Honestly, I never imagined myself in my mid-40s. 

Which is not to say that when I was younger I expected I would be dead by now or anything. I never led a life that was either that exciting or depressing. I just simply never imagined myself as a middle-aged dude, because honestly, who does? Who imagines themselves being no longer young yet not exactly old, balding and somewhere in the middle of whatever career one is doing when one grows up? Being middle-aged is no great accomplishment in itself; you just have to make it through your 20s without getting hit by a bus then wait a bit from there. There it is: Your forties.

So, no. Never imagined myself in my forties. But I suppose that just means that everything here in my fifth decade is both a surprise and a thrill. I have a career I love and it’s going well. I have a daughter I love who gives me constant joy and occasional (well, constant) sarcasm. I have friends reaching as far back as second grade who are amazing, accomplished people, who I am delighted I get to know and snipe at. I have a wife who is the core of my life and who after 20 years together I still openly gawk at and wonder what I did to deserve such a spectacular women, whose physical gorgeousness is the least wonderful thing about her. I travel across the country — and in fact will travel across the country today — and get to meet people who like what I do enough to come out and see me when I show up in their city.

Basically, the forties kind of rock for me.

There are some downsides, I suppose. I am balding, and at the moment (not visible from the picture above) am rocking a kind of “Friar Tuck” tonsure hair pattern. I do have a little arthritis in one of my hips, although at this point I have to really torque it to notice (I am told that will eventually change). And when 10pm rolls around, what I really want to do is go to bed, because my body is going to wake me up by 6am whether I want it to or not. So I’m not exactly Mr. Excitement. But honestly if these are my downsides at the moment, I should just shut up about them right now. Here’s me shutting up about them.

As noted, I will be celebrating my birthday by going on the road: I travel to Los Angeles today to begin my book tour, which will take me all over the country over the course of the next three weeks. On one hand, yeah, it’s not great to be traveling on my birthday. On the other hand, I think about why I’m traveling and I have to admit there are far worse reasons to get on a plane on my 44th, and besides this means I get a Double Double animal style on my birthday SO I WIN. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you (well, some of you, anyway) through May. And also to my Double Double. And to being 44. Let’s see where things go from here.

84 Comments on “44”

  1. As someone who’s already been 44 (for four whole days), let me tell you that it is outstanding. On pace to be a top-10 year of all time.

  2. I am balding, and at the moment (not visible from the picture above) am rocking a kind of “Friar Tuck” tonsure hair pattern.

    Just skip the “kind of” part and go for a full friar. Own that male pattern baldness! If nothing else, it’d make for some occasionally odd conversations.

    Happy birthday, and enjoy that Double Double!

  3. Best wishes for a wonderful year ahead. And many more to come. At 52, I love my life, too, for similar reasons. But the arthritic twinge is a bit more of a daily ache, so enjoy that aspect of the 40’s for sure!

  4. Happy birthday, John!

    I still don’t think of myself as middle-aged, even though I’m almost a year and a half ahead of you. I can’t be middle-aged. My wife and I have a toddler. Then I realize that I’ve started rounding up to fifty when I think of my age instead of down to forty. When did that start?

    I hope your travels go smoothly, and I’ll see you on Seattle on the 20th.

  5. 44? That’s not old. I have a daughter who will be 44 this year. I need a nap now.

  6. I hear ya, John. Midway into my fifties now, and it certainly has been an interesting experience on the reverse slope. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it. Not funny, haha, but with a smile of the eyes. Time is a helluva thing. I must say I still get a kick out of it. Enjoy!

  7. Happy birthday! At this point I’ve been reading you since you were younger than I am now!

  8. Happy Birthday, Youngster! 44 … sheesh, that was a while ago for me.
    Have a great day of it, and keep on keeping on. :-)

  9. Happy B-day!

    Corny as it sounds, I choose to treat each year as an opportunity. Granted, by body is not as nimble as it once was, and it’s harder to keep the physique I so prize, but I learn more every year. There are things I can do now that I could not do in my youth, not for lack of physical ability, but for lack of knowledge. But someday I will loose the battle, so I’m enjoying me while I can. What is that truism: youth is wasted on the young?

