January 3, 2013

Thirty

Today is my 30th birthday. It seems unreal to me, but it's true. I double-checked and everything.

I began writing on the internet as a 19-year-old in 2002 and back then a big part of my identity, for better or worse, was being extremely young. Hell, this blog was started in large part out of boredom while home from school for the summer and the first post was written on August 1, 2002 while I was literally sitting in my bedroom at my mom's house. Not quite the old "blogging from his parents' basement" cliche, but pretty damn close.

In the months that followed I wrote about moving back into my dorm room and getting rejected by the college newspaper and attempting to make small talk with attractive girls on the bus and various other things that made it very clear I was just a kid. Even two years later, while attending my first Society for American Baseball Research convention in Cincinnati, my age was a frequent topic and many people there were amused that I was barely old enough to drink alcohol legally.

I never quite advanced past that "you're just a kid" mindset and now more than a decade later I'm still doing basically the same thing, writing about baseball and myself on the internet, but there's no 30-year-old "kid" unless you start hanging out with your grandparents. Sticking with something for that long can certainly be a source of pride and I'm also proud of the work I've done here and elsewhere, but having spent your twenties doing one thing is jarring to think about.

And turning 30 will also get you thinking, about good things and bad things and important things and silly things. By age 10 or so I knew I wanted to be a writer and I've been gainfully employed as one since dropping out of college to take a job with Rotoworld in 2005. I've got a house with a mortgage and a car and a retirement account and most of the stuff that always signified adulthood to me. And yet I still think of myself as anything but an adult. I'll have to get over that.

Mostly what I've been thinking about lately is what comes next. What happens when you can no longer cling to any semblance of childhood? What happens when your dropping out of college doesn't really seem to matter any more? What happens when you're nearly the same age your parents were when they had you? What happens when you've spent an entire decade of your life with the thing you dreamed about doing serving as both your job and your hobby? What then?

I'm as happy and comfortable and content as I've ever been since starting this blog in 2002, but within the context of turning 30 that mostly just has me pondering what happiness and comfort and contentedness really mean. I'm very certain that 20-year-old me would look at 30-year-old me and say don't change a thing you lucky bastard, but suddenly that doesn't seem as important as what 40-year-old me would say. And that's an impossible question to answer.

I've always struggled with two primary issues. One is food, against which I've made major strides by losing 150 pounds in one year and keeping that weight off for a second year. The other is social anxiety, but while I've made some strides there as well--going out far more often now than I did a few years ago and expanding my list of friends (or at least acquaintances)--fixing my lack of drive to interact with friends and strangers alike has proven much more difficult than losing weight.

And so I think about what is fixable and what isn't, which life changes should and shouldn't be made, and perhaps most significantly whether I even want to fix those things and make those changes. I'm very much a creature of routine in every aspect of my life and I'm lucky enough to have carved out a pretty nice routine for someone who prefers to be by himself, in his house, the vast majority of the time. But is that "happiness" or is that just "comfortable"?

My age-29 season was a productive one. This blog maintained an audience that motivates me to keep chugging along for another decade, getting paid to write about baseball for NBCSports.com every day remained a dream come true, the growth of "Gleeman and The Geek" surpassed my wildest podcasting expectations with 10,000 listeners per episode, and getting more opportunities than ever to appear on radio was a thrill for someone who grew up obsessed with the medium.

I've luckily never ceased enjoying writing about the Twins on AG.com and about MLB in general at HardballTalk, but I have wondered if I might also enjoy writing more about movies and television and music and comedy and more personal topics here. As someone who spends much of his time thinking about that stuff and loved creative writing once upon a time that sounds appealing. As someone with a baseball-fueled audience and a nice, comfortable routine that sounds scary.

Throughout my decade of baseball writing I've been fond of using the phrase "on the wrong side of 30" to describe a player who's no longer within the typical prime age of an MLB career, with the implication being that his value is more likely to decline than improve or even remain the same. That phrase "on the wrong side of 30" has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks and it's never before seemed so blunt and forceful. Or maybe just truthful.

