Maybe this isn’t very unusual.  Maybe you’re like this too.  I’m pretty good in a crisis.  When something major goes wrong, I’m usually able to keep things together.   All it takes is simply taking a deep breath and doing what needs to be done without panic.   “Okay, everyone stop screaming and let’s just look for the finger.”  But…

But when it comes to the little things, the small annoyances of life, I go off the deep end.  “Can anyone explain to me why it’s so frigging’ difficult to replace a roll of toilet paper?”  This question often leads to a ten minute, profanity-laced diatribe on common courtesy, laziness, and responsibility.

“Are you kidding?  Why does this one shoe keep coming untied!!!  Shit!”

“Motherfuckin’ housefly!  Land you son-of-a-bitch!”

“Where are my glasses?”

“Who’s been stealing all my socks?”

“Where’re those damn keys?”

“Who took the scissors?”

“Where’s the fuckin’ remote?”

“Could you park closer to the line asshole?“

“AH! Why do I keep dropping stuff today?”

“Stop chewing in my goddamn ear!”

“You’ve got to be shitting me!  Are all the radio stations playing Kool and the Gang at the same fucking time?”

For some reason, the more insignificant something is, the more aggravated it makes me.  I’ve even gotten overly annoyed because I was yawning too often.  “Son-of-a-bitch, stop yawning!!!!”   But why?  Why when the whole world seems to be crumbling can I keep my cool, but when my cell phone drops a call I want to take a sledgehammer to it?

Here’s my thought:

Is it the short amount of time in a test that drives you nuts, or the ticking of the clock?  The ticking is worse because it is a constant reminder that the time is short and getting shorter and that you may not finish before it runs out.  Likewise, the small annoyances, the little things that go wrong are constant reminders that none of this is in our control.  That at any given time something can go wrong.  At any moment an obstacle can come out of nowhere to block the way to your goal, whether that goal is to get something out of cabinet without banging your funny-bone on the door, or if that goal is to live to be 90.

Those little things are the ticking of the clock that reminds us we’re spinning very fast in a volatile universe full of destructive forces and giant rocks.  At any given moment that proverbial piano can fall on your head and end it all  (or more likely a distracted driver, a stray bullet, or a gas leak).  I’m walking to the mailbox and trip over my shoelace, dammit!  Just a little reminder that it also could’ve been an out of control bus.

Of course maybe the answer is simply that it’s human nature to hate interruptions, blockades, and divergences.  I have a goal, read this text.  Can’t do it without my glasses.  Now I have a new goal: find my glasses.  This diverts me from my first goal, which was to read the text.  Ugh!  It’s annoying just thinking about it.

Whatever the reason why, the real question I suppose is what to do about it?  My guess is, I don’t exercise enough, don’t sleep enough, and don’t manage my time well.  It seems that when I have an outlet for my frustrations such as exercise, and am well rested after a good night’s sleep, and I’m not rushing around trying to get a lot done in too short amount of time, not only do little setbacks not annoy me as much, but they actually seem to occur less often.  And so, in order to live a happier, profanity-free life, I am consciously making an effort to get to the gym, regulate my sleep time, and manage my time better.  (So if you catch me taking a nap, I’m not being lazy, I am actively trying to save my life from a falling piano.) Of course that doesn’t change overnight.  So what do I do in the meantime?

One sage advised, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It is all small stuff”.  Exactly, and that’s the problem.  Now where is that fuckin’ remote!

From a new Dad…

The most important adjustment young dads have to make is switching from a self-centric world to one in which every decision he makes from now on has to revolve around this little wide-eyed, helpless child who’s depending on Dad.  Us guys can be pretty selfish in our youth, and unlike our female counterparts, parenthood often catches us off-guard.  By that, I don’t mean the planning of it, but rather the responsibilities of it. Despite all our boundless love for this new little person, that adjustment can sometimes be a rough one and it can sometimes take a while.  For me, ‘a while’ meant years.  I took care of my responsibilities, I loved my boy immediately, but figuring out how to balance his needs with my own took some doing.  It becomes a balancing act between the best interest of this little bundle of love and the still-stirring dreams and aspirations of a young man in his twenties.

Now in my forties, I have a much better perspective and handle on this whole dad-business, but that was not the case at 29.  Getting older is daunting on that side of the hill.

One day, I took off to the shores of Geneva Lake to do some thinking in the sun and the water.  The following is the result of that.  It’s supposed to be a song, but I don’t know how to write music, and so I guess it’s a poem.

Long story short, I wrote this a long time ago for a little boy.  He’s not so little anymore, but the sentiments still apply.



All those dreams of stardom

and movies of my own

Have given way to blocks and clay

rubber balls and ice cream cones

I guess I’ll have to face it

My priorities have changed.

The dreams are alive, they’ll never die

they just simply rearranged


Now it’s candy bars and shooting stars

Hide and go seek

The ice cream man, a summer’s tan

and running in bare feet


My life’s gone by at lightning speed

The years they just flew

I’m fast approaching thirty

and my best bud is barely two

With distance from the spotlight

I’ve got a better view

Cause through his eyes and nightly lullabies

I see a world that’s bright and new


It’s full of candy bars and shooting stars

Hide and go seek

The ice cream man, a summer’s tan

and running in bare feet


Now I may not make the big time

I put that book up on the shelf

There’s more in life to think about

than just my foolish self

But there’s no need to worry

This story is not grim

‘Cause he’s got dreams he’ll share with me

And I’ll share mine with him


— Brian Schnoor

Geneva Lake, Wi.

August 2002

Oh Boy, Here We Go… But Why?

