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 Tag: Bulldoggery

Free Fruit

Somebody gave us a box of oranges -- that's what people do in California! Give each other free fruit and wait for tourists to ask us for directions to the beach. So someone gave Jack this box of oranges and said, "They're juicing oranges." I looked at them very carefully but the only clue that they weren't fit for straight eating was that they weren't all-the-way-around orange. In fact I'd go so far as to say they were partially green, which seemed kind of a racist way to divide oranges into "eating" and "juicing." But when I finally peeled one to eat I discovered that it also had seeds, so I guess America wants its eating oranges to be sexless and monochromatic and then we feed our despicable seeded multicolor breeding oranges into industrial juicers and to hell with them. 

(As an aside, I prefer my orange juice to be pulp-free in my little evening cocktails* but there's an old market by the beach that is my number one destination for fresh-squeezed daytime orange juice because I'd swear they just throw the oranges in whole, peel and seeds and all, there's no other way to account for how three-dimensional it tastes.)

* Half orange juice, half fizzy water of choice (Pellegrino for those who like a less-aggressive bubble), and one shot of Hornitos tequila, served over ice in a clean glass and stirred with a room-temperature spoon

So Peewee's had a rough ride this month. He's turning eight in September, which for bulldogs is like, "Welp, I guess he'll be dead soon." He's been slowing down some, and we thought he was gaining weight due to his longstanding refusal to walk more than half a block in any direction, but when I took him in for a check-up the doctor ended up taking 3.2 liters of fluid out of his abdomen. So my dog wasn't fat, he was just turning into a stoic, furry water balloon.

Black is so slimming.

The doctor wanted to see him for a follow-up a week later, where he pulled out another 1.5 liters of fluid. Peewee is now so fluid-free I can feel his spine. I'm taking him back next week just to make sure we've got his meds sorted out (we've upped his diuretics and his kidneys seem to be able to take it), and when I do I'm imagining driving home with a sentient bag of organs that growls when you play tug with it.

Wrapped up like a birthday present.

Honestly, we all expect to wake up one morning and find him dead. We will then go through an appropriate period of mourning and then the plan is to get a dog AND a cat so they can be friends, but it's hard to think about that when the Wee is begging for half of my ham sandwich or snoring softly on the floor with his paws tucked under his chest. 

Oh, Peewee.

Perhaps because of all this I have become unaccountably attached to an Instagram account for a rescue in L.A. called Road Dogs, and when the woman who runs it asked for help running her Twitter and Pinterest accounts, I waved my hand in the air and said ME ME ME, PICK ME. So I'm here to ask you to follow Road Dogs on Twitter and Pinterest for lots of heartwarming rescue success stories (and the occasional, "Wow, people suck."). 

With Jackson going into high school (I KNOW, IT'S CRAZY, HE'S A FRESHMAN) and my novel finally being sent off to be read by The People Who Could Change My Life, it felt like high time for me to work full-time once again, thank you, Craigslist. So I put on my cherry-red Fluevogs and went interviewing. The first job I interviewed for was to be my own boss, i.e., supervisor of the branch I've been working at for five years already. I will frankly tell you that not getting chosen for that hurt, but it would have hurt a lot more if the woman they chose instead of me was doing a terrible job, which she isn't, she turned out to be the better choice, I am sort of weirdly pleased to say. So that sucked for a week or so and then I got over it, but then I still needed to find another job. I applied for some part-time jobs in the hopes that I could stay at the library and work two jobs, but nobody called me back so I went and found one, single full-time job that I will tell you more about once I start. I am very sad to leave the library (very!) but I'm looking forward to being able to walk to work, unless we up and float away when El Niño hits this year (which is predicted to be like "a river falling from the sky"), in which case I might spring for a bus pass so Jackson and I can slosh to the bus stop together in the morning and then take off in opposite directions toward our new adventures.

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.

