Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press).

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 a straight job and is just about finished writing her first novel.

Okay, but when you say it like THAT

 I call it self care.

I call it self care.

I have been going back and forth on whether to attend the one holiday party I get invited to. The family who hosts it is tight-knit and emotionally healthy and fun. The first year I was invited I went with my friend P. and we stayed elbow-to-elbow the whole time because we didn’t know anyone but the hosts, but we drank champagne and had a good time.

The second year, P. brought two of her college-age daughters along and they were a goddamn delight. Because I’d switched jobs the previous summer, I suddenly knew almost everyone at the party because the hosts are members of the organization I now worked for. The problem was that I felt I had to put on my work face for everyone, and as an introvert muddled by alcohol and with no graceful exit strategies, I felt trapped in my own cheer.

The third year, P. brought her husband and all three of her daughters, so she was well insulated. I could have spent five minutes figuring out how to avoid getting overwhelmed again. Instead, I smiled a little too intensely at everyone, creating the effect of a raccoon rearing up to scare you away from a pile of spaghetti (in this metaphor I’m both the raccoon and the spaghetti), and then lumbered off to sit with P.’s family. P.’s family turned out to be funny, intelligent, and functional (spoiler: I am none of these things) and my few attempts to join their conversation fell flat. Also, I was six months sober, and I had to leave before I started crying. I probably should have gone and found a therapist the next day, but I didn’t! Bootstraps!

The fourth year, the party was cancelled because Southern California was on fire and the air was so smoky that everyone had to stay indoors. I had no other choice but to stay home and get a shitload of writing done. I had the best time. I badly needed the break; my wheels were starting to come off. The Universe gave me what I wanted most that Christmas: to have my family happily engaged in other rooms while I sat alone and wrote. The news was terrible and I came through it all refreshed and ready for the new year.

And now: Year Five! A beautiful evite sits in my inbox. Will I talk myself into having a wonderful time? Will I wear a bandit mask, climb the Christmas tree, and then stuff all the leftovers into a trash bag and drag them home?


  • Goddamnit I want to see this — the roller rink was such a big deal in my life as a kid, and it thrills me to know this community has risen up: United Skates

  • A coworker gave me half of a reindeer cookie the other day and it filled me with such a buoyant longing for what Christmas could be, if only my piping skills were better: How to Decorate a Sugar Cookie Like a Pro

  • If you love being both organized and adorable, everything at Mochi Things is 30% off right now

  • US and UK covers for the same books: Who Wore it Best?

  • This bothers me a little, I’ll be honest (I never trademarked the phrase, so I have nothing to complain about), but I wish I at least liked their design: Writing Well is the Best Revenge

Speaking Ill of the Dead

A few years ago when Jackson was playing youth league basketball, he jammed his finger pretty badly and we ended up at the ER, and then we were referred to a hand specialist because it was a weird break. The bone at the tip of his finger had actually split, like if you took an ax to a log. There’s a name for that type of break but I Google image searched and couldn’t find an example, and now I’ve creased my brain with so many truly horrendous hand injuries and I’m not even done with my first cup of coffee.

Jackson’s break was small and it healed up well, but the hand specialist kept telling us to come back for what felt like unnecessary follow-up appointments. I began to feel like we were being milked for not only our precious time but for $50 copays. Did he need to finance his winter trip to Arugula, I wondered? (I mean Aruba, you knew that, but I left Arugula because it’s funny to watch someone’s mind crumble.)

Here comes the point! I titled this post for a reason! So this last Wednesday it was starting to rain, and everyone around here gets edgy now when a storm comes in because enough water could trigger another debris flow through the areas that burned in last December’s fires. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a video from the moment last January 9 when a couple of Highway Patrol guys realize that they need to get the fuck out of there:

I started this post feeling kind of jokey about the whole thing but now having watched that again I’m all choked up. It was so awful.

