Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Sunday, 10 June 2018

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

Dear Vincent,

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

Love, Erica.


Dear Oprah,

My beautiful soul’s beautiful hero’s journey is I broke up with the love of my life’s most beautiful blogging fairy tale and after six months of weeping indelicately in public, I ran away to India and this was fun for approximately five and a half weeks and then I got extensive shits and I got to be an emaciated and hysterical bone rack and when I finally made it back to Canada, I was so washed out that I had to go on Prozac and then I met my therapist who I fell deeply and madly in love with and this really messed me up as did accidentally doubling my Prozac dose in the winter of 2017 and then going off of it and then breaking my roommate’s delicate and precious teapot, and meanwhile, to fulfill my enormous potential and to live my best life, I clean other people’s bathtubs and sometimes I weep over the ledges of these bathtubs, or else the dusty baseboards, or else the refrigerator drawers filled with mouldy vegetable chunks, and approximately 100% of the time, nobody notices.

Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,
When I call the crisis center they tell me to call back because I am crying too hard.
They should bring back the role of the Village Wailer, and this should be my job.

Erica Schmidt, Mile End Wailer.

On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, as I wailed below the Saint Laurent underpass, two people, asked me if I was okay, and I blubbered ‘I’m fine, this is just me, a walking disaster,’ and then next to the railroad tracks, a woman on her bike who said she worked with addicts insisted on an extended conversation, and she asked me what I liked to do, and said, ‘I can see you like to walk,’ in fact, she was right, and in fact, she was quite kind, and in fact, I sincerely hope our encounter was good for her Mother Teresa complex. 

Addict Mother Teresa Friend said there isn't some magic formula, you just keep trying different things to see what works. I guess this is not terrible advice.
On the way home, underneath the underpass, some dude walked by me and handed me an apple. He had an apple too, and I was too lonely to go home and so I followed him to Clark Park and watched him wash the apple in the water fountain.  

His t. shirt was white and on the right breast corner it said something about the Xavier school of gifted youngsters.

“Were you a gifted youngster?” I asked.

“Oh, this is from X-men,” he said. “And it’s a rare shirt. Kind of my superpower.”

“Oh,” I said. I know very little about x-men, due to being a philistine.

“What about you? What is your superpower?”

I did not want my superpower to be mopping, although I am quite good at this.

The star of my life’s most beautiful blogging fairy tale used to say, my emotions could maybe be a superpower.

The star of my life’s most beautiful blogging fairy tale had never seen anything like my emotions.

“Maybe my emotions could be my superpower. But mostly they just give me a really hard time.”

My emotions, they
are very astonishing.

On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, I found a dead mouse, stuck to a sticky mouse trap under a kitchen sink, and the sink belonged to a family who has an enormous baby, and I always say that the enormous baby’s face is very astonishing.

Every 12 minutes to 36 hours, I feel totally astonished.
The guy with the gifted youngsters t. shirt said, “I bet people give you all kinds of suggestions on what you should do. Meditation, working out, yoga, journals.”
“Yes,” I said. “And I have been doing all of it since I was seven years old.”

He went to drink beer with his friends, and I went home to do the dishes.
The apple was macintosh. It tasted small and generic. Then I fell asleep on the couch.
In the morning, I finished a translation about houseplants. Apparently, there is no reason to resist growing houseplants. None of my houseplants have grown since I got them, and the basil seems doomed. And I have a lovely succulent plant that Dexter brought.
Succulent plants are very trendy.

I am not happy with my Village Wailer performance though some might say it was rather impressive.

Best wishes for an unoppressive and/or invigorating day.


Dear Vincent,

I can appreciate professional boundaries but just to let you know where I am coming from, last Friday afternoon, I gave my client Linda a free haircut and henna streaks at my house, partly because being a hairdresser is my dream job and partly because on Friday, May 27, 2018 I knocked over Linda’s precious and delicate miniature horse ornament and the front left leg came off and considering how suicidal I became after breaking my roommate’s teapot on Friday, May 26, 2017, and considering how the horse’s leg can probably be glued back on, the incident was not all that traumatic; however, it did instil a self-imposed obligation to buy another horse and to say yes to the next seventeen things Linda asks me for, and this began with the henna streaks and the haircut.

