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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. → 


I don't want to say anything, but God gives the crappiest Christmas gifts.

Well, you know, I was going to deck my post-Christmas blog entry with complaints but as it seems that thousands upon thousands of people are currently either dead or dying or merely enduring a tragedy of mind-boggling proportions, it feels wrong somehow.

But I will tell you about my Christmas present from our dog Charlie. Was it vomiting all over the backseat of my dad’s new car? No, that was his Christmas Eve gift. Charlie is nothing if not generous. Charlie’s Christmas gift was the gift of poop. All over his body. Yes, so filled with the Christmas spirit was Charlie that he elected to cavort in poop and then enter my parents’ home all proud and jaunty in his freshly browned fur.

He was less proud and decidedly less jaunty when we threw him in the bathtub and covered him in almost every solvent my mother had under her sink. (We spared him the Ajax.)

Other than that, wow, I’m speechless. Is it the apocalypse already? I had assumed we would be given maybe a few more decades.

To distract yourself from all the pipin’ fresh horror, I recommend a trip to your local bookstore to pick up a copy of Fence Magazine, Fall/Winter 2004/5, in which my story “The Panty Thief” appears. (And if that title doesn’t get you off your couch I don’t know what will.) This is not the first time my fiction has been published, but it is the first time I’ve been paid for my made-upperies, so I want to encourage everyone and anyone I know to buy a copy and reward Fence for their niceness. It’s a good magazine, really, and chock full of quality. But mostly you should read it for me. So go. Now. You heard me. I thank you.


A title is simply not called for in some cases, but here one is anyway, hello!

Jesus, people. Jesus is to blame for my not writing! Jesus has a birthday, and we all have to buy presents for everyone we know! It’s outrageous, is what it is, and I for one will not stand for it.

Because of Jesus, my brain has been sucked clean of content. I have spent too many hours scouring the Internets for cheap train sets for my son, and now I can’t tie my shoes without drooling.

Also: cheap train sets don’t exist. If your son likes trains, you must sell your liver. It’s all part of His plan.


You deserve better but this is all I have.

Yesterday, probably still reeling from the psychic trauma of Thanksgiving Weekend With Every Living Relative, I forgot to take some Very Special Medication that Mommy Takes Because of Something You Did. I’m such a delicate wee thing that my dosage is extra-extra-low because that is all my willowy frame requires, but the bad thing about being on the teensy-weensy dosage is that once it leaves my body I’m WHOOPSY DAISY paddling around in a sloppy hell of withdrawal. So today I woke up soaked in sweat, reeling around my suddenly tilt-y apartment. When I saw two Henrys reaching for me from their two cribs, I knew I was in trouble. Fortunately the Husband is working nights this week, so once I roused him from his slumber, which I did by gently calling “GET UP I’M DYING OH CHRIST,” I quickly medicated myself and returned to bed, where I had dreams that I was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (how sad am I, still dreaming about a show that ended years ago? Quite sad) and a Herbie-the-Love-Bug-type car was roaming the streets of Brooklyn, announcing that it was the harbinger of the apocalypse. (If I wrote the script to this movie, I would title it DOOM BUGGY. That is an excellent title, and you, privileged reader, can take it. There, it’s yours. Don’t say I never do anything for you.) And I was all “bring it on” and I was tossing my pretty pretty hair this-a-ward and that-a-ward because I was Buffy and my hair was so blonde! So blonde and so pretty!

When I woke up, it was 1 p.m. This pretty much set the tone for the day.

Another thing that happened yesterday is that I went for a physical. I haven’t had a physical since the 80s—I remember the nurse instructing me to remove my shoulder pads and leg warmers before putting on the day-glo gown--so it seemed time. I didn’t realize I was getting the extra-vigilant doctor who would alert me to every possible thing that could ever be wrong with me, so I left there a little freaked. Extra-enthused doctor informed me that I have a GOITER (well, okay, “enlarged thyroid,” but isn’t that a goiter? Isn’t it? Oh, why didn’t I buy the iodized salt?) and HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (okay, just a high reading, but my reading usually peak at 90/70, usually they’re so low that by all rights I should need to do a handstand to get the blood away from my ankles before I’m conscious enough to sign a check) and also several other things that I can’t mention here. Oh, and apparently because there’s so much cancer in my family, I’m a fool for not seeing a genetic counselor because I’m a ticking time bomb, people! Tick tick! So I’m scheduled to get all kinds of tests and she gave me the name of this counselor with the words “FAMILIAL CANCER SYNDROME” underlined next to it.

I called my mother looking for more specifics on the dead in our family, hoping that perhaps I had overstated the cancer running amok throughout the generations. It was a mistake, because my mom distrusts doctors and their voodoo practices. She truly believes that if you have something wrong with you and you don’t know about it, it will simply vanish. Poof! But if you make the mistake of going to a doctor and getting it treated, you, my friend, are doomed. Not just doomed. Doooomed.

