Kale Phone

Kale Phone

Thursday, 21 May 2015

This is the New Story of My Life

Last January, I made a new Word document called, “This is the new story of my life.” For inspiration, I opened a journal from when I lived and worked at L’Arche, a community for adults with intellectual disabilities. During my two years at L’Arche, every morning I would try and scribble down three “stream-of-consciousness” pages at 6 a.m. I would write as I drank coffee and waited for Isabelle’s 150 mL of Peptamen to descend from the bag hanging from a pole beside her bed through the squiggly tube that led to her stomach. Isabelle’s school bus arrived and left at 7:15 a.m. Cynthia the bus driver would not wait. At 6:27, once all the Peptamen had descended, I would unhook the feeding tube and it would be time to change Isabelle out of her pyjamas, wash her armpits and change her into her clothes. Then I would lift her into her wheelchair so that I could wash her face, and brush her teeth and hair. So many days, Isabelle would remain half asleep the whole time, smiling and laughing here and there. Despite this, rarely have I felt as connected to the rest of the world than during this hour of preparation that ended with me rolling Isabelle down the ramp to meet the school bus.

On April 27, 2007, I started a brand new journal. I had about three months to go at L’Arche. At the end of each day, I would make a big X on my calendar. On the beginning of each day, I would do a countdown. 91 days left. Then I would try to figure out what date was 91 days ago and whether it felt like a long time had passed or not. Usually it felt like a very long time had passed. I was twenty-one years old, and I’d already lived at L’Arche for twenty months.

Frog and Toad Are Friends. This what it says on the cover of the journal that I began on April 27, 2007. Underneath the words there’s a picture of a fat toad dressed in pants and a jacket, reading to a longer leaner frog, who is also wearing clothes. The frog has a finger on his lips and he’s listening intently.
Frog and Toad Are Friends
Who remembers the Frog and Toad stories? My father read me all of them. All I can remember is the story called The List. Toad decided that he would make a list of all the things he had to do throughout the day. Wake up, brush teeth, wash face. He didn’t have any hair to brush. Then there was breakfast, the newspaper, and other typical obligations of toads who wear clothes. After breakfast, Frog came over and asked Toad if he wanted to go for a walk. Frog wanted to search for mushrooms or something like that. Toad said no, because it wasn’t on his list. He went about his Toad errands. Sweeping, gardening, going to the store. Then his list blew away and he had no idea what to do with himself.

That’s the trouble with lists.
Toad was the uglier one and also the smarter one. Neither of them was particularly smart, or good-looking.

On the first page of the journal, I write about a conversation I had with the assistant Paul, one of L’Arche’s many virgin saints. Paul lived at L’Arche over ten years. After that, he volunteered at our house every Thursday, to help with baths and make us supper. Paul was an exquisite cook. He used to slice the carrots in such perfect long thin lines. And he always marinated tofu for me to ensure that I didn’t starve to death.
On April 26, 2007, we talked about a new planet the NASA people had found. It was light years away. The planet can apparently sustain life. Paul thought that humans should be able to find a way to get there efficiently before the sun dies. But in the meantime, we can build bubble like structures to shelter us when we leave the earth. Kind of like the moon hotel in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Charlie flew to the moon with Mr. Wonka and his parents and four grandparents. I think all of Charlie’s grandparents became obnoxious in outer space. They were nicer when all four of them shared a bed in a tiny shack. I never finished that book.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
A few pages later, I wrote about a picnic on Mont-Royal. I remember getting ready in the morning. It wasn’t my turn to give Isabelle her Peptamen and get her dressed. But that would mean that I would have to make sandwiches which I wasn’t very good at. Talia, my boss switched with me. “Il faut aller où sont nos forces,” she said. We must go where our strengths are. For me, this meant not making sandwiches. My friend Tamar came to visit us on the mountain. At the time, Tamar was married to a fundamentalist Christian, who I once felt deeply in love with. Tamar said that if she had met my boss a year ago she would have told me to get the fuck out of there. Probably, I wouldn't have gone.

Do I stay everywhere too long?

Talia could be controlling, but there was something so earnest and beautiful about her. She remains one of the great people of my life. A guru of sorts. L’Arche was full of earnest and loveable Catholics. Virgin Saints, and Nun Friends.
About halfway through the Frog and Toad journal, I learn about someone else’s spinal cord injury. One Saturday, Isabelle’s teacher Elizabeth went for a bike ride. Then she hit a bump and went flying over the handlebars. She landed on her back and now she can’t feel or move her legs. I have been terrified of spinal cord injuries ever since I knew they existed. I felt so traumatized that someone who had spent her whole life working with kids in wheelchairs would end up in a wheelchair herself. Surely, it was just a matter of time before my spine endured the same fate. For weeks, all I could think about was Elizabeth and her spine. And my spine.

