Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Friday, 28 July 2017

Dear Vincent, This letter is about saving a begonia. Love, Erica.

Dear Vincent,

I moved.

I guess I didn’t need
to pay you 90 dollars to affirm
this decision.
A gifted and influential meditation teacher has died.

Struggling with challenging mind states linked with bipolar disorder, he sought out street drugs. These ended up containing fentanyl, and this killed him.

This is Michael Stone.
You can learn more about his teachings at
You can support his family here.

His death has made me want to resume our imaginary emails. In fact, I considered sending this to you for real, though instead, I think I will simply post it on the Internet.
Opioids have their appeal these days. I don’t know much about them, but I think I can understand.
I get when it feels like you’ve tried everything, and the mind states still feel unmanageable. Extreme, unmanageable, and
in the words of my thoughts, unacceptable.
Michael Stone, the teacher who died, meditated every day for more than half of his life.
People can be so unforgiving of meditation. As though it all fails if the results are not entirely impeccable, and serene. I’m not sure I’m amazing at forgiving all the rituals and routines whose results have not turned out to be
unfailingly impeccable and serene.
These past few weeks, in preparation for the move, and because I want to erase myself, I’ve been obsessively giving things away. The tie-dyed clothes that no one will buy, old shoes I need to replace, but I never get around to it, sweaters, food, two of the books of my seven book library. Now there are only five books, and two of these are borrowed. How else can I erase myself?
Wednesday morning
Post evening of vodka and packing,
And almost three hours of sleep,
I transported all of my belonging from Mile End to Outremont.
About seven blocks.
It took three trips.
Two on foot,
And one $6 taxi ride.
I gave the driver a 100% tip.
I am rich now.

On the corner of Bernard and des Querbes, my new street,
a relatively obvious poem

came into my head.
There is no way
to erase
that you
There is no way
to erase that you
are alive
or that you lived.
After that, the poem crumbled.

Where I’m living is immense. I am subletting from family who is visiting Denmark for all of August. I’ll stay here until September 1st. Then I will move again.
The five year old who usually lives here has a whole room for her dollhouse and toy kitchen, a mini artist table and child-sized canopied couch. I keep wandering from one end of the apartment to the other, not remembering where I’m going or what I’m looking for.
Though my pile of belongings is quite tiny, yesterday it seemed far too intrusive and out of place, and nothing seemed to fit.
One of my favourite friends came over to help. 
“I want to get you something large and obnoxious so you learn to take up space."

These are all my possessions, minus one large Rubbermaid of winter clothes, and two boxes of memorabilia I keep at my parents' houses.
Then I remembered the hanging begonia. One of my cleaning client’s Airbnb guests had been so thrilled with my communicative Facebook messages that she’d bought me a hanging plant. I’d forgotten to retrieve it from my client’s balcony. One of the nicest things people can do is say thank you, and I’d abandoned the gesture, figuring the plant was too large a possession, and way too much proof of existence.
The plant turned out to be far more enormous than I’d imagined. Several of its leaves and peach-coloured blooms had turned brown. It was dried out, but not quite dead.

This is the begonia.

Once I’d left my client’s place, I immediately squatted on the sidewalk of Parc Ave. It seemed so important to pick off all the dead leaves and petals. I think I can save the plant from dying.
Now the plant is hanging on my balcony, above the hammock. In the mornings, I will bring it water, and feed it my eggshells and coffee grounds.

Love, Erica.
The End.
Vincent was my therapist from October of 2016, and May 2017. After we ran out of subsidized sessions, I began to write him daily imaginary emails. I called the project, "Mondays without Vincent," and it turned out to be quite healing. You too can write imaginary emails to Vincent. In fact, if you'd like, you can send them to me, on any day of the week.

My secret address is: ericaschmidt85(at)

Let me know if you’d like a response. The correspondence can remain between us, or else we can share it here with others and maybe it could be healing for everyone. Love, Erica.

This is me in a movie with the begonia.

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go

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Deep Cleans by Erica J. Schmidt (@deepcleanswitherica)
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