Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Era Updates

Man, sometimes you just gotta say, fuck self-imposed deadlines. Due to distractions from my personal life, A New Era will not be quite ready for release tomorrow. If I worked at a feverish pace, I might be able to get it done tonight, but I'm just not going to do that to myself, both for my own sake and for the sake of putting together a quality product with properly finished songs. However, people can look forward to an outstanding collection of music with all-new songs and remixes coming very soon!

I've also decided to keep the original ERA on as a Patron/Leaguer reward for the time being. After taking more time to think it through, it makes the most sense to first offer A New Era to the $10+ tier of pledgers at Patreon while ERA remains available to the $5+ tier as well as League members. Once the new songs from A New Era are available on an EP to everyone, though, A New Era will be downgraded and that's when ERA will vanish for good. This will likely happen mid-October.

When this happens, the remixes I'm including on A New Era will still be exclusive to this album. I've decided not to include them on the next EP. Only the completely original songs will be making it on there. There's also another song which is up in the air on this decision: a certain bonus track from Selenophilia that's being redeveloped into a new song with a new title.

So, what you can expect from A New Era when it arrives: a selection of tunes spanning all of the work so far with two all-new songs, two remixes, and this redevelopment of said bonus track. Hopefully within the next week.

And then, a new EP released sometime during October!

To get your hands on ERA before time runs out, sign up for a League membership or visit The Lady on Patreon where you can also make a pledge that will earn you song previews and demos as well as a download of A New Era as soon as it arrives! Downloads of A Waltz For Giger - The Complete Collection and The Occultation Sessions are still available through both platforms, and downloads of Artist's Editions of Instrumentality and Occultation are still available to the $10+ tier of pledgers at Patreon.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Libration or The Story of How I Narrowly Avoided Being a Douchebag

There isn't all that much to say about this release, really. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that because it's quarter after four in the morning and I'm refusing to let myself watch any more supernatural trash TV to fall asleep to until I do my fucking job. Oftentimes the biggest challenge of self-employment (and perhaps the number one reason people fail at it) is motivating oneself and being productive, even when you don't feel like it. I'm not going off on this tangent, though. I'm staying focused.

This EP exists mainly for two reasons: the idea presented itself and was completed almost at the same time it finished forming; and it's a vehicle for a very special song that I've been sitting on for too long. When I said I had no idea what was coming next when I released Selenophilia, that was so true it's almost scary. I usually have ideas forming or I'm working on songs at the time. Work has been admittedly slow lately, as I've been distracted by things going on in my personal life, and I also don't have a bunch of material sitting on back burners right now. At this moment, there are two experimental alternate versions of previous songs that I'm playing with, and there's a finished "sketch" of a new song that needs a lot of work before it's complete. These three projects I've been working on for a couple of weeks now. Like I said, it's going slowly. I'm not feverishly churning out new songs every couple of days or pulling all-nighters to complete a remix like I've often done in the past. So I guess it's lucky that I have material to draw on from Occultation still.

The downside is that this has all been heard before, as it's at least available for free streaming, and the Snails able to contribute financially even have access to downloads. The upside is that most of this material hasn't been made publicly and freely available for download, which is what my cyber-busking experiment is all about, and it had to happen sometime. This opportunity presented itself in an idea where the track list pretty much wrote itself, while offering itself a means to share with the world my first completed collaboration with my colleague-become-friend, Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia. I am, of course, referring to the finished version of "Lily White," featuring this metal singer's melodious vocals. It's been a bit of a trial as we've had to work out the best way for our equipment to be compatible over a long distance while also having our own personal lives and separate projects vying for attention, but it has finally come together and will hopefully lead to smoother sailing in any future collaborations we may undertake. There is a collaborative version of "The Cloud Walkers" we've started on, but it is currently on hold while The Arcane Insignia is back in the studio, which is very exciting news in itself. If you haven't checked out their music yet, I strongly urge you to. It's acoustic metal with neoclassical elements by extremely talented musicians with soaring potential! There are free downloads available on their Facebook page, and they have a pay-what-you-will Bandcamp release as well.

