Not just a random string of numbers anymore but my favourite string of numbers in the world.
At six minutes past six in the evening on September 7th 2015 my wonderful wife gave birth to our first child: Olivia Grace Power.
It was the day we both (well all if you included everyone in the extended family) been waiting for for nine months. When the baby's due date came and went we were both on red alert. Anytime I was in work and the phone so much as vibrated I was checking it to see if the main event had started. One morning the lady friend had sent a message whose preview read 'I think you should come home...' and I nearly jumped out of my seat. But when I read the rest of the message it was an invitation to play sick from work and have a day of Netflix binging.
A brilliant plan for sure but not exactly what I was waiting to rush home for
At term you start to get anasy for things to happen and that is coming from the Dad's point of view. The ladyfriend wanted to get things moving for a while at this stage. Each day officially becomes known in medical lingo as 'Term plus...'. By the time we headed into the hospital we were at Term plus nine.
Once again The Soup is going to be a blessing instead of a curse in this matter. I remember the lead up to our trip into the hospital. We had spent the day out shopping and picking up some last bits and bobs from around the shops. I also had to get a new laptop as the plan going forward will be I try and do a day from home work wise and the current laptop struggles when given more jobs than just browse the Internet. I was sitting in the spare room doing the nerdy stuff with it and the ladyfriend commented on how she was having pains in her stomach.
Now according to all the books, websites and support groups one of the big things to have is a birth plan. The ladyfriend, being a PR person by trade, can organise an event to within an inch of its life. Right down to the multiple issues that could cause it go wrong and come up with alternates. So from a very early point she had a plan and that plan was that everything goes naturally to the best of her abilities.
At term minus seven this was easily doable. At term zero the baby decided they had other plans and moved inside the ladyfriend to a different position. This meant that the further from term we got the more likely that Plan A was no longer a runner and that we'd have to consider a C-Section.
But like I said the ladyfriend factors everything into her event planning so while she wasn't exactly happy to hear that the first plan wasn't looking likely she had planned for the change in plan.
Like seriously I'm lucky if I can come up with two changes of clothes for a night out. This woman can come up with multiple ways to bring new life into the world.
Anyway the point of that ramble was that if we had any movement at all it was super important to get herself into the hospital as soon as. So with the dog in the car, my mother informed that she was about to get a four legged lodger, and the bags fired into the car off we went. When we got in the nurses were stellar (I'm going to make a paragraph on that at the end). But the movement, while good, was not the amount that meant we could stay in the hospital. So back to the car, back home, sleep for the dad-in-waiting and a hot bath for the ladyfriend. A few short hours later and the show was well and truly on the road. Back into the car, speed limits optional, and off we went. This time everything was moving in the right direction and it looked like that we might actually have a chance at the first plan.
Much to the ladyfriend's delight.
I won't go into the details of the next few hours but the ladyfriend showed just how her sex has earned the stronger title. The amount of pain she went through while the meds were not fully working was insane, resulting her being known as 'the girl who had the failed epi...my god'.
Alas though the moment came when the medical folk had to make a call and the call was we go down the c-section route. Scary to hear, yes, but these guys know what they are talking about. I'm a tech head, I understand wires and digits and code. Medicine was always a dark art to me, no matter how much I read. So we just went with their advice. Off to theatre we go and a fantastic support staff performed the most life changing operation either myself or the ladyfriend would ever go through.
The birth of our daughter.
One of the most powerful moments in my life was being able to go over to the little table and stare down at this tiny human, less than a minute old, staring back at me. Everything changed in that moment, my world went from being vast and huge to less than thirty-six inches. It needed protecting from harm and encouragement to grow. It had endless possibilities for the future, paths into the unknown that until that second I had never even had to consider. In the infinity of the universe every single random event that has ever happened contributed to this little girl coming into the world.
And staring back at me.
I had the privilege of being able to tell the ladyfriend if it was a boy or girl, a big thing for the dad to be entrusted with since the mother's really do everything else during birth.
In a way this was the strangest meeting a parent can have. A person that did not exist minutes before and yet one we both had been waiting for months to meet.
Luckily their stay in hospital wasn't long and now the three of us are home and settling into the new normal for the foreseeable future.
A normal I wouldn't have any other way.
