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July 27, 2011

From the 365 Day Hebrew Art Project:


Pronunciation: Leh-kah-PEL
Definition: To fold (Verb in infinitive form)


Folding laundry can be a soothing thing. In the chill of the air-conditioned workplace, laundry straight out of a dryer is comforting to the touch. Then it’s matching corners, aligning sides, and neatly piling up one folded item after another. When I get in to a good rhythm, it’s like a meditation. I also like the teamwork that is required for certain things. “Like a dance,” said one of my co-workers of folding sheets between two people. It really is.

I may be able to find it so because laundry has always been a house chore I didn’t mind doing, or at least didn’t mind as much as others. I don’t think there are too many people who will claim they absolutely LOVE any house chore, but everyone must have one they would choose over others. Fortunately, laundry is mine.

Back in Tokyo, there was something very satisfying about hanging my laundry out to dry on a hot, sunny day, especially if it had been a while since the weather cooperated on the weekends, the only time I could do the laundry. I always folded the dried laundry along to This American Life or another podcast. (The best way to listen to something when you really want to concentrate and absorb what you’re hearing, in my opinion.) Now I am surrounded by Hebrew chatter instead.

The South African Man who is also a newbie (he started three days before I did) claims he is also in charge of the laundry in his family, consisting of his wife and two young children.

“I just sit in front of the TV with my iron and the laundry and zone out,” he told me.

And what items of clothing, I couldn’t help asking, requires ironing living on a kibbutz, where shirt collars and buttons are extremely rare?

“Oh, I iron everything before folding them,” he answered. And by everything he meant everything: jeans, t-shirts, underwear, socks.

“Is that a South African thing?” I had to ask. Because I’ve never heard of anyone iron that obsessively in either Japan or the U.S! Maybe it is, he replied with a chuckle.

So laundry apparently is also the chore of choice for the South African Man… but I am not totally convinced, as he seems to be having some difficulty with the work. He doesn’t fold things the right way, he doesn’t remember a lot of things (that I already do despite working here less than him). I had already started sensing a lot of the grumbling and outbursts among the workers are about the South African Man but then one of them asked me one day in English, “Do you know that we’re talking most of the time about one specific person?” She didn’t have to tell me which person.

I hope the South African Man will find a way in to “the zone” he achieves with the laundry at home here as well.


東京での一人暮らし時代、カーっと晴れた日に洗濯物を干すのはなんとも快感だったのを覚えています。特に洗濯する時間があるのは週末限られているのに、なかなか晴れない週末が続いた時は。そして乾いた洗濯物をたたむにはいつも「This American Life」かほかのポッドキャストを聴きながらでした。(内容を集中して聴きたいのには最適な状況だと思います。)今はポッドキャストの代わりにヘブライ語の会話に包まれています。







Much love,


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