So there I was just trying to get the facts and my mom is on the other end shrieking YOU’RE NOT GETTING CANCER! STOP IT! And then the rest of the conversation went like this (facts have been altered not to protect anyone but because I am simply too lazy to rise from my chair and find my notes):

Me: So how many brothers and sisters did grandma have?

Mom: 8? Wait, let me think. 12. No. No, 8. 6 brothers, 2 sisters. Including her. So she had 7 brothers and sisters.

Me: And did they all die of cancer, or…?

Mom: They were so old! When you’re old it doesn’t count. That’s what my doctor said. It’s not genetic if you’re old. They weren’t 35! They were OLD!

Me: What were their ages?

Mom: So let’s see, there was Mama, she was 74; there was, hmm, Salvatore, Uncle Sally, he was 62…

Me: Cancer?

Mom: Oh, cancer, yeah. Terrible. Colon cancer. Because all he ate was sausage. Seriously, it was all he ate.

Me: [Making a note never to eat sausage again]

Mom: Uncle Maddy, 60s, also colon cancer.

Me: Let me guess--sausage eater?

Mom: [dreamily] Uncle Maddy loved the sausage.

It went on like this for a while. Apparently my family is evenly spit between lovers of sausage and lovers of booze and/or cigarettes—or, hell, all of the above! Italians are fun!

Do you know what else is fun? Talking about dead people! There are so many of them! Think about it--they outnumber us. They could totally rise again and they would so kick our asses. And in reality my slaying power is minimal and my hair is short and brown. We are so screwed.


It’s possible this is just a stage and he’ll grow out of it, but there are no guarantees in life, after all.

Scene: our dining room. Thanksgiving. The year 2034. Alice and Scott are sitting at the table. Alice is attending to a Siamese cat whom she is dressing in a teensy tiny sailor suit.

Scott: So I said to him, what are you saying, just lumbago? I’ll have you know this hurts like a mofo, and what’s more…what’s more, I’m…oh, crap, what was I talking about?

Alice: All set, Chairman Meow! All ready for the high seas!

The cat leaps off of her and heads straight for the open window. Alice laughs insanely. Scott continues shaking his head as if he didn’t hear a word she uttered—or didn’t want to hear.

The door opens. A balding man in his 30s bounds in wearing Gap overalls and a red turtleneck. On his forehead is half an Elmo sticker. It is Henry. Alice and Scott hobble toward him for kisses. He applies raspberries to their necks.

They sit back down to table, where we see that their Thanksgiving dinner consists of turkey cold cuts and half-thawed dinner rolls.

Henry: Sorry I’m late, but did you see that frontloader outside? It was so cool the it went VROOM WOOSH and the dump track went rrrrr rrrr rrrrr and the guys were all hey you, get out of the way!

Alice: Speaking of which, where did you park?

Henry: The articulated crash-rescue vehicle? I had to put it in a garage five blocks down.

Scott: Articulated CRV? I thought you were driving a giant excavator these days.

Henry: Well, I was, but the giant excavator just didn’t have the cool lights like the articulated CRV has that go FLASH FLASH FLASH, you know? Plus I rammed into an overpass the other day and took the whole thing down.

Alice [concerned]: You were okay?

Henry [shrugging]: Small boo-boo on my left shoulder. The doctor woman put in a few stitches, kissed it for me. No biggie.

Scott: How’s your job, son?

Henry [suddenly furious]: NO!

Alice: He doesn’t want to talk about it, dear. Henry, pass me—

Henry: NO! DON’T LOOK AT ME! [Covers his eyes with his hands]

Scott: Where’d Henry go?

Alice: Henry? Henry?

Henry [uncovering his eyes, smiling]: Hi Mom! Hi Dad!

They all laugh.

Alice: Here you go, dear.

She places one dinner roll and two turkey slices on his Chinet plate.

Henry stares at the turkey, murmurs “no, no” while his parents try not to pay attention, and finally tosses it to the ground. He picks at his dinner roll.

Alice: Seriously, we read the review of your last performance, “The Round and Round Until You Get Dizzy Fall Down Dance Revue” and it looks like it was a big—

She stares at Henry, who seems to be exerting effort in some way.

Henry: Yeah?

Alice: Honey? Are you, um, are you doing something?

Henry [red-faced]: No. Go away.

Awkward silence ensues.

Scott: So anyway, this lumbago—

Henry: Hey, want to hear something funny? When I said “No, go away”— before? When I said that? I totally crapped my pants.

There is a moment of silence, and then all three laugh uproariously for way longer than is appropriate, pausing every few minutes for Henry to add, “No, really, I did” and the laughter to start anew.