Kale Phone

Kale Phone

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Simon Girard (1979-2015)

When I found out Simon killed himself, my face and hands and legs started to shake. I sat down, laughed for a second or two, and then wondered if what I felt was relief. And I thought, “Fuck, Simon. Alcoholic writer kills himself. Could you not have thought of anything more original?”
Simon Girard (1979-2015)
35 years old
This is the first time anyone I’ve fucked has died. It makes for quite the head trip, and I feel very odd.

In the beginning, I was supposed to help Simon translate his book about squirrels and homeless people into English. The first time I visited his apartment, I spent two hours teaching myself how to hula hoop. I invited Simon to the Granola Party I was having that Saturday. At Granola parties, you eat granola, take a quiz about what sort of cereal personality you are and then maybe share some performance art related to this discovery. Simon was concerned that he didn’t have anything to bring to the party because he was really broke. I said to come anyways. He arrived at my door with the hula hoop as his contribution.
As it turns out, granola is not the best buffer for vodka and I didn’t have an excellent alcohol tolerance to begin with. Since my boundaries were not that excellent either, Simon and I ended up naked on the blue biodegradable yoga mat in the spare bedroom. While I was drunk at the granola party, I told Simon that we should write a book of letters together. It could be bilingual. He could write in French, and I’d write back in English.

Within three days, Simon had started the book with a letter about how I’d ejaculated on his face on the blue biodegradable yoga mat. The letter ended with a relatively terrible poem that compared my vagina to a tornado, my phosphorescent ass cheeks to crescent moons and concluded with my tornado vagina making him “wet like the morning.”

I couldn’t remember ejaculating and in the following letter I claimed it didn’t count because I was so drunk. Simon said that it had to count or else he would have to erase all his writing from the last fifteen years.

When I met Simon, he had already published two books. “Dawson Kid,” his first published book was the ninth novel he’d ever finished. It was about a nude dancer named Rose Bourassa who takes up boxing. The day I went to visit him and learned how to houla hoop, Simon gave me a copy of his second novel “Tuer Lamarre.” He signed it and wrote a little note about how we never know what will happen next. Tuer Lamarre was the story of a young child who got molested by her neighbour. It was way too depressing and I didn’t get very far on it. Simon said he didn’t blame me and not to bother persevering. I think maybe Dawson Kid is a better read. He has other books now too.

Me and Simon’s book was called “The Little Savage and the Hermit.” I was the little savage because I threw reckless granola parties and Simon was the hermit because he spent most of his days drinking, writing and running up and down the stairs of his apartment building on Sherbrooke Street.

The process of writing “The Little Savage and the Hermit” involved a great deal of fighting, drunk sex, name calling and vomit. But it was the first time in my life that I felt like a real writer. I got to write whatever I wanted, however I wanted. Although Simon called me a stupid fucking cunt several times, he was a sincere and unapologetic fan of my writing. This made up for something.

The last time I saw Simon we were “working on our book.” “Working on our book” was usually a euphemism for drinking rather early in the day, fighting about commas or other mundane issues, getting drunk, and then having reckless, oblivious sex. We did this for months after we’d broken up. “Never again,” I’d say to myself each time I’d wake up in the morning, a couple of times with vomit on my pillow.

I think I finally cut myself off around May 2011.  A couple of weeks into June, I went to a wedding where I met the Boatman. Now there was definitely no more black-out sex allowed. But Simon and I still had to finish the book.

One morning in July, I went to his apartment at 11:30 a.m. I was sort of wearing a hot dress because I had just had an interview for some contract. At 11:38, Simon started making a White Russian.

“I want one too,” I said.

“Only if you take off your bra.”

“Not fair,” I said. He shook his head and brought his drink to the computer. I took it and stole a sip. Then he slid his hand under the neck of my dress and started pulling at my bra straps.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

I marched out. When I got to my bike, I realized I’d forgotten my seat. Simon took forever to buzz me back in. When I finally got back up to his apartment he was lying naked on his mattress on the floor. The bike seat was draped over his erection. On the top of his right thigh next to his groin, he had a really weird red, blue and green face sort of tattoo that looked a little bit like a clown. His dick was hard as wood. I grabbed the bike seat and left.

Simon’s funeral is next Saturday just outside of Montreal. I don’t think I will go.

Probably Simon would prefer that the last time I saw him, he was lying naked on his bed with a hard-as-wood erection, instead of dead in a coffin.

I moved to Halifax and over email, Simon and I wrote Part Two and Three of the Little Savage and the Hermit. We never revised either part and they are both a bit embarrassing. Part One is a bit embarrassing too, though it was almost going to be published at one point. Oh well. I might be able to find something to salvage.

My days with Simon make me think of that Machiavelli quote, “man should either be caressed or else crushed.” Anything in between and the person you injure will be driven to seek revenge. Over and over again, Simon and I went back and forth between caressing and crushing each other. Our reasons to retaliate ran out a long time ago.

“I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.” Simon heard about this somewhere, and in our third book, he wrote to me to say he’d been repeating it over and over again, addressing his own ego and the people around him. “For the last week, I’ve been feeling a state of peace I’ve never known,” he said. “And I also feel dead. It’s fantastic.” Unfortunately, most of Simon’s fantastic remedies were short lived. The one thing Simon did remain entirely committed to was writing. Writing was his ultimate redemption. He always said that if you could write something good, it would make up for all the shittiest, dead-inside moments of existence. But for him, even  the writing process was laced with copious amounts of alcohol and self-destruction. I've been re-reading his letters, and his subjects mainly range from wild and compulsive sexual adventures to futility, death and way too much alcohol. Behind his exuberant, over-the-top persona, and his compulsion to find something to laugh about everything, Simon was profoundly depressed. He made tons of jokes about the two times he almost jumped off Jacques-Cartier Bridge in his twenties. Over the past decade, I imagine that he walked through many days, bewildered at the fact that he wasn’t yet dead.
 
Simon used to say that on his tombstone, he wanted the words, "HEYYYYYYYY! I'M NOT REALLY DEAD!" or else, "Monday morning...  the hell with it, I'm not getting up."

