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Let's Panic: The Book!

Order your copy today!

How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

Home - Middle Row

Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

Lets-Panic.com → 

Sunday
Oct262014

Charlie the Dog, 1998(?)-2014 

Charlie died on October 10th.

As you know if you’ve ever read this site or looked at a single word I’ve written on social media, Charlie was our beloved dog, the greatest pet who ever walked this earth, blessed with the softest of ears and the most agreeable of dispositions. He was nothing but a joy to live with since we picked him up on a street corner 15 years ago. We had answered a Petfinder ad, knowing nothing about him other than that he had been neglected by his previous owners, and that he was a “sweet dog with soft ears who needs a chance.” (That’s quoted directly from his ad.)

Charlie’s health had been going downhill for the past year or so. He had arthritis in his back legs and a heart murmur. He was totally deaf and almost completely blind. His kidneys were failing, his weight was plummeting. It seemed like we were constantly either walking him or trying to get him to eat. Normally he weighed around 25 pounds, but last month he was down to 14. It looked painful. Well-meaning neighbors and passersby expressed amazement in his continued existence. Once a stranger stopped to hug me; not because I looked sad, but because the dog did. Plus he didn't seem to know where he was, most of the time. 

So that’s how he was, and he was ready to go, and we thought we were ready to say goodbye, but then of course you’re never ready, not really. We miss him so much. 

I wish I could find more things to say about him. He was the best dog. We are so lucky.

 

 

Friday
Sep052014

Let's go

After Michael Brown was murdered, I started reading. I heard the voices of my friends, rising up in rage. I read voices that were new to me and thought, that’s what needs to get read. This particular white lady should shut up and listen. But I also felt that silence implied an implicit acceptance of the terrible crimes committed—against Michael Brown, against Eric Garner, against Trayvon Martin, against Renisha McBride. And on, and on. This is unacceptable. 

 

Henry is almost twelve. (Time marches inexorably and mercilessly forward; our amazement in the face of this reality grows exponentially with each passing day). He is learning to navigate this world without my company. He walks around the neighborhood by himself. He runs errands for me; he visits friends; he accompanies said friends to buy ice cream or run around the park. Once they are out there, set free, I am sure they occasionally make too much noise. Out on the sidewalk, crossing a street, I can see at least one prim-faced adult shaking their head at the rowdiness of today’s youth. 

As he outgrows his little-boyness and stretches toward the light, I worry about him getting into trouble. But “trouble,” for me, means, oh, that he might get arrested. His inherent goodness might be impugned. We might have to go to family court; he might be traumatized. These are the consequences that actually concern me, if I bother to consider them in any real way. 

I never worry that a police officer is going to assume he’s a thug and shoot him. 

He’s a good kid. I know he is. But no one else has any reason to know that. They assume it and they will continue to assume it, because he is white. He enjoys the absurd privilege of being, by default, a good kid until proven otherwise. 

If he were black, it would be the reverse. And I would be scared as hell. 

Back when Henry was a baby, there was a rash of violent muggings in our neighborhood. Beat cops were assigned to practically every corner. We lived in a co-op at the time, and at one of our meetings, we were discussing the weird police state in which we now lived. One of us concluded that although it was unnerving having so many cops around, at least we were safer. 

One of our neighbors, a black woman, set us straight. It wasn’t safer for her; it was terrifying. Her two teenage sons, who couldn’t have been more than 13 and 15, were stopped every day. They were harassed if they sat on the stoop with their friends. 

She would have been well within our rights to call us out on our utter cluelessness, but instead she only asked us to help, if we saw the cops giving either of her boys a hard time. She asked us to confirm that they lived in the neighborhood. That they belonged. 

Never mind that they were good kids, who went to good schools. That doesn’t matter. They could have been drinking, they could have been troublemakers, they could have been teenagers acting like dopey teenagers. They were supposed to have that right. Instead, they were being treated like criminals solely because they were black. They were children, they were innocent, and they were afraid to step outside. 