 

March march maaaaarch

March was an exciting month. For starters, Peewee almost died. Peewee

It started with Peewee barfing four times in a row one morning, and having this weird little palsy to his head. I started Googling things like "dog+barf+palsy" which led to "dog+symptoms+poison" which led to me freaking out and calling the vet. But an hour later he seemed to have shaken off whatever it was. I cancelled the vet and we decided to keep an eye on him. You know, they rally sometimes, these little beasts.

So we did keep an eye on him and what we saw was that over the course of the next couple of days he started eating less and less. He was still drinking water but his stomach looked swollen, and by last Thursday morning he'd become super lethargic and I knew I had to take him in.

A couple of hours later the vet called and said that they'd done a few tests and that Peewee had an enlarged heart and fluid in his abdomen and his liver and kidneys weren't doing so hot and they were going to do a few more tests. An hour later the vet called and said that he didn't want to alarm me but Peewee's heart rate had leaped up to something like 330 bpm -- a heart rate, he said, that was "not consistent with life" -- and could we please come get him and take him over to the emergency vet, where they had a doctor on staff who had the skills to deal with a crisis like this.

Because I guess there's no such thing as a pet ambulance, Jack and I hopped into his truck and hauled ass to the vet's office, where Jack picked up the Wee and carried him out to his truck while I received a bag full of Peewee's fluids and test results and then cried in the front seat while we drove three blocks to the 24-hour emergency vet's office.

We sat in the waiting room for what felt like forever, drinking little cups of water and not talking, but it was strangely comforting to watch SpongeBob's butt cheeks catch on fire on the TV mounted over the front desk. (When I tried to describe the episode later to Jackson he shook his head and said, "Mom, think about it. Butt cheeks can't catch on fire under water.") After a while a vet tech came out and told us Peewee's heart rate was down to 120. Jack went to get Jackson from school, I cried some more, the vet techs shaved some fun new patterns in Peewee's fur, the doctor gave him a sonogram. We hugged him and then we went home. They kept him overnight so they could take his blood pressure every hour, charge us lots and lots of money*, and save his chunky little life.

*I was fine with the money part because after what we went through with Katie we made sure Peewee had pet health insurance.

When we picked him up the next day the vet was all, "His heart is weak and that's the way it's going to be from now on, so no salt, no walks, no excitement," and I was all, "Yeah, well, it's not like he was on the agility circuit anyway." He was tired and moving pretty slow that first day back home but now it's Monday and he's back to barking at the mail and begging for car rides and jalapeno cheese puffs and he seems pretty much fine with this new regime of us hiding his pills in a hot dog twice a day. I'm a tear-stained wretch, but he's fine.

Having been through similar health scares with human beings, I can tell you that being in that space where you don't know if someone you love is going to live or die is pretty much the most stressful thing that's ever happened to me, and now it's happened to me twice and I'm done, please. No more of this, Universe, thank you.

In other news, I got nominated for an inaugural Iris Award, which was quite a thrill. It's a parent-blogging award, and since I'm down to posting once a month about almost anything except my kid, I don't imagine I have much of a chance of winning. But I'm honored to be in such good company.

And now I'm going to go drink a gallon of vodka and pass out do another round of meditation and watch the Gravity DVD I got from the library. Please hug your dogs, cats, iguanas, and guinea pigs a little extra just for me. Thank you. That actually helps.

A progression of healing thoughts

This morning I was driving down Alamar when I saw a slightly ragged-looking couple on the street in front of the Alzheimer's home. The man looked upset and the woman waved at me violently and shrieked, "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GO 35, BITCH!" with a horrifying expression on her face. I glanced at my speedometer -- I was going 37 m.p.h., and my first thought was a prim, "Clearly that woman does not know what a car going approximately 35 miles per hour looks like." I braked slightly and looked in my rear-view mirror -- she was still glaring at me, and my second thought was of a photograph from one of my dad's books about the Holocaust where a woman with the same expression of fury and disgust on her face was yelling at a group of Jews being rounded up.

And then I was mad that seeing my brake lights might have made her feel like she'd won. The truth was that I braked because the light on the corner was red and I didn't want to roll into oncoming traffic, and now I was thinking about Nazis.

Thought #3: "Nazis!"

