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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
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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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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« Settling in but still unsettled. | Main | Guess what he got, shortly after this. »
Thursday
May042006

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 4: OH GOD, THE SILENCE. THE AWFUL SILENCE. MAKE IT STOP.

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)

I should add though that it was great for raising toddlers. Also, that I am in neither a burb or a city. I am in a small community and it is PERFECT (for me!).
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeverlee
oh alice, how i love you!

i am the total suburanite in our family and my dh is the city person who wants to live in a loft with our 4 kids, huge dog and two cats in downtown Portland.However i cannot imagine living in a house with kids and animals and NO YARD. insanity is what i call it. i LOVE the peace and quiet, i can't sleep with all the traffic and crazies b/c i can't stop myself from eavesdropping and getting involved in the drama. i would be alllllll over Chrissy and Rick.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDeb
Definitely let the weeds go for now. For if you kill them, and your entire lawn is weeds, you are left with a nasty pile of dirt/mud. At least the weeds are green...

I speak from experience.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPaige
Moving blows. No way around it.

Hang in there, it's going to get better!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle
Recently moved around the block within a suburb. Moving is hell, pure and simple. I have a whole room that is still boxes since we have more square footage and I just can't get out of the "can't find it, don't need it" phase of unpacking. Sorry about the silence, the zits, and the puking kid. If it's any consolation, you made me laugh, and I have a child who introduces our whole family to the neighbors from my bedroom window. Wanna borrow him?
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCode Yellow Mom
Congrats! Can't wait to hear more tales from the suburban abyss. It does suck to buy a house in the spring because you faced with The Lawn from the get go. I feel for you.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercagey
In college, I spent a summer studying abroad in China. You know, that country with billions and billions of people wandering around at any given time of day?

By the time I got home, I was so used to the noise that I had to put a movie in the DVD downstairs, turn the volume to "exploding," and open the living room window. Then I would go back upstairs, open my bedroom window, and sigh with relief at the sound of the noise drifting into my room.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjes
Welcome to Jersey! Of course since I live in Ohio I may not be authorized to welcome you, but I do anyhow! Also, Haley used to always get sick in the car. Here's what helped- keep a stash of peppermints in the glove box, crack the windows, put on good music, and for God sake don't let him read, or engage in any other activity which involves looking down. I have faith that you will get unpacked, conquer the weeds, and embrace the silence. Here's mud in your eye!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl
Congrats on the house and all that! I'm sure things will settle out soon. But just in case, regarding the silence thing, you might try getting one of these white noise makers. I have one and it helps!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterspygeek
I wonder if they have the same idea about these things in the suburbs. As a New Yorker, I behave according to the celebrity code which states that if you know who someone is, but they don't know you, they must be looked at only with eye corners and never addressed directly (I violated that once accidently when John Turturro was picking over the produce at Back to the Land so intently I thought he worked there and nearly asked him a question about mushrooms, until I realized that it was really, really unlikely he was a store employee, and choked back my words, leaving him looking quizical). Consequently, the half-dozen times I saw you around Prospect Heights and Park Slope, I averted my eyes quite determinedly. Now that you're gone, I say, retroactively, "Hi, Alice!" because you seem nostalgic for sort-of-creepy accosting.
...eating a marshmallow with a stick. It seems to have cut that part off, and it's my only distinguishing characteristic. The hot cocoa wasn't hot enough to melt it. That's why.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe girl etc.
Ah, the lawn. That will be deserving of an entire post or two once you really get settled into suburbia. And then there will be lots of exclamation points and capital letters. Enjoy the ignorance while you still have it. :)
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterteresa
For hair: Biotin. Specifically, the brand Appearex. Also? Kerstase's Bain Prevention Shampoo. And lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Anything with Vitamin B complex. For acne: Origin's A Perfect World Serum under moisturizer. Kiehl's Oil Free SPF 25 and whatever moisturizer.

And meditation for the cortisol pumping into your blood stream. And time...in a few months you are going to hsve a whole new set of friends!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkim
i'm glad you got there ok. i've been thinking about you and hoping you're all right. and i second whoever said about moving the carseat to the middle if you can. lucy used to only be in a stroller, because we walked everywhere, and when we moved to where we drive everywhere it took a little getting used to.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkristin
I am far too tired (and lazy) to read all the comments and see if this has been said already, but "10 and 2" is like, sooooo 1998. Because of driver's side airbags, the official hand position is now "9 and 3." (To prevent the airbag from deploying and blowing your arms off, the result being your dismembered limbs cracking you in the forehead and possibly flying into the backseat to kill whoever is misfortunate enough to be sitting back there in the path of your flying arm projectiles.)

...or you could just be uber-chic like me and drive with your left hand at "10:30ish" and your right arm dangling down between the seats.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBren
Wow! Do you actually read all these comments? I just wanted to say that I underwent a depression after moving to our house 7 years ago. It was a positive move...from a cramped 800-square-foot apartment to a nice, old two-story house with great neighbors. But still...it was a big change and I got stressed and depressed. It only took about 6 months for me to completely fall in love with everything, but the stress of moving is really difficult! Good luck with everything!
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Connor
Um, I am also hairless and acne-studded in times of stress like you and much of your readership. We should call it the Finslippy Syndrome and start a foundation to pay for R&R trips to Barbados.

The quiet is definitely unnerving, but there are white noise machines to help with the transition. Or I could come and visit and just follow you around and hum badly in your ear.

Mazel tov! Screw the lawn! Well, don't actually screw the lawn, or on the lawn, or meeting nice people in the neighborhood will become more awkward.

If you put up a sign that said FINSLIPPY LIVES HERE your front lawn would be completely torn up so you could reseed very easily. That is my thought of the day! It is! All for you!
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
I hope your lawn maintenance plans don't become obsessive like my husbands. When he attacks the dandelions in our yard he actually puts on war paint. I kid you not. And he times our sprinklers to the exact minute. 15 each set. NO more, NO less. -sigh- And still our lawn isn't as "excellent as the neighbors around us." What a mess! I hope the unpacking goes well for you! Enjoy your new home!
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDana
Please write a book. Your style and honesty make the world a better place. Thank you.
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrevbutter
Ah. The burbs.

Wait until the bunco / Pampered Chef / Creative Memories partiy invitations begin. Then you'll really feel like you belong.

:)
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
We get that "it's too quiet" whine from our city slicker guests. But really, between the owls and the coyotes, there's plenty of racket! No gossip about sluts, though, sadly!
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFlydaddy
Glad I am at home and not in the office. I laughed, loudly, twice at this entry: once when you talked about how you say hi, and once about Bren's reasons why you don't use 10 and 2.Guess I have a "dismembered arms/flailing limbs" button embedded in my funnybone. Maybe I need therapy...Just bear in mind that we who still dwell in apartments are reading your accounts of homeownership with much envy. Well, most of us are. Okay, I am. I can say at least that much with assurance.
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelanieinOrygun
silence. desperation. vomit-induced weeping. now that's drama.

Weeds? But the porch! the porch!
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlis
vomiting in the car!?!?! ok - this could be a problem...

i am a suburban minivan owner. yes it is a sad, sad fate. but you literally can't go ANYWHERE without driving. my twin sister's baby HATES the car and screams until she vomits. (now at one she has ceased the vomiting, but still screams) Let's just say my twin goes nowhere.

as usual - your post is inspired. but you must hear that so much you are sick of it.
May 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJanice
It is good to know that your internet connection is working. Keep us up-to-date.

PS I have no idea what to do with the yard. My husband does all of that. I look at plants and they die.
May 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

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