This past weekend was a busy one, and more than a little bit tiring. It was, however, quite enjoyable and exciting as we shall see...

Early Start

Despite getting to bed late after the Friday night Isle game, I found myself awake at around 630 am. After a quick shower and no breakfast, I stumbled out to the elevator after checking three times that all the books I wanted signed would be with me. (Later I would find out that the Sandman TPB I was planning on having signed was left behind).

For those of you wondering why I was up so early... it was because of two things: Neil Gaiman's 3 pm appearance and book signing at Rockwell, and the need to pick up the things I'd left at the office before swinging by Kate's place for breakfast with her family at 730 am.

I'd been asked several times (and by several people) why we were planning to be there so early. I really didn't have an idea, other than that Neil Gaiman was a BIG THING in the circles that I ran, and given the nature of the local rabid fandom, showing up at that time seemed to be... early enough to be a true fan, but not too early so as to be cool about it.

Of course, I was nervous that no one else would think the same way since Neil (wow, first-name basis) had 3 other scheduled appearances, and my beloved Kate had a habit of complaining about the days I woke her up too early for certain events...

I checked my e-mail at the office before I shut down the PC that I'd left on overnight... the yahoo groups list of the Neil Gaiman events in Manila had a file that indicated that they'd be giving out the queue stubs at 1030 am.

What are queue stubs? Well, the event and signing would still be at 3 pm, and would be open to ALL who attended. The queue stubs were little numbered stubs that indicated the order in which Neil would sign your books.

Suddenly, being there at 830 am seemed just about right.

Nearing Kate's place I rung her on the cell, only to find out I'd just woken her up. We were going to be late. It was already close to 730 am.

Flash forward to just after breakfast at MCS McDo. Kate has me back the van out of parking, and we switch places. It was time to practice her driving.

After an eternity of giving careful and half-nervous driving advice and narrowly avoiding an argument over driving styles, she parked at Rockwell.


The lines were long, but not too long. Too many people were confused about the procedures, and everyone was trying to be helpful to everyone else, but this sometimes muddled things further.

In the end I got my queue number from the even-numbered line: 252. Kate got her number from the odd-numbered line a little after I did, but managed to get 229. Go figure.

After enduring the intriguing but sadly unannounced and consequently unwelcome performance of a band, Neil finally showed up with apologies and an amusing story about not being able to get the printer to work. He told us anecdotes, answered a few questions, shared a screening of Mirror Mask, and then got to the signing.

And lo it was a long signing. Neil seemed to have been genuinely shocked about signing for 700 people (I'd thought they'd only allowed 500 for that day), and the fact that folks could have up to a maximum of 4 books (depending on how many purchases you'd made from Fully Booked). Still he only took a brief dinner break and signed all these books.

It was after 9pm when I was finally in line. Just before I went up the stage, Neil had the organizers announce that children (15 and younger) would be given priority so they wouldn't be out so late. They'd alternate with the other folks already in line. I was so tired I didn't even get momentarily annoyed by it. And seeing some of the 6-year old kids at the event already asleep in their parents arms, I felt some of the same sentiments he did.

Then I heard the announcement concerning women in an advanced state of pregnancy and began to chuckle softly.

My Neil Gaiman story

So I went up the stairs and handed over my two books for signing. I thanked him for hanging on for so long for all the fans, and responded with an enthusiastic but weary "you're very welcome!"
He still had his wits about him, and noted that the Fantasy anthology I was having him sign was quite possibly the first time he'd signed it anywhere. He also realized he'd never seen the anthology and wrote a big "#1" in the book.

Then he signed my Books of Magic TPB, and we shook hands and I was off rather quickly to allow the other folks in line their shot too.

I had rehearsed a witty remark or two while in line, but after the announcements concerning children and pregnant women, decided that it was best to just thank him, get my books signed and get the heck outta there.

Everyone was tired - no sense in stretching things out.