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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. → 

« Settling in but still unsettled. | Main | Guess what he got, shortly after this. »

Hello. I live in Jersey.

We moved on Sunday, after an all-night frenzy of last-minute packing. Even though we had been packing for six weeks—and before the official packing had begun, had purged our belongings for our Open House, in order that we might fool would-be buyers into thinking that our home was clean and spacious and not inhabited by unhinged packrats—we were still up all night packing. There seems to be no way around this. Nature demands that the night before you uproot yourselves and leave your loved ones, you must also be deprived of sleep.

For the first day or two here I was positively blissful, but at some point on Tuesday I began my slow decline. It went a little like this:

Day 1: It’s so pretty here. And peaceful! This is going to be great!

Day 2: The quiet! I love it. I LOVE IT. I can’t believe I love living here! In the suburbs!

Day 3: Wow, the quiet, it sure doesn’t stop, does it? Isn’t there any noise?


Day 5: Goddamn silence makes me want to punch someone. And what’s this “I have to drive everywhere” shit?

Speaking of driving, I’ve only driven the car twice and already I’ve made at least two wildly boneheaded driving maneuvers. I err on the side of caution, as I am a 90-year-old trapped in a 37-year-old’s body. In one instance, my bony hands clutched the wheel at 10 and 2 as I came to a dead stop at an intersection because I couldn’t find the damn light (why do they hide it on the side like that?) and then wondered why everyone around me was leaning on their horns. (Even the people without cars! Kids these days! Walking around with horns!) But I’ll get used to this, right? Someone? At some point, I hope to stop sweating so hard my hands are sliding off the steering wheel.

It doesn’t help that my son has developed a car aversion, due no doubt to his delightful new tendency to vomit after relatively short car rides. (Dear relatives who want us to come visit you: will you wait until my son’s eighteen? If he’s not over this by then I’m pretty sure he could at least hold the bag over his mouth.) Today we went for a five-minute ride so that I could go to a dermatologist (because my face reacts to stress by EXPLODING. And my hair falls out! I’m breathtaking), and I thought Scott and Henry might like to check out the neighborhood library and meet me afterward, and boy what a bad idea that was! Which I realized when we told Henry we were getting into the car! “NOOOOO!” he shrieked. “GAAAAAH! I’m going to THROW UP!” he informed us. He didn’t, thankfully, and when we got there he informed us that the ride “wasn’t so bad after all,” a fact that leapt gazelle-like from his mind when it was time to get back into the car to go home. He went all boneless and wept facedown on the sidewalk while Scott and I discussed if it was okay to leave him there for the afternoon.

But enough about him; let’s get back to me. On the positive side, I have discovered my Inner Extrovert. I had thought I was on the shy side, but now that there’s no one around, I’m jonesing for the sweet stink of humanity. It’s unspeakably weird to have, instead of hundreds of people on your block, maybe eight. (It’s a small block.) While I used to sit in my apartment gritting my teeth while gaggles of morons stood directly outside my window, leaning against the security grate and discussing That Slut Chrissy Who Totally Fooled Around with Rick (for example), I now find myself standing on my porch, shrieking salutations at the 3 or 4 people foolish enough to pass by. (If you happen to be in Jersey and you spot a hairless acne-ridden hysteric perched on her weed-choked lawn, flailing her limbs, do not be afraid. That’s how I say hello!) The few brave souls I've spoken to have been lovely, even when my son tried to kiss them full on the lips. (Apparently he feels as I do, with the whole love of humanity thing.)

Also! Weeds! We have this lawn, and we have absolutely not one single clue what to do with it. We also don’t know how to take care of, oh, anything else. Our ignorance in all home ownership matters is absolutely staggering. So far our strategy has been to stare at the weeds and say, “We really should, I don’t know, rip those out?” and then go back inside and stare at the boxes and say, “Oh, god, so much to unpack.” And then we join Henry in his Quest For Galactic Dominance, in the relatively clean corner of the dining room.

So yeah, so far this is all working out just fine.

Reader Comments (103)

Oh, yard schmard, it's not GOING anywhere. You'll figure it out eventually. Heck, I've been a suburbanite for... ummm... too long... and my dandelion solution is pretty much "mow over them and assume that no one will notice."

I should send you an unretouched picture of my face to make you feel better about the acne situation. Heh.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMir
girl I live futher remote than 8 people...sad sad..we are the really my mom is here but for the most part..we don't see people while at home, not even for entertaining pusposes...and the weeds, well we live in a pasture. If I had a clue how to grow grass instead of weekds, I'd ertainly tell you. Have life on the er..wild side!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJerri Ann
Don't forget, there's always the key parties.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoctorMama
my experience is that the motion sickness gets less sensitive the more often I go in cars.of course, since I never do, I even get sick if I go more than three stops on the train.stupid moving vehicles.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commentershirky
My son used to puke every car ride too - until we realized he couldnt see out the window well and it was getting him car sick. Once we fixed that and got him over his fear of the car, it has been great driving. Ask your doctor if you can give him a little dramamine to take the edge off longer trips.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Weed and Feed. It comes in big bags at Home Depot. You walk around the yard a couple of times a year, sprinkling it hither and yon, and it takes care of a lot of problems. Cheaper than a lawn service and probably easier than dealing with one, too.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterninaradio
i'll be there in 2 weeks for a wedding. it's okay if you want to stalk me. :)
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjennster
Eh, don't stress - you're going through the culture shock phase, which will probably last a while. In the meantime, act like you're visiting a new country and enjoy how the locals live!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHer Ladyship
Hey, look at it this way. At least you're away from the lady upstairs who likes to give Henry presents that are filthy and make no sense. The silence will grow on you, and then when you go to visit the city again, you'll wonder how the hell you lived in all that noise!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Welcome to Jersey!! Well, I don't live there anymore, but I visit weekly to see my mom.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMargo
Wait, are the weeds in the lawn, or in the garden areas? For the lawn, I say let 'em grow. The alternative is spreading nasty chemicals all over the grass, and that means you won't really want to send Henry out there in bare feet, let alone poor Charlie. So I'd just live with the weeds, mow 'em along with the grass.

