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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

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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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. → 

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A house! A house for us!

I haven’t told you about our new house! And it’s all God’s fault.

I have, in the past couple of weeks, found myself newly fearful of the Lord’s wrath. My God, it seems, is a vengeful God, replacing the God who compelled my parents to purchase the Barbie Dream Boat or the God who made sure my ex-boyfriend didn’t get a date to the prom. This God will take away our pretty house if he hears me bragging about it too much. He will send armies of termites into our pretty house’s support beams, and not even joists of steel will keep our (pretty) shelter from tumbling down upon the earth, and the ancient but lovely windows will shatter upon the ground, and mine enemies will rejoice, yea verily.

That said, I couldn’t wait until we had closed on the place to share our news, so I decided that God does not bother himself with blogs.

But enough about my petty God. We have a house! Here's how it went: we saw the listing, fell instantly and completely in love, decided it was too pretty for us to deserve, visited and were depressed because it was so pretty and it would undoubtedly go to someone nicer and better-looking, worried that the neighborhood is too sketchy, fell into an even deeper depression, were put in touch with a couple of residents of said neighborhood (thanks to my blog readers! My nice blog readers!), were reassured that the area is not at all sketchy, worried about the school, found out that the school is great, found out there were nine other bidders, freaked out, made the best offer we could, and here we are. A house! Us! We have a house! It’s a four-bedroom (FOUR!) and it has two sunrooms (TWO!) and an enclosed porch (AN!) and my god, but we love it.

We were fairly certain that someone (God) would take our house away from us because it’s so nice and so pretty pretty, but so far even the inspector couldn’t scare us away. We were certain he would take one look and say, “But these walls—they’re made of taffy! And the windows are just cling-wrap stapled into some lincoln logs!” and then we would cry and move into our nearby friend’s garage. It’s a two-car garage. Maybe we would like it.

Which is not to say that there aren’t issues with the house. It’s been relatively well maintained, but it’s over 90 years old. Also it’s probably teeming with ghosts. I was hoping the inspector would also check for ghosts, but he didn’t respond to my hints. I asked him, “Does it feel, you know, crowded in here?” and he said yes, why don’t you step outside.

Beyond the families of ghosts, there’s a tiny bit of water damage, a smidgen of termite damage, the chimney needs some work, there’s some creative wiring, and also the backyard is a swamp. On the other hand, we paid about $40K less than we thought we would.

Home ownership, I have learned, means you have to know stuff. Two weeks ago, if you had used words like “soffit” and “fascia” and “downspouts” and “garage,” I would have said, “I’ve heard of this ‘garage’, but about those other things, whuuuuh?” And now I’m tossing these terms around like I know what I’m talking about, because soon I’m pretty sure I will know! By gum, I’m learning!

In closing, let me say that if you have to call a contractor whose last name is Schwalbenberg, it’s probably a good idea if immediately beforehand you and your spouse don’t periodically cry out SCHWALBENBERRRG at each other or ask each other “If I asked you to hold my Schwalbenberg, would you still love me?” Because then? You’ll call Schwalbenberg, and while you’re leaving a message you’ll snort helplessly with laughter as you try to say his name and then you’ll have to hang up and call back and leave a message with a slightly different voice.


Reader Comments (114)

Oh, lordy-lou...I just read that last paragraph to my husband and I could barely get through it I was laughing so hard but he still found it just as funny as I did and he said, "That sounds like something *we* would do!"

And it really is.

I'm sure I'll whisper "Schwalbenberg" in the dark tonight when we're in bed.
March 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercandace
Hooray. I'm sorry about your vengeful God. My God always gets me whatever I want. You really need to switch Gods.
March 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Congratulations! You deserve some creative wiring since you are so darned creative yourself. It's all good, right?
March 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercagey
Congratulations! It sounds wonderful (and hopefully not too crowded) :)
March 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentervelocibadgergirl
That's fantastic news. Our god hates us, as he has allowed us to be in limbo for over 18 months trying to get land surveyed and money secured so that we can START buidling our house. Can we trade gods once you move into your place? I promise not to talk about it in my blog.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersummer
(congratulations!) I don't want to say it too loudly, as I am both (1) superstitious also, and (2) in the same position (post-inspection, pre-closing). I do have, however, the powerful help of red string on my side, the better to combat the risks of house-losing and foundation-crumbling and other-nervous-things. So I am going to share my positive mojo with you, and wish you a very hearty (congratulations!) on your successful bid! Don't forget to tell us when you close, so that I may wish you much louder (congratulations) at that time!
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEffective Nancy
Hooray! By the way, This Old House (my house) was built in the 1920s, so I am an expert on old plumbing, windows, creative wiring, etc. We have been there, done that, for most of those things. It's not so bad! Just repeat this to yourself: nonstandard parts. Nonstandard parts. This is the biggest suckage of an old house. Get used to special-ordering. Other than that, bliss!
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy
Nice work! We're about to sign contracts for a sale and a purchase ourselves.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
I probably shouldn't relate this story to the Internet, but...our realtor's last name is "Cochrane." My fiance insists on referring to him as "Cock-ring." Which, of course, leads to much laughter and helpless idiocy on my part. I can't face the man. The fiance has been left to deal with him.