“I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.” Last week I googled, “My ex killed himself. What should I do?” On one of the forums, some woman wrote, “He came into your life for a reason.” Then there was something about finding meaning in the whole ordeal. Although there’s a reason everything happens, I’m not a big fan of “everything happens for a reason” discourse. I don’t think Simon was either. He attributed not killing himself  those other two times to a couple of chance fluctuations of his mind.
 
That said, whether or not you write books with them, and whether or not they kill themselves, all of your exes leave you something you’ll keep forever. Simon and I were dicks to each other. Probably we were the worst combination in the world. But that was me and Simon. The Little Savage and the Hermit. “Classic shitty relationship, carried out by geniuses.”

The book is done.

The hermit’s dead.

Dear Simon,
I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.
And I wish you were still around.
Love, Erica.

The End.

My deepest sympathies to his friends, loved ones, family and parents.

Simon's Obituary and funeral details

His funeral will be held next Saturday, January 24, 2015. Loved ones are welcome from 1 p.m. on, and the funeral starts at 3.

Complexe funéraire LeSieur & Frère,
95 boul Saint-Luc at Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieur,
J2W 1E2
450-359-0990

In Simon's memory, the family would appreciate donations made to Centre de prevention de suicide de Haut-Richelieu (Haut-Richelieu Suicide Prevention Centre)

Simon's Books:

Dawson Kid (Boréal, 2007)
Tuer Lamarre (Leméac, 2009)
Michel Bourget, sauver les vies (400 coups, 2011)
Les Écureuils sont des sans-abris (Coups de tête, 2011)

Article from La Presse: Écrire à tout prix (La Presse, 2012)


fleurs
"Je vole vers l'astre qui est encore tout éteint et m'attend pour s'enflammer." (Simon)
 
 
Simon Says
The Granola Party Cereal Personality Quiz
 

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014: Year of the Spiritual Pants

2014 was the year of the Spiritual Pants.

Spiritual Pants in Fake Yoga Selfie
On January 1, 2014, I bet the Boatman twenty bucks that I could meditate for one hour without talking or taking a break. And I won.

Around that time, I had the brilliant idea that maybe I should become a nurse because I was obsessed with nursing memoirs, medical shows and diagnosing myself with all sorts of diseases on Google. Also, I thought it would be fun to get to wear purple scrubs and sneakers all day. I was relieved to have finally figured out my life’s purpose. In the meantime, I continued to work at the Montessori School. I had a terrible time getting out the door. The Boatman and I devised an imaginary sticker reward system. For every morning I left for work without a frenzy, the Boatman would give me an imaginary sticker. After a week or two of earning imaginary stickers, maybe I’d get a prize. The system was not super structured. Despite this, sometimes I did win some excellent pens.  The Boatman is good at choosing excellent pens.

I tried my best to be cheerful; however, I felt moderately grumpy most of the time. One night I dreamt that all the children were running around the gym with knives. A particularly adorable little girl had a huge pointy knife which she held up and aimed at my mouth. I was lower than her because I remember I could feel that I was busting my knee cartilage in an extra low hip width squat.

“Put the knife down,” I said.”

The knife stayed hovering about my mouth.

“Put it down,” I said again.
She brought the tip of the knife between my lips. Then I screamed in the night and the Boatman took me into his arms and said it was okay.

One Wednesday morning in real life, two little boys were pulling each other around in the pink and green and blue synthetic tunnel. To distract them from their dangerous game, I said, No, in French and crawled into the tunnel myself.

Wouldn’t this be very fun?

Very Fun.

The younger of the two boys jumped on me and I wacked my chin on the concrete gym floor. I sprung up, pulled myself out of the tunnel and walked away. I said nothing, sure that whatever I said would be yelling or crying, neither an appropriate response for someone in charge of a gym full of kids.

My chin was bleeding and I decided that I had a spinal cord injury. I insisted that my bosses let me go to a walk-in clinic to rule out my imminent paralysis. The doctor gave me a tetanus shot, a band-aid, and asked me to look up at the ceiling and then touch my toes. He said that everything was fine.
I bought my ticket to India in March. My plan to become a nurse did not progress beyond hammering every nurse I met with incessant questions, inhaling every nurse memoir at the Halifax library and watching the entirety of Nurse Jackie Season Six in two worknight evenings.

Nurse Jackie
Although I filled my journals with page after page of endless, relentless angst and complaints, I didn’t get around to finishing many blogs or other pieces of writing. Around the springtime, I considered deleting my entire online output when actor, celebrity and disability-activist Danny Woodburn expressed his horror at a trilogy of articles I had written for comedy website mobtreal.com. The Boatman convinced me otherwise and ultimately I only removed the offending words along with a bunch of pieces that I decided were pretty mediocre anyways. I republished the revised story, “Soul Fucking” and it has made it into the blog's all-time top ten posts.
 
Danny Woodburn, an actor I met while lifeguarding at the Westin Hotel
in Montreal. His Fan Mail inspired a valuable head trip.
Otherwise, besides a few fluffy posts on birth control and funerals, I didn’t put much out there. This became a constant source of low-level grief, but I hoped that leaving my job and going to India might help such things shift. In June, I hired a new psychologist who I called my Expensive Friend. The main purpose of the sessions was so he could sign a form confirming that I wasn’t too crazy to attend a Vipassana meditation retreat in August. It was my third time applying and I’d always struggled to get the I’m Not Crazy form signed, mostly because I haven’t bothered getting a consistent health care provider in years. In addition to signing the form, I thought that maybe my Expensive Friend could help me with my creativity drought and my bewilderment at how to earn money in a way that didn’t result in despair and devastation. My Expensive Friend was very kind. He gave me some writing assignments, meditation exercises and let me talk as much as I wanted. After several sessions, he said that it was wonderful meeting me but that he wasn’t sure he was helping me achieve my objectives. Perhaps my trip to India would work to clarify some of my issues. He didn’t exactly fire me; however, I feel this is the catchiest way of putting it.
My last couple of months at Montessori were more fun than the previous year and a half since I was allowed to speak English and didn’t have to endure the chronic frustration of not being understood. Before I left, my bosses provided me with a raving letter of reference that was meant for hanging on my fridge. They praised my mopping, composting and toileting skills. My toilet conversation with toddlers and bum-wiping skills are apparently “without parallel.” Hit me up if you struggle in any of these areas.

