Friday, January 7, 2022

Interview With Mattie Carlton of the RFL Sunbeamers

By Penny Shuftan

I had an opportunity to sit down with one of the Sunbeamer Relay team, Mattie Carlton (MattDCarlton Resident), for an interview about hir being in the Relay for Life in Second Life.

The first question was how long she had been in Relay for Life in real life. "Well, basically since I was old enough to walk," replied Mattie, "My grandma was big into (it), as it meant a lot to her, and when I was old enough I was going with her to the big 24hrs, even if just for a couple of hours to start. As I got older I started going door to door for donations and staying all night there with her. I took a break for a few years when she got sick again and had to stop going. It wasn't till a year after she died, I started to get involved again. The about another year after that I met Bix and you (Penny) that introduced me to the one on here, that I somehow never knew about. And I thank you both for that!"

I smiled and said, "You're welcome." before continuing on with the interview.  I was wondering if Mattie would continue her work in the Relay for Life. "I plan to as long as I am able," said Mattie, "I have ideas and hope some help out this season."

The next question would be what is Mattie's favorite part of the Relay for Life.  "Hmm that is a tough one. Let me think," Mattie said, "I think or me it is the camaraderie, the way we help each other despite being on different teams, and having a playful rivalry. That kind of one team mind set that helps all of us come together to raise the amounts that we do each year. Then the icing on the cake for me is seeing that final total.  Seeing all those epic builds for relay weekend is pretty epic too."

The next couple of questions came to being about her grandmother.  It would be about Mattie's grandmother being Mattie's inspiration.  "Yes, I would say she was my biggest inspiration for RFL," replied Mattie, "Especially when I was younger, she was the reason I went. As I got older and met more people I found more and more reason to help with Relay, but she was that initial spark that started the flame I suppose." 

I was wondering if Mattie's grandmother still inspires Mattie. "Very much so," she said, "A lot of the parties and little things she would do with her team still make me giggle or smile to this day, and I remember the smile I would see on her face during relay weekend at the one here in town. I hope to try and keep that spirit alive."

The interview changed to Mattie's writing. "Yes I have been off and on (on it)," said Mattie, "I suffer from CPTSD and Depression with anxiety. I am also autistic. The writing was and is an outlet for some of this. However I have a lot of self-motivation issues, and so sometimes I go months in between working on a story." 

 I was wondering if her grandmother inspires Mattie to be a writer. "Hmm, I would say to some degree, yes," said Mattie, "She did some writing and such as well, but she was a very creative person. She wrote poems, essays, stories, made her own blouses, my costumes as a kid, painted her home, decorated, etc. She even did skits for her Relay team. She had a big imagination as well. She was also a good cook."

I asked her if she's going to keep writing, and this is her response. "I plan to yes. I at the very least would like to finish one short story collection and get it published. I already have the cover art," Mattie said with a smile.

The next question was what is her best work, and Mattie replied,"That is a tough call. Some have really liked the story about my odd convention dream. Others like The Holiday Gift story. Then there was the one about my dysphoria and becoming my true self or fursona, via surgeries and experimental procedures.  That last one is called, 'Recoded.' "

As the interview drew to an end, I asked Mattie what her real life hobbies would be.  "Well, Some of my real-life hobbies, include photography, storm chasing (when able), going to various car shows and motor sports events," Mattie replied, "I am a furry on Second Life and in real life, (so) I go to a lot of conventions, and often Ren-fairs in my fursuit and hope to make a few people smile. As for here in world, I DJ from time to time, and mostly just hang out or visit with friends. I also like to spend time on VR Chat with a few friends to play games or fly planes. I used to fly a bit in real life, but my uncle moved away and I have not been able to as much as I used to.  I also like to make TikToks at times."

When the interview ended, I told Mattie that she had inspired me to start thinking more about joining Sunbeamers.  With a good feeling, I did check and guess what? I already am a member of Sunbeamers, and it was all Mattie's inspiring me to join the awesome Relay for Life group.  I thanked Mattie for inspiring me to be a part of them.

Here you have it, an interview with Sunbeamer Mattie Carlton.  To this very day, she continues to sing (she's a really good singer), as well as write, and continues to be a part of the Sunbeamers and Sunweavers group.  I don't know about you, but in my opinion, what Mattie had done so far with the Relay for Life is just that ... very amazing!
Penny Shuftan

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