Alejandro actually worked out a way to record and share his vocal ideas with me a while ago, and I've had this song basically completed for some time. Like I said, I've pretty much just been sitting on it, listening to it every now and again and making minor adjustments whenever they occur to me. I really thought I was going to just wait to release this until I had more new material ready for release and that it would most likely make its debut on A New Era as further incentive for potential financial contributors. However, when considering the work that Alejandro put into this and that he volunteered his talent, it seemed quite wrong to (however indirectly) be trying to monetize this collaboration. Of course it would be available freely not much further down the road, but I still would have been using it to try to encourage people to give me money. There's a big difference between tips and offering it to those who pay up-front, and while crowd-funding is a very pleasant way of exploiting one's art, it is still an attempt at capitalizing on it. And I would have been exploiting Alejandro's art. That I hadn't even thought of it this way in the first place is somewhat appalling to me. To be fair to myself, my primary thought was of rewarding devoted supporters by offering this song exclusively to them first. But there was a voice in the back of my mind saying, "And it wouldn't hurt if it motivated more people to make a pledge..."

This is an example of why Catholicism could potentially feel cathartic. I feel the need for confession (writing this all down for the public to read) followed by self-flagellation and asking for forgiveness. Let's see if I can choke down my pride enough for that last one... Aw, fuck it. Alejandro: this is my very public apology. I'm sorry I almost took the path of douchebaggery. Please forgive me. And THANK YOU for contributing your talent to my art! It has greatly enhanced my song and I'm grateful to have you as a friend and collaborator!

Wow. Okay, I really hadn't thought this post would veer in that direction. Getting back on track... And speaking of tracks, let's discuss the rest of the track list now, shall we? The idea for this EP started the last time I featured "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You" on my Jukebox posts to social media (I make these pretty much daily on Facebook, Google Plus, and Tsu, for those not familiar), when it struck me that I had managed to leave that song off of any kind of non-commercial release for over a month since its debut. That's unheard of for me! I'm usually practically shoving my songs down people's throats, saying, "They're free! Here, take 'em!" Now, I had been aware that "Dimmer" (as I call it, for short) would not be included on Selenophilia to begin with, and it's actually out of pure forgetfulness that the two-track single containing "An Arcane Son" and "A Most Resilient Snail" didn't have it as a third track. As I had already released "A Most Resilient Snail" as a single on its own and then added "Son," it just seemed beyond tacky to go back and add on a third song just because I had forgotten it. So I've been using it as an exclusive reward all this time for patrons and Leaguers. But it was past time that this song be made publicly and freely available.

A theme started to take form when I put "An Arcane Son" on the Jukebox the next day. Since it had only been on a single, it hadn't truly been on a Snail Tunes release yet. And that's when it struck me that neither had the edited, remastered songs from the rewards EP The Occultation Sessions. Now, I know I said I didn't really expect to put those on any future releases because they were "sooo Phase Two," and I hadn't expected to, but at least this way I felt I was offering people something they hadn't had the chance to freely download yet. To fit in with "An Arcane Son" and "Dimmer," I decided to stick with songs that were more straight-up Alternative Rock, which was a refreshing change from the direction I've been taking as "the strange neoclassical pianist that makes trip-hop/industrial/post-metal/ambient shit." So these aren't revolutionary sounds and they aren't breaking down any genre barriers. Whatever, I enjoy them, and I'm glad that (particularly in the case of "Son" and "Dimmer") audiences have unexpectedly become rather taken with them. These are the kinds of songs that I've been the most unsure of about exposing publicly, and as such it's taken time for them to grow on me. But they certainly have. So I'm rather enamored with and proud of the track list that quite naturally evolved and happens to include two songs from the debut EP among songs from Occultation:

So here y'all go. As part of my decision to not profit from Alejandro's contribution, and because there is no other new material, this release is not paid for by patrons of Patreon. I still encourage tips when prompted to "name your price," however, and I encourage y'all to hop on over to The Arcane Insignia's Bandcamp page and do the same, especially if you're as blown away by Alejandro's voice as I was, and continue to be.

One quick announcement: I'm not sure if it will happen before the month is out (it seems likely), but I have found an extremely talented artist who has graciously given his permission to use his work as album art for A New Era, which is of course a huge step toward completing the new compilation. It will likely be my next release, though it will be exclusive to supporters and it will replace Era among the rewards. I'm aiming to release new material on this compilation, but it is quite possible an EP including the same new material (or at least some of it) will be released around the same time. We'll see if I can light a fire under my ass and get my three current projects finished and maybe some others going.

