I am depressed. Time to call it what it is. Not a clinical depression. No need to call me, write me, check on me. But depressed. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
A year ago, I was in grief after Governor Walker’s Wisconsin Act 10, the one that took away collective bargaining, stripped massive funding from public education, and put my sons’ educational future in jeopardy. Having experienced two sudden and unexpected deaths in my family in the previous two years, one of which was my father’s, it wasn’t hard to recognize grief. I couldn’t sleep, becoming anxious and hyperactive. That helped as I was often at the Capitol testifying or grading until one, two in the morning night after night. I couldn’t eat, losing weight pound by pound, despite the pizza diet (thanks, Ians and the world).
Act 10 grief made me dizzy as I tried to recognize the new geography of my life. This, too, was recognizable. Didn’t I have to chart the new geography in my life as I lost my family members? Act 10 grief made me question everything, holding each professional value and hope in my hands. Act 10 made me look through others’ eyes, trying to consider their points of view. Again, familiar grief.
When my father died, I read a book that said that if I could recognize the gifts I received in that grief, I would be closer to healing. So I did that. What did I get in my Act 10 grief? I got awareness. I took my head out of whatever sand it was buried in and I looked around. And I found the gift of the grief: I became a MeerKat, that vigilant creature that crawled out of tunnels and watched for danger avidly. I sought out media, eventually finding Twitter, and then I didn’t just watch Wisconsin. I watched Ohio. I watched Florida. I watched New York. I watched New Jersey. I was on it, man. That was grief’s gift.
But a year later, I can’t compare the griefs any more. A year after my dad’s death (heck, even now almost four years later) I would get amazed at how strange isolated moments wind me, knocking me back in misery, missing him, but the general pattern to the days was lighter, better, freer. I lost my anxiety. I started to eat. I felt hope.
Not Act 10 grief. I don’t feel hope. Hope? I spend part of my summer protesting Barrack Obama’s Arne Duncan. No hope there. I see the injustice of posting scores in New York, but I don’t see outrage. I don’t see either political party freeing itself from corporate malfeasance and greed in the education arena. There isn’t any lightening on the horizon. No pink and yellow hues break through those clouds.
And I no longer feel like a MeerKat. I am a duck.
My uncle, nearing 90, still harvests much of his own food, including ducks. Assuming that the ducks outsmart the predators, he will occasionally get one and drag it down to his basement to behead and dress it. All the other ducks run over and crowd around the basement windows, witnessing the act.
That’s what I am now. As I read about Pascale Mauclair, I am a duck watching at the window. Watching an execution and simply waiting my turn.
A depressed duck.