August 31, 2006
It's funny the things I was afraid of as a new parent. None of them came to pass, and yet the monster was there, already in place and fully formed. It would be July of 20001 before Schuyler's pediatrician would ask about Schuyler's speech for the first time, and another two years after that before we ever heard the words "Congenital Bilateral Perisylvian Syndrome".
In 2000, I thought our parenting future was just like everyone else's. I thought things were going to be okay.
Between now and the end of the year, I'm going to be revisiting the slow descent into the very worst of those days, all the uncertainty and the wondering if Schuyler was deaf and hearing the idiotic term "Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified" for the first time. I'll get to hit rock bottom in the summer of 2003 when we finally met the monster, and a few weeks later, I'll get to plummet back down to a year and a half later when we went to Chicago to look for hope and instead found out that as bad as we thought it was, Schuyler's monster was even uglier than we'd been told.
If I progress on schedule, sometime in November I'll be back in Austin circa spring of 2004 learning about the Big Box of Words and fundraising for Schuyler's shot at having a voice. December will bring the fight, and the hope, and by the end of the year, I should be done.
Where Schuyler is concerned, I sometimes get so caught up in trying to prepare for the future that I sometimes forget that the past was no picnic, either. If I could go back in time and talk to the me of 2000, I'm not exactly sure what I'd tell him.
"Brace yourself, man."
August 28, 2006
And then there are the ones for whom there is no doubt whatsoever why they are meeting with success.
Congratulations, Campbell Award-winner John Scalzi! Keep on keepin' on.
August 26, 2006
Just so you know. She really is my pretty ninja. She'll mess you up, bitches.
As you can imagine, it's been a crazy week. I never really thought the whole hypothetical experience through, what it would be like to get a book deal. I guess if I imagined it at all, my fantasy scene would have been similar to winning the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, like I'd get a knock on the door and guys in suits and giant toothy smiles would say, "Robert Rummel-Hudson! We're buying your book! Sign here and you can have this big fancy check and a spot on Jon Stewart and all the hot undergrad English majors you can handle!"
The reality is that after a week of emails and phone calls and questions about deadlines and percentages and marketing and publishing terms that I had to look up online (before answering the same thing every time: "Sounds great!"), the process is still, well, in process. (Yeah, that was an eloquent turn of phrase from the fancy pants writer.) I suspect the next few days will bring some closure, and with it perhaps the giant check and the hot young chickies.
And then I have to finish this thing. I have until the end of January to turn in a finished manuscript, and I've mapped out the amount of time I need to complete it before the end of the year, giving me a few weeks to pretty up the mess when I'm done. It works out to about a chapter a week. As a fun little online component of the process, I'll list the name of the chapter I'm currently working on over in the sidebar. If you don't see it change once a week or so, you have my permission to send me an email that says "What the fuck, Chuck?"
Through it all, life continues. Schuyler continues.
I have to admit, this has been a slightly bittersweet experience. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a published writer. It's been a consistent dream of mine, but now that it's coming true, it feels a little bit like a monkey paw story. (For those of you with a clicking allergy, the reference is to a 1902 story by W. W. Jacobs, in which a dead monkey paw grants wishes but with an ugly price.) I've been in such a celebratory mood all week, but when I sit down to work on the book, the reality of this story blows through my mood like smoke.
I'm thrilled that this book is going to be published. Well, of course I am. Part of that thrill is the weird rush of a life's dream coming to pass, like the first drop of a roller coaster. Part of it feels like a small measure of justice for Schuyler, as if God can do this to her and I'm powerless to stop him, but at the very least I'm going to let the world know what a bully he is. And part of it has the whiff of evangelism, bringing her story to people who might have some kind of monster in their own lives. Schuyler's an inspiring kid, she never loses her spirit even when we do. And make no mistake, we do, a lot.
In the end, as much as I'd like to play the part of Talented Author Type, the reality is that this book is getting published because of Schuyler. She's writing her own story, she's going to make her own way and knock down whomever she has to in order to do so.
