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

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

Creepy little thoughts

I don't ever really think about my archives because once I get something off my chest I'm usually done with it. But the other day I was thinking about the post I wrote when my son told me he liked to hurt dogs. Those were the days! When I could admit difficult parenting moments and get the almost-full support of the Internet. I got some anonymous comments from what we used to call "concern trolls" who were worried that Jackson would grow up to be a serial killer, one of whom suggested I take him to an abused animal shelter and show him what it looks like for dogs to be horribly mistreated, which -- would they even let a four-year-old into a place like that? If I had explained to them that he liked to pinch his dog's ears, would they have said, "Oh, by all means, let's show him some bait dogs that have been starved half to death so that you can teach him that grown ups can be far more cruel than he'd ever imagined, because we want to make sure he feels just as helpless and traumatized as these puppies." I am so glad I don't blog about my kid anymore.

Rita read that post and ended up including it in her parenting anthology, Sleep Is For The Weak. Knowing what I know now, that Jackson was going through a phase that's weirdly normal for a lot of kids, and that he was not on his way to becoming a sociopath, I am tempted to delete that post because it could end up embarrassing him when he's older. I am also tempted to rewrite it because I come off as fairly desperate to reassure myself that he was just kidding. He wasn't, of course. I simply had no idea how to handle what he was telling me.

Fortunately, the Internet can smell insecurity on you. Then they pinch your ears until you cry! Who's the sociopath now, Internet?

What made that post necessary for me then and the reason I'm leaving it up for now are the comments that said, Oh yeah, I used to do that as a kid but I grew out of it, and, Thank you for writing this because my kid is doing the same thing and I am freaking out.

Now, I'm not an expert in anything, but -- okay, would you like to know what irony is? My dog was just sitting in the living room barking at nothing and I said, "Oh my God, Peewee, I am going to fucking kill you if you don't shut up!" and then I took two chew toys and I dangled them over his head to get him to follow me into the bedroom, and then I threw them on the floor and ran out of the room and closed the door. He is now trapped in a squeaky, quilt-filled prison.

People used to ask me and Alice if we were going to do a sequel to Let's Panic About Babies!, something that would take you from toddlerhood through teenagers, but since neither of us knew anything about parenting a teenager the idea never got out of the gate. I still have no idea how to parent a teenager. It has occasionally occurred to me that I wouldn't mind swaddling Jackson, who is now eleven, but only because I think it might make it more of a challenge for him to play Grand Theft Auto IV.

Swaddled, by Oslo Davis

JUST KIDDING I DON'T LET MY SON KILL HOOKERS ONLINE.

I've also felt guilty for drawing a mustache on one of his baby pictures and putting it into Let's Panic!

creepy baby

He said it was okay that I did this -- and please believe me when I tell you that I asked for his permission at least a dozen times before the book went to print -- but then when the book came out he was all, I don't like that you did that! and I was all, Goddamnit I asked you a hundred* times!

I just looked into the bedroom and Peewee was lying on the bed with his head on my pillow, snoring. HE'S NOT DEAD AND I DID NOT KILL HIM, EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT IDEA TWENTY MINUTES AGO. But now I have another idea.

*twelve

swaddled dog

Excuse me while I go register dogswaddling.com.

Rita is doing a giveaway because it's the fifth anniversary of Sleep Is For The Weak and the second anniversary of Let's Panic About Babies! Alice is doing one here, and I am doing it, too, because that seems to be what I do these days, give away books in exchange for you leaving your life story in the comments! It's in honor of Mother's Day, which is coming up pretty soon. If you would like to win a parenting double whammy of Sleep and Panic, leave a comment telling us the thing that worried everyone most about you when you were a kid, and how you grew up to be okay anyway. I mean, yes: unless you're dead we won't really know how it all works out, maybe the urge to put beans up your nose will return when you're 73 and make fools of us all. But if you feel relatively sure you're in the clear, psychologically and spiritually.

UPDATE: Our winner is frequent commenter and long-time Fussy supporter DGM. Thanks to each of you who spilled out a small portion of your guts in contribution to this post.