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 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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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.

 

And if you go camping in drag it's called Vamping

Here is the joke I made up last night: Q: What's it called when you get your period while you're camping?

A: Cramping!

One thing that Jack loves above all things is camping, and one thing I fear above all others is camping, and so up until last week we have spent every moment of our lives as a couple not-camping. Jack would take Jackson up to camp in Big Sur every summer and try to patch the sad camping-hole in his soul while I'd stay at home and guard our stuff, reveling in clean linens and locked doors and the sterile, bug-free existence that modern civilization provides.

I have been camping three times in my life, all of them terrible, sleepless affairs on lumpy ground, soaked with rain, or intruded upon by bears. I am at two with nature, as the saying goes, and despite Jack's assurances that he would provide me with a four-star campsite -- a veritable Mandalay Bay of roughing it -- one thing I knew he wouldn't be able to control was me getting carsick on the way to the Nature. Nature has some twisty roads into it, for some reason. Teddy Roosevelt and his horse both had something to prove, no doubt. But this summer I decided that maybe if I loved my husband I ought to give him this one thing, this camping thing, so here is everything I did/you can do to successfully avoid nausea on the road to Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur. I offer this list for posterity and nothing more, for I am not some asshole blogger being paid to pretend she knows more than you about anything. If I were I would have titled this post, "Ten Ways To Avoid Carsickness This Summer!" and been paid $500 for it. I could still use the $500, so if you find this post useful, please PayPal a lot of money to me.

1. You have to want to not get sick. Some people have inner ear problems, or they're undergoing chemo, or God knows what's wrong, and I'm deeply sorry if that's you, for that sucks. However, other people (and this used to be me) unconsciously get sick for the attention, or to get out of doing things out in the world, or they just assume that's the way they are. "I get carsick." Well, maybe you do, but maybe you don't have to. Do you want to try?

2. Do not hit the road hungover. The last time we drove to Big Sur I had a wee bit of wine the night before, which led to insomnia and dehydration, all of which ensured that I wanted to barf all the way up Highway 1 the next day.

3. Hydration. So simple. You have a bottle of water? Drink it. Drink two. If someone complains that they don't want to stop for you to pee, say to them, "Would you rather stop to have me barf?" If they still complain, roll down your window and barf all over the side of their car. That will show them how serious you are.

4. Have a nice, fatty meal. I had eggs with buttered toast before we hit the road. It doesn't have to be a huge meal, if that sort of thing makes you nervous, if you think, "What if this doesn't work? It will just be more for me to barf." If you're afraid of eating too much on a nervous stomach, I don't know what to tell you apart from what I told myself: "You have to get something down, protein and fat. Figure it out."

 5. Anti-emetics are our friends. In Morro Bay I bought some off-brand, non-drowsy, pseudo Dramamine from an angry, sarcastic young woman at the grocery store. I'm not a big fan of too many OTC drugs, but it was $2.99, and I'm sorry she hates her life or whatever, but I took half a dose and immediately felt like Wonder Woman.

6. There are natural quease-easers, too. As a back-up I also had a bottle of herbs from the acupuncturist, they're called Curing Pills, you can get them in Asian markets, and I have never had a digestive issue that hasn't vanished within ten minutes of taking them. AND I had a box of hard-core ginger candy with me, and every half hour I'd eat one because ginger is a digestive stimulant (as opposed to peppermint, which is a digestive coolant, but which works well against nausea, too, as long as it's real peppermint, not just peppermint flavoring). I am also thinking of getting a couple of magical anti-nausea acupressure wrist bands for next time -- clang! clang! Wonder Woman!

7. Do you want to drive? Some people feel better when they're driving, but I let Jack do it because it was his truck, and his patience and nerves of steel were what was needed for Highway 1, whereas if I were behind the wheel no doubt I'd be too absorbed in prayer not to drive us off a cliff.

8. Pat yourself on the back when you get there, you did not want to barf even once!

9. Except then your period came on like gangbusters. I'm sorry, I have no advice, that part of your body is totally out of my control. Would you like to hear about the convenience of Diva Cups? No?