Me? I'm just writing it down.
August 25, 2006
On the other hand, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org work splendidly.
Okay, back to what you were doing. More from me soon, after this adrenaline-fueled frenzy of book prep runs its course...
August 23, 2006
Look for Schuyler's Monster with a target publication of Spring 2008 (with an eye towards Father's Day), most likely in hardcover, possibly with photographs.
And uh, that's it, actually. I've been getting schooled all day on the finer points of publishing contract speak, having to make decisions on things like First Serial Rights (for things like publishing excerpts in magazines, etc.), World Rights, and lord help us all, the audio edition. (Personally, I think James Earl Jones would sound very distinguished saying the word "assmonkey".)
I'll obviously be rattling on about this more as things become settled, but there it is. A lot of things I'd been planning, such as the podcast, might be on hold for a bit until I get this thing finished (with a likely deadline of the end of January), but I'll no doubt have lots to share here during the process, for those who are interested.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a "So, how do you like me NOW?" email to compose for ex-girlfriends, my high school guidance counselor, and at least one former employer.
That was a joke, by the way.
August 21, 2006
I keep looking at the phone, trying to coax a ring out of it. Nothing. Maybe if I wiggle my eyebrows. No? How about if I bug my eyes out? Nothing? I could try a Samuel Jackson on it.
"I want this motherfucking phone to motherfucking RING!"
No? Too last week?
Maybe it's not working. What if my phone is broken and they try to call?
"Wow, his phone doesn't work. How rude! Screw this guy."
What if I pick it up to check, and that's the moment they call? What if they get my voice mail and say, "Wow, he's busy. He's not going to have the time to devote to us. Let's call Dan Brown and see if he's got lunch plans."
Okay, I checked. Dial tone.
I wonder if they tried to call just now when I did that?
Yeah. I'm a little nervous.
August 18, 2006
I have big news, but I can't tell you what it is. Not just yet.
Call me superstitious. When everything's signed and legally binding, you'll be the first to know.
(Like you can't figure it out on your own.)
August 16, 2006
I wish I were making that up.
So when we went to the big First Grade Parent/Teacher End-All Hootenanny of Hootenannies, Julie paid attention and actually learned some stuff while Schuyler and I mocked the principal's presentation by making the little "blah blah blah" talking hands at each other. (Imagine David Byrne in his big suit in the "Once in a Lifetime" video; "You may ask yourself...")
So yeah, we were a bad little scene, but I'm not sure what to tell you. Schuyler and I are the same in so many of our personality quirks, and our impatience with time wasting is one of them. I can't speak for Mister "Stupid Hot Day Question" Dad, but I don't actually require, when handed a handbook for parents, to then have all the teachers take turns showing it, page by page, in a PowerPoint presentation while READING it aloud to me. I thought we did pretty well, considering I'll one day be lying in bed, old-man-stinky and dying, and one of the last things I'll wheeze out in a raspy voice will be, "Goddamn it, I wish I had that hour back right now..."
I think Schuyler's going to fare pretty well this year. As always, she wasn't the slightest bit apprehensive about going back to school. Schuyler feeds on the new, and she loves meeting new people. Some kids don't handle change very well, but Schuyler is almost the opposite, like me. She gets bored with routine, and when she senses me getting bored, too, well, it's time to break out the David Byrne hands. The nice part is that when the other parents stare at her, which a surprising number of them were doing, the chances are at least even that it's not just her enthusiastic but non-sensical Schuylerese they are reacting to. It could be her pink punkass hair or her father-induced squirrelly behavior. Not everyone knows what to do with a beautiful freak.
Finally, after sitting through the meeting for about seven hours (internal measurement; one actual hour), we left the school and went our separate ways, Julie to go to the store and Schuyler and I to go home. In the car, Schuyler and I sung and danced around to our current favorite "Father/daughter funk track", which coincidentally, is a song by David Byrne, "U.B. Jesus". If you're not a David Byrne fan, I don't know what to tell you. You might just be dead to me now.
