Imagine being a social being who hatches from the dark into the dark and confusion of a commercial hatchery. Just close your eyes and think of the peeping around you. All peeping and no Gung-Gung-Gung! Mother Goose is supposed to be there, waiting. She is supposed to nudge you and keep you warm with her fluffy goose pillows, that soft goose-gunt between her downy thighs.
Even more…you are supposed to be able to see.
Ray was born without eyes, basically. She has eyes that were not fully developed. And she has a condition called angel wing in which the wings grow twisted and stick out from the bird’s body. Sometimes this can be corrected by taping the wings to the body. Some sources say this condition is genetic, others point toward too much protein in the bird’s diet. I’ve had angel wing pop up in a couple of my ducks, but they all ate the same food, so at least in my cases I lean toward genes.
Ray must have been put in a box and shipped with the other hatchery rejects. (I was told by the pet store that gave her to me that their store receives the hatchery rejects.) The pet store employees took her in and sheltered her as best as they could. Unfortunately, it’s common knowledge that this particular store sells “pet” geese, ducks and chickens to people who intend to eat them. The women I talked to wanted to save Ray from this fate.
Ray’s rescue began with a text from my good friend M. who is a fowl expert and a former employee of the pet store who now works at a dairy and has given up most meats after fully realizing his relationship with animals. I assured M. that I would find a place for this poor goose, so I contacted River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary. They agreed to take her.
Upon first meeting Ray, I didn’t know what to expect. She was beautiful and reminded me of my rescued buff goose Ooma who passed away last year from hyperparathyroidism, or so the necropsy concluded. Her wings were splayed out and I suggested the pet store manager clip them to prevent her from injuring herself and so that she would fit in the transport box better. The employees said their goodbyes and sent me with a letter about Ray and her care, asking the sanctuary to contact them about how she was doing in the future.
At first the sanctuary owner, who was very busy with guests upon our arrival, suggested I let Ray out into a small field spotted with sapling aspen trees. I watched her spin in circles, trying to find her bearings, so I called to her. At first she ran into trees and I steered her away into open areas. After discussion with the sanctuary owner, we transferred her to a smaller pen and discussed her care–how she needed to have predictable food and water settings and be free from bullies.
I said I would call to check up on Ray periodically and to call if there were any concerns. I did get the impression that the sanctuary owner thought I would be a suitable home for this wonderful goose, but I assured her that I don’t have the space or the funds to accommodate her. We discussed bringing Freddie out to meet Ray some time, which I thought could be possible if it turned out she wasn’t doing well at the sanctuary. So far I’ve heard she’s doing fine, though the little duck they thought would make a companion for Ray ended up being picked on by her.
While I was at the sanctuary, I noticed two gigantic mallard-looking boys strutting around speaking muscovy duck language. Marvelous, I thought. I had to take their picture. Muscovy ducks are native to Mexico and South America, though they can be found in Southern states such as Louisiana and Florida, some parts of Texas. They are a different species from mallard ducks, though the two can reproduce, the offspring being mules and hinnies who are infertile much like mules who result as a cross between a horse and a donkey.
We wrapped up the rescue that day by the owner sharing her paintings and telling me that a family member of mine had donated fused glass pendants to one of her fundraising events and how much she loved S.’s work. I mentioned how I wished I lived closer, then I could volunteer (it’s difficult to come up with gas money these days). The truth, too, is that I have my hands full. But if I lived down the road from the sanctuary, perhaps volunteering would be something I could do. However, I am passing on the need here.
Some may know how difficult I’ve been about getting myself to write over the years. I’ve mentioned not being able to “find myself again” or that “something inside me had died” at about the age of thirteen when shit went really awry. I definitely lost something way back then. I’d been writing full-length kids’ stories in spiral bound notebooks, attending the Young Writers’ Conferences every year, being the chosen author in my class whose work was bound for the school library check-out. Then, I flat-lined, began writing silly rhyming poems about jellybeans and unrequited love. It’s like I lost it–whatever it was–that caused me to have any imagination whatsoever.
And then I went off and studied things like accounting, E-commerce, business management. Now, if that didn’t kill the last creative spark, I don’t know what could have. More death? More bills? The worst breakup, even more death, blaming myself for it all? Maybe I was trying to prove myself. Maybe I was bitter. I was definitely angry and driven throughout my twenties, then depressed, apathetic and hopeless during my thirties. Now, here I am. I have a muse and I am going deep inside. I’m like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. There’s no other way to put it. Freddie Mercury’s life, what I am allowed to know of his personal life and what I think I am intuiting from even the unspoken, is part of my journey.
