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: Reading

Not dead yet

My god, I've been sick. I'm so healthy most of the time! I must save up my allotment of not-so-hot feeling days and then have them all at once, once a year, when my immune system's feeling just a little too smug. I could see it coming, days ahead, it was like a slow-rolling tsunami. I had plenty of time to cancel appointments and pack, tell my boss things weren't looking good. It hit in the middle of the night, and all my hatches were battened except the one where I had to take Jackson to school the next morning. There I was hunkered down over the espresso machine, making our usual morning coffees, a double cappuccino for me and a 12-ounce travel mug of milk with a shot of espresso for Jackson. (What, he likes coffee. I put half a packet of stevia in his because otherwise he'd demand four lumps of sugar, which = no.) We got in the car.

"Mom? Are you okay?"

"I don't feel very good."

"You don't look very good."

"Thanks, honey."

I was hanging on pretty well, as well as you can hang on when you feel like absolute death. I really shouldn't have had that sip of coffee, though. Nausea was not a welcome companion on our journey. Neither was Jackson's morning playlist of Eminem's greatest hits, even played at elevator-music level.

BITCH, I'M GONNA KILL YOU!

"Mom, are you okay?"

"I don't feel very good."

Jackson put his hand on my arm as we drove. He's such a nice kid.

YOU DON'T WANNA FUCK WITH SHADY (why?) CAUSE SHADY WILL FUCKING KILL YOU

And in my head I'm all, "Help me, God, help me Oprah, help me Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me." Except quietly and without punctuation. Helpmegodhelpmeoprah. Tomcruiseuseyourwitchcraft. Prayforusnowandatthehourofourdeath.

It was just comically awful: me feeling like a shit pancake, my son cheerfully programming his playlist of problematic white genius hip hop mayhem, my dog quietly farting in the back seat.

Naturally, I wasn't done. I had to drag my animate carcass to CVS because Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine is the only thing that works, they don't even have to pay me to say that, I will spread the word for free. Buy that shit. When the nice cashier says, "How are you today!" just croak, "I'm so sick" at her and she will give you your change with horrified fingers, it's been proven in laboratory experiments time and again. I'm not even sure what that means.

I guess I must have made it home, and then I woke up and it was 2:00 p.m. And now it's Friday, I think? How are you?

Yes, I was too sick to use a glass.

Fortunately, before all this went down I managed to put up another post at Babble, this one being a review of the latest J.K. Rowling book written in the form of Harry Potter fan fiction. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for an encore, I'm only halfway finished with Gone Girl, but maybe the cast of Twilight will have some opinions on it.

Punctuation is important, even in tattoos

Tuesday night I went out to UCSB with my friend Jennifer to see Rufus Wainwright. It was a great show, it was just Rufus solo, and he seems like a dear person who was born with/has carefully developed a tremendous vocal range as well as nice, shaggy hair and bare feet and a sparkly scarf, and honestly, sitting there I felt like it would have been okay if he just decided to sing all his songs, forever, and I could just stay there and listen and feel like it was a fine use of the rest of my life. If saying this doesn't put too far much ballast in the hull of my Rufus Boat: the man totally refreshed my faith in art. When an artist opens up his or her heart on stage like that -- if we're receptive, our hearts open up in response. Maybe you get that feeling through religion, or shopping, or being in love, but a really skillful songwriter can unlock all those little cabinets inside you. Or cabinets inside me, at least, I don't know what you have inside of you; maybe your big inner ironing cupboard is always ajar, your iron steaming, your spray starch bottle full. (We have one of those old-fashioned ironing-board cupboards in our kitchen -- with no board in it, unfortunately -- so when I was thinking of something you might have in your chest that wasn't what I have, which is 26 sticky little typesetter's drawers, but instead just one, big available thing, ironing board cupboard is what came to mind.) At one point Rufus covered his face with his hand and bent over the microphone and mumbled, "I spend way too much time Googling myself," and we all chuckled at his shameful secret. And then he mumbled even more shamefully, "And then I read the comments." As someone who has lived part of her life on the Internet for -- oh! Next Monday will be my eleventh blog anniversary! So, for eleven years I've been doing this Internet self-exposure thing, and if there's one thing I've stopped doing it's Googling myself. I just don't want to know who thinks I'm an idiot, it's not going to do me any good unless you really have a plan to help me with all my problems, then I'm totally willing to listen. But you're going to have to make an appointment. In conclusion, I don't want to be responsible for any comments that might hurt another person's feelings, so if you read this and feel inclined to tell the world what you really think about Rufus Wainwright, make sure it's in rhymed couplets.

