Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Ocean Invertebrate Personality Quiz

In this navel-gazing world, it is important to take the time to analyze yourself through as many narcissistic illuminating lenses as possible. The benefits of personality quizzes are obvious. You would know if you'd had the opportunity to gain deep self-insight from the 2010 Granola Party Cereal Personality Quiz. If not, it is never too late. Either way, it is not necessarily useful to pigeon hole yourself as French Toast Crunch or Reese Cocoa Puffs for rest of your life. For this reason, I invite you to dive deep into the sea of Ocean Invertebrate Personality types and expand your horizons of who you think you really are. Somehow, I have managed to scrounge together every ounce of my psychology and marine biology skills in order to narrow the ocean floor down to four main Ocean Invertebrate Personality Types.  I did it all for your utmost benefit.  May the quiz and its outcome prove to be life changing.

For best results, try to remain as open as possible to each hypothetical situation. Do not agonize or fret about your answers! The number of points allotted for each response are indicated in brackets. Please remember that as far as Ocean Invertebrate Personalities go, more is not always better. It depends.

1.      If I had to write a song, it would be about

a)      Arugula. (4)

b)      Phosphorescent Ass Cheeks. (4)

c)      Ulysses, flamingos and Peter LaVoie. (8)

d)      Pigeons, Alanis Morissette, and balcony tanning. (12)

e)      Elevators, vibrators and blueberries. (16)

2.      My deepest fear is
a)      Not that I am inadequate, but that I am powerful beyond measure. (12)

b)      Accidentally eating squid in my sleep. (4)

c)      Having someone make jewelry out of my bones when I’m dead. (16)

d)      That my poetry sounds as though I don’t own a vibrator. (8)

3.      In high school band class, I played

a)      Flute or Piccolo. (8)

b)      Clarinet or Euphonium (4)

c)      Tuba or Oboe (8)

d)      Trombone or viola (4)

e)      Cello or French Horn (12)

f)       Violin or Harpsicord (12)

g)      The Harp (16)

h)      Xylophones or the Saxophone. (16)

i)        Chimes or a Trumpet. (12)

j)        No fair. All we had were recorders. (4)
4.      Domestically, I display the highest level of competence in:

a)      Waffles.  (16)

b)      Picking the avocado stickers out of the compost. (12)

c)      Vacuuming. (8)

d)      Changing the toilet paper roll. (4)

5.   In my dreams, I am

a)      Making Waffles. (4)

b)      Menstruating. (8)

c)      Kissing Alanis Morissette. (12)

d)      Flying around with my harp. (16)

e)      Being handcuffed for carrying a spoon. (16)

6.      My favourite childhood activity was

a)      Hide and seek. (16)

b)      Monopoly Junior. (12)

c)      Mixing a bunch of kitchen ingredients into a mug and forcing my grandfather to eat it. (8)

d)      Cribbage. (4)

e)      Decorating a cardboard box and hiding in it for the rest of the day. (4)

f)       Making a hundred paper bag puppets and inflicting a tedious performance onto my family. (16)

g)      All I can remember is getting dragged across a sidewalk on a leash. (8)

7.      People are as happy as they seem on the Internet.

a)      Very True About Me. (12)

b)      Somewhat True About Me. (16)

c)      Rarely True About Me. (4)

d)      No. Absolutely not. (8)

8. The following Matt Wiviott’s Facebook status speaks to me the most:

a) The best way to commit shameless cultural appropriation is to transform yourself into the Prince of Darkness. The Princess awaits. The Time of Darkness will soon be upon us. (4)

b) Christ, I mean, it's even right there in the Zohar! You gotta become cognitive androgyny! (8)

c) The Magician makes her Presence felt, not so much with Magic as with Presence. (12)

d) The Anti-Christ is not something you are. The Anti-Christ is something you become. (16)

e) I am Matt Wiviott. #liveyogamusic (16)

Use your brain or iPhone to add up all your points. Then, Scroll Down!!!
Use your brain or iPhone
Photo Courtesy of Tiago d'Oliviera Photography and Film

Oh, hi Alanis!
Sad Recorder
Did you score 32 to 55 points?