During a weekend off, I went to have beers with Tom, one of the volunteers. We both drank four delightful Keith’s in his bachelor pad near Guy Concordia metro. I had such a huge crush on him, not knowing that he had a girlfriend. As I left his apartment ready to bike home, I made a nervous joke about paralysis. He said that I would probably live until I was ninety-three years old, and none of the horrible things that I’d imagined will have happened to me. I’ll be jogging with all of my legs. On my death bed, I will count and feel all of my limbs, and it will be an immense relief. I wonder where Tom is now.
There were a bunch of cards inside the journal, and a photo.

The photo is of Simon, my ex-boyfriend who jumped off a building. When I started, “This is the new story of my life,” Simon was still alive. I used to think of Simon every time I started a new creative project, and it was going terribly. I still do. In the picture, Simon is smiling, posing for the back of his book cover, or for his application to be in some movie. His teeth look very large and his eyes seem kind of manic.

Simon thought I was really fucked up and hopeless, but that I had some talent for writing.
I’m pretty sure the Boatman doesn’t think I’m fucked up and hopeless.  He thinks I’m an okay writer.

Maybe one day all this will be an excellent novel. For now, it stays between the covers of my Frog and Toad journal, and here. One of the cards in my journal has a baby gorilla on it. I’ve always had a thing for primates, and this card is from my mother. She wrote it for me when I was in the psych ward in Kingston, having overdone it on the Ex-lax.

Let’s transcribe the whole card. My mom can have the last word.

“Dear Erica
                 You are a very special and

                Beautiful person.

                                I love you as do many many people.
 Remember to love yourself for all the wonderful little things that are you.

When you were a baby I could never get over the way you would lie on the bed with your feet and hands waving and how you would giggle and gurgle and laugh from deep in your little belly. You would have us all giggling.
Don’t forget that your smile can be no one else. You don’t have to do anything else but be our Erica.

Love Mom.”

The End.
Mom, Sister, Me.
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
I Let Go 
New posts come out every Monday and Thursday. Even if all I can come up with is embarrassing.

Not Separate From All That Is

Monday, 18 May 2015

Not Separate From All That Is

Michael Stone translates, Ahimsa, the first yama in Ashtanga Yoga as, “Recognizing that I am not separate from all that is.” Other people translate it as “non-violence.”

On Friday, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the young men responsible for the Boston marathon bombings was sentenced to lethal injections. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, his older brother and accomplice in the crime is already dead. He was shot in the man hunt. At the time of the bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was 19, and his brother was 26.

When I first heard the news, I felt really uncomfortable about it. My second feeling was relief that I’m not American, and so somehow I hold zero responsibility for how the trial turned out. As though all the other Americans are responsible. The logic was ambiguous.

I don’t know how it feels to lose my legs or someone I love because of something someone else did. I have a deep, unyielding fear of losing my legs. In the past, my politics have ended with potty training and pubic hair. But nineteen years old seems really young.
When I was fifteen years old, I spent about a month in an adolescent psych ward. It was run by a monstrous psychiatrist named Dr. Roberts. My mother brought me to Dr. Roberts because I used to eat packages of Ex-lax to complement my extensive exercise routine and other questionable weight-loss strategies. Ex-lax tastes like the most mediocre chocolate bar you have ever consumed. The other down sides to laxatives is that they don’t tend to make you very skinny, and they can really fuck up your electrolytes. Plus shitting your pants on the treadmill kind of disrupts your workout objectives.

Anyways, after checking my blood and heart rate, Dr. Roberts screamed at my mother that laxatives were extremely dangerous. She’d discovered that I had an arrhythmia and she wanted me hospitalized immediately.

At first I wasn’t even allowed out of bed. To this, I did not behave gracefully. I screamed and cried for three days straight, begging them to let me out. The muscles I’d developed from my multiple-hour exercise routine shrank from hysteria, anxiety and bedrest. I was convinced that I didn’t belong in the hospital. I had nothing in common with the other crazy teenagers on the ward. My first roommate was this sickly, yellowy looking 14-year-old girl from Sharbot Lake.

“I see dead people,” she told me.  One of my first out-of-bed privileges was going to school with the other patients. (I almost said inmates.) School was the kitchen table, about 100 metres down the hall from my room. Mary, the cheerful nurse with long horse-like hair, flowy skirts and bright red lipstick pushed my wheelchair into the kitchen. Altogether there were five of us. Me, Jenn, Curtis, Nathalie, and Steve. My roommate who saw dead people didn’t come.  Everyone was supposed to try and get caught up on the homework they’d missed while they were in the psych ward. We opened our books and pretended to concentrate. Besides being paralyzed with anxiety, depression or lethargy, I think we were also terrified that our psychiatrist would come charging down the hall on her two-inch heels.

Almost everyone had scars running up and down their arms. I did too. Most people used razors. My scars came from scratching my forearms over and over again until the skin broke. While I was scratching, I would repeat the ABC’s. Usually I would stop after five rounds.

“My God,” Dr. Roberts had told me. “It looks like you’ve dragged cigarette butts up and down your arms.” Her voice was filled with horror and disgust.