Thought #4: "That bitch."

Then I forced myself to calm down because it's unhealthy to let a stranger fuck up your day when you weren't even doing anything wrong. (Anything that wrong. After all, she was correct in pointing out that I was not going the speed limit. LET'S GIVE HER THAT.)

Thought #5: "OK, wait. What if she's really upset about something, let's look at it from her point of view. Maybe her dog just got run over."

Thought #6: "OK, but it wasn't me who ran over her dog, or ran into her mother who wandered away from the Alzheimer's home, and all that anger should be directed toward the people who are truly responsible for her having to put her mother in a home where she's dying of Alzheimer's without remembering who her daughter is. I know how that feels, lady, but at some point you've got to suck it up and quit yelling at strangers driving by in the street."

Thought #7: "What Law of Attraction bullshit have I done to have a stranger yell at me like that?"

When we were about a mile away I asked Jackson if he'd remembered to put his homework in his backpack, and he hadn't. So we drove back home, got the homework, and passed the Alzheimer's place again but the woman was gone.

Thought #8: "I have no way of knowing what the truth of her situation is, so I need to let go of this whole thing, Byron Katie. She absolutely should have been in the street yelling at cars, that was exactly what needed to happen at that point in time, given a series of events that are totally invisible to me, and it would be insane for me to try to fly back in time with super mind control and try to change it. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE, COMRADE."

Then I had a happier thought.

Thought #9: "Maybe she has a superpower that enables her to detect when a car is going two miles over the speed limit."

Thought #10: "Well, at least I finally have something to blog about."

 

I'm not even sure what racism is anymore

Me: I need to go to the Water Store and get more distilled water.

Jackson: That is the whitest thing anyone, anywhere has ever said.

Me: Oh, well, excuse me, the first person who told me that we should all drink distilled water was black. His mom was super into it.

Jackson: It's still the whitest thing I've ever heard you say.

Me: Well, I am pretty white.

Jackson: Yes.

Me: But how can it be a white thing if black people drink distilled water, too?

Jackson: Are you calling me racist?

Me: I don't know, am I? Or are you saying that "white" is a synonym for "living in a privileged bubble."

Jackson: Yes, yes I am.

Me: And I am a privileged person who will pay for something that comes out of a faucet for free.

Jackson: Pretty much.

Me: OK, but if doing that is "white," are you saying that a privileged black person who buys distilled water is "white," or are you saying that black people can be just as privileged and deluded by health fads as white people?

Jackson: . . . the second one.

Me: So, maybe just say privileged in the future if that's what you mean.

Jackson: Mom, you are so white.

Me: Okey dokey!

 

So I might have been at this for a year now

This is for a person who wasn't sure what they wanted me to draw. "A hedgehog?" they wondered, or perhaps, "Peewee!" So I drew Peewee and two hedgehogs, and then I misspelled Peewee and painted the hedgehogs purple.

watercolor peewee

I love you enough to keep waiting like this

Some time ago a friend told me about a birthday or Mother's Day card her now-adult son had made her when he was a kid. Not one for Hallmarkian displays of sentiment, inside it he wrote, "I love you more than five hundred bucks." I always thought that was a pretty good approximation of how much love you can have for some people. Five hundred bucks is a lot of money whether you're a kid or not; I don't have anywhere near that in my wallet right now. I briefly had more than that in my bag a couple of weeks ago, after we'd sold a bunch of my deceased mother-in-law's jewelry to a local guy who only paid in cash, but I only had to worry about it for about fifteen minutes or so.

