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Let's Panic: The Book!

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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

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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. → 


Better, faster, stronger. And so forth.

When I was six years old, my grandfather died of the hiccups. Actually it was an aortic aneurysm, and the hiccups were either caused by the aneurysm or caused it to burst—I’m not sure. All I remember is, I was six, and my grandpa had just died, and I was not supposed to hiccup around my father.

When I was 10 or so, I had a conversation with my dad in which he casually mentioned that he would almost certainly not live past 70, because his dad didn’t and most of the men in his family seemed to succumb to something or other at around that age. The women of his line all lived until 100, even while their spines crumbled and their brains turned to custard, but the men (who were probably like my dad—amiable, didn’t want to be a bother to anyone) up and died at relatively early ages. At the time of this conversation, I was none too pleased at this news, but at the same time I thought, well, 70 is exceedingly old, after all, and by then it will be The Future, and we’ll all be living on the moon. And then I wandered off to play with my Atari 2600 or whatever the hell I was doing at 10.

Flash forward to the wonders of the 21st century: my dad is rounding the corner to 70, and while he’s known about his aneurysm for a while, apparently it has become too big and impressive to ignore. Luckily for us, surgeons now have sophisticated techniques to remedy such problems. (When my grandfather succumbed, way back in the seventies, all they could do was apply a poultice, shake a rain stick at him, and hope for the best.) Surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now. There will be some sort of graft, and I’m pretty sure there will be lasers! Okay, maybe not, but I can hope! At any rate, at the end my dad will have a Super Bionic Heart, and everything will be okay! Better than okay! Yes!

Because technology is on our side. Do you hear that, old man? As for this whole not-living-past-70 thing, well, I hope you’re over that, because the Future is Here and your grandson is 2 and a half and if he doesn’t get to remember you just like I can’t remember my grandfather, I WILL BE SO MAD AT YOU.




Why I should probably be back in therapy.

I have a complicated relationship with supermarket cashiers. They’re serving me, and yet at the same time they have all the power—tallying my purchases, weighing and considering each item, silently judging me. I’m always a little mortified (I can hear them thinking, she pays that much extra for organic? chump) and yet also grateful because hey, they're letting me take this food home! I mean, I have to pay for it, but still. Mostly, though, I really want them to be nice to me. I’m not asking for much. A smile here, a “have a nice day” there. Sometimes the exchange with the cashier is the only adult interaction I’ll have all day. I want a little validation that I exist. Is that too much to ask?

At any rate, there’s a new cashier at the Met Food across the street, and this woman is One Cranky-Ass Bitch. She’s a middle-aged woman with badly dyed red hair and a thick Russian accent. She scowls at every item that rolls towards her, and then regards me with an icy stare and spits, “Give me $35.17,” like she’s mugging me. And oh, when I tell her I’m going to use my debit card! The sighing and the rolling of the eyes! “Cash back?” she growls, and then looks at me like god help you if you say yes. If she could get away with balling up the receipt and hucking it at my face, she would. She is not a nice person.

So of course I’ve been trying to make her my friend. I head straight for her cash register and I put each item down right where she can pick it up—no making that conveyor belt roll, my friend! That’s too much work for you! Then when she accosts me with the total I always beam at her and say, “Okay!” and I count out my money—exact change for you, neighbor! You’ve had a hard day! And then she shoves my receipt at me and my bag and I tell her to have a nice day and she hates me more than ever.

I went in on Saturday to buy a bag of potting soil. I had a hard time negotiating the bag, as it was big and heavy and I am small and puny. I plopped it down at her register and said, “Whoa!” because I’m a dork. She glanced at me to sneer, but then something changed in her expression—and she smiled at me. She. Smiled. At me.

Finally, I thought. I’ve broken through. She could only resist my charms for so long.

Of course I smiled like a crazy person back at her, and I handed her my money and she gave me my change and I shrieked “Thank you! Nice day, isn’t it! Hope you get outside! Bye! See you later!” at her. She looked right at me and she smiled again. I was in heaven.

When I walked in the door I was about to tell my husband about my breakthrough when he said, “Did you know that you’ve got something on your face? You’ve got a big black smudge under your nose.”

So. It wasn’t my charms, but my dirt mustache. Cranky-Ass Bitch was laughing at me. She was thinking, “The American whore looks like Hitler. And my heart is glad.”

I'm sort of considering doing it again, just to amuse her.



The other night Scott and I were knitting or polishing our muskets or whatever it is we do after Henry’s gone to bed when we heard a sound coming from his room. It sounded like there was an animal in there. Like the animal was dying loudly and painfully. That animal is going to wake up Henry, I thought; that animal should keep his suffering to his own self. “Is Henry moving the furniture?” asked Scott. Then I realized what it was: CROUP! The dreaded CROUP!