Last night I dreamed about cleaning big chunks behind someone’s stove, and the chunks belonged to my client Genevieve who barely needs a cleaning lady and who is about to move across the country and I’m a bit sad because we get along great and Genevieve signs off all her texts with three emphatic thumbs up, and I sure as hell could use three emphatic thumbs up every other Monday or Wednesday. In my dream, I cleaned up all the chunks behind the stove, and then I went to Genevieve’s wedding, and I was deeply embarrassed by how disgustingly dirty my feet were, and the groom was Tim Ferris, and Genevieve and Tim vowed to manifest the spectacular hell out of their lives, and when they kissed, it was passionate and convincing.

I woke up at 4:14 and all the stoves and the bathtubs and the whole week seem impossible.
I really wish you could save me and that you loved me back but you can't and you don't, not even if I offer to give you a free haircut and even though you probably like some version of my face when I am not sobbing it off, and maybe also my legs and all this, along with at least 37 easily listable details of life leave me feeling breathtakingly disappointed.

The other thing I want to say is, I packed a sandwich for lunch.
Love, Erica. 


Dear Erica,
Where is your nervous system?
Thinking about your nun friends.
Love, Erica.

Dear Oprah and Vincent,
Linda’s haircut went great.
Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,

On a podcast I learned that to relieve trauma you can lie on the floor and cradle the back of your head and then gaze your eyes from one side of the world to the other. Maybe I will try that the next time I am hysterical.

Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,

I still love you, and I still love Oprah.

Love, Erica.

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

p.s. Vincent is my therapist and I have that thing where you love your therapist and I get to see Vincent every other Wednesday.
I still love you, and I still love Oprah.

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Dear Vincent, It used to be that the last time I felt home was in a tiny blue penthouse apartment in Mysore, India on the 10th avenue of the 3rd stage of a neighbourhood called Gokulam in November of 2014.

Dear Vincent, Now you know I have that thing where you love your therapist.

Performative Crying in Alleys

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Dear Vincent, It is the new moon, and I'm pretty sure I'm ovulating

Dear Vincent,

It is the new moon, and I’m pretty sure I’m ovulating.

They say the smell of burning is a sign you’re having a stroke, but it can also be a sign of poor stove top and/or toaster hygiene. Death is certain, its time is uncertain, why do I still eat beans? And why did I text the Married Man on Mother’s Day?

Because every sad Married Man needs a darling Happy Mother’s Day from a long ago, faraway, once upon a time fuck who continues to love him in a narcissistic and compartmentalized way.

Married Man has the same old Failed Oprah Project, Dying of Loneliness, Ridiculously Crazy Busy Angst as usual.
This weekend I was not Ridiculously Crazy Busy, and I remedied my Failed Oprah Project and my Dying of Loneliness Angst by sorting out the highly amateur chaos of my junk drawer and my wine box, which tends to hold mail from the government, and ADHD checklists, and letters from my ten-year-old pen pal who has autism, and bars of soap from my tiny mother who does not know that I find the way bar soap melts on the side of the sink or the bathtub to be rather and deeply upsetting. And I recycled the abnormal psychology text book which I found in a plastic bag that was getting wet in front of a dumpster on my way home from dropping off my tiny mother at the train station. And I cleaned my fridge and freezer that contain about seven food items, plus ketchup, and I wiped down the shelf that hold my empty coconut oil jars, and emptied the crumbs of my toaster that would and will throw up bread forever, even though I always forget to buy bread and only tend to eat it every six to nine and half days. 
I consoled the Married Man with the theory that everyone in their thirties is alone every Saturday night, sorting their Mason Jars and watching Youtube videos about attachment trauma and dentist-free dental hygiene. 

