Showered #14 — Louis’ place

“Close your eyes and click your heals three times…because there’s no place like Dome,” Under the Dome, Stephen King

“Enjoy the benefits of a drier, healthier home simply by installing a Showerdome,” Showerdome website, author unknown

Sometimes you need a roof over your shower. Luckily, Louis has you covered — with a dome, a Showerdome. The Showerdome is exactly that — a dome with a shower under it.

Dome

DOME: There it is.

No one really knows where the dome originated. Its long architectural lineage can be traced back centuries into prehistory. In the modern era, domes are generally associated with planetariums, government buildings, mortuaries, hippies and Showerdome.

After Louis, the Romans may have been the biggest dome fans. They were also fans of baths. Fast-forward a couple thousands years, and the good people at Showerdome have married these two elements of classic Western culture.

Do you want to prevent steam from forming mold and condensation in your bathroom? Showerdome. Do you want to see yourself in the mirror when you get out of the shower? Showerdome. Do you want to breath the same hot, steamy air while showering in a claustrophobic enclosed space? Showerdome.

Plants

DYING: The plants cannot be watered because there is no condensation.

“It’s different,” says Louis. “I’ve never lived under a dome before. Firstly, feeling no breeze, no draft, is quite interesting. You definitely do breath in — the smells are enhanced. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know.”

On top, Louis’ Showerdome is very dusty. Sometimes this dust needs to be cleaned off the top of the dome. Luckily, reaching the dome is no problem for Louis, as he is very tall. He is too tall for the Showerdome.

BUBBLE BOY: Louis is too tall for the shower.

BUBBLE BOY: Louis is too tall for the shower.

“You know in The Simpsons when Homer makes a car for Herb? He makes a car for his brother, and it’s got the bubble and his head’s in it. That’s what I’m like in the dome.

“I’m not actually looking through the wall of the shower; I’m looking through the top of the dome.”

Though in Showered I try to get the full experience, to know what the shower is truly like for the person that uses it every day, this is one thing I must miss out on — I cannot be so tall as to shower in the bubble. Still, entering the domed vessel is unlike any previous shower experience I have had. I forget everything I ever knew about showers.

My plan is to let the hot water steam up the Showerdome, creating a sauna. I turn the mixer to the hot setting, indicated by the color red. I make sure the glass door is closed tightly behind me. The water pressure is too strong, piercing at first. I see a knob at the top of the shower head, loosen it, and the water sprays out more gently — controllable pressure.

Showerdome

TRAPPED: No steam is escaping this Showerdome.

Within minutes I notice the smell Louis was talking about, like being in a stuffy room in the heat of the summer. I turn the water hotter. The steam just keeps rising, with nowhere to escape. I hope for full sauna, imagining the Showerdome so steamy, so misty that I can’t see my hand in front of my face.

But at a certain point the steam levels off. I shampoo, wash, rinse and turn off the water. The amount of water build-up inside the dome is impressive. The second the door is opened a mass of water drops to the bathmat, which is saturated. I worry that I’ve done something wrong, but Louis assures me this is just what happens with a Showerdome.

Looking around the bathroom after my shower I notice no mold, no steam, no condensation. The mirror is clear. I look at myself and I say:

“Showered.”

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Showered #13 — Jorge’s place


Last month I was back in the United States of America to reunite with friends and family in Las Vegas, Ohio and New York. And as Las Vegas has already had its chance to show the world its showers, it is now New York City’s turn.

BROOKLYN: Jorge likes his yellow shower curtain.

BROOKLYN: Jorge likes his yellow shower curtain.

Jorge’s path to the big city took him from Lima, Peru to Miami, Florida to Oberlin, Ohio and finally New York, with many showers along the way. He is here to show us his sunny Bushwick, Brooklyn shower, which I try on an unusually cold day in late spring.