Anyway, thank y'all for your continued support and welcome to any new readers and listeners: may your inner snails be resilient and determined.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Too Clever

Just a few updates for blog readers, and to bring them all into focus in one place for everyone in general. First off, in a ridiculously roundabout way, I've made Occultation available for $5. You may have even been following The Lady's posts on Google+ and Facebook and not even noticed, it's so roundabout. So here is my clever marketing scheme, spelled out: A single from the album including "An Arcane Son" and "A Most Resilient Snail" was made at available the Snail Tunes store (where everything is "name your price, no minimum" - so, free, unless you tip) early on, like a couple days before the album was even released, I think. Then, as a reward to patrons of The Lady on Patreon (for those pledging $1 or more) and an exclusive for members of The League of Extraordinary Snails (subscription is $5 minimum), a single for "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You" was made available." Almost two weeks ago, "The Last Waltz," "The Cloud Walkers," and "Wrong Pocket Kinda Day" became available on Selenophilia at Snail Tunes. Following that, I released an EP exclusive to patrons pledging $5 or more and to League members called The Occultation Sessions that contains all the tracks from prior Snail Tunes releases that were edited and remastered for their inclusion on Occultation, as well as the new Alternate Spins of "Pentadactyl" and "The Replicant." Add all this to other tracks available on previous releases - "Waltz With Lilith (Claim)" can be found on Nefelibata, and "Slowly Scooting Closer" and "I, Supplicant" can be found on both Nefelibata and Selenophilia - and you have all sixteen tracks on Occultation as they appear on that album. Well, except for "The Cloud Walkers," which was edited and updated for Selenophilia. Complicated enough for ya? Here:

So, to put it simply, between what you can get for free from the Snail Tunes store and what you can get by pledging $5 on Patreon or paying the $5-minimum subscription fee for League membership, you can have all the contents of the second commercial album. It may be the most complicated, but it's the best deal you're gonna get on the album, and I say that with a certain authority. I may be a primarily non-commercial artist, but I do want to do this for a living, and that means finding ways to make money off of this. The songs that made their debut on Occultation are more than likely to find their way onto future non-commercial releases (actually, only "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You" hasn't yet), but I don't think the contents of Sessions will. They're just so...Phase Two, y'know?

Ugh, so that means I'm really trying to get you to give me money for edited and remastered versions of songs that are already free! Gods, I'm a douchebag! But there you have it. You can make a one-time payment of $5, snatch up the remaining single and Sessions, then cancel your subscription/future pledges, and have all the rest for free from the Snail Tunes store...that is, if you're a douchebag and don't leave a tip! HA! Works both ways now, don't it?

But there are more exclusives/rewards available in the $5 category to make it totally worth your while. I'm not really a I? Nah, 'cause even just a $1 pledge at Patreon will get you a single of an instrumental (sin palabras - minus vocals) version of the new song "Lily White," a demo of which (with vocals) is on Selenophilia. But moving on to $5 pledges and League membership: there's still A Waltz For Giger - The Complete Collection to be had, along with Era, which I'm kind of sad to say I'll be retiring soon. You see, back when Era was first released, it had tracks on it that had yet to be made available outside of Patreon, where it debuted. Now, all the songs are available on various Snail Tunes releases and the only things unique about Era are the artwork and the track listing. So, if you're interested in it, grab it now while you still can! And just so y'all know, this does mean that new supporter-exclusive album (tentatively and unimaginatively titled A New Era) will be on the way.

So, now that we're all caught up, I'm going to close with posting a private share of the hidden bonus track from Selenophilia, "Mattresside." I hope y'all are enjoying the encroaching autumn weather!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Moving Forward

Well folken, with the release of Selenophilia, my birthday, and some personal, living-logistics stuff out of the way - not to mention the promotion circus for Occultation being behind me - I'm ready to get back in the saddle of writing (both music and, hopefully, more Snail Tales) and recording. However, I took a few hours last night and this morning to just relax and dink around with GIMP and and the pics in my design folder, and I came up with this bit of poster art to celebrate the fact that Instrumentality and Occultation are both in stores and on streaming sites, together, where they belong. The following is all the ads I put together and splashed all over social media to promote this fact with the appropriate links that I actually know how to attach a link to a picture within a post (can you believe it's taken me this long?).

Now, to be completely honest with y'all, thanks to Selenophilia and the An Arcane Son / A Most Resilient Snail single, all but one of the songs - "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You," or "Dimmer" for short - that were exclusive to Occultation are now available at the Snail Tunes store. Still, all but three of the songs that had been released prior to Occultation were edited and remastered for the album, in some cases rather significantly.