If there are weeds in the garden, it should be relatively easy to tell what shouldn't be there. Rip 'em out and throw them away (if you put them in a compost pile, they'll grow) and then cover the garden with some kind of mulch. Get a bag of shredded bark (if the garden is ornamental bushes or something) or some salt-marsh hay (if we're talking vegetables).

Those are the few basics I learned. I am a very lazy gardener.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdebl
Welcome to the suburbs. Might I suggest heavy drinking to ease the transition? I might.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterthe patriarch
Chrissy fooled around with Rick? Gah, I'm flabbergasted. I didn't see it coming. That bitch.

Good luck settling in!!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJust Linda

I remember what happened the first night I tried to sleep in my lovely little house in the suburbs. After a lifetime lived in urban areas where my customary nightly serenade consisted of the slurred rantings random drunks and the incessant droning of honking car horns all punctuated by intermittant wail of stacatto sirens, the fucking crickets kept me awake!

Don't worry - you'll get used to it.Eventually.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjeanette
I, too, moved from the city to the quietest place in the world. Most mornings, I can hear chickens and cows from miles down the road. I thought I'd never adjust. Now, of course, I can't take the craziness of the city, where I still work and where my kids still attend school. It will balance out, I promise.

For the time being, invest in a lawn service. Sounds like you guys have way too much to do to deal with that right now. Next year, after you're settled in (and you had the benefit of watching the lawn service take care of your lawn and learning from it), then you can consider taking it on yourself. Or not.

Enjoy your new place! I'm sure you'll have many new adventures to tell us about!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterwordnerd
Alice, so glad that your first week is going well. I was much like Henry - copious vomiting in the car to the point where the stench never quite went away and on a sunny day...well, you know.

Either way, he'll be fine, and I also recommend putting him in the middle seat so he can see more clearly out the front window.

Welcome to NJ!!! When you feel up to coming by our house for dinner drop me an email...
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaynee
mow the weeds, crank the stereo. problem solved.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbob
try walking the dog after supper - amazing how many neighbors are out that time of evening

library story time? I've met a few moms that way, and at least once a week I get out of the house and into a group of people. of course, that might not be worth the trip if poor Henry gets sick.

mow, oh, once a week or so. cut the grass tall, not short, and the weeds will have a harder time of it. weed and feed in the fall. next year will be better!

give yourself a couple of weeks on the driving front -- I moved to my husband's home town, which was on a river, and all the roads were crazy and changed direction and name all the time, and I didn't leave the house by myself for 2 weeks because I knew I'd never make it home again

But then it got better! And then we moved, and the whole thing started over. c'est la vie...
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterH
My first few nights when we moved to new jersey from brooklyn, i felt like i was on a vacation. It didn't feel permanent at all. Then it started sinking in, oh my god, i have to live here!! What the hell have we done? Now, two years later and we are loving it here.

And poor Henry. I hope he becomes immune to the car very quickly.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranita
I have to say it cracks me up a wee bit..this suburbia being talked sounds like living in the suburbs is like living in the Brady's neighborhood...or Edward Scissorhands.

I grew up in a suburb in NJ...a town where volunteer firefighting and town football were _it_. These weren't the bourgeoisie...they were the working class. I would say the bourgeoisie are the "grups" we all read about in that article in New York mag. Remember, the bell tolls for thee! :)

And weeds? Mow em and forget it. Or weed whack and throw bark on em. And mostly, don't worry about them!

I find a sound conditioner does well at drowning out the silence when I visit my family in Jersey farmland...otherwise I can't sleep.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterk
Alice, how about a bike? With one of those child seats that sits between your saddle and the handlebars so that Henry gets to see and you both get to cuddle? And some nice big panniers on the back for shopping and stuff? You get some exercise -- no need for scary gyms -- and the opportunity to stop and meet new neighbours. Maybe your roads are too fast and dangerous though? I'm writing from Cambridge in the UK where EVERYONE bikes, but perhaps it's too freakily eccentric in the NJ burbs? Who knows... just a thought.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEleanor
Congratulations on the move, Alice!

As for the lawn, I second Debl, but want to offer a word of caution about mulch: beware the stinkhorn.

Two summers ago, my husband and I became aware of a horrible stench wafting into our bedroom at night. Inspection into the flowerbed outside our bedroom window revealed a little crop of stinky, phallic mushrooms growing out of the bark mulch. Stinkhorns.

So. Gross.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTits McGee
I am NOT a slut!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy
LEAVE. Go back. It only gets worse. I lived in the NJ suburbs for 2 years that seemed like 10. when we moved back to Brooklyn I literally got down on my knees and kissed the sidewalk. THE CITY IS BETTER.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercv
I lived in two different suburbs for about four years. My feeling was that it wasn't real life somehow. You had to go somewhere gritty quite regularly to keep in touch with the world outside of the bubble ...
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeverlee

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