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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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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. → 

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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)


Okay, it's silly, but in my wildest, greatest, most fantastical dreams I have always envied those with a porch. Because, then, you can be like Flannery O'Conner or some crap like that and say things like, "Let's go set on the porch for a spell." And you don't even have to be southern. AT all. You just get to say "set" by having a porch. I give you permission. If God's okay with it, anyway. I didn't know she read this blog too. Just fyi. You are living my fantasy. A PORCH. Wow.

(The inside of the house is nice too.)
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlis
Congratulations! Old houses are so cool! We purchased our centennial foursquare almost seven years ago. At first my husband was terrified of the radiatiors, but now he swears he'll never go back to forced air heat again. Radiators can be tricky but they give constant cozy heat all winter long! Old house have their querks and over time you grow to love those oddities and even brag about them. Plaster walls can't be beat - they are amazingly soundproof! And did I mention the solid wood doors? Super soundproof indeed - all important considerations when you are ready to celebrate moving in - if you know what I mean! Old houses also have lots of cool little secrets just waiting to be discovered. When we tore up the old wall-to-wall carpet in the smallest bedroom, we discovered the original children's linolium dating from the early 1900's. Each letter of the alphabet was surrounded by beautiful pictures associated with that letter. The letter A had a really old aeroplane, the letter T had a top (of course!) and the letter Z had a zulu warrior! It was so cool! Unfortunately most of the floor was in pretty bad shape (a previous owner stuck wood-grained contact paper all around the perimeter of the floor - ugh! So we took tons of photos before putting down the new hardwood floor. Someday I hope to reproduce the images as wallpaper. Anyhow - congratualtions again on your new-old house! I wish you many happy discoveries!
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
Congratulations on the house! I'm familiar with the euphoria, as my husband and I just purchased a house of our own a little over a year ago, and it, too was much better than we felt we deserved and we, too, were convinced that it would never work out. But it did, and now we're here. Hope you love your house even more than you think you will.
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCaryn
We have the same God! On the first morning I woke up in our house - my dream house - I looked out the window and was sure that there had been a catastrophic landslide on the mountain opposite our house. That would have been the work of my personal God whose wrath is only stirred when I have the temerity to be happy. Luckily, upon closer inspection I realized that the landslide was actually a reflection in the glass of our window and the mountain was intact. I'm still waiting though - the other shoe has gotta drop one of these days. Enjoy your house and your happiness!
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranna
A new house is great news. There are stories ahead I'm sure. Enjoy!
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeverlee
Well, like a good post-hippie, I'll second the sage.

We bought an old house in Philly, and after the realtor handed us the keys, she said, "Oh, but the way...the husband in the last couple who lived here developed multiple personality disorder, and one of his personalities tried to kill his wife. But he's locked away now."

I assumed she meant the entire husband and not just the personality with a penchant for arsenic.

Anyway, lots of sage. And it seemed to work. There was only one ghost left - a woman who my DD said cleaned her room (!) - and she didn't make much noise.

But - CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! New house! Many blessings, bread, salt and wine coming your way!
March 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjozet
We burned sage too, and still had a glowing orb of light pop in to say hi one Valentine's night. But imagine the blog fodder.

Big congrats! Such great news...I can't even think of anything original to say, I'm just plain thrilled for you guys, with not one bit of wry anything to offer. Yay! Big yays!

Pics! Oh, please! At least of the sunroom...
March 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
March 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJem
Congratulations! Whereabouts in Jersey? Can you even give a clue to the town? (Don't worry, I'm not a stalker, just a Jersey girl myself.)
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Congrats! And 90 years old is young for a house in the area where I live (though our's is only 6 years old). There could be cool stuff, like secret passages (no, really, some of them have them around here, they were part of the Underground Railroad) or random things stuffed in the walls, like money or antiques that are worth a lot of money.
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Excellent! Oh, I loe old houses, though the ghost thing ould be a bit scary. When's the move?
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
So happy for you and loving the green-ness, the sunlight and the cool sunroom, porch-ness. Congrats!!!
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaycee
Congratulations! I'm so happy for you. :)

(I am about to sell my beautiful wonderful house that I came upon in much the same way you did yours, with similar disbelief that I could get so lucky--I'm terrified my next place will be really terrible. But you did it! On the east coast! I have hope!)
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
Congratulations - that is fabulous news. It warms my heart that nice people can score a pretty house in a good neighborhood with great schools in the snake pit of real estate that is New Jersey. I didn't have the balls to do what you did - moving out of state was so much easier, so my hat's off to you.
March 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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