November 25, 2006

It beats the alternative.

Anyone who has read me for a while knows that I don't generally love having birthdays. And tomorrow's not one that I've exactly looked forward to over the years. Tomorrow I turn thirty-nine.

Well. Yeah. When I just come out and say it like that, it sounds even worse.

This year, however, I find that my feelings about my birthday, usually pretty straightforward ("oh, fuck THIS"), are a little more complicated. While I'm not in love with turning thirty-nine and particularly not thrilled about being a short year away from, you know, thirty-ten, I'm not looking for something sharp or a bus to step in front of, either.

So yeah, I see that as a step up.

If I stop and take stock of my life the day before my birthday, I find that it's not a bad report at all.

I'm developing new relationships and understanding my old ones and have a pretty good sense of the people in my life and what I mean (and sometimes don't mean) to them. At thirty-nine, I am developing a sense of self that has at its core my own understanding of who I am rather than someone else's. I'm not there yet (does anyone ever actually get there?), but I feel closer than I ever have before.

At thirty-nine, I am feeling healthier than I have in a long time, aside from my little kidney misadventure last month. My diabetes is under control, enough so that I've stopped wearing my medic alert tag unless I'm traveling and I don't really think about the Beedies all that much. I take my meds, I eat reasonably intelligently and I spend an hour a day on the treadmill. I'm losing weight, my eyesight has returned to its normal badness, and I can feel my feet again. Everything works the way it's supposed to, and I'm not Jabba the Hutt anymore.

As far as that goes, I don't see it when I look in the mirror, but I've lost enough weight that when I went shopping yesterday for some clothes for New York City, I found that I have gone down ANOTHER size. This puts me at the same size jeans I wore in high school. Let me say that again. High school. And I honestly don't remember the last time I wore a shirts in a large, but I suspect I was still receiving lunch money at the time.

I will turn thirty-nine as something I always wanted to be but never quite was: an author. The word still feels snotty and pretentious, but like your first pair of boots, the more I legitimately wear it, the more comfortable it feels. The day I mailed off my contract, I talked to my agent. She asked me if I planned to write more books, and when I said yes, she was pleased.

"I think you've got more books to write, Robert," she said in her unmistakable accent, that hard-to-nail-down Manhattan cadence, two parts vaguely British Empire and one part old Cary Grant movies. "Your book works because you are a talented writer. When you're in New York, I'd like to talk to you about a few ideas."

In two weeks, I'll be in New York City to talk about making the transition from online writer (okay, fine, blogger) to author, and the next day, I will walk into the Flatiron Building and the offices of St. Martin's Press, and I'll belong there. Thirty-nine is the year that becomes real.

Most of all, however, I turn thirty-nine with the unfamiliar but exhilarating feeling that Schuyler is going to be okay. In Austin, she was treated like a pretty little tragedy, one who would never be capable of using her Big Box of Words and who was expected to be a ward of the public school system until she was old enough to go home and live out her days with her heartbroken and aging parents.

Now Schuyler is actually learning in school, much of her time spent with mainstream students in a regular first grade classroom. She's got teachers and support people who talk about what she'll have to do to graduate high school and go on to college, not as "wouldn't that be grand?" pipe dreams but with the same level of expectation as any neuro-typical student. I turn thirty-nine with a child who is still strange and still broken, but who is also finding her own way and remains the most extraordinary person I have ever known.

So yeah, thirty-nine. I'm not thrilled about the idea, but I'm okay with it.

Not ready to talk about thirty-ten just yet, though. Baby steps.

31 comments:

Murphy Jacobs said...

Thirty-ten wasn't so bad. I'm looking close at thirty-twelve and wondering about my life a lot. I have not managed to conquer a lot of the fears and worries that have kept me locked in myself and away from the world most of my life. There are some things I must accept will never happen. I do feel different from how I felt at 19, but not in every direction and not all the time.

Sounds like you are doing most things right. Some people never learn that much, even when they are sixty-eleven.

Anonymous said...

This is, perhaps, the most beautiful and honest entry you have ever written.

It is good to read that there is peace, at last, in your world.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to have sympathy for you Rob as I will be turning thirty-fifteen on the first of Dec.and not accomplished anywhere near what I had imagined I would have by this time and am not am not any where near as accomplished as you are so, all I'm saying is, it's all relative my darling...I get your meaning about the grief of getting older but, good grief,your still a very young man...I feel I am still anyway - I feel happy and sounds like you do too as well so...cheers!

Erin said...

Have a happy ninth annual 30th birthday! I would say that from your post that then year has ended well. I wish you continued happiness and success for the coming years.

Anonymous said...

First, Happy Birthday! Don't think of the number but rather who you are at this point of time. It's like me turning 30; other than when I fill in my birthdate, I never put much thought into the actual age. Secondly, even way back to the Austin days..I never once doubted that Schuyler would go to college if she chose and have the all the same adulthood triumphs and challenges as if she were neurotypical. At the time I didn't know what her "voice" would be, but I never doubted that she'd have one and use it with her own awesome brand of spunk and punkassery. Lastly, you did good this year. you did good :) At the right age methinks. Young enough to enjoy it and pull off any "hip, cool writer" swaggers and old enough to be humble about your gift even as you're proud of it. Think about it, words are forever, any books that come from you could touch lives not just for now but long after you're gone. Not too shabby a way to ring in 39.

Christopher said...

Rob,

Happy Birthday! Just to cheer you up, just remember that there are old men like me (42) that will die before you.

Feel better?