My school courses were gym, chemistry and grade 12 English. I feel like there should have been one more course, but I can’t remember. I spent most of the school hour alternating between writing in my journal and staring at everyone else. Nathalie quietly read The Hobbit. Jenn cut out photos for a scrapbook she was making. With neon markers, she drew cloud shapes around the inspirational quotes she’d transcribed. “Happiness does not depend upon who you are and what you have. It depends solely upon what you think.” She’d written this beside a photo of herself and her dog, now dead.  Steve didn’t have any books to open. He just stared into space, nodding his head back and forth.  Curt shook his legs vigorously until the table vibrated. He was scribbling something in his notebook.

“How are you doing, Curtis?” Mary asked in her happy sing-song voice. Curtis had written poem. “Why are we here?” it was called.

“Well, Curtis, that’s an excellent question,” said Mary. “Artists, scientists, writers have been pondering over that very question for centuries.” I had huge purple bruises in the crease of my right elbow from when Mary had tried to take my blood. Otherwise, she was a rather lovely woman.

“I hate this place so much,” Curtis told me after our school session was finished. He had recently been on a two-day pass. “It was such a relief to get out of here. I’ll never be suicidal again.” I hope that worked out for him.

When Dr. Roberts finally set me free, I too promised that I would refrain from purging and obsessing about my weight forever more.  This sort of worked for almost a week.
Being a teenager takes a long time. Everyone always says that time flies. I don’t feel like time flies. Even when there is too much to do, time doesn’t fly. I am twenty-nine years old and still there are many days when I think, “I am going to be myself forever. It is going to be a long life.”

While I was in the psych ward, I got to go home for a weekend. My parents and I watched the movie, “Ordinary People.” It is about a formerly suicidal young man who spent a long time in the psych ward. He was really sad because his brother died in a boating accident and he felt guilty he survived. It is quite a sad movie and an odd choice for the time. Watching it with my parents was awkward. I wanted to tell them I wasn’t as sad or as crazy as the guy in the movie. In fact, he did not seem that crazy. Just sad. Over the weekend, all I wanted to do was lie in bed and read The Diviners by Margaret Lawrence. My parents were worried about me. I seemed way more down than before I went to the psych ward. And all my muscles had shrunk so I looked sort of sick.
What does all this have to do with the Boston bombings? With lethal injections, or life sentences?

Lucky for me, I have made no commitment to coherence.

Ahimsa means recognizing that I am not separate from all that is. We may as well end with sex.

Last summer, the Boatman and I enjoyed a period of particularly impeccable sex. Some people write excellent poems about sex. Other poems are not so excellent. During the season of impeccable sex, I remember getting to the part that people always put in poems. And I felt like finally I’d arrived at something so precious and universal.  I cried, maybe because all this time, I never believed I was worthy of this level of joy. But that’s not true.
These were the words in my head: “This joy, this ecstasy, this isn’t just for everybody else. It’s also for me.” At the same time, this joy, this ecstasy, it’s not just for me. It’s also for everybody else.

Not just for me. Also for everybody else.
The End.

Michael Stone
michaelstoneteaching.com

Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
I Let Go 

Are you strong or are you skinny?
You Cling To Things Until They Die
Patrick Has Nose Hair
21st Century Yoga and an End to Self-Care
What the fuck should I do with my life?
 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Never Has This Job Application Received Any Response Until Last Saturday

Recently, I came upon an job posting looking for a publicist for high-end art events.  I have approximately zero experience being a publicist and have attended approximately seven and half art events in my life. For this reason, I pulled out all the stops on the application. The Jujube Speech made an appearance. To my surprise, I actually landed an interview.  

This is what I sent. It may or may not be as inspiring as my Lululemon application, but since the interview didn't make me cry, I feel like the whole endeavour was quite a success.

About Erica Schmidt:
Name: Erica J. Schmidt.
Twitter Handle: @mypelvicfloor
Blog: exuberantbodhisattva.blogspot.ca

About Exuberant Bodhisattva:  Likely, you already know what exuberant means. Bodhisattva means “an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.” I am only a moderately serious bodhisattva. My policy is to try and do the best I can with what I have at the present moment.

University Degree:  Yes. 2007-2010. B.A. from Concordia, with all the happy artsy people in Montreal.  Did a double major in Translation and Creative Writing.

Excellent Spelling:  Yes.  When I was in grade one, Mrs. Vanden Bosch gave me a jujube every time I got a perfect spelling test.  My mother made me store them in a plastic bag because she didn't want me to eat jujubes every day.  By the end of the year, I had 47 jujubes.  Mrs. Vanden Bosch said that in total, I only made eight errors.  I ate all the jujubes during the year-end movie party.  We watched Rescuers Down Under, Duck Tales, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. All I can remember is the slow accumulation of jujube acid on the inside of my cheeks.  Then my tongue went numb.  Mrs. Vanden Bosch skipped me into grade three.  Now I have Gifted Child Syndrome, and I never ever make spelling mistakes.  

