June 16 has come to be known as "Bloomsday" as the entire novel, "Ulysses," took place on that day---the day that James Joyce first met his lifetime partner, and later wife, Nora Barnacle.
And, this morning, I awoke with the same sense of panic I've felt for the past seven years at the approach of Bloomsday two days from now. Yet another year, and no closer to bringing the story of the censorship battle to publish "Ulysses" to the big screen. If ever I meet Mr. Joyce in the next world, I thought, he'll kill me.
Covered with the kind of sweat that typically comes when one is behind with studying for one's Final Exam, I thought---well, now, here's the solution. Maybe this is not a dream, maybe it's a delusion. Maybe destiny isn't cable ready after all. Maybe there is no inspired hook-up with his Bloomship. So, I thought I'd do what JJ might himself do, and jumped out of the bed in my pajamas raced over to the bookcase, and quickly grabbed "Ulysses."
The book nearly fell to pieces in my hands. Call me superstitious, but I placed it on the kitchen table, closed my eyes, put my right hand on the cover and, as if approaching Tarot cards, took a deep breath. Wherever I open it, I'll find some kernel of truth as to whether or not the past seven plus years of my life have been wasted on the illusion of a telekinetic journey.
As luck would have it, the book opened at page 396----good strong numbers, I thought, all divisible by three---Joyce would have liked this. But, to my chagrin, unlike all the other pages in the novel that are ensconced in my scribbles, there's not the hint of ink on this page. Hmmmm..... strange, I thought; nothing underlined?
But, as I was just about to close the book, two-thirds down the page, I found the following:
"So Thursday sixteenth June Patk. Dignmam laid in clay of an apoplexy and after hard drought, please God, rained, a bargeman coming in by water a fifty mile or thereabout with turf saying the seed won't sprout..."
"All the world saying, for aught they knew, the big wind of last February a year that did havoc the land so pitifully a small thing beside this barrenness."
Can't help but think, in a novel nearly 800 pages strong, it is not by coincidence that both June and February would find their way to my eyes.
"Ulysses" was published on February 2, 1922.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, on this "sixteenth June Pakt," join me in remembering the "big wind" of that February "so pitifully a small thing beside this barrenness," and in hoping the story of how "Ulysses" fought the censors to take its first breath upon this swollen globe, as only I can tell it, will yet see the light of day.