Eden M. Kennedy

you've come to the right place

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 at a public library and is finishing writing her first novel.

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In Clover

February whooshed by, as it always does, but this year found me burrowing with increasing satisfaction into the unending loop-de-loop of my daily routines. Peewee often wakes me up with his grimbling and herffing some time between 6:00 and 7:30 with the hope that Jack or I or someone tall enough to turn a doorknob will free him from the cozy prison of Jackson's room so he can go take a pee, for god's sake. On the mornings he sleeps in past 8:00 I think he must have tried to make one of us feel sorry for him a lot earlier but we all just slept through it. 

This is a photo I took of Peewee on our front "lawn," which you can see puts him chin-deep in clover, despite the drought. Jack uses this photo as the wallpaper on his phone, and I realized that every one of us has a different photo of Peewee as both wallpaper and lock screen on five or six different devices.

If I wake up before Peewee has started grinding his engine, I lie in bed and do a kundalini meditation. This is something I started doing last year when I was researching enlightenment for my book. I've boiled it down to a short routine where I concentrate my mind/energy/feelings on the base of my spine until the whole sitting area of my body feels kind of tingly and warm. Then I move up and forward to chakra #2, the sex-parts region, until it feels the same way. Then #3, just below the navel, where I'll usually start to feel my digestion rumble a little. Then #4 heart, #5 throat, where I'll occasionally feel my pulse tapping in my neck, or sometimes just a weird sensation in my chin. After that I go to #6 between the eyes, and #7 the top of the head. Six and seven are the hardest, a lot of days I feel nothing at all when I get up into my head, though one day last summer I felt quite literally like I had a third eye that was trying to blink open, and that was enough to make me take the exercise a lot more seriously from then on. Then, lastly, I start at the bottom and inhale my way up from one to seven, then exhale down my body from seven back to one. I do that three times and then I get up in case Peewee is ready to lose his bladder all over the floor. 

While Peewee has his pee (oui), I start the coffee machine and start rolling up his many doggy heart pills in little balls of whatever meat we have on hand. Cold cuts, raw hamburger, leftover fish -- you know, the sorts of things you really want to stick your hand into first thing in the morning. I leave the back door propped open while I make a double cappuccino so Peewee can come in when he's done investigating the yard. Then he'll walk into the kitchen and sit in the doorway to show me he's ready for his pill-breakfast.

Who's a good boy? Peewee is.

After that I have about twenty minutes to sit and drink my coffee alone before I have to get Jackson up, make lunches, etc., and these are the twenty minutes where I open up my novel doc and tweak a scene or two because I'm draft number four now and, barring the need for a giant rewrite based on some devastating feedback from the friends I am lucky to have reading it right now, I'm pretty close to done. Good ideas seem to come to me in bed about once a week. At 7:15 this morning, for example, I remembered that one character had just disappeared about three-quarters of the way through my story, but I suddenly knew the perfect way to wind up his storyline in a sentence or two near the end. These solutions don't always come when I want them, but they seem to show up when they're ready. I know that probably sounds annoyingly mystical, and it's probably just a cheap way of saying that I wrote a really, really shitty first draft and it took me two years to figure out how to resolve the story arc of the main character's pug. Take it however you want it.

So, happy March! My wish for you this month is less snow and more sun, or less sun and more rain, or for whatever seasonal norms your area depends on to prevail despite what we've done to the planet's atmosphere. And maybe loosen up your chakras a little -- it's good for your skin, and it's not bad for your orgasms, either.

 

Happy Birthday!

On January 9, the day before my birthday, which is January 10, I started gearing up for the thing that happens on Facebook when the site notifies your friends it's your birthday and maybe a third of them come out to say hello. January 9 was my friend Toni's birthday, my high school tennis team doubles partner who I hadn't seen since 1982, and whose Facebook page I hadn't visited for like a year. But I knew she'd been in treatment for cancer, so if it's possible to visit someone's Facebook page gingerly, that's what I did. I tiptoed over having no idea what I was about to see.

