Confused and disoriented, I blinked my eyes open. My mouth tasted terrible.

“Timmy! Time to get up!” my mom shouted again. 

I thought, What is she talking about? It’s Saturday, and there is nothing that I need to do today. I allowed my eyes to close again.

I heard footsteps approaching, and my bedroom door opened as my mom said, “You need to get going; you’re going to be late.”

“Late for what?” I asked.

“You’re taking the SATs today.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

Knowing it wasn’t an argument I would win, I dressed while mumbling obscenities. 

I wasn’t tired because I stayed up late getting one last study session in before my big test. I had been out participating in a popular rural Minnesotan teenager pastime of drinking Busch Lights next to a pallet fire in a field.

I had known that I was going to the University of Minnesota from a young age. Well, aside from that few-month period in 1993 when I announced that I would be carried off the Notre Dame football field after seeing Rudy for the first time.

I also knew I could be accepted into the University of Minnesota without an SAT score. 

Regardless, I drove to my high school to take the SAT. The rising sun made my eyeballs throb, my mouth was dry, and anxiety weighed heavy on my chest. 

When I took the ACT, we were in the high school gym to accommodate all students taking the exam since Midwest colleges require an ACT score. I was expecting the same for the SAT, so I felt relieved when I pulled into the high school parking lot with a handful of cars parked there. 

The test must not be today, I thought. 

My anxiety came slamming back as I walked to the door and saw a paper taped to the glass with “SAT ←” written on it.

“Dammit,” I said under my breath.

I made my way to the classroom.

I saw 25 familiar faces when I walked through the door to the classroom, and it is hard to say who was more shocked. 

I have never had that stereotypical dream of attending school naked, but that moment is all I need to relate.

Those 25 familiar faces belonged to the top 25 students in my graduating class. People that would eventually matriculate to schools like Duke, Notre Dame, and Yale. 

If there was a soundtrack to my life, this is the moment where the Sesame Street classic “One of These Things Is Not Like The Other” would be featured. 

I walked to an open desk with a (this is not a joke) empty backpack.

I knew it was empty when I took it out of the house. I knew it was empty when I parked. I brought it anyway. 

Fake it ’til you make it, right?

The proctor explained that we would start with the critical reading portion of the exam, take a break, and then complete the math portion. Then, they began to pass out the tests. 

Despite not wanting to be there, I focused and got to work. When we finished the critical reading section, I felt motivated. I fantasized about getting a good score as I gulped water from the fountain. I walked back into the classroom with a bounce in my step.

The proctor announced that we would begin the math portion of the exam and were permitted to have a calculator out. A chorus of zippers broke out as the other test takers took out their calculators.

Do you ever have those moments when you inexplicably believe you will be on the receiving end of magic only seen in movies? Unzipping my backpack, I felt my calculator would just materialize inside.

And guess what?

It didn’t.

My forehead began to sweat. My heart rate sped up. I looked around the room, hoping to find someone else in the same situation I had found myself in, as if somehow seeing someone else panic-stricken would improve my situation. 

I raised my hand and asked, “Can I have a calculator?”

The proctor informed me that I could not.

The student at the desk next to me put his extra calculator on my desk. The relief that flooded my body must be what heroin feels like.

However, the high was short-lived as the proctor informed me that I could not use another test taker’s calculator. 

Let’s be honest; a calculator would have made me feel better. However, I didn’t (and still don’t) have it in me to solve math problems like:

If (ax + 2)(bx + 7) = 15x2 + cx + 14 for all values of x, and a + b = 8, what are the two possible values for c?

I hope reading that problem gives you the same anxiety as it gives me. 

If it doesn’t, I am honored to have you as a reader, but you probably have more important things to do with your time. 

I can’t recall if there was a single question I answered confidently on the math portion of the test. It did occur to me that I would probably be better off just randomly filling in the bubbles on the answer sheet, but I didn’t. I read through the questions and used every mathematical brain cell to come up with correct answers. 

Those brain cells, much like most high school students in the country, had that Saturday off.

When the test was done. I didn’t think about the SATs again until my results came. 

And then they came.

700 – Critical Reading

200 – Math

That’s how you get a 900 on the SAT, folks. 

It will be no shock that I did not submit that score with my college application. I let my ACT score do the heavy lifting.

You may be wondering what score I got on my ACT.

The answer? Good enough. 



The Restroom Cottage

I go to extremes to avoid letting my wife know I have bowel movements.