Because the place where I work is a hub for the Warming Centers, where people can come and sleep and eat and get out of the cold when it rains or the temperature drops below 40, people who need shelter tend to gather outside my office to wait for the shuttle bus. I am not supposed to let people hang out or stow their stuff or use the restroom, but I will occasionally make an exception. Wednesday a slightly addled woman showed up and I went outside to see what her deal was, and I ended up listening to a long, substance-fueled monologue about some recent not-great events in her life, including an ugly hand wound that had required stitches and antibiotics and a trip to (ah ha) the same hand surgery office that I’d taken Jackson to for his broken finger. Except now it has a memorial plaque in the waiting room with a photo of Jackson’s finger doctor, because he was swept away and died last January 9 in the mud slide, along with his daughter.

Then a cab driver got out of his car and came up and started arguing with the addled woman, accusing her of stealing $10 from him, and I wandered back inside. When I looked out again later the woman was sitting on her duffle bag and crying, and then my office mate, who is much kinder than I am, brought her out a cup of coffee and a candy cane.

A ball bounces up a Penrose staircase while a Shepard scale plays. The staircase is everlasting, and the Shepard scale creates the illusion of tones that steadily rise, but don't actually seem to get anywhere. This is a combined audio and visual illusion.

Happy Sleep-in Pie Thursday

I know that many of my fellow and sister white folks who live in the United States annually take some time to reflect on both the origins and the consequences of the first Thanksgiving, as I do. I am not thankful for that first boatload of Europeans, though my ancestors were among those that took advantage of the blood-soaked ground they left for others to build upon. Only a psychopath (which I am mostly not) would miss the paradox of celebrating such a terrible legacy.

At the same time, a four-day weekend devoted to pie, sleeping, a jigsaw puzzle of Volkswagen buses, and dicking around online is pretty much exactly what I needed. Fall is always a hard time for me, I never do well with the time change and as I get older the colder weather demands that I lay low just when work and everything else is heating up. Inevitably, I get sick.

 With God as my witness this will be the last bland, Libby’s-based pumpkin pie I make in this lifetime.

With God as my witness this will be the last bland, Libby’s-based pumpkin pie I make in this lifetime.

On Thanksgiving day Jack started up in the kitchen at 7:20 a.m. He is a man who likes to get shit taken care of early, and who am I to stand in his way? I laid in bed while he boiled potatoes, made stuffing, and put the turkey on the barbecue so that the oven would be freed up for me and Jackson to make pies. We must have some kind of magical Weber grill because even though the math said our bird needed four-and-a-half hours to cook, it only took two? And there were no raw parts, it was all perfectly done? The bird cooled, I finished all the sides, and the three of us sat down to eat at 5:00 and watch The Incredibles 2. It’s been a good sixteen hours and none of us has come down with salmonella, so I’m feeling pretty solid about our chances for survival.

Before dinner I don’t make everyone go around and say what they’re grateful for, I know my family and it just embarrasses them. This year I merely offered what I was grateful for, which meant acknowledging the heinous acts of our forefathers that somehow led to the glory on plate in front of me: bird, stuffing, cranberry, two kinds of potatoes, one green thing, gravy, a pause, and then two kinds of pie.

Despite everything I hope you were able to create some comforts of your own this week.


“Once I put the top on, in the privacy of a changing room, I saw how well it complemented the male body: its low crew neck and tight, stretchy fabric showed off my chest and arms. To the surprise of the shopkeeper, and myself, I bought it.” Letter of Recommendation: Women’s Clothing

“You know, for many birds, their coloring comes from what they eat—fruit, plankton,” Logan observed. “Flamingoes, they’re basically ink-makers.” Ink Foraging in Central Park

“A legend is growing in Nepal, where people say a meditating boy hasn't eaten or drunk in seven months. He barely moves, just sits under a tree, still as a stone. It's impossible, some say. Is it a miracle? A hoax? Let's find out.” The Incredible Buddha Boy, by George Saunders

The ten digits of a GN-4 Nixie tube. Wikipedia

Whatever Makes You Different Makes You Pretty

I’ve been going through my drafts folder and inadvertently publishing ten-year-old posts about caulk and LeBron James, which is kind of a funny glimpse back into the mind of the person I still, basically, am. I saved the title of this post on September 19, 2007, and “whatever makes you different makes you pretty” was probably a notion that struck me while I was doing the dishes or photographing action figures pretending to talk about Downton Abbey. (I only have the dialog from that particular post I was paid to write for Babble.com, and sadly they’ve taken it down. I wish I had backed up the photos I took of the entire cast of Twilight action figures I once purchased so I could pose them talking, in character, with Hulk and Iron Man about the new maid who was lying about her past to Lord Grantham.)

