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Cats by Amy Fusselman | Word Riot

December 15, 2015      

Cats by Amy Fusselman

One of my cats put his hockey stick through our 150-year-old portrait of my husband’s great-great-great-great uncle, Mr. Hill.

One of my cats got a betta fish named Donut who jumped out of his bowl on his first night and died.

One of my cats wants an anvil, a blast furnace, a blacksmith sledge, and “lots of metal” for his birthday.

One of my cats calls me “Dude.” This same cat also calls me “Mimmo.” This same cat also calls me “Bill De Blasio.”

I wonder if all three of my cats will come and visit me when I’m in the nursing home, or just the girl cat, or no cats at all.

I wonder if Donut knew where he was going.

My three cats are close, closer than I am to my brother.

I gave birth to three cats; three other cats I miscarried.

I hate the word “miscarry,” it sounds like I held my cats incorrectly.

I held all six of my cats just fine, thanks. I can’t help how every single thing just happens.

Help and held are so close; they’re like word relatives.

When I married my husband I became his relative.

When I married my husband I became his helpmeet.

I have always thought Mr. Hill was a trickster; there is something elfin about him.

A woman once came to our apartment and squealed that Mr. Hill winked at her.

I do not use the word “helpmeet” to describe myself although maybe I should.

Mr. Hill is depicted sitting at a desk with his right hand resting on a pile of books.

My cat was doing a slapshot with his hockey stick and it went through Mr. Hill’s pile of books.

Mr. Hill hung there with his hand on the bookhole for a couple months before we could get him downstairs to the painting conservator in our building.

Bookhole seems like a word that is related to helpmeet.

At times I felt that Mr. Hill and his bookhole were mocking me for not being able to fix them.

Mr. Hill and his bookhole were like two separate things even though they were one thing, a broken painting.

I had a book come out at the same time Mr Hill’s bookhole appeared.

I would look at Mr. Hill and think, “My book broke through,” which I know makes no sense.

I am helpful to my cats but my cats don’t always want my help.

Carrying cats is not for pussies.

My book is on my desk buried in a stack of other books.

“It’s not uncommon for betta fish to jump out of their bowls,” said the pet shop employee.

I can’t help how every single thing just happens.

When my friends talk about their dogs and their problems, I want to say: didn’t you know that this is what you signed on for, when you got a dog?

My cats’ pajamas are flammable.

Mr. Hill is in a fancy gold frame.

How many lives do my three cats, my three non-cats, my husband, and I have in total?

My friend Nancy is encouraging me to believe that life is just a dream and we can manipulate it.

My book sits on my desk during the day and I don’t look at it.

I read this in a book about babies: the precursor to the mirror is the mother’s face.

One of my cats says he loves me even though he sometimes hates me.

One of my cats says she just hates me.

All three of my cats want a dog.

A baby needs to be mirrored.

A baby needs to be handled so its omnipotence is not violated.

I wonder now if I did not mirror my book enough.

I look at my book and I don’t know if we’re relating.

Sometimes writing is smoke and mirrors.

Mr. Hill is flammable.

When my friends talk to me about their spouses and their problems, I want to say: didn’t you know that this is what you signed on for, when you got married?

One of my cats likes to scream just to hear himself scream.

One of my cats wants an expensive gaming mouse for his birthday.

I have had post-partum depression since my book came out.

This is my third book. I didn’t have post-partum with the other two.

Shrodinger’s cat is not a cat; it is a thought experiment.

My cats are not thought experiments. 

My book is not a baby.

When my book came out I would wake up and drink my coffee and look at Mr. Hill with his hand hovering over his hole.

Mr. Hill would stare at us as we ate breakfast as usual, but the twinkle was gone from his eye.

When male authors’ books come out I assume they don’t experience post-partum because they don’t experience partum.

Maybe male authors make books that are things in stacks and not anything else.

Stacks smoke.

My dad started smoking at in 9th grade. My doctor-grandfather wrote his boarding school a letter giving him permission to do so.

My dad died many years later from emphysema brought on by smoking.

It’s like a dream and you can manipulate it.

I imagine my 9th-grade dad smoking in his room, reading “Kubla Khan.”

My oldest cat wrote an essay about “Kubla Khan” in which he described it as “a dream interrupted by a business meeting.”

My dreams are always interrupted.

I am always tired and I always drink coffee.

