I believe life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive

Can I write a post in 45 minutes before work? WE SHALL SEE.

This week was quite momentous because a., it was my last official week being on the board of directors at my theater, and b., I HAD AN ADVENTURE. Oh, and other things happened, like I got a new scanner at work so now I’m totally the queen of scanning. My boss likes to give us all Game of Thrones names so I told her mine probably had to be Scansa Stark now and she approved. Plus other things. It was quite a week. Like, if this week was a line graph, the line would totally have spiked on this week. SPIKE!

BUT, anyway, leaving all those other adventures and good things and such behind, on Thursday I totally had an adventure.

I was SUPPOSED to be at the final board meeting, but a few months ago, I read somewhere that Neil Gaiman was coming to Saratoga to do a reading. I have a very short list of authors I swoon over. I LIKE a lot of authors, but my swoon-list is not very long. Neil Gaiman’s on the swoon-list. (That’s not a naughty thing, by the way. That’s more of a “OMG SUCH PRETTY WORDS” thing. I don’t want to bone the authors on my swoon-list. Well, most of ’em, anyway.)

So I immediately went to the bookstore’s site and bought the ticket and went to write it on my calendar and…uh-oh. It was the same night as the final board meeting. But it was his last American signing tour. How could I miss such a thing! COOL AUTHORS HARDLY EVER COME HERE!

I gave my apologies to the board, of course. I mean, what would you have done? It was Neil Gaiman!

So a week before the reading, friend Chris (who I met on Twitter, and he’s not even a murderer!) commented on my blog asking if I was going to see Neil Gaiman. Well! Yes I was! And well! So was he! And friend Tim, ALSO a Twitter friend! Also not a murderer! What a fortuitous turn of events! So we chatted all week and they were going to be there before I was so they would save me a seat and that is so nice of them, sincerely. So not ONLY was I excited about the reading, I was excited about seeing Chris and Tim!

On Thursday night I left right after work. The venue opened at 4. I get out of work at 4:30. I WILL BE FINE! I thought.

Yeah. Apparently rush-hour traffic is much worse than I factored in, plus there was some construction.

I didn’t get to Saratoga until 5:20. It’s half an hour away.

There’s a huge parking lot. It had not a single open spot in it. There was a very bored cop in his car in the lot. I asked him nicely if he had any idea where else I could park. “This is a parking lot,” he said, unhelpfully.

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s full. And I’m not familiar with the area,” I said.

“There are parking garages,” he said.

“Oh! Good. Where?” I replied.

“On Broadway.”

Did I not mention I’m not familiar with the area? Pretty sure I did. I mean, just look up a few lines, it’s right there.

“Could you tell me where on Broadway? Sorry. Not from here,” I said.

He ROLLED HIS EYES. “Go OUT HERE,” he said, as if I was very slow, pointing very dramatically, “and DRIVE until you see a PARKING GARAGE. Then PARK IN IT.”

Well! Saratoga’s Finest, ladies and gentlemen, let’s give ’em a hand.

So! At this point, I was late, lost, and overheated because I don’t have AC in my car. It was 5:40. The reading started at 6. I’d told Chris and Tim I’d be there at 5:15.

So as almost anyone would do in this situation, I started weeping.

I drove around Saratoga, weeping, and saying “I DO NOT SEE A PARKING GARAGE I HATE YOU SARATOGA” and I didn’t even care that people thought I was a crazyperson. Yep. Totally did that. Not even too proud to tell you about it.

I finally found a garage. Now, whether or not it was a PUBLIC garage is debatable. It had no signage. It wasn’t on Broadway. It was about 3 blocks away. I didn’t even care. I would have taken whatever ticket they gave me at that point, and even would have dealt with ne’er-do-wells stealing my car.

Text from Chris: “We’re here!” Like from half an hour ago.

Panicked return text: “JUST FOUND PARKING! On my way. Weepily. Be there as soon as I can.”

I totally shagged ass over to the venue and got there in what ended up plenty of time because it didn’t start on time anyway. Chris and Tim totally saved me a seat. I got a book (part of the ticket price) and a bookmark telling me I was in signing group F. There were a lot of people there. F seemed like not a good sign.