  • I love you more than how anxiously I drove to the bank to deposit that cash before someone realized they should rob me
  • I love you more than the relief I had afterward (and the spinach and goat cheese crepe you bought me for lunch at Le Petit Valentien)
  • I love you more than 7.5 hours of sleep per night, which I keep not getting because of you (JACKSON)
  • I love you enough to spend two years knitting a sweater even though I'm worried it won't fit you very well when it's done
  • I love you enough to watch three seasons of a show you adore even though I have to concentrate more than I'd prefer to follow the plot
  • I love you enough to wash, dry, and fold your laundry, but I will not put it away because I am not your maid

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I finished the first draft of my novel on Monday, 49,000 words, all of them mine, every stupid last one of them. The manuscript is a mess and the ending is awkward and the number one thing that feels great about it, apart from the sense of achievement (I wrote a novel! No, you can't read it yet!), is the fact that I went to bed on Monday night going, Hmm, well, now what? and I woke up Tuesday morning finally understanding the whole purpose of the thing and knowing everything I had to do next to get it into shape. I was just lying there and it came to me. Because I am magical.

And then I forced myself to take the day off and not think about it. (I have a lot of blogging, drawing, and knitting to catch up on.)(Oh, god, so much drawing!)

My blind hope when I started working on this book last September was that if I just trusted and typed out words that made English sentences, maybe something deeper would activate while I worked. I recommend this process if you're interested in becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and don't mind running around in circles for a year. It's totally demoralizing, but in the end it kind of works. I also recommend Alan Watt's The 90-Day Novel, which totally spoke to me on the woo-woo level where I spend half my time anyway (though in my hands it became The 385-Day Novel).

When I started I didn't have a plot, all I had was an interesting situation for two people to be in, a husband and a wife, with some sort of offspring (male? female? toddler? high school sophomore?) to be determined later. Almost as soon as I began writing I realized that the husband needed to be the wife's character and the wife needed to be the husband. When that finally felt right, then the age (fifteen) of their child (daughter) suddenly became clear. Next, other characters began popping up and doing what they needed to do, situations began suggesting themselves and were duly explored, paragraphs were written and either kept or shelved, and third-person omniscient changed into first person halfway through and then back to third and I'm really not looking forward to sorting that out.

Some days I'd write 90 words, some days I'd write 2,000. Sometimes it felt like I was trying to build an air-conditioned birdhouse with no blueprints, or put together a jigsaw puzzle of the sky, or flex a muscle in my head that I wasn't sure even existed. One day about six months ago I felt the barest glimmer of something new inside coming to life, and (I don't know how to describe it without sounding like I've lost my mind) what I was doing suddenly felt so precious, felt so sacred, that I didn't want to move or think or breathe for fear of scaring it away. I sat so carefully and gently, building my birdhouse so respectfully -- because suddenly a bird that was supposed to be extinct was on my windowsill looking at me.

Along with that bird came a feeling that I thought was extinct. It felt like being in a kind of love. And I apologize for all of this if the book ends up being total horse shit, but it felt like finding the thing or the one who (perhaps? maybe? if I don't push or get clingy and ruin it?) was going to fall for me, too, all the way. The feeling was completely mutual. It's something that I haven't felt for a very long time, not since I used to write poetry. It seems particular to writing, for me? It didn't last for very long, maybe a day or two, but it was the luckiest, scariest feeling in the world while it was in bloom.

It faded a bit after that, but everything fell into a nice routine. I began to really trust myself now. It felt like I/we were building something with a lot of potential. Of course, there were times when I felt like picking a fight, or ignored it for days on end, but that all felt like part of the process. On bad days I was bored and just went through the motions. But I didn't want to throw in the towel so I talked it through with a third party until I reached a new understanding. I apologized for being so distant, I resolved to try a different approach, to be attentive and adjust my pace, to take breaks when I needed them, but to keep showing up. And that's how we made it work.

The Rules of Writing an Interesting Story say that you're supposed to be throwing bombs at your characters all the way through so they can battle their way past every obstacle in search of their goal, their grail, their Rosebud, their Revolution, their Happily Ever After, and through this journey they refine their fondest wishes and grow and change and become worth following for 300 pages or so. Maybe that's old fashioned, to tell a story like that, and that's fine. I'm interested in seeing what happens when you follow those rules, and then maybe to see how far they'll bend. As we all know, you need to learn the rules before you can throw them away, if you're going to say anything new.

Now onto draft two! This post is too long! Here's a photo from my dog's Instagram account. Peewee always has something new to say.

the wee