Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Monday, 28 February 2011

Ecstatic Adventures of the Exuberant Bodhisattva

This is Erica from 2016. Some people wonder how I “became” the Exuberant Bodhisattva. As it turns out, I became her before I knew much about Bodhisattvas. The Ecstatic Adventures of the Exuberant Bodhisattva is one of the first fictional stories I ever wrote, and one of the only ones I ever finished. I wrote it in 2008 for my Creative Writing class. I was 22. More than eight years later, I feel like the story is fun, and full of unrestrained enthusiasm and joy. That said, I have realized that referring to the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s lover in the story as “her African Napoleon” is racist, tasteless and not all that funny. Certainly not a Bodhisattva move. I am fortunate to not be as famous as Ellen DeGeneres, or Margaret Atwood, and hence the un-enlightened diction hasn’t brought me much flack. Even so, I am little surprised that none of my friends or fans ever called me on it. In any case, I apologize for my ignorance and for potentially perpetuating racism. And I offer this revised version. The Exuberant Bodhisattva’s lover has a new name, and no nickname. I believe the story reflects the exuberance of my 22-year old self, and I hope you still enjoy it.

The Ecstatic Adventures of the Exuberant Bodhisattva.

by Erica J. Schmidt
Exuberant:

  1. Full of unrestrained enthusiasm or joy.
  2. Lavish; extravagant.
  3. Extreme in degree, size, or extent.
  4. Growing, producing, or produced abundantly; plentiful

Bodhisattva: An enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.

Nirvana:  the blowing out or the extinguishing of the delusional flame of passions and cravings.
Sometime between the ages of one year and nine months and two years and three days, Annabelle Gordon forewent nirvana, or a comparable type of extinguishing. On Friday, March 21st, 1987 at 5:37 P.M, she fell down her mother’s basement stairs, hit her head and lost consciousness for ninety-seven days.   On the ninety-seventh day, her eyes began to flutter open and shut, open and shut.  Open.  That day, ­­­­­­­­­Annabelle Gordon was two years and three days old. “Mommy,” she said to Manuela, her mother, who had spent most of the previous ninety-seven days watching Annabelle consume intravenous nourishment and have her sheets changed. “I’m awake now.  Can I have a sandwich?”  These were the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s first words.

Her request was granted, immediately and many times over.   Throughout the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s childhood, Manuela’s sandwich platters provided a reliable interval for sticker trading, hide and seek, violin lessons, dog walking and playdough.  At the age of eight, in an effort to reduce the suffering of edible sentient beings, the Exuberant Bodhisattva became a strict vegetarian.  Manuela promptly transformed the piles of salmon, tuna and cold cut creations into wraps, rolls and whole wheat combinations of grated carrot, tofu, hummus, eggplant, nut butters, vegetables and legumes.  It was all she could do to thank her daughter for coming back to life.  Then, at the age of eighteen, the Exuberant Bodhisattva announced that the gluten in her sandwich bread was responsible for the red blemishes around her mouth.  Manuela prepared herself to seek out alternative bakeries but the Exuberant Bodhisattva told her not to bother.  She was moving to Montreal, where she would obtain her own nourishment, become a busker and strive to get in touch with her Inner Luminosity.  Manuela prepared her a package of organic granola, extra violin strings and warm socks.  She kissed her goodbye, made her promise to call every Sunday and let her go on her way. 

One year and two months later, the Exuberant Bodhisattva walked down Saint Catherine street singing.  She left her bike and a trail of unwashed grapes and organic baby carrots behind her.  How tantalizing life seemed today.  She was headed to her beloved yoga studio where for ninety minutes she would breathe and stretch and dance and sweat upon her purple mat.  Afterwards, in her tattered clothes, she would bike to Parc Lafontaine, where her once estranged gentleman friend had proposed to la voir. On her way, half naked billboard girls would stare at her with blackened eyes.  She would ride right past them. 

That evening, the Exuberant Bodhisattva wholeheartedly apologized to the short, handsome, curly-haired, dark-skinned man on the park bench.  “I’m sorry that I made you feel like a blow up toy.”  She hadn’t meant to.  After all, he was a person.  His name was Alphonso.  Quite cute. 

                  ***
Oh Fabulous Life! The Exuberant Bodhisattva thought the following morning as she sped down the Atwater hill towards the Super C.  Gliding, whooshing, whizzing, she began to rewrite her favourite Irving Layton poem.  “Whatever Else Youth Without Pregnancy Is Freedom.”  All over the city, all sorts of questionable sexual combinations were taking place.  Surely, then, she could sleep with Alphonso, despite their incongruous proportions.  Last night the two fell out of bed after he said, “Quelle belle grande paire de fesses.”  What a beautiful large pair of ass cheeks.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva manoeuvred herself indescribably.  The lovers landed on the floor; the large beautiful pair of ass cheeks landed on Alphonso.  Had the bed been larger, the act might have seemed less assertive.  Tiny Alphonso, who had little flesh to support the fall, would not have procured so many bruises.

