Molecules I have known

A few years back I was sitting with a group of people at an RL farmer’s market. We were huddled around a small table having coffee, croissants, and other morning delights. Some in the group I knew, and some I was just meeting that day. The woman sitting next to me, Lucy, I had just met. She had a chemical symbol, a molecule, tattooed on her arm.

Morning Coffee Challenge, Installation View, Innu Region, Second Life

I stared at Lucy’s tattoo and wondered what it might mean? Was it her favorite drug? Something to fire her up? Or calm her down? Maybe she had some sort of imbalance? An inadequate supply of some neurotransmitter or hormone? Perhaps this was the molecule that, in it’s absence, made her days challenging.

Lucy, what molecule is that?

You already know what she said. No, it wasn’t cocaine or ecstasy, but it was “her drug of choice.” No, it wasn’t a neurotransmitter or hormone, but it was the molecule whose absence made her days challenging. It was, it turned out, the molecule she drank, because it, better than almost anything else, made Lucy feel like Lucy.


There isn’t really an avatar analog for caffeine.

Blip Mumfuzz


Here at Vanessa’s Place: coffee + conversation, it seems like the endless trays of colorful donuts evoke different responses in visiting avatars.

Some see them glistening in the morning light and want to get one IRL for their fleshvatar to enjoy while they sit at Vanessa’s Place. For others, simply gazing at the love in their detail provides satisfaction enough. SL creators’ donuts and other confections have achieved sufficient verisimilitude to bring phenomenal pleasure simply in viewing them.

We do many things in a virtual world like Second Life not because our avatars or our world need them, but because they are analogs of RL things.



Some things, like leaping off the ground and flying effortlessly and without any apparatus, are distinct breaks with RL, yet most avatars easily and quickly adapt to them. Perhaps this is because we have watched birds fly for so long. At last that which has eluded every human since Icarus is possible. And free.

Home Security

Yet other times we seem to shy away from breaking with RL constraints. So many avatars build or buy houses with roofs on them. Why!? IRL a roof protects you and your possessions from sun, rain, and theft. Yet none of those conditions exist in a world like Second Life.

Agnes Sharple

More Human than Human

So many avatar bodies, even if their typists have never heard of Vilayanur Ramachandran’s theories of neuroaesthetics, nonetheless follow his principle of “Peak Shift.” Women with curves more human than human; men with muscles more human than human. And so on.

Yes, there are plenty of tentacles in SL. But not a million dollar industry creating shoes and dresses and bikinis for tentacles.

We port endless folkways, mores, and norms from RL to SL every day. Our world is built of code, yet it is our cultural vernacular that describes our day to day existence here.

Lucy’s Tattoo

And what of Lucy’s tattoo? Is that morning cup of coffee that means so much to so many IRL meaningless in SL? Or impossible to translate?

The social part is easy enough to translate. You just open a coffee shop like Vanessa’s Place and let avatars come relax and interact. Coronavirus risk free.

But do we bother to actually grab a cup of coffee at Vanessa’s Place or the other coffee shops of SL? Unlike the glorious confections dripping with all that verisimilitude, a cup of coffee in SL is a fairly plain thing. You have to take the time to project.

(although, next time you drop by Vanessa’s Place, be sure to try the new Latte Art we have on offer! You can choose from 6 designs: Cat, Bear, Footprint, Swan, Leaf or Snowman. Watching your latte be crafted, holding it, and sipping its foamy warmth might just be the coffee verisimilitude we need! Thank you Surfash Bade for creating such beautiful and loving Latte Art.)

Morning Coffee Challenge, Installation View, Innu Region, Second Life

Morning Coffee Challenge

Ridiculous? Or heartwarming?

RL baggage? Or a chain of flowers leading us from the known to the unknown?

Whatever it is that an avatar drinking a morning cup of coffee is, I have invited avatars to document exactly that. Their morning cup of coffee. The challenge was initially put forth as a flickr group:

Today we have a nice pool of morning coffee images. It seemed like time to give them a proper exhibition at Vanessa’s Place: coffee + conversation.

The exhibition features 27 images from 19 coffee drinking avatars:

  • Agnes Sharple
  • Anje Aichi
  • Blip Mumfuzz
  • D-Style
  • Exal Grut
  • Fenella Allen
  • Fuschia Nightfire
  • Heathersss
  • KCVF
  • Kiana Melody
  • La Baroque
  • Lexa Luckless
  • Marc Blieux
  • Miriana Morichetti
  • Nebulosus Severine
  • Susan L.
  • Vanessa Blaylock
  • Wizard Gynoid
  • Wynaz

It’s not too late!

Is there a morning coffee photo in you? Document your morning and add it to our flickr group:

If you need a cup of coffee, drop by Vanessa’s Place: coffee + conversation anytime and grab one of our delicious works of latte art!

~ Vanessa Blaylock, barista

Vanessa Blaylock

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