Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: An Ecstatic Year with the Exuberant Bodhisattva

January: I start a new job as a French Assistant at a Montessori School. I tell tiny children to push in their chairs, go to the bathroom and wash their hands in French. Some of them stare at me with huge eyes and nod their heads in bewilderment. The rest of them cry all day. When I lie down at night, I hear their screams. I wake up at 4:10 a.m. so that I can cram in two hours of Ashtanga yoga before my one-hour commute and 9-hour day with these newfound darlings.

February: To prevent the horrible skin that comes with sleep withdrawal, I begin to rub coconut oil into my face and body before showering at night. All night I scratch myself unknowingly. My boss asks if I have a cat and if that cat is digging holes up my forearms. My face becomes horrid and blotchy and the Boatman suggests that I might be allergic to coconut oil. School closes several times due to snow and I find this to be delightful.

Also, I am permanently infected with tiny people germs. My chronic symptoms range from a sore throat, repeated sneezing, endless snot, nausea, headache, loss of appetite, and a decisive sense of mediocrity which permeates through all the cells of my body.

March:  I develop adamant views regarding potty training. I decide that all the world’s problems stem from the fact that children are allowed to shit their pants up until the traumatic age of two when they are suddenly given the responsibility of eliminating their waste at appropriate times in appropriate places. I am prepared to devote my life to this, but the Boatman points out that this would require that I make my own child which is a terrifying idea.

April: I start sleeping in until 4:30, but the cumulative lack of sleep has already led to my clinical insanity.  I cry constantly. The ecstasy of snow days is over. The people on the bus smell like stale crushed mildewed garlic. During my break one day, I meditate outside in the playground and the police come by, suspicious. In another blog, I post The Little Savage and the Hermit, the epistolary novel I wrote with my ex-boyfriend, with the hope that it will be an enormous success and deliver me from my miserable existence.  (I take this down before it has a chance to go viral. In 2014, or 2015. I can’t remember.)

May: The clinical insanity continues. I leave the house in a tearful frenzy and fall asleep crying about the birthday parties I didn’t get invited to when I was twelve. My body resurrects its previously latent weird neurological twitches.  At unpredictable intervals, my shoulders shrug involuntarily and my esophagus contracts as through I am going to puke. Sometimes I gasp out of nowhere, like I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car and a tractor trailer was driving straight towards me.

I put my menstrual blood online in a blogpost that despite its extensive preparation, does not go viral.

On May 29, exactly three years since I broke my arm in 2010, my knee swells up on the way to work. I figure I should probably ease up on my 4:30 a.m. ritual of aggressive cranking.

The Blood

 June: I get a good physiotherapist for my knee and start all the way over with Ashtanga. This allows me to get significantly more sleep. I become less obnoxious almost immediately. I read Choose Yourself by James Altucher and my oxtocin levels increase almost immediately.

Me reading Choose Yourself and radiating Oxytocin
July:  I go to two appointments with an expensive psychologist and then fire him. My bosses only make me work for one week at summer camp. After that I go on E.I. and head east for three and a half weeks. While on E.I., I apply for a bunch of jobs at car dealerships, referring them to this excellent blogpost about 3 ways to make the world a better place. Nobody gets back to me

August: In Ontario and Montreal, I ruminate over what the fuck I should do with my life. There is a Part One and Part Two. I figure that if I want to try and make money writing, I’m going to have to branch out and write about something other than myself. Regardless, I continue to write excessively about myself. I submit a couple of posts to Elephant Journal, who has a new program to pay writers, and am rejected three times.

After almost a month away, I miss the Boatman and the Big Black Dog immensely. I am reminded of how much I love them, and that I kind of like being home in Halifax.

Me and the Boatman. Nothing like true love.

Our Darling Big Black Dog Friend
September: I start a new contract at the Montessori School, giving myself the option of fucking off to India if necessary. But when I get there, I realize that I’m happy to see everyone again. And then my bosses offer me something magical. A seven-hour day. Every afternoon at 3:30, as I head for the bus, the children run to the fence and call out, “Good-bye, Erica.” They’re cuter this year, even the ones who cry all the time.
In much sadder news, Eliot, the Big Black Dog suddenly got old over the summer. One by one, his legs go out on him. We make the heartbreaking decision to put him down on September 27, 2013. His last few weeks and his last moments are some of the saddest memories I have. I miss him every day and still kind of expect him to greet me when I get home and come eat the corn chips I drop on the floor.

Eliot gazes at the sea at dusk. His Obituary
October: I become obsessed with death, and enter somewhat of a creative drought. Over Thanksgiving, I lose my voice in Cape Breton. Perhaps this is symbolic. I turn twenty-eight. I miss Eliot.

