Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

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

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)

"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
What a Beautiful Face


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 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!