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.
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…
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.
(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!)