When I was about three years old, I was out for a ride in the car with my Mom and my Grandmother. We were heading to a restaurant to grab some lunch in our little yellow Volkswagen bug. There was something that caught my eye and I was curious as to what it was. It was a question that had actually been bugging me for some time, but I hadn’t yet asked about it. It seemed that every car that went by us had a pipe sticking out the back-end of it just beneath the bumper. “What is that thing and what is it for?” I thought.

My mother and grandmother were deep in conversation but I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. “Ma,” I said, “what is…”

“I’m talking,” she scolded, “don’t interrupt.”

I huffed in frustration and waited in silent anger as she parked the car along the curb of a busy avenue in front of the restaurant. My mom took my hand as we walked around the back of the car from the driver’s side toward the sidewalk. As I passed behind the car, I noticed, our car also had one of those things! This was my opportunity. If I didn’t ask now, I might never find out what that thing was.

“Ma,” I called above the roar of the traffic. She didn’t hear me. She and grandma kept talking as they walked.

“Ma! What is this?” I asked stopping just before the curb pointing at the curious thing on the back of our little VW.   Again, I got no response. Well my three-year-old temperament would have none of this. I had a question dammit and I would be heard!

“Ma!” This time I really yelled, yanking my hand from her grasp.

“What?” she snapped turning toward me.

“What is this?”

“What is what?”

“This!” In my anger, I stomped my foot, asserted myself, and grabbed hold of the thing. Sharp pains ran through my fingers and around my hand. OUCH!

Well, I got their attention. Lunch was cancelled as I sat at the table with my throbbing hand in a glass of ice water. My Dad, a Chicago police officer, was on duty at the time. My Mom was able to reach him somehow in the days before cell phones and we waited for him to come pick us up and take me to the emergency room where I was later bandaged and scolded for getting scalded.

I learned three lessons that day:

1). Exhaust pipes get extremely hot. Don’t touch them.   And especially don’t grab them like you would the handle of a baseball bat.

This is one of those lessons you only have to learn once. To this day, because of that incident, I assume anything on a car is hot until I know otherwise. It is a lesson that has served me well.

2). Losing your temper and asserting yourself are two different things. The first seldom helps your agenda.

This is one of those lessons that doesn’t stick the first time, nor does it stick the first hundred thousand times. I have to re-learn this lesson over and over. Hopefully one of these days it will stick.

3). Don’t ever try to interrupt a conversation between two women with an unrelated question. Chances are you’re going to either be ignored or get burned.

I tell this story to explain the title I’ve given my blog: Oh Brother Here We Go Again. But before I really get into that, I have one more short story to tell you.

My great-uncle LB had Down’s syndrome. Though he was much older than I, we were fast friends since I was a young boy.   I come from a large family. LB, my grandmother’s brother, was the second youngest of ten children. My dad is the oldest of five boys. It’s a big family.

Every year, the family gets together for a fishing tournament in Wisconsin. Most years the fish are safer than the bartenders. We do try though. We fish in some inhospitable weather. Snow, rain, sleet, nothing can stop us from standing around the river with a fishing pole in one hand and a beer in the other.

One particular year, LB decided the weather wasn’t up to his liking and stayed back at the house rather than freeze on the banks of the Wisconsin River with the rest of us. He was often much smarter than most gave him credit for. The house was warm, the fridge was full, and the river, as usual, was producing little in the way of walleye.

Meanwhile, one of my dad’s four brothers was enduring the weather in search of the elusive Wisconsin Walleye when a DNR officer out inspecting fishing licenses approached him. There is a hefty fine if you are caught fishing without a license.

My uncle reached in his pants pocket, then his other pants pocket, then his shirt pocket, then his wallet, no license. He knew he had purchased one, but he couldn’t find it. Convinced he’d left it back at the house, he charmed the DNR officer into accompanying him to the house to retrieve the license he swore he had purchased. “This kind of thing never happens. I always buy a license,” my uncle told the officer as they went into the house. “It’s got to be here somewhere.”

Having lived in the apartment below where my father and his brothers were raised, LB had seen his share of the craziness that’s bound to occur when five rambunctious boys are growing up in a two-bedroom apartment in a blue-collar Chicago neighborhood. I am certain, there was rarely a dull moment.

Well on this particular spring day in Wisconsin, LB was sitting in the front room watching TV when he saw my uncle enter with the uniformed officer. Now LB didn’t know if it was a police officer or a DNR officer, all he knew was it looked like trouble. His response: “Oh brother, here we go again.”

The DNR officer raised an eyebrow at my uncle and said, “this never happens, huh?”

Well, it turns out, my uncle had bought a license and it was in his shirt pocket the whole time, hidden among some other papers and things. But the story of “Oh brother, here we go again” is a favorite of his to this day.

I can’t think of a better summary statement about life than that: Oh brother, here we go again. Life is a cycle, it repeats itself. We go round and round and still we don’t change all that much from our first go ‘round to our last. Some lessons we learn right away, “Don’t touch the tailpipe”, others have to be learned over and over again.

At least that’s been the recurring theme of my life. So when I was searching for a title for my observational-life-examining-reflectional-blog, I came up with a few. I thought, “This is it! This is the one,” and I’d register the name and then a day and thirteen bucks later, I’d dismiss it. This happened several times until one day I sat at my computer eagerly about to register yet another .com domain when I thought to myself, “oh brother, here we go again.”

Well, that one stuck.

I don’t expect you to always agree with me, in fact, I’m doing something wrong if you do. What I do hope to accomplish here is to reflect on life thoughtfully while at the same time hopefully making you smile a little, making you think a little, and sharing with you those lessons I’ve learned and re-learned and forgotten over the years.

LB passed away in 2009. This blog is dedicated to him.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now if you’ll excuse me, one of the kids is screaming that she skinned her knee and she’s going to bleed to ‘deaf’.

Oh brother, here we go again.