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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

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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. → 

« Hi, I'm panicky. | Main | Henry wants you all to know... »

Things I thought I would do as a grown-up, when I was seven.

Wear pantyhose.

Okay, I have worn panytyhose in my life, but not with the regularity I assumed I would. I do not even own a pair, currently. If my mother found this out she would be scandalized.

Get brainwashed.

I didn't know if it would be by an underground militia or a cult, but I was pretty sure that at some point in my life, I would be wearing white robes and my new name would be Snowfall. I wasn't looking forward to deprogramming, but I knew that when I did, my brooding deprogrammer would fall in love with me even as he brutalized my warped mind back into reality. It's for your own good, he would whisper over my inert body. Still hasn't happened.

Quit smoking.

I have never smoked, so I have never been able to quit. I have been robbed of that triumphant feeling of removing the nicotine monkey from my back.

Play bridge.

I barely know what bridge is, but the adults I knew, they all played it. As I came of age, I suspected that I would be indoctrinated into the ways of bridge. So far no one's come at me with a pack of cards.

Play tennis.

I hated tennis, I could never play, in school I was always assigned to hit balls against the side of the building because I disrupted everyone else's game—but when I reached some milestone of adulthood, I knew that I would simply begin sporting tennis whites and calling my gal pals up for doubles. I thank God every day that this has not happened.

Attend corporate black-tie events.

This would be for my husband, who would be some sort of corporate stooge. See above re: thanking God. Then again, paid vacations would be nice.

Enjoy cocktails at 5.

You know in Annie Hall, when Woody Allen has dinner with Diane Keaton's family? That's how Scott describes meeting my family, a lot. And it's all because of the cocktails. (Also some other things.) Mother likes her Manhattans. But here I am, almost 40, and if I have a drink at 5 p.m. I'm asleep by 8.

Have a nervous breakdown.

Having read "The Yellow Wallpaper," I figured that at some point in a woman's life she succumbs. And everyone knows I'm the nervous type, prone to hysteria, given to fits. I assumed that at some point I would take to my bed for a period of weeks, perhaps in the country. There would be hushed voices outside my door, the occasional cool compress. And yet! Although I have suffered the melancholia throughout my life, I have not yet felt my mind completely fracture. There's still time, though.

Reader Comments (78)

I've come to find that almost every man I've come in contact with is under the impression that women wear pantyhose all. the. time. Jeans? Shorts? Capris? Still wearin' 'em.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Sounds like you were all set to grow up and become Fallon Carrington-Colby, while I was anticipating crockpot expertise and adult soccer league.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzan
I was pretty sure I was going to grow up and be a Solid Gold dancer. I was always partial to the girl in hotpants who shook her tushie into the camera.

Too bad Solid Gold went off the air, otherwise...
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTwice Five Miles
That's an impressive list. I always had the feeling I'd finally be in touch with Santa Clause. But not too long after that bubble was burst.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon Morgan
modern day poopy head = olde tyme nervous breakdown?

i thought when i was an adult i would attend more cocktail parties, while my hair was in a bun and probably wearing pantyhose. pimento stuffed olives and toothpicks were involved.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
I thought for sure I would never get stuck first in line at a red light. It just seemed like way too much pressure for me to handle. Nah, won't happen.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersus
I used to fear (from watching Dragnet and Emergency) that when I hit 17 I would become an LSD taking,free-love believing, Charles Manson following dirty hippie.

Thank God the Charles Manson part never came true.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa V
Having read The Yellow Wallpaper at seven, I'd say you're lucky to have turned out so unpsychotic. Either that or there are bodies in your basement and you are hiding behind a mask of some sort, commiserating with the families of your victims.Either way.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
Oh dear, I suck. I wear pantyhose pretty much every day, and I am not a fan. I have a cocktail pretty much as soon as I come in the door, too, though not necessarily at 5-- but I have to fix it myself. And the nervous breakdown? Did that-- had to go to work the next day anyway. You're better off. (We do have one thing in common-- I didn't marry rich, either. Dratted love.)
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBipolarlawyercook
Re: quitting smoking - I just thought today about how I'd never gotten to quit smoking, and considered taking up smoking, just so that I could quit. In my defense, I would do it in order to better empathize with my future patients. The truly silly part? I'm going to be a pediatrician.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterA future doc
I was pretty sure I was going to be a James Bond with big boobs, busy taking down the USSR for most of my adulthood. What can I say? I was inspired by Rocky IV and Octopussy (because cable tv made me a classy seven year old).

