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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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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. → 

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In which I use the word "cool" entirely too much.

It seems that we purchased a house today. Unfortunately I’ve changed my mind. I would like to stay in Brooklyn, please. Do you think the buyer of our apartment will let us stay? Maybe we can talk her into taking the New Jersey place.

My last-minute panic is based on nothing reasonable, except that where we live is cool, and where we will live, while probably cool in infinite ways, is not as cool. Period. We will never be this cool again. And we weren’t all that cool to begin with. You may think, reading this, that I have long placed my coolness in high esteem, but in fact I have never bothered much with the coolness. I didn’t have to, because I live here. Not that I even got much pleasure out of the cool things here. I can’t afford them, and even if I could, I’m too old. And I spend my time with a preschooler whose idea of fun is playing air accordion while blasting Led Zeppelin. Actually I don’t disagree with him. Even if I had never had a child I would probably be doing that. In my underwear, probably. And not the hot kind of underwear, oh no. I’m talking Jockey For Her Hipsters with sagging elastic because I still own panties that my mother purchased for me in 1985.

Oh my god, what am I talking about? Do you see what this has done to me? I am weak with panic. What the hell was I thinking? I’m going to have to drive places. And my god, I’ve just made my holiday shopping a million times more complicated. In Brooklyn we are steps away from so many damn clever shops that are so crammed with hip whimsy that it can give you a migraine if you take it all in at once. In New Jersey we will be steps away from a KFC, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a CVS. And I don’t think my mom wants a six pack of Crispy Nuggets for her birthday. I could be wrong about this.

But a person cannot live in a neighborhood just because of the cute shops, right? Right? They can’t, right? Oh god, what have I done?

It’s not just the coolness and the cute shops and the friends who will never move to Jersey and I see them every week and what was I THINKING. Crap, it’s everything. I can’t believe we can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ve lived here for fifteen years. Almost every day, I walk out of our house and I run into someone I know and love. Or someone I know and don’t like very much. Either way. I can’t believe I’m moving to the suburbs. I think I might throw up. I know I need to get over myself. I do. And I’m sure I will. Maybe in a year or two.

Reader Comments (111)

Mayhaps la_depressionada needs to buy herself a nice, cool, adult beverage... I bought myself one tonight and it did me a world of good!

I miss city life, too, Alice (feels funny to write that, 'cause it's my sister's name), but there are big pluses-- cleaner air, more room and quiet, a yard for growin' tomaters... good stuff. I hope you move in, stretch, look around and decide, THIS is the LIFE!
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Dodd

1. now Henry will be able to move away from the suburbs and establish his own coolness

2. you will be able to realize your inner coolness without all that external coolness distracting you from uh, you

3. you will have a backyard which combined with a sandbox, as I have recently discovered, is the secret to parenting sanity (my son was 2 1/2 before we moved to a house with a yard)

4. we moved to a less expensive part of town in order to get the kind of house we wanted - love the house - but the dodgy looking neighbour was a bit scary and guess what? The criminal element has got rid of the dodgy neighbour - yup, that's what I mean, he is no longer anyone's neighbour. Sorry, that's not helpful but it is a bit distracting - no?
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenternathalie
This blog is so educational! I never knew Brooklyn was cool. I thought it was a punchline kind of place. Or is that the Bronx? I am from California so I don't know from boroughs.

I would say cheery words about moving, but I just moved away from a place I tried to learn to like for 4 years, so I am not good for that kind of advice. All I can say is: if you don't like it, you can always move again. No harm, no foul.

I agree with the deep breaths person. And disagree with la-d, who it seems is just being kind of a wench.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSue
I used to live in Brooklyn, then moved away and I resented my new life. But when I went back to visit I found I no longer fit in. Everyone suddenly seemed to me anxious and irritable, and even when they were laughing they weren't having a good time. Is it because I'm older (40) now and move at a slower pace? Or is it because I have found that other "cool" -- cool as in chill, as in learning to breathe in and out, savoring the days? I hope you find that nice new kind of cool.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertawanda
Look, I know Brooklyn is great and all (and Lord knows it's about 12,004 times better than Mississippi - my current homestead), but Jersey? Jersey is the money.