At the end of August, I flew to Montreal to finally attend my first ten-day Vipassana sit. Almost everyone I know was surprised to learn that I made it through the whole thing without breaking the noble silence rules. I cried more than anyone else there and at one point I thought I wasgoing to dislocate my sacrum and/or get a spinal cord injury. When I was finally allowed to talk, I talked so much and so fast that my throat got sore.  After Vipassana, I got back into sharing my writing again without thinking too much about it or worrying that I wasn’t writing something brilliant and literary like a novel.

Then I went to India. This was my first trip off the continent. It is a magical thing to be able to get on a plane and a day later, arrive in a totally different place where the leaves don’t turn brown and fall off the trees in October. Thanks to everyone who helped invent airplanes, and to the people who took the time to learn how to fly them.

On the plane, I wore the pressure socks that my father lovingly bought me, for fear my legs would swell up on the long flight.
Magical Socks
I arrived in Mysore and reunited with my Cool Friend From Belgium (CFFB) and met several other new friends, many of whom appeared on this blog under the guise of some similarly catchy acronym. My Cool Friend From Belgium and I started a Butt Club because my CFFB was concerned her butt was too flat and was causing problems in her pelvis. Another friend, the Queen of Butt Club (QOBC) was instrumental in leading all two of the Butt Club’s sessions. I will always be grateful to the Queen of Butt Club for this, but even more so for the time she took me downtown to a store that sells the most wonderful pants in the world. I call them Spiritual Pants, and I wore them almost every day in Mysore. They would be perfect for pregnancy, and for a brief period in Mysore, I thought that it would be so beautiful and magical to make a baby inside me. Then I changed my mind.
Sharath wasn’t scary at all. I really liked him and practicing in the shala was extraordinary. For me, it was everything it’s cracked up to be. When I told Sharath that my hip was “popping in and out” (not really, but it sounded like it), he told me, “don’t walk too much.” Lucky for me, everywhere I went in Mysore was about ten minutes apart, and anywhere further my Cool Friend From Belgium usually drove me. The various challenges I had on my left side didn’t magically vanish; however, there was definitely a significant and steady improvement that seems to be continuing on back in Canada even though it’s freezing and I’m walking all over the place.

During Vipassana, I wondered if maybe my body and psyche were maxing out after seven years of unbroken Ashtanga practice. Maybe Mysore would be my grande finale and I could move on to some “easier” yoga involving cushions and a lot of ropes. Pretty sure this won’t happen, and I think I’m going to try and stick out Ashtanga for another seven years or so. We’ll see.

The Boatman thinks I’ve grown up quite a bit since I left. Probably this is true, although I did blog about my pubic hair at least twice in three months and I went on and on about humping various kinds of bedding in approximately every other post. Also, in this picture with Sharath, somehow I look so young.
Me and Sharath, so young
From Mysore, I flew to London to meet the Boatman and his family at an extremely fancy hotel where we weren’t allowed to wear Spiritual Pants, Birkenstocks, or eat with our hands. The hotel was way too fancy for me and the Boatman, but thanks to very detailed instructions from the Boatman’s mother on what to wear at what time, we didn’t cause too much shame to the family.
Of course it was delightful to see the Boatman again. No one is as happy as they look on the internet, except for us.
Deep Love


The End.
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
Happy, Exuberant 2015!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What I Learned in India

So I have less than a week left in the wonderful land of Gokulam, India. Next Sunday in the middle of the night, I’ll be flying to London, England to some extremely fancy hotel where I will celebrate Christmas with the Boatman and his family. Once I get to the hotel, I will not be allowed to wear spiritual pants anymore. I am nervous and afraid. Mostly I am nervous for the “I just got back from India speeches.” The questions are going to be terrible, and my answers even worse.
 
Farewell to the Spiritual Pants
Luckily, my Friend Who Enjoys Her Anonymity (F-WEHA) has helped me compile several adequate responses, particularly for the Boatman’s mother. In preparation for this trip to London, the Boatman’s mother took me on several massive shopping sprees so I wouldn’t shame the family with my horrible fashion sense. Every single time we went shopping, she asked me, “So, is there something you want to accomplish when you’re in India, or is it just meant to be an experience?” Whether I was trying on underwear, skinny jeans or ballroom gowns, I would eloquently reply, “Um. I think it’s meant to be an experience.” Regardless, when I see her in London, the Boatman’s mother is almost guaranteed to ask me, “So did you achieve what you set out to accomplish in India?”
My first instinct is to respond, No I achieved nothing. I remain exactly the same as when I arrived. I still talk too much and too fast, play with my hair constantly, struggle to prepare meals more complicated than cereal or peanut butter sandwiches, and experience more meltdowns than is probably appropriate for a twenty-nine year old.  But my Friend Who Enjoys Her Anonymity, F-WEHA, kindly assured me that in fact, whilst in India, I have learned many valuable and important lessons that count as accomplishments. Here’s the list, which I will regularly review and rehearse until I see the Boatman’s mother:

1.       Coconut Oil is good for your hair. Since Sharath is an advocate of oil baths, every Sunday I have been rubbing different kinds of oil all over myself, including on my head and hair. As a result, my hair has remained in shiny crunchy curls all week. Perhaps it appears questionably greasy, but I feel it is an improvement from the previously chronic frizz. And I save money on conditioner. Even though it doesn't sound very scientific, rubbing oil into your body coconut and other types of oils also happen to be quite good for your joints, especially if you compliment oil rubbing with lying around all day.

2.       Don’t talk to strangers about their yoga practices. You have a 91% chance of saying the wrong thing at which point the stranger or strangers will bite your head off.

