juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
So we're one week into this thing as of today, and I am congested and I lost my voice yesterday. The congestion ain't fun, but: icky cold TMI. ) I've had an almost entirely unproductive, actually fairly minor cough over the last few days, but it aggravated my already sore-throat. If I talk I sound awful and it hurts; if I don't talk, there's no pain. So I'm not talking as of midafternoon yesterday, and I'll keep it up until I can talk without sounding ... well, like this.

There really is no better time to have a DS at my bedside (Pokémon Black, hello! I caved and bought it, and I'm enjoying myself muchly. Is anyone else playing BW?), because the screen is a perfect scribble pad; I've also developed a complex, off-the-cuff form of sign language that's one part logic, one part charades, and one part head shaking. Being verbally silent is actually quite strange, because it also makes me textually silent, and vice-versa: if I'm trying to remember not to talk, I start making my IMs as short as possible or type entirely in emotes (/me does something or another—a leftover habit from my years playing Second Life); if I remind myself that that's stupid and typing is safe, then I'm like to start talking aloud when Devon's in the room without even realizing it. Written language is just as important to me as verbal language. I would say also that it's inextricably linked, but of course it is, it is for almost everyone—but for me it's more than just a link: it's more or less the same thing.

Anywho. Remember when I said that this was a wonderfully light sickness thing, almost magical in its way? The fever was still a damn cool experience, and I much prefer this to what I had in January (this is tolerable, even functional; January's turned me into a pile of mush for a few days), but this illness and I are officially no longer friends and it is welcome to bugger off whenever it so pleases. Just so as that it knows.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I feel you, oh tickle in the back of my throat. I have done so for about 24 hours now, but I refuse to be punished for the cruise by suffering a cold, and so I am staunchly pretending to be perfectly well until—and I hope it doesn't get to that point—I no longer can. Because right now, all it really is is annoying, not disruptive in any way, which is a blessing. While ignoring the throat-tickle today I went to Starbucks to spend some productive time out of the house. I used to do that all of the time, and then fell out of the practice of it, but I should really get back in—it does me good, and gets book reviews written. (I am many behind.) It was a lovely day, I looked lovely too; it was a good use of my time.

Relatedly (if you're in my head, anyhow, connecting Starbucks and getting out and looking lovely to this ongoing quest of mine towards personal improvement), I have a weird request to make. I am in search of shoes, and do not know how to find them. In the past, shoes haven't been much more bother than a trip to Payless, but I've been discovering that my disinterest in shoes and all other fashion items has less to do with disinterest in them and more to do with disinterest in popular examples of them. I don't want flimsy little flats or silly pointy heals; I want chunky black shoes, and knowing that I want to find a decent-quality pair that I really like.

The problem is that I'm not trained in these things—I find shopping an alien concept, but perhaps shoe-shopping most of all. So the question is: do shoes like I want exist? if so, where can I find them? My first priority is a pair of black shoes that look like (and I know this is silly) Shiny Thing's Flare Oxfords in Second Life: [1] [2]. Black, shiny leather, laced, a little bulky/oversized, ideally with a bit of a platform and/or heel but without aggressive tread, with a square-ish and large-ish toe. The women's shoes I've looked at so far seem to be all frills and pointy heels, no thank you; I've had somewhat better luck looking at men's shoes in a kid's size range. Skecher's offers up Cool Cat - Pixel which is pretty promising; Cool Cat and Alley Cat may be too, and Raiders - Buccaneers have a neat platform look but I'm not sold on the overall shape. ETA: Dr. Martens 8461 may work—Docs have thin sharpness to their uppers which I don't like, but the overall shape is spot on. The perfect shoes in this category would take oversized and chunky and run with it—I don't want platforms and I'm not quite aiming for Kingdom Hearts, but I want my shoes to look bigger than they are and maybe give me a bit of height.

Secondly, more as a pipe dream, I want boots. Something like Shiny Thing's Glossy Ribbon Boots from Second Life (outing myself again as a massive dork): [1] [2]. Black, shiny leather, somewhere between calf- and knee-high, maybe a bit of platform, chunky heels, square toe; lacing detail probably preferable, but buckles may work too. I have no idea where to even begin, here. None of the popular women's boot designs appeal too much. I could consider combat boots, maybe. Honestly I don't know what's out there, or what might work.

I wear a size 8 or 8 1/2 women's shoe, preferable wide. I wear a size 6 or 7 in men's shoes. I'm aiming in the $50-150 range; lower is better, but dirt cheap isn't necessary.