I went back and forth about writing this post and then about actually publishing it, because I know people come here for the Twins talk and links. And also because I'm not even sure what my point is, although the more I think about it the more I'm convinced not being sure what my point is may be the point. Plus, after a decade of revealing way too much about yourself to strangers on the internet why stop now, right? That's me, at 30 every bit as much as it was at 19.

Mostly, though, I wanted to thank the readers of this blog because just about everything good in my life, professionally and personally, can be traced back to having a loyal audience here. And as I imagine what my thirties have in store I can't forget how in my twenties this blog and its readers enabled me to cross so many goals and dreams off my list. From the 19-year-old me with so much in front of him and the 30-year-old me with so much behind him, thank you.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Paul "Fantasy Camper" Bennett, who'll be blogging and tweeting about his annual experience at Twins fantasy camp in Fort Myers the week of January 6. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

47 Comments »

  1. Keep it up and write about what you want. Maybe not here if you think that would kind of betray your audience, but somewhere else. Why not?

    Comment by Pedro — January 2, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

  2. Keep up the good work Aaron, and just remember, keep it dirty in thirty. Good luck!

    Comment by Travis — January 2, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  3. This is a great blog and you should be proud of it. I think I’ve gotten so comfortable with your writing style and personality I’d keep coming back regardless of what you’re writing about. Mix it up a little if that’s what you feel like doing.

    Congrats on your success and being old. Life goes on.

    Comment by Ben — January 2, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  4. Happy birthday, Aaron. Write what you like… that’s what will be most enjoyable for you and your readers.

    Comment by John — January 2, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

  5. I’m 34 without any real career to call my own. While I’m not terribly proud of that, what I’ve learned is that nothing forces day to day life to change at all, and I’ll always feel like myself, and any age.

    It really is just a number. Cheers, and happy birthday.

    Comment by neil — January 2, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

  6. Well done. This is starting to hit me now as well since I just turned 28. I’ve been reflecting too. You hit the nail on the head.

    Comment by Aimee — January 2, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

  7. Nice job of “being here now”. It works. Same questions and doubts when you are 63, by the way.

    Comment by NoCal — January 3, 2013 @ 12:03 am

  8. As a huge Twins fan, I can’t get enough of this blog. Keep up the great work, I enjoy all the posts, whether they are baseball related or not, I am always glad to hear when you are doing well.

    Comment by James — January 3, 2013 @ 12:12 am

  9. At 19, I wanted to be a writer. At 21, I went to work for an insurance company and 35 years later, I’m still there… but for the past 3 years, I’ve been having a lot of fun writing again. So what’s my point?

    My point is… so few people genuinely love what the do for a living. Take it from someone who knows… your 40 year old self would say exactly what your 20 year old self would say. Do change a thing, you lucky bastard. Just keep doing what you’re doing as long as you enjoy it.

    Happy Birthday, Aaron.

    Comment by JimCrikket — January 3, 2013 @ 12:39 am

  10. that should read “DON’T change a thing”.

    Note… typing after midnight requires more proofreading.

    Comment by JimCrikket — January 3, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  11. Aaron, your personal writing style has appealed enough to me (and I’m sure, many others) that I take the time to read whatever you write, and listen to the podcast. This happening despite the fact I don’t care about the fate of the Twins one bit. Happy birthday pal.

    Comment by Eric — January 3, 2013 @ 12:52 am

  12. I turned 40 today. I sometimes wonder if I’m too old to even be reading a blog about baseball written by some guy “who prefers to be by himself, in his house, the vast majority of the time.” The Twins info is great though, and seemingly often more on target than the Twins front office. Anyway, write about what you want–just don’t turn into Peter King.

    Comment by Matt — January 3, 2013 @ 6:12 am

  13. Dropping out of college in 2005 was perhaps the most wise thing you did. Take it from a guy who is a couple of decades older than you, graduated from a professional school in 1991, and who just today placed in the mail his last student loan payment. Happy birthday, Aaron – and welcome to full-flower adulthood. It’s not that much different, and it turns out not to actually be that scary.

    Comment by mariettamouthpiece — January 3, 2013 @ 6:57 am

  14. If you’re doing something that makes you happy, challenges you every once in awhile, and you can go out into the world with a smile on your face, you’re doing something very right. Happy birthday, Aaron. Many happy returns of the day.