I also keep forgetting about the Alternate Spins of "The Replicant" and "Pentadactyl," which are still exclusive to Occultation (the Alternate Spin of "Pentadactyl" on that album differing significantly from the Alternate Spin on Nefelibata).

Anyway, it's my opinion that the record is still worth listening to or owning on its own, in which case the best deal is for $7.99 on Amazon. However, if you'd rather have the Artist's Edition (which includes artwork in JPEG and PDF formats, as well as track art that displays the Snail Tunes releases each track originated on), it is still available as one of several rewards that are yours for the taking (as is an Artist's Edition of Instrumentality) when you pledge $10 or more in support of The Lady anoNYMous on Patreon.

Don't feel like you really need downloads taking up your data storage? Don't have the money to spend or pledge? Well, even just streaming these albums is an act of support, as I do receive royalties for the plays, and all you gotta do is put up with the ads. So, really, thanks for that.

Well, y'all, this is it until there's a new Tale or something to report. So thanks again for your support, and may your inner snails remain resilient and determined.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lunacy: For the Love of the Moon

I'm a bit emotionally exhausted after writing the previous entry (see "A Christ-Like Perversion") and it was originally partly intended to introduce this record, but it was far too personal to inject any sort of marketing into. So I think I'm going to keep this one short and focus solely on marketing points, with a little information about the new songs.

Presenting Selenophilia:

As I feel a certain devotion to my Snail Tunes audience and to keeping my music mostly non-commercial in nature (a difficult balancing act when one wishes to actually make a living from making music), it's been difficult to have songs original to a commercial album (August's Occultation) and not have them available from the Snail Tunes store. They have been available, to an extent, as incentives for my audience to participate in the crowd-funding options I've been exploring, and they've been available to stream... But they have yet to be available, as my music largely is, for a "price of your choosing, no minimum," meaning "free with option to tip." 

Well, "A Most-Resilient Snail" and "An Arcane Son" have been available. And now, three more songs that made their debut on Occultation have been included on this latest record (something in between an EP and an album...shit, that's giving away too much!), Selenophilia. With this release, I've aimed for a bit of a "night walker" vibe, essentially naming it "love of the moon" with a picture of a man who spent most of his life observing the moon and obsessing over its geography, Johan Friedrich Julius Schmidt, with his model of the moon (and the damned Snail sneaking its way into the picture) on the cover. The songs are either dark in tone or mellow in mood.

I began planning this record while working on Nefelibata, including "I, Supplicant" on it from its conception and adding "Slowly Scooting Closer" upon that song's creation. From those two songs, it was easy to have a feel for the direction this release was taking, and I knew from the get-go that "An Arcane Son" and "A Most Resilient Snail" would not be included on it, which is why those two songs had an early release on a single of their own. When I created that two-song single, however, I was neglecting another song: "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You." I thought about re-releasing the single with this song added on, but I had already re-released the single once; during the final stages of Selenophilia's creation, I actually considered including it on this track list, but it just wouldn't have worked with the other songs. So, for the time being, "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You" remains exclusive to Occultation and as a reward for paying supporters of my crowd-funding campaigns. My bad.

However, you are treated with the final remix of "Giger's Lullaby," "The Last Waltz." And while I believe each song is deserving of special mention, of particular note is that this version of "The Cloud Walkers" is revised, edited, and remastered for this release, and the download includes a display of more artwork from Tyrone Webb (the artist behind the cover of Occultation) when played. That particular piece is called "Cloud Burst." To see a larger version, as well as more of Tyrone's artwork, and to explore the opportunity to support his work, please visit his official website and his Patreon.

I consider "The Cloud Walkers" to be my magnum opus, and I'll probably continue making adjustments to it for quite a while, so you can expect it on more records. Also, Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia has been working on lyrics and vocals for the song, and our collaborative version is unfolding. Alejandro has also recorded vocal tracks based on my own from the demo of "Lily White," a new song of unexpectedly epic length that can be found on this latest release. As this is very close to the example that I sent to Alejandro when asking him to sing for this song, it is very much a demo version and a version featuring his vocals is how the song was originally intended. It is in the works and will hopefully be included on the next release (whatever that may be).

Oh, gods! I just realized I'm releasing a record without any plans or vague ideas of what's coming next! I do believe this is a first!

...And with that little revelation, I do believe I've covered everything I intended. As this was released yesterday, on my birthday, it is my birthday gift to you, because I've always enjoyed giving gifts on my birthday. It's a thing for me, don't ask me why. I hope y'all enjoy it.