Day Job:  In January, I returned from a three-month trip to India. Since then, I have been earning my living doing freelance translation contracts (French-English).  Just this week, I relocated to Montreal. In addition to translation, I will happily mop, babysit, teach yoga, write and/or BE A PUBLICIST upon request. Before India, I worked at a Montessori School from January 2013 until August 2014.  There, I told pre-school children to push in their chairs and put the blocks away in French.  Going back to pre-school was fun, but I definitely missed semi-colons. My former bosses rave about my mopping, composting and toileting skills. To quote them, “Erica's toilet conversation with toddlers and bum-wiping skills are ‘without parallel.’” Everyone is good at something.

Other Selling Points:  Bilingual, Interesting Hair, Flexible Spine
Portfolio of Creativity

(Please see links and attached files. I have also attached a regular old C.V.)

WASHROOMS (attached) - copy for the bathroom walls of a Montreal restaurant. I did this as a favour for my friend Fern, former Art Director at Cossette. Now Fern is in Delhi working for Wieden+Kennedy. Life is very exciting.
 
 
I read “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher and my oxytocin levels increased immediately – An enthusiastic article promoting business guru James Altucher’s empowering book, “Choose Yourself.”
Excellent Dieting Advice: Are you strong or are you skinny? 

What to do when you’re bored in India: Brand New Mysore Clubs

Feel free to read about my other ecstatic adventures at exuberantbodhisattva.blogspot.ca.
Please note that although I am partial to irreverence, I can also be deep, meaningful, and sincere.  And though I love to talk and write a great deal, upon your request, I can be impeccably succinct.

 I LET GO (attached) - a quirky and digital self-help book that provides unconventional yet life-changing suggestions on how to let go.  It used to be on sale for $2.00 but I raised the price to $2.99 when the price of coriander in India went up 300%. In an act of spontaneous generosity, I have sent you a free pdf copy.  The illustrations were done by my good friend and fellow yogi Sara E. Enquist.
It would be wonderful to meet you in the near future. I would love it.
 I LET GO, by Erica J. Schmidt, Illustrated by Sara E. Enquist
$2.99 on Amazon
I am grateful for your time. Thank you, Name of Job Poster. 

Sincerely,

Erica Schmidt

In her reply, the job poster said, "I agree. Everyone is good at something." She wasn't sure that I would be good at being a publicist, but kindly helped me to arrange an interview anyways. At the interview, the first thing the company director said was, "It doesn't look like you have ever done anything like this." I agreed with him but did my best to compensate with charm and good looks. We had a rather nice chat. He seemed moderately enthusiastic, although I have yet to hear from him. I guess we'll see. In the meantime, I will happily translate, write, mop, potty train, compost, walk dogs, walk people, teach yoga, lead butt exercises and/or be a publicist upon request. Feel free to hit me up.
 
The End


High-end Vagina Art Pin
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
I Let Go


How I Will Elevate Lululemon
The Group Interview
Applying for a Job at a Bra Store (excuse to talk about My Eternal Tits) 
Job Interviews, Plus Why I Am Different From Margaret Atwood and What I Don't Gain From Humping Duvets (Excuse to talk about Margaret Atwood and Humping Duvets
The Potty Party

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Patrick Has Nose Hair

Patrick has nose hair.

Actually, I can no longer confirm this. Patrick moved to China over three years ago. When he left, there were long dark bristles hanging out of his nose. Before he left, the Boatman and I agonized over what to do about Patrick’s nose hair. It was rather distracting to everyone he met. Imagine going to a job interview with nose hair. Patrick had done it. If no one mentioned it to him, he would do it again and again. Someone needed to tell him. But who?

Patrick has nose hair. Source.
One night, as the Boatman and I were making hummus, we had an elaborate discussion about a potential nose hair intervention. This discussion proved that our lives were not very unmanageable. We could make hummus from scratch while engaging in earnest and in depth conversations about someone else’s nose hair.

“How did he get the job?” the Boatman asked.
"It was a Skype interview from China,” I said. “They probably didn’t notice.”  I squeezed lemon over the mushed up chick peas in the food processor.

“Well, maybe in China, nose hair is a sign of wealth and wisdom,” said the Boatman, spooning out a glob of tahini butter onto the runny pile of pale brown.
“But just in case, someone should tell him,” I said.  I turned the food processor onto pulse. The Boatman opened a can of chick peas. In fact, the hummus was not entirely made from scratch. I’d messed up the consistency and so the Boatman had made a ten o’clock run to the grocery store so the whole batch wouldn’t go to waste. And we were planning a nose hair intervention. We were terrible people.

More Nose Hair. Source.
Patrick’s only friends seemed to be female yoga students and teachers. It would be far too cruel and humiliating for one of them to say, “Hey Patrick, you look great, but you should really start trimming your nose hairs.” No, the feedback had to come from a dude. Except that Patrick had no guy friends. He had told me that he did not get along with his roommates. Were they mocking his nose hairs right now? It was a distressing thought.

