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.

Filtering by Category: Photos

My favorite moments from Jackson's middle school graduation yesterday

1. Blowing up balloons the night before graduation in a last-ditch effort to make up for all the years I did zero volunteering at school. I got assigned to balloon detail with two sixth-grade girls and their grandmothers, one of whom was a salty old sailor who maybe would have preferred a nice cocktail somewhere to blowing up balloons with me. At one point she chided the girls for not blowing up their balloons to the full extent of their potential. One of them had a small, squishy balloon that she was batting around in lieu of developing a work ethic and Salty Gran looked at it and said, "You need to blow harder, that ballon's retarded." I was in some sort of ballsy mood and said to her, "We don't say retarded any more, we say developmentally challenged," and Salty Gran raised her eyebrow at me and said, "Oh, really?" I doubt I opened her eyes to the linguistic nuances of our time, but it did give me some insight into the woman I'm going to be in a couple of decades when some smart-ass tells me, "Oh, we don't call them robots anymore, we call them extra-humanoid-Americans," and I'll be like, "Okay, well, your extra-humanoid-American needs to pump my hydro-gas a little faster, I am on my way to get my head frozen and the cryolab does not reschedule missed appointments."

2. The fifth grader who was standing at the door to the gym handing out travel packs of tissues, and who looked at my all-set-to-start-sniveling face and said, "Do you maybe want two?"

3. Unsuccessfully repressing my sobs while Mr. Reed told everyone how loyal my son was, and how he told the truth instead of just saying nice things to make people like him, and how much he loved his family, and how his teachers had to peel him off my leg every morning in pre-kindergarten.

4. Delicious cake at ten in the morning.

5. Having one of Jackson's classmates, a really wonderful girl who got up at 5:45 to get her makeup on (her makeup was perfect), come up to me as I was leaving and say, "I like your tights!" It was chilly and I was wearing mustard-colored tights with red shoes and other clothes, and I said, "Thanks! I got them at Macy's, they're HUE." She smiled politely, so I continued, "H-U-E is the brand," as she continued to give me a polite, fixed smile, so I went on, "They're great, they have a lot of colors, although these are like five years old," and then I realized that despite her ongoing smile, the light behind her eyes had gone out so I said, "Okay, then! Congratulations!" Apparently she didn't expect me to start telling her every single thing I could think of about my tights? I don't know how girls talk to each other, it's an ongoing problem for me and I imagine things are just going to get weirder as we move on into high school and Jackson starts warning people before they meet me: "Just so you know, my mom is going to take everything you say as an opportunity to treat you like a library patron who doesn't understand Google."

Some of these kids will never see each other again.

6. The school secretary reminding me of when Jackson, at age five, asked if she could come over to our house for a playdate.

World champion school secretary and black-belt shoe collector, Mrs. Loster.

Lotusland

There's this place in Santa Barbara called Lotusland. It was the brainchild of a somewhat eccentric former opera singer named Ganna Walska who went through six husbands and had very little self-control when it came to plants.  She was born poor and at the age of nineteen she eloped with a Russian count. Here is a picture of her I found on the internet.

Ganna Walska

Ganna Walska

 Apparently Ganna Walska was a terrible singer, but her fourth husband, who was chairman of International Harvester, and who once had an animal-gland transplant in the belief that it would fortify his masculinity (and whose first wife, Edith Rockefeller, believed she had been married to King Tutankhamen in a previous life), threw a ton of money into voice lessons and bankrolled lavish opera productions for her to star in. Orson Welles said he used Ganna Walska as the inspiration for the Susan Alexander character in Citizen Kane.  I mean, just look at her. 

"Water stairs"

Ganna Walska bought the Lotusland property in 1941. The guide who led the tour I went on described Walska as somewhat of a hoarder, but her hoarding tendencies veered away from stacks of newspapers and used sponges in rinsed-out Ziploc bags and more in the direction of roughly 3,000 kinds of crazy, crazy plants. She knew what it was like to be poor and she knew what it was like to be rich and she sold her jewelry and her clothes and her Faberge egg so she could buy more plants for Lotusland.

Cactuseses

Cactuses for example. Good lord, she had a lot of cactuses. That's not even the half of it. I didn't notice it until now but those yellowish guys in front look like they have faces on their tops, like happy cartoon penises. Well, now I can't unsee that. Enjoy.

Cactoose

This one lacks the infrastructure to stand on its own, but as with many things that become the object of someone's unbridled affection, it will be propped up until it begs for death.