We enthusiastically agreed, back then, to provide whatever help was needed, but I remember wanting to do more than play the role of white saviors. Didn’t our stepping in also imply tacit acceptance of the system? I didn’t know what to do. Riot, maybe. Take to the streets. March until our feet bled. 

Then, you know, the muggings stopped, the police presence diminished, and our lives went on. I stopped worrying over the inherent racism in the system designed to protect us. This was also a privilege that I enjoyed. 

But of course it never stopped. It’s still going on, all around us, everywhere. And it is an obscenity. That’s the only word I can come up with. That parents live in fear for their children is an obscenity. That there is even a discussion over whether Mike Brown’s homicide was justified is an obscenity. 

Innocent people are assaulted and murdered because of their skin color. This is something beyond an obscenity. I don’t have words for it. I don’t know how to make it stop. But I’m ready to fight. I'm ready to find out where we go from here, because we can't stay here. 

Monday
Jun092014

Sponsored post: summer reading

This post is sponsored by Scribd

I'm not a huge fan of summer, but I love summer reading. I grew up right next to the beach, which is a strange and hostile land when you’re as pale and unlikely to become a lifeguard as I am. I don't know how I went outside before serious SPF was invented, and even when science allowed me to venture out without bursting into flames, I preferred reading to camp activities like "archery" or "coming up with dirty alternate lyrics to 'My Sharona.'" On weekends, my bikini’d peers would cavort in the Long Island Sound, flirting with boys and ingesting pesticide runoff (probably), while I sought shelter under a beach umbrella with a Coke slushie and my new boyfriend, Stephen King.

Even now, when beach vacations are limited to the occasional Saturday afternoon trip to Coney Island, and I have no assigned reading the rest of the year so it’s not like summer affords me any special luxuries, the idea of Summer Reading still makes my heart skip. I’m easily excited. 

So when Scribd asked me what I might want to read this summer, I was like SIGN ME UP and they were all GREAT and then I told them about the pesticide runoff! And the heavy metals! I’m so much fun to take to the beach. No one at Scribd has invited me yet but I bet they’re going to.  

 

Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt 

Because nothing says summer like starving in Limerick. I’ve meant to read this for forever. It’s one of those books that too many people told me I should read. There’s a number of recommendations beyond which I get contrary and refuse to read something because you can’t tell me what to do, man. I’m a lone wolf. Anyway I’m reading it this summer. I don’t even care what you say about it, man. 

Postmortem, by Patricia Cornwell 

I’ve never read Patricia Cornwell, and summer feels like an appropriate time to begin. This one has gruesome murders perpetrated by a brilliant serial killer. So if you see me at the beach looking especially pale, blame this book. (Although it will probably be because I’m coated in zinc oxide.) 

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester 

Another book that I have been meaning to read for forever. I think that subtitle says it all, don’t you? God, I miss dictionaries. I used to read dictionaries for fun. I’m beginning to see why no one invited me to parties. 

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, by Vendela Vida 

This hugely acclaimed novel has the main character travel to Lapland. There's a hotel made of ice. I'll be reading this in mid-August, when my apartment is on fire. 

 

Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory, by Stacy Horn

It is a scientific fact that in summer, you require one or more chills to run up your spine. It's a medical thing. Anyway: ghosts. I can't read about them any other time. I am too easily spooked, even when the topic is a parapsychology laboratory, where ostensibly everyone is professional and not hiding under their lab desks, clutching their beakers. Anyway, everyone knows ghosts can't get you in summer. (That's also a medical thing.) 

If you want to pick out your summer reading, sign up for Scribd and use the promotional code finslippy0614. Here’s a link to get you started. You'll get three months of unlimited books for free. Then let me know what you're reading, because I'm still adding titles to my library. 

 

 

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Tuesday
Jun032014

Help for the hopeless (mouth) 

 

For most of my life, my mouth has been a train wreck. When I go to a dentist for the first time, they say things like, “I see we have quite a history!” and “Look at all this!”  For years, I would brush and floss diligently, only to somehow end up with more cavities than I have teeth. Especially after I had Henry. Pregnancy hormones, man. Also: caramels.