My mom having a good time by a lake in Minnesota in the early 1950s.

As far as brain secretions* go, however, “whatever makes you different makes you pretty” has some merit. It might have come out of remembering the time when I broke my nose, and after it healed it had a bump in it. My mom wanted to pay to have the bump removed. I declined her offer, because I sort of liked the change, to be honest. I liked feeling that my face had been roughed up a bit, that pretty wasn’t as important as the lesson I learned about my own ego after being a showoff on a bike and having my face ground into a stucco wall. My mother’s own nose was scarred after a childhood run-in with a door frame, and she never seemed to mind the way it looked. She had a tiny bit of a pug nose. Maybe she owned that nose of hers, maybe she realized that was part of her work, not to be bothered by the scar from a split nostril. She also had one eye that was half blue and half brown.

If we listen to the Taoists, we’ll see that when some things become pretty, then others become ugly. If you start dividing things up into good/bad categories, all you’re doing is creating a lot of suffering.

* Uchiyama Roshi said,

“Thoughts are the secretions of our brains, the same way as stomach acid is the secretion of our stomachs.” The brain is a bodily organ with a job to do. It digests the impressions it receives the same way the stomach digests the food it receives. We don’t pay close attention to every little thing the stomach does to get on with its work, and we don’t need to pay close attention to what the brain does either.

But we’ve all developed the habit of being obsessed with the content of our thoughts. It’s not easy to break that habit. People often want to learn some special technique that will change that habit.

This is part of a larger discussion on meditation technique that I found really useful. It’s also useful if you’re working on impulse control, or just being a more peaceful person.

Anyway, I finished reading True Grit yesterday, and every time I think about the end I start to choke up. It’s so good, honestly. I might read it again as soon as Jack finishes it, because I pressed the book into his hands with the kind of silent gravity that made him look taken aback and assure me that he’d start reading it right away. Because he’s probably going to spend the day on the couch taking his antibiotics and watching football anyway, so he might as well turn off the sound and read a novel instead, right? Ha ha, yes, that’s the way husbands work. I just rolled my eyes so loudly I could hear cartilage crunch.


I don't talk much here about my deep and abiding love for LeBron James. But there it is. How much do I love LeBron? I wish he'd get traded to the Lakers so I could buy his jersey and wear it to bed, and that's not the half of it.

Jack knows and understands my crush on King James, so he sent me this video of LeBron losing a game of HORSE to some guy with amazing trick shot skills. I don't think you need to be a huge basketball fan to like this, and it's a nice reminder that there are a lot of great playground shooters out there who could, in the right circumstances, put an all-star to shame.

Rock Out With Your Caulk Out

This was originally published on my blog Fussy some ten-odd years ago, but somehow Squarespace thought everyone might like to see it again in 2018, and I’m not going to fight it. Enjoy.

Along with light bulbs, nuclear energy, and shows on a network I don't really watch, General Electric now also makes caulk. Personally, I like to focus on just doing one or two things at a time, like beading and knitting, until I can do them well, as opposed to GE's tack which seems to be "let's manufacture an impossibly wide variety of somewhat evil products. And make an ass-load of money." So that's one clear difference between G.E. and me: I bead for free. Profit motive aside, the packaging for these decidedly non-electric "caulk singles" G.E. sent me to review is great. A+ for that, General Electric! They're hefty and squeezy and feel great and not at all evil in your hand. So I took my little packages of caulk into the bathroom because I had some cracks in the grout in my shower. Because being married to a contractor does not guarantee that you'll live a grout-crack-free existence. It guarantees a lot of other things, including food to eat, cable TV, and fancy hand-me-down cellphones, but between Jack's understandable desire to come home and stop working and my housework ADD, a lot of shit can go by the wayside. So I thought I'd try fixing up our shower grout cracks all by myself with some free G. E. caulk.