Driving up Chapala Street

Me: "Look at the tattoo on that guy's forearm: Love Laughter Light."

Jackson (cupping his hands around his mouth): "YOU FORGOT THE COMMAS."

On Instagram I am Toasteroven, I forget why

Lastly, because I'm finishing this in a dreadful hurry to get Jackson to school on time: I am reading the new J.K. Rowling book, The Casual Vacancy. Is anybody else reading it? Because I feel like I'm the only person in the world who thinks it's terrific. I will let you know if that opinion still holds when I'm done, but so far, so good.

Catching Up with the Kennedys

Last night I finished reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened out loud to Jackson at bedtime. We'd had to skip over some parts, like the backyard gravedigging and zombies chapter (spoiler alert), because even I didn't want that to be the last thing on my mind before going to sleep. Our favorite chapters centered on Posey the cat and Barnaby Jones the pug. Jackson was often breathless from laughter, and I take partial responsibility for him failing his language test because I'd kept him up reading past 10:00 o'clock the night before. When we had read everything and there was nothing left to read I went and read the acknowledgments page, too, because Jenny thanked "Alice and Eden" on it and I wanted to show off a little. Oh, boy, was Jackson impressed. He looked at me in shock, then he jabbed his finger into my chest, repeatedly (or, as he says, repeatively), and said, "That's you!" I told him how Alice and I'd had breakfast and dinner with Jenny in New Orleans last year when she was spending half her time in her hotel room writing this book, and that Alice had reached out to Jenny a lot more than I had since then, and I wasn't sure what exactly I'd done to deserve a thanks, but that I'll take it, even if I am the less-reaching-out part of the Alice-and-Eden unit, because when a New York Times best-selling author thanks you in her New York Times best-selling book for doing God knows what, it still feels pretty fantastic.

Then I held up a beat-up copy of David Sedaris's Naked that I'd snagged from the donations pile at the library for a buck. "I thought we could read some of the stories in here for our next bedtime book. He's funny."

"I don't know." Dubious face.

"What's the problem, then?"

"I don't know," he said again, "I just think women are funnier than men."

And then I fell over and died. I'd say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED but getting him to believe that women are funnier than men was never the mission; the mission has been more of a general "raise a boy who appreciates women and men for their talents equally, without an overlay of sexist expectations." So I may have done a little cultural over-correction by wiring DVDs of 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation into his brain on repeat while he sleeps. Should I put a testosterone patch on his forehead? I hope this doesn't mean we have to watch more Adam Sandler movies.

Selvishness

I am reading a Martha Beck book. I didn't know who she was until recently, but it turns out that half the women I know are super into Martha Beck and her kooky, down-to-earth, life-coaching wisdom. I am digging Martha's vibe, despite the fact that life coaching is not the kind of work I've ever taken seriously. I've met one life coach in real life and she was full of shit, unfortunately, and any time I've read about life coaches their stories make me nervous, i.e., they woke up one morning and realized it was their calling to get other people to pay exorbitant, ongoing sums to wake up and find their callings. Be that as it may, I've loosened up and come to the conclusion that it's probably like any other profession: some people are great at it and give the profession a good name, and the rest of the people who do it fall somewhere on the spectrum between GIFTED and IF THIS DOESN'T WORK OUT I'M GOING TO GO BACK TO MY BOOTH AT THE CRAFT FAIR. (No disrespect meant to the craft fair booth-dwellers among us; the world would be a sad, sock zombie-less place without you.)

