Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Dear Vincent, Did you lie about your age on Bumble?


Dear Vincent,

I was wondering if you would please consider answering all or any of the following questions for the screenplay. It would mean a very generous contribution to the arts, if not to the next Beautiful Blogging Fairytale. 

How long have you been doing yoga for?

Are your parents alive? What about siblings and birth order?

What is your favourite sandwich?

What is your favourite colour?

How would you rate your sex drive on a scale of one to ten?

Are you able to go to sleep with dirty dishes in your sink? Please elaborate.

Have you ever been married?

How long does it take you to empty your suitcase after you get home from a trip? Do you travel light?

I always assumed you did not have children? Do you? What about pets? Is there cat hair in your refrigerator?

Do I win the Erotic Transference Award?

How do you take your coffee? How many cups?

Have you ever enlisted a cleaning service? Would you like to be put on my waiting list?

When you are old, do you envision yourself doing word searches, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku?

When is your birthday?

Did you lie about your age on Bumble?

See you Thursday!

Love, Erica.

Now there is only one more Monday with Vincent. Some of my grieving has been quite professional. There will be one to three more Dear Vincent post and maybe one to two afterwords. In the meantime and forever, you may write to me or imaginary Vincent at the secret address ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot).com. Tell us about your  birthday, the dishes in your sink, the cat hair in your refrigerator, and/or your favourite sandwich. Love always, Erica.


This is me reading my teenage memoirs at Grown-ups Read What They Wrote as Kids and maybe one day there will be Grown-ups Read What They Wrote As Cleaners and/or To Their Therapists

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Dear Vincent, The best will be if I heal my knee and maybe also my personality before irreversible climate change sets in.
Dear Vincent, Looks like you got some sun. And maybe also a new shirt.
Dear Vincent, Now you know I have that thing where you love your therapist. 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Dear Vincent, The best will be if I heal my knee, and maybe also my personality before irreversible climate change sets in.


Dear Vincent,

The best will be if I heal my knee, and maybe also my personality before irreversible climate change sets in. Hopefully, that will leave enough time for the low-grade literary masterpiece, and the Oprah Projects too.

Today my Pragmatic and Optimistic Darling Bestie gave me bodywork in exchange for when I cleaned her house for free during the second week of July when I was relatively underemployed. 

It seems the part of me that wants to kill myself is at the back of my right rib cage, just behind my liver. Maybe it’s too much trail mix and/or maybe some kind of detox tea will fix it. Inside my shoulders and chest, I am crying and also worried I am dying of the inflamed mole that sits around my sacrum and lowest vertebrae. If I die of the inflamed mole, it will be all my fault for not washing the pesticides off of the grapes, and for being such a bad sleeper, and pathologically accommodating. Life causes a lot of damage and healing takes a really, really long time. I wonder where all your sadness is. 

Love Erica.


Dear Vincent,

Dr. Joel does not think I meet the criteria for borderline personality disorder. Clap loud. He also said it does not sound like I ever found myself. I am not sure where else to look, and I said this to Dr. Joel. The recommendation is to stop seeing you within a few months and try therapy with someone else, either a sliding scale option or subsidized by my father. Dr. Joel said that therapy is not about drying your tears but figuring out what is wrong and acting on it. He asked if I was an empty person, and I said I never understand what that means. 

Simon, my dead ex-ex (ex-point five?) boyfriend who jumped off a building is not quite famous for saying, “I wonder what I’d be like if, like you, I’d been sent to psychologists from the age of eleven. If a bunch of people had played around in my head the way children play in the bathtub-I think that by now I would have died ten times already. I’ve already died ten times anyways.”

The bathtub analogy is not spectacular in English. Do you think it works better in French? Sometimes I feel like I’ve died seven times before breakfast. 

I know we can’t date, but there’s a nearby blood donor clinic on Thursday. Wanna give blood platonically? Just kidding. I recently menstruated most of my blood away anyways. 

Thanks for all the times you’ve dried my tears. 

Love, Erica. 


Dear Vincent,

I forgot to say that Dr Joel calls friends with benefits, friends with privileges. I think that was my favourite thing about him. When he stood up, it looked like he was still sitting in a chair. 

