Pushkin’s Obscure Language

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, tamed squirrel, wild rabbit, my little half-feral cat. I call you little one, baby, honey, words I save only for you. I bristle at the thought of someone comparing me to an infant or small child and loathe call any human by the same name, but you’re so much like a helpless infant that they slip out, even when I intend to call you by your proper name, the one we chose because your elegant tuxedo markings seemed to fit with your namesake, the great Russian poet.

You’re bigger than you act, a full-grown male, lean and strong, instead of the typical indoor cat padding of fat, but you hide around the house as if perpetually scared of attack, a timid kitten in a house full of dogs. We’re gentle and kind and have been for years, but you still shy away. I hold out my unconditional love on a silver platter and yet you approach it with fear. In a few months, you’ll be five, and you still only accept me with the most tentative expressions of trust.

I’m often reminded of a quote by the real Pushkin,

“I want to understand you, I study your obscure language.”

And I do. I try to make myself as vulnerable as you think I’m scary. I lie back on my bed, perfectly still, arms thrown above my head, wrists crossed, hands limp, neck tilted at an angle so that you will see that I am willing to let you rip out my jugular, and I wait. I wait for you to stop mewing in the hall and come into the room. I let you leap up on the bed without turning to track you with my eyes. And then you stumble around on the duvet, strangely keening as though you are are singing a mourner’s lament. I wait for the moment when you determine that I am harmless enough and start to sniff at my cheek, your cold, wet nose sometimes brushing against my skin.

And then you do what I’ve been waiting for. You put your two front paws on my thigh and then begin to inch forward, until you are finally sitting on my stomach, regally upright like an Egyptian cat statue, bobbing on the waves of my breaths.

I open my eyes and say, “Hi, little guy,” and slowly raise my hand to do what you love best. I trace my thumb along the edge of your mouth and scratch the side of your face until you decide that the affection is too much and leap away, off to examine the world underneath the china cabinet or dining room sideboard.

I’ll learn to speak your crying language one day, and we’ll come to the understanding that I mean no harm. You’ve mellowed with age, and maybe your courage will continue to increase, until you curl close to me at night like Zelda Fitzgerald or remain constantly at my side like Maxwell Perkins. I don’t ask you to put aside all of your insecurities for me or to believe that I am wholly without threat, but I hope that you will accept fragments of my love and let me in just a tiny, minuscule bit. I am not as scary as I appear. Really. I promise.

Meerkats and Vintage Clothing

I was woken up at around six a.m. this morning to a National Geographic video discussing meerkats’ mating habits. If that isn’t a fantastic alarm clock, I don’t know what is.

Nothing makes me ready to greet the day than a researcher narrating how male meerkats choose their mate.

However, it is an upgrade over screaming, do I’ll take it.

On a completely different note, today Pippa and I went into the city to go shopping and I tried out some vintage clothing I haven’t gotten a chance to wear yet. Everything I’m wearing is at least forty years old.

I’m still not so sure how I feel about having paired a lacy top with the skirt, and my hair could definitely be improved upon as you can’t see it in te shot.


Once Upon a Time, A Russian Poet Was an Adorable Kitten

Guess who is sick.

This girl.

In other news, when you’re sick you sometimes find yourself staring at your cats destroy your carefully folded laundry while you curl up in a chair and hack up a lung. It all of a sudden occurred to me that Pushkin has really grown up. He turned four only a few months ago, but this very muscular and adult-sized cat is so different from the malnourished, three-month-old feral kitten we rescued.

I found some baby pictures for you to enjoy because I find that cute animals makes congestion a little easier to handle.

This first one is right after his mother (a feral cat) got run over and a few weeks before we coaxed him into the cat carrier to be taken to the vet.

This next one is from the day he got home from the vet. He was around three months old and very underweight. I had just turned fourteen at the time.

Pippa playing with Pushkin.

Pushkin at six months old. Max, the cat behind him, is about two-years-old at the time. Max was born in a boat and rescued, along with his five siblings, at five-weeks by my cousin and her husband during a hail storm. His mother was also feral.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.


On Being a Mammal and Making Noises

I’ve been thinking a lot about something that Doc said to me right before our group was up at the regionals for the government and politics competition. It was something along the lines of: “Just remember that we’re a bunch of mammals, sitting in a room, making strange noises, and somehow deriving meaning from it.”

Doc’s right. He almost always is. Ever since I started my psych independent study, I’ve realized exactly how true that statement is. We are only animals. Animals who have big, complex brains that were able to organize those sounds into something we call language.

This notion gives me a lot of hope. Whenever I stand up to speak in Congress or somewhat impulsively audition for a play, what I say doesn’t really matter. The noises I’m making are essentially no more special than a cat’s meow.