Congratulations! You're a Vampire Squid

Journalist Matt Taibbi once compared Wall Street banker Golden Sachs " to a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." As it turns out, Vampire Squids are without blood funnels, and their antics are somewhat less dramatic. When Vampire Squid feel threatened, they strike a Pumpkin or Pineapple Posture, making them appear bigger and pricklier than they really are. Probably the Wall Street banker was more like a Brooding Anenome, but what do I know?  Beyond pumpkin and pineapple poses, vampire squid and those with its associated personality type devote a great deal of time honing useful skills that will help them to conquer life’s suffocating depths. As a Vampire Squid Personality Type, you are not the fastest mover; however, your stamina and efficiency lead to excellent results and a low carbon footprint. This combined with your extensive phosphorescence makes you extremely compelling to both friends and lovers. Unassuming and humble, nobody underestimates you more than you.  At times you suffer from a bit of a scarcity complex. Do your best to flip this around and view every rare event as a fortuitous blessing.
Pumpkin/Pineapple Pose, by the Vampire Squid

FAMOUS VAMPIRE SQUID: Kiera Knightley, Henry Ford, Emily Dickenson

Recommended Activities: Ecstatic Dance, Picnics, Pottery, Poetry

Potential Careers: Librarian, Undertaker, Truck Driver, Tailor, Novelist, Poet

Did you score 56-79 points?

Brooding Anenome (Epiactus Prolifera)
I've had a thing for you since childhood.
I've had a thing for you since childhood. Quite often, the brooding anemone is born female, before later developing hermaphroditic qualities. Your lesson to the world is, “Why does everything have to be so fucking linear?” Like the Brooding Anenome, who harpoons toxins into passing-by organisms, you can be a little, shall we say, venomous when it comes to people who violate your space. Fortunately, your insatiable beauty combined with various redeeming qualities allow you to foster deep and loyal relationships with people who will generously commit to loving you just as you are, Special Person Syndrome and all. In fact, the people you do allow into your vicinity are in for a real treasure. Once you have established that people are neither obnoxious nor unreasonable, you delight in their company, offering quality time, service and uncanny wit. This is to say, everything will be fine. My only advice to you would be to perhaps save your noxious one-liners for special occasions.   

FAMOUS BROODING ANENOMES: Steve Jobs, Adam Corolla, Chip Wilson, Louis CK, Ludwig Van Beethoven
Recommended Activities: Ashtanga Yoga, Travel, Bowling, Riding in Cars with Girls, Riding in Cars with Boys, Gourmet Cooking
Potential Careers: Wall Street Banker, Crane Operator, Politics, Restaurant Owner, Stand-up Comic

Did you score 80-104 points?


You sparkle and shimmer oh so bright, the starfish is really quite the sight
Photo Source
You sparkle and shimmer oh so bright, the starfish is really quite the sight. With your invisible gonads, cardiac stomach and self-healing powers, what’s there not to like about you? Your ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually makes you impressively autonomous. At the same time, you radiate versatility, adaptability and a fabulous gift for synergy. For these reasons, you are indispensable to a wide variety of work and social settings. The Royal in your name is nearly your only pretentious part. At Lululemon interviews, when they ask you about your biggest downfall, you can honestly reply that in your great and natural tendency towards compassion, you sometimes fail to prioritize your own needs. As the Lululemon people say, remember that in acknowledging and honouring our fragility, we display the greatest strength. I say, nobody likes a martyr. Keep this in mind and your radiance and delight should serve you all the days of your life.

FAMOUS ROYAL STARFISH: Charles Darwin, Kino MacGregor, Princess Diana, Gwenyth Paltrow, Alanis Morissette

Suggested Activities: Softball, Musical Theatre, Psychedelics, Yurt Building

Potential Careers: Lululemon Ambassador, Princess, Philanthropist, Life Coach, Tour Guide

Did you score 105-128 points?

True Facts About the Cuttle Fish, by ZeFrank at

ZeFrank says it better than me, but basically, Cuttle Fish are remarkable for their triple-heart circulation system, their ability to instantaneously transform into the colour of their surroundings, and their face sex reproductive practices. Depending on their gender, they have six to eight limbs.  I also heard something about their hearts being purple. In any case, if you have a Cuttle Fish Personality, your view of the world is extremely sophisticated and your love life is probably excellent. You can love three beings at once, or one being a whole bunch or whatever combination your purple hearts desire. If you do opt for a threesome or foursome, refrain from seeking advice on their internet. Maybe just call your big brother or sister, or Matt Wiviott, and then call it a day. Wear your favourite tights. In work and non-sexual endeavours, you possess the capacity to plan ahead, though you don’t always take advantage of this. Luckily, you are quite gifted at covering your tracks when you do mess up.
FAMOUS CUTTLE FISH: Dan Savage, Margaret Atwood, Matt Wiviott (TBD), Jane Fonda

Suggested Activities: Paper Maché Puppets, Comedy Improv, Synchronized Swimming, Rock Climbing

Potential Careers:  Marriage Counselor, Fashion Designer, Talk Show Host, Pilates Instructor, Painter, Live Yoga Music Harpist.

Life is Very Exciting, You are a Cuttle Fish. Photo Source.