Anyway, here you see some of the cracks I had to tackle. I'm a crack tackler!


Nice housekeeping, I know. Please.

Once I had photographed my cracks, Cookie and I examined the free caulk.


The best choice seemed to be the one on the right: white waterproof silicone. I set the others aside and opened up the label to read the directions.


"Remove dirt, grease, moisture, and old caulk." I supposed my shower was clean, grease-free, and dry. Enough. No old caulk, just the original grout.

Then came this mysterious piece of advice: "To finish: Smooth or "tool" bead if needed." I knew for a fact that I didn't know what "tool" beading was, it sounded like some sort of professional tile-setter lingo. But I knew that if they were marketing this stuff to people like me it couldn't be that hard to use, right? Just squirt in in the crack and let it dry! What could possibly go wrong?

God, isn't this exciting? I can't wait to see what happens next.

What happened next is that I made somewhat of a mess. The caulk has the consistency of toothpaste so it's easy to manipulate. But it squeezes out of the package kind of irregularly, and I ended up with cracks that looked like they were filled with badly applied toxic birthday cake icing. And because I still didn't know what "tool beading" was, I went and got a Q-tip, thinking I could jam the grout deeper into the cracks and then smooth it out nicely. Why I thought a cotton swab would be the best tool for the job, I have no idea, but it ended up just creating little peaks and swirls with the caulk and just generally looking like hell. So then I did what any normal cave-dweller would do, I used my finger. This had the advantage of smoothing out the caulk somewhat more evenly, but once you get this shit on your hands it's almost impossible to wash off. I went and got a damp paper towel to wipe the excess caulk off the tiles, but then I'd accidentally touch the caulk and mess it up and have to start all over again.

This is what my cracks ended up looking like:


Jack came home for lunch and inspected my work. He immediately went to the utility closet and got a big yellow sponge that had been left by the guys who originally set all our tile. He showed me how you make it damp and then wipe the caulk off the tile. But it didn't wipe off. Then he went and got a scraper and scraped it all off the tile. Then he tried to wipe the caulk off his hands and said, "What the hell is this shit?"

"It's caulk. By G.E.," I said. I showed him the package. "See? It's for small jobs."

"Why don't you just buy a tube of Dap? It comes with a cap, you don't have to use it all at once, it's waterproof, and it wipes off a lot easier than this shit," he said, scrubbing his hands with a wire brush.

"But this is for people who are intimidated by big professional products. It comes in a cute little package."

"So you're paying for a cute package filled with shitty caulk, I get it," he said, lowering his welder's mask and firing up a blowtorch to clean his fingernails.

I am not doing NaBloPoMo

Death is not interested in your pleading, young pink pope. Well, maybe Death is interested, because Death is the sort of being who finds the fervent denial of bejeweled persons amusing, but in the end nothing you say will make to make any difference because Death brings everything and everyone and every situation to an end eventually, and thank god for that. Because death is change and change is life, and isn’t that a cosmic hoot.


in which I continue to be back

The process of becoming Extremely Online again is going just fine, thank you. I updated my About page to reflect that fact that Let’s Panic went out of print last spring, after seven years of unrivaled success in the pregnancy-and-parenthood-expert mockery section of your local bookstore that probably closed two years ago. Actually, it feels like independent, brick and mortar bookstores may be on a bit of an upswing. That is my perception, it’s what I sense from my tiny perch on this stool in my attic office overlooking a hedge and three garbage cans.