“Maybe I could get him a grooming kit as a good-bye present,” the Boatman suggested. “I could show him all the parts and when I get to the trimmer, say ‘this is so great for trimming your nose hairs.’”

“Not subtle,” I decided. Now the hummus was a better consistency, but it was not at all as delicious as the kind you buy out of plastic containers from the Lebanese store or from Barrington Atlantic Superstore.  We tried adding more salt, more tahini. I proposed that maybe the Boatman could come to my Core Strength Yoga Class. Patrick was my most loyal and devoted yoga student. He never missed any of my classes. The Boatman could leave work early and stage the intervention in the change room afterwards. But Patrick adored the Boatman too much. He was infatuated with his beard, his dog, his sense of humour. Once Patrick told me that the Boatman was the funniest guy he’d ever met. It’s possible that Patrick loved the Boatman almost as much as I did. I pictured them both in the change room, glowing with core strength. Then the Boatman would ruin the Bromance: 

“Hey Patrick, we want you to have good luck with the ladies. So about those hairs coming out of your nose...”
No, this would be too devastating. Plus the Boatman was terrible at coming home from work early. (Hence why we were making hummus at ten o’clock at night.)

The night of the nose hair intervention conference was the last time we ever made hummus.

During the weeks before Patrick left for China, the Boatman and I repeated the same strategies for eradicating Patrick’s nose hair. Over and over again. Because our lives allowed for that. In the end, we did nothing. On Patrick’s last day in Halifax, he attended my Core Strength Yoga Class. The Boatman did not come. After the class, we went to David’s tea and I offered Patrick a can of Licorice Spice. Patrick had all the David’s tea flavours memorized. Sometimes he even mixed teas together. Apparently if you mix Lapsang Souchang Star tea with oolong, it tastes like marshmallows. Because Patrick was such an excellent customer, the David’s Tea people gave him a free iced tea mug that he could take with him to China. As a farewell gift, Patrick gave me two painted wooden salamanders he bought from the hippie store next to Pizza Corner. Salamanders were among the many things that brought Patrick immense delight. I thanked Patrick for the salamanders and we had a long chat about the future. Topics included one-armed handstands, travelling to India, making tiny humans and writing more self-help books. Nose hairs just didn’t come up. The Boatman and I still wonder if we made the right choice by not saying anything. It remains our sincere hope that some very honest person from China pointed out the nose hairs right away. If not, we hold onto the chance that perhaps in China, nose hairs are indeed a symbol of wealth and wisdom, among other things.

I would never have written this blog if Patrick hadn’t moved indefinitely to China. In China, Facebook and the Exuberant Bodhisattva blog are not allowed. For the past three years, Patrick has lived in China where he teaches English and Math. His plan is to stay for at least another two years after which point I may delete this. Once Patrick pays off his student loans, he is thinking of becoming a Jungian psychologist.

Patrick’s real name is not Patrick. I named him after Patrick from the nineteen eighty something Norwich Union commercial in which Patrick takes out life insurance, and his parents are deeply impressed that he wasn’t required to get a medical. The Patrick who took out life insurance holds a special place in our hearts, as does the Patrick with nose hairs.
The End.

Patrick Takes Out Life Insurance Video:
Be sure to watch for good memories.
Quote from the father of Patrick who bought life insurance: “Good for you, son.”
Quote from Patrick with nose hairs: “Live Long and Prosper.”

If you have experience with Nose Hair Interventions, I would love to hear from you!
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
And I wanted to mention that I am very terrible at plucking my eyebrows regularly and as result, a vague unibrow sometimes appears on my forehead. Also, I have a bit of moustache that I don’t bother doing anything about because every time I try to wax or thread it, I get a cold sore moustache which sort of defeats the purpose.

Peanut Butter, Pubic Hair
The Drugstore Date (featuring the Boatman's Oyster-Sized Cold Sore)
The Exuberant Bodhisattva Teaches Yoga For Core Strength

Posts come out Mondays between 4 and 5, and Thursdays around lunch, with some surprises.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Earth Will Shake Us Off Like Fleas

From my Bible classes at McGill, I remember that the disciples were not considered to be very smart.

“The disciples were dumb, dumb,” said Professor David Williams. But Simon Peter, he was the dumbest. Plus he didn’t run very fast. Poor dumb disciples. And it made it worse that Jesus was always uttering so many confusing things. On the way to the cross, a bunch of women followed Jesus, mourning and wailing for him. Jesus turned and said to the women, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!”(NIV, Luke 23:29)

Mourning and wailing. That is exactly what the women in my family do when they read Hallmark cards, or watch sad movies where people die. The worst movies are Beaches and Steel Magnolias. I remember Steel Magnolias. Julia Roberts had  something wrong with her kidneys. My mother and my sister mourned and wailed when she died.  In Beaches, Bette Midler’s best friend dies of some weird heart virus. More mourning. More wailing. Perhaps Beaches was even worse because Bette Midler sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" and this is such a devastating song.
Beaches. Too sad.
I am a childless woman. My womb has never born and my breasts have never nursed. Jesus said that one day I will be blessed. Jesus said so many odd things. Maybe he meant that being a mother is too difficult, too excruciating. No matter what you do, you will end up mourning and wailing for one reason or another. 
Steel Magnolias. Also way too sad.