Do things like this even exist? Where might I find them? Where can I browse shoes in a productive way? What sort of brands may turn up styles like these? Are you some sort of magical shoe genie thinking, "silly Juu, this is the pair you want?" If so I suggest you send me a link.

Teach me how to buy shoes.

Please?

P.S. I am, finally, pretty much caught up on what I feel like I need to get caught up on of what I missed while I was gone. But if you find yourself wondering if that means I personally snubbed your important piece of news or heartfelt post, link me—I may have missed it.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Ah, I should be sleeping. Or, failing that, writing, or reading. But first:

Lately, there's been discussion on WereList about the news coverage of these teenage "werewolves"—forgiving discussion, for the most part; I suppose therians have a healthy tolerance for "weird." (I think these kids are adorable, for the record; I'd love to meet them.) But what's struck me in the discussion is the people who relate experiences of being in similar stylized teenage "packs." One-time furries in the community tell similar stories. They go like this:

A person discovers, joins, and grows attached to a group of people who imitate animal appearances and behaviors, but over time notices that for most others, the imitation is play—and for the individual, it's less like imitation and more like freedom of expression granted to innate personality and behavioral traits; it's meaningful. The individual begins to feel out of place in the group, and may leave or expand beyond it. The realization of this deeper, more meaningful connection may be a critical step towards the discovery of therianthropy.

And I, I had a remarkably similar experience with Second Life.

I don't remember when or how it happened, but I remember how it felt when I discovered that cat ears and tails were a "thing" in SL: it was warm, it was right, it was intimidating—because it felt like it would make my inner desires (at the time, I thought that's all they were) externally visible, which is frightening. I worried over will I, won't I for a little while, but not too long; by my second month in SL, pictures begin appearing of me with ears and tail. At the beginning I told myself it would be a sometimes thing, a costume, but that didn't last long either. By my fourth month, I felt naked without my ears and tail; by my fifth, it was a costume when I went without them.

All of this was a "neko" look, a catgirl: human body-shape, human skintone; feline "accents," let's call them: ears, tail, whiskers, slit pupils eventually, paws a time or three, stripes a time or two. My usual look turned out to be something like this:

A New Home


and I became more attached to that image of self than my own physical body and, despite the fact that I've now been away from SL for about a year, remain so.

But I noticed pretty early on that the prevalence and subculture of nekos bugged the hell out of me. Oh, it seemed wonderful at first: other catpeople! other cats! But it became increasingly clear that I wasn't like these other nekos. It was a pile of little things: most nekos had four ears, wearing their cat ears as if they were startlingly lifelike accessories, while I went to pains to conceal all trace of my "system" ears; neko was as much as style as an attitude, and I wasn't drawn to the stray cat/grunge look; nekos would meow at each other and purr like it was a gimmick, and their behaviors were feline clichés, unrealistic and overdone.

Meanwhile, in my fourth month in SL I picked up a quadruped cat avatar. It was an ugly little thing, but the best option out there; I wore it rarely for the former reason, but loved it because as "catgirl" had become "self," "cat" had become "inner desires"—I thought it was joyful wish fulfillment. A year later I found a different, much more realistic quadruped avatar. It was a great improvement in every way save that while my first av had been the size of a housecat, this one was the size of a wolf. Again I wore it rarely because it wasn't visually ideal; again, I loved it. That av looked like this:

One picture. )

And I wrote of it, at the time:

But my real joy is finding open, natural locations—where I can run through the field, hide among the grasses; open wooden floors where I can lie under the slanting sun; places where my avatar size doesn't matter and I can lose myself in the body of a cat.

It is like coming home.


It was in that same month that I went from viewing therianthropy as a fascinating concept to adopting it as a personal label. I'd haunted the fringes of the community for some time, and what I'd read resonated—but it seemed a little too weird to apply to myself. Goodness only knows why—I know I'm weird, and it'd be a failed effort to avoid saying so.

My discoveries via Second Life were massive contributions to my journey. I'd been familiar with the furry fandom for years, but the aesthetic didn't appeal so I never grew attached to that concept. So it was through SL and the neko subculture that I discovered that people could portray themselves as animals. It was through my gradual divorce from the neko subculture that I discovered that these silly little catbits were, to me, not silly: they were visual expressions of the self I felt inside. It was through my attempts to branch out into other forms of visual feline expression, forms that were more extreme and realistic, which were not connected to a subculture, that I realized that the self I felt inside was not just a woman with cat ears—but simply: a cat.

