All posts by Ursula Floresby

Ursula And The Pink Froggy Hat

Monday evening saw the big closing party at the Faire, and Tuesday morning I had to go to work after a long weekend spent between two worlds, the tangible and the virtual one… well, maybe the balance was tilted a wee bit more towards the Fairelands, but only a wee lil bit. A teeny-weeny wee lil bit, you know.

I caught a very early train and, being the polite commuter that I am, I promptly reached for my lovely new pink hat with the froggies to take it off, and for a brief second it crossed my mind that I should also curl up my fluorescent pink Burbaglur antennae, as the light might disturb my fellow passengers. (Pssst… if you don’t know what, better to say who a Burbaglur is, ask Kilik Lekvoda. He will be happy to help…)

Fantasy Faire 2017 - Happy Burbie

Then I almost slapped my forehead in realisation. Damn. I was traveling on a RL train, and the only body parts I could curl or fold or bend were my RL limbs… and the funny pink hat with the froggies was left behind in another realm.

Yes, Dear Reader, this year I could spend more time in the Fairelands than ever before, thanks to some well-placed RL holidays… and boy, did I live life to the fullest. I talked a lot. A lot, I say… I met creators I had previously known only by name, who turned out to be nice, smart and funny people. I rode the Candy Bus together with a black unicorn, the driver’s seat occupied by a penguin. I modelled at a Mermaid group picture shoot.

Emblem Project - Mermaids - Fantasy Faire 2017

I went to a jail-and-bail where I ended up in the cage with the tag “Jailbird” above my head, and I shared my prison with some tiny cats and a bathtub full of bottled beer. I received so many wonderful gifts, and I also handed out some. I saw breathtaking dance and theatrical performances. I chatted, I laughed (a lot!), I shot pictures, I was standing around in the Fairelands in absolute awe of the genius that made them emerge from the mists.

Jail and Bail with giants and tinies! Yay!

It is a weird coincidence (but do coincidences exist at all?) that the scheduled topic to discuss with my med students in class during Fantasy Faire Week is one of the toughest and most difficult… end-of-life issues. How to communicate with terminally ill patients, how to face and manage the hardest kind of loss, the loss of a human life.

Fantasy Faire 2017 - Lights For Charon

I always bring many, many stories with me from the Fairelands… life stories told between a Deera stampede and a Gangnam-dancing flashmob, burdened with suffering and pain, both physical and psychological, memories from hospital visits, the gut-wrenching fear before the result of a biopsy is revealed… and I also tell my students how you relay, Faire Folk, how you are able to find immense pleasure in what you do, how you appreciate the moments of shadow-free mirth. I have been enjoying the Faire differently, too, ever since I got the diagnosis of “The Big C”… because serene moments are dear and precious for us, Reader, and our laughter rings with this deep understanding.

Fantasy Faire 2017 - The Rose

… by the way, I know a small milliner shop in town. Maybe, if I bring a nice picture, they can make me a pink hat with froggies perching on the brim… just like the one I wear when I’m a cute pink Burbaglur in Second Life.

Advertisements

Ursula At The Deep Deep Well

I love to think that I am a person with solid roots in reality, yet these days – I confess – there are times when I almost feel more comfortable among the Faire Folk than in my RL environment.

No, I’m not „losing it” and I have no intention whatsoever to give up material reality and move into one of those lovely houses in Dawn’s Promise or The Rose, however wonderful these lands are. The explanation lies elsewhere.

Cancer is omnipresent, yet it is still surrounded by many misconceptions worldwide. Many people are convinced that a tumour can be infectious, others believe that people with cancer „brought it on themselves”, because they had failed to take proper care of their bodies and minds.

Fantasy Faire 2017 - At The Well

Cancer patients and survivors bear a stigma in many countries, even in the “developed” and enlightened ones. Other people often treat them – us – with a weird mixture of horror and pity, so we feel silenced and invisible, isolated from the “normal” crowd, left alone with our worries and fears in the Twilight Zone.

No wonder many people are reluctant to seek professional help about some alarming symptoms… and when they finally do seek help it is often too late, so they indeed face pain and suffering that generates anxiety and pity in others… this is how the vicious circle of fear and misunderstanding is perpetuated and running, taking more victims at every roll.