Re: The Mason Jars, My relatively famous sister is a case in point.
Sentences that start with Everyone are so easy, and kind of my favourite

The Youtube video about dentist-free dental hygiene was a bit of a slog, but I did end up making homemade toothpaste, alone on a Sunday evening. I poured the toothpaste into a jar, and it looked like a moist and chunky brown stool sample. Putting the toothpaste into my mouth reminds me a little bit of cookie dough, and also the questionable mixtures my sister and I used to put together out of everything we could find in the kitchen and the bathroom, and we’d call it a potion and serve it to each other in a mug, and say, “if you loved me, you’d eat this.” My homemade brown stool sample toothpaste tasted like our childhood potions, but minus the orange juice.

As I child, I feel I had more access to orange juice than any other food source. Now I feel totally at peace with the thought of never drinking orange juice, ever again.

Stool Sample Toothpaste + Sister and Me at the Height of Our Potion Making and Exceptional Fashion Sense Era.
The Married Man did not ask me how I made the toothpaste. If anyone is wondering, I made it out of clay, and diatomaceous earth, which is the hippie’s defence against bed bugs, plus a few other things I could find in the kitchen, and this did not include orange juice.

The last thing I texted the Married Man was, I don’t see how what I just made is actually toothpaste.

I feel this is a reasonable ending.

Happy New Moon!

Love, Erica.
Do not die of Loneliness! Me and Imaginary Vincent would love to hear from you! Send your letters to the secret address, ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Dear Vincent, It is Mental Health Awareness Week and now I am going on 33 years old and just about two decades striving to earn my Mental Health Certificate, or, even better, my Mental Health Prize

Dear Vincent,

It is Mental Health Awareness Week and now I am going on 33 years old and just about two decades striving to earn my Mental Health Certificate, or, even better, my Mental Health Prize. Some might say these perpetual and frequently neurotic efforts have made me far too obsessed with myself and quite frequently, I would tend to agree. And then every once in a while I think, well and oh well, all this had made me a reasonably eccentric and vaguely lovable and fascinating creature with very Shiny Chrome and almost impeccably clean windows, and liberating fashion sense, and an interesting sentence every once in a while. 

These days I am thinking about how if you are suicidal or deemed psychiatrically at risk, you are more or less stripped of your human rights and thrown into a room all by yourself for 72 hours, often restrained. I doubt this is very helpful at all. In fact, I think it is terrible. 

And I am not really sure about Borderline Personality Disorder. I kind of think that Borderline Personality Disorder is like the irritable bowel syndrome of psychiatry. When I eat too many carrots, I get diarrhea, and this does not mean there is anything particularly disorderly about either me or my bowels. Something similar happens with too many grapes, or spoonfuls of coconut cream, and chocolate covered almonds, and all of the legumes. I won't say anything else about this except that, I have a saying that goes, Clap Loud If You Believe in Borderline Personality Disorder. The correct response is, a whole bunch of devastating dad jokes. 

The other thing I feel very aware of is that everything can change in a flash and though you might have all the champion strategies and an excellent network in place, life might still unravel rather tragically.

On Tuesday, as I sat in a park, I saw three kids playing with a bright yellow sponge bob square pants ball. They thought that it would be a brilliant idea to throw the ball into the middle of the pond. One of the little girls changed her mind about the brilliant idea and when she saw the beloved ball in the middle of the pond, she let out an indelicate weep. The little boy say, "Don't worry it will come back." But he didn't do anything, he just watched. And in fact, one or two times the ball did come back and the children giggled with delight. Then the third or fourth time, the ball got stuck a couple metres from the edge of the pond. So Indelicate Weeper sobbed some more and Don’t Worry It Will Come Back shrugged his shoulders and just waited. But the other little girl, maybe 4, said “I’m gonna find a stick.” With the stick, she could reach the ball, and everyone giggled in delight again. And this went on until after one throw, the ball ended up just a little too far for I’m Gonna Find a Stick to reach it. So Indelicate Weeper sobbed and Don’t Worry It Will Come Back shrugged his shoulders. But four-year-old I’m Gonna Find a Stick wouldn't give up and she found some bigger kid and asked her, “Can you help me get the ball?” And the bigger kid said yes, and she could. And the ball came back to the edge of the pond and everyone giggled in delight until it was time to throw the ball once again. 