Jane Fonda, One of My Favourite Cuttle Fish(es)
And that's the End. Let me know how you did!
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Monday, 25 May 2015

My Name is Erica. I love coffee.

Regular Filter

My name is Erica.  I love coffee.  I tried to save the world by carrying around a personal re-usable coffee mug, but I dropped it while I was carrying almonds at the grocery store and it broke.  Now I have granola in my teeth.  Turns out that Buddha and Mrs. Vanden Bosch were right.  I won’t tell you how.  Like Dorothy, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.  The Good Witch of the North can’t help you.  Neither can the Wizard of Oz.  Or me.  I. Death isn’t a challenge for Grandma Antoinette.  It’s a benediction.  But Quebec children have misery becoming adults.  And their ph levels are always changing.  Stevie Wonder was right too.

Direct formation.  My current vocation is to seduce the world.  Then take those sunglasses off the top of your head.  You look like Mickey Mouse.  Mickey Mouse seduced.  What was Mike Snow’s word of the day?  Friscalating.  As in friscalating darkness.  As in useless seduction.  He offered to lend me a few squares of toilet paper.  Farewell to the corn cob pipe and the button nose.  And the eyes made out of coal.  Considering how boring this course is, the teacher is in an admirably good mood.  An eye rhyme.  If your eyes were made out of coal, would you see it?

I love you more than spelt bread.

I love you more than cantaloupe.

Soy Latte

You know what’s funny?  The guy who walks around with his opera in his pockets.  He doesn’t want it to get stolen.  They call marshmallows guiBLANCS, because guimauves aren’t mauve.  Xanadu doesn’t have a Z in it I don’t think.  My horse is a kingdom and I am a terrorist.   The next thing I was going to say would have been redundant. Hillary Clinton has three L’s and how many children.  My mom has a bracelet for depression.  What’s your bracelet?  You could be diasporic or exiled and that will not make my spinal fluids boil.  Or bubble or freeze.  Migrant authors don’t celebrate the city.  And I shall celebrate nothing until this class is dismissed.

The End.

Most of this was written in 2009, on disposable coffee cups, in class.

All of the coffee cups are gone, except for the one about the Buddha and Mrs. Vanden Bosch. And Dorothy. And Grandma Antoinette.  For years, Simon kept it in his tiny apartment.  Simon is my ex-ex boyfriend who... had a relatively short and interesting life. I thought that Simon also had the God Box too, but it seems the God Box is Lost and Gone. We'd best get used to losing things. I am trying to mean this in the most optimistic way.



Coffee Cup, Courtesy of Café Myriade
For today's post, recycling was required. Someone offered to pay me for something, and I had to say yes, since Nose/Pubic Hair blogs and Cereal/Invertebrate Personality Quizzes have not yet proved to be very lucrative. Also, Ocean Invertebrate Personality Quizzes require a rather extensive amount of effort.

Stay Tuned.

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

This is the New Story of My Life

Last January, I made a new Word document called, “This is the new story of my life.” For inspiration, I opened a journal from when I lived and worked at L’Arche, a community for adults with intellectual disabilities. During my two years at L’Arche, every morning I would try and scribble down three “stream-of-consciousness” pages at 6 a.m. I would write as I drank coffee and waited for Isabelle’s 150 mL of Peptamen to descend from the bag hanging from a pole beside her bed through the squiggly tube that led to her stomach. Isabelle’s school bus arrived and left at 7:15 a.m. Cynthia the bus driver would not wait. At 6:27, once all the Peptamen had descended, I would unhook the feeding tube and it would be time to change Isabelle out of her pyjamas, wash her armpits and change her into her clothes. Then I would lift her into her wheelchair so that I could wash her face, and brush her teeth and hair. So many days, Isabelle would remain half asleep the whole time, smiling and laughing here and there. Despite this, rarely have I felt as connected to the rest of the world than during this hour of preparation that ended with me rolling Isabelle down the ramp to meet the school bus.

On April 27, 2007, I started a brand new journal. I had about three months to go at L’Arche. At the end of each day, I would make a big X on my calendar. On the beginning of each day, I would do a countdown. 91 days left. Then I would try to figure out what date was 91 days ago and whether it felt like a long time had passed or not. Usually it felt like a very long time had passed. I was twenty-one years old, and I’d already lived at L’Arche for twenty months.

