July 14, 2009

Laundry as Therapy... Ommmmmmmmmmm

I do have a thing for nice sheets. They must be flannel, or high-thread count, no see-throughs, and stand up to about 1,000 washings.

I don't have a thing for laundry. I never want to do it.

Yet virtually every night, here I am, slipping into a rhythmic trance as I fold, fold, fold. Most of my career, I have been able to avoid most of this laundry chore, and I'm having trouble adjusting.

A sheet service seems like a great idea, but I learned when I worked at a gym in my last semester at massage school that the services were not what I imagined. The sheets we got were thin, basic hospital/nursing home sheets. One day I opened up a fresh batch of sheets and found a bloody bandage stuck to the top one. What happened? I didn't want to use service sheets ever again. Plus the sheets were thin, revealing and not very comforting.

Later, when I worked at a big spa, sheets became an important commodity. They never had enough, and our spa sampler package - the big seller - featured 25-minute massages. Double the laundry, all day, and the sheets were also used in mud treatments, so they turned a spooky shade of gray.

It took about two years and a new manager to kill the 25-minute spa packages, and by then the sheets were quite dead. Then the spa bought all new sheets - tons of them - and found out they started to unravel after the first wash. Three months later they had the look of old oil, the result of our lead therapist trying to be thrifty and buying plain safflower oil and adding a degreaser that didn't mix well. Nice try, but they were rank and thready in no time. Folding them artfully to cover the shreds or oil glops got tough. I dimmed the lights a lot.

The next time I looked for sheet sources I hit the jackpot. Two hotels needed day spa massage centers, and they did all the linens for you. Let me repeat that. They did all the linens for you. In a big washer that looked like a Peterbuilt truck. The sheets were washed by the hundreds, so a few more a day from massages didn't bother them a bit. They were dried in another Peterbuilt, and then the amazing ironing machine, which looked like a huge conveyor belt with arms. Every day the attendants checked for rips, stains, etc, and tossed the damaged ones into the rag pile.

Next they fed the sheets into a machine ironed and folded them and spit them out the end. Perfect. No one knows how happy you can be until you see how laundry is done efficiently.

Nirvana, it seems, is being able to drop your sheets down a chute and pick up clean ones. I became spoiled, used to the neatly ironed, folded, high-thread-count hotel sheets.

Now, though, I am in private practice and I'm getting a weekly dose of laundry fatigue. The sheets are hauled home with me and get tossed into the washer, then the dryer, sometimes two or three loads a night. I'm often folding while watching the 11 o'clock news. I'm not beating them against a rock or anything, but the laundry is always there!

But I am starting to take the advice I give to clients. Take a mundane task and use it to meditate. I'm not levitating or anything, but I do focus on what I'm doing, folding neatly, drifting into the zen state of hygienic bliss. It doesn't make the laundry disappear, but my crabbiness wasn't helping, either. Ommmmmmmmmm.

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