Take a look at artists everywhere and you will find that so-and-so was influenced by so-and-so.
For once, it seems, I am alone again (not in the lonely sense) much like I was at pre-thirteen. I have my own space. My animals. It’s up to me how I keep my space. I don’t have to give-in to the demands of someone who is not willing to put out the effort, but willing to wine & dine, then take and take.
Each day goes by and I see more evidence that I’m back. That me person who had dreams, fantasies, inspiration. A person who could play and imagine and put it all down on paper.
Did I get so lost in what I thought I had to prove to others?
Perhaps. I definitely set out to prove myself when I reached adulthood. I felt I’d lived in the shadow of condemnation where I could do not right no matter how by-the-book I tried to be. All the while there was a part of me that strictly denied any affiliation with the Joneses. I need the right reason. My reason. Not situation, or ease of agreement. I won’t keep in a situation where my future will spoil. I don’t think anyone should. Not for longevity in relationship. Not to prove themselves to no one. Not for addiction. People have to climb mountains and face all types of weather in order to find Truth. This means a person must encounter all forms of disappointment, even the most trying, and bounce back somehow. Once depression or drugs or apathy takes hold, life seems insurmountable, but this can be reversed by some means. Each must find his or her door and this is personal, does not depend solely on any one interpersonal relationship or the dependence upon another person.
Tell me I’m obsessed with Freddie Mercury like it’s a bad thing.
It’s okay if you don’t get it. All that matters is that I do. And I’m not afraid.
As Freddie himself would say, “I don’t give a shit, darling.”
And that’s true. I don’t.
This is wonderful for me, this sudden appearance of Freddie Mercury in my life in February of 2013. While he’d been out there all the while, on the radio, videos, his memory living on, I’d never noticed. Sure, I’d watched Wayne’s World before and I knew of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the song, but only in passing had I heard it. The song meant nothing and I knew not of Queen, except that a band called Queen existed.
(O, there are so many layers to my journey of recent times, of Freddie, both goose and frontman, of mice and gardening and cooking and books and life-changing lessons.)
I will tell the story of how I found Freddie Mercury (and Freddie the goose) in another entry. For now, let me share more about obsession vs. muse/inspiration.
Inspiration: Merriam-Webster’s definition of inspiration is:
: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea
: to think about something carefully or thoroughly
: to think or say (something) in a thoughtful way
Obsession: Let’s say I feel a compulsion to wash my hands. So I wash my hands. Then I walk to the door to leave and I feel compelled to wash my hands again, because I don’t feel my hands are clean enough. I just don’t. So I go back and wash my hands again. Then I touch the door handle. The compulsion is so strong, I must wash my hands again. So I do, even though my skin is raw from scrubbing, because I cannot get my hands clean enough. Water isn’t enough. Regular soap isn’t enough. I have to get my hands clean. And what now that I’ve rubbed the skin off in places? Bacteria will get inside and I will get sick. So I disinfect my hands. I’d better wear gloves for a while to protect my hands from germs, since I’ve rubbed them raw.
And this goes on and on, let’s say. And I struggle. It’s disabling. Nothing good comes of it. Each time I wash my hands, they do not become cleaner, but raw and, eventually, bloody. It is a compulsion and my fear of germs, an obsession that drives me to wash until I need medical treatment, both psychological and physical.
Some people enjoy watching baseball. They work five days per week and then they sit on the couch nearly the entire weekend and watch baseball. Some people play golf. All they want to do, weather permitting, is play golf. Some people have to watch the next episode of a sitcom the minute it airs. They cannot miss it. People read People Magazine, religiously, and they talk about what all the celebrities are wearing and what they are doing. Heck, there’s even some section in there about “Celebrities do it, too” or something like that. As if the regular folks cannot believe stars take shits. But, people want to know and have a hunger for what is going to happen next in the world around them, or what Dick or Jane says on a TV program, how far they can hit a ball at golfing, whether or not the Boston Red Sox will win a playoff.
We all have something we are doing. Well, mostly. I admit to being depressed enough before that I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. Strangely, during these blue times I found myself sitting in front of a television and eating unhealthily. For a lot of people that may be the norm, it seems. But that’s not good enough for me. It just isn’t. I had to recognize and take responsibility for that.