First, I’m unsure I can explain how difficult it was to type that sentence out, knowing that I will eventually post it for tens of people to read. In my effort to conquer my self-conscious tendencies, it seems that sharing this story will be cathartic for me and entertaining for those who read it.

A classic win-win.

Here we go.

Before I tell you the story leading to my writing this, I must explain what I mean when I say that I go to extremes to avoid letting my wife know I poop. 

When we are home, and I need to use the bathroom, I will go to the bathroom where I believe my wife will have no reason to enter. No matter what I choose, she will come looking for me, stand outside the door, and say, “Tim?”

The panic that rises within me is illogical. I respond with a rushed, “I’m in the bathroom,” as I contemplate what I will do if the door knob starts to move.

I prefer this situation to when she is in a silly mood and jiggles the door knob unannounced. My panic maxes out when she does this, and I say, “Someone’s in here!”

I say this to my wife in my home. 

I don’t say, “I’m in here.” I say “someone” as though I could preserve some imaginary anonymity in my home with my wife.

I know couples that openly talk about what goes on in the bathroom. I know couples that use the bathroom while their partner is in the bathroom.

We will use the bathroom in front of each other for number one but for the other one?! I cannot think of many things I would rather do less. 

The story I am here to tell you occurred while we were on vacation for a wedding in Tennessee in April. 

Before we get to that, let me provide more context for how anxious this makes me.

If you think how I handle a normal bodily function in my home is ridiculous, let me tell you about being on vacation in a hotel room with one bathroom.

If my wife is asleep, I will lock the door, turn on the faucet, turn on the shower, and hope for the best. 

If awake, she will tell me I am ridiculous for wanting to retreat to the lobby to use the public restroom and force me to use the bathroom in our hotel room. Since she is a loving wife, she will throw in headphones (I wait until I am as confident as possible that noise is coming through them), or she will leave the room and walk down the hallway.

Stop judging me.

I know this behavior is absurd, but you must understand the absurdity to appreciate the dire situation I encountered when we went to the Gone With The Wind museum in Marietta, GA. 

When we traveled to Tennessee, we flew into Atlanta and drove to Chattanooga. Before traveling, we decided to stop in Marietta for lunch and check out the museum. 

I had to use the bathroom when we arrived at the museum. 

I was delighted to see a sign outside the museum that read, “Restroom Cottage.”

That sounds quaint and private, I thought. 

I told my wife I needed to go to the bathroom and told her I would meet her inside the museum. 

There was no one else around as I entered the bathroom. It appeared the restroom cottage might have just been opened for the season as the doors to both the men’s and women’s restrooms were propped open. They were not the most outstanding facilities I’ve used, but the privacy was all I really cared about. There were three stalls, and I chose the one with cleanest looking toilet seat. 

It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized I had made a rookie mistake. 

I reached for toilet paper. However, not only was there no toilet paper, there wasn’t even a toilet paper dispenser. I kept my cool. Since no one else was around, I would just do the waddle of shame (that’s what I call it when I need toilet paper that is not within arm’s reach). 

Time was of the essence as I made my way to the next stall—no toilet paper.

The last stall? No toilet paper. 

I looked to the sink and saw a tissue dispenser in between the two sinks. Empty. 

I looked to my final option, the paper towel dispenser. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. 

I waddled to the paper towels with my pants and underwear down around my mid-thigh, hence the waddle. It wasn’t until I grabbed the first paper towel and heard the creak of the main door to the Restroom Cottage that I remembered the entrance to the men’s room was propped open.

I turned to see my wife standing at the door wide-eyed, asking, “What is happening?”

I am not lying when I tell you I would have rather seen the face of any other person in the world. 

I stood, frozen with fear, looking like Porky Pig in front of the sinks.

“There isn’t any toilet paper,” I said.

“Do you want me to check the women’s bathroom?” she asked.

I quickly calculated that if toilet paper were in there, she would need to get closer to bring it to me—hard pass.

“I’ll just use paper towels,” I said. 

She told me I was ridiculous, but luckily there wasn’t toilet paper in the women’s restroom either. 

I came out to my wife laughing, and she laughed all the way to the museum entrance. 

My, err, shitty situation taught me a valuable lesson that day, and for that, I am thankful.


Why I dislike my kids, let me count the ways

There are so many things to dislike about being a parent of two little kids. A seemingly never ending list of ways that they mess your life, as a fully semi functioning adult, up. 

