Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Life's Not Fair

On June 20, 2013 I went to a book signing for Neil Gaiman in Saratoga Springs, New York. He's a best-selling author and a writer of science fiction, horror, television, movies, comic books, and fantasy. I'm more than a fangirl of his. He falls with a very short list of my favorite authors. In order to get to his signing on time I made my mother drive out to Boston to get me, which is an eight hour trip for her and requires a commitment to bring me back. The book was published June 18th, but I wanted to be sure that at the signing on the 20th I would know what was going on so I read the entire book in 48 hours. My mother and I finished the book in the parking lot of the signing. I was glad I finished it, though, because it helped me decide what I was going to say when I got my twenty seconds with Neil Gaiman. I had the page with my favorite quote dog-eared and I was excited beyond belief by the time we arrived an hour before the program began. I knew he was popular, but I didn't expect the 1,500 people that actually showed up. After all, Saratoga's population is only 25,000 people. When we walked in we were assigned a signing group. I pulled group F. I didn't know if that was bad. I mean after all F isn't terrible if you use all the letters in the alphabet. I sat contentedly during the reading that preceded the signing with the knowledge that we were at the venue plenty early. When they started calling numbers it became apparent F wasn't good. It put us near the end and meant we would have to wait at least five or six hours. The people that sat behind us were a full ten minutes later than my mother and me, but they got C. The assignments must have been random, but it felt personal. It felt like the fact that my book with the dog-eared page marking my favorite quote meant nothing. It didn't matter that I had the perfect thing to say in twenty seconds. I wasn't going to get my twenty seconds because our whole family was coming to town. We needed to be home before midnight.

I walked out of that signing extremely sullen. If I'm honest there were tears involved. I didn't want to be upset, but there was nobody to be angry with so I could only blame myself for getting my own hopes up. It wasn't Neil Gaiman's fault that he had that many fans. It wasn't the bookstore's fault that they had a system that didn't favor me. I looked at my mom and said, "One of the ideas of the book was that life isn't fair. I guess he's just reinforcing it." I stand by that. I would have liked to tell Neil Gaiman that his books have been entertaining me for years and that his latest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane was particularly poignant because the overall theme is owing someone your life and nobody knows better than someone who had a heart transplant what it's like to have to grow up and be worth another human life, but I didn't get that opportunity. 

By the end of the drive home I had settled into a moderate angst. After unpacking my suitcase I checked my mail and there was a package for me. I didn't know what it was, but I had a guess. The package was a book called Sea of Sorrows. It was written by Ree Soesbee who is definitely my favorite author ever. She works at ArenaNet as a Narrative Designer for Guild Wars 2 and is entirely made of awesome. I liked her writing way before Guild Wars and now that she has written a novel set in Tyria where my favorite video game exists I like her writing even better. I carefully unwrapped the book and saw a post-it note with her signature on it. After announcing that I was keeping the post-it forever I flipped the book open to see if she signed it. I figured it would be silly to ship the book across the country if it wasn't signed. It was, of course, and even had a nice note. I started crying again at the note. I've never had a signed book before. As I read and re-read the note I caught a glimpse of my name and wondered which Emily Ree had dedicated the book to. It was me. My next thought was that this was a special copy just for me. My father reminded me that they don't do that with paperback books. Ree has since confirmed that every single book is dedicated to me. It blows my mind. The book comes out today and thousands of people will read that dedication. Thousands of humans will know that Ree thinks I'm important. It's cool beyond belief. It's honoring and humbling and it makes me wish there were bigger words for thankful. 
As I was failing to process my over-emotional day I said, "I guess life isn't fair in both directions." It is so unfair that I was lucky enough to meet a woman as amazing as Ree, even if it was only for a day. There are a lot of people that would have wanted to go on that Make-a-Wish, but I was the one that did. My brother bought me that game as a present randomly. My heart failure was anything but fair. I have been so fortunate that I have met spectacular people and I always have plenty of chocolate to eat, but I've been miserably unlucky that my heart failed and I didn't get twenty seconds with Neil Gaiman. Life's not fair. Sometimes on the same day that one amazing author blows you off an even better one dedicates a book to you. None of it will ever make sense to me because I'm so small and insignificant compared to life, but I can tell you that I enjoy being alive even when I pull an F for my signing group.

Thank you Ree. It's a great book. Everyone should go buy it.


Unknown said...

You are 100% welcome, my friend. I hope you enjoy the read.

- Ree/Learsfool

Chris said...

I can understand your emotions... It's so great, and I can just congratulate you for this beam of pure sunlight, that must have hit you. Enjoy the book; I will start tomorrow ;)

Anonymous said...

Must be an awesome feeling to get a book dedicated to oneself :) I think sometimes its just chance that has the most impact on our life's.

Unknown said...

I'd get a copy heck I even need to order the other two books in the same run. x)

I hope you are happy I can't even imagine how it would feel to get a book dedicated to oneself. But I guess the feeling would be quite awesome.

Unknown said...

Not going to lie, I teared up reading this. You are incredible and inspiring, and Ree is one of the coolest people in the world. I am glad you two got to meet, and that you got such a wonderful present.

Unknown said...

Awesome Post - this was great.

Emi Elise said...

I enjoyed your post and on a whim, I shared it:

Neil Gaiman - Facebook