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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

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 → 

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. 

Wednesday
May282014

Forty five

 

So I turned 45 today. So that’s a thing I’m doing. Also apparently beginning sentences with “so,” now. I’m pretty sure I resolved to stop that somewhere back in my thirties, but hell, I’m FORTY FIVE. I’ve earned the right. By the time I’m fifty I’ll be misplacing modifiers everywhere. At 70 I’m only going to write in all caps. Send my son texts in serif fonts. See if I won’t. 

I turned 35 a few months after I began this blog, and I remember turning 35 more than I remember any other birthday because 35 was the first birthday I fretted over. Like, ooh, I’m 35, that’s so old. I’m old now. 

I now find the idea that 35 is old to be hilariously adorable. Adorably hilarious. 35! Like a baby, I was. Still covered in vernix. I was a little gross, come to think of it. 

I got my Age Crisis out of the way at 35 and now I see how silly it was. How can I freak out about 45? If I freak out now, then in the distant future, when I’m a brain suspended in a bucket of nutrient-fortified goo, I'll have to transmit orders to my android body-replacement to chuckle ruefully about it. And I can’t have that. I’ll have more important things to do, like battle the monstrous virus army, and crochet. 

I mean, however old you are, you’re as young as you’re ever going to be. Oof, that’s obvious. Now that I’m 45 I’m going to issue really obvious pronouncements like that one. Also: be nice to people. Not to mention: sunscreen. You’re so very welcome. 

 

(What does it say about me that I thought Sarah Silverman was the person who sang this song? I wasted a good 3 minutes of what's left of this wild and precious life Googling "Sarah Silverman Older Song." Did she sing a similar song? Sorry, what was that? SPEAK UP HONEY.)  

I’ve only been 45 for about twelve hours, but so far it feels exactly the same. Except it’s colder. That might be the weather? Either way, it’s easily fixed with a little something I like to call “layers.” This is the kind of wisdom you gain at 45. I like it. I like you. Let’s keep getting older, shall we? 

 

 

Thursday
Apr242014

The State of the Blog 

I had an interesting chat yesterday about blogging and the state of my blogging and how “blogging” is weird to say more than twice, blogging blobbing blugging blarging. And afterwards I thought, hey Self, why not share where I am with my readers? Why not? Have I learned NOTHING from “Show Your Work”? Should I not Share My Process? What Would Austin Kleon Do?  

I’m at an interesting crossroads right now, and the good news is there are several ways I could go, but I think I may have a touch of the ADD because all the options are overwhelming me and as a result I take many naps. 

Let’s back up. First of all, I’m not closing up the blog, or anything dramatic. I know you’re breathing a sigh of relief and/or weeping. There, there. I wouldn’t do that to you, baby. I want you to know that, sure, things have been weird, and I’ve been distant, but it wasn’t you, it was me. All me. 

I hadn’t been posting as much in the past few months because in addition to teaching and novel-writing I was spending my work hours at a corporate gig. Said corporate gig wasn’t even a writing job, so it felt wonderfully removed from the rest of my work, and pure, somehow, like I was keeping my writing energy sacred or something. Feel free to roll your eyes at that. I know I just did. 

It was easy to depend on the corporate work to continue while I pursued my Art and taught about Art and etc., but then. Then! The work slowed down, then disappeared. It wasn’t personal. The company is in transition, they’re reorganizing, I don’t know. It happens. 

Now I’m scrambling and trying not to scramble because nothing will bring you work less successfully than desperate scrambling. Sending pitches to editors that are in all caps. Using too many exclamation points (or any) in your professional correspondence. Instead I’m taking a step back and seeing where I went wrong and what I want to do in the future. 

The big mistake I made was to put all my income-generating eggs in one big corporate basket. (I’m not counting the writing course, which is more like a fun lil’ egg in a side pouch. Imagine that I’m a marsupial holding a basket. Except marsupials don’t lay eggs, so okay, imagine that my writing course is a joey. Aw. Ew.)  Over the last few months, my big corporate basket tipped over and smashed my eggs. And did it so slowly I didn’t even notice it was happening until I had a dried yolky mess all over the ground. 

Okay, so: first mistake, one big basket. My second mistake was that I put all my work hours toward work that didn’t really speak to my talents. My corporate assignments could be completed by any reasonably smart person; they didn’t need my specific strengths. I was (gasp!) expendable. 

Which got me thinking, okay, where can I be invaluable? (Or more valuable?) And that led me back to this blog. This is a valuable platform for me. It gets me work. Also, and more importantly, I enjoy it. It’s what I do. It’s important to do what you love, if you have that luxury. I know many people don’t, and I certainly don’t always, but I do here. So: I am recommitting to the blog for selfish reasons, but I hope you don’t mind that. (Wait, does anyone blog for selfless reasons?) 

You will probably see sponsored posts. I don’t have a big master plan about this; it’s just a heads-up that I’m thinking about it. I am not, however, seeking out sponsored posts as a major source of income, so I’m free to be incredibly choosy. I won’t write content that doesn’t make me happy and wouldn’t benefit you in some way. That is my pledge unto you. I can count on two (maybe three) fingers the times I’ve featured sponsored stuff I wasn’t happy with, and those moments made me feel extra-super gross. That isn’t something I want to do ever again. 

Also, I’m thinking about ways to use this site to advertise my services. The other (paying) work I enjoy is magazine writing and copywriting, and I’m trying to find a place for that on this site. I want to hang my shingle, so to speak, more prominently. (Ugh, also, I’m crappy at promoting myself. I get all apologetic and twitchy. It’s time to quit that.) 

Thirdly, I’m going to offer more courses, and maybe even a writing guide e-book. That’s going to be later on, somewhere in the distant future, when we’re all wearing mylar rompers. Or in the near future, when we’re wearing our micro-floral rompers. 

(I also pledge never to wear a romper.) 

Oh my god, what was my point. I think I wanted your advice? Wait, it’s coming back to me! I’d love to know of any bloggers whose sites successfully straddle the personal and professional: like, there’s a “hire me as a copywriter” section or "Take my class" or “I’m a successful journalist” part along with “here is my personal blog where I talk about how I smell weird.” Or: do you do it? How do you promote yourself? How do you balance professional writing with personal writing? Can we get coffee sometime? Or just hold hands for a while? 

A blogger I respect said recently that you should never end a post with a question, so I’ll end this with: I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to have a marsupial pouch. Weird, right? Oh, wait, that’s a question.