The top posts on her wall were all, "Happy birthday! Hope it's a great day!" but that wasn't reassuring at all so I scrolled down a little farther and the posts said, "We miss you so much," and you can see where this is going. I scrolled back to September and saw a post from her daughter that said, "School started. Yay." In July there were posts by people obviously dealing with fresh grief, in June I saw announcements for a memorial service, and then in May there was Toni sitting in a chair with an oxygen tube in her nostrils and a dog on her lap.

Those "Have a great day!" posts on the top of her page made me feel kind of stupid on behalf of the people who left them, because I do that all the time, say happy birthday to someone on Facebook without knowing whether they're alive or dead. I had another friend die last year and I watched his Facebook page turn into kind of a nice place where people unloaded funny photos and told him how they felt about him, even though he'd never write back. The other friend of mine who died wasn't on Facebook, so he's having a sort of old-fashioned death with just a tombstone and me bothering his sister to find out what happened.

Anyway, the next day, when I started getting a few Happy Birthdays on my own Facebook page, I started responding to each and every one of them, and do you know why? To prove I wasn't dead. It was my conscious and maybe somewhat urgent intention to show everyone on Facebook that I was still alive. I kept my responses short, just little things like, "Hi!" and "Thanks!" though if someone wrote something a little longer or more personal I'd respond in a longer and more personal fashion. Unsurprisingly, I ended up having a really nice time on Facebook chatting with people I hadn't spoken to in years, and I plan to continue doing it every year because I want you to know that the year I don't respond to your happy birthday greetings, that's how you'll know I'm dead. (Or that my account was hacked.) I know there are online death services that will -- I'm not sure what they do, actually, e-mail everyone in your contacts list when you die? But I'm too cheap and too busy at the moment, so Facebook will have to do.

Not dead.

Not dead.

Recommencement

Jack had four gigs this week, which meant four dinners were on me. Meaning, it was my responsibility to provide a savory yet nourishing meal for myself and my son on four different nights. Please, I know. I'm aware of my culinary reputation. Why not just give Jackson ten dollars and send him to forage at the drug store? He'd probably do better. Beef jerky would put on some muscle on him; Red Bull might clear up his skin.

On the first night Jack was away I rose to the occasion by thawing out leftover bolognese that he'd cooked in October. It counts as me cooking, though, because I oversaw its transition from frozen to hot and I boiled not quite enough penne to go with it.

The second night I was ready to serve twice-leftover bolognese and not-enough penne again, but Jackson put his foot down, and his foot is the same size as mine (though he's four inches shorter than me so it's kind of a draw). So I took him to Taco Bell. Nothing happened, but for some reason the staff giggled when they saw us. We might be part of some larger story for them but I may never know what it is. "Oh, there's that woman again, the one who keeps poking that boy and then they have a fake slap fight while they wait for their tacos."

I imagine that Jack has overcome his disappointment that after nineteen years I still haven't taken up an interest in cooking at the level he's brought us to. Every meal is an event with Jack. There is linen and silverware and bread in a basket and condiments and salad and anticipation. With me, there are straws and paper cartons of french fries, or those doll-sized plastic tables they use to keep the pizza box from collapsing. After Jackson has vanished into his room you'll find little bits of foil everywhere from the chocolate bar that stood in for our salad, and an empty wine bottle next to the speaker I plugged my phone into when I gave in to a sudden urge to make Christmas cookies and had an impromptu record party for one. (Smitten Kitchen oatmeal raisins and 1970s Tom Waits pair perfectly well with a ten dollar Côtes du Rhone, if you're curious).

I owe the three of you who keep track of this blog an apology: I skipped two months of monthly posts in 2014 so I'm recommitting to monthly posts for 2015. The novel is almost done, the drawings I owe to thirty-five people are recommencing, I'm practicing yoga every day, my head is clear and my heart is full. LET'S DO THIS, MOTHERFUCKERS.

(And happy holidays to you!)

Every post needs a picture so here's one from 2003 of me and Jackson picking flowers after a rainstorm over at the Ellwood preserve, half of which is covered in condos now, but you can still walk through to see the monarch butterflies mating every January. The monarchs don't care if you watch. Who knows, maybe they're into it.