Full serve gasoline? Crazy drivers? The highest car insurance rates in the country? Even worse accents than good ole NYC? C'mon. What does Brooklyn have on that?

Ha. All joking aside (from a transplanted New Jersey-ite), I imagine the transition from your "home" - a place that is so ingrained in you that is a part of your identity to something new and something not yet "you" is difficult. I've done it many a time.

Home isn't necessarily where your heart is -but sometimes where your heart WAS. And, it's okay to leave a piece there - just so long as you take enough with you to start fresh.

April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
I used to live in Brooklyn, then moved away and I resented my new life. But when I went back to visit I found I no longer fit in. Everyone suddenly seemed to me anxious and irritable, and even when they were laughing they weren't having a good time. Is it because I'm older (40) now and move at a slower pace? Or is it because I have found that other "cool" -- cool as in chill, as in learning to breathe in and out, savoring the days? I hope you find that nice new kind of cool.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertawanda
Hey, don't you have rats in your apartment, and don't you get serenaded by schizophrenics who are refusing meds? Sure, change sucks, but Jersey will have few rats (i hope!)

Change sucks, eh?
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Congratulations, Alice.

No snarky comments, no words of wisdom. Just congratulations. You'll be fine.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertits mcgee
And just before I read this, the SigOth and I had a huge debate about me wanting to stay in Brooklyn and him wanting a house (or similar abode) with a second floor where I can write and work and blog far far away from him and the baby and the PS3. What you are doing is the American dream--A house! A lawn! No neighbors above or below! And don't forget the many fireplaces.

You will be fine. Hip shops? Feh. That's what the internet is for.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
I left the city, not for the suburbs, but a rural community. It was major shock for awhile, but now i can't imagine a better thing. I still miss the city, but only when i am there.

I think if you had no fears about your move it would be much worse - too hard to live up to those expectations. For you though, being so nervous, you're bound to find things you love.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjess
Wow. You're just moving over the river. There's a bridge so you can visit all the time. I'm moving to Switzerland in July. I've lived in Manhattan (sooo much more cool than Brooklyn) for the last 11 years. SWITZERLAND! (nevermind I grew up there and cannot wait to go back, deep down). Dude, I won't have a bridge I can drive back over! You feel a bit better now?
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentervalentina
Congrats on the move! I'm a longtime reader who had to relocate to NJ from MA for school. Nothing is redeeming about Jersey except that it is close to NYC. But you know, not every state can say that.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbelda
You can always shop online. I can't really help you with any of the rest of it, though.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
I think change is good for the soul.

If it makes you feel better, I went to Carroll Gardens to visit my parents and they had replaced an iconic neighborhood pizzeria with a Dunkin Donuts.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel
i can't get beyond the panty thing either. it makes me think of a story about granny panties and a window.....

your house is fabulous. YOU are fabulous, therefore, the burbs will adapt TO YOU.

so it is written, so it shall be done.

April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
Ditto to the person who said, 'let yourself be anxious' It's a huge move. It's going to be great, but it's huge.

And, if you're anything like me, there will come another depressing shock in a few months or a year when you realize [i]you like it there![/i] so all of your cool cred is totally gone :-)

All the best with the move.

PS - pbbbthh to belda. New Jersey is more than a bridge.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLizRM
I'm a misplaced city girl, too. Although I just spent yesterday in The City (San Francisco) and for the first time I wanted to come home. I realized driving up my beautiful suburban street to my nice suburban house with my awesome suburban driveway that I actually was *over* the whole city thing. It made me sad and also happy. Bittersweet would be a good word to describe the feeling of knowing that I'm not going back and that my home is where the good school district is.

But yes, it's nice to live close enough to the city that you can go in for events and book signings and fun stuff.

And then come home to your peaceful place.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMary
You! Will! Bring! Cool! To! Jersey! And God KNOWS, many have tried and failed. But you, Alice, you are the One.