I have that sense because now that I’m on a break from writing I am reading actual novels again, stories printed on paper, like some sort of literate person. I just finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and have finally begun reading that classic True Grit. Neither book is all that recent, but I think any author would hope that their published work would last in the public consciousness at least as long as it took for them to write it. Even if the financial return isn’t that great, it seems like the energetic output you make ought to balance out somehow. Said the woman who just spent six years writing a novel and has been waiting five weeks to hear what her agent thinks of this latest draft.

In becoming online again I also made the terrible discovery that all my Yogabeans photos had vanished. I was pretty upset! Once upon a time I’d put a fair amount of work into that site and found a lot of chuckles in the writing of it and in the comments I got, so I never backed any of it up. I trusted the Internet to keep it forever. I deleted every single carefully posed action figure photo from my photo library to free up the space on my laptop.

 You know how sometimes you go to a thrift store and find a thing that you didn’t know you needed and wanted with all your heart until you saw it?

You know how sometimes you go to a thrift store and find a thing that you didn’t know you needed and wanted with all your heart until you saw it?

Miraculously, Squarespace unearthed the whole site somehow and now the whole page is restored! That was Saturday, and now it’s Thursday and I still haven’t downloaded and backed up any of the photos. Will I? Who knows!

I was pretty depressed over the weekend and it took a while for me to grasp the source of it. The news has been terrible lately. Children are starving to death in Yemen and politicians got pipe bombs in the mail and a Pittsburgh synagogue got shot up by a deluded idiot, and also people I know had loved ones get sick and die, and it all leaves behind a lot of intense grief. I took on just a small part of this global and national and personal grief in an unconscious and unproductive way and was quickly swamped by it. “Do I need to get a divorce?” I thought in my darkest moment, wondering if this deadened feeling I had was because I had no one to turn to because my husband had spent most of the weekend doing his own recovery by watching a shitload of sports TV. And then I realized what I needed to do to feel better was mail in my ballot for the mid-term election because fuck all the awful people who shouldn’t be in charge anymore.

If I were in charge I might dress like a bee every day. 


Not shown are the little bee antennae I wore for the bee ball that night, and I just realized that my slippers were criss-crossed on my feet so the bee prince will never be able to find me now. OH, well.

brb deleting fb

I got David Sedaris’s “Theft by Finding” for Christmas and finally read it last month, I don’t know why I waited so long except that ugh, it was so big, and diaries? Why. I mean, I know diaries are a venerable literary form and all that. I don’t even know what I’m complaining about, honestly. I’m just in a mood. A Big Mood, as the kids say. My kid is seventeen, by the way. I don’t think it’s legal for me to post photos of him anymore, so I’ll describe him for you: six-foot-two, hair longer than mine, a near-Barrymore profile, eyebrows like two fine kabuki smudges. He sleeps like a pony.

What else is new with me? Gosh, it’s been two years since I posted last. I knowingly broke my RSS feed by changing around the links a couple of times, because that felt like a fresh start, to cut off all ties. I finished writing my novel, I think. It’s being read by my agent right now, so fingers crossed she won’t come back at me with so many new insights that I have to rewrite it again. Some chapters have gone through more than twenty drafts. I can’t describe how it feels to not give up on a project of this breadth for six years. I just knew I had to finish it, see it through to a state where I felt it was complete, where I was done, where I’d said everything I had to say and said it the way that conveyed exactly what I meant. I grew deeply in touch with some long-suppressed perfectionist tendencies, and we are friends now. We have embraced, our hands in each others back pockets, inseparable as a long-haired 1970s couple who you can’t tell who’s a boy or a girl from behind. This is a deeply personal reference and there’s no promise that if you keep reading I will provide an explanation.

Well, okay: Cher and Greg Allman.

If I still owe you a drawing, will you please let me know? My spreadsheet disappeared and I never got the last dozen sent and I have been carrying this terrible knowledge around with me for five years or more. It may be why I stopped blogging, honestly, the guilt. Please yell at me through eden m kennedy at g mail dot com. PLEASE. Yell at me tenderly, though. Wrap me up in a blanket of your disappointment. We’ll fix this together.


George Cooney is here to remind everyone who filed an extension about the upcoming tax deadline.