10. Ha ha, unreliable narrator. Guess what? Half of this post is a lie because once we got to Big Sur, Jack had booked us into a cabin just in case I changed my mind about this whole outdoors thing and crawled into the bed of his truck to die. So at the end of a long day of hanging around the campsite with friends eating weenies, going for bicycle rides, waving at deer and turkeys, taunting squirrels with Doritos, drinking beer, and soaking up the glorious Parkitecture, we would drive up the hill and sleep in not-tents. But now that I seem more amenable to the not-indoors, we're going to try camping a little closer to home before the summer's over, and Jack has already started his grocery list. And I still managed to write what sounds like a sponsored post for a group of products that paid me no money to endorse them, in a way that still makes me sound like some asshole blogger who probably knows less than you do about not throwing up. You're an expert at not-barfing, aren't you?

Goddamnit, sometimes you just have to barf. It's okay, you'll feel better.

Highway 1

An un-Photoshopped photo of California Highway 1 on July 22, 2014.

And if you go camping in the rain it's called Damping.

And if you go camping with Lionel Hampton accompanying you on vibes it's called Hamping.

And if you go camping in your pajamas it's called Jamping.

And if you read a book in your tent all night it's called Lamping.

And if you go with a baby it's called Pamping.

 

Also, there are so many elephant seals just laying around on the beach on the north side of Hearst Castle, above the zebra herd (California is a crazy place, if you haven't heard). After watching them do nothing for awhile I said to Jack, "If you're a stressed-out executive in this life, in your next life you get to be one of those."

Elephant Seals Outside of Cambria, California from Eden M. Kennedy on Vimeo.

That dude was the ambitious one.

Thirteen

Jackson turned thirteen years old this past weekend, which we spent at a kids' basketball tournament at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Jackson is the newest kid on his team. Back in third grade, when all the other boys on the team were in the gym learning to dribble and shoot, Jackson was learning to rally and lob and serve until the day came when I tried to drop him off at the tennis courts and he sat in the back seat sobbing that he didn't want to play tennis anymore. So after arguing and tugging on his leg for ten minutes and then realizing that I didn't want to carry a screaming child into the clubhouse, we drove home and waited until 2013, when the basketball switch in his brain flipped on. The boys on his team have been playing together for years, which could have made them insular and weird about change, but they're good kids and the culture of the gym where they play will not put up with any bullshit, so when Jackson showed up last March they folded him in. From day one not just the coaches but the kids helped guide him through the unfamiliar drills, and shouted at him to get into position so they could throw him the ball, and included him in all the teasing and jive that goes on with normal kids, and he loved it. He'd found a new home. Even though he's (his words, not mine) "the least talented player on the team."

"You're not the least talented. You have lots of talent. But you are the least experienced kid on the team, and you need to build your talent into something that really helps your team."

I know: I'm mom of the year. That's why I'm wearing this tiara.

So this weekend was another in a series of basketball tournaments, and in the middle of it all was his birthday. It was a good birthday, he got a lot of things he wanted, some cool gaming stuff, a nice pair of sunglasses, fancy basketball socks, a heat-sensitive t-shirt. We got a room in a dog-friendly hotel and brought Peewee. We ordered room service and drank bubbly drinks.

"What else do you want for your birthday?"

"To make a bucket during a game."

Jackson is the kid who gets put in if and only if his team has already got at least a fifteen-point lead. Then he goes in, gets the ball a few times, runs around, and gets called back to the bench and sits next to the coach and watches, and he seems fine with that. He wants to get better, but until then he feels lucky just to be there. He has no illusions.

Their first game on Saturday afternoon was against a team who had no chance, we outplayed them from the start. Our team was more balanced: we have strong guys who rebound hard and we have skinny outside shooters, we have fast kids and kids who make layups and kids who duck and pass, and nobody's scared and everybody runs like hell. At three minutes before the half we were up by 20 points, so the coach pulled out a couple of the starters and sent in Jackson.

"JACKSON GET IN THE CORNER." The coach has a voice that inspires instant obedience. Jackson gets in the corner. This is where he makes 70% of his shots in practice. It's his spot.