3.       Don’t talk to strangers at all. You have an 89% chance of saying the wrong thing and a 0% chance of ever redeeming yourself. As my Cool Friend From Belgium says, “In Mysore, people get to know each other on a superficial level, but judge each other on a very deep level.” Safer and better to keep your mouth shut.

4.       Don’t google strangers. Either you will end up with an inferiority complex or you will become irreparably traumatized. The Long Lost Cousin I met in Mysore is irreparably traumatized every single time.  Learn from my Long Lost Cousin’s mistakes. Suffering that has not yet happened can be avoided.

5.       All through October, I thought that it would be so wonderful and beautiful to grow a baby/parasite inside of me. For the Boatman’s mother, this would have been the best news ever. One time at the mall, she was feeding me a soft serve Dairy Queen ice cream, when she said, “I’m not pressuring you to have children, but you know, it’s so great for me now. I have three lovely adult children. It’s so much fun” I immediately pointed out to her that not all children become lovely adults, and proceeded with a long list of morbid and/or vulgar and absolutely not fun examples. Then I finished my ice cream. In India, I started experiencing baby cravings for thefirst time since I was an eager adolescent babysitter. But it seems that the closer I get to actually having sex, the less having a child appeals to me. These days it is barely appealing to me at all. Also, last week I read on the internet that if you menstruate on the full moon, it means that you’re not ready to have a kid. Me and the Full Moon are totally in sync and my vagina and the moon are giving me a sign.

The next inevitable question is definitely, “How does it feel to be back? Is it good? Are you happy?”

I am still working on my response. So far all I have come up with, “Well, it’s fabulous to hump your son’s leg as opposed to the ugly polar fleece bedsheets they have in India.” Probably I will need to come up with a better answer, but I am absolutely looking forward to the Boatman’s thigh. And to no more bedsheets.
They are so amazingly ugly.
 
Seven more days.
The End, except please be sure not to miss this gallery of beautiful photographs of  polar fleece bedsheets around Gokulam:
The Ugly Bedsheet from my Last Apartment
 
My Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian also has an ugly bedsheet. I thought it was even uglier than the one from my last apartment but now I can't say. Maybe it is just more photogenic.

And this is the polar fleece bedsheet from my current apartment. I think it is the ugliest. You can buy your own ugly polar fleece bedsheet at Honesty Fashions, on the Gokulam main road.


The turquoise- daisied lime-green duvet. I was a bad duvet mother and left it in the trunk in the basement for three years. The Boatman said the mildew smell was horrendous so we had to put it on the curb.
The turquoise-daisied lime-green duvet was inspiration for

Why I Am Different From Margaret Atwood and What I Don't Gain From Humping Duvets

I decided to put it up on the blog even though the piece is probably horrible for my reputation.
My other inspiration was Margaret Atwood, Maybeline eyeshadow and my Magic Mushrooms Friend.


The End.
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, which Sharath encouraged us to do in conference this week.
Simon Says
Soul Fucking
Do Not Kill Your Baby
 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Are you strong, or are you skinny?

“Does this mirror make me look wider?” I asked my friend, the Queen Of Butt Club. On Sunday I moved to my fourth location of this trip to Mysore. I felt like I appeared less wide in my old apartment. The Queen of Butt Club examined the situation.

“Not sure,” she said. “I feel like I have been consistently widening since Preethi moved in.” Preethi is QOBC’s roommate from Bangalore. She is quite talented at cooking chapatis, parathas, pakoras and most importantly dosas. All through November, Preethi passed on her gifts to my friend via unbroken lineage or Parampara. My friend was delighted to learn the correct method in such a traditional way. As fate would have it, she loves dosas so much that she named her dog Dosa.
I should mention that my friend did not earn her title “Queen of Butt Club,” due to the size of her butt. Rather, in another lifetime, she became quite skilled at pilates and fitness. During this era, she accumulated knowledge of many compelling and effective butt exercises. Nobody ever authorized or certified her in this area, but that was a big mistake. All the members of our Glutes Group agree that our asses had never been in better hands than with the Queen of Butt Club. My Cool Friend from Belgium was adamant that her exercises were way better than Eddie Stern’s. Eddie Stern’s butt exercises do not generate adequate burning.

A couple of weeks into it, Butt Club died out when the Queen embarked upon Seventh Series and adopted five little kittens. It was a good lesson for the Glutes Group slash Butt Club to learn that some things are more important than your pelvis. And we learned about the importance of self-practice.

Anyways, back to the Fun House mirror at my fun new apartment.  The Queen and I examined the fronts of our torsos for about three and a half seconds.
“Hard to say,” I said. “Especially when all we wear is spiritual pants.” Spiritual pants are these great items you can buy in Mysore. The waist consists of three to four inches of ruffled elastic and the seam of the crotch falls nearly a foot below your secular vagina and/or spiritual beard.  Everything is exciting and mysterious when you wear spiritual pants.
Spiritual Pants

“Well,” said the Queen. “I guess if we start busting out of the Spiritual Pants, maybe then we can ask Malcom about his diet.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Only then.”

Malcom, whose real name luckily isn't Malcom, is an earnest young ashtangi who we always see eating plates of raw vegetables and smoothies. He dips his veggies in tiny containers of tahini butter. Otherwise, that seems to be it. How sad for him.

“I’m a control freak,” he explained, crunching on a raw beet. “Eating is one thing I can control.” How interesting. Sounds like the clichéd description of an eating disorder. “My life felt out of control and so I controlled my eating.” And then what happened?

Seven Augusts ago, when I walked into Darby’s Mysore room, I met The Vegan Life Coach, a great and temporary source of sexual gratification. Although our relationship was short-lived, his influence was enormous. The Vegan Coach encouraged me to keep practicing in the most traditional way possible. He also warned me of the perils of consuming dairy and eggs. And he said that drinking a bunch of coffee while on Prozaac (which I happened to be on) was probably a horrible idea. He never told me outright that I should become vegan, but it seemed like an obvious step towards my moral evolution, and thus I did. And I figured that if it was between coffee and Prozaac, I’d pick coffee. I quit Prozaac cold turkey, after being on it off and on for six years.
So there I was, a mighty and devoted Ashtanga practitioner. Egg-free, dairy-free, prozaac free.

