Elle Cosimano

My Pajama Road Trip

Copy of an upcoming Guest Blog post for the popular parenting blog “The New Perfect.” Release date to be determined.

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What, you ask, is a Pajama Road Trip?

Think of it this way… If you could go to a rock concert without fighting traffic, worrying about who will be the designated driver, scrambling for on-street parking, doing your hair, scheduling a sitter, cover charges, and worrying about the kids while you’re gone, would you go?

My answer was yes!

As a mom, I miss the freedom of a night out with the girls in the big city.  I miss live venues and being near adults who talk about things other than diapers and formula and which dangerous teether toys are on the recall list. I work from home and live in the middle of nowhere. I have two small children and a fabulous babysitter who’s not yet old enough to drive and has an early curfew. Needless to say, I don’t get out much, and most of my relationships are cultivated online. Some may argue that I have no life.

So last month, I attended my very first Pajama Road Trip into the world of Second Life to attend a live performance by one of my favorite bands. Second Life is a virtual world, in which you can assume a body, a costume, and a name, and role play in social hot spots via a totally online experience. Bands can book stage time at the various virtual clubs within the Second Life community, and live-stream their performances over the internet. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it a few times, I must admit, there are some very appealing benefits for those of us who are socially challenged by the daily burdens of parenthood.

I know what you’re thinking… only RPG geeks and basement-of-the-science-building types play around in virtual worlds. But honestly, what’s keeping moms from trying it too? Nerves? Fear of the unknown? Prejudices about the types of people who live in virtual communities? If that’s all that’s stopping you, let’s tackle a few myths…

I am afraid of online strangers. If you are reading this blog post, then you already understand the power of social networking, and have an appreciation for how the internet shrinks miles and brings opportunities within reach. You may even have online pen pals, bulletin-board BFF’s you’ve never met in real life. Really, when you think about it, it’s not that far-fetched a notion that you could take one more step into a virtual world. And I ask you… what is so different about the people you would meet in a club or a bar in real life? There are as many strange people out in the real world as there are inside the web. And there are potentially an equal amount of people just like you, who are just trying to enjoy themselves. Same safety and common sense rules apply. You don’t have to interact with anyone you don’t want to. And no one online is going to steal your wallet or slip a ruffie in your drink.

I’m afraid to go alone. Then don’t go alone. If you’re not the kind of person who would feel comfortable going to a concert by yourself in real life, chances are you might not feel comfortable doing so online either. Bring friends. Make it a Girl’s Night Out. Help each other pick hair styles and clothes and silly names. Dance and hang out together. It’s a social world and you don’t have to break into it alone.

My Significant Other wouldn’t approve. So take a date with you! My last date night with my husband was almost ruined by a case of the sniffles. It’s nice to know we could have cancelled dinner reservations, put the kids to bed early, and gone to a concert together on the couch, sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine in our pajamas. Date night is just time spent together doing something fun. It doesn’t have to mean leaving the house. And for some couples, a virtual date in an exotic place in dressy clothes, can be a romantic escape from the tedium of parenting. We tend to think of cyber worlds as a secret place, something to hide, but there’s no rule saying you can’t explore these worlds as a couple.

What If I’m Not That Social? If you’re just in it for the music, then there are solutions for you too! Many bands now offer live-streaming audio of their shows through online chat rooms and even through Facebook. You can lurk, if you’re more comfortable doing so, or you can participate by “chatting” directly with members of the band. I regularly attend streaming shows of one of my favorite bands. I can comment on the performance, and even request my favorite songs as they play. It’s an intimate venue in the comfort of my own home. And best of all, if the kids wake up and need me, I can step in and out of a chat performance with the click of a mouse.

I’m not very technically savvy. How would I get there? Online road-tripping is a lot easier than I originally expected. Chat rooms are a great way to get started. My favorite band, drumfish, posts a link on their Facebook wall with simple instructions before each performance. It’s literally 3 clicks to hear the live-feed and jump into the chat room, and I can continue surfing other sites simultaneously. To actually attend a virtual show, Second Life offers a free membership into the online community. Once inside, you can search for music performances, times and locations, and then “teleport” directly into the shows. It takes some practice, and may be a bit confusing the first time, but once you have the knack, it’s easy.

I’ve learned countless lessons as a parent, but perhaps the most valuable are those that have taught me the importance of preserving and nurturing my sense of self and my own happiness. I try not to let my lack of physical freedom restrict my ability to make new friends or experience new adventures. Sometimes, by stepping outside our comfort zone and trying something new, we find we’re really not as isolated as we often allow ourselves to feel. My version of the Pajama Road Trip might not be perfect, but it’s a life, and I’m making it more satisfying every day.

SLdrumfish

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Image shown is a screen shot taken during a live rehearsal of drumfish in Second Life.
Note: I will be attending their real live concert this weekend at the 8×10 in Baltimore.

Jan

31, 2011 |

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One Response to “My Pajama Road Trip”

  1. Daniel Myers says:

    Hey Elle! On behalf of myself and all the members of drumfish (Alex, Larry, Aaron, Margie and Graham).. I wanted to touch base to say HELLO and thank YOU for the nice mention and support!… It’s great listeners and supporters – like yourself – who make “making music” so fun and worthwhile for all of us… Check us out on Facebook if you haven’t already (“drumfishmusic”) and say hello!.. Take care and have a great Summer 2012!

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