Neil Gaiman speaking event in Lexington Kentucky

It was a Thursday which had for many years been the day of running errands and eating food with the family. Specifically my mother, Rei and me. It has been a tradition since I was a teenager. My mother had Thursdays off so that was the day we did stuff. However I’d already moved to Columbus. (admittedly I’d only slept there in my room two nights prior to this return.) None the less I’d moved.  So already Thursdays weren’t Thursdays anymore.

You see it was a sad morning of melancholy long before the funeral.

The funeral had a huge turn out. It was a room full of sad so thick the air caught in your throat and choked you. It stung your eyes to red watery irritation despite your best efforts to be cool. He was a good man as I said before. He did right by his family and was beloved by his friends. He was genuinely one of the funniest people I’ve ever known and he always gave people nicknames. He called me Katrina and I liked that. I always thought of the hurricane. Not that I want to be a powerful force of destruction, more as in I’d like to have some impact on something or someone. I’m sure I have and maybe it wasn’t good, maybe Katrina is very appropriate…

There are people who die old and it’s sad yeah but when somebody dies before they reach old age you can’t help but feel a little cheated. It’s like you think this person should have been here and some things would be better if maybe they were still around. I have my own loss in mind when I say that however I feel I can sympathize with what my friend is going through thanks to previous experience.

I had to leave early. I was only there for twenty minuets. I’d spent the morning hours looking for my old donut t-shirt from when I worked for him that summer. I really wanted to wear it and I was so mad I couldn’t find it. Instead I carried a coffee for he was always been drinking coffee.

The drive to Lexington was farther than I’d anticipated. I had plans to meet with some guys from the event page so I could not stop to stretch legs and let car chill despite really wanting to. I got there at least an hour later than I’d planned to. The dude I messaged is the owner of a comic book store in Cincinnati which is totally cool. The friend with him was tall and also a cool nerd so we talked much about comics, art, books, movies and such.

We ate at Buttrubbin BBQ which had a giant basketball wildcat out front? Inside the place was decorated with pigs everywhere. It reminds me of some grandmas kitchen when the grandma is an avid pig stuff collector. Even the Please wait to be seated sign had pink piggy ears.

The BBQ was delicious and I keep failing at not eating meat lately but this one was well well worth it. There were three BBQ sauces on the table decorated with hand illustrated pigs that match the cute sauce names. I did the spicy BBQ I always choose spicy when given a choice.

We didn’t have time for anything else in Lexington. I saw many cool looking places as we drove to the event center. I wished I could wander around and discover the city.

Inside the event center looked fancy and nice however crowded and smaller than I expected. I got my copy of the new book. I’d also brought with me a copy of Endless Nights for Mr.  Gaiman to sign. There was a bar and food buffet in the back. We did not partake however we did sit in the very back row. I wasn’t thrilled to be so far back however it turned out to be very nice to not be sitting alone.

The introduction was hilarious and I zoned out a few times to imagine being friends with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I imagine we would have jokes and good times and tell each other about cool hole in the wall places we found. (I should tell you I was really into The Dresden Dolls when I was in high school, and Neil Gaiman was my hands down favorite author back then. Some of us lucky people in the audience we given Amanda’s newest CD which I listened to on the car ride home. I genuinely like a few of the tracks others aren’t as much to my taste. I can however appreciate a concept album and their concept is clear and well formed with this one.[listen to the track about finding Lacy’s fishnets.])

Neil himself was cool as shit and funny too. He read from this new book and from a children’s story that won’t even be released until fall. I cranked my head painfully to the left to see over the shoulder of the guy in front of me. I took a shitty picture on my shitty phone. Part of me regrets not bringing my digital camera and part of me is glad I spent more time in the moment than in trying to capture an image.

The autographs were done section by section. I was in F and the guys I’d been hanging with were in B. They had another friend and that guy was in M or something which is really close to last. Anyway that guy and me ended up talking non stop until my letter was called. He was very nice and I enjoyed talking to him. I suspect he hasn’t met many nerdy girls before.

In line for the autograph I made friends by offering gum to the people around me. A skinny tall blonde guy ended up talking to me the most. However when he had never heard of Mirror mask I couldn’t help but look down upon him with an elitist scorn. I saw an old guy in line with The last Temptation a the thing Neil did with Alice in Chains and I was greatly impressed. It seems to be one of his lesser known works. If I owned a copy of Quotable Sandman I would have had him sign that. I almost stole it from my public library I’m serious. It’s not in print any more but I’ve seen it on amazon I’m just poor and lazy.

So as the line is getting closer to the end I’m starting to feel a bubbling anxiety. I take some pictures on my phone, shitty as standard, and I’m spacing in and out on the blonde guy. I catch every couple of sentences from him and then flat out ignore him when the girl takes the book from me and my ears take on the rush of adrenaline.