It is no secret that New York apartments are generally tiny, cramped, airless, narrow and oppressive. But where Jorge lives is nothing of the sort — it is in fact quite roomy, spacious, airy and free. It is an unrenovated walk-up apartment with faded New York City character. It is tired from all the life it has seen but still invites you in to hang around, have a coffee, maybe a bagel, and take a shower.

ALL SET: It is almost shower time.

ALL SET: It is almost shower time.

But there is no need to oversell the shower.

“This is just water coming, going onto your face, at a reasonable volume,” says Jorge. “I think it’s a good shower experience. The pressure is pretty decent.”

According to Jorge, the shower is not The Beatles — it is The Velvet Underground.

PEEK: Have a look at Jorge's shower.

PEEK: Have a look at Jorge’s shower.

And it is true. This shower is not lavish or elaborate. It is not your mainstream cool shower. You are not going to see this shower featured on any episode of any home makeover show. But everyone who takes a shower at Jorge’s will start a band.

If the shower itself does not have enough New York City grime for you, there is a window that looks off onto the sights and sounds of Brooklyn outside.

“The view is irrelevant,” says Jorge. “You don’t really look out. You just feel the sunlight.”

ACHIEVED: My shower mission is executed.

ACHIEVED: My shower mission is executed.

Unfortunately the full effect of the window is lost on me, as I use the shower on a cold, cloudy day. But the beachiness of the shower still shines through via its new shower curtain, which is yellow — much like the sun that is not shining. I am provided a towel to use — also beachy and yellow.

After flipping a tricky switch on the faucet, the bath diverts to the shower and many small drops produce a thundering spray. It does not take long for the flowing, hot water and pressure to wash the gook of the subway off of me. I use some form of soap as I think about how many showers must be in the city and how impossible it would be to count them all.

Like all great showers provided by friends and family around the world, this one is soon over. But rent in New York is higher than you think, so thank you Jorge.

Showered.

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Showered #12 — Zhoe’s place

As I walk to the door of Zhoe’s house I can hear songs in the distance. It is coming from the Big Day Out festival, not far from her street. Tens of thousands of people are outside listening to music and getting sweaty. The bands playing are getting even sweatier, especially the ’90s bands. They are going to need post-festival showers.

ZHOE: Wine is nice in the tub.

ZHOE: Wine is nice in the tub.

If they knew about Zhoe’s shower, they might well be lining up — all 50,000 of them. But festival-goers are a non-showering bunch, unlike Zhoe.

Zhoe studied art and likes busting stereotypes — namely that artists are a bunch of jobless, smelly buffoons who do not shower.

REFLECTIVE: There are a lot of mirrors.

REFLECTIVE: There are a lot of mirrors.

“When I was in art school I was very OCD about showering because I felt so dirty and poor all the time,” she says. “I wanted to shower a lot. I was procrastinating and feeling all these extreme emotions, so I think I needed to ceremoniously cleanse myself constantly.”

LOUNGING: I pretend to take a bath.

LOUNGING: I pretend to take a bath.

Zhoe’s shower is adorned with sand and shells, encased in a rectangular glass box at the foot of the bath. The shower is a compromise — a halfway point between ocean and tub, between nature and manmade. If you cannot go to the beach, you can go to the beach shower.

Most of the walls in the bathroom are full-length mirrors.

“It looks like it could be in a porno.”

MOLLUSK: There are shells in a case.

MOLLUSK: There are shells in a case.

There is also a bathtub, equipped with water jets. Unfortunately, this is a blog about showers, not baths with jets. Also the jets do not work at the moment, I am told. I did not want to try them anyway.

Much like the country of Chile, Zhoe is tall and skinny.

“I’m really tall — like, freakishly tall,” she says. “It’s really hard.”

Sometimes the shower head is too low for Zhoe.

“That is a reoccurring problem for me. At the moment though, we have an extendable hose, so that is great.”

SELFIE: I am showered.

SELFIE: I am showered.

At one point in my conversation with Zhoe, things get real. Things get deep. If capitalism were to end tomorrow, a lot of things would cease to exist. Art, I think, would not be one of them. Zhoe disagrees. But what we agree on is that people would not stop showering. Showering: It is just something humans do.