We always save our most enthusiastic jumping around (and get the most stares from the No-longer-quite-so-young Republicans and MILF-wannabes in the cars around us) for the part where the song kicks into overdrive.
Jump Back, Jump Back
Givin' me a heart attack
Fall down, Fall down
Sweeter than a cherry bomb
Sweet Thing, Sweet Thing
Steppin' on your violin
Space Boy, Fly Girl
Living in the underworld
When I sang that last part to her, she clapped and laughed her little head off.
"Who's Space Boy?" I asked her. She pointed at me.
"And who's Fly Girl?" She pointed to herself in triumph and started dancing some more.
So there you go. Same as it ever was.
August 10, 2006
Such as this very cool art created for Schuyler by my friend Beth at DarnLucky.com. She was inspired by my recent entry about taking Schuyler to Mexico to see the butterfly sanctuaries (a trip that I am now more determined than ever to take her on one day).
I already ordered a print of it and am going to have it framed when it gets here. Then I am going to give it to Schuyler and watch her tiny head explode with joy.
Celebrating Schuyler is something I will never do half-heartedly. She is the reason I do anything in this world, she is the person who never disappoints me and never looks at me with disdain or anything less than total love. At the end of my days, she's the one who'll be standing beside me, and when I am gone, she's the one who'll remember that I was here and that I loved, too much and imperfectly sometimes, but never with anything less than my whole heart.
Anyway, thank you, Beth. Very very cool.
My first thought was, "That's weird. When did they start accepting babies into the first grade?"
So yeah, I'm clearly in denial.
It was a strange day for Schuyler. This was her first day in the new school uniform, which looks sharp on her if I do say so myself, and I do. It was also mostly an orientation day, and not the only one. Her box class wont actually begin until next week, so she's spending these first few days as a mainstream student. I'm both nervous and curious to see how that works out.
A boring story, I know, but it has a dramatic conclusion. The bus that was supposed to bring her home after school was running late, so Julie called me to tell me and then called the transportation office.
And that's how she discovered that Schuyler had been dropped off at THE WROOOONG FUH-KING LOCAAAATION.
The drama was short-lived. Julie quickly discovered that Schuyler had been taken to the YMCA (her after school provider last year) by mistake, thanks (I think, although it's not clear at this point) to her school using a list from last year. Schuyler got intercepted by some staff who remembered her, and she was wearing her gimp tag, so it wasn't like she was standing at the side of the road somewhere, silently thumbing a ride.
Still, she was at a location where no one was legally responsible for her safety and where, since she wasn't on the YMCA's list, she could theoretically have been taken away by child molesters or cannibals or the Jane Book Club and no one would have necessarily stopped them. So it was a big deal. Julie and I were still twitchy hours later.
Perhaps not coincidentally, I think I have two spots at my temples that appear to be going grey. I noticed them this morning.
August 8, 2006
"We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it's forever." -- Carl Sagan
If you are an old friend of mine, you've heard about this before, so sorry. But it occurred to me recently that I don't think I've written about this in any recent version of my online jabber. It's an important Rob Fact.
About twenty years ago, I was sitting around watching television sort of aimlessly (some behaviors are eternal, I suppose) when a program came on about Monarch butterflies. By the time it was over, something had changed in me.
It told how every fourth or fifth generation or so, Monarchs cross North America by the millions, flying south from as far north as Canada at a rate of about 80 miles a day, braving birds and weather and the destructive human stain on the world, until they reach a cool mountain pass in the volcanic highlands of Mexico. Scientists have no idea how they manage it. The butterflies that actually make the journey have never done it before; they are the great, great grandchildren of the previous travellers.
When they get there, the Monarchs congregate in groups so huge that the branches of the trees bend and touch the ground from the weight of them. They meet and they have sex and lay their eggs, and then they die. Their children fly north and start the whole thing over again.