Basically what he said was, get your fucking shit together. In my life whenever someone has told me this, I freeze or sob momentarily, or for weeks, then I might make some vague progress, but often whatever I come up with entails some sort of half assed coasting. And so I confirm how much I suck, although to cut myself a break, most people’s lives end up following some kind of sad and generic default setting. 

The next thing I might write on my wall could be, Fuck Mental Health. I appreciate your relative optimism, but this may very well be my sad and generic default setting.

All that’s left to try is lifting weights, cervical orgasms, improved lunch strategies, and perhaps a more well-paying and/or prestigious job that doesn’t involve cleaning up other people’s messes. Though as you must know, most jobs entail cleaning up other people’s messes. One way or another. The last thing I might like to try is learning how to skateboard. I have a sexy new compression sleeve for my knee. See you tomorrow. 

Love, Erica.

Housemaid’s Knee, Clap Loud if You Believe in Borderline Personality Disorder
Friday, August 17, 2018

Dear Everybody,

Vincent could not come to the blood donor clinic. He said that blood made him uncomfortable, and so I apologized for discussing menstruation so extensively in so many of our sessions, and he forgave me. The blood donor clinic was full. They gave me some water that came in a plastic bottle which innovative entrepreneurs can someday turn into fancy yoga pants.  

Vincent and I will see each other again on Thursday, September 6, and then one more time on Monday, September 17. After that, it will be Mondays without Vincent forever, unless Vincent decides to make an unlikely  generous contribution to a beautiful blogging fairy tale, or to art.

On my way home from the blood donor clinic, I wept delicately on one park bench, and in one alley.

Last November I thought maybe I could walk across Canada for mental health the year I turned 33, but then I started micro-dosing on mushrooms, and then I became a low-grade famous cleaning lady, and I got distracted, and now I have what’s called, Housemaid’s Knee. Life plans always seem to stress me out or elude me. I will be 33 on October 29. My favourite things to do are to walk and to talk and write letters. My favourite things to buy are laundry soap, dish soap, and vinegar.

This morning I woke up at 2:20 a.m. Six hours later, I was still awake, and I wrote the names of The Beautiful Dead in smelly markers on the wall underneath my mildly distorted foot whose chronic toenail fungus is not illustrated. The names of the beautiful dead sprawl over to underneath my highly disproportionate right leg, and symbolic pelvis and Vincent’s quote, “I’ve heard worse.” Everybody likes Vincent’s sentence the best. Sentences that start with everybody are my favourite. Both of these sentences are written on the wall, beneath my highly disproportionate right leg, and symbolic pelvis, and Vincent’s quote, “I’ve heard worse.”

At 8:47 a.m. I left to clean the Self-Mutilating Parrot Family’s house. Everybody knows their parrot now flies free in a refuge in Oka. Or else it is dead with the rest of the Beautiful Dead. Either way, the shit on the walls is long gone.  

Vincent said that my love for him was presenting a challenge to his narcissism, both professionally and as a person, a person I only know eleven to thirteen and a half real things about. Vincent says that everybody has narcissism.  

It was the second week in a row that I wept not all that delicately while bending over the Self-Mutilating Parrot Family’s bathtub. I did an excellent job, both on the weeping, and on the bathtub, but then I set off the Jacuzzi function and the bathtub threw up, and I had to clean it twice.

Likely it was better that I ended up keeping all my blood for myself. I needed my blood for the tears and for the bathtub. The second time, I used bubble bath instead of dish soap. The Self-Mutilating Parrot Family never tends to have all that much dish soap. Now their bathtub smells like a baby.

The Beautiful Dead are Simon Girard, Penelope Parkes, Jadwiga Lukasik, Michael Stone, Tolulope llesanmi, Lia Kidner, Yarrow Viets, Doreen Wilson, and possibly the Self-Mutilating Parrot.

Sometimes we are so lucky to weep not all that delicately while bending over some overcommitted and chaotic household’s bathtub at 9:33 on a Friday morning. And sometimes we are not all that lucky.  

Everybody has to dry their own tears sometimes. Everybody has hard days.