While this is not an explicitly BYO towel shower, I bring my own blue towel, just in case. In the shower there are many product options, but only one that can do it all — Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 magic soap. It smells like marzipan.

While the ocean spray drizzles out of the shower nozzle, the shells — once parts of Earth’s marine mollusks — glisten in their case. It is a nice touch.

Showered.

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Showered #11 — David and Adrien’s place

After 10 posts and a long break, Showered is back to bring you possibly 10 more showers. Today, shower enthusiasts David and Adrien open up their Herne Bay, Auckland home to show me just how real their shower is.

Adrien and David

SIDEKICKS: Adrien and David guard the shower.

Many Showered readers enjoy sitting while they read the blog, often in a seat. But when it comes to showers, seats are frequently hard to come by. Fortunately, most of the shower at David and Adrien’s place is taken up by a seat.

Seat Shower

SEAT: You cannot see it, but it is there.

“The best thing that I like about the shower is that it’s got a little seat in it,” says David. “That doesn’t often happen. It grosses some people out, but I’m a big fan of sitting in the shower. That’s what I recommend.”

In addition to the seat shower, the third flatmate in the house has her own off-limits shower, complete with nearby skylight. Unfortunately, on a hot, sunny day, the skylight makes this shower’s bathroom bake. No thank you — I will take the seat.

Birth Bath

BIRD: Louis likes the tub.

David and Adrien’s bathroom also features a bathtub. The tub is currently functioning as a poo-trap for David’s parrot, Louis, who has a perch running across it.

“It’s great for us because he can poo in there and we just wash it out,” says David.

Louis the parrot is clean and green, much like an environmentally friendly, low-flow shower head. Besides pooping, Louis also likes chipping wood with his beak, squawking and showering. And while Louis does not like when the water is too hot, he does like the seat. But Louis has already had a shower for the day, so he does not join me.

David and Adrien only moved in about a month ago, and it has been a month plagued by shower hose issues.

STANDING: I just cannot wait to have a seat.

STANDING: I just cannot wait to have a seat.

“The hose is a little bit problematic, but it’s more or less fixed,” says Adrien.

When they moved in, the hose on the shower would come loose, causing the shower head to flail about like a water rocket, in accordance with Newton’s third law. Luckily, it has all been fixed, making my shower stable, serene and stimulating.

I am given a colourful beach towel, told to remember to squeegee when done and left to use the shower. Another, much smaller seat above the main shower seat — also called a shelf — holds the small collection of soaps and shampoos. I have a wonderful shower, squeegee, dry off and step out onto the nice wooden bathmat at the foot of the shower door.

Hotel Soap Collection

EXOTIC: David collects soaps from around the world.

After my shower, David tells me about his special hotel soap collection.

“Every time I stay in a hotel, I take soaps. And if you stay for a few nights, you’re talking nine different vials of soap and shampoo and conditioner.”

David once tried to auction the soaps on the internet, but bailed on the buyer at the last minute because he could not part with the collection. Each soap is a memory of a different place, of a different time, of a different shower. And David, as well as Adrien, knows that is an important thing.

Showered.

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Showered #10 — Juan’s place

Hace tiempo que no escribo un blog post. El verano se ha acabado y las hojas están cambiando de color. Con el otoño vienen las lluviznas de Auckland — algo así como la ducha de Juan, aunque no tan agradable.

ORGULLOSOS: A Alejandra y Juan les gusta la ducha.

ORGULLOSOS: A Alejandra y Juan les gusta la ducha.

La ducha de Juan, otro compañero de trabajo, está en su humilde hogar — un gran apartamento en Eden Terrace. Yo llego sucio y con necesidad de una ducha.

SHOWERED: Juan les deja una nota a sus compañeros.

SHOWERED: Juan les deja una nota a sus compañeros.