I go to Halifax BookCamp and meet some obscure and compelling literary people. Also, I learn about Dinosaur Porn. I do not write a novel in 30 days.  I consider writing some catchy, bestselling erotica, but don’t get very far on it.

Dino-porn, an interesting discovery

December: One Friday, I take the school’s compost home from work on the bus. I envision a beautiful chakra Christmas card production, and it is a moderate success.  For three weeks, the children practice four songs for the Christmas concert. The teachers end up singing by themselves. At a fancy dinner at the Bicycle Thief, I ask the Boatman’s father if I can attend his hip surgery. The answer turns out to be no.

The End.

Happy New Year, Love the Exuberant Bodhisattva
Facebook Adventures
I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt

Monday, 30 December 2013

Other Things That Happened in December

Christmas Chakra Cards

I envision a beautiful Christmas card project. I will make dozens of beautiful Christmas cards with a different chakra symbol on each one. I will analyze each recipient and figure out which chakra they have excesses or deficiencies in.  Based on that, I’ll make their card.

“So it seems like you’re giving them compliments, but you’re actually analyzing people and covertly judging them,” said the Boatman.

“No. I’m picking the chakra that’s best for them. People who are moving get the root chakra.  People with terrible sex lives get the sex chakra. That’s not mean. It’s helpful.” “Sounds kind of like a smug Mean Girl criticism,” he says.

I work on the cards at a “Drink and Draw” evening at the Foggy Goggle.

All the Chakra Shapes
I trace the chakra symbols that I have already traced in pencil, in black marker and pen. The Boatman, a real artist, works on his brilliant comic series called “In the Future.” In the future, scientists are going to make a cute pink creature that eats our garbage and pees and poops some delicious edible matter.  So the pink creature is going to save the world, and also be a loving companion for humans. The other real artists at the drink and draw are working on fancy graphics and/or superheroes. They are talking about superheroes and Dr. Stranger, or maybe it’s Dr. Strange, or Dr. Strangelove. I only like comic books that aren’t about superheroes.
I smudge the ink across one of my moula bandha root chakra cards. It looks amateur and I feel deeply disappointed in myself. Now the real artists are talking about airports.
“I just hate the Chicago airport.”
“O’Hare? Me too. Can’t stand it.”
“There’s nowhere to sit.”
“I know. I just hang out at the bar right inside security. They see me so often, they can’t believe I don’t live in Chicago. I keep telling them I’m just always here for business.”
“I love Chicago. You know, I prefer it to New York. I really do.”
“Oh totally. Absolutely. Except for the airport.”
"Oh my God, you won't believe this. I was googling 'Superheroes' and my own drawings came up."
"No way."
"Yah, I never would have thought."
I check my Blackberry. My aunt who is dying of cancer has sent me an email. A couple of weeks earlier, I had sent her an email about my recent and greatest accomplishments. One of them was my blogpost about the three things to make the world a better place. My dying aunt congratulates me on finding the Boatman, but scolds me for putting up too much information on my blog. She says some things are not meant to go online and that my indecency has probably prevented me from being employed in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I feel deeply wounded. My chakra cards suck and my blog, which I once took moderate pride in, has sabotaged my entire life. Also, I have never been to the Chicago airport, I have never visited Chicago, and at this point I probably never will.   I tell the Boatman that I have to leave right away.
It is his fault that the blog is indecent because one of his ways to make the world a better place is to have better sex ed. To illustrate this, I posted a picture of myself with my vibrator that he bought me. In the future, I will not send this link to my relatives.

TMI, said my aunt who was dying of cancer. Her death has since passed. Sweet rest to Aunt D.W.

Over the next couple of weeks, I colour in the chakra cards with Crayola markers. Then I complain that they looked juvenile and amateur. The Boatman suggests that I try watercolours. This turns out a little better; however, I still berate myself for not producing something worthy of Martha Stewart's praise. Although I’d intended to mass produce these cards and send happy chakra wishes to a whole bunch of people I haven’t kept in touch with, I end up giving out around twenty, to close family, co-workers, and friends I know I’ll run into.
I send a purple crown chakra to my aunt. It says Merry Christmas, Love, Erica. And that’s it.
To everyone I missed, maybe it’s not too late, or maybe next year, I’ll try and start earlier. Or maybe and hopefully, your chakras are already all set.

The Leftover Chakra Cards. Now I realize that they are actually kind of pretty.  

