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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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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)

My sister just sent me a bunch of pictures of her kid frolicking in the green fields of Jersey... looks like a beautiful green place. I never thought of NJ any further than the Turnpike, but that was just ignurt of me. :)I think a house, any house, is a trade-up from an apartment. And so will you very soon again, I'm sure. :)
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelanieinOrygun
I went through the same thing while in the midst of moving from Manhattan to Atlanta. All of a sudden, I realized, I will never be cool again. Of course, I have never been cool, but I figured it was definitely more possible in New York than in Atlanta. And it's true, but I guess I'm over it now. I like driving around and going to the mall in shorts and sneakers. But sometimes it makes me want to shoot myself.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
i know others have said this, but deep breaths. in with the suburban air, out with the city air. it's different, it's not as cool, but it's totally ok. and i'm not even a stepford wife! i'm a wahm-divorcee with four dogs! (hmmm. maybe stepford wife was more reassuring.) it's ok, alice. xo
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkristin
Mazel Tov!

Change is *always* scary, but this too shall pass. And you have an actual HOUSE to live in - once you figure out what to do with all that room I am sure you will be in love with your new surrounds. The city is still just a bus or train ride away if you can't face the drive, and being in New Jersey you get the best of both worlds - easy proximity to one of the greatest cities in the world, and a lovely, quiet grassy place for Henry to frolic.

Can't wait to see the new digs!

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterShwen
hi alice. first time commenter here and i enjoy your blog, especially your posts related to park slope and brooklyn. but now i'm also looking forward to your new adventures in new jersey. My husband and I lived in windsor terrace and we thought we were die-hard brooklynites. i think realizing we weren't able to afford the type of home we wanted in brooklyn was the best thing that ever happened to us. there's so much i want to say about how much happier i am emotionally, living in new jersey. but in a nutshell, i'm a lot less anxious and more laid back and i feel like my mind has completely opened up. I feel it has a lot to do with the open spaces here. anyway, i think my being happy here also boiled down to the realization that i spend most of my time with my family (when i'm not working) and home is where the heart is and blah, blah blah, you get the point.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranita
Just think. You'll be close to a boardwalk, not as grand and storied as Coney Island, but still Ocean City's is pretty cool. Jersey beaches are GORGEOUS!! Especially Sea Isle & Strathmere. Maybe I'l bump into you on the 'boards. Of course, in Jersey, We'd say "Oh, excuse me. My fault."

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCatizhere
it will be different and some parts of it will suck hard but mostly, you'll be glad you did it. i bet anything.

now, where are the pictures of the glorious soon-to-be finslippy abode? we want pictures.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterhonestyrain
dunno if this will be anything like Henry's experience, but...

I was almost four when my family moved away from manhattan, to a FARM! that was practically in canada! (money was not a factor in that move; my parents were starving artists either way. actually we had more money in the city because my dad sold hotdogs from one of those pushcarts and drove a cab.) as a little kid, I absolutely loved farmland, and many of the other places we lived later. but I always loved new york city the most, and when I got old enough to decide where to live I came back here. I'll always be glad to have grown up in different environments, though, and I wouldn't trade those four years on the farm for four more childhood years in the city.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrabi
Oh, honey, I feel your pain in such a major way.

Only we left the coolest of cool kinda' gay, kinda' Asian, kinda' hipster neighborhood of Chicago for a suburb of Detroit. We are the lamest people alive, but that neighborhood made us cool. I knew the latest books, the latest fashions, the latest weirdo fusion cuisine trends. At least you can go back for a visit. I fear our coolness is gone forever.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
In the suburbs the cars generally stay off the sidewalks. That's a huge perk!!

And coolness is overrated anyways. At least that's my excuse.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
First, a giant congratulations on buying the house (officially)!

Secondly: CVS will become your all-purpose present-buying treasure. Who wouldn't want a shopping bag full of slightly smutty men's magazines and a large assortment of single-serving-size bags of chips for ANY OCCASION? Think of the gift-bag possibilites! The Shampoo Variety Pack present, the All The Gum You Can Chew present, the Nasal Spray & Condoms present... your friends and family will thank you.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNadarine
Alice, I live in the 'burbs outside of Boston, and it's just fine. Plenty of things to keep me occupied, we're 6 miles outside of the city so we use it for entertainment but not for shopping. We don't need it because we've got plenty of cool hip little shops here in my burb. You'll find those where you've moving as well. And you'll find lawns and flowers and trees and clean supermarkets and a dearth of rodents. You'll grow happier once you make new friends. In the meantime, remember this. DO NOT start every new conversation with "in Brooklyn we..." because you will drive people nuts.