***



Before he was crucified, Jesus kept asking Simon Peter if he really loved him. He asked three whole times. After the third time, Simon Peter became a bit frustrated. I can understand. Probably Simon Peter felt like no matter what, he would always get the wrong answer. I hate that. Each time that Simon Peter said, “Yes Lord, I love you,” Jesus would reply, “Feed my lambs.” Finally, after the third time Simon Peter replied, “Yes Lord, I love you,” Jesus said something different.
Peter, do you love me?

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John: 21:17-18)

That is a pretty good quote. Probably this is what being old is like. Someone dresses you in an outfit you don’t particularly like and then someone else decides where you will go today. Where WE will go today. Because all of the sudden, because you are old, you become part of an imposed collective. Just like in preschool, everyone is your friend. You participate in life’s activities as part of some high-pitched, squeaky-voiced WE.  WE are going outside now. WE need to finish our breakfast. WE are going bowling, to the market, to exercise class. Now WE are having a nap.
For a couple of weeks, I took care my friend’s grandmother who had Alzeimers. She was a doll, but sometimes it was very boring. And so I made relentless and mundane suggestions on how WE could break the monotony. Why don’t WE go to the park now, or to the library? WE should get a drink, or get some ice cream.”

“I’ve already done all that,” she said. “I’m tired. I’ve already done it.”

She was all done, and still, she had to get her hands dragged to somewhere she did not want to go.

***
One of Simon’s favourite things that I ever wrote was, “Everything stops bleeding. Even the dead people.” As usual, I was talking about the moon and my large thighs and menstrual blood. I do not know why Simon loved my sentences so much. On January 4, 2015, Simon jumped off a building and landed in a parking lot. I think about this all the time. There must have been a lot of blood.  
At the beginning of Acts of the Apostles, Judas got money for betraying Jesus. With the money, he bought a field. This is how it goes in the Bible:

"With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood" (Acts: 1: 18-19).
Judas exploded in a field. Simon exploded in a snowy icy parking lot.

Nobody is supposed to walk in Judas’s field anymore. When people don’t inhabit or walk on places, very interesting flora and fauna emerge. Apparently there is an extremely bio-diverse area in North Korea where humans aren’t allowed. I am not sure whether or not the no-human zone started as a field of blood. In any case, it is hard for people to believe that the world will become more unique when they’re not there.

The End. (
Post-script below)

Now Exuberant Bodhisattva posts come out, every Monday between 4 and 5, and every Thursday around lunch. Sometimes there will also be surprise posts. Stay tuned:
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt

Or I'm pretty sure you can also click on Subscribe at the bottom of this post.

POST-SCRIPT
The reason I am thinking so much about Jesus is that on May 3, 2015 (evening of the full moon), I met Daniel on the corner of Brunswick and Bloor. Daniel sells used books in front of a building with the sign “Champion of the Waging” on one side and “Ales and Spirits” on the other.  The books are only three dollars each, or two for five dollars. Some books are on tables, while others just lie on the sidewalk. Daniel told me what happens when somebody’s liver explodes and he had a sort of scientific reason for how and why Jesus survived the crucifixion. “He was crucified, not murdered,” Daniel kept repeating. Daniel’s father recently survived and hemorrhagic stroke and Daniel told me about the difference between hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. It has to do with what happens to the blood. And more people get ischemic strokes, the kind Daniel’s father didn’t get. Daniel talked about the moon, and serendipity, and how each day of the week is named after a different planet and/or the sun and/or the moon. He also quoted George Carlin who once said, “The Earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas.”
George Carlin, “The Earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas.”
 
I bought two books from Daniel.

The first one was, Long Quiet Highway: waking up in America, by Nathalie Goldberg. I am reading it right now. Highly recommended.
Long Quiet Highway: waking up in America, by Nathalie Goldberg.
The second one was, This Body, by Tessa McWatt.
This Body, by Tessa McWatt.
 
Here is how the days of the week are named after planets and/or the moon and/or the sun:

Monday (English), lundi (French, lune means moon) = Moon Day
Tuesday (English), mardi (French) = Mars Day (not an auspicious time to start a new venture or yoga posture, according to some)
Wednesday (English), mercredi (French) = Mercury Day (Some say that mercury is a sad planet. Others call Wednesday Hump Day. Everyone loves humping.)

Thursday (English), jeudi (French) = Jupiter Day

Friday (English), vendredi (French) = Venus Day (Perhaps a good day for Love. The Rainman says, Fishsticks on Friday.)

