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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
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. → 

« Tartar-sauce-loving witches will dislike me after this one. | Main | Questions, questions. »

The answers! My god, the answers!

Never let it be said that you people don’t have opinions. And my word, how much you’ve all moved. I must be unusual in my fondness for remaining in one place. If I moved to a new apartment in Brooklyn, I had to break out the smelling salts and spread myself across my fainting couch for at least the first month. But you, you adventurous types! You’re all when I lived in Tanzania I also felt some ennui and the first few months in Bangladesh were fairly tough. And here I am, living FORTY MINUTES (gasp!) from my old hometown, and weeping into my neckerchief over it.

First of all, I apologize for writing a post like that, which captured my feelings at that exact moment, feelings which changed fifteen minutes later and why don’t I wait an hour or so before posting something? It’s lovely, the way I puke all over the Internet, and all you nice people come rushing to clean me up. (Not that fifteen minutes later I decided I loved it here and we would never move—but as the day wore on, the need to GET OUT certainly felt far less desperate.)

That said, your insight was quite valuable, and you are all fine citizens of the Internet. The comments fell squarely into two camps: 1) We should give this place a year, and then reassess, and 2) We should move right now because life is too short to be miserable. Then there was the occasional “get over yourself” comment, which okay no one actually SAID, but I know some of you were thinking it. I know this because I can read your thoughts. Right now you’re thinking about dinner. You’re going to have chicken.

At first the comments that shrieked GET OUT! filled me with delight. Yes! We’re city folk! Back to the city we go! I still have my library card! And the comments that urged us to wait and weigh the pros and cons and give it time --oh, how they chafed. How tiresome, I thought. You sensible people are a total bummer.

But then this morning I re-read the comments, and the “wait it out” party all of a sudden sounded far more appealing. Because honestly? We’re not utterly miserable. We’re not surrounded by rednecks, as some of you seem to be. (And for this I am sorry.) We have nice neighbors. There’s, like, culture, and stuff. I suspect we can find ways of making ourselves feel better, here and now. (Not spending a sunny Saturday arguing in Home Depot, for instance.)

Then, of course, there’s Henry, and his school is all set for next year. Pulling him out of school a month early this spring near to killed me, and he loves his camp (which will hopefully become his school in the fall if someone pulls out and we get off the waitlist, oh please oh please), and I’m not taking that away from him.

So: we’re going to continue on this rollercoaster ride of adjustment. It’s a decidedly undramatic decision, but on the other hand it doesn’t entail buying multiple rolls of bubble wrap. Meanwhile, we’ll act as if we’re moving back, we’ll get prices on rentals, maybe we’ll even look at a few. And come spring, if we’re still feeling like Brooklyn is home, then we know what to do.

Or we’ll be just as clueless as we are now, and I’ll be back here, begging you for more advice.


Reader Comments (87)

Sorry about the double post. Computer locked up. Grr. Maybe it choked on a chicken bone.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Hi. I've nothing terribly important to say. Carry on.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjes
I didn't comment the other day, but it sounds like you're going with what I'd suggest anyway. We've lived in 3 different cities since we were married and moved several times inside of cities. It is never easy. I have now been in this house for over 5 years and it's the longest I've ever lived somewhere as an adult. It really takes about a year to feel comfortable, and sometimes up to two to find your niche, a group of friends, etc. Hang in there! And, if after a year you're still all "meh" then you know you gave it your best shot!
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSteph.
How did you know about the chicken?

*looking behind me*
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah, Goon Squad Sarah
I'm positive you'll make the choice that is best for all three of you! =)
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDana
i'm so glad to hear you're feeling better about it. change IS hard. don't feel bad for feeling uncertain.i know 'wait and see' is always a good choice for me, because i'm so damn FICKLE! i change my mind about everything a dozen times :) take care *Hug*
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramy
I have lived in a lot of cities, in a lot of houses and sometimes in the same city multiple times. My experience is you can never go back. Meaning that as a person and family you are continually changing and even if you were to move back to the SAME home, SAME town, and SAME school... you will not be the same and you will have these thoughts all over agian. You moved for a reason...just keep reminding yourself of that reason. There are going to be things that you miss about the old town... but just remember... the grass is always greener on the other side...
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
Clearly, you need some pie.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdinka
Um hi. So I'm a mover too - I've lived in 4 different states (2 big cities, 1 small city, 1 small town) in the past year. I'm going to stay where I am for a while...mostly because I signed a 1-year lease, but that's beside the point. My experience has been that you will never feel at home if you don't act like you already are at home.