P.S. As a special treat for paying supporters, I will be adding "Lily White (Sin Palabras)" - the original instrumental recording of the song - to the rewards later on today.

A Christ-Like Perversion

Disclaimer: This entry isn't exactly music-related and may be triggering to those with a history of depression or other "mental malfunctions." Proceed with caution. 

Well, my 33rd birthday has come and gone. I'm now the age Jesus Christ supposedly was when he died, as I observed for my mother. I don't know why I mentioned that to her. It seems kind of fucked up, in retrospect. You see, I've been kind of having a hard time of it, and she knows it. Also, I pretty much never have anything good to say about her religion, so when I do mention it, she must automatically assume its some vicious jab of some sort. I said this to her after she bid me a happy birthday at eleven minutes after midnight on the 31st. She was on her way to bed. Imagine knowing that your child is clinically depressed and has inherited a bit of martyr complex from your own self and your child then compares themselves to one of the ultimate mythological martyrs right when you're wishing them a happy birthday and a good night. What would you say to that? What thoughts would you carry with you to your pillow? 

It certainly puts me at a loss for words. I know what I did was cryptic, selfish, and dramatic all at once, yet it seems to me that my filters have been crumbling away. When I say "filters," I mean both my ability to filter information and external stimuli and my ability to filter what information I put forward when speaking. Sometimes it's a wonder that I can filter my actions. Sometimes it takes all the self-control I can muster. It's become exhausting. I feel as though not only am I pulled taut to the point of perpetual, extreme, rapid vibration, but as everything I perceive is as well and that all of these strings are attached to mine. If a god were to pluck me, the results would be catastrophic. I can easily imagine my psychic energies causing disasters of Akira-like proportion.

Yes, I have a psychiatrist I see regularly, as well as a therapist, and I am medicated. I have been diagnosed with bipolar II and PTSD, though I wonder what the diagnosis would be if it weren't for a mental survival mechanism that actually does filter the information coming from my lips when in the presence of a mental health professional. This survival mechanism insists I can never say anything that would convince a doctor it would be in the best interest of myself and others if I were to be institutionalized, and this same mechanism also insists that I can never trust a doctor or any person in authority over me to not do so. Part of me is surely suffering from a paranoid delusion that They are just waiting for me to give Them an excuse to deny me my freedom and to mess with my head more than they already are. At least when I was an "addict" (I don't believe I am, but I have a lengthy history with the recreational use of substances) I controlled what was going into me and knew pretty precisely how it would affect me. I'm not so sure about the medications I'm being given now.

I think my mental issues are amplified as of late by the fact that I spend so much time with myself. I lived in this small town just outside of Kansas City since January of 2012; since moving in with my mother as the result of the loss of my marriage, my job, and my home in Portland, Oregon. I haven't found any like-minded or similarly-inclined individuals whose company I would enjoy in all my time here. Now I also have physical disabilities limiting my ability to leave the house and to partake in activities I find therapeutic, such as hiking and gardening. An ad for REI centered around trail hiking popped up on my iPhone the other night, and I actually started crying. I'm not mentioning this because I want a pity party, but to assist in describing my mental and emotional state of being. I have always been a child of nature, and during my time in Portland I frequently hiked the nearby trails and was the proud nurturing force behind a flourishing garden of monster tomatoes and sunflowers. My husband and I enjoyed going to the nude beach at Sauvie Island with a friend two days a week for an entire extended Summer and I found sanity and stability in frolicking naked in nature. I was also very active. I rode my bicycle for nearly every situation that required leaving the house.

Now I exist in constant pain and being on my feet longer than a few minutes without medication that causes my mental faculties difficulty results in excruciating pain. My hands often hurt. Sometimes it's painful to tap a touch-screen. And I spend most of my time on a couch seeking stimulation from screen-displayed arts and entertaining; from virtual interactions; from creating music on virtual instruments. "You have your music," is often pointed out to me by my mother, my shrink, and my therapist. "There's that," I always agree. And it's true. If it weren't for the end of my marriage and my disabilities resulting from a failed suicide, I wouldn't be actively pursuing a career as a composer. I wouldn't have dared to share my art with an audience, let alone the entire world. Hell, before finding myself in this admittedly direly-depressing situation, I was terrible at ever completing a work of art. All sorts of wonderful ideas and talent, but never the courage or the concentration to fulfill my potential. Now I'm actually trying, and I'm letting anyone - with the desire to do so - watch and listen and read all about it.

