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.

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In Which Ella Loses the Internet

I haven’t had proper Internet in four days, and it’s freaking me out, in the same stupid way that I get anxious when I don’t have a notebook with me or we’re out of orange juice. Suddenly, all I can think about is desperately needing what I don’t have. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t necessary for survival, I just yearn for them with the same passion I feel for my bed or air.

Yes, it’s selfish and foolish and whole other slew of incredibly negative attributes, but I can’t help myself. My normal habit of looking something up the moment I’m curious has been compromised and not knowing which Civil War battle involved a deadly trench created with explosives makes me incredibly anxious. My solar plexus tightens, I feel as if I’m going to hyperventilate, and I am physically uncomfortable for hours on end. (If anyone has the answer, please post it in the comments. I am waiting on tender hooks.)

And in a way, the denial of the object only increases my gratitude for it when it returns.

“Darling bottle of orange juice,” I’ll say, “You must never leave me alone again. I love you and your perfect sweet and tart taste, and your yellow hue was crafted by God himself. We were made with each other in mind. I miss you with my whole heart and simply can’t get on without you. Let’s hide out in the kitchen and toast the miracle of oranges with big tumblers filled with your beautiful nectar.”

Alright, I won’t really say that. I start laughing the moment anyone so much as says soul or begins a long declaration of love.

(I mean, cut to the chase, will you? I don’t need to hear about your yearning heart or that you think your love is like a haiku. Make it short and to the point, cut the Romantic Era pontifications, the ridiculous sonnets, and read Billy Collins’ “Litany” before I come in contact with you again.)

But I will spend a long time feeling happy and thankful and be very slow and through about enjoying whatever I’ve gotten back.

So Internet, we will spend hours researching the discovery of Kimodo Dragons and looking up articles on Syria when we return and be exceedingly happy about the time we’ll spend together. Get ready.

In the meantime, I’m indulging in something that never requires so much as electricity: reading. I’m going to have to ask you to whisper while I lie in bed with Max and flip through the pages.

Having Ella As a Sister, A Guest Post by Pippa

In the next three hours I have to write a bill for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and all I know about said committee is that they always end up keeping liberals off the bench. It’s going to be fun.

So since I have no time to speak of, I asked Pippa to write tonight’s post. This is what she  sent me: (Everything is exactly as it appeared in the Word document: no spelling, grammar, or content changes. Scouts’ honor.)

Having Ella as a sister

Growing up with Ella has never been boring. In many ways we were like two normal kids. We had a large doll family that consumed most of our time. We dressed them every day and made up long winded stories about how Ella was the mom and I the eldest daughter. Though parts of our lives were far from normal, for example, two of our dolls names were Vittle and Elina, Ella’s creation of course, and we had “adopted” them from Finland.  Ella was always in charge of our games and practically every part of my life. I remember Ella would tell me how to spend my money, often times on gifts for her, and I would go along with it. It didn’t cross my mind until I was about 8 that I could say no and make my own choices.  But no matter how bossy she was I still love her and she will always be a better writer than me.

Top 10 random yet memorable things Ella has done

1.     Dumping all my underwear on my friends head because she was mad at me.

2.     Tripping and almost sitting on a dear that was running down my street

3.      Knitting during her middle school classes

4.      Hiding in her closet and almost calling the police because she assumed I had left for ballet and thought the fridge was the front door

5.     Incessantly trying to set me up with Audrey’s younger  brother so they could be sisters (she even sent us secret admire cards pretending to be us)

6.     Writing “fake” diaries to fool me with ( still not sure its fake Elie)

7.     Claiming that the ninth chapter of the first Harry potter book was too scary to read when she was seven ( so I had to wait a year until I could read them to myself)

8.     Sitting on my bedroom floor and staring at me when she couldn’t sleep ( that one gave me nightmares)

9.     Naming our dolls Vittle and Elina

10.   Always being the best sister ever

Love you Elie- sincerely Pipana

Love and Spider-Webs

I’ve been trying to write an email to a friend who has been struggling with similar issues as me. Try as I might, it continues to come out wrong. Rather, it doesn’t come out at all. The words are stuck in my head and never make it down to my fingers.