Fearless Inaction

I got into my first #BlackLivesMatter argument with a stranger! It was not #superfun.

The organization I work for has a sidewalk sign and we change the message every week. Usually it's a short, inspirational quote, but it's a liberal organization so I'm often on my guard in case someone walks into the office and has a problem with whatever's out there. It's not really my job to defend the organization and its views -- I'm not a member, I just work there -- but often the higher-ups have better things to do than argue with strangers so my job sometimes entails defusing cranks.

Unfortunately, when Mr. All Lives Matter called our office this week, I did not have on my Welcoming Hat of Patience and Respect. Instead my plumage was bright with righteousness and spread wide about me, and soon, as witnesses will attest, I was just talking over the guy and he was talking over me and we were getting nowhere.

And I hate confrontation. You really have to push me hard before I snap. But after a couple of fruitless minutes where I'm sure my heart rate doubled, my many years in customer service finally kicked in and I just shut up and let him rant. Normally that's a good technique to use with angry customers, to let them explain the depth and breadth of their problem unimpeded. And maybe he just wanted to be listened to by someone he perceived as the problem, or the enemy, or just ignorant and in need of educatin'.

The second technique that works with angry customers is to find something neutral to apologize for -- "I'm so sorry this happened to you," is almost guaranteed to get them on your side and to believe you're actually going to fix their problem* -- but since there was no way on God's green earth I was going to apologize for my defense of our beleaguered Black brothers and sisters, Plan C was just to wait until he said something I could reasonably agree with, which he eventually did. 

"Politicians are all crooked, they're not going to fix this!" he said, almost pleadingly, which allowed me to jump back in and say, "I agree, this is not something politicians can fix, the people have to do it." This gave us both the out we were looking for.

"You know, I learned something from you today," he said approvingly, "and I hope you learned something from me, too," though what he taught me was to get to the listening part a lot faster next time, and then tell him to put it all in a letter to my boss.

*Do not try this with me, Blue Shield, I see right through you.

The best thing to counteract all the office drama was the fact that, because I work in a historic landmark building, it's also a Pokemon Gym, so all throughout the week people were standing around the courtyard or sitting on the steps staring at their phones and battling with their Pokemon. I admit, I tried to pit my completely underpowered Rhyhorn against a champion Charmeleon, who immediately handed me my own ass.

My editor.

I am now on what appears to be the final draft of my manuscript, and that is #superfun! I love editing and rewriting, it's the best part of all of this. I would tinker with this book for years, I would polish and touch up until I die but Jack would probably kill me first (I know that makes no sense but believe me, he'd figure out a way).

I still have no health insurance, but I've been assured by my insurer that should anything happen to me while they're untangling the unholy mess they made, I'll be covered retroactively. Jackson would like someone to look at his shoulder but I haven't made the appointment yet because I don't believe either Blue Shield or the state will reimburse me. I know that sounds like I value my money more than my son's health, but his vague discomfort is not pressing enough for me to start writing checks to an escalating cadre of specialists. Please use this post as evidence of my neglect when Jackson's NBA career is cut tragically short by a career-ending rotator cuff injury.

You bitch!

Lastly, I'd like to recommend a few newsletters I subscribe to. Alice Bradley's Weekly Newsletter, of course. The Awl has a great one called "Everything Changes" and it always manages to say just the right thing when I need it. Sean Bonner's "The Crowd" always points me in good directions. And Meaghan O'Connell's "Like This" is a wonderful chronicle of her life as she writes a book and lives with her husband and young child while feeling somewhat adrift in the Cayman Islands.

Leaving so soon?

What's the Story

When something hard goes down that's outside my scope of personal experience, yet within my scope of human understanding, this is my first step: I empathize. There's an easy trick to putting yourself in someone else's shoes. It's a little thought experiment I like to call putting yourself in someone else's shoes.

There was a great Reddit thread where a bunch of (mostly white) people (men) posted their racist realizations, the experiences that woke them up to what shitheads they'd been. (The whole thread is here.)

This is the one that I still think about: