bunt sign

Thursday, March 1, 2001

Yesterday I spent half the day watching the same three Seattle residents give the same interviews, and seeing aerial shots of the same three piles of rubble. I'm sympathetic, since I've lived over a fault line all my life. It will be a long time before a lot of people in the northwest can sit at their desks and concentrate without flinching at every strange sound and checking frequently to make sure that nothing is swaying on the high shelves above their heads.

You eventually get comfortable again, but it takes a little time.

Several times a day, then gradually less and less, your heart will freeze in your chest, as your mind flashes back. Sometimes you'll remember what happened, exactly, every detail.

Other times you'll remember it differently, the way it might have happened, but so real that it seems more true than truth. In this other reality, you've gone out the door a few minutes earlier or later, and you saw the bricks as they fell from the building above you. It seemed to be happening in slow motion, but somehow you couldn't move quickly enough to save yourself.

Or maybe it wasn't you under the falling stones or collapsing roof. Maybe it was a child, your child, and you just couldn't get there in time. These memories of alternate reality aren't peculiar to earthquakes. Any disaster will do, or any near disaster. But they stay with you until the actual reality, the business of going through the day, becomes routine again.

a bush at the edge of my garden

In spite of it all, I actually had one of my more productive days yesterday. I'm sure that's more than anyone in Seattle can say. It (my productive day) lasted a bit longer than I wanted it to, extended by the Boss's whimsical disregard of the concept of time. But at least I can look back without Guilt clocking me one on the back of the neck.

It wasn't all that easy, either. Watching the coverage was more than a distraction. In fact, it somehow seemed more important for me to be tuned into MSNBC than Excel, at least until Brian Williams repeated for the tenth (or maybe eleventh) time how Seattle had "dodged a bullet," and then began searching for ways to emphasize just how big that "bullet" was.

Nevertheless, I was sailing smoothly through spreadsheet after interlinked spreadsheet until the Boss called, around four, with a thought. He's been doing this a lot lately, starting something new at just about the time I'm thinking of ways to wind up what I'm working on and climb into the loft with a book that has nothing to do with profit and loss, except maybe in an abstract, metaphorical sense.

So I shifted gears and gave him what he wanted, and I will be oh so glad when his girlfriend returns from Texas Sunday. He can use the distraction. My life is simpler and easier when I'm not the only person in the line of fire, in case his brain starts firing off rounds of blanks. I'm one step removed when Julie's there, which means that by the time an idea gets to me, it's already been approved by someone capable of critical thinking.


All's right with the world, you know. The rhythm of baseball on the radio is back. Today was the first day of the Giants' exhibition season in Arizona, and they broadcast the game against the Cubs back to the Bay Area, barely saving the lives of those of us who could not possibly have survived one more today without hearing Duane Kuiper mispronounce the names of the new players.

Winter is bleak for many reasons, not the least of which is the absence of baseball on the radio. But that just means that when spring finally pulls itself out of the cold ground and spreads green life across the land, we appreciate that much more the wry humor of Jon Miller and the frenzied enthusiasm of Mike Krukow. (Apparently Ted Robinson is broadcasting a chess tournament in the Czech Republic or a bocce match in Bosnia for USA cable.)

Not all the spring games are on the radio, so today was a treat, just a taste of the banquet to come. But at least I'm no longer starving.

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