Frog and Toad Are Friends. This what it says on the cover of the journal that I began on April 27, 2007. Underneath the words there’s a picture of a fat toad dressed in pants and a jacket, reading to a longer leaner frog, who is also wearing clothes. The frog has a finger on his lips and he’s listening intently.
Frog and Toad Are Friends
Who remembers the Frog and Toad stories? My father read me all of them. All I can remember is the story called The List. Toad decided that he would make a list of all the things he had to do throughout the day. Wake up, brush teeth, wash face. He didn’t have any hair to brush. Then there was breakfast, the newspaper, and other typical obligations of toads who wear clothes. After breakfast, Frog came over and asked Toad if he wanted to go for a walk. Frog wanted to search for mushrooms or something like that. Toad said no, because it wasn’t on his list. He went about his Toad errands. Sweeping, gardening, going to the store. Then his list blew away and he had no idea what to do with himself.

That’s the trouble with lists.
Toad was the uglier one and also the smarter one. Neither of them was particularly smart, or good-looking.

On the first page of the journal, I write about a conversation I had with the assistant Paul, one of L’Arche’s many virgin saints. Paul lived at L’Arche over ten years. After that, he volunteered at our house every Thursday, to help with baths and make us supper. Paul was an exquisite cook. He used to slice the carrots in such perfect long thin lines. And he always marinated tofu for me to ensure that I didn’t starve to death.
On April 26, 2007, we talked about a new planet the NASA people had found. It was light years away. The planet can apparently sustain life. Paul thought that humans should be able to find a way to get there efficiently before the sun dies. But in the meantime, we can build bubble like structures to shelter us when we leave the earth. Kind of like the moon hotel in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Charlie flew to the moon with Mr. Wonka and his parents and four grandparents. I think all of Charlie’s grandparents became obnoxious in outer space. They were nicer when all four of them shared a bed in a tiny shack. I never finished that book.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
A few pages later, I wrote about a picnic on Mont-Royal. I remember getting ready in the morning. It wasn’t my turn to give Isabelle her Peptamen and get her dressed. But that would mean that I would have to make sandwiches which I wasn’t very good at. Talia, my boss switched with me. “Il faut aller où sont nos forces,” she said. We must go where our strengths are. For me, this meant not making sandwiches. Talia made better sandwiches than I did, and there was something so earnest and beautiful about her. She remains one of the great people of my life. A guru of sorts. L’Arche was full of earnest and loveable Catholics. Virgin Saints, and Nun Friends.

About halfway through the Frog and Toad journal, I learn about someone else’s spinal cord injury. One Saturday, Isabelle’s teacher Elizabeth went for a bike ride. Then she hit a bump and went flying over the handlebars. She landed on her back and now she can’t feel or move her legs. I have been terrified of spinal cord injuries ever since I knew they existed. I felt so traumatized that someone who had spent her whole life working with kids in wheelchairs would end up in a wheelchair herself. Surely, it was just a matter of time before my spine endured the same fate. For weeks, all I could think about was Elizabeth and her spine. And my spine.

During a weekend off, I went to have beers with Tom, one of the volunteers. We both drank four delightful Keith’s in his bachelor pad near Guy Concordia metro. I had such a huge crush on him, not knowing that he had a girlfriend. As I left his apartment ready to bike home, I made a nervous joke about paralysis. He said that I would probably live until I was ninety-three years old, and none of the horrible things that I’d imagined will have happened to me. I’ll be jogging with all of my legs. On my death bed, I will count and feel all of my limbs, and it will be an immense relief. I wonder where Tom is now.
There were a bunch of cards inside the journal, and a photo.

The photo is of Simon, my ex-boyfriend who jumped off a building. When I started, “This is the new story of my life,” Simon was still alive. I used to think of Simon every time I started a new creative project, and it was going terribly. I still do. In the picture, Simon is smiling, posing for the back of his book cover, or for his application to be in some movie. His teeth look very large and his eyes seem kind of manic.

Simon thought I was really fucked up and hopeless, but that I had some talent for writing.
I’m pretty sure the Boatman doesn’t think I’m fucked up and hopeless.  He thinks I’m an okay writer.

Maybe one day all this will be an excellent novel. For now, it stays between the covers of my Frog and Toad journal, and here. One of the cards in my journal has a baby gorilla on it. I’ve always had a thing for primates, and this card is from my mother. She wrote it for me when I was in the psych ward in Kingston, having overdone it on the Ex-lax.

Let’s transcribe the whole card. My mom can have the last word.

“Dear Erica
                 You are a very special and

                Beautiful person.

                                I love you as do many many people.
 Remember to love yourself for all the wonderful little things that are you.

When you were a baby I could never get over the way you would lie on the bed with your feet and hands waving and how you would giggle and gurgle and laugh from deep in your little belly. You would have us all giggling.
Don’t forget that your smile can be no one else. You don’t have to do anything else but be our Erica.

Love Mom.”

The End.
Mother, Sister, Me.

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