You, Faire Folk, are different. You do understand. You frolic around and laugh, but between two silly somersaults you – we – talk about pain, treatments, fear and sadness, losses and suffering with engaging openness… and always, always with hope.

“There’s no worse disease than ignorance” – an anonymous Mexican cancer survivor said once. I’m trying to remedy this disease day after day in real life, and when I feel tired you help me get my legs back, Faire Folk. You’re a miraculous and painless cure for an ailment as dangerous as cancer itself.

Ursula And The Butterflies

This year’s lands are so inspiring… and while the Fairelands Junction invited me (and many other visitors) to sit by and quietly reflect on the great issues of life for a while, the purplish haze at Dawn’s Promise gave birth to another story.

***

Other towns had rats and mice for vermin… the City of Purple Dawn had butterflies.

Each year, when the first buds started blossoming on the pink-and-blue Dreamcatcher Trees, the elderly and experienced inhabitants of the City of Purple Dawn pulled out their protective hats and veils from the wardrobe, because they knew the butterflies would swarm in very soon… and when the butterflies swarmed, they meant business.

When the situation became really desperate, and the inhabitants of the City of Purple Dawn could not leave their homes because there were butterflies everywhere, hanging from the trees, walking on the ground, fluttering in the air, the Council of the Wise knew it was time to call Her… Their saviour and benefactor, the Butterfly Wrangler.

Fantasy Faire 2017 - The Butterfly Wrangler

There she came, a beautiful and calm woman, quietly humming a mysterious tone, a cage with a few captive butterflies in her hand. The sea of colourful insects parted before her; then their swirling dance slowly changed as they started following the Butterfly Wrangler, one lepidopteran after another, then dozens, then hundreds, then millions.

The Butterfly Wrangler was leading them out of the City of Purple Dawn, then her figure became small in the distance, surrounded by a dancing and vibrating cloud of colours… and the inhabitants of the City of Purple Dawn sighed, pulled out their brooms from the cupboard, and started cleaning up the streets after the invasion of the flying six-legged vermin.

Ursula On The Boat

I always look very much forward to the appearance of the Fairelands Junction each year. Saiyge Lotus has such a unique style that one recognises her work anywhere: ancient curved trees with silky foliage, mysteriously sparkling fairy lights, soft blue haze, an entire mysterious world.

I was looking for this year’s Wall of Remembrance and I found candles burning on the roots of a gigantic tree that fell over into a silent pool of water, and a boat – an Italian “gondola”, to be precise – quietly floating among some Japanese paper lanterns.

Maybe I was too tired and moody then and there, but the first thought that came into my mind was that I just found the boat of Charon, ferryman to the Land of the Dead.

Fantasy Faire 2017 - Lights For Charon

And Charon has shipped so many people away from my life. My parents stepped on board decades ago, followed by friends and kin. Two years ago I was sent an invitation to follow them… but I refused to accept the summons.

I am not ready yet, Charon, I am sorry. I still have so much to do before I can follow the ones before me to the Elysian Fields. I promise when the time comes I’ll pay you your due fare, Ferryman… but not today…

…and when I was ready to leave the Junction and the shimmering candles, I realised what I had in front of me was nothing else but a pretty gondola “purely for grape eating purposes”, as Saiyge had carefully labelled the water vehicle before she pushed it out into the pool that reflects candlelight and memories.

Ursula 2.0 Is Ready For The Faire!

Oh I wish, Faire Folk, that it were my real body I’m talking about… although I am already used to the physical flaws, scars and missing body parts in my RL existence. However, wouldn’t it be lovely to obtain a Bento update in reality, too? The update that I have just got in Second Life.

Why is it big news, then, you may ask? Those good old system bodies are slowly becoming a rarity in SL, our mesh avatars smile, grimace and cry on the screen, our fingers can gesticulate as delicately as a RL ballerina performing Swan Lake. Why is it big news that SL Ursula has been upgraded? Because the path that brought me to my new shiny mesh body and head is so very, very Fantasy Faire.

Fantasy Faire Is Back...

I was happily chatting to the FF Backstage people the other day, silly banter was exchanged with laughter and general pulling of pixel legs, when at a certain moment a Faire designer and I started talking about mesh bodies. I told her I had been planning to buy one for quite a long time, but I wanted to think twice before I spent a certain amount of Linden Dollars… then I suddenly heard the characteristic tingling of coins.