Every post needs a picture so here's one from 2003 of me and Jackson picking flowers after a rainstorm over at the Ellwood preserve, half of which is covered in condos now, but you can still walk through to see the monarch butterflies mating every January. The monarchs don't care if you watch. Who knows, maybe they're into it.

 

 

There I was, standing in line at Taco Bell

I take Jackson to Taco Bell maybe once or twice a month so that he can have tacos whose shells are made out of giant Doritos. I have eaten one of these amazing creations myself and though it's unclear whose hand I would shake were I to congratulate the inventor of these marvelous things, I don't make a habit of them because they're so delicious it makes me suspicious of what's in them. It seems simple enough, but I know they have some terrible, addictive ingredient in there that I can't help but want more of, despite my better judgment, like lard, or Channing Tatum's tears.

So there we were, waiting for Jackson's tacos, standing next to a white, middle-class, hetero couple who were also waiting for whatever they ordered, when in walked a large, middle-aged white man whose shorts were hanging halfway down his ass. The woman and I looked at each other.

"You can't look away from something like that," she said.

"If I were a different kind of person, it would be all over Instagram right now," I said.

"The People of Taco Bell," she said.

"Mom, sshhh," Jackson said. 

Then her boyfriend piped up and said, "Excuse me, sir! Your shorts are hanging down, you might want to pull them back up!"

"Oh my God," said the woman, "What are you doing?"

"I'm telling him that we noticed --"

"I'm sorry?" said the man with the prodigious butt crack as he pulled up his giant basketball shorts. "I'm hearing impaired!"

"It's okay!" yelled her boyfriend. "You're fine now!"

"I didn't hear what were you trying to tell me," yelled the man.

"I didn't want to embarrass you!" yelled the boyfriend.

"Oh my God," hissed the woman. "Why did you do that?"

"It's a side effect of being brain damaged," said the boyfriend, "I have no filter! It's okay!"

"No, it's not!" she said.

"And now we're the assholes," I said. Terrible, judgmental assholes making light of some man who was simply out living his life and couldn't hear that his shorts were falling down, and it took a brain-damaged man to bring us to our senses. 

She sighed. Her boyfriend picked up their order.

"Have a good night!" he said loudly to everyone in Taco Bell as they walked out the door.

And it was then that I vowed to only go to drive-through restaurants for the rest of my life in order to spare humanity from having to deal with me. Jackson, unfortunately, is stuck with my faulty example of adulthood full-time.

PART TWO OF THIS AMAZING UPDATE

The reason I skipped last month's monthly post is that I had set a September 30 deadline for myself to finish the second draft of this novel I'm writing, and that deadline made a lovely whooshing sound as it went by. October 30 is likely to go by as well without a completed second draft, and while I am only four chapters away from finishing this beast, I find that a lot of loose ends need tying up and I can't just send it off into the world with a note pinned to it that says, "Please read this, it's pretty much done but I can probably make it better." So I'll be going back to it this afternoon, because that's what keeps me off the streets and away from harassing the hearing impaired.

AND SO WE MUST CONCLUDE

Every post needs a photo, so here's one I took in the library yesterday. I was busy erasing all the underlining someone did in a book about Mozart's life when I came upon this persnickety little correction, done in pen. In pen. GODDAMNIT, PEOPLE.

According to Grammar Girl, this pen-correcting person is WRONG and I am tempted to go back to work tomorrow and amend his or her work with a little Post-It errata note. The library vigilante within me is currently squaring off with the Joe Orton-style library vandal, so no one's really going to win. (I know, I am full of links today, but if you're only going to click on one, choose the last one, I beg of you.)

THUS ENDETH THE UPDATE.

You must change your life

August was an eventful month! The first thing I did was move out of the house for five days. Alice flew in and we took over my friend Jennifer's Airbnb rental. Vacationing six blocks away from your own home is a little weird, but it has its advantages. You develop new neural pathways by figuring out how to work another family's coffee maker. A strange bed forces your body to use new muscles while you're sleeping. Dogsitting a pet not your own asks your hands to discover the intricate pleasures of unfamiliar fur.