But! I had plenty of time to chat and catch up as I have not seen Chris in a while and he didn’t even care that I probably had the remains of weepy-face. He’s good people, that Chris.

The reading began!

I didn’t take notes. Sorry, you guys, I’m a terrible correspondent.

The first part was being recorded for public radio so I guess you can hear it if you care about such things. It’s supposedly airing right after the 4th of July or something. The moderator was…um. Stuffy? He was stuffy. I mean, he could have been WORSE. He wasn’t ill-informed. He spoke clearly. But he had very little personality.

Neil Gaiman, however. OK, you know what’s terrible? You love an author, and then you hear them speak, and they’re just kind of dead inside. And you think. “HOW DO THE BEAUTIFUL WORDS COME OUT OF THIS PERSON?”

Nope. I never wondered how the beautiful words come out of Neil Gaiman.

He’s funny and personable and intelligent and quick-witted and warm and speaks well, and nothing seemed rehearsed, yet everything was perfect.

He talked about his childhood a little, and his wife, and the new book (which I haven’t started yet, but I will) and naughty jokes and I laughed. A lot. Because he seemed like someone you could really hang out with. And I loved that about him. The beautiful words on the page I’ve been reading for years came from the exact perfect person.

Then he read a little from the new book, answered some questions from the audience, and read a little from a new book coming out in September…and it was time for the signing.

OK, now. 1,500 people were in the place. 1,500, you guys. Each of us had the option of getting 2 books signed – one personalized, one signed. They encouraged as many people as possible to opt out of the signing, and take a signed book instead. Not many people did this. Let’s say 10% at most. That leaves what, 1,350 people? 2,700 books to be signed, hypothetically. And it was already 7:15 or so when he started.

I don’t even want to think about the logistics behind such a thing. The hand cramping. The people that want to chat. SO MANY PEOPLE. I mean, as an author, you’d really dig that, I suppose, on some level. If it weren’t for those people, you wouldn’t be able to do your thing. Those people pay your bills. But on the other hand…that’s got to be not only a hand-cramp, but a psychic drain. 1,350 people. 2,700 signatures.

Chris and Tim didn’t stay for the signing. Chris has two young kiddos at home and Tim…I don’t know, I didn’t ask, maybe he’s hand-raising a baby zebra for all I know. BUT! When they left, they gave me and Tim’s friend their bookmarks.

WE WERE NOW IN GROUP B!

THE SECOND SIGNING GROUP!

OMG, that is huge. I told Chris I totally knew the best people. He laughed and I gave him a hug goodbye. YAY! So nice to see you, Chris and Tim!

So we waited for a bit and then they called group B.

We stood in line for about an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.

In the line were a strange group of people. Quiet normal people (myself being one of them – I wrote a long message to a friend to make the time go faster and killed my phone battery); affected Gaiman fans (the people behind me knew EVERYTHING GAIMAN and were not at all afraid to talk about it, loudly, in snotty tones, to one another, correcting one another – “heh, no, actually, that happened on page 76 of Neverwhere, dear, heh heh heh”); a girl who had all of his book titles written on her hightops; and, most distressingly, a family who brought two small children who were having trouble behaving, so they were acting up (it was a long line, of COURSE they were!) and the father kept SCREAMING at the kids and it was making me so sad. They are like four and six, sir, what the hell are you making them wait in a line for a book signing for? That’s just cruel.

As we waited, people kept coming around and telling us to do things. One lady told me I had to open both books to the title page and KEEP THEM OPEN because that was the page he would sign. “I’m about an hour away from his table, so I’ll put a bookmark there and keep them in my purse, thanks,” I said. “YOU NEED TO KEEP THEM OPEN TO THAT PAGE,” she said. “Mmm-hmm. And I will. In an hour. When I get to the table,” I said. She stood there glaring at me, which I didn’t notice for a minute. When I did, I thought, oh, we’re going to have a power play? OK. I’m hot, I’m cranky as hell, and I totally have to stand next to the Bickersons in front of me and the Know-It-Alls in back of me FOR OVER AN HOUR because you sold A KAJILLION TICKETS. I stared her down in return. She was not expecting this. She wandered off eventually, which means I won.

Then a woman came around and wrote our name on a post-it so Neil Gaiman didn’t have to ask our names, which would save him time. I’m down with that. The people beside me were not. “I want HIM to write it, NOT YOU,” they said. Um. She’s just spelling it for him, sweetie. He’s still signing the book. Tell the nice lady how to spell “Slow on the uptake” and let her write it on the post-it, ‘kay?

Then we got to the table. And I started getting nervous. Because there was Neil Gaiman. THERE WAS NEIL GAIMAN.

Now, I would have LIKED to be the kind of person who said, “Mr. Gaiman, thank you. Thank you for Shadow and thank you for Mr. Wednesday, and thank you most of all for Samantha’s speech because I also believe in things that are true, and things that are not true, and things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. And thank you for getting me, even though I know everyone probably says that to you? Because you get a lot of us, somehow. That’s the magic of your writing. But thank you anyway. I don’t know that you can ever hear that enough. Thank you for getting me when it seemed no one would, and thank you for moving me to tears and laughter and making me feel things so deeply I hurt for your characters, and thank you for your words. Just, thank you.”

What I actually said?

Well, he said, “Amy.” (Because of the post-it.) “Well. Hullo, Amy.”

And I said, “Hi. HI.”

And he laughed. And said, “Thank you for coming.”

And I said, “I’m here. Here I am!”

And he laughed again. And signed my books.

And I realized my time was almost up. So I said, “Thank you. Thank…thank you. Thank you.”

And he looked up, and he laughed. And said, “You’re so welcome.”

And I said, “Have a good night.”

And he said, “I shall try.”

And I left.

I know you all expect me to be quick with the repartee. I am sorry I have let you down so miserably.

It was just…it was Neil Gaiman, you know?

Some of my most beloved characters came to life in that mind. I can’t even…

Yeah.

So then I went home.

And now I have to go to work and answer phones for the Capital District so please to excuse me. And if there are typos in here, ignore them, I have 2 minutes to get in my car so I have no time to proofread this bad boy.

There is my story of The Time I Met Neil Gaiman and Was Unable to Tell Him That He Helped Me Get Through Some of the Hardest Times of my Life.

*bows*

(Happy weekends, all. Supermoon tomorrow! I am very excited about this supermoon. I feel it is very timely and will be very lovely. Everyone go revel in the supermoon tomorrow. Amy’s orders. Not to be ignored. Go go!)

Advertisements

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

44 responses to “I believe life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive

  • franhunne4u

    That is a strange thing, this crazyness for a signature. Never went to get my favourite books signed. The reading is something different – I can totally understand why you go to hear the author pronounce his own words.
    But I am no autograph collector. You lost me there.
    But you brought me back, when you told the story about the family with little kids that cannot even read – let alone would get Gaiman. How selfish is that of the parents!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I’m not a collector. I have probably 5 or 6 signed books. But the ones I have remind me of the times I saw the authors, so they’re memories to me, and a little magical, because the author held them before giving them back to me. I treasure the ones I have, not for being autographed, or because they’re worth money, but because they’re a part of my past.

      Like

  • sj

    Super jealous. Little weepy. YOU DID NOT EVEN TELL HIM I SAID HI! :(

    I forgive you, though.

    Also, I’m not even one of those people who needs things autographed, but Neil! Gaiman! Which my autocorrect knows!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      OMG, I was lucky *I* told him hi. (I said hi twice; you can pretend one is from you?)

      I know, right? I don’t have a lot of autographed things (one of my favorites is an Atwood book that friend C. got signed for me when she saw her; I almost DIED!) but NEIL! GAIMAN!!!!

      I wish you’d been there. I really do.

      Like

  • mfennvt

    Oh, how awesome! And you did way better than I would have when you it was your turn. When I saw Douglas Adams ages ago and it was my turn, I was so flustered, I couldn’t say anything!

    Like

  • poetlandia

    I love signed books. I couldn’t care less about autographs from (list of musicians/actors/etc here.) But I love signed books. Sometimes I like them for myself and sometimes for my kid or the d-i-l or my brother. And once in awhile as a book giveaway on the blog. They’re fun.