Christmas Concert
For three weeks, the children practice four songs for the Christmas Concert. Jingle Bells, A Winter Wonderland, Frère Jacques, and Il neige (It's snowing, in French). The entire program takes about four and a half minutes. We rehearse twice a day. During rehearsals, the children sing exuberantly, waving their arms in enthusiastic gestures and making big crocodile claps.  The day of the concert, the gym is filled with parents, grandparents, small babies and other siblings. Parents point their i-phones and cameras at their children. The children stare back and sing nothing.
Christmas Parties
A couple Fridays ago, at the Boatman’s work party, I stand in a group of three people and yabber away in my typical machine gun style. The Boatman’s father comes up behind me, puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Erica always says exactly the right thing, doesn’t she?”
Last Saturday, we went to the annual fancy family dinner at the Bicycle Thief. I sit on the corner of our table next to the Boatman’s father and ask him if he would mind if I watched his hip replacement surgery that is happening on January 3rd. The Boatman’s father says to ask the boss, his wife and the Boatman's mother. The Boatman says that this means no.
The End.

Happy Holidays from the Exuberant Bodhisattva!
My Pelvis, unreplaced for the moment: @mypelvicfloor
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Hip Replacements and No-Knead Bread versus Chapped Nipples and Low Sex Drive
Festive Posts from Christmas Past:
Sacred Fire
Poopy Mango Babywipes and the First Day of Christmas (contains some nudity)

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Hip Replacements and No-Knead Bread versus Chapped Nipples and Low Sex Drive

“Either I’ll end up writing year-end letters about no-knead bread, hip replacements and mango chutney, or I’ll be stuck blogging about my low sex-drive and chapped nipples.”

I came to this conclusion at 11:45 P.M. on Christmas Day. The Boatman and I had just returned from a delightful carolling event at our friend Julie’s parents’ house. Accompanied by Julie’s brother Tom on the piano, we sang from old Shopper’s Drugmart ‘Tis the Season carolling pamphlets. When it was time for “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” Julie’s mom divided up the lines. Robbie and I got “Seven Swans a Swimming” which we enthusiastically rehearsed several times before the song began. Throughout the lengthy song, many of the other carollers were distracted by wine, conversations and Julie’s adorable child who was wandering around the living room stealing everyone’s cellphones. Not Robbie and I. We didn’t miss a beat.

Afterwards we hung out in the kitchen, and being the nosy person that I am, I came across a year-end Christmas letter hanging on a bulletin board.  The author opened with a compelling sentence about the smell of baking no-knead bread wafting through the kitchen as he wrote these words. I skimmed down the page, and learned that the author’s significant other had been through a hip replacement that year, but had recovered in time to oversee her garden and the production of mango chutney.

I looked up and saw Julie’s father Alain. “Who are these people and why did the write this letter?”

“Well, you know,” he began in his charming French accent. “They are re-tired, no kids. They travel the world and come home to bake their bread, and write this.”

“My father has a friend who writes these letters every year. Fills the page front and back. My father can’t read a word of it.”

“No kids,” Alain said again. Julie’s child, Alain’s grandchild, toddled by pointing up towards the window and tilting his head back and forth.

“Lune, lune, lune, lune,” he kept repeating. He loves the moon. And Cheerios. Soon he would head towards the cereal cupboard where he would crawl in with the box.
Every time one of the mothers at school gets pregnant I feel dead inside and jealous of their clear, tangible purpose that no one will ever question them about and that will last them for their entire lives.

One Friday night a couple of months ago, as we were lying in bed, the Boatman and I decided that we were not going to have children. That day, I’d been masturbating on Facebook when I came across the Mommy Blog of the cool girls from my high school. She’s a Mompreneur. Just Another Mompreneur, she humbly calls herself. I devoured most of the seven posts she’d written. With honesty and humour, the mother of two described her fecundated life filled with boogers and diapers and chapped nipples. When her partner comes home every evening, she has absolutely no desire to fuck him, but derives true, legitimate pride and joy in the fact that she was able to transcend the day’s chaos and prepare him a healthy home-cooked meal.

As I lay in bed, I considered the Mompreneur’s existence. I take pride and joy in my sex-drive. And my nipples. Also, I absolutely despise cooking.

When the Boatman, a regular entrepreneur, arrives home long after I do, I have rarely cooked anything. I tell him that while he was gone, I humped the bed twice and he tells me that he’s proud of me.

“I don’t want to be a Mompreneur,” I told the Boatman that night. “I don’t want to spend my day at home chasing after toddlers and then blogging about my chapped nipples and low sex-drive. Plus I would hate having to cook dinner for my family every day. Hate it.”

“Yah, I don’t really want kids either,” said the Boatman.