My two oldest cats are brothers. They are very particular about when they want to be helped/held.

Writing a book is a thought experiment.

I did not yet make a photo book from the pictures I took of my cats during our summer vacation to San Francisco.

My cat who calls me “Bill De Blasio” also calls me “Mrs. Lady.”

My cats smiled for a picture on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco.

My cats did not ask what would happen to the photos I took of them.

I keep my cats’ artwork in a flat file which is now bulging to the point of explosion.

In San Francisco my cats didn’t want to see Alcatraz.

In San Francisco my cats went twice to the Exploratorium.

My cats have not yet been killed by curiosity.

All my cats’ artwork is flammable.

Perhaps my cats will carry my casket if I have one of those.

There is no way my cats are going to eat that radicchio.

Two of my cats play piano.

One of my cats who plays piano composed a song called “Pigs are Weird.”

The “Pigs Are Weird” composer-cat likes to pretend she is a baby bird and I am her bird-mom and together we eat worms.

When I am eating ramen for lunch I think of my cats even though they hate ramen and their hatred of it is, in fact, why I think of them.

If I am cremated will my cats split my ashes three ways?

I have three cats until they leave me and then when they are gone I will still walk around and say I have three cats.

I am flammable.

Writing is a solace, like smoking.

You can manipulate it.

I should have named my three cats Yoda, Gandalf, and Dumbledore.

I should have named two of my cats Monty and Python.

I should have named one of my cats Jaromir Jagr.

Will I think, 20 years from now, that I should have done more with my cats? More what?

I call one of my cats “Pickles.” I call this same cat “Banana.” I call this same cat “49.”

I am not cat-free even when I am cat-free.

I am not sure how free I am, cats or not.

My oldest cat thinks society needs to be restructured from the ground up.

Pictures of my cats smiling on Nob Hill in San Francisco are hidden deep in my computer where no one can see them.

My cats will bury me.

Mr Hill is now at the painting conservator being repaired. His hanging apparatus is here, empty.

Mr. Hill is like the hanged man in tarot.

I am terrified of my cats dying before me.

When I look at the picture of my cats smiling on the Golden Gate Bridge I think of those who leapt to their deaths there.

The hanged man in the tarot card is depicted suspended upside down, unperturbed.

I wonder what Donut knew about air.

One meaning of the hanged man is “upending the old order.”

My youngest cat wants to talk to my breasts.

My middle cat is very catlike.

I sniff at my oldest cat like a dog.

Post-partum depression has six stages, according to the Internet.

The first five are the same as Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief; the sixth is post-traumatic stress disorder.

Writing is like being 14 years old and reading “Kubla Khan” and smoking and thinking you’re going to live forever.

I named my oldest cat after my smoking father.

Donut had a fishbowl made by a fancy Italian design firm.

Mr. Hill came from my husband’s great aunt’s house in western PA. We think he was in the steel industry and that’s about as much as we know about him.

When you experience one loss it brings up all the other losses you have ever experienced; it’s like someone welds all your losses together.

I do not know who does that welding, or why.

My book is not alive.

Writing is not mirroring.

Mr. Hill will be taken out of his frame to be repaired.

He will lay there on the table, backside up.

Writing is not smoking.

Mr. Hill is unsigned.

My cats will bury me.

When my friends talk to me about their parents and their problems, I want to say: didn’t you know that this is what you signed on for, when you called home?

My neighbor who runs the painting conservation studio says Mr. Hill looks at her sharply every time she comes in the door.

I can’t help how every single thing just happens.

I meet my therapist weekly; she’s a helpmeet.

My book came out of my bookhole and I am grieving.

My therapist doesn’t seem to think it’s odd that I speak of my book as a baby.

I am helping/holding my cats. I am afraid of doing this incorrectly.

My brother lives far away.

It’s a dream and you can manipulate it.

My cats will stay and then my cats will go.

It’s a dream I am holding correctly or incorrectly.

Smoke and mirrors.

I am going to break.

I can’t help how every single thing just happens.

My cats will bury me on a hill, maybe.

We all leap into the unknown at least once.

My cats will bury me.

My cats will bury me.

Any other thought is unthinkable.

Amy FusselmanAbout the author:

Amy Fusselman is the author of three books of nonfiction: The Pharmacist’s Mate, 8, and Savage Park. She writes regularly for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and is the editor at Ohio Edit.

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