There was a power outage in my city yesterday, and I was stuck in the sort of situation that no millennial would ever want to be in; I had no internet. I grew up in Lebanon and I was used to power outages, so I’ve pretty much got the Stone Age methods of survival down pat. Smoke signals? Sure. Build a fire to cook a can of hotdogs? Certainly!
But here, in this new, shiny, wonderful city, it was the first time I’d experienced a power outage. I thought that I had somehow burnt out the entire city, that I must have flipped the wrong light switch, flushed the toilet wrong, or something, and suddenly, the power grid just died because of it. The boyfriend wasn’t home, so I had no forms of entertainment. And let’s face it, I’m not going to spend the next few hours scrubbing my floors with a toothbrush or watching some movie that I deemed worthy enough to download but have seen 487 times before.
So, the first book I picked up was Dubliners, by my beloved James Joyce. The covers were frayed and the pages were worn and soft. I could smell that familiar, comforting vanilla scent that got me addicted to books when I was little. I turned to the story that had introduced me to James Joyce and his world of mundane beauty; Eveline.
The first time I read it, I fell in love with Eveline. I felt her heart pounding with uncertainty and fear, her mind racked by thoughts of running away, her heavy breathing, her worried eyes staring through the window right at me, every detail in that story was real. Soon after, I went and bought the book and became a Joycean within an hour of binge-reading.
But I’m not here to ramble on about James. It’s what rereading that book does to you. Dubliners is, in essence, a book that celebrates beauty and life. It describes these banal and normal scenes in the lives of the most average, random characters, but in such a way that forces you to see the beauty in the mundane and the prosaic. It’s something I and others often forget to do, perhaps because of how fast-paced or tedious life can be.
How I wish I could be a writer like that, one that can lure the reader’s eyes to the hidden beauty in their writing. Joyce has this uncanny way of doing that, and it magically manages to merge both gentility and nodosity with such effortlessness that it makes you jealous. Some people daydream about Channing Tatum, while I daydream about an author who died seventy-odd years ago. Go figure.
Then, quite abruptly, out of the messy wreckage that was left out on the porch by the plumbers who renovated our pipes last week, a monstrous little mosquito flew in through the window and bee-lined it into my face. You know that sound they make? It’s like the sound a missile makes when it’s zeroing in on its target. Oh, I lived in Lebanon, remember? This little bloodsucking fiend interrupted my damned reverie. I promptly waved it away from my eye socket, and waited patiently for it to feel confident enough to fly back towards my face and try again, and CLAP! Haha, ta tu diabhal beag, nach bhfuil tu ag dul a fhail ar mo fola! –
Oh, sorry, drifted off for a second there. I really hate mosquitoes.
Anyway, I returned to my musings on life and Joyce. I have a habit of waxing philosophic when I’m bored. Whether thoughts or moments like these are worthy of being written down and shared or not, I don’t really know or care, but I admire the fact that Joyce believed that they were. I like to think that they are, too. It’s interesting to observe life sometimes. It’s just rife with little things to notice and be fascinated by, from the most ordinary to the most peculiar.