That settled that. I would become a BarrenWomanPreneur. But now I’m worried that instead of having kids, I’m doomed to write nauseous year-end Christmas letters about no-knead bread and mango chutney.

For some reason, the chapped nipples and no-knead bread is less disturbing than my current endeavours, which include gathering all my menstrual blood into a peanut butter jar and posting it on the internet.

I’m not sure why.

The End.
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
Just another self-help book, I Let Go

Menstrual Blood, Peanut Butter
Mythological Unconditional Love
What the fuck should I do with my life? Part Two.


Monday, 9 December 2013


You can obtain great wisdom from other people’s regrets. I love looking at the rejected items tossed along the tabloid rack at the grocery store. Cheesies, Worcestshire sauce, packages of powdered gravy, a bag of three apples discarded beside Kate Middleton’s face or the self-celebratory cover of Oprah’s magazine. It is also fun to visit the regrets in the bulk food section. Sometimes people fill large transparent bags of wasabi peas, cashews or chocolate covered cranberries. Whatever the rejected item, I always help myself to at least a mouthful. Somehow these nibbles don’t count. Not ethically, or calorically. Bulk food regrets are delightful.
Other people’s library regrets are good too. Yesterday, at the Halifax Spring Garden Library, I stumbled upon a particularly interesting pile of rejected books on a table by the magazine section. Whoever had pulled them off the shelf had disappeared to make other book choices. I hadn’t picked out any books yet and so I had a look.

The Normal One. Library Regret #1
I would love to have a psychologist named Dr. Safer. How comforting. In The Normal One, Jeanne Safer writers about Caliban Syndrome, a set of emotional challenges that normal children face. The damaged sibling may have dealt with a disease, a disability, or some other difficulty, maybe even death. The normal child with Caliban Syndrome may experience premature maturity, survivor guilt, compulsion to achieve, or fear of contagion.  We don’t know if the person who took the book off the shelf had Caliban Syndrome, or if he or she was the difficult or damaged sibling. I quite enjoy my sister, but she doesn’t want me to mention her very much on this blog because she is somewhat famous.

Gotta love that sweater and those shoes. Image from the Huffington Post

Library Regret Number Two: The World According to Mister Rogers, Important Things to Remember, by Mister Fred Rogers, the star of the show Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood. My brother-in-law was reading this on a trip in Prince Edward Island. He was an English major and all set to become a teacher when he grew up until he got somewhat famous singing for children about bananas, apples and hippopotamuses. Like my sister, he probably doesn’t want me to talk too much about him on this blog either, but I’m sure he owes at least some of his success to Mister Rogers’ inspiration. 

The World According to Mister Rogers

Library Regret Number Three: You Can Heal Your Life, the in-colour, illustrated version by Louise Haye.

You Can Heal Your Life. Remember, "I Love Myself," "All is Well," etc.

I read this book while I was trying to heal my toenail fungus. Louise Haye is a nice older woman who claims that through very positive affirmations, she has rid her body of a whole slew of horrific cancers. According to Louise, all diseases stem from deep-rooted emotional and negative thinking patterns that manifest themselves in the body. For instance, canker cores come from “festering wounds held back by the lips.” Fungus is from stagnant beliefs and an inability to move forward. You Can Heal Your Life, your canker sores and your fungus by repeating positive affirmations to yourself as much as possible. Louise also takes delight in tapping her body while she’s repeating affirmations. Once the Boatman and I came a video of her tapping herself and talking to her angel
We thought it was very interesting. I’ll let you look up her videos for yourself. But facetiousness aside, she seems rather sweet and sincere. Eighty-six years old. 
For people who are concerned about the acetabular impingement in their hip joint, Louise has an excellent affirmation:
"Hip Hip Hurray. There is joy in every day. I am balanced and free."
Many of Louise’s affirmations involve the phrases “I deeply love and approve of myself” and “all is well.” My mother vigorously tapped affirmations into her head, temples, and shoulders during the years after her divorce. She used to say, “Even though my marriage failed, I deeply love and approve of myself. All is well.” It was very convincing.
Bless Louise Haye.
Time For Library Regret Number Four: Stop Running From Love: Three Steps to Overcoming Emotional Distancing and Fear of Intimacy by Dusty J. Miller. 
People who are afraid of intimacy are called “Emotional Distancers.” The three steps to overcoming this seem relatively simple. However, I don’t think I’m much of a distancer. I am more the clingy, needy type, so I didn’t read much more.
Library Regret Number Five: Indigo Adults: Understanding Who You Are and What you can Become by Kabig Jaffe and Ritane Davidson. 
 On the back cover are the words, “Are you an Indigo Adult and don’t know it?” I wasn’t sure so I continued reading. The symptoms of being an Indigo Adult are
-unusual sensitivities,
-feelings of being separate or misunderstood
-frustrations and dissatisfactions with the “normal world.”
-a driving need to contribute to creating a better world
-a powerful longing for something more.
Sounds a little bit like Gifted Child Syndrome. Inside the book I skimmed over something about a planetary initiation on December 12, 2012. That’s over now. I did 108 sun salutations and nothing happened. Also, apparently everyone is stuck in a rigid Piscean Personality. This isn’t supposed to be good for very many chakras. The Indigo Personality reflects the new, fluid and flexible personality. This is supposed to be way better for way more chakras. Whatever the case, I couldn’t bear to read it. I will never understand who I am or what I can become.
I left all the rejected books in a pile on the table where I found them. Then I looked up another book by Dr. Jeanne Safer, the psychologist who wrote about the normal and damaged siblings. It is called "Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children."
I have begun to devour it with fervour.
I deeply love and approve of myself.
The End.
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