What I want to say to people who struggle, and this is a lot of us, is, keep reaching however you can. 

Love, Erica. 
Reach out to me, or to Imaginary Vincent at ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com.
p.s. Vincent is my therapist and  I have that thing where you love your therapist, and I get to see Vincent every other Wednesday.
This is your strange and beautiful life

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Guillaume, Part Two

Dear Vincent, Thank you for responding to my hysterical phone call.
Dear Vincent, This is a hungry ghost.  
Dear Vincent, This is what the Dead Inside Man says about killing yourself.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Dear Vincent, It used to be that the last time I felt home was in a tiny blue penthouse apartment in Mysore, India on the 10th Avenue of the 3rd stage of a neighbourhood called Gokulam in November of 2014.

Dear Vincent,

It used to be that the last time I felt home was in a tiny blue penthouse apartment in Mysore, India on the 10th avenue of the 3rd stage of a neighbourhood called Gokulam in November of 2014.  Inside the blue walls, the apartment had brown plastic lawn chair furniture and a stained squishy mattress that I once was afraid had bed bugs when I woke up one morning with scattered bites across my forearms after I’d left the windows open all night long.  

Outside my tiny blue Mysore penthouse apartment, I used to go out on the roof top and sit under the sky and my clothesline whenever the moon was fully full or fully new, even it was only two o’clock in the morning.

And I felt home at 3998 Boulevard Lasalle from August of 2007 until July of 2010 and I wrote all the yamas and niyamas on the wall with tempera paint which I have since given away as I do with many items nearly pathologically.

If anyone is wondering what the yamas and niyamas are, they are in the yoga sutras, and their meanings are infinitely debatable but, some people say yamas are things you are not supposed to do. For example don’t steal or have too much wreckless sex. And some people say niyamas are things you are supposed to do. For example, clean your own fucking house.

The Yama and Niyama wall included a painting of a mushroom and a turtle and an umbrella and each of these items were lumps of a similar stature and shape, with different arrangements of dots or limbs or handles, or a stem. And there was a black and white baby picture of me and my father when my father had long black hair and a beard like a hippie.

On another of wall on Boulevard Lasalle, in tempera pain, I traced my body and filled in an impossibly colourful silhouette of myself. Beside it I wrote, I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt and now the impossibly colourful silhouette and the words I Let Go by Erica J. Schmidt are both part of my life’s humble mythology which is in fact not free from illusions or delusions or cravings for grandeur. Or clinging. Or wishing that somehow I will end up sitting on one of Oprah’s comfy green chairs in the middle of the forest.

I want to let go again.

Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,

An ugly floral couch is getting drenched outside my window. I wanted to let you know that my visit with my mother was a low to medium-grade success. She brought two packages of expensive artisanal granola. And when she saw my wall of smelly marker sentences and drawings, the first thing she did was laugh at your quote, which is scrawled beneath my symbolic and disappointing pelvis.

“I’ve heard worse,” by Vincent  #*#*#*#. You were referring to a couple’s post-partum and deteriorating sex life, and it makes people think of all kinds of things.

“I’ve heard worse,” read my mother, and she laughed so hard.

In my life’s mythology, I get lost at the Toronto zoo when I am two or three years old. I get lost at the zoo, and Mommy breaks down. I am wearing a little blue dress, and probably the dress has flowers on it.

“Let’s go this way,” I tell my family, and I walk down a sunny boardwalk, not knowing that no one is following me. Behind a fence stand tigers, and people are patting them like horses. I am not afraid, not at all. A frumpy, olive-skinned woman with voluptuous hair says, “You come with me.” So I take her hand. Suddenly, I am in my mother’s arms, my face next to her painful protruding collar bone. Her face is broken and she weeps, as though she might melt and disappear. Mommy is breaking down. I have no idea how to deal with this and conclude that I must be far too large for a mother who is so tiny.