Love, Erica.


There will be one to three more Mondays without Vincent posts. Then I'll get to working on the screenplay. Unless Vincent decides to make an unlikely and generous contribution to a beautiful blogging fairytale, or to art. Either way, your letters to Vincent and to me remain forever welcome at the secret address ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)come. Everybody has hard days sometimes. Someone is there for you when you feel most alone. Love always, Erica. 

Toilet paper is on sale at Jean Coutu for $3.99.
Sometimes we are so lucky.


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What a Beautiful Face
Dear Vincent, I went on my adventure. Everything is green. I love you.
Dear Vincent, I was floating on the joy of feeling seen, heard, felt and loved by you last Tuesday, November 21
Dear Vincent, It used to be that the last time I felt home was in a tiny blue penthouse apartment in Mysore, India on the 10th avenue of the 3rd stage of a neighbourhood called Gokulam in November of 2014.
Dear Vincent, You are not the only person I write letters to.  





Saturday, 4 August 2018

Dear Vincent, You are not the only person I write letters to.


Dear Vincent,

You are not the only person I write letters to. Everything I buy comes wrapped in plastic, and sometimes at night, I hide spoons and forks and knives inside my freezer so I do not have to wash them.

Love, Erica.

Dear My Cool Friend Fern,

I am sitting in a bathtub without water and brushing my teeth without water and now without hands, and I am remembering when you used to have your office on top of the washing machine in the upstairs bathroom in Saint Henri. A couple months ago, I started to make homemade clay toothpaste because a right bottom molar hurt and I can only afford the dentist in India. The toothpaste is in a jar and looks like a pile of dark brown shit, and an excess of baking soda causes my tongue to burn. This morning I cannot cope with the burning and the brown specks that end up everywhere, and so I am using the last of my Arm and Hammer, and the bristles in my toothbrush go every which way and the pink plastic on the back of the head is coming off since I often stick my toothbrush in my mouth and bite down on it, hard. This morning the crisis centre counsellor said to try and relax and think more positively and maybe try some activities to make me feel good and that she had to hang up, but she wished me a good day. My right knee is kind of swollen which makes it uncomfortable to kneel, and my bathtub is not embarrassing but it could be more immaculate considering that I am becoming an almost famous cleaning lady.

Love, Erica.



Fern wrote back with the suggestion that I set an alarm on my phone five times a day to remind me that nobody is coming to save me. On Thursday, July 26, 2018, five times per day, my phone emphatically reminded me that,

There is no prize.
You don’t need saving.
Fuck most of it.

There is no prize.

The next day was Friday, July 27, 2018, some kind of full moon and lunar eclipse, and I walked five km with a swollen knee all the way to the second floor of the Greyhound Bus Station to see my doctor. On my i-phone, I’d prepared a less emphatic list about my swollen knee, my borderline personality disorder, my lifelong toenail fungus, the occasional hemorrhoid, and the inflamed mole just above my sacrum which could have cancer but is more likely just inflamed due to rolling around on my floor and rubbing coconut oil into it too aggressively.


“Dr. Hamel n’est pas ici aujourd’hui,” said the receptionist.
Turns out I was an entire month too early.  Dr. Hamel was on vacation, like pretty much everyone else in the city, and once again my life proved itself to be one futile endeavour to another. I melted down hard as I hid behind the curtain in the photo booth in the bus station lobby downstairs. Sobbing, I wacked my face over and over again, where last week’s black eye was only just starting to fade.  I did not pay five dollars to take four tiny photos of my tragic and swollen and vaguely bruised face. The photos are digital and in colour, and thus not as charming as they used to be.
Fuck all of it, I thought. Someone can fucking come and save me. I don’t need the Instagram points, or any of the points. 
And I wandered south of the bus station where people and police frolicked in les Jardins Gamelins, and I scanned the scene for some dead beat who might have opioids.
“Où est le fentanyl?” I imagined calling out deliriously. Where the fuck are all the drugs?
Back at the bus station, I stood in front of the Enterprise rent-a-car booth where all the employees also seemed to be on vacation. In fact, I am not an excellent driver. In fact, I am terrible.
"What happened?" asked some middle-aged man, broad and balding and perplexed. "Why a woman so beautiful so sad?"
As though when I am slightly older, and slightly uglier, I will have every reason to be miserable.
My phone rang, and my friend with a regal name and a relatively sane balance between beautiful dreams and wise pragmatism called and invited me over to her semi-fancy loft in the Old Port. Travelling farmers from Airbnb were coming to rent for the weekend. With noticeable vigour, I scrubbed my friend’s dishes and stove top, plus the ledge where all the spice bottles vomit paprika and curry dust. Then my friend with a regal name and a relatively sane balance between beautiful dreams and wise pragmatism took me out for sushi, and she drove me all the way home, and she fucking saved my life.