I received a generous, wonderful and utterly unexpected gift. Funds for a mesh body. Just so.

I was gasping for air, and I also felt what I used to experience at Christmas when I was a little girl, pure and utter joy… and I also promised my magnanimous sponsor to donate to RFL in her name, too, in order to return this wonderful gesture somehow. The answer I received made me stop for a second… and another second, and another one, to reflect and maybe even to shed a tear or two.

Cat, I hope you won’t report me to the Lindens for breaking their TOS, but I must quote word by word what you wrote: “Catalina ***: Do me a favor? If you donate, do it for those who stay in remission. Because my dad didn’t. And seeing your profile made me smile. And gave me hope. And hope is a beautiful thing.”

This is why I am as gloriously happy with my new lovely Bento mesh body and head as if I had received a miraculous upgrade in real life as well.

Happy Faire to you all!

My Sanctuary

My dears, while the Fairelands were sizzling with events this past week, I was kept busy by RL… yet I do not complain. Yes, I did miss most of the parties and the crazy chats and the shopping and, especially, those long picture taking evenings… but I never was away from you, not really, not for an hour.

Some of you might remember I teach at med school IRL, and this week’s topic is one of the most difficult ever in the curriculum: how to communicate with terminally ill patients. My “kids” have already had their obligatory morgue experience, yet this obligation of theirs, that they must deliver some really bad news to their patients in the future, weighs them down… and, well, ever since my rendezvous with Big C, well… my perspective on life and death has also changed a wee bit.

Fantasy Faire 2016 - Sanctuary

Yes, my relationship with my students is different now, but it has not weakened. On the contrary.

You were there, with me, in the classrooms and lecture halls this week. I was supposed to talk about terminal illnesses and the dying process… yet, somehow, I found I was happily babbling along about you, Faire Folk. How you relay. What being connected means, what strength this virtual-yet-very-very-real network of human relationships offers us, caregivers, survivors, and sufferers. There was silence in the classrooms and lecture halls while I was sharing my personal experience with these young people who – biologically speaking – could be my children, who already carry some unimaginably great weight upon their shoulders and who, sometimes, are nothing more than frightened babies left alone in the dark woods.

I expect to meet you all next year, here. Same time, same place. Don’t be late. I’ll still be kicking cancer in the arse, but my students will be a fresh batch, smart doctors-to-be who sometimes are oh-so-very afraid of the dark. They’ll need you, and so shall I … don’t be late, then. I count on you, Faire Folk. Each and every of you. Meet you soon… and thank you for giving me, and my fellow sufferers, a more-than-real sanctuary in the Fairelands.

Ye Merry Lasses of Backstage…

… this one is for you. Do you know what I enjoy even more than the Fairelands, the stunningly beautiful sims, and the merchandise whose beauty defies every word that a blogger might have in her vocabulary? It’s the Fantasy Faire Backstage group chat. You cannot imagine how often the contents of my coffee mug have landed on my keyboard IRL, I was laughing so much while merrily babbling along with you. You’re smart, you’re wickedly funny, and gentle…

FF 2016 - Her Faithful Dogs

… and do you know what else you are? You’re wise, and you’re unimaginably strong. Because, between two giggles and a hilarious pun, you talk about pain, medical treatments, hope beyond hope, desperation and those moments when-I-thought-I-was-to-give-up-and-somehow-I-did-not. Many (frightfully many!) of you are cancer survivors. You’ve experienced what I’m experiencing now, your heart thumping before the results of the last scan arrive… is “It” back? Am I still “clean”, or…? Some of you suffer from other conditions that promise prolonged pain and the slow loss of physical abilities. Some of you are caregivers to a parent or a child who depends on you and needs your permanent presence… and sometimes they are impatient, they leash out, and the target being hit is you… yet you are there for them each day, every day, offering patient and loving care.

… and you are here, too, the Fantasy Faire Backstage crew, you still find the energy to be more than active in SL, you build worlds, you move mountains, you find the patience to put minuscule prims together so that they become jewellery, gowns, avatars, and you’re funny, serene, accepting, wise and loving…

… thank you, O Merry Lasses of Backstage. I learn from you a lot, you cannot imagine how much, and I’m delighted and honoured to be one of you…

…and will someone please tell that Ankle Biter to stop harassing me? Her wee fangs are into me pixel flesh, and it huuuurts….! Ladies, I need your help, right now!