Break was this week but unfortunately, that week of calmness and relaxation comes crashing down tomorrow morning when I have to hike back to campus for my morning class.
Monday, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday I got to actually spend some hours in the office. I spent my time fixing some bugs, rewriting tests and finally learning how to make a basic DSL with Ruby. Thursday was nice, filled with good food and wine, and lots of driving to get to all the sides of the family. Friday and Saturday were spent sipping whiskey and watching movies while working on more Ruby DSL stuff. The more I work with Ruby the more I’m starting to love it more than I love Python… That being said my Python stuff has been suffering for Ruby recently. Maybe I should update some things and write some Python code for a change…
On an unrelated note, today I stood in front of a mirror. How exciting.
I stood there, neck and cheeks white with a thick lather of shaving cream. The sink was half full and the water had tendrils of steam coming off surface. Sitting on the counter to my left was a black mug with a round stub of a handle filled with a Sandlewood shaving cream lather; The light wood handle of my badger hair brush poking out over the brim. In my hand, a small metal shaft topped with a curved bar and head; A Merkur 34C. Clamped between them sat a SuperMax Stainless steel double edge blade, used three times.
My safety razor, or also commonly known as the double edge razor, is perhaps one of my most valuable possessions I have, and one of my most worthwhile investments. Not because its expensive or will be in the future, in fact it was one of the cheapest razors which fit the criteria I was looking for and is fairly common, but because it forces me to have time.
Before I bought this razor I had only ever shaved with an electric. It took a whole 5 minutes each morning; The downside was that it had to be charged once in a while. Even if I was in a hurry and needed to shave, sometimes I just couldn’t because I forgot to plug it in the night before. Its also big and bulky and I never found a good way to hold it even after a good 4 years with it.
Last summer however, something happened that would have an enormous impact on my life: A friend finally convinced me to take the plunge and buy a safety razor. I’d known about them for awhile and always admired the simplicity of them but never could get myself to buy one. But after hearing him talk about his and having him recommend a good list of needed/helpful materials and introduction videos I jumped ship on electrics and bought a good $150 worth of shaving material.
I ended up with: a Merkur 34C, two soaps, 50 blades consisting of 25 brands, a lather mug, a badger hair brush and a RazoRock alum block. I went with the 50 blade pack because it gave me two blades per brand. I figured that each blade could get about 3-5 shaves from what I had read, and as a result I could split the 50 blades up to 25 blades per soaps, since I also got two different soaps (so far this has been an awesome idea and really opened my eyes to the differences in both soaps and blades).
The first noticeable benefit is the shave. Its smooth, clean, close. It feels good to have the blade running across your skin. The second is that the soaps, if you have fragranced soaps that is, leave your face smelling amazing. Baby smooth shaves, or BBS’s as they’re commonly referred to within the safety and straight razor community are easy to get, and last all day: I tend to grow facial hair at an alarmingly fast rate and so commonly I’d find myself going over with my electric before a night function, but with the safety razor I get go a good two days between shaves.
But all of this isn’t way this what makes this razor an amazing investment. Its the time. As it turns out, safety razor shaving takes a fair deal of time compared to electrics. Its not something you can rush, or at least I can’t, without fear of razor burn or lots of nicks and cuts. A good clean and close shave of my whole face and neck takes upwards of 45 minutes. Sure you can go faster and sure I’m just taking my time, hell I can get the same shave in about 15 minutes if I really put my mind to it.
But its that time that makes this a great investment. I have to shave, I’m not one of those people that can grow a neck beard for 5 weeks at a time. Even if its winter time when I grow out a beard, I still have to shave it to clean up the edges and keep the beard defined. As a result, I now have to force myself to slow down and make time. I set aside 2 hours ever couple of nights to take a nice long hot shower followed immediately by shaving in the still steam filled room.
I get to think, I have to think to prevent myself from being bored. The shower helps relax me and has the added benefit of opening my pores and preparing my face for the shave. I have a ritual that I go through: I get the blade in my razor switched out if its an old blade, then I get in the shower and let hot water run down my face and neck. I shampoo once, apply conditioner to my beard, soap down my body then wash the soap and conditioner out. I get out and only dry off my feet, then wrap the towel around my waist and allow the rest of my body to air dry while I shave. I turn the sink faucet on to hot and let it run while I get my face cloth. I then use the hot water its now putting out to partially fill my mug which I place my brush into to soak up some moisture before making the lather. I then fill the sink basin about half full and place my face cloth in it to heat up. I also take the time to place the head of my razor into the water for a few seconds to get the metal to warm up a tad. I then proceed to open the lid on the cream that I choose, pour out the water from the mug and shake the excess water out of the brush.
Its a science; A measured, calculated and timed process that is repeatable and consistent across nights. Its so meticulously laid out and planned that I have an enormous amount of time to think. The actual shave requires me to be relaxed unless I want to risk cuts, something which the slow process and the shower help with. Between these two, I get to have a rare chance of being at peace for a short while, which for me is no easy task these days.
Its this piece of peace that the razor gives me that makes it so valuable to me, and I appreciate that.