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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Back in early January, I posted my Winter Manifesto – a list of (mostly) fun things to help me through my fourth New England winter. Here, an update (with photos):

figure skating championships gracie gold

  • Go to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. We watched the ladies’ free skate, above. It was gorgeous, heartbreaking and so much fun.
  • Get a massage, and go to the dentist. I had to get several fillings, but I’m glad I finally went. And the massage was very relaxing.
  • Continue with the yoga routine I’ve established. Holding steady on this one.

celtics td garden k&j basketball

  • Go see the Celtics play at TD Garden, courtesy of a friend. We sat in the 12th row behind one of the baskets (see above). I am not a huge basketball fan, but watching the action up close was so fun.
  • Watch the Olympics. We’ve cheered at the figure skating, gasped at the skeleton and the ski jumping, and gotten a crash course in slopestyle. Most of all I love the stories.
  • Knit something cozy. I’ve knitted several cozy things (for myself and others), mostly in red.

red cowl

  • Tackle another hefty classic. (I’ve been working on a big library stack. Still taking recommendations!)
  • Indulge in a bit of color therapy. I’ve knitted myself a bright pink hat and a jade green cowl, and ordered a couple of fun items from Boden.
  • Plan some springtime travel. The hubs and I are headed to San Diego next month to see our friends Allison and Duncan, former New Yorkers who’ve moved back to their home state. And I’m heading to Texas in April, first for a work conference and then to see my family.

I find it a bit ironic that the reading goal above is the only one I haven’t tackled – but I’m proud of myself for accomplishing the other ones. Now, if only spring would hurry up a bit…

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I’m not a big TV-watcher…except in the middle of winter.

Two favorite antidotes to stress: twinkle lights and a holiday movie.

My husband and I do watch Castle together on Monday nights, and our collection of Friends DVDs is well-loved. But in the summer and fall, you’re more likely to find us eating dinner on the balcony, sprawled out in the living room reading, doing the New York Times crossword together, or squeezing in a walk before it gets dark. We don’t have cable, so my sports-nut husband only watches big games on TV (he does catch other games online sometimes).

But in the dead of winter, when it seems the world is perpetually dark and frozen, all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and lose myself in a good TV series. (Though we do keep up with the crossword year-round.)

I’ve been enjoying season 4 of Downton Abbey, though the plotlines have gotten a bit soapy for my taste this year (and oh, I miss Matthew). J and I are newly into Sherlock, and we are watching as much of the Winter Olympics as we can.

This TV-binging does have its downsides: too much screen time can make me punchy and distracted, and I have not watched so many commercials since the last Olympics, in 2012. (NBC needs to expand its lineup of Olympic ads.) I also, obviously, get less reading done in the evenings, though I’m knitting up a storm while we watch the figure skating and the skiing and the mystery-solving.

I usually try to avoid excessive TV-watching, but this time of year I give myself a break. Because there’s no better cure for the winter blues than a good story – whether it’s set in an English manor house, amid the busy streets of London, or on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. When I’m following the dramas of the Crawley family, solving crimes along with Sherlock and Watson, or cheering for my favorite figure skaters, I can forget – for a while, anyway – how cold and dark it is outside. And every evening of immersion in these stories brings me a little closer to spring.

What stories are you watching (or reading) this winter?

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figure skating championships boston

(Photo from last month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships here in Boston)

I love the Olympics. All of it.

The pageantry of the opening ceremonies, the bright colors of all the different countries’ flags, the hushed tension as we watch the competitions and the bursts of cheering at the end of a run, a race or a routine. I love the cheesy ads featuring the athletes, the clips of vintage Olympic triumphs, and Morgan Freeman’s voice. I love the mini-documentaries that tell bits of the athletes’ stories. I love Bob Costas’ commentary (and I’m so sad that his eye infection has taken him out of these Games). And oh my, do I love the Olympic theme music.

Every time the Olympics come around again, I remember the names and the glories of past Games. I remember watching Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano and other great skaters dazzle on the ice in the 1980s and 1990s. I remember being captivated by the love story, on and off the ice, of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, and horrified by the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal. I remember seeing Oksana Baiul, in a pink confection of a costume, wow the crowd at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, and four years later, watching Tara Lipinski make the same kind of impression in Nagano.

We are deep into the Sochi Games over here, cheering for the snowboarding and the downhill skiing and every single event in the figure skating competition. J wants to know if we can get the slopestyle announcers to commentate the figure skating, because they keep saying things like “that was totally awesome” or “he laid down a smoker” after a really good run. The grace and power of the ice dancers nearly makes me weep. And I cringe when anyone falls – because I want them all to do well. I wish they all could win.

