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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Bookstores Make Me Poop

If I’m being honest, 2022 isn’t going as I’d expected. I’m not sure what I expected but Andrea busting her arm and having to put down Dexy was not it. And, it’s only March. Things could go either way at this point - 2022 is a wildcard.

Last week, we learned that Andrea’s arm is healing slowly and Dex has cancer. The week prior, we noticed Dex was drooling. I thought that perhaps it was due to a tooth issue. Then, on Thursday night, she fell asleep on my lap, head curled downward and I felt a large, hard mass the size of small walnut on her jawline. It was one of those things you feel and immediately know it’s bad, whatever “it” is. We took her to the vet on Friday and the vet was honest and direct, “It’s bad. Really bad.” I’m fairly certain he would have put her out of her misery right then but we said we would have it done at home. There’s not much worse than returning from the vet with an empty pet carrier.

We brought Dex home and then went to the local pet store where we bought catnip and the smelliest, fishiest cat food they carried. I’ve been spending the weekend watching her sleep on my lap which isn’t exactly productive. I keep muttering that I’ll shower, take the trash out and change the cat box. And I will. I think. I just need time...

Monday, Lap of Love comes over after work. They put your pet to sleep in your home. We had them come to our Hudson house when Elliot was sick with cancer, also at age 13. When we did that, I made a point to show the other pets his body. I don’t think this was particularly effective as Lola spent at least another week or 2 peering under the bed for him. While Elliot was alive, he got great joy from bullying Dex. So when we showed Dex his body, she paused and then slipped a catnip sprig from his lifeless grasp, as if to say, “You won’t be needing this anymore.”

Lola is Dexy’s sister. We almost left Dex behind because we wanted a girl. In the end, we took them both. Andrea suspected Dexter was a girl and I defended Dex’s small man-cat bits only to be told by the vet that Dex was in fact a girl. Huh.

We are trying to keep Dex comfy and, at the same time, I try to telepathically tell her it’s okay for her to let. That way, I’d know she was really ready. Every now and then, I stare at her, is she breathing? She is.

Mom’s turning 80 on Friday. I was going to show up and surprise her and then I thought that if she did that to me, I’d be pissed. Mainly because there would no doubt be recycling that hadn’t been taken out and tumbleweeds of pet fur rolling though the house in need of vacuuming. So I told her I was coming and that the rest of the weekend will be surprise filled. Mom’s curious and impatient about surprises but I’m steadfast - I feel there are so few pleasant surprises in life and so many dreadful surprises like pandemics, broken arms, war and cancer - to name a few.

Lately, Andrea and I have been venturing to places in an around Richmond that are new to us. There are several options. A few weekends ago, we hit 4 new to us places in one weekend. We got to a bookstore I’d been following on Instagram for months. They sell new and used books - I love that. The opportunity to peruse what others have let go of. To see what they jotted down in the inside cover or in the margins. This place, Chop Suey Books, has a shop cat named Wonton.

There seem to be quite a few shop cats in Richmond - or maybe I just gravitate to the places that have a shop cat - places like Lowe’s who have a cat named Francine in the garden center, our local florist who has a (boy) cat named Sue and there’s another cat in a business down the street. Anyway, Chop Suey books is bursting with books. I could have perused the shelves a lot longer but, here’s the thing: Bookstores make me poop. It’s true. I think it’s because I relax and all thoughts that typically ping within my head grow still. The smell of new and aged pages fill the air in an enchanting potpourri.

Andrea and I had been kicking around a trip to Germany but settled for the Smoky Mountains instead - far from Putin and the hell he's unleashing. What an absolute dick.

Rita Mae Brown is quoted as saying, “Happiness is pretty simple: Someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to." Which sounds like hope to me. I'll take it - hope.

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