This morning I walked my mother from my house all the way to the train station. On the McGill campus, we passed a tour of beautiful teenagers who might have big dreams about going to university and changing the world, or who might just be going along with the whole thing. There was a frail-looking kid who was using a motorized wheelchair and it looked like he had to breathe through a tube of oxygen. The sight of him made my mother weep. Her face broke and it looked like she might melt and disappear. I never know how to deal with this and felt that I must be far too large for a mother who is so tiny.

“Just seeing him in that chair with all those kids standing up.”

Some people might have replied, “Yes, I know. It makes my heart hurt too.” When your heart hurts, it means that your heart is an excruciatingly compassionate and empathetic and loving and giving place. I’m not sure my heart is exactly that kind of place all that often.

I have no idea how much that kid didn’t want to breathe through a tube, or if he’d rather be standing up, but it didn’t quite hurt my heart because he might actually really love his life. So I told my mother about all the people I’d met who breathed through tubes or worse, or who stopped being able to walk when they were twelve, and who didn’t want people to feel sorry for them, and who went to summer camp and university and made tons of friends and kayaked and played hockey and when they broke their legs, they thought it was funny cause they couldn’t walk anyways.

“Lots of those kids do great,” I said.

“How do you know all this,” said my mother.

By the time we’d crossed Sherbrooke street and were in front of that weird yellowy statue of a crowd in front of the Laurentian bank, my mother wasn’t crying anymore.

Your head might say, I can’t wait to be dead, when really a dissociated snack will do just fine.

At the train station, I drank some of my feelings with a coconut latte. Walking home, it started to rain, and on Durocher Street, I found a course pack on Abnormal Psychology getting wet in a plastic bag in front of a dumpster. And I ripped out the Walt Whitman the Henry James sections of some other course pack on a specific topic about American literature that I have already forgotten. And there is a story called, Rappaccini’s Daughter in which a young scholar who is named Giovanni has a tendency for heartbreak and sighs heavily by the end of the first paragraph.

The first article in the abnormal psychology book is about a kid with autoimmune encephalitis, and this caused psychosis and despondency and a bunch of neurological dysfunctions.

Perhaps in another lifetime, I will be one of those people who stores granola in Mason jars purchased specifically for this purpose, sprinkling the granola over yogurt every now and then, instead of using it to replace all meals for approximately two days.

In Song of Myself, someone has circled in pencil the line,

And that a kelson of the creation is love.

I would have switched the lines
after kelson
and after creation
and maybe after is.

It occurred to me to Google, “Walt Whitman racist” and in fact, Walt Whitman did write a number of terribly racist things.
From a footnote I learned that a kelson is a basic structural unit,
a reinforcing timber bolted to the keel of a ship. And the keel of a ship is a backbone. Whoever circled the line also drew an arrow and wrote, love keeps the world steady.
Soon after that, there’s the section where the child asks, What is the grass, and Walt Whitman doesn’t know what to say. He’s not sure.
The person with the pencil says, Green is the colour of hope.
Green is the colour of hope, and we’ve all heard worse.

You might sometimes wish you were dead
really a dissociated snack will do just fine.
Love, Erica.

Send your letters to me or Vincent to ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com. I will be out of granola very soon.

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Not Separate From All That Is
Dear Vincent, I went on my adventure. Everything is green. I love you.
Dear Vincent, Some other Vincent coerced me into a blowjob.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Dear Vincent, I went on my adventure. Everything is green. I love you.

Dear Vincent,

I went on my adventure.
Everything is green.
I love you.

I found this perfect poem on somebody’s fridge. The poet was eight years old, or maybe less.

It’s very boring, but many people don’t have anything on their fridges. I recommend animal postcards, ironic magnets, artwork from children whose insides match their outsides and fortune cookie fortunes. Everything is green. You are broad minded and socially active. Land is always in the minds of flying birds. I do not recommend Happy Couple wedding invitations, or Happy Family Christmas newsletters.

Recently I discovered that the best thing to clean the front of your fridge with is dish soap. No need for bottles of poison labelled with skulls and cross bones and the words, “keep out of reach of children.”

