Posts Tagged ‘Lucien’

Meeting Neil.

I think it is a good measure of the man that people who had never read his work lined up to hear him read, and speak. I heard from Donna (who was handling the event) that there were people who tried to queue at half past midnight. Not all of them were old fans. Many had been drawn to the Saturday event by Neil’s talk on Thursday, where he spoke of elephant chains, fish caught in shadows and why writers always become facetious when asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”

When I met him, he was having breakfast with his son. He signed two books for Lucien. I had brought a pen for him, a Waterman 5 red ripple with a pink (flexible) nib, and we had a brief, lovely conversation about fountain pens before heading to the waiting area beside the stage.

I allowed myself 15 seconds of fangirl squeal-and-jump before taking the podium to introduce Neil. I referred to his Thursday talk (which is a very creative-director-tying-everything-together thing to do), told the audience the general flow of the morning’s talk and signing, and managed to squeeze in why Lucien’s name is Lucien (a factoid that elicited awwws from the audience, much to my surprise).

Neil read the entire first chapter of what he entitled The Graveyard Book, in the spirit of The Jungle Book, because instead of a boy raised by jungle animals, we have a boy raised by ghosts. “It takes a graveyard to raise a child.” We met a toddler who had difficulty with stairs that go up but had no fear of stairs that go down; Jack, an assassin; and Mr. and Mrs. Owens, dead 300 years and still with a yen for childrearing.

There were many questions from the audience, ranging from the serious (on the heartbreak of feeling unoriginal) to the urgent (who does your hair?). I combined the similar ones and worked in follow-up questions. On the elements of various myths and folklore he included in the Sandman, he mentioned that it did feel like the Myth of the Month Club at some point – this after he spoke of cultural tourism, and manananggals. The Q&A took about 30 minutes.

When we got down from the stage, he hugged me and said, “Good job!”

It was better than winning an Araw.

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Everything is black. Except for a top and a pair of not-so-short shorts, which verge on khaki and are just as invisible as black if needed. I spent more time choosing which pens to bring than which clothes to pack; this is normal. I didn’t bring anything for Neil Gaiman to sign. I am still very happy with what he signed for Lucien the last time he came to visit.

I am moderating the Saturday morning session with Neil. I promise not to blather on about why my son’s name is Lucien Constantine. There will be many hangovers from the Friday night parties and that means pish-posh, moderation, we don’t need you at all. So I will be relaxed. (Inside I will be shrieking in pure fangirl form. But you don’t really need to see that, do you?)

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I already miss our new old house and we’ve not been back a day. I call it the new old house because it’s a new house filled with old things, an accretion of crocheted antimacassars, floral bedspreads, ceramic animals, free tumblers, glow-in-the-dark holy figurines and back issues dating to the invention of the printing press, courtesy of several generations of single women whose genes forbade them to throw anything away.

I didn’t make it to the cemetery, although my mom, sister and relatives went in shifts. I communed with the dead in my own way, rooting through plastic boxes buried in dust and filled with our past. I saw my grandaunt’s bifocals. A box labeled “Allied Pickfords,” one of the many that carried my Jakarta belongings home, a decade ago. Socks I remembered buying in college. Newspaper clippings.

The rest of the house is waiting for the present to move in. In the meantime, it feels like we’re camping every time we’re there. Which isn’t a bad thing, really.

This will be my room and Lucien’s. When he gets old enough to have his own room, I’ll have a divider put in. Or maybe even a proper wall.

This is my most idiosyncratic suggestion for the house: a bathtub hollowed out of a single piece of narra wood. It’s a beautiful piece. It came with a drain hole. My mom thought of everything else, including the faucets and the plug. It needs to be “seasoned” with mineral oil, so the wood doesn’t absorb the bathwater.

Lucien is not at all concerned with the state of the house. In fact, he expended most of his energy attracting all the dust to his feet, knees and hands.

In spite of the mall peeking out from behind the trees, it’s still a bucolic view. I even spotted a cow. Which reminds me – I used to have a neon pink stuffed cow-hamster hybrid I called the Ruminant Mutant. (“Rumi” for short.) I wonder if it’s hiding somewhere in the house. I wouldn’t be surprised. It would make a perfect companion for Lucien’s toy, which was the only casualty of our adventure:

Now he’s a survivor, that one.

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So were you depressed?
Don’t you think you look like your mom with that haircut?
Yes. But she’s prettier.
Why did you do it?
My hair was fried. It was futile to try to save it.
But hasn’t your hair been fried a while?
Yes, but I never noticed because it was always up in a bun.
Who cut your hair?
Oreo at Propaganda in Greenbelt 1.
So what happens to all your hair accessories?
I might give them away.
What did Lucien think of your hair?
He gawked, then smiled, then tugged my bangs. Then everything was back to normal.
Do you blowdry everyday?
I bought a new blowdryer. Whether it will be wielded daily remains to be seen.
So you’re sure you’re not depressed?
Yes, I’m quite sure.

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