This was before the gluten-free days. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have taken that up too.

As fate would have it, daily Ashtanga and going vegan coincided with the end of Rumination Syndrome, a rare and unpleasant bulimia-related symptom that took forever to get rid of following my somewhat significant bout with an eating disorder. Rumination involves regurgitating food in your mouth and then reswallowing it over and over again. This would go on for up to an hour every time I ate. This went on for years. It’s quite disgusting, but oh well. I forgive myself.
You can imagine how relieved I was when the puke just disappeared. I attributed the newfound lack of puke with my Ashtanga practice, and being vegan.

I had eight ecstatic months of ostensible freedom.

Then May came, and suddenly I was really hungry and anxious. My practice was getting longer and longer. I was biking all over Montreal to get to school and my very physical job working with people with disabilities.  And I was eating less and less, since many of the other yogis in my teacher training program seemed to do fine subsisting on salads and green drinks in mason jars. The puke came back, first once or twice a week, and then all the time. I wouldn’t let myself consider the fact that maybe if I ate more and practiced less or at least less aggressively, my anxiety might decrease along with some of the eating chaos. No, without giving everything to practice, I was convinced I’d be even more of a disaster. I kept going full throttle with little to no increase in sandwiches or cheese.

In August, Daniel Vitalis came to talk to our teacher training group about nutrition. Daniel is a vibrant and seemingly magical person with the claim to fame of only drinking and using water that he gathers from springs. He also doesn’t eat much that he hasn’t scavenged from the wilderness. At our teacher training, Daniel told us a story about finding a blue robin’s egg in the forest. He took a bite and what a surprise, inside was a budding bird fetus. Figuring that he shouldn’t let it go to waste, he ate the whole thing, webbed feet and all.
“That’s bad karma,” said Joanne, Darby’s wife. 

The Wild and Magical Daniel Vitalis
For whatever reason, I decided to consult Daniel about my battle with toenail fungus which had persisted even longer than the puke in my mouth.  He said that likely the microorganisms that caused my fungus had also invaded my intestines and joints and were contributing to my depression and mental health problems.
“Do you crave sugar a lot?” he asked. In my experience, the more I deprive myself, the more I crave sugar. So yes, I was craving sugar all the time. Alcohol, chocolate and grapes.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Yah, that’s the fungus. It’ll keep coming back as long as you eat sugar.”
“Even fruit?”
“Yah, fruit’s the worst.”

The list of food I wasn’t allowed to eat was lengthening steadily. By September, I hired a naturopath who prescribed an extremely restrictive 90-day raw food cleanse. I immediately stopped menstruating. At the time, Darby was having me practice full primary all the way to Karandavasana. Although I’d become disturbingly lighter, Karandavasana remained a lost cause. That said, as my muscles started breaking down, backbends became significantly easier.

“Don’t expect to be able to do that when you start eating again,” Darby said as he easily yanked my hands to my heels in Kapotasana. Several unempowered head trips ensued. Luckily, by mid-October, even Darby advocated that I cut the cleanse short. I felt and looked horrific. At the end of October, I bailed, surrendering to a lifetime of hideous and infested toenails. My weight stabilized within a several months; however, now a whole bunch of old eating hang-ups and patterns had returned including puke in my mouth and in the toilet. It took another two and half years for the puke to disappear completely, and I hope it never returns.

My Cool Friend From Belgium claims I’m the best eater in Gokulam. (While we’re at it, I am also probably the best at pooping and menstruating). The Queen of Butt Club, one of the most wonderful vegans I know is also quite good, though alas, our competition is rather pathetic. I would be so rich if I got money for every time I heard someone complain about how full they were from lunch, at 6 P.M, or maybe even the day after. Or how repulsively heavy Indian food is. I find the food here is spectacular and delicious. And my digestion is better than ever. Back home, I eat way more salad and as a result I am way more gassy. In Mysore, the food is so well cooked that I barely ever fart. Congratulations to me.

Maybe it is okay for people to experiment with food during a certain stage of their practice. Some people’s diets could be more healthy and nourishing. That said, a great number of people come to yoga with tendencies towards perfectly sensible and reasonable food choices. Despite this, many practitioners seem to suffer from a widespread lack of faith in themselves and their bodies. As though if they were left to their own devices, they’d expand into massive hedonistic Buddhas.

Having essentially completed a PhD in eating disorders, I have come to the conclusion that although everyone is different, upon depriving themselves, most people become neurotic, irritable and anxious. I have consolidated a few sentences containing my Excellent Advice About Food. Whether or not you want it, here it is:
Stop having food rules. Even if your arms are too short to bind in various yoga postures or you think your life would be way better if you were thinner. I am terrible at reading spiritual texts but I am quite certain that nowhere in the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras does it say you must starve yourself until you can catch your wrists in Pasasana or lift up in Karandavasana. So unless you are missing internal organs, trust your deep internal wisdom and give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. I promise that you will not turn into a mammoth. Being neurotic about food is really bad for digestion, and also really bad for having fun with your friends. Eat in a way that doesn’t leave you hungry and thinking about food all the time. Ideally what you eat will allow you to sleep and shit and have a nice time with the people around you. If you’re having trouble shitting, let me know. I have lots of tricks. The End.

The only thing I would add is, watch out for rocks. Yesterday, the Queen of Butt Club was biting into a chick pea, and it turned out to be a rock. She broke a chunk out of her back molar. Besides the molar, there were no other casualties.

The Very End.

