POST 34 and Rhythm and Rhyme and Harmony…..

dobie…you’ve helped me along, makin’ me strong.

“Drift Away”, Dobie Gray, 1973

If you ask me, it is all about the rhythm. That doesn’t mean that I have a lot of it or that it comes naturally. A few years ago Barb and I took months of dance lessons from a very good dance instructor. I learned the mechanics well enough, right foot here, left foot there, give a little twirl. But when it came to Barb and I dancing the night away at Mike and Becca’s wedding, it took a drink or two before I felt the rhythm, making those steps feel natural.

Got to get the rhythm in sports too. I watched a few football games this weekend. Northwestern, trounced by Michigan, never had any rhythm at all. Every player seemed a step slow. In contrast,  the Bears played in sync on Sunday, even when trailing. They made some mistakes and had to fight hard to win the game, but they had a rhythmic flow about them, and even commented about it in post-game interviews.

In tennis, got to get that beat going. When I don’t have it, I  miss shot after shot, I am in the wrong place every time, I watch every  ground stroke whiz past me. But then, if it is one of the good days, the rhythm starts to flow. It starts with a song bouncing around in my head.  It might be a new song that I have just heard on the radio. Or maybe it is an old favorite from Bruce, or from Bono and the boys.  I start to hum along, and my game starts humming too. The play slows down for me. I feel like every incoming shot is guided to my racket, every lob I hit just kisses the edge of the base line. I gain  confidence at the net. My partner and I sync up, just like Torvill & Dean winning the gold. The feeling doesn’t last for long, and it doesn’t make up for my lack of skill, but it does remind me why I keep playing tennis.

Surprisingly, rhythm is part of writing too. Barb says she always recognizes anything that I have written, and I think that is because everyone writes with a rhythm as individual as a fingerprint.  It’s more than the word choices or the subject matter.  It’s the way the puzzle pieces fit together, different from how anyone else would have placed them. It is why a dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin or a song by Neil Diamond is so recognizable. When I write, I always try to be true to that rhythm in my head. Just as in tennis or dancing,  I don’t always hear or feel it easily. I have learned that it can take a lot of rewrites to say what I want to say in the way that I want to say it. Back in the pre-computer age when I was typing term papers on my manual typewriter, I would really grumble about those rewrites. Good thing I wasn’t trying to write blogs then too!

On the house front (didn’t think I would get to that, did you) we have gotten the go ahead from the Homeowners Association! A few changes required, some costly, some not, but nothing that will slow us down. Now it is the hands of the Village to get us permits before the first frost hits. Pick up the rhythm; pick up the pace.

A good week to all of you.

Oh give me the beat boy and free my soul..gotta get lost in your rock’n’roll

And drift away


POST 31 Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind…

…you pick up on spoonfulone and leave the other behind.

The Lovin’ Spoonful — 1965

No looking back now. We crossed our Rubicon last week when we signed the “build” contract. Now all efforts are on moving forward. It really is a life changing decision. Just having made it is a relief, which is not to say there won’t be any doubts along the way! But it made me thinking about decisions that I have made, either with or without Barb, through the years. And since lists are always fun, and since I don’t have to compete with David Letterman any more, here we go.

Top Ten Decisions

10. Pushing the button: This blog is fun to write and hopefully fun to read too. But there is a button at the bottom of the WordPress app that reads “Publish.” The decision to press that button is never made lightly. Every word is read and reread. Does this say what I mean? Is there a better way to get a point a cross? Is it “who” or “whom”?

9. Go Go White Sox:  I remember when I was 5  years old being asked by my dad if I was a Cubs or White Sox fan. I have absolutely no idea how I made the decision, but for some reason I squeaked out “White Sox.”  More than fifty years later I have been able to celebrate one more World Championship than I would have if I had decided the other way. Of course, the next few years may easily change the balance of those scales. Despite my loyalty to the Pale Hose, I was not able to convince Michael to follow in my footsteps, as Sammy Sosa enticed him into becoming a Cub fan. At least we share a love of the 5-0, 13th ranked  NU ‘Cats!

8. Evanston vs. Champaign: Speaking of Northwestern, my college choice is still something I wonder about. For financial reasons, I could either go to University of Illinois in Champaign, or go to Northwestern and live at home. Northwestern won out, and I value the education I got there, but I do have regrets that I did not experience campus life. Who knows, I might even have met Barb a few years earlier and we could be closing in on our 40th anniversary! (More on that choice coming up.)

7. What do you want to do with your life?: Lots of science courses, and a few role models here and there, made the decision to go into medicine pretty straight forward. Journalism lost out, as did computer science. I still wonder what Silicon Valley might have held for me.

6. Really? Really?: My turning to Pathology caught a lot of people by surprise. Weren’t pathologists nerdy people who couldn’t talk to people and were most happy cutting things up in the hospital basement? Well, um yeah! Sign me up! Actually, it has been a great decision, allowing me to practice medicine and have a wonderful family life. I have always had time to be with Barb, to enjoy time with the kids, and to treasure being a grandpa.  No regrets on this one.

5.  Can I start a lab?:  Hard to believe that it is more than 10 years since my career changed dramatically as I left hospital pathology to create a laboratory for UroPartners. Many factors influenced that decision, and a lot of sleepless nights (actually sleepless months) followed, but I am very proud of what we have here. Each step, from layout, to hiring, to getting up and running brought new challenges, but I have to say that we are looking good!

4. The Sandwich Generation: While we parent our children, we reach the point where we parent our parents as well. The decision to insist that my mother and her sister relocate to a senior living home was a distressful one for them, but it was necessary and provided each of them with several years in the appropriate environment. This was a big one, and one that I could never have accomplished without Barb’s help. She really dug in and got it done.

3. The middle school is losing its lease, something has to be done!: This one probably had more unforeseen consequences than any other. Twenty six years ago the grammar school district was creating an advisory committee — community members needed to help make a decision about building a new school. Volunteering for that committee led to a cascade of events culminating in 16 years on the Stevenson High School Board of Education, 6 years as Board President, the proud moments of winning numerous awards, and the even prouder moments of presenting both Laury and Michael with their diplomas. And wonderful connections with people who inspire me still, connections that developed well before the time of  LinkedIn.

2. Riveredance!!!  (oops, I mean Riverwoods!!!): Yes, this new home is a big decision. But I know it is a good one.

And the number one big decision: Ok, this is obvious. Asking Barb to marry me has been the best decision I ever made. Except,,,,I didn’t ask her, she asked me!  But I was the one who asked Barb out for our first date (polo and pizza) and got the ball rolling, so I will consider this my decision. For all our years, thanks, Babe.


Since we started with a Lovin’ Spoonful song I will end with my favorite.

Can you guess what it will be?  Click and find out.