Home / 2009 / February

Naveed and Stella: The Last Two Years

Over 6 years ago, Rob and I decided to stop at the PetSmart in Joplin on our way home from a visit in Neosho. We were just going to look at the kittens. But we walked out the door with a grey, 4-month-old ball of energy. Naveed‘s personality is what attracted our attention: He was playful and independent, and even though he mellowed a little bit when we removed his fuzzy danglers, he is still playful and independent. After that surgery, he just became a little more cuddly than before.

In May 2007, we were considering adding another kitty to our family when one of my grad school colleagues needed to find a home for Stella Kowalski, a little Siamese/Burmese princess just about 6 months old. It took Naveed about two weeks to adjust to the intrusion into his space, but Stella, well, for as long as we had them before moving, she seemed bipolar: One minute, they’d be snuggling and looks like siblings, and the next, hisses and fights.

When we moved, my brother took Naveed and Stella, but after about four months, the situation changed and the kitties ended up moving in with Dr. Cadle, one of many professors who supported me as I pursued my master’s degree at Missouri State. When she had to move because of an increasingly bad situation, Liz and Daniel took in the kitties. Here are some pics of the cats at their non-Mueller homes.

At their first non-Mueller home: Naveed makes sure Stella isn't disturbed by the light.

At their first non-Mueller home: Naveed makes sure Stella isn't disturbed by the light.

Naveed and Stella approve of Dr. Cadle's newly reupholstered (with velveteen!) sofa.

Naveed and Stella approve of Dr. Cadle's newly reupholstered (with velveteen!) sofa.

Stella looks like she belongs there.

Stella looks like she belongs there.

Liz and Daniel sent me a fun birthday package (hello, Reese's!) and an adorable kitty picture. "we iz wishin u happeh birfday. wares da caek?"

Liz and Daniel sent me a fun birthday package (hello, Reese's!) and an adorable kitty picture and message: "we iz wishin u happeh birfday. wares da caek?"

Naveed and Stella are having quite the adventure at Liz and Daniels, and in January, Liz emailed me an adorable story. For Christmas, they got an English Bulldog named Roosevelt. Apparently, Naveed has already bonded with his new masters.

Here’s what Liz said: “I was doing laundry in the basement yesterday and Daniel came down and said ‘Naveed just saved my life.’  What?  He said that Roosevelt started to pee in the floor and Daniel went to grab him and drag him out.  Of course, he started growling and nipping at Daniel’s hand (not maliciously).  Naveed saw this and went up to Roosevelt and started to growl and box at him.  Daniel said it was so funny!  Naveed was protecting him.

However, the funny thing is that I think the roids have made him a little more ballsy.  Instead of watching Roosevelt from the top basement stair, he watches over him from only a few feet away- almost taunting him.  Then, when Roosevelt goes to investigate- as he always does- the scuffles are starting to last longer.  By scuffle, I mean Naveed boxing Roosevelt in the face and Roosevelt looking confused.”

Back to Blogging: Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

I am sorry that I haven’t been blogging very much, but I’ve been busy since I accomplished NaBloPoMo at the end of November. Here’s what has been demanding my attention over the last couple months.

  • Rob and I celebrated Christmas and New Years in Berlin with my in-laws, which included lots of Hasir’s (once with the Fros), wonderfully delicious German home-cooked food, and memorable family time.
  • I edited a 260-page on dissertation on the uncanny in Stephen King’s It and Firestarter. I love scary movies and novels, so this was a delight to read. This project funded my newly acquired iPod Touch.
  • Grading! I worked through transitions homework, conclusions, in-class paragraphs, style (Lanham!) homework, presentations, and 350 grammar finals. Luckily for my sanity, the Language Centre tutors helped us grade the grammar finals.
  • I have started planning General Language Course (GLC) for next semester with my colleagues. We’re making some changes to the curriculum and I’m really excited about its new direction. I’ll be integrating NPR‘s This I Believe series into the course, and despite having taught it as a writing activity in freshman composition, it will need some tweaking for GLC, as the course is an integrated-skills English course.

I love blogging, I really do, but when I have other responsibilities, it must take the back burner because I need my life to be in balance. I made blogging a daily priority in November, and while I enjoyed the experience of daily blogging and cranked out some great posts, I know that many of them could have been better. I am a language and writing teacher who absolutely loves writing, and I want this blog to reflect this passion (more on that in a future post).

I knew this even as I was writing some of those posts, but when I came across a very inspiring blog post on Merlin Mann‘s personal blog, Kung Fu Grippe, I was reminded of my feeling of inadequacy. This post is called simply “Better” and it is a manifesto on what is personally disappointing about this technolocial age that we live in. It is a challenge to be more real, to focus on producing the best that I can, every time, even when it takes longer than I might have originally wanted.

This means several things for my blogging. I want to practice the craft of writing instead of just writing more regularly (more editing time). I want to include lots of relevant links in my posts because I love the “hypertext” part of the internet and I want to harness it in my blogging (more reading/research time). I want to “bring some art to it.” I want to “demand personal focus on making good things.”

When do you truly feel alive?

Something happened before I left campus yesterday. I was standing by my bike, putting on my helmet, wrapping my scarf around my face, pulling on my gloves. During this process, I watched as a driver slowly backed out of her parking spot, pulled back in, tried again, several times. She was stuck. A car had parked right behind her and she couldn’t maneuver out of her spot.

It was 6:45. I had had a long day grading and teaching. I did not want to spend another second at school.

Watched her struggling, I asked myself how I would feel if I were in her place. The answer was obvious, so I slowly rode my bike towards her car as she was pulling out. She saw me and pulled back in. Success number 1: Do not scare the person you are trying to help. I waved, parked my bike, and walked up to her as she rolled down the window. “I can help you,” I offered in what I am sure was not grammatically correct German. “Weiter, weiter, weiter. Ok! Stop!” I showed her the distance between her bumper and the other car’s door, my vertical palms getting closer together, mirroring her slow reverse. Ten in-and-outs later, success number 2: She was free. She rolled her window down: “Vielen, vielen, vielen! dank!” “No problem,” I said. “Have a nice evening.” (Aber naturlich auf Deutsch.)

As I rode away on my bike, I felt good. First it was just a warmth in my chest. Then I realized I that my senses were on overdrive. I could smell the dirt. I could feel the wind rushing past my cheeks like cold water in the shower. I could hear not only the music from my headphones, but also the low rumble of the dynamo powering my bike lights and that winter wind rushing through the trees.

But realizing it made it go away, and I reflected. Why these heightened senses after helping someone, after a so-called random act of kindness?

I felt alive. Really alive.

When else do I feel like this? When I’m running and in the groove. When I’m having sex. When I’m fully immersed in a gripping tale, be it novel or film. When I, in a flash, communicate without words.

And the self-inquisition continued. What does that say about who I am? That I like to really connect with people. That I love reading and pushing myself physically.

If helping random people turns me on, why don’t I do it more often? Would the high wear off if I did something kind every day? Or would I become addicted to the rush?

If Good makes me feel alive, I can understand people who get a kick out of Bad. That doesn’t mean I like it, but I think I understand it.

When do you feel alive? What turns you on?