Also, The Queen of Butt Club is leaving this week. Besides fellow Butt Club members, she leaves behind Sambar the kitten, who defeated great odds and survived. Look how fluffy and cute he is. Sambar will be living with a generous foster mom until January at which point he will need a new home. Who loves kittens?!? Preference will be given to people living in India or Mysore, but if you live somewhere else and it is love at first sight, Sambaar will probably be strong enough to fly by the end of the month. Please get in touch if you’re interested!  
The Fiesty and Fluffy Sambar

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor

Related Posts:
You Cling to Things Until They Die 
Food Belly 
The Day Yoga Almost Gave Me a Stroke 
Butt Club et. al. 
21st Century Yoga and an End to Self-Care
 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Spiritual Beard, Secular Vagina

 
Yoga is about letting go of fixed viewpoints. After healing my sad and damaged relationship with my pubic hair, I decided that I still wanted to get it ripped off. My change of heart had almost everything to do with the fact that in Mysore, Pube Eradication costs between 300 and 700 rupees. This equals about $5.50 to $13.00 Canadian dollars. Good deal.

Due to Pube Eradication Trauma from another era, I selected the most luxurious option. Legend has it that the 300 rupees ladies use extremely hot wax. None of my friends who had gone had ended up with debilitating blisters; however, they felt this was maybe a risk. So Flaunt Beauty Salon it was.

Last Tuesday, my father and his girlfriend left for their tour of Kerala. I waved them good-bye from the coconut stand before immediately dragging myself and my abundant crotch all the way to the fancy salon in Vivi Mohalla. But as fate would have it, Flaunt Beauty Salon was closed. Apparently Tuesday is not a good day for new yoga postures or elite bikini waxing. Perhaps it has something to do with Hanuman. Whatever the reason, my pubic hair would remain attached to me for one more day, or at least until after lunch when I could re-evaluate the risk-benefit ratio of the Hot Wax Ladies.
Lunch was with three friends. We drove there on one scooter. Of course, I wasn’t the driver. Instead I blabbered away about my deepest values in life. In Halifax, I once hired a psychologist for 165 dollars and he told me to talkabout my deepest values in life.  In Mysore, I get to go on and on about this all day, and it’s even cheaper than waxing your pubic hair. That said, during the last two conferences, Sharath has reminded us that yogis don’t talk too much. Each time on my way out, someone has called out to me, “Hey Erica, did you hear that? You never hear yogis talking.” So far my only comeback has been to point out that during these same conferences in which Sharath has warned us about excessive babble, he happened to go on and on about lions and tigers and leopards and trees. So maybe a moderate verbal machine gun is okay, especially if I switch my subject matter to lions and tigers and leopards and trees. Although maybe from now on, I will reduce my scooter chatting.

This is to say that while I was yammering away about infinite patience and moula bandha, we had a mild crash. Traffic laws in India are vague, and there are quite a lot of scooters and cars buzzing around, along with a few buses. While crossing a busy street, a guy on a scooter pulled quickly in front of us, and we had a little fender bender. Our scooter fell pretty slowly to the left. My friend who was driving broke most of the fall with her hand and foot. I hit the ground skidding the pavement only slightly with my shoulder, hand and knee. Due to my longstanding fear of amputation and spinal cord injuries, I am not the best with accidents. But I feel like I could have been much more hysterical. And lucky for us, except for a few gashes and bruises, nobody was seriously hurt. The steering of my friend’s scooter went a little wonky, but the mechanic solved this problem by generously banging on it with a hammer on a couple of occasions.

After lunch, despite having no swelling and full range of motion in all of my body parts, I started to fret about whether or not I’d broken my wrist. After all, the fall had been similar to the time I fell off my bike in Montreal and broke my arm. My Cool Friend From Belgium reassured me with her osteopathic knowledge that broken bones typically perpetuate at least a some swelling. But surely there was some bone in your body you could break without knowing. After twelve and a half minutes of stressing, it occurred to me that perhaps it was an excellent time to go to the Hot Wax Ladies and get my pubes waxed off.   In fact, this proved to be an excellent cure.
The Hot Wax Ladies, around the corner from the Shala
“Not too hot?” I asked the lady as I lay sweating in terror on the vinyl table.

“No, no Madam,” said the Hot Wax Lady. She blew diligently on the wax which she spread on my vagina with a wide wooden popsicle stick. It was burning hot.

“No stressing, Madam,” she said. “Making wet, very sweaty. Very sweaty Madam.” In order to remedy my sweat, she dumped half a cup of baby powder all over my crotch. With each rip, I cried out more. Have to say though, she was amazing. The whole ordeal over in less than seven minutes and it made me forget entirely about my silent broken bones. Plus I walked home with zero pubes, zero pockmarks and zero blisters. Best of all the worlds. Except for the world in which I get to have sex with a real human being. Friday was the two-month anniversary of the last time I had sex with the Boatman. After an angsty morning humping the ugliest polar fleece blanket in the world, I sauntered over to a popular breakfast place to binge on chai. At the corner of my table, a man with a very spiritual beard was having a conversation about Brahmacarya. (The meaning of Brahmacarya is debatable. Most people think it has something to do with not having that much sex, and/or not ejaculating and/or only having sex with one pre-determined person when you are breathing through your left nostril.)

“You know Brahmacarya means you’re not even supposed to do it with yourself?” Spiritual Beard Man asked his friend. I thought of the ugly polar fleece bedsheet that had come with my apartment. There is no way it could be any more hideous.
Who made this bed sheet and why is it the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life?
Later on, I had a whine fest with my friends on their balcony. In Mysore, some people like to use their balconies to practice fancy yoga postures in the afternoons. I tend to think that whining about your sad sex life is a better choice. A select few people in Mysore have the opportunity to have an appropriate amount of sex with an appropriate person. Unless they are totally obsessed with fancy yoga postures, these people have little need for using the balcony. Hence, “not using the balcony” has become a euphemism for the activities of people lucky enough to transcend their ugly polar fleece bed sheets.
“It has been more than two months for me too,” said my Chill Dog-Rescuing Friend from well, maybe she would rather I did not say. “After a month, I went kind of numb. I think I could tell people how to do this.”

“Not me,” I moaned. “I have no Spiritual Beard.”

