Column: The itch that throws us off our rhythm

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Aug. 6, 2009

I’ve always found it amazing how little things can affect us.

For instance, I have a small patch of poison ivy on my right wrist. (I have no idea how this happened as I haven’t been in the woods once this summer. I suspect a few leaves broke into my home in the middle night, nestled up to my wrist, and then escaped out the window. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but never underestimate the wicked guile of poison ivy.)

It’s not like it’s all over my body. I’ve had that happen, and it’s much worse. And the small patch really itches only when I remember that it’s there and stare at in a futile attempt to suppress the itching by glaring at the problem area. If I just ignored it, I could easily continue to follow my daily routine with no changes.

But I can’t ignore it and, sure enough, it has changed my behavior.

So far, I’ve used the poison ivy as an excuse not to work out, to sleep in, to drink a second soda in a day, and even not to brush my teeth before going to bed. Yes, I actually convinced my mind that my wrist was too itchy to brush my teeth. I’m not sure of the logic either.

I think a lot of us are this way. (At least, I hope I’m not alone.)

Just one little thing that is not quite right – whether it be poison ivy, a small headache, or Britney Spears music playing in the background – can cause us to change our routine and be less productive than we normally are.

I was watching the Cubs on Wednesday night, and the announcers were talking about how Rich Harden was a “rhythm pitcher” – in other words, he needs to get into a groove to be most effective. And just one wrong thing – such as, say, throwing Reds player Scott Rolen a “please-knock-me-over-the-wall” fastball – can make everything fall apart, as evidenced by Harden exacerbating the home run by allowing another run with a throwing error later in the inning.

Most of us are “rhythm pitchers.” We need to get into our groove, and something that throws us out of that can lead to errors – or in my case – sleeping in and getting a bad start on my day and grossly not brushing my teeth before bed.

Soon, hopefully, the poison ivy on my wrist will fade away and I can get back into my groove – at least until the next thing pops up. But I can assure you it won’t be poison ivy. I’m asking for new locks.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. Write to him at or call him at 630-845-5368.

Editor’s notes:

• I must say, I’m excited to hear about Bien Trucha’s upcoming expansion. I’ve tried three times to eat at the downtown Geneva restaurant, only to be rebuffed by the lengthy wait each time. Two of those time, in fact, it already was booked through the night. Of course, my expectations now are so built up, I might be slightly disappointed if my water doesn’t turn into wine sometime during the course of the dinner, but it’s still well worth the risk. You can read more about the expansion in today’s Chronicle.

• The St. Charles Men’s Tournament returns Saturday after qualifying last weekend left the tournament with a field of 116 golfers ready to do battle in match play. I’ve always wanted to learn how to golf well (the last time I golfed, I hit a ball that went across four different holes – not the point of the game, it turns out). So this year for my birthday, my wife got me golf lessons. Will I be able to join tournaments anytime soon. Probably not. But if at the end of the lessons I can keep the golf ball on the same hole that I started on, I’ll be pretty happy with the gift.


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