Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Sanatorium and the Schools

On Thursday I somehow found myself plunked into my own personal version of heaven for a couple days. It was glorious collection of peace and joy randomly plopped right in to the middle of roiling personal chaos. By myself, I drove down to Portland to meet Kate Jaeckel, soap-stress extraordinaire, a true drinking buddy (though neither of us can drink much) and an all around good time girl.

On the way I stopped by this 100 year old hot springs hotel at Carson, WA. It's more like an old style sanatorium than the nature embedded hot springs I usually go for. It was amazing anyway. First you soak in an old tub, rusted through time with minerals straight from the earth's hot, beating heart. And it is HOT. After 30 minutes the attendant takes you to a room full of old, metal, hospital- style cots all lined up like graves. And they roll you in to a linen sheet, and then a cotton sheet and then tuck you tight into a wool blanket, put a towel over your eyes and basically let you cook there like a bagged Thanksgiving turkey. It's like being embalmed, or so I assume, considering I've never done embalming before...that I know of. Even my toes sweat! They cooked me for 20 minutes and afterwards I stood by the back door, overlooking the creek, through the trees. The cool air felt silky smooth, like new sheets. Then I went to the sauna. It didn't feel like it was on at all. I checked the temp: 128 F. Wow.
As a seasoned spa-ster, I can spend three hours or more aggressively lounging in hot pools and rooms of 130F. This was only an hour, but an intense one which involved visions of birth (both my own and my childrens) and some rebirth too. The idea of soaking in waters that have just been in contact with the center of the earth (or at least closer to it than I usually get) wows me. Primal waters full of live-spawning minerals. A mineral message straight from the earth's heart. I just love those hot springs. My "life list" is only about 7 or 8 deep, but my appreciation is several orders of magnitude greater than that.

I picked up Kate from the Airport and we parked ourselves at the Kennedy School for a good long time. We stayed in Miss Kenney's room trimmed with the old chalk board. We ate in the courtyard. We went to a concert in the gym. We watched an absurdly violent movie (because it was included with the room rate and was the one that was showing!). We soaked in the enormous tiled hot tub in the courtyard. It was amazing. It was everything that is wonderful about people and the things they do. Every nook and cranny was stuffed with creativity, somebody's labors of love. This building employed artists of all kinds: painters, chefs, gardeners. Everybody. Most hotels, most buildings, I can almost see the pain and boredom of every worker that slapped up the dry wall and slathered on the white paint: same room, same door, same, same, same. There's wasn't a single indication of boredom here. Apparently this hotel is part of some empire of McMenamin creativity that has sprouted up in those parts, including something like 3,497 hotels in the Portland area alone, plus another cool million restaurants. All this imagination poured out, into the lives of the traveling, the hungry, the sober seeking altered states. Good times were had!

And I met Kate's wonderful friend Haley. And then I drove home, through one of the world's best sunsets. It was a good time and a refreshing break from the heady trip that is currently my life.

We also became members of the Unitarian Universalist church today. We adore it. This summer, it has played a grounding role in our lives. This morning as I stood and spoke about the water we visited this year, I poured water from the Hoh River into the large bowl during the Water Service, and I actually recognized some of the faces looking back at me. I had a small zygote of a feeling of home.

In other news, Blue got a time-out at school on Friday. We can't figure it out, except this is her story: The teacher told a joke, Blue laughed, the teacher stood by her desk and said "Step one for laughing." Step one is the euphamism for time outs, meaning you sit in the corner. For laughing?! We can't figure that one out. Blue is certain now that laughing is against the rules there. We've tried to get at it from all angles: was it too loud? too long? She says no. Certainly laughing must be allowed in 2nd grade!! But I don't know. Every day she also comes home with new information. She's innocently broken the dress code several times: no backless shirts, no tank tops, no, no, no. We're beginning to think that she goes off to prison every day. We're calling it: the Lewis and Clark Concentration Camp for Kids. We're trying not to say that in front of her, but seriously the list of rules is so long that even with my law experience I haven't been able to comprehend them all. It's hard to not do something against the rules there. This warrants a teacher's conference.

Those of you that know me well will not be surprised by the length of this post. Those of you that don't know me, now you know! Feel free to stop reading at any point if this bothers you.

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