Who’s that casting devious stares in my direction?

I can’t believe it’s halfway through August, but I can easily and completely believe that Mercury is in retrograde.

On Sunday morning, my dog Paul was squinting a lot, but he’s always had one squinty eye, so neither Dave nor I thought much about it. We had breakfast at a diner we’d never been to before, where they played 90s radio hits for a full hour—Nirvana, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Marcy Playground, Alice in Chains—and I had the sense of being back in high school, playing at adulthood instead of living it. The walls were exposed brick, but not the usual hipster kind. It looked less like they were exposing industrial architecture, and more like they were exposing old graffiti, stains from cigarettes. The music was loud.

Then we got home, and I was an adult again: I know, because my poor dog’s eye had gotten progressively worse, and it was my responsibility. Over the course of the day, he went from one squinty eye to the eye, plus some wheezing, disorientation, and clear tail-down misery. We thought he might be badly congested, and considered taking him to the emergency vet, but it didn’t seem like an emergency, exactly. In the middle of the night, I woke up and saw him standing, staring into nothingness; my heart clenched like a fist, and I walked him back to his bed.

Turns out, poor Paul had a torn cornea—the worst my vet had ever seen. His wheezing, his panting, all of that was from pain, which is a guilt I will be carrying around, oh, forever. The vet numbed his eye, and he immediately revived; it reminded me of the night my ear (which I’ve had surgery on twice to remove a benign tumor) hurt so badly I told the doctor at the emergency room that my pain level was “Holocaust,” until he put lidocaine drops into it, and suddenly I was human again.

The good thing about a torn cornea is that it heals fairly quickly. Already, Paul is mostly back to himself, tail up, wagging and hungry. I have to clean out his eye and put medicine in three times a day, which he hates, but it seems to be working. On Sunday night, when I was counting the hours until the vet would open in the morning, I lay in bed crying quietly, thinking What will I do if he dies? I have long maintained that Paul will, when it’s his time, ascend corporeally to Heaven like the Virgin Mary, which is the kind of statement that makes people looked at you side-eyed and say, “…Ok.”

Anyway. It wasn’t that bad. He’s an oldster, almost 14 I think (our understanding of his age comes from the shelter we adopted him from, and they were vague). This could’ve been worse. He won’t lose his sight. He is asleep at my feet right now, and it’s raining gently outside. We bring animals into our lives and we stitch on these little external hearts, and there is a clock counting down on all of them, as there is on every living thing. Sometimes one clock seems a little louder than the rest. Sometimes one specific clock seems to beat right in time with your own.

In other retrograde news, I think my scanner is breaking (I had to pile stacks of paper and coasters and ephemera on top of the scan bed to get it to work right last night) and since the kind I have is discontinued I have no idea where to start in picking a new one, except that the agreed-upon ideal costs more than $2500. Drag me, Mercury!