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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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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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« Whining finally gets the respect it deserves. | Main | Today. »
Thursday
Jun082006

Yesterday--when all my troubles seemed right in my lap.

Remember when I was all depressed, that day? Boy, good thing I didn’t post to my blog, because really, who wants to read my pathetic, self-involved whining? It would be like watching a kitten with a wounded paw trying to climb some stairs. Am I right, about the kitten? Not even a cute kitten, let me add. One of those hairless types. With a bad eye.

(I just wrote “bad idea” instead of “eye,” which amused me. I like very much the image of a kitten with a bad idea. “I think I’ll mash up some Dexedrine and mix it with a Coke!” thought the kitten with the bad idea. “Kitties need uppers!”)

Yesterday I thought I was feeling better, and then I went to the supermarket. The suburban supermarket is a terrible place. I was so tired of the tiny, cramped supermarkets of Brooklyn, in which all of the aisles are designed to be exactly two inches narrower than the average stroller. Many a supermarket clerk heard the grunts and curses of a disheveled mom trying to hoist her stroller over boxes of yams and Depends in Aisle 6. And oh, I would think, how I would like a car! A car that one could load up with the many groceries, instead of hanging one’s grocery bags from one’s bodily parts and then attempting to drag one’s bag-laden self and one’s ornery child homeward!

But it turns out I was stupid to think these things, because the supermarkets here, they drive me even nutsier. First off, they’re way too big to find anything. You’re looking for some arugula and there are 57 arugula aisles, and the organic arugula is in one of them but you’ll never know which, and then you think SCREW THIS I’ll just grab some romaine hearts and the romaine hearts are 300 miles away, in the Romaine Wing (Hearts Aisle). So even if you’re going to the store for three items, it will still take you a day and a half. Pack a lunch.

And also during the day, the only other people in the supermarket are senior citizens. Not just senior citizens—ultra-seniors. The over-90 set wanders the many aisles all day long, looking for the bus back to their assisted living facility. They like to amble in front of your cart and demand that you help them located the roasted cashews.

Finally, starving and exhausted, I staggered to the cashier, who asked for my Super Value Savings Saver Plus Card, and I had to tell her I didn’t have one. She looked at me like I had just confided that all these groceries were for my satanic baby-eating feast. "I don’t understand," she said, and I said, “I—I just don’t have one“ and she said “You have to have one,” Shop-Rite must have your personal information before you can partake in the savings, which of course isn’t true, strictly speaking, but is true for these exceedingly concerned cashiers who just want you to get the savings! The sweet savings! So finally she got the special Newcomer Courtesy Card or whatever that enabled me to save 38 cents, and she let me go. But it still took me 45 minutes to get to my car because of all the old people who died on their way to the exits.

I finally got to my car, where I cried into my steering wheel, because I still couldn’t see the humor in any of it. Luckily it’s hitting me today. A little late, but it’s coming to me.

Reader Comments (113)

Good News! I was so sad for you yesterday.

But the sarcasm is coming back and that's the first step in Suburban Survival.
See the nice thing about the seniors is that then there's someone slower than one's upset but-I-want-it child is throwing a fit.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterShandra
Hey, Anne, next time I'll tone it down and bore everyone to tears.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
The suburban supermarket is a terrible, terrible, very bad place.

No question.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
You know what I really miss about C-Town and Key Food and all those city supermarkets (aside from lugging all those hand-cutting bags up to my fourth-floor walk-up)? The way all the meat smelled and tasted like disinfectant. MM mm good. Boy, they just don't make meat like that here.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Handley Sisco
I didn't say you weren't funny and entertaining. You are. But rather than replying with some arse-kissing schmaltz about how "oh i agree" and "oh these lousy suburbs" and yes, "these provincials have never seen a pomegranate," I thought I'd be frank.

Don't tone it down. Though sometimes really perceptive truths can be more poignantly funny than exaggeration.

Sorry if I sound patronizing. Really, I am sorry. And it is possible to be something and know you are it.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey
You made my cat cry with the allusion to a wounded kitten. I teared up a bit too...

Sorry, yes, that was exaggeration.

I should be cool here and write a few quick lines about how I love your blog and you're always funny and entertaining, but I am just not all cool, so sorry again.

I love you Alice!
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
You made my cat cry with the allusion to a wounded kitten. I teared up a bit too...

Sorry, yes, that was exaggeration.

I should be cool here and write a few quick lines about how I love your blog and you're always funny and entertaining, but I am just not all cool, so sorry again.

I love you Alice!
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
And then I double posted. I told you. Not cool.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Good for you. You're exactly the kind of person who will not like ageing and whose haha-not-so-funny words about "old people dying" will come back to haunt you as you sit all by your boring lonesome really old self one day in your not-so-distant future. Oh yeah, you're hilarious and I know that will be some good consolation for you when nobody else comes to see you because you're OLD and women in their LATE 30s who still think they are teenagers think it's so adorable of them to make fun of you. It makes them feel... younger or something, I guess.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenternever mind
This made me laugh out loud: "But it still took me 45 minutes to get to my car because of all the old people who died on their way to the exits."

Girl, don't got grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon EVER. They BUS THE OLD PEOPLE to the grocery store on Sundays. I'm not even kidding.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaynee
Holy Cow! The same thing happened to me a few days ago at my local Supermarket!.

