Sunday was another rain day. I stayed inside most of it. I don’t like being inside a place I’ve been in for something like 25 years. I just renewed another lease. Not happy about that, but should I be? It’s stabilized, meaning rent only increases 3%. In an open market, my place would probably go for double what I pay. 20-somethings just out of school are paying double what I pay for half the space. None of this makes me happy or sanctimonious or self-satisfied. I hate being in the same place for so long. But I cannot afford to move, and I’m probably too lazy to actually do that anyway.

Until I forget to keep doing it, I will remove something from my spaces every single day. There is always something that can go. Something I have not used in 60 days. Something I have never used since the day I bought it. Today’s removal targeted a stack of Covid at-home test kits, given out to all company workers last year. I never trusted the at-home test results, and I only used one of these test kits. The conventional wisdom is that these at-home kits expire after 6 months. Maybe that’s a lie, but is enough to legitimize the act of freeing that little stack of space on my kitchen table. Now I can look at the wall hidden behind those boxes of test kits.

It is a beautiful wall, splattered with mysterious, even inexplicable stains that came from some kind of explosion of, possibly, a bottle of wine Honestly, it looks like blood, which wouldn’t shock me given my past periods of darkness. But I do not believe that to be the substance. More likely, it is some carbonated substance that exploded when its container was hurled to the floor. It looks like it needs an explanation, though. Those are what we call “stains to explain,” stains which are sometimes of a sexual origin but which can come from any source.

My first stain to explain occurred when I guess I was 13 or 14. I had started masturbating at 12 but I didn’t ejaculate until 13 or 14. I wasn’t sure what was happening or why, and it sometimes happened unexpectedly. I could be anywhere when squirt, I’d shoot a load into my pants. It happened on the bus, as I recall. Something about the shaky ride made me hard and that made me cum. It didn’t take a whole lot of stimulation or discombobulation of that part of my body.

It’s hard to say now if these incidents were truly out of my control, or if I simply chose not to exercise self-discipline. Maybe I liked shooting jizz into my underpants, leaving my mark, so to speak. What I did nto like was having to explain the stain.

My mother, one day, presented me with a pair of my underpants, stained with the unmistakable signature of male ejaculata. “What is this?” she would ask. “Why is it on the same spot every single day?” I have no idea what I said in response. I felt terrifingly defensive, as if this suddenly sinful, shameful act I engaged in was not my secret anymore and no longer joyful. At that age, in an early demonstration of my self-centered solipsism, I thought I and I alone had discovered masturbation. I thought it was my unique eccentricity that would bring me fame and notoriety. I was not ready to share the secret, least of all with my fucking mother.

We never talked about masturbation. Her questions about the jizz-stains on my underwear suddenly stopped, perhaps upon her realization that the stains were a product of my balls and I was too mortified to answer the questions.

It is an unhappy, uncomfortable memory.

How did I end up here? On this awkard thought-plain …

So today I got rid of a stack of Covid test kits. Next on the elimination project? Desk drawers. They contain interesting relics. Some payphone detritus. Now that I suggest desk drawers, I am not certain what is in them that might benefit from not being there anymore. I have so many wires in my so-called workplace that the drawers are hard to open. There is a Fuji ADF scanner stuffed in there, but I don’t remember if it is usable anymore. That’s what I used for receipt scanning. I have a bag stuffed with receipts starting from January 2022, when I started working at this job. It was the first “job” job I’d had in 20 years, and I collected the receipts thinking they might form a profile or snapshot of this particular period of my life.

For now, they stuff up a plastic self-locking bag, one of the hundreds of such bags I procured for use in storing copies of old “Etude” music magazines. Those magazines, I should be proud to say, are one massive amount of paper I ridded my space of with no qualms whatsoever. Those things were a forest fire waiting to happen.

What to get rid of next? The covid tests were a small but significant relic to remove from my visual. Desk drawers and kitchen cabinets will be my next explore tonight. The clutter is not always visual. You feel it weigh upon you as it huddles in the cabinets, drawers, and closets.