"GIVE IT TO JACKSON! GIVE IT TO JACKSON!" All the boys on the bench are yelling, too. In all the games he's played on this team Jackson has never made a basket. They want him to make a basket. It's his birthday.

Jackson catches the ball and throws it up. It bounces off the rim. His team rebounds.

"THROW IT BACK TO JACKSON!" Half of the bench are on their feet. There's a defender in his spot so Jackson moves back, staying behind the three-point line. He gets the ball again. He just sort of flings it up. His form is terrible. The ball goes in.

The bench explodes. His teammates are going out of their minds with happiness, jumping up and down, screaming. Jackson jogs back up the court past me and Jack and we are losing our minds, too. All the parents and shouting. Jackson's face is shining with happiness. The team mom (whose son is the three-point assassin responsible for the lead that allowed Jackson the time and space to do what he just did) turns to me and says she wishes she had been filming the team's reaction to Jackson's shot, it was such a moment for all of them. She looks choked up.

Jackson gets the ball a few more times and shoots but he doesn't score, so he goes back to his spot on the bench. They win the game. Afterward, one of his teammates hoists him up. Another one of them punches him thirteen times for his birthday, seven times on one arm and six on the other, and he rubs his arms afterward, smiling at the possibility that he's going to have bruises the next day.

Two hours later I'm sitting in the stands with some of the parents. We're getting to know each other, and they're really nice people. They say supportive things about Jackson, and I say appreciative things about their son, too. What court are we supposed to be on next? one of them asks. I pull out my phone to look at the tournament web site and discover that Jackson has changed my lock screen to a photo of some guy's hairy balls. Because he's thirteen years old, and balls are hilarious.

These are good people, and I have just flashed a picture of a hairy pink scrotum at them.

I slap my hand down over the photo. I laugh awkwardly and say, "Ha ha, Jackson put some guy's balls on my phone!"

The parents look at me in confusion, and I realize I should have kept my mouth shut, but now it’s too late and I have to explain, so I begin to babble. "You know, he Googled balls," I said, as though the reason for their confusion might be that they think I'm telling them that the boy they'd all been rooting for had literally got some guy to lay his balls on my phone. How I would know someone's balls had touched my phone is a mystery. Like, Oh no! There's a scrotum print on my screen protector! Or, Oh no! There's a pubic hair in my headphone port!

One of the fathers looks at me with genuine concern. One of the mothers says brightly, "It's weird how some things you don't expect come up in those searches!" She's covering for me, as though maybe Jackson had been Googling basketballs but Lance Armstrong's missing testicle came up by accident instead.

I could explain that half an hour earlier Jackson had laughed until he could barely speak when he saw me react to surprise balls on my phone screen, and that I'd forgotten to change the photo. I don't know these parents that well, would they punish their own son for doing that, for being so disrespectful? It's totally disrespectful, I agree, I agree so much, and I adore it. Jenny Lawson once gave a speech about how you're supposed to follow your passion, and her passion was breaking the rules, and if her passion is breaking the rules then being disrespectful is my most secret passion, I think it's hilarious and necessary and I am terrible with authority, I will never be president. I have an inner thirteen-year-old boy and now I have an outer thirteen-year-old boy, too. I don't know how much better my life could get. But I can't explain any of this to the parents because they will think I'm a terrible mother and adult, so I say, "Our next game is on court three," and put on a sorrowful expression, one that I hope says, My son Googled balls. I'm so disappointed. I hope that the other parents will forget I ever said anything about balls. This gym is full of balls, though. Balls are bouncing over here, balls are flying through hoops over there. Even the girls have balls! Balls are everywhere.

The team goes on to win their next game, and the two after that, and they take home the championship trophy. The ball Googler gets in some more minutes but he doesn't get any more points, and goes back to being the guy on the bench getting his ears flicked.

I change the photo on my phone back to Peewee's face and change my password.

I wonder what will happen when Jackson turns fourteen.

 relaxingHello, room service? I need a burger, raw. It's for my dog. I have to give him some pills.