I want to tell her that everything will be okay. Someday. Not now. Not tomorrow. But someday. We just need to keep plugging along and have hope. Because, really, hope’s all we’ve got. But hope is certainly something worth living for. And with our hope in hand, we know that there will be sunny afternoons and mornings; laughter in the evenings; and peace in our heads when we lie in bed late at night. Just not now. But in a little while. Someday. Maybe soon.

I want to tell her that there is such beauty in the world. No matter how dark our minds are. No matter scary the outside world may seem with all of those people who keep moving, moving, moving and talking, talking, talking until it’s just a cacophony of sound and color. No matter how much we want to put our hands over our ears, close our eyes, and rock back and forth. There is such beauty. There’s snow on the ground right now. And come spring, that air that’s the perfect temperature will envelop us, and we’ll flop onto the damp grass. And it will be lovely in that moment. It will. Because there is such beauty, and it’s worth sticking around to see.

I want to tell her that there is so much love, in spite of everything. That there are too many people to hold close. Too many cats to pet, too many dogs to run with. That just because we’re messed up doesn’t mean that we’re unlovable. That we aren’t loved despite our differences. We’re loved because of them. That our parents would cut off all of their limbs before loosing us, because they love us so much. We could lose everything, and there would still be that love. That love will never, never, never go away. No matter how much everything collapses. It’s worth slamming back against the darkness for all of those people. Hanging on so that we can love them back. And holding each other up with love. That love matters more than anything else.

I want her to know that our demons are only demons and not anything more. Sure, they are a part of us. And perhaps they always will be. But they don’t define us. We’re ourselves when we’ve pushed the demons into hiding. When we’re cheerful and rosy. The dark thoughts and electric jolts of anxiety don’t outshine our ability to read or write. Sometimes we can’t get out of bed. Sometimes we can’t move or speak or open our eyes. Sometimes we can’t do a whole slew of other things. But we can still give awesome hugs. And we can still get out of bed or move or speak or open our eyes. It just happens a little later. A little later on. They’re only demons after all and not our whole selves. We’re too good for that.

I want her to know that there is some sort of romance in the life that we lead. That the power to feel emotions more intensely than others can be a good thing. Such a good and wondrous thing. That the picture of the postcard that I saved from PostSecret many months ago is entirely true. We are a special breed. I firmly believe that if we can feel darkness as deeply as we do, then our happiness can also outshine “normalcy.” We have these moments when we feel a burst of joy, right where that ball of anxiety is normally lodged, and we just know that maybe a few of those scarier times when we thought that nothing could ever be better were worth it.

It is too easy to feel alone. But we never are. We’re standing at the center of a spider-web. That little dot at the center. And all the strands that stick out from that dot to form the first band is our family. And the next, our friends. And after that, our doctors. All the way out until we’ve covered every piece of grass from every place we’ve loved and every grain of sand from every beach upon which we’ve stood. Until it’s all there. Surrounding us and twinkling with dew. And it is lovely, and we aren’t alone any longer. But when the sun comes up and the dew dries, it’s harder to see, but it’s still there. We just have to learn to trust it.

I want her to know that she isn’t lost. We’re right where we’re supposed to be. We’re loved and supported, even when we can’t feel it. We have our spider-webs and our beauty and our gifts and ourselves and it’s never too late for things to start being right. We’re not lost if we’re doing everything we can to push our demons into hiding. Besides, it’s impossible to be lost when you’re loved.

I want her to know that she is understood. That there are so many people reaching out their hands to us, asking to help, asking us to let them in, asking to relieve some of the pain. We just have to learn to let them. We have to hold out our arms and ask for help, cry out for it, when the darkness threatens to swallow us whole. They know that we need help. Sometimes, we just have to learn to better ask for it.

Most of all, I want her to know that I care. That even if she doesn’t think that anyone else does (And they do, oh I promise her that they do.), I care. I am here. I am here with an open laptop and phone. I am here waiting to listen. To understand. To crack horrible, terrible, horrendous jokes. To listen when she cries. To try to offer some sort of advice. I am here. Ready. Waiting. Even at three a.m. I am here. And I care. Just like everyone else in her spider web. And I am holding out my arms, begging for her to let me in when she needs it.

[Insert name here], I am here. And I love you.