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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. → 


Welcome to Williamsburg. Here's your beret.

First off: my Dad thanks you for the prayers and good wishes. While I may be lacking in religiosity, or at least let’s say I don’t cotton to the church-going, my Dad is one holy bastard (and I’m sure he would be charmed by that turn of phrase) and appreciates very much all the praying. So if you have any more you feel like serving up, you go right ahead.

Okay, also? Apparently in addition to getting a Dacron stent inserted (what’s with the Dacron? Didn’t one of my commenters mention this? Can someone tell me why Dacron is the fabric of choice?), he’s also getting some pig valves. Pig valves. “Available only from Hormel,” as my Dad put it.

I don’t know what to say about that.

Last week I wrote an entry about a conversation with my family-in-law, in which the older members of said family quizzed Scott and me about what a “hipster” looks like, after I made some comment about the hip kids in Williamsburg. It was a funny entry. Oh, how it made me laugh. I was going to post it, to share the surreal joy with you. And then evil gnomes invaded my computer and destroyed the document because, well, didn’t I say they were evil?

What I can recall of their guesses as to what hip people wear:

1. Berets. (Or some other manner of “interesting hat.”)

2. Fringed and tie-dyed apparel. (“You mean hip like hippie?”)

3. Sweaters and sportjackets. (Yes. Hip people dress like Bing Crosby.)

4. Spats and corncob pipes.

Okay, I made that last one up. I wish I could remember the rest. Oh, it was funny. Hoo boy.

I couldn’t tell them anything about the attire of the hip, because when the hipsters approach I’m so shamed by my comparative absence of hipness that I am temporarily blinded and all I can do is roll about on the ground shrieking until they retreat.

Moving on:

Yesterday Henry and I had the following exchange, after I came upon him curled up on the ground next to his Star Wars dolls (THEY ARE NOT DOLLS, my husband shouts even though he’s not here), I mean figures.

Me: Are you okay?

Henry (eyes squeezed shut): I’m a baby.

Me: You’re my baby.

Henry: No. I’m just a baby. [After a second, he gets up.] I will have some water in a big boy cup. [This is as opposed to a sippy cup, you see.]

Me: Good idea!

We go get some water.

Henry: You feel sad.

Me: I do?

Henry: Water will make you feel better.

Me: Sure, I like water.

[We drink water.]

Henry: Do you feel better?

Me: You know, I do! Do you feel better?

Henry: No, you were sad. Do you feel better?

Me: I absolutely feel better now. Thank you.

Henry [putting his cup down]: Good. Now it’s time to spin around and around.

And dear god, he was right.



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!