Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/5/15

Weather: Warm, sunny, muggy, cooling off a little later.

Number of people: 9 stoppers, 5 walkbys, plus one person who mentioned me to someone she was talking to on the phone

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories written: 0

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People I met through the booth last year, who remembered me: 4

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1, but she was a last-year person

Picture-takers with permission: 3

Flyers for other concerns proffered and accepted: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.65


Dorinda Fong was with me, recording conversations, with the hope of creating a podcast. (As always, we won’t record you or write down your words without your permission.)

We were on the east side of the Burnside Park entrance facing west, and it seemed like more people were coming from the east, so I want to try the other side today.

I handed out a few completed Alternate Histories, but haven’t yet figured out a way to invite people to write one. I’ll work on that today too.

Some conversations:

I don’t wanna live on a planet where there’s no polar bears. I’m not a super animal rights person, I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but I think we’re going in a direction we can’t come back from. Everything, everything, losing all of our shoreline communities, low-lying countries … The scary thing is, it seems too that it’s not just the uneducated thinking these things.

Do you feel like there’s anything people can do to turn it around?

Did you go to the march, the climate march in New York? That got a lot more national press than I expected, and there were a lot more people than I thought there would be. That at least shows that people are ready to–at least ready to voice their opinions. There isn’t any reason in the world not to get ourselves off fossil fuels in the next–five years, not ten, not twenty. We just need the investment in infrastructure. If we gave 10% of what we give to the military-industrial complex–but it’s gonna take a lot of public pressure … Do you have what you need? I got a hot date. Bye!


Climate doesn’t bother me much. It’s the man in the White House. He’s ruining our country.

What are some things he’s done that you’ve had a problem with?

He hasn’t supported the military. He’s put them in harm’s way for no reason. And he stole money from the 9/11 fund to give to his friends in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Can I ask where you heard that?

I saw it online.

Yeah, but online’s a big place, you can see, like, Bat Boy online, and the two-headed baby. Did you see it from a site you trust?

Yes. The Democrats used to be for the people, but if Hillary gets in, forget it … I’m a veteran.

Where did you serve?

I served in Germany before the wall came down. I served in the states as well. And I’m a conservative, you can put that down. I’m vocal now, I’m very vocal, I’m political. I’m a registered voter, and I do vote.


I have anxiety. I’m on medication for it, Klonopin. When I’m around a lot of people, I’m [makes an overwhelmed noise]. I’m fine when I’m by myself. Also when there’s too much on my plate at one time. I don’t stop and do one thing at a time. I used to be a cutter, and I stopped that, so I’m doing good about that. And I got people to call. I’m in anger recovery, they call every week, how you doing, are you relapsing … The drugs don’t help either, I’ve been on drugs since I was 13. I’m on methadone now, I’m trying to get off that. And I just found out I got housing today. I never had a house–I been sleeping in abandoned buildings, we call ’em abandominiums, graveyards, shelters, I never had a house. I’m kinda scared, but I can do it.


I’m worried about the future, my daughters–I have two daughters. The kids are gonna have a lot harder time than we’ve had it, my generation.

What kind of future do you want for your daughters, what could we do now to help make that future?

There’s so many things. Certainly that people wake up, especially about the climate.

Do you talk to people about it?

Yeah, a fair amount. A lot of people don’t want to hear it. It’s amazing how many people, even people in your immediate family, can be so sure about something that’s so obvious to you.


I’m always mad at people who are happy when it’s warm in winter … In person I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m a winter girl,” or “I like having seasons, I’m from New England.” On Facebook it’s good and bad, because I’m far away and I can’t see their faces, and I get angrier, but I work myself into a frenzy and either I end up writing nothing, or I write something really angry and then I try to edit it so I can actually convince somebody, and then it ends up being too weak so I don’t write anything. Especially with my family, who are on the other side of the political spectrum … They’ll use something you said when you were six against you in a conversation about climate change. It gets so emotional so quickly. Then I want to say things like, “But my son!”


Absolutely. I’m a quahogger, and it’s changed the way the quahogs are. You used to be able to get ’em anywhere, and now you gotta hunt for ’em a lot harder. Now you gotta fight for ’em. You start quahogging over here, and yeah, the ocean’s open, but say you’re getting 200 pieces, and the guy next door isn’t getting any and he sees you coming in–next thing you know he’s right on top of you. They call it seagulling.

How many do you need to make it worth your while?

A good 2000 pieces would be nice.


I’m worried about spending too much before I pay my bills.

Today’s poem:

It’s amazing how many people

even in your immediate family

even hanging with nothing between you

even the surest desire

to see things differently

is the daughter of failure

running your feet as far

out of the ring of the conversation

the weight of the future

the inches of freeboard

the sway shelter holds over

all our survival

in fury on Facebook

end up saying nothing

and sweetening nothing

how swayed and how given

to inchless regret

free for all

at the point of a breath

to the wreck of your rest

take the sun down with you

into squeaky rapture

4 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/5/15

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Bonus Round, 5/15/15 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/5, 6/13, 9/21 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/12/16 | climateanxietycounseling

  4. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/24/17 | climateanxietycounseling

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