I have a copy of Melancholy Evil Poptart to give him. It’s rough, it’s depressing and it’s not even finished. I printed out my rough sketch ideas so he can at least see how it ends. He also got a few finished panels before I’d published them on this site. Anyway I feel like Poptart is a personal story to me. I had to tell that story and I had to finish it. I could not legally ever make money from it. I had no school assignment, no class requirement. I get absolutely nothing out of it. I’m doing it purely for me and I do sort of feel like it’s helping me to progress as a person. I feel like my drinking has been more under control lately, and I’m getting better at dealing with the sad when it strikes out of nowhere punching me upside the head so hard I fall into bed and don’t ever want to get back up again… And I’ve been more productive which has taken some pushing but I like to think I’m on the way to being the driven girl I once was. Focused on my stupid little creations the things that make me most happy in life.

And so I gave it to him because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. Boone thought had thought was a silly and stupid idea. He was discouraging. I told him well he has over a million followers on Twitter maybe he’ll tweet it and people will actually look at my site. Truth be told I don’t feel like I have enough out there yet to start trying to promote anyway. I don’t care if he mentions it to the cab driver. For me it was like I showed him a piece of myself. Like hi this is me. And he doesn’t have to like it, just to see it… The acknowledgement alone, that was my goal.

When I was a little girl the other kids used to play this game called ignore Kate. It’s simple enough they would just ignore me no matter what I did. No matter how I danced, or screamed or cried they pretended they could not see nor hear me. Sometimes one would say “where is Kate” as I blocked the sidewalk before them but my sister always responded with “who is that?” as If I had never been.

Occasionally they would laugh and maybe once or twice they forgot the game and all was good. However I remember it going on for too long, lead by my sister of course, and so I gave up and just went home. Always trying to make the most of a situation I learned to play by myself. I learned to have fun on my own and I still have some of that ability to this day. I remember a birthday party, possibly that same year because it was the same kids, we were at Captain Bogeys where there were rides, a play-land, games and prizes. It was my birthday I was under the age of ten. I went around all by myself playing games, climbing up things I shouldn’t and stuff like that. A little later I realized my sister and all the other kids were playing together and had been for hours. It wasn’t that they had been dis-including me, simply that I had instinctively gone to have fun on my own. I joined them a bit there at the end. I remember mixed feelings part of me sad to have missed out on group fun and part of me feeling a sort of strength in this new idea that maybe you don’t really need other people. If you want to do something you can do it other people are unnecessary and that is the kind of freedom many adults still don’t understand.

So anyway I had my copy of MEP and it was in the book and I explained to the girl I wanted to give it to him. She saw my nervousness and smiled saying with a genuine friendly “You can give it to him yourself that’s the fun part.”

And there was Neil Gaiman the ineffably cool best selling author who I’d been reading since I was a teenager. Someone who’s work I really respect and admire.

He was going through the stack of books fairly quickly people were just sort of breezing past him and I thought to myself; you have to say something to him. Don’t just breeze by say something. And so he came to my books and I opened my mouth a out spilled words like I’d been choking on water. I spoke very quickly I told him I really love all his work and comic books and everything and I’d been reading his stuff for a really long time and I think he’s just great. I said it in one massive slur that he probably did not even understand.

Then something surprising happened. He stopped what he was doing and looked up at me. His hand stopped moving mid signature and he seemed to be genuinely noticing my existence.

I handed him my Melancholy Evil Poptart and I told him; “This is a stupid webcomic I did and at least I can say I gave it to you.” He looked at it and said “Now what is this?” He asked me a question and I had to explain. I told him it started as a comic book in middle school me and my friends passed around and now this is about us all grown up and him trying to find meaning in life. I warned him that it was really depressing. He looked at the cover and said “I’ll read this… Melancholy Evil Poptart” He seemed to find humor in the title. He shook my hand. He fucking shook my hand and I felt far more acknowledgement than I’d ever expected from going to this event.

So in conclusion the long drive was so so very worth it. I’m not really into autographs to tell you the truth. It’s cool to have but not something I’m an avid seeker of. I’m sure some people would squirm to see how casually I read my signed copy of Ocean at the end of the lane. But for me the handshake and acknowledgement would have been enough. Those signatures were just a bonus.

In a gas station of the drive home I used the bathroom and bought some gummy worms because the sign said bathroom for paying customers only. An Indian guy at the counter told me I was beautiful. I shyly told him thank you. As I went to leave he said me to; “Keep shinning.”

I got home around three in the morning high from adventures and happy with my life. I have developed a habit of setting goals for myself and then achieving those goals.  I’m not relying on other people I’m making my own life awesome. I do exist. I’ve created my own awesome existence.

Buttrubbing BBQ in Lexington KY