“Turn on the shower!” I shrieked as I ran to save my toddler. “Yes!” replied Scott as he ran to the bathroom. “Orp! Orp orp!” barked Henry, who was standing up in his crib and waving his arms at me. “Orp!”

Next thing I knew, the three of us were crammed in the steamy bathroom, our hairs becoming frizzy, our clothing damp. The child was none too happy. One minute he’s sleeping peacefully, and the next he can’t breathe and he’s forced to take a shvitz with these crazy people. “What do we do now!” Scott asked. “Um!” I replied. “Get thee into a steamy bathroom” was the only directive I recalled about what to do with CROUP! I had rather thought the minute we steamed him up, Henry would calm down and commence to breathing. Instead he continued his barky tirade while we tried to sing him songs (he wasn’t having it) or tell him stories (he now saw that our stories lacked a compelling narrative thrust).

Finally we found some books he would tolerate and we read as we watched the paint mildew and the towels become sodden. And lo, the child did breathe. And there was much delight. Actually there was much fatigue, and the child awakened every couple of hours to let us know that he was still pretty miserable. At one point he woke up and attempted to comfort himself back to sleep by singing—and I wish I was making this up—“You are My Sunshine.” There is nothing more pathetic than a toddler with laryngitis croaking, “Please don’t take my sunshine a-waaay.” All we needed was a shot of a deflated ball wobbling across an empty playground, and we would have an excellent public-service ad for, well, something or other. Do I have to think of everything?

Also, did you know that if you leave an inch of water in the humidifier and then pack it away in the closet, things will grow in there? Did you know this is an exceedingly stupid thing to do? While I was in the bathroom reading Cars and Trucks and Cars on top of Trucks to Henry, my husband was in the kitchen, scrubbing the humidifier with bleach and vinegar and cursing. I tried to think of someone to blame for this stupid move, but probably it was me.

Last night there was more CROUP! And oh, was Henry weary of the steamy-bathroom routine. He was not enjoying the fun-adventureness of it. The change-of-routine appeal was entirely lost on him. He just wanted to bark in peace in the comfort of his bed.

Right now the child is at the doctor with his father, while I am hard at work. And as soon as I finish this and make myself more tea and then after I check my email a few times, I am so going to start working, I swear it. My deadlines are demanding that I work more than blog for the next couple of weeks, so if posting is light(er), I beg your forgiveness in advance.

In conclusion: CROUP!




Henry has recently discovered that nothing is funnier than the nonsense words. And using them constantly, to the exclusion of any other words that might render communication easy or even possible, is the absolute pinnacle of hilarity. In a matter of weeks this child’s every sentence, especially when he’s feeling jovial, is a barrage of whimsical coinages. Wackiest of all is, of course, any neologism that has POOP in it or rhymes with POOP or, hell, just is POOP—okay, so it’s not a new word, but it’s POOP, people! It’s comedy gold!

So: Hey, Henry, what do you want for lunch? “Poop shloopy! Poopy shloopers! I want BLOOT SMOOT with POOP!” Very good. Want to go to the park? “No, I will BOOFA to the POOF. I want to SPOOF to the LOOFA. And MEPAP. Luffa spuffa. Borf!” And oh, how we laugh. Truly, he is a gifted comedian.

Although this can get old real fast, it can also come in handy, like when we went to the doctor again today because the rash went away but then it came back and I’m trying not to think about bedbugs please god don’t let it be that. We were ushered from the waiting room, with its toys and books and overall fun-time atmosphere, into a cold and dull exam room, where we waited for approximately twelve hours, and yet Henry managed to entertain himself the entire time with his wordplay.

Between his fits of verbal tomfoolery he quizzed me on what exactly was happening. Here he was, stripped down to his altogether, waiting on a paper-covered bench for—what, exactly? “What’s the doctor gonna do?” he demanded to know.

“She’s going to look at your rash and say, ‘What a beautiful boy,’” I said. Not adding, “Except for that grotesque rash covering your arms and legs.”

So when the doctor came in, he gave her a minute to look him over and then he commanded, “Say ‘What a beautiful boy.’” Which she did, because she’s no fool, and he beamed and said, “Now say, ‘What a poopy fooper! SAY IT.”

Then the doctor handed me the name of a dermatologist while I begged her to tell me it wasn’t bedbugs and Henry held his hands to his ears and shouted “I can hear me in my head!” He may be suffering, but still he entertains.

ALSO: You may notice that I now have Google ads on my site. I said I would never do it, and then I did it. According to Google, so far I've made $0.00. So please--won't you click? I want those half-pennies to start coming my way! And you want me to post more, don't you? Don't you? Hello? Anyone?