Juan vive con cinco personas más, incluyendo nuestra amiga Alejandra, que también usa la ducha. Ellos son colombianos y me dicen que las duchas de Colombia son muy diferentes que las de Nueva Zelanda.

“Casi ninguna tiene teléfono,” dice Alejandra. “No tienen manguera y se desprenden, sino que están fijas en la pared.”

Pero no importa, ya que la ducha de Juan tiene telefonillo. También hay agua caliente en abundacia.

ANTES: No he duchado ya.

ANTES: No he duchado ya.

“A mi me gusta acá que el calentador es de gas,” dice Juan. “Entonces hay mucha agua caliente. Siempre hay agua caliente. En mi casa [en Colombia] se acaba el agua caliente.”

Antes de ducharme, Juan me presenta a su amigo — un patito de goma coronado con quien baila Juan. Es de su compañera de apartamento, Sara, pero es amigo de todos (incluído yo).

“Es de Sara, pero ella nos lo presta a todos. Yo creo que todos le cantamos al patito, bailamos con el patito.”

CUAC: El patito está mojado.

CUAC: El patito está mojado.

Aunque me familiarizo con el patito en la ducha, no bailamos, dado que es peligroso bailar en la ducha. No se lo aconsejo. Si tienen un patito y ganas de bailar, tomen en cuenta un suelo seco y zapatos sólidos.

DESPUÉS: Estoy limpio.

DESPUÉS: Estoy limpio.

Después de varias duchas diferentes — cascadas, chorros de agua en el techo, termostatos — hemos regresado a la clásica. Como dice Juan, es una ducha “normal” — pero no quiere decir aburrida. Hilos de agua caliente brotan del teléfono de la ducha, tallando su camino con presión suficiente.

Yo me ducho mientras hablo con el patito: “Qué pico tan bonito tiene mi patito pato.” Él no me contesta.

Hay muchas opciones de champú para lavarme el cabello. Yo le doy una gota al patito a pesar de que usa una corona y tampoco tiene pelo. A él le gusta.

Al fin y al cabo, la ducha de Juan (y Aleja) es todo lo que se necesita. Colombianos: vengan para Nueva Zelanda — no les decepcionará. Como ya saben, la dicha es mucha en la ducha.

Duchado.

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Showered #9 – Alex’s place

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s top natural tourist destinations. It boasts lush rainforests, framed against sheer rock faces, and flourishes with wildlife – including native birds, dolphins and penguins. Heavy rainfall creates gushing waterfalls, cascading off the face of its many cliffs. It is also very far from Auckland.

EARLY: Alex wakes up at 3:30am for a shower.

EARLY: Alex wakes up at 3:30am for a shower.

Closer to home is Alex’s shower. Much like Milford’s Stirling Falls, the shower at Alex’s house is a permanent waterfall. It is also magnificent.

This waterfall-style shower in off-the-beaten-track Grey Lynn, Auckland is perfect for those who do not like showering at an angle.

WATERFALL: Alex's shower mimics nature.

WATERFALL: Alex’s shower mimics nature.

“The most special thing about our shower is the size of the head, and it comes straight down,” says Alex. “We describe it as a waterfall.”

Like Milford Sound, Alex’s shower is very close to nature, with a giant window looking off from the shower to the trees outside (and the next-door neighbors).

“We had a white shower curtain there for a while, but then we got paranoid that when you turn the light on people could see in,” she says. “So we changed it to a darker curtain. But you’ve just got to make sure that it is pulled right across.”

HOT: I am yet to cool off in the shower.

HOT: I am yet to cool off in the shower.

Alex’s shower is a shub, and while Alex does not use the bath, her flatmates do. The bathtub has its own knobs, separate from those of the the shower. But that is not to say one could not fill up the bathtub using the shower. After all, Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter Mikhail Lermontov – whom many would place alongside Alexander Pushkin as one of Russia’s greatest poets – once said “many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall”.

LOLA: Alex's neighbor's cat has issues.

LOLA: Alex’s neighbor’s cat has issues.