So, in this book, Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck talks about the difference between your social self, which knows how to get by politely in the world and make you seem acceptable to the general public, and your essential self, which may or may not want to dance with wolves, play naked in a jug band, run a marathon backwards, or leave society altogether and live in a windowless yurt in Outer Mongolia, which I've heard is the most beautiful place on earth.

Martha's idea about two selves coincides somewhat (somewhat) with what yoga has taught me, which is that we have five selves nested somewhat like Russian dolls, deeper and deeper within. Your outer doll-layer is your physical body, a.k.a. the food body (or the annamaya kosha), but beneath this is your energetic body (the pranamaya kosha) which is illuminated by the breath. Then comes your mental/emotional body (the manomaya kosha) which is what makes you feel like a distinct person from all the rest of us, and then within that you have the body of knowing (the vijnanamaya kosha) which is composed of your intellect and your five senses. Lastly and most subtly at the center of it all is the body of bliss (the anandamaya kosha) a.k.a. the causal body, or the soul, "the place of joy, peace, understanding, and union—the Seer itself."

Ideally, yoga can heal them all, but Martha seems to be focusing pretty much exclusively on the leap to bliss. I love her, but I'm not sure how she's going to help me achieve it. She has some great quizzes in the book, and I'm only on chapter three, so I figure if I go for a two-pronged approach (one Martha Beck book + yoga three or four times a week) I'll crack through the illusions caused by the poisonous seed of conditioned existence and start an online life coaching course by the end of the year.

No, but seriously. I have no idea what to do with all this information.

I'm tricky like that

This post is sponsored by Chronicle Books. I like books, and people who read are the kind of people I want to know. I've taken somewhat of a break from posting because I was tired of having opinions on the Internet. There are millions of other people telling you what they think on an hourly basis, and I suddenly felt pretty stupid trying to pretend that my opinions had any more value than anyone else's. I certainly wasn't enjoying trying to be heard above the din; I all but abandoned my gig at Babble and last Friday I finally worked up the nerve to quit The Stir. I just wanted to work, go to yoga, sit in the sun, and check my e-mail once a day. So for three weeks, that's what I did. It was heaven.

The rest of my recovery program was given over to trying to organize our new house (read: wandering around Bed Bath & Beyond with an armful of skirt hangers) and reading books. I read The Hunger Games (not much character development but quite a page-turner); Just My Type (a brisk, anecdotal history of typography); I finished the Mindy Kaling book (which read like a chatty, friendly, and sometimes point-free series of blog posts); I started and then abandoned the first Nancy Drew book (but I mean to check it out again later because it was AWESOME); I read and then became very afraid of The Secret (which may be another post down the road, if I can assure myself that it won't give me nightmares); and I've just started listening to The Glass Castle in my car, which is so absorbing that makes me miss freeway exits.

The other part of my reading-recovery was spent cuddled up with Jackson every night at bedtime. Jackson reads plenty for school, but I've always hoped he'd do a little more recreational reading without us turning off the TV and forcing him to. Here's one of the ways I've tricked him into it.

The Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure Novels are Chronicle's new series for kids. It's like playing a video game in story mode: you get to choose how you get to the end. Chronicle Books is not the first to come up with this idea (I think Italo Calvino took a shot at it, and those Dictionary of the Khazars books that came in Male and Female editions), but it's still a good idea in a nicely-designed package. Jackson immediately snagged the Amazon one and told me he thought I'd like to read Mars. (Here's a trailer for the Mars book.) If you'd like to win all three books for yourself, leave a comment below telling me what your favorite book was when you were a kid and I'll use Random.org to choose a winner.

UPDATE: The winner is Steph (who loves Roald Dahl). Thanks, Steph, and everyone who shared their favorite books.