Jim Jewell: A day in the life...

Jim Jewell • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:56 PM

James Joyce’s novel Ulysses was published in Paris in 1922 and, is recognized for establishing the “Modernist” movement in literature.

The novel takes place in one day in Dublin, Ireland, Joyce’s home. It wanders in and out with side plots, the writer’s observations, and some flings into some unexpected corners. It is a difficult read, something for literature lovers to read and cherish, but not for many others. 

I found a signed original print copy in a bookstore adjacent to a pub on a side street in Dublin in 2005rip. I would have purchased it, but it cost more than the U.S. national debt. I opted for a Guiness stout next door instead.

My wife accuses me of being like Ulysses, not in the literature sense but in my behavior. She has a point. Last week, I had a day in which my forgetfulness had me truly wandering.

With apologies to James Joyce, here’s a description of last Tuesday:

It actually began the night before when I discovered I had left my laptop power cord at the office. Also, I found my key ring’s clips had loosened, and my mailbox key was gone. I decided to change my key ring and leave early in the morning to make up for work I had planned for the evening.

I arrived at the tugboat pier around 5 a.m. No one else had arrived. This was okay because I enjoy walking the pier and across the long gangway to my barge office in the early morning in the bayside quiet and the dew causing my footprints to trail down the wooden pier. But when I arrived at my office, I discovered my office key had also slipped from the key ring I had forgotten to change.

I decided to work from the main office on the pier, opened the combination lock to the emergency key, opened the office, and turned off the alarm. I then realized I couldn’t work because the power cord was locked in my office. Caught, I went about some chores until a couple of people drifted in an hour later.

The day went moderately well until mid-afternoon when a work crisis occurred. My planned departure around three extended toward five. As the potential problem was resolved, I returned to my office, gathered my two bags including the power cord, and went back to the office to close up for the night with the dispatcher, Pat Neal.

When I arrived there, I discovered I had left my mobile phone in my barge office, which was locked again. I called my office mate at home. He had the only other key. I arranged to pick it up, make a copy, and go in early again the next morning. I also called Maureen (from the office phone) and left a voice mail noting it would be at least 6 before I arrived home. 

Locking up, Pat and I walked down the pier when I discovered I had left one of my bags in the main office. Turning around, I went through the combination lock, door lock, and alarm ritual to retrieve my bag. Finally, I walked the pier one last time and approached my car.

In the pre-sunset sun, something glinted next to the right rear tire. The glinting object was the key to my barge office. Nearly all of my problems would have been resolved by looking for the key over 12 hours earlier.

Have you ever had one of those days? At least, James Joyce was probably laughing.

Sometimes at my age, I long for returning home from the Southwest corner. It seems as if things were much simpler back home, and I was of keen mind, minus absent mindedness.

But perhaps, that is just my memory glossing over the way it really was or my fondness for Lebanon obscuring current reality. Perhaps it is really my age bringing me into “CRS” (“Can’t Remember Stuff” – and I cleaned that up). I wonder if age or the frenetic pace of living out here has turned me into a model of forgetfulness

Regardless, last Tuesday was a rather remarkable day of forgetfulness. As I was narrating the events to my brother, I realized in some strange way, it was actually sort of fun. I’m afraid Paul Simon’s song nailed me. The song is “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

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