Before now, I was always looking eagerly ahead to the next place I wanted to live, or back at the last place with longing. But now, I'm making baby steps towards accepting my apartment, my neighborhood, my dry-cleaner (apparently New York is the only place in the country that does next-day dry cleaning as a standard if), my stupid restaurants that are not open past 9pm... you know. It's about tradeoffs, and it takes time to decide just what you can and cannot handle.

So I guess this puts me squarely in the "wait a while" camp. You'll make it. And what great stories you'll have.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commentericed coffeeee
Alice! I am having guinea hen for dinner. but you were close.

We miss you in the big BK, but honestly, some of us are trying to flee it, too, and its wretched summer sweaty armpit hell. Me, for instance. I was so desperate to leave brooklyn i went to the airport a day early. the spring is a much nicer time to think about things. basically, i validate your decision. cheers.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlis
Damn, I wish 130 people would give me advice every day. I'm so indecisive. Would that help? Probably not but it would give me the illusion that I considered all the options. Considering all the options on your own is so much work.
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterozma
i am always of the opinion that you can live through pretty much anything for a year, and sometimes it's worth it.

it would not only give you a chance to settle in, and have henry in a school he'd like, but if you do end up leaving, it gives you a better chance of recouping your losses on the house.

plus, i didn't start liking our current place until i'd been able to be in it for all four seasons fully.

August 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermainja
Keep hanging in there, you brave girl. In the meantime, Joyce Maynard has an amazing piece in Salon on the experience of grief after moving:

We're all rooting for you!

August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterShariMac
I am just VERY surprised that so few commenters encouraged you to wonder what would be best for Henry. I mean, if you were childfree there is no way you would have left Brooklyn for the NJ 'burbs! The reason you moved is that you have a kid now. I am sure he really misses the old neighborhood, that is all he ever knew. But hopefully you will find there is more fun, space and safety FOR HIM where you are. And if that doesn't turn out to be the case, then hie you back to Brooklyn. Best of luck!
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAML
I'm totally in with the new plan. Everyone always said and thought I was "big city," and now all of the sudden, I'm moving to NEBRASKA of all god-forsaken places because, well, I like it and it feels like home. I gave this big-city thing a try for a long, long time, and I loved it and hated it all, and mostly, I will miss it. But I can tell you that I don't regret sticking it out in this situation; it is one thing that makes me really, really proud of myself. I wish you and your family the best of luck. I bet you learn to absolutely love it, and you will spend the next year discovering why. Always remember that you made this decision and you made it for a reason!
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOnePart
Oh, I hope somebody told you, re: Being A Terrible Homeowner, that that part is not your fault. Every house has a sort of nervous breakdown for a few months when somebody new moves in, and things break or stop or fall off in an alarming edifice form of Acting Out. The house misses the last people, and hears all the crying and arguing, and is getting poked in the cupboards and crevices -- and the house can't take it. So the basement floods, or the gutters fall off, or the heater's warranty papers go missing, and you think you've made a horrible mistake. But it DOES get better. You stop crying at night, and the house feels better. Most stuff gets unpacked, and the house adjusts. The heater mysteriously comes back on at an appropriate time, you discover a patch of unidentifiable but beautiful flowers in the backyard (occasioning a pleasant chat with a heretofore wary neighbor), and you and the house begin to like each other.

