She Bets Her Life

A writer and former compulsive gambler reflects on women and addiction.

Antidote 18: for holiday "this gift is too expensive"

Dr. Chi Chi weighs in on tax cut sell-out.

My degree is in Common Sense.  My favorite human bumper sticker is:  If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!  If you haven't been paying attention to this blog, you might not know that I am Dr. Chi Chi LaChatte, a fabulous feline queen (see photo) with a degree in Psychology and expertise on the roots of human folly.

I rarely make a mistake.  I rarely retract my opinion - much less my claws.  Alas, Mr. Barack Obama and the wimp segment of the Democrat leadership have caused me to expel this hairball post.  I was feeling truly empathetic with the president. I know what it is to be a great leader beset by fleas.   I wrote he was like a man who had inherited property with wall-to-wall packed outhouses that he was to empty out with a teaspoon.  Imagine my shock and the horror in my sapphire eyes when I learned that he and the WDF (Wimp Dem Factor) did not eliminate tax cuts for what you humans call the Fat Cats.

I pity you, Mr. Barack Obama, if we ever meet.  You will receive the icy blast of my disdain and a hairball on your shoe.  You have somehow managed to pack more full outhouses onto your property - which is, of course, our property.  And, as you did, the Evil Empire sauntered off chuckling, in their dreadful haircuts and thousand dollar clone suits.

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Dear readers, do not think I have succumbed to the infantile American human tendency to want our leaders to be Mummy and Daddy and our Borderline Personality Disorder reactions to their behaviors - OOOOO, WE LOVE YOU  OOOOO, WE HATE YOU!  Au contraire, I never thought that one man could undo the devastation wreaked by the previous administration/corporate cabal.  I won't waste my time hating.  Instead, I am announcing my intention to run for President in the next election.  I shall run as a Democrat so as not to split the vote.  I can already see the dazzling campaign posters that will show my beauty.  And!  When you vote, remember that cats do not use outhouses.  We use litter boxes or dirt and we cover our messes up.

Here is Antidote #18.  It is not all earthy and spiritual like Mary's.  It is sad. It is about life, death and mercy.  We felines know they are the rule.



In a delicate mountain dusk, my landlord John and I shot my ancient cat.  It was Saturday, the veterinarian  closed and old Stretch had never known the terrifying smells in a vet’s office.  Dying was bad enough.  And it is the western way, the country way---when death will be a gift---to mercifully kill the animal you love.  To go the whole journey faithfully.  Unflinching.

  I stood behind my landlord who is my friend.  He asked me to keep a distance in case of ricochet.   I watched his hunched shoulders, saw him bend and pet old Stretch.  I put my fingers in my ears and waited.

John seemed to take forever.  Not as long as it would take for Stretch, who had begun to resemble cat jerky, to die from the erosion of who-knew-how-many years and a huge abscess in his jaw.  I took my fingers from my ears, knowing I had to hear it all, see it all, taste the fear and sorrow in my mouth.    

Five years ago, Stretch limped across the dirt road to my cabin after his owner abandoned him.  He’d been wounded even longer ago most likely shot by a bully.  His right paw was stiff and twisted, his heart relentlessly hungry for love, his fur short, black and white and always dusty.  He’d hold up that crippled paw, stare you straight in the eye and yowl plaintively.  

        “Vampire cat from hell,” my pal, Everett would say.  And, we would pick Stretch up and scratch his ears and avoid his drooly kiss.  He had the under-slung jaw of a pugnacious drunk and the disposition of a buddha.  He’d been an adult cat, roaming the forest and meadow, dodging stallion hoofs and pick-ups, when my landlord bought the cabins seventeen years ago, 

I stood in the fading light.  Time stretched out.  John crouched.  There was a pop, more like a cap-gun than the sound of death.  I walked up.  Stretch spasmed in the green green grass.  My friend shot again and Stretch lay still.

I petted his withered side, cupped his bony head in my hand.  John put his arm around me.  “It was the right thing to do.  He was in terrible pain.”

We stood.  My friend headed back to his cabin.  I wrapped Stretch in a goofy t-shirt and carried him to the foot of my bed.  That was heaven for him, curled at my feet, holding the other cats at bay through the night.  In the morning, I would dig a hole in the red dirt and we would bury him, in the heart of soft grass and sunshine, in his home.  ----Bonelight: ruin and grace in the New Southwest, U. of Nevada Press

photo by Max Peterson 


Mary Sojourner, M.A., is the author of She Bets Her Life: A True Story of Gambling Addiction (Seal Press/ April 2010) and Going Through Ghosts (U.Nevada Press, 2010).


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