Most of the time it doesn't feel like enough. Pretty much all the time. No filters? I'm suicidal. Not just because I'm depressed and in depressing circumstances, but because I feel like I already had a pretty good run and I was ready to end it. And then my mother forced me to go the ER. I still haven't forgiven her for that. I'm not sure if I ever will. When I say that part of my belief system is letting a person choose what to do with their own body, that's not saying I'm only pro-choice about abortion. I'm pro-choice about suicide. I had made my choice, I was forced to live through it, and now I'm living with the resulting nerve damage that impairs my mobility and even my ability to think. I've been through years of multiple angles of mental therapy, just enough physical therapy that I can use a walker to walk for extended periods on pain meds, and I let myself be talked by one therapist into giving psychiatric medicine a shot.

All around, I think I need better drugs.

I'm giving continuing my existence my best shot, but it doesn't really feel like I'm doing it for myself. I'm letting other people's desires come ahead of my own in regard to my very life. Somehow, I've managed to turn myself into a martyr in reverse. How perverse is that? I'm living for the sake of others when I'd rather not. Finding my own reasons is a struggle. And here I am, 33 years old and ungrateful to be alive, and I've had a good day. My birthday began with my mother singing happy birthday to me at midnight, and then halfway across the world, in the UK, Matt Warface of (IAM)WARFACE wished me a happy birthday and sent me a charming picture calling me a "cocksucker" that made me laugh out loud. I never type LOL - as I abhor that particular abbreviation for some reason - unless I actually laugh out loud, which is also something I rarely do. And so, I LOL'ed. I found myself smiling broadly as I then read an email from Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia in New York City wishing me a happy birthday and sharing some vocal demos he had recorded for my music.

How amazing is that? To have once upon a time practically resigned myself to never having a career as a musician and now having two musicians whose music I very much enjoy as friends and potential collaborators wishing me a happy birthday from distant parts of the world at 33. One would think that I'm just an ungrateful son-of-a-bitch.

From there, the birthday wishes just kept flowing in. People I'd gone to high school with or had lived with or had been extremely close to during one period or other in my life. The first man I ever fell in love with. My best friend who's not really my best friend anymore because he distanced himself from me but I'll always think of him as my best friend, and I suspect that's mutual. My sister in law who I'm closer to than my own brother these days even though we have some extreme differences in sociopolitical viewpoints, who is currently in Japan, visiting her daughter who is my brother's ex-fiancee (I really should write a book about my family some time). A woman I went through Christian boot camp masquerading as crisis response training with. A heterosexual man who's relationship with me is built solely on mutual physical attraction. Just a lot of really wonderful characters from a pretty unusual life, really, and I couldn't stop smiling.

My mother gifted me with a boxed set of the entire series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Blu-Ray. We went on a brief excursion to the library and picked up mocha milkshakes and roast beef sandwiches (a rare occurrence for me, as my stomach doesn't tolerate meat very well) and we went home and watched a copy of the original The Terminator (which she had never seen before, but she's always preferred Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor...but who doesn't?) on Blu-Ray from the local library. After my ex-boss and his wife (who are currently house-shopping clients of my mother's) stopped by to sign some papers and also wished me a happy birthday, we ate slices of peanut butter creme pie and caught up with Fear The Walking Dead On Demand.

It's been a perfectly pleasant day. Hell, it's been a good day. I've definitely had worse birthdays. I'm still juvenile enough to expect the world to revolve around me on my birthday, but no longer make a huge production of it, and today went pretty perfectly. There was a moment of gathering storm clouds of depression earlier in the day when I felt the urge to go hiking (I can't hike anymore) or go dip my feet in creek or a fountain at a nice shady park (I don't live in Portland anymore), but indulging in indulgent food and watching a familiar favorite movie proved an effective distraction, as these things often do. Just now I wondered how often we're distracting ourselves from what we'd rather be doing. In my current circumstances, I think it would be best not to wonder about that too often.

I'd really like to inject a note of optimism here by saying that if I just let myself focus on days like today, I'd find the will to live more forthcoming. But I think that's a lie. I smiled a lot because people I had many fond memories of said they wished me a good day on this day in particular. Because people I have long-distance relationships built in a virtual reality with, who are minor celebrities and treat me as a fellow minor celebrity, made me feel talented and worth their while. Because I was actually successful in distracting myself from my circumstances today. Hooray. I live to try and survive my own mind again tomorrow.

But I have my music. And it's all I have to give.