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Thursday, February 21, 2002

It's four o'clock in the morning and I'm standing next to my bed. I turn down the covers and plump up the pillows, but I stand there a little longer, deciding whether to get in and hope for the best, or walk away and maybe turn the TV back on or read for awhile. A half hour ago I fell asleep on the sofa, so I decide to take a chance now and get in bed. That's what my inner voice was telling me to do anyway.

As soon as I lie down, I roll over on my back and laugh at the ceiling. What am I doing here? I think of a better way to phrase some of the things I said in the journal entry I posted a few hours ago. Remembering how far behind I am on email, I almost get up and turn on the computer. There are dishes soaking in the sink that I should probably take care of. But somehow I do fall asleep. Then at five I'm awake again. Then asleep, then awake.

At six I resist the temptation to get up. At seven the clock radio comes on, and the morning personality's voice lulls me back to sleep. By eight, when I'm supposed to be hard at work, I bolt upright in bed, then race to the phone to turn on the ringer. I can't afford to miss any calls, but I almost keel over from lightheadedness. I brace myself against the wall while turning up the heat.

Then I go back to bed, until the phone rings ten minutes later. The Boss. Do I remember a job we did in 1999? Do I have the cost report for that job? As he's asking the questions, I'm finding the files on the computer. I print out the cost report and have it on the fax to him before we hang up.

Do I go back to bed? I could probably sleep, but what's the use? I take the cordless phone and put it on a footstool next to the shower, jump in, jump out. These are low-level jumps and not likely to qualify me for a medal, but the best I can do under the circumstances. I don't bother to shave.

There's plenty of time to get some things done before the Olympics show starts at ten. It's better to get started now before the freshness from the shower wears off. Little do I know this will be the last productive work I do all day. That's because I'm unaware of the network's plan to show six hours of women's curling. Not live, exactly, but shown in more or less real time, except punctuated with commercials.

This is the first time I've watched a whole game — lead, second, third and skip, first end to last. It's a whole different game, seen this way. The bronze medal game, between the U.S. and Canada, is first, and Canada wins, as they should. They're disappointed with bronze, because they expected gold. The U.S. team is disappointed with the loss but happy for the Canadians and thrilled with fourth place in the tournament.

The revelation is the gold medal game, between Scotland (competing as Great Britain) and Switzerland. The strategy is totally different throughout most of this game, with the Scots playing conservatively until they can get an edge. Instead of putting up guards and drawing for points, they hit takeout after takeout and are happy with open ends. They pull ahead, then the Swiss tie it, and it goes to the last end. Great shot after great shot, but the Scots have the hammer and make the very last great shot to win the gold. Incredible. Amazing. I'm wide awake now.

Also, it's now four o'clock in the afternoon, and I suddenly realize how little I've accomplished today. It gives me a bit of a chill when I think about it.

Oh well.


Layered clouds.

There are bigger things going on in the world than the Olympics, but tonight in Salt Lake City the Olympic movement lived up to its promise and showed the world that terrorism, war and murder are not the only ways for nations to interact. One small planet is all we have, and when we embrace and celebrate each other, we can overcome the differences that divide us.

Even figure skating judges can get it right once in awhile, and give the gold medal to the athlete who skates best that night. Good for Sarah Hughes, who didn't think she had a chance but did her best anyway, lifting our solemn, sodden spirits in four minutes of perfect grace. Good for Irina Slutskaya, who put aside nasty innuendo and political carping to win the silver medal and accept it with a sad Russian smile. And good for Michelle Kwan, who fell, got up, and kept going with beauty, strength and courage.

There are degrees of heroism, and different ways to inspire. There are always reasons to keep striving for a better world, little by little, one day at a time. We need to treasure the happy stories, or the sad ones will overwhelm us.

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