Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works a straight job and is just about finished writing her first novel.

When I got to work yesterday morning our bookkeeper* called and asked me to cancel our company's FedEx account. Someone, she had no idea who, seemed to have the authority to refuse FedEx's charges and had claimed that half of their charges were fraudulent, which they weren't, and so the bookkeeper finally just concluded that the account was haunted and opened a new account just to keep the balls of business rolling. And because FedEx claimed that I was the only one with the authority to close the haunted account, because I had opened it, the dirty deed fell to me. *Every time I type the word bookkeeper it makes me pause and consider my sanity: what other word has O-O-K-K-E-E in the middle of it? It makes me want to double all the letters and spell it bbookkeeppeerr.

Just out of curiosity, before I called them I looked into my file and reviewed all the FedEx info I had, and I noticed that the last four digits of the charge card I'd used to secure the account looked awfully familiar. And then I thought, "Hey, now that's a coincidence! I had a bunch of fraudulent FedEx charges on my debit card last spring! I protested the charges and wrote several elaborate letters to my bank to get them taken off my account."

Yeah. I had used my own debit card to set up the company's FedEx account. And then I disputed every single charge our company had made on it! Because, excuse me, I did not go to FedEx twenty-three times in a six-week period! Somebody stole my account number! Money is draining straight out of my checking account and padding FedEx's pockets! Because they are so known for doing things like that.

In my extremely weak defense I will say that something like a million MasterCard numbers got stolen around the same time this happened, and I, uh, thought mine was one of them.

I wish I could blame this incomprehensible boneheadedness on the sleep deprivation I'm feeling right now, blame it on my wee son and his new habit of waking up in the middle of the night and hollering my name until I appear at his bedside, rumpled and squinting in the glare of his 500-watt nightlight. I will help you go to the bathroom, yes, and get you some milk, but then we have two choices. I can either snuggle up with you until you fall asleep again (which will take all of thirty seconds), knowing that T. Berry Brazelton's antennae are twitching because I'm letting my son use me instead of his own inner resources to fall asleep. (I know, T. Berry. I FUCKING KNOW.) Or I can carry you into our bed, where you will proceed to fall asleep in thirty seconds and snore in my ear for the rest of the night, thus ensuring that when I get up in the morning I will feel like a beaver has been lazily gnawing its way through my brain stem all night, i.e., not rested in the least.

If you'll recall, you used to sleep through the night by yourself, for years and years. We all did. It was great! I know, you spent a year or so sleeping with us in the big bed, and that was actually really nice, but we had, I thought, successfully transitioned you back into your own big boy bed.

And then: School started! And with it came new anxieties and changes in your sleep pattern. And of course now we have: Halloween! And with it: scary dreams!

So I'm pretty much fucked right now. Sometimes I'm up for two or three hours in the middle of the night, because you know what happens after our brief nocturnal encounter? Everyone else -- and by that I mean you, your father, and the dog -- goes right back to sleep. But I start thinking. My mind is ready to go! I start thinking about what t-shirt I'm going to do next, about my site redesign, about e-mails I need to return, about copyright law and trademarks and printing out a PayPal spreadsheet for taxes next year.

Oh, it's just as much fun as it sounds!

Then last night, desperate to go back to sleep while trying to fight off a full-blown fever of mental t-shirt design using the Pantone color chart in my brain, I remembered a writing exercise I used to use when my mind locked up.

Did you know I spent ten years writing poetry, refining and refining that little crossword puzzle of an art they call the sonnet until it was an effort not to answer the phone in pentameter?

My mind falls very easily into ruts, is what I'm saying.

So at some point I was trying to bust out of my well-worn groove and write some fiction, so I began to use this one exercise, I'd imagine all the negative voices in my head, the ones that hypnotize you into thinking you can't do it, you can't write a novel, you have nothing to say, you have no sense of plot, or character, or humor, or history, and you take that little voice and you put it under a bell jar. You can still see it, but you can't hear it. And then you shrink it down real small until it's the size of a mosquito going "Bzz! Bzz! Bzz, motherfucker!" and bumping ridiculously into the walls of the jar, and you go, "Suck it, asswipe," and the tiny, stupid little voice finally gets bored with its futile struggle and starts clipping its fingernails so that you can go back to the mighty work of cleaning your keyboard and wondering what you're going to have for lunch.

So, last night I took all the fascinating Internet things I was worrying about and one by one I put them under bell jars and, you know, without any intentionally, falsely deep references to Sylvia Plath or anything, I let the goddamned things suffocate.

And boy, did that help. After about an hour I finally fell back asleep.

And then around six I woke up and Jackson was sneaking into bed with me with his lap robe and he whispered, "See? I didn't call you, I came in by myself. So you could keep sleeping."

The boy, he's paying attention.

I used to have a terrible time scraping him off my leg when I dropped him at school in the morning, until one day last week his teacher noticed and later she took him aside and said, "Jackson, make things easier on your mom. Just say goodbye. She'll be back after nap." The next day, he gave me a hug and a kiss and ran into his classroom, sans drama.

So what I want to know is, can she come over to my house tonight and tell him he needs to give me a break? That he's a big boy. Just go back to sleep. Have nice dreams. We'll see him in the morning.