Alex is a journalist and has to wake up very early in the morning to go to her job, reporting non-shower news to curious New Zealanders. Alex wakes up so early –3:30am – that it is still dark out, much like her dark shower curtain. Despite Alex’s bewildering wake up time, she still has time to take a “morning” shower. Even if she is running late, she will still go chasing waterfalls.

“I make sure to have a shower every time before I go to work.”

But it is not surprising Alex makes time for her waterfall-style shower, especially on a hot day.

DELIGHT: That was a nice shower.

DELIGHT: That was a nice shower.

I arrive at Alex’s on a sizzling summer afternoon ready to cool down. The sun splashes Auckland with daylight. The cicadas seem to be yelling at me, “take a shower at Alex’s place” (they are very loud in the summer).

After a brief rundown of the shower’s logistics, I step into the waterfall. I stand under the water, eyes closed, with the water flowing lightly over my ears – full shower immersion. The shower is cleansing and cooling. It also makes me clean.

Alex sums up her shower – the best shower in town (for now) – quite well.

“It’s big, good pressure, temperature’s great – it’s just a really good shower. It’s one of the best showers I’ve ever had.”

Me too (for now).

Showered.

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Showered # 8 – Julian’s place (a.k.a. Rufio)

The sun in Auckland is sweltry and the lack of clouds in the sky makes you realize how wide the world is. It is the summertime – heat, humidity and leisureliness make you crave a shower. It is time to call on Julian (a.k.a. Rufio).

DOOR: Rufio's house is an old dairy.

DOOR: Rufio’s house is an old dairy.

Julian lives in an old dairy – Kiwi speak for a convenience store, mini-mart, corner store or slushy mart. I am not sure what a bodega is. As you can imagine, the house is a bit odd shaped. But unlike the convenience store you might find as part of a gas station, you do not need a giant key to use this bathroom.

LOUNGE: Rufio's living room has plants.

LOUNGE: Rufio’s living room has plants.

After walking around sweating profusely all day in the sunshine, I am ready for a refreshing shower at Julian’s. And just in case someone else is also ready for a shower at the same time, it is okay – this is a double shower. But what is a double shower?

“Sometimes, when you turn it on, you’ll hear a pounding of water on the roof of the house,” says Julian.

RUFIO: Julian keeps his shampoo in a drawer.

RUFIO: Julian keeps his shampoo in a drawer.

That water is from a tall water pipe on the roof that is at perfect shower height. While one person showers in the real shower inside, another person can take a shower on the roof – double shower. But it does not happen every time you shower.

“We don’t know when or why it happens.”

Thankfully, it does happen on my shower. As the water spurts onto the roof, Julian’s flatmate, Matt, climbs up onto the roof and gets under the pipe shower.

WHAT UP: I am about to embark on a shower journey.

WHAT UP: I am about to embark on a shower journey.

Back inside, I get acquainted with Julian’s fussy shower.

“It’s quite a hard shower to deal with,” says Julian. “If it had a personality I’d probably describe it as introverted and awkward. You have to get used to it before it’ll actually let you get some warmth. And then once you get some warmth it’s awkward belts of over-the-top.”

FULFILLED: I have had a rejuvenating shower.

FULFILLED: I have had a rejuvenating shower.

There are some things that take getting used in Julian’s weirdo shower. Cold is hot and hot is cold. This is not much of a problem for me, as I am an experienced hot-cold switch up user. But the hot-cold mixer is not just reversed, it is extremely sensitive.

“It is quite touchy. This is the awkwardness of the shower. If you turn it even half-a-centimeter, the temperature can drastically rise or decrease.”

I have a go. Just a tiny nudge of the dial makes the water scalding hot. Touch it again in the other direction and it is arctic cold. After an inordinate amount of time trying to adjust the temperature, I decide to have a cold shower. It is so hot outside, and it just works. Then, I hear the loud pounding of water on the roof – the pipe is erupting.

Showered.

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