Bloomsday: a liveblogging event

9:47am running late! 

9:53am One of my professors in college chose majoring in English over majoring in history because the English classes were in the afternoon and history classes or in the morning. Based on this I feel like they will probably not start on time.

9:58am parked! Paid! Crossing the street!

10:01 well, I was right about it not starting on time.

There are about five older gentlemen who appear to be associated with this event. Also one fan girl. There’s a camera set up. The guy who I assume will be reading is wearing a jaunty cap. I hope he has the best Irish accent.

10:03 a young woman is joining me at my table! She seems ok! I think there’s a high baseline for this type of event though. 

An Irish lady just came over to welcome us and said we are a “rare group.”

10:07 a couple new people are here, a younger guy and a few more women. Maybe 12 all together.

I forgot to say we are at Crazy Mocha in Bloomfield. We will be reading The Lotus Eaters.

10:11 the Irish woman is doing an introduction. This is their 27th time doing this event. She said the book is like an onion. I like that. The man with the jaunty hat is not reading; the reader is the guy who looks like your philosophy professor.


10:16 reading has begun! Philosophy Prof has a lovely accent. Time to listen.

10:23 I do enjoy this section; it is the one I was assigned to present on in college so I read it closer than many of the others. 


10:29 I just did some math based on a line in the book and realized I’m the same age as Leopoldo Bloom. I’m so old.

10:38 we skipped ahead a bit and now we are almost done already! A few more people have come, including inexplicably a woman in my demographic.

10:40 someone unrelated to the reading has apparently been in the men’s room too long and is getting yelled at by a guy who wants to use it. Drama!

10:42 he came out. Anticlimactic. Now Bloom is buying the lemon soap. My favorite part.

10:46 and we are done! I think I’m going to go to the fancy soap store in Lawrenceville on my way home and buy some lemon soap. Next reading I’ll be attending is at 1, so check back then.

10:49 I lied. We are still here. Some guy asked who Henry Flower is so there is some discussion of what is actually going on in the book. The Irish woman says she is no expert on Ulysses but this is clearly false because she’s a clever Irish genius. 

10:54 now we are talking about symbolism. It’s like being in class! I love this.

11:10 the fancy soap store is not open ūüė¶

1:03 and we are back! We are at Murphy’s Tap Room in Regent Square for Laestrygonians. 

I brought a friend this time. 

And we are the youngest people here by about three decades. 

And also the only ones not drinking, which I hope to fix soon. 

1:08 my friend made a friend. I’m too much of a bitch for people to approach me so I’m just sitting here trying to figure out if I need to go to the bar or what. He’s saying he knows her from something. I am starting to think he’s hitting on her.

1:13 I got us some whiskeys and now the Irish lady is doing an introduction again. They have a microphone here so much easier to hear. 

There’s a new guy going to read, he looks like your priest.

1:14 maybe he just looks like Father Ted.

1:18 I think it’s just the hair. Anyway, we are off!

  1:24 my favorite is when people laugh at the little jokes. Those folks are in deep.

1:30 man sat next to me with an unsettled Guinness. It always amazes me that people don’t complain about that in the U.S., and you would think at this event of all events they would let the Guinness settle.

1:36 love me some Plumtree’s potted meat.


1:43 they just passed ham sandwiches around. That was nice. 

1:51 there are close to 25 people at this one. The whole bar is full.

1:53 I’m sad I’m not going to hear Cyclops this year but I have gone to that reading at least twice. Good to beach out.

I feel like the longer I’m here I’m going to start writing the posts like Joyce. Back hurts. Old. Whiskey’ll help.

And we are done! My Irish heroine is complimenting the reader and he did do a good job. Now we are talking about what’s going on in the book again.

1:57 a lady just said to me “I thought that was very nice” on her way out. So it was!

The Irish lady said this chapter makes her want to be a vegetarian. Truth.

1:58 apparently Dublin is too cosmopolitan now and the accents you hear in the book are not around as much. There is discussion about whether this is good.

2:01 ooh snap, now we are talking about immigration in Ireland.

2:02 two guys just showed up. They missed the whole thing!

2:04 laestrygonians are cannibals. I had to google it. I know nothing.

2:05 now my friend is obsessed with the Irish lady too. The Irish lady used to write about food in Joyce for the Washington Post. I mean of course. “Who is she?” My friend asked me. “Anne the Irish lady,” I told her.

2:08 I’m having a ham sandwich now. We are wrapping up now. I think.

2:10 there are cardboard rolls over the bar and “Norah” is spelled out on some of them. For today, or always? If always, why?

2:12 I want to eat more sandwiches.

2:13 we are discussing whether it is feasible to take the children to the 5:30 Cyclops reading now. I think we are going to try it. 

2:14 and we are done! Check back at 5:30 for Cyclops with Zoe. PERFECT!!

2:53 after further review of schedules, it seems like we may not be able to make it to the next reading. Stupid family obligations! 

3:01 well, no matter what happens, live blogging was a success because my college professor who taught the class enjoyed this post. Thanks Nancy!


Bloomsday: A Preview


When I was in college, I signed up to take a class on James Joyce’s Ulysses. ¬†What followed was an epic saga into what is often described as one of the best books ever written*. ¬†My pride at being able to (mostly) complete this book is akin to that of people who have run marathons, joined Crossfit, successfully birthed triplets, etc. ¬†Following college I worked at a company where I read literary journals and wrote short summaries of the articles (because that was a job in the late 1990s; everything¬†was a job in the late 1990s) and of course I¬†was assigned to both literary journals that focused on James Joyce**.

James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place on a single day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin, Ireland. ¬†It primarily tells the story of Leopold Bloom, but also Stephen¬†Dedalus, in their travels around the city. ¬†It¬†links to¬†Homer’s Odyssey. ¬†It’s a modernist book, and it’s very dependent on a through understanding of Irish history and culture (which was obtained for me primarily from guidebooks I read on the side, and the occasional drinking song that I learned from my uncles). ¬†Because of this, it’s somewhat inaccessible. ¬†However, it’s got wonderful depth, and the language is¬†deliciously¬†immersive, and once you get your arms around what’s going on, it’s¬†just one of the best books. ¬†Here is the Wikipedia¬†page on the book because it’s been close to 20 years since I’ve had to write about literature and I’m a bit rusty.

So tomorrow is June 16! ¬†And I have taken the day off work and I am going to attend at least one, possibly two, readings of James Joyce’s Ulysses as part of the Bloomsday in Pittsburgh events.

I have decided I am going to attempt to liveblog this. ¬†I have been meaning to attempt a liveblog and this seems like a good opportunity to give it a shot. ¬†I have hockey playoffs in the evening, so I probably won’t be able to drink as much whiskey as I’d like, but I’ll try to make do.¬†Be sure to¬†check back tomorrow to see how this adventure goes.

*not that I subscribe to literary canon, of course, because that would be elitist

**I couldn’t remember the names of them both, but Google tells me that one is the James Joyce Quarterly.