They don’t listen to a single thing you tell them. Unless there is something in it for them, of course. Otherwise, they will just go happily about their day like the pitch of your voice is at a frequency that their ears cannot hear. You are forced to repeat yourself until you are on the verge of a psychotic break. 

They leave messes everywhere. If my children have clean plates, that means that 80 percent of the food is on the floor. They will dump a bowl of goldfish crackers on the floor and walk on it. They don’t even slow down or wonder what they may have just stepped on.

If they want to play with a single specific toy, they will upturn every bin in the house filled with toys like the FBI serving a search warrant. Half way through, they’ll forget what they’re doing and just exit the room. 

The two previously mentioned scenarios separate parents into two groups: 

  1. The normal people who ignore the mess until A. They have invited someone over and they need to panic clean right up until the moment their company walks through the door, or B. One (or both ) of the parents gets fed up with the level of mess.1
  2. The psychotic people that just always keep a clean house. Don’t get me wrong, I respect you. However, I don’t trust you. 

Once you’ve gotten through all of that fun, then it’s time for bed. Someone reading this, maybe even you, just thought, you just have to have a routine.

Well, we do have a routine. “Five more minutes of show” is repeated 4 times. “Time for bed” is repeated 3 times. My daughter throws a fit and cries because she wants mommy to take her upstairs or she wants to be first up the stairs. “Brush your teeth” is repeated 5-10 times. And after about an hour and half the kids are asleep… and usually my wife as well. I stay up way too late and fall asleep on the couch halfway through shows or movies. It’s routinely chaotic.

Around 2:00 AM, there are two little bodies sleeping in different directions. I have been slapped in the face, kicked in the crotch (one time 5 days after a vasectomy), my face has been sneezed on, and my mouth has been coughed into. 

They are the absolute worst.

Last night, after putting the kids to bed, my wife and I were up together on the couch and I didn’t know what to do. I realized that we hadn’t been up together with our kids in bed in over a month. 

There is one thing that they do, that I truly hate. It’s something that will drive me to tears, literally. I am typing this through tears right now. This is the one thing that I can never forgive them for.

They grow up. 

Every time they do something to make me frustrated, every spill, accident, mess, bad bedtime. When the dust settles, I remind myself that it is one step closer to the last time. 

As my kids get more independent with each day that passes, I am reminded that soon there won’t be anyone for me to eat their dinner or not jump on the couch. Soon the only messes in the house will be my own. Every bedtime story I read is one step closer to the last one. And that eventually, I’ll stop hearing little feet walking into the bedroom to get into bed. I won’t get to laugh with my wife in the middle of the night when a dream makes my son laugh hysterically in his sleep. 

If you’re a parent with younger kids in the middle of it. I feel you. It’s not easy. It can really suck sometimes. 

It’s important to embrace the suck. Try to enjoy every little moment because those moments are ephemeral. 

I love my fucking kids.



1My wife keeps an immaculate household always (despite me) this was an example drawn purely from my imagination. She is also an exceptional mother and she is beautiful.

My Vasectomy

“You haven’t taken that yet?” the nurse side with moon-sized eyes staring at me above her mask.

“No,” I said.

“You were supposed to take that an hour ago… How is your anxiety?” she asked.

“Well, pretty bad now,” I said.

If you have read the stories here, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I made this stuff up. I’m not sure if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or just plain bad luck, but things like this happen to me despite my best efforts. 

In March 2020, I scheduled my vasectomy consult that ultimately got canceled because of Covid. After a couple of years of procrastination, I booked an appointment this past April. 

The consultation went fine. Though, no matter what the situation, a nurse should never squeeze half a bottle of lubricant on a towel and walk out without mentioning what they might use it for. 

The lubricant was never used, or mentioned, by the doctor. I guess I’ll never know. 

I scheduled the actual procedure for Monday, May 23rd. 

My wife and I spent the weekend leading up to the 23rd in Chicago, celebrating our friends’ recent engagement. On a normal travel day at the end of a vacation of any length, my anxiety is through the roof. There was no anxiety this Sunday. Our flight didn’t leave until 3 pm, so we went to brunch before we made our way to the airport. 

As we walked through Old Town, I noticed I had no anxiety or sense of dread. Also, noticing the absence of these feelings didn’t bring them to the surface. We sat down at brunch and I treated myself to a couple of mimosas. 

There’s no reason to stress. This is great. This must be how normal people are.