    I also love going to hear authors talk. Any author. Who has written anything. Even something I will never read. It’s interesting to hear about someone’s process. (I’m into actor’s studio for the same reason, even though I’m no actor.) I’m fascinated by the turns and twists that creativity takes and all the forms it goes out in to the world. so it’s fun to eavesdrop on what someone creative has to say about their creativity.

    I totally would have gone to this had I been paying any attention to anything. So many things I want tickets for and cannot do right now. Drat!

    I’m glad you had fun. And were in line B.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I do, too. Something about the author having held them, and the memories they bring up…they’re a little bit of memory, a little bit of magic. You know my love of magic.

      And ALSO agreed about readings. There are a bunch coming up next month I’m really excited to see. Joyce Carol Oates is my most exciting one. I’ve been reading her for almost 20 years. I can’t believe I get to see her!

      You’ll be able to do things soon. And new things always come up. New and wonderful things! Wait and see!

      Like

      • poetlandia

        You are right. There are always more fun things to do! And in the meantime, I get to live vicariously through you.

        And he even drew you a ghost! So you totally rated. (I used to follow his blog and not to sound like the Know-It-Alls behind you, but I recognize the ghost!)

        I’m excited for the supermoon. I even put on my astrologer hat for this one. :) It was cloudy tonight so I hope it’s clear tomorrow!

        Like

  • Nagzilla

    I totally get it. Because it’s Neil Fucking Gaiman, for gosh sakes!
    We were able to go to see him a couple of years ago. He wasn’t able to sign anything, but he is magical to listen to. And we did get an awesome pic of my daughter with him, because she adores him as well thanks to Coraline and The Graveyard Book.
    So glad the evening ended better than it started. Congrats!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      THANK YOU! I know, right? Can you even imagine if I got to meet Stephen King? Or Margaret Atwood? Or John Irving? I WOULD UTTERLY DIE.

      I can’t wait to read The Nephew some of his childrens’ books. He’s still a little young, and freaked out by scary things. I’ll wait a few years. But he’ll love them!

      Like

      • poetlandia

        OMG, this comment made me think, “Yeah, Mr. Amanda Fucking Palmer.” LOLOL!

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          He mentioned her when he was talking – he said she didn’t like fantasy, and I think some people might have looked at him weird, so he said, “Well, but she DOES like ME,” and that made me laugh. They are so adorable together. I love that they do their own thing, but they seem really solid together, and they really respect each other’s work. I want that, you know? It makes me hopeful.

          Like

      • Nagzilla

        Yeah, I think Andrea started reading them at 12. I’m not sure she could have handled them prior to that, actually.

        Like

  • grrgoyl

    I LOVE Neil. Well, loved. Sort of lost interest for awhile, but then listened to the BBC’s newest radio series of Neverwhere and am experiencing a renaissance. I am 3/4 through American Gods and will probably follow up with Anansi Boys (I know, lifelong fan FAIL). I forgot his way with words and mythology. New favorite line of all time? “I’m as old as my tongue, and slightly older than my teeth.”

    I am JUST LIKE YOU around celebrities, even celebrities I don’t really care about, but I get starstruck. Fortunately I don’t get to meet them very often. But if I did, I would be a blubbering, incoherent fool. Like my friend who got to meet Robert Smith of The Cure backstage and literally couldn’t utter a sound. FOOL.

    My envy for you is still endless.

    Like

    • grrgoyl

      Oh, and f**k you, Saratoga cop. You’d think he’d be excited to be useful instead of collecting dust in the middle of a parking lot. Our tax dollars at work!

      Like

      • lucysfootball

        Yeah, he wasn’t excited about life. Probably angry so many people were in his town that night, but at least TRY to be nice. I was only asking where to park, not where to score an 8-ball or something, sheesh.

        Like

    • lucysfootball

      Not a fail! I didn’t know he existed until about 10 years ago. I haven’t finished Sandman, and haven’t read EVERYTHING he’s written. There’s no fan failing. You have your whole lifetime to read his work!

      Aw, you know, I never, in my life, thought anyone would envy me anything. It’s both flattering and not warranted. I promise I’m not enviable. I’m really mostly a hot mess who lucks into adventures most of the time. Promise.