And oh, about the Dunkin have no clue of how lucky you are to have one close. In a few years you'll be sending your son over to pick up a latte for you. We've got two within easy walking distance and I'm ever thankful that they're both close and cheap.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermargalit
May I be selfish? Just for a moment? Since I know you'll be okay after the intial transition (think John Glenn coming through the atmosphere in The Right Stuff, with flames all around his capsule and he almost dies but he makes it and then he's a hero), I am pathetically glad to hear of any cool person coming to the burbs. We need more of you out here. Sure, they're here, but they hide in the shadows sometimes, waiting to recognize one of their own kind in order to come out during the daylight.

Seriously though, Alice, you're going to do great. You'll find your way and things will be much better than you can imagine.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlosingtrue
It so stinks not to be borderline cool anymore.

I guess it's parenthood, growing old - who knew, and that whole actual-house thing.

I suspect you guys managed to pick the only cool neighborhood IN New, there's that.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
I don't know if you noticed but our neighborhood has already become the suburbs.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMM
Sometimes, I don't feel cool enough to even comment on your site, but here I go anyway..........

I live in the 'burbs and I think the most irritating part is the lack of good local dives for coffee and food. All the chains piss me off.

However, today I sat in my front yard with my son, enjoying the beautiful breeze and the sun setting. Which, come to think of it, was actually pretty cool, after all.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercagey
You think you're uncool? Remember your post where you talked about the hipsters in Williamsburg? My first thought when I read it was "Hmmm. I had no idea so many cool people hung out in Colonial Williamsburg." And I live in West Philly, so I don't even have the suburbs to blame.

Methinks you'll find plenty of blog material when you become a Jersey girl. So, um, that's good for us, your readers. But anyway, congratulations and best wishes!
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjuliloquy
Dear Alice,A couple of observations.1. Change is in and of itself a good thing. The fact that you and your husband (Henry is along for the ride) are making a big life change is something that will energize you. Sure, Brooklyn is cool, but so is the challenge of a change like this. There are cool things in Jersey too, you just have to look a little harder for them, that's all.

2. I am now seriously upset with myself for not stopping you on the street here in Brooklyn the couple of times I saw you to tell you how "cool" I thought your writing was. So just take your cool self across the rivers (East & Hudson) and redefine the suburban life!
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterswarty
Dear Alice,

And one more thing.

I am very sorry to report there is NOTHING cool about the Holland Tunnel but be safe in the knowledge that you will always be less than 7 minutes away (between traffic on the 1's to traffic on the 8's) from somewhat accurate tunnel congestion information.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterswarty
Just don't forget how much you love the cool. And when your son is 16 and wants to go to the cool for some reason or another with his friends, and you know it will be mischeif, let him go.

Let him know cool.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarl
I was born and grew up in NJ (Roselle, Edison, River Vale, Cranford). I still have family there (Rahway, Cranford, Princeton, Burlington, Essex Fells). Growing up in NJ, we all thought NJ was cool and Brooklyn was -- well, very uncool. NJ has given the world the Bruces (Willis and Springsteen), Bon Jovi, Judy Blume (come on, she's cool when you'e 12), Ice-T, Jack Nicholson, Tony Soprano! Brooklyn has given the world, what -- a tree??? I'm proud to be from New Jersey. The most maligned state in the union is a very cool place to be. Give it a chance.
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJayne
There is a lot of cool in NJ. We live on the west coast of NJ in a little old fishing village. We live uptown, but that's about 8 blocks from midtown which is about 3 blocks from downtown. We can walk to get a latte, walk pretty much everywhere, loads of funky little shops, tons of restaurants, and we can walk across the river to PA where there is a former artist's colony with still a lot of cool. Well, lots of Tourist Trap, I think. When I moved to NJ from the godforsaken wastelands of CT, I spent every weekend just driving around aimlessly, getting to know the state. I take it from your commerntor's hints that you are in NE NJ now(soon-to-be-now) Anyway, there are a lot of fun things to do there. Back issues of Weird NJ can be helpful! I've spent way too much time in NYC and loved every minute of it, but on peut s'amuse in NJ as well. It's a big move, and a big change in culture. I guess you'll just have to feel that way until you don't feel that way anymore. If you head to the "west coast" give us a shout, or drop an e-mail if you want helpful lists of things to do. Wow, that was pretty ramble-y. Tirrah.
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbee
We moved to NJ 3 years ago. We just-- THANK GOD--moved back to Brooklyn. I hated it. I realized I wanted my kid to grow up in NY even if he had no fresh air or trees or his own room. THE CITY IS BETTER.
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchristine
The only thing I think I might have a suggestion for is holiday shopping--online!

Great hip list of links ...

many under twenty dollah, she rocks
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersarah
I know that triumvarite - You must have moved to my neighborhood. I live up hill on Linden. If you need/want to meet some neighbors and have some coffee, send me an email.
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranne

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