What the fuck should I do with my life, Part Two.
Guillaume, Part Two.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Compost Girl

How I became the Compost Girl

On Friday afternoon, I took on an act of environmental heroism. One of my bosses was going straight out of town that evening so she didn’t have time to dump the compost at home.  My other boss was overburdened with her own small child, along with a big pile of recycling and laundry bags full of the children’s nap sheets and the dirty rags we use to wipe up their mess and the Lysol. My two remaining co-workers who both have cars didn’t think twice when my bosses said that this week’s compost would go into the trash. But not I.

“I’ll take it home,” I immediately volunteered.

“On the bus?” said my laundry and child-burdened boss.
“Why not?” I asked.

“You’ll get kicked off,” said Co-Worker One with Car.
“No, I won’t. Metro Transit owes me big time.” I explained that I carry around a carefully documented list of all the days that Metro Transit has made me wait excessively in horrible Halifax weather, and the three and a half times they made me late despite my unfailing punctuality at the bus stop. When I die, I will bill Metro Transit for the time and misery they cost me and all the money will go to vegetarian party sandwiches at my funeral. Metro Transit dare not say anything about the compost.

“The other passengers might give you dirty looks though,” said Co-worker Two with car.

“They deserve it for massacring my ears with the hideous music blasting out of their headphones,” I replied smugly.

“Well, that’s very noble of you,” said Co-worker One with Car, smirking.
“Yah, you’re like a superhero,” said Co-worker Two.

“Compost Girl,” said Co-worker One.

Both co-workers with cars started laughing until tears formed in their eyes.

“I don’t see what’s so funny,” I said. “I’m just taking one for the environment. I’m an environmentalist.”
“Can you please write a blogpost about this, Compost Girl?” said Co-worker One. “I mean, if you had a blog."

Co-worker One is the only one who occasionally reads my blog. My bosses don’t know about it because my blog is so edgy and controversial that it would definitely get me fired. Add the Adventures of Compost Girl to the existing heaps of menstruation, vibrators and potty training theories and this blog will only get edgier.
I poured the mountains of decomposing napkins, lasagna, Moroccan bean soup, mediocre hummus and whole grain crackers into triple layered Sobey’s bags. There were three bags in all. I lugged the bags down the hill to my bus stop on the Bedford Highway. The bus was nearly empty, but a construction worker and Muslim couple were sitting at the back where I sat down. Nobody looked up when I sat down and as the ripening odours wafted through the back of the bus, the couple continued their faint dialogue and the construction worker kept flipping through his Metro newspaper. The bus driver let me off at the corner of Robie and University Avenue.  I trudged the two kilometres home in Halifax’s standard un-Christmasy foggy drizzle. As I walked, the plastic bag handles dug into my palms and left red creases. After I dumped the compost into the green bin in our driveway, I smelled my hands. They smelled like vomit, but it was nothing a little biodegradable dish soap couldn’t handle. 

The End. 

Notes from 2016: I feel like I did this a second time. On the bus ride home, I'd somehow switched my phone into accessibility mode. I fumbled frantically to try to get Siri to stop yattering away at me. My bus stop came and Siri was still relentlessly dictating all my options which was extremely discombobulating. After I got off the bus, I decided to go the the Rogers store on the corner of Spring Garden Road to see if they could fix it. It wasn't until I'd gotten the customer service people to adjust my settings and finally silence Siri when I realized I'd completely forgotten about the two bags of compost. I must have left them on the floor of the bus. That day marked my last attempts at environmental heroism.

Worms. Source

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Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

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