I knew then, even as a stupid teenager, that I wanted to go to Mexicao and experience it one day. For twenty years, it has remained the only dream of mine that has never wavered.
It's funny how many times I've shared this dream, with wives and ex-wives and lovers and friends. And despite the fact that a number of people over the years have expressed an interest in going with me, I think I always felt deep down that when I do eventually go, it would be one of two ways.
Alone, or carried by someone who loves me, in an urn.
I have no idea how it'll happen. I'm in better shape than I've been since high school; I'm actually closing in on weighing the same as I did when I first learned about the Monarchs. I'm healthier now than ever in some ways, and sicker than ever in others. It's a weird sensation, being thinner and fitter and yet waking up some days feeling old and worn down.
But if I stay healthy enough for a bit longer, there may come a day when I limp into the cool shade of a quiet Mexican mountain pass and hear the unimaginable sound of millions of tiny flapping wings. And if I'm lucky, I'll have company, perhaps the company I was destined to have all along and never even knew it. She won't be much of a conversationalist, but she'll sign "butterfly" because she loves them, too. She'll share the experience that I've dreamed of since I was young and the future stretched in front of me, a future full of promise and still empty of monsters.
If not, I hope that one day she'll go there for me, my ashes in her backpack next to her Big Box of Words, and be the last person to say goodbye to me.
August 6, 2006
Hiding from the sun.
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
You're such a beautiful freak
I wish there were more just like you
Youre not like all of the others
And that is why I love you
Beautiful freak, beautiful freak
That is why I love you
Beautiful freak, beautiful freak
Some people think you have a problem
But that problem lies only with them
Just cause you are not like the others
But that is why I love you
Beautiful freak, beautiful freak
Yeah that is why I love you
Beautiful freak, beautiful freak
Too good for this world
But I hope you will stay
And Ill be here to see that you dont fade away
Youre such a beautiful freak
I bet you are flying inside
Dart down and then go for cover
And know that I
I love you
You know that I
I love you
Beautiful freak, beautiful freak
-- Eels, "Beautiful Freak"
August 4, 2006
To: Book of Rob Notify List
From: Rob Rummel-Hudson
Subject: Apology of sorts, and an explanation of sorts
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Okay, so if you read my new entry before noon today, you probably saw a link to an interview with me. You might have even seen it soon enough to actually read the interview.
But chances are pretty good that at some point, the people who clicked on that link stopped going to an interview with me and were instead getting a page with a big penis on it.
And while there are many of you out there who no doubt find that both appropriate and just that a supposed interview with me would actually contain instead a big penis photo, there are doubtless many more of you who did not in fact expect or desire to see a big penis on your screen when you trusted me and clicked that link. And I suspect some of you were at work at the time. "Can you step into my office? We need to discuss the big penis on your PC..."
I just wanted to apologize to anyone who was offended by that big penis. I had no idea that between the time I posted that link and today, the site would, out of nowhere, disappear and be replaced with a big penis. I was not informed that the interview to which I had linked would in fact be replaced by a big penis.
I was only informed of the presence of the big penis at the other end of the link -- a link that my in-laws would follow (confession: that idea cracked me up a little), a link that my MOTHER would eventually click and say "Why, that is not an interview with my son, that is in fact a big hairy cock!" -- I was only told of it when my friend Joe (who, remember, likes to watch) wrote to tell me about the big penis.
I am annoyed. It was embarrassing and a little humiliating, fodder for jokes from all the chattering little assmonkeys who watch me and wait for me to stumble so they can go back to their unreadable little sites and write with stuttering glee about Rob and the Giant Penis. (That's a Dahl story, I believe.)
So my apologies to anyone who got an unexpected big penis on your screen. I'm not any happier about it than you.
It was not an attractive big penis, either.
August 2, 2006
"Fucking Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
...might just be a gigantic anti-Semite after all, I really don't have a lot to say to you, other than this.
Told you so.