    Comment by Beth E — January 3, 2013 @ 7:17 am

  15. I, for one, look forward to the “link-o-rama” every Friday. Anybody with an appreciation of Alison Brie cannot be all bad.

    Comment by Bill — January 3, 2013 @ 7:29 am

  16. Happy birthday, and remember: People come for the content, but they stay for the style. As long as you maintain your unique voice in print and podcast, people will follow you.

    Comment by John — January 3, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  17. Happy B-Day Aaron. I started following you during the Free Santana years after finding you on THT. I was around 22-23. Now I’m 34, and I still enjoy my daily stop. Good luck in your 30′s and beyond, hopefully still doing what you love.

    Comment by OdorlessOpie — January 3, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  18. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AARON!

    Comment by Monica Posnick — January 3, 2013 @ 8:19 am

  19. Happy Birthday Aaron – and thank you for the decade of free entertainment – it’s appreciated!

    Comment by Andy — January 3, 2013 @ 8:26 am

  20. Aaron,

    Happy Birthday and congrats on your success here and everywhere else. Remember you won’t be able to please everyone; if you start writing about things other than baseball there are sure to be complaints from people who are only interested in Twins info. Who cares? This site is yours and you get to choose what’s on it.

    Go be like Joe Posnanski. We all know he’s one of the best sportswriters around, yet his blog is full of non-sports stuff and some of it is the best stuff he’s ever written (“Katie the Prefect”). If you’re worried about mixing the “personal” and “baseball”, just have a separate page for your personal entries.

    You have an entertaining style of communication, both written and spoken; that’s one of the reasons your site and podcast are so popular. It’s not just about the Twins or baseball, it’s about you personally.

    As a fellow slave to inertia, my wife has been the best help to me in encouraging (read: “forcing”) me to do more things with other people. If you don’t have one person (it doesn’t have to be girlfriend), it could be a small group of people who you agree to hang out with one night a week. You’ve said on your podcast that you enjoy hanging out with the other Twins bloggers, and you enjoy the SABR conventions. So for people like us it’s more about accountability – actually getting off our asses and doing something – than it is about being fearful or uncomfortable once we’re there.

    Best of luck to you and I’ll keep reading whatever you write.

    Comment by Jeff — January 3, 2013 @ 8:26 am

  21. Happy birthday AG. I’ve never met you, and yet I feel like we grew up together as friends. Discovered sabermetrics and and Mila Kunis together. I haven’t lived in the Twin Cities since 2005, but your blog and the podcasts are part of the reasons I have maintained a strong connection to the area. Congratulations on all your success and I feel privileged to have e-witnessed all of it firsthand. Here’s to many more years of great writing.

    Nick

    Comment by Nick DePrey — January 3, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  22. As a loyal reader since 2004, Happy Birthday, and don’t worry. Your 30′s will be good to you

    Comment by John — January 3, 2013 @ 8:54 am

  23. For a baseball player, you’re on the wrong side of 30, but for a writer, you’re on the right side. Baseball tends to bridge the generations. Happy birthday.

    Comment by Greg — January 3, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  24. This 44 year old would like to to say Happy Birthday to you and keep doing what you’re doing, you lucky bastard.

    I, too, wanted to write when I grew up. Unfortunately, I listened to too many people tell me I should be an accountant because I was good at math. Even though life is great with the path I chose, I always wonder where I would be if I had taken up writing.

    There is nothing wrong with your vocation and avocation being the same things. Embrace it, if it makes you happy.

    Comment by Dave — January 3, 2013 @ 9:50 am

  25. Hey Aaron–I’ve been reading your blog for about 5-6 years and it’s a highlight when you update it. I come for the Twins analysis, but it’s great to get personal stuff mixed in too. I think all the readers are rooting for you to succeed! And, although we’ve never met you personally, genuinely like you.

    Take care!

    Comment by Michael — January 3, 2013 @ 10:31 am

  26. Write about what you want. Especially on this site. Sure most of us come for the twins talk but there is a reason some of us may come here over the litany of other twins sites. The analysis. Spot on, grounded and level headed, your thoughtful input has made me more frustrated to follow the twins because your ability to poke holes in what seems like stubborn logic by the team. If you can bring that insight to other topics you’ll be fine. Bill Simmons became a superstar by doing that.

