Here’s another annotation. This one’s on Lyn Hejinian’s book My Life. As you will gather if you read on, I was kinda baffled by this book, and it took me a long time to get through it even though it’s rather small as a physical object. In the end I decided that I didn’t feel confident enough to write something essay-ish and academic about it, but I thought I could manage to approach it creatively, so I tried to imitate the style without exactly understanding what I was doing. It seemed to be an appropriate way to express the jumble of my thoughts, though, and maybe I’ve developed a slightly higher level of understanding in the process.
Click to read the annotation:
An Annotation on Lyn Hejinian’s My Life in the Style of Lyn Hejinian’s My Life
smell of black rubber
The snow was so white that it made my teeth feel quite yellow. Standing in a warehouse. Smell of black rubber. Leaning on a stack of winter tires. Reading a small white book. The way words taste like the room you’re in. Reading a storybook with a small child. Pointing to the pictures. Carried in a pocket for months. The struggle to understand someone else’s personal language when your own language intrudes and questions every word. A mother spreads her children around her. Gratitude. Patience. My new black boots like winter tires for my feet. There’s a sort of dusty halitosis to the room, as if it were an old man with no one to care for him, all the people too busy to sweep or vacuum. And yet this waiting, nothing else to do but read the little white book, my attention forced on it so that the memory of reading is quite vivid, although my memory of what I read dissipates quickly. My pink ankles, burned by the deep snow, desperate for dry socks. There are products arranged on the shelves, faded and jumbled, and it seems that no one ever buys them. Here I am in a pile of words. The effort of searching for meaning, the related effort to hold on to a thread and free it from a tangle. Shifting from foot to foot. If you’re a mother and you need to change your infant’s diaper, you just do it on the floor, quickly and efficiently. Need is met. What wizardry is this? Later we hide that sort of thing. I keep thinking that I’m just about to be flooded with the light and energy of understanding. Just around the corner.
faced with a lack of imagination
Perhaps I am leaving a few blonde hairs on the blue cloth of the train seat, in return for the chocolate stains the seat is leaving on my canvas pants. Do you know which side to sit on, he asks, to see the view of the river? Clanging and tapping. At what point am I justified in building a brick wall? A large white bird. I’m going today to spend some time with a friend. On Coney Island we suddenly stepped into open space. It was too cold, but refreshing. She asks a lot of questions. Perhaps the book just jumbles the order of the sentences, just as the mind is a jumbled landscape. I record the words of the graffiti in my little notebook to use later in poetry. Faced with the limits of my imagination, I must travel in order to fill my mind with new images. She was startled to come downstairs and see me sitting on the couch where I’d been awake all night. There is a paper taped to the wall in the guest bedroom for keeping a list of adjectives describing the noises made by the ancient heating pipes. Hissing and struggling. I read the first chapter out loud. It is often justified to question the genre of things like this. For a long time we walked in the wrong direction, thinking that the yarn shoppe would be on the next block. Wind off the ocean. A construction site hidden behind a plywood wall. She said she understood why the book was confusing to me. Was it poetry? But if so, I was fooled by the shape on the page. Frequently we found ourselves on trains. A stranger will speak to you and it will be an awkward moment. The employee of the bookstore who said he never reads. Loose boards on the boardwalk. She said she though she’d be exhausted by all that stream of consciousness stuff. My legs are tired, but I have to keep walking.
thinking in circles
I must admit that I’m irritated by one of the repeated phrases, “a pause, a rose, something on paper.” On the couch, three crocheted blankets and a cat on my lap. The wheeled cart of free books in the lobby of the library. I have a task to do, and I feel like it’s taken me years. Thinking becomes hazy and circular. A blue quilted bag with many pockets inside. A white book small enough to fit in a pocket. My birthday. She’s caught up with me now, and maybe it’s better that way. Imitation is how I deal with confusion. I still haven’t figured out the significance of that repetition. All I wanted was a new friend. Should I be counting sentences, digging in the upturned earth for a key? The ethics of writing a phone number on a slippery scrap of paper. The idea: to cheat and make this into a creative writing assignment-an annotation on, in the style of. Too many sweet delicious white chocolate balls in one sitting. It seems a foreign language that I failed to learn how to speak. They say that if you watch television it helps. I could have just asked her what she thought, I suppose, but I didn’t. Instead developing strategies for becoming a grand wizard on a computer game. Just the one idea. Theory of the importance of each sentence, like poetry. Each word. In the end, I have little patience with puzzles. A sea bird just skimming along the top of the waves. Isolation. I have to pursue my one idea because it’s all I have. Traveling again soon. Even if I never reach the cold, wise depths. Eat more salt. Walk in black boots until my feet hurt. Hands crouched at the edge of the keyboard.