Once I cleaned a house called Happy Times. Every corner of Happy Times was some kind of museum. Mannequin and Strange Doll Museum, Bad Harlequin Museum, Endless Stacks of Records on a Ping Pong Table Museum. I cleaned Happy Times for three days, ten hours per day. Outside the fridge, it was covered with middle-aged masters swimming ribbons, 35 years of photo booth photos, grocery store receipts, baby pictures, and every ex-girlfriend’s every pet and child at every stage of life. Inside the freezer was a Ziploc bag that housed a budgie named Budgimagar. Budgimagar had been dead for at least five years. To taxidermy his body would have cost at least three hundred dollars.

I decided not to post a photo of Budgimagar in a ziplock bag.
Before I left, I wrote on the on the back of a mountain goat animal postcard.

Dear Fraser,
How come you don’t have any pictures of me on your fridge?
I wanted to remind you that you do not need to buy any more edamame beans. Or salsa.

Also, your dead budgie’s corpse is in the freezer in the basement.

Love, Erica.

I hung the postcard on the fridge under a picture of a dog in the snow and above a bicycle magnet and a photograph of an ex-girlfriend’s four-year old child who is now a grown man. Fraser did not see the postcard for at least six days.

Once I met a child whose insides matched her outsides, and her shirt also matched the sky.

“Guess what, Ercica?” she used to say. She'd point to her shirt and say, “Blue.” Then point to the sky and say, “Blue!”

“Er-ci-ca,” said the girl whose insides matched her outsides. “Are you proud of me?” She pronounced proud like an elementary school student whose music teacher had just explained the importance of accentuating your vowels while singing in the spring concert. Proud with wow inside of it. PrOWd.

The girl whose insides matched her outsides had just silkscreened a t. shirt. The blue and green and yellow puddles of paint made a sail boat on squiggles of water, and a tree on an island and a cloud that rhymed with proud with a wow inside of it. And the best kind of little kid sun, that’s just a circle with huge rectangular rays coming out of it.

“Yes, I’m SO proud of you,” I said. And I was. Proud with a wow inside of it.


On my fridge, I have three circular magnets of flamingos doing yoga. For a period of time, one of the magnets held up a list about of the three things I knew about my therapist, Vincent, you, at that time. There was something to do with how Vincent likes citrus and apples, and how Vincent does not recommend cooking with a crock pot as the excess moisture might interfere with flavour. And  you were learning to stand on your head, and this warmed my heart.

Now I know that when you first became a psychologist, you ate too much trail mix and this wreaked havoc on your liver. And I know that you are 38 years old, and that you are not amazing at doing your lunch dishes promptly after you eat, and sometimes you even leave them on your dusty filing cabinet until the next day which is somewhat questionable, as is objecting to cooking with a crock pot.

I eat an extensive amount of trail mix, and last October, I took down the list of the three Things I Know About Vincent, and this made me vaguely Proud of myself, kind of like I feel after I take out the recycling and most of the cans of coconut cream are more or less rinsed out.

Now the front of my fridge is three drawings from children whose insides match their outsides, a birthday card from my friend who loves me just the way I am, the Swadisthana sex chakra, the magnets of  bendy flamingos doing yoga, magnets my mother sent me in a care package, and a fortune cookie fortune that says, “Happy events will soon take place in your home.”

They say the stock market is starting to swoon. Inside my freezer there is compost, homemade vegetable broth, and one third of a bag of edamame beans.  Tonight I am going to a BBQ, but until then the kind of Saturday I am having is a Blob Saturday. Everything is green. I love you.


Send your imaginary and un-imaginary emails to Vincent, or to me. The secret email address is ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com.  

Everything is Green.

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Yours Til I'm a Post-Modern Literary Genius

Dear Vincent, On Thursday, January 4, 2018, I did not end up flying to the edge of Newfoundland and embarking on a long westward frigid and impossible walk across Canada in my boots that tend to become damp and cold within seven to 98 minutes of putting them on for the benefit of everyone’s mental health which feels like an emergency and also chronically neglected and in memory of Simon Girard who jumped off the roof of Sherbrooke Street’s le Tadoussac on Sunday, January 4, 2015.

Dear Vincent, This is a Hungry Ghost.