Saturday (English), samedi (French) = Saturn Day
Sunday (English), dimanche (French) = Sun Day.

And so it seems that there are no days for Pluto, Neptune, Earth, and most tragically, Uranus.
 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Dear Internet, Please Be My Boyfriend For Five Minutes

How many more hours of my life will I spend waiting for someone to confirm that no, I don’t have a disease that is about to cause imminent death slash imminent foot amputation?

Yesterday, I told my friends that a very important reason why I need a boyfriend is so that he can reassure me of such things. For example, my ankle just below the talus bone has been bothering me. Sometimes the pain spreads ever so slightly up my calf. There is about 0.87 millimetres of swelling. Likely this vague pain is due to the sudden increase of walking on sidewalks and the sudden decrease in Ashtanga yoga and daily downward dogs. Obviously, I have jumped to the worst case scenario. Blood poisoning. The infection has entered my blisters that I got from my Birkenstocks. (Most of these blisters have callused over.) In Montreal, it is 26 degrees. Everyone is hot. Not me. I have a fever. From the blood poisoning.

At the table where I sat and told my friends about how I needed a boyfriend to tell me that my foot wasn’t going to be amputated, a darling ten-year-old girl listened intently.  

“Could a girlfriend help instead?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, not letting a teachable moment go to waste. “Girlfriends definitely work for some people. But for me personally, I have found boyfriends to be a better fit.”

Once someone told me that ten-year-olds are among the most loveable people in the world. I used to say that I peaked around ten years old, but this is probably unnecessarily pessimistic. The same kind of pessimistic as thinking that you and your foot are both dying of blood poisoning. Once my vagina stops bleeding, and imminent death is ruled out, I think I will start up again with the Downward Dogs.

IN THE INTERIM,
Dear Internet,
Please be my boyfriend for five minutes.

Thanks.
Love, Erica.

The End.

I was going to take a photo of my blood poisoned ankle, but I feel as though you can probably be my boyfriend without it. The Boatman used to be quite good at taking blog photos. He was very wonderful for many things, far beyond photography and vetoing blood poisoning. In fact, I am missing him immensely.

Internet diagnosing on the I-Phone
Photo Courtesy of Tiago D'Oliviera Photography and Film
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go for $2.99


Yours til Ekam Inhales (Letters from my ten-year-old self) 
The Day Yoga Almost Gave Me a Stroke
Life and Death are of Supreme Importance
 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Rideshare, Sterilization and Doughnuts

I once knew a guy named Benjamin Tracey. In his early 20’s, Benjamin Tracey worked with kids in social services. He felt traumatized by the epidemic of people who used their bodies to make children but didn’t have the skills or resources or kindness to take care of them.

“We need a program to stop cruel and incompetent people from having children. If they agree to get sterilized, they get 35 bucks. Then, after the procedure, we’ll take them to Tim Horton’s and we’ll buy them a doughnut. Any doughnut they want.” According to Benjamin Tracey, this is how eugenics should work in Canada. With doughnuts.
Doughnuts. Which one would you choose
Doughnut Photo Courtesy of my friend Shayna
She likes to buy doughnuts on Sundays 
The rideshare van from Toronto to Montreal always stops at a Tim Hortons just past Pickering. I don’t know why it stops so early. It is barely an hour out of the city.

On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to get a spot in the ten a.m. ride share van. The  pick-up is at the Pizza Pizza near Sheppard-Young subway station. The van is late. A woman wearing pink jeans and a red jacket seems very anxious that they have left without her.

“Where is my ride-share? Can I use your phone?” She is carrying a couple of shopping bags. Underneath her red jacket, she wears a t. shirt with an enormous, glittery can on it.  The cat has terrifying turquoise glitter eyes and fur. Its paw is patterned in red sequins. The woman’s name is Irena.

I volunteer to sit in the middle seat, at least for the first half.

“Where’s the seatbelt?” I ask. The driver points to the ceiling. I attach the belt across my torso but can’t figure out how to make it hold my waist.

“Guess that’s just the middle seatbelt,” says the guy beside me. He is dressed all in blue and looks as though his name might be Michael. On his knee, there’s a brown baseball cap with the word OBEY on the front. Finally, I figure out that you can keep pull seatbelt in a very specific and special way, it will attach on the left and contain my waist. Now I don’t need to white knuckle the whole 401. That said, my driver seems to text quite a bit. It is kind of like driving in India, though because Ontario is much less magical and spiritual, I feel significantly less safe.

I open the ziplock bag containing the marijuana macaroon that a childhood friend has given me for the road. For a moment, I wonder if it has an obviously foul smell to it. Then I realize that in fact, the smell comes from the tiny white dog who silently sleeps in its fabric blue cage in the back seat. The owner is significantly larger than her dog, but she too makes no noise.