Dear Sorrowful Simon, (not to be confused with Simon the Hermit who jumped off Le Tadoussac to his death on January 4, 2015)
Last Saturday, after some plans fell through, I walked all the way to Verdun without my phone. My goal was to swim, though I had zero opposition to  dying at any point along the journey. But the more people I passed, couples in particular, the more I didn’t need my lives to be theirs, or my life to be over. I was not suddenly fueled with the will to live, but I had the vague sense that my life was just as dull and just as pleasant as everyone else’s. When I got to Verdun, I swam up the weak rapids and coasted back down three times. Some old couple stood in the middle of the river and yelled back and forth to each other, even though their faces were less than a foot apart.
“Il y a une autre nageuse,” the man exclaimed excitedly.
Out of the water, I walked along the shoreline in my red polyester two-pieced speedo. The bathing suit chafed my inner thighs since despite extensive exercise and frequently flakey lunches, I do not have a thigh gap. Oh well, what the hell. And I climbed up the riverbank, and came upon some strangers’ wedding party where everyone looked hot and overdressed, anxious to get the pictures over with, and possibly also envious of my shoelessness and red bathing suit.  And as I felt the grass beneath my feet, it seemed perfectly valid to take the metro home, and eat a cheeseburger while reading a novel about rich families in New England.
Love, Erica.
And the same red bathing suit crashes a wedding in India.
Arombol Beach, Goa


Dear Vincent,
On my way to see you on Monday, July 30, 2018, a man rushed by me on Beaubien Street, and the man was carrying a sandwich in a plastic triangular box, and it’s possible the sandwich was made with a croissant, but it didn’t not look particularly delicious. To drink, the man had some Gingerale, and as he charged around me on the sidewalk he said,
“Ready to buy a lake house and get out of here.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, work.
I have everything except sanctity.”

Everything except sanctity and a lake house.
Wishing you and all of us, sanctity and a lake house.
Love, Erica.

Dear Tim Ferris,
When I imagine going on your podcast due to some brilliant Oprah Project I finally pulled off, and you ask me, “If you could put anything on a billboard and have millions or even billions of people see it, what would it say?” in fact, I have two answers. In fact, I cannot decide.
The first billboard says,
“Your life is of supreme importance. May you be free of your pain.”
And another one says,
“This is your strange and beautiful life. You can do all sorts of interesting shit. But you don’t have to. Your life does not need to be a spectacular TED talk.”
Sometimes your podcasts make me very tired, but I’d love to see you optimize menstruation.
Love, Erica.

This is your strange and beautiful life.

Dear Vincent,
Last November, soon after my 32nd birthday, I was considering my life goals and potential Oprah Projects, and I wrote this sentence:

Two things I really believe in are
Deep Cleans and Mondays without Vincent.

I always remember this sentence.
Love, Erica.

Interlude from the Self-Mutilating Parrot Family:

The Self-Mutilating Parrot family has guests. Grandmother, Aunt, and the Aunt's daughter, the Blonde Cousin from Australia. Soon it will be the Blonde Cousin’s fifth birthday. Over a breakfast of toast and butter and jam, her mother remarked, wow, that went so fast, and the two of them played a game in the hammock where the Blonde Cousin wrapped herself in the fabric and then emerged out of the crack, as though the hammock were a vagina, or a caesarean incision, and as though the Blonde Cousin were a baby being born. “Mama,” the Blonde Cousin said as she emerged, and her mother said, “You wouldn’t just come out and say that. It took you two years to say Mama. Before that it was always, Dada, Dada, Dada, and I felt so inadequate.”


