At work stupid early. No idea why. Was wide awake at 3:30am, barely touched true sleep from then until 5:30, when I gave up and commenced the diurnal routines which shall comprise this precious gift of a day.

A funny thing on the subway today. There’s a woman I’ve mentioned here a few times. She’s interesting to me. I consider myself a fan but would never expect or desire to have any direct connection to her. She’s just someone I see on the subway who I happened to figure out who she is and that she has a relatively robust online presence. Just interesting to know what your neighbors are up to in the public realm.

In person I’ve never seen her without a mask. Officially, then I don’t know what she looks like, except I do know this, from her online postings. Without the mask she tells a very different story from the seemingly cloistered, germphobic, masked and gloved up presence I see on the subways. Maskless she looks like a young woman with ample piercings and noserings. I never would have guessed that but I’ve been surprised by a lot of peoples’ facial appearances as the masks have come off.

Today I thought this woman had appeared on the subway maskless for the first time in my experience. I kinda gawked, but timidly. I focused mostly on the face and hair, which bore definite resemblances. But something seemed off, and it was. I don’t know who this woman was but I spent too many precious minutes thinking I’d finally seen her maskless, and that I could now officially say I know what she looks like.

But no. The behaviors, the little tics did not align with the other woman’s stolidity. She did not detect my long glances, so rapt in her music she was. I can’t deny the resemblances, though. I was fooled but I don’t feel too foolish because of it.

Now arrives another woman I see almost every day but will likely never exchange a single word with. Unlike the woman on the train, where I’ve made a few random comments on her web postings and thus “communicated” in some feeble way, I don’t know any route to this woman’s intellect or attentions. She is here to do a job and that is all.

Yeah, this is some serious needless prattle. I had other ideas in the hopper today. I had a concept of “chewable yogurt” that sounded new but then I remembered yogurt bars are a thing. Or are they? Chewable yogurt, chewable coffee, chewable pomagranate juice. The inspiration was to imply that you’ve reached a point of pitifulness and decay where your yogurt has been in the fridge so long it’s become chewable, What does that even mean? Nothing.

I watch myself shower sometimes. It’s a mix of things. Pitiful moments of exuberation as the refreshingness of the hot water pounds upon my person. Then moments of silence, stillness, as I contemplate the emptiness around me. The water flows, circles, desperate for the drain. Why do I record video of this? Will there be an archive made available for forensic research? The synopsis would be blunt: “Hundreds of hours of a man showering, bathing, masturbating, peeing, all viewed from an aerial perch about 6 feet overhead.”

The morning shower is the closest I’ve ever come to meditating, which is not to say that it gets too close to that state. I have too many mental tics (there’s that word again) and too much lightning zapping around this cranial soup. I have been able to reach states of calm and serenity but only with pharmaceuticals and, one time, the use of acupressure things in my ears. That was strange but I’ve never been able to replicate the experience, so clumsy am I at shoving things into my ears.

But the morning showers I chose to document just for the sake of itself. I like the idea of it being there but I only watch it occasionally, when I process it. The videos are recorded into folders numbered by the hour of the day, then each file is 1 minute long and named for the minute it captures. A crude naming and file storage convention which forces me to the command line. I use ffmpeg to concatenate the files into a single, continuous thing, not just a bunch of 1-minute bits. I do the same with the 24 hours of live webcam I sometimes post to I’ve only started this approach recently and am sorely in need of more efficiencies, scripts, automation. But I don’t do enough of this to justify creation of a full suite of scripts that would inevitably get complicated and annoying.

Ablutions. I believe that is what we call them. Your morning ablutions. If that’s wrong you can right it in your mind. My ablutions start with turning the water on and running it for several minutes. It takes that long to heat up, most days at least. I turn it on by stepping in to the shower and turning the handle. A small amount of water gets on my bare left foot. I wait for it. I don’t have to wait. It always happens. 3 or 4 drops of water hit the top of my foot, just above the toe line. I consider this cheating. The shower should not begin before the shower begins. Why do I let myself get teased by this little lick of water on my foot? I don’t know but it has become an indelible part of the routine. If that little splash of water does not happen the day feels incomplete, or off to a clumsy start. I think of it as a salvo, a notice to the rest of my body that soon this water will be roaring all across you, up into you, the privilege and necessity of this act will change the sensations you presently feel of being alive and dry and naked, the small breezes arousing you in zones you generally disregard. Soon the water will command the landscape of your body.