Like your own version of the Matrix with Costco and big hair!
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMeg
I think there are great things about life in suburbia that I've gleaned from my year of exile living there.

It's cheaper. Houses are bigger. You can have a garden without having to sell your kidneys for the extra cash. It's more child-friendly. People are less likely to mug you. It's not as polluted.

I think the shift from suburbia to city and back again or the other way around is just part of life's processes and shifts we make to accomodate finances, couplehood, having a child.

Every life is good. You are right, the city is undeniably cooler than the suburbs. The city is hip and funky and full of people who know that honing their wits is the best way to survive in its edgy race. True, it is easier to have a social life with the cool people but the city absorbs your energy and drains it fast (or maybe that's just London) and you end up smog-choked and noise-polluted and tired.

And the burbs while full of people who make me want to kill my brain to put it out of its slow-dying dullness misery are also full of nice things. It is undeniably harder to socialise with people from the city, but you'll just have to make more effort to reconnect. And you'll have extra money. And your kid will have green spaces! With green on them!

Good luck, and all the best.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNia
welcome to 'buyer's remorse'it only lasts a couple of years...

but after you put a new roof on the place, you'll really feel like you've made an investment and settle in.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterblackbird
Moving from a small apartment to a house; with a lawn, with trees for the kids to dangle in... it was no contest. I cannot even hardly remember what it was like to live in an apartment now, though we moved only 6 months ago.

But I could never go back to that hell. Never.

You'll adapt and then marvel at all the green [trees, plants, lawn] stuff surrounding you and, best of all, all the personal space [just for you] you are bound to find.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJennC
I feel your pain. On the one hand, it is true that your Brooklyn friends will never move to NJ; in fact, my experience indicates that they will not even come out to visit. But they will be delighted to have you come into the city, because it is a shorter trip. Yes, they will believe this, that the distance in one direction is shorter than the other.

Also, however essentially uncool you may be, I assure you that you will bring an aura of coolness to the suburbs and will be considered one of the coolest people in your town, at least for a while.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMomVee
Alice, I am tired of the commenters that are slamming Jersey. I was born and raised in Jersey, I have lived all over the US, and there is no place like Jersey! You will love it. Please calm down, remind yourself of the reasons for leaving Brooklyn in the first place, and . . . well, calm down! Your new life will be what you make of it. Don't waste time stressing about the expensive hip city whimsy you are leaving behind and embrace your decision. Be happy! Please!
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
i feel like vomiting FOR you. my husband and i are in a similar predicament, living in the heart of dallas and discovering that we can't afford to buy a house here that meets are needs.

it's making me so sick that i just typed "are" instead of "our."

and that's sick.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjes

I so know where you're coming from. We moved to the CT burbs last summer after living in Manhattan for 13 years. It was for all of the usual reasons--we were priced out of our beloved city, we have 2 little boys and wanted better schools, more space, etc. But it was painful. So much of my identity was wrapped up in the fact that I was living in NYC, the greatest place on earth. It is cool and hip and lovely and horribly expensive but there's no other place like it. We had gotten married there and had our children there and built our careers there and had friends and roots and lives that we were closing a door on. I was so conflicted. But here's how it went: the first 4 months or so I was so busy unpacking and finding my way around and getting the kids settled that I didn't have much time to think about what I was missing. Once settled, I missed my girlfriends like crazy and began to resent not being able to walk out my door and find a cool cafe with great music where I could sit and people watch for hours. I wanted to call up my firends and meet them at the playground and kvetch while the kids, who had known one another since they were embryos, had a blast together. But then recently I realized that I haven't felt sad about it for a while. It snuck up on me that I like it here for lots of reasons, many of which have already been mentioned. Our careers (teaching) are the same, our kids are happy and yes, we too are finally buying a house. So we're putting down new roots. And I'm no longer the cool city girl. And I won't lie that this bums me out. But I'm ok with it. You will feel the way you feel and it will evolve as time goes on. You may not grow to love it and, if so, you can always go back. You are cool no matter where you go, lady. Your coolness will stand out even more at the local D&D, promise.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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