      Like

  • Charleen

    I’ve never actually met a celebrity. If I did, I probably wouldn’t even be able to get out as many words as you did. Either that or I’d babble continuously until the people running the line shooed me away, but I’d put my money on muted awe.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I do one or the other. Muted awe or, in the case of Kevin Smith, totally embarrassing babbling. Along the lines of “ZOMG YOU ARE LIKE ONE OF MY IDOLS I AM TOO DAUNTED TO EVEN TALK TO YOU HA HA” until he was all “Hee. Whoa. OK. Gonna go now.”

      Like

  • becomingcliche

    I’m so sad it was so difficult to get there, but I’m really happy that it was worth the trouble!

    I have not read any Gaiman. I am trying to catch up from my various literary deprivations. But tell the truth. You only read him because he has a Y chromosome, am I right?

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Hee! Yes. You know me well. If they don’t have a wang, I don’t read their words. I should get that on a teeshirt.

      (American Gods or Stardust are my favorites, if you’re looking for recommendations!)

      Like

  • galinthegreyhat

    Ahhhh we were on the other side of the room that night!! I was in signing group C…you should read my post for more OH MY GOD moments.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Erm. I’m going to assume ‘shagging ass’ means something totally different in the Colonies than it does back here in the Old Countries.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I’ve only once met an author I like. Bertil Mårtensson was the philosophy professor at the Umeå University when I studied there, and I’d always liked his books (he’s written some really good Sci-fi/fantasy books in addition to a collection of crime novels). I never managed to muster the courage to talk to him about them though, which I now regret.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I completely understand that. Some of my biggest regrets in life have been when I’ve not managed the courage to do something – not doing it and failing, not doing it and making a complete mess of it, but just general inaction. A lack of courage is something I get very angry at myself for. Yet, ironically, I’m probably one of the biggest cowards there are. I just force myself to do scary things.

      Like

  • Heather

    I would totally choke up…or cry…or both if I were standing in front of one of my favorite authors.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I have not yet behaved in what I consider an appropriate manner. Mostly I clam up completely. I haven’t cried yet, but I’m sure there’s a first time for everything (and if I think too hard about “We Were the Mulvaneys” and getting to see Joyce Carol Oates this summer I might cry, so probably I should think about her “Zombie” instead so I don’t get weepy.)

      Like

  • b.h.quinn

    I AM SO JEALOUS!

    *deep breath* Sorry for the yelling. Neil Gaiman was the first “grown up” author I really adored, and I’m sad that I won’t be able to see him on what’s probably his last signing tour. I did buy a signed book, though. Sounds like you had a great time. :)

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I did have a great time! I’m sorry you didn’t get to see him. But I’m glad you got a signed book! I have a couple of books to read before I start it, but I’m really looking forward to it!

      Like

      • b.h.quinn

        I have family who live near him and see him at random, mundane places, so I might get to meet him someday by accident. I was waitlisted for the Clarion writer’s thing he’s teaching at this summer, which was more disappointing. As long as we’re both around, there’s always a chance. :)

        Like

  • “The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” | snobbery

    […] further adventures of me getting to see Gaiman on his Ocean at the End of the Lane book tour, you can click here…be prepared to see how not-cool I am around my idols. To the point of stammering idiocy, […]

    Like

  • Rae

    I’m so terribly jealous! Ugh!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      It was awesome. I wish I hadn’t been so tongue-tied when I got to see him…but it wasn’t a surprise. I always am when one of my heroes is right in front of me.

      Like

      • Rae

        Margaret Atwood once responded to one of my tweets. That has probably been the biggest extent of an interaction with one of my book heroes, which makes me think I should probably try to get to more book signings!

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          She talks to Susie at Insatiable Booksluts a lot, and it makes me SO EXCITED and also envious. I’m way too daunted to talk to her. I admire her way too much. (One of my friends met her at a book signing and said she was so nice and personable!)

          I don’t get to go to many book signings – I was supposed to see Joyce Carol Oates last week, but I had to review a play the same night so couldn’t go. Sigh. But I try to go to as many as I can!

          Like

%d bloggers like this: