Posted by: facetothewind | September 16, 2007

The Copius Prize

Last week I attended a writing workshop at the highly overpriced Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. In order to work off some of the tuition, I folded laundry and chopped vegetables for 8 hours. Here is what I wrote in my workshop about the experience…

I hate folding laundry. Crestfallen and slightly resentful for having to do something so menial as fold sheets, I headed to the laundry shack to pay off my $100 debt to Esalen. At 43, you’d think I could afford to do a workshop at Esalen without having to beg, borrow, and do work exchange.

I spent my first day of laundry folding while watching the clock, counting the minutes ‘til I was free to go. I faced down a small mountain of sheets, hot from the dryer and was told to fold and bundle them into stacks of 5. I sneaked another look at the clock. If I took a bathroom break it clicked off about 3 minutes from my poly-cotton blend tedium. I kept myself pruned back – making polite conversation as I learned the routine and familiarized myself with the people.

For my second day of laundry folding, I stopped by Sweet Potato’s car and grabbed a few CDs. I was not going to listen to reggae and rap if I was going to fold fitted sheets for 2 hours. I was going to transform this into something a little more to my liking.

I entered the steamy confines of the laundry shack by the sea, and without asking, popped in one of my CDs. I cranked the volume on the stereo up, tore off my sweater revealing my gingham shirt with rhinestone brooch affixed to the lapel. The first notes of Rufus Wainwright’s glorious voice filled the room and I began singing in harmony, alone with my muse and a massive pile of sheets, rags, and towels.

Rufus’ voice boomed from the stereo as I plunged into the pile, yanked out some sheets and began folding. “I’m looking for the tower of learning,” I sang along with Rufus. A worker named Danielle came in with sparkling brown eyes and a big smile. “Oh my god, I LOVE Rufus. Let’s fold together!” she said.
“Only if you’ll sing with me,” I told her.

We took a full-size sheet out and folded it in half and then in half again. Then we came closer to each other for the lengthwise fold, meeting face to face, “I’m looking for the copius prize. I saw it in your eyes, what I’m looking for…”

We smiled at each other, singing in harmony as she grabbed the midpoint letting the sheet drop over her arm and then I grabbed it folding it once again in half. I took the bass notes, she took the tenor. “Tip the Eiffel tower, with one glance. Stained glass cathedrals…you smashed them with your eyes.”

I kept my eye on the clock this time, hoping only that the 2 hours would last forever.



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