OK, maybe a little romantic. But after our dishwasher exploded and we replaced some stinky carpet and realized we'd have to insulate half the attic, we did meet a nice neighbor and figured out the wiring. The place that seemed like our biggest unfixable mistake (in our town's most dangerous neighborhood, yay!) has gradually, with the help of a nice tall fence, turned into our good home.
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commentergoodsandwich
I commented on your last entry (I was in the wait-a-year camp), and ever since reading that entry I've remembered how miserable I felt for a few months after we moved into the house we bought. And I've realized that it was the fact that we owned the house that was so depressing. I had never noticed the cracks in our rental house (I probably thought they were evidence of the house's charm), but the cracks in the house we owned were certainly evidence that the house was slinding into some sort of sinkhole. A couple of months after we moved in the ceiling in our office started leaking and I nearly came unglued. I so wished I could just call the landlord to come and fix it. But no, we were the landlords now. Anyway, the panicked reactions to everything that broke or looked "funny" subsided and it eventually started to feel like home; now 3 years later if the ceiling started leaking I would probably just sigh and put a pot under the drip and make a note to call someone to come look at it sooner or later, then pour myself a glass of wine.
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMandy
My husband and I are considering opening a small chain of marriage counseling booths to be located inside Home Depots/Lowes/Menards (a la Lucy Van Pelt). We never get out of there without having had a fight.
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLizRM
A big hearty boo-ya for the good advice and common sensiness of the internet. Cheers to your readers.
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
having just moved to TOLEDO i can say that i am desperate to move back to brooklyn. when i look around me, i feel like i'm watching an episode of cops. no joke. i feel for you, alice.
August 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkirsten
I feel your pain. I was going to give my adopted hometown six months, then six more, okay, a few more, but we are out of here next year.

It's now ten years later, and what do you know, the place has grown on me. Little Rock is not very sexy on the surface, and it is slow to give up its secret pockets of hip, but it's actually turned out to be a wonderful place. I never would have guessed.

I went to hear poet Gary Snyder once, and he said we should never underestimate the value of staying in place, of hanging in there and working it out with one community, one geography. Kind of like marriage, I guess.

Maybe you could think of this year as a "moving-in-together-pre-engagement" kind of experiment.

I blogged the other day about how one of those intolerable deprivations from the first year has worked itself out.

Come on over whenever you get to feeling blue again!

K,, Notes to Self
August 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterk.
I've said it before - but my husband was a born and bred NYC man when I met him. Brooklyn and Queens were the only things he had ever know in his entire 30 years of life. He HATES change - HATES IT. But in 2001 I talked him into moving to the suburbs of NJ. He hated it for the first year - complained about just about everything (NJ drivers, the grocery stores, dry cleaners, lack of things to do on the weekend, the dreariness of schlepping into the city instead of just hopping on the subway - you name it, he complained). But once he "got over himself" he realized that he actually LIKED not having to be on the go all the time. He liked the peace and quiet. He didn't feel that overwhelming need to go into the city all the time except for the occasional happy hour with his old buddies from Brooklyn.

And look where we are now - we left the NYC area altogether and moved to SOUTH CAROLINA and after 3 1/2 weeks being here he has yet to complain about anything! He doesn't miss NJ (although I laughed when he complained about SC/NC drivers and claimed NJ drivers were better)!

So it'll get better - it's only been a few months. You made a wise decision to stay for a year. I recommend that you pop over to parts of Montclair - you'll see that in many ways it is a lot like Brooklyn. And for de-stressing I highly recommend the massages available at Bangz Salon!!
August 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaynee
Hello Alice,Just to let you know that I quoted you in an article (Mommy Bloggers Achieve Community and Empowerment in the Lusosphere*) I've posted at Global Voices.Thanks!Jose.

*Lusosphere = Portuguese speaking blogosphere
August 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJose Murilo Junior
avoid the bubble wrap AT ALL COST
August 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenters@bd
I think it's probably the right choice, the harder one, because we all know it's a heck of a lot easier to pack it up and runaway than stay and face our fears.

I really think that school for henry (hopefully he gets in) could be a turning point for you. Depending on the other moms, you could meet some new friends. Or, at the very least, create a nice routine into your day with dropping off and picking up.

Anyway, best of luck. I'll be thinking of you.
August 12, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjess

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