There was a lull during the conversation. My wife, the love of my life. The person who knows me better than anyone else on this planet. My rock. Decided she needed to break the lull.

“You have surgery tomorrow,” she said. 

And just like that, my stress-free Sunday crumbled before my eyes. 

I attempted to push the anxiety down where I keep my emotions, self-loathing, and dark thoughts, but apparently, the tank was full. 

I have to shave. I have to take medication. When am I supposed to take it again? What time is the appointment? Was it 11 or 11:15? Is it at the same office where I had the consultation? What time will we have to leave? What needs to be done at work before I go? What if something goes wrong? I know I am going to be a part of the 1% to 2% that ends up with chronic pain, I thought.

Yes, a real lightning round of panic-filled thoughts hit. Nothing new for me, and it was a treat to have an entire Sunday morning without intrusive thoughts. 

The next morning, I read the instructions on the two bottles of medication that had been prescribed to me. One was an antibiotic, and the other was diazepam. 

Diazepam is an anxiolytic. This pill was critical to me for obvious reasons. 

The problem was, that I had no clue when I was supposed to take this pill. Making me anxious. Take your 10,000 spoons and shove them, Alanis Morissette. 

My wife, noticing my tell-tale signs of anxiety, told me to go shower while she called the clinic to find out when I needed to take the pill. 

When I got out of the shower, my wife informed me we were to bring the pill with us and await instruction on when to take it. 

We walked into the office (30 minutes early) and I checked in at the front desk.

Before taking a seat in the waiting room, I asked, “I have this pill. Should I take that now?”

She looked at the bottle and said, “Yes, you can take that now.”

“What is it?” asked the other nurse at the front desk.

“Diazepam,” said nurse number one.

“No, don’t take that now. They’ll tell you when to take it when you get into the operating room,” said nurse number two.

I stood flashing my eyes back and forth at the two of them, waiting for them to agree.

“Sorry,” said nurse number one, “they will tell you when to take it when you get back there.”

I sat down, hands shaking, wishing I could take the pill immediately. 

After half an hour of listening to Maury on the TV in the waiting room, I was called back. 

I followed the nurse to the operating room and took a seat. She informed me that the doctor would be in shortly and that she was going to get things prepped for the surgery.

“I have this pill. Should I take it now?” I asked.

She spun around and with wide eyes said, “you haven’t taken that yet? You were supposed to take that an hour ago.”

“Well, I called before coming and asked the nurses out front. No one informed me of that.”

“It takes a while for it to take effect. How is your anxiety?” she asked.

“Well, pretty bad now,” I said. 

“What would you like to do?” she asked.

“Uh, I’ve never done this before… so I guess I’d like to talk to the doctor and see what he thinks,” I said.

She left the room, got the doctor, and sent him in. He informed me I could take it right now and it would kick in once by the time the surgery got going. 

The pill was in my stomach before he stopped talking. 

He told me I could get undressed from the waist down, hop onto the bed, and cover myself with the sheet. 

I laid there like Porky Pig, willing the diazepam to take effect. 

When the doctor came back in, he gave me a quick synopsis of how the procedure would go and then asked, “did you prepare the area or do we need to shave you?”

“I prepared the area and I think I did a pretty good job,” I said.

The doctor turned on the surgical light and as he ripped the sheet apart, making my genitals center stage, he said, “well, let’s see. Oh, yeah, you did a good job.”

“Thank you,” I said because I don’t know what to say when someone says you did a good job shaving your scrotum.

“This is awkward,” he said as he was feeling around.

“What is?” I asked as my panic took away any effect the diazepam was having.

“I think I found one of your wife’s hairs,” he said.

“I don’t think so… I have long hair. It’s probably one of mine,” I said.

“Oh… well, that’s less awkward,” he said.

As he prepared the surgical instruments, we made a little small talk. Which led to me describing half of the city of Chicago in great detail while he listened patiently.

When I finished he said, “yeah, I did my undergrad at Loyola.”

I thought You could have stopped me, then said, “oh, so you’ve been everywhere I described.”

“Yep, let’s get started,” he said.

He told me I would feel a pinch and burn as he numbed me up. After waiting a minute, he said that everything should be ready, but that I should let him know if I feel anything. 

“I can feel some things… but it’s more like tugging,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s normal. I’ll get started,” he said.

I winced in preparation but felt nothing. I relaxed, assuring myself that the worst was over.

