July 20th, 2013


Two Kids in the Library

Kid One. Looks maybe 15 years old, in a sideways baseball cap and basketball shorts. Skin the color of black coffee, but accompanied by two adults who were more along the lines of milky almond shavings. I'm not sure your relationship with them (foster parents? Adoptive? Aunt and uncle? Grandparents?), but you were all comfortable with each other, scouring the books, suggesting this one or that one, gently teasing each other.

You asked me where the "documentary books" were, already holding a pile of DVDs. I was hesitant about just turning you loose in the nonfiction section, as it's fairly large and not intuitively organized, but when I asked you what subjects you were interested in, all I got was a teenage shrug and, "I dunno. Stuff." So I took you over to our reference librarian. When next I saw you (and I suspect she just did what I'd been hesitant to do, and just threw you straight into deep water in the nonfiction section, because she didn't spend a lot of time picking your brain), you and your parental figures were roaming around, pulling down an impressive number of books off the shelves in all kinds of subjects. When you left, all three of you had stacks of books that took both arms to hold. I tried to recommend specific books, but none of the ones that crossed my mind were on the shelf.

I hope you learn to navigate Dewey. I hope you do not incur late fees on all those books. I hope I see you again.

Kid Two, also a teenager.. Flagged me down and asked me where to find a specific title. Told me this was your first time in the library. You just got your first library card! Welcome! And hooray! I showed you how to search for things on the catalog kiosk. How to tell if the book you were looking for is on the shelf at the branch you're at. It wasn't, so I walked you through how to put in a request. You didn't even know what a call number was, but you were so excited to have a library card. I showed you where your book would have been if we had it on the shelf, so you could maybe find a different book on the same subject. When I saw you later, you were sitting on a couch, trying to get your dad's attention to tell him about your book, while he talked indifferently on a cell phone.

I hope your dad brings you back. I hope your book comes in soon. I hope I see you again. I hope your excitement at having a library card never goes away.

Neil Gaiman!

On June 25th, I worked for four hours in the morning, and then I rode my bike--in record time--from Thornton to Lodo for a Neil Gaiman signing. His last signing tour. And (and!) the only stop on the tour that's in an actual bookstore, and not in a theater or event space. My favorite bookstore and my favorite author. Happy sigh. I sat on the floor in line for about four hours, and then in a hard folding chair for another two hours, then two more hours waiting in line, spending way more time reading books and checking email and talking to people around me than I actually did listening to Neil Gaiman speak. The event space was warm, much warmer than the rest of the bookstore, thanks to malfunctioning air conditioning (and I realized how much time I spend on my bike, because I really didn't find it that hot), but everyone seemed in really good spirits (except for one person who left a nasty note on the TC's Facebook page the next morning; I replied in what I hoped was as reasonable a tone as possible that I thought the person was incorrect in his assessment of the situation). And really, there's way worse ways to spend the day than sitting in a bookstore and reading. I ran into a bunch of people I used to know, from when I used to work there, and it felt nice and familiar and homey. (But then, I suppose the TC has always felt homey with me.) It makes me want to work there again. Maybe someday.

I had him sign American Gods, partly because it's the first book of his that I read, so it always has a special place for me. And partly because (and I'm totally shameless here), it's torn and water stained and coffee stained and I know he likes to see those books come through his line. And he signed Ocean at the End of the Lane, of course, but really only because he had to (I don't personally need multiple signatures of famous people for anyone except maybe Bosstones). I bought Make Good Art, but didn't have him sign it, because that speech--while wonderful--hasn't worked its way into my heart like some of his other stuff has. And of course, I bought all these things even though I forgot that I have a gift certificate to the Tattered Cover at home, so at some point TC will get even more of my money.

He read a bit from Ocean, of course, and renewed my desire to acquire all of the audiobooks performed by Neil Gaiman. Even when he's reading scary things, he sounds calm and comforting. I'm so jealous of his kids, that they got to listen to that every nice of their childhoods (though, of course, my own mom's reading was quite nice). He also answered some questions off of index cards, which the staff had passed out to us before the event started. (There were 1000 people there, and an unknown number of cards, but he only answered like four questions.)

What he said to me, when he saw my copy of American Gods, was, "Any book that looks like it's been read and loved makes me happy." So I basked in the aura of that for a few days (not the thought that I'd made him happy, I know he forgot me six seconds after I left the table. But just that he sounded so nice and pleased and tried to say anything special to me at all, instead of just signing and smiling like he could've done).

So yeah. Met Neil Gaiman. Feel quite happy about it. Other random quotes from the evening:

Neil: I've been keeping track of the number of licensed Doctor Who shirts I've seen on this tour. And it's two.

Neil: Amanda [his wife] likes feelings and stuff. And me being English…and male…umm…

Neil: When someone tells you something [that you've written] doesn't work, they're almost always right. When they tell you why something doesn't work, they're almost always wrong.

Question: What's the best thing about keeping bees?
Neil: Having a hobby that can kill you.