Even before The Child, however, every cleaning was a gore-fest; every x-ray ended in the dentist tallying all the cavities to his assistant while I wept into my blood-soaked bib. Not surprisingly, these ordeals resulted in me not wanting to go to the dentist anymore. Did you know that if you don’t go to the dentist, your teeth will not magically remain okay? And then when you go back they can’t even believe how messed up your mouth is, or that you’re still alive or able to eat anything chewier than pudding?  

About three years ago I started the ol’ Paleo diet. I really liked it. I still like it. I would call myself, right now, Paleo-ish: mostly Paleo, with the occasional off-roading because life's too short not to eat cheese. The only thing I really, really avoid is wheat. I won’t claim real intolerance, but if I have wheat I feel bad. (It's easy to avoid something when you get bloated and depressed afterward.) Since the Paleo-ish eating, my checkups have become startlingly less terrible. The cleanings were still pretty dramatic, but I had zero cavities.  I think it’s safe to assume that wheat (or, more precisely, the wheaty treats—brownies/cookies/cakes/crackers) is problematic for me. 

The real change, however, started about eight months ago,with this new regimen.  It was created by Dr. Ellie Phillips, DDS, and it goes a little something like this: 

1. Rinse with CloSYS. (I had never heard of this before, but it’s available online; I've also found it at CVS.) 

2. Brush. 

3. Rinse with Listerine. 

4. Rinse with Act Fluoride Rinse. 

And that's it. 

(If you’re looking for reasoning and/or details, I strongly recommend looking at her site. There’s good information in there. Go on. There are details, like only using regular Crest paste and replacing your toothbrush frequently. Dr. Phillips is also an enthusiastic advocate of supplementing with xylitol, which is a thing I keep forgetting to do. I am not a perfect disciple.)  

You’ll notice there’s no flossing in there. I still sort of floss, but that’s because most of my mouth is made up of crowns and play-dough, and I feel weird if I don’t. If I’m in a rush, however, I do the rinsing and skip the flossing. 

ANYWAY I went for a checkup about a month into this new routine, climbed into the dentist chair, braced myself for an hour of gore and mayhem, and experienced…not much. A little bleeding, a sensitive area here and there, but I never even once prayed to God and all the saints in heaven. This was a strange and new world. 

Then the hygienist said something. Her mouth opened, and she said, “You’re doing a good job.” 

You’re. Doing. A. Good. Job. 

I have never heard anyone in a dentist’s office say this to me. Never. And I was. I was ever so good. I was flossing like a pro and brushing for two straight minutes twice a day with my soft-bristled brush. I followed the rules. And still the hygienist would lecture me after each torture session about the importance of flossing. She would make me hold a mirror in front of my face while she demonstrated proper flossing technique on me and I’d try to say, “I know! I floss like that!” But my mouth was full of her hands! 

Not only was I told that I was “doing a good job,” (I might have asked her to repeat it, a few times) there were (again!) no cavities. I was so excited leaving the dentist’s office that I almost ran home to write this blog post ordering everyone to do what I’m doing. But I thought I should wait. I had only been using the rinses for a month or so. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe I was drunk. You just never know with me. 

Fast forward to today, the day of my next checkup.  I am here to tell you that this cleaning was … I don't even...there are no words. It was painless. I’ve had haircuts that felt worse. It felt like someone was just...brushing and flossing for me. How nice of them! While I have my hands free, for knitting! There was no bleeding, no sensitivity. I didn’t pray. I didn’t sweat. I didn't cry/laugh. The hygienist said everything was “perfect.”  I might have teared up. My dentist told me that I've halted my gum recession. Once again there were no cavities, and then he and the nurse held me in their arms and declared me their favorite patient ever. Then they made all the other patients come in to admire me. It took a while.  

I'm not being compensated for this post. I just can’t keep this to myself. Again, I think the reduction in sugar intake was a huge help. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to hear that part. (Did you just slam your laptop down and run to your bundt cake for comfort? I get it. Bundt cakes are delicious.) But the rinses were definitely instrumental in making my cleanings less...instrumental. Will they help you? I have no idea, but I don't see why not, and I don’t think it can hurt.