Saturday, June 29, 2013


So, after how not-good yesterday was, today more than made up for things.

The kids and I hit the Old Navy $1 Flip-Flop sale ... with a 10% off coupon.
Yeah, I love it when I save about twice as much as I spend. That's really nice.

Then we dropped the kids off with Mom and Dad C and Michael and I headed up to the big city for my birthday present (Remember how he surprised me with tickets to Neil Gaiman's book signing? Yup!).

Since we got up there early (as planned) and finally found a good parking spot (for a good price, too!), we went to the Chinese Garden. It was our first time there without kids ... and, well, it's a lot nicer without a tandem stroller and impatient kids. ^_^

We moseyed our way around ... watched the koi, smelled the flowers (well, I did. Michael tried NOT to smell the flowers or be bothered by the pollen. :P), watched a Gray Heron swoop in and land on the top of one of the small bridges' roof (and, apparently, gargle for a quarter hour or so), and even went to the tea house ... for NOT tea.
Michael had the mango nectar. I branched out and tried the Sweet Winter Melon juice ... which is very different, but not at all unpleasant -- it's rather like a non-carbonated root beer with strong caramel flavor, but as thin as water (so not like a syrup, though it TASTES like it SHOULD be a syrup).
And, on the receipt, I was tickled that it was poetically called "GOURD JUICE."
And we ate Mao Do (edamame ... but with spices on the outside of the pods) and Bao stuffed with spinach.

And, well, it's a good thing that we ate then, since (after a quick side trip to Powell's bookstore) we were waiting in line outside the Crystal Ballroom for over an hour. And it was nearly another hour before things started.
A musician took the stage for three songs (my favorite was the accordion-accompanied letter to a giraffe-rancher about how the musician REALLY wants a giraffe. ... DUDE, did YOU have any idea that there's a GIRAFFE RANCH in eastern Washington?!?? But they don't do tours, apparently. That was a let down.) and then a gal spoke about Neil Gaiman's influence on her life and her career (drawing and writing).

THEN NEIL GAIMAN TOOK THE STAGE. Well, the dais, really ... but STILL!!

And his accent is even better in real life. And he was just as wonderful, funny, and brilliant as he is on the internet.

He told of how his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was a bit of an accident. It was supposed to be a short story he wrote to his wife as she was across the world recording her album.
(Also she doesn't like fantasy ... which is what he writes. "But she likes me.")
It turned from a short story into a novelette ... then a short novella ... then a LONG novella ... then, when it was finished, he checked the word count and emailed his publisher that, sorry, it's not a novella, "I wrote a book by accident."

He also told of the real-life bits about the story (how, when he was seven, his family's Mini was stolen by a man who accidentally gambled his AND his friends' savings away at the pub ... then the gambler stole the Mini and crashed it to commit suicide ... And how the farm at the end of the road had been there since William the Conquerer came. And how he (Gaiman), as a child, figured that the brick farmhouse had ALWAYS been there and that the family living there had always had the farm.)

He answered questions from the audience:
  • Q: "Who has the weirder fans? You or Clive Barker?"
    A: Clive ... to the power of a million.
    Gaiman's fans are NICE. Even when they scare little old ladies owning a bookshop in Dayton, OH (The ladies running the shop had NEVER seen such hair colors or piercings), they prove how nice they are (By the end of the day, the ladies were exclaiming what NICE people they were, how they'd never had such wonderful customers).
    Gaiman's fans have never sliced open their arms and demanded that the author sign the book with their blood.
    Gifts for Neil Gaiman are harmless ... like a giant stuffed My Little Pony done up as Death (from Sandman). Barker, instead, gets a carved wooden staff with SEVEN cats' heads impaled on it.
    Neil Gaiman loves his fans.
  • Q: "In one to three words, describe your writing process."
    A: "Glare. Drink tea."
There were a couple other questions, including a sweet request from a fan for a kiss. (He complied with a peck on the cheek. She was thrilled. It was ADORABLE.

He read to us ... the third chapter of his book.
After questions, he allowed us to vote if we'd rather get to the signing right away, since it was SWELTERING, or if we'd want to hear from a not-yet-published book.

I'm sure you didn't have to guess that OF COURSE we wanted to hear more.

And he has a children's book coming out in September. And, from the excerpt, it will be AMAZING.
And, as Michael said to me, if/when they make it into a movie, Martin Freeman should be the lead.

We waited for about another hour to be put into line to have our books signed.
Michael's copy of "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is made out to The [C] Family. And Neil Gaiman also signed out copy of "The Graveyard Book". And Michael called him "sir."
Neil Gaiman signed my copy of "Instructions"  and, in my copy of "The Ocean," inscribed my name and a heart.
I corrected him on my name's pronunciation. He thanked me for coming. I thanked him for doing this. He told me that he felt guilty, since it was so hot and we'd had to wait so much. I assured him that it was worth it.

I also have, among others, a picture of Neil Gaiman and I grinning at each other.

Yeah, this is a birthday present that's seriously hard to beat.

And, really, Neil Gaiman was SO charming and SO nice. The gal in line in front of us had him sign and inscribe a book for her friend. When he learned that she had one book for herself (which had just his signature), he made sure that he inscribed HER name on that one, too.
Such a nice, nice man.

So, yeah ... my husband made this possible by buying our tickets as soon as the site went live. There were 1,000 tickets ... and they were sold out THAT MORNING.

Yup, Michael is THAT AWESOME.
He made a really awesome day possible. Because he's amazing.

And, after all that, we went and grabbed some dinner, got the kids, and came home.
So that we can get ready for church tomorrow.

(Even though ... I am rather sorely tempted to read the rest of "The Ocean" ... the third chapter IS just so good, you see.)

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