    My biggest problem is vanity. I really like my hair.

    “I like my face in the mirror,
    I like my voice when I sing.
    My girl says it’s just infatuation.
    I know it’s the real thing.”
    ~ Kit Wright [Every Day in Every Way]

  10. Happy Birthday John! 44 is a pretty good year. I turn 65 next month and am wading through Medicare now. I would guess that turning 44 means you have a lot of good books left in you. What’s holing you up? get them cranked out so we new adventures to live!

  11. Happy Day, Mr. Scalzi! and more of the same.

    Exactly what is a Double Double? Or is that a personal, nay, even an intimate thing?
    To Ryk E. Spoor: oooh, that’s a good one! But surely he was one three years ago also?

  12. Whoever said 44 is old ? Nowadays, 70 is also considered young…..It’s all about how u perceive urself ? wish u man happy returns of the day……Keep the old thoughts away :) & enjoy ur day……

  13. Happy birthday kid.
    I have said it before but it fits here as praise to you as a person: You are one lucky bustert & the fact that you recognize and appreciate how lucky you are not only makes that tolerable it actually makes it deserved.

  14. Happy Birthday! (And middle age is always about ten years older than whatever birthday you are celebrating) Have a great day.

  15. I turn 44 in three weeks. Is this what I have to look forward to?

    Because, you know…I’m kinda okay with it.

    Oh! And, Happy Birthday!

  16. Happy Birthday! I actually sort of thought I would be dead by 44 (because of a look-alike uncle who died at 42 when I was 16) and lived my life accordingly. Now I’m 58 and just bought a publishing company. Every year presents a new opportunity — enjoy them all.

  17. Happy Bday! I’ll be 40 in about a month; I’ve been looking forward to it since I was 12. Finally! Congratulations on making it midway.

  18. “make it through your 20s without getting hit by a bus”
    25-yo British rugby player Danny Cipriani was hit by a bus the other day. He tweeted “Thank you for all the well wishes. My ribs are a bit sore. Feel like I’ve been hit by a bus”. I wonder if he will make it to 44.

    A few years ago I handed over a CD of assets and info for the website I had done for a friend, telling her is was so someone else could maintain it “if I am hit by a bus”. She said “my stepfather was killed by a bus”. Oops, faux pas, I thought… luckily she hadn’t cared for him that much and wasn’t troubled.

  19. Happy birthday, John. Travel well and I’ll see you in a few weeks. I have to say, you’re kinda my bellweather. I turn 42, also in a few weeks, and it’s nice to see someone aging gracefully. Cheers

  20. Happy birthday, John. Enjoy the traveling & the Double-double in Cali.If you get to Fort Worth ever we’ll take you to Fred’s to see if it’s better than Inn’&Out burgers. (heresy or fact?) Either way, we all enjoy your books, so please write more of them as your schedule permits.

  21. Happy birthday! Personally my 40s are turning out to be among the best years of my life. Enjoying your writing is a part of that, so thank you!

  22. Happy birthday! I’m 49 with a birthday in January, and my wife turns 50 on the 15th. Really, 50 no longer seems terribly old. And for the most part, except the gotta-work-harder-to-keep-the-body-from-falling-apart thing, the 40s seemed better than my 30s, which were filled with far less confidence and career-satisfactions than the 40s were.

  23. Happy Birthday! You’re 4 years and one day younger than I am. (I was born on Mother’s Day of 1965.)

    Had dinner at a French bistro in McLean last night, hope your birthday dinner is as good.

  24. At 44 you are just a kid, really. Believe it or not, the best is yet to come, John. Happy Birthday!

  25. Happy birthday John! 44 is well in the rear view mirror these days. I seem to recall my mid-40’s as an easy ride. I hope the same for you, and for all your loved ones. Onward!