In case you missed the very old news, the Self-Mutilating Parrot is spending its last days at Oka, and I wish the bird deep sanctity.


Dear Vincent,


What a thrill to run into you on Rue Beaubien, somewhere between St André and St Hubert. You were carrying a paper bag from Jean Coutu, and what a coincidence, I was headed there to, all set to buy deodorant and cinnamon gum so I could carcinogenically freshen up for Butt Club. (For those who wonder, Butt Club equals  a Democratic and sometimes Diplomatic Butt Exercise class in the park, and as fate would have it, it is the most famous poorly attended event I have ever invented, and truly the joy of my life.) Also, I needed to buy rubber gloves for the newest cleaner of my Deep Cleans empire. “Oh,” I said, when I saw you. “I am going there too.” Afterwards, I was rather proud of my very reasonable composure. Kindly, you smiled kindly.  I hope you liked my shirt.

Love, Erica.

It is approximately the one-year anniversary of Mondays without Vincent on the Internet. This is one of my most favourite un-famous things I have ever come up with. Send your emails to Vincent or Erica at the secret address ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com. Your life is of supreme importance. May you be free of your pain. Love, Erica. 

Two things I really believe in are, Deep Cleans and Mondays without Vincent.

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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Dear Vincent, I missed you so much. Do you want to break up?

Dear Vincent,

I missed you so much. Do you want to break up?

Once upon a time, I was all ready to unleash the deepest powers of my vagina with a zucchini, but then my vagina started to bleed, and so the era of power was short-lived, and now it seems extremely far away.


Polyamorous Zucchini Sexting.
Once upon a time there was a well-adjusted fridge with a manageable amount of leaked soy sauce, and spilled mustard. The well-adjusted fridge was filled with well-adjusted food that suggested that my clients François and Marie truly loved themselves, and each other, and this I do not doubt. For example, there were six different kinds of homemade preserves, and a glass Tupperware of a thawing and clearly nourishing cream soup, and abundant jars and containers of almonds, and sunflower seeds, and walnuts, and fresh, inviting vegetables, including two large zucchinis which I photographed and texted to Sexy Motorcycle George and Freshly Divorced Love of 2009 who I now Call Sexy Motorcycle the Second, and I call this sort of texting, Polyamorous Zucchini Sexting.

The well-adjusted fridge
Once upon a time, my right knee was swollen and covered with baking soda. Broken Delicate Miniature Horse Ornament Client Linda did not notice that my eyes were swollen too, and also slightly bruised. Before I could scour her mildewed shower grout with a toothbrush, Linda asked me to examine her scalp to see if it looked like she was going bald, and as far as I could tell, she did not seem any more bald than usual, but I did not think this was the best way of putting things, and thus with very vague tact, I said, “Well, we all lose our hair in the summer. Just like your cat.” Linda’s cat’s hair was all over the shelves of her fridge. Linda was afraid that her hair falling out is the sign of some terrible disease. On a post-it stuck to her computer, Linda had scrawled a list entitled, "Erica needs," and my needs were summarized as baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, sponges, paper towel, and a toothbrush. I think if you told me you had a cat, and that its hair was all over the bottom of your fridge, and that you watched golf, all this could cure some of my undying love, though my sad and empty fridge, however free of cauliflower chunks, is certainly not that well-adjusted either.  

Love, Erica.




*Names and crucial identifying details have been altered due to excellent professional boundaries. Send your letters to me, or to Vincent, or to Oprah. The top-secret email address is ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com.




p.s. Vincent is my therapist and I have that thing where you love your therapist and Vincent comes back from vacation tomorrow.



Once upon a time, I was all ready to unleash the deepest powers of my vagina with a zucchini, but then

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Dear Vincent, If Oprah does not invite you to sit in her decadent plushy green chairs
 in the middle of the Oprah Forest to discuss your beautiful soul's beautiful hero's journey,
 it's possible this might be a blessing. It's possible you might just be spared. Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,