Cracktus -- because she was addicted to them, like crack. Hilarious!

I once knew a professional feng shui practitioner who told me never to put poky, spiky plants around my front door unless I wanted to uninvite people inside. Ganna Walska's entire driveway is bordered with cactuses, so from that we might conclude that you didn't want to roll up to Ganna's house when you were drunk. 

Spooky

Gah, more cactuses. These are weeping Euphorbia ingens, an African plant with poisonous sap. If you're going to cut these down you need to build a wall of fire around them to "set" the sap so it doesn't eat you alive if you touch it. Fun!

Delft

Here's some Dutch tile for you to look at while you frantically scrape all that caustic African sap off your hands.

Dracaena draco

Dracaena draco, or the Dragon tree, another African import. It's sap is red and is known as "dragon's blood" and it's very thick and useful if you want to mummify someone.  The fruit of the Dragon tree was the favorite food of the dodo bird, but once dodos went extinct there were no other birds to poop out Dragon tree seeds, and so now Dragon trees are endangered, because that's how nature works.

Slag

These chunks of green glass were everywhere. They are actually slag left over from glass manufacturing. Ganna Walska used to get truckloads of them from the factory where they made the bottles for Arrowhead water. Now Arrowhead comes in plastic bottles, and also California is in a drought and I am going to write a letter to our dear governor Jerry Brown so he will tell Arrowhead to quit pumping water out of our aquifers and selling it to the rest of the country. Tap water, people! Get one of those Britta jugs and quit dehydrating us. Also, I have magenta shoes.

Topiary is the tops

I will never not love looking at topiary. It makes so little sense.

Grrr

Somebody gave this one a laser eyeball! Run!

This topiary is extinct

Dinosaur topiary is among the best topiary, even if it lacks eyes that shoot lasers.

Astrology

Astrology.

Julia Child is not buried here

This is a terrible picture but those are Julia Child roses. She let them name this rose after her because its yellow was the same color as a perfect egg yolk. And also butter. Julia Child lived out the end of her life in a nursing home just down the street from Lotusland. Butter, eggs, caustic sap: the circle of life.

Mesmerizing

Another thing Ganna Walska collected? Rocks, of course. "I want to make a display for all my rocks," I imagine her telling the gardeners one morning as she stood on the patio outside her bedroom wearing a sheer white negligee and an ostrich-feather hat. And then some devoted employee of hers tumbled all her rocks so they'd be the same size and she could fiddle with them until they turned out like this.

I once went to a bullfight, did I ever tell you that story? It was pretty awful.

"I need some of your divine hand-painted tiles!" she said over the telephone to a man in Spain. She had to shout because long-distance connections were terrible back then. "There's a little skirmish near here," he replied, holding a phone to his ear with one hand and beating back fascists with the other, "but I'll get them to you as soon as I can."

Phyllis Diller's husband's name was Fang

"We have some Dracula-themed tiles," he went on. "I can't seem to give them away. Do you want those, too?"

"They're horrible," she said. "Send me everything you have."

That is one sexy Poseidon

Mer-men! Put your tridents in the air like you just don't care.

Friend!

This guy. Look at that face. He was standing in a little outdoor amphitheater area getting worn away by time and the elements and I couldn't get enough of those eyes. All the little statues in this area were so-called "grotesques." But this one I wanted to take home and prop up his little feet and make him a hearty stew and let Peewee snore in his lap. I think he deserves it, he's done enough.

You can't see me!

Then the one in the bonnet was all, "Wait, why can't we come, too?" But the little egg-headed guy was like, "Fuck you, you can't take me, I have a stone wig!" He would be flipping me off but someone snapped off his arm. Maybe because he's such a jerk.

The birds

Part of the property has a "blue" garden where all the plants have a blue tinge to them, which is really just a coating you can scrape off with your thumbnail that protects the plant from the sun. Someone put some giant cut-out crows in the area. There was a bird-art exhibit back in the main house. It was actually quite good but I don't want to talk about it, this post is too long and I need a snack.

You eat the clam before the clam eats you

We will remember Ganna Walska as she was, busy pillaging the South Seas for its giant clam shells and making hideous yet somehow elegant fountains out of them while her last and much-younger-than-her husband, an early American proponent of yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, lay dead somewhere in Pakistan, his body never to be recovered. Here's a picture of him that I found on the internet.

Theos Barnard

Lotusland.org if you want more information. This post was not sponsored, I just felt like writing it.

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.