After this casheir found out we didn't have a card, she kept on insisting to my wife that they needed her personal information so we can obtain the savings. I then told the casheir "Listen, just take the money", so she said "But we need your information", like a snob ass Verizon telemarketer. I then told the casheir "Are you on crack?", but before I could continue, my wife cut in with her first ever funny "Honey, she's not strung out, just slightly retarded". The girl then got mad, rung us up, and we was out of there, tripping over a few elderly along the way to our car. They was laying everywhere!
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDear AL
Anne, I'm just lazy! Poignant truths take too long to come up with.

Also apparently I hate old people. Geez, people, lighten up.



June 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
You guys, I was lying around tonight, thinking about getting some groceries tomorrow, then I remembered what you said about shopping on Saturday. So I got my ass off the couch, put some real clothes on, and had a pleasant shop on Saturday night.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMia
Alice, I'm a tight ass. And seriously, I really like your humour and your blog. I'm just an uptight mostly native New Jerseyan who's way too young to be taking the side of the Suburbs but who is way too poor to live in NYC where all of my hip friends live. Someday soon, my husband will finish his dissertation and become a professor and I'll get a rockin' fellowship to a doctoral program and we'll move somewhere cool. Then, I'll likely laud the luxuries of urban living and smugly disdain the humdrum of Suburbia.

Keep on keepin' on.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey
Alice, I'm a tight ass. And seriously, I really like your humour and your blog. I'm just an uptight mostly native New Jerseyan who's way too young to be taking the side of the Suburbs but who is way too poor to live in NYC where all of my hip friends live. Someday soon, my husband will finish his dissertation and become a professor and I'll get a rockin' fellowship to a doctoral program and we'll move somewhere cool. Then, I'll likely laud the luxuries of urban living and smugly disdain the humdrum of Suburbia.

Keep on keepin' on.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey
And, I'm too lame to get a high speed connection and so I've inadvertently posted twice.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey
Someone please tell Sarah (author of the tenth comment) that Dobby is not a cat. He is a house elf, and Harry Potter has been looking for him EVERYWHERE!

Alice - get hold of yourself. Big supermarkets are GREAT. You have to know how to work 'em, baby. First off, you should never arrive at the cashier's belt "starving"... you're in a GROCERY STORE, for the love of Mike! Why do you think they have those great little pyrex containers full of candy, with the scoops handily stored right where you can reach them as you cruise by?

And who the hell is going to arrest you for popping open one of those ubiquitous and much-maligned cans of cashews and munching a couple while you cruise the magazine aisle? As long as you bring the can to the register and pay for it, they could care less if you eat them in the store!

As far as what's in what aisle - after you've been to the same store a couple of times, you should have that down pat.

You'll know you've really settled in when you can cruise through that puppy in fifteen minutes, AND use the "self checkout aisle" without setting off all the alarms.

Best of luck! I know you can do it.

- M
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermarcheline
Hi Alice: I enjoy your blog but maybe a little perspective would help. Women in Iraq would love to have our supermarkets and safe suburbs. Everytime their children walk out the door they must wonder if they will see them again. You might feel better by being grateful for what we do have here.
June 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Andrade
I just read this post for the second time because I needed to laugh. You.are.so.funny.I might print it out to read when I feel depressed.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Hi Alice. I've just spent way way too long reading stuff from your website while I've been at work tonight.

I'm a newcomer to reading your blog. I'm far away (New Zealand) and your life does seem at once very foreign and different, and yet similar too. Maybe it's living with a pre-schooler, not being a full-time paid worker, something like that.

Anyway, I read the Bloomfield Buzz, and it did seem like there were some encouraging things about the place - I liked the sound of Alphabet Art. And free mammograms (that sounds kinda weird, but you know what I mean, I hope. Not in a "cool, I've been wanting to get my boobs checked out!" sort of way, but in a general caring-for-the-community way). A new cafe with delicious ice-cream, that sounds nice. Still a way off feeling like home, but it might be a start.

I'm hoping that you read all these comments, and that knowing so many people are wishing good things for you somehow makes dealing with all the changes more bearable.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam
Yes, Liz. And if I didn't have arms I coudln't push the shopping cart. And if my laptop were made of sheep dung I'd have a terrible Internet connection.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Nurse! We need a humor injection, STAT! There seems to be an outbreak of "perspectivitis" in this comment thread! The patient loses perspective as to what they are actually reading and experiences a personal sensitivity to content. Luckily, it's almost always curable with a chill pill.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
Alice, your post really made me weep. I lived feeling like that, day in day out, for over a year. I moved not only out of London - bad enough! - not only to a suburb - but a suburb in France, albeit a very nice one, where I live in a large house that boasts a pool etc, and my children are happy and tanned and run around naked on hot days, etc. I thought I was dying, I really did. I used to make appointments with real estate agents to visit top floor apartments in central Paris, came home and described them in detail to my disbelieving husband. And then...after a year or so I suddenly just - stopped feeling like I had died. I got sick and tired of being miserable and crying and visiting apartments we were never going to live in. I noticed that it really didn't take long to get into the city and that on most days I didn't burst into tears the minute I dropped my kids at school. I hope, I really hope, that you get there. And if you don't, then GO BACK TO THE CITY. It's not worth feeling like this forever. You hate yourself in the end.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha
Alice, two words: Satish Palace. It always makes my day. The best Indian in the area and don't let anyone tell you otherwise (if you live where I think you do). It's on The Avenue in Montclair. You can fill up on samasos and sagwala and then take a stroll up Church Street and do some window shopping. Don't bother with the Wednesday night buffet, however, as they season it for the most wimpy palate.

I want to live in New Zealand.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey

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