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.

Filtering by Tag: Jackson

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.

 

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.

And now it is February

My birthday present to myself this year was going to be a car adapter so I could listen to my phonePod while I drive (safely, without ever looking at it to switch songs, even if I'm listening to some tragic police procedural and it suddenly becomes desperately important to hear Burt Bacharach). Instead, I took a small wad of money that I'd collected in my yoga jar (I put a dollar in a jar every time I practice -- someday I hope to save up for a soul of my own!) and went to see Adyashanti (whom I have mentioned twice before) speak at the Methodist church down on Garden Street. It wasn't a class on how to meditate so much as eight hours over two days, with a lot of breaks, of listening to this guy talk about his experience as an awakened person and former student of Zen, and then answer questions from the crowd. So it was sort of post-Zen instruction on meditation, inquiry, contemplation, getting out of your own way, etc. There were no cushions or robes or sitting precisely this way and doing that thing with your hands and inclining your head just so. For him, meditation is mainly about finding a comfortable position and then persuading your ego that everything will be much better if it would stop making up stories and allow things to be as they are. ("Wholehearted cooperation with the inevitable," in the words of the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello.) Once you manage that, then full, universal awareness will pour through your entire being and you'll become the change you want to see in the world, I'm pretty sure. You know, like Jesus and Socrates and Gandhi and all those other people that we admire so much that we want to kill them.

When the floor was opened up to questions from the audience, one woman who was nearly shaking with grief stood up. She explained that she'd had a terrible year but to get through it she'd been trying to live one particular teaching, which was to always keep an open heart. To her, being open meant saying yes to everybody that asked something from her until she became utterly exhausted and felt like a total doormat. But she couldn't stop saying Yes because isn't that what we're supposed to do, walk through the world with an open heart? Like Mother Theresa or something? But it was crushing her.

So Adyashanti looks at her and he says, "Maybe you should try closing your heart for a while, then." And she was all, "Uh, what?" Speechless. I mean, what kind of spiritual teacher would tell you to shut your door and tell the world to fuck off? Yet here he was, giving her permission to do exactly what her heart was begging her to do, which was give it a rest. He explained it really concisely by saying that sometimes No is actually a deeper Yes. In other words, saying no to someone else was saying yes to herself. And this woman, who'd been so bound up in trying to be spiritual and do the right thing even though it was killing her, was so grateful for such a simple thing, but you could tell it was going to completely change her life. I'm sure it had an effect on all of us, to one degree or another, but especially on those of us who have a tendency to let ourselves be heaped with burdens like little emotional pack mules.

He said a bunch of other wise stuff that helped people, too. Some of it was really specific and intellectual and over my head, some of it was deeply emotional, some of it was funny (especially the Japanese woman who asked him if, now that he was enlightened, he still wanted to have sex with his wife). Good times.

A few days later I was working at the library and I got a call from one of our older, homebound patrons asking me to order a book for her, which I did, no problem. Then she says, "So. Do you have absolute power?"

And I, thinking she's making a joke, like she's going to ask me for something that she thinks will be really hard to get so she's flattering me like I'm some sort of genius, I go along with it and say, "Why, yes! I do have absolute power."

And she goes, "You do? Is it right there in front of you?"

And at first I'm thinking, Well, of course I do, I'm right in front of a computer with Internet access, and then I realize that she's asking me if we have the book Absolute Power by David Baldacci. I hope I am not the only library worker that this has happened to, because I would like to join a support group for people who think they know what they're talking about but actually don't.

It turns out that Jackson, at twelve, has about two-thirds more emotional intelligence than I do and 100% more gratitude.

Jackson, sitting on the couch doing something on his iPad, not even looking up as I walk past with a load of laundry: "Thanks, mom."

Me: "For what?"

Jackson: "I don't know . . . anything."

It was my birthday on January 10, and Jack and Jackson threw me a surprise party. Actually, they made it an even bigger surprise by throwing the party on the 18th. Have you ever had a surprise party? I'd always heard people say things like Never throw me a surprise party, surprises are the most dreadful thing imaginable! so I spent my life thinking Surprise parties are terrible! I hope I never have one!

And then I got home from work and this happened:

surprise!

I'd never had an experience where I screamed involuntarily like that. I mean, I've been in the movies and screamed when a monster burst through a window or whatever, but it had never happened in 3-D real life that I opened a door and was confronted by people yelling and throwing shit at me when I had fully expected to open the door and see Jack sitting on the couch watching a Lakers game. I am glad Jack invited our neighbors to witness it or they would have heard me screaming on our front porch and the police would have arrived three minutes later. (I hope. I hope they would have called 9-1-1 and not just turned on the blender or whatever their loudest appliance is and waited for me to stop.)

Anyway, I clearly survived the experience, and I honestly loved it, once my pulse returned to normal, which probably took half an hour. But surprise parties are great! As long as your house is filled with people you think are awesome.

Lastly (since these updates are monthly now I have a lot to cram into them): sweater update! When last we met I was committing myself to doing things right instead of just slapping my life together with Elmer's glue and good intentions, and to that end I decided to rip out the weird, wrinkly top of Jack's sweater that I had supposedly "finished" in time for Christmas. So last month we had this:

Jack's new sweater

and this month we have this:

reindeer

I'm changing the plain yoke to a fair isle and I'm using the Fornicating Reindeer pattern, which I found on Ravelry. I've knitted right about up to where the sexy times are happening and because I am still the person doing the knitting I am pretty sure that I'm going to run out of yarn before I'm done. My plan B is to start unraveling yarn from the sleeves to finish the neck, and then figure out some other way to finish the cuffs. It probably won't matter anyway since it's going to be so pornographic that Jack won't be able to wear it in public.