My avatar in SL was always an avatar—most visible in the fact that it's a black cat, where I think my "real" coloring is lighter, maybe ginger, probably not black. But I adopted it as part of myself precisely because it was wish fulfillment: it was a way of getting a little closer, idealized and inaccurate but still closer, to the self I should be. My catgirl av, part human, part cat, is the best example: it's an unrealistic, arbitrary amalgamation but it's also a compromise, a midpoint between the cat within and the human without, and so despite its inaccuracies, impossibilities, and the fact that it may look little my physical form as human or cat, it became an image of me.

I was compelled to record all of this because yesterday I wandered through some of my old outfit shots from SL, and since then I've been mourning the loss of my tail. Some therians have phantom sensations, the feel of paws, tail, muzzle, fur, some animal part that the human body doesn't have but the animal within should; I don't. Instead, I feel an absence: a sense like homesickness for the body and body parts which I do not have. SL was my outlet, and perhaps that's what I felt when I first realized I could have a tail, ears, in game: "Oh god, finally. It won't be real, but it will be better than nothing." Sims is, for a dozen reasons, healthier and happier for me than Second Life—it's more creative, less obsessive (no, really! until you've played SL, you just can't image), miracle of miracles it doesn't often lag, and there's still pretty pixel clothes. But in Sims there is no me, cat-bodied and scratching behind an ear, human-bodied but still with a full, fluffy tail swishing behind. Nika's similar but not the same. And I miss it. I miss the twitch of ears to nearby sound, the tingle of brushed whiskers translating space, the balance and beauty of a well-groomed tail, the real purr rumbling deep, the lazy catscratch, the golden sunspots, the flow of four legs on the ground. I never had that in SL, but I had something like it—and I don't have any of it, now.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
So my dear friend Express ([livejournal.com profile] ryo_baka) IMed me about a Second Life fashion blog run by a rather over-the-top gay male prone to wearing corsets and fishnet and buckle pants, and we compared notes about his fashion sense. (If you're confused by the "/me"s, that comes from Second Life too.) The conversation that followed, well, it's classic Juu, and so I'm preserving it and presenting it to the general public.

Juushika:: my version of fashion is different from yours :P

Express: the pants >.<

Juushika: I'm not saying they're normal or anything
but I think they're not bad on a guy ^^

Express: /me was trying to be open-minded
but.. there's only so far you can open

Juushika: /me gigglesnorts
dude
that is a gay pun if I ever saw one

Express: ....

Juushika: ^___^

Express: you see gay everywhere don't you

Juushika: it is everywhere
but seriously you can not say you don't see it there :P

Express: only after you pointed it out
you're like rule 34

Juushika: <3

Express: except is like juu rule 34
Juu's Rule 34: If it is exists, it is gay.

Juushika: this is so true
and I so want to quote it on my LJ >.>

Express: go ahead :P
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Polls are closed and Express won. Thank you all!

Do you love me? Do you like me enough to support my silly whims?

Pretty please go vote for Express Zenovka at the bottom of this page. Polls close at noon PST! Express is a very close friend of mine via Second Life, and I really want him to win this.

Thank you to everyone who does.

And, er, I am still alive! Just putting my social energy into SL, lately.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I've been sleeping a strange schedule lately—by which I mean even stranger than my usual unpredictable hours. I've been approximating a 3p-3a sleep cycle. As a result I haven't been seeing much of people (which to be honest was half of the point), to the extent that the boy's brother—who is out of school for the summer and so living here full time—hadn't seen me at all in three days.

In the attempt to get my schedule a bit more back on track, I stayed up today. At 3p I went out to the kitchen for food and water and boy's brother trailed me to say hello and to remark on the fact that I was, indeed, still alive. Navarre and I ended up talking until the boy came home—just over three hours. Except for some far shorter and more distracted conversations with the boyos's friend John, I haven't had such a fulfilling conversation in person for a long while. I've recently become very close with an online friend that I met in Second Life, but talking in person is different from staying up for hours over IM. The conversations are more taxing, but they also move faster and they flow like water.

To be honest, I rather felt blessed by it all. Navarre has always liked me (yes, it boggles my mind too), and I him—even as a twelve year old, when I met him, he was thoughtful and intelligent. He's grown up much in the same vein—he's a heavy gamer, mediocre student, but personally mature from his age. The experiments and failings of his friends with sex and drugs seem to him foolish and harmful, and he has no use for them—and I agree with all of this. The two of us have always been able to carry on a conversation, but the fact the he wanted to, and for hours, feels like a gift. To my credit I was also unusually gregarious and entertaining—days of near-total isolation can do that even to me, it seems. But it was, simply, a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Long private conversations are my favorite sort—I observe groups and rarely interact, but in person people strip themselves down, become more thoughtful and more honest, and even if the subject is nearly meaningless the conversation is thrilling.