===The Extra Bit===
As promised above I just wanted to talk a little bit about the nursing and midwife staff in the Coombe Hospital. When we arrived first they were professional to the last, despite the fact we were technically 'wasting time' even though the rules stated we had to come in. They didn't care and they made the experience a breeze. Once we got back in the second time they treated the ladyfriend like it was her first visit again. More they made it like this was the first pregnant lady they had ever dealt with. After we were moved into the labour ward our mid wife was second to none. She guided the ladyfriend through the pain and the meds, made sure she was comfortable (as far as that could be achieved) the entire time. Even when the doctor came in and said a call had to be made the midwife requested that we try at least one 'push' to see if Plan A could be saved still. Something that didn't have to be done, but showed that she was in our corner as much as she was in the medical one. The operating team were amazing as well making the entire experience the least stressful thing that either myself or the ladyfriend had ever been through. Again as if this was the very first baby they had ever brought into the world.
Say what you want about the public health service in Ireland, this hospital goes above and beyond what they need to so that new parents are in a near constant state of ease. These front line medical staff are the real victims of the constant cuts the Government forces on the health sector. If I was told tomorrow that 100% of my property tax for the rest of my life was going straight towards the running of the Coombe I would never complain about it again. It's the blackhole that it goes into which funds the fat cat politicians pensions that I have gripe with.
Not that they will ever see this but to the staff of the Coombe a big thank you from the three of us
Meant to post this yesterday but sure then I mean to post more regular as it is and that never works out.
So, Sunday was the final day of Dublin Comic Con 2015 and I didn't exactly have a lot of stock to get rid of. This made for a hilarious but interesting day on my part.
I rocked in slightly later than the day before and actual bet my stall buddy to our spot. Mr. Larsen had decided that the pair of us where no longer worth sitting near and had shifted desk over to a much better spot. To be fair who could blame him, all myself and the stall buddy did the day before was joke around. Anyway as I set up I found an extra copy of "The Impossible Vicitm".
Seven books just suddenly became eight. Now I had more to work with. Except not really. The day started off a little different to Saturday. Maybe it was because as I arrived the doors where open for the general public, whereas on Saturday I had shown up for the VIP ticket holders. Anyway straight away I had some customers come fishing around. They bought the pair of books and carried on their merry way very happy with the purchase. So far, so good. Not long after a group of friends, I'd say in their mid-twenties, walked past the desk. One of them came over, had a chat with me about the books, read the first chapter of each, then bought both. Straight away his buddy and girlfriend came over. I didn't even have to try the sales pitch with the friend, he just took both and was on his way. However the girlfriend made me hit my stock speed bump.
She also wanted both books.
Here I had a sure fire sale, but only half of the merch that was being asked and no real way to fix it. That is until I brought out the business cards.
See coming up to the con myself and the lady friend had thought up of little gimmicks that might work at the stall. One of them was printing business cards for Filthy Henry but instead of a logo stick on a QR code that linked to the books. It worked a treat. People that didn't have cash, or had cash but would have liked it on Kindle instead, took the cards and went on their way. So I stuck a card into the book, explained situation to the lovely girl, and boom: sale.
Eventually, at around three in the afternoon, I got down to my final copy. A few jokey signs that suggested the purchase would come with a free hug secured the sale and I was done for the weekend.
Which brings us to more lessons learned from the con.
The curse of the male members of my family is that our neutral facial expression, as in default no muscles doing anything mode, is one which suggests "Piss off" would be better than "Approach for chit chat". This bit me over the weekend as I sat at the table and checked out some of the impressive costumes that were on show. A lady came over, didn't buy anything mind you, and just said "You don't look like you want to be here.". This led to me making a conscience effort all weekend to try and at least be smirking at the table.
My face actually hurt afterwards.
While obviously the lesson about stock is a big one, the other is that I need to have more things to sell. T-shirts were one suggested item, but they cost a pretty penny to get made up. However another suggestion was prints of the cover art. This can be done, at very little real cost, but people will buy them hand over fist even if they don't get the book at all. So next year that will be one thing I bring along, maybe even some bookmarks with Filthy Henry artwork on them.
The business cards where a great idea, but they lacked a few details. Namely that I have a facebook page for Filthy Henry and that one code was Kindle and the other was paperback. The cards are getting redesigned and will be back again next time.