That is Alice lying on the floor with Maggie the Irish terrier. Maggie's fur is so usefully, Irishly coarse that Alice, in her love of all things doglike, was forced to admit that petting what felt like a live loofah opened up fascinating, unexplored vistas between them. At one point Maggie actually growled at me when I came through the front door and I can only assume it was because I was not Alice. From then on I always let Alice enter the house first, though it did become awkward to fling rose petals on the ground before her wherever she walks. Turns out rose petals fling a little farther if you soak them in cold virgin spring water first. I made it work.

We had planned to use our time as a writing getaway, though it was a getaway where Jackson could ride his bike over any time he wanted a hug. One night Alice and I couldn't figure out what to make for dinner so I called Jack and we came back to my house and let him make ossobuco for us while Peewee sat adoringly at Alice's feet. We did get some writing done, however, and the rest of the time we talked about writing and ate and watched Say Yes to the Dress and My Child is Haunted, or maybe it was called There's a Ghost Inside My Child, or was it My Child Is Obsessed With The Titanic And The Only Explanation For It Is That He Is The Reincarnation Of One Of The Traumatized Crew Sent Back To Earth To Heal. I may also have tried to explain kundalini meditation to Alice, and she in turn explained to me how to release my psoas, and then we Googled all the tools you can use to reverse the corn, bunion, and posture damage caused by pointy lady shoes. And after more than two weeks of deliberation, I finally ordered some Yogitoes last week:

They stretch the shit out of my feet, but it feels pretty great, I must say. About fifty percent of that "great" feeling comes from imagining I'm heading off a geriatric health crisis somewhere down the road, but whatever. Whatever! KALE.

ELSEWHERE . . .

Jackson went to two sleepaway camps this summer, both of them required living in a dorm at UCSB and playing basketball from morning to night. The dorms were nothing like the ones I lived in in college. My college had single rooms, with doubles for freshmen, and big, communal bathrooms down the hall. These UCSB dorm rooms were suites with three and four beds crammed into each room, with adjoining bathrooms and a shared couch area. These kids had no privacy, not that they wanted any, I guess that's part of the camp experience, having people keep you up all night and flick you in the face to wake you up in the morning. All I know is somebody got his socks soaked in the toilet and he backed the hell off after that.

Jackson would text me at night sometimes just to check in, and one night he sent me a video. It was of a kid doing some shooting drill with Michael Jordan, and I texted him back and said, "Ha, that kid must have been stoked," and he texted me back and said, "That kid is me." It turns out that MJ picked Jackson to play a game of two-on-two against another kid in the camp who was paired with Kawhi Leonard, who currently plays for the Spurs, one of my most-hated teams, now even more hated because they beat Jackson and his old, slow, millionaire teammate.

FROM THERE TO ETERNITY

Jack and I have worked our way up the home furnishings ladder to the point where we have graduated from Well, it was free to where we have finally ponied up for what I think of as a piece of Investment Furniture, which is a couch from the Restoration Hardware outlet store. A half-price leather Restoration Hardware couch with scratches on it is still a goddamn leather Restoration Hardware couch, so we're pretty pleased. One of the guys who delivered it set it gently on our living room floor and then said, "This couch will last an eternity!" He seemed genuinely moved by this couch.

When I was growing up we always had just one couch. My parents had bought it when they were young marrieds and they had it until they both died fifty-odd years later. My father actually died on that couch. It was a couch for all eternity!

Our new couch is so deep and cushiony that I did briefly try to imagine myself as an old person trying to get out of it, and the vision that arose before me was so vivid and final that I immediately dropped and did thirty sit-ups. This couch will swallow the elderly if we're not careful. This is a couch you have to stay in shape for, and kale and toe-stretching alone will not be enough.

LASLTY

I migrated my website, with the expert guidance of Elan, to Squarespace, and so far so good! My old hosting service kept finding all sorts of interesting ways to increase my fees every month that I was helpless to complain about because it was all so far over my head, so fuck them. Change is good. Eventually the fussy.org URL will phase into emkennedy.net entirely, and I've dumped the fussy@fussy.org e-mail address so don't e-mail me there anymore! My new e-mail is emk@emkennedy.net, please feel free to address all your concerns to me there. I haven't forgotten I still owe you a drawing.