And I want Linden Lab to explicitly allow this.

Second Life is soon turning 15 years old. I’m certain that this sort of thing has happened in the past. And I’m quite certain that some of the people driving an avatar in SL are not the original creators. As more of SL’s original userbase starts to die off, this will be a perfectly natural thing for some avid SL users to want to do.

And no, I don’t think it’s creepy at all. The people to whom I would leave my avatars would be free to do as they please with them, redesign them, or give them on in turn.

And I found out that you can, indeed, leave your SL avatars to other people when you die. Linden Lab actually has a process and procedures in place, to deal with just that possibility.

Which leads me to my next point.

Simply put, I need to figure out who gets what avatars when I die. Yes, avatars. Plural.

My (at times, obsessive) hobby over the past eleven years has been to create and design many Second Life avatars, most of whom have interesting legacy names; that is, a proper first name and last name, like my clown/drag queen avatar, Velcro Zipper:

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You see, she’s both a clown, and a drag queen. (Both involve wigs, and a lot of makeup!) Here’s a picture of one of my clown looks for the same avatar:

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Here’s another, more classic clown look:

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Over the last decade, I have built up a whole inventory of clown-wear for this avatar (mostly freebies I have picked up here and there), and recently, I have expanded it to include drag queen accessories like big hair and ballgowns (again, mostly freebies).

(Yes, I know what some of you reading this are gonna say, I know, it’s a strange hobby. Some people golf. Others play solitaire. I happen to create Second Life avatars. What’s your point? I happen to be damn good at it! And it has given countless me hours of enjoyment, and a boundless outlet for expressing my creativity. So don’t judge me.)

I have spent a great deal of time, money, and energy designing my Second Life avatars, and God fucking dammit, they are all going to live on, and provide enjoyment to others, long after I am gone!!! I am not—repeat, *NOT*— going to let all my hard work and creativity go to waste!!!

I also have to figure out who is getting my stuff in all the other virtual worlds of which I am a part: Sansar, High Fidelity, etc. This means that I am going to have to initiate discussions with the people running the various metaverse companies, many of whom have probably never even considered the issue before: what do you do when you want to leave your avatars and other virtual world possessions to other people when you die?

Well, I have decided that It’s high time to start having those discussions. Avatars are property, pretty much the same as any real-world property. (My lawyer is going to have an absolute field day drawing up my last will and testament!)

Stay tuned for more details.

And please, don’t worry about me; I am going to be fine, no matter what happens. And I am not depressed. I just need to take care of things, work out all the details.

I may also need to suspend blogging, and be absent from the various virtual worlds, for a period of time. I do hope that you all understand.

As it turns out, like the hobbit, I’m off on an unexpected journey. Wish me well. And if you believe in God, please say a prayer for me. I’m going to need all the help I can get.