    And remembered the name of this page. Aarongleeman.com. it’s YOUR name so write about what YOU want

    Comment by Taylor — January 3, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

  27. happy birthday, aaron. and thanks for all of the fine twins-related pieces. let’s hope there’s a world series win before you hit 40.

    Comment by jfs — January 3, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  28. Welcome to adulthood, Aaron! You probably learned this a lot earlier than I did, but it was around age 30 when I realized that there isn’t a specific set of goals you have to achieve in life to “win.” I’ve tried to spend the better part of my 30′s figuring out what really makes life more fun to live rather than just trying to “accomplish” stuff that I think I’m supposed to (e.g. college, career, promotions, etc.) You are already on a great trajectory, so you don’t need any advice from me, but just keep doing what you love and things will work themselves out.

    Comment by Hans — January 3, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  29. Happy Birthday Aaron! Welcome to your 30′s.

    I too have read your blog for many years, probably since 2003 or so. It’s been great fun to watch your career advance. Here’s to another great 10 years, if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

    -Andy

    Comment by Alskntwsnfn — January 3, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

  30. Happy birthday, man. Been here since almost the beginning and your writing continues to improve. Keep up the good work. And do feel free to branch out a bit.

    Comment by wick — January 3, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  31. Happy Birthday, Aaron! Having just crossed 30 a year-and-a-half ago, I remember thinking about it as some type of milestone, but that thought will soon pass.

    While your writing about struggling with weight and anxiety are inspiring and reassuring, I most admire your ability to carve out a path and do something you genuinely enjoy for a living, where it seemed at first like no such path was available.

    Congratulations on the continued success of the blog, podcast, and your other ventures.

    Comment by Jeff H — January 3, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  32. I would like to echo what the rest of the poster’s have said. All good stuff. Personally I want to thank you for answering the 4 or 5 emails I have sent you over the past ten years. Her’s to at least another ten years years with the blog. Maybe novels after that. Maybe a book about starting a blog at age 19. Sky’s the limit Aaron. happy Birthday!

    Comment by Large Canine — January 3, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  33. Happy Birthday, Aaron.

    I’ve been reading since sometime in 2003 but haven’t commented.

    I’ll be turning 50 in a couple of months and I still think of myself as the kid I was at 20. I’m well into middle age and have paid off the mortgage, been at the same CPA firm for 27 years and all the other “adult” things I always knew would transpire. Yet, I can’t help feeling that someday someone will call my bluff and expose me for the kid I am in my head.

    Comment by Jeff — January 3, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

  34. Happy Birthday Aaron! 30 is nothing but a number. Keep doing what you love.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — January 3, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

  35. Congrats on the birthday, Aaron. Being 30 isn’t bad, I’m going to be 36 in a few months and I’m doing just fine…lol.

    Congrats though on the 11 years of baseball writing, I’ve enjoyed it over the years I’ve been reading.

    Comment by Mike C — January 3, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

  36. Happy Birthday Aaron!

    Comment by Dan J — January 3, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

  37. Happy Birthday, Aaron. I have been reading your blog off and on for several years now and think I enjoyed today’s post most of all (and I really like your Twins commentary). Thanks for enlightening us.

    Comment by Grey — January 3, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  38. Happy Birthday Aaron. One of my biggest changes at 30 was caring less and less what others thought of me. (and finding that both myself and others like that new me better) On that note, write whatever you want in this blog. Especially swears. I love swears.

    Comment by Drew — January 3, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

  39. Aaron:
    Happy #30, and to many more! Your writing is wonderful, especially when you weave your personal story into the blog. Turn the challenge of your anxiety into a strength by sharing more of the excellent insights you achieve while sitting in your basement-whether baseball related or not. Actually, everything can be related to baseball at the end of the day, so be creative. Like Posnanski or Rushin you too can bring great stories to bear, if you remain true to sharing something of yourself in the process. People always relate to honesty. Don’t doubt yourself, you are a gifted writer and honest person. Share both qualities-you will go far. And I will always look forward to checking in on your stuff. Best of luck.