Then, as he cut the vas deferens attached to my left testicle, a lightning bolt of pain shot up into my stomach. I gasped and flinched. 

“I’m sorry,” I said to the man that just caused me pain, “but I felt all of that.”

“I guess we need to numb you up a bit more,” he said.

No. Fucking. Shit, I thought. 

The rest of the procedure went well, and I even took this picture:

And sent it to my wife as he cut the vas deferens attached to my right testicle. 

It was a big moment, and I wanted something to remember it by.

Please don’t misunderstand the message here. I don’t blame the doctor or the nurses for any of the events. 

This is exactly how things go in my life. My stories would be pretty boring if they didn’t, and for that, I am thankful. 

The good news for you, dear reader, is that I am not out of the woods yet. In 9 weeks, I need to schedule an appointment to bring in a semen sample for testing to ensure that I am sterile.

What could go wrong with that?


My Good Old Day

If you’re looking for a more conventional April Fools Day story, you can find that here. What follows is a different story that will still give you an opportunity to laugh at me if you are into that kind of thing.

There is a quote from the last episode of The Office delivered by Ed Helms as Andy Bernard that is so touching and relatable.

“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

We all know that the time we have is finite and yet we are so often unable to appreciate how impactful events will be on us for the rest of our lives. Days with friends before responsibilities. Time holding your sleeping newborn. 

So often, it isn’t until those moments aren’t available to us that we stop and recognize how great they were.

Sometimes, however, there are moments that pang in your chest just so. That pang rings up in our brains and we know that we need to take in all that is happening. We allow ourselves to be truly present as we are struck with clairvoyance that in years to come we will want to remember what is taking place. 

Today is the five-year anniversary of such an event that happened to me. 

I struggle with being present. I am usually wrapped in worry about what just happened or what might happen next.

April 1, 2017, was a perfect spring day. No, I am not romanticizing the weather because it was a special day for me. It was sunny, in the mid-60s, light breeze. It’s what I refer to as “Tim Weather”. 

My wife was away for a bachelorette party, doing God knows what, while I stayed home with my 12-month-old son. 

Leading up to the weekend, people asked, “who is coming to help you while she’s gone?” As though I would not be capable of keeping my son alive on my own for 48 hours. 

I mean, I get it now. At the time I thought, why does everyone keep asking that?!

I was so excited about the weekend. I knew the weather was going to be amazing so I planned an outing for the two of us. 

I settled on going to one of my favorite places, the University of Minnesota. 

We started in the mall. I took him out of his stroller and let him run around. Since it was Saturday, the mall was quiet with just a few students sitting on the grass studying. Reminded me of when I didn’t do that on Saturdays in college. 

We walked up to Northrop Auditorium and there happened to be a sorority taking their annual picture on the steps. I let Jude wander up to them. He would wave, back then, by raising his hand straight into the air and then opening and closing his fingers. He said, “Haaaaaaaiiii!” And the girls lost their collective minds. 

To this day, Jude makes fast friends with everyone he comes across.

We ate some Cheerios and I put him in the stroller for a little tour of campus. 

It’s so much fun to push a baby in a stroller and talk to them as though they understand a damn thing you are saying. 

We circled back to Coffman for another round of Cheerios. Jude greeted every new passerby with a wave. We rolled around in the grass until it was time for a nap. 

Throughout our time on campus, I knew I was living an unforgettable day. I knew it would be a day that would randomly pop into my head for years to come and it has. 

There is a movie, About Time, that I adore. I used to call it a guilty pleasure movie, but somewhere along the way, I have decided that it is an awesome movie.

That night, after I put Jude to bed, I turned the movie on and decided to have a beer. And another. And another. By the end of the movie, well I was a little drunk. 

The very basic premise of the movie is that the lead character discovers he (and all of the men in his family) can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life.


In one of the final scenes, Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, takes his last trip back in time to see his dad before his baby is born. They both know that this is the last time that they will see each other. His dad, played by Bill Nighy, has one last request, it is to go back in time together to a day they spent on the beach together when Gleeson’s character was a boy. 

I realized that if given the opportunity, that day would be the day I would go back to with Jude. 

Still is.

This realization paired with the beer caused me to cry.

Check that sob.

No. It caused me to heave cry audibly for about 15 minutes. Because drinking beer and crying are the things I am best at and I was all out of beer.

April 1, 2017, is one of the best days of my life and I am grateful that I was able to recognize that it was a good old day before I left it.