Rob, you know I've been reading you forever. And while we've had our differences, it's always been a pleasure to know you. My congratulations to you on your considerable achievements (well deserved I might add) and place me at the very front of the line as your book becomes available for sale.

Your friend,

-Christopher

Amy Linder said...

Happy birthday! What a year you've got ahead of you!

Amy :)

Anonymous said...

I remember when you were writing about some tough decisions you needed to make concerning moving to the school district in which you now live. What a good choice you made for your beautiful little girl! You and your family have worked hard to get where you are now; best wishes for a very happy ride from thirty-nine to thirty-ten.

Margaret DeAngelis said...

I'm looking at thirty-thirty in March. I think I'll start thinking of it like that. When I turned thirty-nine my baby was six months old. I miss those golden days.

I like your use of the term "neurotypical."

How do you know I'm not Liddy Wales? said...

You ARE a good writer. Anyone can rattle on about the details of their life (heaven knows I do...) but not everyone can make it interesting to strangers the way you do.

Anonymous said...

Just curious: what purpose is served by not wearing the medic-alert bracelet? If you're in an accident and can't communicate, do you think the diabetes can't possibly be a factor in your treatment? Just doing a little wondering at this end.

grandefille said...

It will only get better, brother.

The challenges will be more difficult as you hit thirty-ten and thirty-thirteen (ahem) and thirty-twenty, but you have the tools (and will be gaining more) to outwit them.

Just as your amazing (I initially mistyped "amazon" but I don't think that was really a typo after all) daughter will, too.

We are so proud for y'all.

May this be the best birthday -- and the best year -- ever. And may all subsequent birthdays and years be the best ever, too.

Smooches from Tennessee.

Meg said...

Happy Birthday, Rob!

I'm so happy things are going well for you, and so happy to hear that Schuyler is doing so well, too. I hope you have a wonderful time in New York, and a wonderful year overall!

Robert Hudson said...

Just curious: what purpose is served by not wearing the medic-alert bracelet? If you're in an accident and can't communicate, do you think the diabetes can't possibly be a factor in your treatment? Just doing a little wondering at this end.

I carry a card in my wallet with all my medical info on it. If I'm in an accident, it's all there.

I'm pretty confident now that I won't get into a situation where I'll be unable to communicate my condition to someone because of some sort of blood sugar incident.

Anonymous said...

I see that now that you are an author, you are dressing the part as well: thick, black glasses and a dark turtleneck? Where is your latte and copy of Proust?

Congratulations, by the way...

Robert Hudson said...

The turtleneck is to cover the mysterious purple blotches I get every time I refer to myself as an author...

Anonymous said...

just tell me when the book tour will be stopping in vegas. mmkay?

Anonymous said...

This blog-entry clearly shows why you'll write more books. Because you're a good writer. And if you don't I'll come over, aaaaaall the way from Sweden, to slap you hard. With a big fish. Ok, maybe not like with a marlin or tuna or seabass or char, but still... with a pretty darn large one. And you probably wouldn't like that. It's your choice really.

Anonymous said...

Look how cute you are in that picture, though! Seriously, 39 seems to look damn good on you.

(Please don't beat me Julie, I'm just admiring the aesthetics!)

annelynn said...

Happy birthday, Rob.

Thank you once again for a beautiful vignette. I look forward to your coming book and to all the others you have in you.

Jammies said...

Happy belated birthday, you authorperson.

Thirty-eleven has been pretty good to me so far, and I'll bet it will be to you too.

topcad said...

As a long-time DFW guy, it's nice to hear that the folks in Plano are doing some things right for your family.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Rob. I'm looking at thirty-eleven in January and it's not so bad.

As one of your readers commented, please let us know if you are ever in Vegas. I go there a couple times a year and it would be awesome to meet you.

Good luck in New York, ya butthead. I've always wanted to go there.

Anonymous said...

How very exciting!

Ok, this might seem weird because I don't know you, but I'm delurking to say that I saw this t-shirt at Oddica and thought of you.

http://www.oddica.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=74

Anonymous said...

"mysterious purple blotches I get every time I refer to myself as an author..." Your fans mob you and give you hickeys?!!
There are two reasons I keep reading your online musings, Rob. One- I don't want to lose track of Schuyler's inexorable climb towards a remarkable future, and Two- you are a damn good writer. The photo of you smiling that Schuyler took, and you took back down(?) on Flickr was really nice, by the way!

Robert Hudson said...

Heh, that was an inside joke between Eric and me. A kind of nasty one, too. You're better off not knowing.

And thank you!

Anonymous said...

When Owen counts, everything after 29 is twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve, etc. So you're really just twenty-nineteen — which makes you sound sort of like a teenager still. I mean, who wouldn't want to be twenty-nineteen?

Or, the way I like to say it is I just had the sixth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. Sounds so much nicer that way.

Happy happy joy joy!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading you forever, Rob, and the question I keep asking myself after each entry is: When is he going to just give up and let himself feel honest-to-God hopeful about things? This one was a step in the right direction. Thanks for the tease.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mr. Fancy Pants writer: I scour the WEB for your wisdom. Over at your book blog your numb, diabetic finger slipped and typed 'assition' for 'addition.' Didn't want your editor to see that.

Just kidding. You rock, Mr. Real Author Person. I hate you. I wish I were a real writer. And I'm close to two decades older and I'm still failing to be one. I even read the Diabetes thing and I don't even have much interest in that disease.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Rob. I am so glad you're finding yourself in a good place these days.

Anonymous said...

A bit late, but:

1) Happy birthday, and congrats again on the fancy-pants author status.

2) You should totally use pic that as your author photo. Sell you some copies, it will.