  26. Happy 44th birthday! I have to say that aside from the usually inevitable little encroachments of age (have all my hair, but it wants to be grey), the forties are a pretty cool decade. You pretty much know who you are and what you want to be when you grow up, etc. Hope it’s an awesome day!

  27. Happy Birthday. Now that I am almost 60 I can say that my 40s were my best decade. I found the love of my life and got married; I started a career that I still find interesting and fascinating; my clinical depression was diagnosed and treated; I adopted my canine companion that is still with me and lots of other things. So enjoy your birthday and your decade.

  28. Happy Birthday! Some don’t regard the 40’s as middle-aged. Had that conversation with a 10-years-younger-than-I friend recently after having commented on my 49-year-old child being middle-aged.

  29. Happy Birthday Form an Old Fart in Canada
    And up here, a Double Double has a much different meaning

  30. Happy Birthday! Now here’s a tidbit to enhance one’s years: the period of time between the end of WW II and Star Wars is shorter than the period of time from Star Wars until now.

  31. Happy birthday, youngster! 44, I remember 44, that was when … you’re too young to hear that story.

    My 75-year-old taijiquan instructor was teasing me about being 65, and I said something about finally becoming middle-aged. “Oh, NO,” she insisted, “I’m sure middle age doesn’t start until 80!” She stomped her foot, started whistling, grabbed me, and we were doing a tango around the dojo, the class laughing, clapping and whistling “Hernando’s Hideaway” . Put on your dancing shoes and take your wife for a spin.

    Taijiquan, Yoga, Pilates … none is a guarantee against arthritis or progression thereof; there are medical studies, though, showing many benefits to each. Anecdotally … out with a bunch of people, I had a bad fall back in February on an icy sidewalk. Went to the doctor the next day, my knee swollen and stiff, and found I’d been referred to a stranger (who primarily does their injured-athlete patients.) He’d already scheduled me for an MRI and knee surgery the next day, from the reports of my fall from others in the clinic who’d seen me fall. He examined my injured knee, and then my other knee. He called someone, canceled both the surgery and the MRI, and turned back to me. “You’ve got a grade two sprain, is all. It’s not that our protocol is wrong, from your calendar age you should have had extensive knee damage from the fall the others described. Your knees and hips are more flexible than my patients’ who are half your age. That’s why you have a sprain rather than surgery tomorrow. Why are you so flexible?” We talked briefly about taijiquan and how lucky I’d been to avoid surgery. I was sent home to RICE, Ibuprofen, and a cane; treatment of walking and taijiquan, and to come back in three months. Which I’ll do, and report that my knee is fully mobile, and only aches, a little, the day after a strenuous taijiquan session or a couple of miles of up and down hills.

    Just knock three times, and whisper low, that you and I, were sent by Joe ….


    Actually one of the benefits about getting older is you can stop worrying about getting older and just get on with it.

  33. Happy birthday, Mr. Scalzi!

    Your post got me thinking about what I did when to celebrate turning 44: the double-yay of attending both WorldCon and the Toronto Film Festival. That was a wonderful experience. Then again, being treated by airport security as a secret Muslim terrorist sort on the trip back was not so much fun.

  34. Many happy returns, Mr. Scalzi. I’ll see you in Decatur shortly after my 52nd birthday!

  35. Happy (slightly belated) birthday from someone who shares your day + 13 years!

  36. Happy Birthday Dude! As one who also shares a Double Double (+11) this year, keep doing whatever you enjoy, as life blesses us. btw, it’s also bono’s b-day.

  37. If your motto is “I plan on living forever – so far,so good” then middle age is out of the question.
    Just sayin’.
    Happy Birthday John! =D

  38. Tamora Pierce and I both wish you a Happy Birthday, Scalzi! :)

    And you’re not alone – Bruce Coville’s doing public appearances for most of May, which puts a kibosh in our plans to have cake and gin&tonics while watching Bollywood movies with him on his birthday….

  39. Oh, yeah, I definitely get the “you are getting up right now” from various body parts. Wait until the “you are staying up” starts happening. In the meantime, Enjoy!

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