I cannot accept a mediocre life. I cannot repeat the life I’ve lived for the past decade. I had nothing to hold onto. All my efforts (eggs) were put in the flimsy baskets and these baskets tipped over. I gathered what I could, what was not fully broken, and I now see I can repair all the cracks in the eggs with solid gold. Perhaps no one else cared about the eggs like I did. To see my eggs tossed away and stomped, crushed my spirit, but I let it happen. Shit happens. I forgive myself and it’s easier to see a learning experience instead of disappointment.
Sometimes I get so low, I just don’t know, everything seems hopeless. That’s where I have been. I couldn’t get out of a situation I was in, or so evidence suggested at the time. I felt like I’d tried too hard, waited far too long, and….nothing mattered. I told myself I was going to do this or that, but I wasn’t doing anything…and then I got physically sick.
In the end what is it that I hold onto most?
Freddie Mercury. Why?
Why do you read scriptures or pray?
I can have it all, except I don’t worry about going to hell, darlings.
I, for once, see the appeal of turning to an outside source to find strength within. But, I still think the strength itself must come from within, except I needed inspiration, something, someone dependable, malleable and someone to whom I could relate? I hadn’t found this in relationships or any ideas or beliefs. Those had all fallen flat.
So when I was at my mother’s one afternoon, chatting, her television broadcast a man dressed in white at a piano, several plastic, half-full cups and Heineken bottles on top, I wondered why this man demanded my attention. Mostly, I dismiss whatever is on television and as far as music is concerned, I am pretty boring and tend to listen to the same artists over and over–one for a six month stint, then switch to another, then switch back to the previous artist. And I don’t listen to any Top 40 or radio.
Why this man? Why now?
I was curious. I wanted to know who he was, inexplicably, and badly. My first thought was that he resembled a cousin of mine who had committed suicide at age 19. I thought he looked like someone I could be related to and, since I am interested in genealogy, I naturally wondered where he was from, what was his name, and so on.
“You don’t know who that is?” my mother said. “That’s Freddie Mercury. He is a God!”
Maybe I am still seeking my mother’s approval. But I don’t think that’s it. To me the moment stands out like many other important moments, so vivid and meaningful I doubt, barring dementia, I will ever forget. There was a feeling in that moment, a compelling, strange feeling of elation that penetrated my mind.
I had to know more.
“Mercury,” I said. “Is he Greek?” (Some of us change our names, I am comfortably aware, to fit who we think we really are, our true persona, or to escape something. Of this I am clear.)
“No, he’s not Greek. I can’t remember where he’s from,” my mother said.
I later learned many people assumed he was a “British-born” rock star. That’s not what I saw at all. My intuition lent itself to the immediate recognition of someone spectacular who had a story, had moved a great distance from somewhere exotic. He was an enigma, I knew, before I even knew his name.
“Queen,” my mother said. “You’ve heard of Queen?”
“O, wow. Really? I’ve heard of Queen, and Bohemian Rhapsody, but I know nothing of them.”
So, I sat down and began searching my gadget for Google hits as we do these days. It’s a Machine’s World, after all.
And that searching of facts and photos and stories carried on for quite some time, leading to the purchase of several biographies, and strange coincidences began to occur for which I had no explanation other than that I was noticing things I hadn’t noticed before. As if I’d learned a new word and then that word was everywhere, as if I’d summoned it. But, as always, I remained skeptical.
I became “insatiable in appetite” for anything about Freddie and the results were fascinating enough to produce those pungent adrenalin rushes some of us information- or book-lover types experience when we learn or read the right passage.
And how many times had I wanted to die? Hopeless, bottomless, nobody-loves-me pit of utter despair. Rock bottom. Living in a mind of shit. Hating where I was at, being swallowed by who I was with, allowing myself to slither beneath the carpet and get walked on like a piece of fish dropped at a Sunday market in Sicily.
I needed a wake-up call, a lens, mine so dirty I had become blind in much the same way a frog boiled slowly doesn’t know he’s being cooked alive.
So, I say, whatever it is–I HAD TO FIND IT!
If someone refers to my interest in Freddie Mercury as an obsession, well, it is more than that, way more. This is something diabolical that I am acting on.
Freddie Mercury is my inspiration. This blog is evidence. And it all started so long ago, in my ancestors’ bones, in their travels and in their brains, wants, loves and tragedies. I take what lies within seriously, and, yes, there is a destiny waiting to be fulfilled. I can get on with it, or I can stagnate. The choice is mine.
There is much more waiting. Not just for this blog. Ideas much bigger.