Stupid Russian Empire caving in on itself and ruining my childhood dreams.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteranne nahm
What the hell is it about bridge? I, too, thought I'd be playing that. But then I associated it with smoking and drinking. Well, at least I got to do two out of three. (But now it's just one out of three.)
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpatois
Truly bizarre because I also read the Yellow Wallpaper and assumed insanity was some sort of rite of passage. Like it was something grownups just "did."

I also thought for sure I'd be in a cult. I was fascinated by Patty Hearst.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
seriously. Why were you reading the Yellow Wallpaper at 7?That book freaked me out at 21.I'm not sure I thought about what I'd be doing as an adult when I was 7; but looking at your list, I'd had to agree with most of them - pantyhose, bridge, tennis, black tie events, and also possibly hosting said events for my successful corporate husband. Instead, here I sit as the successful corporate 1/2 of the family, and I'm not wearing pantyhose - yay!
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
5 seems pretty late for cocktails, don't you think?
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPete Dunn
I never heard of the Yellow Wallpaper, and this is after two masters; I think in the deep south, we don't need to have a book to help us scamper next to Crazy--we just look on the fronch porch and are ready to run screaming into traffic.
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertoni mcgee causey
I always sort of wanted to have a nervous breakdown, or even better, a psychotic break (I read 'I Never Promised You a Rose Garden' as a child). A spell in a psychiatric hospital seemed romantically appealing. I was never quite sure how to go about it, though. So far I haven't been able to induce mental collapse through sheer willpower, but I continue to hold out hope.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
You really should be grateful you never did smoke.

"I have been robbed of that triumphant feeling of removing the nicotine monkey from my back. " - I almost find this insulting. Never having smoked, you have no clue how big and bad that monkey can get. I struggle with it daily after having been a 20+ year smoker. It's not a triumphant feeling, it's one day at a time praying you don't break down and go to the 7-11 and buy a pack of smokes and smoke them all at once.

I really enjoy reading your posts. Sorry if I'm a little cranky on the smoking thing.. it's very personal to me.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbubblewench
I was pretty sure that I would grow up to be a punk rocker girl like my teenage babysitter Anna who dressed cooler than anyone I had ever seen and had an accent over the first "A" in her name.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Bubblewench? That was a joke. I also never want to have a nervous breakdown.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralice
I'm not sure why you would like to wear pantyhose more often, but I'm certain that if you did (especially in high heat) you might either start drinking more...and a 5p kickoff would allow for generous consumption...which could eventually lead to a nervous breakdown. If that scenario isn't realized, I hear that heavy drinking ladies in hose and slacks make mean bridge players. It's refreshing to read someone who had/has clear goals.Good work.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterIzzy Rose
When I was seven I thought that 24 would be high time for me to get married and start shootin' out some children.

Now my major goal at 24 is to purchase a car and avoid marriage and pregnancy at all costs.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
Alice!! Why didn't you say there was an 18-minute video interview with you on today's Alphamom? Represent, woman! Off to go watch it right now ...
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlizpenn
Count me in as another who thought she'd be playing bridge. But I also thought that bridge mix was a crucial part of the equation. I also thought I'd have six dogs. I'd have kicked you if you told me I would instead have one cat.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwealhtheow
When I was 7, I wanted to leave a successful career due to a bone-headed-president's-induced recession thus becoming a stay-at-home-mom. I wanted to live amongst privileged suburbanites who don't know the meaning of the word "irony." I wanted to fill my days running tedious errands and be out of the workforce just long enough to be able to not get back in.Ahhhh, the dreams of youth.
August 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGray Matter

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