Good luck on the (pretty) new house! It sounds fabulous.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBad Hippie
And I should insert what our lawyer told me: "The only thing that works in an old house is the owner." Ha. He was probably kidding. Ha ha.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
Alice, shout it from the rooftops (your own!!) You can borrow my God, who loves loves loves the joy!! (But totally save the old one in case you need to put a curse on somebody. You know, like a contractor.)
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
(AN!) hahaha

Ohhh! That house sounds so very nice. My only dream is to own a house. I hope it works out for you and that the Head Honcho in the Sky thinks kindly or you and decides that there are people much more deserving of his wrath. (Members of the KKK for instance, I think he should mess with their openings. “And he said upon them ‘No home for you!’ and it was and God saw it and it was good.”...I don't know where I am going with this.)

Good Luck! I hope we get to see picture! :o)

March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
So happy for you guys Alice. The major stress is over after the inspection. Now it's mostly smooth sailing until you have to sign your name about a gazillion times and hand over a fat check at the closing. Best of luck and try to make friends with the ghosts, you know, like Mrs. Muir. They can do stuff for you.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTB
Woo hoo! A house for the Finslippy family! You guys are going to be so happy there, really.

In my (vast) experience, old houses that you rent are gross and creepy but old houses that you own are endearing and have character. In fact, it was the middle-aged house we owned that gave us the most trouble. It was made out of all these weird materials that were cutting edge at the time but turned out to not be so great 40 years down the road. By the time we bought it, it was starting to show its age, so we had to have a little work done. After the bathroom remodel, the new carpet, the plumbing repairs, the new septic system and the fancy interior paint jobs, the ingrate threatened to buy a red convertible and leave us for the little bungalow down the street.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
I must admit that I thought you said your house had creative writing. "Already?" I thought. "Well, then it will have EVEN MORE creative writing when Alice moves in."
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLori
congrats! there is a nutritionist with the name of schwarzbein and my husband and i have had many a laugh saying that name over and over again. just thought you might want one to add to SCHWALBENBERG!
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJodes
Dueling sunrooms! How awesome. Congratulations.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLetterB
Really fantastic news! Congratulations!
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterscribblesnbits
oh how exciting! yeah for new houses! great post!
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
Congratulations! A new home for the finslippys!

::off to clean coffee spray off of keyboard::
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
YAY!!!!!!! If you decide that you do not have need for two sunrooms, I'll take the spare.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGlam Jo
Congrats! I am selfishly sad at your moving, but genuinely glad that you scored such a sweet house! Will you email me a link to the listing, or a picture? I am hopelessly addicted to real estate porn (I cannot otherwise explain my checking Curbed five times a day when I don't even live in the state of NY, let alone the city).

And the house I briefly owned was built in 1920 and also had "creative" wiring (old knob-and-tube). If you can't afford to replace it all right now, my crusty old inspector said, "if it hasn't burned the house down yet, it probably will continue not to, as long as you leave it alone." Words of homeowner wisdom.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDebl
An old house, ninty you say mines one hundred and eleven..... Swwweeeet, They don't make em like that anymore. Welcome to the Fabulous world of Old House Owners. Maybe I'll see you at the boards at the "Old House Web"Karen
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Two things -- first, congrats on the house! And second, I actually had to call a guy named (not kidding) Eric Shin a week or so ago. I had to hang up when I heard his voicemail because I couldn't stop laughing...and then had to block my number when I called back so that he wouldn't feel bad about his phallic name.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersandra
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJerri Ann

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