“Well you did have a Spiritual Beard until you got all your pubes waxed off.” This bout of wisdom came from my Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian friend. She too misses her husband. And she has already hired the Hot Wax Ladies twice, so she doesn’t have a Spiritual Beard either. My Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian Friend (CIACF) is a big fan of cookies from the Chocolate Man. She buys a lot of them, but she is very good at sharing. The Chocolate Man also sells coffee. We think he is the third richest man in Mysore. First comes Sharath, and then the Coconut Man. Then comes Coffee/Chocolate Man. Due to the widespread lack of Spiritual Beards.

Anyways, let’s hope our friend with the Spiritual Beard is having a fun time with Brahmacarya. Those of us with secular vaginas may find redemption in cookies from the chocolate man and/or our ugly polar fleece bedsheets.

The Boatman has a secular beard to go with my secular vagina. I miss it immensely.
The Boatman looks a little bit like a beautiful cardboard pin-up in this photo.
And he is wearing a vagina-resembling pin:

 
Next time I will try to say a little less about my crotch.

The End.
 
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
 
Spiritual Beard Kiss at Airport
 
 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Vipassana Diaries: Why I Like to Pee Outside

Kino MacGregor insists that you can’t hurt yourself meditating.

Kino MacGregor can pull her leg all the way behind her shoulder and then her foot hooks under her armpit and it doesn’t seem like this hurts her very much.
 Kino MacGregor and I are different
Kino MacGregor and I are different. Just like Margaret Atwood and I are different. Going into Vipassana, I could sit cross-legged relatively comfortably for half an hour. Still, I was positive that sitting for ten hours a day was going to break my knees, and probably also my hips, and maybe a few other parts while I was at it. When I am not meditating, I masturbate on the internet, inhaling thousands of yoga blogs. I have been devouring Matthew Reski’s series WAWADIA: What Are We Actually Doing In Asana. It’s a qualitative study on injuries in yoga. Of course I have read devoured the whole thing. In one of the articles, Matthew interviews a guy who went to Vipassana. Someone this guy knew there had to do six months of physio for her knee afterwards. And I’d heard of a friend of a friend who had herniated her disc, just trying to meditate.
A phrase from the internet haunted my head, “Many meditators injure themselves meditating on non-violence.”
I was determined that this violence would not happen to me.  I spent my first two and a half days at vipassana frantically obsessing over the best and most sustainable position. Three cushions under my butt, two under each knee. Vice versa. Two under my knee with the bad I.T. band. Oh but then I’m imbalanced, what if I get compensatory pain? Yes, definitely there was compensatory pain. My vacillations went on and on. As for the pain, well, it wasn’t quite extreme, but I did feel some irritation above my left knee on the outside. And often when I got up, my hip felt sort of jammed, so I had to click it back into place. Although the sound of my hip was disgusting, I'm pretty sure my issues were mostly due to my tight I.T. band and probably not because of some surgery-requiring problem.  Even so, I fretted relentlessly. After two and a half days, I thought, the hell with this; I’m straightening my legs. I propped myself up on a mountain of cushions, and extended both legs diagonally in a v-shape with loads more cushions underneath. Smugly, I looked around the room as everyone else creaked themselves into folded legs and anatomically questionable versions of virasana. “Erica,” I thought to myself. “You have the best seat in the house.”
Surely, I’d be spared of both agony and surgery. Well, you’ll see how that went. On Day Four of the course, Goenka introduced the Vipassana technique. Up until then, we’d been luxuriating in Anapana, the delightful task of observing the breath below our nostrils. During this time, I alternated between being very bored, being very sleepy, being very hungry, being very obsessed about how I would starve because there was no dinner, and being very pissed off at a number of people, including Sri W Ham Wrap who once said that my yoga practice was violent and harmful. (I just wrote Hamful by mistake. How funny.)  What a blast. Then the Vipassana technique opened up a whole new exciting world. Instead of being stuck on our nostrils, now we got to move our attention from head to feet.  It was like going from no internet to suddenly getting a U.S. Netflix subscription. I remember walking out of our first session with immense relief. Thank God, I thought almost laughing. No more nostrils. But it felt like my sit bones had punctured through my ass. And I wondered if maybe my hamstrings were being overstretched.
On Day Five of Vipassana, Goenka wanted us to start cultivating adhittana, which means “strong determination.” Apparently the best way of doing this is to endure one-hour sits of extreme stillness three times a day. No opening your eyes, no opening your hands, no changing your legs. Having taken refuge in rules from a young age, I was all over this. Though my legs were uncrossed, I sat like the stillest Buddha in the world. The stillest and the stiffest. It usually took 25 or 30 minutes before my sit bones started to pierce my ass flesh to such an extent that I thought my ass might start to bleed. The rest of my ass wasn’t doing well either. I could feel intense stretching on either side. One of Matthew Remski’s case studies was about an unfortunate Ashtanga yoga teacher who tore all her glute muscles off her hipbone. She had been doing a bunch of hip openers to deal with a knee injury. Then one day after meditating, she did a tiny wide legged forward bend and pop, pop, pop, went all the muscles on her ass. At the end of Day Six, I felt certain that my injury would be even more serious. Both sides of my ass seethed in horrendous agony. Lying in bed around 9:30 p.m., I decided that all my butt muscles were pulling at my sacrum.  It was only a matter of time, likely just five minutes, before the muscles dislocated from my sacrum, my spine went to hell and then Erica’s greatest fear of being in a wheelchair would come true. I sobbed, alone, in my cubicle of a room.
“It’s going to break.” I said out loud, breaking the noble silence to announce my imminent spinal cord injury. My roommates in the other cubicles weren’t allowed to say anything back. I kept sobbing. “Sorry,” I said. I lay down on the floor, stunned by the torture. Finally the day of my Big Catastrophe had come. Ever since I was really small, I’ve been waiting for the day when something horrible and irreversible would happen to my body. Broken spinal cords, esophageal cancer, the flesh-eating disease. I’ve been anticipating my disaster since my parents took me to the Niagara Falls wax museum and I saw the wax statue of Terry Fox who only had one leg. Now my disaster was happening on Day 6 of jolly old Goeka’s vipassana retreat.
Within about twenty minutes the spasms or whatever was going on in my ass finally stopped. Later, I learned that during that night, I’d called out in my sleep. “I knew it!,” I’d yelled. I don’t remember saying this, but I do remember dreaming about Katy Bowman. Katy Bowman is a biomechanist and author who advocates as much natural movement as possible for the benefit of your pelvis and all the cells in your body. And she thinks that almost everyone in the Western World needs a stronger butt.
“Yah, I was at Vipassana,” I told Katy in my dream. “But it was too much.” While I was dreaming, I also remember having the very clear intention of doing a bunch of butt exercises. Sadly, the time and location never worked out. The butt exercises kept getting postponed. (Kind of like Butt Club in Mysore).
The gong rang at 4 a.m. Although I was quite relieved that I wasn’t yet in a wheelchair, I felt absolutely ready to trade in both yoga and meditation for a lifetime of butt exercises and/or anything else.  My ass didn’t hurt as much, but now I felt certain that there was inflammation behind my right knee, the one without the I.T. band problem. Upon careful examination, I realized that the bulge was merely my hamstring tendon.
I dragged myself to the meditation hall late and left when I had to shit. Instead of returning, I went for a walk in the little loop in the forest. It was pitch black. For someone terrified of a spinal cord injury, this wasn’t the most logical behaviour; however, I figured I’d already survived yesterday’s very close call and I wanted to work on my night vision. After a couple of times around the loop, I had to piss and so I pulled up my skirt and peed in the woods. I thought that this was quite scandalous for a vipassana retreat. I did not get any pee on my sandals.
In the afternoon, I went to see the meditation instructor. It was nice of her to view my body hysteria, not as severe, neurotic dysfunction, but rather as my sankaras coming to the surface. Sankaras are deep-rooted mental or behavioral patterns that tend to lead you into the same types situations over and over again. (The yogis often call them “samskaras.”) Some of my sankaras that fall into similar categories include going to the emergency room to see if my ingrown pubic hair is Herpes,  or imagining having to get my esophagus replaced with a piece of my colon, or worrying about getting a foot infection in India that will end with me losing my legs. When I told the instructor about the spinal cord injury scare, she suggested that maybe I was a bit too strict with myself. “Torturing yourself, this is not Vipassana, she said. “Vipassana is not the posture.” She gave the option of a chair, or a back support, if it got too painful. I considered becoming a chair person, but one of my life’s biggest rants is about the dangers of sitting in chairs. It’s up there withpotty training, and sun salutations, and maybe also pubic hair waxing. I decided I would try one more day on the floor. If my sacrum seemed at risk and I had to sit in a chair, well then, so be it. The rest of this story is about how I ended up sitting cross-legged and sort of relaxed for about seventeen minutes. You are probably better off reading this excellent zine that the Boatman bought called, “Why I Like to Pee Outside.” It is so great. I even brought it to India with me and read it to some wonderful Canadians I met in the line-up to register with Sharath.
Zine: “Why I Like to Pee Outside,” by Amanda Stevens,
bent from its long trip to India
The Author Amanda Stevens made the zine at a 24-hour Zinemaking Challenge in Halifax in 2008. “Why I Like to Pee Outside” describes the Unnamed Protagonist’s journey of how she grew to love peeing outside. It is full of informative and compelling diagrams, lists and essential techniques. The unnamed protagonist used to be afraid of peeing on her pants or her shoes. She even considered getting “one of those spouts that make peeing outside easier for people with vulvas.” But she practiced and practiced and now she can do it the way it’s meant to be done.