    Comment by Joe — January 3, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  40. It’s been obvious for as long as I’ve been reading your blog (4+ years) that you ought to be on staff for the Twins. Or rather, they’d be lucky to have you. So if you’re looking for change, you could go get hired by Terry Ryan. You’d be an immediate 7-8 WAR, even after the bottom feeding they’ve done this off season in the FA pitcher signings.

    Problem is we’d lose you. So ixnay on the winsTay objay idea, I guess. And since we’re not sure if the Twins have baseball-refernce.com bookmarked, maybe just start sending them complimentary hardcopies of your posts…

    Comment by Knox Harrington — January 3, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  41. Hey, man, I turn 60 next month, and I’m still wondering a lot of the things you’ve written about in this post. I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for about 4 years, but this is the first comment I’ve posted, which perhaps speaks to your inclination to cover more topics. I say take a chance on expanding your blog’s focus. I enjoy your writings on baseball, but I mostly enjoy your writing, which, by the way, I’ve never qualified by considering your age. Thank you for always treating us readers with respect and caring for your craft.

    Comment by David Smith — January 3, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

  42. I am also a longtime reader, first-time commenter. I have been reading you for probably 7 years now, primarily for Twins, then Link-O-Rama (so much so that I am a little disappointed if the LOR doesn’t appear on a Friday). I am about to turn 35, have two kids, busy job, mortgage, all that, so I can tell you that there is no way 30 is old. And, if your instinct tells you to branch out a bit in this space, on to some other topics, go for it. Your writing has so vastly improved over the years and you have developed such a loyal following that you will be successful no matter what. Congrats.

    Comment by Andy — January 3, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  43. Aaron:

    As you can surmise from all the posts, you have a ton of fans in cyberspace. I have a great deal of respect for the job you do and your willingness to share your deep personal stories (like your struggles with weight and your social anxieties) with your readers. I can probably speak for most of your readership that those personal stories make us all appreciate not only your written words, but the person behind the words. It makes you human and it makes you normal and it makes it easier for us to realize that you’re a regular guy just like most of us….and regular guys are guys we all want to root for.

    Comment by JR Cigar — January 3, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  44. AG

    Happy birthday…… Your mind doesn’t change much after 30.
    , once you are a goofy kid you will always be a goofy kid at heart. ( speaking from experience.) But after 30 everything from a hangnail to a hangover justs hurts a little more.

    Keep writing….. I enjoy it all, even the stuff I disagree with,

    Comment by J. Lee — January 3, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

  45. Been reading since Johan was in chains. Write about what you want. It hasn’t failed you yet.

    One of the biggest mistakes people make –think about coaches — is coming up with a creative plan that fits their current situation perfectly, but then letting that creative plan over time become iron laws and forgetting that what worked was creatively addressing the situation at hand, not the solution they came up with at the time, like small ball or pitching to contact.

    For a 19-yr-old nobody with no baseball writing outlet a Twins blog was perfect. For a 30-yr-old somewhat famous professional baseball writer with a loyal following that looks forward to Link-o-Rama each week the same rules don’t apply.

    I think people would love the entertainment and personal stuff, i always loved the old poker posts, the podcast and movie stuff, as well as when you bought a house, weight loss etc . . . so long as they didn’t feel they were getting short changed on your great Twins stuff, especially during the season.

    Learn from Bart Simpson: Good ol’ rock, nothing beats that!

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=NMxzU6hxrNA&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DNMxzU6hxrNA

    Comment by The Kid NYC — January 4, 2013 @ 6:06 am

  46. happy 30th, AG! As someone who just turned that corner myself, I appreciate the thought you put into this. It’s nice to know someone else is wondering similar things. Hopefully the “wrong side” term just sticks to sports.

    Comment by rachel — January 8, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  47. Aaron,
    I come to your blog for two reasons:

    1. Your writing is honest
    2. You don’t care about what everyone else thinks

    Keep up the good work and don’t change – there’s a reason why you have been so successful and will continue to do so for years to come!

    Comment by Scott Stahoviak — January 8, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

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