The Exuberant Bodhisattva always felt like a mammoth when she slept with Alphonso.  But perhaps she was more fortunate to have been the mammoth than to have slept with one.

                                                         ***
Once again at the beloved yoga studio, Shankara, the son of some great guru, stood on his lime green mat, his hands in front of his heart.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva and her fellow practitioners listened intently.

“Once the body becomes fit and supple, the sense spectrum becomes increasingly sensitive to external stimulation.  Odour, taste, sound, touch, each have a profound effect on all of the body’s systems.  By properly nourishing the Sense Spectrum, the seeker creates internal balance.”

The next day the Exuberant Bodhisattva woke up in Alphonso`s bedroom and peed in a plastic green garbage can with a used condom in it.  Alphonso had left her the can in case she had envie to pisser while he was upstairs having breakfast with his mother.  Seeking relief that she hoped would help her to fall back asleep, she peed.  The odour entered her sense spectrum.  She remembered Shankara’s discourse of wisdom.  She felt internally imbalanced.  Making remedial efforts, she ran her hands across her back, creating sensations in her hand, and on her back.  And in her arms, she supposed, from the movement. Such a soft smooth back, she thought.  And all without moisturizer.  She glanced at her Alphonso`s leopard print polar fleece blanket.  What sort of balance or imbalance did this create?  Taking a shit would almost certainly balance the level of toxins and wastes inside of her and thereby create internal balance.

But it would happen that in Alphonso’s room, there was no easy path to freedom anywhere.

                                                          ***
When the Exuberant Bodhisattva was in a coma, her mother used to read her a story about a family of gorillas.  Patty Cake, the baby gorilla, was born at the New York zoo.  Her parents’ names were Tandy and Lulu.  They ate vast quantities of bananas and peanut butter and ice cream.  One day there was an accident.  Lulu, the mom, was on one side of the cage and Patty cake was on the other.  Lulu pulled Patty Cake’s arm and it broke.  Patty cake had to go to the hospital and get a cast all the way from her shoulder to her wrist.  Then they took the cast off and she went back to the zoo where there was a big party for her first birthday.

Last night was Alphonso’s twenty-sixth birthday.  They had spent the evening disregarding the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s gluten allergy and consuming white pasta, tomato sauce and Coronas.  Now it was up to the Exuberant Bodhisattva to bring her darling Alphonso to nirvana on his creaky sheetless bed with the leopard polar fleece blanket.  Opening her mouth widely, she embraced his Great Vehicle. 

The Exuberant Bodhisattva found herself thinking about the Gorilla story.  She could remember the ice cream and the peanut butter and the bananas, but she couldn’t remember the gorillas’ names.  She wished that she was eating ice cream and bananas right then.  Patty Cake.  That was the baby’s name.  Patty Cake.

Patty Cake, Patty Cake, baker’s man.  Maybe it would help if she did it to a rhythm.  Bake me a cake as fast as you can.

“Plus vite, plus vite.”  Faster, Alphonso was pleading.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva remembered the first book she ever learned to read.  “Bears,” it was called.  Bears, bears, everywhere.  Bears on chairs.  Bears climb stairs.  What else did they do?  Draw squares?  She remembered the crackers and honey that her grade one teacher had given her for writing bears twenty times in her printing book.  B-e-a-r-s.

“FUCK!”  screamed Alphonso.  She hadn’t brought him to ecstasy. She had accidentally bitten his Great Vehicle. 

Red blemishes emerged around the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s small, fat lips, as a direct result of her gluten consumption.  “Je ne veux plus te voir,” said Alphonso. Because of the red blemishes, or for some other reason. He did not say. Only, I want no more to see you.  All the Exuberant Bodhisattva knew was that she’d wounded him on his twenty-sixth birthday, barely a week after treating him like a blow-up toy.  She felt deflated.  Like a deflated mammoth. 

Alone, the Exuberant Bodhisatta dreamt that she was waiting for the metro with Alphonso who had somehow exceeded the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s mammoth proportions. They exchanged unenthusiastic kisses until the metro arrived.  Frazzled and disorganized, the Exuberant Bodhisattva got on the second car instead of the third. As she entered, the door closed at her shoulder.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva waited for the doors to reopen but the train ignored her suffering rotator cuff and zoomed into the tunnel.  Somewhere between Lionel Groulx and Atwater station, the train came to a halt and the third car, containing Alphonso, was sucked into the tracks.  Rotator cuff liberated, the Exuberant Bodhisattva ran to find her friend whose legs and arms now ended at his elbows and knees. Barely two feet tall, he was happy and excited about the triple flips and trampoline routines he could now learn at the circus.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva wondered why he wasn’t bleeding to death. 

She woke up extremely hungry with the urge to urinate.  After relieving herself, she stirred her non-hydrogenated peanut butter with a pencil.  Once she had eliminated the natural oil separation, she raised the jar to her lips and drank.

                                                    * * *
“I felt like a mammoth when I slept with Alphonso,” the Exuberant Bodhisattva confessed to her nearly sexually liberated friend Maria over lunch.