Peeing Outside, the way it's meant to be done. Watch out for pee splattering off the ground
“It’s a bit of a thrill,” says the Unnamed Protagonist. “It feels slightly transgressive and unladylike, especially when there’s a possibility of being seen doing it. It also makes me feel like I’m getting back to my natural self.” This is how I felt when I peed outside at vipassana. Thrilled, transgressive, and unladylike, and more like my animal self. 

Peeing outside: Thrilling, Transgressive and Unladylike
As fate would have it, peeing outside happens to be excellent for your pelvis, butt muscles included. Katy Bowman recommends peeing outside as often as possible. And I think that she would be happy with Amanda’s squatting diagram.
At the end of “Why I like to pee outside,” the Unnamed Protagonist dresses up as a Girl Guide for Halloween and her friend makes her a badge for peeing outside. Overall, “Why I like to Pee Outside” is a thoroughly satisfying read. I tried to contact Amanda about where people can find more copies. If you’re in Mysore, you can borrow mine.
If you have interesting interesting techniques for peeing outside or a peeing outside story to share, you should email Amanda at redheadwalkingas@yahoo.ca. And/or share them at the end of this blog.
In India, people pee outside all the time. In Mysore, for the most part, you only see dudes.
The End.
I’m not sure how I mentioned so many things in one blog.  Perhaps to some of you, this is not all that surprising.
I don’t have time to edit because my father and his girlfriend are visiting and they are way better tourists than I am.
Oh well, think of all the people I promoted:
Kino MacGregor
Margaret Atwood: Once I wrote a story called, Why I am Different From Margaret Atwood and What I Don't Gain From Humping Duvets. It used to be all over the internet. Now I can only find a version with very strange formatting. Well, if you're dying to read it, I can hook you up, perhaps for the price of three coconuts. Haggling welcome. 
Goenka
Amanda Stevens, author of “Why I Like to Pee Outside.” I messaged her on Facebook raving about her Zine. Unfortunately, I got the wrong Amanda Stevens. Better luck next time.

And Myself:

The Vipassana Diaries: Bus
The Vipassana Diaries: Day Zero
The Vipassana Diaries: Food Belly
Vipassana Diaries/Ashtanga Memoirs: You Cling To Things Until They Die (Ham Wraps, S.I. Joints Etc.)

Do Not Kill Your Baby


Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, my $2 self-help book
Don't forget your peeing outside stories!!!