Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Closer I Am To Fine

While I was in Ontario helping her with her bunion, my mother gave me a small notebook I’d kept in 1999. I’d decorated the front cover with a yellow sun, outlined in red, blue and then a final line of yellow. On the back, I’d drawn a child-sized hand, red with disproportionate fingers, outlined in flowy lines of yellow, blue and red. It seems I was into primary colours. Inside the notebook were pages of graph paper.

 “June, 1999,” I’d written on the first page. I’d drawn five-pointed starts in each corner. All the words and the stars were in pencil.
“Erica Schmidt, I wrote in perfect cursive writing, with unenclosed smiley faces on either side. Then I quoted Jewel, from the song, Hands, still in perfect penmanship:

“If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be, that we’re all OK.”

The whole thing is amazingly embarrassing, but what the hell.
“I’m okay too,” wrote Erica in 1999. I was at the end of ninth grade, and thirteen years old.  Maybe I was on the verge of hating myself, as some thirteen year olds are.

“This is my feel better book.” More unenclosed smiley faces on either side. “My Sunshine Book.”

Squint and you might see.
In the Sunshine Book, in my perfect penmanship, I’d penciled stories and quotes from lofty and inspirational sources such as, “Chicken Soup from the Teenage Soul,” “Anne of Green Gables,” Dr. Seuss and “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.” Back then there was no such thing as LOL, so whenever I found something amusing, I would write, “teeheehee” or “heeheehee” surrounded by countourless happy faces.  The teeheehess and heeheehees are everywhere.

In addition to a list called, "On Guys," there is a section of hilarious jokes, pick-up lines, and the playlist from a carefully selected mixed tape. “My Tape,” it was called, “Songs that were written for and about me” “My Tape” included hits from 1999 and before. The Googoo Dolls, Frosh, Sarah MacLachlan, The Dawson’s Creek soundtrack, Grease, and my Women and Songs CD. Next to each song I articulated some astute memories and/or insight.

Closer to Fine, by the Indigo Girls – "I love it. After all, the best thing anyone could do for me is to help me take my life less seriously. It’s only life after all. Contourless happy face."

Foolish Games-by Jewel- "happy face – I can’t say I’ve ever really had anyone who could have played these sorts of foolish games with me… oh well. Heeheehee."
I Don’t Want to Wait, by Paula Cole – (from the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack. Choosing between Dawson and Pacey paralleled my real-life crush choices. It was between the swim team hotties Alex Crampton and Michael Brown. I switched back and forth every year. In grade nine, I think I was back onto Alex. He looked more like Dawson. So maybe I was more a Dawson Girl.) – "reminds me of Dawson's Creek. (drawn heart.) Silly show but I love it, it’s great. Teeheehee. Plus, I guess maybe it should make me happier before my “life’s over” (hehe) and live in the present moment because it’s called a present for a reason (teehee)."

Dawson and Pacey, Such lookers
Angel, by Sarah MacLachlan-"this is the best song in the world and it’s gonna be played at my funeral or maybe at my wedding or maybe both – or maybe I’ll become an immortal old maid."

Whatever happens, please don’t play, “Angel” at my funeral. I’m not sure how I pictured it at my wedding. Well, becoming an immortal old maid is not a bad option. I was surprised that Alanis Morrisette didn’t make it on the list, but I suppose she was more grade six.

In grade eight, for public speaking, I wrote a speech called, “An Ode to Appearances.” The ode made it into the Sunshine Book. Probably I didn’t really know what an ode was. Seemingly cutting edge, the speech was about beautifying methods such as wrinkle cream, liposuction and plastic surgery.

“All around the world, women aren’t satisfied with their appearances. They feel that their noses are too big, their bottoms jiggle when they walk and their ears stick out too much.”
I wonder what my delivery was like. I remember people laughing quite a lot, and my grade eight teacher Mr. Dutton peering at me in shocked confusion. The speech is not all that well researched, but perhaps I talked so fast that nobody noticed. And I banked on shock value by using words such as “breast implant” “bottom lifters,” “jiggle,” “cellulite” and “padded brassieres.” For undereye puffiness, instead of some expensive procedure, I recommended hemorrhoid cream. I describe liposuction as “when they open your face, stick the tweezers in and pull out all the fat.” According to the ode, during a facelift they “stick the knife in and kind of rearrange things under there.” Pretty much the premise of the whole thing is that all the beautifying methods are too expensive. The speech came in second, behind Clare Banerd, who performed a charismatic and highly detailed discourse on jelly bellies.

My childhood heroine, Anne of Green Gables used to speak of something called “High Ideals of Earthly Bliss.” Likely the most simultaneously adorable and embarrassing section of the Sunshine Book is a list named after Anne’s ideals.
Some High Ideals of Earthly Bliss (heeheehee)

1.        Get flowers from a boy. (illustrated by stick figures of a boy and a gift, and a tulip.

2.       Get a teddy bear or stuffed animal from a boy. (teehee again) Countourless happy face, more stick figures, a teddy bear.

3.       To go on a picnic with a boy. (teeheehee) More stick figures! A picnic basket.

4.       To have (a) best friend(s) someone who I can have fun with and giggle with who knows me really really well and still loves me even if they don’t have to. Illustrated by two happy faces. These ones are outlined.

5.       To have a normal degree of photogenicness. (teehee)

Illustration: contourless happy face not Ugly happy face. (2015: I used to feel so self-conscious in photos and ended up look rather awkward if not terrible. I had almost forgotten about this ordeal. And now my phone is filled with a shameful amount of selfies. Teeheehee)
Very photogenic
6.       This one is surrounded by hearts: To know all the time that I am loved and to let others know all the time in little ways that they are loved by me.

7.       To love myself and not worry about what other people think.

For all the boys who were thinking of sending me flowers, or teddy bears, I'll leave you with these clever pick-up lines which conclude the Sunshine Book:
“Are you wearing Windex? I swear I can see you in my pants.”

“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

“They call me Milk because I do your body good.”

Teeheehee, teeheehee, teeheehee.
The End.

Selfie with Raisin Bran. Teeheehee.
Hoping to conclude the blog's Semi-hiatus in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, feel free to send me your Internet Diagnosis of the Week.
Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor

I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt

Yours Til Ekam Inhales
Life and Death are of Supreme Importance

Slow Dance (featuring some memories of 1999)


  1. I'm really jealous of your Sunshine Book. When reading about it I saw a bit naive, but sssooo fresh, innocent and optimistic teenager, now I miss the innocence of youth even more.

  2. Erica,
    I've been reading your whole blog for the past few days and I think we should become pen pals.
    I wanted to write you the Complete Collection of my Credentials but I can't find your email, and fortunately I don't have any facebook/ twitter accounts. Anyways, if you're interested in a New Friend From France, just email me:
    I also have a lot of Internet Diagnoses to submit.
    PS: blogger asks me for a name and an URL, so I have to give you the adress of my sewing blog. I hope it doesn't disgust you too much. On the bright side, I've been sewing my own yoga wear.