The macaroon is oily. Its effect is not profound. I lean back in my seat. The left half is two inches back from the right. The blue Michael dude curls up on his blue pillow against the window. Irena rotates her torso to the right, impeding on a quarter of my ass space. She breathes heavily as she looks out the window, sipping a Merit Selection peach cocktail that contains 20% pure fruit juices. We pass several trucks filled with concrete.

Pickering reminds me of swim meets and Timbits remind me of Monday night band practices. I played the trombone and our music teacher Mr Hurd was nice enough to bribe us with timbits Sometimes we would get timbits on the swim team, but if an important swim meet was coming up, all chocolate and doughnut products were forbidden. Apparently doughnuts take at least three days to digest. Seems a bit risky.

At the Tim Hortons, I think about Benjamin Tracey and the sterilization and the doughnuts. I do not buy a timbit. Neither does Irena. She cracks open another peach cocktail juice box and stands beside the drive-through menu, gazing at the red and orange images of fresh fruit smoothies. I nibble a little more of the oily macaroon. I thought that being high would be more fun. Maybe I am too hungover. The dog owner walks the tiny white dog around the parking lot. Blue Michael smokes a cigarette with the driver and complains that he can’t sleep. The driver complains that he’s sick of driving.

Back in the car, Blue Michael gets to work on his computer. Vigorously, he types green letters onto a black screen. On the right side of the screen, windows keep popping up. Janet has a party, the window announces. Janet looks like a 2-dimensional human Barbie. There is a long red rectangular box where you can click, Yes, I am attending, or No thanks. Another window pops up. Angela will be at a golf club cocktail. Will you attend. Won’t you attend.

Although we are barely halfway, we stop again at the Freshmart convenience store and Esso gas station in Kingston. I pee several times, each time taking note that if the washroom cleanliness does not live up to my standards, I will be rewarded with a free container of air freshener. Love from Esso. Our driver leaves to pick up the other driver at the mechanic’s. The white dog is still in the car and his owner seems a bit disappointed. Blue Michael sits on the edge of the curb, his ass crack ever so generously peaking out from his blue jeans. Nobody seems to worry that the driver could very easily keep the dog and the stuff and leave us stranded at the Kingston Esso station. Irena asks to use my phone a whole bunch of times. She calls her son but there is no answer. Afterwards she offers me white chiclets from Israel. I mix them with my Excel Whitening Bubblegum.

Chiclets, courtesy of redstone foods.

The new driver finally comes back with the car. I remember him from the time I went to Toronto to visit Benjamin Tracey four years ago. His name is Johnny and he wears a hat.

“Please make sure you have your seatbelts on,” he tells us. He only texts once or twice. Nobody volunteers to switch with me and take the middle seat.  There is construction on the 401 so we drive along the St. Lawrence. In the front seat, an Indian business man examines his Excel spreadsheets. He has the loudest, most obnoxious ring tone ever and people call him all the time. Irena eats a bag of chips. She offers me some but my mouth is still full of bubble gum and chiclets.

I look at the Thousand Islands and turn on Dan Savage’s sex podcast. Dan offers cures for Cunninlingus Lockjaw and says that continuing to sleep with your ex-husband is not a terrible idea.  Having an ex-husband sounds so grown-up. The Boatman and I were never married, and so we never got to have a divorce. I close my eyes and imagine the cells of my knees and my thighs dissolving into the crooked lumpy seat. My neck feels very stiff. I keep thinking about my cells. Soon I feel a pressure building at the base of my nose between my eyebrows. I wonder if I have suddenly become so aware and intuitive that my third eye is awakening. It then occurs to me that the pressure is from my enormous white sunglasses.

Irena nudges me and asks if she can use my phone again. I help Irena text her son and tell him that we will be in Montreal at 3:45. She is impressed by how fast I can text.

Valleyfield, Saint-Anne De Bellevue. The van rolls in to Montreal at 4:04. Irena’s son is waiting for her. The small white dog is let out of its blue cage and onto Sainte Catherine Street. All over Montreal, delighted people carry baguettes, eat frozen yogurt and drink beer on patios. There are no doughnuts in sight.

 The End.

This is not fiction. Benjamin Tracey really invented sterilization with doughnuts. I take zero credit for it, though I changed Benjamin Tracey's real name and I think that I did an excellent job.

Once Benjamin Tracey also wrote a play about a tennis game. The backhands and the lobbing and the missed serves reflected some couple’s relationship. Simon used to say that I was like an eight-year old sore loser tennis who cried when she didn’t get her way. Simon isn't alive anymore.
 
Follow me on Twitter @mypelvicfloor
Follow Dan Savage on Twitter @fakedansavage
 
New Exuberant Bodhisattva posts come up every Monday and Thursday.
            
Very Attractive Photo of Me and My Sister.
You'd be lucky to land us in your rideshare van.
Vipassana Diaries: Bus
Poopy Mango Babywipes, and the First Day of Christmas (almost contains nudity)
Day Trip
Selfies on the Happy Stairs (contains doughnuts)
Selfies with Brownies (self-evident)