For two weeks every four years, J and I become obsessed with ski jumps and triple toe loops and the finer points of sports we never think about outside of the Olympics. We hold our breath and bite our nails and cheer at the top of our lungs, and I am guaranteed to get misty-eyed during the medal ceremonies. I love everything about the Games, but most of all, I love the stories. And for two weeks, I watch, starry-eyed and enthralled, soaking up as many of them as I can.

Are you watching the Sochi Olympics? What’s your favorite part?

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Winter Manifesto

snow harvard cambridge ma winter

I have a complicated relationship with winter. I love hot drinks, cozy scarves and curling up on the couch with a good book (preferably in the presence of twinkle lights, or a Christmas tree). But I struggle with the cold, short, dark days in this climate so far north from where I was raised. (And the blizzards, including the one we had last week.) I struggle to have a mind for winter.

Every year, I have to gird my loins to survive, much less enjoy, this difficult season. Hence, a manifesto – a few things to do, try and delight in while I’m waiting for spring.

  • Go to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships – my husband surprised me with tickets to the ladies’ free skate.
  • Get a massage, and go to the dentist. Self-care is important.
  • Continue with the yoga routine I’ve established (two or three times a week).
  • Go see the Celtics play at TD Garden, courtesy of a friend.
  • Watch the Olympics – I love the figure skating and the skiing.
  • Knit something cozy.
  • Tackle another hefty classic. (Recommendations, anyone? Last year’s was Les Mis.)
  • Indulge in a bit of color therapy.
  • Plan some springtime travel.

snow hood jacket

How do you survive – and/or enjoy – winter?

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It would be a stretch to say I measure my life by the Olympics, since I’m not all that athletic and I don’t follow most of these sports in the intervening years. But my memories of certain Olympic Games are definitely tied to memories of what was going on in my life at that time. As we’ve watched the drama and glory unfold in London, I’ve been remembering other Olympic summers.

The first Olympics I remember were the ’92 Barcelona Games, not so much for the Dream Team (though I did watch them) as for the gymnastics. My sister is the one who took lessons, but my whole family watched in awe as Vitaly Scherbo dominated the men’s competition. The Berlin Wall hadn’t been down all that long, and there was a lot of confusion over where, exactly, all these countries from the former Soviet Union were located.

(Twelve years later, as a college student, I walked through Montjuic, the area of south Barcelona containing many of the Olympic venues. After nine days trekking through six Spanish cities and a near-miss when terrorists bombed the train station in Madrid, an afternoon in Montjuic, with its pools and parks, was balm to my soul.)

olympic pools montjuic barcelona spain

Olympic pools in Montjuic, Barcelona

I was 12, just old enough to be captivated, when the Magnificent Seven dominated the women’s gymnastics competition in the Atlanta ’96 games. I cut out newspaper clippings of Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller and their teammates, to glue into a scrapbook streaked with red, blue and silver glitter. I remember Dominique Moceanu’s sassy floor routine to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and standing in the living room gasping and cheering as Kerri Strug completed her historic pair of vaults. Every time they show that clip on TV, I can hear my dad’s voice saying, “Girls, you’re watching history.” And we were.

The 2004 Athens Games began as I returned to Abilene to begin my junior year of college (after spending the spring in Oxford). The day after the Opening Ceremonies, my friend Cheryl was killed in a car wreck, leaving our Oxford group stunned and numb. Those Olympics are mostly a blur now, though I remember spending hours at the house we called House 9 (our group’s headquarters till we graduated from college), watching swimming and diving and gymnastics without really seeing them, trying to take in what had happened. The joy of the Games was a stark contrast to the first real tragedy I’d ever had to deal with.

When J and I got married in June 2008, we inherited an old, bulky TV from my parents – an unwieldy number, nearly as deep as it was wide. We had neither a cable subscription nor a sufficiently wide stand, so we set it in the corner of our living room (classy, I know). Between finishing a master’s thesis (me), working on graduate school assignments (Jeremiah) and unpacking our new home and settling into life together (both of us), we watched Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin wow the world in Beijing, and watched Michael Phelps rack up more and more and more medals, and flash that smile of his after every race.

This Olympics began for us in D.C., where we toasted the London opening ceremonies with tea and scones at Jaclyn’s house. We’ve had the TV on every night (unusual for us), watching the stories unfold. We particularly love the swimming (Michael Phelps! Missy Franklin! The entire U.S. team in relays!), the gymnastics (Gabby Douglas and the whole women’s squad), and women’s beach volleyball (Kerri and Misty!).

The Olympics are the only sporting event which excites both of us equally (I’ve been yelling at the TV even more than Jeremiah). We make fun of the commentators’ hyperbole, we beg for more coverage of  non-U.S. athletes, we roll our eyes at the hundreds of commercials. But we can’t tear our eyes away. We love the thrill, the glory, the drama, the stories. And I love that the Olympics, winter and summer, are now bound up with the story of our life together.

What do you love and remember about the Summer Olympics? I’d love to hear your memories.

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