Otherwise: Obviously I'm still alive out here. My depression has spiked, which happens—in largely causeless, but often shorter, cycles, and I seem to be coming out of it now. As a result I've been hiding from the world and sleeping my crazy schedule. So it goes. On the other hand, I have begun formally blogging Second Life fashion: Rezzable Second Life hosts a large number of sims dedicated to unique and artistic builds which has lately branched out into quite a few stores. I'll be blogging once a week with my usual mixed-up outfits in which at least one piece comes from a Rezzable store. My first post went up a few days ago.

This means nothing, I expect, if you don't play SL—but for me it is a brilliant opportunity. Rezzable is funding my posts and paying me a salary, which is much appreciated all around. It's a great group with some absolutely amazing arts, and also my surfing location of choice. I'm more than pleased to be affiliated and having a lot of fun with my posts.

Beyond that I've been heavily involved in some thought and reading—but the subject is a bit more private, so I'm still considering if I should post on it. If I do, I'll probably lock it up, and least while I figure out where my head is on such matters.
juushika: Photograph of a stack of books, with one lying open. (Books)
I love the way that a good book slips through you fingers as swift and as slick as water. Of course not all good books move like that—I'm currently putting off a Jeffery Eugenides book not because I expect it will be bad but because my last foray into his writing was meticulously slow. This one, however, flows like as water: I'm reading The Story O, and almost cherishing the speed of it. I accidentally sped through a third of the book in a single sitting last night, and passing over a page can lead to a dozen more before I notice it. What a precious change.

Not to say that I haven't read good books lately (just finished another Jane Austen, for example) or that I have read books that are consuming (like The Time Traveler's Wife), but I've wanted a book like The Story of O for a while. I'm glad [livejournal.com profile] lupanotte's review reminded me to check it out—or as it were, purchase a copy. I find the premise intriguing. Like De Sade and like The Dreamers, the content of The Story of O—but nature of the boundaries it breaks—becomes psychological and philosophical. It is the story of one woman's submission to brutal and violent sexual acts for the pleasure of her lover. I view BDSM as a positive thing, but O's story takes BDSM past the boundaries of safety, consent, and mutual pleasure (in however atypical a sense) that I view as a necessary standard. At the same time that parts of the book are painfully erotic (to pardon the pun), I take issue with the character: above all things, she is driven by her love for her lover. This is a common sin, to allow yourself to be consumed and defined and so weakened by another person, but the book takes it to its extreme. O's journey towards debasement occurs of a literal, violent, exaggerated level. It is the heart of the book. The narrator obsesses over the debasement and its cause in equal parts. Through the events that O submits to, the reader sees into O's head, sees her thoughts and her desires and her self.

I've been jamming my to-read list with books about suicide and (consensual) abuse and incest and such topics because they explore a fringe of humanity and, in doing so, reveal something about its whole. I just read a book called Playing (review forthcoming) that has the same themes as The Story of O but a smaller scale and only a vague mimicry of this book's realistic introspection. It is delightful and so satisfying to read The Story of O, to see introspection done so well that the truth of it becomes discomforting.

More thoughts on The Story of O: the second half of the book and my review.

What besides books? Video games. I never talk about Second Life here because I know that it's a game you have to play to care about, but if you ever chose to check it out, I'm often around (and still post pictures of SL outfits to my Flickr. Meanwhile the boy just beat GTAIV last night, and having watched a good 90% of his gameplay I have to say I was very impressed. They did a great job of making the story real this time—it's not tear-jerking precisely but unlike the others it manages a greater depth than just humor, and Niko is a compelling character. Plus it's shiny. All the driving and shooting, two skills which I do not posses, intimidates me still—but I may pick up the game a bit and see if I can manage it.

The boy and I also broke down and bought Microsoft Points so that we could purchase Penny Arcade Adventure series: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One. My love for Penny Arcade knows no end, and so the characters and cameos and humor of this game appeal to me. Plus, it's an RPG, and I love those. I've just started playing it, so we'll see how good it is in time. Developers just announced the upcoming release of Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, which returns again to the gardens (rather than the mini games of the first sequel). I loved the first game so much, so I'm now itching for this sequel. Along with Spore and Fable II(!), it's now on my list of fourth-quarter game releases that leave me waiting impatiently. In the meantime, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith comes out in June.

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
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