While the water warms I walk on my droplet-wetted foot to the kitchen, where I may already have started heating the water for the day’s coffee. My coffee is like mud but I like it. It calms me more than what coffee typically does to people. It takes time to create, and a new twist adds fresh opportunity for aggravation and anger. A thermos type container has become part of my cost-saving regimen. It leaks if I don’t seal the lid properly. That is incredibly annoying and has fueled many outbursts of obscenities and accretions about the indignity of these first world atrocities.

Reentering the bathroom for shower purposes I plug in the camera and sit down. In the 10-15 seconds it takes the camera to start I am fully seated, and the recording typically starts with me on the floor, sitting, sometimes tightly cross-legged, other times legs spread as far as they can reach in the confines of the space available. My ablutions commence from the top down. I was the hair first, after running hot water onto the back of my neck for a full minute. I love that feeling. It seems to get my blood flowing. It reminds me that much of my body is a stranger to me. I don’t see the back of my neck, the bottoms of my feet, the bottom of my balls. I know these things are all there, I wash them thoroughly, but for all I know the washing is a failure and these regions are inhabited by blackberry plantations and colonies of tiny astronauts.

The ablution starts from the top, where shampoo is lathered up and stays that way for most of the duration of the session. I like to think the shampoo and conditioner is working vigorously the whole time, making my hair look fluffy and fresh for the coming day. That’s a bit of a sham. My hair’s appearance generally reflects how much sleep I did or did not get, how much I drank, and other sodden factors. The shampoo is a nice tough, though. I know plenty of people who never use it and I sometimes ask why I still do.

But that is where it starts, from there I reach up for a bar of soap and scrub the pits, my chest, stomach, legs, feet, toes. Everything but my back, a region I find too awkward to fully wash, and which I thus assume is covered with a flat planet, complete with deep oceans, deserts, temperate regions, and undocumented civilizations.

The face gets final treatment, with a wash of some kind of charcoal-based shit a girlfriend introduced me to years ago. A dermatologist said it was the worst possible thing you could do to your face but I still have a supply of the stuff to get through. Today I also shaved, which was something the aforementioned girlfriend as well as others after her liked to watch me do. Oh jeez, the women of yore are reentering my showertime. Yugh.

I’ve tried incorporating other activities into the shower regimen. I comb my hair and apply deodorant before leaving the shower, as if it matters that I appear fully cleansed and ready to dry myself. I have a couple of Jack Welch moments, too. When I reach for the towel, hanging from the curtain rod, I imagine that the towel being placed at that spot, hung low enough so I can reach it without stretching or standing up, I imagine that towel being there just so is part of my Jack Welch retirement package, where details of his compensation got down to how many rolls of toilet paper would always be at the ready. I could see that Jack Welch would need the luxury of having someone (not him) place the towel where he wanted it. It would all have to be done for him.

I tried to incorporate brushing my teeth into the shower but that didn’t work out. Not sure why, either. Seems like a reasonable behaviour in terms of efficiency.

But all told I see myself shower and I feel pitiful, miserable, tiny, and hopeless. This mixed with moments of exhilaration, excitement, maybe even joy at the luxury I have of a daily hot shower. Many people don’t get that privilege as reliably as I’ve come to expect. Sometimes the water is erotic, and hardens me. Other times it fizzles across, feeling like a rain of spit. It distracts from masturbation until certain points, certain stages of the act, at which time it feels like a joyful, wholesome weapon. I have lube (from a previous lover) but rarely use it and when I do I typically wish I had not.

I made hours and hours of audio recordings in the shower, thinking I might create a Shower Radio station. It was mostly just me talking and sometimes masturbating. In fact I think I did create that station. I set up so many radios I forget some of them. The acoustics are good and my voice could sound pretty solid in that shower setting. I’ll have to see what I might have done with that radio. For now, I gotta go. Time to work.