Over the weekend you get a strange sense of having said the same words before. This is because you have said them before. Many times, in fact. One thing that I had done prior to the con was print up a few signs that explained who I was, what the series of books was about and what the deal at the table was. This helped out a lot as casual passers didn't have to come up to me and ask questions. They could decide at a glance. Which also cut down on the amount of interaction I had to do with people. Those who approached had decided themselves that they wanted more info on the book.
Next time I will be doing the same. The signs had some comedy on them as well, a fact that people mentioned liking when we started to chat, but it didn't have a lot of info on each book. Next year I will have pop up stands that explain things better.
Which brings me to...
Pop up stand
The lady friend is a dab had at public relations and mentioned that I should get a pop up stand for the stall. As they cost a few pennies and I wasn't sure if I was doing another con after this I decided to pass.
Nearly all the self published comics had them and they are eye-catchers. Next year I will have one as well.
Which means that, in summary, next year I should probably start planning for .
Today was the first day of Dublin Comic Con 2015 and my first time going to a convention full stop as a person selling stuff to the convention population. I wasn't really sure what to expect if I am being honest. I've been to cons in the past, game ones mainly, and last year attended Dublin Comic Con. So I at least knew about the costumes and the people with personalities buzzing with energy.
But as a person selling stuff: no idea.
As it happens I learned a few things at the con today.
So, as the lady friend will attest to, I am not the biggest believer in my own work. I don't know what it is and I have spoken about it before on The Bauble, but basically I am my own worst critic. This means that when it came to ordering stock for the con I was a glass half-empty kinda guy. "Nobody is going to buy my crap!" I declared to the lady friend after she suggested I get an order of one hundred books, fifty of each, for the con. After some conversations back and forth we agreed that maybe twenty five of each book would be better, safer even.
Turns out I should have gone with the first number. I walked into the convention centre today with fifty books to sell. At the end of the day I had seven to sell. With another day of the con to sit through. I mean...how daft was that. Turns out people will buy books from a nobody if they like the sound of the book. It turns out that if you have a good deal on the day, people will purchase it.
It turns out people actually do want to read stories about a fairy detective solving magical crime.
Lesson is over order the damn books for next year. What doesn't get sold can be stored for the next con.
Through a bunch of events I was solo at the stall today. Not that this was a huge deal for me, I generally can handle being on my onesie without any bother. Plus the years doing standup comedy have allowed me to develop a "talk to the wall" ability, handy when you need to take with a stranger or twenty.
But when I was going into the centre today I figured that having buddies with the other stall runners around me wouldn't be the dumbest thing in the world to do. Just turns out that the person beside me had the exact same idea. We hit it off fairly handy, joking back and forth. Sharing some tips on our various wares. Watching the gear and what not. To be honest it really did make the day go a lot quicker. During those moments of nobody standing at our table we just had some banter. If anyone reading this ever ends up running a stall at a convention of any sort, make buddies with the stall runners near you.
Great friendships have been forged over less.
Con Stall Rules
This isn't something set in stone, but it bears mention. The guy beside me had been at five conventions before today and over that time had come up with a list of rules. Now, these rules are more like the rules out of "Wedding Crashers", i.e. a random number was assigned to a sweeping statement. However the rules made a lot of sense. They were hilarious, sure, but still there was a nugget of logic behind each of them.
Erik Larsen is a gentleman
Last year there was only one person that I was bothered getting a John Hancock from. This year it was the same. It just turned out that the person I wanted to get something signed was sitting directly behind me. Without any bother to him at all he turned around and signed my comic, even though there was a line of people at his stall at the time. Then when he came back from lunch he stopped to talk with me and see how my day was going. This is a guy who founded Image Comics, talking to a ginger lad from Lucan.
I was interviewed twice during the day. The first time was for the radio and if you listen to Newstalk on Monday at around nine in the morning you might hear my Dublin tones infect your ears. The second time was by these people who are making a documentary about comic conventions in Ireland. What did I learn from these two events?
I need to get my shit together.
I waffled like it was going out of fashion. I have stood on stage in crowded pubs with strangers and rattled off jokes no bother. Yet when I am asked about a subject that I am a bloody subject master on, being that I invented the subject of Filthy Henry, I sound like a drunk who has learned English by accident. Next time I am going to have flash cards and just read off them.
Easier that way.
Overall though, as a first con selling my books, it couldn't have gone better. True I have only seven books to sell tomorrow but sure if I didn't then some of this entry wouldn't have been as entertaining to read .