“Well there’s lots more fun to be had, with or without Alphonso,” Maria replied as she bit off a head of baby corn from her tofu stirfry.  “You should get a vibrator.  Find out what booming rockets are really like.”

The Exuberant Bodhisattva took a sip of water.  “Maybe I’m just not the kind of girl who appreciates a booming rocket.” 

“Don’t be silly,” Maria scoffed, this time combining bok choy and broccoli.  “Everyone appreciates a booming rocket. You need to release your second chakra.  My new boyfriend, Cavan, is only seventeen and he knows the kama sutra.   He promises to release all seven of my chakras before my twenty-first birthday.”

“My mother used to be into chakras.  Then her boyfriend got dementia and she sort of lost interest.”    

“Yah, I don’t know how that works,” Maria mused.  “I’ll have to ask Cavan.  But you should definitely get a vibrator.  And a haircut.  I have a fantastic hairdresser.  His name is Paul.  He touches my hair as though he loves each strand.” 

The Exuberant bodhisattva poured soy sauce over her remaining broccoli and rice.  She touched her own hair, pulling it out of her unmeticulously placed pony tail.  It felt coarse, dry, limp and unloved.   After the stirfry, the two women French bisouxed each other goodbye.  “Cheer up,” said Maria, who was off to see Cavan.  “You’ll feel better soon.  Just remember.  Vibrator, haircut and you can’t expect to get over anyone until you get under someone else.”

Walking home, the Exuberant Bodhisattva wondered if her life was destined to become a perpetual saga of getting over and under a series of people?  Before coming to Montreal, the Exuberant Bodhisattva had hardly ever thought of sex.  And masturbation, like squatting over public toilets, had simply never occurred to her.  Yet it certainly occurred to Maria and most other people in this city. 

Before Alphonso’s booming rocket, the last penis the Exuberant Bodhisattva had seen had belonged to Charlie, the tall, skinny albino kid who she fell in love with in junior kindergarten. The other kids forced them to kiss in the playground.  She and Charlie traded stickers at each other’s houses.  Once, at Charlie’s house they took off all their clothes, ran around in the garden and hosed their naked bodies with freezing cold water.  Charlie’s father Dave had scolded him, because he wasn’t supposed to expose his white skin to direct sunlight and because some of the water had gotten through the screen door and soaked the living room furniture.  In senior kindergarten, Charlie and his family had moved to Australia.  This began the Exuberant Bodhisattva’s decade and a half long boyfriend drought which didn’t subside until early into the twenty-first century, when Alphonso dropped a quarter into her violin case at Metro Lionel Groulx.

But now the drought had resumed.  Her second chakra, though not released, had been inconveniently awakened.  She felt horny, or, to be more eloquent, lustful.  She didn’t have a vibrator.  But she had a violin and an empty apartment that she had decorated in order to balance her sense spectrum.  And avocadoes and corn chips and pineapples.  Yes.  She would get over Alphonso without getting under anyone else.  This very evening would be entirely reserved for releasing her Inner Luminosity.

                                                          ***
Her coarse, limp, dull, unloved hair fell beside her violin’s chinrest.  On an up bow, she rose beneath the ceiling she had painted yellow.  Five coats for the ceiling.  Six for the eggplant purple walls.  As she pressed the mounds of her cracked toes into the bare mahogany floors, she thought about how ninety-eight percent of her long and lustful body was water.  She transcribed Bach’s Partita 2.1 onto the violin’s neck.  Inside of her, the efforts of her fingers and bow coalesced.  She imagined the melody enter her ears and flow down into her stomach, through to her small intestine, where the vibrations swirled around her navel.  From the navel, the vibrations traveled outwards, saturating the blood of her extremities.  Up the torso, branching off into her two shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers.  Down the pelvic floor, rushing by the hips, the thighs, knees, ankles, toes, feet.  Her sound was rich and smooth, like the four ripe avocadoes she had used for her guacamole.  Yesterday’s avocadoes resonated in their transformed cellular states.  Today’s awaited their transformation as she permeated their smooth, rich fragments.  She danced with her processing and processed avocado fragments.  The corn chips and the pineapples joined in.  Radiantly, she circled round and round the eggplant purple room, carrying the dance in her body.  Her sense spectrum stimulated her internal systems into balance.  The acne around her mouth dissipated.  She danced to the room’s perimeter.  At the corner she paused.  The last note.  Silence.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva was infused with her own luminosity.  It was almost enough.  Then the doorbell rang.  It was her neighbour, Cameron, who was in charge of the building’s recycling program.  Full of unrestrained enthusiasm, the Exuberant Bodhisattva lavishly and extravagantly invited him in for smoothies and leftover guacamole.  The door frame flattened Cameron’s abundant spiraled cherry hair as he entered the apartment.  The Exuberant Bodhisattva thought about how ninety-eight percent of his lean but extensive body was water.

It was time for another ecstatic adventure.

The End. 
Oh Fabulous Life.
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I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt

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